May 25

The gate to Montgomery Cemetery, located in Norristown, Pennsylvania. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.

Founded in 1847, the Montgomery Cemetery, located in Norristown, Pennsylvania, is home to a number of generals from the Civil War. Today we will take a look at the mausoleum of General Winfield Scott Hancock. Special thanks to Gettysburg Daily reader Andre Mammino for providing photographs and information of Montgomery Cemetery.

The cemetery is located off of Hartranft Avenue where it intersects with Jackson Street in Norristown. The extreme bottom right of this map is the location of the Hancock mausoleum. We will show a more detailed map of the cemetery in a future posting.

The gate in the first photograph is locked. The garden-style cemetery has suffered greatly from vandalism in the last century and the current maintainers, the Historical Society of Montgomery County, have opted to lock the cemetery to vehicular traffic. We’ll enter through the gate on the left here, which is open for pedestrians. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.

Perhaps due to its proximity to the cemetery entrance and the surrounding neighborhood, the Hancock mausoleum was surrounded by a chain-link fence to deter vandals. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.
Winfield Scott Hancock was born February 14, 1824, in a small locale known as Montgomery Square, approximately 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and about 8 miles away from Norristown. Hancock’s ancestors arrived in Montgomery County as early as 1728. When Hancock was a boy, his father, until then a schoolteacher, moved the family to Norristown. He passed the bar and practiced law from the house in this picture, which was located near the Montgomery County Courthouse in downtown Norristown, but no longer stands today. This engraving was made circa 1880.

After spending his childhood playing on the banks of the Schuylkill River (which lies just south of the Montgomery Cemetery), Hancock was nominated to attend West Point, and left Norristown when he was 16 years old. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.

This plaque to “Hancock the Superb” was installed by the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1976. You can click on this image to enlarge it. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.

At Gettysburg, Hancock was wounded on July 3, 1863, while commanding his 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the repulse of Pickett’s Charge. The bullet ripped through the pommel of his saddle, and it was initially believed the wound was only caused by wooden splinters and a nail, which Hancock removed himself. He returned to his father’s house in Norristown to recover with the bullet still in his leg. He remained in Norristown through the rest of 1863 and would not return to the army until the spring of 1864. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.

Hancock had the mausoleum in Norristown constructed for his daughter, Ada, who died in 1875. Hancock died on February 9, 1886, in New York City, a famous general who almost won the presidential election of 1880. Four days later, his body was taken from New York City, arriving in Norristown around 3 PM for his funeral. This engraving was made circa 1885.

“At the cemetery, thousands of persons had congregated, from all the country and about, clustering on the hillside above the tomb. [...] Formed in two lines facing each other, the pall-bearers stood in front of the tomb with uncovered heads. General [William T] Sherman stood at the head of one line, with General [Philip H] Sheridan standing next to him. Then the first of three salvos was fired from the hillside hard by.” After Hancock was laid to rest and the soldiers filed out of the vault, artillery from hillside above the river sounded a thirteen gun salute. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.

Here is a picture (bottom right) of the mausoleum before it was encircled by fencing. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.

This sign provides more information about the Historical Society of Montgomery County. Thanks again to Gettysburg Daily reader Andre Mammino for providing these photographs. We will be covering the cemetery in further detail in future postings. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011, by Andre Mammino.


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