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History of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

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Twelfth Regiment — Pennsylvania Reserves — Eighth and Tenth Re-
serve Regiments.

The military history of Washington County for the
period embracing the great war of the Rebellion com-
menced in those spring days of 1861, when the signal
to arms came booming from the guns of beleaguered
Sumter and reverberated across the rivers and moun-
tains, from ocean to lake. And it is a history of
which the people of the county may well be proud.
From the time when the first call for troops was made
known until the surrender of the principal hostile
army made further calls unnecessary the young men,
the middle-aged men, and sometimes the old men of
Washington responded to each appeal with an alac-
rity and patriotism not excelled in any other county
of the State or Union.

The war was commenced in the harbor of Charles-
ton, S. C, at daylight in the morning of Friday, April
12, 1861, by the opening of a heavy fire on Fort
Sumter from the formidable Confederate earthworks
which encircled it. The bombardment was continued
incessantly during all that day and the forenoon of
the next, and at about one o'clock p.m. on the 13th
the fort surrendered, the buildings within its inclo-
sure being on fire. On Monday, the 15th of April,
the President of the United States issued a proclama-
tion, declaring the South in a stace of rebellion, and
calling on the Northern States of the Union for a
force of seventy-five thousand men to suppress it. To
this call Washington, like nearly all other counties
of the State, responded with promptness and enthu-
siasm, and within the week following the issuance of
the President's proclamation two companies (one
from Washington borough and one from Mononga-
hela City) had been filled and were on their way to
Pittsburgh to join the Twelfth Pennsylvania Regi-



nient, then forming for service in the field. Another
comp.any (called the " McKennan Infantry") was
also in of recruitment at Washington, but
when its ranks were filled — only a few days later — it
fiiiled to secure acceptance from Pennsylvania (the
quota being already full), and thereupon marched to
Wheeling, where its services were tendered to, and
accepted by, the Governor of West Virginia, and it
was credited to the quota of that State. The officers
of this company were Capt. Lewis E. Smith, First
Lieut. A. A. Devore, and Second Lieut. N. W. Trux-

The companies which marched from Washington
borough and Monongahela City to join the Twelfth
Regiment, as before mentioned, were commanded
respectively by Capt. Norton McGifiin and Capt.
Robert F. Cooper. These companies, like the others
forming the regiment, were raised for three months'
service, a term which at that time was thought to be
ample for the suppression of the Rebellion. The
Twelfth was one of the earliest regiments to enter the
field. It was organized at Pittsburgh, under super-
vision of Brig.-Gen. James S. Negley, of that city,
and included in its organization several Pittsburgh
military companies already formed, viz., the Du-
quesne Grays, Independent Blues, Zouave Cadets, and
City Guards. These forming a nucleus, volunteers
came in so rapidly that the ranks were filled and
regimental oflicers elected on the 22d of April, viz. :
colonel, David Campbell, of Pittsburgh ; lieutenant-
colonel, Norton McGiflin, of Washington ; major,
Alexander Hays, of Pittsburgh. Two days later the
regiment left Pittsburgh for Harrisburg, where on the
25th it was reviewed by Governor Curtin and mus-
tered into the service of the United States.

The regiment moved from Harrisburg to Camp
Scott, near York, Pa., where it remained till May
25th, when it was ordered to Maryland to guard the
line of the Northern Central Railroad from Pennsyl-
vania to the city of Baltimore. On this duty it re-
mained, posted by detachments along the road, during
the entire term of its enlistment. It was mustered
out of service at Harrisburg, Aug. 5, 1S61.

In reference to the Twelfth, and the bloodless duty
it performed. Bates, in his " History of Pennsylvania
Volunteers," says, " The service rendered by this regi-
ment was devoid of stirring incident, but was, never-
theless, exceeding laborious, was faithfully performed,
and was of great moment to the government. The
highest expectations were entertained of its heroic
conduct in the face of the enemy ; but no enemy was
seen, and no occasion presented for firing a gun. It
was a noiseless and inglorious campaign, but a highly
useful one, for not only was an important and vital
line of communication with the national capital pre-
served and protected, but a fine body of iTien was
thoroughly drilled and perfected in the school of
arms, and many who here received their first instruc-
tion afterwards led, with great skill, in the most

deadly encounters. The field-officers had all received
a military training. Maj. (afterwards brigadier-gen-
eral) Hays, who was killed while gallantly leading
his brigade in the battle of the Wililerness, wa.s a
graduate of the United States Military Academy."
Lieut.-Col. Norton McGiffin, of Washington, was a
veteran of the Mexican war, as were also many mem-
bers of the two old Pittsburgh companies which
formed a part of the regiment. The two Washington
County companies of the Twelfth were designated in
the regimental organization as "E" and "G"' com-
panies. Lists of their oflicers and enlisted men are
given below :

(Recruited at WashiiiBton.)
Norton McGiffin, capt., pro. to liotit.-col. ; James Armstrong, capt.;
William F. Templelon, Ut lieut.; Samuel F. Griffith, 2d lieut.;
Oliver K. McNary, 1st sergt.; David Brady, 2d sergt.; John Q. A.
Boyd, 3d sergt.; David Acheson, 4th sergt.; John D. McKabaa, Ist
Corp.; Henry Brown, 2d Corp. ; Robert B. Klliot, 3d Corp.; George B.
Caldwell, 4th Corp.; William A. McCoy, Simeon W. Lewis, musi-


John W. Acheson.
Henry H. Alter.
James Barr.
Edwin W. Bausniau.
Peter Blonberg.
Hugh P. Boon.
John V. Brobst.
John A.Byers.
John L. Cook.
Heury M. Dougan.
Horace B. Durant.
Tertius A. Durant.
Henry Erdman.
Hardman Gantz,
John L. Gettys.
James Grier.
John M. Griffith.
Charles Hallam.
William T. Hamilton.
Alexander C. Hamilton.
William Hart.
Eli Hess, died.
William H. Horn.
Robert P. Hughes.
Andrew J. Hyde.
James B. Kennedy.
John Kendall.
Philip P. Kuntz.
John Lawton.
Joseph Lane.
Matthew P. Linh.
Charles L. Linton.

John Loughman.
Taylor McFarland.
Ihomaa M. McKeever.
John McKeever.
Caleb I. McNulty.
James W. Montford.
'William M. Morrison.
Henry C. Odenbaugb.
George A. Perrett.
Eollin O. Phillips.
Henry A. Purviance.
Alexander Rankin.
George W. Reed.
Samuel B. Rictey, died.
John B. Ritner.
Alexander W. Scott.
Cephas D. Sharp.
David Shepherd.
.Tames Stocking.
Andrew J. Swart.
John R. Sweeny.
Samuel M. Templeton.
Joseph H. Templeton.
Robert Thompson.
Robert L. Thompson.
"William H. Underwood.
Isaac Vance.
George I. W'alker. v
.\ndrew W. "Wilson.
James B. Wilson.
Robert T. Wishart,
Wesley Wolf.

Company G (Monongahela Artillery).
(Recruited at Monongahela City.)
Robert F. Cooper, capt. ; John S. McBride, 1st lieut. ; Jesse C. Taylor, 2d
lieut.; William W. Thompson, 1st sergt.; John Myers, 2d sergt.;
Owen Bullard, 3d sergt.; John S. Slanger, 4th sergt.; Rees Boyd,
Ist Corp. ; Benjamin F.Scott, 2d Corp.; John H. Woodward, 3d Corp.;
Alexander O. D. O'Douovan, 4th corp. ; Frederick Layman, ]
James S. Scott,


Francis Allen.
Isaac R. Beazell.
Harrison Remington.
John Boyd.
William B. Brooks.
John Bellas.

William Baxter, Jr.
Samuel ^V. Beazell.
Michael Barry.
Patrick Collins.
Sylvester Collins.
WiUiam S. Cooper.



Benjamin D. Dickey.
John C. Dougherty.
Andrew Elliot.
William H, H.Eberhard.
Andrew Grant.
Alexander Gregg.
John M. Gilibs.
Joseph D. V. Hazzaid.
S. Bently Howe.
William H. Howe.
James S. Harris.
William H. Heath.
William J. Hoftman.




David Kearney.
Henry B. iiing.
William G. Kennedy.
James L. Long.
Andrew Louderhack.
Ellis N. Lilley.
George C. Leighty.
David Morton.
James Meliaffy.
Charles McCain.
William T. Meredith.
Thomas Morgan.

Thomas Mack.
William Mack.
Daniel Mockhee.
Jacob S. Miller.
Angustus J. Miller.
HiUery Miller.
John Merrick.
William Ong.
Charles Oliver.
William Oliver.
George W. Potts.
Samuel B. Paxton.
Samuel Pritchard.
Joseph G. Reager.
John Kinard.
Reuben Sutton.
George Stewart.
Alfred M. Sickman.
Jefferson G. Vangilder.
Theophilus Vankirk.
Robert S. Wilson.
William Woodward.
William H. H. Wickerham.
James S. White.
Samuel Toung.
Daniel D. Yates.

After the filling of the first quotas the War De-
partment changed its policy and ceased to accept
three months' men, the term of service required being
three years or during the war, with some exceptions
of two years' regiments. During the long struggle
Washington County furnished large numbers of troops
for the armies of the United States. They served in
various commands, but were most numerous in the
Eighth and Tenth Reserves, the Seventy-ninth,
Eighty-fifth, One Hundredth, and One Hundred and
Fortieth infantry regiments, and the First, Four-
teenth, Sixteenth, and Twenty-second regiments of
cavalry of Pennsylvania. Of the movements and
services of these regiments separate historical sketches
will be given, with lists of their Washington County
members. It is admitted, however, that the lists given
are not entirely accurate or complete, but they are as
nearly so as it is practicable to make them from the
records of the adjutant-general's office.

The Pennsylvania Reserves. — The fact that Penn-
sylvania, by reason of her extended southern frontier
bordering on Mason and Dixon's line, was peculiarly
exposed to the danger of invasion by the forces of the
Confederacy, was at once recognized by Governor
Gurtin, who on the 20th of April, just one week after
the fall of Fort Sumter, called an extra session of the
Legislature, whicli convened on the 30th. In his
message to that body he said, " To furnish ready sup-
port to those who have gone out and to protect our
borders we should have a well-regulated military force.
I therefore recommend the immediate organization,
disciplining, and arming of at least fifteen regiments
of cavalry and infantry, exclusive of those called into
the service of the United States. As we have already
ample warning of the necessity of being prepared for
any sudden exigency that may arise, I cannot too
much impress this upon you."

In pursuance of this recommendation of the Gov-

ernor a bill was introduced on the 2d of May, and
became a law on the 15th, having among its pro-
visions one authorizing and directing the commander-
in-chief to raise and organize a military force, to be
called the " Eeserve Volunteer Corps of the Com-
monwealth," to be composed of thirteen regiments
of infantry, one of cavalry, and one of light artillery;
to be enlisted in the service of the State for the term
of three years, or during the continuance of the war,
unless sooner discharged, and to be liable to be called
into service at the discretion of the commander-in-
chief for the purpose of suppressing insurrection or
repelling invasion, and, further, to be liable to be
mustered into the service of the United States under
requisition made by the President on the State of Penn-
sylvania. The regiments and companies composing
the corps so authorized were entitled to elect, and the
Governor was directed to commission, officers similar
in rank and equal in number to those allowed to
troops in the United States army.

The corps formed under the provisions of this act
was quickly and easily recruited, for the enthusiasm
and desire to enlist in its ranks was general in every
part of the State. The camps of instruction were four
in number, — one at Easton, one at West Chester, one
at Pittsburgh, and one at Harrisburg. The exigency
foreseen by Governor Curtin having arisen, orders
were received (July 19th) from the Secretary of War
directing all the regiments, excepting the Fifth and
Thirteenth,' of the Reserves to be assembled at Har-
risburg, and there, immediately after the disastrous
battle of Bull Run, they were mustered into the
United States service. From Harrisburg, " moving
rapidly to the points designated by the commander of
the national army, the several regiments remained on
duty until all danger from a sudden incursion of the
enemy was passed," when all of them were rendez-
voused at Tenallytown, Md., in the immediate vi-
cinity of the District of Columbia. There they were
formed into three brigades, composing one division,
under command of Maj.-Gen. George A. McCall. This
was the far-famed division of the Pennsylvania Re-
serves, which, after the requisite tour of drill and
discipline at Tenallytown, moved into Virginia with
the forces of Gen. McClellan, and afterwards won im-
perishable renown on nearly all the principal battle-
fields of the Army of the Potomac.

Eighth Reserve Regiment. — Tlie Eighth Reserve,
or Thirty-seventh Regiment of Pennsylvania (en-
listed for three years' service), was composed of com-
panies raised in the counties of Washington, Fayette,
Allegheny, Greene, Armstrong, Butler, and Clarion,
all or nearly all of which had been raised for the
three months' service, but had failed to secure accept-
ance by the government for that term. One of its
companies ("K," previously called the "Hopkins

1 These two regiments
Cumberland, Md.

ah-eady in the field i

lity of



Infantry," and commanded by Capt. Alexander
Wishart) was recruited in Washington County.

Tlie rendezvous of the Eighth was at " Camp Wil-
kiiis," Pittsburgh, to which camp the companies were
ordered early in June, 18(51, and on the 28th of the
same month the regiment was formally organized,
under the following-named field-officers, viz.: Colonel,
George S. Hays, M.D., of Allegheny County ; Lieut-
tenant-Colonel, S. Duncan Oliphant, of Fayette ; Ma-
jor, John W. Duncan ; Adjutant, Henry W. Patter-

On the 20th of July the regiment left for Washing-
ton, D. C, by way of Harrisburg and Baltimore.
Receiving equipments at tlie former place, and tents
at the latter, it arrived at Washington on the 23d, and
encamped at Meridian Hill. On the 2d of August it
moved thence to Tenallytown, Md., where it en-
camped with other regiments of the Reserve Division
under Maj.-Gen. George A. McCall. The Eighth, to-
gether with the First Reserve, Col. R. Biddle Roberts ;
the Second, Col. William B. Mann; and the J^ifth,
Col. Seneca G. Simmons, formed the First Brigade,
under command of Brig.-Gen. John F. Reynolds.

The regiment remained at Tenallytown about two
months, a period which was passed in camp routine,
picket duty, and frequent alarms along the line of the
Potomac, and on the 9th of October moved with its
brigade and division across that historic stream, and
took position in the line of the Army of the Potomac
at Langley, Va., at which place the Reserve Corps
made its winter-quarters. In the battle of Dranes-
ville, which was fought on the 10th of December by
the Third Brigade (Gen. Ord's) of the Re^rves,
neither the Eighth Regiment nor any part of Rey-
nolds' brigade took part, being absent on a reconnois-
sance to Difficult Creek.

On the 10th of March, 1862, the Eighth, with the
entire division, moved from the winter-quarters at
Camp Pierrepont (Langley) to Hnnter's Mills, Va.,
with the expectation of joining in a general advance
of the army on the Confederate position at Manassas.
But it was found that the enemy had evacuated his
line of defenses and retired towards Gordonsvillle,
and thereupon the plan of the campaign was changed
by the commanding general, McClellan, and the Re-
serve regiments were ordered back to the Potomac.
On the 12th the retrograde march was commenced,
and continued through mud, darkness, and a deluge
of rain to Alexandria, where it was expected that
the division would embark with the rest of the Army
of the Potomac for the Peninsula ; but this was not
the case. The division of McCall was assigned to
duty with the First Corps, under Gen. McDowell,
which, with the exception of Franklin's division, was
held between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers
for the protection of the city of Washington.

From Alexandria, the Eighth with its brigade
marched back to Manassas, thence to Warrenton
Junction, to Falmouth, and (May 24th) across the

Rappahannock to Fredericksburg, of which place
Gen. Reynolds was appointed military governor. An
advance from Fredericksburg along the line of the
railroad towards Richmond was intended, but this was
found to be inexpedient, and as Gen. McClellan wa«
calling urgently for reinforcements in the Peninsula,
Reynolds' brigade wius recalled Irom its advanced po-
sition on the railroad ; the entire division was marched
to Gray's Landing, and there embarked for White
House, on the Pamunkey River, where it arrived on
the 11th of June. There had been a va-st quantity of
stores collected at White House for the use of the
army on the Chickahominy, and the timely arrival of
the Reserves prevented the destruction of these stores
by a strong detachment of Confederate cavalry under
Fitzhugh Lee, who was then on his way towards the
Pamunkey for that purpose.

From White House the Eighth marched with the
division by way of Baltimore Cross- Roads to join the
Army of the Potomac in the vicinity of Gaines' Mill.
Thence the division was moved to the extreme right,
where it took position at Mechanicsville and along
the line of Beaver Dam Creek.

On Thursday, the 26th of June, was fought the bat-
tle of Mechanicsville, the first of that series of bloody
engagements known collectively as the Seven Days'
Fight, and also (with the exception of the severe
skirmish at Dranesville in the previous December)
the first engagement in which the Pennsylvania Re-
serves took part. In this battle the Eighth (having
in the morning of that day relieved the Second) occu-
pied the left of its brigade line, and about the centre
of the line holding the bank of Beaver Dam Creek.
The First Reserve Regiment was on its right. On a
crest of ground northeast of the creek was posted
Easton's Battery. At the margin of the swamp which
skirts the creek the Eighth was deployed, Companies
A, D, F, and I being thrown forward as skirmishers
under command of Lieut.-Col. Oliphant. The battle
commenced at about three o'clock in the afternoon,
the Georgia and Louisiana troops of the enemy wad-
ing the stream and rushing forward to the attack.
" A brief artillery contest, in which the shells burst
in rapid succession in the very midst of the infantry,
was followed by tlie advance of the rebel columns, and
the battle became general. A charge of the enemy
below the swamp, with the design of capturing Eas-
ton's Battery, caused the skirmishers to be recalled,
and the regiment moved to its support. But the
enemy being repulsed by other troops it returned to
its former position. Three times the close columns
of the enemy charged down the opposite slope with
determined valor, but were as often repulsed and
driven back. At night the men rested upon the
ground where they had fought. The dead were col-
lected, wrapped in their blankets, and consigned to
the earth, and the wounded were sent to the rear.
The loss of the regiment in killed, wounded, and
missing was nearly one hundred. Company F being



upon the skirmish line, and not comprehending the
order to withdraw, remained at its post, and fell into
the liands of the enemy."

At daylight in the morning of the 27th of June the
Eighth, with its companion regiments of the Reserve
Corps, was withdrawn from the battle-ground of the
previous day, and moved down, parallel with the
Chickahominy, some two or three miles, to Gaines'
Mill, where Gen. Fitz John Porter's corps (of which
the Reserves formed a part) was placed in line of
battle for the renewed conflict which was inevitable.
Butterfield's brigade occupied the extreme left, Sykes'
division of regulars the right, and McCall's Pennsyl-
vanianswere placed in the second line. Approaching
them were the Confederate commands of Gens. A. P.
Hill, Longstreet, D. H. Hill, and the redoubtable
" Stonewall" Jackson, in all more than fifty thousand
men, against half that number on the Union side.
The battle opened by a furious attack on the regulars
composing Porter's right. These, after having re-
pulsed the enemy in his first attack, finally gave way
before a renewed assault. The Eighth Reserve, in the
second line, was posted where a road was cut through
rising ground, and the excavation afforded some shel-
ter, but the regiment suffered quite severely from the
shells of the enemy, which were directed at a battery
which it was posted to support. The battle raged
furiously during all the afternoon. At about five
o'clock the enemy advanced in heavy masses from
the woods, and the Eighth Reserve, with the Second
Regulars, were advanced to meet the assault in their
front. The hostile line recoiled before them, and was
swept back to the woods, but they rallied in superior
numbers, and the two regiments were in turn driven
back, with a loss to the Eighth of twenty-four in
killed and wounded. During the battle the heroic
Reynolds, the brigade commander, was taken pris-
oner by the enemy.

The day of Gaines' Mill closed in blood and defeat
to the Union forces, and during the night the shat-
tered Pennsylvania Reserves, with the other troops,
succeeded in crossing the Chickahominy and destroy-
ing the bridges behind them, though two bridges
farther down the stream (Bottom's and Long Bridges)
still remained, and it was not long after sunrise on
Saturday morning when the Confederate force under
the indomitable Jackson was massed at the upper
one of these and making preparations to cross to the
south side. Other hostile forces were also advancing
directly on McClellan's left wing, and in view of this
rather alarming situation of affairs, the general had,
as early as Friday evening, decided on a retreat by
the whole army to James River, where a base of sup-
plies could be held, and communication on the river
kept open by the co-operation of the Union gunboats.
The troops were informed of the proposed change by
an apparently triumphant announcement (intended
merely to encourage the soldiers and lighten in some
degree the gloom of the great disaster) that a new and

mysterious flank movement was about to be executed
which would surely and swiftly result in the capture
of Richmond. No such assurance, however, could
conceal from the intelligent men who formed the
Army of the Potomac that their backs and not their
faces were now turned towards the Confederate cap-
ital, and that the much-vaunted " change of base"
was made from necessity rather than choice.

During all the day succeeding the battle (Saturday,
June 28lh) the Eighth lay at Savage Station, on the
York River Railroad. On Sunday it moved with the
other regiments to and across White Oak Swamp,
and at about sunset came to the vicinity of Charles
City Cross-Roads, where on the following day a fierce
battle was fought, in which the Eighth took gallant
part. The first assault of the enemy was received at
about one o'clock in the afternoon. " In the forma-
tion of the line the First Brigade was held in re-
serve, but as the struggle became desperate the
Eighth was ordered in. Its position fell opposite the
Sixth Georgia, which was upon the point of charging,
when Gen. McCall gave the order for the Eighth to
charge upon it, and Col. Hays leading the way with
a shout that rang out above the deafening roar of the
conflict, it dashed forward, scattering the Georgians
and driving them beyond the marsh in front. A few
prisoners were taken. Later the enemy pressed
heavily upon that part of the field, and the line was
forced back, the Eighth gradually retiring until it
reached a new line which had been established, where
it remained till darkness put an end to the conflict."
The loss to the regiment at Charles City Cross-Roads
was Sixteen killed and fourteen severely and many
others slightly wounded.

In the terrific battle of Malvern Hill, which was
fought in the afternoon of the following day, the
Eighth, being held with the division in reserve, did
not become engaged. The battle was opened at
about four o'clock p.m., and from that time until

Online LibraryBoyd CrumrineHistory of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 84 of 255)