Bush, Anton Benjamin (Band Leader and Private)

Württemberg Castle, circa 18th Century (Jakob Heinrich Renz, public domain).

Württemberg Castle, circa 18th Century (Jakob Heinrich Renz, public domain).

Born on 11 June 1835 in Würtemberg, Germany, Anton B. Bush was the son of Francis Bush. After pursuing studies in music, he emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1854, and settled initially in Philadelphia where he performed at a local church.

In 1856, he married Susannah Weiser. A resident of Mauch Chunk in Carbon County, Pennsylvania (which merged with East Mauch Chunk to become the new borough of “Jim Thorpe” in 1953), Susannah (Weiser) Bush was born in July 1838, and was the daughter of Conrad Weiser.

After moving with his wife to Siegersville in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, Anton Bush became the Bandmaster of Siegersville’s local ensemble “which was considered the best in this vicinity during its time,” according to Bush’s obituary in the 17 December 1906 edition of The Allentown Leader.

Sometime around 1860, they welcomed daughter, Ida, to the world.

Civil War Service

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

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

On 8 September 1862 at the age of 27, Anton B. Bush enrolled for military service at Allentown, Lehigh County. He signed up with several fellow members of the Siegerville band, and mustered in as a Private with Company A and as Bandmaster of the Regimental Band of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 5 November 1862.

The second such regimental ensemble to be established for the 47th Pennsylvania, the first band had been formed under the leadership of Thomas Coates, but was disbanded in September 1862 when the federal government deemed regimental bands an unnecessary expense. This second ensemble served with the 47th until end of the war.

Woodcut depicting the harsh climate at Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida during the Civil War. (Public domain, U.S. Library of Congress.)

Woodcut depicting the harsh climate at Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida during the Civil War (U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Under the leadership of Bandmaster Anton B. Bush, the second regimental band of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers supported its regiment while it garrisoned Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas, Florida, and moved with it to Louisiana, where its members participated in the Red River Campaign spearheaded by Union General Nathaniel Banks. (Of note, the 47th Pennsylvania was the only Pennsylvania regiment to fight in the Red River Campaign across Louisiana from March to May 1864.)

Still able and willing to fight after their time in Bayou country, the soldiers of Company A and the members of the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies C, D, E, F, H, and I then steamed for 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 then joined Major-General David Hunter’s forces at Snicker’s Gap in mid-July 1864. There, they engaged in the Battle of Cool Spring and, once again, assisted in defending Washington, D.C. while also helping to drive Confederate troops from Maryland.

As Summer waned, according to historian Lewis Schmidt, military records of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers documented that, on 31 August 1864, Anton Bush was paid handsomely for his service with the 47th’s Regimental Band No. 2:

[The] 47th was paid this date by a Major Eaton. Various members of the band were paid by the 47th’s Council of Administration effective through this date, generally for a three to four month period. The men and accounts are as follows: Anthony B. Bush, $157.50; Eugene Walters [sic] and John Rupp, each $100; David Gackenback [sic], $52.50 Henry Kern and George Frederick, each $60; Henry Tool, $30; and Lewis Sponheimer, Harrison Handwerk, Edwin Dreisbach, Daniel Dachradt [sic] and William Heckman, each $16.”

Attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah beginning in August 1864, many of Anton Bush’s fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were about to engage in the regiment’s greatest moments of valor, but Bandmaster Bush would not be joining them for their next history-making endeavor. He was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability at Berryville, Virginia on 18 September 1864. Although his 1906 obituary reported that he had been awarded the rank of Lieutenant, historian Samuel P. Bates only noted a rank of Private for Anton Bush in his History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5.

After the War

Following his Honorable Discharge, Anton Bush returned home to Pennsylvania, and resumed life as a conductor and music teacher. His 1906 obituary describes him as “an expert musician” who “devoted his time entirely to music.”

Sometime around 1865, he and his wife, Susannah, welcomed daughter, Emma, followed by sons, Charles (sometime around 1868), Francis (sometime around 1870), and Robert (born in January 1875).

By 1880, he and Susannah were living in South Bethlehem, Northampton County with Ida, Emma, Charles, Francis, and Robert. Daughter, Nellie, arrived in August 1885.

He resettled his family in East Catasauqua sometime before 1890, and by 1900, Anton and Susannah were living there with son, Robert, and daughter, Nellie.

Unidentified Civil War Bugler, Pencil Sketch by Alfred Waud (U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Unidentified Civil War Bugler, Pencil Sketch by Alfred Waud (U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

On 22 June 1902, Anton Bush sounded the final bugle call for a member of his former Civil War regiment – P. F. Remmel. The 23 June 1902 edition of The Allentown Leader reported on the funeral as follows:

The funeral of P. F. Remmel Sunday afternoon was the most distinctive military funeral given to any Allentown veteran for many years. He was the oldest veteran in the city, and Anthony Bush of Catasauqua, who was a member of the 47th Regiment Band, the same command to which Mr. Remmel belonged, sounded the taps over his grave.

Company E, Second Regiment, S. of V. Reserves, was out with 50 members and fired the salute over the grave. Yeager Post No. 13, G.A.R., had 45 men in line; the Union Veteran Legion 25 and E. B. Young Post 87 was [sic] well represented. At the grave Yeager Post and the Veteran Legion performed their rituals. Rev. G. F. Gardner was the officiating clergyman. The S. of V. Drum Corps furnished appropriate music. The dirges and marching music were particularly commented upon.

After suffering from apoplexy and dropsy for six months, Anton B. Bush passed away at the age of 72 at his home in East Catasauqua, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on Monday, 17 December 1906.

His funeral services were conducted at his home by the Rev. Dr. J. D. Schindel and Rev. J. F. Lambert, beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, 19 December 1906. Anton B. Bush was then interred at the Fairview Cemetery in Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

Sources:

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

2. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Archives.

3. Death Certificate (Prof. Anton B. Bush, file no.; 113233, registered no.: 186). Harrisburg: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Vital Statistics.

4. Death of Veteran Musician: Anthony B. Bush Expires After Long Sickness, in The Allentown Leader. Allentown: 17 December 1906.

5. Military Funeral: Appropriate Services at Burial of Town’s Oldest Veteran [P. F. Remmel], in The Allentown Leader. Allentown: 23 June 1902.

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

7. U.S. Census. Washington, D.C.: 1880, 1900.

8. U.S. Veterans’ Schedule: Washington, D.C.: 1890.

 

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