Private John Henry Knupp
Company G of the 67th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers
John Henry Knupp was born May 16, 1841, in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Daniel Knupp and Leah Mostoller Knupp, and the grandson of John Jacob Knupp and Barbara Holstein van Roosevelt, my second great-grandparents. John Henry was the first cousin of my great grandmother, Mary Knupp Hetzer.
John’s military records, obtained through the United States National Archives & Records Administration, indicate that he enlisted in Company G of the 67th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers on September 13, 1862 as a Private. At the time, he was 21 ye;us old. He received an enlistment bounty of $25.00, with an additional $4.00 premium, although the purpose of the premium is not stated.
John’s initial enlistment papers state that on that date his occupation was “Farmer.” The contract further states that “This soldier has blue eyes, light hair, fair complexion, and is five feet eight inches high.” He had been examined by Dr. W. Whitley and found to be “free from all bodily defects and mental infirmity, which would, in any way, disqualify him from performing the duties of a soldier.” His enlistment was witnessed by “Harry White, Major, 67 Regiment of Penn Volunteers,” as the recruiting officer, and was also signed by one J. E. Coulter.
Although his enlistment was under his birth name, John H. Knupp, his record on the date of muster, October 9, 1862, has that spelling crossed out and the name Nupp inserted above it. All other military records contain this revised spelling. He reported for duty on that date at Harrisburg, where he was sworn in by “Capt Lane 3rd Cav.”
From the time of his first muster until his death, John’s military career included virtually every experience a soldier might encounter while serving on active duty, and all within a span of less than two years.
Turning now to the regimental history we see that during the summer of 1862, on up to February of 1863, the regiment performed guard duty at Camp Parole in Maryland. At that time, the 67th, consisting of some 900 men, “proceeded by rail to Harper’s Ferry” for a few weeks of garrison and guard duty.
From there the regiment was transferred to Berryville, Virginia. Pvt. Nupp’s Company Muster Roll for March and April 1863 lists him as “Present,” but “Sick in Regimental Hospital at Berryville, Va.”
The unit then served under General Milroy of the Third Brigade of the 2nd Division of the VIII Corps, Middle Department,with headquarters in Winchester, Virginia, from February until June 1863. The mission there was “holding the rebels in the valley in check and … securing the eastern portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad against depredations.” It was during this stay in the Valley of Virginia that the 67th Pennsylvania suffered the loss of several officers and some enlisted personnel through capture by the Confederate forces. Among these was Pvt. John H. Nupp.
The Company Muster Roll for May and June of 1863 indicates that Nupp was absent and “Prisoner of war captured at Winchester, VA June 15, 1863.” This same remark is contained in the Company Muster Roll for July-August 1863. A Memorandum from Prisoner of War Records from July 1863 indicates that Nupp was “confined at Richmond VA., June 23, 1863” and “Paroled at City Point VA July 19, 1863,” and reported to Camp Parole, Md., July 20, 1863.” It is interesting to note that the Company Muster Roll for September and October of 1863 indicates that Pvt Nupp “is indebted to the U.S. $5.14 for transportation.” Is it possible that he had to pay his own way back to Maryland upon his release from prison in Richmond?
Then, in March of 1864, the cruel hand of fate led to Nupp’s unfortunate posting to an area called The Wilderness, in Virginia. While the men of Company G of the 67th were assigned to Brandy Station, after the fighting at Mine Run the previous November-December , the veterans in the unit were allowed to go home on furlough. Those few who were serving their first terms of enlistment at that time were attached for temporary duty with what the regimental history refers to at one point as the 1351h Pennsyivania. (The order of battle for the Battle of the Wilderness, however, indicates that it was, in fact, the 138th Pennsylvania.)
On the second day of fighting at the Wilderness, May 6, 1864, this regiment ‘was entrenched in what today is Lake of the Woods, a pastoral community of some 8,000 people in Orange County, Virginia. Near the end of the day, Confederate Brigadier General John B. Gordon launched a full-scale attack on the left flank of the Union line, despite the reservations expressed by his superior officers, but with their ultimate consent. Fighting under BG Truman Seymour with the 2nd Brigade of Ricketts’s 3rd Division of Sedgwick’s 6th Army Corps, the few non-veterans of the 67th Pennsylvania were overrun, as were the remainder of the Brigade.
It was during this action that John Henry Nupp met his most untimely death, 10 days shy of his 23rd birthday and several hundred miles from his home farm in western Pennsylvania.
Ironically, it was not until, at the age of 64, when I had moved to a home within less than three miles of the site of his death, and had become involved with an organization called Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, that I became aware that I even had a relative that had fought at the Battle of the Wilderness. A phone call from my youngest daughter, who was doing some genealogical research for her uncle (my brother) led to the information that we had a cousin a few generations back that had not only fought in the Battle of the Wilderness, but had died in that very conflict.
I do not yet know where Cousin John is buried. I do know that his Company Muster Roll for May-June 1864 states quite simply, in the elegant cursive handwriting of a company clerk named Brixton, “Killed in Action May 6” [sic] 1864 Wilderness Va.” And though I did not know him at all, I feel that l now know him well, and can understand the deep, heartfelt anguish and grief suffered by my great-great grandparents and great-uncle and -aunt, upon hearing the news that John Henry was killed at a place called The Wilderness – the place where I, a cousin removed in time from John, but close in distance to where he fought and died, now pass some of the happiest days of my life – in Virginia, which, if not for men like Cousin John, would now be part of a separate country.