COLONEL WILLIAM H. COOPER was born February 22, 1844 in Bristol PA. He attended school in Bristol and was working on a farm when the Civil War erupted in the spring of 1861. He enlisted as a Private in Company I, 32nd Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers on May 29, 1861. He was badly wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg, after which he was promoted to Corporal, on March 1, 1863. William H. Cooper was discharged from his military duties on June 17, 1864 in Philadelphia PA.
William H. Cooper returned to Bristol for a time, then came to Camden in 1864. He found work as a deck hand on the tugboat John Nelson, which was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. In time he rose to pilot and later Captain of this ship, and served as Captain of many other Pennsylvania Railroad ships on the Delaware. In 1892 he was appointed Superintendent of the lighterage department of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Camden, supervising a fleet of three tugs and sixteen floats, and a staff of up to 72 men, moving rail cars to various points in the area reachable by water.
On December 11, 1869 William H. Cooper helped organized Company E of the Fifth Battalion Regiment of the National Guard of New Jersey. After William H. Cooper was elected First Lieutenant in 1870 the Fifth Battalion was organized as the Sixth Regiment of the New Jersey National Guard. He swiftly rose through the ranks, and on September 1, 1882 he was commissioned as a full Colonel, and placed in charge of the regiment. By 1897 the regiment had doubled in size, carrying eight companies and 450 men on its roster. In these times the Sixth Regiment Armory was at West and Mickle Streets. This building was later used for storage and sporting exhibitions. William Morgenweck's Camden Electrics Basketball team played there. The building was destroyed in a 1906 fire which took the lives of three firefighters.
Col. William H. Cooper was a member of the Thomas M.K. Lee Post No. 5 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Camden. He served as Assistant Inspector General on the National Staff of that organization. Col. Cooper was also with the Young Men's Christian Association, and was chairman of the chapter connected with the Pennsylvania Railroad. This group opened its own gymnasium in Camden on October 25, 1909. He was also a member of the Odd Fellows, and a member of the First Methodist Episcopal Church on Sixth Street at Stevens, where he was a steward.
William H. Cooper first married in 1866. His wife Julia passed away in 1878. He married again, and with wife Ida had three children, William H. Jr., Mary W., and Edwin B. Cooper. By 1880 William Cooper resided at 510 Mickle Street, and he remained there through at least 1891.
Colonel William H. Cooper filed for his Civil War pension on December 3, 1897. He passed away in 1902, survived by his wife, son Edwin, and daughter Mary. Ida B. Cooper filed for her Civil War widow's pension on March 2, 1903.
The 31st, the 3rd of the Pa. reserves, was recruited mainly in Philadelphia and Bucks county and was mustered in for three years, at Harrisburg, July 27, 1861. It became at once the 3rd regiment of the 2nd brigade under Brig.- Gen. George G. Meade, posted at Tennallytown It participated in the reconnaissance to Dranesville, in Oct., 1861; the operations of the Army of the Potomac on the Peninsula in the spring of 1862 including the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, Glendale and Malvern hill. In August it joined the Army of Virginia, with which it was active at the second Bull Run and in reserve at Chantilly.
Returning to the Army of the Potomac, it was engaged at South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg. In Feb., 1863, the regiment was ordered to Washington and assigned to the 22nd army corps, with the rest of the 2nd brigade, remaining there until Jan. 1864, when it was ordered to West Virginia and reached Martinsburg on the 7th, where it remained on picket duty until the 28th. It then moved west to New Creek; marched in futile pursuit of the enemy until Feb. 6; returned to Martinsburg; performed picket duty at Vanclevesville until Mar. 27; moved to Harper's Ferry, and then to Webster.
On April 22, it started for Parkersburg continued from there to Brownstown on the Great Kanawha river, and on up the river to Fayette, the object of the expedition being to destroy the communication furnished Lee by the Virginia & Tennessee railroad. On May 9, 1864, the command engaged the enemy at Cloyd's mountain successfully, but with heavy loss. Driving the enemy before them the Union troops reached the railroad and accomplished the object of the campaign. The return was commenced and after days of arduous marching and skirmishing the command reached Meadow Bluff on May 19. Three days later it was ordered to Millville, and on the 30th started for home.
regiment was mustered out at Philadelphia June I7, 1864, when the
veterans and recruits were consolidated into a battalion, which
participated in the engagements of the remainder of the campaign and
was finally transferred to the 54th Pa infantry.
|Philadelphia Inquirer - January 14, 1897|
Hoelzle - John S. Smith -
William C. Miller - Moses Hughes
Peter Petrick - Front Street - Vine Street - Liberty Street
Mechanic Street - Federal Street - Xavier Schnurr -
South 3rd Street - Spruce Street - John L. Westcott - Colonel William Cooper
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