20th Regiment
Pennsylvania Volunteers

Three-Month Unit

Soon after the close of the war with Mexico, a number of returned soldiers who had served under General Scott, formed an association called the "Scott Legion," which, without having any legal status, preserved its organization for purposes of friendly intercourse. It was handsomely uniformed and well drilled, and was accustomed upon the death of any of its members to bury them with military honors.

William H. Gray had held the rank of Captain from the date of its organization, and at a meeting held on the evening of Thursday, April 25th, 1861, a resolution was passed instructing him, in conjunction with other members of the company, to raise a regiment for the national service. In obedience to this resolution, on the following morning, April 26th, Captain Gray commenced recruiting at Fifth and Chestnut streets, in what has since become the Post Office, and when, on Saturday evening, the office was closed, the ranks were full. Men continued to report, however, during Sunday and Monday, and when the enrollment was finally concluded, there was an excess of six hundred men over the number that could be accepted.

The election of company officers took place on the Monday following, and that of regimental officers on Tuesday, both being conducted according to militia law by Brigade Inspector, Major Weaver. The field officers were:
  • William H. Gray, Colonel
  • George Moore, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Andrew H. Tippin, Major
  • Edwin lE. Biles, Adjutant
Its services were then regularly tendered to the Executive of the State and accepted, and it was mustered into the service of the United States as the Twentieth regiment by Captain Neill of the regular army. Of the thirty-seven officers chosen nearly all were elected unanimously, and thirty-one of this number were members of the Legion. It was hence inspired by that organization, and very naturally took its name, though never used in any official paper. The three months' service in which it was engaged was not fruitful in stirring events nor apparent results, but the readiness manifested to enlist, and the promptness with which the regiment was filled, are not without merit, and the character of the troops and the discipline to which they attained, gave assurance, had the opportunity been given, that they would have displayed nerve and steadiness in the face of the enemy, and won signal honor on the battle field.

It remained quartered at the Post Office about two weeks, during which time it was drilled by companies in Scott's tactics at first, and afterwards in Hardee's. Dress parades were regularly held, and occasional battalion drills conducted in the State House yard. The first arms issued wre unserviceable, and were subsequently exchanged for rifled muskets. The regiment was clothed in the old United States blue jacket and pants, of a quality that the men did not require re-clothing during their term of service. This uniform was secured by the personal exertions of General Patterson, for which he had a great partiality, being the pattern worn in Mexico.

From the Post Office the regiment moved to Suffolk Park, some six miles out of the city, where drill and discipline were rigidly enforced, and where excellent progress was made in the school of arms. It remained here about two weeks, when it was ordered to move to Chambersburg to join Patterson's column, and was there assigned to the 3d Brigade1 of the 1st Division.

On the 8th of June, it advanced with the Brigade and encamped first at Greencastle, then near St. James College, and finally on the banks of the Potomac, at Williamsport, where it remained until the whole army commenced a forward movement on the 2d of July.

In the campaign to Martinsburg and Bunker Hill the services of the regiment were little varied from the usual life of troops on the march, in bivouac, and in camp. From Bunker Hill to Charlestown, the Twentieth was thrown out at intervals for the protection of the main column, and on its arrival was pushed forward to Keyes' Ford. This was seized and securely held, thus ensuring the safety of the army from an attack in the rear; though, as was subsequently ascertained, the enemy had withdrawn and were now hastening in the opposite direction to join Beauregard.

The term of service having nearly expired, it was, on the 24th of July, ordered to Philadelphia, where it was soon after mustered out of service.

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1 Organization of 3d Brigade, Brigadier General E. C. Williams, 1st Division, Major General Cadwalader. Seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel William H. Irwin; Eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel A. H. Emley; Tenth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Sullivan A. Meredith; Twentieth Regiment (Scott Legion) Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel William H. Gray.

Source:  Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.

Organization:

Organized at Philadelphia and mustered in April 30, 1861.
Duty at Philadelphia till June.
Moved to Chambersburg, Pa., and Joined Patterson.
Attached to 3rd Brigade, 1st. Division, Patterson's Army.

Service:

March to Williamsport, Md., June 16.
Occupation of Martinsburg July 3.
Advance on Bunker Hill July 15.
Moved to Harper's Ferry July 23.
Mustered out August 6, 1861.
Sources:

Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Compiled and Arranged from Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of he Adjutant Generals of the Several States, the Army Registers, and Other Reliable Documents and Sources.Des Moines, Iowa: The Dyer Publishing Company, 1908

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