17th Regiment

Pennsylvania Volunteers

The Seventeenth regiment, known in the State militia as the First Regiment Pennsylvania Artillery, was originally formed as a battalion, on the 16th of September, 1814, at Camp Dupont, under the command of Major Andrew M. Prevost. On the 14th of November, of that year, it was organized as a regiment, when Major Prevost was chosen Lieutenant Colonel, Cornelius Stevenson, First Major, and Thomas W. Duffield, Second Major. Colonel A. J. Pleasanton succeeded Colonel Prevost in the command, and upon his resignation Colonel Henry Bohlen was elected. This regiment was always relied on by the civil authorities, to respond promptly at their call in case of disturbance which they were unable to suppress, and in 1844, under Colonel Pleasanton, it rendered efficient service in preventing the destruction of public and private property by a mob.

On the 6th of June, 1859, an election of field officers was held, and under this organization it was mustered into the service of the United States by Major Charles F. Ruff, on the 25th day of April, 1861. The following were field officers:

  • Francis E. Patterson, Colonel
  • Robert O. Tyler, Lieutenant Colonel
  • William A. Leech, Major
Gideon Clark was appointed Adjutant. Recruiting was commenced on the 15th of April, and it was ready with the maximum number for muster in on the 18th. The companies had armories where they were quartered, and the new recruits drilled, rendering it unnecessary to go into a general camp of rendezvous. The officers served under their old commissions, and the regiment was known in the service as the First Pennsylvania Artillery, until the order of Governor Curtin, dated May 15th, 1861, changed its designation to that of the Seventeenth Pennsylvania Infantry.

For many years previous to the rebellion the First Artillery had been well drilled in infantry as well as artillery tactics. There was, therefore, little difficulty in drilling the new recruits, which was kept up day and night at the armories, from the time its services were offered, until it left the city. Aid waspromptly furnished by the citizens of Philadelphia for the subsistence of the recruits until they were mustered into the service of the United States, and the merchants supplied stockings and under-clothing for the men in even greater quantities than were needed. On the 6th of June, the entire regiment was, by the liberality of a few patriotic citizens, presented with drab felt hats, andthenceforward the drab hats became the insignia of the QUAKER REGIMENT.

Since the 19th of April, when the Massachusetts Sixth was fiercely assailed in the streets of Baltimore, no troops had passed through the city, and no attempt had been made to force a passage. Troops which had reached the Capital from the north, had proceeded via Annapolis. The necessity of holding the direct route had become imperative, and General Patterson determined, at all hazards, to open it. He accordingly ordered Colonel Patterson to proceed with the Seventeenth regiment, on the 8th of May, to Perryville, there to be joined by Captain (since General) T. W. Sherman's light battery, and five companies of the Third Regular Infantry, all well armed and supplied with ammunition,and thence to embark on transports for Baltimore. Landing at Locust Point, Colonel Patterson made such disposition of his force as to enable him most successfully to repel attack, and commenced his march through the city, which for nearly three weeks had been subject to mob rule. Without molestation, or any symptoms of a hostile demonstration, it arrived at Camden Station on theBaltimore and Ohio railroad. Five days later, on the 13th of May, General Butler took permanent military possession of the city, through which the tide of volunteers soon began to flow, not again to be disturbed.

On the 10th of May the regiment proceeded to Washington, and was quartered in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol. Two days later it was ordered into camp on Kalorama Heights, about two miles from the city, which was designated Camp Cadwalader. The Pennsylvania Cornet band, fourteen pieces,reported for duty to Colonel Patterson, having been employed at the expense of citizens of Philadelphia. Previous to this, the regiment had had no opportunity for battalion drill; but it was commenced on the second day after its arrival. Scott's tactics was used until the 15th of May, when an order was issued from the War Department to substitute light infantry tactics for the drillof the entire army. This was commenced by the companies on the followingday, and in less than a week they were sufficiently instructed to drill by battalion.

On the 10th of June, the Seventeenth was attached to the force sent on the Rockville expedition, which consisted of three regiments of infantry, with cavalry and artillery, all under the command of Colonel Charles P. Stone of the Regular army.* Proceeding to Rockville, the force encamped and remained:ntil the 14th, when it again advanced by way of Darnestown to Poolsville.Companies B and C of the Seventeenth, a platoon of Magruder's cavalry, and a twelve-pound howitzer were detached to proceed to Edwards' Ferry, on the Potomac, to prevent the enemy from crossing. On the 18th, a large force ofthe rebels appeared on the opposite bank, but were dispersed by a few well directed shells from the howitzer, and the fire of the rifled muskets of the infantry. This detachment was re-inforced by company I of the same regiment on the 18th, and by company D on the 29th, the whole being under the command of Captain D. F. Foley, of company B.

On the 18th of June, Captain Gardner, of company E, with twenty sharp shooters selected from the regiment, was ordered to Conrad's Ferry, to silence a rebel battery that was firing on the First New Hampshire, stationed there, and armed with smooth-bore muskets, of insufficient range to harm the gunners.Companies I and D having rejoined the regiment, it left Poolsville on the 1st of July, and fording the Monocacy creek, marched to Point of Rocks, where it was rejoined by companies B and G. Resuming the march on the 3d, it crossed the Catoctin mountain near Jefferson, and proceeded to Knoxville, Maryland. At Petersville the Seventeenth halted to raise the flag-staff that had been cut down by the enemy, and hoisted the National colors.

At Point of Rocks it had been decided by Colonels Stone and Patterson, to cross the Potomac with the entire command, and occupy Leesburg, and from thence make a raid on and destroy the Manassas Gap railroad. This was only prevented by peremptory orders to join the army under General Patterson.Proceeding to Williamsport, they forded the Potomac on the 7th of July, and on the following day joined the main column at Martinsburg. Here the Seventeenth regiment was assigned to the 7th Brigade of the 3d Division, the brigade remaining as previously organized, under Colonel Stone. On the 15th ofJuly the whole army marched to Bunker Hill, the Seventeenth forming the adwnced guard of General Sanford's column, with company A deployed as skirmishers, and on the 17th made arapid march to Charlestown, in which it formed part of the advanced guard, with companies B, G, and F as skirmishers.

The term of service for which it was mustered having nearly expired, General Patterson appealed to the men to remain with him after the expiration of their period of enlistment, if their services were needed, which was acceded to with great unanimity. On the 21st of July the regiment was presented, at thehands of Captain Parry, of company A, with a beautiful suite of colors, consisting of the United States and State flags, the gift of ladies of Philadelphia. On the same day the army moved to Harper's Ferry, Stone's Brigade encamping on Bolivar Heights. When the news of the defeat of our arms at BullRun was received, a general willingness was expressed to remain a month longer if needed, and to proceed at once to Washington.

Fording the Potomac on the 23d, it marched to Sandy Hook, where, no call having been made from the Capital, it was ordered to Philadelphia, and was received by animposing civic and military display. On the 2d of August it was mustered out of Service.

* Organization of force sent on the Rockville expedition. First regiment New Hampshirevolunteers, ColonelTappan; Ninth regiment New York volunteers, Colonel Rush C. Hawkins;Seventeenth regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Francis E. Patterson; Detachmentsof District Columbia volunteers, Captain Smead; Troop of United States cavalry, CaptainMagruder; Section United States artillery, Lieutenant Alex. Piper; President's MountedGuard, Captain Owens.

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


Organized at Philadelphia and mustered in April 25, 1861.
Designated 17th May 15, 1861.
Moved to Perryville, thence to Baltimore, Md., May 8, and to Washington, D.C., May 10.
Camp on Kalorama Heights till June 10.
Attached to Stone's Command, Rockville Expedition, June 10-July 1.


Edward's Ferry June 18.
Join Patterson at Martinsburg, Va., July 7.
Attached to 7th Brigade, 3rd Division, Patterson's Army.
Advance on Bunker Hill July 15.
March to Charleston July 17, thence to Harper's Ferry July 21.
Moved to Philadelphia and mustered out August 2, 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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