Thomas W. Hoffman

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Thomas William Hoffman
Thomas William Hoffman 1865 public domain.jpg
Hoffman in 1865
Born(1839-07-21)July 21, 1839
Berrysburg, Pennsylvania
DiedApril 18, 1905(1905-04-18) (aged 65)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Buried
Pomfret Manor Cemetery, Sunbury, Pennsylvania
AllegianceFlag of the United States (1861-1863).svg United States
Service/branch Seal of the United States Board of War and Ordnance.svg United States Army
Rank Brevet Lieutenant colonel
Unit1.) Company E, 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry (1861–1863)
2.) 143rd Company, 2nd Battalion, U.S. Veteran Reserve Corps (1863)
3.) Company A, 208th Pennsylvania Infantry (1864–1865)
Battles/wars American Civil War
AwardsMedal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor

Thomas William Hoffman (July 21, 1839 – April 18, 1905) was an American soldier who fought with the Union Army as a member of the 208th Pennsylvania Infantry during the American Civil War. He was recognized with his nation's highest military honor, the U.S. Medal of Honor, for his display of "extraordinary heroism" when preventing the retreat of a regiment during the Third Battle of Petersburg, Virginia on April 2, 1865. That award was conferred on July 19, 1895. [1] [2]

Contents

Formative years

Born in Berrysburg, Pennsylvania on July 21, 1839, Thomas William Hoffman was a son of Amos Hoffman (1809–1897) and Amanda (Harper) Hoffman (1815–1897). He was reared and educated in Dauphin County with siblings: Jacob Franklin (1841–1916), Edwin (born circa 1845), Henrietta C. (1849–1932), and Adeline H. (1853–1943). His younger brother, Oscar A. (1857–1857), was just two weeks old when he died on May 2, 1857. [3]

In 1850, Thomas Hoffman resided with his parents and siblings, John, Edwin, and Henrietta, on the family's farm in Lykins Township. [4]

Civil War

Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, by Thure de Thulstrup. Thure de Thulstrup - Battle of Antietam.jpg
Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, by Thure de Thulstrup.

At the age of 25, Hoffman enlisted for Civil War military service. After enrolling at Philadelphia on August 10, 1861, he then officially mustered in that same day as a private with Company E of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry (also known as the "Fire Zouaves"). [5] Transported with his regiment to Virginia, he saw action in the Battle of Ball's Bluff (October 21, 1861), participated in the advances by the Union troops of Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks on Winchester and Yorktown, and fought in the Seven Days Battles of Seven Pines (also known as Fair Oaks, May 31 to June 1, 1862), Savage's Station (June 29, 1862), and Malvern Hill (July 1, 1862) before engaging in the battles of Antietam (September 17, 1862), Fredericksburg (December 12–15, 1862), and Chancellorsville (April 30 to May 6, 1863). [6] [7] On October 1, 1863, he was transferred to the 143rd Company of the 2nd Battalion, U.S. Veteran Reserve Corps (also known as the invalid corps), and was subsequently honorably mustered out. [8] [9]

Returning home to Dauphin County, Hoffman then helped to raise a new regiment, the 208th Pennsylvania Infantry. Re-enrolling for Civil War military service and commissioned as a captain by Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on September 7, 1864, he was then placed in charge that same day of Company A of that regiment. [10] [11] His younger brother, Jacob, served under him in Company A. [12]

Attached to the Provisional Brigade, Defenses of Bermuda Hundred, U.S. Army of the James, from September to November 1864, Hoffman and his fellow 208th Pennsylvanians performed fatigue and picket duties in the vicinity of Bermuda Hundred, Virginia as part of the operations related to the Siege of Richmond. Reassigned to the Provisional Brigade, 9th U.S. Army Corps' Army of the Potomac for December of that year, they supported the Union's Weldon Railroad Expedition. Reassigned to the 9th Corps' 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, they then fought in the battles of Dabney's Mill and Hatcher's Run (February 5–7, 1865), Fort Stedman (March 25), and in the Appomattox Campaign (March 28 to April 9). [13]

Interior of Fort Stedman, 1865 (T. H. O'Sullivan and A. Gardner). View of the interior of Fort Steadman - negative by T.H. O'Sullivan, positive by A. Gardner. LCCN2012646267.jpg
Interior of Fort Stedman, 1865 (T. H. O'Sullivan and A. Gardner).

During the opening days of this latter campaign, Hoffman was detailed, on April 1, as acting engineer officer with the 3rd Division, 9th U.S. Army Corps. The next day, he performed the act of "extraordinary heroism" for which he would later be awarded his nation's highest honor for valor, the U.S. Medal of Honor. [14] Interviewed later in life, Hoffman described what happened that day: [15]

During the week that we were stationed at Steadman our division was ordered to capture Lee's works. I was detailed on General Hartranft's staff as engineer officer of the division.

The troops were ordered out in the middle of the night and deployed inside our picket lines. When daylight began to show on the eastern horizon a signal gun was fired. This was the signal for the attack and our troops advanced to the fray. They rushed across the space between the two lines, tore down the obstructions, jumped into the moat from whence they scaled the walls of the fort, capturing four forts with twenty-five guns in a space of five minutes. We also captured a large number of prisoners.

The rebels made a great effort to retake the forts, making numerous charges, but we succeeded in holding them back during the entire day. Sometime during the afternoon I was sent out by General Hartranft to the commanding officer of the second brigade to ascertain if it were possible for him to hold the forts captured.

Just as I came to the forts it happened that my own regiment, the Two Hundred and Eighth was deployed.... When I was but a short distance away I heard the lieutenant-colonel of my regiment call to the men to retreat, and that they were being surrounded. Presently he and the major of the regiment started on the run for the rear, expecting the regiment to follow. I took the situation at a glance and drawing my sword called to the men at the top of my voice, "Don't a man of you run; they can't drive you out of here."

When the line officers discovered that there was some one to take charge of the regiment they immediately rallied the men and kept them in position.

Recognized for his valor that day, Hoffman was promoted by brevet to the rank of major on March 25. [16] Afterward, the 208th Pennsylvania moved on in pursuit of Confederate General-in-Chief Robert E. Lee's army (April 3–9) and, following Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, was involved in Union Operations at Nottaway Court House (April 9–20), City Point (April 20–28), and Alexandria from late April until mid-May when then regiment headed to Washington, D.C. in order to participate in the Union's Grand Review of the Armies (May 23). [17]

On June 1, 1865, Hoffman was honorably when his regiment was mustered out of service. [18] On August 2, 1865, he was recognized for his service to the nation with a brevet promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel of volunteers. In response, he penned a thank you note from his home at Port Trevorton. [19]

Post-war life

Following his honorable discharge from the military, Hoffman returned home to Pennsylvania. Less than a month later, on June 27, 1865, he wed Sallie F. Shindel (1843–1890) at Saint John's Lutheran Church near Berrysburg in Lykens Township, Dauphin County. A native of Gratz in Dauphin County, she was a daughter of Solomon Shindel, who had served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1843. [20] [21] Shortly thereafter, Hoffman and his wife welcomed the births of three children: Susan, Mary (also known as "Mamie"), and Elizabeth, who were born, respectively, circa 1866, 1868, and 1876. [22] [23]

By 1890, Hoffman had relocated to Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, and was residing in the community of Mount Carmel. That year, he became a widower when his wife, Sallie, passed away in Mount Carmel on April 2, and was laid to rest at the Pomfret Manor Cemetery in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. [24] Nearly a year to the day later, he remarried, taking Helen Delucia Fisk, M.D. (1848–1941) as his second wife in a wedding ceremony which was held on April 5, 1892, in Dansville, New York, where Fisk, a graduate of the New York Medical College, was employed as a physician by the Jackson Sanitarium. [25]

By the turn of the century, Hoffman was working as a bookkeeper for the Meadow Brook Coal Company, and residing with his second wife at the boarding house operated by Margaret Kries and Marion Cantner at 124 Adams Avenue in Scranton, Pennsylvania. [26] [27]

Death and interment

Hoffman died at the age of 65, on April 18, 1905, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His remains were carried by train from Lackwanna County to Northumberland County via the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, where he was then laid to rest at the Pomfret Manor Cemetery in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. [28]

Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain Thomas W. Hoffman, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on April 2, 1865, while serving with Company A, 208th Pennsylvania Infantry, in action at Petersburg, Virginia. Captain Hoffman prevented a retreat of his regiment during the battle. [29] [30]

See also

Notes

  1. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in "Medal of Honor Recipients: Civil War (G-L)". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History, retrieved online August 11, 2014.
  2. "Hoffman, Thomas W." (profile). Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina: Congressional Medal of Honor Society, retrieved online August 11, 2014.
  3. Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County Pennsylvania Containing a Genealogical Record of Representative Families, Including Many of the Early Settlers, and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens, Prepared from Data Obtained from Original Sources of Information , pp. 77-78. Chicago, Illinois: J.L. Floyd & Co., 1911.
  4. "Hoffman, Amos, Amanda, Thomas, Jacob, Edwin, and Henrietta", et al., in U.S. Census (Lykens Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, 1850). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
  5. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in "Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866" (72nd Pennsylvania Infantry). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.
  6. "Brave Soldier Dead: End of a Man Who Was Given a Medal of Honor by Congress for Gallantry: A Splendid War Record." Scranton, Pennsylvania: The Scranton Republican, April 20, 1905, p. 7.
  7. Gasbarro, Norman. "Obituary of Thomas W. Hoffman – Medal of Honor Recipient". Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: PA Historian, August 11, 2014 (retrieved online August 22, 2018).
  8. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in "Civil War Veterans' Card File" (72nd Pennsylvania Infantry).
  9. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in "Civil War Service Records: Union Records: Veteran Reserve Corps (Index Cards)". Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (made available through the Wikipedia Library partnership with Fold3; registration required).
  10. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in "Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865" (Record Group 19: 208th Regiment, Company A, in "Records of the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs". Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission), retrieved online August 22, 2018.
  11. Cox, Christopher. History of Pennsylvania Civil War Regiments: Artillery, Cavalry, Volunteers, Reserve Corps, and United States Colored Troops . Raleigh, North Carolina: Lulu Publishing, 2013. ISBN   978-1-300-71312-8
  12. Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County Pennsylvania, pp. 77-78.
  13. "208th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry", in "Battle Unit Details", in "The Civil War", in "Soldiers and Sailors Database". Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Park Service, retrieved online August 22, 2018.
  14. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in "Records of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865: 208th Regiment, Company A".
  15. "Brave Soldier Dead", The Scranton Republican.
  16. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5; Prepared in Compliance with Acts of the Legislature, Vol. 5: Two Hundred and Eighth Regiment, p. 694. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1871.
  17. "208th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry", in "Soldiers and Sailors Database", U.S. National Park Service.
  18. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in U.S. Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1890).
  19. "Hoffman, Thomas W." (Oath of Office), in "Letters Received by Commission Branch, 1863-1870". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of the Adjutant General and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (made accessible through the Wikipedia Library partnership with Fold3; registration required).
  20. "Pennsylvania Marriages, 1709-1940" (FHL microfilm 845,111 and database entries for "Thomas Hoffman and Sally Schindel, Saint Johns Lutheran Church Near Berrysburg,Mifflin Twp,Dauphin,Pennsylvania". Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library and FamilySearch.
  21. Kelker, Luther Reily. History of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania , Vol. I, p. 117. New York, New York and Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907.
  22. "Dr. Helen Delucia Fisk Hoffman" (memorial and gravesite information). Salt Lake City, Utah: Find A Grave, retrieved online August 22, 2018.
  23. "Hoffman, Thomas W., Helen F. Hoffman, Margaret Kries, and Marion Cantner", et al., in U.S. Census (Scranton, Ward 17, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, 1900). Washington, D.C. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
  24. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in U.S. Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War (1890).
  25. "Hoffman, Thomas W., Helen F. Hoffman, Margaret Kries, and Marion Cantner", et al., in U.S. Census (1900).
  26. "Brave Soldier Dead" (1905 obituary of Hoffman from a Scranton newspaper found in his widow's U.S. Civil War Pension file). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
  27. "Hoffman, Thomas W., Helen F. Hoffman, Margaret Kries, and Marion Cantner", et al., in U.S. Census (1900).
  28. "Brave Soldier Dead", The Scranton Republican.
  29. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", in "Medal of Honor Recipients: Civil War (G-L)", U.S. Army Center of Military History.
  30. "Hoffman, Thomas W.", Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

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References