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PA Civil War Volunteer Soldiers

Twelfth Regiment

Regimental History

12th PA Regimental History

The Twelfth regiment was recruited and organized at Pittsburg, under the supervision of Brigadier General James S. Negley. The Duquesne Greys, and the Independent Blues, the oldest and among the best drilled companies in the city, many of whose members were veterans of the Mexican war, formed the basis of the organization. The Zouave Cadets, a company composed of young men, was formed at Pittsburg in 1860, during the prevalence of the military furor, occasioned by the visit of the Chicago Zouaves, under Captain Ellsworth. The City Guards had been but a short time organized, and had never made their appearance on public parade. The remaining companies were formed de novo.

An election of field officers was held on the 22d of April, which resulted in the choice of the following: David Campbell, of Pittsburg, Colonel; Norton McGiffin, of Washington, Lieutenant Colonel; Alexander Hays, of Pittsburg, Major. Daniel Leasure, from Captain of company H, was appointed Adjutant, and subsequently also acted as Adjutant General to General Negley.

The regiment left Pittsburg on the 24th of April, and arrived in Harrisburg on the 25th, where it was quartered in churches, and in the Capitol. On the afternoon of the same day, the Twelfth, together with the Thirteenth, was reviewed in the public grounds, by Governor Curtin, and was mustered into the service of the United States. Immediately afterwards, the Twelfth departed, by the Northern Central railroad, for Camp Scott, near the town of York. Here it remained for several weeks, engaged in drill. The camp was not a comfortable one, being at this season a field of mud. The men soon became impatient for active service. On the 19th of May, the regiment was clothed, equipped, and furnished with camp equipage.

The bridges on the Northern Central railroad, which were destroyed immediately after its abandonment, had been re-built, and trains commenced running regularly, between Harrisburg and Baltimore, on the 9th of May. On the 25th, the regiment was ordered to move and take position on this road, from the State line to the city of Baltimore, relieving the First Pennsylvania, Colonel Yohe. The order was hailed with delight, opening to the men a prospect of activity. It was posted along the road, with Headquarters at Cockeysville, where two companies, I and K, were stationed. The guard duty was very heavy, and soon became irksome. But no attempt, by force or stealth, was ever made to interfere with the line. The companies were so much scattered that no opportunity was afforded for regimental drill after leaving Camp Scott. The two companies at Cockeysville were, however, regularly and thoroughly instructed, and soon acquired the proficiency of veterans. In the manual they were daily exercised by Sergeant Major Bonnafon, an experienced soldier, and in the school of the company by their officers. The men were impatient to be with the advancing column, but were obliged to remain to the end of their term of enlistment in this position.

The service rendered by this regiment, was devoid of stirring incident, but was, nevertheless, exceedingly laborious, was faithfully performed, and was of great moment to the government. The, highest expectations were entertained of its heroic conduct in the face of the enemy; but no enemy was seen, and no occasion presented for firing a gun. It was a noiseless and inglorious campaign, but a highly useful one. For not only was an important and vital line of communication with the National Capital preserved and protected, but a fine body of men was thoroughly drilled and perfected in the school of arms, and many, who here received their first instruction, afterwards led, with great skill, in the most deadly encounters. The field officers had all received a military training, Major (afterwards Brigadier General) Hays, who was killed while gallantly leading his Brigade in the battle of the Wilderness, was a graduate of the United States Military Academy. The regiment was mustered out of service at Harrisburg, August 5th, 1861.

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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