Francis Hoffman

 

This week’s Civil War veteran is another soldier from the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery regiment. His name is Francis H. Hoffman, grandfather of the late Harold “Red” Hoffman, Greencastle, PA.

 

During the 1814 Pennsylvania Septennial Census, Adam Hoffman, shoemaker, lived in Antrim Township.  In the 1842 Septennial Census, Adam's profession was listed as "farmer" in Antrim Township.

 

Adam (54 - born about 1796 or 1797) and Mary Susan Culp Hoffman (born in Maryland) were living in Greencastle in 1850.  They had three young children:  Mary S(usan) (5), Francis (3 – born on September 19, 1846), and a one-year old daughter.  Adam was a cooper and was born in Maryland.

 

In 1860, Adam and Susan Hoffman (spelled Hufman on the Census) still lived in Greencastle.  They had five children:  Susan (16), Frank (14), Eliza (12), and fraternal twins, William and Sarah, age five.  Susan, the daughter, is the Mary S. listed on the 1850 Census.  Eliza was most likely the one-year old, un-named daughter on the 1850 Census.

 

Frank was only 16 years and four months old, when he was mustered into service for the Civil War.  According to his service card, he enrolled in Greencastle on January 27, 1863 and was mustered in the same day in Harrisburg.  Even though his father had to sign for him, because he was underage, his age was listed as 20, upon muster in.  Frank was a private in the 2nd Heavy Artillery, in Battery H.  He was 5’4” tall with gray eyes, fair complexion, and brown hair.

 

If you recall from the Winger brothers’ stories, the 2nd PA Heavy Artillery regiment was the largest regiment in the Civil War.  It was so large that it was divided into another whole regiment – the Provisional 2nd PA Heavy Artillery.  Frank and the Winger brothers remained in the 2nd PAHA.  From 1862 to 1864, the regiment’s assignment was to protect Washington City.

 

In the spring of 1864, Gen. Grant began his Petersburg Campaign.  The 2nd PA Heavy Artillery was attached to the Army of the Potomac on May 27, 1864 and joined the fighting on June 16.  On June 18, the 55th PA lost over 50% of their men while supporting the 2nd, which caused the 55th to fallback.  In doing so, the men of the 2nd PAHA were caught in one of the fiercest crossfires.  Over 80 men were killed and wounded within 15 minutes.  Frank was one of those wounded by a gunshot to the left thigh, which required amputation above the knee.  The rest of his duty time was spent in a hospital.  At the age of 19, Frank was an amputee, who went home on January 29, 1866, to live the rest of his life.

 

President Lincoln signed a bill on March 3, 1865 that provided federal funding for the building of “homes” for disabled Civil War veterans, whether it was loss of limb, like Frank Hoffman, or other battle wounds, disease, etc.  Initially there were three locations – Maine, Wisconsin, and Ohio.  The Dayton Soldier’s Home (first known as the Central Branch) opened in 1867.  About two years after it opened, Frank decided to move into the veterans’ home.

 

Found in the online military records was a “residents’” ledger, for the Dayton, OH veteran’s home.  The following information was recorded.  For one year and 25 days between November 19, 1869 and December 14, 1870, Francis Hoffman was living in the Dayton, Ohio home for disabled veterans.  He was 23 years old, single, and his occupation was listed as “printer.”  Frank’s pension was $15/month.  The “Cause of Discharge” from the disabled veterans’ home was GO (general order) 43, at (Frank’s) request.

 

Forty-one years later on July 12, 1911, James C. Morehead, a fellow Greencastle-Antrim Civil War veteran and a Corp Rihl GAR Post #438 comrade, admitted himself to the Dayton Home for Disabled Veterans.  Morehead was 81 when admitted and he was 82 ½ years old when he left the home of his own free will on January 12, 1913.  I have no doubt that many more Civil War veterans from Franklin County, PA most likely lived at the Dayton Home, at one time or another.

 

At this point in time, there are date discrepancies within the various records Francis Hoffman.  The US Census in Greencastle was taken on the July 16, 1870 but the disabled veterans’ home ledger says Frank was not discharged until December 14, 1870.   Could Frank have been discharged earlier in the year or did he make a trip home to Pennsylvania for a visit?  The Hoffman family Bible also says that Frank and Cristianna were married on November 15, 1870.  On the census, Frank (23) and his wife Catherine/Cristianna Wallech/Wallach/Walk (22) were living with his parents, Adam (73) and Susan (56), and Frank’s brother, William (14).  Adam was a cooper and Frank was an apprentice to a printer.  Sarah, William’s fraternal twin, must have died between 1860 and 1870, as she was not listed on the census.

 

By 1880, Frank (33) and Cristian(na) (37) were renting their own place.  According to the Hoffman family Bible, Cristianna must have been married while Frank was in the war, because the two eldest children in the household were Henrietta “Ettie” Bartle (17) and William Bartle (12).  Frank and Cristianna had lost two children, one in 1871 and another in 1872.  Their children listed on the census   were Cornelia B. (5), Minnie M. (2), George (3months).  Frank's occupation was "laborer."

 

Cristianna died August 10, 1890.  It was the same year that the 1890 Veterans census was recorded.  All the war records use Frank’s given name of Francis Hoffman.

 

Urilla A. Poper was the fifth child of Henry and Nancy A. Frederick Poper.  She was born January 25, 1861.  On the Greencastle 1880 census, Urilla was 19 and listed as handicapped.  Urilla married Martin Bartle and together they had a daughter Josephine who was born on September 15, 1883.  Martin Bartle died and Urilla married Frank on September 2, 1893.  Frank’s mother Susan died July 26, 1895, at the age of 84 years.

 

On the 1900 U.S. Census, Frank and Urilla, had in their household a daughter Mabel M., from his first marriage.  She was 16 and was born November 8, 1883.  Josephine Bartle was listed as a step-daughter, the daughter of his second wife.  Josephine and Mabel were the same age.  Together, Frank and Urilla had a son William F. who was 5, soon to be 6.  He was born July 1, 1894.  Frank’s occupation was printer and he had been out of work for 12 months.  They rented their home.

 

In 1910, Frank was 64 and Urilla was 50; they had been married for 16 years at that time.  Francis Jr. (16), Upton G. (11), and Walter P. (7) were, also, living in the household.  Urilla was a seamstress and worked from home.  Frank had his own income.  Frank Jr., at 16, was working in the stocking factory on South Washington Street.  The two younger boys were in school.

 

On the 1920 Census, two of Frank’s and Urilla’s sons were still living with them – Upton G. (20) and his wife, Zola (21), and their son Harold (6 months).  Frank and Urilla's 17 year old son, Walter, also lived with them.  Upton and Walter were both laborers who worked for someone, other than themselves.

 

Frank outlived both of his wives.  Urilla died February 6, 1923 at the age of about 62 years and 11 days.  The cause of death was the flu.  Frank died July 18, 1925, at the age of 78, nine months, and 29 days.  He was two months shy of his 79th birthday.  Frank was buried on July 21, in Cedar Hill Cemetery, in the family plot, Section K, Lot 47.  William K. Hoffman, Frank’s brother, born on September 26, 1855, died on November 20, 1938, at the age of 83.

 

Allison-Antrim Museum has within its collections the Francis H. Hoffman Collection which came together after being separated, for some time, by 3,000 miles.  It chronicles some of the events in the life of Francis H. Hoffman, relative to losing a leg at the Battle of Petersburg.

 

Given on long-term loan from AAMI member, George F. Hoffman, great-grandson, and on behalf of Francis Hoffman's grandchildren – Anna Oberholzer, Charles Hoffman, and George S. Hoffman, is the muster-in record of Francis Hoffman.  It was signed, in Greencastle on January 27, 1863, by Benjamin F. Winger, Lt. Col., 2nd PA Heavy Artillery.  In August 2001, George also placed on loan a large, illustrated, and colorized discharge paper for Francis.  It is a preprinted archival piece with blank lines on which to write pertinent information.  This type of document was most likely sold door-to-door.   Included in George’s loan is a synopsis of the Civil War history of the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery.  There’s also a map that shows the advance to the James River and a black and white photograph of Francis and his second wife Urilla in front of their 50 West Madison Street home in Greencastle.

 

According to "When War Passed This Way," the first Greencastle-Antrim Memorial Day observances, originally known as Decoration Day, were organized by the Knights of Pythias Lodge.  May 30, 1884 marked the first time the observance was organized by the Corporal Rihl GAR Post #438.  Committees were formed from the members of the Post.  Hoffman was assigned to help with invitations and in spite of his amputation he also helped with the marking of the Civil War veterans’ graves.  I say “in spite of” because although there are government applications for prosthetics within Frank’s collection, it appears that he never followed through on getting fitted for a prosthetic leg.

 

John A. Hoffman, Middletown, PA, and grandson of Francis, donated the official military discharge paper.  Francis was enrolled on January 27, 1863 and was discharged on August 2, 1865, from Philadelphia (most likely a hospital there) at the age of 18, having served two years, seven months, and six days.  Also received as a gift from John Hoffman are the following archival pieces:  hand written pension certificate, dated July 27, 1866, for $15 per month; a pension certificate, dated June 4, 1874, which raised his monthly pension to $24 per month, because of his leg amputation; an unsigned and undated (possibly a copy) application paper for an artificial limb or commutation for the same.  Francis chose the money.  His pension at that time was $36 per month.  Also in the John Hoffman donation is a 125 year old letter from the Surgeon General’s Office of the War Department, dated August 26, 1890, which informed Francis, “that all claims to the benefits of the laws relating to artificial limbs are suspended,” pending appropriations by Congress to pay for them.  Sequestration was alive and well even in 1890.  The last three archival pieces include: a pension certificate, dated April 20, 1903, which increased his pension to $46 per month; a slip of paper from the Bureau of Pensions, Department of Interior dated May 1, 1920: “Under Act of Congress approved by the President…your pension is increased to $65 per month.  THIS SLIP SHOULD BE SECURELY ATTACHED TO YOUR PENSION CERTIFICATE.”  It was glued.  The last piece is a survivor’s and heir’s claim and a form for the Declaration for Widow’s Pension – neither of them completed.  Urilla died two years before Frank, in 1923.  John Hoffman, Middletown, PA was a brother of the late Harold “Red” Hoffman.  All pieces in the Francis Hoffman Collection are on exhibit in the North Exhibit Bay in the German bank barn, at Allison-Antrim Museum.

 

The accompanying image is of the pergola on the sprawling grounds of the Dayton Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 4100 West Third Street, Dayton, Ohio.  For more images of the grounds, visit the Web site of the Library of Congress at: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/.

 

 

 

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