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Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Lancaster's Civil War Hero" Story

John Carpenter holds onto the flagpole he erected at the Lititz "Square".
It was an ordinary day.  Scanning through the website "The Lancast- rian" when I came upon a photo that I wasn't sure where it was taken.  Photo- graph featured what looked to be a US Veteran soldier who was standing in a triangle of grass, holding onto what appears to be a flagpole and is surrounded with a brass cannon and a few piles of cannonballs which are stacked neatly in place around the cannon.  Found the photo was taken in the nearby city of Lititz, Pennsylvania and features the "Square".  It is the same square, or piece of ground, that I have written about before on which the ACLU tried to get the town to remove their Christmas creche since it violated the use of public space for religious purposes.  
1915 photo at the "Square" decorated for Christmas.
Seemed that this little piece of ground is not owned by the town, but by the Moravian Church which was, and still is, a very vital part of the town.  So, the creche remains on the same spot each Christmas season where this cannon and piles of cannonballs is shown in this black and white photograph.  The photo was taken in 1918 and features John Carpenter, a veteran and member of the G.A.R. who is holding onto the American flagpole.  The flag meant a lot to John, since he enthusiastically enlisted, at the age of 16, in the Union Army in 1863 and filled the gaps, along with his comrades, of Colonel Hambright's regiment at Chancellorville.  
This photo of the "Square" was taken in 1994 at Christmas.
He was also with Sherman's Army during its famous march to the sea and escaped unhurt until the Battle of Bentonville in March of 1865, when a bullet passed through his shoulder. Later that same day he had a finger shot off.  He loss quite a bit of blood and couldn't escape and was captured and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia.  After being released and returning to Lancaster County, he noticed one day, while visiting the display at the "Square" in Lititz, that there was no flag to accompany the cannons.  So he decided to add an eighteen foot flagpole over the two brass cannons.  Yearly, on the anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville, he put out the flag and when it wasn't on display would have it hanging above his bed so he could always sleep under the stars and stripes.  A true patriot who survived the Civil War and who happened to be fighting for the Union.  The "Square" has changed somewhat over the years, but the memories of that special spot in Lititz will never be forgotten.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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