The bloody American Civil war came to an end on April 9, 1865. Less than a week later, Abraham Lincoln was attending a play in Ford’s Theater, where he was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth. The nation was in shock and immediately went into mourning.
After lying in state in Washington DC, Lincoln’s body made a seven state train journey to his tomb in Springfield, IL. The journey took almost 2 weeks, making several stops in major cities allowing the people to view the fallen President.
On April 21, 1865, Lincoln’s funeral train departed from Baltimore, MD in the afternoon and headed for it’s next stop, Harrisburg, PA. The train took the Northern Central Railway, passing through York and other towns where observers would watch from the tracks.
The train passed through Goldsboro in the 7 o’clock hour before arriving in Harrisburg after 8 PM.
The funeral train arrived at around 8:15pm, and it was pouring rain. But despite that, huge crowds were there to witness the President’s procession to the state house. It was estimated that around 10,000 people came from all over to view the fallen President.
The storm seemed like a metaphor for the nation in mourning, as the scene in Harrisburg was poetically described in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
One of the military escorts in Harrisburg, were the mounted infantry Company F of the Pennsylvania 201st Regiment, commanded by Captain Thomas Maloney, and included a young Private named Zachariah Bamberger from Goldsboro.
The large military escort accompanying Lincoln’s hearse to the capitol was composed of eight divisions, including Co. F of the 201st Pennsylvania Regiment.
It was led first by the Carlisle Barracks Band, with slow and solemn music, followed by a regiment of infantry from Camp Curtin with arms reversed; a drum corps; the 16th Veteran Reserve Corps; another drum corps with muffled drums; a battalion of artillery; and a battalion of cavalry.
Watching the military processional was a crowd of people, despite the rain. The buildings and houses were all decorated with black cloth and tokens of mourning.
The coffin was laid in front of the Speaker of the House’s desk in the Capitol. It was set on a three foot high platform, draped in black. The body was on view of the public (who had tickets) until midnight.
The following day, viewing of the President continued only from 7am until 9am. Thousands continued to flow though the state house.
Afterward, there was another processional back through the streets of Harrisburg, returning the President’s remains to the Harrisburg train depot. The scheduled departure to Philadelphia had been changed from noon, back to 11am.
As the Lincoln Funeral train passed through Harrisburg and other cities, people would line the tracks with coins to be flattened, and then keep them as souvenirs.
Zachariah Bamberger served in the Civil War for 8 months, having enlisted on Aug 27, 1864, and was honorably discharged on June 21, 1865. He was a member of Company F in the 201st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Mounted Infantry.
Companies F and G mostly spent that fall and winter arresting deserters, ultimately detaining nearly 500.
During his 10 months of service, Zachariah would write to his wife and daughters from his encampment in McConnellsburg, PA. Some of these letters have been archived for us at the U. S. Army Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.
After the Civil War ended, many of the veterans started to join local chapters of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The national veterans organization was started in 1866 and lasted until the last Civil War member died in 1956.
The Goldsboro GAR post No. 463 was established in 1884 and continued until the number of Civil War veterans dwindled down to just a few in 1916. The post was then absorbed into the New Cumberland Post No. 462.
The Goldsboro post was named after William H. Wise, a private who was killed in the battle at Ft. Stedman in 1865. He was buried in Smoketown Cemetery near Goldsboro. He served in Company C of the Pennsylvania 200th regiment.
Thanks to historian George Powell, we have some specifics on Zachariah Bamberger’s main career – as a railway man.
Before the Civil War, Bamberger began working on the the Baltimore Division of the Northern Central Railway, starting on May 1, 1857.
At this time, the railway was continuing to expand it’s tracks and add more lines and bridges, like in 1858 when the railway opened between Bridgeport (Lemoyne) and Dauphin for freight, including the Marysville bridge over the Susquehanna.
Bamberger continued on the railroad until December 28, 1863, when he paused to join up in the fight of the war.
I find it a bit poetic, that Zachariah Bamberger not only escorted Lincoln’s body militarily, but he also worked on the railway that carried Lincoln’s funeral train from Baltimore to Harrisburg.
After the Civil War, Bamberger returned to the employ of the Northern Central Railroad in 1865. He continued there until in 1870 when he was promoted to foreman of subsection 2, sub-division 16 of the Baltimore division. For the next 30 years he served as foreman, based out of Goldsboro.
In the fall of 1900 his health failed, and in 1901 he was placed on the Pennsylvania Railroad Voluntary Relief Department under medical treatment. This continued until December 1903, when he fully retired to live out the rest of his days on the banks of the Susquehanna in Goldsboro.
Zachariah Bamberger was born May 27, 1838, in Highspire, to William and Sarah (Pathemore), and moved to Goldsboro when he was young. He was the eldest of 12 children, and would himself father 12 children with his wife Barbara (Wolf). They were married in 1856. He and his family attended of the Smoketown Church of God on Valley Road near Goldsboro.
In addition to a railroad career and Civil War veteran, Bamberger was a charter member of the Goldsboro Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Lodge No. 791, (founded 1872). He was also the oldest member of the Goldsboro Fire Company (founded in 1917).
*Special thanks to Charlie Yost for sharing the photos of his great great grandfather, Zachariah Bamberger.