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Old Campaigners

April 2024
1min read

Our article in the February issue about a wounded Union soldier in the Civil War (“Asa Smith Leaves the War”) stirred the memory of Mrs. Joseph E. Danaher of North Syracuse, New York. Both her maternal great-grandfather, George Gleasman, and his brother, Godfrey, served with the 97th Regiment, New York Volunteers, although they were well over the maximum enlistment age of forty-five. Godfrey, the younger of the two, enlisted first, on November 30, 1861, giving his age as forty-four. Two weeks later George joined up; he couldn’t say he was forty-four without being a twin, and he couldn’t say he was older than Godfrey without possibly being turned down, so he said he was forty-three.

According to a history of the 97th Regiment by Isaac Hall, which was published in 1890, they were together when the Battle of Antietam was fought on September 17, 1862:
Two German brothers by the name of Gleasman from Lewis County, New York, were standing in line together, when one of them was killed by the unerring aim of a Confederate marksman who had steadied his rifle against a tree. The other, aware of the position of the man who had fired the fatal shot, said: “There is the man who killed my brother, and he is taking aim now against that tree.” An elbow was seen to protrude from a solitary oak in the enemy’s line and the next moment he lay dead beside his brother, shot by the same hand which had slain the other.

It was only after the brothers’ deaths that the truth of their ages was disclosed, for their widows had to offer proof of their marriages in applying for pension allotments. Godfrey was fifty-six years old at the time of his death; George was sixty-two.

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