Meadath, Jesse (2nd Lieutenant)

Alternate Spellings of Surname: Meadath, Meadeath, Meaddith, Medeath, Middagh

 

Born in Perry County, Pennsylvania on 12 June 1833 (alternate birth date: 13 May 1833), Jesse Meadath was a son of Pennsylvania natives John Meadath and Sarah (Jones) Meadath.

Sometime during the early to mid-1850s, he wed Pennsylvania native Sarah Swisher (born 15 January 1835). They welcomed a son, Oliver Meadath, to their Perry County home on 24 April 1855. Daughter Catharine Elizabeth (“Kate”) arrived on New Year’s Eve in 1857, followed by another son on 21 October 1858. (Shown on records as “James” or “James Nicholas,” he was listed in his father’s 1909 obituaries in at least two newspapers as “Joseph”; by that time, he had moved west to seek a better life, and had settled in Illinois. He passed away there on 20 April 1831.)

As America’s relations between its northern and southern states worsened in the late 1850s and southern states began to secede from the Union in the early 1860s, Jesse Meadath was a 28-year-old dad focused on trying to support his growing family in Landisburg, Perry County through employment as a carpenter.

Civil War Military Service

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

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

Following President Abraham Lincoln’s calls for volunteers to help quell the growing southern rebellion, Jesse Meadath enrolled for military service at Bloomfield in Perry County, Pennsylvania on 20 August 1861. He then mustered in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 31 August as a Corporal under the leadership of Captain Henry Durant Woodruff with the newly formed 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

Following a brief training period in light infantry tactics, Corporal Jesse Meadath and his company were sent by train with the 47th Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C., where they were stationed roughly two miles from the White House at “Camp Kalorama” on Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September. 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.

As a unit of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company D became part of the federal service when the regiment officially mustered into the U.S. Army on 24 September. On September 27, a rainy, drill-free day which permitted many of the men to read or write letters home, the 47th Pennsylvania was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of W.F. Smith’s Army of the Potomac. That afternoon, they marched to the Potomac River’s eastern side and Camp Lyon, Maryland. From there, they marched double-quick over a chain bridge (important enough to be marked on federal maps as “Chain Bridge”) before moving on toward Fall’s Church, Virginia.

Arriving at Camp Advance at dusk, they pitched their tents in a deep ravine about two miles from the bridge they had just crossed, near a new federal military facility under construction (Fort Ethan Allen). Armed with Mississippi rifles from the Keystone State, they were assigned with their regiment, the 3rd Brigade and Smith’s Army of the Potomac to defend the nation’s capital.

On October 11, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads after having been ordered with the 3rd Brigade to Camp Griffin. In a letter home in mid-October, Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin (the leader of C Company who would be promoted in 1864 to lead the entire 47th Regiment) reported that companies D, A, C, F and I (the 47th Pennsylvania’s right wing) were ordered to picket duty after the left wing companies (B, G, K, E, and H) had been forced to return to camp by Confederate  troops.

On Friday morning, 22 October, the 47th engaged in a Divisional Review, described by historian Lewis Schmidt as massing “about 10,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry, and twenty pieces of artillery all in one big open field.” On 21 November, the 47th participated in a morning divisional headquarters review by Colonel Tilghman H. Good, followed by brigade and division drills all afternoon. According to Schmidt, “each man was supplied with ten blank cartridges.” Afterward, “Gen. Smith requested Gen. Brannan to inform Col. Good that the 47th was the best regiment in the whole division.”

Springfield_1861

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

As a reward for their performance that day – and in preparation for the even bigger events which were yet to come, Brigadier-General Brannan ordered that brand new Springfield rifles be obtained for every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

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.

By the afternoon of Monday, 27 Janaury 1862, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers had commenced boarding the Oriental. Ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers, the enlisted men boarded first, followed by their superior officers. Then, 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, Corporal Meadath and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians arrived in Key West, where they were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor. There, they 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.

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 performed during this time, rotated among the regiments present, putting Meadath and his comrades at greater risk from sniper fire. According to historian Samuel P. Bates, during this time, the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing.”

Illustration of the Union Navy's base of operations, Mayport Mills, circa 1862 (public domain).

Illustration of the Union Navy’s base of operations, Mayport Mills, circa 1862 (public domain).

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 M. 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 were battered by artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests. Grappling with the Confederates where they found them, they forced the Rebels into a four-mile retreat to the Pocotaligo 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 to the trauma-impaired memories of men 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 he was engaged 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 General Mitchel’s grave.

1863

 Fort Jefferson's moat and wall, circa 1934, Dry Tortugas, Florida (C.E. Peterson, Library of Congress; public domain)

Fort Jefferson’s moat and wall, circa 1934, Dry Tortugas, Florida (C.E. Peterson, Library of Congress; public domain)

By 1863, Corporal Jesse Meadath and 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 while attached to 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. Men from the 47th were also sent on skirmishes and to Fort Myers, which had been abandoned in 1858 after the third U.S. war with the Seminole Indians. As before, disease was a constant companion and foe.

The time spent here by the men of Company D and their fellow Union soldiers was notable for the men’s commitment to preserving the Union. Neither location was a “garden spot” conducive to pleasant relaxation. The environment for those stationed at the more remotely located Fort Jefferson was particularly harsh. Many who had already done more than any nation could have reasonably asked of them could have returned home, their heads held high. But the majority of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers chose instead to re-enlist in order to finish the fight.

Corporal Jesse Meadath was one of those who re-upped for a second three-year term of service. He re-enlisted at Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida on 10 October 1863. Sometime during the early to middle part of his tenure with the 47th Pennsylvania, he was also promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

It was also during this year that Sergeant Jesse Meadath was awarded a brief furlough. Following re-enlistment, he was given permission to travel north to visit with his wife and children.

1864

1864 proved to be a year of great highs and lows for Jesse Meadath. On 30 January 1864, Sergeant Meadath was promoted to the rank of 1st Sergeant. On 22 August, his wife gave birth to their son, Jesse Elmer Meadath, back home in Perry County, Pennsylvania. (This little one born into a time of terrible strife would live to witness wondrous change in a new century, finally passing away at the age of 71 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 3 December 1935.)

Meanwhile, in the interim between his promotion and the birth of his namesake, 1st Sergeant Jesse Meadath helped his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians to make history. Steaming for New Orleans via the Charles Thomas, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February, and were 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 became the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign of Union General Nathaniel P. 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 regiment 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 Colonel G. W. 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 miles to Camp Ford, a Confederate Army 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.

Named “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, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey, helped to build a timber dam there from 30 April through 10 May. The new structure enabled federal gunboats to more 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 that their fight was not yet over.

Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Still able and willing to fight after their time in Bayou country, Company D and their fellow members of the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies A, C, E, F, H, and I steamed aboard the McClellan for the East Cost beginning 7 July 1864.

Following their arrival and a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln, 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., and also helped to drive Rebel troops from Maryland.

Attached to the Middle Military Division, 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 in what one member of the 47th described as “our hardest engagement.”

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).

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).

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, Virginia toward Winchester, the 19th Corps was bogged down for several hours by the massive movement of Union troops and supply wagons. This delay enabled Early’s men to dig in.

After finally reaching and fording the Opequan Creek, Sheridan’s men came face to face with Early’s well-fortified Confederate troops. 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 Confederates. Some success was achieved, but casualties mounted as another Rebel 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 order the units led by Brigadier-Generals Emory Upton and David A. Russell to move in. 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 eight miles south of Winchester (21-22 September), and then to Waynesboro, following a successful early morning flanking attack by Sheridan’s Union men which outnumbered Early’s three to one. The 47th Pennsylvanians were then 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, who mustered out 23-24 September upon the expiration of their respective terms of service. Fortunately, they were replaced by others equally admired both for temperament and their front line experience: 2nd Lieutenant George Stroop, who was promoted to lead Company D, and at the regimental level, John Peter Shindel Gobin, Charles W. Abbott and Levi Stuber.

Battle of Cedar Creek, October 1864

During the Fall of 1864, General Philip Sheridan began the first of the Union’s true “scorched earth” campaigns, starving the enemy into submission by erasing Virginia’s farming infrastructure. Viewed today as inhumane, the policy claimed many 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, particularly during the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864.

Successful throughout most of their engagement with Union forces during the early hours of the engagement 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 on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. His men captured 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 road 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 Charleston, 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 moved, via Winchester and Kernstown, back to Washington, D.C. where, on 19 April, they were again responsible for helping to defend the nation’s capital – this time following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Encamped near Fort Stevens, they were resupplied and received new uniforms.

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.)

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 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; 2nd Lieutenant George W. Clay was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

On their final southern tour, Company D and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June. Again in Dwight’s Division, this time they were with the 3rd Brigade, Department of the South. Relieving the 165th New York Volunteers in July, they quartered in the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury.

On 5 July 1865, 1st Sergeant Jesse Meadath was awarded the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Duties for the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers during this period were Provost (military police) and Reconstruction-related, including the rebuilding of railroads and other regional infrastructure items which had been destroyed during the long war.

Beginning on Christmas day of that year, the majority of the men of Company D, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, including 2nd Lieutenant Jesse Meadath, finally began to muster out at Charleston, South Carolina, a process which continued through early January. Following a stormy voyage home, the 47th Pennsylvania disembarked in New York City. The weary men were then shipped to Philadelphia by train where, at Camp Cadwalader on 9 January 1866, the 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers were officially given their formal discharge papers.

Return to Civilian Life

Following his honorable discharge from the military at Camp Cadwalader, Jesse Meadath returned home to his wife, children and carpentry work in Perry County. Active in civic and social circles in his community, he was a member of the Knights of Malta and the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) in Landisburg, Perry County, and also served with the International Order of Odd Fellows – elected before the turn of the century as “vice grand” and “Noble grand” of the Odd Fellows’ City Lodge No. 301 in Harrisburg.

On 28 April 1870, daughter Annie Meadath opened her eyes for the first time in Perry County. (Shown as one-month-old “Sarah” on the 1870 federal census, she would later marry Addison H. Landis, and then die from breast cancer in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County on 17 October 1908).

Just over four years after Annie’s arrival, son Oliver passed away at the age of 20 on 24 July 1874. But joy returned quickly to the Meadath home when another son, Oscar Allen Meadath, was born on 6 November 1878. (Oscar went on to live a long, full life, passing away in Harrisburg at the age of 75 on 21 August 1954.)

By 1880, Jesse and Sarah Meadath were residing in Loysville, Perry County with their children Jesse, Annie and Oscar.

Later years

On 15 April 1890, Sarah widowed Jesse. She was interred at what is now Saint Peter’s United Church of Christ Cemetery in Bridgeport, Perry County, Pennsylvania.

Sometime afterward, Jesse Meadath moved to Harrisburg in Dauphin County, where he resided with his daughter, Mrs. Catharine (Meadath) Sutch. The 1890 U.S. Veterans’ Schedule (on which he was listed as “Jesse Meadow”) confirms that Jesse Meadath was residing in Harrisburg by 1890, and that he had health issues at this time.

The 9 July 1897 edition of the Harrisburg Telegraph also confirmed his residency in Harrisburg while reporting that Jesse Meadath was granted a [Civil War] pension. The 10 June 1902 edition of the Harrisburg Daily Independent noted that his state pension was $12. The 28 August 1906 edition of The Courier in Harrisburg reported that:

Lieut. Jesse Meadath, Mrs. Thomas Sutch and Miss Catharine Sutch, [were] visiting the Misses Swisher at Landisburg.

Ailing and under a physician’s regular care beginning in late September 1909, Jesse Meadath died from kidney disease and apoplexy at 8 p.m. on 10 November 1909 in Harrisburg at the home of his daughter, Catharine. (Catharine, who had married Thomas, Sutch, Jr., passed away in Harrisburg on 18 April 1933.)

Jesse Meadath was laid to rest with his wife at Saint Peter’s United Church of Christ Cemetery in Bridgeport, Perry County on 13 November 1909.

The 11 November 1909 edition of the Harrisburg Daily Independent reported his passing as follows:

Lieutenant Jesse Meadath died last night at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Thomas Sutch, 260 Calder street, aged about 70 years. Death resulted from old age. Mr. Meadath was a first lieutenant in Company D, Forty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, serving all through the Civil war. He was a member of the Knights of Malta, No. 83; Odd Fellows, No. 301, and the G.A.R. post of Landisburg. Mr. Meadath is survived by the following children: Mrs. Thomas Sutch, Harrisburg; Joseph Meadath, of Illinois; Jesse and Oscar, of Harrisburg.

The body will be taken to St. Peter’s church, near Landisburg, Perry county, for interment tomorrow by T. M. Mauk.

The same newspaper provided an update the following day:

The body of Jesse Meadath, who died Wednesday night at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Thomas Sutch, 260 Calder street, will be taken to Landisburg tomorrow morning on the 7:5o train, where interment will be made. Funeral services will be held this evening at 7:30 o’clock at the house, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Huston of Progress.

The Harrisburg Telegraph gave him an even grander sendoff with a large headline and subhead  in its 11 November 1909 edition:

LIEUT. MEADATH DEAD.
Veteran of Civil War and Member of Several Lodges Passed Away Last Evening.

Lieutenant Jesse Meadath, a veteran of the Civil War, having been first lieutenant in Company D, Forty-seventh Pennsylvania volunteers, died of old age last evening at 8:30 o’clock at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Thomas Sutch, 260 Calder street. He was 70 years of age.

Mr. Meadath was a native of Perry county. He was a member of Knights of Malta lodge, No. 83; Odd Fellows, No. 301, and the G.A.R. Post of Landisburg. He is survived by the following children: Mrs. Thomas Sutch, Harrisburg; Joseph Meadath, of Illinois, and Jesse and Oscar, of Harrisburg.

Undertaker T. M. Mauk and Son will take body [sic] to St. Peter’s church, near Landisburg, perry county, for interment Friday.

 

Sources:

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

2. Civil War Veterans’ Card File (“Meadeth, Jesse”), Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

3. Death Certificates (“Jesse Meadath” and “Annie M. Landis”), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Vital Statistics, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

4. Jesse Meadath, in Harrisburg Daily Independent. Harrisburg: 11-12 November 1909.

5. Lieut. Meadath Dead: Veteran of Civil War and Member of Several Lodges Passes Away Last Evening, in Harrisburg Telegraph. Harrisburg: 11 November 1909.

6. Pennsylvania Pensions, in Harrisburg Daily Independent. Harrisburg: 10 June 1902.

7. Pennsylvania Veteran’s Burial Index Card (“Meaddith, Jesse”), Pennsylvania Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

8. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown: Self-published, 1986.

9. Social notice: Meadath-Swisher families, in The Courier. Harrisburg: 28 August 1906.

10. U.S. Census (1870, 1880), and U.S. Veterans’ Schedule (1890; “Jesse Meadow”).

11. Will Get Pensions, in Harrisburg Telegraph. Harrisburg: 9 July 1897.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s