Neighbors. Friends. Fathers. Brothers. Cousins. Those five words personify a key truth about one of the least known, yet storied Civil War regiments from the great Keystone State. The 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was a fighting machine composed of ten closely-knit companies. Many of its men had, prior to and during the opening days of the Civil War, served side-by-side with friends and neighbors in local militia units and as “First Defenders” responding to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteer troops following Fort Sumter’s fall.
Many more were blood relatives who resided in the same household together or lived within a short walk or wagon ride of one another. Perhaps the closest ties of all were those of the men of the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies D and H – both of which were raised in, and comprised almost exclusively of, men from Perry County. In D Company alone, there were three Harpers who were kin to the company’s commanding officer; three Baltozer, four Brady and three Kosier brothers; six dynamic brother duos from the Anthony, Charles, Clay, Fertig, Reynolds, and Vance families; five Powells (four brothers an a cousin); three Sheaffers (two brothers and a cousin); and the Taggs (a Mexican War veteran and his two sons).
And then there were the Saylor-Sailor-Baldwin ties – within Company D and to Company H.
A Patriarch and His Boys
Alexander Saylor (1821-1864) was a hardworking, mid-19th century man. A laborer by trade who had been born in Juniata County, he wed fellow Pennsylvania native Sarah Baldwin sometime during the early 1840s. Joining the couple in their ready-made family was Sarah’s son from a previous union, Isaac Baldwin (1838-1912). Then, on 30 June 1843, Alexander and Sarah Saylor welcomed to the world their own son Cyrus James Sailor (1843-1918).
* Note: Although one source states that Alexander Saylor wed “Sarah Oswald,” the surname of Sarah’s son Isaac was, in fact, “Baldwin.” Various sources note that Isaac was born in Perry County on 15 March 1838. Muddying the waters further, the surname spelling of Sarah’s son Cyrus was “Sailor,” which is confirmed by his death certificate, military records and gravestone. This differs from the surname spelling used for the gravestone of his father Alexander “Saylor.” This spelling may have been carved incorrectly, however, since Alexander’s surname was also often spelled as “Sailor” in military records, and was spelled as “Sailor” on the 1850 federal census. With respect to Cyrus’s birth date, the date of 30 June 1843 was chosen for this biographical sketch rather the date of 6 May 1844 shown on Cyrus’s Pennsylvania Veteran’s Burial Card because the June date was the one used by the authorities who completed Cyrus’s death certificate. The June date was given to them by a niece who had resided with Cyrus Sailor for some time.
Before the middle of the century ended, the Saylor clan had doubled in size. On 26 June 1845, son Lewis W. Saylor (1845-1877) opened his eyes for Alexander and Sarah; they then greeted the arrival of daughter sometime around 1847.
In 1850, the five Saylors lived in Greenwood Township, Perry County, along with Sarah’s son Isaac Baldwin, who would later be described in the 30 April 1864 edition of the New York Times as a step-brother to Cyrus.
Civil War Military Service
As the first year of the new decade waned, community gathering spots in Perry County were filled with talk hushed and animated regarding the growing tensions between America’s North and South. Then, in mid-April 1861, Fort Sumter fell to Confederate forces, prompting young Isaac Baldwin to become one of the earliest responders to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteer troops to help defend the nation’s capital.
After enrolling and mustering in for duty at Harrisburg in Dauphin County as a Private with Company D of the 2nd Pennsylvania Volunteers on 20 April 1861, he began his military service under Captain Henry Durant Woodruff, a former teacher and innkeeper who had been a member of Bloomfield’s local militia unit.
Shipped to Cockeysville, Maryland with his regiment the next day and then to York, Pennsylvania, Private Isaac Baldwin 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, the 2nd Pennsylvanians served in a support role during the Battle of Falling Waters, which was the first Civil War battle to be fought in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. (A second battle with a different military configuration was fought there in 1863.) Known as the Battle of Hainesville or Hoke’s Run, the first Battle of Falling Waters paved the way for a Confederate Army victory at Manassas (Bull Run) on 21 July and also, according to several historians, tempered Union General Robert Patterson’s later combat assertiveness (due to the resistance displayed by the Confederate Army).
The next day, Private Isaac Baldwin and the 2nd Pennsylvania 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, Captain H. D. Woodruff and his regiment mustered out at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, following the successful completion of their Three Months’ Service.
Civil War Military Service – Three Years’ Service
Knowing full well that the fight was far from over, Isaac Baldwin then promptly re-enlisted with a new company being raised by his former commanding officer, Captain H. D. Woodruff. That Company (again labeled “Company D”) would become one of ten within an entirely new regiment – the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. And once again, the roster was composed largely of men from Perry County.
Enrolling for military service this time at Bloomfield in Perry County on 20 August 1861, Isaac Baldwin mustered in again at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg on 31 August – but this time at the rank of Corporal. Joining him was his younger step-brother, Cyrus James Sailor, who entered as a Private with the same company (“D”) and the same regiment (47th Pennsylvania Volunteers).
Military records at the time described Corporal Isaac Baldwin and Private Cyrus J. Sailor, respectively, as a 22-year-old shoemaker and an 18-year-old laborer, who both resided in Millerstown, Perry County.
Less than a month later, Cyrus’s father and brother followed suit, enrolling at Newport, Perry County on 23 September 1861, and mustering in on 30 September at Camp Curtin as Privates Alexander and Lewis W. Saylor with Company H of the same regiment.
Military records described Saylor family patriarch Alexander as a 40-year-old laborer residing in Newport who was 5’6″ tall with light hair, blue eyes and a light complexion while records noted that son Lewis Saylor was a 19-year-old laborer residing in Newport who was 5’5″ tall with light hair, hazel eyes and a light complexion.
Following a brief light infantry training period at Camp Curtin, the Saylor-Sailor-Baldwin foursome traveled by train with the 47th Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. where the regiment was stationed at “Camp Kalorama” on Kalorama Heights near Georgetown, about two miles from the White House, beginning 21 September. The next day, Company C Musician Henry D. Wharton penned the following update to 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.
We were reviewed by Gen. McClellan yesterday [21 September 1861] without our knowing it. All along the march we noticed a considerable number of officers, both mounted and on foot; the horse of one of the officers was so beautiful that he was noticed by the whole regiment, in fact, so wrapt [sic] up were they in the horse, the rider wasn’t noticed, and the boys were considerably mortified this morning on dis-covering they had missed the sight of, and the neglect of not saluting the soldier next in command to Gen. Scott.
Col. Good, who has command of our regiment, is an excellent man and a splendid soldier. He is a man of very few words, and is continually attending to his duties and the wants of the Regiment.
…. Our Regiment will now be put to hard work; such as drilling and the usual business of camp life, and the boys expect and hope an occasional ‘pop’ at the enemy.
As part of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Companies D and H became part of the federal service when they officially mustered into the U.S. Army on 24 September. On 27 September, 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, and continued on for roughly another mile before being ordered to make camp.
The next morning, they broke camp and moved again. Marching toward Falls Church, Virginia, they arrived at Camp Advance around dusk. There, about two miles from the bridge they had crossed a day earlier, they re-pitched their tents 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.
Once again, Company C Musician Henry Wharton recapped the regiment’s activities, noting, via his 29 September letter home to the Sunbury American, that the 47th had changed camps three times in three days:
On Friday last we left Camp Kalorama, and the same night encamped about one mile from the Chain Bridge on the opposite side of the Potomac from Washington. The next morning, Saturday, we were ordered to this Camp [Camp Advance near Fort Ethan Allen, Virginia], one and a half miles from the one we occupied the night previous. I should have mentioned that we halted on a high hill (on our march here) at the Chain Bridge, called Camp Lyon, but were immediately ordered on this side of the river. On the route from Kalorama we were for two hours exposed to the hardest rain I ever experienced. Whew, it was a whopper; but the fellows stood it well – not a murmur – and they waited in their wet clothes until nine o’clock at night for their supper. Our Camp adjoins that of the N.Y. 79th (Highlanders.)….
We had not been in this Camp more than six hours before our boys were supplied with twenty rounds of ball and cartridge, and ordered to march and meet the enemy; they were out all night and got back to Camp at nine o’clock this morning, without having a fight. They are now in their tents taking a snooze preparatory to another march this morning…. I don’t know how long the boys will be gone, but the orders are to cook two days’ rations and take it with them in their haversacks….
There was a nice little affair came off at Lavensville [sic], a few miles from here on Wednesday last; our troops surprised a party of rebels (much larger than our own.) killing ten, took a Major prisoner, and captured a large number of horses, sheep and cattle, besides a large quantity of corn and potatoes, and about ninety six tons of hay. A very nice day’s work. The boys are well, in fact, there is no sickness of any consequence at all in our Regiment….
Sometime during this phase of duty, as part of the 3rd Brigade, the 47th Pennsylvanians were moved to a site they initially christened “Camp Big Chestnut” for the large chestnut tree located within their lodging’s boundaries. The site would eventually become known to the Keystone Staters as “Camp Griffin,” and was located roughly 10 miles from Washington, D.C.
On October 11, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads. 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.
In his own letter of 13 October, Henry Wharton described their duties, as well as their new home:
The location of our camp is fine and the scenery would be splendid if the view was not obstructed by heavy thickets of pine and innumerable chesnut [sic] trees. The country around us is excellent for the Rebel scouts to display their bravery; that is, to lurk in the dense woods and pick off one of our unsuspecting pickets. Last night, however, they (the Rebels) calculated wide of their mark; some of the New York 33d boys were out on picket; some fourteen or fifteen shots were exchanged, when our side succeeded in bringing to the dust, (or rather mud,) an officer and two privates of the enemy’s mounted pickets. The officer was shot by a Lieutenant in Company H [?], of the 33d.
Our own boys have seen hard service since we have been on the ‘sacred soil.’ One day and night on picket, next day working on entrenchments at the Fort, (Ethan Allen.) another on guard, next on march and so on continually, but the hardest was on picket from last Thursday morning ‘till Saturday morning – all the time four miles from camp, and both of the nights the rain poured in torrents, so much so that their clothes were completely saturated with the rain. They stood it nobly – not one complaining; but from the size of their haversacks on their return, it is no wonder that they were satisfied and are so eager to go again tomorrow. I heard one of them say ‘there was such nice cabbage, sweet and Irish potatoes, turnips, &c., out where their duty called them, and then there was a likelihood of a Rebel sheep or young porker advancing over our lines and then he could take them as ‘contraband’ and have them for his own use.’ When they were out they saw about a dozen of the Rebel cavalry and would have had a bout with them, had it not been for…unlucky circumstance – one of the men caught the hammer of his rifle in the strap of his knapsack and caused his gun to fire; the Rebels heard the report and scampered in quick time….
The Unseen Foe
What may surprise readers most when studying the history of this and other Union regiments is that a fair number of “blue jackets” who lost their lives during the Civil War were claimed not by rifle or cannon fire, but by dysentery and other diseases commonly spread by troops suddenly placed in close military quarters, as well as by yellow fever and other tropical diseases. The first three members of the 47th Pennsylvania to die in service were among those claimed in this manner.
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.” Less than a month later, in his letter of 17 November, Henry Wharton revealed more details about life at Camp Griffin:
This morning our brigade was out for inspection; arms, accoutrements [sic], clothing, knapsacks, etc, all were out through a thorough examination, and if I must say it myself, our company stood best, A No. 1, for cleanliness. We have a new commander to our Brigade, Brigadier General Brannen [sic], of the U.S. Army, and if looks are any criterion, I think he is a strict disciplinarian and one who will be as able to get his men out of danger as he is willing to lead them to battle….
The boys have plenty of work to do, such as piquet [sic] duty, standing guard, wood-chopping, police duty and day drill; but then they have the most substantial food; our rations consist of fresh beef (three times a week) pickled pork, pickled beef, smoked pork, fresh bread, daily, which is baked by our own bakers, the Quartermaster having procured portable ovens for that purpose, potatoes, split peas, beans, occasionally molasses and plenty of good coffee, so you see Uncle Sam supplies us plentifully….
A few nights ago our Company was out on piquet [sic]; it was a terrible night, raining very hard the whole night, and what made it worse, the boys had to stand well to their work and dare not leave to look for shelter. Some of them consider they are well paid for their exposure, as they captured two ancient muskets belonging to Secessia. One of them is of English manufacture, and the other has the Virginia militia mark on it. They are both in a dilapidated condition, but the boys hold them in high estimation as they are trophies from the enemy, and besides they were taken from the house of Mrs. Stewart, sister to the rebel Jackson who assassinated the lamented Ellsworth at Alexandria. The honorable lady, Mrs. Stewart, is now a prisoner at Washington and her house is the headquarters of the command of the piquets [sic]….
Since the success of the secret expedition, we have all kinds of rumors in camp. One is that our Brigade will be sent to the relief of Gen. Sherman, in South Carolina. The boys all desire it and the news in the ‘Press’ is correct, that a large force is to be sent there, I think their wish will be gratified….
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 – and in preparation for even bigger things to come, Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan obtained brand new Springfield rifles for every member of the 47th Pennsylvania.
Next 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 rail cars 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.
On Monday, 27 January 1862, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers; the officers boarded last. 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.
The Saylor-Sailor-Baldwin foursome and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived in Key West in early February 1862. There, they were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor and drilled daily in heavy artillery tactics. During the weekend of Friday, 14 February, the 47th Pennsylvanians introduced their presence to Key West residents by parading through the streets of the city. That Sunday, regiment members mingled with local residents at church.
But once again, the poor quality of drinking water and ever present foe of disease continued to thin regimental ranks. More men were discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability and sent home; others died before the ink could even dry on paperwork. According to historian Lewis Schmidt, Corporal Isaac Baldwin helped pay special tribute to one of the fallen:
Friday, May 16, brought the death of still another member of the 47th, as Pvt. George Stine Isett of Company D died. The young man was 25 years and 10 months old and a former resident of the Borough of Liverpool, Perry County, and died from Chronic Diarrhea. Pvt. Isett was buried in Grave #14 of the Key West Post Cemetery…. The men of his company paid him the following respect:
‘TRIBUTE OF RESPECT
‘At a meeting of Company D, 47th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, the following resolutions were adopted:
‘WHEREAS, it has pleased God in his allwise providence, to remove from our midst our friend and brother in arms, Geo S. Isett; therefore,
‘RESOLVED, hat by his death we have lost a warm hearted friend, a true patriot and good soldier, and one whose placed cannot be filled among us.
‘RESOLVED, That we most heartily sympathize with the deceased and hope that he who has thus afficted [sic] them, will be their reliance in time of need.
‘ RESOLVED, That these resolutions be forwarded to the Perry County papers for publication, and a copy be sent to the friends of the deceased.
‘Signed: George W. Topley, Jesse Meadith, Jacob Charles, George W. Jury, Isaac Baldwin, Committee.’
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 put soldiers at increased 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.”
Meeting the Enemy Head On
Sent on a return expedition to Florida, the Saylor-Sailor-Baldwin foursome saw their first truly intense moments when they joined 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 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 5-15 October 1862, a teenager and several young to middle-aged black men left the hardship they had known in Beaufort, South Carolina to enroll for service with Company F of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Initially assigned to kitchen duties, they would be officially mustered in for service with the regiment as Cooks and Under Cooks at Morganza, Louisiana in June 1864. More men of color would continue to be added to the 47th Pennsylvania’s rosters in the weeks and years to come.
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 Mackay’s Point, the men of the 47th were placed on point once again, but they and the 3rd Brigade were less fortunate this time.
Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, they met resistance from an entrenched, heavily fortified Confederate battery which opened fire on the Union troops as they entered an open cotton field. Those headed toward higher ground at the Frampton Plantation fared no better as they encountered artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests.
The Union soldiers grappled with the Confederates where they found them, pursuing the Rebels for four miles as they retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th relieved the 7th Connecticut. But the enemy was just too well armed. After two hours of intense fighting in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, depleted ammunition forced the 47th to withdraw to Mackay’s Point.
Losses for the 47th were significant. Two officers and 18 enlisted men died; two officers and another 114 enlisted were wounded, including H Company’s Corporal Daniel K. Reeder and Private Comley Idall.
Several resting places for men from the 47th still remain unidentified, the information lost to the sloppy records of Army Quartermaster and hospital personnel, or to the trauma-impaired memories of soldiers who hastily buried or were forced to 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. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.
By 1863, Corporal Isaac Baldwin, Private Cyrus J. Sailor, and Privates Alexander and Lewis W. Saylor were once again based with the 47th Pennsylvania in Florida. Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November of 1862, much of 1863 was spent guarding federal installations in Florida as part of the 10th Corps, Department of the South. Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I garrisoned Fort Taylor in Key West while Companies D, F, H, and K garrisoned Fort Jefferson in Florida’s Dry Tortugas. Men from the 47th were also sent on skirmishes and to Fort Myers, which had been abandoned in 1858 after the third U.S. war with the Seminole Indians. As before, disease was a constant companion.
The time spent here by the 47th Pennsylvanians was notable also for the men’s commitment to preserving the Union. Many who could have returned home chose instead to re-enlist in order to finish the fight. On 10 October 1863, step-brothers Corporal Isaac Baldwin and Private Cyrus J. Sailor became two of those who re-enlisted for second three-year terms of service.
Also of note, a letter to the New York Times (penned before this time and reprinted in the 30 April 1864 edition of the Semi- Weekly Wisconsin in Milwaukee) provided insight into the mindsets of the 47th Pennsylvanians who hailed from Perry County:
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:
William Powell, } Four brothers and a cousin.
John Brady, } All brothers.
Jacob Baltzer [sic], } Brothers.
George Baltzer [sic],
Benjamin Baltzer [sic],
George Krosier [sic], } Brothers.
William Krosier [sic],
Jesse Krosier [sic],
Edward Harper, } Brothers [sic] and Brothers-in-law
Marvin [sic] Harper, of the Captain.
Jesse Shaffer [sic], } Two Brothers and a Cousin.
Benjamin Shaffer [sic],
William Shaffer [sic],
Wilson Tag [sic], } Father and two sons; father
James Tag [sic], served in Mexican War.
Richard Tag [sic],
John Clay, } Six pairs of brothers.
William Vertig [sic],
Franklin Vertig [sic],
Isaac Baldwin, } Step-brothers.
Cyrus Taylor [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.
They are commanded by Captain Henry D. Woodruff, a native of Binghamton, in this State, but long a resident of Pennsylvania. Their First Lieutenant is S. Ouchmuty [sic]; Second Lieutenant, George Stroop.
If any company can show a more striking record, it would be very interesting to know it.
The Harper brothers described above were actually brothers-in-law of Captain H. D. Woodruff. Cyrus “Taylor” was, in reality, Cyrus J. Sailor.
On 25 February 1864, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers set off for a phase of service in which the regiment would truly make history. Steaming first for New Orleans via the Charles Thomas, the 47th arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February, and were then shipped by train to Brashear City. Following another steamer ride – to Franklin via the Bayou Teche – the 47th joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps. In short order, the 47th would become the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign of Union General Nathaniel Banks.
But Private Alexander Saylor would not be one of those involved. Sometime before or during this phase of duty, the Saylor family patriarch contracted dysentery. As his health continued to fail, he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Company of the Veteran Reserve Corps (also known as the “invalid corps”) at Franklin, Louisiana, and then sent to the Union’s University Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana for more advanced care than was possible while the regiment was on the move.
From 14-26 March, Corporal Isaac Baldwin and Privates Cyrus Sailor and Lewis Saylor continued to do their duty, marching with the 47th Pennsylvania as it passed through New Iberia, Vermillionville, Opelousas, and Washington while en route to Alexandria and Natchitoches. On 4 April 1864, the 47th added to its roster of young black soldiers when 18-year-old John Bullard enrolled for service with Company D at Natchitoches, Louisiana. According to his entry in the Civil War Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania State Archives, he was officially mustered in for duty on 22 June “as (Colored) Cook.”
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.
Rushed into battle ahead of other regiments in the 2nd Division, 60 members of the 47th were cut down on 8 April during the volley of fire unleashed during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads. 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 (a plantation owner and son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, just as the 47th was shifting to the left side of the massed Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.
Casualties were once again severe. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color-bearers, both from Company C, were also wounded while preventing the American flag from falling into enemy hands. Private Ephraim Clouser of Company D was shot in his right knee.
Corporal Isaac Baldwin was also hurt, but was ultimately able to return to duty following the successful treatment of his wound.
Still others from the 47th were captured and held as prisoners of war until released during prisoner exchanges .that Summer and Fall.
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 the men 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.
* Meanwhile, back in New Orleans on 16 April 1864, it had become obvious to Union Army physicians at the University Hospital that Private Alexander Saylor would not recover from his severe bout with dysentery. Consequently, he was honorably discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability and shipped home to Greenwood Township in Perry County, Pennsylvania. He succumbed there to complications from his illness just over a month later on 22 May 1864, and was interred at the Millerstown Cemetery later that month.
On 23 April, the 47th and their fellow brigade members crossed the Cane River via Monett’s Ferry and, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey, helped to build a dam from 30 April through 10 May, to enable federal gunboats to more easily traverse the Red River’s challenging rapids and fluctuating water levels.
Beginning 16 May, the surviving Sailor-Saylor brothers, Cyrus and Lewis, moved with most of the 47th from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, and then to New Orleans on 20 June. While there that 4th of July, they learned that their fight was far from over as the regiment received new orders to return to the East Coast for further duty.
Removed from command amid the controversy over the Union Army’s successes and failures during the Red River Expedition, Union General Nathaniel P. Banks was placed on leave by President Abraham Lincoln. Banks subsequently spent much of his time in Washington, D.C. as a Reconstruction advocate for Louisiana.
Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign
Still able and willing to fight after their time in Bayou country, the soldiers of Company H and the men from the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies A, C, D, E, F, and I steamed aboard the McClellan beginning 7 July 1864.
Following their arrival in Virginia and a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln on 12 July, they joined up with General David Hunter’s forces at Snicker’s Gap in mid-July 1864. There, they fought in the Battle of Cool Spring 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, the opening days of September saw the departure of several 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had served honorably, including Company D’s Captain Henry Woodruff, 1st Lieutenant Samuel Auchmuty, Sergeants Henry Heikel and Alex Wilson, and Corporals Cornelius Stewart and Samuel A. M. Reed. All mustered out 18 September 1864 upon expiration of their service terms.
Those members of the 47th who remained on duty were about to engage in their regiment’s greatest moments of valor.
Battles of Opequan and Fisher’s Hill, September 1864
Together with other regiments under the command of Union General Philip H. (“Little Phil”) Sheridan and Brigadier-General William H. Emory, commander of the 19th Corps, the members of Company D and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers helped to inflict heavy casualties on Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Confederate forces at Opequan (also spelled as “Opequon” and referred to as “Third Winchester”). The battle is still considered by many historians to be one of the most important during Sheridan’s 1864 campaign; the Union’s victory here helped to ensure the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.
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 long and brutal. The Union’s left flank (6th Corps) took a beating from Confederate artillery stationed on high ground.
Meanwhile, the 47th Pennsylvania and the 19th Corps were directed by General William Emory to attack and pursue Major General John B. Gordon’s 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 the fighting, then began pushing the Confederates back. Early’s “grays” retreated in the face of the valor displayed by Sheridan’s “blue jackets.” Leaving 2,500 wounded behind, the Rebels retreated to Fisher’s Hill (21-22 September), eight miles south of Winchester, and then to Waynesboro, following a successful early morning flanking attack by Sheridan’s Union men which outnumbered Early’s three to one.
Afterward, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were sent out on skirmishing parties before making camp at Cedar Creek. Moving forward, they and other members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers would continue to distinguish themselves in battle, but they would do so without two more of their respected commanders: Colonel Tilghman Good and Good’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel George Alexander, who mustered out 23-24 September upon expiration of their respective terms of service.
Fortunately, they were replaced by others equally admired both for temperament and their front line experience: 2nd Lieutenant George Stroop, who was promoted to lead Company D, and at the regimental level, John Peter Shindel Gobin, Charles W. Abbott and Levi Stuber.
Battle of Cedar Creek, October 1864
It was during the Fall of 1864 that General Philip Sheridan began the first of the Union’s true “scorched earth” campaigns, starving the enemy into submission by destroying Virginia’s crops and 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. Successful throughout most of their engagement 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.
From a military standpoint, it was another impressive, but heartrending day. During the morning of 19 October, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. Early’s men were able to capture 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 rode 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. Private Cyrus Sailor, his step-brother, was also wounded in action.
Corporal Baldwin and Private Sailor both eventually recovered and returned to duty. On 31 October 1864, their younger sibling, Private Lewis W. Saylor, was honorably discharged upon expiration of his three-year term of service.
Following these major engagements, the 47th was ordered to Camp Russell near Winchester from November through most of December. Rested and somewhat healed, the 47th was then ordered to outpost and railroad guarding duties at Camp Fairview in Charlestown, West Virginia five days before Christmas.
1865 – 1866
On 20 January 1865, Corporal Isaac Baldwin, twice wounded in battle, was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Three days later (on 23 January), his younger step-brother Lewis W. Saylor re-enlisted with Company H.
Assigned first to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the 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 otherwise resupplied.
Letters home and later newspaper interviews with survivors of the 47th Pennsylvania indicate that at least one 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer was given the high honor of guarding President Lincoln’s funeral train while others may have guarded the Lincoln assassination conspirators during the early days of their imprisonment and trial.
As part of Dwight’s Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Department of Washington’s 22nd Corps, the 47th Pennsylvania also participated in the Union’s Grand Review on 23-24 May.
Captain Levi Stuber of Company I was promoted to the rank of Major with the regiment’s central staff during this time. On 1-2 Jun 1865, 1st Lieutenant George W. Kosier was promoted to the rank of Captain and leadership of Company D prior to the mustering out of Major George Stroop, who had completed his term of service.
On their final southern tour, step-brothers Sergeant Issac Baldwin and Privates Cyrus Sailor and Lewis Saylor and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June. Again in Dwight’s Division, this time they were attached to the 3rd Brigade, Department of the South.
After relieving the 165th New York Volunteers in Charleston, South Carolina in July, they quartered in the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. Duties at this time were largely Provost (military police) or Reconstruction-related (repairing key infrastructure items which had been damaged or destroyed during the long war).
Finally, on Christmas day 1865, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, including Corporal Isaac Baldwin and Privates Cyrus Sailor and Lewis Saylor, began to honorably muster out at Charleston, South Carolina – a process which continued through early January. Following a stormy voyage home, the weary 47th Pennsylvanians disembarked in New York City. They were then transported by rail to Philadelphia where, at Camp Cadwalader on 9 January 1866, they were officially given their discharge papers.
Life After the War – Isaac Baldwin
Sergeant Isaac Baldwin returned home to his wife, Frances, and tried to began life anew. In 1867, they welcomed son Frank, followed by daughters Anna and Mary (1868 and 1869, respectively), and Jessie Clyde (born on 26 October 1874).
An engineer by profession and resident of Philadelphia in 1900, he died there from hepatic cirrhosis on 29 April 1912. He was then laid to rest in Section C of the North Cedar Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia County.
Life After the War – Cyrus J. Sailor
After the war, Cyrus James Sailor also returned to his home state of Pennsylvania. In 1870, he lived with his mother Sarah, and helped to support her by working as a laborer. By 1900, he was still residing in Greenwood Township, but the household now included his 16-year-old niece, Lizzie Barner. When he passed away from pleurisy and lobar pneumonia in Lemoyne, Cumberland County on 2 January 1918, Lizzie was the informant who provided the notice of his death.
His Pennsylvania Veteran’s Burial Card documents that he was interred at the Reward Cemetery in Greenwood Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania.
Life After the War – Lewis W. Saylor
On 16 September 1870, Lewis W. Saylor wed Nancy Clinton Carson (1849-1921) in Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa. Born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania on 17 December 1849, she was a daughter of Huntingdon County native Charles C. Carson (1799-1859) and Sidney Saylor (1812-1861), a native of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania.
* Note: Sometime during the mid-1850s, Nancy Clinton Carson moved with her family from Pennsylvania to Iowa. By the time of the 1856 Iowa census, the Carson clan had made a new life in Keokuk, Wapello County, Iowa. There, Nancy’s father Charles Carson farmed the land. Sadly, he was felled three years later by an unknown illness. Sick for four days, he passed away at home in September 1859 at the age of 60, and was interred at the McIntire Cemetery in Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa. Nancy’s mother Sidney Carson continued took over operation of the farm, and did her best to keep the family together.
Newly married, Nancy (Carson) Saylor and her husband Lewis greeted the arrival of their son Cyrus W. Saylor, who was born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania sometime around 1871. Daughters Ida Mabel (1873-1948) and Lullie Nancy (1875-1963) arrived in Huntingdon County on 19 August 1873 and 28 August 1875, respectively.
Before the 1870s were over, Lewis W. Saylor was also gone. He passed away in Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa on 7 December 1877, and was laid to rest at the Ottumwa Cemetery.
In 1880, federal census records show that Nancy Saylor continued to make her home in Ottumwa, Iowa, and resided there with children Cyrus, Ida and Lullie (also known as “Lula”). She supported her family with funds obtained from her husband’s U.S. Civil War pension, and also operated a boarding house at this time.
Three years later, Nancy Saylor gave birth to another son, Clyde Lionel Saylor (1883-1964) on 6 July 1883. Then, as so many Civil War widows did, Nancy Clinton (Carson) Saylor remarried in Wapello County, Iowa, taking as her husband, Michael Ewing Jackson (1845-1915) on 25 March 1888.
Just over a decade later, on 22 February 1899, Lula Saylor wed Alexander Augustus (“Gus”) Johnson (1875-1934). Together, they welcomed to the world the following children: Madeline Helen (1900-1983), Clarence Alexander (1901-1985), Beatrice Marie (1902-1929), Harold August (1905-1976), Clarence Alexander (1907-1985), Florence Alberta (1909-1989), and Ida Elizabeth (1911-2002), Raymond Lionel (1916-1987).
By 1900, family matriarch Nancy Saylor was residing in Center, Wapello County, Iowa with daughter Ida and son Clyde. Then, in 1904, Clyde L. Saylor also left the nest to marry, taking as his bride Bertha Harness (1883-1914). Apparently raised to believe that his father was Lewis W. Saylor, he listed Lewis as his father when completing the marriage license paperwork.
Finally, on an early Spring day in Wapello County, the Saylor family matriarch joined her Civil War soldier husband in death. Nancy Clinton (Carson) passed away in Ottumwa, Iowa on 24 April 1921, and was then interred at the Ottumwa Cemetery.
After enjoying her own long, full life, Ida Mabel Saylor passed away in Wapello County, Iowa on 4 March 1948, and was interred at the Ottumwa Cemetery in that county.
Lula (Saylor) Johnson also closed her eyes for the final time in Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa, passing away there on 30 December 1963; however, she was laid to rest at the Memorial Lawn Cemetery in Ottumwa.
Brother Clyde followed her in death slightly less than a year later, passing away in Ottumwa on 6 December 1964. Like his mother and sister Ida, he too was laid to rest at the Ottumwa Cemetery.
1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: 1869.
2. Carson, Charles, in U.S. Federal Morality Schedules. Washington, D.C. and Iowa: U.S. Census, September 1859.
3. Sailor, Cyrus, in Death Certificates. Harrisburg: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Vital Statistics.
4. Sailor, Cyrus J., in Pennsylvania Veteran’s Burial Cards. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.
5. Saylor Alexander and Lewis W. Saylor, in Card Records of Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans (Microfilm M1845), in Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives.
6. Saylor, Alexander, Lewis W. Saylor, Cyrus J. Sailor, and Isaac Baldwin, in Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1865. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Archives.
7. Saylor, L. W., in Gravestone Records of Wapello County, Iowa. Washington, D.C.: Graves Registration Project, Works Progress Administration.
8. Saylor, Lewis W. and Nancy C. Carson, in Marriage Records. Wapello County, Iowa: 1870.
9. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown: Self-published, 1986.
10. U.S. Census: Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and Iowa: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910.
11. U.S. Civil War Pension Index and U.S. Civil War Widows’ and Orphans’ Pension Files. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.