Collection Title: Solomon Franklin Forgeus Papers

Collection Number: 188

Dates of Collection: 1848-1927

Box Numbers: 1

RepositoryChester County Historical Society

Project Archivist: Shannon Steel


Solomon Franklin Forgeus was born August 19, 1844 to Christian and Rebecca (Linderman) Forgeus in South Coventry township, ChesterCounty.  Forgeus was 18 years old and attending ConnoquenessingAcademy in Zelienopel, ButlerCounty when he volunteered for the Union Army in 1862.  He enlisted in Co. C, 134th Pa Infantry for 9 months.  He served from August 7, 1862 to May 26, 1863 and was involved in the Battle of Fredericksburg.  He re-enlisted for 3 years in January 1864.  He was mustered in on January 5, 1864 as a private in the 152nd Regiment, Pa Volunteers or the 3rd Pa Vol. Heavy Artillery.  In June 1865 Forgeus was discharged from 152nd Pa Vol. due to his promotion to 2nd Lieutenant of the 9th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), based in Brownsville, Tx.  He was eventually promoted to First Lieutenant and Adjutant.  Forgeus was mustered out of the service on November 26, 1866 in Greenville, La.

            After his return home he attended the Academy at LewisburgCollege.  He studied at CornellUniversity for a year and a half.  He finished college at the University of Lewisburg in 1872 with an A.B. Forgeus entered Crozer Seminary in 1872 and graduated the seminary in 1875.  Forgeus married Ida Kennedy on August 12, 1875, with whom he had one son and four daughters.

            Forgeus’ first job in the ministry was as pastor of the Logan’s ValleyBaptistChurch in Bellwood, Blair county.  In 1892, Forgeus became Chaplain at the Pennsylvania Industrial Reformatory in Huntingdon, Pa and remained there until he retired in 1925.  Forgeus was very involved in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).  Rev. Solomon Franklin Forgeus, D.D. died in Huntingdon, Pa on September 1, 1927, aged 83 years.

Resources Used:

CCHS Newspaper Clippings File

Collections Scope:

The collection consists of 11 folders containing letters, diaries, poems, and other papers to, from, or concerning Solomon Franklin Forgeus, unless otherwise stated.  The collection dates range between 1848 and 1927, with most of the collection concerning the years 1862-1866.

Collection Arrangement:

The collection is in chronological order.

Related Material:

For more information, please see box 142 in the family files. In the box, there is a folder on Forgeus.

Collections Contents:

Folder 1: Family Letters 1848- 1852

Doyle, J.A., 1 letter

–          February 4, 1848.  San Angle [Angel], near the City of Mexico.  Written during the Mexican War to Mary.  Doyle writes that they are staying in a large monastery, but assures Mary they have not become believers in the Catholic faith.  He writes of places the troops and Generals have taken in Mexico.  He concludes, “…one thing is certain, the prospect brightens a great many of most intiligent [intelligent] Mexicans are becoming to their right minds, they begin to see that the day for trifling with the United States is past, that the day for retributions is at length arrived.”  Letter includes Doyle’s rank and company.

Forgeus, John A., 1 letter

–          March 10, 1852.  Pittsburgh, Pa.  Sent to Christian Forgeus, father.  Writes about the effects of the Tariff of 1846 of Polk and Dallas.  Fears that British Iron will takeover and manufacturing and business will die in western Pennsylvania.

Folder 2: Letters and Statements 1862- 1925

            Unsigned, 1 letter.

–          August 21, 1862.  Sent from ConnoquenessingAcademy to Mrs. Rebecca Forgeus.  Letter answers her concerns that Forgeus has volunteered to serve in the Army.  Writer speaks of Forgeus’ character and that his mother can be proud of him.  Writes of the company Forgeus and his friends have joined.

Forgeus, Solomon Franklin, 2 letters

–          February 3, 1866.  Camp of 9thU.S. Colored Troops.  This is not a letter, but instead a statement or witness report of a robbery and shooting.  Forgeus describes an afternoon in which himself, Capt. Wm. Cook, and Capt. Elias W. Morey were on the road to Resaca when they were robbed by three men at gunpoint.  Capt. Morey was shot and injured.

–          June 10, 1925.  Written to James W. Herron, the General Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Industrial Reformatory at Huntingdon.  The letter is Forgeus’ resignation due to retirement from serving as Chaplain at the reformatory.


Folder 3:  Forgeus’ letters to mother, Rebecca Linderman Forgeus, 1862- 1866.

            Forgeus, Solomon Franklin, 17 letters

–          Not dated, probably 1862.  Forgeus writes that he has only been in the service two months and has seven more to serve.  He has not been paid yet.  Includes address to send letters to him.

–          October 11, 1862.  Camp near Sharpsburg, Md.  Forgeus is writing with ink made of poke berries, it has a rusty color.  Writes that they have not seen a battle yet, and hope to be placed as a guard of a city so they are safer.  He discusses camp life and food.  Writes, “…I saw Uncle Abe.  He looks just like other men and has a prominent nose, rather ugly on the whole.”

–          October 18, 1862.  Camp near Sharpsburg, Md.  Writes that “We have now seen a little of a battle but we were never close enough to the enemy to use our guns.”  He states that one person was killed, two wounded, they took twelve prisoners.

–          Not dated, but probably December 1862.  Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.  Letter describes Forgeus’ part in the Battle of Fredericksburg.  “I have actually seen the very thing that is a Soldiers business.”  Writes about the days following Dec. 11th and his part in the battle.  He recounts not being able to get his gun to fire.  Forgeus concludes, “Mother, I have seen a battlefield and I never want to see another, but God’s will be done.  He does all for the best.”

–          September 24, 1864.  Harrison’s Landing, Va.  Writes that they marched from FortPowhatan to Harrison’s Landing by orders to protect a Regiment of Colored Troops who are building a new fort and rifle-pito.  Writes of sleeping on wet blankets and catching Fever and Ague.  Writes of his faith in God.  They can hear heavy fighting in the Front.

–          January 5, 1865.  Harrison’s Landing, Va.  It is the one year anniversary of Forgeus being mustered into the service and he now has two more years to serve.  Mentions that he is in good health with no effects of the Measles and Ague he had.  Duties have been easy, except for three months at FortPowhatan where they had to labor.  The paper has an illustration of Lincoln and his cabinet members printed on the back.

–          April 27, 1865.  Harrison’s Landing, Va.  Writes of what the soldiers are doing in memory of President Lincoln.  Writes his thoughts on the President’s death, including his belief that Lincoln would have been too easy on the Rebels.

–          June 26, 1865.  On board the USS Ship De Molay at SouthwestPass, mouth of the Mississippi River, La.  Forgeus recounts his travel from MobileBay to New Orleans.  Headed to Indianola, Texas.  He went with Officers on board the Monitor Manhattan and he describes the boat.

–          July 13, 1865.  Camp of 9th US Colored Troops, near Brownsville, Tx.  Forgeus recounts events from the 1st of June.  June 2nd, “I received my Appointment and Commission, as a Second Lieutenant in the Ninth Regiment of United States Colored Troops.”  He was discharged from “the Volunteer Services as a Private in the Third Regiment of Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, or the 152nd Pennsylvania Volunteers.”  He describes his reasons for accepting the appointment.

–          July 15, 1865.  Camp of 9th USC Troops, Brownsville, Tx.  Recounts “the history of my wanderings.”  Includes his new address to receive mail.

–          December 6, 1865.  Camp on the ResacaRiver, ten miles from Brownsville, Tx.  Writes of the churches in town.  He attended a prayer meeting and felt refreshed.  He has 50 colored soldiers and one white soldier under him.  Describes his life as an officer.

–          March 1, 1866.  Camp of 9th US Col’d Troops, Brownsville, Tx.  The Captain is in the hospital, so he has command of the Company and is kept very busy.  Mentions that an order was sent muster out the white troops and after they leave, his Regiment will be the only ones left.  He writes that it will be much quieter because, “The white Soldiers make the greatest part of the trouble here, by drinking and quarrelling.” The Officers of the white Soldiers cannot control their men.  States that his men rarely cause trouble and when they do, they are severely punished.  Writes of dust storms.  Talks of the ladies of camp and the Officers sending for their families.  He mentions the potential for finding a young woman to marry.

–          March 16, 1866.  Headquarters, 9th US Col’d Troops, Brownsville, Tx.  Forgeus is now Acting Adjutant of the Regiment.  Discusses being a Christian and a Soldier.  Reassures his mother that he has not lost his religion, “…if it had not been for the Christian religion and my belief in it, I should never have entered the Army…”

–          May 5, 1866.  Hdqts. 9thUS Colored Troops, Brownsville, Tx.  Last of the white Troops are leaving; only Colored Troops remain.  More ladies are in camp and he writes of their “civilizing influence” over the soldiers.

–          September 24, 1866.  Camp of 9th USCT, Brownsville, Tx.  Writes that they are still in Texas, but ordered to New Orleans once a boat arrives.  Mentions crossing the river to deliver a dispatch to the Officer commanding the Mexican Troops.  Hopes they will not stay long in New Orleans because he imagines he will not like it there, “…I do not know any southern city that is a place for a rational person to enjoy themselves…”  He laments that he has not gotten many letters recently.

–          October 13, 1866.  Camp of 9th USCT, Greenville, La.  He recounts the events that occurred at the end of September and beginning of October.  He writes that he was very sick while the troops were in Texas and had to make the journey to Louisiana while still weak from the illness.

–          November 28, 1866.  Camp of 9th USCT, Greenville, La.  Writes that they were mustered out of the service on November 26th, but are awaiting transport to Baltimore, Md where they will be paid off and discharged.  He hopes to be home around Christmas.  Forgeus states that he will not enter the service again unless there is another war involving the south.


Folder 4:  Forgeus’ letters to G.K. Miles, Esq., 1863- 1869.

            Forgeus, Solomon Franklin, 8 letters

–          January 6, 1863.  Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.  Forgeus lets his friend know that he is “soldiering” and that he signed up to see how it is fighting for the Union.  He mentions that they have not gotten to do much, except “at the disastrous battle in the rear of the town of Fredericksburg and there we did do something but mounting to nothing but the unnecessary loss of human life.”

–          January 16, 1863.  Letter dated by receiver.  Harrison’s Landing, James River, Va.  Missing first part of letter.  Forgeus writes that a company of Colored Cavalry are nearby to do scouting and witnessed a marriage between on of the soldiers to the company’s female cook.  He states that both were mulattoes and were married by the Chaplain of the 184th NY Vols.  Forgeus also mentions that “our kind Uncle” did not give them any extras for Christmas or New Years.  He also lists the troop garrisoning the Post.

–          February 10, 1863.  On Picket near Falmouth Stafford Co., Va.  Forgeus recounts the Battle of Fredericksburg.  “It was truly terrific, it exceeded any thunder I ever heard.”  “…before six hours our Regiment had lost 140 men.”

–          April 5, 1863.  CampO’Brien, near Falmouth, Stafford Co., Va. Forgeus writes that they have been in camp for two months and the boys are much livelier and fun.  Writes about the Copperheads.  He comments on General Hooker, “…best general that ever had command of this part of the Army.”  He did not like General McClellan.  He writes of the potential for peace, but is against it.  Has only 30 days left on his enlistment and wonders if they will see the enemy again.

–          October 11, 1865.  Headquarters 9th USCT, near Brownsville, Tx.  Writes that on June 2nd he received appointment as 2nd Lieutenant and recounts his journey to Texas.  He accepted his appointment “for the purpose of getting down to what I then thought an almost ‘FairyLand,’ but I have had plenty of leisure time to change my opinion since our arrival here.”  He describes the inhabitants of Brownsville and the seclusion from civilized society he feels.

–          December 14, 1865.  Camp on the ResacaRiver, 8 miles from Brownsville, Tx.  Writes that on Nov. 29th he was put on Special Duty in Quarter Masters department and is now in charge of 50 men and 2 mowing machines.  They are making hay and chopping wood on Pala Alto Prairie.  Writes that he hears rumors that there is to be a war with Mexico and does not think it is a good idea.

–          May 9, 1866.  Headquarters of 9th USCT, Brownsville, Tx.  Writes that he is no longer cutting wood and is instead Adjutant of the Regiment; he preferred chopping wood.  He is kept very busy writing and he gets the blues frequently.  Writes that he cannot comment on the President’s use of the veto power because they do not get newspapers frequently enough for him to answer impartially.  He writes that he is sorry to see that President Johnson has not fulfilled what he threatened at the beginning of the Rebellion, which was to hang the traitors.  He feels the President is disappointing the Loyal North.

–          December 25, 1869.  Ithaca, New York.  Forgeus is back at school.  Compares his current school to a previous school referred to as “L.”  He liked “L” better.  Describes his studies.

Folder 5: Letters to Forgeus 1864- 1919

Unsigned, 1 letter

–          September 1, 1876.  Little Sioux, Iowa.  Only half of the letter.  Writes about the prophetic revelations of Joseph [Smith], the Mormon leader.  Writes of Joseph foretelling his own death and the Civil War.

Martha, 1 letter

–          October 13, 1864.  Sent to “Cousin Frank” during the war.  Writes about her teaching job and a little about the election.  She hopes Grant will take Richmond so Frank can come home safely.

Nicholson, John P., 3 letters

–          Not dated.  Small piece of paper with information on an Insignia.

–          May 18, 1916.  Note letting Forgeus know that the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States received the $35 Forgeus sent.

–          October 12, 1916.  Letter informing Forgeus know that he was elected Companion of the First Class of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

Stewart, John E., 1 letter

–          July 14, 1919.  Letter informs Forgeus as to where the former officers of the 9th are now.

Wells, M.M., 1 letter

–          November 22, 1911.  Writes to “Dear Cousins.”  The letter is about a news article that is to be written.  The subject of the article is not given.

Weston, Henry G., 1 letter

–          March 24, 1892.  Weston is giving his views on a chaplaincy that was offered to Forgeus.

Yerhart, Henry, 1 letter

–          June 5, 1894.  Short note informing Forgeus that Father Kennedy had died and that the sender was leaving at five.

Folder 6: Special Orders, 1865- 1866.


            Bayley, Col. Thos., 1 order

–          September 14, 1865.  Forgeus is detailed as Acting Adjutant.

Dennett, Lt. Col. G.M., 7 orders

–          June 13, 1865.  States that Forgeus is assigned to Co. “G” of the 9th USCT after being promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

–          October 17, 1865.  Forgeus is relieved from duties as Acting Adjutant and is assigned to Co. K, 9th USCT. 

–          January 22, 1866.  2nd Lieutenant Solomon F. Forgeus is promoted to 1st Lieutenant and assigned to Co. G of the 9th USCT.

–          February 8, 1866.  Forgeus is ordered to report with his detachment to his Regimental Commander for duty.

–          March 13, 1866.  Forgeus is detailed as Acting Adjutant for the 9th USCT.

–          March 14, 1866.  1st Lt. and Adjutant S.H. Rhoades of the 9th USCT was promoted to Captain of the 9th USCT and assigned to Co. H.  He was ordered to transfer all government property in his possession to 1st Lt. S.F. Forgeus.

–          April 1, 1866.  Forgeus was promoted to Adjutant of the 9th Regiment USCT.  He is dropped from Rolls of Co. G, 9th USCT, and taken up on Rolls of Field and Staff.

Rockwell, A.F., 1 order

–          May 26, 1865.  Document from Adjutant General’s Office announcing promotion to 2nd Lt. in 9th USCT.  Includes directions to Forgeus as to where he should report.

Smith, Brevet Maj. Gen. Giles A., 1 order

–          November 29, 1865.  Forgeus is detailed for Special Service in Quartermaster’s Department of 1st Division 25th Army Corps.  Reports to Lt. G.C. Prichard for duty.

Taggard, F.W., 1 order

–          March 5, 1866.  Document from Adjutant General’s Office stating that Forgeus was mustered into service as a 1st Lieutenant in the 9th USCT on January 22, 1866.

Folder 7: Forgeus’ Diary, 1863-1866


–          May 1st:  Chancellorsville.  Rebels attacking Sykes 1st Division.  The firing is heavy.


–          January 3rd:  Forgeus is in Philadelphia.

–          January 4th:  Signed up as a volunteer at Roberts Artillery for Fortress Monroe, Va.

–          January 5th:  Mustered in as a private in 152nd Regiment PV or the 3rd PV Heavy Artillery.  Enlisted as a veteran, having served nine months in 134th Regt. PV Infantry.

–          May 21st:  Attack on Picket line by Rebels.  Forgeus fired twelve shots.  He was posted on Sigge [?] gun.  Writes, “Rebels soon left faster than they came.”

–          July 8th:  Alfred Johnson, Battery B, drowned in river while bathing.  James G. Maynard, Battery L, unwell for sometime, wandered away in a delirious fit.  Nothing has been heard of him.

–          July 9th:  Johnson’s body is recovered, embalmed and sent to his family.

–          July 10th:  Maynard’s body found in river and buried.

–          August 1st:  Rebels fired at boats on river.  Union fired back.  Rebels left soon after.  No damage to boats.

–          November 24th:  Thanksgiving.  Received Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, chicken, and apples that was sent by northern citizens.  Writes that it was much better than “Good Uncle’s” provisions.


–          January 14th:  Received $73 Government Bounty and $250 City Bounty.

–          February 1st:  Complains that they have not received newspapers for over a week.

–          April 1st:  Hears reports that fighting is occurring to the left of their lines.  He prays for a victory.

–          April 2nd:  Hears rumors about late fights, stating that they have captured 17,000 prisoners and are around Petersburg.

–          April 9th:  Walked outside the fortifications and saw an old camp from 1862 and Union graves.  Also saw graves from 1656.

–          April 10th:  Heard cannons up the river towards Petersburg and learned that it was a salute in honor of General Lee surrendering to General Grant.

–          April 16th:  Writes “Our Hearts were filled with sorrow today when we heard of the attempt to assassinate President Lincoln.”

–          April 17th:  Writes, “Received a full account of the assassination of President Lincoln and Sec. Seward.  God knows what is for the best, but it does not appear to be so to our mortal vision yet.”

–          April 18th:  “The Death of our worthy President has caused a great gloom to rest upon us.  All are indignant at the horrible outrage upon civilization.  I can hardly yet realize it to be so, it almost appears that the God of Justice would permit such a deed, but He is Judge of all the earth, and cannot do wrong.”

–          April 26th:  Reports of firing Salutes in honor of President Lincoln, 13 guns, fired 35, a National Salute.

–          June 2nd:  Received appointment as 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th United States Colored Troops.  Does not know how long until he is discharged.

–          June 4th: Received his discharge.

–          June 28th– July 3rd:  Traveling to Brownsville, Texas.

–          December 29th:  Some of his men were taken in as suspects in the murder of 4 men.  Forgeus feels confident they are innocent and hopes they can prove themselves to be.


–          August 21st:  Writes of Cholera in the camp.  He is also depressed; feels gloomy and has “ugly thoughts,” but tries not to let them overcome him.

–          August 24th:  Tells the story of a Horse Doctor, “an old colored man.”  The Colonel’s family is sick and they fear it is Cholera.

–          October 1st:  Forgeus is sick and the boat to take them to New Orleans arrived.  They must leave tomorrow.

–          October 2nd:  Regiment left for New Orleans, but Forgeus stayed behind with the Dennett family because he is too weak.

–          October 3rd:  Forgeus begins the journey to New Orleans and describes it along the way.

–          October 10th:  Still traveling, describes a dilapidated sugar plantation they passed.  Writes about how wonderful it is that slavery is over.  Describes free blacks waving to them.  Arrived in New Orleans.

Folder 8: Civil War poems

Forgeus, Solomon Franklin, 3 poems

–          “How The Soldiers Talk”

–          “Home”

–          “Stand By the Flag”

Folder 9:  Biographical Notes

–          S. Franklin Forgeus business card from Huntingdon, Pa.  Lists the different lodges and groups Forgeus was involved in.

–          Notes on the 9thUnited States Colored Troops.

–          Small family tree of the Forgeus family.

–          Biographical notes on Forgeus’ military service and pension.

–          Typed rough draft of a Forgeus biographical note.

–          Rough genealogical notes on Forgeus family.

–          Notes on the ordainment of Forgeus to the gospel ministry.

–          Biographical notes on Forgeus.

–          Forgeus’ answers to questions about his life.  The questions are not provided, but the answers give good information on Forgeus’ life.

–          1880.  Post card with biological questions answered by Forgeus.

–          June 1892.  A list of questions sent by B.C. Taylor at the Crozer Theological Seminary.  The questions are answered by Forgeus for the Seminary’s Alumni Register.

–          October 23, 1927.  Pamphlet entitled “Testimonial Service to the Character, Life and Work of the Rev. Solomon Franklin Forgeus, D.D.”  Pamphlet includes a photo of Forgeus and his biography.

Folder 10:  Sixteen Months in Rebel Prisons

–          56 loose pages of what appears to be a handwritten manuscript.  The manuscript is the account of a Civil War prisoner; states that it is by “the First Prisoner in Andersonville.”  The manuscript does not appear to be by Forgeus, as it is not his handwriting, but the writing is similar to writing found in the biographical notes folder.  Two pieces of paper are from the Pennsylvania Industrial Reformatory dated the 1890’s.  The manuscript is most likely fictional.

Folder 11:  Misc. Civil War and G.A.R. Items, 1866- 1923

–          Forgeus’ Sanford F. Beyer Post, No. 426 card.

–          1866.  Pages from History of the Ninth U.S.C. Troops booklet.  Pages from the History of Company G chapter.

–          Copyright 1886.  Forgeus’ Sanford F. Beyer Post, No. 426, Dept. of Penn. G.A.R card.  Decorated with metal.

–          August 16, 1923.  Booklet from the 41st annual reunion of the 134th Regiment.  Includes recent deaths of members and addresses of 134th Regiment pensioners.