Quantity Available: None
Item Code: 678-292
This Civil War, .58 caliber, percussion rifle-musket picked up from the battlefield of Gettysburg still bears the scars of battle and is truly a witness to the intense fighting that consumed the farm fields on those three days of July in 1863. Once part of the well-known William T. Ziegler Collection of Gettysburg, this weapon was recovered from an undisclosed location on the battlefield. The piece exhibits a 40” gun barrel that violently exploded at the breech end and tore a 5½” long by 1” wide section of the iron barrel completely away from the gun. The blast also blew the steel lock plate away along with a large splinter of wood that peeled away from the left side of the stock.
The breech-blown, single-shot muzzleloader, sans the lockplate, hammer, a major portion of the barrel breech, and a large silver of stock, still retains its original stock, the original iron nipple and bolster screw, its swell-shaped ramrod, both barrel bands and sling hooks. Stock is in very good condition but it does exhibit some prominent splits in the wood adjacent to the lockplate. Barrel has accumulated a light to moderate surface rust. This rifle musket appears to be a product of the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts and was once part of the collection gathered by veteran William Ziegler.
Mr. George Lower, a Gettysburg sutler, acquired the collection from the Ziegler family (William’s grandson) in the mid 1960’s and the musket was later purchased by Mr. John Graham from George Lower. The collection had remained intact in the hands of the Ziegler family since its inception by Corporal Ziegler in the 1870’s. No personal soldier identification is credited to this specific musket as was common to many of the relics in the Ziegler collection. This musket comes with a vast amount of documentation on William T. Ziegler. The previous owner, John Graham, also attested to the provenance of this piece. This remarkable battle musket from the Gettysburg fighting is an honest and unique memorial to the common soldier in that conflict. Weapon comes complete with copies of Ziegler’s military records from the National Archives, in addition to numerous copies of post war newspaper clippings, written narratives, photos, notes, and Ziegler’s obituary from the Gettysburg Compiler newspaper.
This Gettysburg battlefield pickup is one of the most unique and desirable artifacts to become available to the Civil War collecting community.
A complete biography of Ziegler and additional information about his collection can be found below.
Born in Gettysburg, PA, William T. Ziegler was the son of Samuel and Susan Radford Ziegler. Samuel was a Gettysburg native whose trade was a hatter and William's grandfather, Emanuel Ziegler, was a Revolutionary War soldier from the Gettysburg area. His mother was a native of Maryland. When William was four years old, his parents moved to Philadelphia where William eventually learned the hatter trade and worked at it for five years. He gained his education at night school in Philadelphia but took up coach painting and returned to Gettysburg before the Civil War started.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, William enlisted for a three-year period on September 2, 1861 in York, PA with Company F, 87th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers under the command of Captain James Adair. He served with his command at the battles of Newton, VA, Locust Grove, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and Weldon Railroad near Petersburg. At the battle of Wilderness in May 1864, he lost sight in his right eye "as a result of bad weather." At the battle of Weldon Railroad on June 23, 1864, he was taken prisoner and sent to Andersonville, GA at the beginning of July 1864. He remained in Andersonville until April 17th 1865 when, in a future accounting, he was the last living soul to depart. (William's recounting of his time in Andersonville is fascinating reading and is included as an attachment). After a twenty mile walk from Baldwin Junction, FL, he was paroled in Jacksonville, FL on April 29th, 1865, moved North through Hilton Head, SC, arrived in Maryland on May 14, 1865, and sent to Harrisburg, PA. William was honorably discharged in Harrisburg, PA on May 18, 1865 and returned to Gettysburg. When discharged, William was 5 feet 8 inches tall and had light complexion, dark hair, and gray eyes.
On July 15th, 1867, William and Rebecca Susan Herman (age 17), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Herman of Straban Township, were wed by the Reverend William R. H. Detrick at the Trinity Reformed Church. This was the first marriage for both. Together, they had seven children: five sons and two daughters: Samuel Herman (1868-1870), William Ernest (1870-?), Mary Annie (1873-?), Sara Lidia (1875-?), Charles Thomas (1878-?), John Sedgwick (1881-1915) and Fredrick (1885-1886). His youngest son, John, died in August 1915, a blow from which William never recovered. His wife, Rebecca, survived William as did a brother, George W. Ziegler of Gettysburg, and a sister, Mrs. Pfieffer of Washington.
William was very prominent in the business activities of Gettysburg. After the War, William returned to Gettysburg and took up coach painting and eventually the manufacture of coaches. In 1870, the livery firm of Holtzworth (was this the same individual who attested to his war wounds in 1881? - see attached photocopied letter!) and Ziegler was formed and for many years enjoyed an immense patronage. Survivors of the war visited Gettysburg by the tens of thousands and this firm had the bulk of the business, caring for the most prominent visitors, and earning a reputation for its battlefield guide service. William served his connection with this firm in 1892 and in 1894, after the Eagle Hotel fire, he purchased the hotel site, rebuilt the hotel, and conducted the house for several years. William built and conducted a shirt factory on North Washington Street. He was a charter member in the organization of The Citizens' Bank (later converted to the Citizens' Trust Company) and was vice president. William was one of the founders of the Gettysburg Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Later, he engaged in the real estate business. He was interested in many local enterprises and his business judgment was highly esteemed by all his associates. As a businessman, he was progressive and he never gave himself half-hearted to any undertaking, always active and willing to help along the things for which he became interested.
Wiilliam was an ardent Democrat who served two terms in the legislature and various Borough of Gettysburg offices. William was a prominent member of the Masonic Order. He was a charter member of the Gettysburg Commandery, Number 79, and the Good Samaritan Chapter Number 266, and he was Past High Priest of the latter Chapter. William was a Past Master and one of the oldest members of Good Samaritan Lodge Number 336; for thirty-four years up to his death, he was the treasurer. He was a charter member of the Corporal Skelly Post Number 9, Grand Army of the Republic, and had served as the Post Commander for three consecutive terms up to the time of his death. He took great interest in GAR work and was active in Grand Army circles throughout the state. For several years, William was the President of the Southern Association of Pennsylvania, GAR. He also belonged to the Gettysburg Lodge, IOOF, for many years and was a charter member of the Lodge Number 1045, BPOE.
Funeral services were held at the house in charge of Dr. T. J. Barkeley and Dr. A. E. Wagner on Thursday, March 9, 1916. Burial services were in charge of the GAR and the following veterans acted as pall bearers: Daniel Reigle, William Shields, John Shields, Captain Calvin Gilbert, the Honorable Theodore McAllister, and H. W. Lightner. He was interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg. Upon William's death, Rebecca applied for a widow's pension on March 31, 1916 and received $30 per month until her death in 1924.
As a Gettysburg resident, William amassed a substantial collection of Gettysburg Civil War antiques and relics, which ranked with other collections such as J. Howard Wert, George and John Rosensteel, Tipton, Danner, and Spangler. He often displayed his collection at GAR functions and various patriotic celebrations. Many items were marked with tags or writing documenting where they were found on the battlefield. The collection remained in the Ziegler family for generations until a local dealer, George Lower of the "Gettysburg Sutler", purchased it in 1975 from William's grandson. George eventually dispersed the collection.
Notes. There are inconsistencies in the facts presented in the documents listed above. A primary example is William Ziegler's rank. His obituary states he was a Captain while he was discharged as a Corporal. Additionally, his obituary says that William lost his sight while at Andersonville Prison. William's sworn statement says he lost his vision at the Battle of Wilderness.