We received a call from Mr. Aaron Schisler, well-known local funeral director. He had a valuable chapter of local history he wished to share with our loyal readers.
Mr. Schisler handed me a notebook containing a treasure of local history – letters written by Capt. Theodore Howell, our community’s most celebrated Civil War veteran. They were written in 1862 and 1863.
We had written about Capt. Howell in some columns a number of years ago. The family originally came from New Jersey during the Colonial era and purchased a grist mill on the Hokendauqua Creek formerly owned by Hugh Wilson, one of the founders of what is now the borough of Northampton.
In 1844, Joseph Howell sold the mill to John Howell, the father of Capt. Theodore Howell. Theodore would marry Mary Levan, a member of a prominent Allen Township family. They were blessed with a large family.
The advent of the Civil War divided the nation. Howell enlisted in October 1862. He canvassed Allen Township for recruits and was unanimously elected captain of Company D, 153rd Pennsylvania Regiment. He would see action at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. At Gettysburg, he was wounded twice in the hip and in the arm. On July 22, 1863, he was honorably discharged and returned home.
“Camp near Potomac Creek, December 1862
We are still in our old camp and expect to remain here for some time. I have gotten perfectly well again and am gaining flesh very fast. My lieutenants are on the sick list. Sent 100 green backs to father. Sent old pants and vest. You can use them.
Send my love to you, the children and father.
Capt., D, 153rd Reg.”
“Chantilly, December 1862
Went into winter quarters, remaining here until spring. I made reconnaissance with three regiments of infantry, succeeding going into enemy country about 60 miles.
Infantry, cavalry surprised enemy. Action took 40 prisoners, 60 head of beef. Returned safely without losing any men. On Thursday last, Gen. Fritz Sigal had a grand review of his command, and it was a grand sight, as regiment after regiment marched. First division at a charge bayonet came to form a line of battle and commended firing from one end of the line to another with blank cartridges and a call of cease fire, ending the grand review.
Capt. Theodore Howell
Co. D, 153rd Reg.”
Capt. Howell met Gen. Sigal, who was born in Germany. A lieutenant colonel, he primarily commanded German immigrant soldiers in the Army of the Potomac. He had the ability to recruit and motivate German immigrants. After the war, he was a newspaper editor in New York City.
We’ll be with Capt. Howell again in two weeks.