Page images
PDF
EPUB

tenant-colonel, and Lieutenant S. D. Barrows was appointed adjutant; Lieutenant R. R. Corson, quartermaster; David Stanton, surgeon; Samuel Alexander, assistant-surgeon, and Rev. J. H. Beale, chaplain of the regiment.

In January, 1862, the “Reading City Troop," company L, of Berks county, commanded by Captain John C. A. Hoffeditz, and company M, Captain Hampton S. Thomas, two independent companies, were attached to the regi. ment, thus making it complete with twelve companies.

The regiment was originally armed by the United States Government with sabre and pistol to each man and ten carbines to each company; subsequently the number of carbines was increased, at different times, until in November every man in the regiment was supplied with that formid

able weapon.

The original eight companies were clothed by the State of Pennsylvania.

The clothing was furnished according to the regulations of the United States army and was of a good quality. Nearly all of the original horses were selected with great care and were purchased by some of the officers of the regi. ment in the State of Pennsylvania; the remainder were selected by Colonel Bayard from the Government horses at Washington.

These horses, under good care and training during the succeeding winter, became, notably the best horses in the United States service; some of them were accounted the best in the regiment, after five new lots had been worn out in its campaigns. The original team horses, performed all the labor of the regiment for more than two years, and still were the most hardy regimental teams in the cavalry service in the army of the Potomac.

This regiment was composed of the choicest materials in the State of Pennsylvania; the Governor refused all applications for the formation of cavalry companies, from large towns and cities. The companies were recruited wholly from the rural districts of a large State, at a time when infantry was the favorite arm of the service. The men, therefore, who joined this regiment, chose the cavalry service, for the love of it, and because they were practical horsemen. They were mostly country laborers and farmers accustomed to the use and care of horses, and at least good, if not properly trained riders. Very few of the men were ever dismounted by accident or awkwardness, during their early drilling, and in their later rencounters, were never unhorsed, unless by missiles of death.

After Colonel Bayard was established in his position and his regiment was armed, equipped and mounted, the work of drilling was immediately commenced and prosecuted with great energy. He labored most assiduously to prepare the regiment in the shortest possible time, for actual contact with the enemy. Believing the cavalry arm of the service must be "made, and not merely improved,” he called his officers around him once or twice a day to instruct them in tactics; company, squadron and regimental drill and sabre exercises on foot or mounted; were vigorously practiced morning and afternoon of every day, under the personal direction of Colonel Bayard and his field officers, until the regiment was called into continued service in the spring of 1862.

CHAPTER IV.

TENALLYTOWN-PIERPONT-DRANESVILLE.

Camp instructions General intelligence of the men-Position of the Reserve Corps-Alarms—Picket firing-Desire to meet the enemy in tattle-The enemy driven from Upton's Hill-Grand Review by Presi. dent Lincoln and General McClellan-General McCall's order-Resignation of Captain McPherson-A negro informs General McCall of the approach of the enemy-Lieutenants Fisher and Wonderly detailed for duty in Signal Corps-Condition, strength and discipline of the Reserve Corps—The enemy reported to be advancing-Attack on pickets at Great Falls-Presentation of colors by Governor Curtin-Organization of brigades-Report on condition of tbe division-Colonel MagiltonAdvance into Virginia-Order of march-Langley-McCall's division the right of the army-Disasters in other divisions—The Reserves always successful—Reconnoissance to Dranesville-Ball's Bluff-Col. nel Taggart tried by Court Martial-Reconnoissance to Gunneil's farm -Cavalry reconnoissance to Dranesville-Battle of Dranesville-Mc. Call's official report—Letter from Secretary Cameron-Governor Curtin goes to Camp Pierpont.

Ar Tenallytown, General McCall established his command in pleasant camps, and instructed the field officers to use all possible diligence in familiarizing their regiments with the battalion drill, and to teach the men the manual and the use of arms. The officers organized classes for mutual instruction in military tactics and army regulations. In these, all questions pertaining to military science were freely discussed, and points in doubt were referred to the officers who had graduated in the military academy at West Point, or to the commanding general. The zeal to acquire a knowledge of military duties and movements manifested by the officers, was equalled only by their efforts to instruct their men in the drills, the duties and the conduct of a soldier. Never, perhaps, was there so general a diffusion of intelligence, extending through all the companies of a division of an army, as was the case in the Reserve Corps. A large number of students from colleges, academies, normal and high schools, many teachers in the public schools and in the higher institutions of learning, professional students, physicians, lawyers and preachers, were found, not only as officers, but in the ranks, associated with young men of equal intelligence. There were sergeants who, but for their uniforms, might have been mistaken for generals, and privates fit to command brigades. To make soldiers of citizens like these was not a difficult task. To command companies, regiments, brigades and divisions composed of men of so much intelligence, required officers possessing much executive ability and a thorough knowledge of the rights, privileges and duties of both officers and privates.

General W. F. Smith's division of the Army of the Potomac occupied a position on the Potomac river at the chain bridge; General McCall was ordered to forın on the right of Smith's division with the Reserves. Smith's regiments beyond the bridge, on the south side of the river, frequently came in contact with the enemy's pickets, and, in the exchange of shots, some of the men in his command were wounded. The reports of these encounters, repeated in the camps of the Reserve regiments, excited in the men a desire to cross the river and exchange the monotonous rounds of their picket duty for the more exciting lines of their associates on their left. On several occasions, the reports brought in induced the belief that the enemy was preparing to make an assault on Smith's lines, for the purpose of destroying the chain bridge and severing the right wing from the centre of the army. The Reserve Corps was called to arms, to await orders to march to the relief of Smith's division, if it should be attacked by a superior force. Twice they were marched out a short distance from camp, but were disappointed by being ordered to return to their quarters, without having seen the enemy. The day before the evacuation of Upton's Ilill by the rebels, a plan

had been matured to capture it, in which the Reserves were to take an important part. On the night chosen for the attack, the troops were ordered under arms, and the whole command put in readiness to march to the assault; but, about the time they were to leave camp, it was discovered that the enemy had evacuated the position in precipitous haste, in order to escape the attack, of which he had been advised by the traitorous citizens, who, through the misplaced confidence of a Government too generous to be severe, bad been allowed to remain at their homes, within the lines of the National army.

On the 20th of August, the regiments were temporarily organized into two brigades. The First regiment of infantry, commanded by Colonel Roberts; the Second regiment, Colonel Mann; the Third regiment, Colonel Sickel; the Fourth regiment, Colonel March; the Sixth regiment, Colonel Ricketts, and the Eighth regiment, Colonel Ilarvey; and battery A, commanded by Captain Easton; battery B, Captain Cooper; battery D, Captain Flood, and battery F, Captain Matthews, were constituted the First brigade. The four batteries of artillery were commanded by Major Danforth.

The Fifth regiment of infantry, commanded by Colonel Simmons; the Seventh regiment, Colonel Hays; the Ninth regiment, Colonel Jackson; the Tenth regiment, Colonel McCalmont; the Eleventh regiment, Colonel Gallagher; the Twelfth regiment, Colonel Taggart, and the Thirteenth regiment, Colonel Biddle; and battery C, commanded by Captain Simpson; battery E, Captain Barr; battery G, Captain West, and battery II, Captain Brady, were organized into the Second brigade. The regiment of cavalry commanded by Colonel Bayard, remained unattached to either of the brigades.

On the 21st of August, the regiments of the corps, that had reached the camp at Tenallytown, were passed in review before the President of the United States and General McClellan, who had, a short time before that, been assigned

« PreviousContinue »