George W. Hopkins, Co. E, 7th Pennsylvania Reserves

Researched & Compiled by Marc A. Hermann, great-great-grandson of Lt. Hopkins.

George Washington Hopkins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 5, 1839 to Thomas and Esther Edenfield Hopkins. In 1858, he married Catherine Cummings, and by 1860 they were living in Philadelphia”s 14th Ward, with their son, Thomas. When the Civil War broke out, Hopkins left his wife, now pregnant with their second child, and was appointed Orderly Sergeant of the “Ridgway Guards,” Company E of the 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps. He would accompany the regiment on its early operations, including its service at Tennallytown, where on September 15, Hopkins is listed as having contracted Typhoid fever and chronic diarrhea.

On the evening of June 30, 1862, he was captured at the battle of White Oak Swamp, and confined in Richmond for more than a month. On August 5, 1862, he was released at Aikens Landing, VA and returned to Camp Parole, MD. A month later, he reported sick to the Seminary Hospital in Georgetown, where he would be treated through the following February before returning to the regiment.

In March, 1863, he was commissioned as 1st Lieutenant in his old company, then stationed at Upton”s Hill, VA. Hopkins” trouble began that summer, when the regiment moved to Alexandria. Using the privilege of his new rank, Lt. Hopkins made a habit of visiting a local brothel at 33 Henry St., known euphemistically as the “Rhode Island Battery.” A Court Martial was convened under the stewardship of Capt. Robert Boyd, 1st. D.C. Volunteers, with Capt. J.G. Henry (8th Regiment, PRVC), Capt. M.P. Fisher (1st D.C. Vols.), Capt. L.G. McCauley (7th Regiment, PRVC), Lt. A.H. Sellers (8th Regiment, PRVC), Lt. Alexander Hart (8th Regiment, PRVC), Lt. John S, Haynes (7th Regiment, PRVC), and Judge Advocate Lt. S.V. Ruby (7th Regiment, PRVC.) Hopkins asked for an adjournment in which time he wished to prepare his defense. The postponement was granted, but days later he found himself in trouble again for more of the same behavior. By the time the court re-convened in August, he was facing three charges.

Testifying for the prosecution were Pvt. Evan B. Dodson, Company F, 7th PRVC (the adjutant”s clerk); Cpl. Samuel Sikes, Company A, 7th PRVC; Sgt. David M. McCune, Company A, 7th PRVC; Sgt. William H. Portzline, Company B, 7th PRVC; Sergeant William F. Bathurst, Company D, 7th PRVC; Cpl. Edward Geyer, Company I, 7th PRVC; Sgt. Peter S. Haints, Company I, 7th PRVC; 2nd Lt. D. Wilson Burkholder, Company A, 7th PRVC; 2nd Lt. David M.V.B. Rainier, Company I, 7th PRVC; 1st Lt. A.H. Sellers, Company A, 8th PRVC; and John Przeriak, civilian.

Testifying for the defense were 1st Lt. E.H.A. Snowwhite, Company C, 7th PRVC; Pvt. James B. Jack, Company E, 7th PRVC; Sgt. Thomas Collins, Company G, 7th PRVC; Pvt. George G. Cline, Company E, 7th PRVC; and Sgt. Harrison McCracken, Company B, 7th PRVC.

Hopkins was found guilty on all charges, and ordered cashiered from the service. He returned to Philadelphia and took up work as a bricklayer. He would have three more children with Catherine before she died.

In 1879, despite having been cashiered, he applied for and was later granted a government pension, claiming that the illness he contracted in 1861 was still troubling him, and causing “General Debility.” In June 1880, he married his second wife, Susanah J. Weckerly, with whom he had five children. \r\n\r\nHe died on December 12, 1915, a week after his 76th birthday. He is interred at Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia. \r\n\r\nBelow is the text of the General Orders specifying Hopkins” Court Martial.


GENERAL ORDERS, NO. 48. HEADQUARTERS, DEPT. OF WASHINGTON.
NOVEMBER 13, 1863.

I. Before a General Court Martial, which convened at Alexandria, Va., on the 22d of July, 1863, pursuant to General Orders, No. 23, Headquarters, Military Governor, Alexandria, Va., July 21, 1863, and of which Captain Robert Boyd, 1st District Columbia Infantry, is President, were arraigned and tried—

1. 1st Lieutenant George W. Hopkins, Company “E,” 7th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, on the following charges and specifications:

CHARGE 1st.—”Conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.”

Specification 1st—”In this; that he, George W. Hopkins, 1st Lieutenant, Company ”E,” 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, having been regularly detailed as an officer, and placed in charge of a duly mounted guard of his said Regiment, on the morning of the 9th day of July, A.D. 1863, to do duty along the railroad on Henry street, in the city of Alexandria, Va., for the space of twenty-four hours, did, without authority, absent himself from the post or rendezvous of his said guard almost all the said time, during the greater part of which he was drinking and carousing at a house of ”ill-fame,” No. 33, Henry street, Alexandria, Va., close by which some of his guard were posted; and, at an early period after arriving at his guard rendezvous, shamefully said to one of his non-commissioned officers: ”If any one calls for me,” or words to that effect, ”you will find me at No. —; enter by the alley way;” and thereupon left his post as aforesaid, and remained absent as aforesaid, and returned permanently only a short while before relieved by the new guard. All this on or about the 9th day of July, 1863, in the city of Alexandria, Va.”

Specification 2d—”In this; that he, the said George W. Hopkins, 1st Lieutenant, Company ”E,” 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, having been regularly detailed as an officer, and placed in charge of a duly mounted guard of his said Regiment, on the morning of the 18th day of July, A.D. 1863, to do duty on the railroad on Henry street, in the city of Alexandria, Va., for the space of twenty-four hours, did absent himself, without authority, from his post, and visited, in full uniform, certain houses of ”ill-fame,” and did there drink liquor and carouse; and, becoming drunk, did stagger along the line of his guard. All this on or about the 18th day of July, 1863, in the city of Alexandria, Va.”

Specification 3d—”In this; that he, the said George W. Hopkins, 1st Lieutenant, Company ”E,” 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, having been regularly detailed as an officer, and placed in charge of a duly mounted guard of his said Regiment, on the morning of the 21st day of July, 1863, to do duty on the railroad on Henry street, in the city of Alexandria, Va., for the space of twenty-four hours, did absent himself, without authority, from the post or rendezvous of his said guard all the said time during the day, except, perchance, once in the early part of it, and then remaining at his post a moment only; but all of the night being absent as aforesaid, and the next morning until near relieving hour of the new guard, (being the 22d day of July, 1863,) being absent at a certain house of ”ill-fame,” on Henry street, in the said Alexandria, Va.; and did, soon after arriving at his guard”s rendezvous, upon his going on duty, (said 21st day of July, 1863,) shamelessly say and direct the Sergeant of his guard in language following: ”If any one calls for me, or wishes to see me,” or words to that effect, ”they can find me at No. 33”—meaning thereby No. 33 Henry street, in said city of Alexandria, Va., a house of ”ill-fame”—and thereupon immediately leaving his post of guard, and absenting himself as aforesaid. All this on our about the 21st day of July, 1863, in the city of Alexandria, Va.”

Charge 2d.—”Conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.”

Specification 1st—”In this; that he, the said George W. Hopkins, 1st Lieutenant, Company ”E,” 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, did, on the Sabbath day, in the afternoon of the same, bring, or allow to to come into his tent, situated in the line of Company Officers” tents, in the camp of the said 7th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, two notorious whores, and there did make them welcome, with his tent door open, and in presence of many of the officers and enlisted men of said Regiment; and after this, on the same day, while it was still broad daylight, did walk betwixt the said notorious whores the length of the dress parade, (being a spacious pace between the officers” and men”s tents of said Regiment aforesaid,) in presence of all the wives and families of the officers and men of said Regiment. All this on or about the 26th day of July, 1863, at the camp of the 7th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, near Alexandria, Va.”

Specification 2d—”In this; that he, the said George W. Hopkins, 1st Lieutenant, Company ”E,” 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, did notoriously visit, and escort along the public streets, in Alexandria, Va., certain public and notorious whores, while he was in the uniform of his rank, and in presence of many people and officers and soldiers of his Regiment and Division, and was so drunk that he staggered as he walked. All this in the evening of the day on or about the 26th day of July, 1863, in the city of Alexandria, Va.”

Specification 3d—”In this; that the said George W. Hopkins, 1st Lieutenant, Company ”E,” 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, did, in the evening of the 26th day of July, 1863, in the city of Alexandria, Va., escort a certain notorious whore to a certain public house known as the ”Continental,” a highly respectable resort of many officers of the United States service, and wished and strove to force the said notorious whore upon the consideration of the host and hostess of the said ”Continental;” and thereby raised a violent and boisterous excitement at said public house, in presence of many officers, to the detriment of said host, John Zizeciak [sic]; and when ordered, by said John Zizeciak, to have his said companion leave the premises, inasmuch as she was a well-known prostitute, he violently and repeatedly shook his fist in the face of said John Zizeciak, and did say and swear: ”I can whip any damned and God damned son-of-a-bitch who says my woman is a prostitute,” or words to that effect; and did otherwise conduct himself in a notorious and unbecoming manner at said Continental; and on the streets of said city, in the presence of officers and soldiers. All this on or about the 26th day of July, 1863, in the city of Alexandria, Va.”

Charge 3d.—”Breach of arrest.”

Specification—”In this; that the said George W. Hopkins, 1st Lieutenant, Company ”E,” 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, having, on the 27th day of July, 1863, directed to him, and placed in his possession, a written communication from his superior officer, Colonel H.C. Bolinger, placing him under arrest, and thereby limited to his quarters, did violate and break the same, and proceed out of his camp and go to Alexandria, Va. All this on or about the 30th day of July, 1863, at camp of 7th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, near Alexandria, Va.”

Plea: To the 1st Specification, 1st Charge, “Not Guilty.”

To the 2d Specification, 1st Charge, “Not Guilty.”

To the 3d Specification, 1st Charge, “Not Guilty.”

To the 1st Charge, “Not Guilty.”

To the 1st Specification, 2d Charge, “Not Guilty.”

To the 2d Specification, 2d Charge, “Not Guilty.”

To the 3d Specification, 2d Charge, “Not Guilty.”

To the 2d Charge, “Not Guilty.”

To the Specification, 3d Charge, “Guilty.”

To the 3d Charge, “Guilty.”

The Court, after mature deliberation upon the evidence adduced, finds the accused, 1st Lieutenant George W. Hopkins, Company “E,” 7th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, as follows:

Of the 1st Specification, 1st Charge, “Guilty, except the words ”drinking and carousing at a house of ill-fame, No. 33 Henry street, Alexandria, Va.””

Of the 2d Specification, 1st Charge, “Guilty, except the words ”did stagger along the line of his guards.””

Of the 3d Specification, 1st Charge, “Guilty.”

Of the 1st Charge, “Guilty.”

Of the 1st Specification, 2d Charge, “Guilty.”

Of the 2d Specification, 2d Charge, “Guilty, except the words ”was so drunk that he staggered as he walked.””

Of the 3d Specification, 2d Charge, “Guilty.”

Of the 2d Charge, “Guilty.”

Of the Specification, 3d Charge, “Guilty.”

Of the 3d Charge, “Guilty.”

And does therefore sentence the said 1st Lieutenant George W. Hopkins, Company “E,” 7th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, “To be cashiered.”‘

George Washington Hopkins (1840-1915) – Find a Grave Memorial

Marc A. Hermann
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