The war always scars men in ways that are hard to heal and most difficult to erase. However, it also produces the best in men—wars may be ugly and fought for foolish reasons, but the funny thing is it also produces resolve and brings out something that men don’t know they have. It brings out fortitude.
Here now are two sons of Bradford—Homer Chatley and Harlow Pike. Men from different backgrounds but, somehow, found their fate intertwined when fighting in the Civil War.
Two Sons from Different Mothers
Chatley wasn’t from Bradford. Homer was born in Milledgeville, Mercer County, and it was there that he was conscripted into the Union Army. Pike was, however, a son of Bradford; his father was a pioneer of Bradford, Barnabas Pike. They entered the war as boys turning into men—Chatley was 17 years of age while Pike was conscripted just a day shy of his 18th birthday.
Of the two, Chatley had the most activity. He was enlisted into the 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers and wherever Ulysses S. Grant was, he was there, fighting alongside his regiment. Twice he was wounded at his side during the Battle of the Wilderness—the same battle Pike would find himself in 1864. Pike, meanwhile, fought in some 40 battles and, like Chatley, he was also wounded twice. He got enlisted with the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry, serving with the greater Army of the Potomac.
Bradford became home for both men when the war ended. Chatley taught at Edinboro Normal School after the war and found his calling as a teacher. Meanwhile, Pike settled in Bradford and got married. He was, however, active as a War veteran and was a visible in the Grand Army of the Republic Organization, a group for Union veterans. He was also constantly available during Memorial Day events.
Chatley joined up with the GAR, joining the John S. Melvin Post 141 branch of the group. It was then that he caught up with Pike’s reputation; he was a well-loved figure in the McKean County region and was also active as a participant of many observances pertaining to the way. He eventually replaced Pike as commander of the post, attending the 75th anniversary of Gettysburg as a 92-year-old man.
No one can escape death, for sure, and both men greeted it like an old friend; Pike surrendered his life on April 4, 1935, losing the battle against sickness. Chatley, meanwhile, joined Pike and the rest of his Post friends five years after, finally surrendering at age 94. In the case of these old soldiers, it was Father Time that they didn’t beat.