Descendants of local Civil War hero gather for Wildwood ceremony
Direct descendants of the last Union soldier of the Civil War to be buried in Lycoming County gathered at a ceremony recently held at Wildwood Cemetery.
It was an event that united the family and ensured the legacy of a decorated Civil War soldier from the area.
Family members spanning great to great-great-great grandchildren of Corporal Daniel Null were present at the ceremony honoring the veteran who has become a local symbol of history and sacrifice.
The event was put on by the General J.P.S Gobin Camp 503 chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, of Sunbury.
Senior Vice Commander of the chapter, Fred Wertman, recited the Commander Chief Perie L. Fouch’s Last Grand Army of the Republic Encampment Address.
“The reason we assemble today is best explained by Commander Fouch when he addressed the last encampment in 1949,” Wertman said.
The address is of historical significance and honors and remarks on the sacrifices of Union soldiers throughout the Civil War. It is an address similar to one that Daniel Null would’ve heard or read at the end of his career.
A historic military career
Corporal Daniel Null was born in Cumberland County on Aug. 26, 1846, according to the chapter’s commander, Lee Miller.
“As a 16 year old, exaggerating his age by two years on the enlistment form, Daniel Null enlisted as a private in Company E of the 130th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Union Army,” Lee said.
This unit was organized in Harrisburg for nine months of service in August of 1862 and was involved in major engagements during Null’s service.
“During the Battle of Antietam, America suffered the bloodiest single day of fighting in its history on Sept. 17, 1862, with 28,000 men killed, wounded or missing,” Miller said. “Private Null’s regiment was positioned just north of the Sunken Road, or the infamous Bloody Lane.”
It was here they held their position for hours, “but at a fearful cost,” Miller said.
During the First Battle of Fredericksburg from Dec. 11 to 15, 1862, Null’s regiment endured a heavy artillery bombardment before moving on enemy positions, Miller said, citing the regiment’s official report. A series of charges and counter-charges left the regiment separated until nightfall to again be fired upon by the line of Confederate artillery.
During the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863, Null’s regiment was tasked with fortifying their positions surrounding Chancellor House.
“Changing positions of their line several times to counter enemy movements, they remained on the field until the end of the battle suffering severe losses of what remained of their regiment,” Miller said.
Daniel Null was among those to have survived at the end of the regiment’s term in late May of 1863. “The regiment was mustered out of service a mere fraction of their original strength,” Miller said.
Although Null’s initial term was up, he reenlisted for a 6-month contract to stop the Confederate advance and was present at many of the battles that made up the close of the Civil War. Null’s new regiment was even present at the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at the Appomattox Court House.
Null’s military career was officially done on July 8,1865.
Uniting through shared history
The legacy of Daniel Null was passed down through generations of his family, but much of the specific historical information was a surprise for many of the relatives who grew up hearing about him.
“We have this huge pencil sketch of Daniel Null,” Barb Hofstrom, Daniel Null’s great-granddaughter, said. “It’s always been in our house as a kid growing up, but it certainly wasn’t anything we knew about in great detail. As adults, it’s just something we never really talked about.” Hofstrom’s maiden name is Null.
Growing up hearing stories about Daniel Null was always a source of pride and interest to the family, but the ceremony gave the family a deeper understanding of the struggles of their distant relative.
“It was awe inspiring to think that someone of that age was willing to go through what he went through,” Hofstrom said. “And it makes it more interesting as an ancestor.”
After Daniel Null finished his military career, he lived an entire life that history often doesn’t highlight. He started a family and worked his own farm, living in the same house that Hofstrom grew up in.
“After everything he experienced, he came home and raised a family and had a farm,” Hofstrom said. “It was amazing hearing all that he went through and knowing that he came back and started a family and tried to live a normal life.”
Carrying on the legacy
When Daniel Null’s family heard about the event, members started sharing the information they had on social media.
“It was all passed along through different channels,” Hofstrom said. “We all shared little details we had heard, but no one knew the entire story.”
The family united around shared history, but for Hofstrom, seeing the youngest relatives of her great-grandfather was the most special.
“I was so happy that so many of the most recent grandchildren were able to be there and hear the story,” she said. “It warmed my heart to see some of them really interested in carrying on the legacy and the history.”
Daniel Null’s great-great-great grandchildren are Hunter Neuhard, Ocie Neuhard, Boone Kreisher, Rowen Kreisher, Ellie Lago, Emelia Lago, Cecilia Vranich, Wyatt Smith, Teagan Delahunty.