Citizens of Gettysburg in the Union army.
by H. M. M. Richards, Company A, 26TH Pennsylvania Militia.
For twenty-three years we have heard it asserted that the people of Gettysburg
were lacking in patriotism because they did not spring to arms en masse,
and assist in repelling the invaders.
I am glad to see young Weakley
cited, in addition to old John Burns
, as one who volunteered in the defense of his home during the battle; but these are not all.
Upon the first indication of an invasion of Pennsylvania
, the 26th Regiment, P. V. M., was organized and mustered into the United States
service at Harrisburg
, under the command of Colonel W. W. Jennings
of that city.
Company A of this regiment, to which I belonged,, was composed of students from the Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Pennsylvania College of Gettysburg
, and of citizens of the town; one other company came from Hanover
, but a few miles distant.
On June 23d we left Harrisburg
, to be used, I believe, as riflemen among the hills near Cashtown
A railroad accident prevented this plan from being carried into effect, and kept us from reaching Gettysburg
until the 26th, by which time General Early
had reached Cashtown
In accordance with orders received from Major Granville O. Haller
in command of the post, we were marched out on the Chambersburg pike
at 10 A. M., June 26th, for a distance of about three and a half miles, accompanied by Major Robert Bell
, who commanded a troop of horse, also raised, I understand, in Gettysburg
Having halted, our colonel, accompanied by Major Bell
, rode to the brow of an elevation distant several hundred yards, and there saw General Early
's troops a few miles distant.
Early says in his report: “I sent General Gordon
with his brigade and White
's battalion of cavalry on the pike through Cashtown
, and moved with the rest of the command to the left through Hilltown to Mummasburg
The object of this movement was for Gordon
to amuse and skirmish with the enemy while I should get on his flank and rear so as to capture his whole force.”
We, a few hundred men at the most, were in the toils; what should be done?
We would gladly have marched to join the Army of the Potomac, under Meade
, but where was it?
Our colonel, left to his own resources, wisely decided to make an effort to return to Harrisburg
, and immediately struck off from the pike, the Confederates
capturing many of our rear-guard after a sharp skirmish, and sending their cavalry in pursuit of us. These latter overtook us in the afternoon at Witmer's house, about four and a half miles from Gettysburg
on the Carlisle
road, where after an engagement they were repulsed with some loss.
After many vicissitudes, we finally reached Harrisburg
, having marched 54 out o f 60 consecutive hours, with a loss of some 200 men.
It should be added that Gettysburg
, small town as it was, had already furnished its quota to the army.
Moreover, on the first day of the battle hundreds of the unfortunate men of Reynolds
's gallant corps were secreted, sheltered, fed, and aided in every way by the men and women of the town.
, November 2d, 1886.
Hall's Sattery on the First day resisting the Confederate advance on the Chambersburg road. |