Two survivors of 124th Regiment (Which Fought at Antietam Sept., 1862)
Two survivors of 124th Regiment Which Fought at Antietam Sept., 1862
Although not able to attend in person, the spirit and thoughts of two Civil War veterans living in Delaware county will be in Antietam, Md., when the seventy-fifth anniversary of that famous battle will be observed September 17. During the battle, Delaware county's own regiment, the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, took active part. Doubtless there are other veterans of the regiment living in Chester county, but in this county there are but two survivors, B. Frank Thomas, of Middletown road, Middletown township, who will be 93 years of age October 23, and Owen Zebley Pyle, of Booths Corner, who will be 95 years of age November 4.
B. Frank Thomas, who until a short time ago was active as tipstaff in the Delaware County Courts, is president of the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Regiment Society. He enlisted in Company D, at Media, July 21, 1862, and a few weeks later was actively engaged in the thick of the fight at Antietam. He was honorably discharged with his regiment May 17, 1863, at West Chester. He is one of the two surviving members of Wilde Post, G.A.R. of this city.
Owen Zebley Pyle enlisted as a private in Company H., serving with distinction in the battles of Antietam South Mountain and the first battle of Bull Run. His enlistment began July 21, 1862, and was discharged with his regiment May 17, 1863. He was a former member of Bradbury Post, G.A.R. when it met at Rockdale, and later affiliated himself with the Leiper Post in Norwood.
Other Civil war veterans who participated to the Battle of Antietam, as members of other regiments, who are still living in Delaware county are: Patrick Cassidy of Ninth and Fulton streets, this city; the other member of Wilde Post, William H. Merkel, 315 Avon road, Upper Darby; Samuel P. Johnson, of Collingdale; Charles W. Rezzer, of Ithan, Radnor township; C William Eckert, of Middletown road, Brookhaven, the oldest veteran in the county, being 96 on January 1, 1938, and Moses I. French, of Lansdowne avenue, Llanerch.
History of Regiment
The 124th Regiment, composed of ten companies recruited to Delaware and Chester counties, was mustered into government service August 8, 1862, for a period of nine months. Companies D, B and H were recruited in this county and companies A, C, E, F, G, I and K were recruited at West Chester. On August 13, the regiment received uniforms and other equipment, and under command of Senior Captain Joseph W. Hawley embarked for Baltimore, Washington and Virginia. The regiment was organized in Virginia with Joseph W. Hawley as colonel, a native of West Chester, who was wounded in the battle of Antietam and upon recovery rejoined his regiment December 3, at Harper's Ferry. Upon his return to civil life, he was recalled by Governor Andrew G. Curtin to get the regiment together to repel General Lee's advance into Pennsylvania, leading to the battle of Gettysburg. Thus was organized the 29th Emergency Regiment, with approximately 1000 members of the 124th in the ranks. Colonel Hawley moved to Media in 1864, where he lived until his death. He was president of the 124th Regiment Association from its beginning September 7, 1885 until early in the 1900's.
Simon Litzenberg was next in command of the regiment, being its lieutenant colonel. He recruited a company in Media known as the "Media Guards" and when the 124th was organized the company became Company B. He was commissioned captain August 9 and lieutenant colonel August 16. At the expiration of his term of service, he returned to Chester and resumed his profession of architect. He was a member of Wilde Post and served two terms as Chief of Police in Chester, dying November 27, 1884 and buried with full military honors at Media cemetery. Litzenberg Post No. 480, G.A.R. of Clifton Heights was named in his honor. Later, his family presented his sword to Bradbury Post, No. 149, in Media, where it now remains.
A history of the battle of Antietam, where it is said 5,000 men died in five minutes, is most interesting. A visitor to the ancient battlefield will marvel at the setting in which the 124th participated. Near where Colonel Hawley was wounded there now stands a monument erected by the 124th Association, dedicated September 17, 1904.
Historic Cigar Wrapper
The battle itself was the outgrowth of a Federal soldier, B. W. Mitchell, of Muncie, Indiana county, finding a paper wrapped around three cigars, and tied with a bit of string, near Frederick. Md. Mitchell examined the paper and rushed it to his superior officers. It was found to contain secret orders from General Robert E. Lee to his generals. With the information at hand, General George B. McClellan changed his plans and put his army on the march to South Mountain, September 1, and to the battle of Antietam. September 17, called the bloodiest single day's battle of the Civil War, the high tide of the Confederacy, where Lee's 5,000 famished and footsore stood to a draw against McClellan's 87,000 well-fed and finely-equipped soldiers. Antietam occupies an unique place in the nation's history in that neither side could claim victory. Two young soldiers, each of whom were later to become President of the United Stales, distinguished themselves in the battle. They were Rutherford B. Hays and William McKinley. The casualties were more than 20,000 in killed and wounded. At Bloody Lane, the middle phase of the battle, a Federal enfilade met such stubborn Confederate resistance that the 5,000 were killed in a few minutes. Of the casualties, the 124th had five killed, 42 wounded and 17 missing. Many members of the regiment died in later years, from wounds received while in that battle.
Report of Battle
Major I. Lawrence Haldeman in his official report of the day's events stated. "Our regiment was ordered to the front and on reaching the extreme edge of the woods on the east side of the cornfield our line was formed and stationed behind a fence. We were led into the cornfield, and after advancing about 100 yards received a raking fire from the enemy in the woods, which was responded to by repeated volleys from our men; but the fire from our left and from a battery of the enemy on our right compelled us to fall back to a group of cornstalks. One of our batteries was on the right, and the right wing of the regiment was ordered to its support. The left wing followed up the advance through the cornfield, making successful charges upon the enemy, silencing their guns, about 3 o'clock, at which time we were ordered to the rear, having been in the battle since seven in the morning."
In observing the anniversary of the battle, citizens of Washington county, Md., are planning to entertain a vast throng of Americans, (a quarter of million is the present outlook), who will walk over the fields once stained with the blood of American manhood, where in September, 75 years ago, gunfire shook the country side. There will be spectators of elaborate celebrations of the Battle of Antietam (as the Union soldiers called it) and Sharpsburg (as it is known to the Confederates). Jointly with this will be observances of the founding of Washington county 200 years ago.
President Roosevelt has been invited and is expected to attend. The celebration begins September 4, with a mammoth pageant at Hagerstown. It will close September 17 with the re-enactment of the battle by 5,000 National Guard troops from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Governors of 29 states, Northern and Southern, will be among the spectators. The fighting in the Bloody Lane and at Burnside's Bridge will be the battle scenes, the latter showing the dramatic stand of General Robert Toombs by a bridge over a lonely stream that carries his opponent's name.
In honor of the anniversary, the United States Mint, by authority of Congress, has struck off 50,000 half dollars, which will be delivered to 17,000 State and National banks, this week, east of the Mississippi, to be distributed at the regulation U. S. Mint price of $1.50 each. The face of the half dollar shows General Robert E. Lee, world-renowned commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, and General George B. McClellan, one time brilliant student of Lee at West Point and later commander of the Federal Army of the Potomac. The reverse side shows the noted "Burnside Bridge" where the third phase and close of battle of Antietam concluded the struggle.
Fitting it is, that President Roosevelt received the first of the coins, by special arrangement with the United States Antietam Celebration Commission, uniting forever the likenesses of Lee and McClellan on its face as a symbol of lasting and cemented friendship of the old and the new of the nation, on the occasion of the first and the last reunion of the Blue and Gray at Antietam.
There are doubtless many living in the county who are descendants of members of the regiment who served in companies B, D and H. For their benefit and for the glory of the county and ideals for which their fathers fought, a list of the personnel by company is given. In the list are many well known county names.
Company B: Simon Litzenberg, John Woodcock, Ralph Buckley, William H. Litzenberg, R. T. Williams, Alex E. Crozier, James B. Silbey, William Major, Edwin Bouden, Lewis P. Watkins, John Ash-Trainor, Joseph McCoy, John Ashworth, Thomas H. Kay, Israel L. Thomas, George Heath, Albert M. Neal, George Ayres, R. James Abernathy, John Baggs, Jacob Barlow, Edwin Blakely, Jerome Byre, Joseph H. Brensinger, Charles W. Broadbent, Peter Brands, William Brewster, Abraham Brewster, William Bagg, Joseph Barlow, Edward Cooper, Thomas Chambers, Charles Creamer, William A. Dobbins, Thomas Dutton, William E. Daniels, John M. T. Doran, Elmer Edwards, Michael Fitzgerald, William B. Farra, John Fildes, John Fryer, Samuel Greenwood, Morris Green, Thomas J. Herron, Thomas Hill, William Henry, Hiram Hiyer, William H. Hizer, William H. Henderson, John L. Henderson, George Hormatt, Abram Hunter, John Hoofstitler, William H. Haas, Henry Hackman, Joseph S. Johnson. Andrew Kinkade, Gardner Kelly, Crawford S. Kugler, Thomas W. Kents, Edward Kay, Thomas Lomax, Matthew Lomax, James Logan, John A. Leib, William Lamy, Rufus K. Lear, John Major, Chand Marshman, Minshall Martin, Jonas Mellos, James Makin, Arthur McConville, William Nicholson, Jesse W. Paist, John Patterson, Richard Pyott, Thomas Pilling, George Robinson, Alfred Roebuck, Edward D. Sipler, George H. Shillingford, John Schofield, Henry Shaw, Samuel Squibb, George Shermik, William Taylor, James Toomes, James Trainor, John J. Wilkinson, Benjamin Walraven, Edward Worrell, Joseph Waddle, Frederick Young and Enos Yates.
Company D: Norris L. Yarnall, I. Lawrence Haldeman, Joseph Pratt, Joseph G. Cummings, C. D. M. Broomhall, John F. Black, William B. Broomall, Benjamin Brooke, Benjamin T. Green, Frederick Eckfeldt, Edward W. Lewis. W. J. MacPherson, W. Wayne Vodges, William H. Beatty, David W. Eyre, William T. Innis, Jr., John F. Worrolow, Joel Hollingsworth, Joseph
Captions of photographs:
B. Frank Thomas of Middletown, Owen Zebley Pike of Booths Corner, Samuel P. Johnson, C. William Eckert, William H.Merkel, Moses L. French.
Chester PA Times
Delaware County Times
Used with permission of the Delaware County Times, Pennsylvania
The scrapbook did not include the final section of the list of names in Company D or any of Company H of the 124th Pennsylvania
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library.
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862: Centennial celebrations, etc
Washington County (Md.), 1937.