Their Own Words

Osborne, John and James Gerencser. "Their Own Words."
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John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., "Alexander Kelly McClure," Their Own Words,
Body Summary:
Alexander Kelly McClure was born in Sherman’s Valley, Pennsylvania to the farming family of Alexander and Isabella Anderson McClure on January 9, 1828. He received little formal schooling and was apprenticed to a tanner in 1843. He also assisted as a printer at the local Perry County Freeman, and so began a long and distinguished career as a newspaperman. Within a few years he was editor and publisher of the Juniata Sentinel in Mifflintown, and before long the strident Whig views he had developed earlier at the Freeman came to the notice of Pennsylvania political leaders. The youthful McClure was appointed to the staff of William F. Johnson, the first Whig governor of the Commonwealth, with the honorary rank of colonel. In 1850 he served as the deputy United States marshal for Juniata County thanks to Whig president Millard Fillmore. Two years later McClure relocated to Franklin County, took over the Franklin Repository, and then turned it into one of the most influential newspapers in the state.

A prominent citizen of Chambersburg for two decades, McClure studied law and was called to the Franklin Bar in 1856. Politics and the press, however, remained his major interests. In 1853 he had been selected as the Whig candidate for auditor-general, the youngest man up to that time in Pennsylvania nominated for a state office. He lost that race, and his Whig passion began turning toward the newly emerging Republican Party. McClure carried on a spirited conflict with the local Democratic Valley Spirit through his own press in Chambersburg, the powerfully Republican Repository. He attended the Commonwealth’s Republican organizing convention in Pittsburgh in 1855, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1858, and the following year became a member of the state Senate. He played an even more prominent role in Republican politics in 1860 when, still only thirty-two years of age, he and Andrew Curtin succeeded in bringing over the Pennsylvania delegation at the national convention from Simon Cameron to Abraham Lincoln. McClure immediately launched himself in the state and national elections as chairman of the Republican State Committee, constructing an efficient and widely organized campaign that swept his friend Curtin to the governorship and Lincoln to a sweeping Pennsylvania victory.

On the outbreak of war, Senator McClure became the chair of the state's Senate Committee on Military Affairs. He acted as spokesman for Curtin and offered the governor strong support within the legislature. He assisted Curtin in the calling of the influential meeting of “Loyal War Governors of the North,” held in Altoona on September 24 and 25, 1862. He was also commissioned as an assistant adjutant general under President Lincoln and helped provide seventeen Pennsylvania regiments to the Union armies. His own personal brush with war came with the Confederate occupations of Chambersburg, the second of which, in 1863, saw him meet with General Lee personally. In 1864 a third Confederate foray into Pennsylvania saw the town burned to the ground with McClure’s “Norland” estate on the northern outskirts deliberately targeted for destruction. He never rebuilt his estate in Chambersburg (Norland was later to become much of the campus of Wilson College), and instead moved to Philadelphia, opening a law office in that city. Around this same time, he also invested in western mining. As a representative of the Philadelphia-based Montana Gold and Silver Mining Company, he traveled and worked, in 1867 and 1868, as superintendent of the mill that was built with company funds on the Oro Cache vein in the Montana Territory.

The remainder of his political career saw McClure take on an increasingly independent bent. He supported Ulysses S. Grant at the 1868 Republican National Convention, but by the time of the General’s reelection bid, McClure had become disillusioned with the party; he then led the Pennsylvania delegation to the Liberal Republican National Convention that nominated Horace Greeley. Back home in Philadelphia, he had similarly broken party ranks, winning a hard fought election to the state Senate on the Citizen’s ticket, with Democratic endorsement. In 1874 McClure ran for mayor, with similar backing, on the popular platform of anti-corruption, losing by only a few hundred votes. Not giving up, the following year he and Frank McLaughlin founded the Times as an independent, anti-corruption voice for Philadelphia. McClure remained its editor until 1901 when he sold the newspaper to Adolph Ochs. McClure had earlier, in 1869, published letters of his travels in Montana, but from 1892 onwards he began to write on his reminiscences of a long political career. He published works on Andrew Curtin, Abraham Lincoln, and Pennsylvania politics as he had seen them, and he also wrote a more contemporary biography of William McKinley. Alexander Kelly McClure died in Philadelphia on June 6, 1909.
John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., "John Taylor Cuddy," Their Own Words,
Body Summary:
John Taylor Cuddy was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on October 17, 1844. He was one of five surviving sons of John and Agnes Cuddy. The Cuddy family owned and operated a distillery in the town. John Taylor also had a sister, Maggie, and two brothers who died as young children. His schooling was limited since he worked in the family business. In the late spring of 1861, like tens of thousands of his fellow Pennsylvanians, he was caught up in the excitement of the Civil War and President Lincoln's call for volunteers. Carlisle and its surrounding area quickly brought together four companies of volunteers during April 1861. One of these, the Carlisle Fencibles under Captain Robert Henderson, took into its ranks the young Cuddy, who added a year to his age to avoid possible complications with his enlistment. This unit subsequently became Company A, 36th Regiment, 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, and John Taylor Cuddy was mustered into this regiment as a private on June 5, 1861.

The 36th, after training at Camp Wayne near Philadelphia, joined the defense of Washington and spent some relatively quiet months before being engaged at Gaine's Mill in June 1862. Before that summer was out, the regiment had also fought and suffered heavily at the Battle of Antietam. Further bloody action continued at Fredericksburg that December. Ironically, the now battle-trained Pennsylvanians of the 36th missed the 1863 Confederate invasion of their home state. The regiment saw limited action, in fact, until the spring of the following year when it marched south to participate in the Battle of the Wilderness. During the confusion of the first and second day of the battle, the 36th suffered disaster when it was cut off and forced to surrender all its 272 officers and men. Those who surrendered included the thirty-three survivors of Company A, most of whom were one month away from ending their three year enlistment.

Cuddy was among those who were entrained and then marched to the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Sixty-seven men of the 36th perished in the horrendous conditions of the open camp. John Cuddy survived Andersonville, but when he and others in his company were transferred to another equally harsh camp in Florence, South Carolina, his shattered health gave way to the ravages of five months in captivity. He died in Florence on September 29, 1864, eighteen days before his twentieth birthday.
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