Joseph Davison (b. January 9, 1754, d. May, 13, 1842) lived in Antrim Township from the age of three, when his father William (d. 1770) and mother (unknown) moved from Adams County to Franklin County. Joseph’s first wife was Margaret Brown (1756 to February 26, 1797). Together they had seven children – Hugh, William, James, John, Jane, Elizabeth, and Margaret. When Joseph’s first wife died, he married Margaret Robinson (1761 to November 10, 1836) and they had two sons, Andrew (d. 1860) and Abraham.
James Davison, the third child of Joseph and Margaret, inherited the Davison homestead in the northeast part of Antrim Township. Besides being a wealthy farmer, James served the county civically as a director of the poor, 1832 to 1835. From 1846 to 1849, he was a Franklin County commissioner. James and his first wife, Miss Patton, had three daughters – Louisa, Sarah Belle, and Elizabeth. When his first wife passed away, James married Margaret Wills, with whom he had two sons, Joseph Brown and James.
Although this soldier’s letter was not written by an Antrim Township or Greencastle soldier, it is being used as the basis for a soldier’s story because it was a letter of thanks for the Davison’s hospitality, during the first Confederate invasion alert in 1861, when part of James Davison’s farmland was used by the 24th PA Infantry as a campsite. The original letter, written three years after the 1861 encampment, is still part of the Davison family collections. Although 155 years have passed, the hospitality and care extended toward the Union troops by the Davisons is what every parent of a daughter or son in the military today wishes and prays for their own children during their tours of duty, regardless of the century.
Samuel signed his name on the letter as Samuel D. Scott but his enlistment and pension records are under Samuel Denard. The government, on his pension record, considered “Samuel D. Scott” as his “alias.” This presented any number of challenges in conducting research for Samuel.
Samuel’s Civil War career began on May 1, 1861 when he was mustered in as a private, in Co. A, 24th PA Infantry, for three months service. He enrolled at and was mustered in at Philadelphia, PA. After training, the 24th Regiment broke camp at Suffolk Park, on June 3, and “moved” to Chambersburg, PA, “where it was stationed a short distance from the town,” i.e. the Davison farm. This was the time period, about which, Samuel so fondly wrote in his letter, “since the kindly welcome you extended to myself and four comrades at the outbreak of the present war.” While stationed here, the 24th PA Regiment was attached to Negley’s 5th Brigade, Keim’s 2nd Division, Patterson’s Army. On June 16, 1861, the regiment marched to Hagerstown, and then to Williamsport on June 18. The 24th participated in the occupation of Martinsburg, July 3, 1861, the advance on Bunker Hill on July 15, and then moved to Charlestown by July 17. From Charlestown, PA Regiment 24 moved to Harper’s Ferry, and on to Philadelphia, where the three-month soldiers mustered out on August 10 1861.
Within five and a half months, Samuel reenlisted…in the U.S. Navy. Here begins the use of Samuel’s alias – Samuel D. Scott. He enlisted for three years, in general service, as a Landsman, on January 23, 1862. The rank of Landsman is below the rank of “seaman.” Enlistees given the Landsman rank, had very little, if any, experience at sea. Their duties included menial, unskilled work on board, perhaps in the mess, swabbing deck, or other custodial work. But a Landsman, after three years’ experience, or upon reenlistment would be promoted to Seaman. On the enlistment records, Samuel listed no previous naval experience but his occupation was “boatman.” He was born in Philadelphia and was 21 years old. Samuel was 5’6 ½” tall, with blue eyes, brown hair, and ruddy complexion.
Samuel was assigned to the newly commissioned (January 29, 1862) wooden-hauled, gunboat U.S.S. Miami, which was stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The Miami had just been launched two months before on November 16, 1861. During the Civil War, the U.S.S. Miami and its crew were involved in the attacks on Fort St. Philip and Ft. Jackson at New Orleans; the siege of Vicksburg; reconnaissance duty on the James River; and blockade duty along the shoreline of North Carolina.
On April 19, 1864, which was two months prior to Samuel writing his letter, the U.S.S. Miami, near Plymouth, N.C., participated in a gun battle with the Confederate ironclad C.S.S. Albemarle. Heavy spring rains, raised the river and allowed the Albemarle to safely glide over the “obstructions” placed in the Roanoke River by Lt. Commander Charles W. Flusser, Union commander of the U.S.S. Miami and Southfield. The Albemarle rammed the Southfield and became entangled with it as the Southfield sank. When it hit bottom, the Southfield righted itself, allowing the Albemarle to free itself and float to the top. While this was going on, Flusser had ordered a 10-second fuse be attached to a cannon shell, aimed directly at the ironclad’s hull, and pulled the lanyard. Flusser lost his life along with those around him, when the shell hit the iron hull and ricocheted directly at the Miami, landing at Commander Flusser’s feet. The Miami retreated and went back to the James River and eventually helped support General Grant’s siege on Richmond. The U.S.S. Miami was decommissioned on May 22, 1865, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and was sold at auction on August 10, 1865. It remained in commercial service until 1869.
Although, Samuel does not give the names, in the letter, of his four comrades who lost their lives and where they met their deaths, their accumulative deaths, the battle with the C.S.S. Albemarle and the death of Commander Flusser and U.S.S. Miami comrades, evidently gave him a sense of urgency, to take the time and write the letter of thanks to the Davisons. He wrote, “My four comrades have all been killed in battle at different times during the war and as there is no telling how soon it may come my turn. I feel it my duty to write to one who had been so kind to us.”
The next chronological primary document with information is from the record book of marriages from the First Independent Christian Church, Philadelphia. Samuel Denard married Mary A. Scott on July 11, 1865.
In 1870, during the U.S. Census, Samuel and Mary were living in the 20th District, 7th Ward, in Philadelphia. Samuel, 30, was listed as “Liquor Ret(ailer).” There were two “households” or families living within the same dwelling. Both he and Mary were been born in Pennsylvania but both of their parents were born abroad. From their Philadelphia death records, it was learned that both Samuel and Mary were born in Philadelphia. Samuel and Mary’s personal estate was worth $1,000. Living in the same “household” with Samuel and Mary was John Richardson, stone cutter – born in England.
Under a different “household number” were James Scott (24), Jane Scott (16), and Ella Scott (13) all of who worked in the woolen mill. Amy Scott (11) was in school. These last four were siblings of Mary’s.
Samuel’s pension application was not very sharp when scanned. He applied, as an invalid, sometime between 1870 and 1876. The pension application lists both his infantry service in the PA 24th and as a Landsman from 1862 to 1865 on the Miami.
Discovered through a search of Philadelphia Inquirer newspapers, it was learned that Samuel G. Denard was a Republican and he was an active member, locally, in Philadelphia. In August 1873, Samuel, from the 7th Ward, was one of three vice presidents of the “new” campaign club to elect William J. Ovens, candidate for the Legislature from the Fourth District, in Philadelphia. Then six months later in early February 1874, Samuel was appointed, by the Court of Common Pleas, “under the new election law,” the Republican assessor in the 7th Ward, 8th Division for the forthcoming election.
Like thousands of other Civil War veterans, Samuel was an active member in Philadelphia’s GAR Post #5, established in 1866, and Mary was a member of the Ladies’ Aid Society of GAR Post #5.
Samuel G. Denard, 1723 South Street, 7th Ward, Philadelphia died May 5, 1876, at the age of 36, from complications of “phthisis pulmonalis,” i.e. Tuberculosis. He was a “retail liquor dealer.” The 2 p.m. funeral service was conducted from his home. Family, friends, and members of GAR Post #5 were invited. From there, the funeral procession made its way to the Mount Moriah Cemetery. The interment record book for Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia recorded Samuel’s burial on May 9, 1876. He is buried in Section 205, Lot 12 W ½ (center and right rear); center grave.
Mary applied for Samuel’s pension after he passed away. I have, so far, been unable to find Mary Denard in the 1880 census records. Mary A. Scott Denard, 48 years old, died August 1, 1896, 20 years after her husband. Her obituary appeared in the Wednesday, August 5, 1896 Philadelphia Inquirer. Family, friends, and the Ladies’ Aid Society of Post #5, GAR were invited to the 3 p.m. services in the home of her brother James, 2615 Bainbridge Street. Mary is buried alongside her husband, in the Scott family plot, in Mt. Moriah Cemetery. She was buried on August 5, 1896.
A sincere “Thank you,” goes to Ken Smith and genealogists of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc., Philadelphia. Without their help, details from Samuel’s and Mary’s death certificates would not have been known, nor would we know that the burial plot was a Scott family plot and who was buried in the plot. Siblings of Mary’s – Jane Scott (d. 1877), Ella Scott Owens (d. 1884) married Joseph Owens (d. 1901), Amy Scott Hall (d. 1891), and James Scott (d. 1924), are buried in the plot. Mary’s father Samuel Scott (d. 1878) is also buried there.
The letter and transcription of Samuel Denard’s letter to James Davison follows.
Off Roanoke Isld. NC
June 17th 1864
Mr. James Davison
You will no doubt be surprised on the receipt of these few lines at hearing from me after such a lapse of time (three years) has occured [sic] since the kindly welcome you extended to myself and four comrades at the outbreak of the present war As I am the one of the party left – I deem it but my duty to send you these few lines, to let you know what has become of them, knowing as I do the kind interest you expressed in our behalf during our short sojourn at your house. My four comrades have all been
killed in battle at different times during the war and as there is no telling how soon it may come my turn. I feel it my duty to write to one who had been so kind to us, and if it should please to God to have me to return to Pennsylvania I will not forget to pay you a visit. In the meantime let me assure you that your kindness was ever fondly remembered by each and every one of us ~ I shall not say much in this letter as it is possible you may never receive it, but if you ever do receive it, let me know when you answer where I shall write to you again and also let me know whether you suffered any loss at the hands of the rebels at the time they invaded Pennsylvania
I should be very sorry to hear of your having suffered any at their hands. I have no more of special interest at present but will write you at length when I hear from you. So with kindest regards to your wife and family, not forgetting the same to yourself.
I am Sir
direct to Samuel D Scott
Newberne North Carolina
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