May 24, 2012

Follow Up on Gen. Negley's Ill-Fated Spy

Gen. James S. Negley
(Source Unknown)
As a follow up to my last post mentioning a conversation that soldier-correspondent Corp. Elias H. Witmer had with a Unionist later hanged as a spy, I now have more information thanks to the genealogical work of Debbie Halley.  Debbie kindly sent me a copy of Gen. James Negley's letter of support for a pension to be awarded to Samuel W. Kenney's widow, Miriam.  The letter can be viewed here:

The letter confirms that Negley indeed employed Kenney as a spy while in that part of Tennessee in summer and fall of 1862.  I was under the impression Kenney was caught and hanged in spring 1863, so it's possible he spied when Negley's division was nearby in either or both of those instances.  Negley mentions that Kenney had lived in Armstrong County, from which the 78th Pennsylvania hailed, which makes me wonder if that is correct or Negley misremembered Lancaster and the 79th Pennsylvania as Kenney had lived briefly in Lancaster.  He also mentions that he paid Kenney's family $100 for his service and rather astoundingly added $400 from his own pocket. 

Regarding Kenney's last mission, Negley wrote:
His last and fatal venture was made contrary to my wish--voluntarily on his part, because I could find no one was willing to penetrate the camps of the enemy and ascertain their intentions.  When I suggested to him that I would not take the responsibility (much as I desired information) of hazarding his life he said he was willing to take the risk, because he was sure no other citizen who might be induced to go knew the country sufficiently well to escape capture and certain death, hence your Department will correctly interpret the personal interest and sympathy shown (on the occasion of his summary execution) for his family. 

May 19, 2012

'E.H.W.' Meets a Tennessee Unionist, Later Hanged as a Spy

Location: Pulaski, TN 38478, USA
While traveling through Pulaski, Giles County, Tennessee, and the northern part of Alabama, Lancaster's soldier-correspondent Corp. Elias H. Witmer spent some time with a Unionist and former resident of Lancaster.  The man, Samuel W. Kenney, had according to Witmer worked in Lancaster from 1840 to 1841.  He described the conversation and what he learned about Kenney's sufferings as a Unionist in a letter that was extracted in the May 26, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link

Upon searching for more information about Kenney, I was surprised to not only verify him as a resident of Giles County, Tennessee, but learn that he would be hanged as a spy a year later under the orders of Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg.  Fifteen years after the incident, his wife Miriam V. Kenney received a $12/month special pension by act of Congress, with a corroborating letter from General Negley testifying that Kenney indeed was a spy.  According to an forum, the family did not know what happened to Kenney, and it was only in the 1890s that his body was returned to Illinois. 

I'm not sure how to interpret Kenney's status, whether he was actually acting as a spy, or whether he simply aided the Union army when it was in his neck of the woods.  It would be interesting to see the Negley letter, as Negley's pattern of loyalty and helping people around him makes it seem like he would have gladly written to help Kenney's widow based on casual encounters with Kenney.  I'll have to watch for more information about Kenney and the circumstances that led to his execution.   

Sypher Dispatches: The Rogersville Expedition

Location: Rogersville, AL 35652, USA
Area of operations near Rogersville, Alabama
(Source: Library of Congress, U.S. Coast Survey, A. D. Bache, Supdt., 1865)
(View magnifiable extract of map here)

Fourth and fifth letters in the grand tour of Lancaster journalist J. R. Sypher.  Read an introduction here.

I'm not sure if any of the Lancaster County Regiment soldiers would have believed in when they left home in October 1861, but over seven months later they were entering Alabama without taking a single casualty in battle.  While the main elements of the Union and Confederate forces were maneuvering to the west in what would develop as the Siege of Corinth (Mississippi), General Negley's division under command of General Ormsby Mitchell was pushing forward into Alabama from camp at Pulaski, Tennessee.

On the morning of May 13, four regiments of infantry, several companies of cavalry, and four pieces of artillery under command of General Negley left camp, and after a day's worth of marching arrived in Rogersville, Alabama, a town just north of the Tennessee River.  Shortly after their arrival and just as the Lancasterians had started bathing in a stream that fed into the Tennessee River, an alarm came in and the regiment double-quicked it to Lamb's Ferry four miles away.  The cavalry and artillery arrived just in time to fire parting shots at a couple rebels retreating across the river, and a couple daring men of the 79th Pennsylvania succeeding in burning a ferry boat.  [WTC Diary]
On May 14, detachments scouted up and down the river.  On May 15, the regiment had a little more excitement with another trip to Lamb's Ferry (downstream?).  Corp. William T. Clark of Company B, 79th Pennsylvania, recorded:
When we arrived at the shore, 20 or more Rebels were seen on the opposite side. A few shot, and shell scattered them in every direction. We drew lots to see who would go over with the boat, when John Cramer, Fred Offlebach were drawn from our squad. They burned one large ferryboat, brought 2 flats, 2 dugouts and one large boat across with them.
Read more details in two letters by J. R. Sypher dated May 14 and May 15, 1862.

From the May 21, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

From the May 24, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

Sypher Dispathes: 'Little Wee Blue-Bellied Yankees'

Location: Pulaski, TN 38478, USA
Newspaper Cart and Vendor in Camp (Alexander Gardner, Library of Congress)
The following post features the second and third letters written by Lancaster's civilian adventurer and journalist J. R. Sypher in a grand tour of the Western Theater in May and June1862.  See this post <link> for an introduction to his tour.

Five days after leaving Lancaster, Josiah Sypher finally reached the encampment of Gen. Negley's division on May 7, 1862.  A letter he wrote the following day describes his journey from Louisville to Columbia, Tennessee, essentially retracing the route that the 79th Pennsylvania marched between October 1861 and March 1862.  Sypher's comments touch on the state of the railroads, the desire among soldiers for newspapers, and conditions in Nashville and Columbia.  Sypher had just missed the excitement following the capture of Capt. Kendrick's detail and the expedition to Pulaski by a battalion from the 79th Pennsylvania, which I posted about two weeks ago

His next letter, dated May 12, recounts the forward movement of some infantry, artillery, and cavalry commanded by Gen. Negley from Columbia to Pulaski.  After Negley and his bodyguard, a section of artillery coincidentally commanded by Sypher's brother, Lieut. A. J. Sypher, led the march followed by the 79th Pennsylvania mounted on wagons and the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Enslaved African-Americans along the route made an impression upon J. R. Sypher, a staunch if not Radical Republican who took the time to "converse with a large number of these peculiarly situated people."  See his second letter posted below for an interesting description of those conversations, and Sypher's impression of their view of the world and of the Yankees ("wee men wid blue bellies, so small that you couldn't hardly shoot 'em.").  Sypher concludes by focusing on the vexing question of what the Union Army will do with the slaves in occupied territory, "the most important interrogatory of the age," and describing how he struggled to give an answer to an old man "whose soul was panting for freedom."            

Map of Tennessee from Columbia to Pulaski (Extracted from 1863 Map)
<View here>

With apologies for a corrupted image files late in the letter, here is Sypher's letter from May 8 published in the May 14, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

And from the May 19, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link

May 15, 2012

The Lutherans Make a Statement on the War, Slavery, and Emancipation

Location: 31 S Duke St, Lancaster, PA 17602, USA
Trinity Lutheran Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The General Synod met here in 1862.
An 1866 meeting of the Pennsylvania Ministerium
is depicted in the image above (from a stereoview, vws).
As one of the few national church bodies not to have separated by the Civil War's outbreak in 1861, the Evangelical Lutheran General Synod convened in Lancaster at Trinity Lutheran Church from May 1 to May 8, 1862.  Without any dissenting Southerners present, the 100 or so Lutheran leaders finally forged a consensus to take a stand on the war's meaning, the morality of slavery, and the emerging question of emancipation. 

The report of the proceedings makes it sound like many of the pastors who converged on Lancaster had already drafted their own remarks and opinions on the war, and it was up to the twenty-one man "Committee on the State of the Country" headed by Lutheran social welfare activist William A. Passavant merge them into one voice.  After five days of deliberations Passavant’s committee produced a set of five resolutions on secession, war, and slavery. The first two resolutions passed quickly and unanimously. The third resolution, declaring the rebellion to be “the natural result of the continuance and spread of domestic slavery in our land,” endorsed Lincoln’s proposal of April 1862 to fund a system of “constitutional emancipation” in any state willing to initiate such a system.  It read:
Resolved, That while we recognize this unhappy war as a righteous judgment of God, visited upon us because of the individual and national sins of which we have been guilty, we nevertheless regard this rebellion as more immediately the natural result of the continuance and spread of domestic slavery in our land, and, therefore, hail with unmingled joy the proposition of our Chief Magistrate, which has received the sanction of Congress, to extend aid from the General Government to any State in which slavery exists, which shall deem fit to initiate a system of constitutional emancipation.
Trinity Lutheran Church
Lithograph, 1861

As anticipated, it sparked a day’s worth of debate, the detailed minutes of which are presented at the end of this post. Some attendees criticized for being too weak, claiming constitutional emancipation validated the ownership of people as property. Others spoke against endorsing such a specific means of ending slavery, saying that the Lutherans had no more right to prescribe specific policies for Congress as Congress had to prescribe how the Lutherans interpret the Augsburg Confession. Interestingly, the abolitionist Samuel Simon Schmucker of the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg suggested leaving out the subject of emancipation entirely due to the “unhappy effects” making statements on slavery had always had on other Synods.

The discussions reached a crescendo when Union-sympathizing Pastor Herman Eggers of Nashville, Tennessee, talked about the state of opinion in the South and asserted to loud applause: “A Church was not worth calling a church if it could not express its whole opinion on slavery—such a Church was nothing but a doughface. We have Union men in the South—some—and we want them to know what this Synod has to say, though no doubt it will hurt many of them. The Church in the South, as a Christian body, is dead, and requires a thorough regeneration, ‘to become a new man,’ before it can live again.”

Ultimately, the resolutions survived several attempts to amend and passed intact. A committee of five men took the resolutions directly to President Lincoln, who responded to the Lutherans with the following remarks on Tuesday, May 13:
GENTLEMEN: I welcome here the representatives of the Evangelical Lutherans of the United States. I accept, with gratitude, their assurances of sympathy and support of that enlightened, influential, and loyal class of my fellow-citizens in an important crisis, which involves, in my judgment, not only the civil and religious liberties or our own dear land, but in a large degree the civil and religious liberties of mankind, in many countries and through many ages. You well know, gentlemen, and the world knows, how reluctantly I accepted this issue of battle forced upon me, on my advent to this place, by the internal enemies of our country. You all know, the world knows, the forces and the resources the public agents have brought into employment to sustain a Government against which there has been brought not one complaint of real injury, committed against society at home or abroad. You all may recollect that, in taking up the sword thus forced into our hands, this Government appealed to the prayers of the pious and good, and declared that it placed its whole dependence upon the favor of God. I now humbly and reverently, in your presence, reiterate the acknowledgement of that dependence, not doubting that, if it shall please the Divine Being who determines the destinies of nations that this shall remain a united people, they will, humbly seeking the Divine guidance, make their prolonged national existence a source of new benefits to themselves and their successors, and to all classes and conditions of mankind. [DEE 5/16/1862]
The 1862 Lutheran General Synod convention represents one more example of Northerners’ awakening to emancipation as a real possibility that occurred over the course of that year. It parallels recent letters from our Lancaster soldier-correspondents in Tennessee who have begun to witness that the military mission is difficult to untangle from slavery, and that the current policy is unsustainable (links: Sypher, Witmer).  The May 10, 1862, Philadelphia Press cited the Lutherans' actions in Lancaster as evidence of a shifting tide in Northern opinion. 

The stance on slavery also had unintended consequences for the Lutherans, which was very divided by two distinct visions for the Lutheran Church in the New World in years following the Second Great Awakening. Pietists wanted to see a Lutheran Church emphasizing revivalism and spirituality in close union with other Protestants, while confessionalists stressed a stricter adherence to the Lutheran Confessions. In the next two General Synod meetings, in 1862 and 1864, the confessionalist-leaning Pennsylvania Ministerium walked out and was locked out of proceedings. In 1866, the Pennsylvania Ministerium met again at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster to announce the formation of a confessionalist national Lutheran church body. The "General Council" resulted, although it ultimately failed to meet expectations due to its inability to woo more conservative Midwestern Lutherans (e.g., the Missouri Synod).

Many angles--religious, political, and social--make this convention extremely fascinating for its place in the Union war effort and its place in shaping the course of Lutheranism.  For more information and its consequence for the Lutherans, see:
From the May 15, 1862, Lutheran Missionary: (alternate link)

May 13, 2012

'Troublous Times': Trinity Lutheran Church and the Civil War

Location: 31 S Duke St, Lancaster, PA 17602, USA

Thank you to everyone who attended my presentation this morning.  Over the next week, I'll post more content related to the presentation, but for now here's a link to a couple posts in which I've written in more detail about Trinity Lutheran Church and the Civil War.
Also, here's a <link> to the presentation handout which contains an outline and the following primary sources, which consists of:
  1. Resolutions Adopted by the General Synod of the Lutheran Church at the 1862 Conference
  2. Reply to General Synod Resolutions by President Lincoln
  3. “A Visit to the Antietam Hospitals and Battle-field” by Charles A. Heinitsh and/or John B. Kevinski
  4. “A Week Among the Soldiers in the Hospitals” by Rev. F. W. Conrad
  5. A Letter from Dr. John F. Huber
  6. Opening to Rev. F. W. Conrad’s “America’s Blessings and Obligations”
  7. A Letter from D. P. Rosenmiller aboard the USS Essex
  8. From “A Historical Sketch of Trinity Lutheran Church”
  9. Recommended Reading
Please let me know if you have any questions by posting in the comments section below or sending me an email at  In case you couldn't tell, I really enjoy talking about these topics and connecting anyone interested to resources that are relevant to them.

May 10, 2012

Rebel Atrocities at Bull Run: A Letter from the Pa Reserves

Location: Manassas, VA, USA
"Soldiers' remains unburied on the battle-field of Bull Run" by Andrew J. Russell
(Source: Colgate Library)
Over at Bull Runnings, Harry Smeltzer has started a conversation with Ron Baumgarten of All Quiet Along the Potomac about accounts of rebels' desecrating the remains of Union dead at the Battle of Bull Run.  Specifically, they are wondering about the accounts of the Pennsylvania Reserves who passed through the area in April 1862.  I thought I recalled something about this in my Lancaster correspondence, and it turns out my hunch was here's a quick post with that letter.  A simple Google search of "unburied Bull Run" turns up many results, as well.     

The main soldier-correspondent for the Lancaster Daily Evening Express in the Pennsylvania Reserves was a private in Capt. Easton battery of Pennsylvania Reserves artillery named George McElroy.  His letter dated April 16, 1862, describes a walk over the battlefield and the appalling sights he took in.  The horror he expressed fits in with a pattern of indignation McElroy directed towards Southerners in early 1862 for various reasons such as the vandalized state of one of the Washington family graves (I think Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, but I might be wrong) and especially the lightened skin tones of slaves.

From the April 19, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

May 9, 2012

Sypher Dispatches: From Lancaster to Louisville

Location: Louisville, KY, USA
Another company from Lancaster--Company B, 1st Penna. Reserves--in 1863
I suspect the civilian on the right of the picture is J. R. Sypher, who traveled with the Army of the Potomac as a journalist.  (Mathew Brady via

The following post is the first in a series of a dozen or so letters by Lancaster lawyer, journalist, and civilian adventurer J. R. Sypher during his travels through the Western Theater as a sort of "embedded reporter" in May and June 1862.  

J. R. Sypher (suspected)
(Enlargement of above photo)
On May 2, 1862, former Daily Evening Express assistant editor Josiah Rhinehart Sypher left Lancaster for a two-month tour of the Western Theater, where he had spent time as a correspondent before the war.  I've written about Sypher--and brother James Hale Sypher of Standard's Ohio Artillery Battery and brother A.J., Armorer on the USS St. Louis ironclad--several times before on this blog, including his letter after having been chased out of Memphis in June 1861 and a quarrel with the Democratic Intelligencer in August 1861 over dueling rallies in Drumore Township (which Sypher coincidentally refers to in the opening to his letter below).

Only a week before leaving, Sypher was admitted to practice law, passing a "highly creditable examination."  He studied under none other than Thaddeus Stevens--with whom he shared many political beliefs--although it's unclear how much Sypher personally interacted with Stevens.  As a progressive-minded Republican, Sypher seems to show up in just about every reform movement and civic activity in Lancaster, such as the Lancaster County Bible Society and Temperance picnics. Just several weeks earlier, he was one of six founding members of the Linnaean Society of Lancaster City and County, a very active science and natural history society whose collection formed the basis of what is now the North Museum near Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. [DEE 4/26/1862]

The Express sent Sypher off with the following announcement published on May 3, 1862:  
J. R. Sypher, Esq., formerly our Southern and Western correspondent, and more recently our editorial assistant, started for the seat of war in the department of the Mississippi, on Friday morning.  He goes as special correspondent of the Express, being provided with a military pass from the War Department, authorizing him to go anywhere within the lines of the armies of the United States.  For this we are indebted to the kindness of Secretary Stanton and Col. Sandford.  The conditions of the parole attached to the pass are very stringent, but the Express has no cause to fear them, as we have never yet published a line involving the censure of the war department, although important information has been frequently in our possession in advance of its publication elsewhere.

Mr. Sypher intended going direct to Corinth, and thence with Gen. Halleck's army to Memphis.  Being familiar with the country in the southwest, and having a pretty extensive acquaintance with the people there, his letters will no doubt be as interesting as valuable.  
George D. Prentice
Editor, Louisville Journal(Source)
Sypher penned his first letter in Louisville, the gateway to the Western Theater for Lancasterians during the Civil War.  Lancaster maintained a strong patriotic and logistical connection to Louisville, cheering on border state warriors like Louisville Journal editor George D. Prentice and relying on the soldiers' aid infrastructure there to distribute goods to Lancaster soldiers and others in need.  

From the May 8, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

May 6, 2012

The Capture of Capt. Kendrick's Detail

Location: Pulaski, TN 38478, USA
Capt. William G. Kendrick (WGK)
On May 2, 1862, Capt. William G. Kendrick (bio), the regiment's senior line officer, and his detached detail serving with the the telegraph corps near Pulaski, Tennessee, were interrupted by Confederate cavalry under the notorious John Hunt Morgan (bio).  The rebel horsemen approached unrecognized to within twenty yards of the detail before leveling their rifles at Capt. Kendrick, who was in no position to resist.  Kendrick recounted
The first thing I knew twenty rifles were leveled at me by a desperate gang of Guerillas swearing they wold kill me if I moved.  One snapped his piece.  Had it gone off I might not be now writing this letter.  Such is the fortune of war.  I took supper with Capt. Morgan.  He and all his officers treated me as a gentleman.  I had not one unkind word spoken to me after I got in the town by the Rebel soldiers.  The ladies were very jubilant over our Capture.  I had my album and the little boys ambrotypes with me.  An old lady asked if I had children.  I showed the little boys.  She shed tears over them saying poor, dear little fellows, their father a prisoner and so far from them.  There was quite a rush of ladies to see them, nearly all pronouncing them the handsomest of children they ever saw.  I soon had a number of friends amongst the women, who pitied me for the sake of my dear little boys.  [WGK 5/3/1862]

John Hunt Morgan (Source)
Word of the capture of Capt. Kendrick and ten or fifteen others from the Lancaster County Regiment quickly got back to Negley's brigade camp thirty miles north in Columbia and caused much excitement.  Around midnight, four companies--Companies C, E, I, and G--of the 79th Pennsylvania with some cavalry and artillery set out in the darkness to find out what was going on.  As a corporal in Company E, correspondent Elias H. Witmer made the forced overnight march of thirty-one miles.  When the expeditionary force came within five miles of Pulaski, they ran Kendrick and the others, who had been lumped in with 200 prisoners from Gen. Mitchell's division and paroled.  

The incident clearly elicited the fighting spirit of the men in the 79th Pennsylvania.  Witmer, the Mountville storekeeper, concluded his letter by creatively asserting, "A dead codfish could as easily climb a greased sapling, tail foremost, with a loaf of bread in his mouth, as a band of these marauders to whip the Lancaster Co. Regiment."  His entire letter describing the expedition, published in the May 14, 1862, Daily Evening Express, is here: (alternate link)

As paroled prisoners, Capt. Kendrick and the other men returned from the front lines. I'm not sure how the exchange process worked, but Kendrick sat out the rest of 1862 and would rejoin the army as a key staff officer for Gen. Negley.

May 3, 2012

Rev. F. W. Conrad's Civil War

Location: 31 S Duke St, Lancaster, PA 17602, USA
Rev. F. W. Conrad
(Trinity Archives)
Considering the short list of distinguished pastors until 1861 whose time in the pulpit of Trinity Lutheran Church could be counted in decades, Pastor F. W. Conrad's mere two years as Gottlob Krotel's successor seem like a hiccup in the church's chronology.  Through his actions, preaching, and lectures, Conrad would, however, play an important role connecting the congregation to the war, most uniquely through an October 1862 aid mission to the Antietam battlefield on behalf of the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster. 

Born in 1816 in Pine Grove, Schuylkill County, Conrad represented a very different type of Lutheran than what Trinity Lutheran Church was used to.  Specifically, as a student of Samuel Simon Schmucker at Gettysburg Seminary, Conrad fit into the tradition of "American Lutheranism" that emphasized personal piety, union with other Christian denominations, revivals, and abolitionism more than the "Old Lutherans," who advocated a stricter and more explicit adherence to the Lutheran Confessions. 

Patriotism and abolitionism heavily flavored Conrad's wartime sermons, and he tended to make conservative Democrats wherever he preached very unhappy.  In an 1870 historical sketch of Trinity, the Intelligencer recounted Conrad's pastorate,
Rev. Frederick W. Conrad, a political stump orator from Dayton, Ohio, followed Dr. Krotel, preaching his first sermon in March 1862.  His penchant for preaching political sermons, a la Beecher, and driving fast horses, a la Bonner, soon disgusted the greater portion of his congregation, and would have disgusted all of them, had it not been for the angry passions stirred up by the great rebellion.  At the end of he war, finding that his vocation was gone, he resigned and left town, greatly to the relief of the congregation, and our citizens generally.  [1/12/1870]

Our knowledge of Conrad's attitudes on the war comes from:
His Thanksgiving 1863 sermon presents pretty standard rhetoric espousing America's virtues as "extraordinary blessings":
  1. "the Age in which we live" 
  2. "the Country which we inhabit" 
  3. "the Government under which we dwell"
  4. "the Gifts of his Providence"
  5. "the religious privileges we enjoy"

    The sermon concludes with a pretty high view of the consequences of America's fall:
    To what, I ask, shall her fall be likened? but to that of Lucifer, the Son of Morning, from the towering heights of heaven, down to the unfathomable depths of hell; and as he fell not alone, but corrupted and involved in his fall, millions of other angelic beings, so too will America not fall alone, but influence and involve in her ruin the nations of the earth, and the fall of America will be the fall of the World.
    Moving from word to deed, Conrad picked up where his predecessor Pastor Krotel left off in his work with the Patriot Daughters.  When the Rebels invaded Maryland--resulting in the bloody Battle of Antietam was fought--Conrad, who had connections having served a parish in the area, was one of four men to escort a large shipment of donations to hospitals and the Lancaster companies in the Pennsylvania Reserves.  I published Conrad's very interesting account in a post last August, and you can read it here.  Here's an excerpt:
    We now made a reconnoisance of the battlefield, and then proceeded direct to the camp of the Reserves. We soon overtook our wagon which stalled at a steep hill. We first detailed a squad of soldiers, to make up the deficiency of our animal force, but finding their pushing unavailing, we found our forlorn hope in two little mules. They seemed to realize that much was expected from them, and they carried the load up the hill in gallant style. By this time the Lancaster boys found out who were about, and what was coming. The wagon was at once besieged, the portion allotted to the Reserves unloaded in double quick style, greetings were exchanged, questions asked and answered, messages delivered, loved ones remembered, and general joy prevailed. On being told that what we brought was not half of what was sent, two wagons were dispatched to bring on what had been left at Harrisburg and Hagerstown, and on Thursday morning they returned with all of it.
    Tombstone of Pvt. Josiah A. H. Lutz
    East Petersburg Mennonite Cemetery
    One of those soldiers whom Conrad would have likely met was recent enlistee Josiah A. H. Lutz of Company B, 1st Pennsylvania Reserves.  In one of the sadder stories the war produced, the sixteen year-old Lutz, whose parents were dead and who enlisted to support his younger sister financially, was wounded in the hip in the Pennsylvania Reserves' charge at the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862.  He died on December 22 in a Washington hospital, and his cousin retrieved the body for burial.  Pastor Conrad records performing the burial service at the East Petersburg Mennonite Cemetery.  (Credit: Research by Gary Hawbaker.) 

    After the Battle of Gettysburg, Conrad naturally led efforts to raise money to support the battle-damaged Gettysburg Seminary and College.  A committee from Trinity Lutheran Church collected $299.75.

    In early 1864, possibly with a split among Lutherans on the horizon, "American Lutheran"-leaning Conrad left "Old Lutheran"-leaning Trinity for a congregation in Chambersburg, although Conrad did leave on fairly good terms with certification by Trinity's vestry that he adhered to the Lutheran Confessions in his teaching.  During the Confederate raid on the city, Conrad's house was intentionally targeted and ransacked.  He continued to anger conservative Democrats there, and even earned a lengthy tirade entitled "Desecration of the Pulpit" in the Valley Spirit on November 16, 1864, which can be viewed at the linked page as part of the Valley of the Shadow project.    

    • Biography in American Lutheran Biographies (p. 144)
    • George Heiges' 1979 LCHS Journal history of Trinity Lutheran Church
    • I also have saved images of a letter sold on Ebay a couple years ago written by Conrad to his brother-in-law at the beginning of the war.

    'Cotton was only king when it floated in that banner'

    Location: Columbia, TN, USA
    CDV of James S. Negley
    as a major general, c. 1863
    Still waiting for their first opportunity to prove their worth on the battlefield, the events of April 26, 1862, yielded temporary satisfaction to the men of the Lancaster County Regiment.  On that day, the events of which 79th Pennsylvania soldier-correspondent Corp. Elias H. Witmer recorded in a flowery letter, the regiment marched to restore the Stars and Stripes to the top of the courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee.

    Their brigade commander, Gen. James S. Negley, addressed the assembly and reached out to any civilians wishing to live under the old flag and Constitution.  He concluded by pointing at the American flag and remarked that "cotton was only king when it floated in that banner."

    In his letter, Witmer continues to explore his thoughts on slavery for readers in Lancaster.  Adopting the mantle of a mudsill (see this post for explanation), he hints that the idea of emancipation is growing on him: "I am free to confess that my opinion of the South and her 'idol pets' has not changed so much that I would turn rebel to the government if the funeral knell of slavery would be sounded over every foot of slave territory in the world."

    Finally, the regiment received a flag from General Negley, apparently the second received from him.  After the flag flap of November 1861, it seems that the regiment was content with a generic United States flag rather than the beautiful battle flags most other Pennsylvania units carried.

    From the May 5, 1861, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)
    (By the way, you'll notice a change in how newspapers look over the next few months, as the May-October 1862 Express somehow evaded the microfilmer's scanner.  Fortunately, the Lancaster County Historical Society has the bound volume covering that period, and I was able to make photographs six or seven years ago.)       

    May 2, 2012

    Rev. Gottlob F. Krotel's Civil War

    Location: 31 S Duke St, Lancaster, PA 17602, USA
    Another post in preparation for my upcoming presentation at Trinity Lutheran Church on Sunday, May 13...

    Portrait of Rev. G. F. Krotel, c. 1880s?
    Trinity Lutheran Church Archives
    As one of the oldest and largest congregations in Lancaster, Trinity Lutheran Church has a long and complicated relationship with tradition.  The congregation is uniquely positioned to view the glorious Christian Tradition passed down through the generations, but it is also challenged by the stifling tendency of tradition as "the way things have always been."  Digging deeper, "always" more often than not dates back to the 1850s and in particular the pastorate of Gottlob F. Krotel.

    Born in Wuertemberg in 1826, Krotel immigrated to Philadelphia early in life and came to Trinity Lutheran Church from Lebanon in 1853.  Recognized for his excellence in the pulpit, the young Krotel led Trinity through a time of major remodeling and expansion and by all accounts endeared himself to the congregation.  In a post-war sketch of Trinity's history, the Intelligencer fondly remembered Krotel's time in Lancaster: "Dr. Krotel is a learned and eloquent divine, and was universally loved by his church."  [1/12/1870]

    Remodeling the almost hundred year-old sanctuary defined Krotel's tenure at Trinity.  More than a little dusting or painting, the remodeling involved a ninety-degree rotation in the sanctuary's orientation, an upgrade to the organ, and a new peal of bells.  As part of the resurgence of conservative Lutheran Confessionalism in the 1850s, Krotel translated a biography of Philip Melancthon, and introduced the congregation to the wearing of the gown and a new liturgy.
    Pulpit of Trinity Lutheran Church in 1866, about ten years after it was remodeled.
    I believe G. F. Krotel--who was President of this particular meeting in 1866--is in the center behind the chancel rail.  Note his name in the list Trinity's pastors on the right-hand side. (vws)
    When the citizens of Lancaster rallied at the courthouse after the firing on Fort Sumter, it was Krotel who opened with "a most thrilling and patriotic prayer," according to the Examiner and Herald [4/24] which continued, "The tremulous but powerful voice of the speaker reached the farthest limit of the audience and produced a profound impression."  A week later, Krotel also addressed the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster at their organizational meeting. [Intell 4/30]

    A memorial book published after Krotel's death in 1907 recounts--somewhat questionably--his experience in Lancaster and a prayer that offended President James Buchanan, who happened to be attending that day:
    Grave of G. F. Krotel
    Woodward Hill Cemetery
    Rev. Dr. Krotel's work at Lancaster was done in troublous times.  They were the times immediately preceding the War of Secession, when men were compelled to take sides.  Lancaster, the home of President James Buchanan, was intensely anti-Unionistic, and most of the ministers there were in sympathy with that feeling.  The two Lutheran Pastors, Rev. B. W. Schmauk and Rev. Mr. Krotel, intimate friends, did not sympathize at all with the general feeling, and decided to pursue their course.  As a result the life of the former was threatened, and both had many unpleasant experiences.  Dr. Krotel told the writer that during this time he preached a strong Unionistic sermon when President Buchanan was in the Church and that during the General Prayer, in which he prayed for the abolition of slavery, and Union, the President rose and walked out of the Church.  At Lancaster they both lie now, in the same cemetery, their resting places not a stone's throw apart.  When he left Lancaster in 1861, to succeed Rev. Dr. C. P. Krauth, as Pastor of St. Mark's Church, Philadelphia, it was with great regret and with many pleasant thoughts of the kindness which he had received from the people of Lancaster.  To the day of his death he always cherished the warmest feeling for his many friends and for the Church in that city, and wished to be buried within the sound of Trinity's bells.
    A month after the war's outbreak, Krotel presided on May 19, 1861, over surely one of the most elaborate celebrations in the church's history, the "Centenary Jubilee."  The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone at Trinity Lutheran Church.  A day's worth of services and festivities went off without a hitch, and the commemorative volume for the day's events contains a fantastic 100-page history of Trinity written by Krotel, who claimed such a treatise was necessary to fill out the book because the lithographic frontispiece procured for the occasion was too big.  
    On July 4, 1861--perhaps one of the most enthusiastic Fourths of July in our nation's history--Krotel then had the honor of giving a historically-oriented "Oration of the Day" at the courthouse.  Krotel main theme was that "When we look back to the principles on which the republic was founded...we are struck by the growth and strengthening of the principle of unity of government which has made and kept us a free people."  Other noteworthy elements include an international consciousness that America was the world's testbed for democracy, blame for slavery as the "weapon in the hands of those whose desire has been, is, and will be, to set up for themselves and destroy the best government the world has ever seen," and a belief that secession would lead to nothing short of anarchy.  From the July 5, 1861, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

    In December 1861, Krotel left Trinity for a church in Philadelphia whose pulpit had just been vacated by Charles Porterfield Krauth.  He revisited Lancaster fairly frequently for the rest of his life, even giving a benefit lecture during the war.  In Philadelphia, Krotel became heavily involved with new Lutheran seminary that was established in 1864 as a moderate-conservative voice in the debate over future directions of the Lutheran church in America.  Later, he moved to New York City and served a congregation there. Krotel died on May 17, 1907, and even though he only spent eight of his eighty years in Lancaster, his remains were interred at Woodward Hill Cemetery--within the sound of Trinity's bells, in accordance with his wishes.

    For Further Reading: