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  • Writer's pictureKyra Mangold-Ostovich

Voices of the Past: Reese W. Evans

Voices of the Past will showcase an interesting person or family within the Cemetery each week.

Reese W. Evans

Born: 1838

Died: November 08, 1909, aged 71

Reese Evans, of the Northside, was born in the Southern Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil in 1838. He came to Pittsburgh with this family at the age of three.

He was employed as a coal miner, and enlisted as a Private with Company B, 62nd Infantry of the PA Volunteers, at the onset of the Civil War. He mustered in on July 22, 1861, and had been in many battles, including the Battle of the Wilderness, a victor-less and bloody two-day battle that took place between May 5 - 7, 1864 in Locust Grove, VA. This engagement marked the first stages of a major Union offensive push towards the Confederate capital city of Richmond, VA. Estimated casualties neared 30,000, with the Union and Confederacy troops suffering nearly 17,000 and 13,000 losses, respectively. Mr. Evans was captured by Confederate troops during the Battle, and was listed as a Prisoner of War (POW) in the Spotsylvania Court House of Virginia on May 12, 1864.

Following his capture, he was transported to the Georgia-based infamous Andersonville prison, officially known as Camp Sumter, which had been opened in early 1864. He was confined for 11 months in over-crowded and terribly inadequate living conditions. According to Camp Sumter logs, following February of 1864, nearly 400 Union POWs were arriving daily. By June, 26,000 POWs were crowded in a 26.5 acre stockade meant to hold no more than 10,000 individuals. The largest amount of POWs held was recorded in August of 1864, nearing 33,000 individuals. It's estimated that nearly 45,000 Union POWs were imprisoned there during the 14 months Camp Sumter was operational; nearly 13,000 of these POWs died from disease, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and exposure due to over-crowding. The prison fully ceased operation in May of 1865, having sent most of its prisoners to further Southern camps during Sherman's occupation of Atlanta in September of 1864. The commander of the camp, Confederate Captain Henry Wirz, was arrested, charged with war-crimes amongst a military tribunal, and was hanged in Washington, DC on November 10, 1865.

Mr. Reese was returned to Union troops on December 10, 1864, and was discharged from his military service six days later on December 16, 1864. He's noted as attending a memorial dedication ceremony at the prison in 1905.

Following his return to McKeesport, he re-entered the coal mines. In 1884, he was named Superintendent and harbor master of the Mormet Coal Company of the Northside, where he also served as a park policeman. He was Superintendent for nearly 28 years.

He had been a member of the Post 88 Grand Army of the Republic, Monongahela Lodge No. 269, Free and Accepted Masons, Allegheny Chapter and Commander of the Knights Templar, Union Veteran Legion No. 1, and German Lodge No. 64 of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ann (Morgan) Evans, whom he married in 1867; and was survived by two daughters, Mrs. John Stewart and Mrs. Edwin Alston; a son, Charles Evans; and a brother, William Evans.

His November 9th funeral services were held in his Northside residence at 1340 Hopkins Street, Pittsburgh, and he was buried in the Homestead Cemetery on November 10, 1909.

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