Marshall H. Van Scoten, Co. H, 4th Pennsylvania Reserves

Commemorative biographical record of northeastern Pennsylvania: including the counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, and many of the early settled families, by J.H. Beers & Co, 1900. *Thanks to Jay Knarr to providing the proper source for this biography.

Marshall H. Van Scoten, a justice of the peace and most successful pension attorney of Montrose, Susquehanna county, is descended on both sides from German ancestry. The Van Scoten family of New Jersey, from which came that branch of the family to which Squire Van Scoten belongs, are the posterity of one Tunis Van Scoten, who came to America from Holland in 1874. One of his three sons settled in New Jersey. The immediate ancestors of Squire Van Scoten, Cornelius, Garrett and George Van Scoten, great-grandfather, grandfather, and father, respectively, were natives of New Jersey, and his grandmother was the daughter of Col. Shanon, who served in the Revolutionary war.

Marshall H. Van Scoten

George Van Scoten, the father of our subject, was born near Delaware Station, in 1813. His immediate ancestors had been farmers, and he was reared to agricultural pursuits. Later in life he kept a tavern, or hotel and was engaged in speculations. In the days of the State Militia he was prominent in military affairs and during the Civil war, though advanced in years, enlisted in Company I, 18th P. V. C., and after a period of some eight months” honorable service yielded up his life in defense of his country, dying June 20, 1863, at Fairfax C. H., Va. He had married, in 1838, Matilda Raub, who was born in 1812, in Pennsylvania, the daughter of Andrew and Mary (Butts) Raub, farming people of that State, of which they were natives, both being of German origin. George Van Scoten was first a Whig in his political views, and on the organization of the Republican party cast his lot therewith. He was one of six who first voted the Whig ticket in Knowlton township, Warren Co., N. J. In 1836 he moved his family to Auburn township, Susquehanna Co., Penn., where his wife died in 1882. To their marriage were born children as follows: (1) Elizabeth E., born in 1840,married, in 1858, Charles W. Pierson, a farmer of Auburn township, and they have children as follows– Annie Belle, Joseph G. and Lewis Burton. (2) Marshall H. is referred to farther on. (3) Sarah C., born in 1846, married, in 1862, Isaac D. Sebring, a farmer of Rush township, and to them were born nine children: Henry, Ruth, Emma, Preston, Grace, George, Clarence, Lillian and Nellie. (4) Andrew J., born in 1848, married Florence Swackhammer, and they have three children: Frederick, Roy, and Florence. He became a private of Company D, 203rd P. V. I., during the Civil war, and served nearly one year. He was severely wounded at Fort Fisher, N.C., January 15, 1865. (5) Emma E., born in 1852, married, in 1874, John H. Smith, of Red Creek, N. Y. They have no children. He served in the Civil war as first sergeant of Company K 75th N. Y. V. (6) George L., born in 1854, married Hattie Bullard, and to them came three children; Effie, Roy and Vera. He is areal estate dealer, and is also engaged in the gentleman’s furnishing good business at Athens, Pennsylvania.

Marshall H. Van Scoten was born September 15, 1841, at Blairstown, N. J., and came with his father’s family to Susquehanna county, Penn., in 1856. While yet a school-boy, and in his teens, the firing on Sumter aroused his patriotism, and laying aside his books, he left the school house for the tented field. He came of patriotic stock, some of his ancestors having served in the Revolutionary war. On June 17, 1861, he enlisted in Company H, 4th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves. On July 21 the regiment was order to Baltimore, which city is was on duty under command of Gen. Dix until the last of August, when it was ordered to the general camp of rendezvous of the reserves at Tennallytown, Md. Upon the organization of the division, the Fourth was assigned to the Second Brigade, commanded by Brig.-Gen. George G. Meade. In October (1861), the regiment crossed into Virginia and became part of the Army of the Potomac. It was in support at the battle of Dranesville, December 20. In the spring of 1862, upon McClellan’s departure for the peninsula, the reserves were left with the First Corps under command of Gen. McDowell, but early in June they were detached therefrom and proceeded by water to White House, and marched to form a junction with McClellan’s army. The Fourth Regiment reached the vicinity of Mechanicsville June 20, and on June 26 a severe battle was fought, the regiment being under fire during the entire battle. During the night following the division was sent down to Gaine’s Mill, where the next day the Rebel army, sixty thousand strong, attacked the single corps of Fitz John Porter. In the engagement the Fourth, supporting Duryea’s Zouaves, drove the enemy from the woods, after which it was ordered to the extreme left, where it charged the Rebel line, but being met by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, were forced to fall back with great loss. At the battle of Charles City Cross Roads, on June 30, the Fourth was posted in the front line on the right, in support of Randall’s Battery. Gen. Mc Call, in his official report, says, “the most determined charge of the day was made upon Randall’s battery by a full brigade advancing in wedge shape, without order but with a wild recklessness that I never saw equaled.” After referring to other charges that had been made by single regiments upon Cooper’s and Kern’s batteries, which had been gallantly repulsed, the General continues: “A like result appears to have been anticipated by Randall’s battery and the Fourth Regiment (as was subsequently reported to me) was requested not to advance between the guns, as I had ordered, as it interfered with the cannoneers, but to let the battery deal with them. Its gallant command did not doubt, I am satisfied, his ability to repel the attack, and his guns fairly opened lanes in the advancing hosts.” The Rebel column closed up, and with trailed arms came on at a run to the very muzzles of the guns, where they pistoled and bayoneted the cannoneers and attacked their supports (the Fourth) with such fury and in such overwhelming numbers that they were broken, but held their ground with the most determined obstinacy. Gen. McCall, continuing, says: “It was here my misfortune to witness, between those of my men who stood their ground and Rebels who advanced, one of the fiercest bayonet fights that perhaps ever occurred on this continent. Bayonets were crossed and locked in the struggle; bayonet wounds were freely given and received. I saw skulls crushed by the heavy blow of he butt of the musket, and, in short, the desperate thrusts and parries of a life-and-death encounter, proving indeed that Greek had met Greek when the Alabama boys fell upon the sons of Pennsylvania.” The enemy was successfully held in check, and during the night the Reserves retired to Malvern Hill. The casualties in the Fourth Regiment during the seven days of battle were more than two hundred. From Malvern Hill the regiment marched to the plains of Manassas, where on August 29 and 30 it engaged the enemy at the second battle of Bull Run, where the Reserves were under the command of Gen. John F. Reynolds. The regiment again encountered the enemy at South Mountain (September 14), and was heavily engaged, that battle resulting in the retreat of the enemy. On the evening of the 16th the Reserves crossed Antietam creek with the Fourth in the advance, and opened that great and important battle, which raged with great fury for twelve hours. At the battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, the Fourth held the right of the second line in the memorable charge of the Pennsylvania Reserves on the left of Mary’s Heights, when they broke through the enemy’s lines, carried the summit, the key to the position, but failing of support they were forced to retire. On February 8, 1863, the Reserves now greatly reduced by active service, were ordered to the defenses of Washington to rest and recruit. On January 6, 1864, the Fourth was order to duty in West Virginia. It participated in the battle of Cloyed Mountain, May 9. On May 28, three years’ term of enlistment of Third and Fourth Reserves having expired – those who had not re-enlisted were order home for muster- out, while the veterans and recruits of the two regiments were organized into a battalion of five companies and placed in the command of A. T. Sweet. This ended the service of the Fourth as an Organization. It was mustered out June 8, 1864, at Philadelphia.

The battalion shared in all the battles and terrible marches, at one time without food and with no halt for rest for eight days and nights. On July 13, 1864, they arrived on the upper Potomac above Martinsburg. Here the veterans and recruits of the Third and Fourth Reserves were transferred to the 54th P. V. I. On July 18, Company H, as reorganized, had a short but severe engagement with the enemy at Snickers Gap, Va., in which five of the original members of Company H, including Sergt. Van Scoten, were wounded (Van Scoten in the left hand.). The men shared the disasters and triumphs of Sheridan’s campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, and late in December they proceeded via Washington to City Point, passing winter in that vicinity, and March 23, 1865, they broke camp for their last and final campaign that was to end at Appomattox. Three days before the surrender the 54th Penn. And 132nd Ohio were captured by the Rebels.

Mr. Van Scoten on June 17, 1861, was made color corporal, and on February 25, 1863, he was promoted sergeant. He re-enlisted February 8, 1864, and on July 13 he was transferred to Company L and E., 54th Penn. Veteran Volunteers. On being wounded he was sent to the field hospital at Pleasant Valley, Md., where he remained until September 10, 1864, when he had sufficiently recovered to join the command. He shared the fate of the commands throughout their experience and has a record of which he and his posterity can well be proud. After returning to his regiment he participated in the battles of Berryville, Va., Fisher’s Hill, September 22; Strasburg, October 15, and Cedar Creek, October 19. On December 18, 1864, he marched six miles in his stocking feet through eight inches of snow. He was with Gen. Butler in front of Richmond, thence to Hatcher’s Run, where he took part in the engagement near by on March 30, 1865. He was in the battle at Fort Gregg, Va., April 2, and at High Bridge April 6, the entire command being captured here, were made prisoners with Gen. Lee’s army, and paroled on the 9th after the surrender to Gen. Grant. The men were then sent to Camp Parole, Md., where our subject was honorably discharged (as a paroled prisoner) May 31, 1865, when he returned to his widowed mother after an absence of four years.

Young Van Scoten on returning to civil life again went into the school room, attending for a short time the public schools at Montrose. He was married, on October 25, 1865, to Eleanor B. Gay, and bought the old home place in Auburn township, where he resided and was occupied in farming some thirty years, until coming to Montrose in 1896. Politically he has always been an ardent Republican and active and influential in his party. He served for nearly a decade as an auditor of Auburn township; was for several years a director of the Auburn and Rush poor asylum. For a number of years a member of the County Republican Committee. He was once defeated for sheriff of Susquehanna county by three votes. In February, 1899, he was elected a justice of the peace, an office for which he is well fitted. The Squire is a genial and sociable gentleman, affable and courteous. For a dozen or more years he has been engaged quite extensively in the prosecution of claims against the United States government, especially pension claims, and in this he has been most successful and is held in high esteem by all, and especially by the old soldiers.

Mrs. Van Scoten, the Squire’s wife, formerly Miss Gay, is the daughter of Ansel and Elizabeth (Bunnell) Gay, and was born January 8, 1846, in Auburn township. Three of her brother, James P., Calvin S., and Treadway K. Gay, were soldiers in the Union army in the Civil war. James P. Was in a second lieutenant in Company H, 4th Penn. Reserves, serving upwards of three years; Calvin S. was a private in the same company and regiment, and also of the 15th N. Y. Cavalry, and was wounded at the battle of South Mountain; and Treadway K. Died at Knoxville, Tenn., while in the U. S. Signal Corps. To our subject and wife have been born six children, namely: Carrie A., born June 30, 1866, is the wife of B. F. Jones, of South Montrose, and their children are William, Hugh and Orin Pritchard; Savannah, born June 30, 1867, is the wife of Sherman A. Benninger, of Kingsley, Penn., and their children are Marshall Pierce, Leo Sherman, Florence and Donald; Eva E., born December 5, 1869, was engaged in teaching and died at the age of twenty-three; Calvin S., born march 21, 1871, married Martha Ruger, and resides at Athens, Penn., Elnora, born October 15, 1875, is at home; and Charles L., born July 24, 1878, like father and grandfather, manifested his patriotism by serving in the Spanish-American war, from April 27, 1898, to March 11, 1899– there being but one day’s difference in the ages of himself and father at the time of their respective enlistments. He was a corporal in Company G, 13th Penn. Inf., and is now quartermaster sergeant in the same company and regiment, P. N. G.

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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.