The Fertig Brothers – Visible Scars of Valor

Born, respectively, on 10 July 1837 in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, in 1840 in Reedsville in that same county, and on 20 February 1842 in Milroy in that same county, Thaddeus S. Fertig, William R. Fertig, and Franklin Morris Fertig were the grandsons of Dauphin County cabinet maker, Zachariah Fertig, and sons of Pennsylvania natives, Peter Fertig (1805-1877) and Francis (Stroop) Fertig (1806-1880). A daughter of Cumberland County Sheriff George Stroop, she was, according to Goodspeed’s History of Newton County, Missouri, “born in the county jail.”

In 1850, the Fertig brothers resided in Brown Township, Mifflin County with their parents and siblings, Matilda (age 6) and Moses (age 2). Two young men, John Lawyer (age 24) and Arthur Woods (age 17), who worked in the same profession (blacksmith) as Peter Fertig, also resided with the family at this time.

At the dawn of the Civil War in 1861, Thaddeus worked as a farm laborer and blacksmith, and resided in Milroy, Mifflin County. Frank Fertig, age 19, also still lived in Mifflin County, and was employed as a laborer. William Fertig was a 20-year-old printer in New Bloomfield, Perry County who boarded with the family of fellow printer John Magee.

Although the Fertig brothers did not yet know it, all three would be wounded in action in three different southern states. William would be the first of the three to be wounded in action – sometime during or around the time of the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina (21-23 October 1862); Thaddeus would lose an arm on 3 June 1864 during his regiment’s fighting at Cold Harbor.

Frank would remain unscathed through the longest stretch of the brothers’ Civil War commitments – until being wounded twice during the Union Army’s Red River Campaign across Louisiana in 1864.

Civil War Military Service

The bombardment of Fort Sumter 12-14 April 1861 (Currier & Ives, public domain).

The bombardment of Fort Sumter 12-14 April 1861 (Currier & Ives, public domain).

William Fertig became one of the earliest of the volunteer responders to answer the call of President Abraham Lincoln for troops to defend the nation’s capital in April 1861 following the fall of Fort Sumter to Confederate forces. He enrolled and mustered in for duty as a Private with Company D of the 2nd Pennsylvania Infantry at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania on 20 April 1861. Following the honorable completion of his Three Months’ Service, he mustered out with his regiment in July 1861.

William R. Fertig then promptly signed up for a three-year tour of duty, re-enrolling at Bloomfield in Perry County, Pennsylvania on 20 August 1861. Mustering in again at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg on 31 August, this time he was awarded the rank of Sergeant. Military records at the time described him as being a 22-year-old printer residing in Bloomfield, Perry County.

On those same days, at the age of 19, Franklin Morris Fertig also enrolled for service at Bloomfield in Perry County, Pennsylvania, and also mustered in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg with the same company of the same regiment – Company D, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. He entered the military as a Private.

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

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

Following a brief light infantry training period, Sergeant William R. Fertig and Private Franklin M. Fertig were sent by train with the 47th Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C., and were stationed roughly two miles from the White House at “Camp Kalorama” on the Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September. The next day, Company C Musician Henry D. Wharton penned the following update for the Sunbury American, his hometown 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 27 September, 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, after arriving at Maryland’s Camp Lyon, marched double-quick over a chain bridge toward Fall’s Church, Virginia.

Arriving at Camp Advance at dusk, they raised 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 supplied by the Keystone State, they joined the 3rd Brigade and Smith’s Army of the Potomac in guarding 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 mid-October letter home, Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin (the C Company leader who would be promoted in 1864 to head the entire 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.” Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan later informed Colonel Good that General Smith had called the 47th “the best regiment in the whole division.”

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

As a reward – and in preparation for bigger things to come, Brannan had new Springfield rifles distributed to each member of the 47th.

Next ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers briefly quartered at Annapolis before boarding the steamship Oriental on 27 January 1862. Per Brigadier-General Brannan’s directive, they sailed for Florida. Although the state had seceded, Florida remained strategically vital due to the presence of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas.

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).

In early February 1862, the Fertig brothers and the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived at Key West. Assigned to garrison Fort Taylor, they drilled daily in heavy artillery tactics, built new roads and upgraded the facility’s fortifications. 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 rotated among the regiments present there at the time, putting soldiers at risk from sniper fire. 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.”

Sometime during this phase of service, however, several members of the 47th Pennsylvania developed health problems – chronic issues which would plague them for the remainder of their lives. Sergeant William R. Fertig was one of those men. While stationed at Beaufort, South Carolina in June, he contracted dysentery or a similar disease.

* Note: Thaddeus Fertig attempted to join the fight around this time as well but, after enrolling for service as a Private with Company F of the 18th Pennsylvania Militia at Milroy, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania on 12 September 1862, he was discharged with his regiment just over two weeks later on 25 September 1862.

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).

Meanwhile, the two Fertigs serving with the 47th Pennsylvania were sent with their regiment on an expedition to Florida. It was during this phase of service that they first saw truly intense combat as the 47th Pennsylvania and other Union regiments captured Saint John’s Bluff (1-3 October). Led by Brigadier-General John M. Brannan, a 1,500-plus Union force disembarked from gunboat-protected troop carriers at Mayport Mills and Mount Pleasant Creek. 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 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 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 an intense, two-hour attempt to take the ravine and bridge, depleted ammunition forced the 47th to withdraw to Mackey’s Point.

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, a southern polar area on Mars discovered in 1846 by Mitchel as a University of Cincinnati astronomer, and Mitchelville, the first post-Civil War Freedmen’s town, were both named for him. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.

On 6 November 1862, Sergeant William R. Fertig was discharged from military service on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability, and sent home from Fort Taylor.

1863

By June of 1863, William R. Fertig had re-enlisted again for military duty. Enrolling at Clinton, Pennsylvania as “William R. Feritig” on 17 June 1863, according to his Civil War Veterans’ Card File entry in the Pennsylvania State Archives, he mustered in as a Private with Company C of the 26th Pennsylvania Militia on 20 June, but was mustered out just 10 days later. He then successfully re-enlisted with the 9th Cavalry in August 1863.

On the Fourth of July 1863, his brother Thaddeus S. Fertig also joined up, mustering in as a Private with Company H of the the 36th Pennsylvania Militia, but was also honorably mustered out with his company just a short time later – on 11 August 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)

Meanwhile, that same year, Private Frank Fertig and the men of D Company were based again based with the 47th Pennsylvania in Florida. Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November, they spent most of 1863 at Fort Jefferson in the remote Dry Tortugas area of Florida with their comrades from Companies F, H, and K while the remaining 47th Pennsylvanians from Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I were assigned again to garrison Fort Taylor in Key West. Soldiers from the 47th were also sent on skirmishes and off 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.

But despite these hardships, when those who were eligible to return home were given the opportunity to do so, many chose to continue to serve their nation, including Private Franklin M. Fertig who re-upped for a second three-year term of service, re-enlisting at Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida on 10 October 1863.

1864

Battle of Cold Harbor (Library of Congress, public domain).

Battle of Cold Harbor, 1864 (Kurz & Allison, c. 1884, Library of Congress, public domain).

In the opening months of 1864, the wish of Thaddeus Fertig – to serve with a Union regiment that would see actual combat – finally came true. He enrolled at Harrisburg’s Camp Curtin on 24 February 1864, but mustered into an entirely different regiment from his brother, Frank, who was still in Florida with the 47th Pennsylvania. Thaddeus Fertig entered the fray as a Private with Company C of the 45th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and went on to engage in some of the war’s most brutal moments as a participant in the Battles of the Wilderness (5-7 May 1864), Spotsvlvania Court House (8-21 May 1864), North Anna (23-26 May 1864), and the Battle of Cold Harbor – from 31 May to 3 June 1864 when he was severely wounded in action.

The day after Thaddeus successfully enlisted, Private Frank Fertig and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians set off on 25 February 1864 for their own phase of service in which their regiment would also make history. Steaming for New Orleans via the Charles Thomas, the 47th Pennsylvanians arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February, and were then sent by train to Brashear City. After 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 P. Banks.

From 14-26 March, the 47th Pennsylvania trekked 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 exchange of fire in the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads. The fighting waned only when darkness fell. Exhausted, the uninjured collapsed next to the gravely wounded. After midnight, the Union survivors slipped away to Pleasant Hill.

The next day, the 47th Pennsylvanians 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 (plantation owner and son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, as the 47th was shifting to the left of the Union side, the 47th Pennsylvanians 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 from Company C were also wounded while preventing the American 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 and held as prisoners of war until released during prisoner exchanges in July and November 1864. After 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 on the Red River near 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 dam from 30 April through 10 May, to enable federal gunboats to easily traverse the Red River’s rapids.

Beginning 16 May, Private Frank Fertig and D Company moved with most of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza. On the 4th of July, they learned their fight was far from over as the regiment received new orders to set sail yet again.

* Note: From the time he arrived in Louisiana until the day he departed with his regiment, Private Frank Fertig was twice wounded in action. (The 1890 U.S. Veterans’ Schedule entry for Franklin Fertig confirms these wounds, and gives a description of one that was particularly personal in nature.)

Meanwhile, on 3 June 1864, Frank’s brother, Thaddeus S. Fertig, was engaged in the Battle of Cold Harbor with Company C, 45th Pennsylvania Volunteers. According to Goodspeed’s History of Newton County, Missouri:

of 609 men who went into the fight only 303 came out alive. Mr. Fertig [Thaddeus] was shot through the elbow, and had to have his arm amputated on the field while the battle was raging, and from August, 1864, until June, 1865, was in the hospital at Philadelphia. At the latter date he was honorably discharged, and came to Sullivan County, Mo., purchasing 200 acres of land.

Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Still able and willing to fight after their Bayou battles, Frank Fertig’s fellow 47th Pennsylvanians from Companies A, C, D, E, F, H, and I boarded the McClellan on 7 July 1864, and steamed away for the East Coast. Following their arrival in Virginia where they had 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. while helping 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 Pennsylvanians who had served honorably, including Company D’s commanding officer, 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 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

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).

Opequan victory of Philip Sheridan’s Union Army over Jubal Early’s Confederates. Kurz & Allison, c.1893. Library of Congress (public domain).

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 47th Pennsylvanians helped inflict heavy casualties on Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Rebel Army at Opequan (also spelled as “Opequon” and referred to as “Third Winchester”). The battle is considered by many historians to be one of the most important during Sheridan’s 1864 campaign; the Union’s victory here may very well have helped ensure President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection.

The 47th Pennsylvania and the 19th Corps were directed by General William Emory to attack and chase Major General John B. Gordon’s Confederate forces. Some success was achieved, but casualties rose as another Confederate artillery group opened fire on Union troops trying to cross a clearing. As a nearly fatal gap between the 6th and 19th Corps began to open, 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 things, began pushing the Confederates back. Ultimately, 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 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 encamping at Cedar Creek. Moving forward, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers would continue to distinguish themselves in battle, but 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 terms of service. Fortunately, they were replaced by others admired for their front line experience and temperament: 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 destroying Virginia’s 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, particularly 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 peeled off in ever growing numbers to forage for food, enabling those under Sheridan’s command to rally and win the day.

October 19 was an impressive, but heartrending day. That morning, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces; his men captured Union weapons while freeing a number of Confederates who had been taken prisoner during earlier battles – all while pushing seven Union divisions back. Per 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 pounded Early’s forces into submission; the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were later 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 buried later 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 to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah in February 1865, 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 received new uniforms and were resupplied.

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

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.)

Spectators mass for Grand Review, 23-24 May 1865; note crepe-draped U.S. Capitol, flag at half mast after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. (Matthew Brady, Library of Congress, public domain.)

Private Franklin M. Fertig is reported by one source to have been based at Montgomery Blaire’s home and on guard duty during this period, but it has not yet been determined by the researchers of this biographical sketch if this duty was related to the Lincoln funeral or trial of the alleged assassination conspirators, or to general protective services for the city of Washington, D.C.

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

On their final tour of duty in the Deep South, the soldiers of Company D and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June. Attached once again to Dwight’s Division, this time they were assigned to the 3rd Brigade, U.S. Department of the South. Relieving the 165th New York Volunteers in Charleston, South Carolina in July, they quartered in the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. Although this was a safer time for the 47th because the fighting had ended, the regiment still experienced several casualties, including from disease.

Ruins seen from the Circular Church, Charleston, SC, 1865. Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (111-B-4667, public domain).

Charleston, SC as seen from Circular Church, 1865.
Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (111-B-4667, public domain).

While here, Private Franklin M. Fertig was assigned to Provost (military police) and Reconstruction tasks. Typical duties for the 47th Pennsylvania included rebuilding railroads near Savannah and removing Rebel armaments from military installations around Charleston.

Meanwhile, William R. Fertig received the good news that he would muster out with his company, and be shipped home.

Beginning on Christmas day of 1865, the majority of the men of Company D, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, including Private Franklin M. Fertig, also finally began honorably mustering out at Charleston, a process which continued through early January.

Following a stormy voyage, the 47th Pennsylvanians disembarked in New York City. The weary men were then sent by train to Philadelphia where, at Camp Cadwalader on 9 January 1866, they were officially given their discharge papers.

Return to Civilian Life – William R. Fertig

Sometime after his discharge, William R. Fertig returned to Pennsylvania and settled in Philadelphia, where he found employment as a Printer.

On 21 April 1881, he was admitted to the Southern Branch of the U.S. National Home for Disabled Soldiers’ at Hampton, Virginia, where he was treated for chronic health problems related to his teeth and to the dysentery or dysentery-like disease that he contracted while serving in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1862. He was transferred from the Hampton Soldiers’ Home on 20 March 1882 to the Central Branch at Dayton, Ohio, and was then discharged on 3 September 1885. His residence subsequent to discharge listed on his Soldiers’ Home register entry was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

To date, the location and date of death for William R. Fertig have not yet been determined by researchers; as his name does not appear on the 1890 U.S. Veterans’ Schedule, it may be that he passed away sometime between his discharge from the Soldier’s Home in Dayton (1885) and the time of the federal veterans census (1890).

Return to Civilian Life – Thaddeus S. Fertig

Following his own convalescence at a Union hospital in Philadelphia and subsequent honorable discharge from the military in June 1865, Thaddeus S. Fertig moved to Sullivan County, Missouri, where his parents, Peter and Francis (Stroop) Fertig, had relocated in 1865.

The 1870 federal census shows that Thaddeus Fertig lived on the Fertig family farm in Milan, Bowman Township, Sullivan County, along with his 21-year-old brother, Mitchell, and sisters Helen (age 34) and Tillie (a 25-year-old teacher in the local schools), and their parents. Both Thaddeus and Mitchell worked the Fertig farm.

According to Goodspeed’s History of Newton County, Missouri, Thaddeus bought 200 acres of land in Sullivan County sometime after relocating to the state in 1865; however, this is not evident from federal census records, which show that he resided with his parents as a single adult in 1870 and as a married man in 1880.

What is clear is that he wed Susannah Boyer (1854-1939) around this time. Born in Ohio, she was a daughter of Abraham and Mary Boyer. Daughter Violet May (1870-1945), who arrived on 17 October 1870, would later marry John E. Larson (1862-1943).

The marriage of Thaddeus S. Fertig and Susannah (Boyer) Fertig was officially solemnized for the State of Missouri by James S. Todd, M.G., a circuit Minister of the Gospel of the Methodist Church in Sullivan County, Missouri on 11 April 1875.

In 1880, Thaddeus and Susannah Fertig lived with their daughter, Violet, at the Fertig family home, along with his mother, who was widowed by Peter Fertig three years earlier.

Son James A. Fertig (1880-1951) arrived next. In the Spring of 1882, Thaddeus and Susannah Fertig bought a 60-acre farm in Humphreys, Sullivan County, and resettled their family there. Son Willie S. Fertig arrived three years later, followed by daughter Mary Frances (1887-1974), who was born on 11 October. Franny would later marry Lee Lloyd Reynolds (1887-1970).

Still a farmer by the time of the 1900 federal census, Thaddeus resided in Wentworth, Van Buren Township, Newton County, Missouri with his wife, daughter Franny, and sons James and Willie. His widowed sister, Helen (Fertig) Wattenburg (born February 1835 in Pennsylvania) also lived with his family at this time. His wife, Susannah, is shown on the 1900 census as having given birth to five children, only four of whom were still alive at this time.

A decade later, Thaddeus S. Fertig was gone. Passing away in Humphrey’s, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania on 7 May 1910, the old soldier was eulogized in his local newspaper as follows:

Our Community is grieved to learn of the death of uncle Thad. S. Fertig of one mile west of Wentworth. Mr. Fertig was one of our Uncle Sam’s old braves and had his right arm shot off in battle at Cold Harbor…. From Aug. 1864, till June 1865 he was at the hospital at Philadelphia. In June 1862 he was honorably discharged, and came to Sullivan county Mo., where he lived till the spring of 1882. He moved that spring to the home where he died, and was one of Newton County’s most beloved and respected citizens.

Thaddeus S. Fertig was laid to rest at the Van Buren Union Cemetery in Ritchey, Newton County, Missouri.

Return to Civilian Life – Franklin M. Fertig

Following his honorable discharge from the military, Franklin M. Fertig made New Jersey his home base. In 1871, he wed Mary Radenau Bishoff. Born on 23 October 1844, she was a native of Bridgeboro in Burlington County, New Jersey. Together, they welcomed daughter Ella Matilda to their Bridgeboro home on 10 August 1872. (Ella would later marry John Jacob Hamilton; she passed away in Trenton, Grundy County, Missouri on 1 August 1960.)

But he and his family would not remain in New Jersey for long. Sometime between Ella’s birth and June 1878, Franklin M. Fertig packed up his family and moved west in search of a better life. Daughter Lillie was born in Missouri on 22 June 1878, but did not survive infancy. She passed away on 27 July 1879, and was laid to rest in a cemetery different from the one in which her parents would be buried decades later – indicating that the family likely relocated at least once after arriving in their new home state.

By 1880, according to the federal census, Franklin became a farmer, and settled his family in Humphreys, Bowman Township, Missouri. In addition to his wife, the Fertig family included New Jersey-born Ella (age 7), Missouri-born Mildred B. (age 1), and Emaline H. Fertig (born in Missouri in February 1880).

In 1900, Franklin supported his family as a laborer, and still lived in Humphreys with his wife, Mary, and their 21-year-old daughter Mildred.

Sadly, on 6 March 1915, Mary widowed Franklin, passing away in Humphreys, Sullivan County, Missouri. She was interred at the Humphreys Cemetery in Humphreys, Sullivan County.

In 1920, Franklin was shown on the census as living without his daughter as a boarder at the Humphreys home of widowed milliner, Leona Crawford, and her son Jesse.

More than a decade later, Franklin Morris Fertig joined his wife in death, passing away in Humphreys, Sullivan County, Missouri on 6 May 1928. He was interred with his wife at the Humphrey’s Cemetery.

 

Sources:

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

2. Civil War Veterans’ Card File (“Fertig, Franklin M.”, “Fertig, Thaddeus S.”, “Fertig, “William R.”). Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Archives.

3. Missouri Marriage Records (“Thadaus Fertig” and “Susannah Boyer”). Jefferson City: Missouri State Archives, 1875.

4. Registers of National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (“William R. Fertig,” Hampton, Virginia and Dayton, Ohio branches), in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Record Group 15 (Microfilm M1749). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives, 1881-1882.

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

6. U.S. Census (1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920) and U.S. Veterans’ Schedule (1890). Washington, D.C., Missouri and Pennsylvania.

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