ELEGANT 1906 GOLD G.A.R. PAST POST COMMANDER’S BADGE PRESENTED TO JOSEPH PONTIUS, Co. M, 15th PA CAVALRY BY COL. FRED TAYLOR POST 12 G.A.R. DEPARTMENT OF PA

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The 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry was meant to expand upon the Anderson Troop, an elite organization recruited among society’s upper crust. The regiment was organized in Fall 1862, but saw action in the Antietam Campaign even before it was fully organized. After organization it served throughout the war in the western theatre, losing 3 officers and 22 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded at Stones River and in a host of smaller engagements, raids, and expeditions. Joseph Pontius enlisted and mustered into Co. E on 8/22/62, but was transferred to Company M at an early date. He was captured with several others from the regiment at Dandridge, TN, on 12/24/63 when they made the mistake of attacking a superior Confederate force. He spent almost a year in Confederate prisons, including Andersonville, before being released in November 1864. He returned to the regiment and mustered out 6/21/65 at Nashville. His account of his capture and time in southern prisons is in the regimental history. He attended the 1905 dedication of the monument at Andersonville prison and in June 1906 was a representative to the PA GAR encampment in Altoona. He may be the same Joseph Pontius interred at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, PA, who was born in 1841 and died in 1917.

The badge has a light blue silk ribbon with a GAR eagle top bar in gold and a post commander’s shoulder strap suspended under it, the position indicating he was a past officer. A pair of crossed sabers with ribbon overhead reading, “Co. M 15th PA. Cav.” hangs below that a GAR star in gold with the following presentation nicely engraved on the reverse: “Presented / to / Jos. Pontius / By / Col. Fred Taylor/ Post 19 G.A.R. / Dept. of Pa. / Feb. 8th / 1906”

The medal measures about 3 1/2 inches top to bottom, with the ribbon adding another ¼ inch overall. The post was in Philadelphia and named for Colonel Charles Frederick Taylor, a Kennett Square native who was killed in action on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg while commanding the 42nd Pennsylvania.

This is very pretty presentation badge in gold to a post officer and member of a wartime unit that prided itself on its society connections and saw very active service.  [SR]

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