Faces of Gettysburg: Sgt. Frederick A. Huber and a Shattered Family

Faces of Gettysburg: Sgt. Frederick A. Huber and a Shattered Family

 In the early 1840s, Henry and Priscilla Huber welcomed their firstborn, Frederick A. Huber, into the world on February 12, 1842. Notably, this date aligned with the 35th birthday celebration of an Illinois politician named Abraham Lincoln. Frederick, following in his father’s footsteps, pursued education at Pennsylvania College, where his father held a teaching position. By 1860, Frederick was on the brink of completing his studies at a medical school in Philadelphia.

However, the specter of war cast a shadow over Frederick’s plans. In August 1861, he enlisted in the 23rd Pennsylvania, a Zouave unit under Major General David B. Birney. Frederick’s rapid ascent within the ranks culminated in his appointment as his company’s First (Orderly) Sergeant. Tragically, his promising journey was cut short on May 31, 1862, during the Battle of Fair Oaks. Frederick, displaying remarkable resilience, endured two bullet wounds within an hour before succumbing to a fatal third. His last words to the chaplain were a poignant message for his father: “Tell my father I have died for my country.”

The news of Frederick’s death prompted Henry to embark on a somber journey to Richmond, located deep in enemy territory. Despite the challenges, he returned home within a few days, bearing his son’s coffin. A grieving Priscilla, despite the advanced state of decomposition, insisted on seeing Frederick’s body, leading to a heart-wrenching moment. Frederick found his final resting place in Evergreen Cemetery on June 13, 1862, marked by a poignant ceremony presided over by Peter and Elizabeth Thorn, with a beautiful monument erected to memorialize him.

The Huber family’s hardships continued with the arrival of their second child, John M. Huber, on March 22, 1844. In 1860, as Frederick pursued medical studies, John prepared to enter Pennsylvania College. However, the unfolding war altered John’s course. He enlisted as a private and bugler in the cavalry element of the First Maryland Potomac Home Brigade. John received a medical discharge in the same month his brother fell, later becoming a druggist and passing away just shy of his 51st birthday on March 3, 1895.

The ravages of war extended to the Huber family home in Gettysburg. On June 26, 1863, Jubal Early’s forces entered the town, with local farmers enduring losses of livestock and crops. Even Henry suffered as his sorrel mare, along with a saddle and bridle, was confiscated for Confederate service. The war reached their doorstep on June 30, as citizens gathered at the Huber residence to witness John Buford’s cavalry. The next day, the family faced a harrowing experience when a Confederate artillery round struck their home, necessitating extensive rebuilding.

The ultimate blow occurred as Confederate artillery targeted Frederick’s monument in Evergreen Cemetery, causing significant damage. The Huber family’s narrative, intertwined with the threads of war and loss, serves as a poignant reminder of the Civil War’s profound impact on ordinary lives.

There’s so much to learn and see in historic Gettysburg. Book your stay at the historic Tillie Pierce House Inn today!