Alternate Spellings of Surname: Fatzinger, Fitzinger
Born on 4 March 1834 in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, Tilghman W. Fatzinger was a son of Lehigh County native Hannah (Roth) Fatzinger (1803-1876) and William Fatzinger (1804-1870), a native of Northampton County, Pennsylvania who was a son of Solomon and Christina (Seip) Fatzinger.
He spent his formative years in Allentown with siblings, including brothers Henry Fatzinger (1827-1909), who grew up to become a butcher and bricklayer, and Franklin George Washington Fatzinger (1843-1918), who was born in November 1843 and would later serve with Tilghman in the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers during one of the most divisive periods in his nation’s history.
The late 1830s and 1840s were years of change and challenge for Allentonians like the Fatzingers. Following severe flooding in 1841 which heavily damaged areas of the borough situated closest to the Lehigh River, a raging fire then destroyed a significant portion of Allentown’s major business district seven years later. Recovery efforts initiated by civic leaders during the 1850s placed the borough on track to become a city and, ultimately, an East Coast center of commerce, offering teenage boys and young men like the Fatzinger brothers the hope for futures which would be more prosperous than those of their parents and grandparents.
Embracing that spirit of hope, Tilghman W. Fatzinger opted to leave the comfort and security of life with his parents and siblings to begin a family of his own. On 12 July 1857, he was united in marriage by Rev. Yeager with Sophia Schneider in Lehigh County. By June of 1860, he was a day laborer residing in Allentown’s 1st Ward with his wife, Sophia, and their children: Mary H. (aged 2), Sabilla Catharine (aged 1), and Sophia (aged 11 months), who was born in May 1859.
Meanwhile, his unmarried, younger brother, Frank Fatzinger, continued to reside at home with their parents, William and Hannah Fatzinger. Their father was described as a 53-year-old butcher with personal estate holdings valued at $200 while Frank was described as a 16-year-old printer with a personal estate valued at the same amount. Their home was located in Allentown’s 5th Ward.
Civil War Military Service
Tilghman W. Fatzinger became one of the early responders to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers to help preserve America’s union, enrolling for Civil War military service at the age of 26 in his hometown of Allentown in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 5 August 1861. His younger brother, Franklin George Washington Fatzinger, then also enlisted, enrolling at Allentown 15 days later – on 20 August. Both brothers then officially mustered in for duty at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 30 August with the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
Tilghman Fatzinger entered as a Corporal with Company I, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers while Frank entered as a Private with B Company. Military records at the time described the older of the two as a laborer residing in Allentown who was 5’ 6½” tall with dark hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion while the younger was described as a printer residing in Allentown who was 5’6” tall with black hair, dark eyes and a dark complexion.
* Note: Companies B and I were the first two of four companies from the Borough of Allentown in total to muster in for duty with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. The initial recruitment for members to fill Company B began in Allentown – the city in which the 47th’s founder, Colonel Tilghman H. Good, would later go on to serve three terms as mayor. Following the fall of Fort Sumter in April 1861, many of B Company’s earliest recruits entered the fray as members of Allentown’s famed Allen Rifles, joining with the Jordan Artillerists to help defend the nation’s capital as Company I of the 1st Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry. After completing their Three Months’ Service, many reenlisted from Allentown in September of that same year to form Company B – this time supported by new recruits like Frank Fatzinger, and led by Emanuel P. Rhoads, grandson of Peter Rhoads, Jr., former president of the Northampton Bank.
I Company, on the other hand, was composed primarily of fresh-faced recruits – encouraged to join up by Coleman A. G. Keck, a 26-year-old master miller who resided with his family in Allentown. Supporting Captain Keck as leaders of I Company – the largest of the 47th Pennsylvania’s 10 companies – were Levi and James Stuber, who respectively entered at the ranks of 1st and 2nd Lieutenant, and Sergeant Allen Lawall. Entering as one of the Sergeants, Theodore Mink would be repeatedly promoted until becoming one of the captains of I Company who later succeeded Captain Keck. Among the rank and file who enlisted were six carpenters, four printers, seven shoemakers, four tinsmiths, and teamsters.
Following a brief light infantry training period, Captain Keck and his company were sent by train with the 47th Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C., where they were stationed at “Camp Kalorama” on Kalorama Heights near Georgetown, about two miles from the White House, beginning 21 September. Henry Wharton, a Musician with the regiment’s C Company, penned the following update the next day to his hometown newspaper, the Sunbury American:
After a tedious ride we have, at last, safely arrived at the City of ‘magnificent distances.’ We left Harrisburg on Friday last at 1 o’clock A.M. and reached this camp yesterday (Saturday) at 4 P.M., as tired and worn out a sett [sic] of mortals as can possibly exist. On arriving at Washington we were marched to the ‘Soldiers Retreat,’ a building purposely erected for the benefit of the soldier, where every comfort is extended to him and the wants of the ‘inner man’ supplied.
After partaking of refreshments we were ordered into line and marched, about three miles, to this camp. So tired were the men, that on marching out, some gave out, and had to leave the ranks, but J. Boulton Young, our ‘little Zouave,’ stood it bravely, and acted like a veteran. So small a drummer is scarcely seen in the army, and on the march through Washington he was twice the recipient of three cheers.
We were reviewed by Gen. McClellan yesterday [21 September 1861] without our knowing it. All along the march we noticed a considerable number of officers, both mounted and on foot; the horse of one of the officers was so beautiful that he was noticed by the whole regiment, in fact, so wrapt [sic] up were they in the horse, the rider wasn’t noticed, and the boys were considerably mortified this morning on dis-covering they had missed the sight of, and the neglect of not saluting the soldier next in command to Gen. Scott.
Col. Good, who has command of our regiment, is an excellent man and a splendid soldier. He is a man of very few words, and is continually attending to his duties and the wants of the Regiment.
…. Our Regiment will now be put to hard work; such as drilling and the usual business of camp life, and the boys expect and hope an occasional ‘pop’ at the enemy.
Then, on 24 September, Corporal Tilghman W. Fatzinger and Private Franklin G. W. Fatzinger and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers became part of the federal service when the regiment officially mustered into the U.S. Army. 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 (165 steps per minute using 33-inch steps) across the “Chain Bridge” marked on federal maps, and continued on for roughly another mile before being ordered to make camp.
The next morning, they broke camp and moved again. Marching toward Falls Church, Virginia, they arrived at Camp Advance around dusk. There, about two miles from the bridge they had crossed a day earlier, they re-pitched their tents in a deep ravine near a new federal fort under construction (Fort Ethan Allen). They had completed a roughly eight-mile trek, were situated fairly close to General W. F. Smith’s headquarters, and were now part of the massive Army of the Potomac. Under Smith’s leadership, their regiment and brigade would help to defend the nation’s capital from the time of their September arrival through late January when the men of the 47th Pennsylvania would be shipped south.
Once again, Company C Musician Henry Wharton recapped the regiment’s activities, noting, via his 29 September letter home to the Sunbury American, that the 47th had changed camps three times in three days:
On Friday last we left Camp Kalorama, and the same night encamped about one mile from the Chain Bridge on the opposite side of the Potomac from Washington. The next morning, Saturday, we were ordered to this Camp [Camp Advance near Fort Ethan Allen, Virginia], one and a half miles from the one we occupied the night previous. I should have mentioned that we halted on a high hill (on our march here) at the Chain Bridge, called Camp Lyon, but were immediately ordered on this side of the river. On the route from Kalorama we were for two hours exposed to the hardest rain I ever experienced. Whew, it was a whopper; but the fellows stood it well – not a murmur – and they waited in their wet clothes until nine o’clock at night for their supper. Our Camp adjoins that of the N.Y. 79th (Highlanders.)….
We had not been in this Camp more than six hours before our boys were supplied with twenty rounds of ball and cartridge, and ordered to march and meet the enemy; they were out all night and got back to Camp at nine o’clock this morning, without having a fight. They are now in their tents taking a snooze preparatory to another march this morning…. I don’t know how long the boys will be gone, but the orders are to cook two days’ rations and take it with them in their haversacks….
There was a nice little affair came off at Lavensville [sic], a few miles from here on Wednesday last; our troops surprised a party of rebels (much larger than our own.) killing ten, took a Major prisoner, and captured a large number of horses, sheep and cattle, besides a large quantity of corn and potatoes, and about ninety six tons of hay. A very nice day’s work. The boys are well, in fact, there is no sickness of any consequence at all in our Regiment….
Sometime during this phase of duty, as part of the 3rd Brigade, the 47th Pennsylvanians were moved to a site they initially christened “Camp Big Chestnut” for the large chestnut tree located within their lodging’s boundaries. The site would eventually become known to the Keystone Staters as “Camp Griffin,” and was located roughly 10 miles from Washington, D.C.
On 11 October, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads. In a letter home in mid-October, Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin (the leader of C Company who would be promoted in 1864 to lead the entire 47th Regiment) reported that companies D, A, C, F and I (the 47th Pennsylvania’s right wing) were ordered to picket duty after the left wing companies (B, G, K, E, and H) had been forced to return to camp by Confederate troops. In his 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, 22 October, the 47th engaged in a morning Divisional Review, described by historian Lewis Schmidt as massing “about 10,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry, and twenty pieces of artillery all in one big open field.” In his letter of 17 November, Henry Wharton revealed still 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 another morning divisional review – this time by Colonel Tilghman H. Good. Brigade and division drills were then held that 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 that day – and in preparation for the even bigger events which were yet to come, Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan ordered that brand new Springfield rifles be obtained for every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
But these frequent marches and their guard duties in rainy weather gradually began to wear the men down; more fell ill with fever and other ailments; more died.
Next ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers left Camp Griffin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22 January 1862, marching through deep mud with their equipment for three miles in order to reach the railroad station at Falls Church. Sent by train 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 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.
As the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers commenced boarding the Oriental during the afternoon of 27 January 1862, they were ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers with the officers boarding last. Then, at 4 p.m., per the directive of Brigadier-General Brannan, they steamed away for the Deep South – 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.
In February 1862, the Fatzinger brothers and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived in Key West, where they were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor and drilled daily in heavy artillery tactics and other military strategies, felled trees and helped to build new roads and strengthened the fortifications in and around the Union Army’s presence at Key West. During the weekend of Friday, 14 February, they introduced their presence to Key West residents as the regiment paraded through the streets of the city. That Sunday, many members mingled with locals at church services throughout the city.
The regiment’s routine was suddenly shattered on 9 June 1862, however, when Sergeant Charles Nolf, Jr. of I Company was accidentally killed by a member of the 90th New York Volunteers while collecting shells on a beach in the southern part of Key West. According to Schmidt and letters from soldiers who recounted the incident:
The 24 year old bricklayer from Allentown was shot through the brain and killed instantly while he was on the beach gathering shells with a few of his friends from the company. In front of the Sergeant and his friends were four members of the 90th New York with loaded rifles on their shoulders. One of them was carelessly playing with the trigger of his gun, ‘when bang! off went the load, the ball entering the forehead of Nolf, killing him instantly.’ Some members of his company ‘were bent on revenge’, but an investigation proved it an accident, although the carrying of loaded rifles was strictly prohibited…. Sgt. Nolf’s remains were probably originally buried in the Key West Post Cemetery, but in January of 1864 his remains were disinterred and returned to Allentown on January 28 by undertaker Paul Balliet, and buried in the Fairview Cemetery in West Catasauqua….”
From mid-June through July, the 47th Pennsylvanians were then ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina where they 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, putting soldiers at increased risk from sniper fire. According to historian Samuel P. Bates, the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing” during this phase of service.
Capture of Saint John’s Bluff, Florida and the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina, October 1862
Sent on a return expedition to Florida as September 1862 waned, the Fatzinger brothers and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians saw their first truly intense moments of service when their unit participated with the 47th Pennsylvania and other Union regiments in the capture of Saint John’s Bluff from 1 to 3 October.
Commanded by Brigadier-General John M. Brannan, the 47th Pennsylvanians disembarked with a 1,500-plus Union force at Mayport Mills and Mount Pleasant Creek from troop carriers guarded by Union gunboats.
Taking point, the 47th Pennsylvanians then led the 3rd Brigade through 25 miles of dense, pine forested swamps populated with deadly snakes and alligators. By the time the expedition ended, the Union brigade had forced the Confederate Army to abandon its artillery battery atop Saint John’s Bluff, and had paved the way for the Union Army to occupy the town of Jacksonville, Florida. Along the way, two companies from the 47th Pennsylvania (E and K) also helped capture the Gov. Milton, a Confederate steamer that had equipped the bluff and surrounding Rebel troop placements with men and supplies.
From 5-15 October 1862, a teenager and several young to middle-aged black men left the hardship they had known in Beaufort, South Carolina to enroll for service with Company F of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Initially assigned to kitchen duties, the regiment’s new members would be officially mustered in for service as Cooks and Under Cooks at Morganza, Louisiana in June 1864. More men of color would continue to be added to the 47th Pennsylvania’s rosters in the weeks and years to come.
From 21-23 October 1862, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman H. Good and Lieutenant Colonel George W. Alexander, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers engaged Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina. Landing at Mackey’s Point, the men of the 47th were placed on point once again, but they and the 3rd Brigade were less fortunate this time.
Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, they met resistance from an entrenched, heavily fortified Confederate battery which opened fire on the Union troops as they entered an open cotton field.
Those headed toward higher ground at the Frampton Plantation fared no better as they encountered artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests.
The Union soldiers grappled with the Confederates where they found them, pursuing the Rebels for four miles as they retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th relieved the 7th Connecticut. But the enemy was just too well armed. After two hours of intense fighting in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, depleted ammunition forced the 47th to withdraw to Mackey’s Point.
Losses for the 47th were significant. Two officers and 18 enlisted men died while an additional two officers and 114 enlisted from the 47th were wounded. Both of the Fatzinger brothers knew men in their respective companies (B and I) who had become casualties in the blink of an eye.
On 23 October, the 47th Pennsylvania returned to Hilton Head, where it served as the funeral Honor Guard for General Ormsby M. 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.
By 1863, the Fatzinger brothers were once again based with the 47th Pennsylvania in Florida. Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November of 1862, much of 1863 was spent guarding federal installations in Florida as part of the 10th Corps, Department of the South. Corporal Tilghman Fatzinger and Private Franklin G. W. Fatzinger joined the other men from Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I in garrisoning Fort Taylor in Key West while the remainder of the regiment’s men (who were serving with Companies D, F, H, and K) were assigned to garrison duty Fort Jefferson in Florida’s remote Dry Tortugas.
During this phase of duty, disease was a constant companion and foe. The time spent here by the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers was notable also for the men’s commitment to preserving the Union. Many who could have returned home, their heads held justifiably high following their recent display of valor in the Battle of Pocotaligo, chose instead to re-enlist in order to finish the fight. Among those re-upping was Private Frank Fatzinger, who re-enrolled at Fort Taylor in Key West on 10 October 1863. Sometime around the time of his second enrollment, he was also promoted to the rank of Corporal.
On 25 February 1864, the Fatzinger brothers and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians set off for a phase of service in which their regiment would truly make history. Steaming first for New Orleans via the Charles Thomas, the 47th arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February, and was then shipped by train to Brashear City. Following another steamer ride – to Franklin via the Bayou Teche – the members of the 47th then joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps. In short order, the 47th would become the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign of Union General Nathaniel Banks.
From 14-26 March, the Fatzingers joined with their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians in trekking through New Iberia, Vermillionville, Opelousas, and Washington while en route to Alexandria and Natchitoches, Louisiana.
On 4 April 1864, the 47th Pennsylvania added to its roster of young black soldiers when 18-year-old John Bullard enrolled for service with Company D at Natchitoches, Louisiana. According to his entry in the Civil War Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania State Archives, he was officially mustered in for duty there on 22 June “as (Colored) Cook.”
Often short on food and water, the men encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day, marching until mid-afternoon. But they would soon face even more grave dangers.
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 in the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads. The fighting waned only when darkness fell as those who were uninjured collapsed beside the gravely wounded. Finally, after midnight, the surviving Union troops were ordered to withdraw to Pleasant Hill.
The next day, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered into a critically important defensive position at the far right of the Union lines, their right flank spreading up onto a high bluff. By 3 p.m., after enduring a midday charge by the troops of Confederate General Richard Taylor (a plantation owner and son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, just as the 47th was shifting to the left side of the massed Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.
Casualties were once again severe, and impacted most of the regiment’s individual units, including the companies in which the Fatzinger brothers served (B and I). Lieutenant Colonel G. W. Alexander was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color-bearers, both from Company C, were also wounded while preventing the American flag from falling into enemy hands.
Still others from the 47th were captured, marched roughly 125 miles to Camp Ford, a Confederate Army prison camp near Tyler, Texas, and held there as prisoners of war (POWs) until released during prisoner exchanges beginning 22 July 1864. Sadly, at least two men from the 47th never made it out of that camp alive.
Following what some historians have called a rout by Confederates at Pleasant Hill and others have labeled a technical victory for the Union or a draw for both sides, the 47th fell back to Grand Ecore, where the men resupplied and regrouped until 22 April. Retreating further to Alexandria, the 47th Pennsylvanian Volunteers and their fellow Union soldiers then scored a clear victory against the Confederates near Monett’s Ferry in the Battle of Cane River.
Then, from 30 April through 10 May, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers helped to build a dam across the Red River near Alexandria, Louisiana. This timber structure, which was christened “Bailey’s Dam,” enabled federal gunboats to more easily negotiate the river’s fluctuating water levels.
Beginning 16 May, the majority of men from the 47th moved from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, and then to New Orleans on 20 June.
Removed from command amid the controversy over the Union Army’s successes and failures during the Red River Expedition, Union General Nathaniel P. Banks was placed on leave by President Abraham Lincoln. Banks subsequently spent much of his time in Washington, D.C. as a Reconstruction advocate for Louisiana.
Meanwhile, on the 4th of July, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were being told that their fight was not yet over. They had just received new orders to return to the East Coast for further duty.
Still able and willing to fight following their time in Bayou country, Corporal Tilghman W. Fatzinger and his fellow I Company soldiers joined the men from the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies A, C, D, E, F, and H in steaming for the East Coast aboard the McClellan.
After departing on 7 July 1864, they arrived less than a week later in Virginia where, on 12 July 1864, they had a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln before joining up with General David Hunter’s forces at Snicker’s Gap. There, in mid-July, Corporal Tilghman Fatzinger and others from the 47th’s detachment fought in the Battle of Cool Spring, and then also assisted in defending Washington, D.C. while also helping to drive Confederate troops from Maryland.
* Note: Unlike his older brother, Tilghman, Corporal Frank Fatzinger missed out on both the regiment’s encounter with Lincoln and the fighting at Snicker’s Gap. Although the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies A, C, D, E, F, and H had departed from New Orleans via the U.S. Steamer McClellan on 7 July 1864, the men of Companies B, G and K were forced to cool their heels while awaiting transport aboard the Blackstone. They ended up departing from New Orleans later that month, an “after first stopping enroute [sic] at Bermuda Hundred, under temporary assignment to the Army of the James, with the Second Division of the 19th Corps,” according to Schmidt, the men of Companies B, G and K arrived in Virginia on 28 July, and finally reconnected with the bulk of their regiment in Maryland at Monocacy on 2 August 1864.
Attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah beginning in August, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were assigned to defensive duties in and around Halltown, Virginia during the opening weeks of the month. The regiment then engaged in a series of back-and-forth movements during subsequent weeks between Halltown, Berryville and other locations within the vicinity (Middletown, Charlestown and Winchester) as part of a “mimic war” being waged by Sheridan’s Union forces with those commanded by Confederate Lieutenant-General Jubal Early.
The next month – September 1864 – saw the regiment engage in its first major test of its new campaign as it fought in the Battle of Berryville, Virginia.
In addition, September was marked by the departure of several 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had served honorably, including Corporal Tilghman W. Fatzinger who mustered out at Berryville, Virginia on 18 September 1864 upon expiration of his initial three-year term of service. Those members of the 47th who remained on duty, including Corporal Frank Fatzinger, 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 I and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers helped to inflict heavy casualties on Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Confederate forces in the Battle of Opequan (also spelled as “Opequon” and referred to as “Third Winchester”). The battle is still considered by many historians to be one of the most important during Sheridan’s 1864 campaign; the Union’s victory here helped to ensure the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.
The 47th Pennsylvania’s march toward destiny at Opequan began at 2 a.m. on 19 September 1864 as the regiment left camp and joined up with others in the Union’s 19th Corps. After advancing slowly from Berryville toward Winchester, the 19th Corps became bogged down for several hours by the massive movement of Union troops and supply wagons, enabling Early’s men to dig in. After finally reaching and fording the Opequan Creek, Sheridan’s men came face to face with the Confederate Army commanded by Early. The fighting, which began in earnest at noon, was long and brutal. The Union’s left flank (6th Corps) took a beating from Confederate artillery stationed on high ground.
Meanwhile, the 47th Pennsylvania and the 19th Corps were directed by General William Emory to attack and pursue Major General John B. Gordon’s Confederate forces. Some success was achieved, but casualties mounted as another Confederate artillery group opened fire on Union troops trying to cross a clearing. When a nearly fatal gap began to open between the 6th and 19th Corps, Sheridan sent in units led by Brigadier-Generals Emory Upton and David A. Russell. Russell, hit twice – once in the chest, was mortally wounded. The 47th Pennsylvania opened its lines long enough to enable the Union cavalry under William Woods Averell and the foot soldiers of General George Crook to charge the Confederates’ left flank.
The 19th Corps, with the 47th in the thick of the fighting, then began pushing the Confederates back. Early’s “grays” retreated in the face of the valor displayed by Sheridan’s “blue jackets.” Leaving 2,500 wounded behind, the Rebels retreated to Fisher’s Hill (21-22 September), eight miles south of Winchester, and then to Waynesboro, following a successful early morning flanking attack by Sheridan’s Union men which outnumbered Early’s three to one.
Afterward, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were sent out on skirmishing parties before making camp at Cedar Creek. Moving forward, they and other members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers would continue to distinguish themselves in battle, but they would do so without two more of their respected commanders: Colonel Tilghman Good and Good’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel George Alexander, who mustered out 23-24 September upon expiration of their respective terms of service. Fortunately, they were replaced by others equally admired both for temperament and their front line experience, including John Peter Shindel Gobin, a man who would later go on to become Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Battle of Cedar Creek, 19 October 1864
It was during the Fall of 1864 that General Philip Sheridan began the first of the Union’s true “scorched earth” campaigns, starving the enemy into submission by destroying Virginia’s crops and farming infrastructure. Viewed through today’s lens of history as inhumane, the strategy claimed many innocents – civilians whose lives were cut short by their inability to find food. This same strategy, however, almost certainly contributed to the further turning of the war’s tide in the Union’s favor during the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864. Successful throughout most of their engagement with Union forces at Cedar Creek, Early’s Confederate troops began peeling off in ever growing numbers to forage for food, thus enabling the 47th Pennsylvania and others under Sheridan’s command to rally.
From a military standpoint, it was another impressive, but heartrending day. During the morning of 19 October, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. Early’s men were able to capture Union weapons while freeing a number of Confederates who had been taken prisoner during previous battles – all while pushing seven Union divisions back. According to Bates:
When the Army of West Virginia, under Crook, was surprised and driven from its works, the Second Brigade, with the Forty-seventh on the right, was thrown into the breach to arrest the retreat…. Scarcely was it in position before the enemy came suddenly upon it, under the cover of fog. The right of the regiment was thrown back until it was almost a semi-circle. The brigade, only fifteen hundred strong, was contending against Gordon’s entire division, and was forced to retire, but, in comparative good order, exposed, as it was, to raking fire. Repeatedly forming, as it was pushed back, and making a stand at every available point, it finally succeeded in checking the enemy’s onset, when General Sheridan suddenly appeared upon the field, who ‘met his crest-fallen, shattered battalions, without a word of reproach, but joyously swinging his cap, shouted to the stragglers, as he rode rapidly past them – “Face the other way, boys! We are going back to our camp! We are going to lick them out of their boots!’”
The Union’s counterattack punched Early’s forces into submission, and the men of the 47th were commended for their heroism by General Stephen Thomas who, in 1892, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his own “distinguished conduct in a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, in which the advance of the enemy was checked” that day. Bates described the 47th’s actions:
When the final grand charge was made, the regiment moved at nearly right angles with the rebel front. The brigade charged gallantly, and the entire line, making a left wheel, came down on his flank, while engaging the Sixth Corps, when he went “whirling up the valley” in confusion. In the pursuit to Fisher’s Hill, the regiment led, and upon its arrival was placed on the skirmish line, where it remained until twelve o’clock noon of the following day. The army was attacked at early dawn…no respite was given to take food until the pursuit was ended.
Once again, the casualties for the 47th were high. Sergeant William Pyers, the C Company man who had so gallantly rescued the flag at Pleasant Hill was cut down and later buried on the battlefield. Even Regimental Chaplain William Rodrock suffered a near miss as a bullet pierced his cap. And, once again, as happened during the Red River Campaign, men from the 47th Pennsylvania were captured by Rebel soldiers and carted off to Confederate prisons – this time to Andersonville, Georgia, Richmond, Virginia and Salisbury, North Carolina. Sadly, only a handful of those taken as POWs this time survived their confinement; a fair number still rest in unmarked trench graves.
Following these major engagements, the 47th was ordered to Camp Russell near Winchester, Virginia from November through most of December. Rested and somewhat healed, Corporal Frank Fatzinger and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were then ordered to outpost and railroad guard duties at Camp Fairview in Charlestown, West Virginia. Five days before Christmas, they trudged through heavy snows to reach their new home.
1865 – 1866
Assigned first to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah in February 1865, the men of the 47th moved, via Winchester and Kernstown, back to Washington, D.C. Once again, beginning 19 April, the 47th Pennsylvanians were responsible for helping to defend the nation’s capital – this time following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Encamped near Fort Stevens, they received new uniforms and were otherwise resupplied.
Letters home and later newspaper interviews with survivors of the 47th Pennsylvania indicate that at least one 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer was given the high honor of guarding President Lincoln’s funeral train while others may have guarded the Lincoln assassination conspirators during the early days of their imprisonment and trial.
As part of Dwight’s Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Department of Washington’s 22nd Corps, the 47th Pennsylvania then also participated in the Union’s Grand Review of the Armies on 23-24 May.
On their final southern tour, Corporal Frank Fatzinger and his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June. Again in Dwight’s Division, this time they were with the 3rd Brigade, Department of the South.
Relieving the 165th New York Volunteers in July, the regiment then quartered in the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury at Charleston, South Carolina. Changes continued to be made to the rank and file, as well as the leadership of the regiment. As a result, on 1 November 1865, Corporal Franklin G. W. Fatzinger was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
Then, beginning on Christmas day of that year, the majority of the men of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers – including Sergeant Frank Fatzinger – finally began to permanently, honorably muster out – a process which continued at their duty station in Charleston, South Carolina through early January. Following a stormy voyage home, the weary 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers disembarked in New York City, and were then shipped to Philadelphia by train where, at Camp Cadwalader from 9-11 January 1866, they were officially given their discharge papers.
Return to Civilian Life – Tilghman W. Fatzinger
Following his honorable discharge from the military in September 1864, Tilghman W. Fatzinger returned home to the loving arms of his parents, wife and daughters, Mary, Sabilla Catharine, Sarah, and Ida, in the Lehigh Valley. In 1867, Tilghman and his wife then greeted the arrival of son, William Henry Fatzinger (1867-1949), in Allentown on 22 February.
Sadly, his father passed away just a few short years later. Following his death in Allentown on 4 April 1870, William Fatzinger was then laid to rest at that city’s Union-West End Cemetery.
Three months later, when the federal census taker arrived, Tilghman Fatzinger was documented as a butcher residing in Allentown’s 1st Ward with his wife, Sophia, and their children: Mary, Catharine, who had been shown as “Sabilla” on the 1860 federal census, Sarah (aged 11), Ida (aged 9), and William (aged 5).
Six years later, Tilghman Fatzinger’s mother, Hannah (Roth) Fatzinger, then also passed away. Following her death in Allentown on 23 March 1876, she was also laid to rest at the Union-West End Cemetery.
Sometime around that same year (1876), Tilghman Fatzinger relocated to Ohio. After settling in Seneca County, he resumed his trade as a butcher. By June of 1880, he and his wife, Sophia, were documented as residing in Bloom Township, Seneca County with their 13-year-old son, William.
Death and Interment – Tilghman Fatzinger and Family
Roughly a decade after moving west, Tilghman W. Fatzinger was gone. After answering his final bugle call on 17 May 1885 in Bloomville, Seneca County, Ohio, the Civil War veteran was laid to rest at the Greenlawn Cemetery in Tiffin, Seneca County. A military headstone was then procured for him on 21 August 1888.
Meanwhile, Tilghman Fatzinger’s widow, Sophia (Schneider) Fatzinger, continued to reside in Tiffin, Seneca County, where she was documented as his widow by the special 1890 federal census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War. Following her death there on 24 October 1896, she was then laid to rest beside him at the Greenlawn Cemetery in Tiffin, Seneca County.
Their son, William Henry Fatzinger, who wed Louisa Ellen Miller (1867-1931) in Seneca County on 27 December 1887, also went on to live a long, full life. According to his 1949 obituary:
Was Former Sexton and School Custodian
William Henry Fatzinger, 82, of Bloomville, died at 5pm Monday, October 10, 1949 in the Huntsman convalescent home in Republic. His death is attributed to complications associated with age. Mr Fatzinger was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Feb 22, 1867 to Tillman [sic] and Sophia (Snyder) Fatzinger. He lived in the vicinity of Bloomville from the time he was nine years of age and he was married there Dec 27, 1887 to Louisa Miller who died in May 1931. He is survived by a daughter, Mrs David Tusing, with whom he made his home in Bloomville until he was taken to the convalescent home about a week ago. He also leaves 19 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. A son Roy, a daughter Mrs Mabel Cross and four sisters preceded him in death. Mr Fatzinger was a member of the Bloomville E and R Church. He was sexton of Woodlawn cemetery at Bloomville for about 35 years and was custodian of the school there for a similar period. Funeral services are to be held at 2pm Wednesday in the Pancoast Funeral Home in Bloomville and will be conducted by the Rev Walter Ott. Burial will be made in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Bloomville.
Return to Civilian Life – Franklin George Washington Fatzinger
Following the honorable completion of his own Civil War military service, Tilghman Fatzinger’s younger brother, Franklin George Washington Fatzinger, also returned home to Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. On 31 March 1867, he wed Anna Eliza Tippenhauer (1847-1907) in Moorestown, New Jersey. A native of Moorestown who was born in July 1847, she was a daughter of Christiana Tippenhauer (1829-1900).
By 1870, Frank Fatzinger was a 26-year-old printer residing in Allentown’s 5th Ward with his wife, Eliza, and their one-year-old son, Joseph. Also residing at the home was Frank’s widowed mother, Hannah Fatzinger (aged 67). Another son, Harry E. Fatzinger (1870-1938), also arrived that year.
A decade later, Frank Fatzinger and his wife were greeting the arrival of daughter Louisa Mary in April 1880. By June of that year, he was documented on the federal census as a 36-year-old post office department clerk who resided in Allentown with his wife, Eliza, and their children: Joseph (aged 11), Harry, Freddie (aged 7), Frank (aged 5), Harvey (aged 2), and Mary Louisa. Sons Harry and Freddie both attended a local school but, sadly, Joseph was struggling – described by the federal census taker as “idiotic and insane.” Son Charles W. Fatzinger opened his eyes in Allentown for the first time in November 1886.
Still residing in Allentown as of 1890, he was documented on the June federal census as a 57-year-old job printing foreman residing on Gordon Street in Allentown’s 4th Ward with his wife, Anna E., and their children: Mary Louisa, a silk mill winder shown as “Mary L.” on this census, and Charles W. Fatzinger.
During their 33-year marriage, Frank Fatzinger and his wife had welcomed 12 children to their home, but only six were still alive at the time of that year’s federal census. Sadly, before the first decade of the new century could end, Frank Fatzinger lost yet another who was dear to him – his wife, Anna Eliza (Tippenhauer) Fatzinger, who passed away in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 13 October 1907. She, too, was laid to rest at the Union-West End Cemetery in Allentown.
Self-employed by the time of the 1910 federal census, widower Frank Fatzinger still continued to reside in Allentown’s 4th Ward. Also living with him were his 23-year-old son, Charles, a lumber yard bookkeeper, and 29-year-old daughter, M. Louisa, and her husband of 7 years, factory clerk Harry E. Sommons.
Death and Interment – Franklin George Washington Fatzinger
After a long full life during which he witnessed the best and worst of humanity, Civil War veteran Franklin George Washington Fatzinger then also followed his brother and fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer death. After passing away in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 8 July 1918, he was laid to rest beside his wife at that city’s Union-West End Cemetery.
His son, Harry E. Fatzinger went on to wed Clara E. Koch and greet the arrival of the following children: Harvey, Frederick, Alma, and Charles. After his own death in Allentown on 2 February 1938, he too was interred at that city’s Union-West End Cemetery.
1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer.
2. Fatzinger, Tilghman, in Card Records of Headstones Provided for Union Civil War Veterans. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1888.
3. Fatzinger, Franklin, in Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.
4. Fitzinger, T. W., in Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.
5. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown: Self-published, 1986.
6. U.S. Census and U.S. Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War (1890). Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Ohio: 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910.
7. William Henry Fatzinger, in Was Former Sexton and Custodian (transcript of October 1849 obituary provided to the editors of 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment’s Story).