Bedford County Honors Andersonville Prisoners


25 January 2006

Bedford County Honors Prisoners


One hundred years ago, on 7 December 1905, dedication ceremonies were conducted for the Pennsylvania memorial erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the National Cemetery at Andersonville, Georgia.

On 7 December 2005, the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of that historical event was held. The focus was on honoring all 4,987 of the Pennsylvania Civil War Veterans who were imprisoned in the Andersonville Prison; of which 1,849 would die there. In cooperation with the National Park Service, the rededication was organized by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Department of Pennsylvania, Gettysburg Camp # 112.

William Roy Mock, is a local resident and at the time, Commander of the Gettysburg Camp. He is also a member of the Color Guard "Gettysburg Blues." Mock, who usually carries the Pennsylvania flag relinquished it to another member whose great-grandfather died at Andersonville prison. Bill's great-grandfather, Aaron Mock and cousin, Emamuel Harbaugh, both of Company D of the 138th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, were captured in the battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864 and sent to Andersonville. They were imprisoned for over six months. Both survived and according to family record, Mock said, "they were in terrible shape and had to be carried out." Company D, E, and F of this regiment were recruited in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Mock expressed, "being able to participate in the Color Guard is indeed, a very high honor, but in my mind, I thought about how I might do something more for this "once in a life time" event." The situation prompted Mock to initiate a proposal to the Bedford County Historical Society to have a reproduction made of the 138th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry flag.

The Society granted Bill permission to request donations and have fund raisers for the production of such a flag. A flag committee had been formed and the 138th Flag Fund was established. An "official registry" was established for the donations and information on Civil War ancestors.

In addition, any individual, group or organization that collectively made a donation of $100 would qualify to have a streamer made reflecting their ancestor's regiment. The streamer would be suspended from the top of the staff of the 138th PVI flag for the 100 year commemoration. It was not necessary to have had an ancestor imprisoned at Andersonville to qualify for such a streamer. This would certainly add a personal touch, especially to those descendents that were not able to attend the ceremony.

The Bedford County Historical Society was very pleased with the county wide participation. Proud descendents of Civil War ancestors responded which yielded the production of 28 streamers. Each streamer listed the ancestor's name on one side; the regiment and company of the individual on the other.
(more about the streamers project)

Bedford County pride was well represented with the streamers displayed in honor and remembrance of ancestors, from the top of the staff of the 138th PVI. As on May 6, 1864, in the Battle of the Wilderness, the 138th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Flag on December 7, 2005, once again, "for another moment in time, moved to the front." The 138th flag represented not only all Bedford County "boys in blue," but all Pennsylvanians who were imprisoned and died at Andersonville.

There was a "March of Honor," which began at Providence Spring, adjacent to the original North Gate entry to the stockade and continued approximately 3/8 miles to the Pennsylvania Monument. Participants carried one or more small Pennsylvania state flags. Each flag carried the name of each of the approximately 200 Pennsylvania regiments represented.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Marie (Mock) Ryba.

At 1:00 p.m., under the command of 1st Lt. John Price II, the Sons of Veteran Reserve, "Gettysburg Blues," stepped off leading the procession. Their steps in unison echoed from the pavement of Cemetery Road. Continuous stiff breezes forced the color bearers to lean forward, applying force to the staff as the flags proudly displayed their honor of the occasion.

Arrival at the Pennsylvania Monument was such as to allow the "Ceremony" to begin at 2:00 p.m.; as exactly 100 years before. The ceremonial agenda began with the Presentation of the Colors, singing of the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, and Invocation.


Photo courtesy of Michelle Marie (Mock) Ryba.

A number of individual speeches were delivered. In his personal speech, "Something More," Commander Mock remarked, "that the sight of the "Colors" being carried from the stockade to the Pennsylvania Monument…without one word being spoken…would speak louder and more eloquently than anything I could possibly pen or say!"

In a spiritual gesture, as a tribute to "those who who wore the blue," but never returned home, Bill took a packet of Pennsylvania soil that had been taken from the grave sites of his ancestors which were imprisoned at Andersonville and spread it at the base of the Pennsylvania Monument. In effect, all would be reunited and become one with their homeland.

A Proclamation by the Honorable Edward G. Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania was read. Thereafter, representatives of the Allied Orders of the Grand Army of the Republic and a local camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans laid wreaths at the monument.


Photo courtesy of Michelle Marie (Mock) Ryba.

The spiritual atmosphere could be felt throughout the singing of "Amazing Grace." The hymn was followed by the Middle Georgia Honor Guard providing the "firing," and playing of "Taps." The Benediction was held and the "once in a life time" ceremony was concluded.



The Bedford County Historical Society 138th Regimental Flag Committee will present the reproduction of the 138th PVI Regimental Flag to the board of trustees on Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. at Heartland Hall's Garden Room. An honor guard for the flag will be provided by Hampton's Battery F. 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery. A video of the re-dedication ceremony commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Monument at Andersonville, GA will be shown. The public is invited to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

Within the last month, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies announced that a $500 grant would be awarded for the 138th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Flag project.

The Bedford County Historical Society would like to take this opportunity to both recognize and express their appreciation to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. Their generous gift, as well as, genuine interest in this project will help to better educate future generations concerning achievements and sacrifices of the 138th PVI regarding its role in local, state and national history.

The Pioneer Historical Society Library is located at 242 E. John St., Bedford. Tel. 814 623-2011,
E-mail [email protected]
The library is open Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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