Reamstown monument dedicated to unknown soldiers

By on May 30, 2018
Veteran Steve Karpinski stands next to the newly dedicated memorial to unknown Revolutionary War soldiers in the cemetery behind Salem E.C. Church. Photo by Alice Hummer

Veteran Steve Karpinski stands next to the newly dedicated memorial to unknown Revolutionary War soldiers in the cemetery behind Salem E.C. Church. Photo by Alice Hummer

It was December 19, 1777 when the wagons began arriving in the Reamstown area with the half-dead soldiers fighting the Revolutionary War.

They was a sad sight — soldiers clothed in rags, no socks, no shoes, no blankets. They were exhausted, hungry, and many sick. With the acrid dust from the wagons, horses and humans, there were plenty of odors.

Wagon drivers were given no instructions except to go west to Lancaster County. Drivers knew north of Lancaster was Bethlehem, where there was already a crowded hospital.

Churches, barns and other buildings were commandeered to become hospitals. Winter weather meant more stable buildings than the field hospitals were needed. Ephrata Cloister housed about 260 men. Lititz Moravian buildings housed around 400 men.

Dr. Scott, from Ephrata, didn’t arrive to tend to the soldiers billeted in Reamstown until January. Arriving soldiers had a malady called Camp Fever. It began with headaches and then a full body rash, aches, pains and fever.

Physicians didn’t know how to reduce the fever. Left untreated, men became delirious within two to three weeks, went into a coma, and died.

Michael Showalter, museum educator at the Ephrata Cloister and Reamstown’s Memorial Service speaker on Sunday afternoon, May 27, relayed the above information. He said written records are scant. Legend says at least 30 soldiers died in Reamstown.

“While these men did not die in battle, their deaths were just as hard and their families grieved just as hard,” Showalter said.

It is fitting that the monument’s inscription reads, “known but to God.”

Smoke  clears  after  the  three  round  military  salute  by  authentically clad re-enactors dressed as Pennsylvania riflemen who served in the Continental Army. Photo by Alice Hummer

Smoke clears after the three round military salute by authentically clad re-enactors dressed as Pennsylvania riflemen who served in the Continental Army. Photo by Alice Hummer

The First Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line, Inc. participated in the dedication. This re-enactment group, clad in authentic Revolutionary Was uniforms, used authentic musket rifles for their three-round military salute which concluded the program.

The Reamstown Federation of Churches and the Reinholds VFW take seriously the task of never forgetting veterans and their sacrifices with this annual service. The new memorial to unknown Revolutionary War soldiers is made possible by the Reinholds VFW Post 6759.

Reamstown Elementary’s two fifth grade essay contest winners and two runner-up winners were congratulated. Winners, Jeremy Ouilikon and Aaron Wilczek, read their essays on the theme “The Cost of My Freedom.”

Ouilikon made an emotional impact on the audience by including the numbers of lives lost in each war, from the Revolutionary War through WWII. He tabulated that his freedom cost 1,762,707 lives.

Wilczek summarized that his freedom allows him to do what he wants with his life. He shared his experience of visiting — with the Boy Scouts — Arlington National Cemetery. Of special interest to Wilczek was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the changing of the guard ceremony.

The essay contest is sponsored by St. Paul Evangelical Congregational Church in cooperation with Reamstown Elementary School. There is a $50 cash prize for each winner and $25 for each runner up.

Many in the audience crossed the street after the ceremony, where flowers were placed at the beautifully restored monument at the entrance to Reamstown Park. Reamstown Park Association undertook the large project, including repointing the stone.

Refreshments in Reamstown Park’s Community Building concluded the program.

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