Correcting the Record: The Carl Brothers of Company K (William and Manoah Carl)

Longswamp Union Church, Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania (circa 1923, public domain).

The Carl brothers of Berks County, Pennsylvania were, without a doubt, brave young men who fought to preserve the union of their beloved country during one of its most divisive periods. Their life histories would have been worthy of retelling for this fact alone, but take on added importance in an era in which Americans are regularly reminded not only of the importance of maintaining a free press, but of encouraging one in which news reporters work tirelessly to research, fact check and correct the record on every published article – from coverage of state and federal governance activities to the obituaries of “average” Americans.

It is for this latter reason that this particular biographical sketch has been penned – because, although the Carl brothers fought valiantly during the U.S. Civil War, the newspapermen reporting on their respective deaths misrepresented a key period of their military service, placing them at the scene of a legendary military campaign when they were, in fact, stationed hundreds of miles away. In reality, such an inflation of their duties was unnecessary because both brothers actually made history in an entirely different way – another story equally worthy of retelling.

This new accounting, therefore, is an attempt to correct the record for Manoah and William Carl so that future descendants, historians, and even school children will take pride in this simple fact – two brothers – both working class men – volunteered, at risk of life and limb, to help a nation fight not just for its preservation, but for its transformation into a more just and commendable one. In so doing, they helped to redefine for all Americans, forevermore, what it truly means to be “free.”

Birth and Formative Years

Born on 23 June 1838 in Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, William A. Carl (1838-1924) was a son of Samuel Carl (1812-1866) and Judith (Eck) Carl (1818-1909). He spent his formative years in Longswamp Township with his siblings, Sarah S. Carl (1840-1925) and Manoah Joseph Carl (1843-1907), who were born, respectively in that same township, on 9 August 1840 and 23 March 1843. His younger brother, Manoah, would later go on to fight beside him during the U.S. Civil War. The Carl family then expanded again in 1846 with the birth of Mary Ann Carl (1846-1929), who arrived on 17 April of that year.

* Note: Per a later newspaper account of his life, Manoah Joseph Carl was baptized on 14 May 1843 by the Rev. Carl Berli; upon his confirmation several years later, he then formally became a member of Longswamp Township’s Union Church congregation, which worshipped according to the Reformed tradition. His name was spelled in various records throughout his life as: Carl Manoh, Manoh Carl, Manoah J. Carl, Manoah Joseph Carl, Mano Carle, and Menoah Carl.

According to the book, Lutherans in Berks County:

What is now known as the Longswamp Union Church was exclusively Reformed for about 100 years. The present edifice of the two congregations is located on the northern slope of the South Mountains about half a mile south of Shamrock Station. The Little Lehigh River has its rise in this territory. A goodly number of settlers were in these regions as early as 1734. The first came from Oley to the southwest; and from Goshenhoppen to the southeast. Most of them were members of the reformed church.

Rev. W. A. Helffrich, D.D. states that originally the name of the congregation was the ‘Little Lehigh Church’. Thus the Rev. Father Michael Schlatter, pioneer of the Reformed Church, mentions it as such in his records. However, the name ‘Longswamp’, as now applied to the Church, was introduced as early as 1762. This name is said to have originated from the fact that along the whole length of ‘Toad Run’ (Krottecrick), a small stream of water flowing eastward from near Topton along this ridge, until it empties into the Little Lehigh; the land was marshy, and so the swamp strip was called the ‘Longswamp’. Another story goes that a number of people by the name of Long or Lang owned this swampy land, and was called therefore Long’s Swamp….

It is said that the congregation was organized in 1748. The first church stood near where the present toolhouse stands in the cemetery. The building committee consisted of Joseph Biry and Samuel Burger or Borger. Among those who aided in the work were Leopold Greber, Theobald Carl, Jacob Fenstermacher, Peter Butz, Johannes Fried, Nicolaus Schwartz, Nicholas, David and Peter Mertz, Heinrich Bolinger, Christian Ruth, Philip Burger, Nicholaus and Peter Keiser, Peter Walbert, Bernhard Fegeh, Heinrich Strickner, Jacob Lang, Heinrich Egner, David DeLong, Jacob Daniel, Yost H. Sassamanshausen who was said not to have been a member, but contributed money and donated land. The church was built of logs, the interstices being filled with small blocks of wood and plastered over with clay. The seats were hewn planks…. This building remained in use until 1791.

Preparations for a new church were made in 1790…. The second church was placed somewhat further up the slope at a spot which lies within the present cemetery. The corner-stone was laid by Rev. Henry Haertzel or Huetzel on May 28, 1791. When completed it was also dedicated by him.

It was in this exclusively Reformed Church that the Longswamp Lutheran congregation was organized in 1817. At first for a given period the Lutherans paid a nominal rent. At the expiration of the term, the compact was renewed. When this was again to be renewed, a difference of opinion arose. Some of the Reformed themselves wanted the Lutherans admitted to equal rights. Others opposed it. The result of this feeling was that most of the Lutherans and a small number of the Reformed withdrew in 1837 and built a union church at Mertztown. Later the remaining Lutherans at Longswamp were given a right to the property and so the church became union.

In 1848, September 30th, and October 1st, the centennial was celebrated in this second edifice. It was the first one observed in the vicinity and was largely attended. The speakers were: Revs. Kessler, Eichenberg and S. K. Brobst.

The present, substantial stone edifice was placed a little higher up the slope than either of the two former ones. In the early part of 1852 the building of a larger church was agitated. To test the feeling of the people, Rev. W. A. Helffrich, then a young man, was appointed to solicit subscriptions. In a few days it was ascertained that the necessary amount could be raised. Arrangements were made to begin the work at once, and to complete it before the end of the year. However, on May 5 and 6, the Lord’s Supper was once more celebrated in the old church. The work of demolition began on May 7. The contents of the corner-stone were found wasted. On May 9, 1852, the corner-stone of the new building was laid. The ministers who took part in this service were: Rev. Jeremiah Schindel, Lutheran; Rev. Augustus Dechant and Rev. W. A. Helffrich, D.D., Reformed. On Christmas, the church was dedicated. On this occasion Revs. J. Schindel, S. K. Brobst, G. A. Hinterleitner, D.D., Lutheran, and Erasmus Helffrich, and, though not mentioned, no doubt also W. A. Helffrich, D.D., Reformed, took part in the services.

The new and now union constitution, dated May 6th, 1852, provides in Article 4, that ‘The landed property belonging to this church and schoolhouse, which (land) was formerly taken up by the Reformed as an original grant (per Yost H. Sassamanhausen) and to which a section was added later by purchase, as also the church that is now being erected, shall be and remain a joint possession by the Lutherans as well as the Reformed for us and our posterity, etc.’

The church is a large one-room edifice, without basement, excepting for the heating plant, with deep galleries on three sides, and has a pipe organ on the west facing the pulpit. The location is so elevated as to give a full view of the East Penn Valley spreading itself out east toward Allentown, north to the Blue Mountains an west toward Kutztown and Reading….

There is a large and well regulated [sic] cemetery here, controlled by a board of trustees, elected by the two congregations….

Rev. William L. Meckstroth, is the present Reformed pastor [in 1923].

The following is a list of Lutheran pastors: – Revs. Jacob Miller, D.D., 1817-1822; Conrad Miller, 1822-1831; Isaac Roeller, 1831-1837; C. A. Griebler (candidate, licensed in 1846) 1844-1846; Jeremiah Schindel, 1847 or 8-1852; G. A. Hinterleitner, D.D., as supply, 1853-1857; Ferdinand Berkemeyer, 1857-1858 or 9; E. H. M. Sell, 1959-1861; Alfred DeLong Croll, 1862-1868, in April; Simon R. Boyer, from fall, 1868-1872; David Kidling Humbert, from fall of 1872-1903; Henry W. Warmkessel, assist to Rev. Humbert for a few years. John William Early, supply 1903-4. William Franklin Bond, Nov. 1904 to – [unfinished sentence].

When the federal census taker arrived in August 1850, Manoah Carl was still residing in Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania with his parents and siblings: Sarah, Mary Ann, and Anna (aged 1). Although his older brother, William, was not documented by the federal census taker as a resident of the Carl home that year, their paternal grandmother, Sarah Carl (aged 52), was. To make ends meet, their father, Samuel, supported the household on his wages as a “cole producer.” Before the decade was out, two more children then also joined the family fold with Rosa Emma (1856-1936) and John Alfred (1859-1935) opening their eyes in Berks County for the first time, respectively, on 26 August 1856 and on 26 March 1859.

By the time that the next federal census was conducted in Longswamp Township (in July of 1860), the Carl children were all back under the same roof. The household that year included parents Judith and Samuel, a cobbler whose real estate and personal property were valued at $750, and their children: William A. (aged 22), who was employed by another household as a servant; Sarah Anna (aged 12); Carolina (aged 10); Eliza (aged 6); Rosa; and John Alfred (aged 11 months).

Before that year was over, however, the tranquility of the Carl’s household and that of other families across the Lehigh Valley and nation would be shattered as one southern state after another began to secede from the United States.

Civil War Military Service

George Junker announces formation of a company of German/German-American soldiers for Civil War service (Der Lecha Caunty Patriot, 7 August 1861, public domain).

At the ages of 23 and 21, respectively, William Carl and Manoah Joseph Carl both headed off to war. After enrolling together in Berks County, Pennsylvania on 21 August 1861, they then both officially mustered in for Civil War duty at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 17 September as privates with Company K with the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry – a regiment which had been founded by Allentown’s own Colonel Tilghman H. Good. Military records at the time described both as farmers residing in “Long Swamp” in Berks County while noting, specifically, that both brothers were 5’ 9” tall with dark hair, gray eyes and a light complexion.

* Note: Company K was raised with the intent of being an all-German company. Its founder, George Junker, was a 26-year-old, proud immigrant from Germany who lived and worked as a tombstone carver in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and served as a Quartermaster Sergeant with the Allen Infantry at the dawn of the Civil War. Also known as the Allen Guards,” this group of soldiers was commanded by Captain Thomas Yeager and became one of the first five Pennsylvania militia units to respond to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers to defend the nation’s capital following the Fall of Fort Sumter in mid-April 1861.

Following his return home to Pennsylvania and his adopted hometown of Allentown, Sergeant George Junker promptly began recruiting men to join a new company of soldiers for a three-year tour of duty, making a concerted effort to reach out to German immigrants, as well as naturalized and native born German-Americans. Der Lecha Caunty Patriot, the Lehigh Valley’s Allentown-based, German language newspaper, praised him for his initiative in its 7 August 1861 edition. Roughly translated, the announcement read:

It’s good to hear, that Sergeant Junker, of this city, is bringing a new German company of the Lehigh Valley along under the terms of recruitment for the duration of the war. It will be particularly sweet to him if such Germans already here or abroad, who have served as soldiers, sign up immediately for him, and join the company. It can be noted that Sergeant Junker, who recently returned from the scene of the war, has done important services for the Union side in this time, and has all capabilities that are necessary for a Captain. We wish him the best luck for his company.

Sergeant Junker conducted most of his outreach within Allentown’s boundaries, but also drew soldiers from Guthsville, Hazleton, Longswamp, and Saegersville, and other neighboring communities. On 17 September 1861 he was then promoted to the rank of Captain, and was placed in charge of his recruits.

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

Following a brief training period in light infantry tactics at Camp Curtin, the men of Company K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were transported by rail to Washington, D.C. Stationed roughly two miles from the White House, they pitched tents at “Camp Kalorama” on the Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September. The next day, Henry D. Wharton, a Musician with the regiment’s C Company, penned the following update 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.

Chain Bridge across the Potomac above Georgetown looking toward Virginia, 1861 (The Illustrated London News, public domain).

On 24 September 1861, the soldiers of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry finally became part of the U.S. Army when they were officially mustered into federal service. Three days later, they were assigned to Brigadier-General Isaac Stevens’ 3rd Brigade, which also included the 33rd, 49th and 79th New York regiments. Ordered onward by Brigadier-General Silas Casey, the Mississippi rifle-armed 47th Pennsylvania infantrymen marched behind their regimental band that same afternoon 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 October 11, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads. In a mid-October letter home, Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin (the leader of C Company who would be promoted in 1864 to lead the entire 47th Regiment) reported that companies D, A, C, F and I (the 47th Pennsylvania’s right wing) were ordered to picket duty after the left wing companies (B, E, G, H, and K) 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 historian Lewis Schmidt as massing “about 10,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry, and twenty pieces of artillery all in one big open field.” Also around this time, Captain Junker issued his first Special Order:

  1. 15 minutes after breakfast every tent will be cleaned. The commander of each tent will be held responsible for it, and every soldier must obey the orders of the tent commander. If not, said commanders will report such men to the orderly Sgt. who will report them to headquarters.
  2. There will be company drills every two hours during the day, including regimental drills with knapsacks. No one will be excused except by order of the regimental surgeon. The hours will be fixed by the commander, and as it is not certain therefore, every man must stay in his quarter, being always ready for duty. The roll will be called each time and anyone in camp found not answering will be punished the first time with extra duty. The second with carrying the 75 lb. weights, increased to 95 lb. The talking in ranks is strictly forbidden. The first offense will be punished with carrying 80 lb. weights increased to 95 lbs. for four hours.

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….

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

On 21 November, the 47th participated in a morning divisional headquarters review under the watchful eyes of Colonel 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 the regiment’s impressive performance that day – and in preparation for the even bigger adventures and honors that were yet to come, Brigadier-General Brannan ordered his staff to ensure that brand new Springfield rifles were obtained and distributed to every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.


U.S. Naval Academy Barracks and temporary hospital, Annapolis, Maryland (circa 1861-1865, public domain).

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, they were then transported by train to Alexandria; from there, they 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. By the afternoon of Monday, 27 January, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers had commenced boarding the Oriental. Ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers, the enlisted men boarded first, followed by the officers. Then, per the directive of Brigadier-General Brannan, the Oriental steamed away for the Deep South at 4 p.m. The 47th Pennsylvanians were headed for Florida which, despite its secession from the United States, remained strategically important to the Union due to the presence of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas.

Rendering of Fort Taylor, Key West, Florida (Harper’s Weekly, 1864, public domain).

The Carl brothers and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived in Key West by early February 1862. There, they were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor. During the weekend of Friday, 14 February, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers introduced their presence to Key West residents by parading through the streets of the city. That Sunday, a number of soldiers from the regiment met and mingled with residents from the area at local church services.

Drilling daily in heavy artillery tactics, they strengthened the fortifications at this federal installation, felled trees and built new roads. Unfortunately, most of the men had immunue systems unprepared for these difficult duties in a harsh climate where the water quality was also substandard. As a result, sometime during this phase of service, a number of members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers contracted typhoid fever, and were confined to the post hospital at Fort Taylor. While some recuperated, several died, and were laid to rest with military honors at the fort’s cemetery while others were deemed unfit to continue serving with the regiment, and were discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability.

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. Captain Junker and his men were among those assigned to picket details on 5 July. 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.”

From 20-31 August 1862, Company K was assigned to picket duty, and stationed at “Barnwells” (so labeled by Company C Captain J. P. S. Gobin) while other companies from the regiment performed picket duty in the areas around Point Royal Ferry.

Capture of Saint John’s Bluff, Florida and the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina, October 1862

Union Navy base of operations, Mayport Mills (circa 1862, public domain).

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), which had been abandoned by Confederate forces due to the bluff’s bombardment by Union gunboats.

Union leaders then ordered the gunboats and army troops to extend the expedition. As they did, they captured assorted watercraft as they advanced farther up the river. Companies E and K of the 47th were then led by Captain Charles H. Yard on a special mission; the men of E and K Companies joined with other Union Army soldiers in the reconnaissance and subsequent capture of Jacksonville, Florida on 5 October 1862.

Illustration of the Darlington, a former Confederate steamer turned Union gunboat (public domain).

A day later, sailing up river on board the Union gunboat Darlington (formerly a Confederate steamer) – with protection from the Union gunboat Hale, men from the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies E and K then traveled 200 miles along the Saint John’s River. Another Confederate steamer, the Gov. Milton, was reported to be docked near Hawkinsville, and had been engaged in furnishing troops, ammunition and other supplies to Confederate Army units scattered throughout the region, including the batteries at Saint John’s Bluff and Yellow Bluff.

Identified as a thorn that needed to be plucked from the Union’s side, the Gov. Milton was seized by the soldiers from the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies E and K with support from other Union troops. Having ventured deep into Confederate territory, Union Army expedition leaders determined that their troops had achieved enough success for the risks taken, and ordered the combined Union Army-Navy team to sail the Gov. Milton back down the Saint John’s River before moving the steamer and other captured ships behind Union lines.

The challenging environment of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad was illustrated by Harper’s Weekly in 1865.

From 21-23 October, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman Good and Lieutenant Colonel George Warren (“G. W.”) Alexander, the entire 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry joined with other Union regiments to engage the heavily protected Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina – including at Frampton’s Plantation and the Pocotaligo Bridge – a key piece of the South’s railroad infrastructure which Union leaders felt should be destroyed.

Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, they met resistance from yet another 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. But the Union soldiers would not give in; grappling with the Confederates where they found them, they pursued the Rebels for four miles as the Confederate Army retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th relieved the 7th Connecticut.

Pocotaligo-Coosawhatchie Expedition, 21-23 October 1862 (Union Army map, public domain).

Unfortunately, the enemy was just too well armed. After two hours of intense fighting in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, the 47th was forced by depleted ammunition supplies to withdraw to Mackey’s Point.

Losses for the 47th Pennsylvania were significant. K Company Private John McConnell was killed in action while Captain George Junker and several other enlisted men were mortally wounded during the intense fighting near the Frampton Plantation. Private Manoah J. Carl was among the many who were wounded in action; fortunately, he was able to return to active duty following successful treatment for his injuries.

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.


Fort Jefferson, Dry Torguas, Florida (interior, circa 1934, C.E. Peterson, photographer, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November 1862, much of 1863 was spent garrisoning federal installations in Florida as part of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps, Department of the South. Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I continued to guard Key West’s Fort Taylor while the Carl brothers and other men from K Company joined with Companies D, F, and H in garrisoning Fort Jefferson in the Florida’s Dry Tortugas – an area so remote that it was accessible only by ship.

As with their previous assignments, the men soon came to realize that disease would be their constant devil, making 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 legitimately held high after all they had endured, re-enlisted in order to preserve the Union of their beloved nation.

Among those opting to re-up were the Carl brothers from Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, who both signed up for second, three-year tours of duty – re-enlisting with the 47th Pennsylvania’s K Company at Fort Jefferson on 20 October 1863. Of note, while William Carl remained at the rank of Private during this second tour, his brother, Manoah J. Carl rose to the rank of Corporal.


On 25 February 1864, the 47th set off for a phase of service in which the regiment would truly make history. Steaming for New Orleans aboard the Charles Thomas, the men arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February. Transported next by train to Brashear City and 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, becoming 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, Vermillionville, Opelousas, and Washington while en route to Alexandria and Natchitoches. Often short on food and water while slogging through an unbearably harsh climate in challenging terrain, the remaining members of the regiment encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day.

19th U.S. Army Map, Phase 3, Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield (8 April 1864, public domain).

Marching until mid-afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians were then rushed into battle ahead of other regiments in the 2nd Division. Sixty 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. Company K’s 2nd Lieutenant Alfred P. Swoyer was one of those killed in action at Mansfield.

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 during the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana were severe with still more men from K Company and other regimental units killed in action. In addition, the regiment’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander, was also 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.

Still others from the 47th were captured by Confederate troops. Held initially as prisoners of war at Pleasant Hill and Mansfield, Louisiana, they were subsequently marched roughly 125 miles to Camp Ford, a Confederate Army prison camp near Tyler, Texas, and held there as POWs until they were released during prisoner exchanges beginning on 22 July. Sadly, at least two never made it out of that camp alive; another – Private Ben Zellner of K Company (who ended up being wounded in action a total of four times during 1864) became one of 300 to 400 men be shipped to Shreveport, Louisiana before being sent on by rail to the notorious Confederate POW camp at Andersonville, Georgia. (Held there until his release in September 1864, he recovered and continued to serve with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.)

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 to resupply and regroup until 22 April. Retreating to Alexandria, they and their fellow Union soldiers next scored a clear victory against the Confederates near Monett’s Ferry in the Battle of Cane River on 23 April 1864.

Christened “Bailey’s Dam” for Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey, the officer overseeing its construction, this timber dam built across the Red River near Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 facilitated Union gunboat passage (public domain).

Meanwhile, from April 30 to 10 May, while temporarily assigned to the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey, the remaining men of Company K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians helped to build a dam to enable federal gunboats to more easily traverse the rapids of the Red River. Beginning 16 May, Captain Charles Abbott and the men from K Company then moved with the majority of the 47th from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, Louisiana.

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.

The fight to preserve America’s Union and the service by Pennsylvania’s 47th Volunteer Infantry was, however, far from over.

Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Undaunted by their travails in Bayou country, the majority of 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers willingly continued their fight to preserve the Union during the summer of 1864. After receiving orders on the 4th of July to return to the East Coast, they did so in two stages.

Companies A, C, D, E, F, H, and I steamed for the Washington, D.C. area 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, they finally sailed away at the end of the month, arrived in Virginia on 28 July, and reconnected with the bulk of the regiment at Monocacy, Virginia on 2 August.

* Note: Due to the delay, the Carl brothers and other boys from K Company missed out on a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln, and also missed the fighting at Snicker’s Gap, Virginia.

Attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah beginning in August, the reunited 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was next assigned to defensive duties in and around Halltown, Virginia, subsequently engaging over the next several weeks in a series of back-and-forth movements between Halltown, Berryville and other locations within the vicinity (Middletown, Charlestown and Winchester) as part of a mimic war between Sheridan’s Union forces and those of Confederate Lieutenant-General Jubal Early. The 47th Pennsylvania’s next major encounter with CSA troops then took place during the Battle of Berryville, Virginia from 3-4 September.

The opening weeks of September were also marked by the departure of several 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had served honorably, but whose three-year terms of service were expiring. Those members of the 47th who remained on duty – like the Carl brothers – were about to engage in their regiment’s greatest moments of valor.

Battles of Opequan and Fisher’s Hill, September 1864

Battle of Opequan (aka Third Winchester), Virginia, 19 September 1864 (public domain).

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 K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians 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. 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. Finally reaching and fording 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.

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 a 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.

Battle of Winchester, 19 September 1864 (Harper’s Weekly, 8 October 1864, public domain). Also known as the Battle of Opequan or Third Winchester.

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 H. 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 were 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 regimental commanding officer).

Battle of Cedar Creek, 19 October 1864

Alfred Waud’s 1864 sketch, Surprise at Cedar Creek, which captured the flanking attack on the rear of Union Brigadier-General William Emory’s 19th Corps by Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Confederate army, and the subsequent resistance by Emory’s troops from their Union rifle-pit positions, 19 October 1864 (public domain).

During the Fall of 1864, General 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.

Sheridan Rallying His Troops, Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, 19 October 1864 (U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

From a military standpoint, it was another impressive, but heartrending encounter. 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, 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. Privates Lewis Berliner and Lewis Schneck of K Company were killed in action, as was Private Moses Klotz, who sustained a fatal head wound. Sergeant William H. Burger, also from Company K, fought valiantly to survive the wound to his head by an artillery shell fragment or musket ball which compressed his brain, but ultimately died from that traumatic brain injury on 5 November 1864 at the Union Army’s Satterlee General Hospital in Philadelphia.

A fair number survived, however, and continued to serve with the regiment, including Regimental Chaplain William Rodrock, who suffered a near miss when a bullet pierced his cap, and K Company’s Ben Zellner, who had been previously wounded in action and held at a Confederate POW camp during the Red River Campaign. During the fighting at Cedar Creek, Zellner sustained two additional injuries. (One – a bayonet wound – would ultimately fail to heal properly, and would continue to plague him for the remainder of his days.)

Still other 47th Pennsylvanians were captured and held as prisoners of war, several of whom died while being held at the Confederate Army’s prison camp at Salisbury, North Carolina. In addition, another member of the 47th ended up at the Rebels’ version of Hell – the Andersonville prison in Georgia. (That man – Sergeant William Fry of Company C – survived long enough to be released and sent home to Pennsylvania only to die in Sunbury, Pennsylvania a few short months after falling ill while confined as a POW.)

Following these major engagements, 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 guard 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 – 1866

Spectators massing for the Grand Review of the Armies, 23-24 May 1865, at the side of the crepe-draped U.S. Capitol, flag at half mast following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (Matthew Brady, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Assigned in February to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah, the men of the 47th moved, via Winchester and Kernstown, back to Washington, D.C. On 19 April 1864, 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 the opening 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 also participated in the Union’s Grand Review on 23-24 May.

Ruins of Charleston, South Carolina as seen from the Circular Church (U.S. National Archives, public domain).

On their final southern tour, the men of Company K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June. Again in Dwight’s Division, this time they were with the 3rd Brigade, U.S. Department of the South. Taking over for the 165th New York Volunteers in July, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers took up their new quarters in Charleston, South Carolina at the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. Duties during this phase of service were frequently Provost (military police) or Reconstruction-related (repairing railroads and other key regional infrastructure items which had been destroyed or damaged during the long war).

Finally, beginning on Christmas day of that year, the Carl brothers joined the majority of men from the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers in honorably mustering out at Charleston, South Carolina, a process which continued through early January. Following a stormy voyage home, the weary, soon-to-be-civilians of the 47th Pennsylvania disembarked in New York City. They were then transported to Philadelphia by train where, at Camp Cadwalader on 9 January 1866, they were then officially given their discharge papers.

Return to Civilian Life – Manoah J. Carl

Train Station, Topton, Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania (circa late 1800s, public domain).

Following his honorable discharge from the military, Manoah Carl returned home to the great Keystone State, where he resumed his life with family and friends in Berks County. On 16 June, 1866, he began his own family when he was united in marriage by the Rev. William Helffrich to Mary Etta Geist (1844-1919), who had been born in December 1844 and was a daughter of Charles and Sarah (Tailor) Geist. Together, they welcomed the birth of three children:

  • Eleanor (1867-1931), who was born in Longswamp Township, Berks County on 28 February 1867, and later wed and resided with Howard Young in Longswamp Township near the Trexler Furnace (also known as the “Mary Ann Furnace”);
  • Annie Viola (1870-1950), who was born in Berks County on 29 March 1870, and later wed John B. Faisant (1856-1940); and
  • Charles Samuel Carl (1876-1934), who also married but continued to reside with his parents.

In June 1870, Manoah J. Carl was documented by federal census takers as a 25-year-old railroad overseer residing in Longswamp Township, Berks County with his 25-year-old wife, “Marietta,” and their children, three-year-old “Ellenora” and Annie, who had been born three months earlier in March. His real estate and personal property were valued at $11,525.

Like many of his former comrades from the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had been wounded in combat, he continued to battle health issues throughout his life. As a result, by 1879 – at the age of 36, he filed for and received his U.S. Civil War Pension. His health did not prevent him from working to support his family, however. In June 1880, the federal census taker confirmed that he was employed a laborer, and resided in Longswamp Township with his wife, Mary, and their children: Ellen (aged 13); Annie and Charles (aged 4). His 66-year-old, widowed mother, Judith Carl, also lived with his family at this time.

Penn Street looking East toward what is presently 4th Street, Reading, Pennsylvania (circa 1900, public domain).

A decade later – in June 1900, he and his family were documented as residents of the City of Reading in Berks County, where he was employed as a rolling mill laborer. Also residing at the Carl home at 917 Green Street with Manoah and his wife, Mary, were their unmarried daughter, Annie Carl, a silk mill weaver, and their grandchildren Lillian Carl and Mourie W. Weiler (born, respectively, in November 1897 and March 1890).

Illness, Death and Interment

As his health continued to decline, Manoah Carl also developed dropsy and heart disease, both of which worsened with age. On Wednesday, 8 May 1907, he passed away at home in Reading, Berks County. He had just recently turned 64.

Following funeral services, which began at 9:15 a.m. and were led by the Rev. William F. Bond on 14 May 1907, Manoah Joseph Carl was laid to rest at the Longswamp Union Cemetery in Mertztown, Berks County.

The Reading Eagle reported on his passing and funeral in two detailed articles. The more accurate of these reported the following details:

Manoah Joseph Carl, 1148 Robeson street, Reading, who died Wednesday, May 8, was aged 64 years, 1 month and 15 days. He had been ailing with dropsy for some time, when heart failure set in and caused death. Deceased was a son of Samuel Carl and wife, Judith (nee Eck). He was born March 23, 1843, in Longswamp. Baptized May 14, 1843, in by Rev. Carl Berli. The sponsors were John Eck and wife, Mary. He was confirmed in his youth and was a member of the Reformed congregation of the Longswamp church.

On June 16, 1866, he was married to Miss Etta, daughter of Chas. Geist and his wife, Sarah (nee Tailor), by Rev. Wm. A. Helffrich. This union was blessed with one son and two daughters, all of whom, with their mother, survive as follows: Eleanor, wife of Howard Young, residing in Longswamp, near the old Trexler Furnace; Annie Viola Carl, at home and Charles Samuel Carl, married, but also residing with his parents at 1148 Robeson street. He is also survived by his aged mother, Mrs. Judith Carl, who is in her 89th year, and resides with her daughter, Mrs. Solon Fisher, of Topton. There are three grandchildren. Interment, Tuesday, May 14, in the Longswamp Cemetery, services to begin in the Longswamp Church at 9:15 a.m., Rev. Wm. F. Bond officiating.

The second, which ran in the newspaper’s 9 May 1907 edition, unfortunately contained several major errors. In addition to misstating his age, the article incorrectly noted that he had had fought in the Union’s major battles with Confederate troops at Manassas and Fredericksburg, and had also participated in Sherman’s “march to the sea” – three key events with which his regiment (the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers) had had absolutely no involvement whatsoever. The text of that full article (which must be taken with a grain of salt) read as follows:


Death of Manoah J. Carl, Who Served Five Years in the Civil War – Worked for Reading Company Many Years.

Manoah J. Carl, aged 56 years, died of a complication of diseases at 5 o’clock Wednesday afternoon, at his home, 1148 Robeson street. Deceased, who had been ill for two months, was bedfast five weeks. He was born and reared in Longswamp township, and came to Reading 13 years ago. Mr. Carl was section boss of a floating gang on the Reading Railroad for 28 years. Deceased was last employed as a laborer at Schmeck’s stone quarry. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in Company K, 47th Penn’a Volunteers, and served five years. He received the rank of Corporal for faithful service. He fought in a number of battles and was with Sherman’s army [sic] on its march to the sea [sic]. Among the engagements in which he participated were: Manassas [sic], Cedar Creek, Fredericksburg [sic], St. John’s Bluff, Mansfield and others.

Besides his widow, Mary (nee Geist), deceased is survived by one son, Charles Carl, at home, and two daughters, Ella, wife of Howard Young, Longswamp, and Anna Carl, at home, and four grandchildren.

On 14 December 1907, his U.S. Civil War Pension was posthumously renewed at the rate of $12 per month (retroactive to 7 March 1907), and further confirmed that he served only with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers during the Civil War and with no other regiment – a fact also documented by the U.S. Civil War General Pension Index, which substantiates the case that the second obituary inaccurately placed him at Manassas, Fredericksburg and on Sherman’s march (since the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers did not participate in those engagements).

His widow, Mary Etta (Geist) Carl, followed him in death on 8 January 1919, and was laid to rest beside him at the Longswamp Union Cemetery in Mertztown, Berks County.

Their daughter, Eleanor N. (Carl) Young, who was known as “Ella” for much of her life, greeted the arrival of daughter, Lillian V. Young (1892-1897), before the end of the 19th century, but sadly, the child did not survive infancy. Following Lillian’s passing on 11 October 1897, she was interred at the Alsace Lutheran Church Cemetery in Reading, Berks County.

More than 30 years later, Eleanor (Carl) Young then joined her little one in death, passing away in West Reading, Berks County on 11 September 1931. She was laid to rest, however, at the Laureldale Cemetery in Tuckerton, Berks County.

Three years later, Charles Samuel Carl, the only son of Manoah and Mary Etta Carl, also passed away. Following his death in Reading, Berks County on 10 July 1934, he, too, was laid to rest at the Laureldale Cemetery in Tuckerton.

During his long, full life, Charles Carl had married twice – first to Sallie Estella Titlow (1876-1951), with whom he had had the following children: Lillian M. Carl (1897-1984), who later wed George Thomas Gosnell (1890-1963); George M. Carl (1899-1961); and Lester Titlow Carl (1903-1976), who later wed Anna Virginia Moser (1901-1995). Charles Carl had then wed Sarah A. Raifsnyder (1885-1964), with whom he had had these children: Catherine V. (1908-1987), who went on to wed Russell Irvin Proust (1905-1969); Ruth Elenore (1912-1934), who went on to take the married surname of “Witman”; and Larry Elwood (1915-2002), who later wed Edna L. Hartman (1918-1987).

Annie Viola (Carl) Faisant, the other daughter of Manoah and Mary Etta Carl, proved to be the heartiest of Manoah Carl’s three offspring. She soldiered on for two more decades after being widowed by her husband, John Faisant. After passing away on 9 December 1950, she was then also buried at the Longswamp Union Cemetery in Mertztown, Berks County.

Return to Civilian Life – William A. Carl

Following his honorable discharge from the military, William A. Carl also returned home to Berks County and married sometime around 1867. He and his wife, Sarah, greeted the arrival of daughters Mary Alice and Ellen Jane Carl at their Berks County home in 1867 and 1868. Their children were then christened, respectively, on 14 April 1867 and 7 June 1868 at Huffs Church in Hereford Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

On 4 February 1870, William and Sarah Carl then welcomed the birth of son, Frank Oliver Carl, who was christened on 10 April 1870 at the same church where his older sisters had been baptized. A 31-year-old plasterer when the federal census was taken five months later (in July 1870), William A. Carl was documented as a resident of Bernville, Berks County. Also living with him were his wife, Sarah, and their children: Ellen (aged 2), and Franklin (aged 5 months). Another daughter, Sally Moranda Carl, arrived in 1872; like her older siblings before her, she was also christened at Huffs Church (on 24 March 1872). Son William Alfred Carl (1874-1921) then opened his eyes for the first time in Berks County on 18 November 1874.

Like many of his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, William A. Carl suffered from health problems throughout his life. By 14 December of 1881, his condition had deteriorated enough that he applied for a U.S. Civil War Pension. According to his medical history, by 1891, he was documented as suffering from chronic rheumatism, a condition which plagued many members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers during their later years, and which many ascribed to their service in the harsh climate of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas in Florida.

Five years later, his son, William Alfred Carl, was united in marriage with Annie Messmer in Reading, Berks County on 15 February. She was a daughter of Conrad and Catharine Carl.

But sadly, sometime before the turn of the century, the family’s harmony was once again disrupted, this time when William A. Carl’s wife widowed him.

A 61-year-old day laborer in 1900, according to the federal census that year, William A. Carl resided in Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania with his 19-year-old namesake son and furnace laborer, William (born April 1881); 11-year-old daughter, Ida (born in February 1889); and son, Earl (born in October 1890. Also residing at the home was Minnie Klinesmith, a 25-year-old, unmarried servant.

Unidentified veteran and visitors at the Phoebus Gate, U.S. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Hampton, Virginia (circa 1910, public domain).

Unfortunately, as William Carl continued to age, his chronic rheumatism worsened, forcing him to seek more aggressive treatment. On 22 January 1907, he was admitted to the U.S. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Hampton, Virginia, where he remained until 28 August of that same year. Hospital ledgers described him as being a 69-year-old widower and plasterer who was 5’ 9” tall with gray hair, gray eyes and a light complexion who could read and write, and was receiving a pension of $12 per month. A member of the Protestant faith, his son, Frank Carl, was listed as his nearest living relative. Discharged upon his own request, his place of residence was listed as Reading.

Suffering from dropsy in her later years, the Carl brothers’ mother, Judith (Eck) Carl, passed away at 7:00 a.m. on 3 April 1909 at the home of their sister, Rosa (Carl) Fisher in Topton. Her obituary in The Allentown Morning Call reported on her passing as follows:

Judith Carl (nee Eck), widow of Samuel Carl, died of dropsy Saturday morning at 7 o’clock at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Rosa E. Fisher, in Topton, aged 90 years, 10 months and 18 days. Deceased had been in good health until suddenly taken ill ten days ago and was bedfast since Sunday, March 28. Her husband died 42 years ago. The following brothers and sisters survive: Joshua, of Bally; Manoah, of Lebanon, and Mrs. Annie Pilgert, of Longswamp. The following children remain: J. Alfred, of Pottstown; Mrs. Sarah Merkel, Mrs. Eliza Fetzer; Carolina, wife of Ambrose J. Henninger, of 815 ½ Washington street, Allentown; Mary, wife of David Acker, Egypt; Mrs. Annie Care, Birdsboro, and William and Mrs. Rosa E. Fisher, of Topton. A son, Manoah, died two years ago. There also survive forty-one grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. The funeral will be held Thursday. Services at the house and in Longswamp Church. Rev. W. L. Meckstroth will officiate.

A widowed, retired laborer in 1910, William A. Carl resided on the family farm operated in Topton, Longswamp Township, Berks County by his 52-year-old, widowed sister, Rosa (Carl) Fisher. Also residing with the siblings were Rosa’s children: John, a 28-year-old laborer at a furniture factory; George, a 26-year-old hostler for a local hotel; Nelson, a 20-year-old worker at a local silk mill; and Charles, an 18-year-old weaver at a local silk mill.

In 1920, William Carl continued to with his now-retired sister, Rosa (Carl) Fisher, at her home in Topton. Also living at the home were her son, George, a freight checker with the Pennsylvania & Reading Railroad, and his wife, Lillie, and their children, Irene and John.

Death and Interment – William A. Carl

On 26 April 1924, William A. Carl suffered an episode of apoplexy at the home of his sister, Rosa E. (Carl) Fisher, in Topton, Berks County, Pennsylvania, and died there that same day. Following funeral services at his sister’s home three days later, at which the Rev. W. L. Meckstroth officiated, he was laid to rest at the same cemetery where his younger brother had been interred 17 years earlier – the Longswamp Union Cemetery in Longswamp Township, Berks County.

Unfortunately for historians, the Reading Eagle reporter charged with recapping William Carl’s Civil War military record got the facts wrong – just as a previous reporter had done with his brother’s military service. Once again, a Carl brother was placed at the scene of Sherman’s “march to the sea”; once again, the newspaper reporter was wrong. The 47th Pennsylvania had never been part of the engagements associated with that Union campaign (because the 47th Pennsylvania was stationed in an entirely different state).

That obituary for William Carl, which should also be taken with a grain of salt read as follows:


Topton, April 26 (Special). – William A. Carl died of apoplexy at the home of his sister, Mrs. Rosa E. Fisher, Center avenue, aged 85 years, 10 months and 2 days. Deceased served four years and five months in the Civil War, accompanied Sherman’s march to the sea [sic], and was engaged in 17 battles. There survive three children, Mrs. Ella Shunk, Mrs. George Nicholas and Frank Carl, all of Reading; also three sisters and a brother: Mrs. Sarah Merkel, Allentown; Mrs. David Acker, Egypt; Mrs. Eliza Fetzer, Allentown; Mrs. Rosa E. Fisher, Topton; J. Alfred, Pottstown.

The funeral will be held Tuesday, April 29, at 1:30 p.m. from the residence of his sister, Mrs. Rosa E. Fisher. Services in Longswamp Church. Interment in the adjoining cemetery. Rev. W. L. Meckstroth will officiate. Undertaker J. J. Schofer has charge.

Fact checkers at The Allentown Morning Call, however, appear to have caught and corrected the error. That publication reported on William Carl’s military service and death as follows:

William A. Carl, last Civil War veteran residing at Topton, died at the home of his sister, Mrs. Rosa Fisher, Center avenue, that place, Friday afternoon at 4.15 from general debility, aged 86 years, 10 months and 2 days. Mr. Carl served during the war as a member of Co. K., 47th Pennsylvania regiment. He has lived retired for a number of years. Mr. Carl was a son of the late Samuel and Judith, nee Eck, Carl, and was born in Long Swamp township. He was a member of the Reformed church, Longswamp. Three children survive: Mrs. George Nichols, Mrs. William Schunk and Frank Carl, all of Reading, and four sisters and a brother: Mrs. Rosa Fisher, with whom he resided; Mrs. Sarah Merkle and Mrs. Elizabeth Fetzer, both of Allentown; Mrs. David Acker, Easton, and Jay A. Carl, of Easton. Funeral services will be held at his late home in Topton on Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. Further services in Longswamp church and interment in the cemetery adjoining. Rev. W. L. Meckstroth will officiate.

As for what happened to William Carl’s children, his daughter, Ellen Jane Carl, went on to wed and be widowed by William O. Shunk (1857-1936). Following her death in 1946, she was interred at the Charles Evans Cemetery in Reading, Berks County.

William A. Carl’s namesake son, William Alfred Carl, also married, taking as his bride Anna Messmer (1878-1974). He then widowed her when he passed away in Allentown, Lehigh County on 21 October 1921. Following his death, he was also laid to rest at Reading’s Charles Evans Cemetery.

What Happened to the Carl Brothers’ Siblings?

Annie Carl, one of the sisters of Civil War veterans Manoah and William Carl, went on to wed and be widowed by John Care. Her obituary in the 24 May 1917 edition of The Allentown Morning Call reported on her death as follows:

Annie E. Care (nee Carl), of South Birdsboro, died Tuesday of a complication of diseases, after several months’ illness. Mrs. Care was in her 69th year and was a native of Longswamp. Her husband, John Care, died 17 years ago. Mrs. Care is survived by these children: Mrs. Frank Hoyer, Mrs. Maurice Grubb, Mrs. Frank Swisher, of Birdsboro; Mrs. Harvey Swisher, of West Reading, and Mrs. Benjamin Watts, of Reading, and Warren B., of Coatesville. Also these brothers and sisters: Albert Carl, Topton; William Carl, Pottstown; Eliza, Sarah and Mary, of Allentown, and Rose, of Topton.

Another sister, Sarah S. Carl, also married, beginning her own family with Nathan D. Merkle (1837-1907). Widowed by him in 1907, she lived nearly two more decades before joining him in death. After passing away on 8 September 1925 in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, she was interred at that city’s Greenwood Cemetery.

Four years later, their sister, Mary Ann (Carl) Acker, passed away in Coplay, Lehigh County on 31 October 1929. Widowed by her husband David A. Acker (1852-1925) in the same year in which she had lost her sister, Sarah, she had also had a long, full life during which she and her husband had greeted the arrival of the following children:

  • Ida L. (Acker) Peters (1872-1948), who wed Richard F. Peters (1870-1956);
  • William Oscar Acker (1877-1922), who later married Anna Lydia Fenstermacher (1877-1916); and
  • Clinton Warren Acker (1885-1938), who wed Annie Maria Moyer (1886-1923).

Following her death in Coplay in 1929, Mary Ann (Carl) Acker was then laid to rest at the Egypt Cemetery in Egypt, Lehigh County.

Their brother, John Alfred Carl, went on to wed and be widowed by fellow Longswamp Township native, Melusena Geist (1856-1925), a daughter of Reuben and Sarah A. (Bear) Geist. Following his death in Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania on 29 October 1935, he was laid to rest beside his wife at the Pottstown Cemetery.

Another sister, Rosa Emma Carl, also went on to wed and begin her own family. After marrying Solon Fisher (1856-1904), she welcomed to the world the following children:

  • Katie E. (Fisher) Moll (1879-1971), who went on to wed George J. Moll;
  • George H. Fisher (1883-1967), who later wed Lillian Agnes Roth (1882-1972); and
  • Nelson Frederick Fisher (1889-1973), who went on to wed Kathryn E. Becker (1894-1973).

Following a long, full life, during which she was widowed by her husband, Rosa Emma (Carl) Fisher passed away in Topton, Berks County on 17 November 1936, and was laid to rest beside her husband at the Topton Union Cemetery in Topton.


1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.

2. Care, Annie E. (nee Carl, obituary). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Morning Call, 24 May 1917.

3. Carl, John A. and Carl, Melusine, in Death Records, Zion Reformed Church [now United Church of Christ], Pottstown, Montgomery County, PA (transcribed by Betty J. Burdan). USGenWeb Archives, retrieved online 1 December 2017.

4. Carl, Manoah J., in U.S. Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards (Certificate No. 173,476). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1907.

5. Carl, Manoah, in U.S. Civil War General Pension Index. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1879-1907.

6. Carl, Manoah and William, in 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.

7. Carl, William, in U.S. Civil War Pension Index (application no.: 435,226, certificate no.: 510248, filed from Pennsylvania by the veteran, 14 December 1881). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1881.

8. Carl, William, in U.S. Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.

9. Judith Carl (obituary). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Morning Call, Tuesday, 6 April 1909.

10. Lutherans in Berks County: Two Centuries of Continuous Organized Church Life, 1723-1923. Reading, Pennsylvania: Reading Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States, 1923.

11. Mary Alice Carl, Ellen Jane Carl, Frank Oliver Carl, Sally Moranda Carl, William Carl, and Sara/Sarah Carl, in Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950 (FHL microfilm 506,399 and FamilySearch database, FamilySearch Mary Alice Carl, 14 April 1867; Ellen Jane Carl, 7 Jun 1868; Frank Oliver Carl, 4 February 1870 and 10 April 1870; and Sally Moranda Carl, 24 March 1872, Christenings, Huffs Church, Hereford Township, Berks, Pennsylvania). Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library.

12. Manoh, Carl, in Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.

13. Manoah Joseph Carl, in Shamrock: The Late Manoah J. Carl, of Reading – Interment in Longswamp Cemetery. Reading, Pennsylvania: Reading Eagle, May 1907.

14. Marched with Sherman to the Sea: Death of Manoah J. Carl, Who Served Five Years in the Civil War – Worked for Reading Company Many Years. Reading, Pennsylvania: Reading Eagle, 9 May 1907.

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

16. U.S. Census. Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920.

17. William A. Carl (son), Annie Messmer, William and Sarah Carl (groom’s parents), Conrad and Catharine Messmer (bride’s parents), in Pennsylvania Marriages, 1709-1940 (FHL microfilm 20,806 and FamilySearch database: William A. Carl and Annie Messmer, 15 Feb 1896, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania marriage records). Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library.

18. William A. Carl (obituary). Allentown, Pennsylvania: Allentown Morning Call, 26 April 1924.

19. William A. Carl (obituary). Reading, Pennsylvania: Reading Eagle, 26 April 1924.

20. William Carl, in Admissions Ledgers, in Records of the U.S. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (Hampton, Virginia). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1907.