Field & Staff
During the second year of the war, 1862, the southern border counties of Pennsylvania felt the hand of the Confederate raiders. They descended first upon Chambersburg, Franklin county, under "Jeb" Stuart, with such stealth and celerity that they decamped with their spoils without resistance of any kind. This spread alarm among the people of those counties, so easily accessible to such inroads, and proved to be the precursor of other incursions, later the same year, and early in 1863, by the notorious McCausland and other predatory bands, who finally burned down the fair city of Chambersburg.
The defeat suffered by the Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, led to ambitious plans on the part of Lee, and it was conjectured that he would assume the offensive. The cavalry battle of Brandy Station revealed this intention, and the army of Northern Virginia soon began to enter the upper defiles of the Shenandoah Valley; but its movements were screened by advance forces of cavalry appearing on the upper Potomac and in Maryland. This indicated a possible invasion of Pennsylvania.
Accordingly, as a precautionary measure, and that the North might be prepared for the worst, by order of the War Department, of the 9th of June, 1863, two new military departments were established; one with headquarters at Pittsburgh, to be commanded by Major General William T. H. Brooks, and to be known as the Department of the Monongahela; the other to have headquarters at Harrisburg, to be known as the Department of the Susquehanna, and to be commanded by Major General Darius N. Couch. These officers were authorized to organize Departmental Corps, and on assuming command they issued orders calling upon the people of the State to volunteer.
But few enlistments had been made under this call, when Lee's army had reached the borders of the State, and the emergency call for ninety-day volunteers was made, which, in a few days, brought 40,000 men into the field. Seven companies had enlisted under the first call, which were organized as the First Battalion, Pennsylvania Six Months Volunteers. These companies were enlisted from different sections of the State and were mustered into the service on the following dates:
Company A, Captain George W. Merrick, Tioga
county, June 21, 1863.
Company B, Captain David Z. Seip, York county, June 23, 1863.
Company C, Captain John R. Miles, Philadelphia, June 23, 1863.
Company D, Captain Joseph F. Ramsey, Montour county, June 20, 1863.
Company E, Captain W. F. Robinson, Philadelphia, June 24, 1863.
Company F, Captain Joseph A. Ege, Cumberland county, June 26, 1863.
Company G, Lieutenant Samuel Boyd, Lancaster county, July 8, 1863.
The Battalion was at once formed with the following officers :
Lieutenant Colonel, Joseph F. Ramsey.
Major, William F. Robinson.
Adjutant, Thomas E. Little.
Quartermaster, Theophilus J. Foley
Assistant Surgeon, Joshua R. Hays.
Quartermaster Sergeant, Albert Hay.
The Battalion was at once placed on duty in and around the city of Harrisburg, and was kept busy day and night. It looked after the large amount of Government stores at Camp Curtin, and other points in the city. It assisted in building Fort Washington, on the heights above Bridgeport, on the opposite side of the river, and several times it was sent up the Cumberland Valley to resist any advance made by the Rebels.
After quiet had been restored along the border, and General Lee had returned to Virginia with his army, the Battalion was sent to different parts of the State to do guard and provost duty.
Companies A, D, and part of Company F, were sent to Sunbury; and Companies C and E to Pottsville and vicinity, to suppress disturbances connected with the draft.
Company A was later attached to General Couch's head quarters at Chambersburg, Pa. Companies F, B and G were sent to Gettysburg, and assisted there in the care of the Government stores that had been left on the field at the time of the battle.
Companies D and C were sent to the Antietam battle ground, where they remained for several weeks doing picket duty along the Potomac river, from Harper s Ferry to Shepherdtown. They remained there until late in November, when they were sent to the "Buttonwood" Barracks, in Philadelphia. Companies B and E were mustered out of the service on the third day of October, 1863. The other five companies remained in the service until the ninth day of January, 1864 ; but before being mustered out a large number of the men of the First Battalion had re-enlisted for three-year service, and in a very short time six of the seven companies were in the service for three years, or during the war. This brief service and training enabled these companies to become the nucleus of a Regiment, hardened and effective from the day of its organization.