Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

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.  

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