Pennsylvania in the Civil War
Virtue ~ Liberty ~ Independence
Militia Troops of 1863
Independent Infantry Battalions:
Independent Cavalry Battalions:
The triumph of the rebel army at Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, and the still more signal success on the field of Chancellorsville, in the beginning of May, 1863, emboldened the rebel leader to again plan the invasion of the north. The purpose, though obscurely hinted at in rebel organs, was veiled in secrecy. When that army, flushed with two victories, and recruited
to giant proportions, withdrew from the Union front on the Rappahannock,
and began to move into the Shenandoah Valley, much solicitude was felt to
learn its destination, and serious apprehensions were entertained for the safety
of the border States. To add to this solicitude, mutterings of discontent were
heard among a turbulent class in northern cities.
Accordingly, as a precautionary measure, and that the north might be prepared for the worst, by order of the War Department of the 9th June, 1863, two new military departments were established; that of the Monongahela, embracing that portion of Pennsylvania, west of Johnstown and the Laurel Hill range, and portions of West Virginia and Ohio, with headquarters at Pittsburg, to the command of which Major General William T. H. Brooks, was assigned; and that of the Susquehanna, comprising the remaining portion of Pennsylvania, with headquarters, at Harrisburg, to the command of which Major General Darius N. Couch was assigned.
These officers were authorized to organize Departmental Corps, and on assuming command, they issued orders calling upon the people of the State to volunteer. To aid in this work, Governor Curtin issued his proclamation on the 12th, inviting the attention of the people to the orders of these officers, and urging the importance of raising a sufficient force for the defense of the State. It would seem from the wording of this proclamation, and the order of General Couch, that a serious invasion was not at that time anticipated.
"Information," says Governor Curtin, "has been obtained by the War Department, that a large rebel force, composed of cavalry, artillery, and mounted infantry, has been prepared for the purpose of making a raid into Pennsylvania;" and General Couch says: 'to prevent serious raids by the enemy, it is deemed necessary to call upon the citizens of Pennsylvania, to furnish promptly, all the men necessary to organize an army corps of volunteer infantry, cavalry, and artillery, to be designated the Army Corps of the Susquehanna.' It was announced that the troops so organized, were intended for service in these two Departments, but that they would "be mustered into the service of the United States, to serve during the pleasure of the President, or the continuance of the war."This call was made at a time when the care and gathering of the growing crops was imperative, and when every employment and walk of life had been depleted of men by frequent demands for troops. So many rumors of invasion had been raised in the early months of the summer of 1862, when Stonewall Jackson illustrated his enterprise and daring in the Shenandoah Valley, and later, when Lee made his campaign in Maryland, that the sound had grown familiar, and the cry of "wolf," had come to be regarded with suspicion.
But the rebel army, in the meantime, was pushing forward, though skilfully masking its movements behind the lines of its cavalry, and by the middle of the month, had struck and brushed away the Union forces posted at Winchester and vicinity, under General Milroy. It becoming daily more evident, that the enemy intended to cross the Potomac in force, on the 15th, the President called for one hundred thousand men, to serve for a period of six months, unless sooner discharged, from the States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia-fifty thousand from the first, thirty thousand from the second, and ten thousand from each of the latter. This call was heralded by a proclamation from Governor Curtin, calling upon all men capable of bearing arms to enroll themselves in military organizations, and to encourage all others to give aid and assistance to the efforts to be put forth for the protection of the State and of the country. Still, the realization of the fact, that the State was to be invaded by a powerful and hitherto triumphant foe, was slow in reaching the masses.
At a little before midnight of the 15th, a rebel brigade under General Jenkins, entered Chambersburg, on the southern border of the State, and on the following day, General Ewell, with a part of his corps, crossed the Potomac at Williamsport. But still, the belief seemed to prevail that an invasion of the State in force was not meditated. The leading editorial of the Philadelphia Press, of the morning of the 17th, contained the following view:
"As we understand the situation, as it appears at midnight, there is less ground for alarm than prevailed during the day. The rebels have occupied Chambersburg, but beyond that point, no force is known to be advancing. The wires were working through to Shippensburg and Carlisle at midnight, although the rumor on the street was, that those towns had been abandoned to the enemy. This suggests to us that the rebels have too great a dread of Hooker, to divide themselves in his front, and that, while they might rejoice in the opportunity of occupying and holding Pennsylvania, they would not dare to do so, with a powerful army on their line of communications."Troops, however, began to arrive at the Capital, and were being organized at Camp Curtin. A large fort was laid out on the heights just opposite the city of Harrisburg, covering the bridges of the Susquehanna, and rifle-pits to command the fords just below, and numbers of men from the Pennsylvania and Northern Central railroads, and laborers wherever they could be found, were employed on these works. A number of earth-works were also thrown up, under the direction of General Brooks, for the defense of Pittsburg. That there should be no question about the speedy return of the troops, if their services were not actually needed for the defense of the State, Governor Curtin visited the, camp, at Harrisburg, on the morning of the 18th, and is reported by the Philadelphia Press as saying:
On the same day, the Governor telegraphed to Colonel Samuel B. Thomas, at Philadelphia, the following directions:
On the 20th, he again telegraphed to the Honorable Henry D. Moore, at Philadelphia:
Troops were rapidly enrolled, and assembled at Harrisburg, where eight regiments were organized for the "Emergency," and were mustered into the United States service, besides several independent companies of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. These regiments were the Twentieth, the Twenty-sixth, to the Thirty-first inclusive, and the Thirty-third. Meanwhile, the portents of a real invasion thickened, and the air was freighted with rumors of the rebel advance. Even the aged veterans of the war of 1812, were stirred to action, and a company of seventeen members, carrying a tattered flag that had been borne by Pennsylvania troops at the battle of Trenton, under Washington, the youngest of whom was sixty-eight, marched to the Governor's room, and tendered their services.1
On the 20th, General Knipe, with a small body of troops, consisting of E. Spencer Miller's Battery of Philadelphia, and two small regiments of New York Militia, was sent forward by General Couch, to occupy Chambersburg; but finding that the town was held by the enemy's cavalry, and that Rodes' Division of Ewell's Corps was advancing, he was obliged to fall back slowly towards Carlisle.
Early on the morning of the 21st, the The Philadelphia Troop entered Gettysburg, and on the following day, in company with a body of mounted men raised in the town and vicinity, under Captain Robert Bell, made a reconnoissance as far as Monterey, in the South Mountain, where they encounterd the rebel pickets, with whom they exchanged shots. Reconnoissances were repeated by these troops on the 23d, in the direction of Chambersburg, and on the 24th. Colonel Jennings, in command of the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Emergency Regiment, arrived in the neighborhood of the town, and threw out skirmishers, which, however, were captured before they had reached their position.
During the 24th and 25th, the main body of the rebel army crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown and Williamsport, and on the 26th, the Army of the Potomac crossed at Edwards' Ferry. On the same day, Major Granville O. Haller, an aide of General Couch, who had been sent to Gettysburg to exercise command, ordered Colonel Jennings to advance with his entire regiment, in the face of the enemy on the Chambersburg Pike. The Colonel earnestly protested against this as suicidal, and begged to be allowed to send forward a body of skirmishers, to first feel the ground. But the order was enforced, and this single regiment of raw troops, was marched out to face a powerful force of the rebel army, and was only saved from marching directly into the jaws of the hostile column, by the prompt and decisive action of Colonel Jennings. It fell back in good order, until within a mile and a half of the town, when the enemy's cavalry attacked and succeeded in capturing Captain Carnahan, with a part of his company, which was of the rear guard. The regiment was promptly formed on the left of the road, and opened fire, checking his advance, and compelling him to fall back, with some loss in killed and wounded. It was, however, cut off from the railroad by which it had come to Gettysburg, but keeping to the right, retired to Dillsburg. Here it met a portion of Jenkins' Cavalry, moving south, from Carlisle. By maintaining a firm front, the enemy was kept from attacking, and the regiment arrived at Fort Washington, opposite Harrisburg, on Sunday, June 28th, after a forced march, with a loss in the campaign, of seventy-two men, taken prisoners.
Gordon's Brigade of Early's Division, consisting of five thousand infantry, preceded by cavalry, occupied Gettysburg on the afternoon of the 26th, after a brief pause, in which the leaders made a fruitless attempt to levy contributions in money and supplies, it moved on towards Hanover and York.
In the meantime, the Twentieth Emergency Regiment, Colonel Thomas, had been posted to guard the Northern Central Railroad, above and below York, and the road leading to Wrightsville. As Early approached, the Twentieth was obliged to fall back, a part of it under Lieutenant Colonel Sickles, towards Wrightsville, the remainder, under Colonel Thomas, in the direction of Harrisburg. Early burned all the bridges within his reach along the Hanover, Northern Central, and Columbia roads, and on the afternoon of the 27th, entered York, from the authorities of which place he demanded contributions in money and stores, which were furnished.
One brigade of Early's troops, consisting of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, two thousand five hundred strong, was hurried forward on the 28th, to seize and hold Columbia Bridge, spanning the Susquehanna River at Columbia, Lancaster county. On the morning of the 24th, Colonel Frick had been sent from Harrisburg, with the Twenty-seventh Emergency Regiment to guard this bridge, and prevent the enemy from crossing. Upon his arrival at Columbia, he was met by Major Haller, who had retired thither from Gettysburg, with a portion of the Philadelphia City Troop, and was joined by four companies from Columbia, three white and one colored, a detachment of convalescent soldiers from the hospital at York with the Patapsco Guards, and that portion of the Twentieth, under Lieutenant Colonel Sickles, which had retired from York, in all, less than fifteen hundred men.
Colonel Frick crossed with his command to the right bank of the river, and took position upon the heights, a half mile back from Wrightsville, which he proceeded to fortify. Towards evening of the 28th, the enemy made his appearance in front, and immediately attacked. Frick's skirmishers were soon driven in, and the enemy's artillery, posted in commanding positions, opened fire. Frick had no artillery, and was consequently at the mercy of the foe; nevertheless, he stubbornly maintained his ground, until he found that he was greatly outnumbered, outflanked, and likely to be cut off and captured, when he gave the order to retire across the bridge.
On the morning of this day, Major Haller had received by telegraph from General Couch, dated June 28th, at Harrisburg, the following order:
"When you find it necessary to withdraw the main body of Frick's command from Wrightsville, leave a proper number on the other side to destroy the bridges, and use your own discretion in their destruction. Keep them open as long as possible with prudence."For two hours after this order had been handed to Colonel Frick, and Major Haller had retired to the Columbia side to perfect preparations for the destruction of the bridge, the Colonel remained at his post. At length, when it became evident that the enemy would possess the bridge, Frick passed along his entire line under a fierce fire, and gave the signal to move. He had given orders to his engineers to prepare one span of the bridge for being blown up, and when his men were all in, he applied the match; but the explosion failed in its effect, and as a last resort, he was obliged to fire the bridge and ensure its destruction, to keep it from the enemy's grasp. In the skirmish, before withdrawing, Colonel Frick lost from his regiment, nine men wounded.
Though the main body of the rebel army had crossed the Potomac on the 24th and 25th, authentic intelligence of this fact failed to reach Harrisburg, and the north generally, until some days afterwards, and the idea that Lee meditated a serious invasion was still rejected. The New York Herald, in its issue of the 26th, contains the following opinion:
" We have no idea that General Lee meditates an advance upon either Harrisburg or Baltimore. In the one case, the trip would not pay expenses, as the broad, rocky Susquehanna river is in his way, and in the other case, his army, in getting into Baltimore, would get into a trap, from which Lee would never extricate it."And the Philadelphia Press of the 27th, in which the above extract was published, made the, following comments thereon:
"This is the view we have several times expressed, and it seems to be not unreasonable. * * * Our intelligence as to what force of rebels has entered Pennsylvania, is still unsatisfactory and unreliable. Probably Ewell's Corps, which is estimated to number about thirty-four thousand men, is alone in this aggressive movement; although it would not greatly surprise us to learn that General Lee's entire force, having crossed the Potomac, is within supporting distance."So long as these views prevailed, and were spread broadcast by leading public journals, it was natural that recruiting should be comparatively sluggish. But when the evidence finally became unmistakable, that Lee, with his entire army was north of the Potomac, and marching on Pennsylvania, the people throughout the entire borders of the State flew to arms.
On the 26th, Governor Curtin issued his proclamation, declaring that the enemy in force was advancing upon the border, and calling for sixty thousand men to be mustered into the service of the State for ninety days; but to remain only so long as the safety and honor of the Commonwealth should require. Under this call, twenty-eight regiments of infantry, numbered from the Thirty-second to the Sixtieth, besides several independent companies and batteries, were organized. Five of these regiments, the Fifty-fourth to the Fifty-eighth, inclusive, were organized in the Department of the Monongahela, at camps established in the vicinity of Pittsburg; the remainder in the Department of the Susquehanna-the Forty-sixth in a camp at Huntingdon, the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, Forty-first, Forty-second, Forty-third, Fortyeighth and Fifty-third, at Reading, the Fifty-first, Fifty-second, Fifty-ninth and Sixtieth, at Philadelphia, and the remaining regiments at Harrisburg.
General Knipe, who had been forced to fall back with his small force from Chambersburg on the 23d, continued slowly to retire, keeping up a show of strength, until he reached Carlisle, where a stand was made, and breast works were thrown up. Johnson's Division of Ewell's Corps, with a force of cavalry under Jenkins, followed, and on coming up to the Union front, easily turned Knipe out of his position, with its vastly superior numbers, after having a brisk skirmish, in which artillery was freely used, the shells falling in the very heart of the town. Knipe, who had now been superseded in chief command by General Baldy Smith, but who was still intrusted with the direction of active operations, continued to fall back until he reached Oyster's Point, where he again made a stand, and on the night of the 28th, the enemy's advance having approached within range of his artillery, he opened a rapid fire from the guns of Miller's Battery, which inflicted some loss, and caused a precipitate retreat. This was the farthest advance which was made in any considerable force towards the State Capital, though scouts and spies made their way to the Susquehanna at various points, and probably carried away notes of defensive works and number of troops in camp.2
?? By this time the rebel leader had discovered wounded and stragglers from both armies, in collecting the debris of the field, and in sending away the wounded as fast as their condition would permit.?? Colonel Alleman, in his official report, gives the following schedule of property as having been collected from the battle-field:
"Twenty-six thousand six hundred and sixty-four muskets, nine thousand two hundred and fifty bayonets, one thousand five hundred cartridge-boxes, two hundred and four sabres, fourteen thousand rounds of small-arm ammunition, twenty-six artillery wheels, seven hundred and two blankets, forty wagon loads of clothing, sixty saddles, sixty bridles, five wagons, five hundred and ten horses and mules, and six wagon loads of knapsacks and haversacks."The ordnance stores he shipped to the Washington Arsenal, and the remainder of the government property he turned over to an agent of the War Department. From the various camps and hospitals on the battle-field, and in the surrounding country, he reports having collected and sent away to northern cities,
"twelve thousand and sixty-one wounded Union soldiers, six thousand one hundred and ninety-seven wounded rebels, three thousand and six rebel prisoners and one thousand six hundred and thirty-seven stragglers."The Fifty-first Regiment, Colonel Hopkinson, was also on duty at Gettysburg, after the battle. The Forty-seventh Regiment, Colonel J. P. Wickersham, returned from the neighborhood of Williamsport to Reading, and was thence sent to the mining regions of Schuylkill county, where a collision with disaffected parties, for a time was imminent, but was averted without violence.
The Thirty-eighth Regiment, Colonel Horn, the Forty-ninth, Colonel Murphy, and the Fifty-third, Colonel Royer, were also sent to portions of the State, bordering upon the Schuylkill and the North Branch of the Susquehanna rivers, where they were employed in enforcing authority.
The Thirty-fourth, Colonel Charles Albright, was sent to Philadelphia, and arrived at a time when turbulent spirits seemed intent on riot and bloodshed. Wild disorders, such as at this time were raging in the streets of New York, appeared likely to break forth here at any moment. By the exercise of great discretion, and by a friendly conference with a class who could influence the mob, he succeeded in allaying excitement and securing peace and quiet.
The Forty-sixth, Colonel John J. Lawrence, and the Fifty-ninth, Colonel George P. M'Lean, were also sent to Philadelphia, where they rendered important service, at a most critical time.
On the 26th of June, the day after Lee crossed the Potomac, John Morgan, a daring rebel cavalry leader, set out from Sparta, Tennessee, where he occupied a position on the flank of Bragg's army, with two thousand men and four guns, for a raid through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, intended as a diversion in favor of the invading army. Fighting his way to the Ohio River, having a sharp conflict at Tibb's Bend, on Green River, and picking up recruits as he went, until his forces were doubled, and his guns were increased to ten, he crossed at Brandenburg, forty miles below Louisville, on the 7th of July, and struck boldly out through the country, burning mills, destroying railroads and telegraph lines, and levying contributions of money and horses on the inhabitants.
Trees were felled to impede his course, and the militia sprang up on all sides to harass him, but not in sufficient force to corner him. Generals Hobson and Shackleford were following him with cavalry, and gun-boats sent out from Cincinnati and from the Kanawah River, were patrolling the river. Morgan had already heard of the fate of Lee at Gettysburg, and his only solicitude now was to make good his escape across the Ohio. But the meshes of the net which were being thrown about him began to tighten. Having triumphantly passed through Salem, Varseilles, Sardinia, Piketon, and Jackson, he struck the Ohio at Pomeroy, on the 19th. A few of his men had crossed, and he was indulging the hope of escape, when suddenly the gun-boats hove in sight, and a force of infantry appeared upon his rear. Without awaiting a contest, he betook himself to flight, leaving his guns, wagons, and about six hundred of his men to be captured, and made the best of his way to Belleville, where, on the following day, he again commenced to cross, but the gun-boats again cut short the passage, and Generals Shackelford and Hobson, coining up in his rear, he was driven to an inaccessible bluff, where the major part of his command, after a brief parley, was compelled to surrender. The terms of the surrender were supposed to embrace all; but Morgan, with a considerable body of his men, managed to escape, and again struck across the country, in the hope of reaching the river, and crossing further up.
When it became evident that Morgan, failing to escape, was heading towards Pennsylvania, General Brooks was ordered to send out a portion of his forces by rail from Pittsburg, to guard the upper fords of the Ohio, and assist in the capture of the rebel chieftain.
The Fifty-fifth Peinsylvania Militia, Colonel R. B. M'Comb, had been sent on the 11th, to Parkersburg, and when the approach of Morgan was heralded, in company with troops under Colonel Wallace, and three guns, it was posted at the fords in the vicinity, a part of the Fifty-fifth occupying the lower end of Blannerhassett Island. On Friday, the 24th, General Brooks moved his headquarters temporarily to Wellsville, and ordered three of his regiments, the Fifty-fourth, Colonel Thomas F. Gallagher, the Fifty-seventh, Colonel James R. Porter, and the Fifty-eighth, Colonel George H. Bemus, to move down, and take position at the different fords along the river, between Steubenville and Wheeling. The Fifty-seventh arrived first, and halting at Portland Station, took position to cover the Warrenton Ford, Colonel Porter, with the right wing, occupying strong ground on the Hill Road, and the left wing, under Major Reid, on the Valley Road. The Fifty-eighth arrived next, and in conjunction with a section of artillery, and two companies of Kentucky Cavalry, occupied Le Grange, opposite Wellsville. The Fifty-fourth came last, and was ordered first to Mingo Station, and afterwards to the ford at Rush Run, midway between the positions of the other two regiments.
On Friday night, the 24th, Morgan was near Mount Pleasant, heading for Warrenton Ford, where he would have crossed, but for the timely arrival of Colonel Porter. On Saturday morning, being pressed in the rear, he again attempted to break through at Warrenton, but finding his way blocked, he turned northward towards Smithfield, feeling successively the positions of Gallagher and Bemus. Seeing that escape by these routes was equally hopeless, he again struck out and made for Richmond, passing by Steubenville.
At Wintersville, on Saturday afternoon, he encountered the Steubenville Militia, and at night bivouacked between Richmond and Springfield, his scouts reconnoitering the fords above. To check-mate this last move, Porter's command was moved up to Island Creek, while Gallagher and Bemus were posted at fords higher up, to intercept him, if he should strike for Shanghai, Yellow Creek, or points further on. Learning by his scouts, that all the avenues of escape were strongly held, he did not await the coming of the morning, but moved in the darkness in the direction of Salineville, where he was early attacked by Major Way, of the Michigan Cavalry, and lost some three hundred in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Colonel Gallagher had reached Salineville by the Cleveland and Pittsburg Railroad, and had formed line of battle near the village; but after the charge of Major Way, the enemy drew off in the opposite direction, and turned again northward, as if to strike Smith's Ferry, or Beaver.
Again were the Pennsylvania regiments moved up, and preparations made to meet this new disposition, when tidings were received that General Shackleford had captured Morgan, and what was left of his band. The prisoners were at once placed in charge of the Fifty-eighth, and were held until turned over to the authorities of the Department, by whom they were incarcerated in the Ohio Penitentiary, in retaliation for alleged irregular treatment of Colonel Straight by the rebel government.
As soon as the chase for Morgan was ended, the Pennsylvania regiments returned to camp, near Pittsburg. With the close of this raid, ended the rebel invasion of the north, of 1863.
Further service, for which the militia had been called, was no longer required, and during the months of August and September, the majority of the men were mustered out. With few exceptions, they were not brought to mortal conflict. But they, nevertheless, rendered most important service. They came forward at a moment when there was pressing need. Their presence gave great moral support to the Union army, and had that army been defeated at Gettysburg, they would have taken the places of the fallen, and would have fought with a valor and desperation worthy of veterans.
Called suddenly to the field from the walks of private life, without a moment's opportunity for drill or discipline, they grasped their muskets, and by their prompt obedience to every order, showed their willingness —all unprepared as they were--to face an enemy, before whom veterans had often quailed. The bloodless campaigns of the militia may be a subject for playful satire; but in the strong arms, and sturdy hearts of the yeomanry of the land, who spring to arms at the moment of danger, and when that danger has past, cheerfully lay them down again, rests a sure guarantee for the peace and security of the country.
"I was about to commence this letter, when I heard the sound of a drum and fife. Looking out of the window, I saw a small company of men marching up the street, and bearing three colors; one, a small, worn, and tattered silk flag, and the others new and fresh. As they approached nearer, I discovered that they were very old men, and my curiosity being excited, I ran out and followed them to the Capitol, whither they were marching. And here is what I learned: They were seventeen in all, members of the Soldiers' Association of 1812, of Harrisburg. The oldest was seventy-six, and the youngest sixty-eight. Every man had served in the war of 1812, and had belonged to a regiment commanded by General Foster, who has lately died, and who is remembered with respect and affection as one of the best citizens of this county. They were reviewed by General Scott, at Baltimore, after he was wounded. He rode up and down the ranks with his arm in a sling. The tattered flag was borne by a Pennsylvania regiment, at the battle of Trenton, in 1777, and has been cherished in Harrisburg ever since that time. These veterans marched up to the Governor's room, and tendered their services for the emergency. They wished to be put behind entrenchments, but if any other and harder service was required of them, they would cheerfully attempt it.
2The following statement submitted by Corporal H. C. Demming, indicates the purpose which inspired the rebel chieftain, and the systematic manner in which his advance was being that the Army of the Potomac was on his flank, and couriers were sent in all directions to summon in his scattered forces, to the point towards which his main body was tending-the town of Gettysburg. During the 1st, 2d, and 3d days of July, a fierce battle was fought on the field about that now historic town, in which the rebel army was beaten and compelled to retire towards the Potomac. So rapid were the movements of the armies, and so soon after the call for the militia was made was the decisive battle fought, that the men had scarcely arrived in camp, and been organized, before the danger was past.
The major portion of those assembled at Harrisburg, were pushed forward up the Cumberland Valley, a part of them joining the Army of the Potomac in Maryland, and stood in readiness to participate in the battle which it was anticipated would be fought in the vicinity of Williamsport. But on the 13th and 14th, the rebel army made good its escape, and the campaign was at an end. The militia was, however, held for some time after this, and was employed on various duty. The Thirty-sixth Regiment was sent to Gettysburg, and its commanding officer, Colonel H. C. Alleman, was made Military Governor of the district, embracing the battle-ground. It was engaged in gathering in the conducted when it was cut short by the opportune arrival of the Army of the Potomac, compelling him to turn and give heed to its challenge to battle:
"In reply to your note of inquiry of the 5th of May, I write. I was on duty in Harris Park, below the Cumberland Valley Railroad Bridge, on the night of July 1st, 1863, as one of the Corporals of the sentry, stationed along the river bank. At about day-break on the morning of the 2d, private C. DeHart, discovered floating down the river, what he at first took to be a log. When it had floated nearly opposite his post, he thought he could see the faint outline of a man aboard what he now discovered to be a flat-boat, although it was about two hundred feet from shore. He cried " halt," but no movement was made by the man in the boat, and DeHart fired. Several of the sentries now aimed at the object, and it dropped within the flat in time to escape one or two additional shots. I immediately ran for a skiff, some distance up the bank, but it was fastened to a large rock. Sergeant Simon Gratz came to my assistance, and we succeeded in lifting the rock into the boat and pushing to the flat. There, crouched in one corner, we discovered a man, who, on seeing us, immediately sprang to his feet. He was armed, but found that resistance was useless, and after a short parley he surrendered. An examination of the flat showed that he had thrown a weight over the stern, fastened in such a manner, that upon floating down the main channel of the Susquehanna, and passing over a spot where the water was not over three or four feet deep, it would drag, and the place could be noted. He was floating over the ford below the bridge, when the sentry fired, and just as the man fell to the bottom of his boat, the weight at the stern struck a shoal place and stopped the flat."He was taken to the shore, but protested against his summary arrest, and claimed to be a member of General Couch's staff. He was registered at the Jones House, Harrisburg. When captured, he had on a cavalry jacket, trimmed with orange colored material, with a cavalry Captain's straps. He surrendered to me a new hatchet and revolver, the latter carefully loaded.
When searched in the office of Captain John Kay Clement, the Provost Marshal of the District, I am informed a map of the Susquehanna was found on his person, containing a number of fords of the Susquehanna, above and opposite the city. For some reason that I never could understand, he was released on the same or the next day. He was re-captured within fortyeight hours thereafter, in the act of crossing our lines to join the rebels. After his re-capture, he was sent to Fort Delaware.
" When captured the first time, he told me while I was taking him to the Provost Marshal's office, that he had a horse or two on the island near the Cumberland Valley shore, nearly opposite Independence Island. I was sent there with Sergeant Gratz, and private J. J. Rebman, a day or two after, but the animals were gone. They had evidently been taken away hurriedly, as a part of the bridle rein was still fastened to the tree, having either been cut from the bridle or broken off. Had he succeeded in eluding capture on the morning of the 2d, he would have returned to the enemy, with full knowledge of the fords of the Susquehanna, and the number of troops in the city and vicinity.
"Respectfully submitted with accompanying papers."
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
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