Captain William H. Redman of the 12th Illinois Cavalry and the Stalsmith Family of Gettysburg

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Tom Elmore

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On the early morning of July 1, Captain William Henry Redman of Company C, 12th Illinois Cavalry, sat down at the William Stalsmith home in Gettysburg for breakfast and penned a letter to his mother, Catherine. He had to bring it to a close when some firing was reported west of town, and the letter was subsequently mailed by the family from Gettysburg. An excerpt:

“We came into this place yesterday morning. I was among the first to charge into this place and I tell you it seemed good to be cheered as we were by the citizens. Young ladies came out in the streets by the hundreds, handing us bouquets and singing to us as we passed along, “My Lover has Gone to the War,” a very beautiful song which made us all feel good. … This is a beautiful place and the people are truly loyal and now look upon us as their rescuers. I am now writing this letter at William Stalsmith’s - a nephew of Henry Stalsmith’s at home. I ate breakfast here this morning and I almost feel like I were at home now. There is two young ladies in the family and of course I talk with them. … The folks want me to tell you to tell Stalsmith’s that all their folks are well and that they would like to see them. They all send love to their friends and would like to hear from them. These are fine clever folks and I should have a home if anything should happen [to] me while about here. …”

Redman wrote to his sisters Jane and Emeline from Westminster, Maryland on July 3. He had passed safely through the battle, although his company lost one man killed and two wounded (see below). Two days earlier he left his previous letter with a daughter of William Stalsmith, whom Redman described as being a cousin of John Stalsmith and Louisa Sheets.

The 1860 census for Gettysburg listed:
-William Stalsmith, age 39, house carpenter, real estate assessed at $2000, personal estate assessed at $500.
-Barbara Stalsmith, age 35.
-Charles H. Stalsmith, age 16.
-John M. Stalsmith, age 14.
-Mary E. Stalsmith, age 11.
-Levi H. Stalsmith, age 9.
-Willie E. Stalsmith, age 7.
-Reuben Stalsmith, age 3.

A town map from the period locates the William Stalsmith residence on the south side of York Street just east of the town square (diamond). Four of William’s siblings evidently resided in Hartford City, Indiana: Catherine Stallsmith Ashbaugh, Jacob Stallsmith, John Stallsmith and George Washington Stallsmith (note the additional letter in the surname, which was anglicized). Their parents were Johann Peter Stahlschmidt and Susanna Culp Stahlschmidt, both Gettysburg residents.

Company C, 12th Illinois Cavalry casualties, all incurred on July 1:
-Private Ferdinand A. Ushuer, killed by a shell fragment reportedly fired by Capt. Edward A. Marye’s Fredericksburg Artillery. He may have been the first U.S. soldier killed at Gettysburg.
-Private John Burrows, a native of Ireland, badly wounded in the hip.
-Private Michael Cunningham, wounded and captured (probably left behind when the Confederates retreated).

Captain Redman was mustered out of the service at Houston, Texas on May 29, 1866. He became a lawyer with a practice in Iowa, and represented Poweshiek County in the Iowa General Assemblies of 1886 and 1888.

Sources:
-Papers of William Henry Redman, Manuscripts Department, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville.
-https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/16950635/william-christian-stallsmith
-https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/84422591/william-henry-redman
-https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/legislator?personID=4148&ga=22
-Union Casualties at Gettysburg, by Travis W. Busey and John W. Busey.
 
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