Pennsylvania Canal Company (Signed by Civil War General Isaac Wistar)

Pennsylvania Canal Company (Signed by Civil War General Isaac Wistar)
Item# 5606

Was: $99.95



Mortgage Bond, issued/canceled
T. Sinclair’s, Philadelphia
The item shown is the exact piece you will receive



The canal era began in Pennsylvania in 1797 with the Conewago Canal, which carried riverboats around Conewago Falls on the Susquehanna River near York Haven. Spurred by construction of the Erie Canal between 1817 and 1825 and the competitive advantage it gave New York State in moving people and materials to and from the interior of the continent, Pennsylvanians built hundreds of miles of canals during the early decades of the 19th century. These included two canals built by Pennsylvania stock companies, the Schuylkill Canal from Philadelphia to Port Carbon and the Union Canal from Reading to Middletown. By 1834, the Main Line of Public Works, a system of interlocking canals, railways, and inclined planes, was hauling passengers and freight up to 391 miles between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Though not all in concurrent operation, the total length of the canals built in Pennsylvania eventually reached 1,243 miles.

By 1840, work had been completed not only on the Main Line of Public Works but on many other lines, officially called divisions. The Main Line consisted of the Eastern Division, the Juniata Division, the Western Division, the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, and the Allegheny Portage Railroad. North–south divisions operated along the Delaware River in the east, the Susquehanna River in the middle of the state, and the Beaver River in the west. A few additions were completed after 1840.

By about 1850, railroads had begun displacing canals as the preferred method of long-distance transportation. In 1852, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) began offering rail service from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and in 1857, it bought the Main Line Canal from the state. In 1859, all canals owned by the commonwealth were sold. The PRR formed the Pennsylvania Canal Company in 1867 and continued to use canals to haul freight.

By 1872, the company owned and operated the following canals:

Columbia-Wilkes-Barre / 151 miles

Junction-Williamsburg / 113 miles

Northumberland-Farandsville / 82 miles

Clarks Ferry-Millersburg / 12 miles

However, the canal business declined steadily in the last quarter of the century, and most Pennsylvania canals no longer functioned after 1900.

This piece is signed by Isaac J. Wistar as the company President.

At the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861, Wistar chose to follow his home state and the Union cause. He raised a company of men and was elected its captain. Wistar's company was then added to the 71st Pennsylvania Infantry, originally known as the California Regiment. This regiment was organized at Fort Schuyler located in New York. On June 28 Wistar was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and on July 1 the 71st left for Fortress Monroe on the Virginia Peninsula. On July 22 Wistar and the 71st was then ordered to Washington, D.C., forming part of the capital's defenses until that fall. Wistar participated in the much-publicized Union defeat in the Battle of Ball's Bluff on October 21. In the fight he temporarily led the regiment and was seriously wounded, hit in his right elbow, his jaw, and thigh.

Following the death of Col. Edward D. Baker at Ball's Bluff, Wistar became the commander of the 71st Pennsylvania, promoted to colonel on November 11, 1861. The 71st participated in the Peninsular Campaign of 1862, although it isn't clear whether Wistar was actually present; at the Battle of Seven Pines (May 31 and June 1) the regiment was led by its major, and during the Seven Days Battles (June 30 and July 1) commanded by its lieutenant colonel.

Wistar fought in the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, and was wounded in his left arm. His commander, Oliver O. Howard, reported on Wistar's new injuries, saying "...with his right arm nearly useless from a former wound, had his left disabled." referring to the previous Ball's Bluff wounds. On November 29 Wistar was promoted to brigadier general, and he was assigned to brigade command in the VII Corps beginning on May 16, 1863.

Beginning on July 18, 1863, Wistar commanded the District of Yorktown in Virginia, and that August the post was re-designated as a subdistrict of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. In April 1864 he briefly was given divisional command of the XVIII in the Army of the James. On May 7 Wistar resumed leading a brigade and participated in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, but eleven days later he was relieved of duty and replaced by Col. Griffen Stedman. Military historian Ezra J. Warner surmises Wistar performed poorly during this campaign, saying:

”The conclusion is more or less inescapable, although nothing concrete appears in the records, that Wistar's handling of his brigade on the foggy morning of May 16 left something to be desired.

Wistar's resignation from the Union Army was accepted by the U.S. War Department on September 15, 1864.PA-Pennsylvania Maritime and Related Canal Companies Autographed Pieces Canal Scene Ship Featured Bridge Featured Train Featured

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