The Schroeder Books
MEN! The 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia and the Gettysburg Campaign
Cooper H. Wingert
by SCHROEDER PUBLICATIONS 2013. Hardcover
with dust jacket, 224 pages, index, 68 photos illustrations and maps.
ISBN 1-889246-63-8. Price $30.00.
Published by SCHROEDER PUBLICATIONS 2013. Hardcover with dust jacket, 224 pages, index, 68 photos illustrations and maps. ISBN 1-889246-63-8. Price $30.00.
On June 26, 1863, men of the hastily-raised 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia collided with Confederate forces near the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four days prior to the great battle. This volume tells the story of the 26th Militia from its diverse roots to its engagement at Gettysburg, the regiment’s later movements during the campaign, its muster-out and finally the unit’s 1892 Reunion at Gettysburg. From Colonel William Wesley Jennings, the beloved, valiant Harrisburg citizen-soldier, to the imposing Major Lorenzo L. Greenawalt, the Lebanon native and California 49er turned Civil War officer—even a future governor of the Keystone State, Samuel Pennypacker, who served with the regiment as a private—this book tells the history of all 743 men in the 26th Militia, and their eventful summer of 1863.
For the men of the 26th, their summer campaign began around the middle of June 1863, when the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, with Robert E. Lee at its helm, proceeded north down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, across the Potomac, through Maryland and into the bountiful farm fields of South Central Pennsylvania. Here the volume commences, covering in great detail Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin’s call for militia to defend the state and the subsequent statewide response. From this group of respondents came the 26th Militia. One the regiment’s many unique qualities is here identified—it possessed no uniform origin; the men in its ranks came from all across the Keystone state. Perhaps even more unique, is the 26th’s fusion of hardened-combat veterans and green, inexperienced volunteers.
For a considerable amount of time, it seemed as if fate was against the 26th during their fighting debut and the events immediately following. After organizing at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, the regiment was sent south along the Northern Central Railroad en route for Gettysburg. Their rough time began on the tracks, when half the regiment was derailed after the engine collided with a cow. The June 26, 1863, engagement west and north of Gettysburg found the 26th caught off guard by the swift, sudden arrival of Southern forces, and continually out-of-position to defend itself. After a forced march which left nearly all panting and perspiring, the regiment took position behind an old, wooden fence belonging to the farm of Henry Witmer, roughly four miles north of the soon-to-be infamous town of Gettysburg.
Forced to retire from Witmer’s after a brief, but trying engagement, the regiment endured a miserable march northward in a desperate attempt to find the safety of Yankee lines. Footsore, hungry and simultaneously aware of the near-constant threat of enemy troops close-by, the men of the 26th hobbled their way northward night and day through creeks, pastures and adversity. All told, the regiment marched 54 out of 60 consecutive hours before reaching safety behind Northern lines near Harrisburg—“Such an awful time I never had,” recorded Private Henry Wirt Shriver of Company I in his diary.
This volume contains the history of the 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, gleaned from the letters, diaries and recollections of the men who witnessed and participated in its campaigns first hand. Compounded with scores of previously untapped primary sources, this book provides a fresh perspective on the 26th and its arduous campaign during the summer of 1863.
Emergency Men! The 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia
and the Gettysburg Campaign
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