Lt. Henry G. Bonebrake

Moyer, Henry P. History of the Seventeenth regiment, Pa. volunteer cavalry or one hundred and sixty-second in line of Pa. volunteer regiments, war to supline the rebellion, 1861-1865; by Pennsylvania cavalry. 17th regt., 1862-1865; 1911, pg. 155-156

histseventee00editrich_0184Lieutenant Henry G. Bonebrake was born near Waynesboro, Franklin county, Pennsylvania, June 21, 1838. His early life was spent on the farm with his father in the vicinity of Waynesboro, Pa. On September 8, 1862, he went to the office of Michael H. Stoner, a justice of the peace in Waynesboro, and signed the muster roll of the Waynesboro Cavalry, then being recruited in Franklin county, and later became one of the chief promoters of the company. When the company was permanently organized he was elected first sergeant of the company and served in that capacity until December 15, 1864, when he was commissioned second lieutenant.

On January 14, 1865, he was commissioned first lieutenant of the company. From the day the company was mustered into the United States service, September 26, 1862, until the day of his muster out of the service, June 21, 1865, he had a continuous service record with the company.

On October, 1863, during the engagement at Stephensburg, Virginia, his horse was shot on the skirmish line. He, with Comrade Aaron Harman who was also dismounted at the time, was cut off from the company and experienced great difficulty in crossing a swollen stream in their rear.

While emerging from the stream on the opposite side, they were greeted with a volley of Rebel bullets and he received a slight wound. On December 23, 1864, in the mounted charge near Gordonsville, Virginia, his horse was again shot from under him, receiving two bullet wounds, and was killed.

On April 1, 1865, at the battle of Five Forks, Virginia, while charging the enemy’s breastworks, Lieutenant Bonebrake and Comrade William Cummings were the first to leap over the breastworks. Seeing a Rebel battery flag, he made a dash for it, but failed in the attempt to capture it. A short distance to the right was another Confederate color-bearer who was enthusiastically waving his flag and urging his comrades to stand by the colors. While the color bearer s attention was principally directed to the assault in his immediate front, Lieutenant Bonebrake rushed to his side, grasped his colors and demanded his surrender. A hand to hand struggle followed and he succeeded in capturing the flag.

histseventee00editrich_0187For this distinguished and meritorious act he was one of fifty-one who, having captured Confederate flags, presented in person their trophies to the Secretary of War, the Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, receiving his warm personal congratulations. All who presented Confederate flags on that occasion were granted a thirty days furlough. In further recognition of his distinguished bravery, he received from the War Department, May 5, 1865, a medal of honor for conspicuous bravery in the battle of Five Forks, Virginia, April 1, 1865, together with the following letter:

WAR DEPARTMENT.

ADJUTANT GENERAL S OFFICE,

WASHINGTON, D. C, MAY 3, 1865.

Lieutenant H. G. Bonebrake, Company G, Seventeenth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry.

Sir : Herewith I enclose the medal of honor which has been awarded you under the resolution of Congress, approved July 12, 1862 : To provide for the presentation of medals of honor to the enlisted men of the army and volunteer forces who have distinguished or may distinguish themselves in battle during the present rebellion. Please acknowledge the receipt.

Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,

W. A. NICHOLS, Assistant Adjutant General.

An act of Congress approved April 23, 1904, provided for the issue of a medal. The first was of bronze, the latter of silver heavily electrotyped in gold. It is much handsomer than the old medal. The new medal was received by Lieutenant Bonebrake on Memorial Day, May 30, 1905. Lieutenant Bonebrake prizes these medals very highly and regards them as rare souvenirs to hand down to his posterity. Lieutenant Bonebrake was regularly mustered out of the United States service, with his company, at Clouds Mills, Virginia, in obedience to General Order No. 312, War Department, June 16, 1865.

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Isaac Newton Snively

60130384_138716667574Isaac Newton Snively was born in 1839 near Jackson Hall in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. He was a school teacher in Waynesboro and earned a medical degree in 1862, graduating from Jefferson Medical College. He practiced in Chambersburg in 1863 and was appointed by Pennsylvania Andrew Curtin as surgeon of the 20th Pennsylvania Militia. After the Battle of Gettysburg was over and the Confederate army was south side of the Potomac River, Snively mustered out of the militia.

In 1864, during the Confederate raid on Chambersburg, Snively’s home was among those destroyed when the Confederate cavalry torched the town. After the Chambersburg Raid, Snively reenlisted in the Union army.

After, the Civil War, Snively returned to Waynesboro establishing another medical practice. He developed an interest in minerals and eventually formed a few partnerships for the mining of copper in South Mountain near Fountaindale during the 1870s-1900s. Snively died in 1913 and is buried at Green Hill Cemetery.

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Henry G. Bonebrake, Franklin County’s Medal of Honor Recipent

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Did you know that Waynesboro, Pennsylvania was home to a Medal of Honor recipient from the American Civil War? Henry G. Bonebrake was born on June 21, 1838. During his youth, he attended various schools in Washington Township. At the onslaught of the American Civil War, Mr. Bonebrake was a teacher.

During the first Confederate invasion of the north known as the Maryland Campaign, Mr. Bonebrake enlisted in a cavalry company that was being raised in Waynesboro on September 12th, 1862. Mr. Bonebrake and many other soldiers would be mustered into the U.S. service on September 26th, 1862. Upon formation at Harrisburg, the Waynesboro Company was assigned as Company G, 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Mr. Bonebrake was elected as First Sergeant of the company.

During the Civil War, he fought in many engagements and on three occasions had his horse shot from under him. The 17th Pennsylvania served under General John Buford’s Cavalry Division in Colonel Thomas Devin’s Brigade during the Battle of Gettysburg.

On December 28, 1864, First Sergeant Bonebrake was promoted to Second Lieutenant. Lt. Henry Bonebrake distinguished himself once more during the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia in April of 1865. On May 5th, 1865, Lieutenant Bonebrake was the recipient of the Medal of Honor for his action during the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia. His citation read “As one of the first of Devin’s Division to enter the works, he fought in a hand-to-hand struggle with a Confederate to capture his flag by superior physical strength.” Lieutenant Bonebrake was one of 51 Union soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing Rebel flags during the war. He and the other 50 personally handed their flags to then Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

May 28th, 1865, he was again promoted to First Lieutenant. Company G, 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry was mustered out of U.S. service on June 21st, 1865.

After the Civil War, Mr. Bonebrake continued his teaching career. He also went into farming. He later became a businessman owning a grocery store. In 1898, he became Assistant Postmaster. He was also married two times. His first wife Cora Walters died in 1899 and his second wife, Clara Palm died in 1909.

In 1905, Bonebrake was given a silver replacement of the Medal of Honor. Bonebrake died from a stroke on October 26th, 1912, and is buried at Green Hill Cemetery.

Several decades after his death, Bonebrake was honored twice, once in 1987 and again on July 27th, 2002 when a bronze tablet of the Medal of Honor was dedicated.

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