“GLORY” : One final promotion…

…”Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been been faithful over a few things…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”…Matthew 25:21

I have tried countless times to imagine what the life of Daniel W. Swigart must have been like after returning to Armstrong County, having spent the previous three years marching, drilling, fighting for the Union Army–witnessing the brutal horrors of it all, including the death of numerous friends and comrades…

 

DWS POSTWAR[blog]

Without a diary or memoirs of any kind, I can only piece together his post-war life with the information and images available…and while it may not be a complete history, it is “his story” in the best way I can present it…as you will see, it seems that he led a full and meaningful life after the war, having served our nation, he would go on to serve his family, his fellow man, his community, and his Lord for many, many years..

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In the years immediately after mustering out, Daniel’s family continued to grow…in addition to Ella [1861] and Emma [1863], Margaret would give birth to sons John [1864], Frank [1866], and daughter Margaret [1868]…sadly, following the birth of her namesake, Daniel’s wife Margaret passed away in September, 1868…

It is apparently following that tragic occurrence that Daniel began his studies in the ministry…he attended the Reidsburg Academy of Clarion County, PA, as well as taking a three years’ course in theology with a private tutor, Reverend William Shadrach, D.D.

In 1870, Daniel not only was ordained as pastor of the Mt. Pleasant Baptist church in Clarion county, but he also re-married, to Emily Stoughton, daughter of Reverend Samuel Stoughton, of Butler county, PA…during their marriage, Daniel and Emily had five children, Eva, Samuel, Elvira, Emerson and an unnamed son, who died in infancy…

Daniel graduated from Reidsburg Academy in 1872…aside from the Mt. Pleasant church, he also took charge of the church in Strattonville [Clarion Co.] before 1876, at which time he would organize and pastor the First Baptist Church in Clarion, PA…he would serve there for two years before moving on to Mercer county…

DWS LEWIS IMAGE[blog]

It was most likely that the image shown at the right was taken during his time serving in Clarion county, as indicated by the photographers mark at the bottom, that of F.M. Lewis…

I am also including here several images of the First Baptist church on Main Street in Clarion…parts of the original building remain, while several additions have been constructed over the years…on an autumn Sunday morning in October, 2017, Sue and I attended services there, where we received a very warm welcome…it was humbling to be in God’s house that morning, knowing that the ministry of Rev. Daniel Warren Swigart lives on there…we hope to worship again there soon…

 

First Baptist Church of Clarion, PADWS-FBCHURCH 1876[blog]

 

 

 

After serving for two years at the West Salem Church in Greenville, PA, Reverend Swigart left Mercer county for a number of assignments in Indiana county, including Saltsburg [1881], Loyalhanna and Kelley’s Station Baptist churches…he would also become pastor of the church in Indiana, PA in 1885, before organizing the church in Blairsville in 1886…

Daniel would also take his ministerial talents to Washington, Greene and Fayette counties, serving at Waynesburg, Bethlehem, and Dunbar to name a few…

 

“THE GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC”  [G.A.R.]

Aside from raising his children and his ministerial duties, Daniel also served in two prominent Veterans organizations, the Grand Army of the Republic and the Union Veterans Legion…he served as chaplain in both the G.A.R. Post #28 in Indiana, PA, and encampment #11 of the U.V.L.

While we have very little documentation of his service in these organizations, there are several occasions worth mentioning…in July of 1886, the citizens of Indiana [PA] hosted a “Soldiers Reunion”, which included a Veterans Parade…the following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the “Indiana Times”, July 7, 1886…

“Saturday morning [July 3} dawned clear and bright and gave evidence of a propitious day for our celebration. Before 6 o’clock carriages and wagons began coming into town loaded with people, old and young, coming early to make sure of accomodation for their teams. These early arrivals brought intelligence that there would be a large turn out from their respective neighborhoods. As the sun came  up higher the number steadily increased. At 9 o’clock long unbroken strings of vehicles heavily loaded were poured into town from every direction and every arrival said that more were following; that the roads for miles were lined with people coming. At 10 o’clock the hotel and livery stables were filled with horses, citizens threw open their stables, shed and yards to the visitors and they were soon filled with stock. Long lines of vehicles filled the side streets and alleys. At 11 o’clock along the pavements a mass of people surged, viewing decorations, crowd, etc. The crowd grew larger and larger, and at noon the wide pavements were too narrow to accomodate them, they almost filled the street. When the noon train arrived with hundreds of passengers the crowd in the vicinity of the station was so dense that it was with much difficulty that the different G.A.R. Posts and veterans were formed into line to march to their position. They were met at the train by a detail from the Indiana G.A.R. Post accompanied by the Indiana cornet band, who escorted them to their position in line. During the forenoon the veterans from the different townships rendezvoused at their assigned places and occupied their time shaking hands with old comrades and friends. The whistle of the approaching train was a signal for forming into line, this was soon accomplished at the command “Fall in! Right dress! Forward march!”  With the alacrity well known to every true soldier they obeyed the command and to the music of a cornet or martial band marched to their assigned position in the column. 

Chief Marshal Sloan’s aids could be seen making their way through the vast crowd as fast as was consistent with the safety of the people executing their orders. At 12 o’clock sharp, the different squads were formed in line with the head of Fifth street reaching south on Fifth to Church street and west on Church for many squares. When all had been brought in, counted off by four massed ready to move, Chief Marshal Sloan gave the order “forward march!” He, accompanied by the following staff officers Chief or Staff, Jno. N. Banks; Ast. Adj. Gen. John H. Hill; Aids, Capt. Hilsberry, J.Day Brownlee, Amos Row, D.W.Swigart, W.T.Wilson, Samuel Cunningham, David Pringle, J. M. Lowry, J. M. Torrence, L.A. Holister and E.E. Allen headed the column, followed by a carriage containing Judges Clark, White and Blair, and the Burgesses and councils of the two Boroughs also in carriages, followed by the Indiana cornet band, fire companies of the two boroughs and Company F 5th Regt., National Guard, in the order named, followed by the G.A.R. Posts and veterans. The line of march was up Philadelphia street to Second in West Indiana, thence to the fair grounds. The column of brave veterans marched between solid walls of men, women and children who lined the streets all the way to the grounds, amid the plaudits of men, waving of kerchiefs by ladies and hearty applause of children. Every veteran’s face was wreathed with smiles at the recognition of friends among the solid masses of people. The ringing music of almost twenty cornet and martial bands inspired every veteran with an enthusiasm that could be seen by his beaming countenance and his military tread. It was easily distinguished that these veterans had lost none of the ardor that filled their breasts more than twenty years ago. The erect form, glistening eye, and regular step gave evidence that should our country need men for its defense they would be the first to answer their country’s call. Twenty years has caused the hair of many of them to become streaked with grey, many a limp could be noticed and many a empty sleeve could be seen in the ranks. These honorable souvenris [sic] of the unpleasantness of twenty years ago brought tears to many an eye and a quickening throb to many a heart.”

 

 

Following the parade, the veterans were treated to a feast  at the fair grounds, after which they participated in a dress parade, which concluded with the old soldiers performing a “double-quick march” toward the crowd as a humorous end to that part of the festivities…later that evening many of the veterans were able to view a Chinese lantern display as well as a fireworks display…A meeting of the veterans was held in the court house hall at 8 o’clock, p.m., to establish a permanent organization, the prime object of which is to bring ex-soldiers in close communion with each other and endeavor to erect a county monument to the memory of the dead heroes who were residents of this county.

Obviously, the Veterans Reunion must have been a very memorable event for the veterans, as well as for the citizens and visitors who were fortunate enough to have been in attendance…in the years to come, several attempts were made by the veterans and committees to fund and erect the proposed county memorial…sadly, those attempts would never come to fruition while any of those brave and dedicated veterans were alive…

It is at this point where I will humbly side-step again to share the “rest” of the Indiana County Civil War Memorial story…

“REST ON ARMS!”

By the late 1870’s, the members of the Grand Army of the Republic, having seen many of their comrades answer their “final muster call”, realized that an organization whose membership was limited to only the survivors, would only remain in existence as long as they did…in 1878, an auxiliary organization was formed to include the sons of honorably discharged Union veterans…Originally known as the Sons of Veterans, [1881] the organization would go through many changes, including eventually expanding to allow not only men with proven lineage, but associate members as well…that organization, which is considered to be the legal heirs to the Grand Army, still exists today, as the “Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War” [S.U.V.C.W.]…further expansion would also welcome the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War [A.S.U.V.C.W.]…

In 2004, I became a member of the Sons [S.U.V.C.W.], and was soon asked to accept a nomination to become the Camp Commander of the local camp, John T. Crawford, Camp #43…I accepted, and served in that position until 2013, when I stepped down due to illness…during that time, one of our members, Timothy Nupp, a resident of Indiana, PA., presented a proposal package for a “new” project, a memorial to the Union veterans from Indiana county…a descendant of Private Franklin Nupp, Co.D, 78th P.V.I., Tim had done a great deal of research and preliminary planning before bringing the idea to the camp, and after some discussion, the camp voted to pursue the idea, and the “Indiana County Civil War Memorial Committee” was formed, consisting of members of the SUVCW, the ASUVCW, the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County, the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, as well as citizens of Indiana…

Fundraising soon got under way, and sculptor John McCombie, a Vietnam veteran and Indiana county native, began the arduous task of creating a life-size bronze soldier…the memorial would feature the bronze forlorn veteran, in the non-combative position known as “Rest on Arms”, a post-war stance used during ceremonies and services, where the soldier stands with his head bowed, as in prayer, and his musket inverted with the barrel resting on his left toe…the soldier stands atop a base of cut barn stone, symbolic of the fact that many of the veterans were farmers… after several years of hard work, countless meeting hours, numerous fundraising events, and quite a few hurdles [including the passing of a committee member], the “Rest on Arms” memorial, and the dreams and desires of those veterans who met back on July 3, 1886, was finally realized…

 

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On November 11, Veterans Day, 2013, the memorial was dedicated in front of the Silas M. Clark House, which was the G.A.R. Post #28 meeting hall in the past, and now serves as the home of the Historical & Genealogical Society of Indiana County…the ceremony was conducted by the S.U.V.C.W., Camp #43…while illness prevented me from participating in the formal unveiling, there was an inner peace, knowing that we had completed something special–something that had been long overdue–something that would stand for generations to come…

 

CLARK HOUSE[blog]

Silas M. Clark House and the “Rest on Arms” Memorial

 

The ironies and symbolism within the memorial project and its completion were too numerous to count, but it wasn’t lost on me that every time that I walked into the Clark house, I was in a special place, humbled to be standing in Daniel’s shadow that had been cast so many years ago…

At one point, Tim found transcripts from a G.A.R. meeting indicating that our ancestors, Franklin Nupp and Daniel Swigart, had attended an event together to aid a comrade and brother in need…that legacy is present each time that Tim and I get together…

 

{my G.A.R. wreath pin, similar to one worn by D.W. Swigart}

RETURN TO THE WHEAT FIELD

The other significant event in Daniel’s post-war “military”life, takes place in 1889…I have been blessed to have two separate pieces of documentation surface that place him in Gettysburg again, for the dedication of the monument to the Sixty-Second Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry which had been erected in Rose’s wheat field…twenty-seven years after the Battle of Gettysburg, the survivors of Samuel Black’s “forgotten regiment” once again gathered in the spot where they had previously been surrounded by men from Georgia and South Carolina, on July 2, 1863, in what was known as “the bloody wheat field”, the “whirlpool of death”…

On this day, September 11, 1889, they would unveil the large granite monument which stands as a witness to their service and sacrifice as part of the Union victory at Gettysburg…I am including here two items: the first is an article that appeared in the Pittsburg Dispatch on September 12, 1889, describing the dedicatory ceremony…

DWS ARTICLE 1889

 

The second, a cherished item, is an original program from that Dedicatory ceremony…[thank you Don Serfass!]

62ND PVI-DEDICATORY PROGRAM[blog]

Years before I was aware of either of these two documents, I again was unknowingly standing in Daniel’s shadow, and perhaps in his very footsteps, as a member of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family, standing at the base of the 62nd monument, conducting wreath-laying ceremonies, opening with a prayer…I was brought to my knees when I learned of his presence and his role in the dedicatory ceremony…

62ND PVI--SWIGART[BLOG 3]

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Years after my time serving as an officer in the S.U.V.C.W., a position in which I had the opportunity to speak at various events [Memorial Day services, school programs, grave re-dedications, Eagle scout ceremonies], I would learn that I had been placed in Daniel’s shadow once again…another article had been sent our way, which had been published in the “Leader-Times”, our local newspaper, in 1912…the article included a photo of Reverend Swigart, now 74 years old, who was to be the guest speaker for the Memorial Day services at the First Baptist Church in Kittanning…each time I enter that church for our granddaughter Chloe’s piano recitals, I try to imagine a Memorial Day long past…DWS 1912[blog]

While we can only be left to imagine what his remarks may have been at that service, or for that matter, at so many sermons and speeches, echoing through so many churches and halls during his life, there are two occasions where we have “his own words”:

The first comes from a circular letter written for the Indiana Baptist Association from 1889, in which Reverend Swigart states “We must have more of the Christ-like spirit in our homes, and true friendship in the common walks of life. As the church continues to rise upon the plain  of spiritual development and moral purity, in the same ratio the world willl become Christianized and the sanctified knowledge of God will run to and fro and cover the earth as the waters of the sea”.

The second, a much more personal item, is a poem entitled “The Old Home”, penned by Daniel on August 13, 1904, on the occasion of the reunion of the John Swigart family…at that time, Daniel was serving as pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist church in Greene county, PA…a copy of the poem was presented to me along with a number of family photos by great-great grandaughter Jocelyn…what a treasure!

There are a few lines that were illegible, so I didn’t attempt to fill them in…the eighth stanza reinforces that the Swigart family lived in present-day Bridgeburg, where the railroad bridge spans the Allegheny river…I have over-laid the poem on a photograph that I took several years ago, of a dark cloud, lined with gold..

DWS POEM[blog]

DWS SIGNATURE[blog]

Daniel W. Swigart’s signature from a marriage certificate.

 

A few years after this poem was written, Daniel would again experience loss, as wife Emily would pass away on March 3, 1908…at that time they were residing in Dunbar, PA, another stop on Daniel’s long and winding road as a pastor…

He would marry a third time, to Mary Thomas in 1913…

 

DWS & MARY THOMAS[blog]

Reverend Daniel Warren and Mary Swigart

One of my favorite images that I received from Jo was also taken later in Daniel’s life, and features Daniel and his daughter Ella, and granddaughter Pearl with twins, sitting in a fine automobile…DWS & FAMILY[blog]

Daniel was residing in Beaver Falls, PA at the time of his final promotion, his “promotion to Glory”, on October 8, 1921, having served in many capacities–father, grandfather, husband, private, corporal, sergeant, chaplain, pastor, brother, friend and comrade…DANIEL WARREN SWIGART-OBITUARY

Daniel would be laid to rest with Margeret, his first wife, in the Pine Creek Baptist Cemetery, a few miles north of Kittanning…sadly, for unknown reasons, the back portion of the cemetery fell out of care given to the rest of the grounds…when my Uncle Joe and I first went to visit the place, we were barely able to see, let alone get to his marker…trees and brush had been left grow to a density similar to what he would have experienced at the Battle of the Wilderness…at that time, I vowed to clear the area, and make it a resting place worthy of “a good and faithful servant”…little did I know that my own illness would prevent me from completing that task for some time, falling into the “one step forward–two steps back” pattern for a few years…eventually, my wife Susan, and several loyal friends [and 62nd PVI members] dedicated a Saturday, their time, and some equipment to help me get caught up with things…I am happy to say that the area around Daniel and Margeret’s headstone looks nearly as good as the rest of the cemetery…DWS GRAVE-order 11[blog]

DWS GRAVE-STAR[blog]

In the very near future, it is my intent to have a red brick “Maltese cross” installed in front of his headstone, a tribute to his service in the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac…the members of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family have “volunteered’ to install these crosses at the resting places of two other 62nd Veterans, Corporal David Truitt and Private Absalom Stoner, a fitting tribute to both…

 

Once the installation of the Maltese cross is accomplished, Lord willing, I hope to conduct a rededication ceremony to offer a fitting tribute, with family and friends surrounding his grave…

When my journey into Civil War living history began many years ago, like most new recruits, I was quite “green”…finding out that my great, great uncle served in the 62nd PA was certainly enough to get me in uniform, and “schooled as a soldier” as they say…one event led to another, and all the while, the search for D.W.Swigart continued…time after time, the search came up empty…but as years passed by, my “portrayal” became more and more meaningful, and my service in the S.U.V.C.W and the 62nd Living History unit seemed to lead me to the right places, at the right times…perhaps it is fair to say that the closer I got to being a Christian soldier, the closer I got to finding Daniel…doors began to open, the phone rang out of the blue, and photos and items started arriving in the mail…

I have only actually done a “first-person” portrayal on several brief occasions–I have found that most folks interested in a soldier like D.W. Swigart, are more interested in talking to an actual descendant of him, rather than someone portraying him…that also allows more opportunity to tell the whole story–that he survived, that he lived a full life after the Civil War…

I hope that you have enjoyed learning about Reverend [and First Sergeant] Daniel Warren Swigart, and if you are interested in the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, or the Grand Army of the Republic, please look for us “in the field”, and tell us “Daniel sent you!”

May God Bless you…

Robert “Slim” Bowser

SLIM-wheat[blog]

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Additional resources to be listed soon.

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“HONOR: Three years in a Regiment of Distinction”

The residents of Kittanning, Pennsylvania were no strangers to war, or its place in history…the very name of the town, “Kit-han-ne” after all came from the Delaware [Lenni-Lenape] Indians who settled here in the early 1720’s, the name meaning “at the great river”…the “Attack on Kit-han-ne” brought war to the village itself on September 8, 1756…Colonel John Armstrong’s victory over the Delaware would put the town “on the map” during the French & Indian period, and led to the building of Fort Armstrong in June of 1779…[*see “The Attack on Kit-han-ne” by Larry A. Smail, published by Mechling Bookbindery, 2006…www.larrysmailart.com]

During the American Revolution, the rosters of Washington’s Army included men and boys from the western Pennsylvania villages and towns–Kittanning was no exception…the same could be said for the War of 1812, where several companies of men from the area added to the ranks…

But now, everything that had been established, including our new nation, was in jeopardy…secession…no longer just a rumor…April 12, 1861…WAR!…and now, the men and boys from Armstrong County would follow in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers, enlisting this time in “Lincoln’s Army”…the American Civil War had begun…

The response to President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 men was described as “prompt and willing”, according to the “History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania” by Robert Walter Smith, 1883… a company of 114 men was organized and placed under the command of Captain William Sirwell, a “three months’ company”…

If I could create a sketch or painting to insert here to put you in the moment, it would be based on a footnote in Smith’s history:

“On April 18, 1861, a large concourse of people from the town and country assembled to witness the departure of the company of three months men, organized to the pursuance of the call of President Lincoln. The sky was clear and the weather pleasant for an April day. The company formed in the Diamond, at the intersection of Market and Jefferson Streets, where the ladies presented to each member a copy of the New Testament.”

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“THE SIXTY-SECOND PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY”

 

 

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Thirty-Third Independent Regiment: Courtesy of Ronn Palm, Civil War Images

 

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Thirty-Third Independent Regiment: Courtesy of Ronn Palm, Civil War Images

While numerous companies of men from Armstrong County were being recruited for the Seventy-Eight, One Hundred-Third, and One Hundred Thirty-Ninth Regiments, as well as the Fifty-Ninth Regiment of the 2nd Cavalry, there was a single company that enlisted in a regiment being raised by a Mexican War hero, Col. Samuel W. Black…the regiment’s first designation was the Thirty-Third Independent Regiment, due to a dispute over the authority to commission recruiting officers for state volunteers…if you follow the “rule of twenty-nine” [long story] in the naming of regiments, 29 plus 33 adds up to 62, hence the “Sixty-Second Pennsylvania”…

Among those enlistments for Company D, Sixty-Second Pennsylvania Volunteers was Private Daniel Warren Swigart…according to his “muster roll”, Daniel  mustered into service on July 4, 1861, oddly enough, in Putneyville, PA, a tiny community along Mahoning Creek, well north of Kittanning…

 

DWS MUSTER ROLL 1[blog].jpg

The only records of Daniel’s service in the 62nd that we were able to track down through the National Archives were his “Muster Rolls”, indicating the dates and locations of his mustering in, promotions, status [present or absent], and mustering out for his three years of service…I will post a few of the notable entries, along with the few significant details that we know…

D.W. Swigart received several promotions during his enlistment: from Private to Corporal on March 21,1862, from Corporal to Sergeant on October 3, 1863, and from Sergeant to First Sergeant on May 5, 1864…

 

DWS MUSTER ROLL 2[blog]

It is also noted that two times he is listed as “sick in hospital”, the first in May of 1862, stating that he was “sent from Tunstall’s Station, May 21″…this would have been just after the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia, and just prior to the Battle at Hanover Court House, VA…there is a notation in a post-war biography that states he was wounded at Hanover C.H., but given the dates on his muster rolls, the wound must have occurred at Yorktown or on the march toward Hanover…he is also listed as “absent-sick” for June of 1862…

DWS MUSTER ROLL 3[blog]

The “muster out” entry is shown here as well, but that is getting the cart way ahead of the horse as they say…what transpired between his mustering in and mustering out were three long and terrible years of drilling, marching and fighting within the ranks of the Sixty-Second Pennsylvania…The 62nd participated in twenty-one engagements, including many of the major battles of the war…and while I could attempt to give you a brief version of this history, it is at this point that I will humbly sidestep to “the story within the story”…

“Authors, Artists, and Friends”

When I first learned of my lineage through Mr. Swigart to the 62nd P.V.I., I was given a copy of the “Gettysburg Magazine”, Issue 26, which contained a very informative article about the regiment, written by Ernest D. Spisak…I read this article through several times, finding it fascinating that Mr. Spisak included the modern day route numbers, town and street names in his telling of the regimental movements…in the years since discovering this article, I have been able to follow some of those routes to visit many of the battlefields and bivouacs where the 62nd left its mark, and in many cases, its dead…

It was also stated in the notes about the author in this article that Mr. Spisak was considering the task of writing the Regimental History of the unit…with that in the back of my mind, each trip that I made to Gettysburg  would include a stop at several of the notable bookstores searching for “anything new” from Mr. Spisak…after several years of empty searches, I was beginning to think perhaps something had happened to Ernest Spisak…

In the meantime, I had asked my good friend, artist and author, Larry Smail if he would consider doing a painting of the 62nd during the Battle of Gettysburg…he agreed, and completed “The Wheatfield–Whirlpool of Death”,  which is well documented in previous posts on this site…

WHEATFIELD PAINTING[blog]

 

 

The painting opened several new doors [and continues to], including making the acquaintance and friendship with two more historians/authors, Mr. Arthur B. Fox and Mr. John Haltigan…Art and John were in the process of writing “Those Who Fought–Allegheny County, PA, and the Gettysburg Campaign”our communications were very positive, and resulted in an entire chapter of the book being devoted to the Sixty-Second Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, as well as a two-page image of Larry’s painting…

ART & jOHN WITH BOOK

John Haltigan and Art Fox with a copy of the print and their book, published by Mechling Bookbindery.

 

It was also around this time that I learned of a regimental history of the 62nd–you guessed it, by Mr. Ernest D. Spisak!…

62ND PVI-SPISAK BOOK COVER[blog]

 

By the time I was able to finally meet Ernie, his book had just been published, so it was too late for any information about Daniel Swigart, as well as the other ancestors of the members of the “62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family” , to be included in the Regimental History…but, a great bond of friendship developed between the “62nd family” and the Spisak family, including Ernie’s wife Peggy and daughter Danielle…the unit immediately invited Ernie and his family to attend our next “Wheatfield Tribute” at the 62nd PA monument in Gettysburg, which turned out to be a very memorable day for everyone…

20150704_103256-001 The friendship continued to grow, and the Spisak’s were inducted into the unit as Honorary members, and were able to attend several ceremonies with us, despite Ernie’s declining health…when my phone rang one evening last April, with Ernie’s number appearing on the ID, I was looking forward to another talk with him, possibly to discuss an upcoming event together…to my shock, it was Peggy on the phone, telling me that Ernie had passed away suddenly that day, April 20, 2017…

As I said at the service for my friend, and feel compelled to repeat here, “it is my honor and my duty, as a descendant of a Veteran of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, to say ‘thank you’ to a man who devoted so much of his life to telling that Regiments’ history, even though he had no lineage to the unit.”

Ernest D. Spisak is greatly missed, but his writing will live on, and always be near and dear to the hearts of the 62nd descendants, members, families and friends…62ND PVI MONUMENT[BLOG]

Whether you have lineage to the 62nd, or just love history, or want to learn about one of the Army of the Potomac’s finest Regiments, please look for “Pittsburgh’s Forgotten Civil War Regiment”–A History of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry & the men who served with distinction, available at:                                                             Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Pittsburghs-Forgotten-Civil-War-Regiment-ebook/dp/B00GGOCPDY#customerReviews

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By the end of June, 1864, Daniel W. Swigart, now a first sergeant, along with the rest of the war- weary men of Colonel Black’s Regiment, found themselves taking their place in General Grant’s line around Petersburg, Virginia…Colonel Samuel Black had been killed on May 27, 1862 at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, where his men buried him in a makeshift grave, under a persimmon tree…by now,  memories of Yorktown, Gaines’ Mill, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville were clouded over by the fresher horrors of Gettysburg,  Spotsylvania, and most recently Cold Harbor…it was there that Daniel lost another friend and fellow officer–2nd Lt. Jefferson Truitt, of Company D, was mortally wounded on June 3 at Bethesda Church, only 30 days from finishing his term of service…

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2nd Lt. Jefferson Truitt’s grave in Cold Harbor National Cemetery

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2nd Lt. Jefferson Truitt

 

From Mr. Spisak’s book: On Saturday, July 2, 1864, Special Order 159 arrived at headquarters of the Fifth Corps. The order notified all officers and enlisted men in the 62nd Pennsylvania whose terms of  service were to expire on July 3, 1864, to report to the supervisor of recruiting in Pennsylvania for mustering out and discharge. Members of the regiment whose terms of service were not expiring on that day were transferred to the 155th Pennsylvania, and Companies L and M were assigned to the 91st Pennsylvania.

The assistant commissary of mustering accompanied the departing troops to their place of departure. Following the tradition of bidding farewell to regiments leaving the Army of the Potomac, the remaining units in Griffin’s division may have given the 62nd three hearty cheers, and while the band played “Home Sweet Home”, the division’s batteries boomed a final salute.

The regiment formed in a column on Sunday, July 3, and marched out of camp to City Point. The tested veterans of three years’ fighting boarded the steamer John Brooks and began the journey home, to Pittsburgh.

 

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2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac Pennant that flew at Gettysburg…now housed at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, Oakland, Pittsburgh, PA

 

The 62nd Pennsylvania offered up 123 brave souls for the common good of our nation. These men gave their last full measure of dedication to reunite a nation. Four hundred and thirty men of the 62nd returned home wounded. Colonel Black’s recruits had gone to war as young boys and had returned home as seasoned soldiers. At the regiment’s monument dedication on the Gettysburg battlefield, Adjutant Patterson said “The only glory the rank and file have is in the honor and reputation of their own reputation.”

Among those who were now “home”, was Daniel Warren Swigart…he had indeed served with honor, in a “regiment of distinction.”

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“HUMILITY”…humble beginnings…

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.   1Peter 5:6,7

While I wish I could say that I know all about “young Daniel Swigart”, I cannot…but I will tell you what I know, and will gladly welcome any additional information that might possibly come about as a result of this writing…

Daniel Warren Swigart was born on June 28, 1838, three miles west of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, in the county of Armstrong…Daniel was the eighth of ten children born to John and Sarah Swigart…John Swigart was a stone mason and a brick-layer like his father Abraham, and helped to build the “Eagle Hotel” in Kittanning, as well as other brick structures in the town…

The Swigart family lived on Wilson Avenue in what was known as Wickboro [now Wick City]…my uncle remembers being neighbors with the Swigart’s in his younger days, long before the whole “connection” was known…my grandmother Bowser was a Swigart…in 1860, Daniel, now twenty-two years old, would marry Margaret Starr…they would have five children, Ella [1861], Emma [1863], John [1864], Frank [1866], and Margaret, who was born September 25, 1868…the following day, Daniel’s wife Margaret would pass away…

Later census records show parts of the Swigart family residing near Bridgeburg, which is on the opposite side of the Allegheny…some of the family would eventually be laid to rest on a bluff not far from the river in the Croyle Cemetery, including brother Abraham and sister Nancy…

In the midst of the Swigart’s marriage came the outbreak of the American Civil War…On July 4, 1861, Daniel W. Swigart enlisted in Company D, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry [originally the 33rd Independent Blues]…his service in that regiment will be well documented in the coming posts…not long after twenty-three year old Daniel left Kittanning with the 62nd PVI, his older brother Abraham enlisted on October 1, with Company A, 2nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Cavalry…both would survive the conflict and return to the area following the war…

During my time as a living historian, I found myself in the position to speak publicly during ceremonies, Memorial Day services and other events, ironically at times, standing in Daniel’s very footsteps to do so…one point that I consistently tried to convey was that as living historians, we can replicate the uniforms that they would’ve worn, the weapons they would’ve carried, the tents they would’ve slept in, and even the food they would have been rationed…but, there is no way that we can duplicate the hard choices that they would have been faced with–leaving family and friends behind to go off to war!…your very country becoming divided…these were trying times for sure…

While I don’t have any diary transcripts or family letters describing how the Swigart brothers felt at that time, or their reasons for enlisting, I believe they would have been well acquainted with the free black families living just across the river in what was known as Belltown, and as Christian men, would have felt the weight of the growing list of issues dividing the nation as they made their way to muster in…

**A note of interest: There are a number of U.S.C.T. [United States Colored Troops] laid to rest in the Belltown Cemetery, also known as the Enty Cemetery, Enty being the last name of some of these soldiers and their families.

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“HUMILITY, HONOR AND GLORY” [the story of Daniel Warren Swigart]

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After finally deciding to revisit my site and tell you the story of Daniel Swigart, as I know it, I was immediately faced with a decision: to take the time to write the whole story and publish it all at once, OR, to write[and post] as time allows, telling the story in chapters, so to speak, with the hopes that those of you who are following along will start looking forward to the next chapter…

Well, I am opting to tell the story a little bit at a time, which I think will enable me to be more thorough, and hopefully make it more interesting for you…

That being said, let’s start with a refresher on the “background”–why Daniel; why me…

Back around the “turn of the century”, around 1999, 2000, I started traveling to Gettysburg with some friends[and co-workers] who were part of a Civil War Living History group, Company D, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry…my interest at that point, was as a photographer…my friends had lineage to men in the regiment–I did not[or so I thought]…

After returning from a weekend in Gettysburg with the 62nd, taking photos of their meeting, the battlefield, etc., my Uncle Joe called me to inform me that I/we had an ancestor who served as a non-commissioned officer in the 62nd PA!…Daniel Warren Swigart…my great, great, great uncle…the search, as they say, was on…

And search we did…for several years my uncle and I would travel all over western Pennsylvania to the numerous churches that Daniel served at as a Baptist minister…we would find several documents, a copy of his signature, and a quilt with his name sewn into, but NO photographs of him…

Then, several years ago I received a phone call out of the blue, ironically on the day before Thanksgiving…I will never forget hearing the sweet voice on the line–Jo, a great, great granddaughter of Reverend Swigart, telling me that she had been led to this blog site, and was fascinated to learn that someone–another descendant–was searching for her, great, great grandfather…

That conversation led us to an image of Daniel through Ancestry.com, and in the coming months, Jo also reached out to her sister, and before long, many more images would surface, as well as a poem that Daniel had penned, and other resources too…I feel very blessed to have an uncle who spent countless hours working on our family history, and then to have the floodgates open up after being contacted by other members of the Swigart family, all helping to piece together the story of a man who served his country, and served his Lord…

So,now, after many years of searching for information and images of Mr. Swigart, all the while doing my best to honor him[and at times portray him], I am very pleased and honored to tell you the story of Daniel Warren Swigart–Humility, Honor and Glory.

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JANUARY 23, 2018: HELLO…AGAIN!

Well, I suppose after several years without posting anything on my blog, it is about time for an update…when I last posted, my entries included information about an “undiagnosed illness”, my early retirement, and my continuing work as a Civil War living historian[and the ongoing search for information/photos of one of my ancestors, Daniel Warren Swigart]…

So, to get you “caught up”, the illness continues to be lacking a diagnosis, BUT, I refuse to let it keep me down, and I recently had surgery to repair some unrelated issues in my back…so far, those repairs seem to have been a success!

As for my early retirement–no regrets whatsoever!…if you can do it, I highly recommend it!

AND, one of the main reasons that I feel compelled to “blog” again, is the positive events regarding my search for my ancestor, Rev. Daniel Warren Swigart, a First Sergeant in Company D, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry[see “Where’s Daniel” in my archives]…since my last entries, there has been “much to tell[and show]” in this area…

The night before Thanksgiving, 2015, I received a phone call from a wonderful lady, who oddly enough found me from this site, who quickly informed me that she too was a descendant of Mr. Swigart…that was a conversation that I will never forget, and as you will see if my upcoming posts, not one, but many images of Daniel have surfaced as a result of our “meeting”…

I feel I owe it to “Jo”, and the rest of the family, and especially to “Daniel”, to put the rest of the story out there…

So, in the coming days and weeks, I hope to put several new pages on here, and to update the “CoD62ndPVI” site as well…the 62nd Living History Family is still a very active group, and in fact, just took over the “adoption” of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument site on the Gettysburg Battlefield…

Thanks for being very, very patient in waiting for updates…

God Bless,

Robert J. “Slim” Bowser

“THE RICHEST MAN IN TOWN”

Sunday, September 15th, 2013…

For those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning, or those who know me, know that I have always loved the Christmas season, particularly the “sentimental” feelings, and the “true Spirit” of the holiday…of course that includes the “old holiday favorites”, the music, movies and cartoons…one of those favorites has always been “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Frank Capra’s moving telling of the life of one George Bailey…if you’ve never seen it, I recommend watching it this year…if you have seen it, then you’ll understand when I say that “it sure looked like a scene out of that movie at my house yesterday!”…

My previous writing tells of my recent and ongoing battle with some unknown illness, which has me very weak, tired, and short of breath???…and, as summer is now fading into my favorite season, autumn, my thoughts automatically turn to scenic walks, taking photos, and FIREWOOD!…In the tradition of my Grandpa Brumbaugh, my Dad, and my Uncle Butch–I love the sight, smell, and the heat from a wood and coal fire…I will always remember as if it were yesterday, laying on the floor in front of grandpa’s fire–him sleeping on one side, me on the other, and grandma in her chair crocheting…and to this day, my primary heat source remains a wood and coal burning stove…which brings me back to FIREWOOD!…I need to get better fast, ’cause I need to cut more firewood…

Well, Sue, being the wonderful and thoughtful person that she is, without my knowing anything, created a scene right out of “It’s A Wonderful Life” for me…when I returned from a doctor appointment on Friday[the 13th–not superstitious, I was born on the 13th], she was standing in my driveway…originally, my heart sank, thinking something was wrong–perhaps Chloe or Cayden were sick?…but within a few minutes, a fair-sized dump truck pulled into the drive–loaded with FIREWOOD!…CUT–SPLIT–AND LOTS OF IT!…and before I could ask any questions, she said, “I’ll be back–don’t worry about it, you’ll see tomorrow”…she returned with my Mum’s large coffee maker, along with numerous mystery items…

Which sets the stage: Saturday, September 14th, 8AM…

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’ve figured out that those 30 cups of coffee aren’t all for me…and sure enough, I looked outside to find a few of my friends[some also Camp members] walking up the driveway…Tim, Karen, Amy, Walt—and Larry!…and before I could shake all of their hands, Jim, Joe, Dan, Debe, Lakota, Ashley…then another Joe, then another Karen…then some family members, Mike, Isaac—Ma and Pa!

 

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Within a few minutes, after a few quick introductions, they started a line of “woodchuckers”…a few at the massive pile of wood–a line of handlers, and Tim, Karen and Joe stacking it as fast as it was handed to them…by 10AM, the entire load of wood was beautifully stacked on my porch!–nearly enough to last the winter!…WOW!

AND, without ruining the ending for those of you will now make it a point to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”, as I’ve said before, like George Bailey, I too am “the richest man in town”–a man that is blessed to have so many friends, a loving family, and of course, Sue, who lovingly [and secretly] made the whole thing happen…I’m not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears several times throughout the day–first, in disbelief that so many were willing to give of their time and money to do this–then, when it “hit me” that “I am really unable to do this for myself” at this time–and again, when everyone had gone to take care of their own obligations, and Sue and I stood there looking at all of that FIREWOOD…

Needless to say, as I set here writing this, there is a warm, crackling fire in the stove this cool, late-summer night…

God Bless.

“RETIRED…TIRED…SICK AND TIRED…”

September 15, 2013…

Well, obviously it’s been quite a while since my last writing, and for good reason…

My first few months of retirement, being winter months, included some walks in the snow, as seen in the McConnell’s Mill article, and some much needed time by the fire, watching the snow falling outside, looking at the telephone from time to time, and smiling to myself, knowing that it would no longer be PennDOT calling me to go to work!

Springtime brought with it a full schedule of Civil War related events, both with the 62nd PVI Living History Unit, and the SUVCW Camp 43, which also includes the Indiana County Civil War Memorial Committee’s “Rest on Arms” project…I will try to expand on each of those on their respective sites in the near future…but with that full schedule, also came the onset of much fatigue, and, as time would go on, a still undiagnosed illness, with the fatigue being just one of many symptoms…

In June, just as the 150th Anniversary events at Gettysburg were about to begin, I started treatment for Lyme disease, as many of the symptoms seemed to lead us to believe that a tick had been behind all of this…but, after 30 days of doxycycline, I was feeling worse, and the search for the cause has led to testing on my heart, lungs, and of course, many tubes of blood…so, as the title says, in the last nine months, I have gone from being retired, to being extremely tired, to the present condition–sick and tired…

I can remember while I was still working for PennDOT, seeing so many of my fellow employees fall ill, either just before they retired, or just after, some, never even living to receive their first pension check…that was certainly in the back of my mind as I was contemplating my early retirement…well, I guess I made the right decision–the way I feel at the present, I’d be missing a lot of work if still employed…

I have faith that we will find out what’s causing all of this, but in the meantime, I am blessed to be surrounded by many loved ones, family, and friends, which will be evident in my next writing…hopefully, soon I’ll be able to get back to just being “retired!”…