With his ancestor’s identity confirmed, Dietz was able to piece together the rest of his granduncle’s life. At the age of 22, Hower enlisted in Montour County’s Company H, of the Union Army’s 93rd Infantry division.
Hower started his military career in the Peninsula Campaign, under General George McClellan, was in reserve at the battle of Antietam and participated in the battle of Fredericksburg.
Hower was struck down at the Fall of Petersburg on April 2, 1865, when a bullet punctured his head above his left eye. He did not die until April 4. The truce at Appomattox Courthouse, which ended the Civil War, occurred April 9.
While Dietz was unable to definitively locate the final resting place of his ancestor, he believes Hower is one of several soldiers buried in unmarked graves outside Petersburg. The Union and Confederate left he site of the battle in a hurry to make it to Appomatox, said Dietz, and both armies planned to return to claim their dead afterward. However, when they returned the wooden crosses used to mark the graves of the soldiers had all been taken, likely for firewood.
“I’m convinced in my mind he’s one of the unknowns,” he said. “Some of the things he survived…is amazing.”
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