The Kosiers (“Krosiers”) – Three Brothers Hope for Three-Year Terms

Alternate Spellings of Surname: Koser, Kosier, Kozier, Krosier

 

Born in Perry County, Pennsylvania on 15 June 1836, George W. Kosier was a 24-year-old carpenter residing in New Bloomfield, Perry County, when South Carolina and other southern states began seceding from the Union. The son of John and Mary (Rice) Kosier, he was the older brother of Jesse and William S. Kosier, also both natives of Perry County.

Jesse  and William S. Kosier were, respectively, a 19-year-old tanner and 23-year-old laborer residing in Bloomfield, Perry County in 1861.

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).

The eldest of the Kosier brothers, George W. Kosier, was an early responder to President Abraham Lincoln’s 15 April 1861 call for volunteers to help defend the nation’s capital following the fall of Fort Sumter to Confederate forces. He enrolled and officially mustered in for military service on 20 April 1861 at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County. Awarded the rank of Corporal, he served with Company D of the 2nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

Shipped to Cockeysville, Maryland with his regiment the next day and then to York, Pennsylvania, Corporal George W. Kosier and the 2nd Pennsylvania remained in York until 1 June 1861 when they moved to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. There, they were attached to the 2nd Brigade (under Wyncoop), 2nd Division (under Keim) in General Robert Patterson’s Army. Ordered to Hagerstown, Maryland on 16 June and then to Funkstown, the regiment remained in that vicinity until 23 June.

On 2 July, Corporal George Kosier and his fellow 2nd Pennsylvania Volunteers served in a support role during the Battle of Falling Waters, Virginia – an encounter that would also see the participation of soldiers from other regiments who would, like Kosier and the 2nd Pennsylvania’s Company D, later join the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. One such unit engaged at Falling Waters was Company F of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

The Battle of Falling Waters, fought on 2 July 1861, was the first Civil War battle in the Shenandoah Valley. (A second battle with a different military configuration occurred there in 1863.) Also known as the Battle of Hainesville or Hoke’s Run, this first Battle of Falling Waters helped pave the way for the Confederate Army victory at Manassas (Bull Run) on 21 July, according to several historians. The vigorous Confederate effort, although unsuccessful, is believed to have been a factor in the tempering of Union General Robert Patterson’s combat assertiveness in later battles.

This public domain illustration is an excerpt from a larger montage of images from the Battle of Falling Waters, Virginia which ran in the 27 edition of Harper's Weekly. "Council of War" depicts "Generals Williams, Cadwallader, Keim, Nagle, Wynkoop, and Colonels Thomas and Longnecker" strategizing on the eve of battle.

This public domain illustration is an excerpt from a larger montage of images from the Battle of Falling Waters which ran in the 27 July 1861 edition of Harper’s Weekly. In this “Council of War” were “Generals Williams, Cadwallader, Keim, Nagle, Wynkoop, and Colonels Thomas and Longnecker” strategizing on the eve of battle (public domain).

The next day, Corporal George Kosier and his fellow 2nd Pennsylvanians occupied Martinsburg, Virginia. On 15 July, they advanced on Bunker Hill, and then moved on to Charlestown on 17 July before reaching Harper’s Ferry on 23 July. Three days later, on 26 July 1861, Corporal George Kosier and his regiment mustered out.

Three Brothers Hope for Three-Year Terms

Following the honorable completion of his Three Months’ Service, Corporal George W. Kosier promptly re-upped for a three-year term of service, re-enrolling at Bloomfield in Perry County, Pennsylvania on 20 August 1861. Joining him were his younger brothers, Jesse and William S. Kosier.

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

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

The brothers Kosier all mustered in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg on 31 August 1861. George entered as a 25-year-old 1st Sergeant while Jesse and William entered as 19 and 23-year-old privates. All three were now part of the newly formed 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, founded by Colonel Tilghman H. Good.

Following a brief training period in light infantry tactics, the Kosier brothers – now under the command of Captain Henry D. Woodruff – were sent by train with D Company and the rest of the 47th Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. There, they were stationed about two miles from the White House – at “Camp Kalorama” on Kalorama Heights near Georgetown, beginning 21 September. The next day, Company C 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.

The 47th Pennsylvanians officially became part of the federal service, mustering in with the U.S. Army on 24 September 1861. On September 27, a rainy, drill-free day which permitted many of the men to read or write letters home, the soldiers of the 47th Pennsylvania were assigned to the 3rd Brigade of W.F. Smith’s Army of the Potomac. That afternoon, the 47th marched to the Potomac River’s eastern side and, after arriving at Camp Lyon, Maryland, moved double-quick over a chain bridge before moving on toward Falls Church, Virginia.

Arriving at Camp Advance at dusk, the men 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 supplied by the Keystone State, they joined with the 3rd Brigade and Smith’s Army of the Potomac in defending the nation’s capital until January when the 47th Pennsylvania was ordered to duty in the Deep South.

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 1861, 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 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 rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

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 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 Falls 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, where 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 regiment mingled with residents at 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. 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.”

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 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. 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 soldiers 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, a part of Mars’ South Pole discovered in 1846 by Mitchel 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

 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, Captain Woodruff and his D Company men were once again based in Florida with the 47th Pennsylvania. Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November, they spent the whole of 1863 at Fort Taylor with their comrades from Companies A, C, and D while those from Companies E through K were sent to garrison Fort Jefferson in the 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.

The time spent in Florida was notable also for the men’s commitment to preserving the Union. The climate was harsh and unpleasant and, as before, disease was a constant companion and foe. Many of the 47th who could have returned home, having well and honorably completed their service, chose instead to re-enlist.

Sergeant George W. Kosier re-upped for a third term on 10 October 1863, re-enlisting at Fort Taylor, Key West, Florida. That same day, his brother, Private Jesse Kosier, also re-enlisted at Fort Taylor – for a second three-year term of service. Their brother, Private William S. Kosier, re-enlisted at Fort Taylor on 18 December 1863, also for a second term of service.

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 Kosiers and other 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:

…George Krosier [sic],           } Brothers.
William Krosier [sic],
Jesse Krosier [sic]…

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….

1864

On 25 February 1864, the Kosier brothers and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians set off for a phase of service in which their regiment would truly make history. Steaming first for New Orleans via the Charles Thomas, the 47th arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February, and then moved by rail 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 Banks.

From 14-26 March, the 47th trekked to and 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 by both sides during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads. The fighting waned only when darkness fell. Exhausted, those who were 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, the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, as the 47th was shifting to the left of the Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were  forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color bearers, both from Company C, were also 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 and held as prisoners of war 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. Downs, Miller and Smith were released on 22 July, Crownover on 25 November 1864. While held as a POW, Crownover had been commissioned, but not mustered as a 2nd Lieutenant (31 August 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 along to and from the Mississippi River. Photo: Public domain.

Christened “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 helped to build a timber 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. Many who died during the Red River expedition were eventually laid to rest at the Chalmette National Cemetery in St. Bernard Parish. A lucky few had graves actually marked with headstones.

Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

On the 4th of July 1864, the Kosier brothers learned their fight was not yet over as their regiment received new orders to set sail yet again. Still able and willing to fight after their time in Bayou country, they and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians from Companies A, C, E, F, H, and I steamed for the East Coast aboard the McClellan beginning 7 July.

Following their arrival in Virginia 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. while also helping to drive Confederate troops from Maryland.

Attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah in August, early to mid-September saw the departure of several 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had served ably, including Company D’s Captain Henry Woodruff, 1st Lieutenant Samuel Auchmuty, and Sergeants Henry Heikel and Alex Wilson. All departed 18 September 1864 upon expiration of their service terms. Those from 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 critical 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 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 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 things, 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 key early morning flanking attack by Sheridan’s Union men which outnumbered Early’s three to one. Afterward, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers headed out on skirmishing parties before making camp at Cedar Creek.

On 22 September 1864, Sergeant George W. Kosier was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

Moving forward, they and others of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers would continue to distinguish themselves in battle, but would do so without two additional respected commanders: Colonel Tilghman Good and his second in command, Lieutenant Colonel George Alexander. Both mustered out 23-24 September as their terms expired. They were replaced by others equally admired for their temperament and front line success: 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 Sheridan began the first of the Union’s true “scorched earth” campaigns, starving the enemy into submission by erasing 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 during the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864. Victorious through most of their encounters 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 and win the day.

From a military standpoint, it was impressive, but heartrending. During the morning of 19 October, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. Early’s 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.

On 30 August 1864, Private Jesse Kosier died from pleurisy at the Union Army’s Field Hospital in Sandy Hook, Maryland. His death was certified by N. F. Graham, Assistant Staff Surgeon.

Note: Some sources indicate that Jesse Kosier’s date of death occurred on 31 October 1864 in Weverton, Maryland or at Antietam; however, these dates and locations are incorrect. The federal burial ledger for Jesse Kosier, shows that he died from pleurisy on 30 August at the “F.H. Sandy Hook Md.” The entry’s handwriting is unclear, and the physician may have spelled Jesse’s surname incorrectly as “Kaseir” rather than “Kosier,” but the regiment and rank are a match. (Source: Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, U.S. Office of the Adjutant General, Record Group 94, U.S. National Archives.)

This entry in the Union Army's death ledger for volunteer soldiers confirms that Private Jesse Kosier, Company D, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, died from pleurisy at the Union Field Hospital at Sandy Hook, Maryland on 30 August 1864. (Click once or twice to enlarge.)

This entry in the Union Army’s death ledger for volunteer soldiers confirms that Private Jesse Kosier, Company D, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, died from pleurisy at the Union Field Hospital at Sandy Hook, Maryland on 30 August 1864. (Click once or twice to enlarge.)

Additionally, although Jesse Kosier’s entry in the Civil War Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania State Archives notes that he was interred at “Antietam,” an entry on the federal burial ledger for the Antietam National Battlefield site shows that Private Jesse Kosier’s remains were initially buried at Weverton, Maryland (as does the National Cemetery Interment Control Form completed by the Office of the Quartermaster General in Washington, D.C. This latter form, however, contained the incorrect date of death – 31 October 1864).

The National Cemetery Interment Control Form for Private Jesse Kosier, Company D, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, confirms that he died in 1864, was initially buried at Weverton, Maryland, and then exhumed and reinterred at the Antietam National Cemetery.

National Cemetery Interment Control Form (excerpt) confirms that Private Jesse Kosier, Company D, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, was initially buried at Weverton, Maryland, and then exhumed and reinterred at the Antietam National Cemetery.

When the federal government began exhuming and moving Union soldiers’ remains to national cemeteries, Private Kosier’s remains were  exhumed and reinterred at the Antietam National Cemetery in site 3996 in Sharpsburg, Maryland on 31 August.

 

This notation in the Antietam National Cemetery burial ledgers also confirms the initial burial at Weverton, Maryland, and exhumation and reinterment at Antietam of the remains of Private Jesse Kosier, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers.

This notation in an Antietam National Cemetery burial ledger also confirms the initial burial at Weverton, Maryland, and exhumation and reinterment at Antietam of the remains of Private Jesse Kosier, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company D. (Click once or twice to enlarge.)

Following these major engagements, the two surviving Kosier brothers and their fellow 47th Volunteers were ordered to Camp Russell near Winchester, where they remained through most of December. On 14 November, 2nd Lieutenant George Stroop was promoted to the rank of Captain. Rested and somewhat healed, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were then ordered to outpost and railroad guard duty at Camp Fairview in Charlestown, West Virginia five days before Christmas.

1865 – 1866

Assigned in February to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah in February, 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.

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 sent home and later newspaper interviews with survivors of the 47th indicate that at least one member of the 47th Pennsylvania 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, they were part of 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.

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

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

Guarding the local jails and performing other civil governance in Charleston, South Carolina through the fall and early Winter, the majority of D Company men and other 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers finally began to honorably muster out at Charleston, a process which began on Christmas Day and continued through early January. Captain George W. Kosier and his surviving brother, Private William S. Kosier, were two of those who mustered out on 25 December 1865.

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 discharge papers.

Return to Civilian Life – George W. Kosier

Sometime in the mid-1860s, George W. Kosier wed Candace Brooks Chellis. A native of Goshen, New Hampshire, Candace (Chellis) Kosier was born on 3 November 1834. Their first daughter, Lillian A. Kosier, was born in Illinois in September 1864, according to the 1900 federal census.

On 7 April 1870, George and Candace welcomed daughter Helen, who later married William M. Sterling. The 1880 federal census recorded Helen’s name as “Nellie”; in 1880, she resided with her older sister and parents in Byron, Ogle County, Illinois. George was employed as a carpenter during this time.

Daughter Helen married and departed from the Kosier family home before the turn of the century. In 1900, George and Candace were residing with Lillian in Eagle Grove, Wright County, Iowa, where George was employed as a bridge builder. By 1909, the three Kosiers were residing in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, where George was employed as a “bridge carpenter.”

On 5 January 1914, Candace Kosier widowed her husband, passing away in Chicago. She was interred at Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum.

George W. Kosier died in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois on 3 December 1920, and was also interred at the  Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Chicago.

Return to Civilian Life – William S. Koser

The post-war journey of William S. Koser is less clear. What is known is that, on 4 April 1880, William S. Kosier’s widow, Mary E. Kosier, filed for her Civil War Widow’s Pension, an indication that her husband had passed away either in 1879 or early 1880.

 

Sources:

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

2. Civil War Veterans’ Card File (Krosier George, D-47 I). Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Archives.

3. Cook County Deaths, State of Illinois (George Kosier and Candace Brooks Kosier). Springfield: Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records.

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

5. Registers of Deaths of Volunteers (“Kaseir, Jesse”), federal burial ledgers and national cemetery interment control forms. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of the Adjutant General (Record Group 94), U.S. National Archives.

6. U.S. Census (1880, 1900, 1910).

7. U.S. Civil War Pension Index:

  • Kosier, George: application no.: 1319353, certificate no.: 1097759, filed by the veteran from Iowa on 23 June 1904; and
  • Kosier, William S: application no.: 291461, certificate no.: 331447, filed by the veteran’s widow, “Kosier, Mary E.,” on 4 April 1880.

 

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