Posted By: Carl Ingwalson
Date: 2/15/2021 at 15:25:08
Peter Langeneckhardt was the son of Albert and Hellena Langeneckhardt. He was born in Germany, but was living in Iowa and working as a mechanic when he was enrolled in Dubuque by fellow German Jacob Swivel on August 21,1862,in what would be Company E of the 21st Iowa Infantry. The company had been ordered into quarters at Camp Franklin on August 9th and, on the 22nd,they were mustered in with a total of 101 men.
On September 9th, while still in training, ten
regiments were mustered in as a regiment with 985 men, officers and enlisted. In lieu of dog tags
used in later wars, Civil War soldiers were identified physically with the Company Descriptive. Book describing Peter as being twenty-one years old with hazel eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. At 5' 611 he was shorter than the 5' 8\/2" average.
With shingled roofs, the camp's ten buildings were each twenty by sixty feet and "arranged to
accommodate one hundred men each," but the training was brief. According to Company B's
captain, William Crooke, "the process of getting used to restraints of freedom, to inclemencies of
weather, to hard beds, and new forms of food, sometimes not well cooked, was not always a pleasant one.
Habits of obedience had to be formed, and these to men in the ranks were doubtless the most
irksome of all," but a postwar author said the camp "was so near the men's homes, that their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, sweethearts, and friends, were too often present to allow either drill or discipline to any great extent."
On a rainy September 16th they marched through town and, from the levee at the foot of Jones
Street, boarded the sidewheel steamer Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside and started
downstream. After one night on Rock Island, they continued their trip, debarked at Montrose due to
low water, traveled by rail to Keokuk, boarded the Hawkeye State, reached St. Louis on the 20th, left
by rail on the night of the 21st and arrived in Rolla the next day. The water at their first camp
"oppressed the senses like the breath of sewers" so they soon moved five miles out of town to a site along the Lebanon Road where there was good spring water. They were still there on October 16th when Peter's brother, nineteen-year-old Henry Langeneckhardt, enlisted in the 6th Iowa Cavalry.
On October 18th, Peter and his comrades left Rolla and two days later they reached Salem. By
then, two men had been transferred to other regiments, four had died from disabilities, three had deserted and many were hospitalized in Rolla, but Peter was marked "present" on the October 31st
muster roll. Due to illness, several more stayed in Salem when the regiment left for Houston on
November 2nd, but Peter was among the able-bodied who reached Houston before sundown on the
4th. From there they moved to Hartville but, after a wagon train was attacked on November 24th,
they returned to Houston where Peter was "present" on the December 31st company roll.
When word was received that a Confederate force was moving north from Arkansas to attack a Union base in Springfield, a hastily organized relief corps left camp on January 9th but Peter was not with it. Peter was sick and on January 13th (14th or 16th) died from typhoid fever. It's likely he was buried locally and reinterred after the war, but his burial has not been found. He was unmarried.
Peter's brother was still with the 6th Cavalry when he died on November 6, 1864. Having lost
her two sons to war, Hellena became a widow when Albert died on June 24, 1866, and was buried
in Oakwood Cemetery, Independence, Iowa. Four months later, having no assets and dependent "on
the charity of friends for her subsistence," Hellena requested a pension. With Dilazon Holdridge as her attorney and signing "by mark," she applied as Peter's mother under a pension law enacted in 1862.
Supportive affidavits were signed by numerous friends. Nicholas Boehnlein and Christian Heege
said Peter had "always considered it his duty to aid and assist her." After enlisting "he used to send his wages and she used them for her support" although the reference was probably to the $25.00
bounty, $2.00 premium and $13 .00 advance pay received at Camp Franklin since, after leaving Iowa,the regiment received no pay until a month after Peter's death. Two others said that, for six years prior to his death, her husband "was entirely unable to perform any labor on account of his old age."
Albert and Hellena had been "extremely poor" and "totaly & entirely dependent" on Peter. Another
said she relied on him "for every article of clothing she wore, for every mouthful of provisions she ate & for every thing she drank unless it was cold water & for the shelter over her head."
On August 4,1868, almost two years after she applied, a certificate was mailed entitling her to $8.00 per month but only from June 30, 1868, when the last affidavit had been received by the Bureau of Pensions.
On September 4, 1868, Hellena received $16.00 as her first payment and later that month signed ·
an affidavit pointing out that under an 1864 law her pension should have been retroactive to the date of Peter's death.
The pastor of her German Presbyterian Church in Independence wrote on her behalf and asked that her request be processed quickly "as she is very helpless & old and forsaken." That very day she had asked him for "a pair of warm shoes." She is, he said, an "old helpless member of my church in the way of duty & charity. May God guide you and help you in your Work of Mercy to supply the poor Widows of our Country."
Hellena wrote again that year and her pastor wrote the following June. The pension office had
asked her to sign another application, but "that poor lady has to go ones more to the Courthouse
hardly able to be out of her bed." Hellena wondered why the pension office couldn't believe "that I am the mother who has lost her two sons in this fearful war, my only supporters, and that I have to suffer by hunger and cold." "O please hear me," said her pastor.
This widow "is certainly the poorest in the land of so many, therefore be mercyful and help her: My Congregation has done for her much, but we can not do it much longer." Hellena's request was granted and, on January 18,1869, a new certificate was mailed, this one making her $8.00 monthly payments retroactive to June 17, 1863.
On May 28, 1878, she died. Since she had no assets to cover the cost of her last illness and
burial, the bills were paid by Catharine Kaiser (possibly a daughter) - $3 .00 to John Lesher for
digging a grave, $4.00 to Charles King for a coffin and $5.00 to A.H. Trask for a hearse and team at the funeral. All three men were from Independence.
Hellena's grave has not been located, but she
is likely near her husband in the city's Oakwood Cemetery.
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