Alternate Spellings of Surname: Reichard, Reichart
Born in Northampton County, Pennsylvania on 22 November 1835, Edwin O. Reichard was the son of Pennsylvania native, George Reichard, and Lydia (Yeager) Reichard, a native of Hanover, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. His siblings included: G. Tilghman Reichard, J. Robert Reichard, Harriet (Reichard) Osenbach, and Lydia (Reichard) Moyer.
He was employed as a bricklayer and residing in Rittersville, Lehigh County at the start of the Civil War.
Civil War Service
On 20 August 1861, at the age of 25, Edwin Reichard enrolled for military service at Allentown, Lehigh County. He then mustered in as a Private with Company B of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 30 August 1861. While there, he received training in light infantry tactics.
Military records describe him as being 5’10” tall with brown hair, gray eyes and a dark complexion.
During Private Reichard’s initial term of service with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, he was stationed roughly two miles from the White House at “Camp Kalorama” on Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September 1861. He then officially mustered in to the U.S. Army with his fellow 47th soldiers with great pomp on 24 September of that same year.
On 27 September, the 47th Pennsylvania was assigned (with the 33rd, 49th and 79th New York regiments) to Brigadier-General Isaac Stevens’ 3rd Brigade. By early afternoon, Private Edwin Reichard had shouldered his Keystone State-supplied Mississippi rifle and fallen in line behind the 47th Pennsylvania’s regimental band, marching until reaching Camp Lyon in Maryland on the eastern side of the Potomac near a chain bridge. By 5 p.m., the 47th and 46th Pennsylvania were marching, double-quick, across the bridge into Confederate territory.
Arriving at Camp Advance around dusk, about two miles from the Chain Bridge, they pitched their tents in a deep ravine near Fort Ethan Allen. They had completed a roughly eight-mile trek to become part of the larger Army of the Potomac encamped near General W.F. Smith’s headquarters. Under Smith’s leadership, Edwin Reichard and his fellow soldiers would help to defend the nation’s capital through late January when the 47th Pennsylvania would be shipped south.
In October, they were ordered to proceed with the 3rd Brigade to Camp Griffin. On October 11, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads. 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 – and in preparation for bigger things to come, Brannan ordered that new Springfield rifles be obtained and distributed to every member of the 47th Pennsylvania.
1862 – 1863
Steaming on the Oriental from 27 January to February 1862, Edwin Reichard and the men of the 47th traveled from Annapolis, Maryland to Key West, Florida where they were assigned to protect Fort Taylor and residents of neighboring areas who remained loyal to the Union.On 14 February, the regiment made its presence known to area residents via a parade through the city’s streets.
From mid-June through July, the 47th Pennsylvanians were sent to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where they were attached to the Beaufort District, Department of the South. Picket duties north of the brigade’s main staging area were rotated among the Union regiments stationed around the district, putting those on duty at increased risk from sniper fire.
Beginning 30 September 1862, the 47th made a return expedition to Florida. Company B participated with the 47th and other Union troops in the Battle of Saint John’s Bluff from 1 to 3 October. Led by Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan, the 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 brigade through 25 miles of dense, pine forested, snake and alligator-infested swamps. Ultimately, the brigade forced the Rebels to abandon their artillery battery atop Saint John’s Bluff, and paved the way for the Union to occupy the town of Jacksonville, Florida.
From 21-23 October, Edwin Reichard participated in his regiment’s first major battle – one in which 18 enlisted men would be killed and another 114 wounded. Under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman H. Good and Lieutenant Colonel George W. Alexander, the 47th engaged the heavily protected Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina – including at Frampton’s Plantation and the Pocotaligo Bridge. Captain Charles Mickley was killed and Captain George Junker mortally wounded. Captain Reuben Gardner and Lieutenant William Geety were wounded, but survived.
On 15 November 1862, the 47th was ordered back to Key West, and assumed duties as part of the 10th Corps, Department of the South. His company (Company B) joined with companies A, C, E, G, and I in garrisoning Fort Taylor while companies D, F, H, and K garrisoned Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas.
On 1 March 1864, Edwin Reichard transferred to Company I, 20th Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps. His index card from the Civil War Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania State Archives notes that he transferred “to invalid Corps 3-1-64,” an indication that he had either been wounded on duty or became ill from one of the tropical diseases which had sickened so many of the 47th Pennsylvania while the regiment was stationed in Florida.
The U.S. Veterans Schedule of 1890 indicates that he mustered out of the Veteran Reserve Corps on 6 June 1864.
After the War
In 1891, Edwin O. Reichard married. By 1900, he was living in Rittersville with his wife, Mary, and Helen S. Ritter (described on that federal census as his niece, but described in a 1906 newspaper notice regarding probate matters for his will). He continued to work as a bricklayer while his niece was employed with the local silk mill.
Edwin O. Reichard died of organic heart disease in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 4 December 1906.
Funeral services were held from his home near the Manhattan Hotel in Rittersville with formal services held at St. Peter’s Lutheran and Reformed Church, and officiated by Rev. I.B. Ritter. Edwin O. Reichard was then interred with full military honors at the Rittersville Cemetery in Allentown on 8 December 1906. Attendees included Reichard’s fellow members of Yeager G.A.R. Post 13 and the International Order of Odd Fellows, Keystone Lodge, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: 1869.
2. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Archives.
3. Death Certificate (Edwin O. Reichard). Harrisburg: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Vital Statistics.
4. Edwin O. Reichard (funeral notice) and Will of E. O. Reichard, in The Allentown Leader. Allentown: 10 December 1906 and 17 January 1907).
5. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown: Self-published, 1986.
6. U.S. Civil War Pension Index (Application No.: 209636, Certificate No.: 144453, filed by the veteran on 9 November 1875). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1875.