William Speakman Mendenhall


William Speakman Mendenhall

Chadds Ford, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 4 Dec 1875 (aged 45)
Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, USA
Burial Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, USA
Plot Section 11
Memorial ID 30379469 View Source

Capt. William S. Mendenhall, from Delaware County, Pa, at the age of 32, organized and was elected Captain of Company D, 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Severely wounded in the left shoulder, at the Battle of the Crater during the siege of Petersburg, Va., in July 1864, he was sent to the field hospital, 18th Corps, and from there to Annapolis, Md., where he remained until discharged from the service, on the 4th of October following, having served over three years.

Following from the History of the Ninety-seventh PA Regiment:

The fourth company of the 97th Regiment was recruited by William S. Mendenhall, of Chadd's Ford, Delaware County, Pa. He was descended from a family of English Quakers, who emigrated to America during the persecutions of that people in England, and settled in Concord, Delaware County, contemporary with the William Penn settlers in Pennsylvania. Two brothers, Moses and Robert Mendenhall, and a sister, who married a Mr. West, and was the mother of Benjamin West, the celebrated painter, were among the earliest settlers, from whom sprung a numerous family. Their descendants, for several generations, were landed proprietors in Chester and Delaware counties, leading the quiet life of Friends, well-to-do and respected. Caleb Mendenhall, grandfather of William, married a Miss Taylor, of Westtown, of whom were born two sons and five daughters. They lived near Chadd's Ford, Delaware County. Their youngest son, J. Taylor Mendenhall, married Miss Julia Speakman, daughter of William Speakman, of Dilworthtown. The eldest son of this marriage was William S. Mendenhall, born at the historic locality of Chadd's Ford, October 13, 1830. At the death of his parents, when about five years of age, he went to reside with his Grandfather Speakman, who sent him regularly to school until about thirteen years of age, when the death of his grandfather occurred. He then found a home with Mr. James Cloud, of Concordville, Delaware County, where he remained, going to school occasionally, until near sixteen years of age, when he found a place in the office of Hon. Nimrod Strickland, editor of the " American Republican," at West Chester, Pa.

About a year after, when the Mexican War broke out, young Mendenhall, fired with patriotic ardor, volunteered under the call of President Polk, in December, 1846, for ten new regiments to reinforce the army in Mexico. He joined, and was appointed a corporal in Capt. C. J. Biddle's company, in Philadelphia, which was ordered to rendezvous at Brazos Santiago, in February, 1847. It was then assigned to the 1st Regiment U. S. Volunteers, under command of Col. F. P. Andrews, with Lieut. Col. Joseph E. Johnson and Major's Talbot and Caldwell, all of the U. S. A. He participated with his regiment in the siege of Vera Cruz, under Gen. Scott, and with Gen. Cadwalader, in the battles of Cerro Gordo, Jalapa, Perote and Puebla, and in assisting to keep open communication between Vera Cruz and Puebla; afterwards, in the valley of the city of Mexico; at the battle of Contreras, August 20, 1847; at Buena Vista, Cherubusco, and Molino del Rey, September 11; and at Casa del Mata, where he was wounded in the right foot; on the 13th of September, at the fierce storming of Chepultepec, the key to the gates of Mexico, he was again slightly wounded in the head, and was with the final assault upon the last defenses of the city and the triumphal entrance into the Mexican capital He remained with the army of occupation until after the conclusion of peace, July 4, 1848. His regiment left Mexico in October, and was disbanded at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, November, 1848.

After an honorable discharge, and with the commendation of his officers for faithful services, he returned to West Chester, being then about eighteen years of age. The discovery of gold in California, during the winter of 184S, having attracted his attention, he joined a company of adventurers known as the Philadelphia Mining Company. Their vessel, the Clarissa Perkins, sailed in January, 1849. After a tedious and eventful voyage around Cape Horn, they arrived at San Francisco, having been out eight months and fourteen days. The city at that time was a motley collection of tents and houses, property of every description being strewn about without owners, people having abandoned all and emigrated to the mines. This company followed the example in eager haste to reach the El Dorado.

After a varied experience at the mines on Sacramento and American Rivers, attended by little success, he joined Col. Fremont's exploring party for Southern California, in the Fall of 1849, but, pursued by hostile Indians, the party returned to winter at Long Gulch and engaged in mining successfully. He remained in California until the summer of 1858, continued mining at various places, and was connected with prospecting parties in exploring, while a wilderness, most of the places that have since become noted towns and cities peopled with numerous inhabitants, prosperous in the products of adventurous enterprise and wealth. He was also active in the organization of companies of mounted men for defense against hostile Indians, who resisted the presence of the white man in his native wilds.

After ten years of pioneer life, with its attendant hardships and exposures, Mr. Mendenhall returned to the Atlantic States in the summer of 1858. The next two years were spent in traveling through the Northern and Southern States. During 1860, he was in Texas and Alabama, while Yancey, Rhett and others were firing the Southern heart, and was present when the secession declaration of the Montgomery convention was received with the wildest joy by the people. The firing upon Maj. Anderson, at Fort Sumter; the attack of the Alabama State troops on Mount Vernon Island and the forts of Mobile harbor, and the treachery of Gen. Twiggs, in Texas, events following in such rapid succession, determined the patriotic young democrat to choose sides in the coming conflict involving the life of his country. Quietly making his arrangements, he resolved to proceed north by the first opportunity. This he effected, arriving at Wilmington, Del., in time to join the 1st Delaware Regiment (three months volunteers), under the first call of President Lincoln for seventy-five thousand men, on April 26, 1801. The regiment was commanded by Col. H. H. Lockwood, and was by the War Department stationed upon duty on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, from Havre de Grace to Baltimore, to guard the road and bridges from interruption and keep open the line of communication to Washington during the gathering of the army. The regiment was disbanded, at the expiration of the three months service, at Wilmington, August 7, 1861.

Upon his return, at the end of that service, with the 1st Delaware Regiment, W. S. Mendenhall was solicited, by several of his Delaware acquaintances, to form a company for the three years service, in which his Delaware County friends also joined, and, having received from Col. Guss authority to recruit a company for the 97th Regiment, he determined to canvass in Delaware County, with head-quarters at Concordville. Within a few days, over fifty men signed the roll of his company, which was called the Concordville Rifles, in honor of his boyhood home. A meeting was called, at Media, on August 23, 1861, to organize the company and select its officers. It was held at the office of Jesse L. Cummings, Esq.

(NOTE: The above information provided by Billy Walker)



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