Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Monday, September 17, 2012

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.

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