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Busy Summer Campaign!

Katie Wolfe of the 62nd PVI LHF here- The 62nd PA Volunteer Infantry Living History Family has had a very busy summer! We marked the 159th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg by honoring the memory of the 62nd PA in the Wheatfield with a ceremony and the laying of the Wheat Sheaf, but not in our usual way. A severe thunderstorm blew in on the evening of July 2nd when we were scheduled to conduct our ceremony- the photograph below shows the brief moment some of our family were able to be in the Wheatfield before being asked to leave for safety’s sake.
However, we made the trip back to the Wheatfield the next day, determined to remember the brave soldiers of the 62nd PA. In the words of our good Sergeant…”Sunday dawned a beautiful, clear morning…we all decided to gather in the Wheatfield at 1 PM, without the formality of our usual ceremony, but nonetheless we paid our reverent respects to the 62nd, and all who fought and died there…I opened with a prayer of thanks that we were unharmed, and of remembrance for those who served there…Tim & I placed the Wheat, and Brian played “Taps” beautifully…Matt closed with a personal story and letters from Edwin Little, Co. I, who lost his life there 159 years prior…as Matt finished his reading, a gentleman and his daughter, who heard the bugle echo through the field, quickly appeared to see what was going on…he said “my great, great grandfather fought here with the 62nd!”…and once again, the Lord directed our steps, and introduced another family into “our family”…Not what we planned…guided by Providence… It was great to see Gordy there on Saturday, as we all gathered with Cindy to honor Joe McShane…an emotional morning for us all…”
In everything we do, we remember our dear friend, Joe McShane.

School of the Soldier

Our summer has also been busy with get-togethers and School of the Soldier for our newest members. We had a great night of food and friendship hosted by the Bowsers and then some drilling for ‘the boys’.

A Walk Through History in Apollo, PA

We were also fortunate to be invited to share in a living history event in Apollo, PA with several other units including the 40th PA Infantry Regiment. The location on the Roaring Run Trail was wonderful, and it was an altogether fantastic weekend with many good memories made!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2022 in Uncategorized

 

“WHERE WE’LL BE: 2022”

While our events and appearances have been limited or altered the past few years due to Covid restrictions and other factors, including the passing of our Cpl. Joe McShane in October, we have still managed to remain active in sharing, remembering and preserving the history of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry…

Following Joe’s passing, we made the solemn trip to Gettysburg for the Remembrance Day in November, where we held a very emotional “Wheatfield Tribute”, honoring not only the memory of the service and sacrifice of the Veterans of the 62nd, but that of Joe McShane as well…

We marched through the streets of Gettysburg in the annual parade, shared some much-needed fellowship together, and closed the day by serving as Honor Guard for the Illumination of Soldiers National Cemetery that evening, with Cindy McShane mustering up the courage to “stand in Joe’s place” as a guard in her Marie Tepe’ uniform…all of the stories of honor and valor that we have read about from the Civil War came flooding back as we stood together that evening…words fail me……………

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A week later, we reprised our role as hosts for the “Christmas Open House” at the Armstrong County Historical Museum in Kittanning, PA…this proved to be an emotional day as well, as we hung Joe’s kepi on the beautiful Fraser fir tree in remembrance–like so many of us, Joe loved Christmas!

The afternoon saw a good crowd of guests go through the McKain House, festively adorned for the Christmas holiday…the aroma of wassail and fresh-baked cookies reminded us of the warmth and comfort of friendship of our living history family…

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So, as we look forward to 2022, here are the events scheduled for the coming months:

“ECHOES FROM THE PAST”: MAY 21 & 22

ARMSTRONG COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM & GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY

This two-day event will feature “Proctors Militia” on Saturday, May 21, presenting living history from the French & Indian period, a very active and notable time in Armstrong County, including the county seat town of Kit-Han-Ne, present day Kittanning…while the living history goes on outdoors, artist and author Larry Smail will also be giving a historical presentation in the museum dining room, highlighting his book “The Attack on Kit-Han-Ne”, and his painting to provide the visual aid to the story…

There will also be a Children’s Story Time with Katie Wolfe at 2 PM, where kids can learn history through readings and illustrations…

On Sunday, May 22, our 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family will take to the museum grounds with our demonstrations and discussions about the Civil War period, including stories and images of not only 62nd Veterans, but men who served in many other units, all of which are evident as you tour the Civil War Room in the museum…

There will be other guests sharing the afternoon with us, including “spinning lady” Jean Chestnut, who will join our ladies as they display materials, fabrics, and clothing from the period, including the process of spinning wool…

William “Bill” McMaster will be on hand sharing books and items related to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War [SUVCW]…

Both days include free admission, free parking, tours of the museum and access to the genealogical library located in the Carriage House next to the museum…

We hope you will join us for our first event in our 28th season of keeping history alive!

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JUNE 4: VOLUNTEER WORK DAY, GETTYSBURG:

Many years ago, one of our long-time members and descendant Joe Rupp brought up the idea of participating in “Volunteer Work Day”…at the time, Joe and maybe one or two others started what has become a standing tradition with the 62nd PVI LHF…there were years that only a few could go, and there have been years that we have had 15 or more volunteers…the event is hosted by the GETTYSBURG FOUNDATION, in affiliation with the NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, GETTYSBURG…

As the name states, volunteers have the opportunity to work on the Gettysburg Battlefield, in a variety of job duties and work sites as selected by NPS…among the duties we have performed are “fence building”, “fence painting”, “headstone painting”, “headstone cleaning”, “historic structure painting”, “fence clearing” and “clearing brush”…we have participated in painting the McPherson Barn, the Codori Barn, the HQ building at the Eisenhower Farm, as well as painting many fences, including the hog fence and picket fences at the Sherfy Farm, the fences at the Trostle Farm and the fences at the Eisenhower Farm…we helped build several miles of fences, including the Virginia worm fences along the Emmitsburg Road…we have cleaned headstones in the Soldiers National Cemetery, and I believe our favorite and most honorable detail has been painting in the engraved names on the headstones of the Union Civil War graves…

For each of these duties, the Gettysburg Foundation not only provides the materials, water, and a Subway lunch, but for most of our events, a representative from the Foundation provides detailed accounts for the work site or structure related to the battle…part of what makes the headstone painting so memorable are the stories behind the names…while you are leaning over the markers, taking great care to put black paint in the engraving, Sue Boardman, or another Foundation member may stand behind you and read “John A. Walker, Private, Company D, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry: killed 2 July and buried on the road from the Peach Orchard to Little Round Top [D-77 Pennsylvania Plot]”…you can imagine the emotional experience of hearing the name you are painting, and how he came to be interred in the cemetery…the information comes from “These Honored Dead–The Union Casualties at Gettysburg”, by John W. Busey among the resources used…

After several years of being postponed due to the Covid pandemic, 2022 marker the return of the Volunteer Work Day event…many volunteers from many, many places gathered to lend a hand in preserving the Gettysburg Battlefield and Eisenhower Farm Historic Site for years to come…

The 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family continued our tradition as a “volunteer” Company, with fourteen volunteers present for duty…we had nineteen originally signed up, but several family health emergencies prevented the others from being able to attend…

Our duty for this year was to “daylight” the Virginia Worm fences that run from the Emmitsburg Road, behind the Sherfy House and Barn, stretching along the property to the adjoining Spangler Farm…this meant cutting and removing the brush [poison ivy, honeysuckle vine, briars] using hand tools and hard work…we also repaired or reset any sections of fence that had been damaged or dislodged…with not a cloud in the sky, nor a tree for shade, we worked under the hot sun to make a visible difference in the appearance of that property, on the historic area of the July 2nd fighting…

At the conclusion of the work day, our volunteers gathered at our usual location, a log cabin at Drummer Boy Camping Resort, for our annual “Volunteers Cookout”…this is a great way to spend an evening of friends, food and fellowship, with our “62nd Family”…

For more information about Volunteer Work Day, go to http://www.gettysburgfoundation.org

The tentative date for 2023 will be Saturday, June 3…

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Posted by on May 19, 2022 in Uncategorized

 

“IN MEMORIUM: JOE MCSHANE – COMRADE, BROTHER & FRIEND”

JOE MCSHANE: JULY 11, 1953 — OCTOBER 1, 2021

For living historians, the death of one of our members hits seemingly twice as hard…we not only lose the man that we have known as a beloved and loyal friend, who has always been there for us in everyday life, anytime, anywhere, no matter what, but we lose Corporal McShane, a trusted and devoted soldier, who has always been there when the 62nd had an appearance or event…

Joe and Cindy McShane joined the ranks of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History family many years ago, and despite not having lineage in the regiment, they have been dedicated to the cause of preserving and promoting the history of the 62nd unwaveringly…

In early September, 2021, Joe and Cindy both became ill with Covid, as did Cindy’s father…Joe had a serious bout with pneumonia several years ago, and so this illness became rapidly life-threatening…soon after being hospitalized, he was place on oxygen, and he struggled for a week…on Friday, October 1, 2021, Joe answered his “final muster” call…

For those of us who study the Civil War, and dedicate much of our lives to learning, sharing and teaching that part of our nation’s history, we have read countless accounts of “a hole in the line”, or “plugging a gap” when a comrade was down…even recounting this over 150 years after the fact, we are moved to tears as we read these things…

But when it happens in the here and now, we realize that we have lost a brother, a comrade, and a friend, leaving not only a hole in the line, but in our hearts…a gaping hole that only time can fill, with treasured memories and stories too numerous to count…

So we mourn, as a family, and we ask for your prayers for Cindy, their children, and the 62nd PVI Living History Family…

“The 62nd boys”, as captured by our friend Rob Gibson, one of Cindy’s favorite images

On Friday, October 8, 2021, the members of the McShane family, the 62nd family, as well as members of the Confederation of Union Generals {COUG}, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War {PA Department Commander John Gibson}, bid a Civil War “Farewell, for Now” to Joe at English Funeral Home, located in Oakmont, PA, where Joe and Cindy spent part of their lives…

You can view Joe’s obituary at: http://www.englishfuneral home.com

If you would like to make a donation in Joe’s honor, the McShane’s ask that you send them to the Armstrong County Historical Museum & Genealogical Society, where Joe and Cindy served as volunteers…you can find the address at: http://www.achmgs.org

Thank you, and may God bless you!

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Posted by on October 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

“THE CIVIL WAR TIMES”

Over a decade ago, I reached out to my good friend, Larry Smail, with an idea regarding the 62nd PVI story…Larry and I are not only great friends, but former co-workers, who share many common interests, including history, art, music, and most importantly, faith…

This idea would focus on the history and art connections…Larry has long been a painter of wildlife ,and of historical figures, specifically from the French & Indian era…he had actually published a book about that local history during that period, and his artwork graced the cover of the book…so I thought, maybe he would be willing to create a Civil War painting, my intention being the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg…well, I asked, and he agreed, and we were off to Gettysburg to spend some time in Rose’s Wheatfield…while Larry sketched and photographed the landscape and surroundings, I described to him as best I could what the scene might have been like on July 2, 1863…

After returning home, I gave him as many resources as were necessary, and after a few phone calls and visits, Larry began the process…I believe he still has the post on his site archived, where he describes that in detail https://larrysmailart.com

Months later, “The Wheatfield–Whirlpool of Death” was completed…the reason I had requested the painting was simple: to provide a visual means of telling the story of what the 62nd Regiment, as part of Col. Jacob B. Sweitzer’s 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, had experienced in their desperate fight during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg…

In the years since, the painting has been printed, published, and circulated in many ways, shapes and forms…it is even available on flagstone, thanks to our friends at “Framing on Stone” https://framingonstone.com …but recently, the original intention of “telling the 62nd story” has, as they say, “come full circle”…Larry and I were contacted a few months ago by the folks from “The Civil War Times”…and the rest is, well, “History”!

The August issue of the magazine features William Cain of the 62nd on the cover, to go along with the “Gettysburg: Wheatfield Mayhem” story, by Scott Fink [pages 26-37]…

At the top of page 32, “The Wheatfield: Whirlpool of Death”, by Larry A. Smail…needless to say, we are both very pleased that the painting is still helping to tell the story…

A few of the other images within the article are also very familiar to our Living History Family…the “Sweitzer’s Brigade Flag”, which is housed at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, PA, was recently on display at our event for the Armstrong County Historical Museum & Genealogical Society…Michael Kraus, Curator at Soldiers & Sailors, was one of our guest speakers at the event, and brought the priceless artifact to display for a few hours…many of the other images of soldiers and artifacts are from the Ronn Palm Collection at “Civil War Images” in Gettysburg…

So, while the descendants and members of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family continues to honor the men of the 62nd, and their families, it is encouraging to know that we are not alone…to know that their story is being told, at a national level, and using some of the very resources that we have been using, well, that is truly special…

The magazine has been available at newsstands and bookstores for a few weeks now…

The original “Wheatfield–Whirlpool of Death” painting hangs in the Civil War Room at the Armstrong County Historical Museum, 300 North McKean Street, Kittanning, PA, 16201 https://www.achmgs.org

Prints are available by contacting Larry Smail @ http://www.larrysmailart.com or Robert “Slim” Bowser @ 100yrs2L8@windstream.net or through this site…or by phone at 724-545-1330 or 724-664-6625

Flagstones are available through Robert “Slim” Bowser [see above], or through Framing on Stone http://www.framingonstone.com

For more about Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, go to: http://www.soldiersandsailorshall.org

For more on the Ronn Palm Collection, go to: http://www.ronnpalmmuseum.com or call 724-664-5150

Also available, “Pittsburgh’s Forgotten Civil War Regiment”, by Ernest Spisak, either through Robert “Slim” Bowser [see above], or through Amazon

Thank you for your interest in the ongoing story of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry!

God bless.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

“WITH HONOR AND HUMILITY”

“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” –Proverbs 15:33

It wasn’t long after returning from Gettysburg, where we commemorated the 158th Anniversary of the Battle, and conducted our annual “Wheatfield Tribute” to honor the men of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac [see the recent post “The Wheatfield: 158 years Later”], that I picked up my copy of “The Valley Mirror” from July 17, 2014…I keep this issue where I can find it, and from time to time will read the front page article “With Honor and Humility”, penned by our friend Ernie Spisak, after he had been our guest of honor for our “Wheatfield Tribute” on July 5, 2014…with tear-filled eyes I can still hear his voice saying “What a day this is…what a great day this is”…

It was after meeting Ernie following the release of his wonderful book “Pittsburgh’s Forgotten Civil War Regiment” [the regimental history of the 62nd PVI] that we invited Ernie, his wife Peggy, and daughter Danielle to be our guests for the ceremony…by this time in his life, Ernie’s eyesight was diminished, but he could see our regimental flag unfurled in the July sun…having devoted so much of his life to completing the history of the 62nd, it was a very special day for everyone…with permission from “The Mirror”, I will share Ernie’s words with you…

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“With Honor and Humility”, by Ernie Spisak

If it is true that spirits walk the face of this earth, then, surely on this day, July 5, 2014, and at this place, their presence could be felt. Under a cloudless blue sky, void of the customary oppressive humidity, a steady summer breeze blew across a large empty field. Quietly, I sat watching a large American flag waving in the breeze. Straining my ears, I heard a far off voice whispering. “Across the Nation, this day should be celebrated with parades, picnics, and illuminations in the sky”. John Adams spoke these words on July 4th, 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Over the past 30 or so years, I have walked and stood on this field many times. However, this day was different; it exceeded my wildest imaginations.

A bright morning sun shone down upon the field. Simultaneously, the wind rattled the leaves in the far off trees and snapped the large American flag above my head. The distant voices of long ago faintly drifted on the breeze. “Well”, asked a young woman, “do we have a Monarchy or a Republic?” Mr. Benjamin Franklin, in 1787, replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it”. On that September 17th in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress completed the Nation’s Constitution.

It is Mr. Franklin’s remarks that lured me to this place today. In the spring of 1861, Franklin’s newly formed republic split in two and our country plunged into a great Civil War. During the second year of this war, in July of 1863, two enormous armies converged on this small crossroads village of Gettysburg. Under the Stars and Stripes, I sit on one of the many fields of battle. I sit in the Wheatfield where Rebels and Yankees turned the golden field of wheat into a bloody “Whirlpool of Death”.

A regiment from Pittsburgh, the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, fought in this Wheatfield. Today, I am sitting no more than ten feet from the monument dedicated to this regiment. Flying opposite of the American flag is the flag of the Fifth Corps; its red maltese cross with a white background blowing in the breeze. I am here as a guest of men who had ancestors serving in this regiment.

In the shadow of this large monument, this portion of the Wheatfield, within minutes, came alive. Before my eyes stood men of the 62nd in full uniform and equipped for battle. In formation, they formed to the side of their monument. Quietly, a First Sergeant called out commands to the troops. He then walked over to me, greeted me and requested that I hold something for him. Again, was I sitting among the spirits of the brave men who fought in this “Whirlpool of Death”?

No, this day I was sitting among the men who invited me. They are men who reenact the living history of Company D of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. As I sat, First Sergeant Daniel Warren Swigart, [aka Slim Bowser] handed me a shaft of wheat held together with a large mourning ribbon; he then went about his duties this day.

As other reenactors spoke, this First Sergeant returned to where I was sitting, stood by my side, then asked me to accompany him with the wheat and place it at the foot of the monument. Humbly, I followed the First Sergeant’s instructions and with honor assisted him with placing the shaft of wheat at the foot of the monument. I then retired to my seat. In full uniform, with his white gloves glistening in the sun, the First Sergeant stood at my side. Quietly, under the sounding of Taps, he gently placed his hand on my left shoulder. For a brief moment, fighting back a tear, my heart felt for these men, present and past, that today on this hallowed ground “The Circle of the 62nd Pennsylvania Had Gone Unbroken”.

Let it be known, that I humbly accepted the invitation of Company D because I recently published the history of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. In 1889, twenty six years after the Battle of Gettysburg, Adjutant William Patterson spoke these words at the dedication of the monument. He said, “The only glory the rank and file have is the honor and reputation of their own organization”. Today, 125 years later, these words still hold true. They hold true due to the sincere heartfelt dedication of the living history reenactors of Company D.

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This photo of Ernie, holding a copy of his regimental history, was taken on the occasion of the sale of the 500th copy of the book….this framed image travels with us wherever we go…Ernie became a dear friend until his sudden passing on April 20, 2017…his affection for the 62nd Regiment, past, and present, are evident in his words…those sentiments are returned many times over…the descendants of the 62nd Veterans are eternally grateful to Ernie, Peggy and Danielle, for the overwhelming devotion to making certain that the 62nd story lives on…

As Providence would have it, many of the circumstances present in 2014 were present in 2021, including the weather, the need for remembrance, and the outpouring of support for the ceremony…

And as I was contemplating how to put these things together for this post, the scripture verse from Proverbs appeared on the screen like a beacon during this weeks message…

May God bless the 62nd PVI, the Spisak’s, and all of the members of the 62nd PVI Living History Family, as well as our friends and supporting cast…

The Circle of the 62nd Pennsylvania remains Unbroken!

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

“THE WHEATFIELD: 158 YEARS LATER”

A number of years ago, our friend, author, and fellow descendant Tom McMillan was our guest speaker for our “Wheatfield Tribute” ceremony…in his remarks as he stood feet away from the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument, Tom stated “I believe the Veterans of the 62nd would be quite shocked and surprised to see that after all of these years, we are still gathering in this place to remember them and what they did here”…

And once again, we gathered around the tall granite shaft, where on July 2, 1863, the men of the 62nd found themselves nearly surrounded on three sides as the battle ebbed and flowed in Rose’s Wheatfield…symbolically, we intentionally surrounded the monument with descendants, families, and friends on a rare “comfortable” July 3, 2021…

“Procession”

At a few minutes after 10:00 AM, the tribute started, as the men, women and children of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family [62ND PVI LHF] approached the monument site, led by descendants Gordon “Gordy” Sheaffer [2nd Lt. Jefferson Truitt], and myself, Robert “Slim” Bowser [1st Sgt. & Reverend Daniel W. Swigart]…once assembled, I welcomed the audience, and led everyone in prayer, followed by a few remarks about the significance of the day, the importance of remembrance, and a brief history of the regiment and its contribution to the great Battle of Gettysburg…this included comments about the “Colors”–the flags and guidons which were crucial to troop movements, and were priceless treasures to the men who fought and died under them…with the story of the 62nd and 4th Michigan’s fight for their flags in the Wheatfield being the feature article in the August issue of “The Civil War Times”, it seemed appropriate to make it a part of our tribute…

I then introduced Gordy Sheaffer, the founder of the living history group in 1994…Gordy continued the discussion about the flags, relating the experiences of Lt. Truitt, though not a part of the Color detail, grabbing the flag and saving it from being lost at the Battle of Malvern Hill…

Following Gordy’s remarks, 62nd PVI LHF member Cindy McShane, in her portrayal of Marie Tepe’, read from General Joshua L. Chamberlain’s post war “In great deeds” speech…quite the proper words for the occasion, eloquently read by Marie…

And, as if guided by providence, our final speaker, followed with the final paragraphs of Chamberlain’s memorable speech…we were extremely honored to have Col. Tom Vossler, {retired Vietnam combat Veteran, retired Licensed Battlefield Guide, author of books about the Gettysburg and Antietam battlefield, as well as his new release “BATTLE TESTED” [Gettysburg Leadership Lessons For 21st Century Leaders], and a dear friend and fellow “Wheatfield descendant”} as our guest speaker…when you tour the field with Col. Tom, you get a perspective of one who is “battle tested”, and who can make you feel like you were there!…so to have Tom speak for our ceremony was a special treat for everyone present…

To make the presentation of the “Wheat”, Col. Vossler was joined by SSGT Christopher Bargerstock, [active military], and his father Dwight, also a retired Vietnam Veteran…Chris and Dwight are descendants of Private Henry Bargerstock, who served in Co.D, along with Truitt and Swigart…

In a very humbling and emotional moment, three modern men of valor joined me in placing the Wheat tribute at the base of the monument to the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, whose service and sacrifice in that field must never be forgotten…May God Bless them All!

As we rendered our salute, 62nd Bugler Brian Wolfe filled the valley with the solemn notes of “Taps”…

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the opportunity was given for all descendants present to step forward to introduce themselves, and to mention their ancestors’ names…I am told that as each name was mentioned, the wind lifted the regimental flag as if to say “we are grateful that you remember us still”…

In conclusion, I have said this before, and I must repeat it here again: It never ceases to amaze me, and humble me further, that of all of those who witness our ceremony and our living history events, it is the active military members and retired Veterans who are the first to express their appreciation to us…we do not take this lightly…God bless!

**The photos used in this post were taken by Van Cornish, with the exception of “The Wheat” and “Major Lowry’s Grave” by Slim Bowser, and “Wheatfield Tribute Group Photo” by Ted Chamberlain…

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Posted by on August 1, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

ARMSTRONG COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM & GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY

“FROM ARMSTRONG TO APPOMATTOX”

ACHMGS

“62nd Men” by Amy Loughrey Gray for the ACHMGS

On Saturday & Sunday, May 22 – 23, 2021, the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family [62ND PVI LHF] took to the field for the first time in many months…and for a good cause–to mark the re-opening of the Armstrong County Historical Museum in Kittanning, Pennsylvania…being the county seat of Armstrong County, this made the event title an easy one, “From Armstrong to Appomattox”, as we highlighted the men from the county who served in the American Civil War…for some, that meant a journey that took them to places like Antietam, Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Nashville, and Stones River, to name a few…for others, places like Andersonville, Salisbury and Libby were horrifying places known as Confederate Prisons…for a few, like those in the 139th PVI,155th PVI and the 2nd PA Cavalry, the journey would take them to the tiny village of Appomattox Court House, VA, where General Grant met with General Lee to accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia…these men would line the road on April 12th, 1865, to receive the “stacking of arms” as the Confederate Army turned in their weapons, accoutrements and flags, under the direction of General Joshua L. Chamberlain…

On Saturday, we were very pleased to welcome Mr. Michael Kraus, curator of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, PA…Mike spent the day with us, touring our museum, greeting visitors, and speaking to the guests about the importance of museums, large and small, in preserving and maintaining our history…Mike also gave a detailed description of the roster of Armstrong County men who served, and the regiments they served in, including a list of engagements for each unit… https://www.soldiersandsailorshall.org

Michael Kraus [photo courtesy of Larry A. Smail]

To support his presentation, Michael brought a number of priceless artifacts with him from the collection at Memorial Hall relative to the Armstrong County soldiers and regiments…this included descriptive roster books for the 62nd and 78th regiments, weapons such as swords and pistols carried by men from the county, and once again, the “Sweitzer’s Brigade Flag”, which flew in the “Wheatfield” at Gettysburg, and on the battlefield at Spottsylvania, VA…

Sweitzer Brigade Flag [photo by Larry A. Smail]

The men of the 62nd PA fought under this flag in those battles, and on July 2nd, 1863, two Armstrong County men, John Long and John Walker of Company D, gave their lives in the fighting at Gettysburg…

Throughout the weekend, the ladies and children of our living history family brought to life the “homefront” experiences for the visitors and guests…this included many aspects of life, from schooling, games, daily chores and duties, while missing loved ones who were off to war…

Games photo by Marilyn Cornish
62nd Ladies by Amy Loughrey Gray for the ACHMGS

On Sunday, we welcomed long-time friends, historians and authors Arthur Fox and John Haltigan…Art and John have collaborated on a number of Civil War books, including “Those Who Fought”, focusing mainly on the Allegheny County men who served…this book also features a chapter on the 62nd Regiment, and includes an image of a painting “The Wheatfield: Whirlpool of Death”, by Larry A. Smail…this painting depicts the moments when Col. Jacob B. Sweitzer and the men of the 62nd are nearly surrounded in Rose’s field of wheat in Gettysburg…more about the painting to come!

“The Wheatfield: Whirlppol of Death” original painting displayed in the Civil War Room in the Armstrong County Historical Museum [photo by Larry A. Smail]

For the last few years, Art and John, along with contributions by Jeane Stetson and Dianne Rosell, have been pouring their hearts and souls into a new work, “At the Center of the Storm: The 139th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in the Civil War”…this book is a comprehensive work, the “regimental history” of this notable regiment…it will tell the story of the regiment, and its service, from burial detail after Second Bull Run, to the surrender at Appomattox…the book will also tell the individual stories or “vignettes”…during their presentation on Sunday, Art and John, both Veterans in their own right, shared some of these stories, including that of Color Sergeant [flag-bearer] David W. Young of Co. E, from Armstrong County, who was designated by General Wright and General Grant as one of three soldiers most conspicuous for gallantry in the final assault at Petersburg…he would receive an autographed letter from the general warmly praising his heroism…

Another notable Veteran of the 139th, Sylvester Hildebrand was the last surviving member of the regiment from our county, and the last member of the G.A. R. Post 89 in Apollo, PA…he died in 1935, at the age of 88…

The book will also feature 15 chapters, 240 photos 40 battlefield maps, and 600 footnotes…at this time, the final phases of indexing are underway, before the final product will be published by Mechling Publishing in late July or August 2021…

Once the book is released to the public, we will look forward to hosting Art & John for a book signing event!

John Haltigan [L] and Arthur Fox [R], seated at a table giving a presentation on their upcoming book “At the Center of the Storm”, a regimental history of the 139th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. [photo by Slim Bowser]

And with the conclusion of Art and John’s presentation, the visitors were free to explore the encampment, grounds, and the beautiful McKain House, which now serves as the Armstrong County Historical Museum, as well as the Genealogical Library in the Carriage House next to the museum…the location is:

300 NORTH MCKEAN STREET, KITTANNING, PA 16201

Hours of operation are THURSDAYS, 1-3 PM, AND SUNDAYS, 1-3 PM

TOURS CAN ALSO BE REQUESTED BY APPOINTMENT

VISIT http://www.achmgs.org

Mary Koma was also on hand to sign copies of her book during our Saturday hours…

And so, after a year of quarantines, closures, social distancing, and staying apart, we were very pleased to welcome guests and visitors to the museum, and share the rich and timeless history of our nation, our county, our community, and our ancestors, including those in the 62nd PVI…

Thank you to all who took time to visit with us, and to our wonderful guests for their presentations…

May God Bless!

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Gettysburg Spring 2021

Hello! My name is Katie Wolfe and I am excited to be a new member of the 62nd PA Volunteer Infantry Living History Family and a contributor to this website. The history of the American Civil War has always fascinated me, particularly the stories of units from Armstrong County. I recently visited Gettysburg, which is always a beautiful place to visit and especially in the spring with the redbuds and trees blooming. I was able to take a moment to pause and reflect at the 62nd PA Volunteer Infantry Monument and take some pictures with the spring foliage in the background. I’m looking forward to more events with the 62nd PA Volunteer Infantry Living History Family and more visits to Gettysburg!

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

“WHERE WE’LL BE 2021”

Well, even though our site hasn’t been updated in quite some time, the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family has remained a very active organization, and look to stay active in 2021.

Since the last post on our site, we have been continuing to preserve the memory and sacrifice of the men of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, through a number of avenues, including Living History events and encampments, school and library programs, volunteer work with the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service, and most importantly, ceremonial events and tributes, including grave site restoration and preservation.

Unfortunately, our website has taken a backseat to the activities mentioned above, which we hope to correct in the coming weeks. But even as it is, our site has continued to provide an avenue through which a number of folks, including fellow descendants of 62nd Volunteers, have managed to connect with us, and therefore, adding to the ongoing mission of remembrance and respect for the regiment.

That being said, while we are in the process of improving and updating our website, please take note of the tentative schedule of events and appearances that we have for 2021.

ARMSTRONG COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM & GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY: MAY 22-23

This will be a small living history encampment in support of the Armstrong County Museum and its affiliated Genealogical Library…our goal is to draw folks back to the museum, to witness first hand the vast collection of Armstrong County related items, and with specific attention to the Civil War Room, featuring a large collection of artifacts, weapons, and memorabilia connected to the Veterans of the Civil War.

Once again, we are pleased to welcome Michael Kraus, historian, friend, and curator from Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, PA…last year, Michael very graciously brought the original 62nd Sweitzer’s Brigade pennant [pictured above] to display in the museum dining room…the flag is riddled with holes and torn from the fighting both at Gettysburg and Spottsylvania…Mike will be appearing at the museum event on Saturday, May 22…additional authors, artists, and guest have been invited…the event will be open to the public from 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturday the 22nd, and from 1 PM to 4 PM on Sunday, May 23rd…there is curbside parking along both Vine and McKean Streets, as well as a small lot for those with accessibility concerns behind the museum via the Grant Street entrance…

ARMSTRONG COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM AND GENEALOGICAL LIBRARY

300 NORTH MCKEAN STREET, KITTANNING, PA 16201

https://www.achmgs.org

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GETTYSBURG: JUNE 4-6

This is normally a big weekend for our “volunteers”…we usually have a nice group to support the Gettysburg Foundations “Volunteer Work Day” event, as well as our duties with the National Park Service and the Adopt-A-Position Program, where we have been striving to assist in the cleanup and maintenance of the 62nd monument site, and the Wheatfield proper…

Unfortunately, at this time, both events have been canceled for 2021…nonetheless, a number of us are still planning to be in Gettysburg, and hope to be able to find a way to volunteer and do something productive…

[Part of our crew, the Lavezoli family, painting fences at the Eisenhower Farm several years ago]

GETTYSBURG: 158TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE [JULY 1-4]

While a few of the details remain to be confirmed, the 62nd PVI LHF will be present to commemorate the anniversary at Gettysburg…we will make every attempt to be present to post the Colors around the monument on Friday, July 2nd, and we will plan on conducting our annual “Wheatfield Tribute” at the monument site on Saturday, July 3rd, at 10 AM…

It is possible that we will have a small encampment at the Lightner Farmhouse B&B along Route 97 South during the weekend, though not confirmed at this time…

GETTYSBURG HERITAGE CENTER: OCTOBER 9-10

For a number of years now, our living history weekend at the Gettysburg Heritage Center has been one of our favorite events…being along Steinwehr Avenue within site of battlefield, where we can meet and greet the many, many visitors, from lifelong residents of the storied town, to the first time travelers, and talk about the town, the battle, and how our ancestors made a mark in the history of our nation there…and the museum, book store and gift shop there are “first rate” as they would have put it!

GETTYSBURG REMEMBRANCE WEEKEND: NOVEMBER 19-21

The activities for Remembrance Day bring about more of a sense of “duty” than any other event…for Remembrance Day itself, this year being the 20th of November, we typically begin with our “Wheatfield Tribute” ceremony at the monument at 10 AM…then we prepare to take our place in line for the parade, which usually steps of at 1 PM…following the parade, we have a tradition of gathering at Friendly’s for a meal together, before parting for a few hours to re-group…then, with a deep spirit of humility and honor, we head to the Soldiers National Cemetery to stand as Honor Guard at the Illumination of the Cemetery…we have been sharing this duty with our friends and comrades in the 66th OVI for a few years now…weather and disease has prompted the cancelation of the Illumination recently, but we will pray for both to subside this November…also, the Gettysburg Address Commemoration at the Cemetery takes place on November 19th, this year being on Friday…this is a memorable ceremony that everyone should experience!

“To the stone wall boys!”

CHRISTMAS AT THE MUSEUM: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28

Two years ago we hosted a “Christmas Open House” at the Armstrong County Historical Museum…in about three hours or so, over one hundred and fifty guests milled through the beautifully adorned McKain House, while the music of Christmas echoed through each room, filled with faces and memorabilia from the county through the years…the aroma of wassail and baked goods kept anyone from rushing out the door…a memorable day indeed…and though last year it had to remain a memory, we are looking forward to decking the museum halls again in 2021…hours will be from 1 to 4 PM…we hope you can join us!

And so, there you have our schedule for 2021…in the meantime, we are always open for opportunities to share our love of history, and humble pride for the boys of the 62nd PA Volunteer Infantry…we will try to keep the calendar updated as things are added or changed…

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU SOON!

GOD BLESS!

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

“WHERE WE’LL BE :2018”

CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR 2018:

JUNE 2, 2018–GETTYSBURG: VOLUNTEER WORK DAY with the Gettysburg Foundation and National Park Service…

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62ND VOLUNTEERS AT THE TROSTLE FARM

For a number of years now our living history family has participated in the Volunteer Work Day program with the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service…it has been a very rewarding event for us, getting to assist in the preservation of the Gettysburg battlefield, including painting the historic structures [buildings & barns], painting or building fences, cleaning or painting the names on the markers of the soldiers buried in the Soldier’s National Cemetery, or clearing brush and vegetation from areas along fence lines, monuments and markers…

This year our crew was slightly fewer in numbers than in previous years, but none-the-less, we were able to get a fresh coat of white paint on the picket fences surrounding the farmhouse at the Trostle Farm by the noon hour…our crew paused for a photograph by the wayside marker in front of the historic Trostle barn, where Union General Daniel Sickles received a severe wound on July 2, 1863, losing part of his leg to a shell…

The Trostle Farm was the site of horrific loss, as the men from the 9th Massachussett’s Battery [Bigalow’s] engaged the Confederate charge there…it was an honor to do our small part in keeping the farm looking good for another season of visitors…

 

ADOPT-A-POSITION PROGRAM with the National Park Service…

Most folks are probably unaware that the monuments, markers and sites on the battlefield can be “adopted”, by individuals or groups, interested and willing to assist the National Park Service with the maintenance and upkeep around each site…this year, the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History family accepted the adoption of the 62nd PA monument site…

So, after painting at the Trostle Farm in the morning, we had the “Subway” lunch provided by the Gettysburg Foundation, and then we headed for the Wheatfield to do our first volunteer work for the “Adopt-A-Position” program…for several hours our crew braved the heat, humidity, ticks and poison ivy to clear some brush around the monument and flank markers, as well as a great deal of brush and tree limbs along the stone fence separating Rose’s Wheatfield from Rose’s Woods…

After spending many, many hours there over the years in remembrance of what took place there on July 2, 1863, it was good to be able to give some much needed care to the site where so many men had fallen on that hot, humid July day one-hundred and fifty-five years ago…IMGP2443

 

And so, while it was certainly a different kind of work than that done by the Veterans of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, in some small way, the 62nd PVI are still “volunteering”…

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155TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG:

JULY 2, 2018: We will try to represent the regiment by posting our colors around the 62nd monument in Rose’s Wheatfield at Gettysburg, where the regiment fought valiantly on July 2, 1863…

62ND PVI--MONUMENT & COLORS[BLOG]

JULY 6-7: LIGHTNER FARMHOUSE B&B ENCAMPMENT: We will be encamped along the Baltimore Pike [Route 97 South] at the B&B, where visitors are welcome to stop and visit our living history encampment…go to http://www.lightnerfarmhouse.com  for more information…

62ND PVI--LIGHTNER FARM[BLOG]

“WHEATFIELD TRIBUTE”–SATURDAY, JULY 7, 10 AM: We will conduct our annual wreath-laying ceremony at the 62nd PVI monument along DeTrombriond Avenue in the Wheatfield…all are welcome to join us as we pay tribute to the regiment and their brigade mates who fought there 155 years ago…

62ND PVI--WHEATFIELD TRIBUTE[blog]

 

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GETTYSBURG HERITAGE CENTER: OCTOBER 13-14, 2018:

We will be presenting living history demonstrations during museum hours throughout the weekend, as well as offering items related to the 62nd PVI regiment, including books, art prints and flagstones…

 

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REMEMBRANCE DAY COMMEMORATIONS: GETTYSBURG–NOVEMBER 17, 2018

“WHEATFIELD TRIBUTE”–We will conduct our annual wreath-laying to honor the regiment at the 62nd PA Infantry monument along DeTrombriond Avenue in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg…ceremony time to be announced closer to the event…

62ND PVI--WHEATFIELD TRIBUTE 2 [BLOG]

We will also participate in the Remembrance Day parade, sponsored by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War [SUVCW}, scheduled to step off at 1:00 P.M.

That evening, we will also volunteer as one of the Honor Guard units for the Illumination of the Soldiers National Cemetery for the Gettysburg Foundation…unless otherwise noted, our detail will stand guard from 7-7:30 P.M….

 

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We hope that you can join us in the field in 2018 as we do our small part to honor the Veterans of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2018 in Uncategorized