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PA Civil War > Deaths > Executions

Pennsylvania Civil War Soldier Deaths


PA Civil War Executions


Listed by regiment. If there was more than one spelling of a name in different records, it is noted below.
Clark Charles 43rd Regiment, 1st PA Light Artillery Battery H

Executed by hanging at Fort Yorktown, Virginia on March 2, 1863 for the murder of Hezekiah Stokes, by sentence of Military Commission.     (Story)



Dormady / Dormody William 43rd Regiment, 1st PA Light Artillery Battery H

Executed by hanging at Fort Yorktown, Virginia on March 2, 1863 for the murder of Hezekiah Stokes, by sentence of Military Commission. (Story)



Donnelly William 43rd Regiment, 1st PA Light Artillery Battery H


Executed by hanging near Fort Yorktown, Va on March 2, 1863 for murder of William McLaughlin, by sentence of Military Commission.



Gruver / Grover William 46th Regiment Co. A

Deserted on June 4, 1863 - arrested, tried and sentenced by General Court Martial, executed by firing squad at Leesburg, Va. on June 19, 1863. (Story)


McKee William 46th Regiment Co. A

Deserted on June 4, 1863 - arrested, tried and sentenced by General Court Martial, executed by firing squad at Leesburg, Va. on June 19, 1863. (Story)


Lanehan / Lanahan John 46th Regiment Co. I

Executed by hanging near Frederick, Maryland on December 23, 1861, for the murder of Major Arnold C. Lewis in Darnesville, Maryland. (Story)


Murphy James 55th Regiment Co. I

James Murphy, alias Joseph Stroble, was drafted - executed by firing squad for desertion, at Beaufort, S. C. on January 6, 1864. (Story)


Richards / Roberts Jeremiah 55th Regiment Co. D

Drafted - deserted on April 26, 1864 - arrested and executed by firing squad by sentence of General Court Martial on March 27, 1865.


Foster John 58th Regiment

Executed by firing squad for desertion on January 3, 1865


Kelly / Kelley James 67th Regiment

Executed by firing squad for desertion on March 9, 1865


Smitz / Smith William 90th Regiment Co. F

Drafted - executed by firing squad for desertion - Oct 2, 1865. Last Civil War soldier executed for desertion.


Goodrich Peter 97th Regiment I

Drafted - executed by firing squad for desertion on February 27, 1864.


Thompson James 97th Regiment

Substitute - executed by firing squad for desertion on February 7, 1864.


Wilson James 97th Regiment

Drafted - executed by firing squad for desertion - February 7, 1864.


Barnett John Thomas 108th Regiment, 11th Cavalry A

John T. Barnett, alias James Griffin, was executed by firing squad at Portsmouth, Virginia for desertion and highway robbery by order of General Court Martial on September 17, 1863. (Sketch of the Military Execution) faraway overview at the Library of Congress


Johnson William G. 112th Regiment, 2nd PA Veteran Artillery, battery D and then transfered to 21st U. S. Veteran Reserve Infantry (Invalid Corp)

Executed by firing squad at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia for aiding desertion by order of General Court Martial on January 2, 1865. Executed with an unnamed bounty jumper, possibly John Foster, (Story)


Haley James 116th Regiment B

Executed by firing squad for desertion on October 16, 1863.


Howe William H. 116th Regiment Co. A

Executed by hanging at Fort Mifflin on Aug 25, 1864 for desertion and the murder of Abraham Bartolet. (Story)


Folaney / Lerchize John / Geacinto 118th Regiment I

Substitute - executed by firing squad for desertion on August 29, 1863. (Story)


Kuhne / Kuhn George 118th Regiment

Executed by firing squad for desertion on October 29, 1864. (Story)


Lai Emil 118th Regiment

Executed by firing squad for desertion on October 29, 1864. (Story)


Rainese / Rionese John / Gion 118th Regiment

Substitute - executed by firing squad for desertion on October 29, 1864. (Story)


Walter Charles 118th Regiment

Executed by firing squad for desertion on October 29, 1864. (Story)


Wert Michael 184th Regiment G

Executed for desertion by firing squad near Petersburg, Va. on January 6, 1865.




Note: Hiram Oliver is often listed as a Pennsylvania soldier from an unknown PA regiment executed by hanging for murder. In reality, he was a member of the 43rd Ohio Vounteers and hung for the murder of J. R. Cook, Provost Marshall, at Camp Chase, Ohio on September 6, 1865.

Executions, Deserters, and Murderers
Deserters faced a soldier's death by firing squad. Murderers received what was considered a more ignoble death by hanging.

Deserters were a major threat to the morale and effectiveness of the Union Army. Civil War Generals calculated during the war that at least one in five soldiers was absent from his regiment and by war’s end, it was estimated that two hundred and fifty thousand men had been absent from their units sometime during the war.

Because of the poor communications at the time on the battlefield, a soldier may be listed as a deserter and later found to have been captured, in a hospital or recovering at home, or even having died on the battlefield. Sometimes, during a slow time in the regiment, a soldier went home to help with the family farm. Also, a bounty jumper was considered a deserter when he enlisted to claim his enlistment bonus, deserted the first regiment and then re-enlisted in another regiment to collect an additional bonus.

Officially, desertion was punishable by death. However because of the huge numbers of soldiers involved, it was not possible nor practical to execute every deserter. The armies could not afford the loss of such large numbers of troops and in addition, Lincoln believed the people would not tolerate seeing their soldiers executed. Instead, Union authorities attempted to win deserters back with offers of amnesty for soldiers who returned to their commands before a specific deadline. Lincoln offered general amnesty to some 125,000 Union soldiers then absent from their regiments in March 1863, provided those soldiers returned to their units.

However, desertion had become a such a serious threat to its effectiveness, the Union Army did execute some captured deserters in highly public ceremonies witnessed by multiple regiments which were meant to deter others from deserting. However, such punishments were unusual.

Only 147 Union deserters were executed during the course of the war. Twenty of these were from Pennsylvania.


Sources:
  • List of Soldiers Executed During the Civil War by U.S. Military Authorities for whom Proceedings of Court-Martial and Military Commissions have been Filmed; Proceedings of U.S. Army Courts-Martial and Military Commissions of Union Soldiers Executed by U.S. Military Authorities, 1861-1866; National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
  • Roster Source: Bates, Samuel P. (Samuel Penniman), 1827-1902.: History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5; prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature, by Samuel P. Bates.



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