A Moment In History by Jon Baughman
The Civil War, as most of us refer to it, had a profound influence on the course of United States history. Among these, the abolition of slavery is first and foremost in the history books, and a major shift in agriculture from hand labor to the use of machinery.
Even the term, Civil War, is misleading. As Civil War historian Jeffrey Whetstone of Everett reminds us, “I have seen a resurgence in the use of the correct term, ‘War Between The States’ as it was not a Civil War. Southern States left the Union, they did not fight to take over the Government.”
History books from the 1880s called it the “War of the Rebellion.”
Said Whetstone, “What a wild time it must have been. Imagine going to Maryland and being in a foreign country. As one lady called the conflict after the war: ‘the late unpleasantness’ I wonder how people in the South felt.
In the eyes of the southern states, the war was not fought over slavery. Rather, it was fought over states* rights vs. the power of the federal government. President Lincoln’s policies favored a strong federal government. The northern victory made the federal government supreme in many respects.
In my last chapter, the terms of service for Company F and many other companies of the 8th Reserve had ended. A few re-enlisted; the others went home. But the war was not over, and the famous Battle of Gettysburg was yet to be fought.
Captain John Eichelberger of Company F was wounded twice. At Fredericksburg he received a gunshot wound of the knee. Then at the second battle of Bull Run, he was severely wounded and hospitalized in Washington, D.C., and discharged March 30, 1863 due to disability.
After the war he operated the 30-bed hotel, called Hopewell House. Captain John Eichelberger hosted a dinner and annual reunion for Company F each April He died while seated on his porch on a Thursday in July, 1902. Former comrades in arms, including Capt. Eli Eichelberger, served as pallbearers Captain Eli Eichelberger returned home to Hopewell where he became superintendent of the Hopewell iron furnace, owned by his father. Eli was discharged from the Army in the summer of 1864, having contracted typhoid fever.
In 1867 he and his brother, Jacob purchased Fluke’s store in Saxton, renaming it J. A. & E. Eichelberger. Later, when he bought out Jacob, it became E. Eichelberger A Son, the son being James Alexander “Allie” Eichelberger. He operated coal mines in Bedford and Huntingdon counties.
After the close of the war, Union veterans of the war organized the Grand Army of the Republic. Founded in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, posts soon sprang up in each state and territory that had fought for the Union, and included both white and black veterans. The GAR was organised into “Departments” at the state level and “Posts” at the community level, and military style uniforms were worn by its members.
In 1868, Commander-in-Chief General John A. Logan established May 30 as Decoration Day, later known as Memorial Day. (Numerous people and places claim this credit.) In its first celebrations. people used this day to commemorate the dead of the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers and flags. The GAR reached its largest enrollment in 1890, with 490,000 members.
Captain Eli was the force behind the establishment of the Heffner Post, GAR in Saxton, in memory of George Heffner, a member of Company F, who was killed a t the second battle of Bull Run on August 29, 1862. Not much is known about Heffner, and his place of burial is not known. The GAR had its own flag and metal grave markers (flag holders) which were reserved for members, and not Civil War veterans in general. Visit any cemetery in Central Pennsylvania and you can see these markers and flags. Aaron Foster, this writer’s great-great grandfather, was mustered out with his company on May 26, 1864, despite having being wounded at Wilderness, three weeks before.
The Bedford Gazette dated April 28, 1911 gives an account of the 21st reunion of Company F, 8th Reserves, and their 50th anniversary of their organization of their offering their service to Pennsylvania April 23, 1861. The reunion was held in the P. O. S. of A. Hall in Hopewell.
The following members of Company F answered the roll call: Capt. Eli Eichelberger, President; William H. Whisel, E. H. White, Johnson Evans, J . B. Tobias, George W Leader, George Amick, David Horton, Aaron Foster. Letters were read from Amos Helphenstine of Greenfield, Mo., Frank Holeinger of Rosedale, Kansas, and Mrs. James Cleaver of Bedford. The following comrades of Company F died during the previous year: W. H. Eichelberger, Lt. James Cleaver, Aaron Imes, David Bollinger and David Headrick. A collection was taken up to pay for printing, postage, etc., after which they retired to the Barnett House for dinner. Oh, such a dinner, good enough for a king, for which we thank the P.O.S. of A. and the good citizens of Hopewell. The following visiting comrades joined the feast: S. H. Little, Co. C, 93rd Ill. Vol.; Thomas Ferguson, Co. H, 208th Pa. Vol.; Capt. John C. Sparks, Co. K, 133rd Pa. Vol.; W. H. Baird. Co. I, 99th Pa. Vol.; F ranklin Lear, Co. H, 77th Pa. Vol.; Capt. Josiah Hissong, Co, H, 55th Pa. Vol; A. B. Bowen, Co. C, 91st Pa. Vol.; W. F. Farnwalt, Co. C, 53rd Pa. Vol; M. D. Barndoltar, Co. C, 133rd Pa. Vol; James Claybaugh. Co. G, 3rd Pa. Cav.; R. E. Smith, Co. C. 208th Pa. Vol.; Thomas Steele, Co. K, 149th Pa. Vol; H. H. Bowen, Co. M, 22nd Pa. Cav.; Nicholas Stephens, Co. M. 9th Pa. Cav.; Jacob Tate, Co. I, 205th Pa. Vol.; Levi Steele, Co. F, 208th Pa. Vol.; Hiram Watkins, Co K, 20th U.S. Colored Troops; and Confederate Soldier Joseph Edmondson, Co. A, 3rd Va. Cav. (Editor’s note: Confederate soldiers were always welcome, as were colored (black) veterans? In fact, the GAR promoted voting rights for black veterans, asI many veterans recognized their demonstrated patriotism.
After the meal Company F and visiting comrades assembled outside the Barnett House, and were joined by the Hopewell school children, P O S. of A. and Boys’ Brigade, headed by Kay’s Comet Band, and marched to Ute P.O.S. of A. Hall where a patriotic program was held.
Among those participating in the program were Rev. Shafer of Hopewell, Rev. Willard of Riddlesburg and Rev. King of Hopewell, and the addressee were all applauded. Capt. Eli Eichelberger have a short history of Company F, and remarks were made by several other veterans. The program ended with a group photograph taken.
The Oct. 3, 1913 edition of the Gazette stated, Due to the funeral services of Aaron Foster having been conducted by Rev. Willard, there were no services in the Methodist Epis copal Church in Defiance last Sunday afternoon. He passed away Sept 26.
On Nov 6, 1914, the Gazette carried this item: Representative Warren Worth Bailey has been advised by the commissioner of pensions that the original claim for pension of Mrs. Martha E. Foster of Six Mile Run, widow of Aaron Footer, late private of Company F. 8th Regiment, Penna. Ret. Inf., has been allowed and that certificates will be forwarded to her at an early date. Payment of Mrs. Foster as invalid accrued pension to the date of soldier’s death will also be ordered.1