Private Michael Andrew, Sr. — A Widowed Father Goes to War

Alternate Spellings of Name: Andrew, Andrews

Working man. Widower. Single Dad. A soldier felled by an unseen foe. Michael Andrew was each of these—and so much more.

Formative Years

Northampton Street, Easton, Pennsylvania, c. 1860 (public domain).

Northampton Street, Easton, Pennsylvania, circa 1860 (public domain).

Born sometime around 1820 in Pennsylvania, Michael Andrew was the husband of Sarah Teel, a resident of Bushkill Township in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. They were united in marriage by the Rev. A. Fuchs of Bath, Northampton County at the home of her father, Jacob Teel, during March of 1842 or 1843. Together, they welcomed to the world five Northampton County-born children who would survive them: Herman (born sometime around 1843), Joseph H. (born sometime around 1845), Reuben F. (born sometime around 1848), George J. (born in 1850), and Michael Andrew, Jr., who was born 22 August 1852.

* Note: An affidavit, dated 13 Oct 1866 from Stephen A. Heller, minister-organist at the German Evangelist Reformed Church in Plainfield, Northampton County, which was provided for a Civil War pension application filed on behalf of Michael Andrew, Jr. by his guardian, verified the birth of Michael Andrew, Jr. in Nazareth Township, Northampton County on 22 August 1852, and that the baptism of this son of Michael and Sarah Andrew, was witnessed by Stephen Heinle at that same church on 2 September 1852.

Tragically, on the day of baby Michael’s baptism—and 11 days after his arrival, Sarah (Teel) Andrew died from the complications of childbirth.

Unfortunately, very little is known about what life was like for Michael Andrew, Sr. and his children over the next several years, but one can make an educated guess that their lives were challenging, and grew more so as relations between America’s North and South grew increasingly strained during the late 1850s and early part of 1860 as South Carolina’s civic leaders threatened to secede from the Union, which they ultimately chose to do in December of that year.

A Widower Goes to War

Still a widower and resident of Northampton County, Pennsylvania as the threat of civil war loomed in the early 1860s, Michael Andrew, Sr. made the difficult decision to leave his five surviving children in the care of others to enroll for military service on 4 December 1861 in Easton in order to help preserve America’s Union. Just 36 years old at the time that he officially mustered in on 13 December 1861 at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, he entered the service as a Private with Company A of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Military records at the time described him as a laborer who was 5 feet, 8 inches tall with blue eyes, light hair and a ruddy complexion.

He subsequently caught up with his regiment, which had departed nearly three months earlier for its assignment to help defend Washington, D.C., and was stationed at Camp Griffin in Virginia. He arrived on 16 December via a a recruiting depot connection.

For the next few weeks, he helped his regiment to continue its defense of the nation’s capital as part of the larger Army of the Potomac before receiving orders to move to Annapolis, Maryland in preparation for the regiment’s trip south.

1862

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

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

Ordered by Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan to move from their Virginia encampment to Maryland, Private Michael Andrew and his fellow 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 transported by rail to Alexandria, Virginia, where they boarded the steamship City of Richmond. Steaming along the Potomac River, they arrived next at the Washington Arsenal in Washington, D.C., where they were reequipped before being marched through the city for dinner and rest at the Soldiers’ Retreat. The next afternoon, they hopped cars on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and headed for Annapolis, Maryland, where they were assigned quarters in the Naval Barracks upon their arrival at 10 p.m. They then spent that Friday through Monday (24-27 January 1862) loading their equipment and other supplies onto the steamship Oriental.

On the afternoon of 27 January, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers commenced boarding the Oriental. Ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers, the enlisted men climbed aboard 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.—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.

Equipped with brand new Springfield rifles, Private Michael Andrew and the 47th arrived at Key West in early February. Once there, they were assigned to protect Fort Taylor and residents of neighboring areas loyal to the Union. They also drilled daily in heavy artillery tactics, strengthened the federal installation’s fortifications, felled trees, and built new roads. On 14 February, the members of the regiment introduced themselves to local residents by parading behind the regimental band through the streets of the city.

Not surprisingly, a fair number of the 47th who lost their lives during the Civil War were claimed not by rifle or cannon fire, but by dysentery and other diseases spread by troops suddenly placed in close military quarters, as well as by typhoid fever and other tropical diseases which plagued the inhabitants of Florida and its neighboring states. Fourth Sergeant Andrew Bellis of Company A was one of those so felled. Increasingly unable to turn out for duty due to repeated bouts of illness, he was reduced in rank to Private and finally died on 23 February 1862.

Ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina from from mid-June through July, Private Michael Andrew and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were next attached to the Beaufort District, Department of the South. Picket duties north of the brigade’s main staging area were rotated among the Union regiments stationed there, putting Private Andrew and other 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.”

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

Beginning 30 September 1862, the 47th made a return expedition to Florida, and engaged in capturing Saint John’s Bluff from 1 to 3 October. Led by Brigadier-General Brannan, the 1,500-plus Union force disembarked at Mayport Mills and Mount Pleasant Creek from troop carriers guarded by Union gunboats.

Illustration of the Union Navy's base of operations, Mayport Mills, circa 1862 (public domain).

Illustration of the Union Navy’s base of operations, Mayport Mills, circa 1862 (public domain).

Assigned to point duty, the 47th led the brigade through 25 miles of dense, pine forested, snake and alligator-infested swamps. Ultimately, the brigade forced the Rebels to abandon their artillery battery atop Saint John’s Bluff, and paved the way for the Union to occupy the town of Jacksonville, Florida.

From 21-23 October, Private Michael Andrew participated in his regiment’s first major combat engagement—one in which 18 enlisted men would be killed and another 114 wounded. Under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Good and Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander, the 47th engaged the heavily protected Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina—including at Frampton’s Plantation and the Pocotaligo Bridge.

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. A significant number of Union troops were wounded or killed. 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. 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. Captain Charles Mickley was killed and Captain George Junker mortally wounded. Captain Reuben Gardner and Lieutenant William Geety were wounded, but survived.

On 23 October, the 47th Pennsylvania returned to Hilton Head, where it served as the funeral Honor Guard for General Ormsby McKnight Mitchel, the commander of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps and Department of the South who had succumbed to yellow fever on 30 October. The Mountains of Mitchel, a part of Mars’ South Pole discovered by Mitchel in 1846 while working as a University of Cincinnati astronomer, and Mitchelville, the first Freedmen’s town created after the Civil War, were both later named for him. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.

On 15 November 1862, the 47th Pennsylvanians were ordered back to Key West, and assumed duties as part of the 10th Corps, Department of the South.

1863

Stationed in Key West throughout 1863, Private Michael Andrew and his fellow A Company soldiers served with the 47th Pennsylvania at Fort Taylor, along with members of Companies B, C, E, G, and I. (Companies D, F, H, and K were stationed at Fort Jefferson off Florida’s coast in the Dry Tortugas.) Once again, men from the 47th were assigned to fell trees, build roads and continue strengthening the facility’s fortifications. In addition, they were also sent out on skirmishes.

The time spent in Florida by the men of Company A and their fellow Union soldiers was notable not just for these reasons—but for their commitment to preserving the Union. Many of the 47th Pennsylvanians who could have returned home, their heads held high upon expiration of their terms of service, chose instead to re-enlist in order to finish the fight.

1864

Blockhouse, Fort Myers (circa 1850s), FloridaStateArchivesIn early January of 1864, the 47th was ordered to expand the reach of the Union Army. Captain Graeffe, commanding officer of Company A, and a group of his men were assigned to special duty which involved raiding area cattle herds in order to provide food for the growing Union troop presence. Their duties took them as far north as Fort Myers. Abandoned in 1858 after the U.S. government’s third war with the Seminole Indians, the fort was ordered to be reclaimed and revitalized by General D. P. Woodbury, Commanding Officer, U.S. Department of the Gulf, District of Key West and the Tortugas, in 1864 to facilitate the Union’s Gulf Coast blockade while also offering shelter for pro-Union supporters and those fleeing Rebel troops, including Confederate Army deserters and escaped slaves. According to Schmidt:

Capt. Richard A. Graeffe, accompanied by Assistant Surgeon William F. Reiber, commanded the main portion of Company A which boarded ship on Monday, January 4 and sailed the following day, Tuesday, for Fort Myers, on the Caloosahatchee River fifteen air miles southeast of Charlotte Harbor. The company was transported on board the Army quartermaster schooner Matchless, after having embarked the day before, and was accompanied by the steamer U.S.S. Honduras commanded by Lt. Harris, and with Gen. Woodbury aboard. Lt. Harris was directed to tow the Matchless if necessary.

Punta Rassa was probably the location where the troops disembarked, and was located on the tip of the southwest delta of the Caloosahatchee River … near what is now the mainland or eastern end of the Sanibel Causeway… Fort Myers was established further up the Caloosahatchee at a location less vulnerable to storms and hurricanes. In 1864, the Army built a long wharf and a barracks 100 feet long and 50 feet wide at Punta Rassa, and used it as an embarkation point for shipping north as many as 4400 Florida cattle….

Capt. Graeffe and company were disembarked on the evening of January 7, and Gen. Woodbury ordered the company to occupy Fort Myers on the south side of the Caloosahatchee, about 12 miles from its mouth and 150 miles from Key West. Shortly after, [a detachment of men from the 47th Pennsylvania’s A Company stationed on Useppa Island] was also ordered to proceed to Fort Myers and join the main body of Company A, the entire command under direct orders of the General who was in the area…. Gen. Woodbury returned to Key West on the Honduras prior to January 19, and the command was left in charge of Capt. Graeffe who dispatched various patrols in search of refugees for enlistment and for activities involving Confederate cattle shipments.

Company A’s muster roll provides the following account of the expedition under command of Capt. Graeffe: ‘The company left Key West Fla Jany 4. 64 enroute to Fort Meyers Coloosahatche River [sic] Fla. were joined by a detachment of the U.S. 2nd Fla Rangers at Punta Rossa Fla took possession of Fort Myers Jan 10. Captured a Rebel Indian Agent and two other men.’

A draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared in 2010 for the Everglades National Park partially documents the time of A Company Captain Richard Graeffe and the men under his Florida command this way:

A small contingent of 20 men and two officers from the Pennsylvania 47th Regiment, led by Captain Henry Crain of the 2nd Regiment of Florida, arrived at the fort on January 7, 1864. A short time later, the party was joined by another small detachment of the 47th under the command of Captain Richard A. Graeffe. Over a short period, increasing reinforcements of the fort led to increasing cattle raids throughout the region. A Union force so far into Confederate land did not go well with Confederate loyalists. The fact that so many men stationed at the post were black soldiers from the newly created U.S. Colored Troops was particularly aggravating. The raids were so antagonizing that the Confederates created a Cattle Guard Battalion called the “Cow Cavalry” to repulse Union raiders. The unit remained a primary threat to the Union soldiers carrying out raids and reconnaissance missions from Brooksville to as far south as Lake Okeechobee and Fort Myers.

Early on, according to Schmidt, Captain Graeffe sent the following report to Woodbury:

“At my arrival hier [sic] I divided my forces in three detachment, viz one at the Hospital one into the old guardhouse and one into the Comissary [sic] building, the Florida Rangers I quartered into one of the old Company quarters, I set all parties to work after placing the proper pickets and guards at the Hospital i have build [sic] and now nearly finished a two story loghouse of hewn and square logs 12 inches through seventeen by twenty-two fifteen feet high with a cupola onto the roof of six feet high and at right angle with two lines of picket fences seven feet high. i shall throw up a half a bastion around it as soon as completed. around the old guardhouse i have thrown up a bastion seven feet through at the foot and three feet on the top nine feet high from the bottom of the ditch and five on the inside. I also build [sic] a loghouse sixteen by eighteen of two storys [sic] Southeast of the Commissary building with a bastion around it at right angles with a picket fence each bastion has the distance you recomandet [sic] from the loghouses 20 feet on the sides and 20 to the salient angle, i caused to be dug a well close to bl. houses and inside of the bastions at each Station inside they are all comfortable fitted up with stationary bunks for the men without interfering with the defence [sic] of the work outside of the Bastions and inside the picket fense i have erected small kitchens and messrooms for each station, i am building now a guardhouse build [sic] of square hewn logs sixteen by sixteen two storys high the lower room to be used for the guard and the upper one as a prison, the building to be used for defence [sic] (in case of attack) by the Rangers each work is within view and supporting distance from the other; Capt. Crane with a detachment of his men repaired the wharf, which is in good condition now and fit for use, the bakehouse i got repaired, and the fourth day hier [sic] we had already very good fresh bread; the parade ground is in a good condition had all the weeds mowed off being to [sic] green to burn. i intend to fit up a schoolroom and church as soon as possible.”

Muster rolls for Company A from this period noted that “a detachment of 25 men crossed over to the north west side of the river” on 16 January and “scoured the country till up to Fort Thompson a distance of 50 miles,” where they “encountered a Rebel Picket who retreated after exchanging shots.” Making their way back, they swam across the river, and reached the fort on 23 January. Meanwhile, while that group was still away, Captain Graeffe ordered a smaller detachment of eight men to head out on 17 January in search of cattle. Finding only a few, they instead took possession of four barrels of Confederate turpentine, which were later disposed of by other Union troops.

Graeffe’s men also captured three Confederate sympathizers at the fort, including a blockade runner and spy named Griffin and an Indian interpreter and agent named Lewis. Charged with multiple offenses against the United States, they were transported to Key West, where they were kept under guard by the Provost Marshal—Major William Gausler, third-in-command of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

This phase of duty lasted until sometime in February of 1864. The detachment of the 47th which served under Graeffe at Fort Myers is labeled as the Florida Rangers in several publications, including The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, prepared by Lieutenant Colonel Robert N. Scott, et. al. (1891). Several of Graeffe’s hand drawn sketches of Fort Myers were published in 2000 in Images of America: Fort Myers by Gregg Tuner and Stan Mulford.

Meanwhile, all of the other companies of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry had already left on the regiment’s history-making journey to Louisiana. Boarding yet another steamer—the Charles Thomas—on 25 February 1864, the men from Companies B, C, D, I, and K of the 47th Pennsylvania headed for Algiers, Louisiana (across the river from New Orleans), followed on 1 March by other members of the regiment from Companies E, F, G, and H who had been stationed at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. Upon the second group’s arrival, the now almost fully reconstituted regiment moved by train on 28 February to Brashear City before heading to Franklin by steamer through the Bayou Teche. There, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps, and became the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign of Union General Nathaniel P. Banks.

Unable to reach Louisiana until 23 March, the men from Company A were effectively placed on a different type of detached duty in New Orleans while they awaited transport to enable them to catch up with the main part of their regiment. Charged with guarding and overseeing the transport of 245 Confederate prisoners, they were finally able to board the Ohio Belle on 7 April, and reached Alexandria with those prisoners on 9 April.

But they had missed the two bloodiest combat engagements that the 47th Pennsylvania would endure during the Red River Campaign—the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield on 8 April and the Battle of Pleasant Hill on 9 April. According to Schmidt, Company A was soon ordered to return the Confederate prisoners to New Orleans, and officially ended their detached duty on 27 April when they rejoined the main regiment’s encampment at Alexandria.

This means that the men from Company A also missed a third combat engagement—the Battle of Cane River (also known as “the Affair at Monett’s Ferry”), which took place on 23 April.

From late April through mid-May 1864, the now-fully reassembled 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers and their fellow brigade members helped to build “Bailey’s Dam” near Alexandria, enabling federal gunboats to successfully navigate the fluctuating water levels of the Red River.

Throughout this difficult campaign, the invisible enemy—bacterial and viral infections—thinned the 47th Pennsylvania’s ranks even faster than rifle fire. Among those claimed by disease, rather than by a minie ball, was Private Michael Andrew, Sr.

One brief line in a federal army hospital ledger confirms that Private Michael Andrews died in New Orleans in July 1864 from a disease contracted while serving with Company A, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. (Image: Public Domain.)

A brief line in a federal army hospital ledger confirms Private Michael Andrew’s July 1864 death, New Orleans. (Public domain; click on image to enlarge.)

Left behind by his regiment as it steamed north from 5 to 12 July 1864 aboard the McClellan in preparation for the Union’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Private Michael Andrew died from chronic disease-related complications on 14 July at the Union’s University General Hospital in New Orleans. A report from the U.S. Adjutant General’s Office which was attached to a federal pension application filed on behalf of Private Andrew’s minor child and namesake confirmed that Michael Andrew, Sr. was enrolled on 4 December 1861 and died of chronic diarrhea at New Orleans, Louisiana on 15 July 1864. An additional notation indicated that “Surgeon Gen’l corroborates the above.”

The remains of Private Michael Andrew, Sr. were ultimately interred at the Chalmette National Cemetery in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana:

The federal burial ledger for the Chalmette National Cemetery in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana documents the 14 July 1864 death and subsequent Chalmette interment of Private Michael Andrews, Company A, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. (Image: Public Domain. Click to enlarge.)

A Chalmette National Cemetery burial ledger confirms Private Andrew’s July 1864 death and Chalmette interment. (Public domain. Click to enlarge.)

Surviving Children of Michael Andrew, Sr.

On 25 June 1866, the courts in Northampton County, Pennsylvania officially appointed Aaron Godshalk, a resident of Hicksville in Northampton County, as the guardian of Michael Andrew, Jr., the only one of the five surviving Andrew children still under the age of 16.

On 10 November 1866, a U.S. Civil War minor’s pension of $8 per month was awarded to Aaron Godshalk on behalf of Michael Andrew, Jr., commencing the date Michael’s father died (14 July 1864) and ending in August 1868.

Sources:

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

2. Burial Ledgers, in Record Group 15, The National Cemetery Administration, and Record Group 92, U.S. Departments of Defense and Army (Quartermaster General). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1864.

3. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.

4. Claim for Minor’s Pension (Aaron Godshalk, guardian on behalf of Michael Andrew, Jr., surviving son of Civil War decedent Michael Andrew, Sr.) in U.S. Civil War Widows’ Pension Files. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1866.

5. Interment Control Forms, in Record Group 92, U.S. Office of the Quartermaster General. College Park, Maryland: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

6. Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, U.S. Adjutant General’s Office. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1864.

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

8. “Tamiami Trail Modifications: Next Steps, in Draft Environmental Impact Statement.” Washington, D.C. and Everglades National Park: U.S. National Park Service, 2010.

9. U.S. Census (1850, 1860). Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

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