Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fredericksburg and the 130th PA monument at Antietam

By September 17, 1862, the men of the 130th Pennsylvania had barely been in the Army for more than a month, and were ill-prepared to face the wholesale slaughter that they would experience that day while attacking the rebel position in the Sunken Road during the Battle of Antietam.  Despite being "green", the 130th  performed as well as could be expected for a group of soldiers who had only been trained to load and fire their weapons in the days leading up to the Battle.

The 130th Pennsylvania was sworn into Federal service to serve for a period of nine months.  Antietam, the single bloodiest day in American History, would only be the 130th's first of three battles they would fight in over the coming months.  Their second battle, the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, would continue to test these young soldiers' mettle, and present them with a whole new host of tests of bravery, and horrific sights that they would not soon forget.  Private Edward Spangler, a sixteen year old from York County, would later recall one such sight soon after crossing the Rapahannock River into the City of Fredericksburg: 
There were, "...many dead Confederates along the houses skirting the river.  One dead Confederate especially attracted my attention.  He was in a standing position leaning against the corner of a block-house with his gun in his hands, and all of the head above his mouth was taken off by a shell.  I have read in a magazine an article describing the attitude of soldiers who maintained a life like attitude after death by reason of rigor mortis; but none of these equalled in peculiarity the remarkable standing position of this beheaded soldier."

Pvt. Edward Spangler

"Early the next morning," continued Spangler, "we prepared for battle."  As a regiment in William French's division, the 130th was amongst the very first regiments to charge the strong rebel position on Marye's Heights; the high ground over looking Fredericksburg to the west.  Spangler recalled the events of that day:

"Emerging into the open we were about to deploy in line of battle under a deadly fire, when we encountered a mill-race or canal, from four to six feet deep and fifteen feetwide,which ran clear around the city in the rear."  "It was impassable, except at the few street bridges, some of which had nothing left but stringers over which we had to pass in single file.  It was first discovered in our division by the head of column, and was a most serious and embarassing obstacle, and very disconcerting under a raking storm of projectiles. After crossing, we were compelled for a considerable distance to march by columns of four.  While in this formation a shower of missiles created havoc in our ranks, one of which took off the head of Captain McLaughlin of Company H, scattering the brains over our company. In re-aligning, we had to climb over a rail fence, and as my brother reached the top rail, a cannon ball cut the third rail below, only three feet to my right. A second either way would have been a fatal shot to him, or three feet to the left would have obviated the infliction upon the reader of this common place and unvarnished narrative.  As we came to the slope of the first elevation, we were met with a still more frightful fire of shell, grape and musketry.  The Confederate artillery converged its fire on our hapless division, and our men were stricken down by hundreds.  When we approached the crest of the hill in the immediate front of Marye's Heights we were ordered to lie down. As my haversack was filled to the brother requested me to doff it as it would retard me in charging up the Heights, and I reluctantly complied.  Lying on my left was Eli Myers, formerly a clerk in P. A. & S. Small's store, and on my right was William Clemens, and next to him, Frank.  A bullet knocked off Clements' cap, and a moment later a shell exploded over us, a piece of which violently struck Myers in the back.  I got up to assist in carrying him off the field, but being small, was pushed aside by others equally anxious to get beyond the range of fire, for we all felt that success was a forlorn hope.  The wound proved fatal.  We then moved forward and as we approached the stonewall, rifle pits and redoubts on the Heights, we poured in a heavy volley and charged, but were swept back a short distance by blazing musketry, grape and canister, rising tier after tier, which no troops could withstand.  As we were about to renew the charge the Confederates sprang from their breast works and charged, but were hurled back in confusion. Confederate reinforcements arrived, all veteran marksmen, until  they were four ranks deep and completely sheltered.  These poured forth such an unremitting blast of deadly fire that our regiment again began to waver.  It was then that Colonel Zinn, our heroic commander, seized the regimental flag staff in his left hand, and waving his sword with his right, cried out, "Stick to your standard [flag], boys!  The One Hundred and Thirtieth never abandons its colors; give them another volley!"  The words had scarcely left his lips, when his brain was pierced by a Confederate bullet. He was an intrepid and accomplished officer, a strict disciplinarian, and an adept in tactics, and would, had he lived, have attained high rank." 

130th PA flag

Col. Henry Zinn
Zinn's grave, Mt. Zion Cemetery

Originally from York County, Zinn resided in Churchtown, Cumberland County, with his wife and three children. At the age of 27, Zinn, a teacher, was selected to lead the 130th Pennsylvania.  Zinn became loved and respected by the men of the 130th, and his last brave act would help rally a portion of his regiment, and help them maintain order through the remainder of the hellish fight.  Zinn would leave behind a young wife, Mary, who had already been grieving for the loss of two of her small children, from disease, earlier in the year.  Zinn's final resting place is in the Mt. Zion Cemetery, near Churchtown.

The spring would see the 130th Pennsylvania go into action once again at the Battle of  Chancellorsville, in May of 1863.  By mid June, the regiment's nine month enlistment was over, and many of the men returned home, while others quickly reenlisted with other regiments, to return to the front for the remainder of the war.  Either way, the 130th Pennsylvania had officially completed it's chapter in the history of the American Civil War.   

Forty two years after their "baptism of fire, on September 17, 1904, the surviving veterans of the 130th would return to the Antietam Battlefield to dedicate a monument to their regiment's memory.  It is the regiment's only monument on any of it's three battlefields, so creating a memorable and fitting design would have been very important to the veterans.  Other than a carved stone figure of a young soldier standing at 'parade rest', the veterans chose to adorn their monument with the bronze face of their beloved Colonel Zinn, who had lead them so bravely through Antietam, and who had fallen so tragically at Fredericksburg.  His likeness forever stoically faces forward, toward the enemy lines. 

130th PA monument at Antietam

Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5 : prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.

Spangler, Edward W. My Little War Experience. York, PA: York Daily Publishing Co., 1904.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

“Our brigade made itself gloriously conspicuous…” – Pvt. George Nickels, 89th NY

Sometimes being known around the office as "the Civil War guy" has its perks.  Recently, a colleague came to me with a copy of a letter written on September 30, 1862 by Pvt. George Nickels of the 89th New York.  During the Maryland Campaign, the 89th New York was, along with the 9th and 103rd New York Regts., a part of Col. Harrison Fairchild's 9th Corps brigade.  At the Battle of Antietam, Fairchild's brigade would suffer the highest casualty percentage of any Union brigade; nearly 50%.  Of the 368 men in the 89th New York, 103 were killed, wounded, or missing.

Nickels' letter not only offers us colorful descriptions of Burnside's push toward Sharpsburg late in the afternoon on September 17th, but also information on the condition of the troops, observations of the countryside in western Maryland, and invaluable information on a comrade who would later be buried in Antietam National Cemetery; Charles Courtney.

As you might imagine, I was pretty excited to read and transcribe the letter, especially since it probably has not been shared anywhere before.  I took the opportunity to annotate many of the names that Nickels mentions also.

Antietam, Md. Sep, 30 1862
Dear Friends:

            I have written one hasty letter since our fight, and you will have probably read a full description of the great battle of Antietam and the brilliant dash of Burnsides troops.  Our brigade made itself gloriously conspicuous and the rebels were scattered before it like sheep, but we were then flanked by a heavy force on our left and were cut down by artillery on the right and front, and to save ourselves from complete destruction we had to fall back, and we did it without running too, and the rebels did not dare to follow us.  We had caused many of them to bite the dust and many, also, of our brave boys were laid low.  I don’t know but Almon[i] and Byron[ii] will get home before you see this, and they will give you the incidents of our march.  Almon, I got a chance to see but I was not able to see Byron, and I can’t find out where they are now, but I think they have got furloughs.  I am very sorry to lose them, it is lonesome in camp with them gone.  I am sorry too for Byron’s great misfortune.  Our first Lieut[iii] and, C Courtney[iv], who had legs amputated, have since died.  Since the battle we have had a little easier times, but having left our knapsacks with our things at Washington we are getting pretty dirty and ragged.  We cannot get papers to write on so you must excuse us and tell friends to excuse us till we can get our pay, or things which we expect soon.  I got Moses[v] letter of the 10th last Sunday and want you all to write after.  I also got a letter from Sarah F.  I should write to Charles now if I had paper.  Orville J. Oliver[vi] has a bad looking flesh wound in the thigh but is now in camp with the rest of the boys, he will, probably, get a furlough for 30 days.  Capt Brown[vii] has resigned and been honorably discharged from the service.  He is going home in a few days.  James[viii] is now doing the duty of Orderly and is kept quite busy.  He stands a good chance of promotion to first seargent [sp].  This is a fine country and there is the most corn, and the best I ever saw.  The farms are large and well cultivated.  The farmers owning from 500 to 1000 acres, and plow large portions of it for corn and wheat.  But wherever we stop the corn, apples poultry are cleaned for miles, and we burn up all the fences.  The government will have to pay the damage.  It makes the country look desolate.  I don’t know whether the enemy will give us a chance to fight him again or not And I don’t care.  We have heard no firing for a number of days.  They say the pickets are only a few miles from us.  But they will have to retire before long.  We will soon be after them If they don’t.  Well I can’t think of anything more to write so Good bye 

            Yours Ever Geo. L. Nickels[ix]

- Read Nickels' previous "hasty letter" from September 19 HERE

[i] REED, ALMON L.—Age, 22 years. Enlisted at Whitneys Point, to serve three years, and mustered in as private, Co. F, October 22, 1861; transferred to Veteran Reserve Corps, no date.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry.
[ii] LIVERMORE, WILLIAM B. --Age, 23 years. Enlisted, October 22, 1861, at Lisle, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. F, October 23, 1861; wounded, no date; discharged for his wounds in October, 1862, at Pleasant Valley, Md.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry.
[iii] VAN INGEN, GARRETT.—Age, 30 years. Enrolled at Elmira, to serve three years, and mustered in as sergeant-major, December 5, 1861; as first lieutenant, Co. F, May 21, 1862; wounded in action, September 17,1862, at Antietam, Md.; died of his wounds, September 26,1862, at Sharpsburg, Md. Commissioned first lieutenant, October 17, 1862, with rank from May 20, 1862, vice Moses Pieffer [or Puffer] resigned.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry.
[iv] COURTNEY, CHARLES I.—Age, 20 years. Enlisted, September 9, 1861, at Whitneys Point, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. F, October 1, 1861; wounded in action, September 17, 1862, at Antietam, Md.; died of his wounds, September 29, 1862, at Sharpsburg, Md.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry. 
Courtney is buried in Antietam National Cemetery.
[v] Possibly PUFFER [or PIEFFER], MOSES.—Age, 36 years. Enrolled, September 9, 1861, at Whitneys Point, to serve three years; mustered in as first lieutenant, Co. F, October 1, 1861; discharged, May 20, 1862.  Commissioned first lieutenant, December 18,1861, with rank from October 1,1861, original.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry. 
[vi] OLIVER, ORVILLE P.—Age, 21 years. Enlisted, September 9, 1861, at Whitney's Point, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. F, October 4, 1861; re-enlisted as a veteran, January 11, 1861; transferred to Co. G, Nineteenth Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps, May 19, 1865; promoted corporal, August 1, 1865; discharged, September 12, 1865, at Buffalo, N. Y.; also borne as Orville T. and Orville T.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry.
[vii] BROWN, ROBERT.—Age, 39 years. Enrolled, September 9, 1861, at Whitney's Point, to serve three years; mustered in as captain, Co. F, October 25, 1861; discharged, September 28, 1862; again mustered in as captain, same company, November 28, 1862; discharged, October 19, 1861; prior service in Eighth Militia.  Commissioned captain, December 18, 1861, with rank from October 1, 1861, original; recommissioned captain, November
7, 1862, with rank from same date, vice himself resigned.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry. 
[viii] NORTHRUP, JAMES E.—Age, 23 years. Enrolled, September 9, 1861, at Whitneys Point, to serve three years; mustered in as sergeant, Co. F, October 22, 1861; promoted first sergeant, no date; re-enlisted as a veteran, January 14, 1864; mustered in as second lieutenant, October 21, 1864; as first lieutenant, January 11, 1865; discharged, June 19, 1865, at Richmond,Va.; also borne as Northrop and Northrupt.  Commissioned second lieutenant, September 16, 1864, with rank from July 13, 1864, vice G. H. Baldwin promoted; first lieutenant, January 27, 1865, with rank from January 11,1865, vice Baldwin mustered out.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry. 
[ix] NICHOLIS [NICKELS], GEORGE L.—Age, 23 years. Enlisted, October 22, 1861, at Lisle, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. F, October 23, 1861; discharged, May 28, 1863, at Washington, D. C; also borne as Nichols.  From Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1901: Registers of the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, & 93rd Regiments of Infantry.

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 20-24, 1862: 2nd PA Emergency Militia (J. Witmer)

If you've been following the adventures of some of the Emergency Militiamen that I have been posting over the Sesquicentennial, my apologies for the lack of postings over the past few days.  I just returned from an absolutely unforgettable week of volunteering/working/helping/guiding, etc. at Antietam National Battlefield during the 150th Anniversary events.  In the days leading up, I tried to prepare these posts to go up automatically, but I sadly just ran out of time before I had to hit the road to Maryland.  Throw in a lack of a laptop, and little to no service on my Droid, and there you have the makings for my posting delay.  In the meantime, let's pick back up with John Witmer of the 2nd PA Emergency Militia...

you can read the previous day here.

Saturday 20 - about daylight, heard a little cannonading. It was quite faint and appeared to be a long way off. I saw Horace Yundt[1] this morning. Our companies had been next to one another all the time and I had not noticed him before. About half past ten o’clock we heard very heavy and rapid artillery firing in the direction of Shepherdstown. It appeared to be across the Potomac, and was the heaviest that I had yet heard. The regiment was now ordered to fall back to Green Castle, most of the men felt chagrined at being sent home before seeing the Potomac, and were quietly listening to the distant cannonading, when two of three heavy reports of cannon, sounded from behind the woods directly in front of us about a mile. It proved to be our own artillery shelling the rebel pickets in the woods, about a mile from Williamsport. You should have seen how the men skedaddled back to where their muskets were stacked, and awaited orders, then scouts began to ride up the road, at a furious rate, and [Kealey’s?] Maryland brigade (2 Regiments of volunteers) a few of whom had suffered at Front Royal were ordered down. They marched out singing “Glory Halleleujah” [sic] and at the same time our orders were countermanded, and we were formed into line and marched down just after the Maryland Brigade, when we got out of the field we commenced likewise to sing and marched on.  Everyone “Eager for the fray” but here again I regret to say, I must stop to tell of others, who instead of proceeding on towards Williamsport, quietly took up their retrograde march for Hagerstown.  Besides the stragglers from the different companies, there was one entire company that declined moving on with the regiment.  So the colonel took their colors and gave them to another company, and thus we moved on, it was now nearly evening and we lay along the turnpike about 1 ½ miles from Williamsport in the rear of our artillery.  While here we had a kettle of coffee brought out, and we feasted on that and crackers for a short time, when we were ordered into line of battle in a field just back of a couple of houses and a barn, where Gen. Reynolds has his headquarters.  From the turnpike at this place Williamsport could be distinctly seen – as well as the course of the river for many miles.  We stacked our arms, and were allowed to build small fires, and then rolled up in our blankets and slept soundly until morning.  Our artillery had been firing at intervals during the evening.  It was said that the rebels had shelled the Anderson Troop out of a woods back of Williamsport.  At any rate they have fallen back toward Hagerstown.

Sunday 21st - Soon after breakfast Genl. Reynolds ordered us back into a woods about half a mile off towards the left.  We now hear that the rebels crossed about 1200 strong (principally cavalry) at Williamsport and it was thought that it was intended to draw off our forces and protect their rear who were crossing into Virginia about Shepherdstown.  It is also reported that our pickets conversed with General McClellan last night, and saved us from being shelled by him.  As he seeing our camp fires mistook us for Rebels, perhaps this not be correct.  A member of the Pottsville Company preached us a sermon this morning  - immediately after which we got dinner and before long were told that the rebels had all recrossed the Potomac, and that Maryland was clear of them.  We now got ordered to march to Green Castle, and about twelve o’clock turned our faces homeward, we stopped a little while at our old camp ground at Hagerstown and got all our effects loaded upon the wagons.  We also sent our knapsacks with the other goods, and before the march was over we were very glad we had done so.  It was very warm, and the dust was almost intolerable.  We halted several times during the afternoon and about nine oclock at night marched into a wood just outside of Green Castle where we lay till morning.  We felt quite ready to halt as we had had a weary march of about 13 miles.

- John Witmer

Now I know this is lazy...but the conclusion of John Witmer's militia adventure was discussed in a previous post that can be read here.  I hope you'll find Witmer's final adventure, before returning home, as fascinating as I did.

[1] A member of Co. E, 2nd Pennsylvania Emergency Militia.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20, 1862: Byers' Independent Cavalry Co.

Read the previous day here.
Dr. [George] Dock, George Bergner and myself called to see Gov. Curtin [who had traveled to Hagerstown] soon after breakfast at his quarters.  He was in fine spirits and expressed himself as believing that the Pennsylvania militia had saved the country, and at all events an invasion of our State by their sturdy and formidable appearance in Dixie, and ourselves, that is, our troops, to the very bands of the Potomac [River].  We met Gen. Kenley [commander of Maryland's militia] (late  Colonel) of Maryland, a small and preposessing man in his appearance and manners, who was complimented highly on the spunk and prowess he had already envinced on the Union side in this contest, and in further compliment to the General, after something I had said to him of what we thought of him in Pennsylvania for his bravery, Gov. Curtin said, "You know, Mr. Rawn, they make game cocks small."
- Charles Rawn

"The Militia Journal of Charles Rawn, September 9 to 23, 1862". ed. by Darin Smith. available from; Internet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19, 1862: 2nd PA Emergency Militia (J. Witmer)

Read the previous day here.

We awoke feeling very chilly and damp in consequence of the very heavy dew which fell during the night, but after a tin cup full of hot coffee felt much better and were ordered into line, and marched off to get our knapsacks. Uncle George and I then took a walk down through the town, and he returning sooner than I did found Uncle Hugh there, who had been over the battle-field the day before. He left however before I came back. So I did not see him. We were then marched down through the town and out into the fair ground about one mile south of Hagerstown on the Williamsport Turnpike. I was put upon guard at the gate to stay two hours but it was three, before I was relieved, about 1 o’clock P.M. Scouts came riding in from Williamsport bringing with them a parcel of contrabands and extra horses, stating that the rebels were crossing into Maryland at that place; about half past one o’clock after a hasty dinner we were formed into line, and ordered to load our muskets which you may be sure we did with dispatch. We then marched out and took our position in line of battle about three miles from Williamsport, on a hill in a ploughed field on the east side of the turnpike, here again I regret to say some of our regiment skedaddled; subsequently a regt. of Maryland volunteers (3 year men) who were encamped there were formed in line on our left and the 3rd Militia on our right. Thus we stood awaiting events. We remained by our arms nearly all evening, and just before dark the danger apparently over we stacked muskets and rushed for a neighboring hay stack to get something to lie upon as we had not yet been in the service long enough to bring our minds to lying upon the ploughed ground. We sent a couple of men in to our old camp to bring out some coffee after which we lay upon our arms, [“for the night” scratched out] not knowing what was to happen. We heard artillery firing until after dark, after a little while we stacked arms and bivouacked for the night. during the evening all the farmers in the neighborhood left their homes with their wagons loaded with their movable articles. Expecting I have no doubt that their farms would be a battle field, before morning.

            About midnight we were aroused, and ordered to take our arms quietly, making as little noise as possible. The excitement ran pretty high, as we expected the rebel vanguard to be upon us at any moment. In fact the excitement was so great that a few more skedaddled; as we stood there in line. Every one peering into the darkness we had twenty additional rounds of cartridge given us, which we fully expected to use before morning. We looked in vain however, for the sun rose, and found us still in the same position, and the enemy not in sight. During the night we had a despatch [sic] from General McClelland [sic] (or purporting to be such) read to us stating that he had reliable intelligence that the enemy about 1000 strong with one piece of artillery had crossed into Maryland at Williamsport, that he intended to send a force of 2,000 infantry, four squadrons of cavalry, and a battery of artillery. Which were to arrive as soon after day light as practicable, and that it would be well for General Reynolds to co-operate, with his militia, so that the whole rebel force might be captured. Of course we were jubilant at the idea of capturing some rebels, especially as there were only about one thousand of them. All excitement however died away before morning, and we began to doubt whether the rebels had really crossed the Potomac or not.

- John Witmer

September 19-24, 1862: 7th PA Emergency Militia

Read the previous day here

The morning of the nineteenth dawned and there had been no attack.  The enemy had disappeared entirely.  In this vicinity, at least, everything hostile and in arms that had been on this, was now upon the other side of the river, and the day was devoted to rest - much needed rest.  It was seven o'clock on the evening of the twentieth before the regiment was again on the move.  Orders were then received to strike tents and be ready for the march.  The route carried the command through Hagerstown again; and thence on to Greencastle.  Speed was not essential, and so with an easy, swinging gait and frequent restful halts the journey was completed and Greencastle reached on the early morning of the twenty-first.  The camp, well located convenient to water, and appropriately named "Camp Rest," indicated that something of a stop was intended. 

The 7th, being accustomed to military drill and the usefulness of knowing it well, did not leisurely pass the time away at 'Camp Rest'.  The Regimental historian goes on to note:

The few days available from the twenty-first to the twenty-fourth were well utilized for such instruction and experience was can only be obtained through life in the field and camp.  Its value was fully demonstrated when within the year to follow the regiment was again called to the performance of those other and more strenuous duties of the [Emergency Militia] campaign of '63.  On the twenty-fourth the camp was broken and the regiment was entrained at Greencastle for its uneventful ride to Philadelphia.

Latta, James. History of the First Regiment Infantry National Guard of Pennsylvania (Gray Reserves) 1861-1911. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1912.

September 19, 1862: Byers' Independent Cavalry Co.

Read the previous day here.
I had witnessed the exciting, inspiring march of our Pennsylvania militia through Hagerstown toward Williamsport in the afternoon...  There had some 15,000 or more of them gone through - fine looking fellows, well clad, bold and gay, the march enlivened by songs making the walking sing and eliciting the admiration and praises of the crowds of spectators that lined the streets in Hagerstown.  I never felt prouder as a Pennsylvanian in my life - my own son, John Calvin, then only 16 years, 2 months and 14 days old, being in the ranks of the 1st Regiment, (I think that was his regiment) commanded by...Lieut. Col. Robert Lamberton [after Col. McCormick was placed in command of a brigade of PA militia].  Though I had seen him in the morning he ran out of the ranks to give me a hurried shake of the hand.  I heard men there in Hagerstown wonder where Pennsylvania found all her soldiers, and the fellows protest with quite emphatic oaths that Pennsylvania could fight the war out herself, without any other State interfering, and that it would be a good thing to engage her by contract to do it.  There were hundreds of men in these proudly moving columns from our very town with whom I was well and intimately acquainted and who hailed me with exulting and friendly greetings and salutations as they passed. 

After spending a relatively uneventful day in camp, and foraging for food, Rawn and the rest of Byers' Co. began to prepare to get a good night's sleep...
Picketed my horse, turned into the bugler's mess and arranged to spend the night but lo and behold! there came orders before we had finished supper that we should report at headquarters.  Here were beautiful visions of dreams - heavy slumbers too - at once destroyed.  We proceeded to town between 7 an 8 o'clock having one quartermasters wagon...loaded with corn, rations, etc., along. We received orders in town to divide the company in two corps - one of 34 or 35 with Lieut. Loyd to proceed forward with to Greencastle - the other with Capt. Byers to proceed [west] out the Hancock road to Col. Biddle's camp about two miles from town and report to him.  We got to his camp I suppose sometime from 11 O'clock to midnight, found him with a heavy battery planted in the road and wagons across it to stay or impede the progress of the rebels should they make their appearance, exigencies to be apprehended on the said Hancock road.  Divide here by orders into two parties - one under Capt. Harris taking the road leading to the  Williamsport road and the other under Capt. Byers on the Hancock road which we were ordered to scout or examine some four or five miles from Col. Biddle's camp.  We could only get around his battery and wagons by getting into a corn field and then get out of that again by chopping down a panel of post and rail fence.  We moved along quietly and deliberately, passing Col. B's pickets with all due form and ceremony, and after that proceeding even more cautiously and silently.  Dr. [George] Dock, our Surgeon, and myself proceeded half a mile or so further, and we were joined on returning to the main body by Luther Simon.  We all returned to Col. Biddle's camp about 3 O'clock in the morning. 
- Charles Rawn

"The Militia Journal of Charles Rawn, September 9 to 23, 1862". ed. by Darin Smith. available from; Internet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18, 1862: 2nd PA Emergency Militia (L. Richards)

Read the previous day here.

We waited hour after hour for our train, but in vain.  Wrote letters home beside the railroad tracks, on the ends of the sills.  Various reports from the army were in circulation, respecting the result of the battle, and the movements of the enemy, subsequently found to be unreliable.  After dinner had a battalion drill, and when all expectation of the train had been given up, between 3 and 4 o'clock it suddenly appeared.  Cheers greeted its arrival.  It consisted, like the one in which we had come down, of [freight] cars adapted for the present purpose, and we boarded it just in time to escape a shower which began falling at this moment.  ...arrived about 6 o'clock at Hagerstown, which we found occupied by a considerable militia force that had been pushed forward with the past two days.  Were surprised to find the companies of Captains Hunter and Eisenhower, from Reading, already there, as they had started from home after we had.  Were informed by them that they had left Harrisburg on Tuesday night, and arrived at Hagerstown on Wednesday morning.  They had been attached to the 11th Regiment, to the command of which Charles A. Knoderer, a talented civil engineer of Reading, who went as a private of Captain Eisenhower's company, had been promoted. The regiment was encamped...below town on the Williamsport pike.  Heard more definite intelligence of the result of the great battle fought yesterday, which is claimed as a decided Union victory.  Were informed of the death of Captain William H. Andrews, of the 128th Regiment, who fell in the battle, and also of its commander, Colonel Croasdale.  Captain Andrews's body had already arrived in Hagerstown.  Several other members of the Reading companies had been killed. coincidence

Our company was separated from the regiment and marched in the dusk of the evening into a narrow lane not far from the railroad depot, where we were told we were to pass the night.  The ground was was wet from the rain which had fallen, and a slight drizzle continuing, a most gloomy and uncomfortable aspect was imparted to the surroundings.  There was nothing to lie upon except our gum [rubber] blankets, and no better shelter than what could be improvised by stretching the tents - which we were now temporarily provided - from the top of a fence to the ground.  After supper...went through the town to buy some lanterns and other things for the quartermaster.  We were conducted by an old negro whom we picked up by the way, and obtained what we were in quest of, as well as a couple of bottles of good whiskey, procured at a grocery store, notwithstanding the fact that the town was under martial law, and the sale of liquor to soldiers had been prohibited.

After having made a pretty thorough exploration of the place, we returned to quarters, where we found a sharp discussion going on as to the propriety of the Governor's sending us across the State line, the authority for which some of the men were disposed to question.  The objection evidently proceeded from those who did not like our present proximity to the seat of war. The debate ended, however, in a tacit concurrence in the opinion of the majority that it was all right.  Passed a miserable night in this uncomfortable situation.  Slept but little, and caught a severe cold, from the effects of which I suffered for several weeks.

- Louis Richards

September 18, 1862: Byers' Independent Cavalry Co.

Read the previous day here.

We spent this day at our camp at Spriggle's, where we staid last night and night before.  We received this morning at this camp an addition of 15 men to our troop, whos names we had before we left, but who, for want of horses or otherwise, were not ready to leave Harrisburg with us.  Their was great rejoicing on their arrival in the morning soon after breakfast.  Several of them were very sore from the long ride, especially William Knoche and others, who it seemed had been a source of much merriment to their companions.  Spent all day at this camp two miles from Hagerstown.

- Charles Rawn

"The Militia Journal of Charles Rawn, September 9 to 23, 1862". ed. by Darin Smith. available from; Internet.

September 18, 1862: 5th PA Emergency Militia

Read the previous day here.

A terrible Canonading awakened us on the morning of the 18th of September.  We could see, with our bare eyes, the smoke rising, and some could even recognise the marching troops with their glittering bayonets.  The rebels were routed, our cavalry making terribly havoc among them, but thousands of our gallant sons perished on the field of honor in the same week.  Thousands of affectionate hearts were rent assunder [sp].  We mourn, but we do not lament.  They are not dead, but live as guardian Spirites of our national glory.  They who fall for freedom and their people build themselves monuments in the hearts of the their Nations; they hail them as the benefactors of mankind, and their memory neither will, nor ever can be effaced. 

Early in the morning we received a telegraphic dispatch that the Governor was coming; about 10 o'clock the Allentown companies were invited to receive him with military honors.  I was stationed on picket duty near the depot; we all received him with hearty cheers. 

Our officers had an interview with him and he told them that they should remain there awaiting further orders.

The whole day was a day of great excitement.  The shouts of the multitude of warriors drowned the heavy cannon's report.  About 11 o'clock A.M. a woman came into our Camp, dancing and leaping like David before the Ark of the covenant, exclaiming: "Thank God, the day is ours."  The whole Regiment gave her three cheers, and from mountain to mountain reechoed the shouts of the brave militia Boys of Allentown, who were ready to shed their last drop of blood in the defense of their invaded State.

On the afternoon I received a furlough to go to the Post Office and see the town.  The streets were crowded with Cavalry and infantry dressed in fine Uniform. 

Most of the stores were closed, the inhabitants had gone to the battle field to bury the dead and to take care of the wounded.  Ambulances passed by, loaded with wounded.

I saw a great many persons, with yellow looking complexions, in the jail, most of them dirty boys between sixteen and eighteen years of age.

Their physiognomy indicated a great deal of stupidity, and striking national similarity;  they appeared to be as much alike as one cent to another.  Seeing these poor fellows dressed in rags I truly pities them, and commiserated their ill fate, that they should be the means of bringing shame and ruin upon themselves.  Somebody told me: "I have mocked and laughed them to scorn, but they have made no reply." - I gave him no reply either, but merely thought that he had very little refinement of feelings and true human nature in his heart.  Every immoral deed is human, even robbery, murder, and suicide, but true human deeds must necessarily be good and beneficial to mankind, else they would not even deserve the name human; for men considered as an immortal being must never allow his mortal flesh to govern his immortal soul.  Truly enough it would be rather impracticable to love an armed enemy who is going to destroy our life and our personal property.  In this case it would be right to say:
Tit for tat,
If you hurt my dog
I will kill your cat
But if the enemy is imprisoned, disarmed or disable, every man is by moral duty bound, and not only by moral duty, but by the dictation of common sense, to treat him as a man; for who knows the change of success in time of war.  To-day we may be the capturers, to-morrow probably the captured.
Hagerstown has a very gloomy aspect, the buildings look so gray and old, not like our northern white cottage and four story red brickhouses.  What a difference between Chambersburg, Carlisle and Hagerstown!  If the former look like a blushing maiden, in the morning of her life, full of beauty and grace, the latter looks like a widow-woman mourning in the midst of a beautiful scenery.  In the afternoon Captain ordered the Company to fall into ranks.  Gracefully and emphatically he began: "Soldiers, our first duty is obedience.  I, for my part, am willing to obey the Governor's call to the last, even going to Harper's Ferry.  Some of you, as I perceive, are anxious to see their wives and their children.  I have, as you know, a wife and babies too, but they have no weight on the balance of duty towards my God and my country.  I am willing to serve, if the Governor-demands it, even under Col. Longnecker's command.  Any one who is not willing to follow the way of duty and of honor, let him step out of the ranks."  Only three stepped out: one reported immediately, and the the others were sent home on their own account.  

September 18, 1862: 2nd PA Emergency Militia (J. Witmer)

Read the previous day here.

This morning was quite an eventful one, in the movements of the militia, the men just now appear to understand where they are going. Some companies skedaddled Entire, and a great many straggled from others. the Colonel [Col. John Wright] told us that he wanted all to leave now, that intended to go, as he wished none to leave after they got into Maryland, so that our ranks began to look as much thinned as though we had encountered the enemy. About 2 o’clock P.M. we took the cars and after a very pleasant ride arrived at Hagerstown late in the afternoon. We were then marched out and formed into line in a very rocky lane west of the town, here we stacked arms, and were then ordered to march up to the railroad station and leave our knapsacks, which we did, and they were safely stowed away in the wood shed.

            I never understood this movement, unless it was feared that we would be called into action, or have forced marches to perform. We now got our little shelter-tents which we put up along a pale fence and after getting supper which consisted of crackers, coffee (the real genuine article, unadulterated) and a little fat pork we crawled into bed with as little concern as though the rebel pickets had not left the very place where we were only the Monday before. We likewise heard artillery firing nearly all day to day.

- John Witmer

September 18, 1862: 7th PA Emergency Militia

Read the previous day here

With the coming dawn of the eighteenth came confirmation of the cheering rumors of the night before: that Antietam was over, the battle won, the invasion a failure, and that the enemy as in haste to put the Potomac between himself and his adversary.  Then the regiment retraced its steps to Funkstown, a distance of about seven miles, where it was halted, reviewed by the colonel [Col. Kneass] camp lines designated, streets laid out, and every preparation made for a well-organized stop.  But it was not so to be.  Stuart, the famous Confederate cavalry leader, was still abroad on our side of the Potomac.  There was a bit of a flurry about Williamsport.  Again there was a toilsome hurried march over the old route as far as Hagerstown, and then well out the Clear Spring Road in the direction of Williamsport, where most of the flurry was.  At Hagerstown "the hasty loading of trains, locomotives with steam up, and many anxious faces told of danger to the town, which happily General Reynolds and his division averted."  All night on this the night of the eighteenth out on the Clear Spring road, with one or two companies detailed for picket, the regiment was in line of battle, "every man at his post," silently awaiting, with loaded musket well in hand, an enemy that never appeared, listening for sounds that were never heard.  It seems to be conceded that this large gathering of militia at this point came under Stuart's observation, and diverted a movement which, though only intended as a raid, would, if successful, have been fraught with serious consequences.

Latta, James. History of the First Regiment Infantry National Guard of Pennsylvania (Gray Reserves) 1861-1911. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1912.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17, 1862: 2nd PA Emergency Militia (L. Richards)

Read the previous day here.
150 years ago today, while the Battle of Antietam raged...

Drilled in the morning in the adjoining fields, and while thus engaged observed a renewal of the reports of artillery towards the south, heard on the day previous, and with still greater distinctness.  These proceeded, as we afterwards learned, from the battle-field of Antietam, some thirty miles off.  A dull gruff belch, at irregular intervals, accompanied by a sense of concussion, told the story of the distant conflict.  This inspired strange and solemn feelings.  Human lives were being offered up as a sacrifice upon the altar of our country, and thousands of homes would sit in dread suspense until it should be known upon whom the fatal blows had fallen.  The result, too, was of great concern to us, who were auxiliaries in reserve against an untoward crisis.  The evolution now assumed a significance they had not heretofore possessed.  Their object seemed no longer to be skill merely, but preparation.  The zeal for duty was quickened, and it was the idea of responsibility which was uppermost in the minds of all.  Additional regiments meanwhile arrived, among others two of the Gray Reserves and Home Guards of Philadelphia, which left Harrisburg yesterday.  With drilling, guard mounting, and the usual routine of camp duties, the day wore slowly away.  Another picturesque scene at night.  After roll-call crawled again into our comfortable domicil [sic] of cornstalks, with every reason to expect another good night's sleep.
About 11 o'clock...the beating of the ominous long roll aroused us from our peaceful slumbers, and the word quickly passed that we had received marching orders for Hagerstown, and were to be ready to leave at 12. The accouterments having been collected by the light of the fires, the regiment marched to the railroad, a mile off, where it was expected a train would be waiting for us. Alas! we here received our first practical lesson of the great uncertainty of military movements, and the mechanical nature of the duties of the soldier, who must obey orders, simply, without inquiring for reasons. In the quality of civilians, which we could not altogether consent to drop, our sense of individual importance was frequently infringed upon in our new capacity. Each in his turn felt disposed to divide with his superiors the responsibility of command. After waiting several hours in the crisp cool air of the autumn night without and train appearing, we lost all patience and lay down on our blankets for temporary repose. As the dews of heavens gently distilled upon our unprotected forms, the memory of the comfortable quarters we had just left did not add to the feelings of reconciliation to our present miserable situation. Morning broke at length and breakfast was improvised by the cooks.

- Louis Richards

September 17, 1862: 5th PA Emergency Militia

Read the previous day here.

After we enjoyed, more or less, a night's rest hardly worth mentioning we received marching orders without stating the exact time; but our good Officers who treated their men so affectionately "like a father treats his children," awakened us about 5 o'clock in the morning.  In the afternoon of the 17th we left Camp Horn [near Chambersburg, PA] in haste, without knowing exactly where we were going; but the breaksmen told us that we were going to Dixie.  On the same day the battle of Antietam Creek was fought, in which the army of the Potomac, under Gen. McClellan, crowned itself with the laurels of victory.  About midnight we crossed the line of Pennsylvania and arrived at Hagerstown.  After a short march from the depot, in the darkness we halted in one of the principel [sic] streets, when the order "Rest" rang along the line.  

Never was an order more promptly obeyed, for each one being fatigued gladly sought refuge on the hard pavement.  During this time the superior Officers were consulting with one another, what measures to adopt, wether [sic] to move forward to Boonsboro or to go back to the line of Pennsylvania.  Several Companies began to sing patriotic tunes in the midst of a secession den. - Silence like death reigned in the streets.  The windows only were dimly illuminated.

The sweet sounds of music appeared like the spirits of our departed sires rising from their graves, inspiring us with an ardent love and zeal towards our country.  Only one Union man stepped out stating that he had two sons in the federal army, and ordered his servant to refresh us with a drink of water.  We arrived at Hagerstown exactly 48 hours after the rebels had evacuated the town.  We marched for hours in full equipment double quick time, without knowing where we were to halt.  Some murmured that we were to have an engagement on the morrow.  Every one of us, except a few complaining creatures on Canon fever patients, were resolutely determined to stand of fall like men.  The officers finally decided to remain on an eminence north of the town, until morning, awaiting further orders.  

Expecting a sudden attack of the enemy's cavalry we slept on our arms for about two hours, on the dusty soil of Maryland. 

I embraced my musket like a romantic lover his darling bride, praying "Lord of hosts, lead me to victory or death", and fell asleep.

September 17, 1862: 2nd PA Emergency Militia (J. Witmer)

Read the previous day here.

We were awakened just before daylight with orders to pack our knapsacks and prepare to march. We hastily got our blankets rolled up, and all our goods packed into our knapsacks with the exception of our plate and tin-cups and awaited breakfast fully expecting to be hurried off immediately. We got coffee and fresh beef for breakfast this morning, with crackers as usual.  I wrote my first letter home this morning, telling of adventures. We heard very heavy cannonading which continued all day in the direction of Harpers-Ferry.  We afterwards learned that it was the Antietam battle. Still the orders to march did not come, and we waited patiently until night came, when we thought certainly we would be allowed to sleep once more in our shanties, in anticipation of which I drove in a couple of stout stakes just above where I lay to prevent my being rolled out again in the night. I had just got my stakes driven, and was thinking how completely every thing was fixed when we received orders to fall in. We now had 50 rounds of cartridge given us (I had 10 rounds before which made 60.) and were told that we were to march to the railroad to get transportation, for Hagerstown. Every one seemed in good spirits, they apparently did not know that in order to reach that place, the state line had to be crossed. We marched about 1 ½ miles before arriving at the railroad, and then waited a long time for the cars, they finally came, but owing to some mistake they had another regiment on board and we had to wait till morning. We lay down on the ground in our blankets without any fires, and in spite of our hard beds and the cold, slept quite soundly.

- John Witmer

September 17, 1862: 7th PA Emergency Militia

Before being sworn into state service for the "emergency", the 7th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia had been known as the 3rd Regiment Infantry Gray Reserves from Philadelphia.  With hostilities growing in 1861, the Grey Reserves had been organized, and made up of National Guard regiments from the city.  The National Guard was not what we think of today, however, it was a well trained and well equipped militia unit that could be called upon by State and Federal government.  Many such units provided the back bone of the famed Pennsylvania Reserves, which were originally intended to act as Pennsylvania's last line of defense at the outbreak of the Civil War, before they were sent to Washington to strengthen the Union ranks after the disaster at the Battle of 1st Bull Run.  Upon the reorganization, the 3rd Regiment was designated as the "1st Regiment of the Brigade" (the Gray Reserves), and was then referred to as the 1st Regiment National Guard of Pennsylvania.  

The 7th PA Emergency Militia was among the very few military organizations that were accepted into state service as an already organized regiment.  Generally, after Gov. Curtin's call of Sept. 4, militia companies arrived in Harrisburg, organized into Regiments, and then sent south toward Maryland.  Being allowed to keep their regimental structure allowed the 7th to be quickly transported to Harrisburg, and then quickly transferred down the Cumberland Valley Railroad to Hagerstown.  There was some displeasure at losing their familiar Regimental designation (1st Regiment), and being given a new one (7th PA Emergency Militia).  However, with their presence in the Emergency Militia, Pennsylvania was assured of at least one unit with solid military training and cohesion.  

We pick up the 7th's journey on late on the night of September 16th:  

The arrival [in Chambersburg on the 16th] was after dark, and the troops were quartered through the night in churches and school-houses, until the next morning when they moved out to a wood on the south side of the town to an encampment known as "Camp McClure."

Instead of a camp, it was scarcely a halt.  Orders immediately followed to re-entrain, and the regiment was again on its way, this time over the State line to Hagerstown, Maryland.  On the route an issue of ball cartridge was made, forty rounds for the cartridge-box and twenty for the pocket.  At eight o'clock on the evening of the seventeenth on its arrival at Hagerstown the regiment left the cars, stacked arms in the main street, and awaited the distribution of what proved to be a very limited supply of rations.  The commissariat, by those who looked to it to be fed, was pronounced a failure, and what the soldier got he had either brought with him or gathered up from his own pursuit of it of obtained it through purchase by his officers while on the move.  Coffee was a negligible quantity.  There was mischief somewhere - nobody cared to inquire where.  It was said there were ample stores at the depots, but supplied and consumers rarely met.
Knapsacks and baggage were left behind at Hagerstown, and with lightened load the regiment pulled out for its first real march to Boonsboro.  The distance was ten miles, which with an hour's halt at Funkstown was covered before daylight on the morning of the eighteenth.  "I remember," reads a note made of the occasion, "that weary march, and how we dropped like logs, in bivouac, at three o'clock in the morning, feeling the coming day might be fatal to some of us; for signs of war and battle were in the air, and the guns of Antietam had been making unwonted music to our ears.  Signals on the mountain tops, orderlies dashing by, broken caissons and vacated rebel camping grounds told us we stood on sacred soil; but the battle was over when we reached Boonsboro."

The march [to Boonsboro] was well along, when the regiment pulled out of the road and into the timber for a short halt and a brief rest.  Overstrained to the limit of endurance, the men were soon asleep.  Other troops began to pass along the road, and their tramp aroused some of the more restless.  One especially, bewildered at his sudden awakening, hurriedly gathered accoutrements, knapsack, and musket, and hastened to join the ranks of the moving column, thinking it his own, with the very natural inquiry for his own Company D.  "Yonder on the right," was the prompt response.  Our new recruit pushed along until he dropped into what he supposed was his place or very near it, neither he in the darkness recognizing any of the men about him, nor they him.  He had failed to extend his inquiry beyond the letter of his company.  What regiment it was had altogether escaped him.  By and by day began to break, strange faces were all about him, and the distant boom of the cannon indicated a near approach to a battle-field.  Suddenly it dawned upon him he had forgotten to ask for the regiment, and when he did, back came the answer, "Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania."  Without disclosing his mistake, he quietly let himself drift to the rear, and after some tribulation, much fatigue, and a bit of chagrin found his way back to his command again.

Latta, James. History of the First Regiment Infantry National Guard of Pennsylvania (Gray Reserves) 1861-1911. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1912.

September 17, 1862: Byers' Independent Cavalry Co.

Read the previous day here.

Windy, signs of rain.  Left Spriggle's [Farm] at 7 A.M., for [Hagerstown], where we reported to Gen. Reynolds at 8 to 9.  Received orders to proceed to Jones' Cross Roads [modern day intersection of MD65 & MD68], six miles on the Sharpesburg Pike or road, where we arrived about 10 to 11 A.M.  Found great  bustle.  large numbers of the Anderson Cavalry about, riding back and forth as orderlies to and from the scene of the terrible fight there and all day going on in the neighborhood of Sharpsburg. 
We have been within very distinct hearing of the rapid and incessant discharges of artillery at the fight the whole day since daylight this morning.  Saw some secesh prisoners from the fight brought in while we were at the Cross Roads.  We reported there, as ordered, to Captain Palmer who is by no means of unassuming appearance a man of some 30 years of age, about 5 feet 10 inches high, quite thin, reddish face, quick and firm looking, but evidently...feeling and thinking himself to be some considerable [?], and that he was making that impression upon observers.  He inquired our force and how we were armed; said we would do very well, and ordered us to proceed to Williamsport, some four miles distant, by way of Manor Cross Roads to relieve, as I at finish understood him, a cavalry company there.  We started off and when within a mile or two [of] Williamsport were met by him coming from that direction.  How he had got round or ahead of us I cannot say, as we had left him at the Cross Roads.  He hurried us in on the gallop and sharp trot to Williamsport, and ordered us through Capt. [Byers], and his aid, one Samborn or Sambent, to proceed to the burning of the ware-houses, canal boats, board yards, etc. to prevent and obstruct the passage of the retreating rebels across the river into Virginia at that point.  Our fellows unhorsed and went into it with a will, and in a very short time - say from 10 to 15 minutes the ware-house, planning mill and lumber yards were in full and terrible conflagration.  Many of the leading citizens cursed and swore at what they chose to designate as a wanton useless and unauthorized destruction of property, calculated in no way to retard the progress of the rebels across the [Potomac] river.  They got up a great excitement against us, and for a time it seemed as if they had determined to make an attack upon us.  Capt. Palmer was there until the flams was fully going, and left there to direct us the aid above named.  There were no Union troops of any kind in Williamsport or nearer than one to two miles.  A brick dwelling house, said by the man who lived in it to belong to "dam rebel or secesh", was burned from the were heat of the burning warehouses nearest it, which were some 20 or 30 yards off, and the wind blowing parallel with and not toward the house any part of the time.  We got there about the middle of the day, and had our work accomplished, including the undermining of and preparation to blow up the wall of the aqueduct across the creek, and despositing a heavy amount of powder in it, awhile before sun set.  We had orders to remain there until notified by our pickets or by Union picket firing that the enemy was approaching, and then to leave on the Hagerstown road.  Our horses were tied round a certain warehouse on the main street, or near it and around a coal yard fenced in, not unsaddled, but with bridles off, eating hay.  We had laid down to sleep about 9 to 10 o'clock - myself and the bugler together.  He went to sleep soon.  I had not gone to sleep, when about 10 1/2 to 11, four picket shots followed by Captain's order, "Up men!" roused us, and in less than five minutes we were in our saddles and on the way out of Williamsport.  When out about 1 to 1 1/2 miles, we encountered a heavy picket of cavalry, which we at first took for rebels, drawn up along the side of the road.  They were uncertain of  our character and purpose for a time as we were of theirs.  Questions were hurriedly exchanged an "who are you?" and a shot fired on their side, (a warning shot, I suppose) I drew my right pistol and the Captain and I Leut Boyed advanced slowly.  Explanations took place and we turned out to be friends - they a picket of New York cavalry encamped near by where we encountered them.  We pass on and made our camp that night at Spriggle's [Farm], east of Hagarstown and some seven miles from Williamsport, an hour or two after mid-night. 

- Charles Rawn

"The Militia Journal of Charles Rawn, September 9 to 23, 1862". ed. by Darin Smith. available from; Internet.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16, 1862: 2nd PA Emergency Militia (L. Richards)

Read the previous day here.
Part of the morning was devoted to foraging at the neighboring farmhouses, but little or nothing could be procured, the ground having already been pretty well covered by advance parties.  Apples, however, were abundant, as there were many fine orchards in this vicinity.

Here, under the direction of the Quartermaster, a sort of wigwam was constructed, built of fence-rails and cornstalks, and floored with straw.  It was long enough to accommodate the entire company, and formed a very tight and really comfortable tenement.  The Conococheague Creek ran within a few hundred yards of the camp, and the men had several good baths in it.  Regiments were continually arriving from the railroads, and the shrieks of the steam-whistles, the blasts of bugles, clatter of drums, and the cheering of the trrops enlivened the day.  Among the accessions were the Blue Reserves, of Philadelphia, a uniformed organization, which made a handsome appearance.  Before night there were said to be ten thousand men on the ground.  A large force of militia was evidently intended to be concentrated at this point.  Met a number of acquaintances among the new arrivals.  Had several squad and company drills, and expected, from the arrangements we observed in progress, to remain some time in this situation.  While out for excercise we could hear the noise of distant artillery proceeding from the direction of Sharpsburg and Harper's Ferry.  The anxiety increased to hear something from the army.  Occasionally a newspaper, a day or two out of date, was brought in from the railroad, and its contents eagerly devoured.  It was said that Hagerstown had been abandoned by the rebels, and that telegraph and railroad communication had been re-established with that point.  Reports circulated, which were afterwards verified, that fighting had commenced between the corps f Generals Hooker and Reno had been killed.  When the camp-fires were lighted, after nightfall, the woods resounded with martial music, song, and cheers, and the scene was a highly animating and inspiring one.  Such sights are seldom witnessed, and are not to be soon forgotten.  Before turning into our hut, seated myself on a bank a little distance apart from the rest, in company with my friend K., and we took a quiet smoke and talked of home, whither our thoughts continually turned.  Enjoyed the best night's rest of the campaign, owing to the comfort of our quarters.

- Louis Richards