EDITOR’S NOTE: Along with the correspondence below, we have received several communications about our series on the “Hopewell Rifles” in the Civil War.
Dick Eichelberger, whose grandfather Eli was Captain of the company, points out that the little boy in the 1861 picture, taken in Virginia, attached himself to the “Rifles” and followed them around for quite a while.
Many years later, Captain Eli was in the Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia, having his shoes shined. The bootblack looked up and asked if “the Captain” remembered him. There was an instant of recognition— “you’re not—” Improbably, it was, the boy he’d known.
In the top picture, Captain Eli had his arms folded. William Whisel was in the second picture, with only one arm.
The man at the far right in the reunion photo was William H. Whisel, of Everett. He had lost his arm at Fredericksburg, and went to Libby Prison, and his grand- daughter, Mrs. Frances Hixson, Everett RD 2, can remember him telling about poor treatment there. “They could see clear water, but they were in chains and weren’t allowed to get any.”
I have followed with much interest your articles on the ‘Hopewell Rifles’ and the Civil War. My great grandfather William Whisel served with the 8th Pa. Reserves.
Since I never had the privilege of knowing him, I am extremely interested in anything pertaining to his life and time. I will save your articles and pictures to pass on to my children.
When my mother (Frances Whisel, Hixson) was a little girl, he told her proudly that he had shaken hands with President Lincoln. Since the dates coincide, I wonder if it might have been at Fredericksburg when Lincoln visited in 1862.
Although we cannot live in the past, it is good to remember the dedication and devotion of these brave men. We might do well to follow their example.
Sincerely, (Mrs.) Jean Wilt Breezewood, Pa.
An obituary in 1924:
ANOTHER VETERAN GONE
William H. Whisel Passed Away at his home on last Friday evening.
WAS A BRAVE SOLDIER
Served with Union Forces During Civil War, Lost an Arm in the Battle of Fredericksburg and Was Confined in Libby Prison.
William Henry Whisel, one of Everett’s oldest, best known and most highly respected citizens, passed away at his home, on Water Street, on last Friday afternoon, from infirmities incident to advanced age.
William Henry Whisel was born near Pleasantville, this county, on July 4, 1840, being 84 years, 1 month and 27 days old. For several years he was engaged in school teaching in various sections of this county. He was a resident of Everett at the outbreak of the Civil War and was one of the first to answer the call to service and was a member of Company F, Eighth Pennsylvania Reserves. On the 27th day of June, 1862, Mr. Whisel was captued by the Confederate forces at Gaines Mills, Virginia, and sent to Richmond, where he spent forty-two days in Libby prison and in Castle Thunder on Belle Island. During the battle of Fredericksburg, after his release from prison, he was wounded in the left arm so badly that that member had to be amputated at the shoulder. Mr. Whisel was a courageous and gritty soldier and would not take an anesthetic when his arm was taken off, but said to the surgeon, “I can stand it if you can,” and sat up and watched the operation. After his injury he was honorably discharged from the service and returned • to Everett. For twenty years Mr. Whisel was Postmaster at Everett, being a capable and efficient official. After his tenure of office he purchased the Everett Foundry and Machine Shop from the late Frederick Felton, conducting the business under the firm name of Robb & Whisel. He filled various borough offices, was a stalwart Republican, Past Commander of Lieutenant Josiah Baughman Post No. 131 G.A.R., and member of Zion Lutheran Church.
On February 5, 1865, Mr. Whisel was united in marriage with Rebecca King, who preceded him in death some years ago. Left to survive the parents are the following children: Mrs. Samuel Robb and Edgar Whisel, of Monessen; Marshall Whisel, of Hopewell and Mrs. James E. Laughlin, of Everett. A sister, Mrs. Rebecca Whitaker, of Philadelphia, and a half- brother, Morgan Prosser, of Alum Bank, also survive. Funeral services for the departed comrade were held at his late home, on Water street, Monday afternoon, the Rev. George H. Ketterer, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, officiating, followed by interment in Everett Cemetery.
National Tribune clipping:
8th PA. Editor National Tribune:
Please give a sketch of the 8th Pa.— W. H. Whisel, Everett, Pa.The 8th Pa., also known as the 37th Pa., was organized at Pittsburgh, Clarion and Uniontown July 29, 1861, and mustered out May 24, 1864. Col. Geo. S. Hayes resigned and Col. S.M. Bailey was in command when the regiment was mustered out. The 8th Pa. was one of the 300 fighting regiments and lost 158 killed, or 14.8 per cent. Its total loss was 158 killed and 68 died from disease, in prison, etc.— Editor National Tribune.
Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.