Henry G. Bonebrake
Lieutenant Henry G. Bonebrake was born near Waynesboro, Franklin county, Pennsylvania, June 21, 1838. His early life was spent on the farm with his father in the vicinity of Waynesboro, Pa. On September 8, 1862, he went to the office of Michael H. Stoner, a justice of the peace in Waynesboro, and signed the muster roll of the Waynesboro Cavalry, then being recruited in Franklin county, and later became one of the chief promoters of the company. When the company was permanently organized he was elected first sergeant of the company and served in that capacity until December 15, 1864, when he was commissioned second lieutenant. On January 14, 1865, he was commissioned first lieutenant of the company. From the day the company was mustered into the United States service, September 26, 1862, until the day of his muster out of the service, June 21, 1865, he had a continuous service record with the company.
On October n, 1863, during the engagement at Stephensburg, Virginia, his horse was shot on the skirmish line. He, with Comrade Aaron Harman who was also dismounted at the time, was cut off from the company and experienced great difficulty in crossing a swollen stream in their rear.
While emerging from the stream on the opposite side, they were greeted with a volley of Rebel bullets and he received a slight wound. On December 23, 1864, in the mounted charge near Gordonsville, Virginia, his horse was again shot from under him, receiving two bullet wounds, and was killed. On April i, 1865, at the battle of Five Forks, Virginia, while charging the enemy s breastworks, Lieutenant Bonebrake and Comrade William Cummings were the first to leap over the breastworks. Seeing a Rebel battery flag, he made a dash for it, but failed in the attempt to capture it. A short distance to the right was another Confederate color-bearer who was enthusiastically waving his flag and urging his comrades to stand by the colors. While the color bearer s attention was principally directed to the assault in his immediate front, Lieutenant Bonebrake rushed to his side, grasped his colors and demanded his surrender.
A hand to hand struggle followed and he succeeded in capturing the flag.
For this distinguished and meritorious act he was one of fifty-one who, having captured Confederate flags, presented in person their trophies to the Secretary of War, the Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, receiving his warm personal congratulations. All who presented Confederate flags on that occasion were granted a thirty days furlough. In further recognition of his distinguished bravery, he received from the War Department, May 5, 1865, a medal of honor for conspicuous bravery in the battle of Five Forks, Virginia, April i, 1865.
An act of Congress approved April 23, 1904, provided for the issue of a medal. The first was of bronze, the latter of silver heavily electrotyped in gold. It is much handsomer than the old medal. The new medal was received by Lieutenant Bonebrake on Memorial Day, May 30, 1905. Lieutenant Bonebrake prizes these medals very highly and regards them as rare souvenirs to hand down to his posterity. Lieutenant Bonebrake was regularly mustered out of the United States service, with his company, at Clouds Mills, Virginia, in obedience to General Order No. 312, War Department, June 16, 1865.
Source: History of the Seventeenth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry OR One Hundred and Sixty-Second in the Line of Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiments. War to Suppress the Rebellion, 1861-1865. Compiled from Records of the Rebellion, Official Reports, Recollections, Reminiscences, Incidents, Diaries and Company Rosters, with an Appendix by H. P. Mover, Formerly Bugler, Co. E, 17th Regt., Pa. Vol. Cavalry. SOWERS PRINTING COMPANY, LEBANON, PA.