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Pvt Melville Hilt Freas

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Pvt Melville Hilt Freas

Birth
Germantown, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 22 Jan 1920 (aged 78)
Germantown, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Memorial ID 7520532 View Source
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Obituary: 29 January 1920:
Mellville Freas, a well known veteran of the Civil War and a member of the original Bucktail Regiment, died at his home on East Haines Street on Thursday evening [22 January 1920]. He was prominent in Grand Army affairs and a familiar figure on all occasions when Ellis Post, No. 6, G.A.R., turned out. Two daughters survive.
Obituary: 22 January 1920
M. H. FREAS, VETERAN OF CIVIL WAR, DIES
Well-known Germantown Resident and Children's Friend Answers Last-Call
Melville H. Freas, Civil War veteran, and well-known character in Germantown died yesterday of complications resulting from bronchitis, at his home, 428 East Haines street. He was seventy-nine years old.
Mr. Freas had been a resident of Germantown all his life and died within two blocks of the house in which he was born. To the community's court of boy and girlville he was affectionately known during the latter years of his life as ''Grandpop'' and "Santa Claus."
He enlisted in Company A, 150th Pennsylvania Volunteers, at the outbreak of the Civil War, and after years of service was taken prisoner at the battle of Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, together with four other boys from Germantown, Louis Vogle, Phillip Hammer, Charles Grant and George Shingle, all long since dead, he was confined at Andersonville from then until the end of the war.
After the hostilities ended Mr. Freas was a letter carrier and subsequently became an auctioneer. At the by time of his is death he was employed McCray & Hunter, produce dealers. He was a member of Ellis Post, No. 6, G. A. R., and of the Methodist church. Mr. Freas is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Charles Matheson and Mrs. Laura M. Johnson, fourteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held in the chapel of Kirk & Nice, Germantown, Sunday afternoon at 2 'clock. Interment will be in Ivy Hill Cemetery, where a salute will be fired by members of Ellis Camp, No. 9, Sons of Veterans.
Newspaper Article 1907:
ORDERS HIS OWN STATUE TO BE PLACED IN CEMETERY
Civil War Veteran Prepares for Death.
Mellville H. Freas, a Civil War Veteran and a former member of the famous Bucktail Regiment yesterday awarded a contract to John W. Gessler's Sons, 39th street and Baltimore avenue to make a granite statue of him which will be placed in his lot in Ivy Hill Cemetery.
He is 73 year old and lives at 248 East Haines street. It was in Germantown that with four companions be enlisted in 1862 in the 150th Pennsylvania Volunteers, later known as the Bucktails. The five young men remained together until Gettysburg. At 6 o'clock on July 3, 1863, as General Lee was preparing for flight, they were captured. They were taken to the prison at Belle Isle, where Freas four companions died. On March 23, 1864 Freas was paroled.
At the close of the war he returned to Germantown, and erected a monument upon his lot In Ivy Hill, on which were cut the names of the four friends he lost in prison. Every Memorial Day since then Freas has donned his uniform and has gone to the cemetery to decorate the monument.
And now he has ordered a statue of himself to be placed by the monument. Under this will be the inscription
MELLVILLE H. FREAS,
A Soldier of the Civil War
1862-1865
Co. A. 150th Pa. Vols. The Bucktail Regiment
Taken prisoner at Gettysburg July 3, 1863 at 6 p.m. Was in prison at Belle Isle, Va. Paroled March 4 1864. Died-
Newspaper article 18 June 1909:
HEARS FROM GUARD OF HIS WAR PRISON
Confederate Soldier's Letter Recalls Melville H. Freas Captivity at Belle Isle 46 Years Ago
MELVILLE H. FREAS
Melville H. Freas, 248 East Haines street, has received a letter from a former Confederate soldier who stood guard over Mr. Freas when he was a prisoner at Richmond, Va., at the time of the Civil War. The letter was inspired by a newspaper article which. Mr. Freas wrote recently protesting against the erection of a monument to Wirz, commandant of Andersonville prison. This article was copied in a Richmond newspaper where it caught the eye of H. C. Chappel, of Amelia Court House, Va., and he wrote as follows to Mr. Frees:
"Dear Old Comrade on the Other Side:—I read a short sketch of yourself in the Richmond Times and learned you had been a prisoner on Belle Isle. No doubt I have looked in your face many a time. The battalion belonged to guarded there from August, 1863 to March, 1864.
We had hard times there, as well as the prisoners. We ate the same grub, and had to stand the cold without wood to make a fire, and no chance to get away. But we would go to the iron works and warm up.
"I guarded at Libby prison early in 1863. There we got the best grub, and more of it, than any time during the war. The prisoners were all officers, and never gave us any trouble."
"Do you remember the guard, all well dressed in deep blue pants and gray jackets, with gray caps? They composed the Twenty-fifth Battalion. We had got acquainted with many of your boys. It was positively against orders to trade with the prisoners, but we did it all the same; and when we got back to camp those that were caught were called out and sent to the guard house and courtmartialed.
"Don't you remember that dark rainy night, when Colonel Dahlgren reached the river above the island? I happened to be on guard, that night. Several of your men asked me what that firing was about, and I told them a war lie—told them it was over in the city of Richmond and that our battalion was sent to the front and we had to stay on guard.
"There didn't seem to be much sickness in the prison camp, as very few were buried on the island. I remember seeing fifty graves at the hospital. They had only two small tents.
"I can truthfully say I never ill treated any prisoner. No doubt some crank or a mean devil would do it but it was against orders from our officers.
"Say, do you remember the two white-haired boys that played the fife and drum? I heard they were from Ohio.
"We were relieved early in the spring of 1864 and went to the front.
"Some time before leaving Richmond I bought a silver watch from one of you prisoners and wore it until I landed in prison myself at Point Lookout. The provost at the prison requested me to hand in any valuables I might have about me, and they would be returned to me when I got out. I did not agree with him, so I kept them. I wanted that watch to buy something with while there. I sold the watch and made out very well. Colonel Brady, who was over the prison, was a gentleman in every respect and treated us boys splendidly.
"Now I should like to hear from you. I am always glad to hear from the Northern boys, for I became acquainted with many of the Yanks who came down to fight 'we-uns' of the South."
Discussing the events of the time to which this letter alludes, Mr. Freas said:
I was taken prisoner at Gettysburg at 6 P. M. on July 1, 1863, while I was with the Union army as a member of Company A, 150th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, known as the 'Bucktails.' On the morning of July 4 we were taken away, over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and down through Hagerstown and across the Potomac at Williamsport, and on down through Winchester, Martinsburg, Bunker Hill and on to Staunton, and there we took the cars on July 24 for Richmond, arriving there at 6 o'clock in the Morning of the 25th.
"As we pulled up in front of a Confederate parole camp, the ‘Johnnies' came out and we had a good time for a few minutes among ourselves in passing the time of day-and other things. We were well received and treated to plenty of drinking water.
"Then we were hurried over to Belle Isle prison, in the James river. Heavy embankments enclosed it on the four sides, and it held 6000 prisoners.
"Our living was very bad indeed. Our first meal was at 9 o'clock A. M. and consisted of six ounces of wheat bread and a little meat. But the meat soon fell off. The only other meal of the day was at 3 P.M. Then came our bean soup, made from black beans raised for feeding cattle in the winter, these being combined with water from the James river. There was no salt in the soup for salt was very scarce in the South.
"I feel highly honored to hear from one of the guards at Belle Isle after so many years had passed over our heads."
PA Deaths:
Name: Melville Hilt Freas
Gender: Male
Race: White
Age: 78
Birth Date: 26 Jan 1841
Birth Place: Pennsylvania
Death Date: 21 Jan 1920
Death Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
COD: Arteriosclerosis contributed Father Name: George E Freas [George D Freas]
Father Birth Place: Pennsylvania
Mother Name: Hester Hilt
Mother Birth Place: Pennsylvania
Certificate Number: 1682


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