Our newly discovered Union Private Peter Leies was born at Huberhof, Nunschweiler, Germany in 1841 and killed in action at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 in the single most bloodiest day in American history. Peter is our cousin and left no wife or children. He enlisted at age 21 in New York City in the NY 4th Infantry, Company “D.”
I found a little information about Peter in an American Civil War Research database. I hope the link to him works for you before we hit a paywall. The only other information I know about Peter and the war are the records I found pertaining to him on Ancestry.
The enlistment officer wrote his name as Peter Leas. His pension card had that noted as his alias. LEIES also appears on the pension card, and with the names of his parents on the card, I knew he was the first cousin to my great great grandfather Johann Leies. I have all of the Leies baptisms and confirmations from Nunschweiler, Germany in a file. In my research experience, nobody but an actual relative of my grandmother spells their surname as L-E-I-E-S.
In 1865, his mother Louisa Knerr Leies applied for his pension after the war ended. In 1874, his father then applied for the pension, probably after his mother passed.
I found Peter quite by accident last night. I was chasing down the Leies relatives of Grandma in NYC and trying to prove Peter’s brother Jacob Leies enlisted in the Union Army. I wasn’t looking for Peter until I found his parents listed on his pension card. We have long known we had no direct ancestors in the United States Civil War.
I wonder now what possessed the ethnic Germans to enlist in the Civil War and desire to learn more about the Battle of Antietam. I found a reference to Peter’s Company “D” on another Civil War page saying it was formed with the intent of being a solely German company. I know that didn’t work out because there is a shamrock on the monument to his regiment at Antietam. Follow this link to the memorial.
According to the 1855 NY State Census, Peter and his brother Jacob had been living in NYC since 1852. I found a Jacob Leies enlisting in the NY 159th in 1862. The problem is that on that enlistment record Jacob has his birthplace listed as Brooklyn. I have Jacob’s baptismal record from Nunschweiler. So I wonder if they put Brooklyn on the record if Jacob no longer had the German accent. I will have to research Jacob some more. He is the one that led me to Peter.
Grandma’s great grandfather Johann Schuttler made supply wagons for the Army of the Potomac at Peter Schuttler’s wagon company in Chicago during the Civil War. See: What Grandma said: “SUPPLIED THE UNION ARMY DURING THE CIVIL WAR – SCHUTTLER WAGONS”. A man that I have been trying to prove is his brother drove wagons in the Illinois 24th Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and was promoted to a Corporal.
With the United States Army Heritage Center so close by, I intend to take advantage of the opportunity to research Private Peter Leies further because, he is a Leies and he died in action. He gets his own research binder.
In case you are wondering how we are related, Peter Leies and my great great grandfather Johann Leies shared the same grandfather.