This fallen hero saw numerous engagements during three years of campaigning with the Union army. He probably never expected that, after experiencing the violence of war, he would lose his life while safely in the bosom of home.
The Brewer family arrived in Maryland in the 18th century, settling in the city of Baltimore, though the first of the Brewer line to arrive is still in question. Jacob Brewer (1750s-1819) is one of the earliest documented members of the line, born in Baltimore sometime in the 1750s. Like many young men he looked to the west as a chance for opportunity to own land and elevate his status. He married a young lady named Rebecca in Baltimore in the early 1780s and, ten years later, the Brewer family was living southeast of Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
Jacob and Rebecca had a large family, with almost all of the children documented as achieving adulthood. The family was fairly evenly divided with four daughters and three sons, all born between 1787 and 1806. One of their sons, born in 1803, was given the unique Biblical name Abijah. Abijah Brewer (1803-1879) was born in Westmoreland County, where he worked on his father’s farm as a young man. He married Rebecca Cretzer (1811-1899) around 1834 in Pennsylvania and, shortly after, the couple relocated to Tuscarawas County.
Abijah and Rebecca Brewer settled in the Crooked Run area, along the boundary between Sugar Creek and Dover Townships by the time their second child was born in the summer of 1837. Three years later the family appears on the census for Sugar Creek Township and, during the decade of the 1840s, they welcomed three more children. The family is recorded as living in Dover Township by 1850 on what is likely the same farm along Crooked Run that is attributed to them in the 1875 Tuscarawas County Atlas.
The first child born to Abijah and Rebecca in the 1840s was a son, Paul Brewer (1840-1864). All of the Brewer children, five in all, attended school while also working on their parent’s farm during their youth. When the American Civil War began in the spring of 1861, Paul was the only son of the proper age to serve. In the fall of 1861 Paul enlisted for three years in the 80th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment recruited principally from Tuscarawas, Coshocton, and Carroll counties and organized at Camp Meigs in Dover, Ohio.
The 80th Ohio served primarily in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi and along the Mississippi River itself. Over the course of the war the regiment, and Private Brewer, took part in a number of battles and sieges throughout the theater including the sieges of Corinth and Vicksburg. The unit distinguished itself, and suffered horrible casualties, during a charge at the Battle of Jackson, Mississippi in May 1863. Throughout these marches, battles and sieges, Private Paul Brewer managed to escape injury and death.
After the completion of his three year enlistment period Private Brewer, along with other veterans, reenlisted. The newly reenlisted men were granted a furlough to return home for thirty-days on April 1, 1864. Private Brewer had been home barely a week when he succumbed to an illness and died, far from any battlefield. Whether he was already ill, or became ill at home, is unknown. Private Brewer is buried in the Crooked Run United Methodist Cemetery, not far from the ancestral home.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.