Even small artifacts have the power to tell important stories, and that is certainly the case with a spur which we found during inventory of the collections at the Berks History Center. The spur belonged to Lieutenant Colonel Joseph McLean (1823 – 1862), commander of the 88th Pennsylvania Regiment.
A native of Philadelphia, McLean moved to Reading and worked as a paint shop foreman for the Philadelphia & Reading Railway. He was also a Reading City councilman and the father of nine children. His oldest son, Daniel (1848-1917), served alongside his father as a drummer with the 88th.
Joseph McLean was killed in action in Manassas, Virgina at the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 30, 1862. We believe that Daniel McLean succeeded in somehow recovering the spur, for it was his son Warren who presented it to the Historical Society of Berks County in 1949. While the McLean family erected a monument in Charles Evans Cemetery, they were unable to recover Joseph’s body from the battlefield. To our knowledge, only his spur made it back to Reading.
Researched & Written by Bradley K. Smith