Captain George Stroop – “A Splendid Citizen”

2nd Lieutenant George Stroop, Co. D, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers (c. 1863, public domain).

2nd Lieutenant George Stroop, Co. D, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers (c. 1863, public domain).

Alternate spellings of Given Name: Georg, George

 

Native Pennsylvanian and longtime newspaperman George Stroop was the son of Pennsylvania natives Georg Stroop and Mary (Purcell) Stroop.

One of the early responders from Pennsylvania to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for soldiers following the surrender of Fort Sumter to Confederate Forces, the younger George Stroop enlisted with the 2nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on 21 April 1861, entering at the rank of Sergeant, and serving under the command of Captain Henry Durant Woodruff. After honorably completing his Three Months’ Service, Sergeant George Stroop mustered out with his regiment on 26 July 1861.

Camp Curtin (Harpers Weekly, 1861; public domain).

Camp Curtin (Harper’s Weekly, 1861; public domain).

Promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on 31 August 1861 after promptly re-enrolling for service – this time for a three-year tour of duty, George Stroop mustered in again under Captain H. D. Woodruff at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, becoming a member of Company D of the newly formed 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

Following a brief training period in light infantry tactics, he was shipped by train with his regiment to Washington, D.C. where, on 21 September, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers pitched their tents at “Camp Kalorama” on the Kalorama Heights near Georgetown and the White House. The next day, C Company Musician Henry D. Wharton penned the following update for the Sunbury American newspaper:

After a tedious ride we have, at last, safely arrived at the City of ‘magnificent distances.’ We left Harrisburg on Friday last at 1 o’clock A.M. and reached this camp yesterday (Saturday) at 4 P.M., as tired and worn out a sett [sic] of mortals as can possibly exist. On arriving at Washington we were marched to the ‘Soldiers Retreat,’ a building purposely erected for the benefit of the soldier, where every comfort is extended to him and the wants of the ‘inner man’ supplied.

After partaking of refreshments we were ordered into line and marched, about three miles, to this camp. So tired were the men, that on marching out, some gave out, and had to leave the ranks, but J. Boulton Young, our ‘little Zouave,’ stood it bravely, and acted like a veteran. So small a drummer is scarcely seen in the army, and on the march through Washington he was twice the recipient of three cheers.

On 24 September, Stroop and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were officially mustered into federal service with the U.S. Army. Next stationed with his regiment near Fort Ethan Allen across the border of Virginia, he participated with his regiment in the defense of the nation’s capital during the Fall of 1861 before being shipped with the 47th via steamer to Florida to defend key Union holdings in that state and surrounding areas.

1862

Rendering of Fort Taylor, Key West, Florida, Harper's Weekly, 1864 (public domain).

Rendering of Fort Taylor, Key West, Florida, Harper’s Weekly, 1864 (public domain).

Ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers left Camp Griffin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22 January 1862, marching through deep mud with their equipment for three miles in order to reach the railroad station at Fall’s Church. Sent by rail to Alexandria, they then sailed the Potomac via the steamship City of Richmond to the Washington Arsenal, where they were reequipped before they were marched off for dinner and rest at the Soldiers’ Retreat in Washington, D.C. The next afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians hopped railcars on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and headed for Annapolis, Maryland. Arriving around 10 p.m., they were assigned quarters in barracks at the Naval Academy. They then spent that Friday through Monday (24-27 January 1862) loading their equipment and other supplies onto the steamship Oriental.

According to Schmidt and letters home from members of the regiment, those preparations ceased on Monday, 27 January, at 10 a.m. when:

The regiment was formed and instructed by Lt. Col. Alexander ‘that we were about drumming out a member who had behaved himself unlike a soldier.’ …. The prisoner, Pvt. James C. Robinson of Company I, was a 36 year old miner from Allentown who had been ‘disgracefully discharged’ by order of the War Department. Pvt. Robinson was marched out with martial music playing and a guard of nine men, two men on each side and five behind him at charge bayonets. The music then struck up with ‘Robinson Crusoe’ as the procession was marched up and down in front of the regiment, and Pvt. Robinson was marched out of the yard.

Reloading then resumed. By that afternoon, when the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers commenced boarding the Oriental, they were ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers. The officers boarded last and, per the directive of Brigadier-General Brannan, the Oriental steamed away for the Deep South at 4 p.m. They were headed for Florida which, despite its secession from the Union, remained strategically important to the Union due to the presence of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas.

In early February 1862, Company D and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived in Key West. There, they were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor and drilled daily in heavy artillery tactics and other military strategies. On 14 February, the regiment made itself known to area residents via a parade through the city’s streets. That weekend, soldiers from the 47th also mingled with residents as they attended local church services.

From mid-June through July, the 47th was ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina where the men made camp before being housed in the Department of the South’s Beaufort District. Picket duties north of the 3rd Brigade’s camp were commonly rotated among the regiments present there at the time, putting soldiers at risk from sniper fire and other hazards. According to historian Samuel P. Bates the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing.”

Sent on a return expedition to Florida, Company D saw its first truly intense moments when it participated with the 47th Pennsylvania and other Union regiments in the capture of Saint John’s Bluff from 1 to 3 October. Led by Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan, a 1,500-plus Union force disembarked at Mayport Mills and Mount Pleasant Creek from troop carriers guarded by Union gunboats. Taking point, the 47th led the 3rd Brigade through 25 miles of dense, pine forested swamps populated with deadly snakes and alligators. By the time the expedition ended, the brigade had forced the Confederate Army to abandon its artillery battery atop Saint John’s Bluff, and had paved the way for the Union to occupy the town of Jacksonville, Florida.

From 21-23 October, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman H. Good and Lieutenant Colonel George W. Alexander, the 47th engaged Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina. Landing at Mackey’s Point, the men of the 47th were placed on point once again, but they and the 3rd Brigade were less fortunate this time.

Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, they met resistance from an entrenched, heavily fortified Confederate battery which opened fire on the Union troops as they entered an open cotton field. Those headed toward higher ground at the Frampton Plantation fared no better as they encountered artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests.

The Union soldiers grappled with the Confederates where they found them, pursuing the Rebels for four miles as they retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th relieved the 7th Connecticut. But the enemy was just too well armed. After two hours of intense fighting in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, depleted ammunition forced the 47th to withdraw to Mackey’s Point.

Losses for the 47th were significant. Two officers and 18 enlisted men died; two officers and another 114 enlisted were wounded. Several resting places for men from the 47th still remain unidentified, the information lost to sloppy Army and hospital records management or the trauma-impaired memories of soldiers who were forced to hastily bury or leave behind the bodies of comrades upon receiving orders to retreat.

On 23 October, the 47th Pennsylvania returned to Hilton Head, where it served as the funeral Honor Guard for General Ormsby McKnight Mitchel, the commander of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps and Department of the South who had succumbed to yellow fever on 30 October. The Mountains of Mitchel, an area of Mars’ South Pole discovered by Mitchel in 1846 while working as a University of Cincinnati astronomer, and Mitchelville, the first Freedmen’s town created after the Civil War, were both later named for him. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.

1863

By 1863, Captain Woodruff and the men of D Company were once again based with the 47th Pennsylvania in Florida. Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November of 1862, much of 1863 was spent guarding federal installations in Florida as part of the 10th Corps, Department of the South. Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I garrisoned Fort Taylor in Key West while Companies D, F, H, and K garrisoned Fort Jefferson in Florida’s Dry Tortugas.

However, George Stroop was assigned to different duties during this period. A report to the U.S. Department of the South, Hilton Head, South Carolina sent 14 April 1863 by Henry S. Tafft, Captain and Chief Signal Officer, U.S. Department of the South, documents and commends Stroop’s service aboard the war sloop, Canandaigua, where he was serving on detached duty with the Union’s Signal Corps:

Lieutenant Stroop upon the Canandaigua, was also energetic and and faithful in performance of his duties. Copy of letter from Admiral DuPont to him also inclosed [sic].

This detached duty was further documented by a December 1862 ledger entry (“2nd Lieut…47th Pa. Vols…D…Detached in Signal Corps”) and additional entries in January and February 1863 in the 47th Regiment’s roster at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, Florida, where Stroop was listed as being on detached duty from the command of Lieutenant Colonel George W. Alexander, and by subsequent entries by the 47th’s commanding officer, Colonel Tilghman H. Good, in regimental rosters for the 47th at Fort Taylor, Florida in Key West in May, June, August, September, October, November, and December 1863.

A letter to the New York Times, reprinted in the 30 April 1864 edition of the Semi- Weekly Wisconsin in Milwaukee, provided insight into the mindsets of the men from company D:

Remarkable History of a Military Company
To the Editor of the New York Times:

Company D of the 47th Pennsylvania Regiment, a portion of which recently spent some time at the Soldiers’ Rest, in our city, on the way to Key West, can show the following record. There are in the company the following men:

William Powell,          } Four brothers and a cousin.
John Powell,
Andrew Powell,
Solomon Powell,
Daniel Powell….

The article goes on to enumerate the various groupings of brothers and cousins who had joined as part of Company D, and then adds the following:

These men all hail from Perry county, Pennsylvania. They are mainly of the old Holland stock, and lived within a circuit of fifteen miles. They are all re-enlisted men but two or three.

The company has been out over two years, most of the time at the extreme southern points. During eighteen months they lost but one man by sickness. They kept up strict salary regulations, commuted their rations of salt meat for fresh meat and vegetables, and saved by the operation from one hundred to one hundred thirty dollars a month, with which they made a company fund, appointing the Captain treasurer, and out of which whatever knick-nacks [sic] were needed could be purchased.

They always ate at a table, which they fixed with cross sticks, and had their food served from large bowls, each man having his place, as at home, which no one else was allowed to occupy. While the men were here, they showed that they were sober, cheerful, intelligent men, who had put their hearts into their work, and did not count any privations or sacrifices too great, if only the life of the country might thereby be maintained. During the whole term of their service, they had not had a man court-martialed.

They are commanded by Captain Henry D. Woodruff, a native of Binghamton, in this State, but long a resident of Pennsylvania. Their First Lieutenant is S. Ouchmuty [sic]; Second Lieutenant, George Stroop….

1864

On 25 February 1864, 2nd Lieutenant George Stroop and his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers set off for a phase of service in which the regiment would make history. Steaming first for New Orleans via the Charles Thomas, the 47th arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February, and was then shipped by train to Brashear City. Following another steamer ride – to Franklin via the Bayou Teche – the 47th joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps. In short order, the 47th would become the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign of Union General Nathaniel Banks.

From 14-26 March, the 47th passed through New Iberia, Vermillionville, Opelousas, and Washington while en route to Alexandria and Natchitoches. Often short on food and water, the men of the 47th encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day, marching until mid-afternoon.

19th U.S. Army Map, Phase 3, Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield (8 April 1864, public domain).

19th U.S. Army Map, Phase 3, Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield (8 April 1864, public domain).

Rushed into battle ahead of other regiments in the 2nd Division, 60 members of the 47th were cut down on 8 April during the volley of fire unleashed during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads (Mansfield). The fighting waned only when darkness fell. Exhausted, the uninjured  collapsed beside the gravely wounded. After midnight, the surviving Union troops withdrew to Pleasant Hill.

The next day, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered into a critically important defensive position at the far right of the Union lines, their right flank spreading up onto a high bluff. By 3 p.m., after enduring a midday charge by the troops of Confederate General Richard Taylor (a plantation owner and son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, just as the 47th was shifting to the left side of the massed Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were  forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.

Casualties were severe. Lieutenant G. W. Colonel Alexander was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color bearers, both from Company C, were wounded while preventing the regimental flag from falling into enemy hands. Private Ephraim Clouser of Company D was shot in his right knee, and Corporal Isaac Baldwin was also wounded.

Still others from the 47th were captured, marched roughly 125 to Camp Ford, a Confederate prison camp near Tyler, Texas, and held there as prisoners of war (POWs) until released during a prisoner exchange on 22 July. Sergeant James Crownover was wounded in action before being taken captive. He, Private James Downs, Corporal John Garber Miller and Private William J. Smith were four of the fortunate who survived. Downs, Miller and Smith were released on 22 July, Crownover on 25 November 1864.

Following what some historians have called a rout by Confederates at Pleasant Hill and others have labeled a technical victory for the Union or a draw for both sides, the 47th fell back to Grand Ecore, where they resupplied and regrouped until 22 April. Retreating further to Alexandria, they and their fellow Union soldiers scored a clear victory against the Confederates at Cane Hill.

Known as "Bailey's Dam" for the Union officer who ordered its construction, Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey, this timber dam built by the Union Army on the Red River in Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 was designed to facilitate passage of Union gunboats to and from the Mississippi River. Photo: Public domain.

Known as “Bailey’s Dam” for the Union officer who ordered its construction, Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey, this timber dam built by the Union Army on the Red River in Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 was designed to facilitate passage of Union gunboats to and from the Mississippi River. Photo: Public domain.

On 23 April, the 47th and their fellow brigade members crossed the Cane River via Monett’s Ferry and, as ordered by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey, helped to build a dam from 30 April through 10 May, to enable federal gunboats to easily traverse the Red River’s rapids.

Beginning 16 May, D Company moved with most of the 47th from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, and then to New Orleans on 20 June. On the 4th of July, they learned their fight was not yet over when the regiment received new orders to sail yet again.

Removed from command amid the controversy over the Union Army’s successes and failures during the Red River Expedition, Union General Nathaniel P. Banks was placed on leave by President Abraham Lincoln. Banks subsequently spent much of his time in Washington, D.C. as a Reconstruction advocate for Louisiana.

Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Still able and willing to fight after their time in Bayou country, the men of Company D and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians from Companies A, C, E, F, H, and I steamed aboard the McClellan beginning 7 July.

Following their arrival in Virginia and a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln on 12 July, they then joined Major-General David Hunter’s forces in the fighting at Snicker’s Gap and, once again, assisted in defending Washington, D.C. while also helping to drive Confederate troops from Maryland.

Attached to the Middle Military Division, U.S. Army of the Shenandoah beginning in August, early and mid-September saw the departure of several 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had served honorably, including Company D’s Captain Henry Woodruff, 1st Lieutenant Samuel Auchmuty, and Sergeants Henry Heikel and Alex Wilson. All mustered out 18 September 1864 upon expiration of their service terms. Those members of the 47th who remained on duty were about to engage in their regiment’s greatest moments of valor.

Battles of Opequan and Fisher’s Hill, September 1864

Together with other regiments under the command of Union General Philip H. (“Little Phil”) Sheridan and Brigadier-General William H. Emory, commander of the 19th Corps, the members of Company D and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers helped to inflict heavy casualties on Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Confederate forces at Opequan (also spelled as “Opequon” and referred to as “Third Winchester”). The battle is still considered by many historians to be one of the most important during Sheridan’s 1864 campaign; the Union’s victory here helped to ensure the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.

Image of the victory of Philip Sheridan’s Union army over Jubal Early’s Confederate forces. Kurz & Allison, circa 1893. Public domain, courtesy of the Library of Congress: LC-DIG-pga-01855 (digital file from original print) LC-USZC4-1753 (color film copy transparency).

Victory of Philip Sheridan’s Union army over Jubal Early’s Confederate forces (Kurz & Allison, circa 1893, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

The 47th Pennsylvania’s march toward destiny at Opequan began at 2 a.m. on 19 September 1864 as the regiment left camp and joined up with others in the Union’s 19th Corps. After advancing slowly from Berryville toward Winchester, the 19th Corps became bogged down for several hours by the massive movement of Union troops and supply wagons, enabling Early’s men to dig in. After finally reaching and fording the Opequan Creek, Sheridan’s men came face to face with the Confederate Army commanded by Early. The fighting, which began in earnest at noon, was long and brutal. The Union’s left flank (6th Corps) took a beating from Confederate artillery stationed on high ground.

Meanwhile, the 47th Pennsylvania and the 19th Corps were directed by General William Emory to attack and pursue Major General John B. Gordon’s Confederate forces. Some success was achieved, but casualties mounted as another Confederate artillery group opened fire on Union troops trying to cross a clearing. When a nearly fatal gap began to open between the 6th and 19th Corps, Sheridan sent in units led by Brigadier-Generals Emory Upton and David A. Russell. Russell, hit twice – once in the chest, was mortally wounded. The 47th Pennsylvania opened its lines long enough to enable the Union cavalry under William Woods Averell and the foot soldiers of General George Crook to charge the Confederates’ left flank.

The 19th Corps, with the 47th in the thick of the fighting, then began pushing the Confederates back. Early’s “grays” retreated in the face of the valor displayed by Sheridan’s “blue jackets.” Leaving 2,500 wounded behind, the Rebels retreated to Fisher’s Hill (21-22 September), eight miles south of Winchester, and then to Waynesboro, following a successful early morning flanking attack by Sheridan’s Union men which outnumbered Early’s three to one.

Afterward, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were sent out on skirmishing parties before making camp at Cedar Creek. Moving forward, they and other members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers would continue to distinguish themselves in battle, but they would do so without two more of their respected commanders: Colonel Tilghman Good and Good’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel George Alexander. Both mustered out 23-24 September upon the expiration of their respective service terms. Fortunately, they were replaced by others equally admired both for temperament and their front line experience, including John Peter Shindel Gobin, Charles W. Abbott and Levi Stuber.

Battle of Cedar Creek, October 1864

It was during the Fall of 1864 that General Philip Sheridan began the first of the Union’s true “scorched earth” campaigns, starving the enemy into submission by destroying Virginia’s crops and farming infrastructure. Viewed through today’s lens of history as inhumane, the strategy claimed many innocents – civilians whose lives were cut short by their inability to find food. This same strategy, however, almost certainly contributed to the further turning of the war’s tide in the Union’s favor during the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864. Successful throughout most of their engagement with Union forces at Cedar Creek, Early’s Confederate troops began peeling off in ever-growing numbers to forage for food, thus enabling the 47th Pennsylvania and others under Sheridan’s command to rally.

From a military standpoint, it was another impressive, but heartrending day. During the morning of 19 October, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. Early’s men were able to capture Union weapons while freeing a number of Confederates who had been taken prisoner during previous battles – all while pushing seven Union divisions back. According to Bates:

When the Army of West Virginia, under Crook, was surprised and driven from its works, the Second Brigade, with the Forty-seventh on the right, was thrown into the breach to arrest the retreat…. Scarcely was it in position before the enemy came suddenly upon it, under the cover of fog. The right of the regiment was thrown back until it was almost a semi-circle. The brigade, only fifteen hundred strong, was contending against Gordon’s entire division, and was forced to retire, but, in comparative good order, exposed, as it was, to raking fire. Repeatedly forming, as it was pushed back, and making a stand at every available point, it finally succeeded in checking the enemy’s onset, when General Sheridan suddenly appeared upon the field, who ‘met his crest-fallen, shattered battalions, without a word of reproach, but joyously swinging his cap, shouted to the stragglers, as he rode rapidly past them – “Face the other way, boys! We are going back to our camp! We are going to lick them out of their boots!’”

The Union’s counterattack punched Early’s forces into submission, and the men of the 47th were commended for their heroism by General Stephen Thomas who, in 1892, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his own “distinguished conduct in a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, in which the advance of the enemy was checked” that day. Bates described the 47th’s actions:

When the final grand charge was made, the regiment moved at nearly right angles with the rebel front. The brigade charged gallantly, and the entire line, making a left wheel, came down on his flank, while engaging the Sixth Corps, when he went “whirling up the valley” in confusion. In the pursuit to Fisher’s Hill, the regiment led, and upon its arrival was placed on the skirmish line, where it remained until twelve o’clock noon of the following day. The army was attacked at early dawn…no respite was given to take food until the pursuit was ended.

Once again, the casualties for the 47th were high. Sergeant William Pyers, the C Company man who had so gallantly rescued the flag at Pleasant Hill was cut down and later buried on the battlefield. Corporal Edward Harper of Company D was wounded, but survived, as did Corporal Isaac Baldwin, who had been wounded earlier at Pleasant Hill. Perry County resident and Regimental Chaplain William Rodrock suffered a near miss as a bullet pierced his cap.

Following these major engagements, the 47th was ordered to Camp Russell near Winchester from November through most of December. On 14 November, 2nd Lieutenant George Stroop was promoted to the rank of Captain. Rested and somewhat healed, the 47th was then ordered to outpost and railroad guarding duties at Camp Fairview in Charlestown, West Virginia five days before Christmas.

1865 – 1866

Assigned in February 1865 to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah, the men of the 47th were ordered to move, via Winchester and Kernstown, back to Washington, D.C. On 30 March 1865, George Stroop was commissioned but not mustered as a Major.

Matthew Brady's photograph of spectators massing for the Grand Review of the Armies, 23-24 May 1865, at the side of the crepe-draped U.S. Capitol, flag at half mast following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. (Library of Congress: Public domain.)

Matthew Brady’s photograph of spectators massing for the Grand Review of the Armies, 23-24 May 1865, at the side of the crepe-draped U.S. Capitol, flag at half mast following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. (Library of Congress: Public domain.)

Arriving in Washington, D.C. on 19 April – just days after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were again responsible for helping to defend the nation’s capital. Encamped near Fort Stevens, they were resupplied and received new uniforms.

Letters home and later newspaper interviews with survivors of the 47th Pennsylvania indicate that at least one 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer was given the high honor of guarding President Lincoln’s funeral train while others may have guarded the key Lincoln assassination conspirators during the early days of their imprisonment and trial.

As part of Dwight’s Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Department of Washington’s 22nd Corps, the 47th Pennsylvania also participated in the Union’s Grand Review on 23-24 May.

Captain Levi Stuber of Company I was promoted to the rank of Major with the regiment’s central staff during this time. On 1-2 Jun 1865, 1st Lieutenant George W. Kosier was promoted to the rank of Captain and leadership of Company D prior to the mustering out of Major George Stroop, who had completed his term of service. Stroop was then honorably discharged on 2 June 1865.

Life After the War

After receiving his honorable discharge, George Stroop returned to Pennsylvania. Residing in Juniata County, he owned and operated the True Democrat Newspaper until selling it back to its former owner, W. J. Jackman, in 1867. The 18 September 1867 edition of the Juniata Sentinel documented the respect held for Stroop by his colleagues:

We are sorry to lose the Captain from among the fraternity in this place as he was a genial, clever gentleman.

But George Stroop was not idle for long. According to the 27 November 1872 edition of the Clearfield Republican, Stroop revitalized a defunct publication:

The Tyrone Blade, a Radical organ of a high moral tone, is dead. The establishment has been purchased by George Stroop, who now issues the Tyrone Democrat, a handsome seven-column journal, from the same establishment. This is a movement in the right direction, and must inure to the moral, social and financial benefits of our Tyrone neighbors.

According to the 22 July 1873 edition of The New Bloomfield Times, George Stroop married Annie Diven in Landisburg, Perry County, Pennsylvania at the home of her father, James L. Diven, on 15 July 1873. George took a good-natured ribbing a week later when the editor of the competing Clearfield Republican observed:

George Stroop, editor of the Tyrone Democrat, took it into his head last week to commit matrimony, right in this hot weather. He will find that his devil can never help him out of that scrape, as he has out of many another one in his time.

As a new bride and groom, Annie and George Stroop made their home in Patton, Cambria County. Their daughter Elizabeth J. (“Bessie”) Stroop was born there in 1875. She would later become a teacher, marry Frank C. McClure, a dentist, and have children of her own.

The respect Stroop garnered from his fellow newspapermen as he met the challenges he and they faced as publishers was once again chronicled in the 21 November 1879 edition of the Cambria Freeman while also acknowledging a significant milestone for Stroop’s publication:

The Tyrone Democrat entered upon its eighth year last week. Its editor, George Stroop, Esq., is a thorough going Democrat, who furnishes his readers with an excellent and reliable paper, deserving the liberal patronage of the Democracy of that section of Blair county in which it is published. He has our best wishes for his continued success.

Altoona, Pennsylvania’s Morning Tribune also lauded him on 24 November 1879. He “had a hard road to travel,” but:

has managed to weather all sorts of storms and print a right good paper, for which he has deserved a more generous support than has been given him. With improved times his journal appears to be gathering increased patronage. We hope his success in the future may be much more abundant than in the past by his Democratic friends giving him that generous support which is his due.

Sadly, after all of this hard work, Stroop was forced to close the Tyrone Democrat in 1880, following a fire which destroyed almost the entire city block where his offices and Templeton’s store were located. He had been publishing the newspaper on a weekly basis since November 1872. The Times of New Bloomfield reported the news in its 20 July 1880 edition:

Major George Stroop, of the Tyrone Democrat, lost heavily by the late fire in Tyrone. His printing office, valued at $2,000 was entirely destroyed, on which there was only an insurance for $750. He has not yet determined whether he will revive his paper or not.

Even so, he remained committed to the newspaper business as evidenced by this mention in the Tyrone Herald on 9 June 1893:

George Stroop, publisher of the Tyrone Democrat which plant was destroyed in the great fire of 1880, is in town. Mr. Stroop Is engaged with the Willlamsport Times.

By 1900, he was living with his wife and daughter in Centre County, and working as a compositor.

Death and Interment

George Stroop passed away at his daughter’s home in Patton, Cambria County at 9:00 p.m. on 30 November 1917, and was interred at the Grandview Cemetery in Tyrone, Blair County, Pennsylvania on 3 December 1917.

His occupation, described at the time of death, was “Retired Printer.” The cause of death was lobar pneumonia. The informant was his son-in-law Frank C. McClure.

He was survived by his wife, described by the Tyrone Herald as “at the point of death” herself, and their daughter, and was eulogized by the Herald as “a splendid citizen” who “had many friends here who regret to learn of his death.”


Sources:

1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: 1869.

2. Cambrian Freeman (21 November 1879).

3. Civil War Veterans’ Card File, Pennsylvania State Archives. Harrisburg.

4. Clearfield Republican (27 November 1872, 30 July 1873).

5. Death Certificates (Georg Stroop and Annie Stroop). Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Vital Statistics. Harrisburg.

6. Juniata Sentinel (18 September 1867).

7. Morning Tribune. Altoona: 24 November 1879.

8. Pettengill’s Newspaper Directory.

9. Social and business mentions, in The Times, New Bloomfield, Pa. New Bloomfield: 22 July 1873, 20 July 1880.

10. Tyrone Herald. Tyrone: Various Dates:

  • Buried in Tyrone: George Stroop, Former Tyrone Editor Dead, in Tyrone Herald. Tyrone: 6 December 1917.
  • Social notice (documents George Stroop’s employment with the Williamsport Times), in Tyrone Herald. Tyrone: 9 June 1893 documents Stroop’s employment with the Williamsport Times)

11. U.S. Census (1870, 1880, 1900), and U.S. Veterans’ Schedule (1890).

12. U.S. Civil War Pension Index Files (Application No.: 13943?56, Certificate No.: 1164141, filed from Pennsylvania by the veteran on 10 January 1911; Application No.: 1113216, filed from Pennsylvania by the veteran’s widow, Annie M. Stroop, on 14 January 1918).

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