BY JOHN B. HORNER, CTHS FOUNDING MEMBER / OCTOBER 2019
Charles Thomas Cassatt was born July 15, 1893 in Cumberland Township, in a house, no longer standing, directly across Taneytown Road from the current Gettysburg National Military Park Maintenance Building. He was one of nine children belonging to Jefferson Thomas and Margaret Schrum Cassatt.
He was working as a farm laborer near Bordentown, NJ, when he registered for the draft in June of 1917. He entered military service in March of 1918, and was stationed at Camp Dix, NJ. Private Cassatt was a member of 309th Infantry, 78th Division Medical Department, sailing for duty overseas May 20, 1918. He served on the front lines during the fighting at Verdun and in the Argonne Forest, also on the Alsace-Lorraine Forest.
On Oct. 26, Private Cassatt was in a hospital, suffering from wounds received when he was gassed by the Germans. He had been blind for some time from the effects of the gas. On Dec. 23, 1918, he was sent from his outfit to Camp Hospital No. 65, Semure, France, suffering from an attack of influenza. He developed lobar pneumonia and died on Dec. 28, 1918 at the age of 25 years. He was buried at the St, Michiel American Cemetery (Plot A, Row 15, Grave site 30).
As late as Dec. 15, 1918, he had written his mother, “Dear mother, I take pleasure to let you know that I am back with my outfit again and am enjoying the best of health, and hope you all are the same. I don’t know when I will get back to the states, but hope it will won’t be too long anymore. We are preparing for a three-days hike, I don’t know whether it is to a port or Germany, but I hope it is to a port…. Must close now, hoping to hear you soon. Love to all.
Although not gunned down on the battlefield, Charles Cassatt certainly gave his life for his beloved country, and is to be remembered and revered for his great sacrifice. In 2018, Al Ferranto and Dale Molina, founding members of the Cumberland Township Historical Society, placed flowers at Private Cassatt’s grave site.
John B. Horner is a Life Member of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.