Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Meet a Militiaman: Daniel Nagle

In 1846, at the age of 18, Daniel Nagle marched off to war, for the first time, as a drummer in the Washington Artillery, a company raised in Pottsville, PA, and commanded by his older brother James.  Assigned to the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Nagle's company saw considerable action during the Mexican War. 

At the outbreak of the American Civil War, 15 years later, Daniel Nagle once again joined his older brother James as they marched off to answer President Lincoln’s call for troops just days after the rebel attack on Fort Sumter.  This time Daniel was commissioned as Captain of Co. D, 6th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, while brother James became the regiment's Colonel.  The 6th was organized to serve for a term of three months, which was spent in western Virginia, under the command of General Robert Patterson.  Although Patterson's force was a factor in McDowell's campaign of July 1861, they did not take part in the 1st Battle of Bull Run.  By late July, the enlistments for Nagle and the men of the 6th had run out, and they were soon transported to Harrisburg where they were mustered out of service. 

Daniel Nagle, ca.1862-63 - photo courtesy of John Hoptak
Nagle would not stay long back at home, for in September of 1861, Daniel became Captain of Co. D 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, after raising the company from men of his hometown of Pottsville.  After spending about a month organizing and training at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, the 48th was sent off to war, where they would serve admirably with Gen. Ambrose Burnside during his successful campaign along the North Carolina coast.  In November, Daniel was promoted to Major, and joined his brother James, the 48th's Colonel, among the commanding officers of the regiment.  However, in July of 1862, Nagle resigned from his position in the 48th. 

Just as before, Daniel Nagle would not stay long back at home.  A little over a month after returning home, General Robert E. Lee began to push his army northward through Maryland, threatening Pennsylvania.  On September 10, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin called out the “Emergency Militia” to defend the Commonwealth against rebel invasion.  Daniel Nagle once again stepped forward, and was commissioned as the Lieutenant Colonel of the 19th Pennsylvania “Emergency Militia”.  Made up of men from Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties, the 19th was organized at Camp Curtin on September 15th, and forwarded by rail to the Pennsylvania border (It is not clear at this time whether the 19th made it as far as Hagerstown, MD, as did many “Emergency Militia” units, but they certainly were organized early enough to assume they may have encamped with other units gathering around Greencastle, PA.  During the Battle of Antietam on September 17th, militiamen at Greencastle noted the sound of the distant thunder of battle).

After the Union victory at Antietam, and the threat of invasion by Lee, the “Emergency Militia” were ordered back to Harrisburg, and on the 27th of September, Nagle and the rest of the 19th were mustered out of service. 

post-war image (ca. 1880s?)
In case you haven’t already sensed a pattern, Daniel Nagle would not stay long back at home, once again.  In November of 1862, Nagle was appointed as Colonel of the newly created 173rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  The 173rd primarily performed garrison and provost duties while serving it’s nine month enlistment, however, in early July 1863, the 173rd was assigned to the 11th Corps and took part in the pursuit of Lee’s defeated army after the Battle of Gettysburg.  Once back in Virginia, the 173rd played out the rest of its days guarding the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, before being mustered out of service in mid August of 1863.

Daniel Nagle would live to the ripe old age of 90, passing away on January 11, 1918.  He is buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery, overlooking his hometown of Pottsville, PA, with a sizable tombstone worthy of a man who answered the call of his country time and again.     

photo by Russ Dodge -

(to "meet" other militiamen, click here)
Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5 : prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869

Bosbyshell, Oliver Christian. The 48th in the War: Being a Narrative of the Campaigns of the 48th Regiment, Infantry, Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, During the War of the Rebellion. Philadelphia: Avil Printing Co., 1895.

Civil War Muster Roll and Related Records, 1861-1866, 19th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, Records Group (RG) 19, Series# 19.11, Carton 127, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA.

Dodge, Russ. Col Daniel Nagle (1828 - 1918) accessed 16 October 2011, available from; Internet.

Hoptak, John David. The 48th Pennsylvania Infantry... (blog), available from; Internet.

Thompson, Heber S. The First Defenders. 1910.