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|PA Civil War > Regiments > 10th > History|
PA Civil War Volunteer Soldiers
History of the Tenth Regiment
10th PA Regimental History
The Tenth regiment was organized at Camp Curtin, on the 26th of April, 1861, by the choice of the following officers: Sullivan A. Meredith, of Philadelphia, Colonel; Oliver J. Dickey, of Lancaster, Lieutenant Colonel; Richard White, of Indiana, Major. Daniel H. Heitshue was appointed Adjutant. On the afternoon of the 1st of May, the regiment was ordered to move by rail to Chambersburg. Arriving late at night, it proceeded by Camp Slifer, where barracks, well provided with straw, had been prepared for its reception. With the exception of being too much crowded with new troops, the quarters were very comfortable. The following morning was cold and dreary, the earth being covered with snow. No provision had been made for the issue of rations, and men fresh from home, accustomed to a regular diet, became clamorous. Before evening, however, the farmers of the neighborhood, hearing of the wants of the men, came into camp with wagon loads of excellent bread, meat, pies, cakes and pickles, making the hearts of the soldiers glad, not more by satisfying the cravings of hunger than by the spirit of sympathy and kindness which prompted the act.
While in Camp Slifer the men received clothing, and were daily drilled. The camping ground, though in the main a healthy one, was exposed to the malarious influence of a swamp in the rear, which occasioned considerable sickness, and two men from company B, privates Charles H. Winters and Samuel Armbister, died. The regiment was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division, and on the 8th of June received orders to march to Greencastle. Upon its arrival it encamped in a beautiful grove of oak and cedar, of some thirty acres in extent, about a mile north of the town, known as Camp Meredith. Remaining here, engaged in company and battalion drill, till the 25th of June, it was ordered to join in the general forward movement of General Patterson's army. Passing through Middleburg, about midday, the regiment was halted, the citizens placing barrels and buckets of cool water upon the pavement, by which the men, now on their first march, foot-sore and dusty, were much refreshed. As the columns moved on, the smoke was discernable, hanging like a pall over Harper's Ferry, from the ruins of the magnificent railroad bridge across the Potomac, fired by the order of the rebel General Johnston. After a fatiguing march of some twenty miles, the regiment went into camp near St. James College, about four miles from Williamsport. The ground occupied by the 3rd Brigade was contiguous to the field where Major Ringgold organized and drilled his famous battery for the Mexican war, and where rest the remains of that gallant officer. The authorities of the college, being destitute of a United States flag, the members of the regiment furnished one, just previous to their departure, and unfurled it upon the buildings.
On the 16th of June, the Brigade broke camp and moved to Williamsport, where, on the 18th, the regiment was sent out in two battalions, one under command of Lieutenant Colonel Dickey, the other under Colonel Meredith and Major White, in anticipation that parties of rebels, following up the retreat of Colonel Thomas' Brigade, which had advanced into Virginia two days before, and was now falling back, would attempt to cross the river at the many fords in this vicinity; but no enemy being discovered it returned to camp.
On Monday, the 24th of June, Captain Doubleday having completed an earth work, placed the in battery one smooth bore twenty-four pounder gun and one eight-inch howitzer, and opened on the toll house, a stone building situated about one mile from the river on the Martinsburg pike, and occupied by rebel scouts. The first shot struck the corner of the building, driving out a party of about twenty of the enemy, who were just then preparing to partake of a bountiful supper. Unwilling to leave the savory dishes, prepared with much care, the party halted some distance from the house to consider the situation, but a well timed shell from the howitzer brought the conference to a sudden conclusion, scattering the party in all directions, amidst the cheers of thousands of Union soldiers who witnessed the scene from the Maryland shore. On entering the house on the following day the supper was found undisturbed.
An order was issued on the 1st of July, for the whole army to advance into Virginia on the following morning. It was received by the soldiers with hearty cheers. They were impatient of delay and desired to be led to victory. On that night there was little sleep in camp. Many were writing letters to their friends at home, while around the great camp fires, boiling, roasting, and frying were in full progress, in preparation for the march. During the night, a small train of wagons arrived from Hagerstown, with clothing for the Tenth regiment, which was greatly needed, the uniforms of many of the men being badly tattered. They were sometimes taunted by the well-dressed soldiers for their shabby appearance; but beneath their rags they carried hearts as stout and brave as any who kept step to the music of the Union!
Crossing the river on the 2nd, the regiment advanced by the main pike towards Martinsburg. On the line of march, the traces of war were soon visible. Large fields of wheat, which had belonged to Union men, had been destroyed by the enemy cavalry. These loyal Virginians had fled from their homes for safety, and were now returning with the National columns to behold their homes pillaged, and their substance wasted. On the morning of the 3rd of July, company B was sent forward to support the City Company of cavalry. In the neighborhood of the Berkeley county schoolhouse a slight skirmish ensued, in which one of the enemy's cavalry was killed and two wounded. In the afternoon the whole column marched into Martinsburg, amid demonstrations of joy and welcome from the citizens.
The order to march on Winchester and give battle to the enemy having been countermanded, General Patterson, on the 9th of July, renewed his application to transfer his army to Leesburg, and to make that his base of operations. General Scott gave permission, by telegram of the 12th, to make the change of base desired, but ordered that demonstrations should be continued in front of Winchester until after the battle of Manassas, which, it was expected, would be fought on the 16th
At dress parade on the evening of Sunday, the 14th, the regiment was ordered to be prepared to move at daylight on the following morning with five days rations in haversacks. Taking the road to Bunker Hill, it soon became evident from the numerous campgrounds, that the enemy was in large force in front. The camps were located with great care on high and sunny ground, convenient to shady groves and large springs of excellent water. Remaining in the vicinity of Bunker Hill until the 17th of July, the regiment was ordered to march to Charlestown. Arriving at four o'clock, P.M., it encamped on an eminence to the west of the town. Union soldiers received little sympathy from the people of this strong hold of secession.
Moving out during the night of the 20th about two miles on the road leading to Harper's Ferry, where a considerable body of infantry and artillery was drawn up in line of battle, the Tenth was placed in position facing to the north, with the right wing resting on a thick wood, and the left on the river. Remaining encamped in position until the 23rd, the disheartening news of our defeat at Bunker Hill was received. The campaign in Virginia was at an end.
Marching on the 23rd to Harper's Ferry, the regiment was drawn up in close column to receive General Patterson and staff. Thanking the men for their soldierly conduct and strict attention to duty, the General said that he had advanced and offered the enemy battle in a fair field, which they had declined; that in the fight at Falling Waters they had been beaten by inferior numbers actually engaged; that, as the time of the three months' men had expired, they were now to return to their homes. Three cheers were given for the General.
On the 24th the regiment moved to a point opposite Antietam creek, where it forded the river and took up the line of march to Hagerstown. Thither it was taken by rail to Harrisburg, where, on the 31st of July, the men received their pay and were mustered out of service.
Roster 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.
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