Company L, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry
Great-great-grandfather of William J. Figenshu
At Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in Dec. 1862, Lawrence Fiegenschuh enlisted in Company A, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry. This regiment was also known as the 163rd Pennsylvania Volunteers and the Continental Cavalry. Lawrence took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and then joined his company at Fairfax Court House, Virginia.
The regiment, when only partially organized and equipped, moved from Harrisburg to Bladensburg, Maryland, and on Jan. 1, 1863, it moved to near the head of Long Bridge, Virginia; about the middle of the month to Germantown on the Little River turnpike, where early in February it was joined by Cos. L and M, and was fully organized. Lawrence Fiegenschuh was assigned to Company L in Feb. 1863.
The regiment was at first brigaded with the 5th New York and 1st Vermont Cavalry, under command of Col. Wyndham, and early in the spring was assigned to Gen. Custer’s Michigan brigade of Brig.-Gen. Stahel’s division. After five months’ service in this locality, covering the defenses of Washington and guarding the gaps of the Blue Ridge, it moved with its division to Middletown, and was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 3d Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, under Gen. Kilpatrick. Marching through Littlestown and Hanover, the regiment formed the rear-guard being attacked by Stuart’s force at Hanover. A sharp skirmish ensued which accounted for the absence of the Confederate cavalry from Gettysburg, where it was so greatly needed. On July 3rd the 18th was closely engaged at Gettysburg throughout the entire day and in the evening the 1st Brigade charged under the leadership of Col. Farnsworth, who was killed. In the pursuit that followed, the cavalry overtook and captured 1,000 prisoners and 2 pieces of artillery at Monterey Springs. At Hagerstown, Maryland on July 6, 1863, the enemy was found in force and in a charge made by Companies L and M to test the strength of the opposing forces, a large proportion of the two companies was killed or captured.
Following the battle of Hagerstown, the records of Company L show Lawrence Fiegenschuh as “missing in action”. He was later found to be a prisoner of war and held at Belle Island, Virginia. After being paroled and released, he reported back to the Union Army at Washington, DC where, in Jan. 1864, he was honorably discharged from Federal Service by a Medical Surgeon’s Certificate.
Lawrence Fiegenschuh died of tuberculosis on Nov. 8, 1872 in Philadelphia, at the age of 49 years and 3 months. His place of burial is unknown, although it is believed to be in Philadelphia.
There are three monuments at Gettysburg memorializing the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Two of them are located on Big Round Top (one being for the regiment itself and the other honoring the 3rd Division, 1st Brigade). The third monument is the Pennsylvania State Monument where the name “L. Fiegschuh” (missing the “en”) appears on the plaque of the 18th Pennsylvania.
An inscribed brick honoring Lawrence has been placed on the Walk of Valor at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It reads:
“L. FIEGENSCHUH – CPL CO L 18 PVC – GETTYSBURG 1863”