© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedThe first five companies of Pennsylvania volunteers, and the first volunteer troops to report at Washington, were, for a considerable portion of their term of service, kept on duty in the neighborhood of the Capital, as independent companies. By special order of the Secretary of War, they were permitted to recruit their ranks largely in excess of the number prescribed by the regulations of the service. Subsequently, however, they were reduced by division, and new companies formed. From the surplus men of the Ringgold Light Artillery of Reading, Captain M'Knight, and the National Light Infantry of Pottsviile, Captain M'Donald, a new company was organized and the command given to Henry Nagle, First Lieutenant of the Artillery. From those of the Washington Artillery of Pottsville, Captain Wren, and the Logan Guards of Lewistown, Captain Selheimer. another company was formed and the command given to Captain Wren. To these five original companies, thus increased to seven, three new companies were joined, and a regimental organization effected by the choice of the following officers:Edward P. Pearson, Jr., of Reading, was made Adjutant; but having been appointed a Lieutenant in the regular army on the 24th of June, 1861, he was succeeded by M. E. Richards, of Pottsville.
- Henry L. Cake, of Pottsville, Colonel
- John B. Selheimer, of Lewistown, from Captain of the Logan Guards,
- Lieutenant Colonel
- James H. Campbell, of Pottsville, Major
The five original companies were engaged in barricading and guarding the Capitol, until the arrival of the Massachusetts Sixth and the New York Seventh, a period of some ten days. The Logan Guards and Washington Artillery, companies E and H, were then ordered to garrison duty at Fort Washington, where they were drilled by their officers and by Major J. A. Haskins, of the regular army, then in command of the Fort, at first in heavy and afterwards in light infantry tactics. These, with company B, remained on duty at the Fort until the close of their term of service, without having reported to the commander of the regiment to which they were nominally attached. The Ringgold Artillery, company A, and company C which was principally formed from it, were ordered to duty at the Washington Arsenal, where were stored seventy thousand stand of arms and other war material, and subsequently at the Navy Yard. On the 8th of June they were ordered to report to Major (since'Major General) J. G. Barnard, at the fort located at the west end of Long Bridge, and were engaged there and at Georgetown Heights, in unloading and mounting heavy guns. With the exception of a few days during the last of May, when they reported to Colonel Cake, at the regimental camp, they never formed part of the command. On the 15th of June, they were ordered to the Washington Arsenal, where they remained on guard until the close of their term of service.
The remaining five companies were encamped from the date of their arrival at the Capital, until the 28th of June, near the Arsenal, where they were instructed and drilled. At this date, an order was received from the War Department, directing the regiment to march, with fifteen days' rations and sixty rounds of ammunition, and join Colonel Charles P. Stone, then at Rockville, Maryland. When the regimental organization was formed, it was the intention to consolidate the entire force; but when the order for the march was issued, it was deemed unwise to remove the companies stationed at the Arsenal and at Fort Washington, and hence the order only included five companies, D, F, G, I, and K, Captains M'Donald, M'Cormick, Yeager, Davis and Dart. The battalion marched on the 29th, under Lieutenant Colonel Selheimer, and reached Rockville on the 30th. Here Colonel Cake rejoined it and assumed command, and Major Campbell, who was then a member of Congress, returned to Washington, to attend the special session, called to convene on the 4th of July. On the 1st of July, the battalion reached Poolesville and reported to Colonel Stone, commanding the Rockville expedition. Moving via Point of Rocks to Sandy Hook, it encamped opposite Harper's Ferry, on Maryland Heights. At this time, Harper's Ferry was occupied by the enemy, and considerable skirmishing occurred. To obtain possession of the place, it was arranged to storm it on the morning of the 6th, but just before the movement commenced, orders were received to march rapidly to Wiiliamsport, and thence across the Potomac to Martinsburg. Arriving on the 8th, after a fatiguing march through clouds of dust, under a broiling sun, it went into camp in a little valley outside the town, which, in consonance with the feelings of the men, was called Camp Misery.
Here the battalion was assigned to the 7th Brigade,1 3d Division of General Patterson's army. On the 15th, it marched, with the Brigade, to Bunker Hill, where it went into camp. From this point, it was the general expectation that an immediate movement against the enemy would take place. But on the 17th the whole command marched to Charlestown, and on the following day the battalion moved to Harper's Ferry and encamped. Remaining until the 23d, an order was received from the commanding General, conveying his thanks for its patriotic tender of service after the expiration of its term, and directing it to move by way of Baltimore to Harrisburg. The battalion, together with the companies serving in the neighborhood of Washington, assembled in Harrisburg, and were mustered out of service on the 26th of July.
On the 27th of May, 1861, previous to the departure of the Battalion from Washington, a beautiful stand of colors was presented to the regiment by Joseph W. Cake, of Pottsville. The presentation took place in the square east of the Capitol, in the presence of the Secretary of War. In the absence of the donor, the presentation was made by Colonel John W. Forney, and was received on behalf of the regiment by Major Campbell. The speeches were unusually eloquent and patriotic. Upon its disbandment, Colonel Cake, with other-officers, returned to Pottsvllle, and immediately commenced the formation of a regiment for three years, which was intended to be a re-organization of the Twenty-fifth, but which subsequently received the designation of the Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania volunteers.
` Organization of the 7th Brigade, Colonel Charles P. Stone, 3d Division, Major General Sanford. Seventeenth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Francis E. Patterson; First Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, Colonel Tappan; Ninth New York State Militia, Colonel Styles; Twenty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, (five companies,) Colonel Henry L. Cake; Detached District Columbia Volunteers.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
> Source: 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
Organized by consolidation of First Defenders (5 Cos. and 5 new Cos.).
Organized at Harrisburg, Pa., April 18, 1861.
Service:Moved to Washington, D.C. (see First Defenders),
rest of Regiment camp near Arsenal till June 28.
(Cos. "B," "E" and "H" Garrison Fort Washington till mustered out,
and Cos. "A," "C" at Washington Arsenal till mustered out.) Companies "D," "F," "G," "I" and "K" march to Rockville, Md.,
to Join Stone, June 29-30.
Reported at Poolesville July 1, and moved to Sandy Hook, opposite Harper's Ferry, W. Va.
Attached to Stone's 7th Brigade, Sanford's 3rd Division, Patterson's Army.
March to Martinsburg July 6-8.
Advance to Bunker Hill July 15.
Camp at Harper's Ferry July 17-23.
Mustered out August 1, 1861.
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