8th Regiment
Pennsylvania Volunteers

Three-Month Unit

THE Eighth regiment was composed, in part, of companies which had held a previous militia organization, and were now filled up to the maximum number by new recruits, and in part of new companies, made up of men suddenly called together by the exigencies of the times. The Wyoming Artillerists, of Wilkesbarre, known in the regiment as company F, had been under the command of Captain Emley, who was afterwards made Colonel. It was the first company from Luzerne county, leaving on the 17th of April, 1861, and was inured to some degree of hardship from the first, being obliged to cut its way, a distance of over a mile, to the Kingston depot, through an immense field of drift ice. Company C had been a cavalry company at Wilkesbarre, commanded in turn by Captains Hoyt and Brisbane. Company G, in its militia organization, was known as the Wyoming Yeagers, and was joined by the remnants of a militia company from Pittston.

The several companies assembled at Camp Curtin, where company officers were formally elected, and the regiment was organized on the 22d of April, 1861, by the choice of the following field officers:

  • A. H. Emley, of Wilkesbarre, from Captain of company F, Colonel
  • Samuel Bowman, of Wilkesbarre, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Joseph Phillips, of Pittston, Major
  • Joseph Wright, of Wilkesbarre, from Lieutenant of company C, was appointed Adjutant
Most of the officers had acquired considerable knowledge of military duty in various militia organizations. On the same day in which the organization was perfected, the regiment was ordered to Camp Slifer, in the neighborhood of Chambersburg. Here, on the 25th of April, it was assigned to the 3d Brigade, 1st Division.1

Hardee's Tactics, which had previously been introduced in the drill of company F, was made the authority for the instruction of the regiment. The drill was continued, daily, from eight to ten hours, in which a marked proficiency was attained, so much so, that many of the members, and especially of Colonel Eiley's company, became drill-masters in the several organizations to which they were subsequently attached.

On the 7th of June, the regiment moved from Chambersburg to Greencastle, where it again went into camp, and during its stay, was exercised in battalion drill. Remaining but a few days, it moved to the Potomac, in the neighborhood of Williamsport, where it was posted along the shore to guard the fords. Here affairs began to assume a warlike aspect. The enemy was on the opposite shore, and the music of a stray bullet from his rifles occasionally salited the ears of the men. While in this position, Lieutenant Colonel Bowman, having crossed the river, unattended, to reconnoitre, was suddenly seized by rebel scouts, and borne away a prisoner. He was a valuab1le officer, and his capture proved a serious loss.

Upon the advance of the army into Virginia, on the 2d of July, the Eighth regiment, with Captain Doubleday's battery, was left to hold the fords, and to guard the stores at Williamsport. But soon after the arrival of the army at Martinsburg, Doubleday's battery was ordered forward, and companies A and B, Captains Strous and Travis, were detailed as guard. The battery consisted of three heavy pieces, one eight inch howitzer, one twenty-four pounder, and one thirty pounder. The horses had but just been placed in harness, and were unaccustomed to the draft. On emerging from the ford, the banks proved difficult of ascent, and the pieces could only be moved by the assistance of the men. The march to Martinsburg and return, by the escorting companies, was made without rest, and was very exhausting. On the 6th of July, the regiment was ordered to rejoin the brigade, now at Martinsburg. Until the 17th it participated in occasional skirmishing, and joined in the advance on Bunker Hill.

In conformity with the explicit orders of General Scott, to keep in front of the enemy, so long as he should remain between Winchester and the Potomac, General Patterson had proposed an advance into Virginia and the Initiation of an offensive campaign.2 The General-in-Chief permitted this advance, but enjoined, that, should the enemy retire upon his resources at Winchester, the Union forces should not press him.

Remaining in the neighborhood of Bunker Hill, until the 17th of July, General Patterson commenced a flank movement on Charlestown. The enemy's cavalry, in force, under Stuart, watched these movements. Fearing that the enemy might advance, and cross the Shenandoah river by Keyes' Ford, the 3d Brigade was pushed forward during the night of the 20th, and occupied a position commanding the ford. The term of service having now nearly expired, the regiment was ordered to march to Harper's Ferry, and turn over its camp equipage, and thence move byway of Hagerstown to Harrisburg, where, on the 29th of July, the men were paid, and mustered 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 Pennsylvania volunteers, (Scott Legion) Colonel William H. Gray.

2 General PATTIERSON to General SCOTT, June 23.

* * * The force under Jackson controls the people of Berkeley county, whom, I believe, are sorely oppressed, and would welcome our approach. That force has become some little encouraged from our not advancing, and may soon annoy us. If so, I shall not avoid the contest they may invite; indeed, if it meets the approval of the General-in-Chief, I would march my whole force, as soon as the batteries receive harness, upon the enemy, and drive him, step by step, to Winchester. I believe this force can, in ten days, rid the adjoining portion of Virginia of its oppressors. I may be forced to this course. My fear is, that I may interfere with the plan of the General-in-Chief, and drive the enemy to the aid of the main body.

( REPLY.)
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, June 25, 1861.

I write by mail, in substance. Remain in front of the enemy while he continues in force, between Winchester and the Potomac. If you are in superior, or equal force, you may cross and attack him. If the enemy should retire upon his resources at Winchester, it is not enjoined that you should pursue him to that distance from your base of operations, without a well grounded confidence in your continued superiority. * *

WINFIELD SCOTT.
Major General PATTERSON.

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


Organization:

Organized at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, April 23, 1861.
Duty at Chambersburg till June 7.
Attached to Williams' 3rd Brigade, Cadwalader's 1st Division, Patterson's Army.

Service:

Moved to Greencastle June 7.
Guard duty along the Potomac, Guard of stores and fords at Williamsport July 2.
Falling Waters July 2.
Ordered to Join Brigade at Martinsburg July 6.
Advance on Bunker Hill July 15.
Guard 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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