Part of the USA Today Network

The Hoffman Boys – Brother Against Brother

A Yankee and a Rebel meet
The Civil War has, at times, been termed the War Between the States. In some cases, perhaps it should be called the War Between the Brothers, as perhaps thousands of brothers fought on opposite sides of the conflict. York County was not immune to this tragedy. There are several known examples of local brothers split by the wearing of blue or gray, including the tragic story of the Hoffman boys.

John Clutter Hoffman enlisted in Company G of the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry on September 23, 1861. He fought in the Shenandoah Valley during the Gettysburg Campaign in 1863 and was twice wounded at the Battle of Carter’s Woods. The following year, he was in the army of Ulysses S. Grant in the campaign to take Richmond, seeing action at such famous battles as the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg. He served as the 87th’s postmaster until he mustered out in October 1864. He reenlisted in the regular army for several years, and then left in 1870 to become a school teacher Michigan and Indiana before returning to York to teach.
David N. Hoffman enlisted on September 9, 1861, as a private in Company K of the same regiment. His life was snuffed out on November 30, 1863, in northern Virginia during the Mine Run Campaign.
A third brother, Charles C. Hoffman, had traveled before the war to the South and made his residence in Virginia. When the war erupted, he enlisted in the Confederate army in Company G, 1st Virginia Light Artillery, more commonly named Johnson’s Battery for an early commander, Capt. Marmaduke Johnson. Later, Hoffman’s uncle, Valentine J. Clutter, became captain of the battery, leading it during the Battle of Fredericksburg. During the Gettysburg Campaign, as a part of the Artillery Reserve of A. P. Hill’s Corps, Sergeant Hoffman traveled northward back into his native Pennsylvania. He initially manned his gun on Herr’s Ridge west of Gettysburg before redeploying on Seminary Ridge late on July 1. He was killed by Union counter-battery fire somewhere along that ridgeline and was likely buried on or near the battlefield.