© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedThe Seventh regiment was recruited under the order of Governor Curtin, in obedience to the proclamation of the President. The companies rendezvoused at Camp Curtin and the regiment was organized by Adjutant General Biddle, on the 22d of April. The following were the field officers electedand commissioned:The regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Rippey, proceeded by rail to Chambersburg, on the 23d of April, and encamped near the town, where it was joined soon after by Colonel Irwin, who assumed command. Regular drills were ordered, and continued while the weather would permit, but were seriously interrupted on the 28th, when it rained and snowed heavily. Some difficulty having been experienced in securing good and sufficient rations, Colonel Irwin requested that they should be supplied in bulk, and caused vegetables to be purchased and issued, and the bread baked by contract.
- Wm. I. Irwin of Lewistown, (then at Washington, a private in the ranks of the Logan Guards), Colonel
- Oliver H. Rippey, of Pittsburg, Lieutenant Colonel
- F. P. Robinson, of Pittsburg, Major
- Henry R. Myers, Adjutant
On the 8th of May, shoes and clothing were issued by the regimental Quartermaster. Strict discipline was enforced and regular battalion drills and dress-parade were held, the quarters were thoroughly policed, and close attention paid to the cleanliness and health of the men.
On the 15th of May the regiment left camp and marched to Chambersburg, where, on being drawn up on the public square, it was presented by the ladies of the town with a national flag, which was received on behalf of the regiment by Lieutenant Colonel Rippey in an appropriate speech. This ceremony over; the regiment marched some four miles into the country to accustom the troops to the march. These marches were frequent and very useful. The utmost kindness was shown to both officers and men, by the people of Chambersburg and vicinity.
During the last days of May, several regiments of infantry, and on the first of June a battalion of cavalry, reached Chambersburg. Soon after, Major General Robert Patterson and Major General George Cadwalader and staffs arrived, followed by artillery and a large wagon train, all indicating that an active campaign up the Shenandoah valley was soon to open.
The Seventh regiment was assigned to the 3d Brigade of the 1st Division.1
The Brigade struck tents on the 8th of June and commenced the forward movement, long looked for and earnestly desired, and occupied a position on the first night near the town of Greencastle. Resuming the march on the following morning, it moved to Camp Williams, where the regular drill was resumed, and the Seventh regiment was taught to form square against cavalry.
Remaining until the 14th, the Brigade again struck tents, and moving through Hagerstown, again went into camp near St. James College, and soon after advanced to Williamsport.
Late in the evening of the 19th of June, an alarm was raised, and the long roll called the whole Brigade to arms, the line of battle being quickly and quietly formed; but beyond distant picket firing nothing further was heard. On the 25th, the rebel cavalry attacked some union soldiers who had ventured across the river, but were repulsed, loosing six men and three horses.
General Scott had directed General Patterson, if equal or superior in number, to cross the river and attack the enemy. As yet, the command was unprovided with artillery; but as more explicit orders2 were received to advance, at early dawn on the 2d of July, the troops commenced fording the Potomac, and by eight o'clock the whole army was in motion, the air ringing with the exultant shouts of the men. The march was continued to Martinsburg. Private property was respected, but the contents of an extensive flouring mill, containing a large amount of grain and flour, the owner thereof being a captain in the rebel army, were, by general order, confiscated for the use of the army. There was also captured, and staved, one hundred and fifty barrels of whiskey.
The cheering news, of the successes of General M'Clellan in West Virginia, reached the army of the Shenandoah on the 4th of July, the anniversary of Independence. A national salute was fired, which served the double purpose of celebrating the ancient renown, and the latest triumph.
On the 7th, Captain Gerard and Lieutenant Enright, with fifteen men, advanced about a mile beyond our picket line and captured and brought in three of the enemy's pickets, with rifles, revolvers, sabres, and three horses. The regiment moved with the brigade to Bunker Hill, and thence to Charlestown, where it went into camp near the town.
Six companies, under command of Colonel Irwin and Major Robinson, were detached from the regiment, and ordered to make a reconnoissance in the direction of Winchester. Leaving camp at midnight, they advanced about six miles, and came to a point where a rebel vidette had been posted the day previous, but was then withdrawn.
Returning to camp, Colonel Irwin reported the enemy's videttes withdrawn, and expressed the opinion that the enemy were falling back towards Winchester, which opinion, subsequent events proved to be correct. Marching to Keyes' ford, on the Shenandoah river, where an attack upon our rear was feared, General Williams sent out a scouting party, which crossed the ford and examined the right bank of the river for a considerable distance, and reported that there was no sign of any enemy in that direction.
The term of service being about to expire, the Seventh was ordered by General Patterson to march to Hagerstown, and thence go by rail to Harrisburg to be mustered out of service. At two o'clock A. M., of the 22d, the regiment, about seven hundred strong, with eleven heavily loaded wagons, left camp for Shepherdstown, where it crossed the Potomac at a new ford, the roads leading to it being constructed under the supervision of Major Robinson, and over which the heavily laden wagons were taken with great difficulty. Marching by way of Sharpsburg to Hagerstown, the regiment moved thence to Harrisburg, where the companies were ordered to their original rendezvous for pay and muster out of service.
1 Organization of the 3d Brigade, Brigadier General E. C. Williams, 1st Division, Major General George 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.
2 General PATTERSON to General SCOTT, June 28.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a telegram from the General-in-Chief, dated 27, saying: "I had expected your crossing the river to-day."
I infer from this that orders have been sent me to cross and attack the enemy. If so, I have not received them. Captain Newton, of the Engineers, returned at midnight, after two days' absence in the direction of Sharpsburg and Dam No. 4,. and reports, on information he considers reliable, five thousand men from Falling Waters to Dam No. 4, four thousand five hundred men in the vicinity of Shepherdstown under General Jackson, and a reserve of five thousand five hundred men, under General Johnston, near Bunker Hill. He also reports twenty to twenty-four guns, and a large cavalry force with General Jackson, and thinks General Negley, whose brigade is on my left, near Sharpsburg, will be attacked, the river being fordable at almost every point. 3 * The artillery horses are untrained, and we are still without harness for the battery. I have repeatedly asked for batteries, and ought to have one for each Brigade, but have none. The only one fit for service sent me was the Rhode Island battery, and that the General-in-Chief was compelled, by the necessities of his own position, to take from me, when most wanted, and within a week after it joined me. *
3 Officers ard men are anxious to be led against the insurgents, and if the General-inChief will give me.a regiment of regulars and an adequate force of field artillery, I will cross the river and attack the enemy, unless their forces are ascertained to be more than two to one. Conduct of the War, p. 126, No. 21.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organization:Organized at Harrisburg April 23, 1861.
Moved to Chambersburg April 23, and duty there till June 8.
At Camp Williams June 8-14.
Attached to Williams' 3rd Brigade, Cadwalader's 1st Division, Patterson's Army.
Service:Advance to Williamsport June 14-16.
Skirmish with Cavalry June 25.
Occupation of Martinsburg July 3.
Advance on Bunker Hill July 15.
At Keyes Ford July 20.
Mustered out July 29, 1861.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
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