Very little is known about the early life of Samuel Morton Haldeman. He was born on April 9, 1841, probably in Chester County, although the details of his family are unknown at this time. Newspaper accounts during the war give his place of residence as Kimberton, in East Pikeland Township, and it is possible that he comes from one of the many branches of the Haldeman family that lived in the area at that time.
At the outbreak of the Civil War was recruited by Captain William Babe and enlisted as a private in Company K, 4th P.R.V.C., on July 17, 1861. After being outfitted and trained at Fort Washington, in Easton, he moved with the rest of the company to Maryland, and then into Northern Virginia later that same year. In the early summer of 1862 Haldeman, along with rest of Company K, took part in the Seven Days Battles as part of McClellan’s ill-fated Peninsula Campaign, and saw intense fighting in the battles of Gaine’s Mill and Charles City Crossroads.
Though he escaped unharmed from that first engagement he was not so lucky in the second. In the ferocious fighting on June 30, 1862, at Charles City Crossroads [also sometimes referred to as the Battle of White Oak Swamp, Glendale, Frayser’s Farm, Nelson’s Farm, New Market Road, or Riddell’s Shop] Haldeman was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the stomach, and was carried to the field hospital. Later medical reports described in detail the precise nature of his wound: “the ball entered above the crest of the illium [pelvis], passed through the left kidney, and out at the lumbar region.” Medical records also indicate that he suffered from hematemesis [vomiting of blood] for several days after the battle. Haldeman’s injury was so serious that newspapers in Chester County listed him as having been “mortally” wounded in the battle.
In the course of this battle Confederate forces pushed the 4th Reserves back, eventually captured the field hospital, and took many wounded soldiers captive. These men were removed to a Rebel prison in Richmond, and spent a little over a month under harsh conditions before being paroled and returned to Union camps in early August 1862. There seems to be some discrepancy as to whether or not Haldeman was among those taken prisoner. Newspaper accounts of the battle state that he was captured, and later articles discussing his military career state that he did spend some time in Libby Prison [in Richmond, Virginia]. However, later medical records make no mention of his captivity, but rather state that he remained in the field hospital until July 25, when he was reported to have been transferred to McKim’s Mansion Hospital, in Baltimore.
Regardless of the issue of his possible captivity, Haldeman was eventually transferred, on September 19th, to West’s Buildings Hospital, Baltimore, where he remained for nearly the remainder of the year. Though Haldeman ultimately survived his injuries, the trauma left him with intense pain and unable to perform his duties. As a result, he received a disability discharge on December 27, 1862.
After being discharged, Haldeman spent the next 11 months trying to rest and recuperate. Though sometimes still experiencing great discomfort, he re-enlisted for military service again in 1864, and on January 4 of that year was mustered as a private into Company D of the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery/152nd Pennsylvania Regiment. This company was assigned to the Department of Virginia, based out of Fortress Monroe, and saw action in General Butler’s operations on the south side of the James River against Petersburg and Richmond in the spring of 1864, and afterward manned various forts and redoubts on the Bermuda Hundred front until May 1865. During the last few months of the war the men of this company were stationed at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and were finally mustered out of service on November 9, 1865.
Once the war ended, Haldeman went to Philadelphia, possibly to continue receiving treatment for his earlier injuries, and ended up staying there for the remainder of his life. For many years after the war he continued to be plagued by the wound he received at Charles City Crossroads. In 1867, Pension Examiner Thomas B. Reed, of Philadelphia, reported that, “He is unable to stoop of lift a weight, or do any sort of labor for any length of time. His general health is somewhat impaired.” Later, in 1879, the Pension Examining Board at Philadelphia reported that, “stooping or lifting still causes pain. He suffers from nervousness, caused by the injury to the spinal nerves, but has no trouble with his kidneys at this time.”
Despite these difficulties, Haldeman was no invalid, and was able to live a long and full life in Philadelphia. He ultimately outlived three wives (he married Margaret Lavinia Burk on May 4, 1867; Jennie Cox on Feb. 18, 1896; and Amelia M. Clemmency in 1904), and raised a large family, of which four sons survived to adulthood. Immediately after the war he worked for many years as a bartender or liquor dealer, then spent several more years as a police officer at the 20th and Fitzwater Street Station, and finally ended his career as a night watchman for the Union League of Philadelphia. Haldeman passed away quietly on January 4, 1924, and was laid to rest beside his first two wives in Mount Moriah Cemetery, in Yeadon, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
- 1860 U.S. Federal Census
- 1870 U.S. Federal Census
- 1900 U.S. Federal Census
- 1910 U.S. Federal Census
- 1920 U.S. Federal Census
- 2012a Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985. Website accessed November 2012.
- 2012b Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951. Website accessed November 2012.
Bates, Samuel P.
- 1868-1871 History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Otis, George A.
- 1876 The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, Part II, Volume II. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, p. 163.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
- 2012 Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards, 1929-1990. Archive Collection Number: Series 1- 10, Folder Number: 412. Accessed through Ancestry.com, October 2012.
Philadelphia Inquirer, December 4, 1893.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 23, 1896.
Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 15, 1901.
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 25, 1910.
Philadelphia Inquirer, April 9, 1922.
West Chester Village Record, July 19, 1862.
West Chester Village Record, August 19, 1862.