5th Regiment
Pennsylvania Volunteers

Three-Month Unit

The Fifth regiment was organized at Camp Curtin, on the 21st of April,1861, by the choice of the following officers:
  • R. P. M'Dowell, of Pittsburg, Colonel
  • Benjamin C. Christ, of Minersville, Schuylkill county, Lieutenant Colonel
  • R. Bruce Petriken, of Huntingdon, Major
  • William Spencer was designated by Colonel M'Dowell as Adjutant
The companies, of whichthe regiment was composed, were hastily recruited in various sections of theState, and were the result of that outburst of patriotism which was everywhere manifested. At Lebanon, a public meeting was held at the Court House,at which, after some brief speaking, a company was enrolled under CaptainJohn Ulrich, which became company G, and a liberal fund subscribed for theaid of the families of the men who volunteered. A similar spirit was manifested in nearly every county of the State, where companies were organized, andin a similar manner was our whole volunteer force recruited.

With no opportunity for drill or company exercise of any kind, the rawrecruits were marched to the State Arsenal, where they drew their arms, theold regulation musket, and twenty rounds of cartridge, which, for want of accoutrements, were carried in their pockets. On the evening of the same day,April 21st, the regiment was placed on board a, train of box cars, and moveddown the Northern Central railway in the direction of Baltimore; but, duringthe night, the course of travel was reversed, and the next morning found thecommand again in Harrisburg. The train then moved to Philadelphia, whereit arrived at four o'clock on the afternoon of the 22d. Two companies werehere detailed to guard some steamboats in their passage through the Chesapeake and Delaware canal to Perryville. The remaining companies moved, onthe following morning, by rail, for the same destination. In the evening of thesame day the regiment embarked on three steamers and proceeded to Annapolis, where it was quartered in the battery and boat houses.

Remaining on dutyhere till April 26th, it was ordered to march on the railway towards AnnapolisJunction, with the expectation that the column would be met by a train, onwhich it would be taken forward. But the train was found on the way off anembankment, where it had been precipitated by the malicious displacement ota rail. Arriving at the Junction, foot sore and weary, it was placed in positionto repel an attack, which, it was rumored, would be made during the nightfrom Baltimore. The men slept on their arms, prepared for any emergency.

On the following day, April 27th, it moved by rail to Washington, and wasquartered in a building just back of the City Hall. Here it was visited byPresident Lincoln and Secretary Seward, each of whom spoke briefly, to thegreat gratification of the men.

The regiment remained quartered in the city, engaged in drill and guard duty. On the 7th of May, uniforms were received from the State of Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, the 29th, the command marched out about a mile east of the city of Washington, when, for the first time, it was placed in camp. In this camp, which was called Camp Washington, the regiment remained, engaged in drill, till the 28th, when it was ordered to Alexandria, Virginia, where upon its arrival it was quartered in the city.

On the 3d of June, it again went into camp near the foot of Shuter's Hill, where it was assigned to the Brigade 1of Brigadier General Irwin M'Dowell. A portion of the Brigade was daily assigned to duty in Alexandria, as city police, and the remainder detailed for labor on Fort Ellsworth, then in process of construction.

While stationed at Camp M'Dowell, the Fifth regiment had a printing pressin camp, where several numbers of a large and well executed newspaper wereissued. It was headed " The Pennsylvania Fifth." It was edited by John P. Ely, First Lieutenant of Company G, and was principally executed bymembers of that company. The original articles, and the communications frommembers of other regiments, were, for the most part, spirited, and were interlarded with wit and humor, well suited to the leisure of the camp.

The Fifth regiment was transferred to the Brigade commanded by ColonelW. B. Franklin, previous to the advance of the army upon the enemy at BullRun, but was ordered to remain on duty at Alexandria. Consequently it didnot participate in the battle which ensued, and which resulted so disastrouslyto our arms. On the expiration of the term of service, the regiment was ordered to Harrisburg, where, on the 25th of July, the men were paid and honorably discharged.

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


Organized at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, April 20, 1861.


Moved to Philadelphia April 22, then to Perryville and Annapolis, Md., April 23,
and to Washington, D.C., April 27.
At Alexandria, Va., May 28.
Moved to Shutter's Hill June 3.
Attached to McDowell's Army of Northeast Virginia.
Duty at Alexandria till muster out.
Mustered out July 25, 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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