Born on 13 December 1828 in Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Charles Hickman Yard was a son of Hiram Yard and Mary (Hickman) Yard, who were married in Easton on 3 March 1819. According to baptismal records of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Easton, Charles H. Yard was baptized in Easton as a member of the Lutheran faith on 25 October 1829.
His native Eastonian siblings were: Emelina Yard (born 7 April 1820, baptized 8 April 1821), Mary Margaret Yard (born 12 January 1822, baptized 25 October 1829), Lafayette Yard (born 22 January 1824, baptized 25 October 1829), Sarah Kern Yard (born 4 June 1826, baptized 25 October 1829), and Jane (born sometime around 1835).
By 1850, most of the Yard children had moved on from the Yard family home to begin their own adult lives, but Charles H. Yard and his 15-year-old sister, Jane, still lived at home in Easton with their parents. Charles and his father were both employed in the tailoring business at this time.
Soon after, however, Charles also decided to spread his own wings. Sometime around 1851, he wed native Pennsylvanian Louisa Transue. The daughter of Pennsylvanians, Samuel Transue and Mary (Roth) Transue, she was born on 11 April 1831 (and later passed away in Easton on 13 August 1914 after a long, full life). Together, on 29 February 1852, Charles and Louisa welcomed to the world a daughter, Alice Oberly Yard. (Alice would remain single all of her life, initially taking up the occupation of dressmaker before becoming a teacher in the public schools. She passed away on 7 October 1919.)
On 1 May 1853, daughter Mary M. Yard made her first appearance at the Yard family home in Easton. (Mary also never married, and also became a dressmaker. She would live to be the last surviving immediate family member of household, finally passing away on 16 April 1940.)
Charles Hickman Yard, Jr., the only son to be born to Louisa and Charles Yard, Sr., entered the world on 5 June 1856. (Also remaining unmarried until he died, the younger Charles Yard was tragically injured in a fatal accident in 1913 when the livery cab he was driving during a funeral procession overturned and pinned him after it was rammed by a wagon bearing crushed stone.)
Easton National Guard and the Coming Storm
Like many young American men in the mid-19th century, Charles H. Yard joined one of the militia units in his county, drilling periodically so that his community and country would always have access to reasonably well trained soldiers in the event of an armed conflict or other emergency. In 1858, he served as a First Sergeant with the Easton National Guard.
On 21 July 1859, he and his wife welcomed another daughter, Sallie Yard, to their Easton home. (Like her older brother and sisters, Sallie never married. She became a teacher, and succumbed to uterine and intestinal cancer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in mid-October 1911.)
By June of 1860, Charles H. Yard was still employed in the tailoring business, and still residing with his family in Easton. As word of America’s growing tensions spread across Northampton County, publicly elected officials in America’s southern states did what Easton residents feared most that they would do. Instead of merely threatening to tear the nation asunder, they ordered that it be done officially. On 20 December 1860, South Carolina became the first to secede from the Union.
During the opening months of 1861, Charles H. Yard, Sr. and his fellow citizens of Northampton County showed their support for preservation of the nation’s unity with two massive public demonstrations. The Rev. Uzal Condit described the first – held on 8 January 1861 – in his History of Easton, Penn’a from the Earliest Times to the Present, 1739-1885:
The National Guards, Citizens Artillery and Easton Jaegers paraded with full ranks during the afternoon, while at intervals ‘Poly’ Patier, with his six-pounder on Mount Jefferson, reminded the citizens who thronged the streets, how British ranks fell before the Kentucky rifles at New Orleans, and how the hero of that day, had in 1832, pledged his oath to hang the man who would attempt to dissolve the Union as high as Haman.
As the southern states continued to fall like dominos – Mississippi (9 January 1861), Florida (10 January 1861), Alabama (11 January 1861), Georgia (19 January 1861), Louisiana (26 January 1861), and Texas (1 February 1861), Northampton County residents continued to worry and plan, coming together again en masse on 22 February. Condit noted that, on that day, the anniversary of George Washington’s birthday:
was more widely celebrated than it had been for years. The clouds of disunion, gathering for some time, had become ominously black in the southern sky and gave every evidence of being about to burst in armed treason. This gave great significance to the celebrations in honor of the Father of his Country, and of that stern old patriot who had sworn by the Eternal that the Union must be preserved.
Day by day this feeling grew among Eastonians…. The mechanics and workingmen, the bone and sinew of every community, discussed the threatening news early and late, at their homes, in their shops and at the meetings of their societies. On Monday evening, February 18, 1861, they crowded the old Court House in the Square in pursuance of a call for a meeting to give expression to Union sentiment. John J. Otto presided, with vice presidents: Lehigh Ward, Max Gress, William Keller; Bushkill Ward, Charles H. Yard, Henry J. Young; West Ward, Thos. Daily, Aaron Frey; South Easton, H. Wilhelm, D. Sandt; Phillipsburg, J. S. Bach, James Price; and secretaries, H. S. Wagner, G. W. Reichard, T. T. Hamman, A. Seip.
After some spirited remarks … Isaac Pixley, an old Mexican War veteran, was called upon and amid rapturous applause appealed to the laboring men to stand by the stars and stripes…. A long series of resolutions, intensely loyal in tone, were reported by a committee appointed for the purpose and adopted by an overwhelming majority….
One of those resolutions held “that the election of Abraham Lincoln or any other man, to the office of President in a legal and constitutional manner, is not a fit or just cause for the dismemberment of this great and mighty republic.” Another that, because Easton’s citizens believed Southerners’ rights were “to be maintained in the Union,” they were “willing to make any concessions to secure to them their constitutional rights in the Union,” but could not “consent to a dissolution of the States upon any terms or any manner whatever.”
Pointedly noting that they would only see any secession as “revolution and treason — a means employed by traitors to destroy the inestimable blessings of liberty, which were bought by the blood of our forefathers and which are as dear to us as our own lives,” they added that they were:
opposed to making any concessions to those who are laboring to sever the bonds of our Union, by articles of secession, that would array brother against brother in hostile combat, that would trample in the dust the stars and stripes, the only true emblem of our national liberty and greatness, the pride of every true American, which has floated so long over our beloved country, and which has been acknowledged and honored by every nation and in every commercial port throughout the civilized world.
Early Civil War Response (Three Months’ Service)
Charles Hickman Yard, Sr. became one of the earliest responders to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers “to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union” following the fall of Fort Sumter to Confederate forces in mid-April 1861. At the age of 33, he enrolled and mustered in for duty at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 20 April 1861 as a 2nd Lieutenant with Company C of the 1st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
Transported with the 1st Pennsylvania via the Northern Central Railroad to Maryland at Cockeysville, Lieutenant Yard and his regiment then spent time at Camp Scott near York, Pennsylvania before being ordered to railroad guard duties near Baltimore, Maryland from 14-25 May. From there, he and his regiment were assigned to protect the Harper’s Ferry Road from 25 May to June 3, moving to Catonsville (25 May) and Franklintown (29 May) before being ordered back across the border to Chambersburg (3 June). Sent back over the border on an expedition to Rockville, Maryland from 10 June to 7 July, Lieutenant Yard and his regiment were attached to the 2nd Brigade (under Wyncoop), 2nd Division (under Keim) in General Robert Patterson’s Army.
Ordered to Hagerstown, Maryland on 18 June and then to Funkstown, Goose Creek and Edward’s Ferry, the regiment remained in that vicinity until 22 June, when it was sent to Frederick, Maryland. Assigned with other Union regiments to occupy the town of Martinsburg, Virginia from 8-21 July (following the Battle of Falling Waters earlier that month), Lieutenant Charles Yard and his regiment were then sent to Harper’s Ferry on 21 July. Following the honorable completion of his Three Months’ Service, Lieutenant Yard mustered out with his regiment on 27 July 1861.
Civil War – Three Years’ Military Service
After he returned home to Easton, Pennsylvania, Charles H. Yard, Sr. then helped the Union enlist others to take up the fight, actively recruiting men at Yard’s Saloon on Northampton Street to join a new regiment which was being formed by Colonel Tilghman H. Good, the highly regarded former captain of the famed Allen Rifles who would become a three-time mayor of Allentown, Pennsylvania after the Civil War.
* Note: Described as an “Eating Saloon” on the 1860 federal census, Yard’s Saloon was operated by Charles Yard’s older brother, Lafayette Yard, a resident of Williams Township in Northampton County who would later go on to support his family as a moulder.
Many of the men who signed up during Charles Yard’s initial recruitment for his new company were men who had just honorably completed their own Three Months’ Service, some with the same regiment with which Yard had served – the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteers. Those who signed up to follow Yard this time around became part of Company E of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The smallest of the 10 companies established as part of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company E officially mustered in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 16 September 1861 with just 83 men.
According to Lewis Schmidt, author of A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers:
Capt. Yard had been enrolling men at Yard’s Saloon in Easton and took part of his company to Harrisburg on Friday, August 23, to be attached to Col. Good’s ‘Zouaves’ (a title that did not remain long with the 47th). The Captain had been recruiting men since August 13, and a number of men were still needed to fill the unit which would become Company E in the 47th. George R. Nichols was one who joined as he wrote on August 25 ‘going to war again and going to stay until it is settled.’ George had returned home sick during his Three Month enlistment, and did not complete his term of service…. By Monday the 26th, an additional 40 men were ready and another group left for Harrisburg. But the company was still not filled and the Captain planned to return to recruit the remaining members.
These groups were ‘sworn’ (probably enrolled) into the state service on the 28th, and placed in the hands of 1st Lt. [Lawrence] Bonstein for instruction in the drill, while the Captain returned to Easton to ‘shanghai’ some more recruits at Yard’s Saloon.
It was not until the following Monday, September 2 that an additional group of 24 men had been recruited and Capt. Yard left with these men in the morning, planning to return and complete the enrollment of the unit later. One of the men was Pvt. William Adams, a 19 year old boatman who could not have anticipated the wounds he would suffer in the coming years.
Charles Hickman Yard, Sr. also personally re-enlisted for his own three-year term, re-enrolling for duty at Easton on 25 August 1861. Commissioned as a Captain, he formally mustered in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg on 16 September 1861, and was placed in charge of Company E of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Military records at the time described him as a tailor residing in Easton, Pennsylvania who was 5’10” tall with gray eyes and a light complexion.
In addition to Captain Yard and 1st Lieutenant Bonstein, the men also served under 2nd Lieutenant William H. Wyker. Nine more men mustered in to Company E on 19 September 1861 with another, James Huff, joining as a Private on 1 November for a total of 93 – a number which remained static until 1862. According to Schmidt, the men of E Company were issued:
1 light blue overcoat, 1 extra good blouse, 1 pair dark pantaloons, 2 white flannel shirts, 2 pair drawers, 2 pair socks, 1 pair shoes, 1 cap, 1 knapsack (suspended from shoulder), 1 haversack (suspended from waist), 1 canteen,” and “received 71 rifles on the 19th.
Following a brief training period in light infantry tactics at Camp Curtin, the men of Company E and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were transported by rail to Washington, D.C. Stationed roughly two miles from the White House, they pitched tents at “Camp Kalorama” on the Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September. The next day, C Company Musician Henry D. Wharton penned the following update to his hometown newspaper, the Sunbury American:
After a tedious ride we have, at last, safely arrived at the City of ‘magnificent distances.’ We left Harrisburg on Friday last at 1 o’clock A.M. and reached this camp yesterday (Saturday) at 4 P.M., as tired and worn out a sett [sic] of mortals as can possibly exist. On arriving at Washington we were marched to the ‘Soldiers Retreat,’ a building purposely erected for the benefit of the soldier, where every comfort is extended to him and the wants of the ‘inner man’ supplied.
After partaking of refreshments we were ordered into line and marched, about three miles, to this camp. So tired were the men, that on marching out, some gave out, and had to leave the ranks, but J. Boulton Young, our ‘little Zouave,’ stood it bravely, and acted like a veteran. So small a drummer is scarcely seen in the army, and on the march through Washington he was twice the recipient of three cheers.
On the 24th of that same month, the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry finally became part of the U.S. Army when its men were officially mustered into federal service.
The next day, 25 September, George Washington Hahn of E Company, David Huber and F. J. Scott described their early days via a letter from Camp Kalorama to the Easton Daily Evening Express:
[A]fter a ride of about twenty-four hours in those delightful cattle cars, we came in sight of the Capitol of the U.S. with colors flying and the band playing and everyone in the best of spirits…. We have one of the best camps in the Union; plenty of shade trees, water and food at present; we have had no ‘Hardees’ [hardtack] yet in this camp, but no doubt we will have them in abundance by and by. But we can cook them in so many different ways, they are better than beef. We soak them over night, fry them for breakfast, stew them for dinner, and warm them over for supper…. The way we pass our time in the evening is as follows: first, after supper, we have a good Union song, then we read, write, crack jokes and sing again. We are ‘gay and happy’ and always shall be while the stars and stripes float over us.
…. We have a noble Colonel and an excellent Band, and the company officers throughout are well drilled for their positions. Our boys are well and contented; satisfied with their clothing, satisfied with their rations, and more than all satisfied with their officers, from Captain to the 8th Corporal. Our boys will stand by the Captain till the last man falls….
This morning we … visited Georgetown Heights; we stood on top of the reservoir and from there had a fine view of the Federal forts and forces on the other side of the Potomac. It looks impossible for an enemy to enter Washington, so strongly fortified is every hill and the camps connect for miles along the river. We saw General McClellan and Professor Lowe taking a view of the Confederate army from the balloon. The rebels are now only four miles from here….
On 27 September – a rainy day, the 47th Pennsylvania was assigned to Brigadier-General Isaac Stevens’ 3rd Brigade, which also included the 33rd, 49th and 79th New York regiments. By that afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvania was on the move again. Ordered onward by Brigadier-General Silas Casey, the Mississippi rifle-armed 47th Pennsylvania infantrymen marched behind their regimental band until reaching Camp Lyon, Maryland on the Potomac River’s eastern shore. At 5 p.m., they joined the 46th Pennsylvania in moving double-quick (165 steps per minute using 33-inch steps) across the “Chain Bridge” marked on federal maps.
Marching toward Falls Church, Virginia, they arrived at Camp Advance around dusk. There, about two miles from the bridge they had just crossed, they made camp in a deep ravine near a new federal fort under construction (Fort Ethan Allen). They had completed a roughly eight-mile trek, were situated fairly close to General W.F. Smith’s headquarters, and were now part of the massive Army of the Potomac. Under Smith’s leadership, their regiment and brigade would help to defend the nation’s capital from the time of their September arrival through late January when the men of the 47th Pennsylvania would be shipped 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 mid-October letter home, 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 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.”
As a reward for their performance that day – and in preparation for the even bigger things which were yet to come, Brigadier-General Brannan issued an order directing subordinates to ensure that brand new Springfield rifles would be purchased for every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Next ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland, Captain Yard and the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers left Camp Griffin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22 January 1862, marching through deep mud with their equipment for three miles in order to reach the railroad station at Fall’s Church. Sent by rail to Alexandria, they then sailed the Potomac via the steamship City of Richmond to the Washington Arsenal, where they were reequipped before they were marched off for dinner and rest at the Soldiers’ Retreat in Washington, D.C. The next afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians hopped railcars on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and headed for Annapolis, Maryland. Arriving around 10 p.m., they were assigned quarters in barracks at the Naval Academy. They then spent that Friday through Monday (24-27 January 1862) loading their equipment and other supplies onto the steamship Oriental.
According to Schmidt and letters home from members of the regiment, those preparations ceased on Monday, 27 January, at 10 a.m. when:
The regiment was formed and instructed by Lt. Col. Alexander ‘that we were about drumming out a member who had behaved himself unlike a soldier.’ …. The prisoner, Pvt. James C. Robinson of Company I, was a 36 year old miner from Allentown who had been ‘disgracefully discharged’ by order of the War Department. Pvt. Robinson was marched out with martial music playing and a guard of nine men, two men on each side and five behind him at charge bayonets. The music then struck up with ‘Robinson Crusoe’ as the procession was marched up and down in front of the regiment, and Pvt. Robinson was marched out of the yard.
Reloading then resumed. By that afternoon, when the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers commenced boarding the Oriental, they were ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers. Captain Yard and his fellow officers were among the last to board. 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, Company E and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived in Key West, where they were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor.On 14 February, the regiment made its presence known to area residents via a parade through the streets of the city. That weekend, soldiers from the regiment also mingled with residents as they attended local church services.
Drilling daily in heavy artillery tactics, they also strengthened the fortifications at this federal installation. Per Schmidt, Captain Charles H. Yard commanded three regiments charged with “clearing land and cutting roads” in April 1862. A “fine military road had been cut by the brigade from Fort Taylor directly through the island.”
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 increased risk from sniper fire. According to historian Samuel P. Bates, during this phase of their service, the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing.” Private James Huff was promoted to the rank of Corporal on 30 June 1862.
During a return expedition to Florida beginning 30 September, the 47th joined with the 1st Connecticut Battery, 7th Connecticut Infantry, and part of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry in assaulting Confederate forces at their heavily protected camp at Saint John’s Bluff overlooking the Saint John’s River area. Trekking and skirmishing through roughly 25 miles of dense swampland and forests after disembarking from ships at Mayport Mills on 1 October, the 47th captured artillery and ammunition stores (on 3 October), which had been abandoned by Confederate forces due to the bluff’s bombardment by Union gunboats.
* Note: The capture of Saint John’s Bluff followed a string of U.S. Army and Navy successes which enabled the Union to gain control over key southern towns and transportation hubs. In November 1861, the Union’s South Atlantic Blockading Squadron established a base at Port Royal, South Carolina, enabling the Union to mount expeditions to Georgia and Florida. During these forays, U.S. troops took possession of Fort Clinch and Fernandina, Florida (3-4 March 1862), secured the surrender of Fort Marion and Saint Augustine (11 March), and established a Union Navy base at Mayport Mills (mid-March). That summer, Brigadier-General Joseph Finnegan, commanding officer of the Confederate States of America’s Department of Middle and Eastern Florida, placed gun batteries atop Saint John’s Bluff overlooking the Saint John’s River and at Yellow Bluff nearby. Fortified with earthen works, the Rebels hoped to disable the Union’s naval and ground force operations at and beyond Mayport Mills with up to 18 cannon, including three eight-inch siege howitzers and eight-inch smoothbores and Columbiads (two of each).
After an exchange of fire between U.S. gunboats Uncas and Patroon and the Rebel battery at Saint John’s Bluff on 11 September, Rebel troops returned after initially being driven away. When a second, larger Union gunboat flotilla also failed to shake the Rebels loose again six days later, Union military leaders ordered a more concerted operation combining ground troops with naval support.
Backed by the U.S. gunboats Cimarron, E.B. Hale, Paul Jones, Uncas and Water Witch carrying 12-pound boat howitzers, the 1,500-strong Union Army force commanded by Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan advanced up the Saint John’s River and inland along the Pablo and Mt. Pleasant Creeks on 1 October 1862 before disembarking and marching for the battery atop Saint John’s Bluff. The next day, Union gunboats exchanged shellfire with the Rebel battery while the Union ground force continued on. When the 47th Pennsylvanians reached Saint John’s Bluff with their fellow brigade members on 3 October 1862, they found an abandoned battery. (Other Union troops discovered that the Yellow Bluff battery was also Rebel-free.)
With those successes, Union leaders ordered the gunboats and army troops to extend the expedition. As they did, they captured assorted watercraft as they advanced further up the river.
Companies E and K of the 47th were then led by Captain Yard on a special mission; the men of E and K Companies joined with other Union Army soldiers in the reconnaissance and subsequent capture of Jacksonville, Florida on 5 October 1862.
A day later, sailing up river on board the Union gunboat Darlington (formerly a Confederate steamer) – with protection from the Union gunboat Hale, men from the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies E and K then traveled 200 miles along the Saint John’s River in order to capture the Gov. Milton. Another Confederate steamer, the Governor Milton was reported to be docked near Hawkinsville, and had been engaged in furnishing troops, ammunition and other supplies to Confederate Army units scattered throughout the region, including the batteries at Saint John’s Bluff and Yellow Bluff.
Identified as a thorn that needed to be plucked from the Union’s side, the Gov. Milton was seized by Companies E and K with support from other Union troops. Their expedition having gone deep enough into Confederate territory, the combined Union Army-Navy team sailed the Gov. Milton and other ships back down the Saint John’s River, and moved the Milton behind Union lines.
From 21-23 October, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman H. (“T. H.”) Good and Lieutenant Colonel George Warren (“G. W.”) Alexander, the entire 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry joined with other Union regiments to engage the heavily protected Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina – including at Frampton’s Plantation and the Pocotaligo Bridge – a key piece of the South’s railroad infrastructure which Union leaders felt should be destroyed.
Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, they met resistance from yet another entrenched, heavily fortified Confederate battery which opened fire on the Union troops as they entered an open cotton field. A significant number of Union troops were wounded or killed.
Those headed toward higher ground at the Frampton Plantation fared no better as they encountered artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests. But the Union soldiers would not give in; grappling with the Confederates where they found them, they pursued the Rebels for four miles as the Confederate Army retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th relieved the 7th Connecticut. Unfortunately, the enemy was just too well armed. After two hours of intense fighting in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, the 47th was forced by depleted ammunition supplies to withdraw to Mackey’s Point.
Losses for the 47th Pennsylvania were significant. Captain Charles Mickley was killed and Captain George Junker mortally wounded. Lieutenant William Geety was wounded, but survived, as did E Company’s Corporal Reuben Weiss, and Privates Nathan Derr, William A. Force and George Coult. Wounded in both legs (including a gunshot to the left leg), Corporal Weiss returned to action after convalescing, and served for another two years until being honorably discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate. Privates Nathan Derr, George Hahn and William Force were discharged on Surgeons Certificate on 2 February 1863, 25 February 1863, and 10 April 1863, respectively. Private George Coult was deemed too unfit to serve with the 47th Pennsylvania – but not so unfit he was unable to serve at all; he was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps on 16 March 1864.
Privates Henry A. Backman, Nathan George, Samuel Minnick, George B. Rose and 14 other enlisted men died; a total of 114 had been wounded in action. Although Private John Lind initially survived, he died from his wounds two days later at the Union Army hospital at Hilton Head, South Carolina (on 24 October 1862).
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 by Mitchel in 1846 while working as a University of Cincinnati astronomer, and Mitchelville, the first freedmen’s town created after the Civil War, were both later named for him. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.
On 20 November 1862, Private David W. Huber, the young man who had helped to pen such an optimistic letter home from Camp Kalorama on 25 September 1861, was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate. (After recuperating, he would re-enlist on 2 December 1863, but was sent home again on a furlough. On 18 October 1864, he died of disease-related complications while at home in Easton, Pennsylvania.)
Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November 1862, much of 1863 was spent garrisoning federal installations in Florida as part of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps, Department of the South. The men of E Company again joined with Companies A, B, C, G, and I in guarding Key West’s Fort Taylor while Companies D, F, H, and K garrisoned Fort Jefferson, the Union’s remote outpost in the Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida.
As with their previous assignments, the men soon came to realize that disease would be their constant companion and foe – making it all the more remarkable that, during this phase of service, the majority of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers chose to re-enlist when their three-year service terms were up. Many, who could have returned home with their heads held legitimately high after all they had endured, re-enlisted in order to preserve the Union of their beloved nation.
On 25 February 1864, the 47th set off for a phase of service in which the regiment would make even more important history. Steaming for New Orleans aboard the Charles Thomas, the men arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February and were then shipped by train to Brashear City. Following another steamer ride – this time 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 spearheaded by 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, Louisiana. On 4 April 1864, Corporal Reuben Weiss was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate and sent home.
Often short on food and water, the remaining members of the regiment encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day, marching until mid-afternoon.
Rushed into battle ahead of other regiments in the 2nd Division, 60 members of the 47th were cut down on 8 April during the back-and-forth volley of fire unleashed by both sides during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads (Mansfield). The fighting waned only when darkness fell. The exhausted, but 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 who was the 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. Private Richard Hahn was killed in action. The regiment’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color-bearers, both from Company C, were also seriously wounded while preventing the American flag from falling into enemy hands.
Still others from the 47th were captured by Confederate troops, marched roughly 125 miles to Camp Ford, a Confederate Army prison camp near Tyler, Texas, and held there as prisoners of war until they were released during prisoner exchanges on 22 July and in August and November. Corporal James Huff, wounded in action during the Battle of Pleasant Hill on 9 April, was one of those released on 29 August 1864. Sadly, at least one member of the 47th Pennsylvania never made it out alive.
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.
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, which enabled federal gunboats to successfully traverse the rapids of the Red River.
Beginning 16 May, Captain Charles Yard and E Company moved with the majority of the 47th from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, and then to New Orleans on 20 June.
Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign
Still able and willing to fight after their Bayou battles, the soldiers of Company E and their fellow members of the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies A, C, D, F, H, and I returned to the Washington, D.C. area aboard the McClellan beginning 7 July 1864.
Following their arrival in Virginia and a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln, they joined up with Major-General David Hunter’s forces at Snicker’s Gap, engaged in the Battle of Cool Spring, and 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 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 and E Company’s Captain Charles H. Yard. Both mustered out at Berryville, Virginia on 18 September 1864 upon expiration of their respective three-year terms of service.
Charles Yard’s involvement with the military, however, was not yet over.
Return to Civilian Life
Upon returning to the great Keystone State, “Captain Yard had a private reception at Carlisle, Pa. on Friday [23 September] as a Court Martial was held and he was charged under Orders #380, dated December 19, 1864. According to historian Lewis Schmidt:
The charges had to do with bounties paid by various communities to the men who re-enlisted and were credited to their draft quotas. The communities involved were Lower Nazareth and Allen Townships in Lehigh County, the Borough of Bethlehem and Eldred Township in Monroe County, and involved bounties of $291, $315, $315 and $310 respectively. It was charged that Captain Yard withheld portions of the bounties for his own use, ranging from $10 to $45 per man for the 70 men involved. He pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty of the specifications and the charge of “Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman’, and was sentenced to be dismissed from the service. The findings of the court were disapproved by the Secretary of War and the Captain was released from arrest and honorably discharged. Although Captains Yard and Graeffe were each equally charged in the specifications at this court martial involving the Borough of Bethlehem and Eldred Township, Capt. Graeffe would be tried separately on October 17, 1864 with the same results. Those charges at that time would involve both Captains and two additional communities, the Borough of Nazareth and Forks Township in Lehigh County.
After hearing the findings of the court, Charles Hickman Yard, Sr. then returned home to his wife and children in Easton, where he resumed the profession of tailoring. He was subsequently able to overcome the stain to his reputation wrought by the aforementioned controversy, ultimately becoming a leader in civic and community affairs.
In 1869, Charles H. Yard, Sr. was elected to serve as the First Chief Engineer of the Phoenix Fire Department in Easton, Pennsylvania. Responsible for the oversight of all fire department operations, he served in this capacity for nine months until his resignation due to a procedural disagreement with his governing board. Replaced by fellow Civil War officer Colonel Charles Frederick William Glanz, the former commanding officer of the Easton Jaegers” and the 153rd Pennsylvania Volunteers who operated Glanz’s saloon in Easton and a brewery business with W. Kuebler, Charles H. Yard continued his affiliation with the Phoenix Fire Company, even going so far as to serve as one of the presidents of its governing board.
* Note: According to Condit’s History of Easton, Penn’a from the Earliest Times to the Present, 1739-1885:
The Phoenix Fire Company was the second company formed in the Borough of Easton. Organized on 17 January 1824, 28 Easton citizens served as members of the company in addition to the Phoenix governing board. Although the company’s first engine was purchased in Philadelphia, its first hose carriage was a hometown product, built in Easton by George Luckenbach.
By 1847, 70 local residents were members. In 1858, the company moved its station from the rear of the old County House into a brick building on Ferry Street built for the company by the Borough of Easton. That same year, Phoenix leaders bought the first fire alarm bell for the borough. In 1865, the company purchased the borough’s first steam-powered fire engine (although it was still a horse-drawn vehicle, as was a hose carriage purchased several years afterward).
In 1870, residing with his family in Easton and still employed in the tailoring business, Charles Yard, Sr. was described on the federal census of that year as a merchant. Still in Easton with his family as of 1880, he continued his work as a tailor. Meanwhile, his children had begun their own careers. Alice and Mary became dressmakers; son Charles, Jr. was a paperhanger. The littlest Yard, Sallie, was still in school.
In 1883, newspapers across the state reported that “Captain Charles H. Yard” was intent on founding a statewide association of soldiers who had served as “Three Month Men” during the opening months of the Civil War (April to August 1861). The 25 July 1883 edition of the Lebanon Daily News reported the story as follows:
Captain Charles Yard is making an effort to have the volunteers who responded to the first call for soldiers at the outbreak of the rebellion call a State Convention for the purpose of effecting a regular organization. These men showed their patriotism by forsaking business and family at a few hours notice [sic] for the sake of their country, and marched to the front at the most critical part of the rebellion. They were indeed true patriots, and as such are entitled to special honors. It is to be hoped an organization of these old soldiers will be effected. – Easton Free Press
There are still a large number of those brave men living in Lebanon and the adjacent towns, who no doubt would be delighted to join such an organization. The first three months’ men who answered the call of President Lincoln for 75,000 men, leaving Lebanon, were commanded by Captain John Ulrich, the efficient express agent of the Reading company at this place.
The Allentown Democrat reported in its 9 September 1896 edition that he was awarded a late pension.
Death and Interment
In one of the truly strange twists of fate, the enumerator for the 1990 federal census who documented the district of Easton where Charles Yard lived with his family listed Charles H. Yard as the head of the household and a second Charles Yard (the son) on the census sheet, which appears to have been dated on the 12th, 13th or 15th of June 1900.
But by that point, the elder Charles Yard had actually passed on. As confirmed by various records and in at least two newspapers, Charles H. Yard, Sr. died on 9 June 1900 in Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. On 13 June 1900, The Allentown Democrat simply wrote:
On the 9th inst., in Easton, Capt. CHARLES H. YARD, in his 71st year.
The 11 June 1900 edition of the Reading Eagle reported his death in only slightly less abbreviated fashion:
Captain Charles H. Yard, at Easton, aged 71 years, leaving his widow and four children. Deceased was a veteran of the Civil War, being elected captain of Company E, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. He was also an active fireman and was well known.
Captain Charles H. Yard was subsequently interred at the Easton Cemetery.
Residing at the Yard home in Easton following the Yard family patriarch’s death were his wife, Louisa, and their children: Alice (a dressmaker), Mary, Charles H. Jr. (a laborer), and Sarah (a school teacher). When they each passed on, they too would be interred at the Easton Cemetery.
1. The Allentown Democrat. Allentown: Various Dates:
- Death Notice (Capt. Charles H. Yard), in The Allentown Democrat. Allentown: 13 June 1900.
- Late Pensions, in The Allentown Democrat. Allentown: 9 September 1896.
2. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: 1869.
3. Baptismal, Marriage and Burial Records, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Easton, Pennsylvania, in Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1828-1900.
4. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Archives.
5. Condit A.M., Rev. Uzal. The History of Easton, Penn’a from the Earliest Times to the Present, 1739-1865. Washington, D.C.: West & Condit, 1885.
6. Death Notice (Captain Charles H. Yard), in Reading Eagle. Reading: 11 June 1900.
7. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown: Self-published, 1986.
8. The Three Month’s Men [sic], in Lebanon Daily News. Lebanon: 25 July 1883.
9. U.S. Census. Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900.
10. U.S. Veterans Schedule. Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: 1890.