Clark, Edward L. (Private)

Born in Utica, Oneida County, New York – possibly as early as 1837, according to admissions records for the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Union Veterans system, or as late as 1843, according to his entry in the Civil War Veteran’s Card File at the Pennsylvania State Archives, Edward L. Clark was a resident of Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania who was employed by a railroad company as America’s great Civil War was winding down in 1865.

Civil War Military Service

Edward L. Clark enrolled for military service at Easton, Pennsylvania on 28 January 1865, and mustered in there that same day as a Private with Company E, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He joined up with his regiment from a recruiting depot on 10 February – just in time to become an eyewitness to a period of history which still tugs at American’ heartstrings.

His regiment – the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers – having been assigned in February 1865 to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah, had been ordered to move, via Winchester and Kernstown, back to Washington, D.C., where they helped to defend the nation’s capital.

* Note: By this point in the regiment’s history, the soldiers who had served with the 47th Pennsylvania since its founding in August 1861, had already helped to defend the nation’s capital in the Fall of 1861 before helping to capture Saint John’s Bluff, Florida (1-3 October 1862), fighting in the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina (21-23 October 1862), strengthening the Union Army’s infrastructure in and around Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas, Florida (1862-1863), serving as the only Pennsylvania regiment involved in Union General Nathaniel Banks’ Red River Campaign across Louisiana (March to June 1864), fighting at Snicker’s Gap under General David Hunter (mid-July 1864), and fighting in legendary Union General Philip Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, including at the Battles of Opequan and Fisher’s Hill (September 1864) and the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia (19 October 1864).

On 19 April 1864, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were once again called upon to help 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 home and later newspaper interviews with survivors of the 47th Pennsylvania indicate that at least one 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer was given the high honor of guarding President Lincoln’s funeral train while others may have guarded the Lincoln assassination conspirators during 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 also advanced to the rank of Major with the regiment’s central staff during this time.

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).

On their final southern tour, Company E and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June. Again assigned to serve with Dwight’s Division, this time they part of the 3rd Brigade, U.S. Department of the South. Taking over for the 165th New York Volunteers in July, they quartered in Charleston, South Carolina at the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. Duties at this time were largely Provost (military police) and Reconstruction-related (rebuilding railroads and other key parts of the region’s infrastructure which had been damaged or destroyed during the long war).

Alleged to have deserted from 10 October 1865 to 10 December 1865, muster rolls for the 47th Pennsylvania confirm that Private Edward L. Clark had been arrested, but that he also had been returned to duty 14 December 1865 without trial per Special Order No. 144, issued by U.S. Department of the South. During his alleged period of desertion, all pay and allowances were ordered stopped.

Finally, beginning on Christmas day of that year, the majority of the men of Company E, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, including Private Edward L. Clark, began to muster out at Charleston, South Carolina, a process which continued through early January. Two 1898 soldiers’ home ledger entries for Private Clark of E Company confirm that he was discharged with his regiment at Charleston, South Carolina on 25 December 1865 per General Order of the U.S. War Department and U.S. Army’s Department of the South.

After a stormy voyage home, the soldiers of the 47th Pennsylvania disembarked in New York City. The weary men were then transported to Philadelphia by train where, at Camp Cadwalader on 9 January 1866, the 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers were officially given their discharge papers.

After the War

Following his discharge from the military, Edward L. Clark headed north. In 1866, he wed Louisa Swinton Shannon (1844-1913). Born in Pennsylvania on 10 June 1844, she was the daughter of David and Catherine (Pope) Shannon. Together, they welcomed to the world daughter Catherine Pope Clark on 2 August 1866. (Catherine would later wed Charles Arthur Fahl, a native of Pennsylvania who had been born in July 1863, and have seven children of her own.)

Nearly three years later, daughter Annie May Clark opened her eyes in Northampton County for the first time on 3 June 1869. (Annie May would later wed Joseph Bell, a native of Pennsylvania who had been born in October 1876.)

Sons Edward Ludley Clark and Samuel Nelson Clark, arrived at the Clark home in Easton on 27 February 1871 and 26 May 1873, respectively. A twin sister – Elsie Delcena Clark – was also born with Samuel that day in May 1873. Sons William Henry Clark and Charles Thomas followed on 13 May 1875 and 24 April 1890, respectively. William was born in Easton; Charles Thomas (known as “Tom”) was born in Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) in Carbon County, Pennsylvania.

War-related Disabilities and Later Life

According to the U.S. Veterans’ Schedule of 1890, Edward Clark was a resident of Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. His U.S. Civil War Pension Index Card confirms that he was still a Pennsylvania resident as of 1891.

However, two U.S. Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers admissions ledger entries for him reveal even more regarding his later life. The first indicates that Edward was admitted to the Southern Branch of the soldiers’ home network at Hampton, Virginia on 31 August 1898. That date, though, appears to be a mistake committed by the individual completing Edward’s admissions paperwork. The admissions staffer had just entered the same admissions date on the prior page for a different soldier. In addition, admissions personnel at the Central Branch soldiers’ home in Dayton, Ohio documented Edward’s original Hampton admissions date as 1 September 1898 when they readmitted Edward to the soldiers’ home system via the Dayton facility in 1907.

This Dayton ledger is also far more comprehensive in terms of information about Edward’s medical condition (possibly confirming that Dayton’s records were more accurate than Hampton’s). But, the Hampton ledger is still useful because it provides Edward’s city of birth (Utica, New York), and provides more detail regarding the reasons for his 1906 discharge from that home. (Conversely, Edward was listed on the 1900 federal census as having been born in March 1845 in Pennsylvania, but that his parents were born in New York. That record is most useful because it indicates that Edward married in 1866 – after the Civil War had ended and Edward had returned home.)

According to both soldiers’ home ledgers, Edward Clark suffered from rheumatism, was age 61 at the time of admission in Hampton, Virginia, and was: 5 feet, 5-1/2 inches tall with a sandy complexion, brown hair and gray eyes. Still a railroader by trade, he was also a member of the Protestant faith. The Dayton ledger adds that Edward was admitted in just fair condition, suffering from an old fracture of the nose, chronic naso-pharyngeal catarrh, cardiac hypertrophy, and chronic rheumatism.

Described as married, his nearest living relative was listed as: Mrs. Annie N. Bell, #16, South 5th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Hampton soldiers’ home ledger gives his address subsequent to discharge as 2223 South 11th in Philadelphia, which matches the 1900 federal census listing showing an Edward Clark residing with his daughter, Annie Bell, and her husband, Joseph Bell, at the Bell home at 2223 South 11th Street in Philadelphia. Both Edward and Joseph were employed as salesmen at this time.

The Dayton soldiers’ home ledger also indicates that Edward was readmitted to the Central Branch (Dayton, Ohio) on 19 December 1907, where he remained until 1 December 1908.

On 7 August 1909, he was readmitted to a third soldiers’ home – in Bath, Steuben County, New York – where he was treated for cardiac hypertrophy. The ledger indicates that Edward contracted this condition after the Civil War. His occupation was listed as “Pedlar”; his wife was listed as Louisa S. Clark of 112 N. Main in Utica, New York.

* Note: Edward’s wife, Louisa (Shannon) Clark, passed away in Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), Carbon County, Pennsylvania on 9 May 1913. She was interred at the Easton Cemetery in Easton, Northampton County.

Although the soldier’s home ledger entry for Edward Clark described above provides no discharge date, it does indicate that he died from endocarditis on 26 December 1921 while residing at the soldiers’ home in Bath, New York. (A 1920 federal census listing also confirms that he was a resident of that home in 1920.)

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