Tobias Yoder, Co. A, 10th Pennsylvania Reserves

The Somerset Herald - Somerset, Pennsylvania · Wednesday, March 31, 1897; Findagrave Memorial for Tobias Yoder.


A Gallant Defender of the Union Answers the Final Roll Call While Visiting in the West.

Seven Rebel Minnie Balls penetrated his body at the same time – Left on the field of battle only to be carried off to Libby Prison. 

Was With Grant at Appomattox. 

Tobias Yoder

The residents of this place, especially the old soldiers, were shocked last Wednesday when a dispatch was received from Waterloo, Io., announcing the death of Tobias Yoder, who had left Somerset four weeks ago to visit at the home of his son, Grant. Mr. Yoder’s health had been in a precarious condition for  a long time, as a result of wounds sustained in the war, and when he was attacked by pneumonia he did not have the physical strength to battle with the disease. Upon the advice of his physicians and Pension Examining Surgeons he has refrained from hard work for a long time, the physicians believing that he would drop dead suddenly and when least expected.

The body was shipped to his home arriving here, accompanied by his son Grant, on Saturday morning, and at 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon was laid to rest in the Disciple Cemetery. The funeral was attended by all of the old soldiers in Somerset and vicinity, the obseuqies being conducted under the auspices of R. P. Cummins Post, G.A..R. Rev. Wm. Mullendore delivered the funeral address in which he recited the military record of the deceased. 

Tobias Yoder was born in Shade township in 1827 and was past seventy years of age at the time of his death. He was a thoroughly upright, conscientious, christian man and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. He was an uncompromising member of the Republican party and an ardent admirer of President McKinley. Prior to the election last fall he erected a campaign pole near his residence from which floated the stars and stripes. The last time he run the flag up was on the morning of McKinley’s inauguration. 

He is survived by his wife and eleven children, as follows: Henry H., of Brothers Valley township; Mrs. F. B. Colborn, of Bayard, W. Va; Jacob, of Columbus, O.; Mrs. John Fisher, of Garrett; George, of Bayard, W. Va; Milton, of Somerset township; Mrs. Emma Barkett, of Somerset; Grant, of Waterloo, Io.; Francis, of Somerset township; Susan and Nina, who are unmarried and live at home. 

Tobias Yoder was one of four brothers, all of whom enlisted in the Union Army at the outbreak of the war. John was killed in the army and Henry died from disease contracted in the service. Moses resides in Stonycreek township. 

In addition to the wounds sustained in the war Mr. Yoder subsequently met with mishaps that would have killed an ordinary man. On one occasion he was run over by a hand car on the S. & C..R.R, and when examined by a physician it was found that four of five of his ribs had been broken. On another occasion a coal mine in which he was working caved in, killing a dog lying by his side and requiring Herculanian efforts on his part to remove the slate and earth under which he was embedded. 

The following record of Mr. Yoder’s military career was complied for the Waterloo Daily Courier. 

Tobias Yoder had an army record equaled by few soldiers and survived wounds which not one man in many thousands could have lived through. Prior to the rebellion he was noted as an athlete and was the champion wrestler of Somerset county. His parents owned a timber farm of over two hundred acres which cleared in part by the Yoder boys and wielding the ax, together with the rough life of a woodsman developed the muscles of the sturdy Tobias and fitted him for the terrible ordeal which destiny had in store for him. When he was examined for enlistment the surgeon’s record shows that his chest measurement was 42 inches over the bare skin. 

No more perfect specimen of physical manhood, or braver warrior ever shouldered a musket. Tobias was 34 years of age when the war broke out, and, imbued with the fire of patriotism he enlisted in the first company raised in Somerset county, Company A, 10th Pa., Reserves… 

His regiment marched under McClellan’s banner in the ill-fated peninsular campaign against Richmond and it was at New Market Cross Roads, in front of Richmond, on the afternoon of June 30, 1862, that Yoder received wounds which would have instantly killed an ordinary mortal. His company had been in the thick of the fight for several hours, and was ordered back a short distance to some timber to clean their guns and receive a fresh supply of ammunition. Prior to this the buckle had been shot from Yoder’s cap and a portion of the skirt of his coat had been carried away by a fragment of shell. A number of the company had been killed or wounded, but the balance after filling their cartridge boxes went forward again. Meanwhile the rebels changed a position and the brave Pennsylvanians march into a veritable death trap. They were subjected to a cross fire from rebel regiments belonging to Jackson’s and Hill’s corps and Yoder was the recipient of seven bullets which struck him in “less time than a man could count five” to use his own language. He did not fall but two comrades started for the rear with him. The Confederates charged and he told his comrades to lay down and save themselves which they did. Two balls passed through his lungs, one crushing the left shoulder blade, and causing the blood to spurt from his mouth. Two struck him in the side, one lodging under the hip bone and the other close to his spine near his kidneys; these two balls passed through a rubber blanket which he carried in a roll diagonally across his waist, which checked their force, otherwise they would have gone clear through his body and cause speedy death. The other three bullets made bad wounds. The wide of battle passed over him and McClellan’s retreat left him in Confederate hands. The rebels cared for their own wounded first, occasionally giving Yoder a drink of water from a brook which ran near by and tossing him corn pone when he asked for something to eat. He lay thus without attention or shelter until the afternoon of the third day when a four horse team and large wagon drove up within about twenty feet of him. Two big, strapping Johnnies climbed down and asked Yoder if he could get into the wagon without assistance. “I’m a little stiff,” was his reply, “but guess I can make it if you give me time.” He had raised himself up on one knee but wasn’t quite lively enough to suit the fellows. They grasped him by the collar and legs “and pitched me into the wagon like a hog,” said Yoder in relating the story. “I landed pretty hard, but it didn’t hurt me much and aside from the cords in my left arm drawing up from the broken shoulder blade, I had suffered no inconvenience.”

He was incarcerated in Libby prison and refused medical attention by his captors. Several Union surgeons were at that time, but they had no instruments or supplies of any character to dress his wounds with. The most he feared was that the maggots would get into the wounds which were suppurating. Noticing a hogshead of tobaaco on the sidewalk near the apartment in which he was confined. He conceived the idea of drawing a supply of this through the window by aid of a window stop which he loosened and which had a small nail in one end. He managed to secure enough tobacco to successfully plug up the holes in his body, but the theft was discovered and he was reported by one of the guards. For this “offense” he was placed in solitary confinement in Belle Isle for 16 days, but would have got a longer sentence had he not provoked considerable mirth when court-martialed by insisting that he ”drew the tobacco.” After a prison residence of forty days in which he had fallen away in weight from 180 to 116 pounds, Yoder was exchanged and sent to Chester hospital near Philadelphia, where the surgeons pronounced his use hopeless and told him that he could not live forty-eight hours. He did not die, however, and his case was considered so remarkable that the surgeon-in-chief of the armies at Washington was made acquainted with some of the facts and experts from the capital city went to Chester where a complete history of the case was taken down, the entrance and exit of the bullets noted, with the circumstances of his capture and subsequent treatment. In January, 1863 Yoder was allowed to go to his home in Somerset, where he remained until March when hearing that his regiment was in Washington recruiting, he went to that place. He asked to go on duty but was refused, but undaunted he went with his company when the regiment started to the front again. He fought at the battle of Gettysburg and when his enlistment expired offered his services but was told that his wound bar him from again entering the army. “After I had stripped for examination I kicked up my heels and executed a little dance on my way out of the room to show them how lively I was,” said Yoder and this with his earnest pleading not to be left behind secured his acceptance. He remained in the army until the close of the war and was present at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. 

The official records of the rebellion show that Yoder’s regiment, the 10th Pa., Reserves, was roughly handled by the enemy during the 7-days’ battles, from June 26th to July 2nd, 1862, losing 1 officer and 39 enlisted men killed, 6 officers and 137 enlisted men wounded, 1 officer and 55 enlisted men captured. 

After the battle in which Yoder received his wounds he was reported dead, his comrades reporting that they had left him alive, but that with the blood streaming from his mouth and a dozen holes in his body he could not live an hour. 

His wife donned widow’s weeds. An application had been made out asking that the pay due him from the government be sent to her, when one day a copy of a Richmond paper containing a list of arrivals at Libby found its way to Somerset and as Mrs. Yoder was passing up the street one afternoon, a friend came rushing out of his house with the paper in his hand, but the two words, “mortally wounded” which appeared after her husband’s name robbed the news of what little cheer it contained, for she supposed that in his condition, in hostile hands, he would endure a living death until the real came to his relief. 

One of the strangest features of his remarkable man’s experience is that he felt no pain whatever during the time that he received the wounds and their subsequent healing, and was able to eat any food that he could secure. He seemed literally a man devoid of nerves or the sense of feeling. 

At the time of his death, although 70 years of age, he was hale and hearty, had never lost a tooth and every tooth in his head was as sound as a dollar. The bullet which lodged near his kidneys gave him some trouble a few years ago and he submitted to a surgical examination with a view of having it extracted. The surgeons informed him that an operation would be attended with great danger so he concluded to carry the memento of ’62 with another ounce of lead which lodged a few inches from it to the grave. 

The brave old solider has listened to the last reveille and answered the final roll call. It can truly be said that he shed his share of blood in defense of his country’s honor and his name is entitled to a high place in the list of the nation’s departed heroes. 

Pvt Tobias D Yoder (1827-1897) – Find a Grave Memorial

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Brendon is a history buff who loves American History, especially the American Civil War. He is also a direct descendant of William H. Wagner of the 10th Pennsylvania Reserves. Member of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves Co. A (Reenacting Unit). Creator of The Blue & Gray Historian on Instagram and Facebook. He is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.