He was a Civil War veteran who saw action from the very beginning of the war through it's end. He spent most of the War in the Kentucky and Tennessee theaters, and was captured twice, escaping both times. He was a stone cutter, grocer, farmer, and bottler. We know much about him, mostly through an oral history passed down through his grandson, Walter. Many other documents have been found that support and enhance this oral history. He was a truly remarkable man.
Little is known about the family prior to the Civil War. Census records indicate that they lived in Bethel Twp., Lebanon Co. in 1850 and in E. Hanover Twp., Dauphin Co. in 1860. According to Catherine in a document dated 1880, they lived near Linglestown in 1864. John was a farm laborer. Aaron and one of his brothers listed boatman as their occupation on there Civil War enlistment papers. This is entirely possible as the Union Canal was nearby both Bethel Twp., and E. Hanover Twp.
Aaron's participation in the war is well documented. Much correspondence centering around his pension application at the time of his retirement exists. The Veteran's Administration records contain his enlistment papers and bimonthly muster slips from throughout the war. A detailed history of all the Pennsylvania volunteers was published after the war (Samuel P. Bates, History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, volume 3 (1871)). This narrative is compiled from these sources.
Civil War: 1861
On the same day he enlisted as a private at Harrisburg (April 21), Aaron's regiment was marched to the State Arsenal where they were issued arms and ammunition. That evening they traveled in railroad boxcars toward Baltimore on the Northern Central Railroad. During the night the train was returned to Harrisburg. The next day, traveling in the same train, they moved to Philadelphia, where they arrived at 4 p.m. From there, they traveled on to Perryville, MD. Along the way, two companies of the regiment were assigned to guard steamboat passage through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. That evening (April 22) the regiment left for Annapolis by steamer. At Annapolis they were quartered in the battery and boat houses, until April 26, 1861.
On April 26, the regiment marched along the railway to Annapolis Junction where they were to meet a train to take them on to Washington. On arrival at the Junction they learned that their train had derailed. They were posted at the Junction to repel an attack that was rumored to be made that night from Baltimore. The attack did not occur. The next day they moved on to Washington by rail, where they remained on guard duty and in drill for two days. While there, both President Lincoln and Secretary of War Seward visited and spoke with them. They were quartered in a building just behind City Hall.
On the 29th, they marched about a mile east to Camp Washington where they engaged in training and drill. On May 5 they received their uniforms from Pennsylvania.
On May 28, the regiment moved to Alexandria, VA, and were quartered in the city. On June 3, they went into camp at Shunter's Mill. They were assigned to the brigade of General M'Dowell. Part of this brigade was assigned to duty in Alexandria as city police. The rest were detailed for labor on the construction of Ft. Ellsworth.
In July much of the army advanced to Bull Run. Aaron's company remained on duty at Alexandria and was not present at the defeat at Bull Run on July 21, as their term of duty was about to expire. On July 25, they returned to Harrisburg where they were paid and honorably discharged.
In late August the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, 92nd Regiment in the line (known at first at the Lockiel Cavalry) was organized at Camp Curtin. Many of the officers and privates of this regiment were the same men who had served in the 5th Infantry. The muster-in roll of the regiment states, "Aron Demeer Pvt, Capt. Waltman's Co., 9 Reg't Lochiel Cav. Age 18 years. Appears on Company Muster-in Roll... Harrisburg, PA, not dated. Muster-in to date Oct 26, 1861. Joined for duty and enrolled: When Oct 7, 1861. Where Mt. Joy. Period the war." A footnote indicates the unit later became Co. G, 9th Reg't Pa.Cav. The records also show that Samuel Deemer mustered into Co. A, 93rd Regiment on September 21. This was probably Aaron's older brother.
After completing training Company G went under the command of Capt. Jacob Waltman on November 19. The regiment moved by rail to Pittsburgh on November 20. The 9th Cavalry was led by Col. Edward Williams, Col. Thomas Jones, and Col. Thomas Jordan. From there they traveled by boat to Louisville, KY, and were placed in camp at Jeffersonville, IN, across the river from Louisville. They were placed under the command of General Buell of the Army of the Cumberland. Drill and training continued.
Civil War: 1862
January 20, 1862, they were ordered to the front along the Green River. In early February the regiment was ordered to remain in Kentucky to protect the state. Part of the regiment was at Grayson Springs, part in western Kentucky, and part at Bacon Creek on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. March 5 saw the regiment moving on to Tennessee, at Springfield, Clarksville, Nashville, and Gallatin, where they remained until August.
The units assigned to Nashville met and defeated Confederate troops at Lebanon on May 4, and at Spring Creek on May 14. On June 6 they defeated enemy troops at Moore's Hill (where 4 men were killed and 10 wounded). They engaged in battle at Tompkinsville and Burksville. Ten men were killed, 14 wounded and 19 taken prisoner. In early August all units of the regiment were reunited at Lebanon. KY. Muster rolls show Aaron was present in August.
In August the regiment followed Confederate forces following the Battle of Richmond, KY, fighting daily. At Shelbyville they had a "sharp encounter, defeating the enemy." They went to Louisville where they guarded the roads leading to Tennessee. They pushed to Perryville, preventing the enemy from turning the flank, then returned to Louisville for fresh horses and equipment. They then marched to Nicholasville to prepare for a raid into East Tennessee.
On December 15 Capt. Benjamin G. Heistand took command of Company G. The regiment left Nicholasville, KY on December 22, 1862 for Big Hill. From there they took to the deer-paths of the Pine, Cumberland, and Clinch Mountains, traveling in single file day and night. They swam the Cumberland and Clinch rivers and forded numerous creeks.
Civil War: 1863
On January 1, 1863, they reached the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad bridge across the Watauga River. After capturing and burning the bridge, they marched 10-12 miles down the railroad to its crossing of the Holston River. There, they stormed stockades and entrenchments taking the entire enemy force of 250 captive. Six members of the regiment were killed and 25 wounded. The regiment destroyed the Holston Bridge and a mile of trestle work over a swamp. Then they recrossed the Cumberland Mountains, eluding enemy forces of 8000, returning to Nicholasville on the night of January 13. After a few days rest, the marched to Louisville, then traveled by rail to Nashville, arriving on February 6.
On February 8, the regiment left Nashville for Franklin, where they drove Confederate forces from the town. For the next 18 days they formed the right wing of the Army of the Cumberland as they advanced against enemy positions. The saw battle daily in the area around Franklin and Thompson's Station. On March 5 they drove Confederate forces from Thompson's Station, holding the position until the infantry could arrive, and capturing 3800 infantry. They then fought their way back to Franklin with 220 prisoners, an entire artillery unit and baggage train.
In April Aaron's brother John Deemer enlisted. He joined Company G on May 5. William Deemer joined them on May 7. This was probably Aaron's younger brother . William would have been 15, John 18, and Aaron 16, claiming to be 19. The regiment joined the campaign against General Bragg in Tennessee, culminating at Chattanooga and Chickamauga. At Shelbyville they charged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat, capturing nearly 1000 prisoners. They also participated in battles at Rover, Middletown, and Elk River. At Cowan, near the foot of the Cumberland Mountain, they captured 200 of Bragg's rear guard.
A few days before the Battle of Chickamauga the regiment penetrated to near Lafayette, GA, capturing part of the advance guard of General Longstreet. They were thus able to provide the first positive evidence of Longstreet's presence. The 9th Cavalry was commanded by Lt. Col. Roswell M. Russell. At Chickamauga the regiment held the right of the line, defeating the enemy. They then defended the flank for the remainder of the battle.
John was apparently wounded at about the same time Aaron was captured. The oral history in the family has it that Aaron saw his brother fall in battle. It's reported that he was left at a hospital at Bridgeport, Alabama, not far from the Chickamauga battlefield
Civil War: 1864
Muster roll reports for John report that he was hospitalized at nashville in January and Feburary.
Somehow Aaron was able to rejoin his Company. The January-February muster roll reports that he was "at Knoxville with teams...Returned from missing in action." Along with his company, he reenlisted on January 1, 1864. His volunteer enlistment form reads,
"I, Aaron Deemer born in Lebanon Co. (another copy reads Lancaster Co.) in the State of Pennsylvania aged Twenty years, and by occupation a Boatman do hereby acknowledge to have volunteered this First day of January, 1864 to serve as a Veteran Soldier in the Army of the United States of America, for the period of Three Years..." "This soldier has grey eyes, brown hair, dark complexion, is five feet nine inches high." "Mustered into the service...in Company G, 9th Regiment of Penna Cav. Volunteers, on the 29th day of March, 1864, at Cleveland, Tenn."
Muster rolls for March and April report Aaron absent without leave. May-June's rolls states he was "reported absent without leave in Apr rolls thro' mistake." The regiment returned to Pennsylvania for a 30 day furlough in April. In late May they returned to Louisville. There, they marched 55 miles at night to prevent Frankfort from being captured. Capture would have cut off Sherman's supply line, forcing him back to Chattanooga.
The July-August muster rolls reports John and Aaron, "detailed as cattle guard from Nashville to Atlanta." The regiment marched to Nashville, then Chattanooga, where they arrived September 2. They then started across the mountains to Murfreesboro in pursuit of General Wheeler. On September 6 they defeated a brigade of Wheeler's command at Readyville, taking 294 prisoners, many of whom were wounded with sabre cuts. On the 7th they were ordered to pursue retreating enemy troops. At dusk they met and defeated a division at Woodbury. They continued to McMinnville and Sparta. In October they marched to join Sherman at Marietta, GA.
John was reported to be in action at Lafayette, Georgia on October 12. Later muster rolls report that he was a prisoner from October until April 30, 1865.
On November 14, 1864, the regiment joined Sherman and were assigned to the First Brigade under Judson Kilpatrick. They led an advance to Macon and Milledgeville. That same day, Aaron was again taken prisoner, this time at Sylvania Station, GA, Later, in 1898 in an effort to receive veteran's compensation, Aaron wrote that he had "done duty as a Scout for which I never received any compensation..." "I served in above Regiment [Co. G 9th Cavalry Pa Vol.] until we arrived at Marietta Georgia under the command of Gen. Kilpatrick at which place I was ordered to report to Gen. Kilpatrick's headquarters and was told to report to Leut. Fuller as Independent Scout which I did then served under him until I was taken prisoner on the march to the sea. The exact dates I do not recollect." He was denied the claim on the grounds that there were no records to support his story.
The 92nd Regiment went on to encounter Wheeler on November 16 at Lovejoy's Station on the Macon Railroad, one day out of Atlanta. They took 300 prisoners and captured guns which they kept until the end of the war. They fought additional battles at Bear Creek, Griswoldville,Waynesborro, Buckhead Church, defeating Wheeler many times.
Civil War: 1865
Meanwhile Aaron's regiment marched into South Carolina in January, 1865, taking Lexington. Then entered North Carolina, crossing the Pedee River, reaching Fayetteville in March. On March 19, William Deemer was captured at the battle at Bentonville, NC, and held prisoner until April 2. In April they marched to capture Raleigh arriving there on April 13. Outside Raleigh, on Millsboro Rd., the 9th Cavalry was attacked. The enemy fell back to Morrisviile with the cavalry in pursuit for 10 miles. There they surrendered. The last fighting under Sherman was done and the last guns were fired by the 9th. They received the flag of truce and letter to Sherman asking for terms of surrender. Members of Aaron's regiment provided the escort to General Sherman when he met to agree to the terms of surrender.
The oral history claims that Aaron saw a brother, or brothers, fall in action. John's last muster report was dated April 30, 1865 at which time he was reported to be a prisoner. The War Department reports that sometime in May or June he died of wounds received.
By 1876 Aaron returned to his family in the Shamokin, PA area. On February 27, 1876, he married Susannah Catherine Conrad (March 31, 1854 - February 21, 1947), daughter of Daniel and Lavinia (Kaseman) Conrad. Susannah was descended from some of the pioneer settlers of the area. Her family owned a farm near the "Blue Church" (St. Peter's Lutheran and Reformed) in Ralpho (then part of Shamokin) Township, Northumberland County. They were members of this church.
In 1877, Aaron and Susannah were living in Mt. Carmel Twp. near Doutyville when their first son was born. Aaron may have been working in the coal mines at the time. His parents and his sister Catherine also lived at Doutyville at the time.
Aaron purchased lo t 6, block 44 in Shamokin October 13, 1882. The property was on the first block on North 2nd St. He appears in the 1886-88 city directory as a grocer at 15 S. 2nd. St. The oral history has it that this was a general store. A mantle clock that was passed down through Walter's family came from that store in payment of a $65 debt.
In 1888 Aaron and Susannah settled on a farm near Elysburg. The farm consisted of 63 acres, a brick and frame building, a bank barn, and out buildings. Northumberland County records show that they purchased 16 acres in Ralpho Twp. from John H. Hull on October 11, 1888. On the same date they sold the Shamokin property to John H. Hull.
After the breakup of the bottling works Sam and Bill both worked for the railroads until their retirements. In the 1920 both brothers lived in Sunbury. Sam was a boilermaker for the Pennsylvania Railroad and Bill was a brakeman. In 1930 Sam was still in Sunbury, but is listed as street car motorman. Later Sam moved to Reading then Lancaster. At his retirement he worked for the Reading Railroad. He died in Lancaster December 15, 1968, and is buried in the Mellinger Mennonite Cemetery near Lancaster. At the time of his death he lived with his son, Eugene. Bill lived in Williamsport, Middletown, and Harrisburg. He retired from the Pennsylvania Railroad. He died at his nephew Walter's home, in Harrisburg, July 13, 1954 and is buried in Middletown.
After moving from the farm into the town of Elysburg, Dan worked as a teamster hauling coal for the Shamokin Water Company until the pumps were electrified. He then worked for a contractor helping to build a bridge over the Shamokin Creek at Gostown. (Walter worked as a water boy on this site, around 1918.) Until the depression Dan held a job as a bricklayer's hod carrier, then as a farmer until he was too old and weak. When Susannah died in 1946 the property in Elysburg was sold and Dan and Lucretia moved to a 9-acre property outside Northumberland. For a while they raised chickens. Dan died there February 21, 1960. Lucretia remained at Northumberland until 1964 when she moved to Harrisburg and lived with her son, Walter. She died on January 3, 1968. Dan and Lucretia are buried at the Blue Church in Ralpho Twp.