HENRY R. WENTZEL: UNION DRUMMER BOY. Comprises: (1) Autograph
Letter Signed: "your affectionate Brother", 3½ pages, 7 5/8 by 9¾.
Camp Newbern, N.C., February 16, 1863. Normal folds. Slightly worn at folds on
first page, else fine. To his brother, Joseph Wensel, Pottstown, Montgomery
County, Pa., who Americanized the family name. Henry has written his letter with
a German accent. Spelling not corrected. In part: "I in form you that I
Received your letter on the 13th day of february and 25 cents in money and 4
postage Stamps and I was very glad to hear from you and the old folks and I was
very much obliged for the money and Stamps...I wish you whould fetch my two Saws
too over to your house and keep them in your Care till Come home and if you want
to youth [use] them why youth them till I Call for them and if I never
Come home no more why you may keep them and pay to my Wife what you think is
Ride [right] are what you think they are worth you may keep them for
keeping in Repair as long as I am in Service...I Seen a good Bid [bit] of
the whorld and contry Since I am from home and that I traveld a good bid
[bit] two [too] by Rail Road and Food passage and Steam Boats but
I prefer the Rail Rode yet from every Sing [everything] else if you
are on the Rail Rode the you Can See land but if you are on the Steam Boat the
way I was on then there you Cant See no land some times for two days and Nides
[nights]. Nothing but water and waves and the Boat a Rocking that you
think that She whould Singed [sink] and no too ways about it She goes up
and down all the time and then is the time to think of home after we are in Camp
and have every Sing [everything] fixed up nice and Ride
[right]...we are at work every day about three weeks all ready throwing
up entrenchments and we are building a fort hear now too I guess it will
take about a month yet till it is finished and Some of our Brigate are cutting
down timber for weeks they must cut it down about three miles around our Camp So
as we Can see the Rebbels if they Come and we expect to Stay hear the grater
part of our time now old Spenolas is very well pleased is wery well pleased with
our men now Since we marched with him...I aint got any Sing [anything]
to do but to beat the Drum in the morning at Six o Clock and guard mount at
eight and potalion [battalion] till at two in the afternoon and
tresperate [dress parade] at four in the evening and tatoo at eight in
the evening...." "Tattoo" is a signal sounded on a drum to summon soldiers
to their quarters at night. (2) Two original 17-inch long
drumsticks used by Wentzel. (3) Carte-de-visite photograph of Wentzel in
uniform, 3 by 3½. Cover of case missing. 26-year-old Henry R. Wentzel was a
German-American. Many Germans lived in Montgomery County which was first settled
by German immigrants in 1685. In the Civil War, companies often had a Musician
or two, usually a Drummer and a Fifer. Wentzel was Drummer for Captain Thomas
C. Steele's Company H, 175th Regiment, Brigadier General Francis B. Spinola's
Brigade. Drafted, he was enrolled on October 16, 1862 to serve nine months.
Organized at Philadelphia, on November 6, 1862, the 175th Regiment moved to
Washington, D.C., on December 1, 1862, then to Fortress Monroe and on to
Suffolk, Virginia. The 175th became part of Spinola's Brigade in December, 1862.
Wentzel saw duty in Virginia until December 28, 1862, then moved to New Berne,
North Carolina (December 28-January 1, 1863). He stayed there until April, 1863,
during which time he wrote this letter to his brother. Wentzel's regiment went
on an expedition from New Berne to Trenton, Pollocksville, Young's Cross Roads
and Swansborough, all in North Carolina, March 6-10, 1863. He took part in
operations on the Pamlico, April 4-6, and went on expeditions to relief of
Little Washington (April 7-10) and to Swift Creek Village (April 13-21). He saw
garrison duty at Little Washington until June when he returned to Fortress
Monroe, Va., then to Harper's Ferry and to Frederick, Maryland. Henry Wentzel
and his regiment were mustered August 5-7, 1863. On March 13, 1863, 24-days
after Wentzel wrote this letter, under orders from Confederate Lieutenant
General James Longstreet, forces under Major General D.H. Hill made an attack on
the Union occupied town of New Berne, North Carolina. They attacked the not yet
completed Fort Anderson, mentioned by Wentzel. The fort was unarmed and a
flag of truce was sent by a Confederate officer to Union Lieutenant Colonel
Hiram Anderson. He stated that he would have to wait for word from his
commanding officer concerning the truce. Again the Confederate officer
approached Anderson, and asked if he would accept the terms of the truce.
Anderson replied that he had not yet heard from his commanding officer. Anderson
was stalling for time because gunboats were out of the area and he was hoping
that they would arrive in time. Finally the Confederate officer demanded the
Colonel Anderson accept the terms of the truce. After Anderson stated that he
would never accept a truce, the battle began. Soon a boat appeared on the Neuse
River with a crew of an office and former slaves with a single gun. The
former slaves shelled the Confederate troops over the heads of the men of Fort
Anderson. They successfully held the Confederates back until additional
gunboats appeared on the Neuse. The Confederates ran away as quickly as they had
arrived. The men of the 175th referred to this as "The Great Skedaddle". (4)
Marriage Certificate. Partly Printed Document Signed: "Joh C.
Wendt/Pastor of the Evang. Luth. Congregation", 1p, 11x11. Certifying the
marriage on April 25, 1858, in New Hanover, of Mr. Henry Wenzel (sic) and Miss
Christine Behr, both of Pottsgrove Township. Folds. Four inch separation at
lower right fold, minor separation at top edge folds. (5) Army Discharge.
Partly Printed Document Signed: "Wm Sergeant/Captn 12 Infy" and "Thos
C. Steele/Capt Comdg Co.", 1p, 8½ by 10¾. Philadelphia, August 5, 1863.
Discharge of "Henry R. Wentzel a Musician of Captain Thomas C. Steele's
Company...." Worn with tiny holes at folds. Slightly foxed and browned at
folds and edges. (6) Widow's Pension Certificate. Partly Printed Document
Signed: "E.A. Hitchcock" as Secretary of the Interior and "J.L.
Davenport" as Acting Commissioner of Pensions (both rubber stamped
signatures), 1p, 7 7/8 by 10½. Department of the Interior, 1906 May 11.
Certificate No. 609,072. On vellum with vignette at upper center picturing a
woman flanked by guns, the flag and the words: "Widows Pension". Raised
Department of the Interior seal. Certifying that "in conformity with the laws
of the United States Christiann Wentzel Widow of Henry R. Wentzel who was a
Musician Co. H 175 Regt Pennsylvania Drafted Militia is entitled to a pension
under the provisions of the Act of June 27, 1890, at the rate of Eight dollars
per month to commence on the fourteenth day of April 1906 and to continue during
her widowhood." Two folds, fine condition. (7) Pension Certificate
Transmittal Letter. Partly Printed Letter Signed: J.L. Davenport" as
Acting Commissioner, 1p, 8 by 10½. Washington, D.C., May 11, 1906. From the
Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions, to Christiann Wentzel,
Pottstown, Pa., transmitting Certificate No. 609,072 and a voucher. Printed in
red. (8) Unused Pension Voucher. Partly Printed Document, not signed, 1p,
8½ by 10½. Voucher issued to Christiann Wentzel "for payment of $36 pension
now due, at the rate of 12 dollars per month, from May 4, 1908, to August 4,
1908...." Mrs. Wentzel died before receiving this voucher or the next notice.
(9) Pension increase notice. Printed Document signed in type by St.
Claire A. Mulholland, U.S. Pension Agent, 1p, 8½ by 3½. Philadelphia, Pa., May
4, 1908. Notification of increased pension to $12 per month. Fine condition.
(10) Cemetery receipt. Partly Printed Document Signed: "Horace
G. Herbet" as Sexton of Pottstown Cemetery Association, 1p, 6 7/8 by 3½.
Pottstown, Pa., May 7, 1908. In full: "Received of Mrs Annie Van Buskirk For
Digging Grave for Christiana Wentzel For work underneath To Walled grave to
slate. $18.25". Folds, slightly soiled. Ten items.
For more documents by these signers click the names below:
HENRY R. WENTZEL CHRISTIANN WENTZEL CAPTAIN THOMAS C. STEELE JOHN C. WENDT CIVIL WAR - UNION CIVIL WAR - ALL
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