Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14, 1862: 2nd PA Emergency Militia (L. Richards)

Louis Richards, of Reading, a member of Co. G, 2nd PA Emergency Militia, published his daily thoughts years after the war, but his subtle sarcasm, and dry humor help to place the reader amongst the events of '62.  150 years ago, Richards and the 2nd PA were on the move through the scenic Cumberland Valley, and as the "saviors" of the Valley moved againt Robert E. Lee and his "rebel horde", they recieved quite a memorable excursion.
Our company had been attached to the Second Regiment of Militia, as Company "G."  The Colonel was John L. Wright, of Columbia.  There were ten companies, mostly full, from Columbia, West Chester, Reading, Pottsville, and Lancaster City and County.  The First Regiment, commanded by Colonel Henry McCormick, and containing companies from Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Chester and Lebanon counties, had already been sent off down the Cumberland Valley Railroad to Chambersburg.  At 11 o'clock we received marching orders for the same place, and about 1 1/2 P.M. the regiment proceeded out to near Camp Curtin and got aboard a train of freight cars, which had been provided with seats for the transportation of troops.  A long delay, with the explanation of which we were not furnished, ensued; but about 3 the train started.  A halt of an hour or more was made in town.  A tremendous and enthusiastic crowd was out to see us off.  Moved over the Long Bridge and stopped another half hour west of the Susquehanna.  Chambersburg, our destination, was fifty-two miles distant.  Passed successively through Mechanicsburg, Carlisle, and Shippensburg, at each of which places short stops were made.  Were struck with the great natural beauty of the Cumberland Valley region.  Crowds of people came out to the stations to meet us, and black and white, old and young, all joined in the heartiest demonstrations of welcome.  Were also greeted from the houses and roadsides all the line by people waving their handkerchiefs and swinging their hats.  At Mechanicsburg a whole girls' school was out to see us.  This was a specially engaging sight to some of our number, who thought that that village would be a good place to camp.  The elite of the town were at the station, and "S." pointed out to me the leading beauties of the place - I mean the ladies .  Soldiers of a day, we already began, in the midst of these inspiring scenes, to feel like real veterans.  Between stops the men beguiled the time singing, jesting, smoking, etc., and every one was in the best possible humor.  Private T.H., among the rest, favored the company with a curious song in Pennsylvania Dutch called "Babbel Maul," which performance his delighted auditors compelled him frequently to repeat.  It was generally agreed that the most desirable way to march was by railroad.  Dusk deepened into night, and at about 9 o'clock Chambersburg was reached.  Proceeded a mile or two below the town, when the train halted in a wood brightly illuminated with camp-fires, and resonant with the cheers of soldiers.  Disembarked and went into camp.  Rigged the tents, built the fires, mounted the large cooking kettles with which we had been furnished at Harrisburg, boiled coffee and got our supper - "grub" is the military term for it.  No news of any account from Maryland.  My two comrades of the night before and myself constructed a sort of crib with fence rails put up between adjoining trees, and, after a smoke, laid ourselves up in it to sleep.  The arrangement worked well, and we slept comfortably in this rustic bedstead until 5 A.M.


Vince said...

To add a complementary reference that I was just reading today, 2nd Lieut. Samuel Wright of Company A, 2nd Pennsylvania Militia, wrote a couple thorough accounts of his time with that unit that appeared in the 9/20 and 9/27/1862 editions of the Columbia Spy. The paper is digitized, and the references can be found at

Dave Maher said...

Thanks again Vince! Great stuff.