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PA Civil War > Regiments > 7th > History

PA Civil War Volunteer Soldiers

Seventh Regiment

Regimental History

7th PA Regimental History

The 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 22nd of April. The following were the field officers elected and commissioned: William H. 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 was appointed Adjutant.

The regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Rippey, proceeded by rail to Chambersburg, on the 23rd 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. 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. 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 orders were received to advance, at early dawn on the 2nd 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 McClellan 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 General Irwin and Major Robinson, were detached from the regiment, and ordered to make a reconnaissance 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 vidette 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 22nd, the regiment about seven hundred men strong, with eleven heavily loaded wagons, left camp for Shepherstown, 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.

Source: Bates, Samuel P. (Samuel Penniman), 1827-1902.: History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5; prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature, by Samuel P. Bates. Civil War Databases

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