Walter Scott Ditto

Walter Scott Ditto was born on September 6, 1835, in Clear Spring, Maryland, to William V. Ditto and Hannah Kershner. His father was a farmer who owned at least two slaves. Walter attended school in Washington County, Maryland, before enrolling at the University of Virginia in 1855 to study mathematics and natural and moral philosophy. 

In December 1855, his father fell gravely ill, and he received a two-week leave of absence to visit home. William died on December 16, 1855, placing tremendous financial strain on the family. Walter informed UVA’s faculty that it was now “out of his power to return to the University.” He asked them to withdraw him from the university and refund a portion of his fees, a request they granted on January 19, 1856.  

Later that year, Ditto enrolled at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. James Buchanan served on the college’s Board of Trustees, and in February 1857, the student body agreed to escort him to Washington, DC, for his presidential inauguration. Although he had only attended the college for a few months, Ditto was one of eleven students chosen to accompany the new president. 

Ditto joined the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and the Diagnothian Literary Society. In June 1859, he delivered a “beautiful and polished production” on the subject of “Dum licet utere” (While time is given, use it). He earned a reputation as a trouble-maker, spending his time smoking, playing cards, and pulling pranks. On one occasion, he snuck into a new college building, deconstructed the bells, hid the college pulpit in the bushes, and brought a young cow into the Prayer Room. As a result, he was “tabood” by many Lancaster citizens, who refused to allow him into their houses.  

Nonetheless, he maintained the respect of his peers. He served as president at a student body meeting in June 1859, and the following month he delivered the valedictory address at graduation. A local writer observed that Ditto “called forth more contradictory opinions…than any other effort of the day,” as he used his speech to voice his frustration with local residents. While one editor praised his “originality” and “magnetic sympathy,” another ridiculed his “bad grammer, awkward manner, miserable pronunciation and hideous grimmaces.” 

He briefly returned home to Maryland after graduation, but by 1861 he was back in Pennsylvania. On September 25, 1861, he enlisted as a sergeant in Company G of the 79th Pennsylvania Infantry. The regiment, known as the “Lancaster Rifles,” spent the next year on garrison duty in Kentucky and Tennessee. In September 1862, he was reduced to the ranks for an unknown infraction, and that December he was detailed as a clerk in the quartermaster’s office. On August 31, 1863, he was promoted to second lieutenant in the Pennsylvania Independent Light Battery, a 6-month artillery regiment. Ditto spent the winter of 1863-1864 stationed in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and mustered out of service on January 7, 1864, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 

After the war, Ditto moved to Missouri, where he worked as a dry goods merchant and served as a local postmaster. On December 27, 1866, he married Maria S. Roman in Cass County, Missouri. She died after only a few years, and Ditto married Sophronia Harwood on December 12, 1869. They lived in Dolan, Missouri, with her daughter from a previous marriage, Nannie Harwood, until the family moved to Gunnison County, Colorado, around 1879 after the discovery of silver in the new state. While he initially worked as a prospector, he became a teacher once the silver rush died down. By 1910, he was running a grocery store, and in 1920 he was a self-described “proprietor.” Ditto died on January 2, 1924, in Gunnison County, Colorado.

Image: Walter S. Ditto (Courtesy of the Archives and Special Collections Department of Franklin and Marshall College)


Walter S. Ditto Chosen to Escort Walter S. Ditto to D.C.

Name:Ditto, Walter Scott
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
  • UVA (Union)
79th Regiment Pennsylvania InfantryG
Nevin's Independent Battery, Pennsylvania Light Artillery
Branch of service:Army
Muster In1861-09-25Lancaster, PN26
Muster Out1863-08-31Mustered Out
Muster In1863-10-06Philadelphia, PA28
Muster Out1864-01-07Harrisburg, PA28Mustered Out
Residence at UVA:Clear Spring, MD
UVA Begin Year:1855
UVA End Year:1856
Residence at enlistment:
Rank In:Sergeant
Rank Out:First Lieutenant
Highest rank achieved:First Lieutenant
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
Ditto, Walter ScottDitto, Walter Scott1260685application-invalid
Ditto, Walter Scottnoneapplication-minor
Ditto, Walter Scottnoneapplication-parent
Ditto, Walter Scottnoneapplication-widow
Ditto, Walter ScottDitto, Walter Scott1027364certificate-invalid
Birth date:1835-09-06
Birth date certainty:Certain
Birth place:Clear Spring, MD
Death date:1924-01-02
Death place:Gunnison, CO
Causes of death:
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Ditto, Walter Scottguardian ofHarwood, Nannie
Ditto, Sophronia A.wife ofDitto, Walter Scott

Walter Ditto's pension record could not be located at either the National Archives in Washington, D.C. or the Veteran Personnel Record Center in St. Louis, MO.

Compiled Service Records for Walter S. Ditto, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; United States Census, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920, accessed through; Colorado State Census, 1885, accessed through; Henry Kyd Douglas, The Douglas Diary: Student Days at Franklin and Marshall College, 1856-1858, ed. Florence Starr Taylor (Lancaster, PA: Franklin and Marshall College, 1973), accessed through Franklin and Marshall College Digital Collections; The Daily Evening Express (Lancaster, PA), February 25, 1857, May 26, 1857; Lancaster Intelligencer, June 7, 1859, June 28, 1859, August 2, 1859; The Lancaster Examiner, August 3, 1859; "Walter Scott Ditto,",