47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry
Formed by adults and teenagers from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's small towns and cities, the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was composed primarily of men of German heritage. Many of this regiment's members and their family and friends still spoke German or its "Pennsylvania Dutch" variant in their homes and churches more than a hundred years after their ancestors emigrated from Germany in search of religious or political freedom. Other 47th Pennsylvanians traced their roots to Ireland; at least two had emigrated from Cuba; several were field hands or enslaved house servants who had been liberated from plantations or other Confederate-held areas of the Deep South.
Recruited primarily at community gathering places in their respective home towns, the soldiers who served with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were enrolled at county seats or other large population centers with roughly 70 percent coming from the Lehigh Valley – the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Catasauqua, and Easton and surrounding communities in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Company C (also known as the "Sunbury Guards") was formed primarily with men from Northumberland County while Companies D and H were staffed by men from Perry County.
The 47th Pennsylvania was founded by Colonel Tilghman H. Good. Captain from 1850 to 1857 of the Allentown-based local militia unit known as the Allen Rifles, Good went on to lead the Pennsylvania National Guard's 4th Regiment before being placed in charge of Company I of the 1st Pennsylvania Infantry just two days prior to the fall of Fort Sumter. Following his honorable discharge from this duty on 23 July 1861, he was authorized by Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin to form an entirely new regiment – one that would serve for three years. Good immediately began recruiting men, including William H. Gausler, who had served with him in the 1st Pennsylvania Infantry and was also the former captain of a local militia unit – the Jordan Artillerists.
Members of the regiment officially began mustering in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania in August 1861, and honorably mustered out for various reasons (expiration of initial term of service, discharge due to illness or combat injury, transfer to the Veterans Reserve Corps or another regiment) throughout the duration of the war. The majority of 47th Pennsylvanians opted to re-enlist in 1863 or 1864 upon expiration of their respective three-year terms of service, serving until the regiment was finally mustered out beginning on Christmas Day 1865 with most receiving their final discharge papers upon arriving home at Camp Cadwalader in Philadelphia in early January 1866.
Company Enrollment and Muster Order
According to regimental historian Lewis Schmidt, the 10 companies of the 47th Pennsylvania Infantry officially mustered in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg with 911 men (roughly 90 percent of the total number typically required to form a regiment), and were signed in by Captain Jonathan R. Snead of the 5th U.S. Artillery. The companies were processed as follows:
- Company F: Recruited at Catasauqua, Lehigh County; mustered in at Camp Curtin from August 13–30, 1861; led by Captain Henry S. Harte from its inception until September 18, 1864 and then by Captain Edwin Gilbert until the close of the war.
- Regimental Band No. 1 (Pomp’s Cornet Band): Enrolled at Easton, Northampton County; mustered in on August 14, 1861; led by Thomas Coates from its inception until the band’s muster out in September 1862. Among the musicians serving with this first ensemble was Joseph Eugene Walter, a former Pomp cornetist who would go on to lead the Regimental Band of the 153rd Pennsylvania Volunteers in 1863, and then return to serve with the 47th Pennsylvania as a private with Company E for the remainder of the war. Note: Regimental Band No. 2 (brass section of the Allentown Band plus members of the Easton and Siegersville Bands), was recruited from across the Lehigh Valley, and led by Anton Benjamin Bush until September 18, 1864. Mustering in at Harrisburg and/or Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida from November 5, 1862 through June 1863, this second band served with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers until the end of the war.
- Company C (“Sunbury Guards”): Recruited at Sunbury, Northumberland County; mustered in from August 19 to September 2, 1861; founded and led by Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin from its inception until July 24, 1864 and then by Captain Daniel Oyster until the close of the war.
- Company D: Recruited at Bloomfield, Perry County; mustered in from August 20–31, 1861; led by Captain Henry D. ("H. D.") Woodruff from its inception until September 18, 1864; then by Captain George Stroop until June 1, 1865; and then by Captain George W. Kosier until the close of the war.
- Company I: Recruited at Allentown, Lehigh County; mustered in as the largest company with 102 men on August 30, 1861; led by Captain Coleman A.G. Keck from its inception until his resignation on February 22, 1864; then by Captain Levi Stuber from August 1, 1864 until his promotion to the regiment's central command staff at the rank of Major on May 22, 1865; and then by Captain Theodore Mink from May 22, 1865 until the close of the war.
- Company B: Recruited at Allentown, Lehigh County; mustered in from August 30–31, 1861; led by Captain Emmanuel P. Rhoads from its inception until September 18, 1864; then by Captain Edwin G. Minnich until he was killed in action on October 19, 1864; and then by Captain William H. Kleckner until the close of the war.
- Company A ("Florida Rangers"): Recruited at Easton, Northampton County; mustered in September 15–16, 1861; led by Captain Richard A. Graeffe from its inception until September 18, 1864 and then by Captain Adolph Dennig until the end of the war. A group of men from Company A served under Captain Graeffe on special detachment in early 1864. Known as the "Florida Rangers," they were responsible for reinvigorating the federal military installation at Fort Myers, Florida and for raiding cattle from the herds owned by Confederate sympathizers. These cattle were then used to feed the growing number of Union Army troops stationed nearby.
- Company E: Recruited at Easton, Northampton County; mustered in as the smallest company with just 83 men on September 16, 1861; led by Captain Charles Hickman Yard, Sr. from its inception until September 18, 1864 and then by Captain William A. Bachman. Captain Yard and his E Company men led the men from the 47th Pennsylvania’s Company K as part of a special detachment which participated with other Union Army regiments in the capture of Jacksonville, Florida on October 5, 1862 and in the capture of the Confederate steamer, Gov. Milton, near Hawkinsville on October 6, 1862.
- Company K: Recruited at Allentown, Lehigh County; mustered in on September 17, 1861; led by Captain George Junker from its inception until he was mortally wounded in battle on October 22, 1862; then by Captain Charles W. Abbott from October 22, 1862 until he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with the regiment’s central command staff on January 3, 1865; and then by Captain Matthias Miller from January 4, 1865 until the close of the war. As part of a special detachment, Captain Abbott and Company K engaged in the capture of Jacksonville, Florida with the 47th Pennsylvania’s Company E and other Union forces on October 5, 1862, as well as the capture of the Confederate steamer, Gov. Milton, near Hawkinsville on October 6, 1862.
- Company G: Recruited at Allentown, Lehigh County; mustered in on September 18, 1861; led by Captain Charles Mickley from its inception until October 22, 1862 when he was killed in action; then by Captain John J. Goebel until October 19, 1864 when he was also killed in action; and then by Captain Thomas E. Leisenring until the close of the war.
- Company H: Recruited at Newport, Perry County; mustered in on September 19, 1861; led by Captain James Kacy (alternate spelling “Kacey") from its inception until September 18, 1864 and then by Captain Reuben S. Gardner until the close of the war.
Note: The Soldiers and Sailors Database, U.S. National Park Service, indicates that as many as 3,463 men may have enrolled with this regiment; other sources cite different final membership totals. Schmidt explained the confusion and numerical discrepancies between initial muster in and regimental muster out as due largely to the enrollment of additional soldiers with the 47th Pennsylvania throughout the war to replace those who had died from disease or killed in combat, were honorably discharged on certificates of disability due to battle wounds or illness, or were honorably discharged due to completion of their respective initial terms of service. Current research also indicates that some of these soldiers were mistakenly assigned to or omitted from various state and federal rosters for the 47th Pennsylvania. In certain instances, this may be attributed to the confusion of war – the names of wounded soldiers spelled incorrectly by overworked and rushed field hospital staff (or mislabeled as part of one regiment when they had been serving with another) for example.
- Schmidt, Lewis G. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown: Self-published, 1986.
- Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866. Pennsylvania State Archives. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (accessed December 1, 2016).
- Snyder, Laurie. About the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, in 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment's Story, (accessed December 1, 2016).
- Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, Prepared in Compliance with Acts of the Legislature, vol. 1, pp. 1150-1190. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.
- National Park Service, The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (accessed December 6, 2010).
- Civil War Muster Rolls, in Records of the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs (Record Group 19, Series 19.11). Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (accessed January 22, 2016).
- Related Military Units, in 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment's Story (accessed December 1, 2016).
- Snyder, Laurie. Joseph Eugene Walter: From Medical Student to Musician to Machinist, in 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment's Story. Retrieved online: May 7, 2017.
- Staubach, Lieutenant Colonel James C. Miami During the Civil War: 1861-65, in Tequesta: The Journal of the Historical Association of Southern Florida, LIII, 31-62. Miami: Historical Museum of Southern Florida, 1993.
- Captain Charles Mickley – War, the Chase and Liberty, in 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment's Story (accessed January 22, 2016).
- 47th Regiment Infantry, in American Civil War Archive (accessed September 19, 2012).
- Beginning United States Civil War Research gives steps for finding information about a Civil War soldier, and covers the major records that should be used.
- Ettinger, Amos A. An Allentonian in Florida during the Civil War; the diary and letters of Alfred C. Pretz, 1861-1865. FHL Journal Ariticle v. 12 (1939) p. [50- 80].
- Gayley, Alice J. 47th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, in Pennsylvania in the Civil War (PA-Roots). Brookville: PA-Roots (accessed February 2, 2017).
- Hardee's Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics. Memphis: E.C. Kirk & Co., 1861. Digitized by archive.org, this is a copy of the infantry training manual used by the leaders of the 47th Pennsylvania and various other Union regiments to teach their subordinates the basics of how to be effective soldiers.
- Key Battles, Transports and Duty Stations, in 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment's Story (accessed December 1, 2017). Detailed chronological listing (with dates where available) from 1861 muster in through Reconstruction duties and final 1865-1866 muster out of the regiment's movements, including battles fought, Union camp site names, garrison and soldiers' rest assignment locations, names of railroad and ship transports, etc.
- Pennsylvania in the Civil War is a FamilySearch wiki which describes many sources, specifically for Pennsylvania, and how to find them. These include compiled service records, pension records, rosters, cemetery records, Internet databases, published books, etc.
- Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War has a history of this regiment with a history of the regiment, rosters, and some biographical information.
- Soldiers and Sailors Database. U.S. National Park Service. Searchable by soldier's name and state, this website contains basic facts about soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, as well as a list of regiments, descriptions of significant battles, sources of the information, and suggestions for where to find additional information.
- United States Civil War, 1861 to 1865 is a FamilySearch wiki which describes and explains United States and Confederate States records, rather than state records, and how to find them. These include veterans’ censuses, compiled service records, pension records, rosters, cemetery records, Internet databases, published books, etc.