Lt. Col. Thomas Severn Brenholtz was the son of Isaac Brenholtz, a master-machinist of Reading. He was born in 1834. He taught school for some years at Reading very successfully, and then, studying law, was admitted to practice on September 20, 1860.
When the Rebellion broke out, he enlisted as a Lieutenant in Company H, Fifth Regiment for three months service. After this term expired, he raised one of three companies in the three years service, which were recruited at Reading for the Fiftieth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and upon its organization was elected Lieutenant-Colonel. As such officer he served for nearly two years with great gallantry. His regiment participated in the first expedition against the coast of South Carolina, “and subsequently in a number of engagements in all of which he displayed the courage of a true soldier. He had chief command of the regiment upon several occasions.
In July the regiment was ordered to Fortress Monroe, and thence to the support of General Pope in Virginia. It was engaged two days at the second Bull Run battle, and lost heavily, but it drove the enemy in every encounter. Brenholtz commanded the regiment. He was one of the wounded in the second days fight.
The regiment with its brigade was severely shelled near Centerville, and was sharply engaged at the battle of Chantilly. It was again engaged at South Mountain September 14th, and at Antietam on the 17th. At Fredericksburg it was not actively engaged, though it witnessed the battle.
After General Burnside was superseded in Virginia, the 50th went west and took part in the siege of Vicksburg, and was with General Sherman in his campaign to Jackson. In the battle for the occupation of Vicksburg, the regiment was deployed as skirmishers in a very exposed position.
There Thomas Severn Brenholtz, "while gallantly leading his men before the enemy's works, was mortally wounded." He was hurt so badly the field surgeons did not want to move him, but his men refused to leave him. They took a door from a building, and used it as a stretcher to carry him off the battlefield. The advance on Jackson was July 5-10, and the siege of Jackson was July 10-17.
He died from the effects of the wounds at Evansville, Indiana, on August 19th, 1863, leaving his wife, Clara Arnold Brenholtz, his young son Edwin Arnold Brenholtz, born 1959 and unborn twins Clara and Thomas.
"He was a highly respected and promising young man, recognized for his exemplary life and marked ability, His remains were brought to Reading and interred in Charles Evans' cemetery in Reading, Pennsylvania."
"His fall was greatly lamented. Much of the credit which the organization had acquired was due to his excellent qualities as a soldier. No braver man ever led in battle, and upon his fall the service lost one of its most valued leaders....."
From History of Berks County in Pennsylvania, by Morton L. Montgomery, 1896.