Brothers and sisters have tie to Civil War

The nine sibling grandchildren of Civil War veteran John McCune Anderson gathered at Anderson Mill this spring. Pictured, from left: Polly Harmon, Catie Stouffer, Lu Blair, Rollie Anderson, Ruth Miller, Dorothy Rebok, Ray Anderson, Nell Stoner and Harry Anderson. They are the children of Chester and Mabel Defenderfer Anderson. Their grandmother was Harriet Rasp Anderson.

All nine sibling grandchildren of one Civil War veteran are still living, perhaps earning them a unique position in American history. Few people in 2014 can say their grandfather served in the Union or Confederate army.

Polly Harmon, Lemasters; Catie Stouffer, Waynesboro; Lu Blair, Coseytown; Rollie Anderson, Greencastle; Ruth Miller, Greencastle; Dorothy Rebok, Chambersburg; Ray Anderson, Chambersburg; Nell Stoner, Mercersburg; and Harry Anderson, Mercersburg; also have three surviving cousins who can claim the fame in ancestry.

John McCune Anderson, born in 1843, spent just a short time in the service. He was a private in Co. E, 100th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Army of the Potomac, from March to July 1865. He was honorably discharged in Harrisburg and returned to his farm near Upton. He died in 1930 at his home at Anderson Mill in Peters Township.

McCune Anderson and his wife Harriet, who was 16 years his junior, had five children. The middle child was Chester. That son and his second wife, Mabel, 21 years his junior, had nine children.

“The reason we’re still living is because John and my father married younger women,” said Ray Anderson. “We gained a generation on other people.”

McCune Anderson was a noted citizen, according to his obituary. He was a prominent farmer and barn builder. Anderson said he was also a Justice of the Peace, furniture maker and dentist.

Anderson is compiling the family history. Among the Civil War items that have been preserved through the years are McCune Anderson’s leather billfold containing a Confederate hundred-dollar bill; a diary he wrote from March 6 to August 2, 1865; and a pair of pants he made himself, which were donated to the Franklin County Historical Society - Kittochtinny, in Chambersburg.

Other people have written books and gathered materials on the family legacy, and Anderson got involved in the mid-1990s. The siblings had held a public sale of some of their late parents’ possessions. He kept a box of letters.

“In most families it would have gone into a dumpster,” he presumed.

When he finally investigated the contents, he found the messages fascinating, since many letters referred to people still living. That spurred his venture into genealogy.

“I blundered into it,” Anderson said, “and it’s so interesting. I’ve never stopped since.”

He has stored the growing information on computer files, discs and in print. As a result, John McCune Anderson’s great-grandchildren and beyond have direct access to the story of his life, and history lessons made more alive.

These are excerpts from the diary of John McCune Anderson. He was drafted at age 22 and reported to Chambersburg on March 6, 1865. His regiment ended up in Petersburg, Virginia.

Mar 6th - Reported at Chambersburg, was examined, passed, received 1 pair pants, 1 blouse, 2 shirts, 2 pair drawers, 1 pair hose, 1 cap. Were marched to warehouse near railroad where we remained all night. Day cool, snow on the ground.

(He traveled to Carlisle, Harrisburg and Baltimore, enroute to Virginia).

13th - Resume our journey and arrive at City Point at about 8 o’clock “heave to” land, march into said place, pass railroads, soldiers, hospitals, get on cars & start for front, ride abaout 8 miles get off cars march 1 or 2 miles when we arrived at front. Were assigned to “Co. E of the 100th reg’t Penna Vets. Vols., draw rations & eat dinner. Rebels send us a compliment in the shape of munitions & shells. Day warm in “Dixie”.

25th - Were aroused by orderly & ordered to fall in at the breast-work at 4 or 5 o’clock. Assaulted by rebels, they capture some of our pickets & get in our rear. Capture Fort Steadman. Fire on us from our rear. Bullets fly through our tents. Were ordered over to rebels side of our breastworks. Countermanded ordered to fall back into the woods. Cannon & Small arms pour forth their missiles in fearful numbers. Rebels among our tents. 208th & 209th make a chrage, the rebels retreat being repulsed at all points. They make a run out of it. Our Colonel (P.A. Pentacost) killed.

(This was the largest battle McCune Anderson encountered).

April 5th - Were ordered to pack up & march at 11 o’clock, move north about one half mile where we bivouac for a short time. Start forward & march about 11 miles from 3 o’clock till dark, hard marching on the wrong road. Rain at night.

(Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. The soldiers learned about it from a dispatch the next day.)

16th - Easter Sunday detailed to work on Fort Pentecost near Wilson’s Station. Return of the “25th” Army Corps (Colored) from the front. Day windy & warm. Reported death of Abraham Lincoln.

(The regiment took the steamship “Constitution” to Washington for an encampment. On May 23 they joined 80,000 men in a six hour procession in the “Grand Review of the Armies” past President Andrew Johnson, crowds, military leaders, politicians, officials and prominent citizens.)

July 4th - The sabbath of Liberty was celebrated in camp by the firing of cannon & beating of drums. Nothing going on in camp except fighting among drunken soldiers. Received order to move to Harrisburg. The firing of guns & bursting of rockets the order of the day among the boys. Day warm.

July 26th - Were discharged, paid & started for home at near 2 o’clock P.M. Arrive at depot & get on cars just in time. A few “puffs” & away we go for home. Arrive at Greencastle in evening & could not get on back it was too much crowded. Get in buggy belonging to Mr. M. Bell & ride to within 1/2 mile of Upton when I walked on to said place & waited till the remainder of boys came up. Walked to Mr. Wright  & stayed all night. Day windy & cool.

Aug. 3rd - Ploughing today. I was for huckleberries for the first time. Rode to mountain with Mr. T. Martin.

(That was McCune Anderson’s last entry. His return home was timely. Seven days later his father died.)

The life of a solider