York County boys fought at Witmer Farm during the Gettysburg Campaign
Headstone of Private Ovid Stahl in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hanover, Pennsylvania.
Ovid Stahl, a native of York, Pennsylvania, was an eighteen-year-old private in Company I of the 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, a company that was recruited in southern York County and included volunteers from several townships, as well as from Carroll County, Maryland. After being organized in Hanover and trained briefly near Harrisburg, the emergency regiment served in the Gettysburg Campaign. It was the largest military unit trying to defend Gettysburg the last week of June 1863 against the invading Confederates – the division of Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early.
The schoolboys and sales clerks of the 26th PVM had only been in uniform for three days when they met the veterans of the Army of Northern Virginia on the hills west of Gettysburg along Marsh Creek and then along Goldenville Road near the Henry Witmer farm. The site of the skirmish of Witmer Farm (and the red brick Witmer farmhouse) is still in pristine condition just east of the intersection of Goldenville and Table Rock roads about 3.5 miles northeast of Gettysburg. Many of the boys would be captured on Witmer’s rolling farmland, rounded up by the pursuing 17th Virginia Cavalry. In all, 175 militiamen would become prisoners of war out of the 743 men in the new regiment.
A couple of the men and boys from southern York County were with the 26th PVM’s commissary guard in downtown Gettysburg while their comrades were routed at Witmer Farm. They ended up back in Hanover before heading to York late on Friday night hours after the debacle at Witmer Farm. They wound up in Wrightsville and helped defend the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge on Sunday, June 28.
Among those men fortunate enough to have escaped being swept up by the Rebel cavalry at Witmer Farm was 18-year-old Ovid Stahl.
Pennsylvania card file image for Ovid Stahl’s enlistment record from the state archives in Harrisburg. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania in the Civil War website. Young Stahl’s entire military service in the Union army consisted of six weeks during the pivotal summer campaign of 1863. He died in November 1890 according to the New Oxford Item. Stahl is one of several members of the 26th PVM to be buried in the Hanover region.
ROSTER OF COMPANY I, 26TH REGIMENT, PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEER MILITIA
(those names in bold are known to have been captured near Gettysburg on June 26, 1863)
Officers. – Captain – John S. Forrest; First Lieutenant – John Q. Pfeiffer; Second Lieutenant – Alexander T. Barnes ; First Sergeant – Joel Henry ; Sergeants – William H. McCausland, Howard N. Deitrick, Napoleon B. Carver, Charles Young; Corporals – Josiah Rinehart, Thomas Sneeringer, Henry Schultz, David E. Winebrenner, Henry C. Bucher, Amos F. Klinefelter, Charles T. Kump, Charles W. Thomas.
Privates. – William Althoff, Noah Allison, William Bair, William H. Bastres, William F. Baum, William A. Beard, James Blair, John F. Blair, Edward Bollinger, John Bond, David F. Forney, William G. Forney; Jacob Freet, William Gantz, Jacob Gardner, Martin Graybill, Lewin Heathcote, Martin Hitzel, Addison M. Herman, John J. Hersh, Josiah D. Hersh, Barthabus Himes, John H. Hinkle, Lewis V. Holter, William H. Holter, Washington J. Johnson, Lewis B. Jones, Isaac Jones, William Leader, Isaac Loucks, Henry C. Metzgar, Jacob H. Michael, Michael D. Myers, William A. Myers, Aaron McLean, Mahlon H. Nail, Hezekiah Ports, Henry H. Pfeiffer, John J. Sanders, George W. Sherman, George E. Sherwood, Henry W. Shriver, William H. Snyder, Eli Snyder, Daniel J. Snyder, Ovid Stahl, George E. Trone, Oliver Trone, Samuel E. Trone, Fabius N. Wagener, Samuel Weigle, John Willing, Calvin Wirt, William C. Wolf, Cornelius Young, Martin Zimmerman.
National Archives Record Group No. 249, Entry 107
Hd. Qtrs. Hunterstown, Pa.
June 27, 1863
The following named non-Commissioned officers and Privates of the 26th Rgt. Pennsylvania Militia taken prisoners of war near Gettysburg, Penn., are hereby permitted to go to their homes upon their parole of honor not to serve in the United States Army, or in any other military organization under the State or U. S. Government until regularly exchanged.
By Command Major Gen’l. J. A. Early
Signed: S. Hale
Major and A. A. & I. G.
(Acting Adjutant and Inspector General),
C. S. A.