Among the soldiers who served in Company K, Joseph G. Louderback represents something of a mystery. He was born, raised, and lived almost his entire life in Philadelphia, yet served with a unit recruited from Chester County. How he came to become a part of Company K is answered by the fact that Louderback was the brother-in-law of the company’s first commanding officer, Captain William Babe. When war broke out and Babe began recruiting a company of soldiers in Chester County, Louderback could have been contacted directly to join this unit, or may have travelled to Chester County on his own initiative to serve with his brother-in-law.
Joseph Girard Louderback was born in Philadelphia in March 1838, the oldest of three children born to Joseph C. and Caroline Louderback. Young Joseph received his education in the public schools of the city, and later followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a bricklayer. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Joseph enrolled in his brother-in-law’s unit at Lionville on June 6, 1861, and was mustered into Co. K, 4th P.R.V.C. at Harrisburg on July 17th of that year. His enlistment papers note that he was 23 years of age at the time, stood 5 feet 6 ½ inches tall, with dark hair, grey eyes, and a fair complexion.
Despite his apparent lack of prior military experience, Lounderback was appointed a sergeant at the start of the war – almost certainly due, at least in part, to the influence of his brother-in-law. Unfortunately, military service does not appear to have come easily to him, and throughout the latter part of 1861 he seemed to struggle with both his official duties and the stress of life away from home. When his father passed away on September 18th of that year, and Louderback left camp with Captain Babe to attend the funeral, Lieutenant Nathan Pennypacker noted that, “I am glad he has gone for he was as home-sick as any boy I ever saw. He got so cross that he was scolding every body for nothing, and no one could do anything right. Last night he could not sleep – so he came into our quarters and set for a long time. He wanted sympathy. I hope he will be better satisfied when he comes home or else he and I will have an outbreak, which I assure you will be no small one. He wants a promotion and I hope he will get questioned as he is not the man for the post he now occupies.”
Louderback’s struggles were further compounded by the close relationship he maintained with Captain Babe. Throughout the first year of the war, Babe developed an increasingly tense, and ultimately hostile, relationship with his junior officers and the men of his company. Louderback, however, remained faithful to his brother-in-law and, as described by Lt. Pennypacker, consequently developed a reputation as the “tell-tale” [tattle-tale or informant] for the Captain. As a result, he is reported to have frequently gotten “snubbed awfully” by others in the company.
Sometime in early 1862, Louderback somehow injured his arm, although the exact circumstances of the wound are unknown. The injury eventually landed him in the General Hospital in February and this, in concert with his personal difficulties, contributed to his unsuccessful attempt to get a discharge from Company K. Louderback is presumed to have eventually rejoined his unit and taken part in the murderous battles of Gaine’s Mill, Charles City Crossroads, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg in the summer and late fall of 1862. Though he is not recorded as having been wounded in those engagements, he was ultimately discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate on January 10, 1863.
After being discharged, Louderback returned to Philadelphia, resumed his career as a bricklayer, married his wife, Belle – and in the following decades raised a family of 10 children. Sometime in the late 1890s, however, the infirmities of old age gradually caught up with him, and in 1900 he took up residence in the Southern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Veterans, in Elizabeth City, Virginia. He remained an inmate of this facility until his death on January 10, 1914, at the age of 75, and was buried in Hampton National Cemetery, in Virginia.
- 1850 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com October 2012.
- 1860 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com October 2012.
- 1870 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com October 2012.
- 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com October 2012.
- 1890 Veterans Schedules. Accessed through Ancestry.com October 2012.
- 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com October 2012.
- 1910 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com October 2012.
- 2012a Storozynsky Family Tree. Accessed October 2012.
- 2012b U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Accessed October 2012.
Pennypacker, Nathan A.
- 1861a Letter to wife, September 20 (L.7182). Collection 176, Nathan A. Pennypacker Letters, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.
- 1861b Letter to wife, December 8 (L.7203). Collection 176, Nathan A. Pennypacker Letters, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.
- 1862c Letter to wife, Feb. 16 (L.7223). Collection 176, Nathan A. Pennypacker Letters, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.
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.