Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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.

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