Born in Bath, Northampton County, Pennsylvania on 1 July 1843, William Hiram Bartholomew was a son of Pennsylvania natives, Daniel Bartholomew (1802-1888) and Christiana (Hauser) Bartholomew (1804-1874). His first wife Orpha, also born sometime around 1843, preceded him in death on 1 March 1869. His second wife, Mary E. (James) Bartholomew, who survived him (passing away in 1937), had been born in Wales in 1852. All, including William H. Bartholomew, were interred at the Fairview Cemetery in West Catasauqua, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, as was Harry Bright Bartholomew (1872-1954), the son of William Hiram Bartholomew and his second wife Mary (James) Bartholomew.
William Bartholomew’s brother and three sisters also preceded him in death.
Civil War Military Service
William Hiram Bartholomew enrolled for Civil War military service at Catasauqua in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 21 August 1862 and officially mustered in for duty at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County nine days later on 30 August as a Sergeant with Company F of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Military records at the time described him as being a nineteen-year-old resident of Catasauqua who was 5’8” tall with light hair, dark eyes and a light complexion, and employed as a bar keeper.
Company F was the first company of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers to muster in for duty, and ad been raised by Henry Samuel Harte. Born in 1822 in Darmstadt, capital of the Grand Duchy of Hesse (now Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany), Harte had been naturalized as an American citizen in New York in 1851, prior to settling in Pennsylvania. Appointed Captain of the Lehigh County militia unit known as the Catasauqua Rifles during the late 1850s, he had also become a hotel keeper in Catasauqua by the dawn of the Civil War.
Following a brief training period in light infantry tactics at Camp Curtin, Sergeant Bartholomew and his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were transported south by rail to Washington, D.C. Stationed roughly two miles from the White House, they pitched their tents at “Camp Kalorama” on the Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September. Henry D. Wharton, a musician from the regiment’s C Company, penned an update the next day to the Sunbury American, his hometown 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.
While at Camp Kalorama, Captain Harte ordered that Company F drill four times per day, each time for one hour. On 24 September, the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry finally became part of the U.S. Army when its men were officially mustered into federal service. On 27 September—a rainy day, 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 (one hundred and sixty-five steps per minute using thirty-three-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….
On 1 October 1861, Sergeant James W. (J. W.) Fuller, Jr. from F Company was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant and Regimental Adjutant with the regiment’s central command staff, a position he held for just over three months—until 9 January 1862 when he resigned. Also, 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 ten miles from Washington, D.C.
On 11 October, 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. In his 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….
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.” 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 for their performance—and in preparation for bigger things to come, Brannan obtained brand new Springfield rifles for every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
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 Fall’s 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.
According to Schmidt and letters home from members of the regiment, those preparations ceased on Monday, 27 January, at 10 a.m. when:
The regiment was formed and instructed by Lt. Col. Alexander ‘that we were about drumming out a member who had behaved himself unlike a soldier.’ …. The prisoner, Pvt. James C. Robinson of Company I, was a 36 year old miner from Allentown who had been ‘disgracefully discharged’ by order of the War Department. Pvt. Robinson was marched out with martial music playing and a guard of nine men, two men on each side and five behind him at charge bayonets. The music then struck up with ‘Robinson Crusoe’ as the procession was marched up and down in front of the regiment, and Pvt. Robinson was marched out of the yard.
Reloading then resumed. By that afternoon, when the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers commenced boarding the Oriental, they were ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers. The officers boarded last and, 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.
Company F arrived in Key West with their fellow members of the regiment in early 1862, and were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor. During the weekend of Friday, 14 February, the 47th Pennsylvanians introduced their presence to Key West residents as the regiment paraded through the streets of the city. That Sunday, soldiers from the 47th Pennsylvania also mingled with locals by attending services at local churches.
Drilling daily in heavy artillery tactics, they also strengthened the fortifications at the federal installation. On 1 April 1862, Sergeant Augustus Eagle was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant.
But while there were pleasant moments, the 47th’s early days here were most definitely not easy. Several members of the regiment fell ill, largely due to poor sanitary conditions and water quality. A number of men from the 47th were subsequently discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability.
Time passed surprisingly quickly and, according to Schmidt, 4 June 1862 became a festive day for the regiment. As the USS Niagara sailed for Boston after transferring its responsibilities to the USS Potomac as the flagship of the Union Navy squadron in that sector, the guns of fifteen warships anchored nearby fired a salute, as did the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Captain Harte and F Company “fired 15 of the heavy casemate guns from Fort Taylor at 4 PM.”
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 were commonly rotated among the regiments present there at the time, putting soldiers at increased risk from sniper fire. According to historian Samuel P. Bates, during this phase of their service, the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing.”
Sometime during July according to Schmidt, Major William H. Gausler and Captain Henry S. Harte returned home to the Lehigh Valley to resume their recruiting efforts. Major Gausler was able to persuade another fifty-four men to join the 47th Pennsylvania while Harte rounded up an additional twelve.
During a return expedition to Florida beginning 30 September, the 47th joined with the 1st Connecticut Battery, 7th Connecticut Infantry, and part of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry in assaulting Confederate forces at their heavily protected camp at Saint John’s Bluff overlooking the Saint John’s River area. Trekking and skirmishing through roughly 25 miles of dense swampland and forests after disembarking from ships at Mayport Mills on 1 October, the 47th captured artillery and ammunition stores (on 3 October) that had been abandoned by Confederate forces during the bluff’s bombardment by Union gunboats.
With those successes, Union leaders ordered the gunboats and army troops to extend the expedition, which they did, capturing assorted watercraft as they advanced further up the river. During this phase, Companies E and K of the 47th were led by Captain Charles Yard (E Company’s captain) in capturing Jacksonville, Florida (5 October) and the Gov. Milton, a Confederate steamer. Docked near Hawkinsville, the Milton had been furnishing troops, ammunition and other supplies not only to the Rebel battery atop Saint John’s Bluff, but to other Confederate Army units scattered throughout the region.
That same day and ten days later, on 5 and 15 October 1862 respectively, a black teen and several young black men left the hardship they had known in Beaufort, South Carolina to become members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers:
- Just sixteen years old at the time of his enlistment, Abraham Jassum joined the 47th Pennsylvania from a recruiting depot on 5 October 1862. Military records indicate that he mustered in as “negro undercook” with Company F at Beaufort, South Carolina. Military records described him as being 5’6″ tall with black hair, black eyes and a black complexion, and stated that his occupation prior to enlistment was “Cook.” Records also indicate that he continued to serve with F Company until he mustered out at Charleston, South Carolina on 4 October 1865 when his three-year term of enlistment expired.
- Also signing up as an Under Cook that day at the Beaufort recruiting depot was thirty-three-year-old Bristor Gethers. Although his muster roll entry and entry in the Civil War Veterans’ Card File in the Pennsylvania State Archives listed him as “Presto Gettes,” his U.S. Civil War Pension Index listing spelled his name as “Bristor Gethers” and his wife’s name as “Rachel Gethers.” This index also includes the aliases of “Presto Garris” and “Bristor Geddes.” He was described on military records as being 5’5″ tall with black hair, black eyes and a black complexion, and as having been employed as a fireman. He mustered in as “Negro under cook” with Company F on 5 October 1862, and mustered out at Charleston, South Carolina on 4 October 1865 upon expiration of his three-year term of service. Federal records indicate that he and his wife applied for his Civil War Pension from South Carolina.
- Attached initially to Company F upon his enrollment with the 47th Pennsylvania on 15 October 1862, twenty-two-year-old Edward Jassum was also assigned kitchen duties. Records indicate that he was officially mustered into military service at the rank of Undercook with the 47th Pennsylvania at Morganza, Louisiana on 22 June 1864, and then transferred to Company H on 11 October 1864. Like Abraham Jassum, Edward Jassum also continued to serve with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers until being honorably discharged on 14 October 1865 upon expiration of his three-year term of service.
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 1862, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel T. H. Good and Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Alexander, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers next engaged the heavily protected Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina—including at Frampton’s Plantation and the Pocotaligo Bridge—a key piece of southern railroad infrastructure which Union leaders felt should be destroyed.
Harried by snipers enroute 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 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 Mackey’s Point.
Losses for the 47th Pennsylvania were significant. Captain Charles Mickley of G Company was killed in action. Captain George Junker of Company K was mortally wounded, as was Private John O’Brien of Company F, who died on 26 October while being treated for his wounds at the Union Army’s hospital at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Still others were wounded severely enough that they were deemed unfit to serve, and discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability.
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. The Mountains of Mitchel, a part of Mars’ South Pole discovered by Mitchel in 1846 while working as a University of Cincinnati astronomer, and Mitchelville, the first Freedmen’s town created after the Civil War, were both later named for him. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.
On 1 November 1862, the 47th Pennsylvania helped another black man escape Beaufort’s hardship by adding thirty-year-old Thomas Haywood to the kitchen staff of Company H. Described as a 5’4″ laborer with black hair, black eyes and a black complexion, he was officially mustered in as an Under Cook at Morganza, Louisiana on 22 June 1864, and served until the expiration of his own three-year term of service on 31 October 1865.
Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November 1862, the lion’s share of 1863 was spent by F Company and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians garrisoning federal installations in Florida as part of the 10th Corps, U.S. 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, the Union Army’s remote outpost in the Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida.
As with their previous assignments, the men discovered that disease would be their constant companion and foe. More men died or were discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability. This makes it all the more remarkable that, during this phase of service, the majority of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers chose to re-enlist when their three-year service terms were up. Many, who could have returned home with their heads held legitimately high after all they had endured, re-enrolled in order to preserve the Union of their beloved nation.
On 19 October1863, William H. Bartholomew became one of those who re-upped for another three-year term of service, re-enlisting with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers while he was stationed at Fort Jefferson.
On 25 February 1864, the 47th set off for a phase of service in which the regiment would make history. Steaming first for New Orleans aboard the Charles Thomas, the men arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February and were then shipped by train to Brashear City. Following another steamer ride—this time 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 spearheaded by Union General Nathaniel P. Banks.
From 14-26 March, the 47th passed through New Iberia, Vermilionville, Opelousas, and Washington while enroute to Alexandria and Natchitoches. Often short on food and water, the remaining members of 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 (Mansfield). The fighting waned only when darkness fell. The exhausted, but 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 who was the 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 severe. The regiment’s second in command, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander, was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color-bearers, both from Company C, were also seriously wounded while preventing the American flag from falling into enemy hands. In Company F, Private George Klein was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate on 16 April 1864. And, after having been shot in the jaw during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads (Mansfield), Private Griff Reinert was ultimately discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate on 28 December 1864. Still others from the 47th were captured by Confederate troops, marched roughly 125 miles to Camp Ford, a Confederate Army prison camp near Tyler, Texas, and held there as prisoners of war until they were released during prisoner exchanges on 22 July and in September and November.
But, at least two members of the 47th Pennsylvania never made it out alive. Private Samuel Kern of Company D died at Camp Ford on 12 June 1864, and Private John Weiss of F Company, who had been wounded in action at Pleasant Hill, died from his wounds at Camp Ford just over a month later on 15 July.
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 Pennsylvanians fell back to Grand Ecore, where they remained for 11 days and engaged in the hard labor of strengthening regimental and brigade fortifications. They then moved back to Natchitoches Parish on 22 April, arriving in Cloutierville at 10 p.m. that same night, after marching 45 miles. While en route, they were attacked again—this time at the rear of their brigade, but they were able to quickly end the encounter and move forward.
The next morning (23 April 1864), episodic skirmishing quickly roared into the flames of a robust fight. As part of the advance party led by Brigadier-General William Emory, the 47th Pennsylvanians took on Brigadier-General Hamilton P. Bee’s Confederate Cavalry in the Battle of Cane River (also known as “the Affair at Monett’s Ferry” or the “Cane River Crossing”). Responding to a barrage from the Confederate artillery’s 20-pound Parrott guns and raking fire from enemy troops situated near a bayou and on a bluff, Emory directed one of his brigades to keep Bee’s Confederates busy while sending the other two brigades to find a safe spot where his Union troops could ford the Cane River. As part of the “beekeepers,” the 47th Pennsylvania supported Emory’s artillery.
As Emory’s troops worked their way toward the Cane River, they attacked Bee’s flank, forced a Rebel retreat, and erected a series of pontoon bridges, enabling the 47th Pennsylvania and other remaining Union troops to make the Cane River Crossing by the next day. As the Confederates retreated, they torched their own food stores, as well as the cotton supplies of their fellow southerners.
In a letter penned from Morganza, Louisiana on 29 May, Henry Wharton described what had happened to the 47th Pennsylvanians during and immediately after making camp at Grand Ecore:
Our sojourn at Grand Ecore was for eleven days, during which time our position was well fortified by entrenchments for a length of five miles, made of heavy logs, five feet high and six feet wide, filled in with dirt. In front of this, trees were felled for a distance of two hundred yards, so that if the enemy attacked we had an open space before us which would enable our forces to repel them and follow if necessary. But our labor seemed to the men as useless, for on the morning of 22d April, the army abandoned these works and started for Alexandria. From our scouts it was ascertained that the enemy had passed some miles to our left with the intention of making a stand against our right at Bayou Cane, where there is a high bluff and dense woods, and at the same attack Smith’s forces who were bringing up the rear. This first day was a hard one on the boys, for by ten o’clock at night they made Cloutierville, a distance of forty-five miles. On that day the rear was attacked which caused our forces to reverse their front and form in line of battle, expecting too, to go back to the relief of Smith, but he needed no assistance, sending word to the front that he had ‘whipped them, and could do it again.’ It was well that Banks made so long a march on that day, for on the next we found the enemy prepared to carry out their design of attacking us front and rear. Skirmishing commenced early in the morning and as our columns advanced he fell back towards the bayou, when we soon discovered the position of their batteries on the bluff. There was then an artillery duel by the smaller pieces, and some sharp fighting by the cavalry, when the ‘mule battery,’ twenty pound Parrott guns, opened a heavy fire, which soon dislodged them, forcing the chivalry to flee in a manner not at all suitable to their boasted courage. Before this one cavalry, the 3d Brigade of the 1st Div., and Birges’ brigade of the second, had crossed the bayou and were doing good service, which, with the other work, made the enemy show their heels. The 3d brigade done some daring deeds in this fight, as also did the cavalry. In one instance the 3d charged up a hill almost perpendicular, driving the enemy back by the bayonet without firing a gun. The woods on this bluff was so thick that the cavalry had to dismount and fight on foot. During the whole of the day, our brigade, the 2d was supporting artillery, under fire all the time, and could not give Mr. Reb a return shot.
While we were fighting in front, Smith was engaged some miles in the rear, but he done his part well and drove them back. The rebel commanders thought by attacking us in the rear, and having a large face on the bluffs, they would be able to capture our train and take us all prisoners, but in this they were mistaken, for our march was so rapid that we were on them before they had thrown up the necessary earthworks. Besides they underrated the amount of our artillery, calculating from the number engaged at Pleasant Hill. The rebel prisoners say it ‘seems as though the Yankees manufacture, on short notice, artillery to order, and the men are furnished with wings when they wish to make a certain point.
The damage done to the Confederate cause by the burning of cotton was immense. On the night of the 22d our route was lighted up for miles and millions of dollars worth of this production was destroyed. This loss will be felt more by Davis & Co., than several defeats in this region, for the basis of the loan in England was on the cotton of Western Louisiana.
After the rebels had fled from the bluff the negro troops put down the pontoons, and by ten that night we were six miles beyond the bayou safely encamped. The next morning we moved forward and in two days were in Alexandria. Johnnys followed Smith’s forces, keeping out of range of his guns, except when he had gained the eminence across the bayou, when he punished them (the rebs) severely.
Having finally reached Alexandria on 26 April, the 47th Pennsylvanians learned they would remain at their latest new camp for at least two weeks. Placed temporarily under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Bailey, they were assigned yet again to the hard labor of fortification work, helping to erect “Bailey’s Dam,” a timber structure that enabled Union gunboats to more easily make their way back down the Red River. While stationed in Rapides Parish in late April and early May, according to Wharton:
We were at Alexandria seventeen days, during which time the men were kept busy at throwing up earthworks, foraging and three times went out some distance to meet the enemy, but they did not make their appearance in numbers large enough for an engagement. The water in the Red river had fallen so much that it prevented the gunboats from operating with us, and kept our transports from supplying the troops with rations, (and you know soldiers, like other people, will eat) so Banks was compelled to relinquish his designs on Shreveport and fall back to the Mississippi. To do this a large dam [Bailey’s Dam] had to be built on the falls at Alexandria to get the ironclads down the river. After a great deal of labor this was accomplished and by the morning of May 13th the last one was through the shute [sic], when we bade adieu to Alexandria, marching through the town with banners flying and keeping step to the music of ‘Rally around the flag,’ and ‘When this cruel war is over.’ The next morning, at our camping place, the fleet of boats passed us, when we were informed that Alexandria had been destroyed by fire – the act of a dissatisfied citizen and several negroes. Incendiary acts were strictly forbidden in a general order the day before we left the place, and a cavalry guard was left in the rear to see the order enforced. After marching a few miles skirmishing commenced in front between the cavalry and the enemy in riflepits [sic] on the bank of the river, but they were easily driven away. When we came up we discovered their pits and places where there had been batteries planted. At this point the John Warren, an unarmed transport, on which were sick soldiers and women, was fired into and sunk, killing many and those that were not drowned taken prisoners. A tin-clad gunboat was destroyed at the same place, by which we lost a large mail. Many letters and directed envelopes were found on the bank – thrown there after the contents had been read by the unprincipled scoundrels. The inhumanity of Guerrilla bands in this department is beyond belief, and if one did not know the truth of it or saw some of their barbarities, he would write it down as the story of a ‘reliable gentleman’ or as told by an ‘intelligent contraband.’ Not satisfied with his murderous intent on unarmed transports he fires into the Hospital steamer Laurel Hill, with four hundred sick on board. This boat had the usual hospital signal floating fore and aft, yet, notwithstanding all this, and the customs of war, they fired on them, proving by this act that they are more hardened than the Indians on the frontier.
On Sunday, May 15, we left the river road and took a short route through the woods, saving considerable distance. The windings of Red river are so numerous that it resembles the tape-worm railroad wherewith the politicians frightened the dear people during the administration of Ritner and Stevens. – We stopped several hours in the woods to leave cavalry pass, when we moved forward and by four o’clock emerged into a large open plain where we formed in line of battle, expecting a regular engagement. The enemy, however, retired and we advanced ‘till dark, when the forces halted for the night, with orders to rest on their arms. – ‘Twas here that Banks rode through our regiment, amidst the cheers of the boys, and gave the pleasant news that Grant had defeated Lee.
Having entered Avoyelles Parish, the 47th Pennsylvanians “rested on their arms” for the night, half-dozing without pitching their tents, but with their rifles right beside them. They were now positioned just outside of Marksville, Louisiana on the eve of the 16 May 1864 Battle of Mansura, which unfolded as follows, according to Wharton:
Early next morning we marched through Marksville into a prairie nine miles long and six wide where every preparation was made for a fight. The whole of our force was formed in line, in support of artillery in front, who commenced operations on the enemy driving him gradually from the prairie into the woods. As the enemy retreated before the heavy fire of our artillery, the infantry advanced in line until they reached Mousoula [sic], where they formed in column, taking the whole field in an attempt to flank the enemy, but their running qualities were so good that we were foiled. The maneuvring [sic] of the troops was handsomely done, and the movements was [sic] one of the finest things of the war. The fight of artillery was a steady one of five miles. The enemy merely stood that they might cover the retreat of their infantry and train under cover of their artillery. Our loss was slight. Of the rebels we could not ascertain correctly, but learned from citizens who had secreted themselves during the fight, that they had many killed and wounded, who threw them into wagons, promiscuously, and drove them off so that we could not learn their casualties. The next day we moved to Simmsport [sic] on the Achafalaya [sic] river, where a bridge was made by putting the transports side by side, which enabled the troops and train to pass safely over. – The day before we crossed the rebels attacked Smith, thinking it was but the rear guard, in which they, the graybacks, were awfully cut up, and four hundred prisoners fell into our hands. Our loss in killed and wounded was ninety. This fight was the last one of the expedition. The whole of the force is safe on the Mississippi, gunboats, transports and trains. The 16th and 17th have gone to their old commands.
It is amusing to read the statements of correspondents to papers North, concerning our movements and the losses of our army. I have it from the best source that the Federal loss from Franklin to Mansfield, and from their [sic] to this point does not exceed thirty-five hundred in killed, wounded and missing, while that of the rebels is over eight thousand.
As Wharton noted, the surviving members of the 47th marched for Simmesport and then Morganza, where they made camp again. While encamped there, the nine formerly enslaved Black men who had enlisted with the 47th Pennsylvania in Beaufort (1862) and Natchitoches, Louisiana (April 1864) were officially mustered into the regiment between 20-24 June 1864.
And on 22 June, First Lieutenant George W. Fuller of Catasauqua was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate.
The regiment then moved on once again, finally arriving back in New Orleans in late June. On the Fourth of July, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers received orders to return to the East Coast. The members of the regiment were loaded onto ships in two stages: Companies A, C, D, E, F, H, and I steamed for the Washington, D.C. area aboard the McClellan, beginning 7 July, while the men from Companies B, G and K remained behind on detached duty and to await transportation. (Led by F Company Captain Henry S. Harte, the 47th Pennsylvanians who had been left behind in Louisiana finally sailed away at the end of the month aboard the Blackstone. Arriving in Virginia on 28 July, they reconnected with the bulk of the regiment at Monocacy, Virginia on 2 August.)
Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign
Still able and willing to fight after their time in Bayou country, the soldiers of Company F and their fellow members of the 47th Pennsylvania returned to the Washington, D.C. area aboard the McClellan from 5-12 July 1864—but they did so without their commanding officer, Captain Henry S. Harte, who was ordered to serve on detached duty as the leader of the 47th Pennsylvanians serving with Companies B, G and K, who were left behind because the McClellan was unable to transport the entire regiment. (Captain Harte sailed later aboard the Blackstone with Companies B, G and K, and arrived in the Washington, D.C. area on 28 July.)
After arriving in Virginia, the 47th Pennsylvanians joined up with General David Hunter’s forces at Snicker’s Gap, where they 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 beginning in August and re-united under the command of Captain Harte, September saw the promotion of several men from Company F, including First Sergeant William H. Bartholomew, who was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant on 1 September 1864; Private Benjamin F. Bush, who was promoted twice in quick succession (to Corporal on 11 September and to Sergeant on 18 September); Corporals William H. Fink and James Tait, who were promoted to the rank of Sergeant on 18 September 1864; and Private Richmond H. Schwab, who was promoted to the rank of Corporal that same day. (Private John L. Jones, who was still being held as a POW at Camp Ford in Tyler, Texas after being wounded in action and taken captive during the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana on 9 April, was also promoted that day – to the rank of Corporal.)
Mid-September also saw the departure of a number of 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had served honorably, including F Company’s Captain Henry S. Harte, who mustered out at Berryville, Virginia on 18 September 1864 upon expiration of his three-year term of service. For the remaining members of the 47th, the fighting was not yet over; those still 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 F and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians 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 the Opequan Creek, Sheridan’s men came face to face with Early’s Confederate Army. 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.
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, eight miles south of Winchester (21-22 September), 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, the surviving 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 the expiration of their respective terms of service. Fortunately, they would be replaced with leaders who were equally respected for their front-line experience and temperament, including Major John Peter Shindel Gobin, formerly of the 47th’s Company C, who had been promoted up through the regimental staff to the rank of Major (and who would be promoted again on 4 November to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and responsibility of regimental commanding officer).
On 26 September 1864, Private William H. Fried was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate. Private Presto Gettes mustered out upon expiration of his three-year term of service on 4 October.
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 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 and win the day.
From a military standpoint, it was an 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. Perry County resident and Regimental Chaplain William Rodrock suffered a near miss as a bullet pierced his cap. Privates Addison R. Geho and Rainey Grader of Company F were killed in action while Privates Josiah H. Walk and William H. Moll were wounded in action, but recovered and continued to fight.
Still more were captured and held as prisoners of war, several of whom died. Privates Charles H. Michael and William H. Moyer, I, of Company F were both taken prisoner by Confederate forces. Private Michael died while held as a POW at the Confederate prison camp in Salisbury, North Carolina on 11 December 1864 while Private Moyer died as a POW at the Confederate camp in Florence, South Carolina on 22 January 1865.
Following these major engagements, Private Edward Jassum transferred within the regiment from Company F to Company H on 31 October, and 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 they trudged through a snowstorm in order to reach their new home.
1865 – 1966
On New Year’s Day 1865, First Sergeant Edwin Gilbert was promoted to the rank of Captain, and Sergeant Thomas Lambert, who had joined Company F as a Private on 30 August 1861, worked his way up in the ranks and re-enlisted while serving at Fort Jefferson in October 1863, was promoted to Second Lieutenant.
Assigned in February to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah, the men of the 47th moved back to Washington, D.C., via Winchester and Kernstown. By 19 April, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were once 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 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 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.
Staffing changes also continued to occur within the 47th Pennsylvania during this phase of duty. Captain Levi Stuber of Company I was advanced to the rank of Major with the regiment’s central staff while other men were mustered out honorably by General Order of the U.S. War Department or were discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability.
On their final southern tour, the remaining men of Company F and their fellow members of the 47th Pennsylvania served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June. Attached again to Dwight’s Division, this time they were with the 3rd Brigade, Department of the South. Corporal John L. Jones, who had been wounded in action during the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana on 9 April 1864 and promoted from the rank of Private while being held as a POW at Camp Ford in Tyler, Texas, was promoted again—this time as a free man. He became a Sergeant on 2 June 1865.
Relieving the 165th New York Volunteers in July, the soldiers of the 47th Pennsylvania next quartered in Charleston at the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. Duties at this time were largely Provost (military police) or Reconstruction-related (repairing railroads and other key elements of the region’s infrastructure which had been damaged or destroyed during the long war).
Finally, beginning on Christmas day of that year, the majority of the men of Company F, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers—including First Lieutenant William H. Bartholomew—began to honorably muster out at Charleston, South Carolina, a process which continued through early January. Following a stormy voyage home, the 47th Pennsylvania disembarked in New York City. The weary men were then shipped to Philadelphia by train where, at Camp Cadwalader on 9 January 1866, the 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers were officially given their discharge papers.
Return to Civilian Life
Following his honorable discharge from the military, William Hiram Bartholomew returned home to the Lehigh Valley. Choosing to settle in his hometown of Catasauqua, Lehigh County, he began life anew as the owner-operator of a restaurant, a concern he operated for several years. Before the decade was out, however he had become a widower when, on 1 March 1869, his wife Orpha Bartholomew passed away. She was just 26 years old.
Just over a year later, on 15 August 1870, William H. Bartholomew became publisher of the Valley Record, a folio-sized, single-sheet (seven to eight-column), weekly newspaper with a local circulation, a profession he practiced in his hometown for twenty-five years until the newspaper ceased publication under its own name and became part of another publication, the Dispatch.
Two years later, in 1872, William H. Bartholomew wed Mary E. James at St. Mark’s church. A native of Wales, she was the daughter of Thomas D. James. On 26 October 1872, William and Mary Bartholomew welcomed their son, Harry Bright Bartholomew to their Catasauqua home.
Less than two years later, William Bartholomew’s mother, Christiana (Hauser) Bartholomew, was gone. She passed away on 5 September 1874.
During this time, William H. Bartholomew was remained active in military service, and was also active in civic affairs. Serving as a First Lieutenant with Company I of the 4th Regiment, Pennsylvania National Guard beginning on 8 September 1875, he helped to quiet riots which had erupted in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania during 1877. From May through July of that year, anger among blue collar men across Maryland and Pennsylvania had risen as railroad magnates slashed the wages of employees while also actively engaging in “union busting.” Train service was interrupted and railroad roundhouses, locomotives and bridges were burned by rioting mobs. The violence by both strikers and the militiamen called out to restore order was particularly brutal in Pittsburgh. In Reading, a city world renowned for its heavy transport of anthracite coal, according to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission:
a mob of strikers and sympathetic citizens gathered in the center of Reading. On the evening of July 23, the National Guard’s Fourth Regiment arrived from Allentown. Brigadier General Frank Reeder of Easton ordered his men, about 253 strong, to march into a thirty-foot-deep, 300-yard-long man-made “cut,” or depression, where strikers had blocked a train. The surrounding mob, estimated at several thousand people, pelted the guardsmen below with rocks and bricks. In the violence and confusion that followed, panicked troops fired into a taunting crowd at the far end of the cut, killing ten people and wounding dozens more.
Unlike the rioting workers in Pittsburgh, who avenged the shootings of their fellow workers by burning the Pennsylvania Railroad’s station and roundhouse, Reading strikers resisted calls to set fire to the shops and depots in the center of their town.
Promoted to the rank of Captain on 4 September 1879, William H. Bartholomew was honorably discharged from the Guard on 5 May 1882. He was also active with the Grand Army of the Republic, and was a member of the G.A.R.’s E.B. Young Post (No. 87) in Allentown. As of the federal census of 1880, he continued to reside in Catasauqua with his wife and son, and continued his employment as publisher of the Valley Record.
Nominated on 3 March 1887 by President Grover Cleveland to serve as Postmaster of the Borough of Catasauqua, William H. Bartholomew fulfilled these responsibilities until the term of this civil service appointment expired in 1889. It was also during this phase of his life that his father, Daniel Bartholomew, passed away on 10 November 1888.
In late March 1895, William Bartholomew resumed his career in the hospitality industry, becoming the proprietor of Catasauqua’s Eagle Hotel, “the leading hotel of the town,” according to The Reading Eagle. Built in 1850 near the community’s train station by Joseph Laubach on what is today the site of the Catasauqua Borough Hall, the Eagle was a 36-room establishment, and had been one of the first two hotels in the borough to obtain a liquor license.
The 9 April edition of The Allentown Leader reported the news as follows:
Capt. W. H. Bartholomew, publisher of the Valley Record, has leased the Eagle Hotel in place of A. H. Hahn, as announced last week.
Also during this time, William H. Bartholomew was publicly elected to serve as County Treasurer. He fulfilled these responsibilities for Lehigh County from 1898 to 1891. At the turn of the century, the 1900 federal census documented his continued employment as an innkeeper, and confirmed that he and his wife resided at the hotel, along with their son, Harry, and his wife, “Linnie” (1873-1928), and their son, Lamont (1893-1969). In 1906, William Bartholomew sold the hotel to Edward L. Walker.
By 1910, Harry and his family were on their own while William and Mary Bartholomew had relocated to Allentown. There, they were the proprietors of the Hotel Penn.
On 3 July 1929, William H. Bartholomew celebrated his birthday in Reading, Berks County. The Reading Eagle reported on the affair as follows:
Capt. William H. Bartholomew, prominent veteran of the famous 47th Regiment, received the greetings of many friends on the celebration of his 86th birthday anniversary.
The captain is one of the oldest and most deeply respected veterans in this section. He enlisted in Company F of the 47th Regiment when it was organized in Catasauqua in August, 1861, and served until Dec. 25, 1865, or a total of four years and four months, when the regiment was mustered out of services at Charleston, S.C. after the war.
Returning home early in January, 1866, with a splendid war record, he entered the restaurant business which he conducted for a few years. He then became a newspaper publisher, printing the Valley Record, a weekly which was issued for 25 years. It was devoted to the interests of the Democratic party.
During President Cleveland’s first administration he was postmaster of Catasauqua and in 1898 was elected county treasurer serving for three years. For 12 years he conducted the Eagle, Catasauqua, the leading hotel of the town.
For 11 years he served in the National Guard of Pennsylvania and participated in the famous Reading Cut fight in 1877.
Two and a half years ago on the occasion of the annual reunion of the 47th Regiment, of which Capt. Bartolomew was the president, he sustained a stroke of apoplexy which has confined him to his home, 744 North Sixth street, for the most part, but he was able to be about and on the streets, and to be greeted by his many friends and admirers.
On 15 March 1933, the old soldier finally answered his last bugle call, passing away in Allentown, Lehigh County. The next day, Allentown’s Morning Call reported his passing as follows:
The busy and useful life career of one of Allentown’s few surviving Civil War veterans came to an end Wednesday at 3 a.m. with the death of Captain William H. Bartholomew.
Captain Bartholomew, who was 89 years of age, passed away at this home, 744 North Sixth street after an illness of several years. He had been bedfast for the past five weeks.
During his life Captain Bartholomew distinguished himself a defender of the Union during the Civil War, a county treasurer, postmaster, newspaperman and an ardent supporter of the Democratic party.
Captain Bartholomew was born at Bath, on July 1, 1843. In his early years his parents moved to Catasauqua, and it was here that the captain [illegible] a weekly newspaper, ‘The Valley Record,’ which he published at Catasauqua for a quarter of a century as a Democratic newspaper. This paper circulated not only throughout the county, but lived up to its name by serving the people of the entire Lehigh Valley.
…. During President Cleveland’s administration the captain served as postmaster of Catasauqua. When this term ended he became proprietor of the Eagle hotel, Catasauqua, which he conducted for twelve years as the iron borough’s leading hostelry.
It was during his time as hotel proprietor that he was elected to the office of county treasurer, which he filled for one term of three years.
The termination of the war between the states did not end his military career … for eleven years … he served as a member of Company I, Fourth Regiment, National Guard of Pennsylvania, which company he was instrumental in organizing in Catasauqua. It was during this period that the strike at Reading, resulted in calling out the National Guard, and his company was among those stoned in the railroad cut at Reading. Here the captain was wounded, in the head.
He was married in 1872 to Mary E., nee James, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. James. Rev. George McClellan Fisk, assistant pastor of St. Mark’s church performed the ceremony.
Visitation was held at the Bartholomew family home on Friday evening with funeral services conducted there the following day—beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday, 18 March 1833. William H. Bartholomew was then laid to rest later that afternoon at the Fairview Cemetery in West Catasauqua, Lehigh County.
His obituary in The Reading Eagle described him as “one of the last remaining Civil War veterans in this section,” and as one who “served with distinction on the 47th Regiment.” He was survived by his widow, Mary, a resident of Allentown; his son, Harry, a resident of Kingston, Pennsylvania; his grandson, Lamont, of New York; and two great-grandchildren.
1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, vol. 1. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.
2. Civil War Muster Rolls, in “Records of the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs” (Record Group 19, Series 19.11). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
3. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives, 1861-1865.
4. Death Certificate (William H. Bartholomew). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.
5. “G.A.R. Veteran Was in 90th Year of Active Life: Had Been County Official, Postmaster and Newspaperman.” Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Morning Call, 16 March 1933.
6. “In Rail Riots Here: Allentown Veteran, 86, Served in Guard in Reading in 1877” (William Bartholomew Celebrates Birthday). Reading, Pennsylvania: The Reading Eagle, July 1929.
7. “Lehigh Civil War Vet” (obituary of William H. Bartholomew). Reading, Pennsylvania: The Reading Eagle, 16 March 1933.
8. Pennsylvania Veterans’ Burial Index Cards. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
9. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Self-published, 1986.
10. U.S. Census and Veterans’ Schedule. Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: 1880-1930.
11. William H. Bartholomew, in Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania: Transmitted to the Governor in Pursuance of Law for the Year 1885. Harrisburg, Pennsylvaania: Edwin K. Meyers, State Printer, 1886.
12. William H. Bartholomew, in “Civil War Graves Registration Collection” (Whitehall Township Public Library, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: State Library of Pennsylvania.
13. William H. Bartholomew and Grover Cleveland, in Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America from March 4, 1885 to March 3, 1887, Inclusive, Vol. XXV: Printed by Order of the Senate of the United States. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901.
14. William H. Bartholomew and the Eagle Hotel, Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Leader, 9 April 1895.
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