Morton L. (Morton Luther) Montgomery.

Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. online

. (page 34 of 227)
Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 34 of 227)
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State upon its erection, and the other, the Brecken-
ridge branch, for submitting it to the Supreme court
for adjudication under the national Constitution ;
and in the Presidential campaign of 1860 their poH-
tical power was divided. The party was still strong-
enough, as a whole, to elect a candidate; but it
was not strong enough to bear a division, especially
such a division as Douglas was able to create by
the support which he had won through public dis-
cussion.

Lincoln, the Republican candidate, was elected.
From the sentiments of his party, especially from
the sentiments of its ultra-leaders, who were styled
"Abolitionists," the Southern leaders felt con-
strained to take earnest steps toward secession, and
these were taken between the day of the election in
November and the day of Lincoln's inauguration in
March, not only vigorously but successfully without
the slightest hindrance on the part of the national
government. Prominent cabinet officials, senators
and representatives withdrew from their respective
positions and caused their several States to pass
ordinances of secession, declaring the contract be-
tween them and the national government broken.

When Lincoln took possession of the government,
the status was not only discouraging but alarming.
In his inaugural address he stated that apprehen-
sion seemed to exist among the people of the
Southern States that, h\, the accession of a Republi-



can administration, their property, peace and per-
sonal security were to be endangered, but that there
never had been any reasonable cause for such ap-
prehension; and he declared that he had no pur-
pose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the in-
stitution of slavery in the States where it existed;
he had no inclination to do so on the one hand, and
on the other he had no lawful right, and those who
had elected him did so with the full knowledge that
he had made these declarations, which he had never
recanted. Notwithstanding his plain and direct lan-
guage to perform the duties of his office according
to the Constitution and laws, without any mental
reservations or any purposes to construe them by
hypercritical rules ; and his expressed sentiments for
peace and inseparable union of the States, the
Southern leaders persisted in secession and dis-
union.

Call for Troops. — On the morning of the 12th
of April, 1861, the military forces of South Carol-
ina, under the leadership of Gen. Robert Beaure-
gard, began to fire upon Fort Sumter, which was
under the command of Maj. Robert Anderson.
The President, finding the laws of the country
opposed and the execution thereof obstructed in
seven Southern States (South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tex-
as) "by combinations too powerful to be suppressed
by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by
the powers vested in the marshals by law," issued
a proclamation on the 15th day of April, calHng
for seventy-five thousand militia of the several
States of the Union, "to suppress said combina-
tions and to cause the laws to b^ duly executed";
and he appealed "to all loyal citizens to favor, facil-
itate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, in-
tegrity and existence of our national Union, and
the perpetuity of popular government, and to re-
dress the wrongs already long enough endured."
A requisition was made on Pennsylvania for six-
teen regiments, two being wanted within three days,
inasmuch as the city of Washington was entirely
unprotected and a sudden dash upon it was strongly
threatened.

The national government had not before done
anything to cause the South to feel alarmed, and
it was hoped that this simple manifestation of ex-
ecutive authority would restore peace, but the or-
ganization at the South was too thorough, and its
purpose to establish a confederation by itself too
premeditated. Men therefore rushed to arms; call
after call for troops was made; thousands of lives
were sacrificed ; and millions of dollars were ex-
pended, in the two sections, for a right which each
claimed, the one to establish a confederation and
the other to maintain constituted authority ; and
this terrible contest continued four years before
peace was restored.

Patriotism of County. — The feeling in the
county for maintaining the Union and "upholding
the constitution was strong and continuous during
the entire period from the beginning to the close



WAR PERIODS



135-



of the war; and this was exhibited by Democrats
and RepubHcans alike. Breckenridge had received
a majority over Lincoln, exceeding two thousand
votes, but the sentiment for the Union was general
in all the districts, especially at Reading. Com-
panies were raised rapidly and mustered into ser-
vice, altogether 104, almost entirely enlisted in and
from the county, and they went to the rescue
freely, moved by the highest patriotic impulse. Pub-
lic meetings were iiumerous and earnest sympathy
for the cause was manifested at all of them. The
prominent men took the lead. Our judges, law-
yers, merchants and business men generally, with-
out respect to party affiliations, united to encourage
and sustain the national administration. Their pro-
nounced opinion in the matter created and pre-
served a proper spirit in the community. The
county and city governments were constantly liberal
in appropriations of money toward encouraging
volunteer enlistments.

The county contained a large majority of people
who were against the war, if we interpret their
opinion from the exercise of their political suffrage
at elections; but they were submissive and they
caused no trouble, no riotous demonstration. They
went to the war by the thousand; they endured
conscription without opposition ; and they permitted
the assessment of burdensome taxation. They en-
couraged appropriations of money, amounting to
nearly a million of dollars, expressly for the enlist-
ment of men; and they invested large sums of
money in the national securities. These, taken to-
gether, truly constitute significant evidence of de-
votion to their country and to the administration
of its affairs by an opposite party, a party whose
principles were not only different from theirs, but
in fact objectionable, if not repulsive, to them.
Their general co-operation under such circumstan-
ces is therefore commendable.

Capt. James McKnight offered his company of
Ringgold Light Artillery, and it was the first mili-
tary organization that responded to the call for
troops by the President and moved to the defense
of the country. This historical .fact is worthy of
especial mention, for in it our people take a just,
patriotic pride; and it is a distinction in this great
crisis of our country which no other community
enjoys. Hon. William M. Hiester prepared a
paper to establish the fact beyond question, and
read it before the Historical Society of Berks
County on June 14, 1870.

During this period, the excitement throughout
the county was ever active, and several times when
the State was invaded by the Rebels, and our own
county was threatened with the horrors of war, it
became alarming. This was particularly the case
at Reading. Penn Square was daily, more or less,
in commotion with the enlistment of men, the for-
mation and exercise of companies and their depart-
ure to the seat of war or their return from it. The
music of fife and drum and the marching of men
(fathers, husbands, brothers and sons) thrilled the



entire community time and again. These were, in-
deed, events that made a lasting impression upon
that generation.

The encampments (one in the northern part of
Reading in 1862, and another in the eastern part
in 1863) attracted much attention. They afforded
the people an opportunity of forming a proper con-
ception of camp life and military discipline. If
our peaceful inhabitants did not realize the actual
terrors and horrors of warfare by the 'booming of
cannon, the explosion of shells and the destruction
of property; if they did not see blood and death
in their highways and upon their fields as the
evidence of bitter apposition and revenge; they
saw officers and soldiers in uniforms and witnessed'
military exercises with the weapons of war, and.
they knew by their own personal observations that
earnest preparations were made for encounters-
with the enemy.

How they looked at these military cities, with
tents and streets under strict regulation! how they
watched the men in drill, by platoons and com-
panies and battalions ! how they pointed out gen-
erals and colonels and captains as the men who- ,
had been in war and passed safely through the
jaws of death! But when the wounded, the dying-
and the dead were brought home to them, then
they felt that the curse of rebellion was in the-
land.

The "Union League," a Republican association
at Reading, organized after the great "Union-
League" at Philadelphia, was very active in en-
listing men for military service; and so were the-
various secret societies, especially the "Junior Sons
of America."

In the midst of the great excitement incident to-
the general feeling for war and the necessary
preparations to carry it on successfully, our locat
energy displayed itself to a remarkable degree in
every 4epartment of business. Trade was active
and profitable, and it stimulated various enter-
prises. Railroads were projected and substantial
improvements were made in every section of the
county, especially at Reading; and matters per-
taining to education and religion were directed
with earnestness and success. The prices of all
kinds of material were high ; but money was
abundant and a spirit of increased liberality kept
it moving about actively from hand to hand, from-
store to store, from bank to bank, and from place
to place.

War Meetings. — After the election of Lin-
coln, a sentiment of fear for the preservation of
the Union developed more and more rapidly with
each passing day. This was more especially
caused by the action of certain Southern States on
the subject of secession. This fear obtained at
Reading; and in order to express the opinion of
this community on the subject of "preserving the
integrity of the Union," a large meeting, including-
prominent men of both political parties, was held
in the Court-House on Dec. 13, 1860. Appropriate



126



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



resolutions were adopted, favorable to the Union,
but particularly reconnmending non-interference
with the rights of property in slaves guaranteed
by the Constitution to the Southern States.

On the 10th day of December (three days be-
fore) the; Democratic City Club had met and re-
ported a "Memorial to Congress on the State of
the Union," prepared by a committee of thirty-
three prominent Democrats, in which similar senti-
ments of non-interference and compromise had
been expressed.

In July, 1862, when there was a threatened in-
vasion of Pennsylvania, our people became
much alarmed for the safety of their lives and
property. Large and enthusiastic meetings were
held in the Court-House to devise means for pro-
tection. They included all the prominent and in-
fluential citizens of Reading. Their public ex-
pressions were thoroughly patriotic; and in pur-
suance of their earnest recommendation the county
commissioners offered a bounty of fifty dollars to
every officer and private mustered into the service
from the county. In September following, the
commissioners again offered the same bounty for
every volunteer soldier; and the city councils ap-
propriated ten thousand dollars additional for this
purpose of encouraging volunteer enlistments. In
June, 1863, similar meetings were held.

Appropriations. — The city of Reading appro-
priated altogether for war purposes, in bounties,
relief, etc., $373,179 and the county of Berks, the
sum of $452,389. The boroughs likewise appro-
priated moneys for these purposes and displayed
the same patriotic spirit.

L.^DiEs' Aid Society. — The women are also
worthy of mention for their patriotism. They did
not enlist in practical military service ; but they
gave the national administration a moral support
which is truly praiseworthy. Just as the "Ring-
gold Light Artillery" were preparing to take the
railroad train on the afternoon of April 16, 1861,
to proceed to Harrisburg in answer to the Presi-
dent's call for troops, certain influential ladies of
Reading assembled in the parlor of Mrs. Dr. Dil-
ler Luther, at No. 530 Penn street, and formed a
society which they entitled "Ladies' Aid Society."
Its object was to supply the soldiers with clothing
and materials useful whilst in military service
away from home. It was actively engaged dur-
ing the entire period of the war, collecting and
forwarding tons of materials. A "depot" was es-
tablished at Reading, to which all the goods were
carried and from which they were consigned. The
country districts co-operated in this work and the
women responded nobly by forwarding many ma-
terials to Reading.

This was the first society of the kind organized
in the country; and as we take a just pride in hay-
ing furnished the military company which was the
first to respond to the call for troops and to report
at Harrisburg for service, so do we take a similar
pride in having organized this Ladies' Aid Society,



which was the first to take active and successful
steps toward providing for the comfort and wel-
fare of the soldiers.

This society participated actively in the matters
pertaining to the Sanitary Commission at Phila-
delphia; and it was represented by a number of
ladies at the "Sanitary Fair," which was held in
that city for the purpose of raising funds to re-
lieve the wants of the soldiers.

Reading Hospital. — A "MiHtary Hospital" was
fitted up at Reading during the middle of June,
1862, in the main exhibition building of the Agri-
cultural Society on the "Fair Ground," with cots
suffi-cient to accommodate 130 patients, and suc-
cessfully conducted till the spring of 1863. The
"Ladies' Aid Society" of Reading took an active
interest in the welfare of the sick and wounded
soldiers, and performed admirable service during
the continuance of the hospital. The regularly
commissioned surgeons in attendance were Dr.
Martin Luther and Dr. John B. Brooke.

Draft and Quotas of Berks County. — Dur-
ing the progress of the war, requisitions for troops
became so frequent that the government was com-
pelled to resort to the conscription of men so as to
prosecute the war with success. Though numer-
ous volunteers enlisted from Berks county, and the
citizens of this district responded nobly to the sev-
eral calls for troops, here, as elsewhere, the draft
had to be made. There were four drafts, one in
each of the years 1862, 1863, 1864 and 1865. The
provost marshals of this district were, in succes-
sion, Henry I. Kupp, Jacob C. Hoff and George
W. Durell.

The first draft was conducted in October, 1862.
The total enrollment of men in the county num-
bered 17,809 ; the volunteers, 3,186 ; and the quota,
2,719. The number of men who volunteered in
lieu of draft was 345 ; and the substitutes who en-
listed for three years numbered 146. The total
number of men drafted in the county was 1,242.
These men were encamped on the "Hiester Farm,"
adjoining the Evans' cemetery on the north, formed
into companies, and placed under the command of
Col. Charles Knoderer; and they were mustered
into service as the 167th Regiment.

A second draft was made August 56-29, 1863.
The quota of men from the county was 1,554 —
this number having been fifty per cent in excess,
to provide against exemptions.

The third draft proposed in March, 1864, for
Berks county, was postponed for a time. The
quota in the call for two hundred thousand men
was 767 ; the deficiency of the county under former
drafts was 298; total number required, 1,065; and
the credit of the county on April 15, 1864, for men
supplied to the government, 1,036. Tliis deficiency
of 29 men was more than supplied by re-enlisted
veterans. Subsequently, however, in j\Iay, a draft
was ordered, upon finding a deficiency in certain
sub-districts in the county and each' sub-district



WAR PERIODS



127



was required to fill its own quota. The total num-
ber drawn was 173.

A call for five hundred thousand men was made
on July 18, 1864. The quota for Berks county was
1,887; for Reading, 450. On Aug. 1st, the defi-
ciency in the county was 1,635; in Reading 313.
A draft was made on Sept. 33d, but only for
one sub-district — Ruscombmanor, 53 men, all the
other sub-districts having supplied itheir deficiencies.
A fourth draft was made Feb. 33-35, 1865. Reading,
Upper Bern, Bernville, Cumru, Douglass, Spring,
Upper Tulpehocken, and Womelsdorf had suppHed
their quota of men by volunteers. The call was
made in December, 1864, for three hundred thou-
sand; the quota for Pennsylvania was 49,563, and
Berks county, 1,560.

Northern Men in Service. — The aggregate
number of men furnished by Pennsylvania was
366,336; reduced to three years' standard, 367,558.

It is estimated that during the war fifty-six thou-
sand soldiers were killed in battle; about thirty-
five thousand died of wounds in hospitals, and one
hundred and eighty-four thousand by disease. The
total casualties, if we include those who died sub-
sequent to their discharge, were about three hun-
dred thousand. The loss of the Confederates was
less in battle, owing to the defensive character of
their struggle; but they lost more from wounds
and by disease, on account of inferior sanitary ar-
rangements. The total loss of life caused by the
Rebellion exceeded half a million men, and nearly
as many more were disabled.

Summary of Battles. — In the four years of
service, the armies of the Union (counting every
form of conflict, great and small) had been in 3,-
265 engagements with the Confederate troops.
From the time when active hostilities began until
the last gun of the war was fired, a fight of some
kind (a raid, a skirmish or a pitched battle) oc-
curred at some point on our widely-extended front
nearly eleven times a week upon an average.
Counting only those engagements in which the
Union loss, in killed, wounded and missing, ex-
ceeded one hundred, the total number was 330.
From the northernmost point of contact to the
southernmost, the distance by any practicable line
of communication was more than two thousand
miles. From east to west, the extremes were fif-
teen hundred miles apart. During the first year of
hostilities (one of preparation on both sides) the
battles were naturally fewer in number and less de-
cisive in character than afterward, when discipline
had been imparted to the troops by drill, and when
the materiel of war had been collected and stored
for prolonged campaigns. The engagements of all
kinds in 1861 were thirty-five in number, of which
the most serious was at Bull Run. In 1863, the
war had greatly increased in magnitude and inten-
sity, as is shown by the eighty-four engagements
between the armies. The net result of the .year's
operations was highly favorable to the Rebellion.
In 1863 the battles were one hundred and ten in



number, among them some of the most significant
and important victories for the Union. In 1864,
there were seventy-three engagements ; and in the
winter and early spring of 1865 there were twenty-
eight.

Paper Money. — Before the Civil war, it had
been the uniform practice of the different States to
allow banks to be established for the issue of notes,
payable in specie on demand, and the liability of
the shareholders was limited. Banking then was
quite free, and all individuals could carry it on
provided they observed the requirements of the
law. But under this system there was great fluctu-
atioii in ^ value, which produced much bankruptcy
and ruin. Between 1811 and 1820, many banks
became bankrupt; and twenty years afterward,
another financial panic occurred. The inflation of
the banknotes was wonderful between 1830 and
1837; but just as the amount had been increased,
so it decreased during the following six years till
1843; and this caused the ruin of many moneyed
institutions among them the Bank of the United
States, the renewal of whose charter had been
denied by President Jackson.

At the beginning of the war, the paper money
in circulation amounted to $300,000,000; of which
three-fourths had been issued in the Northern
States; and the coin amounted to $275,000,000.
The early necessities of the national treasury in
this trying period compelled the government to
borrow money, and in February, 1862, Congress
authorized the issue of treasury notes amounting
to $150,000,000, declaring them to be legal tender
except for customs duties and interest on the na-
tional debt.

A premium on gold naturally followed, causing
it to be drawn entirely from circulation, and this
increased as the treasury notes multiplied. Then
the National Banking System came to be intro-
duced to supply a circulating medium, having been
created on Feb. 25, 1863, and amended on June 3,
1864. A Bureau was established in the Treasury
Department, with power to authorize- banking as-
sociations, under certain provisions for public -se-
curity, and the State banks were rapidly trans-
formed into national banks. The currency of the
country in this manner came to consist of treasury
demand notes (which in 1865 amounted to $450,-
000,000) and of national bank-notes (which' ap-
proached the limit' of $300,000,000). The latter
circulated as freely as the former, because their
ultimate redemption was assured by the deposit of
an adequate amount in United States bonds at the
national treasury. This system was found supe-
rior in the protection which it afforded; but it
could not prevent a financial crisis from sweeping
over the country, especially when other causes, such
as excessive manufactures and enormous losses
from fire, contributed greatly toward the result.
Congress also authorized small notes for five,
ten, twenty-five and fifty cents to be issued for
the purpose of supplying the loss of the small de-



128



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



nominations of coin money from circulation. This '^^e''
was commonly known as "currency," and it was
all redeemed after the war.

During this period, our merchants at Reading
issued and circulated for a time their own fraction-
al demand notes for the purpose of encouraging
trade in the community and it was gradually re-
deemed as the national currency was supplied.



COMPANIES FROM COUNTY
The following 104 companies of men were enlisted
from Berks county and mustered into the service
of the national government in the Civil war.
Twelve of the companies included men accredited
to other counties. Reckoning all the men in the
companies named and those found in different
companies not classified, it can be asserted that
about ten thousand men of our county were en-
gaged in the great struggle for the preservation of
the Union.

SUMMARY

Three months' service, 1861 738

Three years' service, 1861-64 3,657

Nine months' service, 1862-63 1,003

Volunteer militia of 1862 543

Drafted militia of 1862 1,263

Emergency troops of 1863 1,438

One hundred days' service, 1864 357

One year's service, 1864-65> 895

Miscellaneous enlistment in Regular U. S. service,

etc , 250



10,144
The detailed statement,"' showing the several regiments
and companies, the number of men in each company,
and the names of the captains, is as follows :

Three Months' Service — l86l



Refft.


Co.


Men


Captain


25


A


104


James McKnight


1


G


78


Geo. W. Alexander


5


H


77


Frank M. Cooley


5


Band


16


E. Ermentrout, Leader


7


C


76


Isaac Schroeder


7


D


78


Geo. S. Herbst


7


G


77


A. F. Rightmyer


14


A


77


David A. Griffith


14


E


80


John C. Shearer


25'


C


58


Henry Nagle


25


Band


17


John A. Hoch, Leader




Three Y


'cars' Service — 1861-64


Regt.


Co.


Men


Captain


26


Band


13


Henry Grime, Leader


32


A


100


Jacob Lenhart, Jr.


32


D


115


Wm. Briner


32


F


100


Wash. Richards


36


I


33


Joseph G. Holmes (Berks and
Lebanon counties)


43


F


38


R. B. Rickets, 1st Artillery


44


L


155


J. C. A. Hoffeditz


44


M


154


Thos. S. Richards


46


E


173


Cornelius Wise


46


Band


16


R. J. Stanley


48


D


40


Daniel Nagle


50


B


166


Hervey Herman



Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 34 of 227)