Washington Artillery

Recruited at Pottsville
Mustered into service, at Harrisburg,  April 18, 1861

James Wren-Captain Dentzer, Philip T. Major, Nelson W.
David A. Smith-First Lieutenant Dentzer, Henry Maize, William F.
Francis B. Wallace-Second Lieutenant Drake, Nelson Maurer, Charles
Philip Nagle--Second Lieutenant    
Henry C. Russell-First Sergeant Dewees, Francis P. Myers, Franklin
Joseph A. Gilmour-Second Sergeant Douglas, Lewis Nagle, Edward
Cyrus Sheetz-Third Sergeant Downing, Henry K. Nagle, James
William J. M'Quade-Fourth Sergeant Eagan, William Nagle, John
Delaplain J. Ridgway-First Corporal Engle, John Noble, John
Samuel R. Russel-Second Corporal Evans, Charles Potts, Charles P.
Charles Hinkle-Third Corporal Fyant, Joseph Pass, John
Reuben Snyder-Fourth Corporal Frailey, Peter H. Price, Richard
G. H. Gressang-Quartermaster Sergeant Feger, William J. Petherick, Thomas, Jr.
Albert F. Bowen-Musician Fisher, Peter Potter, Robert F.
Thomas Severn-Musician Glenn, Charles A. Pott, Richard
Auman, William Grow, Peter Potts, William Ramsey
Alspach, Henry L. Hill, George H. Patterson, Theodore H.
Bannan, Frank (Francis) Hetherington, James R. Pollock, Curtis C.
Bates, William Hardell, William H. Reed, Joseph
Bratton, G. Wilson Heffner, William Reese, Augustus
Betz, Joel H. Huntzinger, Alfred Rice, George
Brobst, Henry Hesser, Charles A. Rice, Richard
Beck, Charles E. Hoffa, John Riley, William E.
Bobbs, Henry Heffner, Benjamin Shoener, Samuel
Bartolett, Richard Hartman, George H. Silliman, James S.
Brandt, Jeremiah B. Hammer, Thomas F. B. Smith, Robert
Brown, David B. Hanley, Patrick Seltzer, Francis A.
Barth, J. F. Hill, Henry H. Slingluff, Charles
Burns, Anthony Hause, Charles Severn, Isaac E.
Bowen, Alexander S. Hause, Frank Severn, Edward L.
Brown, William Hodgson, Richard M. Sticher, Valentine
Bosbyshell, Oliver C. Hetherington, John J. Shippen, Edward J.
Beard, Samuel Irwin, Thomas Stevenson, Hugh
Boyer, David Jones, Thomas Snyder, Lewis T.
Clemens, William W. Johnson, Thomas Snyder, Reuben
Cole, William Jones, Benjamin F. Spence, William
Curry, John Jones, John Thomson, Heber S.
Corby, Thomas Kear, Joseph Thomson, Alba C.
Christian, Daniel Loeser, Charles P. Titus, Ambrose H.
Christian, Benjamin C. Lesher, William Van Horn, Charles
Christian, John C. Leonard, Godfrey Wernert, Victor
Christ, Frederick Leib, Edward J. Weaver, John C.
Degan, William Moser, Daniel Whitfield, Albert G.
Meyers, George Williams, David

Previous Page

A BRIEF HISTORICAL SKETCH

OF THE

WASHINGTON ARTILLERISTS

BY

JOHN H. BISHOP AND JAMES ARCHBALD, Jr.

This company was organized by Captain James Nagle September lo, 1842, was mustered into the State service as infantry on January 27, 1845, by Major Shappel, of Hamburg, and was attached to the First Battalion, Second Brigade, Sixth Division, covering the counties of Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks and Schuylkill. The company later changed its arm of the service and was mustered and inspected as an artillery company under the name of the Washington Artillerists.

In the month of December, 1846, Captain Nagle tendered the services of the company for the Mexican War. They were accepted and the company left Pottsville December 5, 1846, for Philadelphia, arriving there at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

It was inspected by Adjutant General Bowman on December 6, after which the officers were presented with swords and the men with revolvers by the Pottsville committee.

The company left Philadelphia December 7 and arrived at Pittsburg at 12 o'clock noon of the 13th (Sunday). On the 15th of December it was mustered into the United States service to serve through the war with Mexico and was enrolled as "Company B," First Regiment, Pennsylvania Foot Volunteers, of which Francis M. Wynkoop, until then a private in the ranks of the Washington Artillerists, was made colonel.

The officers of the company were: Captain, James Nagle; First Lieutenant, Simon L. Nagle; Second Lieutenants, Franklin B. Kaercher and Jacob Fellnagle. The latter served until May 7, 1847, when Edward Rehr was promoted from Sergeant to fill his place. Colonel Daniel Nagle, still a hale and hearty resident of Pottsville, served in the company first as drummer and later as a private.

The company served through the war, being engaged in the siege of Vera Cruz and the battles of Cerro Gordo, Puebla, Humantli, Atlixco and La Pas, and returned to Pottsville Friday, July 28, 1848.

It may be interesting to know what the uniforms were at various times and their cost. The first uniform cost $2.50, and consisted of a flat glazed cap with a small military button on each side, a blue jacket made of twilled cotton, at 14 cents per yard, trimmed with red flannel, with one row of small buttons up the breast and three buttons on the cuffs. The pantaloons were white twilled cotton at 12 cents per yard, and the belt was white cotton about two inches wide with a buckle plate of brass.

The second uniform was a swallow-tailed coat and sky blue pantaloons with artillery trimmings.

The third uniform was the regulation blue army roundabout and pantaloons with artillery trimmings.

The fourth (worn in 1859) was the full dress uniform of the United States army, a dark blue frock coat and sky blue pantaloons.

On February 22, 1850 (Washington's Birthday), the company was revived and Captain Nagle was again elected captain; Lefevre Womelsdorf, First Lieutenant; James Wren and David A. Smith, Second Lieutenants.

On January 8, 1851, Lieutenant Womelsdorf was elected Captain ; James Wren, First Lieutenant ; David A. Smith and Thomas Johnson, Second Lieutenants. This election was made necessary because Captain Nagle was advanced on April 20, 1850, to the rank of colonel commanding First Regiment, Sixth Division, Pennsylvania Militia.

In 1854 his term as colonel having expired, he was again elected captain of the company (September 7, 1854) and commanded it until August 3, 1859, when he was promoted to brigade inspector of the First Brigade, Sixth Division, covering the counties of Schuylkill, Carbon, Monroe and Pike. First Lieutenant James Wren was elected Captain on September 6, 1859, with David A. Smith, First Lieutenant; Francis B.' Wallace and John Shomo, Second Lieutenants.

At the inauguration of Governor Curtin at Harrisburg, January 15. 1861, the Washington Artillerists were present as part of the military column, and then in response to a patriotic address by the Governor, tendered their services in case they were needed. The tender was made in the presence of the Hon. Robert M. Palmer and the Hon. Lin Bartholomew, of Pottsville, and the latter said : "Governor Curtin, you can always depend upon the Washington Artillerists, of Pottsville."

When President Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 troops it was received in Pottsville on Monday, April 15, at noon. The quota for Pennsylvania under this call was sixteen regiments. On that evening (it being the regular drill night), the company held a business session and passed resolutions instructing Captain Wren to tender the services of the company for the protection of the Union. On the morning of the i6th the recruiting flag of the company was unfurled for the enrollment of men. The recruiting party detailed by Captain Wren was Quartermaster George H. Gressang, uncle of the present Quartermaster Sergeant, D. S. Gressang ; Sergeant Joseph A. Gilmour; Corporal Samuel R. Russel. Captain of the company from 1876 to 1881, and Private Godfrey Leonard. The company left Pottsville on Wednesday, April 17, amid great excitement, reached Harrisburg that night, and was ordered to hold itself in readiness to proceed to Washington early next morning. It was drawn up in line near the Northern Central Depot and sworn into the service of the United States by Captain Simmons. The company as it left Pottsville numbered 131 men, officered by Captain James Wren, First Lieutenant David A. Smith, father of Edmund D. Smith, Captain of the company from 1888 to 1893; Second Lieutenants Francis B. Wallace and Philip Nagle. It was accompanied from Pottsville by the National Light Infantry, now Company H, Eighth Regiment, N. G. P., and at Harrisburg was joined by the Ringgold Artillery, of Reading, the Allen Rifles, of Allentown, and the Logan Guards, of Lewistown. From Harrisburg to Baltimore these companies were accompanied by a detachment of Company H, Fourth United States Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Pemberton, who was afterwards a lieutenant general in the Confederate army, and surrendered Vicksburg to General Grant. The five companies marched through Baltimore at noon on Thursday, April' 18, exposed to the insults of a secession mob. No serious clash took place, however, though they were assailed with a shower of various missiles while boarding the train, and they reached Washington at 8 o'clock that evening and bivouacked at the Capitol, being the first troops to enter the Capital city at the call of the President. Arms were at once issued, and on the same evening President Lincoln visited the company, accompanied by Secretary Seward ; the company was formed in open ranks, and the President being introduced by Captain Wren, stepped to the front and said: "I did not come here to make a speech. The time for speech-making has gone by, and the time for action is at hand. I have come here to give the Washington Artillerists from the State of Pennsylvania a warm welcome to the city of Washington and to shake every officer and soldier by the hand, providing you will give me that privilege." It goes without saying that the privilege was accorded him.

On April 29 the company left for Fort Washington, then commanded by Major Haskins. Within four miles of Alexandria the rebel flag could be seen floating from the Marshall House, and one mile away the rebel guard could be seen walking his beat. Captain Wren says he had more than twenty requests from the men, of which the following are examples : "Captain, may I have only one shot at that fellow?" or, "Captain, shall I drop that rebel?"

The Company was afterward divided into two companies, which were officially enrolled as Company B and Company H in the Twenty-fifth Regiment, commanded by Colonel Henry L. Cake, though they were never actively associated with the regiment. The officers of Company B were. Captain, James Wren ; First Lieutenant, Joseph A. Gilmour; Second Lieutenants, Cyrus Sheetz and William J. McQuade; and the officers of Company H were : Captain, David A. Smith; First Lieutenant, Francis B. Wallace; Second Lieutenants, Philip Nagle and Henry C. Russel. After the battle of Manassas the companies were ordered to Harrisburg to be mustered out of service. They reached home on July 30 and were warmly welcomed by the citizens of the county.

Practically all of the members re-enlisted in other regiments, notably the Forty-eighth and Ninety-sixth Infantry and the Seventh Cavalry, and served during the war.

While passing through Baltimore on the 19th of April, a circumstance occurred which is worthy of record. The first blood actually shed in the war was that of Nicholas Biddie, of Pottsville, a colored servant of Captain Wren, of the Washington Artillerists, who was struck on the head by a missile and cut so severely as to expose the bone. He proudly wore the scar to the day of his death. Negro slavery was the cause of the war, and the first blood shed in it was that of a negro in the streets of Baltimore. Biddie's portrait hangs in Company F's quarters to-day.

The Company was revived in 1870 under the name of the "Gowen Guards," Company F, Seventh Regiment, National Guard of Pennsylvania, with W. H. Huntzinger as captain. W. Harry Boyd was the next captain, elected March loth, 1875, and was succeeded by Samuel H. Russel on December 6th, 1876

On June 3d, 1875, the Company was ordered to Mahanoy City to quell the riots at that place. It was on duty there with 58 men until the 14th, when it was relieved and sent home.

It was again ordered out for duty on July 22d, 1877, owing to the extensive railroad strikes throughout the country, which caused rioting and the destruction of valuable property, particularly in the western part of Pennsylvania. It left for Harrisburg on the Reading Railroad, in a special train routed via Reading, but when within several miles of Reading the train was stopped and sent via Auburn, because the large Lebanon Valley bridge was on fire. The Company reached Harrisburg in due time, however, and marched to the State Arsenal, where it went into camp with the balance of the Seventh and Eighth Regiments, which then constituted the Fourth Division, commanded by Major General Joshua K. Siegfried. The Division was ordered to Pittsburg on July 31st, and encamped at Roup's Station. Its tour of duty there was without special incident, and the various companies were sent to their home stations on August 9th and loth. The two Pottsville companies received a hearty welcome from the citizens in general and were given a banquet by the ladies.

The next tour of duty was at Camp George G. Meade, in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, in 1880. This was the first of the annual encampments of the National Guard. At this encampment the Company turned out 44 men and 2 officers, the men at that time being paid for only one (Inspection) day. On November 4th, 1879, the Company voted to change its name of "Gowen Guards" to the "Washington Artillerists," in order to perpetuate the old organization.

Just prior to the Brigade encampment at Wilkes-Barre, in 1881, the Seventh Regiment was mustered out of service, some of the companies being transferred into the Eighth Regiment, one into the Twelfth, and one (this Company) left unassigned. At the Wilkes-Barre, Lewistown and Williamsport encampments in 1881, 1882 and 1883, the Company was stationed at Division Headquarters as a special guard. In 1883 it was assigned to the Fourth Regiment as Company F.

On January 10th, 1882, Lieutenant A. J. Derr was elected captain, vice Captain Samuel R. Russell, whose commission had expired, but, owing to business engagements. Captain Derr resigned on November nth, 1882, and was succeeded by D. C. Henning, who was elected captain on January 23d, 1883. At the expiration of his term he declined a re-election, and Edmund D. Smith, son of a former Captain of this Company, was elected as his successor on May 25th, 1888.

At 6.30 A. M., July 10th, 1892, Captain Smith received orders to move at once to Homestead, to assist in quelling the riots at that place. By i P. M. (the time for leaving) every man, with one exception, reported himself in readiness. Amid great excitement the train pulled out at 1.15, and the Company arrived in camp on the hill opposite Homestead at 12.40 P. M. on the nth. The Regiment laid here three days and two nights without shelter of any kind, with the exception of the mess tent of this Company. It was on duty on the Swissvale side of the river, together with the Tenth and Fourteenth Regiments of the Second Brigade and Battery C of the Third Brigade, forming a provisional brigade under Colonel Hawkins, of the Tenth. The Company was ordered across to Homestead twice during its stay to do provost duty. It was relieved on the 28th and arrived home at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 29th of July, a company of bronzed veterans of 19 days service. Captain Smith's commission expired in May. 1893, and as he declined a re-election, Myer Strouse was elected to succeed him. He resigned in September, 1895, and on December 3d George Dyson was elected to the captaincy.

The Company's next service was at Hazleton, in 1897, during the industrial disturbances following the Lattimer riot. It left Pottsville on September 11th and bivouacked that night at Audenried with the rest of the Fourth Regiment.

The Regiment was transferred to Drifton on September 15th, and was ordered home on September 28th, 1897.

At the outbreak of the Spanish War, in 1898, the officers of the Company were: Captain, George Dyson; First Lieutenant, John H. Bishop ; Second Lieutenant. George R. Kalbach. Under these officers it was assembled with the National Guard of Pennsylvania at Mt. Gretna on April 28th, 1898, and was mustered into the service of the United States on May 10th, the Fourth Regiment being the first regiment to be so mustered. On May 15th the regiment was transferred to Chickamauga, Tennessee, where it spent a strenuous five weeks under its energetic Colonel, David B. Case, to whose systematic training its good health throughout the war may be ascribed. On July 22d it was ordered to Newport News, and on July 28th, Company F embarked with five companies, under Lieutenant Colonel C. T. O'Neill, on board the steamer Seneca, for Porto Rico. The voyage was most unpleasant, the accommodations being entirely inadequate and the food insufficient and poor in quality. Porto Rico was sighted on August 2d, at 2 A. M., but the troops were not disembarked until 3 P. M. on the 3d, at Arroyo. The Fourth Regiment took part in the forward movement, begun on August 6th, and ended in the face of the enemy on August 13th, by the announcement of the Peace Protocol. The Regiment started for Ponce on August 28th, a march of 50 miles, made under most trying conditions of heat, bad roads and deep and rapid rivers, in two days and a half, with no straggling. The return voyage was made on the steamship City of Chester, which weighed anchor on September 1st, arriving at New York on the 6th. Company F reached Pottsville early on the morning of the 7th, receiving a warm welcome. All of its members showed the effects of the hard campaign through which they had been.

The Company was mustered out of the United States service after a furlough of two months, on November i6th, 1898, and was reinstated in the National Guard of Pennsylvania, on February 7th, 1899. Captain Dyson resigned, as did also Lieutenant Bishop on August 26th, 1899, and on September 27th, Company M, formerly of the Eleventh Regiment, but at this time an unattached Company, was merged with Company F, James Archbald, Jr., Captain, and Clyde G. Allan, First Lieutenant of Company M, being elected to the same positions in Company F, and George R. Kalbach, Second Lieutenant of Company F, continuing in that position.

Rioting at Shenandoah during the Anthracite strike of 1900 called the Company into service at midnight of September 22d, when every member responded promptly. It entered Shenandoah with the Eighth Regiment at daybreak, and bivouacked that night with the Fourth Regiment under Colonel O'Neill, at Columbia Park. A quiet tour of duty followed until October i6th, when another midnight call hurried the regiment to Coaldale, where it met and turned back at 3 A. M. a large body of strike sympathizers from the Hazleton region. Driving them through Tamaqua and up through the gorge to the north, Company F was left at Hometown to prevent their return. Recalled in the evening, it bivouacked in the pavilion at Manila Park and camped there until ordered home on October 29th, after 38 days of service.

Captain Archbald was compelled by the pressure of business to resign on April i, 1901. Lieutenant Allan succeeded to the Captaincy on May 7th, 1901, but only held it until August 24th, when he resigned, being succeeded in turn by Lieutenant Kalbach.

The last active service of the Company was in the disturbances incident to the Anthracite strike of 1902. As in 1900, it was ordered to Shenandoah with the Eighth Regiment and Company G of the Fourth Regiment, shortly after midnight on July 31st, 1902, and the Fourth not being ordered out at that time, it served with the Eighth for over two months, at Shenandoah until September 25th, and after that date at Duryea, in Luzerne County. The balance of the Fourth Regiment was ordered out on September 29th to Mt. Carmel, but it was not until October 9th that Company F was detached from the Eighth and joined the Second Battalion of the Fourth at Nanticoke. It was ordered home on October 30th, having been in the field 92 days, probably a record for length of service by a National Guard Company, except in time of war.

On February 17th, 1908, First Sergeant George E. Pyle asked for and was granted an honorable discharge after a continuous service of 23 years, for 15 of which he had been First Sergeant. His first enlistment was on March 27, 1885.

Captain Kalbach resigned on August 21st, 1907, after a service of 15 years, and was succeeded by First Lieutenant Harry G. Mellon.

 

Reference: The First Defenders, BY HEBER S. THOMPSON, PRESIDENT OF THE FIRST DEFENDERS' ASSOCIATION 1910