One Family's Horrific Loss At Gettysburg

Discussion in 'Veterans' Histories/Stories' started by Kate, Jun 11, 2014.

  1. Kate

    Kate Active Member

    I've been seeing many families that have lost brothers during the Civil War... sometimes brothers or a father and son in the same battle. It's always been unimaginable to me to think about that family... that mother... getting such notifications. The pain of hearing that one son died in battle would be beyond description... and double as much for two sons close to the same time. But poor Mrs. Catherine Cramer of Fayette County, Pennsylvania!

    July 1, 1863 found her sons Pvt Enos, Pvt Samuel, and Pvt Adam west of the seminary at Gettysburg. All three were serving with Company "B" of the 142nd PA Infantry. And all three were mortally wounded that same day. Enos and Adam were killed instantly but Samuel had an arm and leg amputation and died on July 9.

    After Samuel died, a letter was found on him that detailed the deaths of his brothers (imagine having to write home to Mama with *that* task! :() so he was identified and has a name on his tombstone in the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Not the same for Enos and Adam, however... they are both buried in the "unknowns" section of the same cemetery.
  2. Spowys

    Spowys Member

    How awful. I can't really imagine a worse day for Samuel. Imagine being critically wounded during battle, knowing your two brothers had died, having a limb amputated, having to write that letter home, and then STILL dying regardless. That's horrible, but I guess history is dark sometimes.
  3. Kate

    Kate Active Member

    It sure is, &Spowys ... and welcome to the forum! And this isn't a one-of-a-kind story. Brothers often enlisted in the same company and regiment, which means they were in the same battles. And of course some of those individual battles ended with very high casualties.

    Not just brothers, either... men up to age 50 (and some I've seen a little older than that) often enlisted with their sons, so the entire male membership of a family could be wiped out in one battle. :(
  4. Spowys

    Spowys Member

    It's just hard to imagine wiping out an entire family name in one battle. But I guess that's war!
  5. Kate

    Kate Active Member

    Back then, yes... haven't there been changes made, though, to assure that can never happen again? The Sole Survivor Policy was created when the five Sullivan brothers... and I think four Borgstrom brothers, were all killed in WWII and if I'm remembering correctly, makes that this is no longer a possibility.
  6. Spowys

    Spowys Member

    I had no idea, but that sounds like an excellent policy. War is horrible enough without completing wiping out lineages that have been around for thousands of years.
  7. Kate

    Kate Active Member

    It sure is horrible enough. :( The more I work on my Gettysburg dead list of names, the more I see it. I come across surnames the same and then see the same unit and regiment in the records.

    I'd only need the names and military records for the work I'm doing, but I always get nosy and try to find them on ancestry . com to see if/how they're related. Sometimes dads enlisted to watch over sons and none of them came back. Rather depressing work, now that I think of it.

    Even worse is that such young boys were enlisting. Oh, that reminds me of a post I wanted to do about that... stay tuned, I'll post it under the Civil War section in a minute here.
  8. Spowys

    Spowys Member

    Man your work really does sound depressing! I'm sure it's rewarding though, and you're doing a great service for history! If more people did that we would get a lot done.
  9. Kate

    Kate Active Member

    It's.... well, difficult to explain. :confused: It's not depressing to finally be giving these 11,000 soldier a name, rank, and I'm even researching families and adding their parents, wives, children. Enlistment date, death date, specific battle or skirmish... all that is great because it feels like honoring them and that's a good feeling.

    But then there's the other part that has to come along with it when I see what happened to them in the records. Some is so gruesome that I don't know how I can continue, but I always do. That's the depressing part. And then there's also the issue of knowing their ages, and if it's something more awful than "get shot, fall down" then my thought pattern goes to "aw man, that was just a little boy" and sometimes it feels like grieving.

    I'm sure there are people who can do this kind of work without as much emotion spent on every single soldier... but if I'd be one of them, this wouldn't be nearly as rewarding.
  10. Rockhem

    Rockhem Member

    This is extremely sad, I can't imagine having a family name that has been going on for thousands of years, just to be wiped out because of someone's war you might not even have wanted to have to fight in. The writing the letter on detailing their brother's deaths is even worse, I can't even imagine it and I don't want to.
  11. ReDGuNNeR

    ReDGuNNeR New Member

    As unfortunate as this, these are the harsh realities of war and stories like this help make the loss of life seem more than just a number or simple statistic for younger children or even adults who aren't entertained by common history stores. I will be saving this article and sharing it with others, thanks for posting!
  12. Kate

    Kate Active Member

    That's nice of you to say (and do) @ReDGuNNeR . This is just one story of many, and of course the brothers and father/sons weren't always on the same side either.

    I see this with the work I'm doing every day and it's very difficult to understand how these families got through it. Very few escaped having someone close end up as a casualty. :(

    Sometimes it wasn't even a matter of one brother living in the south and one in the north. There were border states with regiments from both north and south. (Maryland and Kentucky.) There were two Union Maryland regiments (1st MD Eastern Shore and 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade) and one Confederate Maryland regiment (1st Maryland Battalion... which became known as 2nd Maryland after Gettysburg, although the veterans didn't like that.) Sometimes brothers in the same house in these places went off in different directions.
  13. DancingLady

    DancingLady Member

    They have changed things so that this doesn't happen again. I am glad they did so because no family should have to lose everyone in war. War is tragic, but the old traditions of the men all joining up together just made things worse. I can understand from the perspective of the men why they did it, but I don't think they thought about what they were doing to their wives and daughters.

Share This Page