Private Henry Walter, US Army, Civil War, New Kingstown, PA
The house at 46 West Main Street in New Kingstown has quietly withstood the winds of time. It was only in the 1970s that the modest wood home had indoor plumbing installed. Until her death in 1968, its long time resident Clara Walter, daughter-in-law of a civil war veteran, had a water pump in her kitchen, used an outhouse, and cooked on a wood burning stove. Life at 46 Main had changed little in the century in which Clara shared the home with her husband and his parents. She was a quiet link to a fateful time that touched every family in America and changed our history. Her father-in-law, Henry A. Walter, was part of that history and one of many Silver Spring residents who answered the call to duty in the US Army during the Civil War. At the age of 26, and already married to Maria Rider, Henry Walter quit his work as a laborer and volunteered for the Union army on September 9, 1862 when the need for soldiers was great as the Union cause then seemed bleak. The year 1862 was a low point in Union fortunes. The North had lost a series of major battles in Virginia: two at Bull Run (one lost a year earlier in 1861, and the second in June 1862), the ill-fated Peninsula Campaign (April to June), Confederate General Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign (May), and the Seven Days' battles (June-July). The only success for the federal cause was salvaging a desperate victory on September 17 at Antietam Creek in Maryland that narrowly prevented a Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania. On that piece of good news, Private Walter mustered for service on October 2, 1862 for a three year enlistment. He was assigned as a replacement in Captain O'Brindle's Company G, 84th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers, which had been organized just after the war started in 1861. His unit consisted mainly of foot soldiers from the central Pennsylvania area. By the time he joined it, the 84th Pennsylvania was an experienced unit having fought in battles against Stonewall Jackson in the Valley Campaign, and in the campaign leading up to and including the bloody second Battle of Bull Run.
Private Walter was first tested in battle with less than two months training, as his unit marched under General Ambrose Burnside with the Army of the Potomac to Fredericksburg, Virginia enroute to Richmond, the confederate capital. On December 13, 1862 the Union army engaged General Robert E. Lee's troops. Despite gallantry displayed by the Union troops, they futilely assaulted the heights around the town fourteen times while losing 12,500 men, and eventually retreated back across the nearby Rappahannock River. In January 1863, General Burnside again tried to cross the Rappahannock River towards Richmond, but torrential winter rains bogged down the advance in what became infamously known as the "Mud March." Private Walter, now a veteran soldier, survived his first battle unharmed, and learned firsthand the many hardships endured by the common soldier of his day. Winter quarters were set up in Falmouth, Virginia, where the 84th Pennsylvania and its soldiers recuperated.
On April 30, 1863, the 84th was pressed again into battle at Chancellorsville, Virginia, not far from Fredericksburg. In a stunning flanking movement, General Jackson routed the Union Army, winning a tremendous victory for the Confederates. During the chaos of the third day of battle, Private Walter was captured by Confederate troops and became a prisoner of war. He and the other captured Union soldiers were taken via nearby Spotsylvania Court House to Guinea Station, where they remained for several days before continuing their march as prisoners to Richmond. There they were imprisoned for a number of days before being sent to City Point, Virginia where they were exchanged on May 14, 1863 for captured Confederate troops. Federal ships carried them to freedom at Camp Parole in Annapolis, Maryland on May 18. Private Walter was fortunate to not only come through a stinging defeat unscathed, but also to avoid long internment in a Confederate prison camp. Because of the physical deprivation that the people of the Confederacy were already suffering due to war and blockade, Confederate prison camps were notorious for their shortage of food, medical care, and exposure to the elements. Life in the army was difficult on both sides of this "Brother's War."
Henry Walter returned to Harrisburg on June 3 and was sent back to his unit on August 4, 1863. He missed the Battle of Gettysburg in which the 84th Pennsylvania stood guard over the Union supply wagons, and in defense of their home state. In late 1863 the 84th Pennsylvania again fought in a series of inconclusive battles along the Rappahannock River during the Mine Run Campaign before establishing quarters at Brandy Station, Virginia for the winter.
The year 1864 saw renewal of fighting along the Rappahannock River, against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee. From May 5 – 7, 1864, Private Walter fought in the Battle of the Wilderness near Fredericksburg, a confused and inconclusive affair in which both sides not only fought each other, but resulting forest and brush fires that threatened them all. This battle was shortly followed by another at Spotsylvania, a town already familiar to Private Walter while a prisoner. More skirmishing ensued as Union forces unsuccessfully tried to outflank their enemy. This maneuvering climaxed from June 1-12, 1864 at the Battle of Cold Harbor in which General Ulysses S. Grant's force of 108,000 men was unable to dislodge confident and well-entrenched Southern defenders. In twelve days the Union army lost over 13,000 men dead, injured, or captured--one of them Private Walter who was seriously wounded with a compound fracture of his right hip caused by a musket Minie ball.
On June 12, Private Walter was admitted to the 2nd Division General Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia after enduring an excruciating 100 mile trip over broken dirt roads in a horse drawn ambulance. He recuperated in Alexandria until his honorable discharge on October 25, 1864, having been determined unfit for further duty. In just over two years as a soldier, Private Walter fought in four major battles; nine minor battles; been captured and paroled; gravely wounded; endured cold, mud, fire, and searing heat; and marched nearly a thousand miles with full gear.
Again a civilian, Henry Walter returned to his home at 46 West Main Street, New Kingstown. The following year his son, Curtis F. Walter, was born. Henry and Maria Walter lived in their home until their deaths in 1897 and 1915 respectively. Curtis Walter and his wife Clara continued living in that home until their deaths in 1945 and 1968. Henry's great grandson, Richard Raudabaugh, served in the US Army during World War II, and his great-great grandson, Mel Raudabaugh also living in New Kingstown, served in the US Navy. Henry Walter has many descendents including New Kingstown resident great-great grand daughter Stephanie, great-great grandson Richard in Dauphin County, six great-great-great grandchildren, including Zachery Raudabaugh who lives in Silver Spring Township, and his great-great-great-great grand daughter, Katelyn, who is one-year old. Henry A. Walter is buried at Longsdorf Cemetery in New Kingstown, where a grave marker notes he was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The GAR was a nation-wide fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army who served in the Civil War. The GAR was active in ensuring the care of fellow veterans, influencing the creation of Old Soldiers' Homes which evolved into today's United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The GAR also established Decoration Day, a day of memorial for Union veterans on May 30th, which became the national holiday of Memorial Day. This to commemorate the service of units like the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry, who in three years suffered 224 deaths, just over half due to combat and the rest to disease. Their gallant service helped form the America we know today
Written by Mel Raudabaugh and Clarence Bouchat for the Silver Spring Township PA Veterans Memorial Committee Veteran of the Month Program, copyright 2009.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (POW)
Encyclopedia of Military History, R Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, 1977, 868-892.
Operations of the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment:
- Retreat to Cumberland, Maryland, 10-12 Jan 1862.
- Duty guarding North and South Branch Bridges and at Paw Paw Tunnel to Mar 1862.
- Advance on Winchester, Virginia, 5-15 Mar 1862.
- Battle of Winchester, Virginia 23 Mar 1862.
- Occupation of Mt. Jackson, Virginia, 17 Apr 1862
- Provost at Berryville to 2 May 1862.
- March to Fredericksburg, Virginia, 12-22 May, 1862.
- Returned to Front Royal, Virginia 25-29 May, 1862
- Action near Front Royal, 31 May 1862.
- Port Republic, Virginia 8-9 Jun 1862.
- Moved to Alexandria, Virginia, 29 Jun 1862.
- Duty at Alexandria, Virginia to Jul, 1862.
- Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia, 9 Aug 1862.
- Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia 16 Aug - 2 Sep 1862.
- Thoroughfare Gap, 28 Aug, 1862.
- Battles of Groveton, Virginia, 29 Aug 1862.
- 2nd Battle of Bull Run 30 Aug 1862.
- Chantilly 1 Sep 1862.
- Duty at Arlington Heights, Defense of Washington, Whipple's Command, to Oct 1862.
- Moved to Pleasant Valley, Maryland, 18 Oct 1862; then to Warrenton, and Falmouth, Virginia, 24 Oct - 19 Nov 1862.
- Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 12-15 Dec 1862.
- Burnside's Campaign "The Mud March" 20-24 Jan 1863.
- Back to Falmouth, Virginia to Apr 1863.
- Chancellorsville Campaign 27 Apr - 6 May 1863.
- Gettysburg Campaign 11 Jul - 24 Jul 1863.
- Pursuit of Lee 5-24 Jul, 1863.
- Wapping Heights, Virginia 23 Jul 1863.
- Duty on line of the Rappahannock til Oct 1863.
- Bristoe Campaign 9-22 Oct 1863.
- Advance to line of the Rappahannock 7-8 Nov 1863.
- Mine Run Campaign 26 Nov - 2 Dec 1863.
- Regiment Re-enlisted Jan 1864.
- Demonstration on the Rapidan River, 6-7 Feb 1864.
- Duty near Brandy Station to May 1864.
- Rapidan Campaign 4 May - 12 Jun 1864.
- Spottsylvania 8-12 May, 1864.
- Spottsylvania Court House, 12-21 May 1864.
- Assault on the Salient, 12 May 1864.
- Harris Farm, 19 May 1864.
- North Anna River 23-26 May 1864.
- Line of the Pamunkey, 26-28 May 1864.
- Haw's shop, 31 May 1864.
- Cold Harbor 1-12 Jun 1864.
- Before Petersburg 16-18 Jun 1864.
- Seige of Petersburg 16 Jun, 1864 to 6 Jan 1865.
- Demonstration north of the James River at Deep Bottom 27 - 29 Jul 1864.
- Deep Bottom 27 - 28 Jul 1864.
- Mine Explosion, Petersburg, 30 Jul 1864 (Reserves)
- Demonstration north of the James at Deep Bottom 13-20 Aug 1864.
- Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom, 14-18 Aug 1864.
- Peeble's Farm, Poplar Grove Church, 29 Sep - 2 Oct 1864.
- Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, 27-28 Oct 1864.
- Consolidated with the 57th Pennsylvania Infantry 13 Jan 1865.