Free Genealogy Biography of Isaac Sharp,
Pennsylvania Volunteer of the Civil War
Isaac Sharp (namesake of his grandfather, who died soon after the birth of this grandchild) was born December 16, 1830, in Amity, Amwell township, this county. An amusing anecdote is told of his birthplace, and transpired at the time of his birth: A Mr. Dow was lying next to the roof in a certain house of Amity, just recovering from the effects of an oversupply of intoxicating beverages. Suddenly a gust of wind lifted the roof from above him, when the inebriated gentleman was heard to observe: "That's right, good Lord, scourge Amity but save Dow, he's only a boarder."
Years afterward, while visiting in Charleston, Ill., Isaac Sharp met a Mrs. Wright who had known him in infancy. She described him at that period of existence as a "horribly ugly baby," but complimented him on having at last become a more comely specimen of humanity.
In boyhood he was bashful among older people, but his mother used to say that Isaac was the most troublesome of all her mischievous children. In early life he learned the tanner's trade, following that business in Amity, Penn.
On March 5, 1851, he was married to Lavina (daughter of Abner and Mary Bane), who bore him three children: Mary Flora (married to James P. Sayer), Lindley Bane (married to Grace Walters) and Lizzie Ann (deceased at the age of six months).
In August, 1862, Isaac Sharp enlisted as a volunteer in Company D, One Hundred and Fortieth, 140th Regiment, P. V. I. The first duty of this regiment was to guard the North Central Railroad west of Baltimore, and in December, 1862, it was ordered to join the army of the Potomac. On December 20 they arrived at Falmouth, just too late to participate in the battle of Fredericksburg.
From the time of his enlistment until the latter part of March, 1863, Isaac Sharp never missed a roll call or failed in duty, though often detailed for picket duty (a most arduous task in freezing weather).
In March he had a severe attack of erysipelas, which disabled him until May 1, when he shouldered his traps and joined in the march to Chancellorsville. Wearied and worn, they arrived on the field at 9 P. M., on the evening of the third day of the month, and the next morning they took an advanced position facing toward Fredericksburg.
At this point a dispute arose between the leading generals. Hooker had given repeated orders to Couch to fall back, but the advantages of the position were so apparent that Hancock and Warren both advised Couch to stand his ground. Warren went to Hooker and explained the matter, which resulted in an order issued at 2 P. M. for Couch to hold the position till 5 o'clock. But Couch had begun his retreat, and said: "Tell Gen. Hooker he is too late, the enemy is now on my right and rear, and I am in full retreat."
The regiment moved to a position to the left of the former place, and there passed the night in range of the enemy's batteries. The Confederates kept up a constant fire, but the Unionists were on too high ground, and before an attack could be made had again moved. While making coffee at the Chancellor House, they were ordered out on double quick to repel an attack made where the Wilderness road turns down the hill. After this they were moved to the left brow of the hill, facing the river, and began throwing up trenches.
Meantime a terrible artillery engagement was being waged, of which the following is an accurate description given by Captain C. L. Linton, commanding: What wild eyes and blanched faces there were when the shells and solid shot came in from the right and rear of us! Orders coming to "about face, left in front," we advanced to the plank road in rear of the Chancellor House to support a battery.
The Fifth Maine had opened fire, to which the enemy replied so rapidly and accurately that almost all the horses and men were killed or wounded. Only two of the artillerists remained at their posts. While there the Chancellor House was seen to be on fire, a detail from Company F was made to remove the wounded therefrom. All this time the shot and shell were coming so thick and fast that it seemed one could not take his nose from the dirt lest he would have his head blown off. A call for volunteers was made to save the guns of the Fifth Maine battery. Upon looking back, whom should we see but our division and brigade commanders, Gen. W. S. Hancock and Gen. Nelson A. Miles. A moment later came our corps commander, hat in hand, and hair streaming in the breeze. The call for volunteers was responded to by a rush from Company D, and a few from one or two other companies, through the concentrated fire of thirty guns, into a storm of shot and shell, in the face of Jackson's men infused with victory, and saved every gun.
Myself and Corporal I. Sharp in the rush, both grasped the limber of one of the guns at the same time and on either side. With superior effort we succeeded in raising it a few inches from the ground, when a solid shot or shell passed between us and under the limber. At that instant Sharp gave down, and I thought he was done for, but was rejoiced when Corporal Sayer and others lay hold to see him straighten up again. He had let down on account of the immense weight we were lifting. A corporal of the battery procured a rope, and we soon had the gun moving from the scene of action. The force attached was not sufficient to make fast time. Try as we did, we stuck once or twice when running against dead horses. Not having fully recovered from former sickness, over exertion brought on disease, and after remaining in the regiment a few weeks, Isaac Sharp was sent to the general hospitals at Columbia, D. C., Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
On June 1, 1861, he was discharged from the service, on account of physical disability. On his return home he found the tannery closed, and unable to engage in physical labor followed mercantile life, removing in 1871 to Washington borough, Penn., where he is yet living surrounded by numerous friends. His character is best illustrated by the history of his life, and his aspirations are fitly expressed in his own words: "My life may not have been entirely void of some good. Be that as it may, it is of small importance to me, if at last my omissions and commissions are cancelled and a clear title to the mansion of glory given me."
Source: Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania; Chicago; J. H. Beers & Co., 1893.
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