Experience of (one) of my CW ancestors

Donnie 84

Cadet
Joined
Jul 15, 2021
DIARY

OF WAR EXPERIENCES

OF

FREDERICK JACOB HOSLER

84TH​ PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEER

COMPANY F

&

57TH​ PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEER

COMPANY H



1862​











On the morning of the sixteenth day of October 1862, I was sitting husking corn in Briar Creek, Columbia County, when my father came to me and said, “Fred, the President has called for more volunteers and I am going”.

I was then only seventeen years of age, but I caught up my coat and said, “Well, father, if you go I am going too”, so away we went to Bloomsburg and enlisted in the 84th​ Pennsylvania Volunteers.

The first Army supper we ate was on the Fair Grounds of that place, and consisted of bread, meat, and a pile of salt. We thought that pretty rough, but after we had tasted more of Army life, we thought it a grand supper.

By this time, my mother had heard of what I had done so she took the train and followed me to Bloomsburg, but was too late as we had started for the seat of war.

The next day found us in Harrisburg where we donned the blue. After that we went to Stoneman’s Switch, near Fredericksburg, where we joined our Regiment commanded by Col. S. Bowman of Berwick. We were there but a short time until our Captain Fribley came to us and after calling us into line, said, “Boys, tomorrow we expect to engage in a bloody conflict right across the river from where we are now. So, if you have any letters to write or prayers to say, do them now. For God alone knows where we may be tomorrow.”















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I tell you boys, although no coward, I wished mother would have found me when she was looking for me in Bloomsburg. Father, on seeing my consternation, came to me and said, “Never mind, my boy, we are on the right side and we are going to fight for our Country. We will show the Johnnies what kind of stuff the Pennsylvanians are made of.”

Early, the next morning, we heard the “long roll”, which meant, “Fall in, boys, for battle.” We then marched to the banks of the river and over the pontoons into Fredericksburg.

About three o’clock in the afternoon, while we were waiting for orders to go to the front, we quickly prepared our coffee under the shelter of the riverbank, the shells passing over our heads like hail stones. The wounded were then being carried back to the hospital, and one of them I remember well. He had been shot in the lower jaw and it hung down on his breast, it was a terrible sight. Turning to my comrade, I exclaimed, “Bob, take a look at that man, how badly he is wounded.” He looked up, in a comical way, and said with an oath, “How is he going to chew his tobacco?” It was no joking matter, I can tell you.

In about a half an hour after we were ordered out to the front, we marched to the upper end of Fredericksburg, where we had the battle in full view. A cannon ball passed over our heads and struck two of the horses belonging to the Artillery, killing them instantly.

We were ordered to make a charge to the front line and relieve those in the front. We charged through an open field, over dead and wounded, until we came to a wire fence, where many of the boys were killed and wounded, among them, my father. But there was no going back to look after him, as the cry was, “On to the front boys, on to the front!”







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I can see our Colonel yet, how he looked, stepping over the dead and wounded, his spurs glittering in the sunlight, as he was seeking a place of safety on the crest of the hill which the front line then held. The battle raged on until after dark, when we were ordered to cease firing.

I made inquiry then about my father, but could learn nothing more than I knew. I then asked the Captain if he could tell me anything of him and he said the last he saw of him he was creeping toward a house with a large stone chimney in it.

We held our position there until the next night when we were relieved. We marched back into town and at eight o’clock the hogs and chickens did not number nearly so many. At this time, Burnside ordered a retreat.

The next night, we were ordered to guard a canal bridge, so the enemy could not follow on after our troops, which had crossed the river that morning. We then all crossed and went back into our old camp.

In all this time, I had heard nothing of my father. As we were preparing for winter the next day, who came limping along but father whom I had given up for dead. Any one of the boys who was placed in the same or nearly the same position can realize my feelings then. Our Captain said to him, “Hosler, why are you not in the hospital?” Father replied, “I just wanted to see if my boy were safe.” He then went to the hospital, and after he recovered from his wound, took charge of a ward as a nurse until the close of the war, his wound having incapacitated his doing any further duty as a soldier.

Dear reader, you can imagine our joy at seeing each other again. The war was not as my sanguine hopes imagined and I was almost discouraged. Here was fresh proof that God was helping the right.





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In the spring of ’63, Burnside had his stick in the mud. We then went on to Chancellorsville, where Joe Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac, where we again met the enemy.

While we were fighting those in our front, the Johnnies broke through our line on the left and came up in our rear over the crest of a hill. Colonel Opp, noticing balls coming from that direction, went back to ascertain the cause, and behold, a solid line of battle advancing upon us not more than four or five rods away. Hurrying back, he cried, “For God’s sake, 84th​, get out of this or we will be surrounded!”

I fell in retreating and until I picked myself up, the company were away beyond me and the Johnnies were upon me, and with a great many others of the brave 84th​. Boys were taken to Libby Prison for our summer’s “recreation”. While on our way there, an old Negress came to her cabin door and on seeing us exclaimed, “Good Land! Dey hev catched some of da imps, guess dey git da old debbil too, after while.”

Only those who have had the “pleasure” of being there know how much “recreation” we had. Boys, you know corncake, cob and all, was not very plenty there. Oh, for a little of Bloomsburg’s salt and beef! We were there three months, when we were paroled and sent to City-Point, where we saw the glorious stars and stripes. With our pants up to our knees and coats up to our elbows, we took the boat to Annapolis, where we got a new suit, and if ever a leopard changed spots, we felt as though we had changed ours. We were soon exchanged and sent to the Regiment again.











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We were there only three days until the Battle of Pleasant Hill took place. Our Company was ordered out to take place of the Sharp Shooters. I will say here, while I think of it, that Malanthon Brochus and I were placed on one post behind a lot of rails that the Sharp Shooters had gathered there to protect themselves with. We were there all night. As soon as the sun came up, I saw what a dangerous position we were in. I said, Let’s dig the ground and throw it up on the rails to further protect ourselves” and went to work at it with my bayonet for a pick and a tin cup as a shovel. But, he only laughed at me and called me a coward. It was only a few minutes after that until a ball came crashing through the rails striking him in the face. He turned to go to the hospital for help, when he was struck three times in the back. Falling forward, he groaned three times and died.

We stayed there until the evening when we were relieved. Many were the thoughts I had of home that day, never did it seem so dear, or so far away at one time.

We will pass on to the Battle of Spottsylvania Court House on the 12th​ of May 1864. On the night of the 11th​, our boys captured the picket line and at four o’clock the next morning, we made a charge of about three or four hundred yards through an open field. We took three lines of breastworks and one battery, but when we reached the third line, our brave 84th​ was nearly torn to pieces. We were repulsed and fell back to the first line we had taken, our boys being killed like so many flies. I sprang behind a dead horse in a little redoubt and stayed there all day. The next morning, nothing was to be seen of the living Johnnies, but the dead ones were plenty; they being piled up six deep.







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We will pass on through the Battle of the Wilderness, the Rebels disputing every inch of the way, but the Boys in Blue made them give way until we crossed the river in front of Petersburg, where the Colored Regiment had been fighting.

We then took their places throwing up breastworks and building forts night and day. Mind you, it was then the Gray Coats had the Army of the Potomac to deal with and the brave and gallant U. S. Grant as our commander.

I’ll never forget the scene of one morning as I stood in the redoubt as picket of the blowing up of the Johnnie’s fort. What was different fighting to what we had been used to having, to see the Johnnies with their traps flying through the air. I thought then and said “Johnnies, that’s the nearest to Heaven you’ll ever get.” In the evening, I was relieved from picket and joined my Regiment again.

We were then ordered to City Point, where we were to take the steamboat and go to Deep Bottom. The empty wagon trains were going by land in order to draw the confederate forces from the Weldon Railroad to that point. We fought them hard and long that day, and many more of our brave 84th​ boys were left on the battlefield.

Our aim being accomplished, we took the steamboat and returned to our old position in front of Petersburg. We heard there that the Fifth Army Corps had destroyed the Weldon Railroad for miles, thus, cutting off all means of them getting their supplies. We would call to the Johnnies and ask them how they would get their grub now.









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The Johnnies were now surrounded by us very nearly in the shape of a horseshoe. There was only one way to escape and that was to Richmond. Our Boys headed them off there, so they started for Lynchburg, but they were baffled again. For, the Cavalry had gone before, and were between them and Lynchburg.

We followed them night and day from Petersburg to Lynchburg, the Fifth, Second, and Third Corps in hot pursuit. One evening, we followed them into a deep ravine where there was a large creek, spanned by a small bridge that only one wagon could pass at a time. They rushed in the ravine to save themselves from our bullets, and we captured there about 400 wagons.

Their mules and horses were right good in flesh, but of all the looking harness you ever saw, that beat! Nothing but bed ropes for traces and corn husk collars, and some without any at all. Merchants, with their goods were leaving with the wagon trains. Our boys spread their silks, muslins, and calicoes for a dancing floor, and you may be sure, they were not very salable after we were done with them.

All the livestock were sent to our rear. The wagons were run together and then set fire and were totally destroyed. We still followed on, capturing and destroying anything that looked like a Johnnie until the night of April 8th​. We were ordered to halt and not drive them too fast in order that our Cavalry could get between them and Lynchburg. I had just lain my head against a tree, expecting to take a good night’s rest, but had not been there more than a half an hour when we hear three cannon reports in our front, which was the signal agreed upon and meant “Drive on Boys, we are ready for them.”







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Imagine how they must have felt with the Yankees on their right, left, rear, and front. We could have wiped them from the face of the earth there, if we had opened fire on them, but our officers were not so blood thirsty. As we came up to them, officers as well as their men sat in ditches in groups waving their handkerchiefs begging us not to fire. We felt now as though we had nearly gained the end we were striving for.

On the morning of the ninth of April 1865, we were ordered to halt, the first time in eight days. We asked permission of our Captain to make some coffee, as the Johnnies seemed very quiet in our front. As we were preparing it, I saw one of their baggage wagons drawn by four horses and a Negro driver and best of all, displaying a large white flag coming toward us. As we were halting there, the Johnnies would come to our lines and coax us to trade tobacco and hard tack. They would say “Youins chased weins so fast, weins didn’t git time to bake our flapjacks.” About three or four o’clock in the afternoon, we heard cheer after cheer to our right, and as the Officers rode up to their commands and told of Lee’s surrender, the air was filled with caps, frying pans, and damp kettles amid the shouting of the boys, for we were not behind with our cheering, I can tell you.

Many of the boys laughed and cried at the same time and I can feel yet, the thrill that went through me when I heard the good news, for now our Country was safe. That night we lay down to rest in piece, knowing the War was over. No need to sleep with one eye open now. It was the first night of rest we had in eight days.











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The next morning, the order was, “Home boys, toward Washington,” and you may believe we were not slow to obey. I must not forget to tell you that on the same morning, I asked the Captain if I might take one of the Johnnie’s mules (they were running full around us) and ride, as my feet were very sore, providing I reported every night to my Company. He gave his consent, and you ought to have seen me, in spite of sore feet, light out after one. I caught him and made good use of him until……



THE FINAL PAGE OF THE DIARY, WRITTEN ON TABLET PAPER (NOW YELLOWED AND BRITTLE WITH AGE) IN BEAUTIFUL, METICULOUS HANDWRITING, IS MISSING. BUT FREDERICK JACOB HOSLER DID MAKE IT BACK TO HIS HOME IN PENNSYLVANIA, WHERE HE LATER MARRIED MARY ELLEN MARCH AND BECAME THE FATHER OF SIX BOYS, WILLARD, FREDERICK, RALPH, ROBERT, AND BENJAMIN. FREDERICK JACOB HOSLER DIED NOVEMBER 11, 1914 AND IS INTERRED IN THE PINE GROVE CEMETERY ALONG MARKET STREET IN BERWICK RIGHT ACROSS FROM EIGHTH STREET, HAVING THE TALLEST HEADSTONE IN THE FIRST ROW. ENGRAVED ON THE TOMBSTONE IS AN OLD ENGLISH “H” ADORNED BY FLORAL DESIGNS, HIS NAME, BIRTH DATE, AND DEATH DATE. ALSO A PROUD TESTAMENT, HAVING: 84TH​ PA VOLUNTEERS COMPANY F ENGRAVED AS WELL.











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Reader, I would like to use some creative information to finish this diary. Hopefully, you will understand that I am not an expert of these past times, by no means, but would like to imagine some of the events between the last page of this diary and Frederick’s journey home. The time-line between his mule ride and to where he departs for Bloomsburg after being mustered out of service from the 57th​ Regiment is as factual as I can find (with some creativity on the thoughts of Frederick during these times and events) and the farewell letter is factual also. Frederick and the Regiment were about 3 miles from Appomattox Court House when Lee surrendered. So, please indulge me this:



I caught him and made good use of him until….

we halted for the night at Farmville. During this day’s march, it was not easy going, because it rained all day and the roads were thick with mud. At least the mule took the brunt of the terrible trail condition. The only thing that was not dampened by the rain was my jubilation that home was not nearly as far away as it had been for the last three years. The next morning, my feet were not so sore anymore and seeing the boys marching through all of that mud, I decided to let the mule go and stretch my legs with the rest of the boys. During this days march, we were all talking about past experiences and our homes. We also knew that the war was still going on and that only Lee was out of it. Some of us wondered if we would be rerouted to help our brave comrades in the west. We made camp in the evening of April 13th​ at Burkesville.

The next morning, we made our coffee and parleyed around our campfires for a while until some of our pickets came in to be relieved. Picket duty was still a serious duty as the threat of a skirmish was still possible, and I don’t think our officers wanted us to get too comfortable.



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The next morning, April 15th​, there seemed to be a commotion around the officer’s tents. We were called to fall in. Some of the boys said, “I knew it, we are going west.” We all dutifully fell into formation. With a troubling look on our Captain’s face, he informed us that our Great President Lincoln was dead. He had been assassinated at Ford’s theater in Washington last evening. Many were the prayers for his family and our country that day.

On April 28th​, we were still concerned with what was going to happen with our dear President taken from us. The drums started up once again to have us fall in. What news now? This time our Captain’s face was not as troubled. He informed us that the rest of the rebel army, under General Johnson had surrendered to the Great General W. T. Sherman. Now even the most doubtful of the boys knew it was over.

On May 2nd​, we struck camp as our Regiment and the rest of the II Corps were ordered to Richmond. We marched past Amelia Court House and reached Manchester on the James River opposite Richmond on the morning of the 5th​. All along, I was thinking of old Briar Creek.

The next day found us marching through Richmond with bands playing and colors flying. We went past the old summer home of mine, Libby Prison, and crossed the Chickahominy river. We made camp about 5 miles north on the Fredericksburg Pike. The next day we marched through Hanover Court House and crossed the Pamunkey, after 16 miles we halted for the night. The next day, we marched another 16 miles. It didn’t seem to bother me, marching all this way, as thoughts from the past and future seemed to intertwine.









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During the next days march, consisted of 17 miles and we stopped near the old Spottsylvania Battlefield. I will tell you now, that on that night’s rest, many were the somber thoughts of the last time I were here with the Brave 84th​. The next day, we passed through Fredericksburg, where long ago, I thought that I had lost my father forever, crossed the Rappahannock and camped on familiar ground at Stoneman’s Switch on the Aquia Railroad. The last time I was at this place, I was the tender age of 17 years. Now I was a man of 20.

By the 15th​, we had reached the vicinity of Washington and camped near Bailey’s Crossroads. On the morning of May 23rd​, we were up early getting ready to march the 7 miles to Washington for the Grand Review. We moved up to Arlington Mill’s and Hunter’s Chapel, onto Long Bridge, crossing with our gallant 2nd​ Corps. We massed on the streets east and south of the Capitol. No knapsacks to carry on this march! At 9 o’clock, precisely, a signal gun made the report to start marching. We could here the bugles from the Cavalry and Artillery in front of us instantly going, our drums rolled, the bands pealed forth inspiring music and the Grand Army of the Potomac was on the march.

As we marched up Pennsylvania Avenue, cheers rent the air and we were pelted with flowers. It was a real joy fearing being hit with flowers, rather than bullets, I can tell you. By late afternoon, we passed the reviewing stand. I could scarcely see the President as we passed and if he would have yelled right at me, I couldn’t have heard him over the cheers that were almost as loud as an Artillery barrage. When we were halted, none of the boys were complaining about marching on this day. Our pride was making us all about to burst!







-IV-


The following is some details about the Grand Review the day Frederick and the rest of the Army of the Potomac marched through:

The Army of the Potomac (with the exception of the 6th​ Corps, which had duty in Danville VA) passed in review before the President of the United States in following order, with officers commanding-

Cavalry Corps, Commanded by Major General Merritt.

9th​ Corps, Commanded by Major General John G. Parke.

5th​ Corps. Commanded by Major General Charles Griffin.

2nd​ Corps. Commanded by Major General A. A. Humphreys.

This force comprised 151 Regiments of Infantry, 36 Regiments of Cavalry, and 22 Batteries of Artillery, which with the staff department of the General officers, made about 80,000 men.

Thousands of people travelled to Washington to see this, the greatest military pageant of the 19th​ century, and which this country may never see surpassed. The weather was delightful, and being in light marching order, they were little fatigued although they marched about 16 miles.



















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The next day, General Sherman’s Army was reviewed. Many of us were anxious to see our gallant comrades of the Western Armies. The General looked a stern figure. The day after that, the 6th​ Corps of our Army was reviewed along with all of the artillery corps that had not yet been reviewed. The next few weeks found us waiting to be mustered out.

On June 23rd​, orders were received that our Regiment was on the list to be mustered out. In regular military order, a week later, on June 29th​, we found ourselves out of the service of the United States. The next morning, we struck our tents for the last time and marched to Washington. There we boarded a train for Harrisburg.

We arrived in Harrisburg on Sunday morning July 2nd​, unloaded and marched out to what was called “Camp Return” adjoining old Camp Curtain. On July 16th​, we received our final Army pay and discharge papers. We also got another paper from our Colonel as handshakes and good-natured slaps on the back were abundant between all of us boys. I then jumped on the train headed for good old Bloomsburg. I didn’t even care if there was salt and beef there after all of these years, for I was going to be home again.

As I rode the rail back closer to home, I couldn’t help but think about all that had happened since leaving with father in ’62. Would mother even recognize me? I tried to push those thoughts to the wayside and remembered the paper from the Colonel. I pulled it out of my pack and opened it.











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Harrisburg, PA July 6, 1865


To the Officers and Soldiers of the old 57th​ PA:

Four years ago, our thoughts were turned on war to come.

To-day our thoughts are on war past and peace to come.

The bloody strife is over, and you with many of your fellow soldiers are now to return to your homes.

We part joyfully, for the life we have led as soldiers has been a severe one, and we are glad the task is over, and that henceforth we may enjoy the comforts of peaceful life. Yet the associations we have formed are very hard to sever, and during our whole course of life in the future we will revert with pleasure and pride to the associations and companionships formed during those three or four years in which the Regiment fought twenty-seven engagements and marched hundreds of miles.

Let us not forget each other. Parting as a band of brothers, let us cling to the memory of those tattered banners, under which we fought together, and which without dishonor we just now restored to the authorities who placed them in our hands.

Till we grow grey-headed and pass away let us sustain the reputation of the noble old regiment, for none can point to one more glorious!

Fortune threw together two organizations—the 84th​ P. V. and the 57th​ P.V.—to make up the present command. Both Regiments have been in service since the beginning of the strife, and the records of both will demand respect through all coming time.

Very many of those who have been enrolled with us have fallen and their graves are scattered here and there throughout the south.

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We will not forget these; and the people of this nation will and must honor their memory—for how can they avoid it when they see little children pointing their fingers at the portrait on the wall and hear them saying: “He died for our Country!”

Comrades, God bless you all! Farewell!

GEORGE ZINN,

GEORGE W. PERKINS,

SAMUEL BRYAN,

Field officers of the late 57th​ P. V. V.



I folded the paper up and placed it back in my pack and fell asleep.

When I awoke to the sound of steel grinding together and the whistle blowing, I looked out of the window. Rubbing my eyes, I could see the depot. It looked just like the one father and I had left years ago in Bloomsburg. But this could not be! We were just charging across a bloody field of battle and father had just fell! I rubbed my eyes again and gathered my thoughts. The mirage was real, I WAS IN BLOOMSBURG! I will tell you now boys, there were plenty of times that I never thought I would live to see this place again. After the short trip back to good old Briar Creek, Columbia County, I stopped in the field away from the beautiful old house, dropped to my knees and prayed to the Almighty God in thanks for returning me back home. Never, had I wanted to leave this place again and never, would I ever forget the bloody conflict that nearly tore our great country apart.







Epilogue


I am the Great-Great Grandson of Frederick, my Great Grandfather was Benjamin Hosler, my Grandfather was Carl F. Hosler, and my father is Donald J. Hosler. I am also the father of Dustin and Dalton Hosler.

When I was young, we moved to Foundryville on part of my Great Grandfathers farm. Recently, I was able to purchase the house of my Great Grandfathers.

I am very proud of my family’s history. My Grandfather was in World War 2, with the U.S. Army in the 90th​ Infantry Division. My father was in Vietnam, with the U.S. Army, in A Company, 70th​ Combat Engineers. Presently, my son, Dustin is in the U.S. Army, 8th​ Squadron, 1st​ Cavalry Regiment.

DIARY

OF WAR EXPERIENCES

OF

FREDERICK JACOB HOSLER

84TH​ PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEER

COMPANY F

&

57TH​ PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEER

COMPANY H



1862​











On the morning of the sixteenth day of October 1862, I was sitting husking corn in Briar Creek, Columbia County, when my father came to me and said, “Fred, the President has called for more volunteers and I am going”.

I was then only seventeen years of age, but I caught up my coat and said, “Well, father, if you go I am going too”, so away we went to Bloomsburg and enlisted in the 84th​ Pennsylvania Volunteers.

The first Army supper we ate was on the Fair Grounds of that place, and consisted of bread, meat, and a pile of salt. We thought that pretty rough, but after we had tasted more of Army life, we thought it a grand supper.

By this time, my mother had heard of what I had done so she took the train and followed me to Bloomsburg, but was too late as we had started for the seat of war.

The next day found us in Harrisburg where we donned the blue. After that we went to Stoneman’s Switch, near Fredericksburg, where we joined our Regiment commanded by Col. S. Bowman of Berwick. We were there but a short time until our Captain Fribley came to us and after calling us into line, said, “Boys, tomorrow we expect to engage in a bloody conflict right across the river from where we are now. So, if you have any letters to write or prayers to say, do them now. For God alone knows where we may be tomorrow.”















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I tell you boys, although no coward, I wished mother would have found me when she was looking for me in Bloomsburg. Father, on seeing my consternation, came to me and said, “Never mind, my boy, we are on the right side and we are going to fight for our Country. We will show the Johnnies what kind of stuff the Pennsylvanians are made of.”

Early, the next morning, we heard the “long roll”, which meant, “Fall in, boys, for battle.” We then marched to the banks of the river and over the pontoons into Fredericksburg.

About three o’clock in the afternoon, while we were waiting for orders to go to the front, we quickly prepared our coffee under the shelter of the riverbank, the shells passing over our heads like hail stones. The wounded were then being carried back to the hospital, and one of them I remember well. He had been shot in the lower jaw and it hung down on his breast, it was a terrible sight. Turning to my comrade, I exclaimed, “Bob, take a look at that man, how badly he is wounded.” He looked up, in a comical way, and said with an oath, “How is he going to chew his tobacco?” It was no joking matter, I can tell you.

In about a half an hour after we were ordered out to the front, we marched to the upper end of Fredericksburg, where we had the battle in full view. A cannon ball passed over our heads and struck two of the horses belonging to the Artillery, killing them instantly.

We were ordered to make a charge to the front line and relieve those in the front. We charged through an open field, over dead and wounded, until we came to a wire fence, where many of the boys were killed and wounded, among them, my father. But there was no going back to look after him, as the cry was, “On to the front boys, on to the front!”







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I can see our Colonel yet, how he looked, stepping over the dead and wounded, his spurs glittering in the sunlight, as he was seeking a place of safety on the crest of the hill which the front line then held. The battle raged on until after dark, when we were ordered to cease firing.

I made inquiry then about my father, but could learn nothing more than I knew. I then asked the Captain if he could tell me anything of him and he said the last he saw of him he was creeping toward a house with a large stone chimney in it.

We held our position there until the next night when we were relieved. We marched back into town and at eight o’clock the hogs and chickens did not number nearly so many. At this time, Burnside ordered a retreat.

The next night, we were ordered to guard a canal bridge, so the enemy could not follow on after our troops, which had crossed the river that morning. We then all crossed and went back into our old camp.

In all this time, I had heard nothing of my father. As we were preparing for winter the next day, who came limping along but father whom I had given up for dead. Any one of the boys who was placed in the same or nearly the same position can realize my feelings then. Our Captain said to him, “Hosler, why are you not in the hospital?” Father replied, “I just wanted to see if my boy were safe.” He then went to the hospital, and after he recovered from his wound, took charge of a ward as a nurse until the close of the war, his wound having incapacitated his doing any further duty as a soldier.

Dear reader, you can imagine our joy at seeing each other again. The war was not as my sanguine hopes imagined and I was almost discouraged. Here was fresh proof that God was helping the right.





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In the spring of ’63, Burnside had his stick in the mud. We then went on to Chancellorsville, where Joe Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac, where we again met the enemy.

While we were fighting those in our front, the Johnnies broke through our line on the left and came up in our rear over the crest of a hill. Colonel Opp, noticing balls coming from that direction, went back to ascertain the cause, and behold, a solid line of battle advancing upon us not more than four or five rods away. Hurrying back, he cried, “For God’s sake, 84th​, get out of this or we will be surrounded!”

I fell in retreating and until I picked myself up, the company were away beyond me and the Johnnies were upon me, and with a great many others of the brave 84th​. Boys were taken to Libby Prison for our summer’s “recreation”. While on our way there, an old Negress came to her cabin door and on seeing us exclaimed, “Good Land! Dey hev catched some of da imps, guess dey git da old debbil too, after while.”

Only those who have had the “pleasure” of being there know how much “recreation” we had. Boys, you know corncake, cob and all, was not very plenty there. Oh, for a little of Bloomsburg’s salt and beef! We were there three months, when we were paroled and sent to City-Point, where we saw the glorious stars and stripes. With our pants up to our knees and coats up to our elbows, we took the boat to Annapolis, where we got a new suit, and if ever a leopard changed spots, we felt as though we had changed ours. We were soon exchanged and sent to the Regiment again.











-5-


We were there only three days until the Battle of Pleasant Hill took place. Our Company was ordered out to take place of the Sharp Shooters. I will say here, while I think of it, that Malanthon Brochus and I were placed on one post behind a lot of rails that the Sharp Shooters had gathered there to protect themselves with. We were there all night. As soon as the sun came up, I saw what a dangerous position we were in. I said, Let’s dig the ground and throw it up on the rails to further protect ourselves” and went to work at it with my bayonet for a pick and a tin cup as a shovel. But, he only laughed at me and called me a coward. It was only a few minutes after that until a ball came crashing through the rails striking him in the face. He turned to go to the hospital for help, when he was struck three times in the back. Falling forward, he groaned three times and died.

We stayed there until the evening when we were relieved. Many were the thoughts I had of home that day, never did it seem so dear, or so far away at one time.

We will pass on to the Battle of Spottsylvania Court House on the 12th​ of May 1864. On the night of the 11th​, our boys captured the picket line and at four o’clock the next morning, we made a charge of about three or four hundred yards through an open field. We took three lines of breastworks and one battery, but when we reached the third line, our brave 84th​ was nearly torn to pieces. We were repulsed and fell back to the first line we had taken, our boys being killed like so many flies. I sprang behind a dead horse in a little redoubt and stayed there all day. The next morning, nothing was to be seen of the living Johnnies, but the dead ones were plenty; they being piled up six deep.







-6-


We will pass on through the Battle of the Wilderness, the Rebels disputing every inch of the way, but the Boys in Blue made them give way until we crossed the river in front of Petersburg, where the Colored Regiment had been fighting.

We then took their places throwing up breastworks and building forts night and day. Mind you, it was then the Gray Coats had the Army of the Potomac to deal with and the brave and gallant U. S. Grant as our commander.

I’ll never forget the scene of one morning as I stood in the redoubt as picket of the blowing up of the Johnnie’s fort. What was different fighting to what we had been used to having, to see the Johnnies with their traps flying through the air. I thought then and said “Johnnies, that’s the nearest to Heaven you’ll ever get.” In the evening, I was relieved from picket and joined my Regiment again.

We were then ordered to City Point, where we were to take the steamboat and go to Deep Bottom. The empty wagon trains were going by land in order to draw the confederate forces from the Weldon Railroad to that point. We fought them hard and long that day, and many more of our brave 84th​ boys were left on the battlefield.

Our aim being accomplished, we took the steamboat and returned to our old position in front of Petersburg. We heard there that the Fifth Army Corps had destroyed the Weldon Railroad for miles, thus, cutting off all means of them getting their supplies. We would call to the Johnnies and ask them how they would get their grub now.









-7-


The Johnnies were now surrounded by us very nearly in the shape of a horseshoe. There was only one way to escape and that was to Richmond. Our Boys headed them off there, so they started for Lynchburg, but they were baffled again. For, the Cavalry had gone before, and were between them and Lynchburg.

We followed them night and day from Petersburg to Lynchburg, the Fifth, Second, and Third Corps in hot pursuit. One evening, we followed them into a deep ravine where there was a large creek, spanned by a small bridge that only one wagon could pass at a time. They rushed in the ravine to save themselves from our bullets, and we captured there about 400 wagons.

Their mules and horses were right good in flesh, but of all the looking harness you ever saw, that beat! Nothing but bed ropes for traces and corn husk collars, and some without any at all. Merchants, with their goods were leaving with the wagon trains. Our boys spread their silks, muslins, and calicoes for a dancing floor, and you may be sure, they were not very salable after we were done with them.

All the livestock were sent to our rear. The wagons were run together and then set fire and were totally destroyed. We still followed on, capturing and destroying anything that looked like a Johnnie until the night of April 8th​. We were ordered to halt and not drive them too fast in order that our Cavalry could get between them and Lynchburg. I had just lain my head against a tree, expecting to take a good night’s rest, but had not been there more than a half an hour when we hear three cannon reports in our front, which was the signal agreed upon and meant “Drive on Boys, we are ready for them.”







-8-


Imagine how they must have felt with the Yankees on their right, left, rear, and front. We could have wiped them from the face of the earth there, if we had opened fire on them, but our officers were not so blood thirsty. As we came up to them, officers as well as their men sat in ditches in groups waving their handkerchiefs begging us not to fire. We felt now as though we had nearly gained the end we were striving for.

On the morning of the ninth of April 1865, we were ordered to halt, the first time in eight days. We asked permission of our Captain to make some coffee, as the Johnnies seemed very quiet in our front. As we were preparing it, I saw one of their baggage wagons drawn by four horses and a Negro driver and best of all, displaying a large white flag coming toward us. As we were halting there, the Johnnies would come to our lines and coax us to trade tobacco and hard tack. They would say “Youins chased weins so fast, weins didn’t git time to bake our flapjacks.” About three or four o’clock in the afternoon, we heard cheer after cheer to our right, and as the Officers rode up to their commands and told of Lee’s surrender, the air was filled with caps, frying pans, and damp kettles amid the shouting of the boys, for we were not behind with our cheering, I can tell you.

Many of the boys laughed and cried at the same time and I can feel yet, the thrill that went through me when I heard the good news, for now our Country was safe. That night we lay down to rest in piece, knowing the War was over. No need to sleep with one eye open now. It was the first night of rest we had in eight days.











-9-


The next morning, the order was, “Home boys, toward Washington,” and you may believe we were not slow to obey. I must not forget to tell you that on the same morning, I asked the Captain if I might take one of the Johnnie’s mules (they were running full around us) and ride, as my feet were very sore, providing I reported every night to my Company. He gave his consent, and you ought to have seen me, in spite of sore feet, light out after one. I caught him and made good use of him until……



THE FINAL PAGE OF THE DIARY, WRITTEN ON TABLET PAPER (NOW YELLOWED AND BRITTLE WITH AGE) IN BEAUTIFUL, METICULOUS HANDWRITING, IS MISSING. BUT FREDERICK JACOB HOSLER DID MAKE IT BACK TO HIS HOME IN PENNSYLVANIA, WHERE HE LATER MARRIED MARY ELLEN MARCH AND BECAME THE FATHER OF SIX BOYS, WILLARD, FREDERICK, RALPH, ROBERT, AND BENJAMIN. FREDERICK JACOB HOSLER DIED NOVEMBER 11, 1914 AND IS INTERRED IN THE PINE GROVE CEMETERY ALONG MARKET STREET IN BERWICK RIGHT ACROSS FROM EIGHTH STREET, HAVING THE TALLEST HEADSTONE IN THE FIRST ROW. ENGRAVED ON THE TOMBSTONE IS AN OLD ENGLISH “H” ADORNED BY FLORAL DESIGNS, HIS NAME, BIRTH DATE, AND DEATH DATE. ALSO A PROUD TESTAMENT, HAVING: 84TH​ PA VOLUNTEERS COMPANY F ENGRAVED AS WELL.











-I-


Reader, I would like to use some creative information to finish this diary. Hopefully, you will understand that I am not an expert of these past times, by no means, but would like to imagine some of the events between the last page of this diary and Frederick’s journey home. The time-line between his mule ride and to where he departs for Bloomsburg after being mustered out of service from the 57th​ Regiment is as factual as I can find (with some creativity on the thoughts of Frederick during these times and events) and the farewell letter is factual also. Frederick and the Regiment were about 3 miles from Appomattox Court House when Lee surrendered. So, please indulge me this:



I caught him and made good use of him until….

we halted for the night at Farmville. During this day’s march, it was not easy going, because it rained all day and the roads were thick with mud. At least the mule took the brunt of the terrible trail condition. The only thing that was not dampened by the rain was my jubilation that home was not nearly as far away as it had been for the last three years. The next morning, my feet were not so sore anymore and seeing the boys marching through all of that mud, I decided to let the mule go and stretch my legs with the rest of the boys. During this days march, we were all talking about past experiences and our homes. We also knew that the war was still going on and that only Lee was out of it. Some of us wondered if we would be rerouted to help our brave comrades in the west. We made camp in the evening of April 13th​ at Burkesville.

The next morning, we made our coffee and parleyed around our campfires for a while until some of our pickets came in to be relieved. Picket duty was still a serious duty as the threat of a skirmish was still possible, and I don’t think our officers wanted us to get too comfortable.



-II-


The next morning, April 15th​, there seemed to be a commotion around the officer’s tents. We were called to fall in. Some of the boys said, “I knew it, we are going west.” We all dutifully fell into formation. With a troubling look on our Captain’s face, he informed us that our Great President Lincoln was dead. He had been assassinated at Ford’s theater in Washington last evening. Many were the prayers for his family and our country that day.

On April 28th​, we were still concerned with what was going to happen with our dear President taken from us. The drums started up once again to have us fall in. What news now? This time our Captain’s face was not as troubled. He informed us that the rest of the rebel army, under General Johnson had surrendered to the Great General W. T. Sherman. Now even the most doubtful of the boys knew it was over.

On May 2nd​, we struck camp as our Regiment and the rest of the II Corps were ordered to Richmond. We marched past Amelia Court House and reached Manchester on the James River opposite Richmond on the morning of the 5th​. All along, I was thinking of old Briar Creek.

The next day found us marching through Richmond with bands playing and colors flying. We went past the old summer home of mine, Libby Prison, and crossed the Chickahominy river. We made camp about 5 miles north on the Fredericksburg Pike. The next day we marched through Hanover Court House and crossed the Pamunkey, after 16 miles we halted for the night. The next day, we marched another 16 miles. It didn’t seem to bother me, marching all this way, as thoughts from the past and future seemed to intertwine.









-III-


During the next days march, consisted of 17 miles and we stopped near the old Spottsylvania Battlefield. I will tell you now, that on that night’s rest, many were the somber thoughts of the last time I were here with the Brave 84th​. The next day, we passed through Fredericksburg, where long ago, I thought that I had lost my father forever, crossed the Rappahannock and camped on familiar ground at Stoneman’s Switch on the Aquia Railroad. The last time I was at this place, I was the tender age of 17 years. Now I was a man of 20.

By the 15th​, we had reached the vicinity of Washington and camped near Bailey’s Crossroads. On the morning of May 23rd​, we were up early getting ready to march the 7 miles to Washington for the Grand Review. We moved up to Arlington Mill’s and Hunter’s Chapel, onto Long Bridge, crossing with our gallant 2nd​ Corps. We massed on the streets east and south of the Capitol. No knapsacks to carry on this march! At 9 o’clock, precisely, a signal gun made the report to start marching. We could here the bugles from the Cavalry and Artillery in front of us instantly going, our drums rolled, the bands pealed forth inspiring music and the Grand Army of the Potomac was on the march.

As we marched up Pennsylvania Avenue, cheers rent the air and we were pelted with flowers. It was a real joy fearing being hit with flowers, rather than bullets, I can tell you. By late afternoon, we passed the reviewing stand. I could scarcely see the President as we passed and if he would have yelled right at me, I couldn’t have heard him over the cheers that were almost as loud as an Artillery barrage. When we were halted, none of the boys were complaining about marching on this day. Our pride was making us all about to burst!







-IV-


The following is some details about the Grand Review the day Frederick and the rest of the Army of the Potomac marched through:

The Army of the Potomac (with the exception of the 6th​ Corps, which had duty in Danville VA) passed in review before the President of the United States in following order, with officers commanding-

Cavalry Corps, Commanded by Major General Merritt.

9th​ Corps, Commanded by Major General John G. Parke.

5th​ Corps. Commanded by Major General Charles Griffin.

2nd​ Corps. Commanded by Major General A. A. Humphreys.

This force comprised 151 Regiments of Infantry, 36 Regiments of Cavalry, and 22 Batteries of Artillery, which with the staff department of the General officers, made about 80,000 men.

Thousands of people travelled to Washington to see this, the greatest military pageant of the 19th​ century, and which this country may never see surpassed. The weather was delightful, and being in light marching order, they were little fatigued although they marched about 16 miles.



















-V-


The next day, General Sherman’s Army was reviewed. Many of us were anxious to see our gallant comrades of the Western Armies. The General looked a stern figure. The day after that, the 6th​ Corps of our Army was reviewed along with all of the artillery corps that had not yet been reviewed. The next few weeks found us waiting to be mustered out.

On June 23rd​, orders were received that our Regiment was on the list to be mustered out. In regular military order, a week later, on June 29th​, we found ourselves out of the service of the United States. The next morning, we struck our tents for the last time and marched to Washington. There we boarded a train for Harrisburg.

We arrived in Harrisburg on Sunday morning July 2nd​, unloaded and marched out to what was called “Camp Return” adjoining old Camp Curtain. On July 16th​, we received our final Army pay and discharge papers. We also got another paper from our Colonel as handshakes and good-natured slaps on the back were abundant between all of us boys. I then jumped on the train headed for good old Bloomsburg. I didn’t even care if there was salt and beef there after all of these years, for I was going to be home again.

As I rode the rail back closer to home, I couldn’t help but think about all that had happened since leaving with father in ’62. Would mother even recognize me? I tried to push those thoughts to the wayside and remembered the paper from the Colonel. I pulled it out of my pack and opened it.











-VI-


Harrisburg, PA July 6, 1865


To the Officers and Soldiers of the old 57th​ PA:

Four years ago, our thoughts were turned on war to come.

To-day our thoughts are on war past and peace to come.

The bloody strife is over, and you with many of your fellow soldiers are now to return to your homes.

We part joyfully, for the life we have led as soldiers has been a severe one, and we are glad the task is over, and that henceforth we may enjoy the comforts of peaceful life. Yet the associations we have formed are very hard to sever, and during our whole course of life in the future we will revert with pleasure and pride to the associations and companionships formed during those three or four years in which the Regiment fought twenty-seven engagements and marched hundreds of miles.

Let us not forget each other. Parting as a band of brothers, let us cling to the memory of those tattered banners, under which we fought together, and which without dishonor we just now restored to the authorities who placed them in our hands.

Till we grow grey-headed and pass away let us sustain the reputation of the noble old regiment, for none can point to one more glorious!

Fortune threw together two organizations—the 84th​ P. V. and the 57th​ P.V.—to make up the present command. Both Regiments have been in service since the beginning of the strife, and the records of both will demand respect through all coming time.

Very many of those who have been enrolled with us have fallen and their graves are scattered here and there throughout the south.

-VII-


We will not forget these; and the people of this nation will and must honor their memory—for how can they avoid it when they see little children pointing their fingers at the portrait on the wall and hear them saying: “He died for our Country!”

Comrades, God bless you all! Farewell!

GEORGE ZINN,

GEORGE W. PERKINS,

SAMUEL BRYAN,

Field officers of the late 57th​ P. V. V.



I folded the paper up and placed it back in my pack and fell asleep.

When I awoke to the sound of steel grinding together and the whistle blowing, I looked out of the window. Rubbing my eyes, I could see the depot. It looked just like the one father and I had left years ago in Bloomsburg. But this could not be! We were just charging across a bloody field of battle and father had just fell! I rubbed my eyes again and gathered my thoughts. The mirage was real, I WAS IN BLOOMSBURG! I will tell you now boys, there were plenty of times that I never thought I would live to see this place again. After the short trip back to good old Briar Creek, Columbia County, I stopped in the field away from the beautiful old house, dropped to my knees and prayed to the Almighty God in thanks for returning me back home. Never, had I wanted to leave this place again and never, would I ever forget the bloody conflict that nearly tore our great country apart.







Epilogue


I am the Great-Great Grandson of Frederick, my Great Grandfather was Benjamin Hosler, my Grandfather was Carl F. Hosler, and my father is Donald J. Hosler. I am also the father of Dustin and Dalton Hosler.

When I was young, we moved to Foundryville on part of my Great Grandfathers farm. Recently, I was able to purchase the house of my Great Grandfathers.

I am very proud of my family’s history. My Grandfather was in World War 2, with the U.S. Army in the 90th​ Infantry Division. My father was in Vietnam, with the U.S. Army, in A Company, 70th​ Combat Engineers. Presently, my son, Dustin is in the U.S. Army, 8th​ Squadron, 1st​ Cavalry Regiment.







Donald J. Hosler Jr.

















Donald J. Hosler Jr.










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