Research Hero of Petersburg, Compliments of Samuel A. Beddall

Ethan S.

First Sergeant
Aug 19, 2019
Carter County Kentucky
See, I didn't leave, I just got tired of the internet and took a break. :smile:

I've been slowly packing up some of my things for the inevitable time when I get a job and move out of the house for the first time. In the process, I'm re-discovering thing I forgot I had. Case in point: This signed speech by Capt. John C. Featherson of the Alabama Brigade, Mahones division, C.S.A.

The top of the booklet has the beautifully written autograph of Samuel A. Beddall, a veteran of the 48th PA Infantry.


48 PA Beddall, Samuel Co. E.jpg

Samuel A. Beddall was born April 7th, 1845 to Thomas and Mary Beddall in Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the 48th Pennsylvania infantry on August 20th, 1861. The 17 year old blacksmith from Middleport Pennsylvania was the youngest in the regiment, but his comrades would reflect that he was one of the bravest men they knew, and always was "full of pluck for a fight".
Joseph Gould, in his regimental history of the 48th, wrote of Beddall: "He was in every engagement that the regiment participated in and was never sick a day while in the army or incapacitated in any manner from doing duty; was struck by a shell at the battle of Fredericksburg, Va., on Dec. 13th 1862, but not injured sufficiently to be sent to the hospital."

The battles that the 48th fought in were large and fierce, and included places like Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania courthouse, and of course their shining glory, Petersburg.

Samuel kept a diary throughout the war, (it can be found in the United States Military Institute in Carlisle Pennsylvania), and his entries in 1864 show a perspective from a soldier who helped with the tunneling underneath the rebel breast works at Petersburg:
Monday, July 11, 1864
: was detailed to work in the tunnel; Gen Burnside & Governor Sprague & Governor Tod came to visit the tunnel to day while I was there. they said we were bound to get whiskey
Tuesday, July 12, 1864
: went to work in the tunnel at 12 oclock and worked two hours & a half; came in to camp and wrote home for money. To day we got a good rations of whiskey to drink (all quiet)​

Wednesday, July 13, 1864
: yesterday the Captain recd Official accounts of Sergeants Thomas Toshs deth; he was wounded through the left breast by a ball on June 3rd 1864; the mortars are as active as ever . . . . . . .​

Thursday, July 14, 1864
: went to work at 6 oclock this morning and worked 3 hours in the tunnel carrying out clay; Colonel Harry Pleasant came to us and spoke to the whole Regt on very friendly terms about the tunnel​

Saturday, July 16, 1864: went to work at 6 oclock this morning and worked 3 hours in the tunnel carrying out clay to day; we received the news that the Rebels where driven out of Pennsylvania & Maryland across the Potomac again; shelling hear brisk

Friday, July 29, 1864: Received a letter from T.H. Hall and one from S.A. etc demanding a photograph, answered; the tunnel is ready they are massing the troops hear in front of our line preparing for a charge

Saturday, July 30, 1864: this morning about 4 oclock the explosion took place; it was terrable, it shook the earth for two miles around. Then the booming of artillery and the charge of infantry they take the second line the collard troops breaks & run the whole line fell back again

Beddalls July 30th Entry was very tame compared to what actually happened.

The explosion shook the earth as he said, but the charge was a wild one.

"Finally, sometime around 4:30 a.m., the order was given and with a rush, the 48th charged forward, directly toward the Confederate defenses known as Fort Mahone. The Confederate picket line was quickly overrun, and "eager to achieve greater results, away dashed the Forty-Eighth in the van of the brigade. . ." Leading the regiment was Colonel George Washington Gowen, who took command following the resignation of Henry Pleasants the previous Fall. Next to Gowen ran brigade commander John I. Curtin, and the 48th's regimental color-bearer, Samuel Beddall. The Confederate cannon by this point had begun "belching a very inferno of shot and shell into the ranks." Still, the regiment pushed forward. "On, on pushed the boys determined to capture the dire old tormentor who had troubled them so the winter long. The attack was most impetuous."

As the regiment neared the Confederate lines, Colonel Gowen and Colonel Curtin began removing the abates when an artillery shell struck Gowen square in the face, killing him instantly. Beddall and the regimental flag was covered in Gowen's blood. Curtin, also wounded in the blast, leaned upon his sword and continued to urge the 48th forward, and "with the ferocity of madmen," the regiment "renewed the assault, pushed through the obstructing abatis, over the moat, scaled the earthwork, securing a lodgment on the walls. . . .With one bound the men sprang forward, a hand-to-hand encounter ensued, which lasted but a moment, the rebels were overpowered, the fort was captured, and the enemy driven beyond it for a considerable distance."

Another observation:

"As the men began tearing apart the rebel obstructions it became apparent that they were in a very dangerous situation, unable to pass the obstructions most of the men fell back to the enemy’s picket line for reformation. Grasping the bloody lifeless body of Col. Gowen the men removed him to the rear. Leaning on his sword General Curtin seemed unconcerned about the intensity of the rebel fire calling to the men of the 48th , he yelled above the din of battle, “ Rally boys once more for the honor of the old Keystone state.” Looking at Sergeant William J. Wells of Company F, he ordered the colors brought to him. Rushing forward Sgt. Taylor of Co. A and Sgt. Sam Beddall of Co. E two of the best and most gallant soldiers in the 48th promptly moved forward and rallied around General Curtin ready to advance. And without much care as to company formation the men rushed forward with a loud and continuous huzzas the colors flying high and wanting nothing more than to avenge the death of their brave commander the boys of the 48th advanced over dead and dying rebels. They finally reached the fort and met the rebel soldiers face to face, muzzle to muzzle, blazing away at each other."

Beddall served as the color bearer from October 2nd 1864, until his discharge in July 1865. He was a sergeant by then, and a young one at that. He carried the regimental colors that were present at Pottsville PA in February of 1864. The flag he held can be seen below.


Capt. John C. Featherton of the Alabama brigade they faced gave a speech Wednesday evening, April 18th 1905. A few other spoke as well about the military feat, and all speeches were then written down and put into this booklet which Samuel signed, to a Joseph B. Dunlap. I have yet to find out who this Dunlap fellow is.

Samuel Died March 31st, 1925 in Miami Florida, and is buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery, Pottsville PA.



Forum Host
Nov 27, 2018
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I agree, great post. I am glad to see your return. I have searched among my own collections and cannot find that picture I promised to post, yet. It will turn up eventually, so don't stay gone! Good luck on your future endeavors, and remember idle time is wasted time.