Wallace Spencer’s Civil War Letters

I have been watching Ken Burns’ film series on The Civil War. Parts of it were very hard to watch. The prevalence of death and destruction is beyond belief.  And then, of course, I started thinking about my ancestors and their experiences.  Just among my direct ancestors and their siblings I found 9 men that participated in that War.

Most of them were connected to one family; Titus and Phoebe Perry, my 3Gr-Grandparents.  They had five children: three sons, John [my 2Gr-Grandfather], George, and Clark, and two daughters, Jane and Mary.  Titus himself was too old for the War but for a time in 1865, all three of his sons and both of his daughter’s husbands were soldiers in The Grand Army of the Republic.  That’s a heavy investment.

Fortunately, they all came home alive.  But Jane’s husband, Wallace Spencer did sustain an injury to his leg.  We know that because he spoke of it in some letters that he wrote home to his wife. We have these letters because they were in his Pension Files as evidence of his injury.  But they also tell a much more interesting story about a man, his family, and a war.   I will speak of the other veterans at another time, but for now, here are Wallace Spencer’s letters home from the front.

transcription notes: Spelling is all as Wallace wrote but I have added some punctuation and line breaks.  Explanatory notes and links [in brackets] are mine.  hint: in old handwritten documents, “ss” frequently looked like “fs”.  

December 16th, 1864
This is the first chance that I hav had to write for the last day or two sow will try & improve the time I hav.    lots that I would like to write but dont now [know] as I can think of what I wanto but will try & do the best I can.
I guefs [guess] that I will commnese back a little for I want to tell what a good General we hav.  the night that I got hurt he was about a mile from me & as soon as he hurd the news he putt spur to his horse & came to see me & when he had lurnt [learned] the particulars he sent his orderly to camp after an ambulance.  but he is good & kind to all of the men that are under him his name is General Forse (Manning Force) a brigadeer.  he was wounded before Atlanty he was shot in the wright cheak just below the ey & came out on the left cheak.  he came from the hospital the time that we wer on the other rade north.
Well, we are in our old camp yet & guefs we will stay here untill we get our supplies.  here all that we hav had to eat for some time is rice & a little meal that we hav had to grind and cook for our selvs but I am glad to get that.  but I guefs we will get our hard tack by tomorrow & then we can live on the top shelf.
I am fat as a pig & more so & as lowsy as a hog.  that is in a polite way of speaking.  I hant had my close washed since I left Atlanty nor cant get them washed till we get some soap.
but Fort Macalister is in our hands & communication are now open with the land of living & my opinion is old bily Shurman will soon hav possesion of Savana & the rest of the river & then I guefs Charleston had better look out.
this rade [Sherman’s March to the Sea] is one of the greatest undertakings of the war.  We have destroyed the raleroad from merietta to within twenty miles of Savana & my opinion is the south will feal & now [feel and know] of this raid as long as they live for we hav not only destroyed the raleroad but hav lived of from the country & burnt houses whare thay wer in arms against us & every cotten mill & all the cotten has been destroyed by fire.
I guefs that I shal havto stop this poor writing for I want to write a few lines to my Father & Mother but there is one thing I like to hav forgotten & that is the socks that you sent & the butter that Mother Perry sent & the buries that mother Spencer sent & alsow the tea.  The butter & buries are ate up but the tea & socks I hav got. I am thankful for these favors & hope I can do as much for you someday.
I bought me a watch the other day & paid $12 dollars for it.
We hav warm weather sow far with the exception of 2 or 3 days.  The Pickets are firing Pretty Saucy at the rebs expect the old canon will soon open on them.  The land is swampy & leavel & pine timber no [next line illegible]
this must answer for all of you till I can get time to write, love to all. W.A. Spencer

 

Camp near Beaufort South Carolina
Jan 12th 1865

Dear Wife & Children
We hav got marching orders & expect to start tomorrow morning but guefs we wont go far for I can hear the cannon boom about 7 miles off.  I am on duty today sow shant hav long to write.  this is the first time that I hav been on duty since I was hurt. my leg dont get much better.  It is hard work for me to march I hav to take my own time for it.  my health is good with the exception of a sour stomach this morning (bad sine I guefs) but hope nothing searious.

I was going to write a letter to Clark [Jane’s brother?] today but don’t believe that I will get a chance I wish that those that are at home would write once & a while & not wate for me to answer every on of there letters.  I begin to think that you are the only friend that I hav. Well I am sory that I hav don any thing that should cas [cause] them to feel in that maner towards me. I havent had a letter in over three weeks but will keep a stiff upper lip & hope for better days. I now [know] that you do the best you can so wont blame you

I hant seen any snow this winter nor much cold wether the trees are green & every thing looks like sumr

I can heer the reports of the big guns firing as I sit here in my shelter tent writing & think perhaps tomorrow by this time I may bee in the contest & if I fall you may now [know] that I am thinking of you & those little ones of ours but don’t think the rebs will stand to fight us long unlefs [unless] they hav got brave all at once.

I sold my watch yesterday got the same as I paid for it.

My love to you & all enquiring friends from your worser half.
W. A. Spencer

 

In camp near Ft Pocotligo Jan 18th 1865

Dear Wife and Children

I guefs I will write you a few lines to let you now how I am.  I am well and my leg is getting some better & if nothing happens I think it will bee entirely well in a few weaks hope it will for it is hard marching.  We left Beaufort the 13th & drove the rebs back to their place the second day on the march.  we lost a few men & we expected to have a fight on sundy but we got up in the morning and found the rebs had fled & left their stronghold for the yanks.  we are on the Charleston & Savannah rale road we are within 35 miles of Charleston. we expect to start for that place as soon as we get our supplies & hav the 15 core com up then we will have communications open to Savannah & Beaufort.  I think if the rebs dont leave Charleston before we get thare they never will we may have some hard fighting there but they now [know] as well as can bee that their cake is done.  I hope General Shurman will be as good as his word he says that the war will bee ended in 3 months.

I got a Paper last night that David [could be Wallace’s brother] had sent me & I expect to get a letter from him soon. I was glad to get it

I hant got any of answer from the letters that I hav riten sinse we first came in front of Savannah but I shal stop writing till I get [illegible] from you to do so I presume that I will get a pile of them when I do get them.

I presume that you hav got my Diry before this time there is some things that I will explain some time dont now but I had better this time.

Give my respect to all of the neighbors that enquire after me. I will try to write another letter to you before we leave here.

Tel the boys to write.

The regiment hav gone out foraging.

Oh how I wish that you new my thoughts of you & those little ones of ours but tongs [tongues] cannot tell nor neither can I write it. excuse this Poor letter & believe me as ever your husband.

W. A. Spencer

Ps I will send a few leaves of what has happened up to this time in this letter if I can get them into the envelope.

Perry 007

Wallace Albert & Jane Marie Perry Spencer

Memories of WWII by Glen Harding

Today is my dad’s birthday; Centennial, actually.  He was born 100 years ago today in a farmhouse outside of Garden City, SD.  In honor of that occasion, I offer you his Memories of WWII.  I have edited it slightly for spelling and typos but for the most part, what follows are his own words written around 2000.

World War II Memories
of
Glen Harding  #39592527

The 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II has come and gone. 

There have been a lot of events taken place honoring the Veterans that have sparked a lot of interest.  Among those interested are my two sons, Keith and Kevin.  I will try to relate as much as I can remember.  It must be remembered that after 50 years my memory leaves a lot to be desired.  Many dates can be found accurately given.  Others are approximate.

My Discharge says I was inducted into the Army July 7, 1944 at Fort McArthur California.  Discharged April 6, 1946 at Camp Beale, California.  I had reached the Rank of Sergeant and earned the World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Ardennes, and Central Europe Medal and  Combat Infantry Badge (the one I am the proudest of) and served as an Infantryman in the Ardennes and Central Europe Rhineland.  (note: Dad never knew it but he also had a Bronze Star Medal.  I, learned about it when I read it on his grave marker.  Apparently, according to a 1947 regulation, a Combat Infantry Badge from WWII automatically qualified one for the Bronze Star Medal.)

Induction was at a building in downtown Los Angeles.  From there it was a train To Fort McArthur .  Here were shots, haircuts, clothing issue, etc.  Everyone was promised a pass for the week end.  This was the first lesson of the Army.  Come Friday night we were all put on KP for the week end. (no passes).  Before the next week was over we were on a train going to Cap Hood, Texas (now Fort Hood).     Bernice came to Camp Hood and spent a week there.  I spent most of the week in the field.  We had 2 weekends together

After 18 weeks of Basic Training I left there on a delay in route pass via Los Angeles.  When the 10 days were over it was to the train station.  That is when the fuel pump on our 1935 Ford decided to give up the ghost.  We called a cab for transportation.  Les Travers helped her out of that situation.  As I was to board the train Keith decided he was going with me.  A bit of a problem.

harding 009

Arriving in Maryland with a lot of snow cold.  I felt sorry for the 18 year olds that had never been in such a climate and had never been away from Mama.  After a few days there it was on to Camp Miles Standish near Boston.  Here we boarded the Aquitania, a British four stacker, nearly as large as the Queens.

The 9 day trip across the Atlantic was uneventful.  My bunk was a Pallet on the floor in front of the toilet (Head).  Everyone going in and out had to step over me (they all made it).  Going over with 117,000 troops and Crew takes some getting used to.  Like myself most had never been on the Ocean before.  Seasickness was a major problem.  (not myself).  Our Ship had 4 dining rooms.  They could feed everyone 2 times a day.  It was a slow process with standing in line in narrow corridors.  With only salt water showers not many were taken.  The corridors got pretty smelly.  People got a little woozy standing in line.  By the time they got through the serving line and got their meal and took it to the standing tables where we ate many set it down and headed for the rail.  I got through the first time without getting sick but observed what was happening and changed tactics.  I entered the dining room through the exit door and watched for someone to get his meal and head for the rail.  I would walk up and eat his meal and left.  Sure cut down on time and sickness.

Our Ship anchored in the Harbor at Glasgow, Scotland.  We left the ship by ferry, which took us to a train on the Pier.  Then an overnight ride to South Hampton, England.  We got our taste of London fog.  We were warned to keep close to the person in front of us to keep from getting lost (about 3 feet).  We went into a large warehouse where the Red Cross was set up with about anything we needed.  Here we Boarded a ship and crossed the Channel, I think on New Years Day.  The landing was at Le Havre, France.

From here we rode in Train Box Cars.  The famous 40 and 8s (forty men or 8 horses).  We went to Verviers, Belgium.  Here I was assigned to the 99th Infantry Division.  Then we went forward in trucks.  I remember spending one night in a Brick Building with the windows all bombed out and no heat.  It was a cold night.  A buddy of mine, Hoopes, put three of our blankets on a cot and both got on the same cot and put one blanket on and huddled together to keep somewhat warm.

I want to dwell some on the next stop.  I don’t know where it is located.  I have been over there in 1999 and found no one that could tell me where it is.  The town was at the base of a hill.  The ground was covered with ice.  Vehicles could not get up the hill so we had to walk and carry our packs.  It was a matter of 3 steps up and slide back 2.   At the top we came to a huge Cave.  There was a fireplace large enough to take small trees.  The first time I was warm since leaving the ship at Glasgow.  A Cadre member took some of us around into some of the tunnels leading off from the main.  From one we came out into a tower.  I seemed like it was a mile to the bottom of the canyon.  (It couldn’t have been).  I think this was some medieval fortress.  Another tunnel was a Bakery with large iron oven doors.  Where the smoke went I have no idea.  Another was the Latrine.  There were holes in the floor with foot prints so you could plant your feet and squat down over the holes.  You could drop a stone in the hole and never hear it hit bottom.  We were taken out into a clearing where there was a pile of M1 Rifles.  I think they had been picked up in the field by a dump truck and dumped there like a pile of rocks.  We picked out a Rifle and took it back to the cave where we cleaned it and then went out in a clearing to test firing.

Next stop Eupen, Belgium.  We were given a block of t-n-t to start our fox hole and dig our living quarters.  Weather was so bad nothing was moving.  In about 3 weeks we shoved off.  We went through the Maginot line.  This was a line of pill boxes with an excellent field of fire.  The French had originally built them and the Germans had improved them.  By this time the line was defended by the People’s Army.  They were mostly older men who didn’t want to fight.

Sometimes we ran into Troops that would make a fight of it.  One of these times was a town named Hal Fortuna, Germany.  There were trees along both sides leading into the town.  A Hedge Row on the right and on the left a Catholic Institution.   On the northwest corner a large barn.  On the southwest corner probably the Priest house.  On the east was a large 3 story building.  There was a Chapel on the ground floor.  There were several Nuns and Priest living there.  The Germans were firing down on us from the 3rd floor.  When we finally secured the mission we had 4 left of our 11 man squad.  Myself one of the lucky ones.

Now come the foggy memories.  I remember incidents and places but can’t put them in order or name the places. In April a truck load of us were taken back somewhere for showers and clean clothes.  The first time I had my clothes off since Late November.  On the trip back we spent most of the time helping build roads.  A matter of laying tree trunks down in the mud for the trucks to drive on. In a small town a long tent was set up with 100 shower heads.  We were told we get 5 minutes of water.  Many came out with their hair still soapy.  Sometimes when on the move in daylight we would toss our sleeping bags on a truck.  If the trucks happened to show up that night we would get one back.  Sometimes our kitchen did not show for a day or two.

I remember a 3 day pass to Verviers.  This was before the Hal Fortuna incident because Stern was killed there and Rezeck was badly wounded.  In 1999 I got an address for Rezeck.  I wrote to him and got a letter from his sister.  He had died in 1998 after spending his life in a wheel chair.  In Verviers we saw a sign American Steaks, so in we went.  We went down stairs to the rest rooms.  There was a woman attendant in the hall way.  She took Sterner into the men’s room and got him seated down on the stool and came back and took me to the ladies room.  About time I started looking for toilet paper the door opened and there she was pealing off paper for me.  I often wonder what she would have done head I of raised up off of the seat.

To clear a town of enemies we went down a street, house by house.  Usually 2 to a house.  2 others would take the next house.  I came to a door in a house that only opened about an inch.  It was hitting something.  The Germans were great on putting the stove close to the chimney and running the stove pipe all around the walls to get all the heat they could.  I had to get into the room so backed off a little and made a run for the door.  There was quite a racket.  The stove had tipped over and all the pipe had come tumbling down.  Quite a mess.  I didn’t stop to clean it up.  Another surprise was going into a bedroom where an old man was bedridden.  He sat up yelling something about Kaiser Wilhelm.

We came into this one town on a nice spring day.  It was rather eerie as there was not a soul in sight.  We looked things over and decided to make the most of the peace and quiet and sunshine.  Bobbie got out his clippers and started cutting hair.  We started looking for food.  Most houses had hams hanging in the chimney smoking.  There should be a rabbit hutch around, a vegetable garden and potatoes in the cellars.  First sign of life was a big Rooster came down the street.  Sawyers raised his m1 and shot the head off and we had chicken in the pot.  Often we had to move out before the chicken was done.  In this case someone carried the pot until we got another chance build a fire.  Soon a boy came peeking out of the trees.  He got brave enough to come down where we were.  We fixed him up with candy bars and soon another came.  Before long the town people were all back in the Village.  I suppose they had been told stories about what we would do to them.

Once while cleaning a Rabbit the owner came out boiling mad.  I thought he was mad because I was taking his Rabbit but it turned out it was because I had cut the head off.  They leave the head on as the skin is worthless without the head.

At one stop along the Railway we made a stop at a field kitchen set up to feed troop trains.  There was a pile of plywood along the track.  We loaded some of into our box car.  A warning came over the loud speaker that the train would not move until that ply wood was back on the pile.  We had been in Army too long to swallow that line.  When it came time for the train to go it took off and we build some bunks in our 40 & 8.

Another story is about a Carbide Lantern.  All the German Yard Masters carried Carbide Lanterns.  Having no light in the Box Car we needed one of those lanterns.  First attempt we lured the Yard Master up to our car and when the train started moving someone grabbed his lantern.  That didn’t work as he had it tied to him.  I guess others had tried that before.  Next stop we lured him with a pack of cigarettes.  We told him we had more but needed a light to find them.  He handed us his lantern which we took and closed the door.  He went off screaming for the Captain.  An officer came down the train saying this train will not move until this Kruat has his lantern back.  He had forgotten what car it was.  Again we had been in the Army long enough and covered the lantern with a blanket and the train moved out.  It was easy to get Carbide for a Pack of Cigarettes. 

One time we got to go to see a Bob Hope show.  He put on a great show.  The Radio City Rockettes came to Nuremberg while I was there.  This was another great show.

There were times that we got a little break and got to spend a day or so in a real house.  One of these times was after the Hal Fortuna incident where we down to 5 people.  We stopped in a town and replacements were brought in to bring up to make our squad of 14 men and an Officer.  The procedure was to pick a house and send the occupants on their way and move in for the time being.  Our Replacements begin to arrive and we were glad to be inside for some rest.  One Replacement apparently had not been very well schooled by his Mother.  He had a can of C Rations he wanted to heat.  He sat the can on the stove and waited.  You guessed it the can blew up and there were rations all over the kitchen.  The easy way out was taken.  We just moved next door and let the owners come back and clean it up

Later a pass for Brussels came down and I won the card cut and went to Brussels.  I found a Quartermasters store.  We had been issued winter snowpack boots when the snow was deep.  In the spring they issued Combat Boots to replace the Snowpacks.  My Combat boots did not fit and I had blisters on my feet.  The man there said he could give all new clothes but could not issue Combat Boots to front line troops.  I had two German razors in my shirt pocket.  He asked what I was going to do with those razors.  I told him I intended to trade one of them for a pair of Boots.  I went out of there with Boots that fit.

On March 7, 1945 the 90th Armored captured the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen.  We started out on what turned out to be walk and stop, walk and stop.  Eighteen hours later we crossed the bridge.  It was one way crossing, nothing coming back.  I crossed on the 11th  we were the first complete Division across.  By this time the engineers had one pontoon bridge across and were working on another.  We had to climb a real steep hill at the end of the march.  (On my trip back in 1999 I took a lift to the top)  Our unit was scattered by that time because of the steep climb.  From the top of the hill we saw quite an air show.  The German Planes would come in and try to blow the Bridge and our p38s would come and chase them out.  Anti Aircraft was so heavy it looked like you could walk on the flak.  A buddy named Sutton from Terra Haute, Indiana and I got up the hill at the same time.  We heard a shell coming in and dove into a small building for what protection it might afford.  When we looked up we were in sort of corn crib on a pile of sugar beets.  We could look out of the slat openings. The shell landed in the street and blew a hole some 20 feet deep. (some protection)  Across the road was a long low building with windows on our side.  Sutton spotted a fruit jar on the sill of a window.  We decided to try and make that building.  We ran around the shell hole and made a bee line for the building.  Sutton came in right behind me with the fruit jar full of cherries.  We pulled our spoon out of our boots and ate the cherries. (first food that day).  I have seen a documentary on TV and that jar was sitting on that windowsill./

Somewhere down the line I started getting yellow and couldn’t keep food down.  I would go on sick call when there was a Doctor available.  They would say it looked like yellow  jaundice but I had no fever so they could not evacuate me.  This went on until we up to the Danube River and ready to cross.  As we were to push off the Lt. Told me there was a Medical tent down the road and I should  go there.  I went into the tent and there was only the Doctor there.  He looked up at me and said Yellow Jaundice.  The last Ambulance is out in front get on it.  This was another stroke of luck as many were lost at that crossing.  I found myself at a field Hospital.  At the entrance was a Medic sitting looking at everyone’s tag.  He told me I could have some chicken broth.  Somehow a drum stick  got into my Broth.  In a few days they put me on a c47 which took me to England.  There was a ward full of us.  I went in at less than 100 pounds and 3 weeks later left at 145.  Next was a Convalescent  Center.  One requirement to leave there was to make a 10 mile hike.  Now I had walked from Elsenborn, Belgium to the Danube River and was not going to make that hike just to show them I could.

They finally sent me to a RePo Depot and on back to my unit.  I found them at Konigshofen, Germany.  This Sutton from back at the Bridge Crossing was running the Theater and I got hooked up with him.  Occupation duty here consisted of Fire Guard at night and Outpost duty at nearby towns.  One town was Rodhousen.  Down the road about ½ mile the Russians had a Post.  They would get on their Bicycle and come to visit us.  When we got enough of them a candy bar or cigarette and they would leave.

 

harding 124 cropped for blog

The 99th was sent home with those of high points.  I had only 50 points so had to stay.   We were trucked out to a field where the 79th Division was set up.  I was transferred to them and went back into the same town.  I sort of had it made as I was the one person the people knew.  I worked my way into running the theater.  The only film we got was through Regiment. (one a week).  I knew of some other sources of film and was able to show a new film every night.

.Next I was transferred to the 1st Division at Schienfeld, Germany.  I guess this had a purpose behind it as we were sent to Nuremburg and put on duty at the trials.  Here we were billeted in an SS Kasserne.  We had beds with springs but no mattresses.  One day and Inspecting General came through.  He said I notice Sleeping Bags on all these beds.   Don’t these men have mattresses?  He said order them.  We had them the next day.

Nuremberg was an interesting place to be.  There was an Opera House where we able to go see shows like The Rockettes and plays.  We were basically on an eight hour day at the prison.  When I first went there I was stood guard on cells, recreation yard, etc.  Then they started the escort guard Duty which I was assigned to.  We were all at least Sgt.   There was a room where we waited for a call.  This was before the Trials started and we might have to take one of the Prisoners or a witness for interrogation.  Room 55 in another wing of the Prison was where Prisoners could meet with their Lawyer.  When you took one of them you sat at the table with them until they finished and took them back to their cell.  Once when taking Hess to room 55.  He had requested to read a document that was introduced against him.  He read the first page and handed it to me saying I might be interested.  It was written in English which he was able to read.  It was the report from the time his plane was sighted over England until he was taken back to Nuremberg.  I remember taking Goring for his bath and he had several 1 inch scars on him.  Later I was told this was where they had taken poison vials off from him.  I was home when he committed suicide but by reading medical books the one they missed was in his navel.  I guess the others were for them to find.

I escorted General Warlimont around sever times.  He was a witness at that time.  He said “never lose a war it is too much trouble.”

Some of the Prisoners—

Herman Goering—I found he was no dummy.  He understood English well he might hunt for words when talking but spoke well.  He asked what state I lived in.  He thought most Californians were not natives.  So I told him South Dakota.  His answer was he always wanted to hunt Pheasants there.  He had pictures of his dogs on his desk in his cell.  I think he thought more of them than anything else.

Rudolf Hess—His English was pretty good.  I didn’t think he was a nutty as he tried to portray.  It seemed when alone with him he could carry on a conversation but there was little to talk about.

Von Ribbentrop—I don’t think he spoke any english and had no desire to speak with a lowly Sgt.

Robert Ley—He is the one that hung himself on the flush knob of the toilet just before I got there.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner—I don’t think he spoke english.  He was the first one I took out of his cell for a trip somewhere.  He had to stoop over and turn sideways to get out of his cell.  When he started to straighten up I didn’t think he would ever quit going up.  Me at 130 pounds and him 280.

Alfred Rosenburg—I don’t think I ever had anything to do with him.

Hans Frank—I remember him saying we Americans are funny people.  You are trying me for my life and will probably take it and my daughter works for American Military Government.

William Frick—I can’t come up with anything except he was there.

Julius Streicher—All I remember is it would take a Mother to like him.

Wilhelm Funk—He was very mopey, I suppose I in his place may have been the same.  He had prostrate trouble and had to be taken to the Doctor twice a day to have the water drained out of him.    

Hjalmar Schacht—I don’t remember any trouble with him and he was acquitted.

Admiral Karl Donitz—I remember him as ornery as the day is long.

Erich Raeder—No comment

Baldor von Schirach—I probably spent more time with him than any other.  He spoke fluent English.  His Mother was an American and he had an English Governess as a child.  He was often used as an interperter when I had him in room 55.

Fritz Sauckel—No comment on him.

Alfred Jodl—He was another that didn’t care for orders from a lowly Sgt.  But was soldier enough to obey any command.

Franz Von Papen—He would not put his autograph in a book with the others.  Only on a separate paper.  He was acquitted.  He was defended by his son.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart—I don/t have any comment about him.

Albert Speer—I don’t remember having a lot to do with him.  Since reading his book,  he acknowledges their wrong doing, I give him some credit.

Konstantin Von Neurath—Again I can’t remember much about him.

Hans Fritzsche—He created no waves and was acquitted.

Wilhelm Keitel—Here was an old time Prussian General.  He held his head high and obeyed orders.

Leaving Nuremberg I was sent to Selb, Germany where I joined the 102 Div.  This unit was built up with enough points to come home.  It was a waiting game but finally got to Le Havre, France where we boarded the General Anderson.  It was 5 days home to New York where a Brass Band greeted us home.  I have a news letter put out on the General Anderson.  It required 20 navy cooks. 11 bakers, and 2 commissary storekeepers full time.  Plus the GI’S doing KP.  They consumed 52 cases of eggs, 800 pounds of sugar, 34 pounds of coffee, 300 pounds of butter, 500 pounds of Jam.  Cost of feeding per week in 1946 was $20,000.

We debarked and went to Camp Kilmer where the 102nd was deactivated.

Another waiting game for our name to come up on the shipping board.  When my name came up it was by C54 to the west coast.  Coming into Dallas we had engine leaking oil and were there for a week waiting for repair.  Then to Long Beach, California for fuel.  It was a 20 minute stop and I had time to call home.  At Camp Beale in Northern California we started the discharge process.  Things moved rapid and looked like the Army was going to do something right.  Within 2 hours of discharge my name came up and I was sent to the Hospital for Diabetes tests.  This was on Thursday and I found they would do nothing until Monday.  I asked for a pass and was told passes only started Saturday and for a 50 mile radius.  I asked the nurse if she would write a pass to Los Angeles for Friday and Sunday.  She wrote it and said I don’t think the Col. will sign it.  I took it to the Col. (a woman).  She talked a bit and asked how I would go to Los Angeles.  I said I would fly.  Flying was not too popular yet in those days.  She asked how long since I had been home.  I said 2 years.  She changed the pass to immediately to Monday morning.  I made the trip home and back by Monday morning and went through the tests and found I did not have Diabetes.  So I was out of the Army.

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Marvin Lee (Buster) Gary

Today I am introducing a new category for this blog. “Military Veterans”.  Some previous posts already fit the description.   Stephen Harding fought in both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.   Eneas Gary was also a soldier in the Revolutionary War.  I can probably find someone to write about in virtually every war since.  And they all deserve to be recognized and honored.

To the best of my knowledge, Marvin Lee Gary, or “Buster” as he was known, is the only one of my relatives (1st cousin once removed) that made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.

I first heard of Buster’s fate when I was about 11 years old.  We had just moved to Oregon and we were visiting John and Elma Gary.  They were Buster’s parents and my Great Aunt & Uncle.   I must have been wandering around their house doing a little exploring when I noticed a picture of a man in a sailor suit. I was told that his name was Buster and he had been killed during World War II.  Even now, I find myself thinking “really?”  Can that actually happen to some one I’m related to?  But, of course, the tragic reality is that, yes, it can.

When preparing to tell a story, one should always begins by reviewing what you think you already know.  To that end, I dug out my notes on Buster Gary which plainly stated that he died on 16 May 1945 when he was “shot down over Germany” .  Quite a story.  But as I sought more details, I realized that there was a problem with that narrative.  Adolph Hitler committed suicide on 30 April, 1945.  Germany signed a Total and Unconditional Surender on May 7th which took effect the next day, the 8th.  And Buster was shot down on the 16th.  Eight days later?  Did somebody not get the memo about the war being over.

I apologize for attempting humor in the face of Buster’s tragic death.  But I use this to illustrate how false and unfounded stories can perpetuate and grow; and how important it is for genealogists, and others, to seek out the actual truth.

So after doing my research, here is what I now believe to be true about Marvin Lee Gary.

  • Born 15 Oct 1923 in Laurel, MT
  • Died 16 May 1945 off the coast of San Diego, CA
  • Branch of Service – United States Naval Reserve.
  • Rank – Aviation Machinist Mate 3rd Class.  As such, his duties were to assemble, service and repair airplanes and airplane engines. Splice aircraft wiring. Know principles and theory of flying.
  • Squadron number – VT-14 (“V” indicates fixed wing aircraft and “T” indicates Torpedo)
  • His plane – TBM-3E “Avenger” Torpedo Bomber Warplane

The most detailed information I found regarding his death was in this, now declassified, daily operational journal which states in part:

UNTIED STATES PACIFIC FLEET
AIR FORCE
TORPEDO SQUADRON FOURTEEN

War Diary – Month of May 1945

1. VT-14 continued in training at NASS, Ream Field, San Ysidro, Calif.

2. On May 16, Ensign Paul Rodger WARBURTON (A1) USNR, and Marvin Lee GARY, AMM3c, USNR, were listed as missing when their TBM was seen to crash at sea during gunnery practice.

4.   OUT     BU NO. 86054     16 May     TBM-3E     Lost At sea

His remains were never recovered.

His is name is included on The World War II West Coast Memorial in San Fransisco, CA.  (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/55904501/marvin-l-gary)

Was it Enos or Eneas?

Variant spellings of names is a common problem for genealogists.

At times, it was necessary for people to change their names in order to render them properly in their new language.  For example, the German alphabet includes five characters that are not available in English —  ä, ë ö, ü, and ß.  That last one is an “estset”; it is kind of like a “double-s”.    So “Lüders” in Germany became “Lueders” in America.

Often, our ancestors names appear differently in the records because census takers or those who listed the names of passengers on a ship just wrote down what they heard.  And they may have been hearing names that were altogether unfamiliar to them.

Some folks changed their names as part of a family feud.  I vaguely remember reading somewhere about a branch of Harding’s that dropped the “g” to become Hardin and moved to another state.

And then, of course, there was just plain sloppy handwriting; which I have no right to complain about.

Usually, I just search for all the possible spellings and accept the fact that variants exist.  As long as I am comfortable that I am still looking at the same person. 

But in the case of my 4th Gr-Grandpa Gary, I had to dig a little deeper. I had to be sure I am spelling his name right because HE cared that his name was spelled just right.

He cared so much that when he was 75 years old he appeared in Pension Court in the state of New York and requested a new Certificate “for the purpose of having an error in the Christian name corrected”.  As far as I can determine, he was still receiving his $35 a year pension for his service during the Revolutionary War; but he just wanted his name spelled right.

So which was it? 

  • Enos — of Hebrew origin, meaning  “mankind” and belonging to one of Adam and Eve’s grandsons. OR
  • Eneas:  of Greek and Latin origin, meaning “to praise” and a variant of Aeneas the Trojan hero prince of Virgil’s Aeneid

All the local history books that cover Gary genealogy list him as Enos.  The DAR lineage books all list him as Enos.  Most of the family trees that you find online list him as Enos.

However!

An entry in a Gary Family Bible, which is admittedly very hard to read and therefore inconclusive, looks to me more like Eneas than Enos.  And yes, it also says Geary instead of Gary.  But like I said, that is the nature of this kind of work.

EnosGaryBible1

Also, his grave marker at Rushford Cemetery says Eneas Gary Esq.

Eneas Gary gravemarker

But the deciding factor for me came as I was searching through his military pension files.  I found four documents that he had personally signed.  

Fold3_Page_49_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_FilesFold3_Page_39_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_FilesFold3_Page_43_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_FilesFold3_Page_8_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files

A hundred years from now, a genealogist looking at my signature won’t learn much.  But in the case of Eneas Gary, I think it is pretty clear what he thought his name was.

 

Eneas Gary Revolutionary Soldier

My Sons of the American Revolution certificate for Enos Gary merely describes his service as:  

“Private, Connecticut; Capt. Jeremiah Mason and Capt. John Isham”

There is, of course, so much more to the story.

The following is my transcription of a handwritten document I found in his military records.  This is a clerk’s record of testimony given by Eneas Gary in 1832 when he applied for his Revolutionary War Pension.  I have corrected some spelling and added some paragraph breaks to make it more readable.  (I have also added some comments in Italics).  But for the most part, this is Eneas Gary describing his military service in his own words. 

State of New York

County of Allegany

On this 30 day of October personally appeared in open court before our Judges of the Court of Common Pleas in general session now sitting, Eneas Gary, a resident of Rushford in the County of Allegany and State of New York aged seventy five years according to a record he transcribed from an old Family Bible of his Father’s when he first commenced house-keeping, who being duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declarations in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832

That he was born on the 23rd day of September, 1757 in the town of Taunton in Bristol County and State of Massachusetts, and when he was about twelve years of age his Father moved with his family to Lebanon in Windom County, State of Connecticut, where he resided until the year 1801 when he, the said Eneas Geary, moved with his family to Weathersfield in the County of Windsor, State of Vermont and in the 1808 he moved to Rushford in Allegany County, State of New York, where he now resides.

He further says that he was first called into the Revolutionary Service from his residence in Lebanon about the last of January or forepart of February 1776. 

That he enlisted under Captain Jeremiah Mason, Lieut. Clark and Ensign Watterman for two months and that he soon marched to Cambridge near Boston.  And that after remaining there some time went to Brooklyn.

And some time about the first of March in the evening a part of his company marched to Roxbury, himself for one, and then joined a large body of troops; and from there to the Heights of Dorchester where they erected a large Fort— And after having been relieved by other troops, they returned to Brooklyn and there remained until after the British army and fleet left Boston and sailed from Nantucket Roads—

Then was dismissed without any written discharge and returned home about the last of March of forepart of April and that he drew pay for two months service according to his enlistment.

That according to the best of his remembrance they had but one Colonel and his name was Sage of Middletown and the Major’s name was Ripley of Windham.

The second engagement of 1776

And further saith that he entered the service of the United States for the second time the last of May or first of June 1776.  That he enlisted for six months under Capt. John Isham, Lieut. Chamberlain and Ensign Ransom— The Col’s name who commanded the Regiment was John Chester and resided Weathersfield —  The second in command was Col. Wills— The Major’s name he has forgotten.  Benjamin Tallmadge, who has since been a Member of Congress was their Adjutant.

They marched, or went part of the way by water to New York—

And that on or about the 26th of August a part of his company was in a detached party for 2 or 3 days to go to the lines towards Flat-Bush on Long Island.

In the forepart of the day they fell in with a column of the British army and commenced firing on them and fought on a retreat until they were like to have been surrounded and then fled with all speed and with much difficulty reached our lines—  And on the next night but one our army left the island and went over to the city of New York—

And that they remained a few days in the city and then marched out over King’s Bridge to a place called Valentine’s Hill where they remained a short time and then went to White Plains and then went to fortifying the place.

And that he was sometimes drawn out and sent with a large party to reconnoiter about West-Chester where they once fell in with a body of the British army, and had a short skirmish, but they soon reinforced, and we were obliged to fall back towards our lines—

Sometime about the last of October the British army attacked them at White Plains and a partial action was fought— Soon after this engagement the British army drew off towards New York  and that he was once more in a large detached party commanded by Gen Lee (as near as he can remember) and followed up their rear until they got back to Valentine’s Hill when the British crossed at King’s-Bridge and then they returned back to White Plains and joined their regiment and took their tents and marched to the North River and crossed at Stoney Point with two or three regiments more, one of which was called the Continental Regiment.  Two of the officers were known to him, Capt. Andrew Fitch and Lieut. Allen both of them were townsmen of his—

From Stoney point they marched to East Town (Easton, PA) at the forks of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, thence to a place where there were some Moravians settled (Bethlehem, PA)  and from there to or near the west bank of the Delaware River a little above Trenton where they remained until his time of service had expired –

On or about the last of November or the forepart of December the Regiment to which he belonged was paraded and the commanding officers informed them that their time of service was out and thanked them for their soldier-like behavior while under their command and dismissed them without written discharges—

And that he went with a part of his company from the west side of the Delaware River to place called Cowels or Corells ferry (probably Coryell’s Ferry – located at what is now Solebury, PA) where they crossed and from there to Hacketstown in New Jersey — from there to  Goshen in New York — from there to New Windsor and crossed the North River (Hudson River) to Fish Kill, from there to Litchfield in Connecticut from there to Hartford — from there to home in Lebanon.  (the trip home was about 302 miles)

And after a long lapse of time received his full pay for six months services.

Third engagement 1777

And further saith that he entered the Service of the United States for the third time about the middle of August, as near as he can now recollect, in the year of 1777.

That he then belonged to a troop of horse.  And although the Captain had orders to draft a number from his company and called them together for that purpose, he and a number of others turned out voluntarily and were soon marched to Hartford where they were met by others from different towns — The Captain’s name was Green of East Haddam, Gamaliel Little of Lebanon was their Lieut. and their Cornet’s (third ranking officer in a cavalry unit) name was Bingham and resides in Canterbury.

That all immediately proceeded to Albany in the State of New York — from there to Bennnington in Vermont, and soon after marched to Manchester where they were divided into small parties and placed on the road from head quarters to Manchester, Pawlet, and Granville up to Lake Champlain, where they remained carrying dispatches from one part of the army to the other until Burgoyne was taken prisoner with his army

A day or two before Burgoyne surrendered he was taken sick and was not able to go home with his Company — From the time he left home until he returned was nearly three months including the time of his sickness and that he drew pay for two months services only.

Being left alone sick, he was neither dismissed nor had he any written discharge —  and that he knows of no person whose testimony he can procure who can testify to any of his services

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or an annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the Pension Roll of any agency in any State.

Eneas Gary

 

As a result of this testimony and a few character references, Eneas Gary was awarded a Certificate of Pension on Aug 19, 1833.  He received $87.50 in arrears and began receiving $35 per year until he died in Aug 17, 1844

 

Uncle Israel Harding

One of my previous blogs was devoted to Stephen Harding and his actions during the Revolutionary War.  Because of his service, I was able to become a member of the Sons of The American Revolution (SAR) and my female offspring could join the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Stephen Harding was, of course, a Patriot, meaning he sided with the American colonies in fighting against the British.  Five of his sons were Patriots.  Most of his brothers were Patriots.  But there was that one brother; Israel; the youngest.  Israel Harding, my 5th Great Grand Uncle, was not a Patriot.

I recently learned of another lineage group called the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada.  On their website, http://www.uelac.org/ they explain that “The United Empire Loyalists were generally those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war.”   That’s Israel’s group.

Israel and Stephen Harding had both served in His Majesties Service during the French and Indian War.  Stephen served as a private.  Israel enlisted as a young soldier and attained the rank of Lieutenant during that conflict. Shortly after being discharged, in 1759, Israel was married to Sarah Harris in New London, CT  The young couple soon went off with the New England Planters to settle on a land grant in Lower Horton, Kings County, in the new colony of Nova Scotia.

For some unknown reason, after a decade or so farming in Nova Scotia, they packed up their five children and moved back to New London, Connecticut.  Perhaps they were homesick.  By 1771, Israel was buying and selling land in Colchester Co., CT and in 1774 he traveled to Nova Scotia and sold off the rest of his interests there.

That turned out to be a very bad move.  As the winds of Revolution began to blow Israel and Sarah were caught in the cross currents.  Among his family, Israel was the youngest of five brothers and the only one to remain loyal to the British during the Revolution. He saw no reason to reject the British rule. He saw the Tories as those, in his own words, “whose greatest crime if it may be deemed so has been love for their King and affection for the Parent Country.”

In and about the community of Colchester, life would have been very difficult for a Loyalist.  For example, he would not even have been able to get provisions for his family such as were promised to the families of the Continental soldiers.

Israel never took up arms against the rebels (or Patriots as we call them) but he did serve as a civilian spy and supplier.  His job was to observe the French Fleet and rebels at Rhode Island and pass on dispatches as requested.  Because of that he, in his own words,

“became obnoxious to the Americans, was apprehended, imprisoned, harassed, dragged from place to place by files of armed men and Constables, leaving a wife and seven children behind with no way to support them but by what money I had, which with defending myself before courts and committees and other expenses arising therefrom, amounted to a sum of five hundred and twenty dollars; also two boats which were taken from me I made use of in carrying sheep and cattle from Connecticut to the Fleet and Army. That after your memorialist escaped to Long Island he had a house assigned him by Government from which house he was taken by Capt. Elijah Smith and a party of men, and robbed of goods, wearing apparel, and other effects to the amount of one hundred and twenty eight dollars; that your Memorialist by his attachment to His Majesty was dispossessed of a house and land in the Town of Saybrook in Connecticut which was afterward sold for eight hundred dollars….”

At the request of his brother, Thomas, he was given permission by the Governor of Connecticut to remove to Long Island where things would have been easier since it was occupied by the British.  Eventually, as the war concluded, he had to flee there also and returned to Nova Scotia. 

In December 1783 Israel Harding applied for and later received a 950 acre land grant somewhere between Horton and New Minas in Nova Scotia.  That plot remained their family’s central home during the rest of his days.

Lieutenant Israel Harding was deceased by 18 July 1794 when his wife, Sarah, and children were awarded Probate Administration of his estate in Horton, Nova Scotia. The 950 acre farm was listed in the Inventory. His resting place is unknown, but he may have been buried with extended family and others in the Lower Horton old Planter cemetery, which became overgrown. There was no headstone when it was transcribed in the 1960’s

Sarah later moved to Digby County, Nova Scotia to live with her daughter, Eliphal (Lee) Allison. After a remarkable life journey, there in a peaceful rural setting she attained the good old age of 96 years. She died 26 March 1836 at the home of her daughter.

(source; Journey of a Lifetime; The True Story of Israel and Sarah Harding UEL by Carol Harding)

Patriot Stephen Harding (1723-1789)

My application for membership to the Sons Of The American Revolution states that my 5th Gr-Grandfather, Stephen Harding, “assisted in the establishment of American Independence while acting in the capacity of Captain of the 7th Co., 24th Regiment, Colonel Zebulon Butler Connecticut Militia in1775 and he was in command of Fort Jenkins in Wyoming Valley, PA when he was captured on July 2,1778 by the Tories and the Indians.”

That is all true, of course, but there is so much more to the story…

Stephen Harding Jr. was born March 11, 1723 in Warwick, RI.  His 4th Gr-Grandfather, Richard Harding, had emigrated from England a century earlier making Stephen a fourth generation American.

His father, Capt. Stephen Harding, was a mariner, building and sailing his own ships.  Capt. Stephen must have gained considerable wealth for in 1732 he purchased a highly improved 400 acre farm that included a sawmill in what became Waterford, CT.  The family moved there when the younger Stephen was perhaps 9 years old.

Little else is known about Stephen Jr. until May 31, 1743 when he married Amy Gardner (daughter of Stephen & Frances Congdon Gardner).  Together they settled in Colchester, CT where they resided for over 25 years and raised 9 sons and 4 daughters.

During the French and Indian War Stephen Jr. served in Captain Thomas Pierce’s Twelfth Company of the Second Connecticut Regiment.  He served as a private for about six months and was involved in the Campaign of 1760.

“From the lips of those who were acquainted with them during their lifetime, we are told that (Stephen) was a man of means, and a prominent man in the town of Colchester (Connecticut), from whence he had come; and that both he and his wife had been members of the Baptist Church there. He was a man of great will power and energy, of more than ordinary physical stature, and always ready to act upon every emergency.”  (Source: Luscomb, J.S. (1998). Genealogical Outline of the Richard Harding Line. Wyoming Historical Society collections.)

Stephen’s name appears several times among those from Connecticut who, beginning in the 1760’s, attempted to establish a settlement in the Wyoming Valley in NE Pennsylvania.  This very fertile valley was formed by the Susquehanna River which flows from upstate New York through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and into the Chesapeake Bay. We are primarily interested in the 30 mile stretch just north and east of Wilkes-Barre, PA.

The problem with settling the Wyoming Valley was that it was embroiled in a border dispute between the Colonies of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.  King Charles II had unwittingly granted the area to both Colonies; and neither wanted to give it up.  The result was a series of Yankee-Pennamite Wars that raged, off and on, for 25 years.  That is a great story for another time.  But for now, suffice to know only that Stephen Harding believed that he was settling in Westmoreland, Connecticut.  All of his civic and military service was for Connecticut.  Even though the area is now part of Pennsylvania.

Stephen was living in the Wyoming Valley in 1772 when Pittston Fort was a built by the  Connecticut settlers.  The fort contained about 35 cabins within a triangular palisade.  The settlers owned and occupied their cabins until such times as they were ready to live on the farms which they had located.  One of these cabins, #33, belonged to Stephen Harding.

April 19, 1775 – The American Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

May, 1775 –  The Connecticut Legislature enacted “that the town of Westmoreland shall be one entire regiment distinguished and called by the name of the 24th Regiment” Zebulun Butler was appointed Colonel.

Fall of 1775 – Stephen sold his interest in Pittston Fort and presumably moved into his house in Exeter Township.  Located on the west side of the Susquehanna river, near Falling Spring the settlement later became the village of Harding. (it’s on Google Maps)

October, 1775 – The 24th Connecticut Militia Regiment was organized into nine companies.  The Line Officers for the Seventh Company, located around Exeter Township, were Stephen Harding, Captain; Elisha Scovell, Lieutenant; John Jenkins, Ensign (Harding & Jenkins were brothers-in-law; their wives Amy Gardner Harding and Lydia Gardner Jenkins were sisters.)

August, 1776 – Two Independent Companies of the 24th Regiment were established for Continental Service .  At least three of Stephen Harding’s sons, Stephen III, Thomas (my ancestor), and Israel, enlisted in the First Westmoreland Independent Co.

January, 1777 – The two Independent Companies left the Wyoming Valley and marched off to join General Washington at Morristown, NJ.  Their departure left primarily women, children and old men to defend the Wyoming Valley.  Stephen was then 54 and one of the men that stayed behind.  One of the children was Stephen’s son, Elisha, who later gave this testimony:

“In answer to your request, I will begin with the building of Jenkins fort. In the month of June, 1777, it was thought proper to commence building forts, for defense against the enemy.  We went to work I, but a boy, could do but little, except driving oxen to haul logs ; the logs were about eighteen or twenty feet long, and placed in a ditch of a sufficient depth to stand against any thing that could be brought by the enemy against it ; the corners so constructed as to rake any thing on the outside of the fort that should attempt to assail it.”

So, Fort Jenkins was actually built by Harding, Jenkins, Gardner and their families. It was nothing more than a log stockade built around the house of Judge John Jenkins.  Other forts in the area were larger.  I’ve already mentioned Pittston Fort; and Forty Fort occupied almost an acre.  But Fort Jenkins was small and only able to accommodate a few families in times of danger.

.Fort Wintermoots, another stockaded house, was also small and only a mile away from Fort Jenkins.  But it had been built by Tory settlers from New York who were sympathetic to the British.

Spring of 1778 – Butler’s Ranagers began wreaking havoc in the Susquehanna Valley.  Major John Butler (no relation to Zebulun Butler) was a Connecticut Tory, loyal to the British Crown, with extensive knowledge of Indian languages and customs.  He had at his command as many as 500 Mohawk Indians and 400 local Tories.  The Susquehanna was a strategic waterway and food source and they meant to take it by any means.

May, 1778 –  Sensing the danger, the Hardings, Hadsalls, John Gardner and perhaps others moved into Fort Jenkins.  But they were still farmers. They had to go out and tend to their crops or they would have nothing to eat come winter. 

June 30,1778 – A work party, including Stephen’s sons Benjamin, Stukley, & Stephen III (apparently back from his tour with Washington) went up river five or six miles to work in their corn fields.  Toward evening, as they were beginning to make their way back to the fort, they were ambushed by Indians.  Benjamin and Stukley were killed, mutilated, and scalped.  Stephen III fled and after wandering through the woods all night made it back to the fort the next morning.

July 1, 1778 – A force from Forty Fort marched the 11 miles to the site of the murders seeking retaliation.  They also recovered the bodies of Benjamin and Stukley. Amy Gardner Harding, their mother, prepared them for burial and they were laid to rest outside of the fort. These were the first burials in the Jenkins-Harding Cemetery.

July 2, 1778 – I again quote Elisha Harding’s testimony:

“In the course of the after noon, Butler sent a flag to our fort, demanding a surrender thereof; Captain Harding and Esquire Jenkins met Butler; and there being but five able-bodied men, and two old men, and three boys, left in the fort, and the Indians in possession of Wintermoots, it was thought most advisable to surrender on the following conditions: that nothing should be taken from the inhabitants of the fort, except such things as were wanted for the army, and that to be paid for; the inhabitants to have liberty to return home and occupy their farms in peace, but not to take up arms during the war.”

July 3, 1778 –  All the Companies of the 24th, except for Harding’s 7th Co.,which was captured the day before, were gathered in Forty Fort for a war council.  Colonel Zebulun Butler was there; and troops from the Independent Companies were on their way.  Smoke could been seen on the horizon as Forts Jenkins and Wintermoots were being destroyed. Some of the men at Forty Forty insisted that they must go out immediately and confront the enemy to protect their farms and families.  Col. Zebulun Butler advised that they should stay in the Fort and wait for reinforcements. But he eventually relented and the men of Wyoming left the Fort and went out in pursuit of the enemy.

They found the enemy, established a line, and fired a couple of volleys.  But then they realized that they were outflanked by Indians hiding in the woods.  Savage hand-to-hand combat with spears and tomahawks ensued and within 45 minutes the Battle and Massacre of Wyoming was over.

Numbers vary, but roughly 200 Patriots were killed, tortured, and/or mutilated that day.  The Wyoming Monument lists the names of 182 men known to have died.  When Col. John Butler left the Valley a few days later he took with him 227 scalps for which the British paid him $2270.

By being captured on the previous day, the Hardings escaped the horror of the Battle & Massacre.  But they surely suffered tremendous loss among friends and neighbors.

Despite the surrender agreement at Jenkins Fort, it was not safe to remain in the valley.  The Hardings fled to Colchester for the duration of the war.  In 1778, they returned to the Wyoming Valley and resumed living on their farm in Exeter.  Stephen Harding died Oct 11,1789 and Amy survived him until June 4,1804.  They are both buried in Jenkins-Harding Cemetery in West Pittston, PA along side of their sons, Benjamin and Stukley.

Jenkins-Harding Cemetery, West Pittston, PA

Wyoming Monnument