John Hagel, an honored veteran of the Civil war, who espoused the cause of the Union nd valiantly aided in the defense of the old flag, is now numbered among the worthy citizens of Sacramento county, California. He settled upon his present farm in 1872 and has resided here continuously since, covering a period of thirty-two years. He had four years previous to that time become a resident of California, having journeyed to the Pacific coast by way of the isthmus route.

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr. Hagel was born on the 16th of July, 1842, and is a son of Godfrey and Christiana (Winegardner) Hagel. his parents were natives of Germany and in early life cme to America, settling in Philadelphia, where they were married. For many years they remained residents of that city, but both are now deceased.

John Hagel was reared in the city of his nativity and acquired his education in the public schools there. His knowledge has also been supplemented by the information gained from practical experience, reading and observation. He had not yet attained his majority at the time of the outbreak of the Civil war, but he had watched with interest the progress of events in the south and his patriotic spirit was aroused by the attempt of the south to overthrow the Union. Accordingly, in September, 1861, he offered his service in its defense, enlisting as a member of Company I, Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry, under the command of Colonel Gregg. He was in the Army of the Potomac and participated in a number of important engagements including the battles of Williamsburg, Yorktown, Chickahominy, Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. At the last-named he was captured while participating in a charge under Major Keenan, and there the major was killed, together with a number of the men of the company. Mr. Hagel was the only one of his regiment who was captured. Almost simultaneously with his capture General Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by a mistaken volley from his own troops, this wound resulting in his death. After his capture Mr. Hagel was taken to a railway station on the Weldon Railroad, and with many others was marched on to Richmond, where they were incarcerated in Libby prison. The charge under Major Keenan was made on Saturday evening and on Sunday the captured Union soldiers were started on the march, reaching Libby prison on the following Saturday evening. They had to walk the entire distance, and they had very scant rations during that time, a cup of flour per day being allotted to each one. During his confinement at Libby prison Mr. Hagel suffered many hardships, but the history of that prison is well known to the world and need not be recounted here. After a time he was paroled and later on was exchanged and rejoined his own regiment, becoming again one of its active members soon after the battle of Gettysburg. He subsequently fought in the battle of the Wilderness and later on participated in Sheridan's raid, the troops being for thirty-five days upon the march in advancing toward Richmond. they succeeded in getting in the rear of General Lee's army and doing capable service. He was also in the siege of Petersburg. Mr. Hagel was honorably discharged in October, 1864, having done his full duty as a soldier, and with an honorable military record he returned home.

Returning to Philadelphia Mr. Hagel remained a resident of that city until 1868, when he came to California, making the journey by way of the Isthmus of Panama and thence on a steamer which landed him at San Francisco. Proceeding into the interior of the state he secured employment as a farm hand, and was thus engaged until he settled upon his ranch in 1872. It has since been his place of abode, and his time and energies have been devoted to its improvement and cultivation. Not much had been done in the way of improvement when he located there, but he has added spendid modern equipments and now has a very valuable ranch. It comprises two hundred and forty acres of rich land, which is well tilled and yields good tribute in return for the care and labor he bestows upon it.

Mr. Hagel married Susie Thomas, and to them have been born two sons, John F. and Thomas M., who are with their parents on the ranch. In his political views Mr. Hagel is a Republican with independent proclivities, and fraternally he is connected with the Masonic lodge at Galt. Since his arrival in California his life has been quietly passed, devoted to farming interests, and he has found in his chosen field of business activity the opportunity which he sought for gaining financial success. He has enjoyed a good living, and year by year has added somewhat to his capital until he is in possession of a comfortable competence. He has also throughout the entire period of his connection with Sacramento county manifested the same loyalty in citizenship that he displayed when upon southern battlefields in following the old flag and advocating the Union cause.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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