Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Monday, September 17, 2012

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

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