In this third column, Larry Oberly and this writer are reading letters written by Capt. Theodore Howell, Company D, 153rd Pennsylvania Regiment. These letters were given to us by Mr. Aaron Schisler, of the Schisler Funeral Home.
“Nov. 10, 1862, Haymarket, Va.
We are still advancing, marched 14 miles. A grand sight, 10,000 men in motion at Haymarket, Va., burned a few days ago. Don’t know how long we will stay.
Jeff Bartholomew killed, found bull weighing 300 pounds, so company has enough beef for one day. Boys sharing hogs, chickens and sheep from enemy farms. Looks like a fine county. Rebels, not far off. Have to keep eyes open.
My love to you all.
Theo H. Howell”
(Haymarket, Va., was seized by Union troops in November 1862.)
In May, the Union army would fight two large battles at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Va. They were Union victories, but Gen. Robert E. Lee thought he would surprise Union armies by marching north.
Soon, Company D of the 153rd Regiment was marching to meet the Confederates at the town of Gettysburg, Pa. Capt. Howell and his company fought here July 1-3. The cost was high – 51,000 casualties. The 153rd fought with courage, and Capt. Howell was wounded in the action – twice, in the hip and in the arm. The Pennsylvania monument on the battlefield recognizes Capt. Howell, his company and Pennsylvania soldiers who fought there.
Capt. Howell was treated at a military hospital in Washington, D.C.
“Washington, D.C., July 13, 1863
I take this opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know I am getting strong and am able to get around fine. Am very glad of it and I am tired of being about in hospitals and hope will never have occasion to see another inside of a hospital as long as I am in service. The doctors are lazy to do anything for a person. I was in the seminary hospital for 10 days and they charged me $9 board and let me take care of myself.
I left today to spend a day in Washington and tomorrow will go back to my company where I think I will be better taken care of than anywhere else, excepting home, which I don’t expect to see until my nine months are up.
Washington is quite lively and a good-looking city, with some very handsome buildings, but they know how to charge at hotels for board. I guess it is the dearest place to be for anyone in the north.
I send you and children my love. Also, my respects to all my friends.
Theo H. Howell”
The soldier returned to his Lincoln Avenue home. In later years, officials of a new company, Atlas Portland Cement Company, came to his home and offered to purchase hundreds of acres the family owned around their grist mill.
Howell sold the land, and the largest Portland Cement complex was constructed on the site. Howell, in the contract, required the company preserve the old Wilson Block House, which was constructed in 1756. They agreed, and the borough symbol was preserved for future generations.
The old soldier passed into history March 6, 1918, at age 93, and was buried with honors at Greenwood Cemetery, Allen Township.
In two weeks, we will complete the Howell story with photographs.