It is always very interesting to be given or find newspaper clippings from the old newspapers of pre, wartime and post war Philadelphia relating to the 69th. Pa. regiment or any of its soldiers. Here are a few of interest.
The first flag the one referred to in the above cutting is from the Irish American of 22nd. April 1862 was one developed, made and paid for by friends and relatives of the 69th. Pa. soldiers back in Philadelphia. The design of this flag was obviously of green coloured cloth trimmed with gold lace. On the obverse of the flag was painted an Irish harp together with the statement Presented to the 69th Pennsylvania Regiment by their Friends. The reverse side of the flag depicted the Pennsylvania State coat of arms. This first flag was presented to the regiment on March 13th. 1862 whilst they lay in camp at Winchester Va. This flag was carried side by side with the Pennsylvania state flag until the regiment returned to Philadelphia in March 1864. It was the flag flown at Gettysburg and had obviously been shot up so much in fact that Bernard McNeil the regiment surgeon had in his possession a portion of the flag shot away at Gettysburg which he was able to take back to Philadelphia and have it encased and presented to David Lyle the Fire Chief of Philadelphia.
It would appear that David Lyle had been a very young Fire Chief for the city. He may well have been a family friend of Surgeon McNeil and also Lyle's brother Peter had also served. He had enlisted 18th. May 1861 and was given colonel rank. He served initially in the 19th. Pa. Infantry then in the 90th. Pa. Infantry ending up with Brig. Gen. rank. David Lyle the Fire Chief died young in 1867 aged just 49. There is a substantial memorial plinth in the Ivy Hill cemetery Philadelphia to both Fire Chief David Lyle and his brother Peter Lyle along with other named men from the fire department who had fought in the Civil War.
Obviously the 1st. flag had to be replaced. It is thought that this 2nd. flag was a flag with a more political statement. It would appear so as the use of the Irish Fenian "sunburst"logo appeared on the flag as well as a round tower and an Irish wolfhound on one side and the Pennsylvanian State coat of arms on the other. Why the "sunburst" logo?. It is known that some of the men in the 69th. Pa. were heavily involved in the Fenian movement in Philadelphia Major William Davis being one of them and it is said he basically commissioned a man called Reville in Philadelphia also a leading member of a Fenian society in Philadelphia to have a new flag made. It is of interest to note that unrest in Ireland and the Fenian movement was gaining strength in this era.
Flag retired and entrusted to the mayor of Philadelphia with request that the flag be placed in Independence Hall. Request by William Davis major commanding the 69th Pa. Vols.
However though the newspaper items above give a fairly definitive history of "the Flag" the reality is perhaps more interesting and the background history of the "the Flag" a bit more complex. From research it would appear that there were two flags linked to the 69th. Pa. The 69th. Pa. being the only Pennsylvanian unit to carry such flags.
There has subsequently been much discussion as what happened to the two flags after the war and the statements made in the cuttings above may be too definitive and not exactly accurate. It would appear that at various times cuttings and pieces of both flags would appear to have found their way into the public domain either being distributed by descendants or perhaps for gain. I will leave the reader to follow this up the bottom line is that neither flag now exists as a such but there may well be cuttings and sections in a few dusty drawers somewhere. Rather a pity.
Much has been written about the battle on Gettysburg on July 2nd and 3rd 1863 and many maps of the positioning of the various regiments both Union and Confederate on the day. In the case of the 69th their main position was at the famous "Angle" in the wall close to the also famous "clump of trees". This is where they fought so gallantly in an engagement that changed the outcome of the Civil War. Many men of the 69th would die there and many received terrible wounds.The map below shows the position of the regiment.
If one looks at the history of mankind and his wars the "positive" aspect is nearly always looked at, brave warriors, victory parades in local towns etc. But when peace eventually arrives and the guns have silenced then what? Are the returning warriors accepted with open arms back to the societies where they were recruited from. Just maybe but harsh reality soon kicks in after the cheering crowds have faded away. Thousands of ex Civil War soldiers returned to look for as good employment as they could aquire. Many were poorly educated and many carried wounds and sicknesses that would last their lifespan. They had to exist as well as they could. Many would do quite well but many many did not and died lonely deaths in poverty or worse still perhaps they came back shell shocked or with various mental problems and had to exist on on handouts from benevolent organisations or ever worse be held in the alms houses in the various cities. The list below is of soldiers from various regiments noted as being in the Philadelphia almshouse in the June 1890 census. If one looks down the list it is noted that Neal Brown a soldier of Co. B. of the 69th Pa is one of the unfortunates. He had been discharged by surgeons certificate Feb. 11th 1863. In the list (No 6) is is listed as suffering from senility. One wonders what kind of existence he lived through after his discharge from the army in 1863.
The above image is of a cast brass trivet which has the following information. Wm Sexton Co. F 69 Reg Penn volunteers Post 63.The reverse side has on it D Hain 2541 9th 7th. I assume that William was either presented with this trivet or had it made. The usual GAR emblems also stamped on the trivet surfaces. The trivet in shape of a horse shore. A Co. Cork Ireland man by birth though wounded at Glendale and Fredericksburg he appears to have survived the war.
The injuries suffered by the soldiers in the Civil War were many and many horrendous. Many soldiers carried such injuries the remainder of their lives. Many were left traumatised or shell shocked and treatment for such damage was not too well understood in those days. However it is nice to hear of a successful treatment and a tale with a good ending such as the one below relating to Privae Thomas Lindsey of Co. F.
Collection: Pennsylvania Newspaper Record
Publication: DELAWARE COUNTY REPUBLICAN
Date: June 1, 1866
Title: A SUCCESSFUL CASE OF LITHOTOMY.
A SUCCESSFUL CASE OF LITHOTOMY. - A successful case of Lithotomy - cutting for stone in the bladder - was recently performed at Upland, by Dr. J.L. FORWOOD, of this city. The subject was Thomas Lindsay, a private in the 69th Regiment, P.V., who received a gun shot wound in the battle of Gettysburg , on the 2d of July, 1863. While in a kneeling position, the ball, a large minnie, struck him in the left thigh, and passed upward to the bladder, where it remained for two years and nine months. Lindsay was taken to the hospital, where his wound healed, and he was discharged in due time, and returned to his home, suffering at intervals, the most intense pain. As a consequence, strangulated hernia supervened, and in January last, Dr. Forwood was sent for, and performed a difficult surgical operation, which reduced the rupture, and he recovered. Experiencing relief in this particular, he complained much of an obstruction in the bladder, which led to the preparation for a second and more dangerous operation. On the 12th of April last, Dr. Forwood made the necessary arrangements, and the patient was prepared for the operation in the presence of four of our resident physicians and other members of the medical profession from our own county and Philadelphia. The knife was applied, and, in three minutes thereafter, the minnie ball, with a large deposit of calcareous matter attached to it, weighing an ounce and a half and two grains, was successfully removed from the bladder. A number of surprising and almost miraculous cures were performed in hospitals during the war, but we doubt whether a more dangerous operation than this was successfully made. Mr. Lindsay is now in good health and about his ordinary business. He called at this office, on Wednesday last, and furnished us with the facts above stated, and desired that we should make the case widely known. He acknowledges, with deep gratitude, his obligations to Dr. Forwood, who, he believes, saved him from certain death.
We are aware that government markers of a "standard" type were provided by the government to be erected over the graves of fallen soldiers if the descendants had not perhaps the cash to provide their own. These found their way all over the States and were even shipped abroad if requested. I know of at least two here in Ireland. For those of you who perhaps research the minutia of the Civil War. The image below shows the order contract for the marker for Sergt. Nicholas Farrell of Co. B of the 69th Pa. Regt. This was placed over his grave at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery East Orange N.J. There were many stonemason businesses employed and not all used even reasonably good quality stone. Many now are totally weathered and markings unreadable indeed some have even crumbled into extinction.
From time to time I receive images of old photos of men places and general odds and ends from the Civil War era. In many cases they belong to descendants. I will put these on this page on the hope that just maybe someone somewhere can identify either a name, a regiment or a State that they may have come from or served from. The men could be either Union or Confederate veterans. Any information or clues greatly appreciated. Feel free to email the website or leave a message on the Guestbook. Many thanks.
Being a soldier in any army the reality of their life is that they may be despatched from this life is dreadful circumstances and their remains may well not be recognisable from photos, visual recognition etc. Like all armies individual soldiers have to carry identification to enable their remains be quickly identified. Thus evolved the infamous "dog-tags" simply metal medallions hung around their necks. Simple and effective. In more modern times use is being made of technology and apart from name identification information such as blood group,medical history can be stored. However in the time of the Civil War much use was made of the basic medallion like metal disc hung around the neck. The 69th soldiers were no different and below we see one side of the medallion belonging to Capt. Theodore Stratton of Co. K 69th PA.V It shows the date of his enlistment 15th Sept 1861. What the letters E what appears to be S means I am not sure perhaps "Enrolled Service" but there appears to be other letters not fully readable. The othe side was simple an image of the head of George Washington. There were many variant designs of these dog tags in the Civil War regiments.
It is difficult to read clearly the surname but the best that can be read is Reubin J Walker or Walter. Circumstantial information from the lady who supplied the photo and further research tends to suggest that Reubin may well have been an artilleryman in Prices Co. Virginia Light Artillery Danville Virginia circa 1861 later to become Danville W.Virginia in 1863. The soldier is wearing a so called shell jacket and vest used by artillerymen. As regards the significance of the stamps on the back of the photo. The photo was probably used by the soldier as a visiting card similar to the modern business card. It was referred to as a Carte de Visite ie a visiting card or CDV. Among some other aspects of a CDV, the stamps on the back date it to a specific time period from 1864-1866. During the Civil War, Congress passed a stamp tax to raise money for the war effort. From Aug. 1, 1864 - Aug. 1, 1866 all photographs required a tax stamp. The stamp was supposed to have the date, and the photographers initials written on it when the CDV was sold, but you will find some with the date and no initials and some with initials and no date and some without either. CDV's with these stamps, or a mark on the back that indicates a stamp was there and removed, can be dated from this time period - Aug 1, 1864 to Aug. 1, 1866.