Born in Indiana, Pennsylvania on January 12, 1834, Henry Lloyd “Harry” White was the son of Judge Thomas and Catherine (Brooks McConnell) White. He received his education in public schools, graduated from Indiana Academy in 1849, and the College of New Jersey (Princeton) in 1854. White served as Indiana County’s first Republican county committee chair, 1856; organized the Lincoln “rail-splitters club,” 1860; unsuccessful bid for Congress, 1860; and elected captain of the Indiana rifle company. White received a major’s commission in the 67th Regt., PVI from Governor Curtin, assigned to recruiting duty in Philadelphia. In 1862, his unit relieved the 11th Pennsylvania Regt. at Annapolis, Maryland, protecting railroads north of the Confederate front. He was deployed to Harpers Ferry, Virginia (West Virginia) in Sept. 1862, to refortify the town after a brief occupation by the Confederate Army during the Antietam Campaign; ordered to winter quarters at Berryville, Virginia, coincidental to his election to the 1863 Pennsylvania Senate.
President Lincoln granted Senator White a leave of absence to attend legislative sessions in Harrisburg, balancing duties in the upper house with commanding his troops in Berryville. White rejoined his troop in Virginia after the 1863 Senate adjourned, refusing to accept his senator’s salary, having it forwarded to the Indiana district soldier’s relief fund. Recalled to Berryville at the close of the legislative session in mid-April 1863, the soldier-politician received orders to secure Union headquarters at Winchester, Virginia in response to the mischief of Major John Mosby and fellow Confederate raiders; captured by Lee’s Louisiana Tigers at Winchester; sent to Libby Prison, Richmond, June 1863; escaped captors five times over 16 months (once while on the way to Andersonville), finally breaking for freedom to Sherman’s forces near Resaca, Georgia, Sept. 29, 1864. He returned to Indiana, October 5, 1864, to stump for Lincoln, rejoining his regiment as a Lt. Col., Oct. 31, 1864; promoted to Colonel, Jan. 18, 1865; discharged the following month after the Petersburg Campaign; and awarded promotion to Brevet Brig. General, March 2, 1865.
Noting his vacant seat while a prisoner of war at Libby Prison, 1863-1864; his absence stalemated the 1864 state Senate, 16-16. The matter had not escaped his Confederate captors, who realized the importance of the Pennsylvania Senate’s legislative agenda concerning further prosecution of the Civil War. While forbidding the Major’s request to forward a letter of resignation to Harrisburg, so the body might elect a Speaker, the wily Major secreted the message out of the Richmond prison, received by his father and Senator John Penney. A special election was immediately held in his district, and another Republican was seated, ending nearly a two month stalemate in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
White was re-elected to the state Senate in 1865, 1868, and 1871; served as a member of the 1868 Republican State Central Committee and co-framed the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1874. He chaired the 1875 Republican State Convention, was a member of the 45th and 46th Congresses (Armstrong, Clarion, Forest, Indiana, and Jefferson Counties), and a member of the Burnside Military Commission, restructuring the United States Army Manual. As Major Gen. of the Ninth Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, Governor Hartranft called on White to quell the 1877 Pittsburgh Railroad riots. He declined his party’s 1884 nomination for Congress, vying for a seat as President Judge of the Indiana judicial district; returned to the same position in 1894, serving through 1904. The former legislator retired from the state judiciary in 1905 but remained active in his private practice. Aside from political and judicial pursuits, White served as president of the Indiana County Deposit Bank. White returned to Salisbury, North Carolina in 1910 for the first time since 1864, to dedicate a monument to Pennsylvanians who died at the notorious Confederate prisoner of war camp. The Honorable Henry Lloyd (Harry) White passed away in Indiana on June 23, 1920, at age-86. At the time of his death, he was the last surviving Union officer brevetted by Abraham Lincoln.