Friday, March 14, 2014

A Civil War Ancestor!

Readers occasionally contact me about their own research interests, usually related to genealogy and the Civil War. Imagine my surprise when I received an email last week from Katie Baumgarten. Katie's second great grand uncle is Reinhard (Reinhart) Baumgarten, who also happens to be one of my ancestors. As I wrote in 2011, Reinhard was born in Pennsylvania in 1839 and eventually settled in Ashland, Kentucky. He was somehow related to my Great Great Grandfather John Baumgarten. At the time of the 1870 Census, Reinhard and John were living together in Birmingham, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. I also stumbled upon a William Baumgarten, who was born in Allegheny County in 1845 and later served in Co. K of the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry. I speculated based on some of my findings that Reinhard and William may have been brothers, but I wasn't certain.

Flash ahead to this March, and in steps Katie. She emailed me that William was indeed Reinhard's brother and even sent me a photograph of the two. Her grandfather, Richard, had given the picture to her. We both agreed that William and Reinhard were possibly half-brothers, given that their mothers apparently had different names. In any event, the picture simply labels them as "brothers."

Photograph of Reinhard (l) and William (r) Baumgarten, courtesy of Katie Baumgarten. A wartime wound blinded William in the right eye.  The injury to the eye seems visible here. Katie dates the picture to around 1900.

Reinhard is in my bloodline, meaning that William is an ancestor as well. I don't know John's relationship to the brothers yet, and am still trying to determine the exact family tie. Regardless, I am excited to learn that I count a Civil War solider among my ancestors. Only a few years ago, I had no idea that any of my family was even here during the War Between the States!

Second state color of the 102nd Pa. Infantry, received in April 1864 (courtesy of Pa. Capitol Preservation Committee). William served under this flag. 

William enlisted as a private with Company K, 102nd Pa. in Pittsburgh on March 31, 1864. He and the rest of the recruits joined the fight against General Robert E. Lee's Confederates as part of the First Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac. William participated in the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns before being transferred to Washington, where the 102nd Pa. helped to repulse Jubal Early's movement against the capital at the Battle of Ft. Stevens (July 11-12, 1864). William and the 102nd Pa. next headed to the Shenandoah Valley. William was injured in the right side of the head near Snicker's Gap in July 1864, and lost sight in one eye. He later was wounded in the left leg at Third Winchester (Sept. 19, 1864) and the left hand at Fisher's Hill (Sept. 22, 1864). Even after suffering so many injuries, William soldiered onward, and apparently fought at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. He was finally sent to recover from his wounds for six months at Satterlee General Hospital in Philadelphia. William was discharged from the service on June 9, 1865.

Following the war, William married Elizabeth Martin, a native of Germany, in 1868. The two had five children together. William and Reinhard ran a grocery store in Birmingham, Allegheny Co. after the war called Baumgarten & Brothers. William moved to Butler County, Pennsylvania in 1889 and started farming. At some point the family relocated to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and Cullman, Alabama, where William died on October 29, 1921.

I plan to continue researching Reinhard, William, and John Baumgarten. For now, I am proud to know that I have an ancestor who fought in the war for the Union cause. This discovery has added meaning given that this year we observe the 150th of those battles where William sacrificed so much. Stay tuned for more on William and Company K. And a special thanks to Katie for sending me the information and picture.


Butler County PAGenWeb, "Genealogical Inquiries" (contains excerpt on William from 1889 book, Presidents, Soldiers and Statesmen, Vol. 1); Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, 1867-68; N.A.R.A., Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900 (available on; National Park Service, "102nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry," Soldiers & Sailors Database.


Todd Berkoff said...

Ron, I am very envious that you have an ancestor that served in the Army of the Potomac. And in the 6th Corps too! The Mysteries and Conundrums blog did a post in 2010 on Colonel John W. Patterson of the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry who was killed during the Battle of the Wilderness along the Orange Plank Road. Amazingly, the NPS has in its museum the original headboard used to mark Colonel Patterson's grave in Military Cemetery #2 that was located along the Orange Plank Road, the same headboard seen in an iconic photo of the cemetery.

Ron Baumgarten said...

I was glad to learn about this connection....and what a corps! Thanks for sending along the link. I shutter to think that new recruit William's very first battle was at the Wilderness. And we probably will never know what drove him to enlist in March 1864--was it to get a bounty? Out of patriotic zeal? Keep in mind he was just 18 or 19 that spring. I'd really like to walk some of the ground where the 102nd saw action, during the Overland Campaign, as well as out in the Valley. Now to find William's exact connection to my family. That is still the mystery.

Katie said...

Love the post!!! Glad to help, and I am going to continue researching, as I came across John Baumgarten in my research too!!
Let me know anything else you find out.

Ron Baumgarten said...

Katie--Thanks! And thanks again for the picture and providing some clues as to my (our) family history! Did you determine where John fits in all of this? Keep in touch, and I'll be sure to let you know what I find as well.