Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 34 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 34 of 192)
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money was raised, and committees were ap-
pointed to furnish attendants for those who
might need their services. By this date, the
country was having war in earnest. Squads
of rebel prisoners were taken through on the
Lake Shore R. R. every few days.

It might be supposed that war matters ab-
sorbed the whole of the public attention, but
this was only the case in a general sense. All
lines of trade and manufacture were carried
on with unabated energy during the entire
conflict, and a course of public lectures was
maintained in the city each winter, compri-
sing some of the most noted orators of the

The news of the battles around Richmond,
in which the Eighty-third suffered terribl)'
and Col. McLane was killed, reached Erie in
the later part of June, and caused great mourn-
ing. Emblems of sorrow for the dead were
placed on many buildings, and hospital stores
were hastilv sent forward for the wounded.



Early in July the President called for
300,000 more troops, and of this number it
was announced that Erie county's proportion
was five companies of 100 men each. A meet-
ing to encourage enlistments was held in
Wayne Hall, at which the County Commis-
sioners were asked to appropriate $100,000 to-
ward equipping a new regiment. This was
succeeded by others, both in Erie and in the
country districts. The martial spirit had
been much cooled by the disasters in Virginia,
and it began to be necessary to offer extra in-
ducements to volunteers. Erie city offered a
bounty of |50 to each recruit and the various
townships hastened to imitate its example.
Another call for 800,000 men decided the
County Commissioners to appropriate $25,000
to pay an additional bounty of the same
amount. In August, for the third time, the
fair grounds were turned into a militarj' camp,
and the organization of the One Hundred and
Forty-fifth Regiment began. Recruits came
forward rapidly, and the regiment left for the
seat of war on the 11th of September, 1862.

At the same time that enlistments were
in progress for the last-named regiment, vol-
unteers were being gathered for other organi-
zations. The navy was receiving numerous
accessions, mainly from Erie. Capts. Lennon,
Miles and Roberts were each raising a cavalry

company. On September25, Capt. Lennon's
company left with full ranks, and by the 4th
of October, Roberts' and Miles' companies
were both in camp at Pittsburg. A cavalry
company had previously been raised at Union
by Capt. Geo. H. Russell, which went into
camp at Philadelphia, and became a part of
the Twelfth Cavalry Regiment.


Notwithstanding the large number of vol-
unteers, the quota of Erie county, under the
various calls of the President, was still short,
and a draft seemed inevitable. The papers
were full of articles urging the people, for the
credit of the county, to avoid the draft, and
meetings were constantly heingheld to induce
volunteering. Many persons were badly
scared over the probability of being forced in-
to the service, and a few quietly took up
their abode in Canada. As the chance of a
draft became more certain, insurance com-
panies were formed for the protection of the
members. Those who joined these organiza-
tions paid a sum varying from $20 to $50,
which was placed in a common fund, to pro-
cure substitutes for such of their number as
might be drawn from the wheel of fate.
While preparations for the draft were in pro-
gress, recuiting for both the army and the
navy went on with great energy.

Toward the latter part of September, the
State authorities became alarmed for the safe-
ty of Harrisburg, and a hasty call was issued
for minutemen to assist in the defense of the
capital. Six companies, including some of the
leading business men, left Erie for Harrisburg,
in response to the Governor's appeal, but, hap-
pily, were not needed to take part in any fight-
ing. They returned in the beginning of

Meanwhile, an enrollment of the militia
had been made, preliminary to the draft,
under the direction of I. B. Gara, who had
been appointed a commissioner for that pur-
pose. These proceedings, as well as the sub-
sequent measures in connection with the sub-
ject, were carried on under the State militia
law. W. P. Gilson was appointed a deputy
marshal to prevent the escape of persons lia-
ble to conscription into Canada. The officers
to manage the draft were B. B. Vincent, com
missioner, and Charles Brandes, surgeon.



Volunteers were accepted up to the day of

The draft was held in the grand jury room
of the court house on the 16th of October,
1862, 1,055 names being drawn for the whole
county, the owners of which were to serve for
nine months. A blindfolded man drew the slips
from the wlieel, which were read as they came
out to the crowd in attendance. There were
many funny incidents, and some that were
very sad indeed. North East and Springfield
were the only districts in the county that
escaped the draft, their quotas being full. In
filling the wheel, all persons were exempted
above the age of forty-five years ; also, all
ministers, school teachers and school directors.

After the draft, the main business for some
weeks was hunting up substitutes. The price
of these ranged from $50 to |250, though the
average was in the neighborhood of $150.
The act released parties from military service
on payment of $300, and those who were able
to raise the money generally availed them-
selves of the privilege. A good many persons
who had concluded that the war was to be a
long and bloody one, put substitutes into the

^ice for a term of three vears.


were plenty, who hired out as substitutes, got
their money in advance and then left for parts
unknown. Some 300 persons were exempted
for physical disabilit}', about 250 failed to re-
port, and, altogether? it is doubtful whether
500 of the drafted men ever went into the
army. The first lot of conscripts, fifty-one in
number, left for camp at Pittsburg in the lat-
ter part of October, some 300 were forwarded
on the 10th of November, and the balance
went on at intervals between that and the end
of the year. Andiew Scott was appointed a
Provost Marshal to hunt up the delinquents,
but hardly found enough to pay for the
trouble. The Councils of Erie voted $45,000
for the relief of the families of conscripts from
the city, and the Ladies' Aid Society' supplied
each family with a Thanksgiving dinner. A
majority of the conscripts reached home by
the ensuing August. Few saw any fighting,
and the number of deaths was meager.


By the fall of 18(52, prices had gone up
twenty-five to forty per cent., with a steady
tendency to advance. The national tax law
was in full operation, and county, city and

township levies were largely increased to pro-
vide money for bounties. Gold and silver had
disappeared from circulation, and national
treasury notes, or greenbacks, as they came to
be known, were slowly finding their way into
use ; but the principal medium of exchange
still consisted of the notes of uncertain State
banks, county and city scrip and government
fractional currency or "shin plasters." Even
of the latter there were not enough for public
convenience, and business men resorted to
checks and due bills for fractional parts of a
dollar. To meet the demand for small change,
the city issued scrip in sums of five, ten,
twenty, twenty-five and fifty cents, which
proved of much convenience for the time

While this was the state of aft'airs finan-
cially, political feeling grew daily more in-
tense. The term " Copperhead," as applied
to the Democrats, came into use about the
beginning of 1868, and the latter, to retort
upon the Republicans, styled them Black-
snakes, Revolutionists, Radicals and other
names more forcible than polite. The Repub-
licans taunted the Democrats with being op-
posed to the war, and the latter answered by
saying that the Republicans aimed at the de-
struction of the people's liberty. Looking at
the subject now, the embittered partisanship
of the dav seems supremely foolish and incom-
prehensible. There were true patriots on
both sides, and both parties doubtless contain-
ed men who were more anxious for the triumph
of selfish ends than for the good of the coun-
try'. The mass of the people were anxious
for the preservation of the Union, though
they held different views about the way of do-
ing it.


The news of the rebel invasion of Pennsyl-
vania in June, 1863, caused a wonderful com-
motion throughout the county. The Governor
made an urgent appeal for militia to defend
the State, and instant measures were taken in re-
sponse. A vast meeting was held inErie on the
evening of June 15, at which earnest speeches
were made by Messrs. Lowry, Sill, Galbraith,
Walker, Marvin, McCreary and others, point-
ing out the duty of the people to drive the
enemy from the soil of Pennsylvania. About
400 citizens enlisted for the State defense, but,
on reaching Pittsburg, they were ordered



home, the victory of Meade at Gettysburg
having rendered their immediate service un-
necessary. Generous contributions of hospital
stores were sent to the wounded Erie county
soldiers by the efforts of the Ladies' Aid
Society. The fall of Vicksburg and Meade's
triumph were celebrated in Erie with great

By reference to the newspapers of the day,
we find that in the summer of 1863, Capt.
Mueller was in Erie recruiting another bat-
tery. Large numbers of young men were
shipping in the navy. The citizens were mak-
ing extraortlinary exertions to avert another
draft. Insurance companies against the draft
were formed by the score, and hundreds of
persons were putting in claims for exemption
to the enrolling officers. Regiments were
passing through the city as often as two or
three a week, on their way home to fill up
their ranks. Not a few liable to military
service were slipping off to Canada, and an
occasional instance was reported of young
men maiming themselves to secure exemption.
The only portion of the male population who
felt really comfortable were the deformed, the
crippled and the over-aged.


Early in the year 1863 Congress passed an
act taking the matter of conscription out of
the hands of the States, rendering all persons
liable between the ages of twenty and fort}'-
five, except such as were exempt from physi-
cal causes, or other special reasons, and mak-
ing each Congressional district a military
district, under the supervision of a provost
marshal, an enrolling commissioner, and an
examining surgeon, to be appointed by the
President. To escape military duty when
called upon, it was made necessary to prove
exemption, furnish a substitute, or pay !t!300.
Lieut. Col. H. S. Campbell, late of the Eighty-
third Regiment, was named as marshal; Jerome
Powell, of Elk county, as commissioner; and
Dr. John Macklin, of Jefferson county, as
surgeon, to act for this Congressional district.
Headquarters were established at Waterford,
and a new enrollment was made during the
months of May and June. In the prosecution
of their duties, the enrolling officers met with
some hostility among the laborers and me-
chanics of the city, but nothing occurred of a
serious nature. The government was now en-

listing negroes into the army, and bodies of
these troops passed through Erie frequently.
The second draft in numerical order, and
the first under the United States law, occurred
at Waterford under the supervision of the
officers above named on Monday and Tuesday
the 24th and 25th of August. The wheel stood
on a platform in front of the provost marshal's
office, and the names were drawn by a blind
man. An audience of a thousand or more
surrounded the officers, one of whom took
each slip as it came out of the wheel and read
it aloud, so that all present could hear. The
crowd was good natured throughout the pro-
ceedings, but many a man who assumed in-
difference when his name was drawn was at
heart sick and sore. The saddest features of
'the case did not appear to the public; they
were only known to the parents, the wives,
the children and the sweethearts of the con-
j scripts. It is impossible now to state the
number who were drafted, but as the county
was announced to be nearly 1,400 short of its
quota a week or so before, it is probable that
it did not fall much below that figure. The
! price for substitutes ran up to 1300, with the
I supply quite equal to the demand. On the 26th
of September, it was stated in the newspapers
that eighty-three of the conscripts had fur-
! nished substitutes, 245 had paid commutation,
I 706 had been exempted and 127 had been
forwarded to camp at Pittsburg.


In October, 1863, appeared a call

President Lincoln for 300,000 more men. Gov.
Curtin announced Pennsylvania's quota to be
38,268, which he asked to be made up by
volunteering. A general bount}' of $402 was
offered to veterans who should re-enlist, and
$100 less to new recruits. To this sum the
county added $300, and most of the districts
$50 to $100 more.

During a portion of the season, the L^nited
States steamer* 'Michigan" was guarding John-
son's Island, in the upper part of the lake,
where about two thousand rebel prisoners
were confined, whom rumor accused of a
design to escape. In the month of November
reports became current of a proposed rebel in-
vasion from Canada, Erie being named as the
landing place. This was the most startling
news, in a local sense, that had yet arisen out
of the war, and the citizens were correspond-



ingly agitated. While the excitement was at
its height, 600 troops arrived from Pittsburg
with a battery, under the command of Maj.
Gen. Brooks. The hotter directed intrench-
ments to be thrown up on the blockhouse
bluff, and called upon the citizens to lend him
their assistance. Something like one thousand
obeyed his summons, with picks and shovels,
on the first day, but the workers dwindled
woefully in number on the second day. The
rumor proved to be false, the work was aban-
doned, and the troops left for the South in a
few days, with the exception of the battery.
The encouragement given by the large
bounties did much to promote volunteering.
Erie county's quota of the new call was 673,
which it was determined by the public should
be made up without a draft. To the joy of all,
when the day for the draft arrived, Erie
county escaped, her proportion having been


On the Uthof January, 1864, the members
of the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment
came home to reciuit their ranks. They were
given a grand reception at the depot, and treat-
ed by the ladies to a sumptuous repast. The regi-
ment went into camp on the fair grounds, and
remained until February 25, when they left for
the seat of war with ranks nearly full. A
good many members of the Eighty-third Reg-
iment, whose term had expired, also came
home in January, and were received with the
cordiality their bravery entitled them to.
Seventy-five more arrived on the 4th of

Among the features at the beginning of
1864, it is to be noted that two recruiting
officers for the regular army were busy at
work in the city. The national currency had
supplanted all other paper circulation, and,
being issued in vast amounts, had inflated
prices to twice and thrice their normal stand-
ard. A remarkable speculation had com-
menced in real estate. Sixty persons had re-
cently enlisted from Erie in the navy, and
hosts of others were thinking of doing the
same in preference to entering the army.
Several sciuadsof negro soldiers passed through
Erie from Waterford. where they had been
accepted to apply on the quota of the county.
Five or six criminals were released from prison
by the Court at the May session on condition

that they must join the army. It was a com-
mon practice of the day for the Courts to per-
mit prisoners indicted for minor offenses to go
without sentence if they volunteered to fight
for the Union.


The call of the President, in July, 1864,
for 500,000 more men, was succeeded by the
usual periodical endeavor to avoid the draft,
which had become the all-exciting topic of
discussion. At a meeting in Erie, $20,000
were subscribed to offer extra inducements to
volunteers, besides the United States, county
and district bounties. The quota of the
county was stated to be 1,289, and of this, the
city's proportion was about one hundred and
fifty. Provost Marshal Campbell, in pursu-
ance of instruction, gave notice that negroes
would be taken as substitutes. This hint was
eagerly accepted, and Asa Battles, John W.
Halderman and Richard M. Broas were
deputed to go to the Southwest and pick up
recruits to apply on the quota of Erie county.
Meanvi'hile Ensign Bone had opened an office
in the city, where he was shipping men by the
hundreds for the navy. About a thousand
entered the service through that channel, re-
ceiving an average bounty of $400. The
price of substitutes had increased to $550,
$600 and $700.

President Lincoln was re-elected in No-
vember, 1864, after a contest which has never
been surpassed in the hatred it engendered,
and the vigor with which it was fought on
both sides. Every speaker who could be
mustered was forced upon the stump, and
there was scarcely a cross-roads that did not
have its mass meetings, pole raisings and
political clubs. The great processions of the
two parties in Erie during that campaign were
the events of a life-time to many of the par-
ticipants. Notwithstanding the heated can-
vas, the election passed off without a disturb-
ance, and the defeated party acquiesced in
the result with the calmness of a martyr.


The call for 800,000 more men in January,
1865, led the Councils of Erie to increase their
offer of a bounty to $150, which was ulti-
mately increased to $400. A draft took place
at Ridgway, where the Provost Marshal's



office had been moved from Waterford, on the
6th of March, in which 2,010 names were
drawn from Erie county. The only district
that did not have to contribute was Girard
borough. The names of the conscripts were
telegraphed to Erie and read to the anxious
thousands in waiting, from a window of the
Daily Dispatch office, in Wright's block, at
the northeast corner of State and Fifth streets.
Occasionally a" sound of forced laughter
would be heard as some e.xcitable person's
name was announced, but the general bearing
of the crowd was solemn and painful. Hun-
dreds of women were in the crowd, and their
distress upon learning of the conscription of
some father, husband or brother was most
pitiful. The people were at last face to face
with war's sternest and crudest realities. The
Legislature had passed an act authorizing any
district to pay a bounty of .$400, and large
sums were now offered for volunteers and
substitutes. The price of the latter at one
period rose to tl,500, but got down tinallv
to an average of between $800 and .$900. Of
the drafted men, a good portion entered the
service and were mostly assigned to guard
duty in the forts at and near Washidgton.
The majority of them were back by the last
of June.


On Sunday, April 9, came the glad news
of the surrender of Lee, at Appomattox, which
was everywhere hailed as the virtual end of
the war. The demonstration in Erie over the
event was the most joyful and impressive in
the city's history. Cannons were fired, bells
were rung, il.igs were thrown to the breeze,
and the whole population shouted themselves
hoarse for the Union and its gallant soldiers.
The illumination in the evening made the
streets almost as bright as the noonday sun.
The universal gladness was quickly changed
to profound sorrow by the assassination of
President Lincoln on that dreadful Friday,
the 12th of April. Emblems of mourning
instantly took the place of the tokens of
victory, and every warehouse, shop and busi-
ness establishment was closed on Saturday.
The special train bearing the martyred Presi-
dent's remains to Springfield passed through
the city on the 27th of April. Thousands of
people gathered at the depot to pay their last
tribute of respect to the honored dead.


Here ends the story of the war, so far as
relates to its general features in Erie county.
j A sketch in detail of the several regiments is
I given later on, to which all are referred who
wish to know more of their history. The fol-
lowing is a partial list of officers from Erie
county who took part in the contest, aside
from those already named or in the regular
regimental organizations :
1 United States ^Vazn'.— Regular officers, R.

' B. Lowry, Thomas H' Stevens, R. N. Spotts,
James E. Jouett, James W. Shirk, Leonard
Paulding, D. Lanman, Napoleon Collins.

Chief Engineer — William H. Rutherford.

Surgeon — W. Maxwell Wood.

Assistant Paymasters — J. P. Loomis, Wal-
ter \V. Chester, George A. Lyon.

Volunteer Service. — Masters — John H.
Welsh, M. J. Cronen, James C. Marshall, Jr.

Ensigns — A. J. Louch, M. E. Flannigan,
Patrick Donnelly, William Slocum, James
Hunter, George W. Bone, Felix McCann,
Philip Englehart, James S. Roberts, C. M.
Bragg, John Dunlap, Frank Oliver, James
Downs, J. M. Reed, John Sullivan, Norman
McCloud, Warren Burch, — Reed, — Reed,
Patrick Murphy, Braxton Bragg.

Engineers — Patrick Maloney, Robert
Riley, William Bass, Bennett Jones, P. H.
Fales, Jonas Slocum, William Moran, John
Miles, George Odell.

Gunners — John Murray, William Barton,
Thomas Carpenter.

Carpenters — J. G. Thomas, John O. Baker.

Masters' Mates — Patrick Sullivan, Horace
Sprague, Robert Roberts, Thomas J. Dunlap,
William Marsh, Henry C. Warren, William
E. Leonard, Jesse M. Rutherford, Joseph K.
Kelso, James Cummins, Henry Van Velsor.

Revenue Service. — Douglass Ottinger.

United States Army. — Regular officers —
Gen. Reno, H. B. Fleming, Josiah Kellogg,
W. W. Lyon.

Paymasters — A. McDowell Lyon.

Quartermaster — E. C. Wilson.

Volunteer Service. — A. F. Swan, 16th Pa.
Cav. ; Lockwood Caughev, 16th Pa. Cav. ;
William H. McAllister, 12th Pa. Cav. ; T. J.
Hoskinson, 58th Pa. Inf.

Paymasters — Allen A. Craig, S. V. Holli-


day, Gideon J. Ball, Henry C. Rogers, John

Quartermaster — Robert C. Caughey.

Surgeons — J. L. Stewart, Thomas H.

State Agent — S. Todd Perley.


The following are extracts from the records
of the County Commissioners during and im-
mediately following the war :

1861— April 22— The sum of $10,000 of
the county funds set apart for the support of
such persons as shall enlist in support of the

1862 — August 5 — A bounty of $50 voted
to each person who will volunteer to make up
the quota of 500 men required from Erie county
to make up the call of the President.

September 10 — The quota being full and a
large excess of volunteers in the One Hun-
dreth and Forty-fifth Regiment ; the resolu-
tion offering a bounty of $50 extended to all
who may hereafter form the Eighty-third,
One Hundred and Eleventh and One Hundred
and Forty-fifth Regiments, or Thomas Len-
non's Cavalry Company, to be credited to
Erie county.

1868— December 14— A bounty of $300
voted to each person who shall volunteer to
the credit of Erie county, so as to avoid the
draft fixed for the 5th of January, warrants
to be issued for the purpose drawing interest,
redeemable at the will of the County Commis-
sioners in county scrip, at par without interest.

1864— February 9— The bounty of $300 ex-
tended, under the same condition as above.

April 5 — County script signed to date,

March 14 — Rate of bounty tax fixed at 20
mills on the dollar of valuation. Amount
levied, $93,652.

March 22— The bounty of $300 continued
till the quota of Erie county is full ; provided,
that if a local bounty is offered by any ward,
borough or township, the county will only
pay so much in addition as will make the sum
of $300.

December 15 — The other banks of Erie

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 34 of 192)