|Thomas Yeager-Captain||Gross, Edwin||Rothman, Ernst|
|James M. Wilson-First Lieutenant||Geidner, James||Rhoads, George W.|
|Joseph T. Wilt-Second Lieutenant||Henry, George F.||Romig, John|
|Joseph T. Wilt-First Sergeant||Houck, John||Schneck, Samuel|
|Solomon Goebel-Second Sergeant||Hillegas, Nathaniel||Storch, Henry|
|William Wolf-First Corporal||Hettinger, Joseph||Shiffert, Charles A.|
|John E. Webster-Second Corporal||Hoxworth, George||Sigman, M. H.|
|Ignitz Cressor-Third Corporal||Hittle, Edwin M.||Seip, Lewis G.|
|Daniel Kramer-Fourth Corporal||Jacobs, David||Sheidler, Adolphus|
|Abbott, Charles W||Kress, William||Sheidler, Enville|
|Cole, Norman H.||Keiper, George W.||Uhler, John E.|
|Deitrich, Charles||Leisenring, Martin W.||Wetherhold, Allen|
|Derr, Henry Wilson||Leh, Franklin||Weiss, David|
|Dunlap, Milton H.||Miller, Edwin H.||Wagner, William|
|Early, William||M'Nulty, Henry||Weiss, Joseph|
|Frederick, Gideon||Pfeffer, Charles A.||Weegandt, Benneville|
|Fuller, Matthew R.||Reber, Jonathan W.|
|Frame, William G.||Rhue, William|
History of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-65. By: Samuel P. Bates. Vol.1
Page 9 THE ALLEN INFANTRY IN
THE ALLEN INFANTRY IN 1861.
By James L, Schaadt, of Allentown, Pa.
On the 13th of April, 1861, being the day following the bombardment of Fort Sumter and two days previous to the call of President Lincoln for 75,000 volunteers, the citizens of Northampton and Lehigh counties called and held a public meeting in the square at Easton "to consider the posture of affairs and to take measures for the support of the National Government." Eloquent and patriotic speeches were made and the First Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers was formed as the result of the meeting. There was then in existence three military companies at Allentown-the Jordan Artillerists, commanded by Captain (later Major) W. H. Gausler ; the Allen Rifles, organized in 1849 and commanded by Captain (later Colonel) T. H. Good, and the Allen Infantry, organized in 1859 and commanded by Captain (later Major) Thomas Yeager. The Artillerists and the Rifles consolidated and became Company I, of the First Regiment, and with the other companies of the regiment were mustered in on April 20th, 1861, Captain Good having been chosen lieutenant colonel of the regiment. Captain Gausler was selected to command Company L.
No sooner had the news of the attack on Fort Sumter come to Allentown than Captain Yeager, of the Allen Infantry, hurried to Harrisburg and tendered the services of himself and his command to Governor Curtin. He received one of the first, if not the first, captain's commissions issued for the Civil War, and with it in his pocket hurried back to Allentown and called upon his company for volunteers to defend the National Capital, then threatened by the Secessionists.
The company had been organized in 1859, held regular drills, and had arrived at a fair stage of efficiency in Scott's Tactics. The uniform was of gray cloth, with black and gold bullion trimmings. The company paraded for the first time in the new uniform on Washington's Birthday, 1861, at Philadelphia, on the occasion of the raising of the flag over Independence Hall by President Lincoln, and with the Allen Rifles and the Jordan Artillerists accompanied the President to Harrisburg. The men of the Allen Infantry carried old-fashioned flint-lock guns with bayonets. The guns were generally ineffective and unreliable: "They kicked and spit in our faces," as one of the survivors says. The company was not otherwise equipped for the field, the men having neither great-coats nor blankets, knapsacks nor canteens. The meeting and drill room was in an upper story of what is now No. 716 Hamilton street, Allentown.
On coming back from Harrisburg on the evening of the i6th of April, Captain Yeager opened the roll for volunteers in the company's armory and called upon the members of his command to enlist for the service of the United States. Men, especially young men, left furrow and workshop and office in obedience to the call, and by noon of the next day 47 had signed the roll. The excited populace crowded the armory and the streets; but Captain Yeager determined to go that afternoon without waiting for more signers. The citizens packed a box with necessary articles of clothing; charged themselves with the care and support of the families of the departing men, and prepared a farewell dinner at the Eagle Hotel, Market (now Monument) Square, placing under each plate a five dollar note, contributed by citizens. Unfortunately, these notes, being issued by local State banks, had no purchasing power when afterwards presented in Washington, though always good in Allentown. What with excitement, what with tears of parting, the dinner stood untasted, and at 4.30 o'clock on the afternoon of the 17th of April the gallant band of volunteers, headed by Capt. Yeager and surrounded and followed by a shouting, cheering, crying crowd of citizens, marched down Hamilton street, lightly covered with snow, to the East Penn Junction and took train to Harrisburg. Most of the volunteers then regarded the journey as a pleasant change from daily occupations, a picnic and agreeable visit to the National Capital; a very few, more serious, realized it was the beginning of war, with its horrors, cruelties and privations.
Those who signed the roll on that memorable day in April were:
|1. John E. Webster||17. Franklin Leh||33. John Roning|
|2. William Kress||18. Charles Dietrich||34. Charles A. Pfeiffer|
|3. Solomon Goeble||19. James Geidner||35. William Wolf|
|4. Joseph T. Wilt||20. Ernest Rottman||36. Ignatz Gresser|
|5. Jonathan W. Reber||21. M. R. Fuller||37. James Wilson|
|6. Samuel Schneck||22. Gideon Frederick||38. Lewis Seip|
|7. William Ruhe||23. Allen Wetherold||39. Milton Dunlap|
|8. Henry Storch||24. Edwin H. Miller||40. William G. Frame|
|9. Daniel Kramer||25. Norman H. Cole||41. Edwin Hittle|
|10. Charles A. Schaffer||26. George W. Rhoads||42. Wilson H. Derr|
|11. John Hock||27. Benneville Wiegand||43. Joseph Hettinger|
|12. David Jacob||28. William Early||44. William Scott Davis|
|13. Nathaniel Hillegas||29. M. H. Sigman||45. Joseph Weiss|
|14. M. W. Leisenring||30. Darius Weiss||46. George F. Henry|
|15. Edwin Gross||31. George Hoxworth||47. Conrad Shalattgerdach|
|16. George S. Keiper||32. William Wagner|
At Reading, Adolphus and Enville Schadler, and at Lebanon, John E. Uhler, joined the company. They did not sign the roll, but their names appear on Bates' Official Roll.
At Harrisburg, Captain Yeager, strict disciplinarian that he was, expelled one of his men for disobedience. "I stripped him myself in the middle of the street, taking the whole uniform from him and left him naked except pantaloons, stockings and shirt, and took all his money that he received at Allentown except ten cents." So wrote Captain Yeager about this two days later. The total number of men who marched on April 18th with Captain Yeager through Baltimore was 49.
The railroad journey from Allentown to Harrisburg was marked by no incident, except the gathering of crowds at the different stations along the road and their cheering. The company arrived at Harrisburg about 8 P. M. and bivouacked at the old Pennsylvania depot with the Ringgold Light Artillery, of Reading; the Logan Guards, of Lewistown; the Washington Artillerists and the National Light Infantry of Pottsville. At 1 o'clock in the morning of Thursday, April 18th, General Keim ordered Captain Yeager to go on immediately to Washington with loaded guns. Upon the captain's objection that the guns were not in proper condition, had no locks and no flints, the General remarked that they would be good for clubs. No one in the company except Captain Yeager anticipated the startling experience they were to pass through that day. Early the same morning, after breakfast furnished through the generosity of Rev. Jeremiah Schindel, Senator from Lehigh, the five companies were mustered into the service of the United States by Captain Seneca G. Simmons, Seventh Infantry, and with a detachment of fifty men of Company H, Fifth Artillery, under command of Lieutenant Pemberton (later the general commanding at Vicksburg and after the war a resident of Allentown), embarked at 8.10 A. M. on two Northern Central trains of twenty-one cars for Baltimore, where they arrived at 2 P. M., again without incident, except that the loyal cheers which greeted their train were more frequently mixed with unfriendly greetings from the believers in the doctrine of State's rights, who resented the passage of an armed force without permission as an invasion of their beloved State of Maryland. But the train arrived near the city without any overt acts of hostility beyond the waving of rebel flags at a College for Women.
Information of the leaving of the troop train had been telegraphed from Harrisburg to Baltimore, and when the news became generally known large crowds assembled on the streets and the greatest excitement prevailed. The crowds spent the hours of waiting for the arrival of the train in singing "Dixie" and noisily cheering for the Confederacy. At 9 o'clock a meeting of the military organization known as the Maryland National Volunteers was held and inflammatory speeches made. Sentiment in Baltimore was divided ; there were Union men, and there were Southern sympathizers. All were, however, equally infuriated by the announcement that Northern troops were actually invading "The sacred soil of Maryland." The Mayor of Baltimore at the time was George W. Brown, and the Marshal of Police, George B. Kane; both men of determined courage and inflexible honesty; and to them, notwithstanding their strong Southern sympathies, and to the Police Department, must be awarded the credit of safely conducting the five companies without loss of life from one depot to the other, a distance of between two and three miles, through the streets of a city filled with an excited mob.
Arriving at Canton, a suburb of Baltimore, the regulars and the volunteers disembarked. The workmen from a foundry in the neighborhood and a crowd of about a thousand collected in the twinkling of an eye, and cries of "fight ! fight !" drew the attention of our volunteers, who were still of the opinion that they were on a pleasure trip; and, bent on enjoying every sensation of the journey, eagerly looked for the fight which they supposed was going on in the crowd. But Captain McKnight, of the Ringgold Artillery, a veteran of the Mexican War, at once recognized the animus of the crowd to be directed against the new arrivals, and he ordered the soldiers back into their cars, the regulars alone remaining on their ground. In a very short time Marshal Kane appeared, with a large force of city police to escort the soldiers to Bolton Station. The devoted band, now first realizing that their trip was not going to be altogether a picnic, formed in close column of two with the regulars at the head. According to Bates, the Allen Infantry held the centre of the column ; according to their survivors, they were the rear company. Captain Yeager was without lieutenants, and he detailed Privates William Kress and William Ruhe, two of the tallest men, to protect the rear of the company. The mob, on seeing the formation of the column, and the march begun, were driven into a frenzy. At every step its numbers increased, and when Lieutenant Pemberton and his regulars left the head of the column and filed off toward Fort McHenry the mob lashed itself into a perfect fury. Roughs and toughs, longshoremen, gamblers, floaters, idlers, red-hot secessionists, as well as men ordinarily sober and steady, crowded upon, pushed and hustled the little band and made every effort to break the thin line. Some, mounted upon horses, were prevented with difficulty by the policemen from riding down the volunteers. The mob heaped insults upon the men, taunted them, cursed them, called to them "Let the police go and we will lick you," "You will never get back to Pennsylvania," "Abolitionists, convicts, stone them, kill them," "What muskets, no locks, no powder," "Abe Lincoln's militia, see their left feet," "Hurrah for Jeff Davis," "Hurrah for South Carolina." Bolder ones among the rioters got some of the soldiers by the coat tails and jerked them about, hissed at them, spit upon them and even struck them with their fists. No picnic now. It was a severe trial for the volunteers with not a charge of ball or powder in their pouches, a fortunate circumstance, as it proved in the end, for a single shot would have raised the twenty thousand rioters into uncontrollable fury, and in spite of police protection not one of the 476 volunteers would have escaped with his life. They pushed steadily forward, with their useless firearms at the support, and, obedient to the command of their officers, answered not a word to the galling insults. The policemen flanking the column held the mob in check and saved several of the soldiers from becoming its victims.
As the column neared its destination the rioters fired bricks and stones, brandished knives and pistols, and it required all the efforts of the policemen to keep them in check. The painful march finally came to an end, wonderful to relate, without any fatalities, although numbers of the men bore bruises on their limbs and bodies. Privates Hittle and Gresser were seriously lamed; Private Jacobs, while going into the car, was struck upon the mouth with a brick and lost his teeth and, falling unconscious, fractured his left wrist. Private Derr was struck on the ear with a brick and is deaf to this day from the blow. He, however, returned the compliment to his assailant by striking at him with the butt end of his gun or lock, which tore off the latter's ear. Fortunately, the cars into which the infantry clambered were box or freight cars not furnished with seats, but whose wooden roof and sides protected the volunteers from the shower of cobbles and bricks now rained upon them by the rioters, more than ever infuriated at seeing their prey escape. Powder had been sprinkled by the mob on the floor of the cars, in the hope that a soldier carelessly striking a match in the darkened interior of the freight car might blow himself and his comrades to perdition. They escaped also this danger, and finally after a conflict between the engineer and some of the rioters, the train moved off, passing over the Pratt street bridge, which had been set on fire, and at 7 o'clock in the evening landed the infantry with the other four companies at Washington to the great joy and relief of the President and all loyal men.
Although the five companies numbered nominally 530 men, actually 476, the morning newspapers of Washington by the dexterous use of an additional cipher made the number 5300, sufficient to deter the rebel soldiers, drilling on the opposite bank of the Potomac, from their design to seize Washington and the Capitol building, and by the time rebel spies and sympathizers in the city communicated the real number of the Capital's defenders, other volunteers, notably the Sixth Massachusetts, arrived in sufficient numbers to prevent the capture of the city.
The five companies were quartered in the Capitol, the Allen Infantry being assigned to Vice President Breckenridge's room, leading off from the Senate chamber. The buildings were at once barricaded on the inside with 30,000 barrels of flour, contraband of war, seized by order of the President, which were piled at doors and windows ; on the outside, with barrels of cement, iron pipes and boiler plate, two entrances being left open. The Pennsylvanians were at once visited by Speaker Galusha A. Grow, Secretary of War Simon Cameron, Editor Philadelphia Press Colonel John W. Forney, Member of Congress Hon James H. Campbell, of Pottsville, and other Pennsylvanians living in the city, all of whom were proud that the soldiers of the Keystone State were the first to arrive for the defence of the National Capital. On April 19 the men of the Allen Infantry were provided with minie muskets from Harper's Ferry Arsenal and ball ammunition, and were visited the same day by President Lincoln, who shook hands with every man, and by Secretary of State William H. Seward. The President personally directed an army surgeon to attend Privates Jacobs, Gresser and the other injured men and requested them to go to a hospital, but they all refused, preferring to stay with their company. Washington doctors and a Miss Bache gave them attention and medical supplies. At first provisions were short, but Senator Schindel, of Lehigh county, came to their relief. The men were also without change of underclothing, the box containing the necessary things which had been purchased for them at home at Renninger's store by citizens having been stolen at Baltimore by the mob. The ladies of Allentown learning of their need in this respect shipped a large box of shirts, underclothing and socks to the company during the next ten days. The men settled down and prepared to make themselves as comfortable as possible in their quarters in the Capitol building. Two large bake ovens were erected in the basement and 10,000 loaves of bread were baked every other day. But in the twelve days they occupied the Capitol the men of the infantry never lived quite comfortably. Provisions were scarce, meals meager, fresh meat and vegetables were wanting, the pork furnished was green and unpalatable. All the more welcome, therefore, were the supplies which came from home, as the apples and the fresh country eggs sent them (among others) by George Roth, grandfather of George R. Roth, of the Leader, a farmer and ardent Union man of North Whitehall township. Water connections were made with the river and water works. They stayed in these quarters until the 1st of May, drilling daily, guarding the Capitol and preparing for the siege, daily expected to be begun by the rebels.
Within a few days after their arrival at the Capital the organization of the company was completed by the election of James M. Wilson as first lieutenant, and First Sergeant Joseph T. Wilt as second lieutenant and the appointment of Privates Solomon Goeble as second sergeant, William Wolf as first corporal, John E. Webster as second corporal, Ignatz Gresser as third corporal and Daniel Kramer as fourth corporal. On April 30 Lieutenant Wilson went back to the ranks and Lieutenant Wilt was elected first lieutenant, and Sergeant Goeble second lieutenant. Corporal Webster then became first sergeant and served until June 25, when he was discharged by order of the War Department, Private Charles W. Abbott being appointed first sergeant in his place. Geo. F. Henry was musician. Stephen Schwartz and George Junker came from Allentown and joined the company during the first week it was in Washington. The latter, while going through Baltimore, was arrested, and secured his release by pretending to be a deserter from Camp Curtin at Harrisburg, on his way to join the rebel army. Twenty-eight members of Small's Philadelphia Brigade, who made their way through Baltimore with the Sixth Massachusetts, when their brigade was turned back from Baltimore, were by order of the War Department assigned to and mustered into the Allen Infantry. Charles W. Abbott was enrolled on May 4. During the first week, while the company was quartered in the Capitol, Henry McAnnulty also joined the company. He was a quiet, reserved and reticent man who made no friends. No one knew where he came from. Some of the men suspected him of having come from the rebel ranks on the other side of the Potomac and that he was no better nor worse than a spy. He disappeared on the 28th of April just as quietly and mysteriously as he had come. No battalion or regimental organization of the five original companies was made until the end of April or beginning of May, and the distinction of First Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, which justly belonged to them, was given to another organization. The proper numerical designation being impossible, the companies were called at times the Advance Regiment, at other times the Cameron Regiment. Out of the Ringgold Artillery, of Reading, and the National Light Infantry, of Pottsville, a new company was formed, and out of the Washington Artillerists, of Pottsville, and the Logan Guards, of Lewistown, another company was formed. To the five original companies, thus increased to seven, three companies were added, recruited at Harrisburg, Doylestown and Carbondale. These ten companies became the Twenty-fifth Regiment, of which Lieutenant Henry L. Cake, of Pottsville, was elected colonel, Captain John B. Selheimer, of Lewistown, lieutenant colonel, and Honorable James H. Campbell, of Pottsville, major. The Allen Infantry became Company G of the regiment. The lieutenant colonelcy of the regiment had been offered to Captain Yeager, but he declined, having promised his men to remain with them. The Ringgold Band, of Reading, was mustered in as the regimental band.
On the first day of May the company was transferred with Captain McDonald's National Light Infantry, Company D, Captain McCormick's Company F, Captain Davis' Company I and Captain Dart's Company K to the United States Arsenal, two miles south of the city, opposite Alexandria, on the Potomac, for the purpose of guarding the large quantities of valuable war material, including 70,000 stands of arms and heavy guns, with powder and ammunition, there stored. The company (Allen Infantry) was quartered at first on the second story of the Penitentiary Building, which formed a part of the arsenal, and later in rooms in the Arsenal. Here they were later joined by the Ringgold Artillery, Company A, and Captain Nagle's Company C, under Major Ramsay, commandant at the Arsenal, were regularly drilled in Hardee's tactics and instructed in target practice and skirmish drill by Lieutenant Mears, of the United States army. The daily routine consisted of reveille at 5 A. M., drill at 6, breakfast at 7, guard mounting at 8, dinner at 12, drill at 5, followed by dress parade, supper at 7, tattoo at 9 and taps at 9.45. Army rations were served. On May 10 regular army uniforms were issued to the men, consisting of blue pantaloons and frock coat, fatigue coat, forage cap, great coat, blue or red woolen shirt, two pairs of cotton stockings, two pairs cotton drawers, two pairs shoes, knapsack, haversack and canteen. These were the first uniforms issued, and the men of the infantry were glad to exchange them for the gray uniform they had been wearing, to which they took a dislike because of its resemblance to the Confederate gray. During this assignment of duty the Allen Infantry and McKnight's Ringgold Light Artillery were detailed, on June 8, to cross the long bridge and to unload from the boats some thirty large and heavy cannon, and mount them on their carriages, in the intrenchments at Arlington Heights.
On the 29th of June the Allen Infantry, Captain Yeager, with the companies of Captains McDonald, McCormick, Davis and Dart, marched under Lieutenant Colonel Selheimer to Rockville, which they reached the next day, where they slept in the Fair Building, but because of the heavy rain did not go any further that day. They were provided with tents, ambulances, transportation wagons and all necessary camp equipage. Colonel Cake assumed command. The next day, Monday morning, the battalion marched to Poolesville, reporting to Colonel Stone, in charge of the Rockville expedition; then marched to Point of Rocks, Sandy Hook, Harper's Ferry, where on the Fourth of July some skirmishing took place with the rebels then occupying it. It was expected that an assault would be made on the morning of the 6th, but other orders being received, the command marched to Williamsport and across the Potomac to Martinsburg, where it went into camp.
On the 15th the brigade marched to Bunker Hill and encamped. Here again it was expected that a general engagement would take place, but on the morning of the 17th the brigade moved to Charlestown, Va., the Allen Infantry camping in the same field where John Brown and his comrades had been hanged. The next day the battalion moved to Harper's Ferry and camped there. The period of their enlistment having expired, General Patterson thanked the companies for continuing in service beyond their term of enlistment and directed them to move by way of Baltimore to Harrisburg, where the entire regiment assembled and was mustered out, this company on July 23, A and C July 23, D July 26, B, E and H on July 29.
On the 24th of July Captain Yeager and the infantry were received at home by the entire populace of Allentown with bands of music, were addressed by Hon. Robert E. Wright and were escorted into the town amid ringing of bells and shouts of joy. A banquet again awaited them at Schneck's Eagle Hotel, which did not remain untasted, as did the parting dinner, three months before.
Captain Yeager on the 27th of July delivered the discharges to his men, dated Harrisburg, July 23.
Private BennevUle Wiegand is carried on the roll as captain's servant. The following are marked discharged or dropped: Daniel Kramer, May 27, 1861 ; Lewis G. Seip, May 25, 1861, on surgeon's certificate, approved by Brigadier General Mansfield; Henry McAnnnlty, April 28, 1861 ; Franklin Leh and William Scott Davis, May 9, 1861 ; John E. Webster, June 25, 1861 ; Norman H. Cole, Milton H Dunlap and Charles A. Pfeififer, on May 31, 1861, by order of the War Department. Pfeififer afterwards enlisted in Company B, of the Forty-seventh P. V., was wounded at Winchester and was honorably discharged Dec. 25, 1865. Dunlap enlisted in the regular army, and has never been heard of since. The men were paid on July 31 by Major A. M. Sallade, Paymaster U. S. A. Each private received $37.36 in gold. Many of them re-enlisted in other commands, especially the Forty-seventh, Fifty-third and One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and attained distinction. Sergeant Charles W. Abbott became lieutenant colonel of the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers ; Sergeant George Junker commanded Company K of the same regiment and died October 25. 1862, of wounds received in the battle of Pocopagligo ; Private Nathaniel Hillegass enlisted in Company K, Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and died of wounds received at Winchester; Henry W. Sawyer became captain in a New Jersey cavalry regiment, was taken prisoner, but escaped, just as he was about to be hanged by the rebels in retaliation for an alleged infraction of the rules of war.
The gallant Captain Yeager was presented by his men with a fine and costly sword in token of the love and respect they bore him. He became major of the Fifty-third Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and gave his life for the flag he loved at the battle of Fair Oaks on the 1st of June, 1862. His remains were recovered about four weeks after the battle and repose in Union Cemetery, Allentown. The sword he wore on the march through Baltimore is now in possession of the family of Corporal William Wolf. Yeager Post, No. 13, G. A. R., was named after him. Major Yeager was a brave, impetuous .soldier. With him to think was to act. With clear vision he saw the immeasurable advantage the Secessionists would gain by seizing Washington and the public buildings, and judging them by his own methods he expected they would at once take the defenseless city. Not a moment must be lost; patriots must at once rush to the defense of their Capital. So with all the men he could hastily assemble, unprepared as they were, he hurried to the point of expected attack. Two days after arriving at Washington he writes: "If the Northern men take the right stand in this matter we will in three months march back to our native firesides with the minies on our shoulders, drums beating, trumpets sounding and playing, "Hail Columbia," and with the Stars and Stripes in our hands. But this stand our people of the free States must take immediately. Let them come in citizen's dress as passengers. They can be organized here. * * * * The only way is for the North to concentrate troops in divisions and encamp on the Pennsylvania State line, discipline their raw troops and when ready march and demand of Baltimore the right of transit to the Capital of the country. If refused, lay Baltimore and Annapolis in ashes. This is the only plan. Then Washington can get as many Northern troops as they want." A rare and indomitable spirit this!
No more ardent patriot lives in this country than the phlegmatic Pennsylvania German.
The Penns3dvania companies arrived at Washington at 7 P. M., April i8, 1861 ; the Massachusetts Sixth arrived there twenty-four hours later, on the 19th.
The credit and honor of being first to arrive at the Capital for its defense belongs to the Pennsylvania soldiers. And so it was understood at the time. The thanks of the country were tendered by the Congress of the United States on the 22d of July, 1861, to the five companies, as the Capital's First Defenders; and on the 4th of July, 1866, Honorable Simon Cameron, Secretary of War in 1861, wrote: "I certify that the Pottsville National Light Infantry was the first company of volunteers whose services were offered for the defense of the Capital. A telegram reached the War Department on the 13th making the tender; it was immediately accepted. The company reached Washington on the 18th of April, 1861, with four additional companies from Pennsylvania, and these were the first troops to reach the seat of Government at the beginning of the War of the Rebellion."
No one who knows the facts will dispute that the five companies of Pennsylvania are entitled to the honor, the glory and the credit of having been first to reach the National Capital for its defense. They were prepared and ready to shed their blood in that defense; and no one can deny that their prompt appearance in Washington saved the public buildings, the public records and the Capital; nor can any one deny that the result of the war would in all probability have been different if the Secessionists' forces had first occupied and taken the Capital. The march of these five companies of Pennsylvanians through hostile Baltimore, and their prompt occupation of the Capital in rebel-infested Washington, will rank them in history with the most devoted of patriots. All honor, then, to Captain Yeager and his Pennsylvania German fellow-citizens of the Allen Infantry for the part they took in this glorious achievement. Their action will ever be a matter of pride and the source of patriotic inspiration in our community. So it has proven, for in the late Spanish-American War, it was the writer's old command. Company B of the Fourth Regiment, National Guard of Pennsylvania, under Captain James A. Medlar, which first entered the service of the United States, followed closely by the Reading and Pottsville companies of the same regiment.
And so, in time to come, the example of the First Defenders will remain an inspiration to patriotism whenever our flag and our country shall need prompt, ready and unhesitating defenders.
JAS. L. SCHAADT.
Allentown, Pa., December 15, 1909.
Reference: The First Defenders, BY HEBER S. THOMPSON, PRESIDENT OF THE FIRST DEFENDERS' ASSOCIATION 1910