Last Man Standing - Carbon County’s Last Civil War Soldier
Their silent tents to spread
And Glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.”
Inscription on Carbon County’s Civil War monument
Bill Parliman of Franklin Township remembers the candy bars grandma Annie
gave him as a boy. It was his reward for helping the petite, elderly woman
thread the needles she used to sew her quilts as they gossiped in the sewing
room at her family farm over half a century ago.
After her passing, Parliman inherited the family records—a scrapbook
collection of notes, certificates, and photos, leading him to a startling
discovery—his grandfather, Allen Correll, was Carbon County’s last surviving
Civil War veteran.
The Civil War cost six hundred thousand American lives, more than all other
American wars combined. Union veterans returned home in triumph. But as the years passed and some died of wounds or disease, a few tarried into the
twentieth century. Each 4th of July, their ranks grew thinner. Finally, Allen
Correll, the longest-living soldier stood alone for the final honor.
In February 1865, Allen Correll turned eighteen, military age, and rushed to
enlist in the Pennsylvania 88th Regiment—hoping the war wouldn’t end too soon. Private Correll’s official picture shows him looking serious and military with bayonet-topped musket.
Within weeks, on April 9, General Lee surrendered to General Grant at
Appomattox. On May 23rd the 88th Pennsylvania marched down Washington streets in the Grand Review. Having served just 61 days, the 88th was dispersed and its members returned to civilian life with their monthly pay of $11.
Allen married a neighbor, Caroline. In 1870, Allen and Caroline had a family
of two daughters on a farm worth $1,000. What prosperity the farm’s rocky soil
afforded is not recorded, but Allen paid to pose for a photograph at their
The 1880 census indicated Allen supplemented the farming with railroad labor.
The couple had seven children. Caroline died birthing the last child.
Allen stayed a widower for nine years. In 1894, he married Annie, sixteen
years younger, and they had a child.
The Corrells farmed until 1929, when they sold the farm and bought a home in
Mauch Chunk’s Heights neighborhood. At 82, Allen retired from farming with a
military pension. The stipend grew over the years: $30 per month in 1917, $50 by 1920, and $75 by 1930.
In 1937, robust and hearty at the venerable age of ninety, Correll was
invited to dedicate the town’s new high school. Headlines announced, “Veteran of Civil War Takes Part in Program.”
This was Correll’s last public appearance. The following month newspaper
headlines read, “Carbon County’s Last Civil War Veteran Dies.”
The Civil War is part of Bill Parliman’s spirit—placed there in two ways: in
the neat, organized pages of his scrapbook—evidencing in bits and pieces of
lives connecting his family to America’s Civil War, and in his memory of the
tiny lady and her candy bar rewards.
Written by Bill Allison, a retired school principal and author of the historical novel, Chase. Taken from the September 2009 issue of Carbon County (PA) Magazine. Vol 1 #4.