From Francis L. White, “The dapper gentleman with the bow-tie is your great-great -great- grandfather, George T. Brooks (127th Pennsylvania Volunteers ((Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville-two of the worst Union defeats in the Civil War)) and later, the 4th PA.Cavalry)-his parents came from Dublin in the late 1770’s. To the right is his wife, Emma Brooks. To his left is his son-in-law, Lewis White. Not too much is known about the Whites. The Lebanon Historical Society “History of Lebanon” says the first White was an English surveyor mapping for the Union Canal, which passed through town. Lewis is a spitting image of his son, my grandfather, Francis Scott Key White. In front of Lewis is his wife, Mary Brooks White. To the right is her sister, Leuna Brooks, who never married.
Here is a link to the chapter in Bate’s “Pennsylvania in the Civil War” in the archives of the Chicago Public Library downtown. It’s remarkable that it is now available online.
The 127 Pa. Volunteers was our ancestor, George T. Brooks’, first Civil War regiment. I knew it was involved in the two worst defeats suffered by the North-Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville- but from looking at maps I had always thought that as a 9-month volunteer regiment, the boys were so green they were kept in the rear out of harm’s way.
I was wrong. The episode at Fredericksburg when Union troops had to use rowboats to cross the Rapahannock River and clear Confederate snipers from houses on the river’s edge (so the Engineers could complete a pontoon bridge) was one of the most desperate, and famous, incidents of the war. And the 127th supplied the men who did it.
This link to Bate’s book may allow us to look around for other items-such as the roster of names of it’s personnel (I remember reading it and thinking it’s the same names as in my high school yearbook).
And it may give a history of G.T. Brooks’ second regiment-the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
After Chancellorsville, the 127th’s nine month enlistment expired and the men were mustered out at the end of May 1863. Bates describes it as being in Hall’s 3rd Brigade; Gibbon’s Division; of Winfield Scott Hancock’s II Corps. At one point they were part of a brigade commanded by Col. Norman Hall-the co-author of, “Mutiny on the Bounty.”
Thirty days later, on July 3, 1863 Hall’s 3rd Brigade was posted at the famous “copse of trees” in the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg, which was the aiming point and objective of Pickett’s Charge. Union casualties there were over 50%. Our ancestor just missed it, which is probably why we’re here to talk about it.”
Page 2 of Bates’ History: They sustained 254 casualties in the fruitless charge up Marye’s Heights in Fredericksburg, and lay pinned down on the slopes until nightfall-just like we saw in the movie!
From our Dad, Francis L. White: “At some point, George T. Brooks sold his company to the Armor meatpacking company of Chicago. Come to think of it my law school is part of IIT which used to be called the Armor Institute due to the Armor Family’s charitable donations (how’s that for irony?). The only anecdote I heard as a boy was that when there was a fire in the bologna smokehouse George T. Brooks, who was not a tall man, picked up the company safe and carried it out of the building.
That smokehouse and a detached home, where my Great Aunt Cat lived (George probably lived there originally as it was right next to the smokehouse) were located on a railroad spur between Willow and 10th Streets, and I would walk by them on my way to school for 11 years.
Parallel to the tracks was a small creek that I would play around (planting clods of dirt and grass along it’s banks) which became a raging torrent that I waded through to get to the center of town during the Great Flood of 1972. I think it was called the Quitapahilla Creek.
In George Brooks’ obit I read that he also ran a cafe, “The Keystone Cafe” which may be the structure behind him in the photograph.
I was watching The Last Dance” just now, and they were showing early clips of the NBA Draft in which Michael Jordan was drafted by the Bulls. I mentioned that Jordan was actually the third pick, and that number two was a man named Sam Bowie, who grew up in my [Lebanon, Pennsylvania] neighborhood of Willow Street (he was years younger than me, but my Dad knew his dad). He was rated higher than Mike, but an injury sidelined his career permanently. And then the clips showed him.”
Here are the photos from Salem Lutheran Church with the headstone of the Brooks family that were removed by the city of Lebanon. Buried here were the great-grandparents to George T. Brooks, James and Jane, who immigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania in the 1770s.
By submitting a comment here you grant White Mystery a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.