Saturday, April 23, 2011



One of the most popular pastimes for people of the 1860's was music. Families sang around the fire place, concerts were held by local brass bands throughout the summer months in almost all the communities in the county. And with the news of the capture of Fort Sumter, and the southern states' talk of succeeding from the Union, bands were utilized by the captains of local militia units to entice men to join their ranks.
After the three months regiments fulfilled their tour of duty, and President Lincoln called for men to enlist for three years, two bands composed of men from Pottsville and the surrounding area played martial airs for the 96th P.V.I. and the 48th P.V.I.
According to letters written from soldiers and books concerning different regiments in the civil war, many of these army bands just made a lot of noise. But the two bands from Schuylkill County were composed of excellent musicians who had been playing together for years prior to the out break of the war.
From an article printed in the Pottsville Republican on April 18, 1900 entitled “Schuylkill County Bands with Some Famous Regiments", we take the following items.
The Forty - eighth Regiment Band with J.W. Souders as its leader and twenty three members known as the Citizens Band of Pottsville, were mustered in on September 2, 1861.

Wm. A. Maize, Staff Major. J.W. Souders, Leader.
Wm. J. Feger, Eb coronet. Daniel Kopp, Eb coronet.
John T. Hays, Eb coronet. Chas. Hemming, Alto.
Levi Nagle, Alto. Wm. Birt, Eb clarinet.
John Cruikshank, Alto. Thomas Severn, piccilo.
Chas. A. Glenn, Alto. John George, Tenor.
Wm. Lee, clarinet/cymbals. Edward L. Hass, baritone.
James Aikman, Eb bass. Fred'k Brown, tenor.
Nickolas McArthur, Eb bass. Albert Bowen,snare drum.
Jas. N. Garrett, snare drum. John Aikman, bas drum.
Wm. Hodgson, Tenor. Chas. Singluff, alto.
Wm. H. Gore, Tenor. C.T. McDaniel, cook.

The band soon got down to work playing for the different military movements in a style which called forth praise from commanding officers.
They were next called to duty at Fort Monroe, next to New Berne, then Newport News, where they were placed on transports several times to be taken to the seat of war, only to be recalled.
Their impatience was finally appeased by the regiment being ordered to Fredericksburg and later Culpepper Court House, from which place the band received the order to muster out.
During this year of service with the regiment they had played at receptions and gatherings of many distinguished army officers.
At one time a grand ovation was tendered by General Burnside, a corps commander of remarkable ability, at which the band held the place of honor in the musical department.
Many gatherings of Union officers were assisted by the 48th Regiment Band. At Brigader General Nagle's headquarters on numerous occasions the band did the honors for leading Generals of the U.S. Army.


The Ninety - Sixth Regt. Band, with N. J. Rehr, leader, left for Washington on Friday, November 8, 1861. The roster follows:

N.J. Rehr, Leader H.K. Downing, drum major.
Horace G. Walbridge, Eb coronet. Christian Ferg, Eb coronet.
Amos F. Walbridge, 1st coronet. Christ Rodman, 2d coronet.
H.M. Law, 2d clarinet. Henry Rodman, clarinet.
Henry Hoffman, clarinet. John W. Morgan , clarinet.
Fidel Fisher, piccolo. Adolphus Walbridge, alto.
W. McDaniel, cook Henry Walbridge, alto.
George W. Roehrig, alto. John Ward, teno.
Charles Oberlies, tenor. Andrew Smith, baritone. H. Curtis Shoener, 2d baritone. John Rodefield, Bass.
J.N. Lauer, 1st bass. Joseph Kepley, snare dr.
Augustus Pfaltzgraph, snare dr. Samuel H. Parker, bass dr.
Cornelius Trout, cymbals.

The freight car had its roof broken in, and it rained all day. The train went via Gordon, where the regiment got out and walked down the plane, and then on to Sunbury, Harrisburg, and arriving at Washington on Saturday, November 9th 1861 at 2 a.m. in anything but good condition.
They were immediately given quarters in an old stable, and Oh, how cold it was! Wet to the body, and with no covering, they shivered until daylight appeared, at which time they took up the march to new quarters through mud knee deep, for several miles, arriving at Camp Blatensburg Toll Gates, having gained in the meantime the knowledge that it was much better playing for the regiment on Lawton's Hill, Pottsville than through which they had just passed.
The band remained here with the regiment for sometime, until they received orders to go into winter quarters at Camp Northumberland. While the weather permitted, their duties were guard mount at 8 a.m. drills at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and dress parade at 5:30 p.m.
After almost a year's service, the band received its discharge August 14, 1862 all bands being mustered out, and the regiment having been given marching orders.

A Civil War Band


After both bands had received their discharges from the service and returned to their respective duties at home, they formed a new musical organization called the Pottsville Coronet Band.
They received a three months engagement with the 48th regiment which was then stationed in Lexington Ky. with H.G. Walbridge as leader. During their stay with the regiment they gave many concerts which were highly appreciated in that section of the country.
A local entertainment at Cynthiana, Ky. had the band assist them at one time. At another time they were engaged for the High School commencement at Paris, the county seat of Bourbon. During the commencement someone cried out in the audience, play "The Bonnie Blue Flag." The boys refused and for a time it looked as though there would be trouble, so the Sheriff escorted the band to the county prison where he remained with them over night, and the following day they returned safely to the regimental headquarters, feeling that they had better remain nearer the Union lines in the future.
When the subject of a picnic at the Henry Clay homestead at Ashland, Ky. they jumped at the chance to play a concert and the banquet which followed has left a train of pleasant memories which can never fade.
Before the regiment broke camp to proceed on marching orders, two ladies residing near the camp, purchased a handsome silk flag and presented it to the band. They thought it a handsome and appropriate gift, and resolved to keep it in a safe place until they got home. Having a little money in their treasury, several hundred dollars, they decided to visit some of the principal cities of the United States before returning home. They started east, and among the places visited was Cincinnati and they say they will never forget it. They put up in the Galt House during the night, and when they got on the train the next day, discovered that their much beloved silk flag had taken wings during the night; someone had removed it from its accustomed place. Telegrams were immediately sent on to the hotel to hunt up the flag, but a gentleman on the train asked, "What house did you stop at?" "Why the Galt House," responded the boys, "Then you will never see the flag again,"
said he, "for that is the worst rebel house in the city of Cincinnati." And so it proved, they never saw their flag again, and secretly hold Cincinnati responsible for it.

The above stories were taken from the Pottsville Daily Republican. April 18, 1900. There were numerous stories in this issue pertaining to the 39th anniversary of the First Defenders that was being held in Pottsville.

The band would remain in active service to the community and the military for many years after the war and on August 2, 1881 Gen J. K. Sigfried would muster the men into the National Guard of Pennsylvania, as the Third Brigade Band of Pennsylvania. This Band is still in existence today, marching in many a parade and providing the county with many a pleasurable concert.

The Fighting Men of The Civil War. William C. Davis.
Pottsville Daily Republican. April 18, 1900.

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