Exploits of the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry Before The Battle of Gettysburg

Moyer, Henry P. History of the Seventeenth regiment, Pa. volunteer cavalry or one hundred and sixty-second in line of Pa. volunteer regiments, war to supline the rebellion, 1861-1865; by Pennsylvania cavalry. 17th regt., 1862-1865; 1911,

THE MARCH INTO MARYLAND AND PENNSYLVANIA, pg 48-49

As we crossed the boundary line between Maryland and Pennsylvania, one of the guidon carriers of Company G, of our regiment, was stationed at the line making the announcement to each company as they approached, that they were, at that point, entering upon Pennsylvania soil. The boys raised their caps and lustily cheered, again and again, for the old Keystone State and Old Glory.

On June 29, 1863, the regiment encamped for the first time, since it left Harrisburg, on Pennsylvania soil, in the vicinity of Waynesboro, in sight of the homes of many of the members of Company G. A request was made to Colonel Josiah H. Kellogg to permit the men of Company G, to visit their homes during the night, which request was granted, however, only upon condition that every member of the company would be present again at roll call the following morning. Captain L. B. Kurtz commanding the company vouched for the men, and, to the credit of the company, it could be truthfully said that every member of the company was present for duty and answered roll call the next morning. It was in this same camp that, early the following morning, an old Pennsylvania farmer and his daughter drove into our camp with a one horse spring wagon and handed out loaves of bread and cakes, free of charge, saying he and his wife and daughter stayed up all night and baked them for the soldiers. “They are yours,” he continued, “you are welcome to them. I wish I had more to give you.” The boys doffed their caps and thanked the donors. Then someone proposed three cheers for the old farmer, another proposed three cheers for his wife, and still another proposed three cheers for the daughter. It is needless to say that in less time than it takes to tell this little incident, the bread and cakes were all distributed. The old farmer said, if we would remain until next morning, he would come again with more bread and cakes; but, before he left camp, “Boots and Saddles” sounded, and we parted, he no doubt for his home, and the regiment in the direction of Gettysburg where we arrived about four o clock in the afternoon of June 30, 1863.


CROSSING THE POTOMAC, pg 58-59

We crossed the river on pontoons at Edwards Ferry and took up the line of march through Maryland, moving so as to cover the left flank of the army. The country was loyal and men and horses recuperated rapidly. Passing near Frederick City, Md., a luckless spy happened to fall within our clutches. A drumhead court-martial dealt out prompt justice and his body was left hanging to a tree by the road side. A committee of indignant citizens called on General Buford and wanted to know why he was hanged. General Buford informed them that the man was a spy and he was afraid to send him to Washington because he knew the authorities would make him a brigadier General. The committee retired, unanimously voting General Buford a “Northern brute.” The march through Western Maryland was thoroughly enjoyable good roads, frequent streams of water, fine camping grounds, sympathizing people often crowding villages and country towns as we swept on through them. Mails, with letters from home, and newspapers, too, met us and were distributed almost every day. Later in the day June 29th w r e crossed the boundary line into Franklin County, Pa. The men of Company G, of this regiment, commanded by Captain Luther B. Kurtz, were natives of this county, and mostly recruited at or near Waynesboro. A trooper of this company, with guidon, stood at the line while the regiment passed, and each squadron lustily cheered him as we hastened on.

The division crossed the South Mountain on a good highway, along which the enemy s cavalry had preceded us some days. The road at some points had been barricaded by home guards and local troops to retard their progress, but these obstructions had mostly been removed. The command bivouacked on the night of the 29th at the foot of South Mountain, with orders to move at sunrise. The camp, as near as we can remember, was some eight or ten miles east of Waynesboro, the home of Captain L. B. Kurtz and the home of the men of Company G. The captain asked Colonel Kellogg for permission to take his company and spend the night in his native village. The request was novel; the orders under which the command was marching were very exacting. The colonel was a West Pointer and a strict disciplinarian. On the other hand, the sympathies of every officer in the command were with Captain Kurtz and his men. The request was granted and Company G went home for the night, leaving assurances of honor that all would be back at the hour the column would march, and, true to their word and country, they came, and when they reported the next morning, without a man missing or a straggler, they received a warm greeting from their generous, though less fortunate, companions.

 


A RETROSPECT, pg. 379-380

General Buford s Division crossed the Pennsylvania line in Franklin County on the 20th of June Passing over the South Mountain it went into camp near Fairfield for the night, in a region abounding in forage and water for our jaded horses, as well as in supplies of Pennsylvania bread and meat for the wearied men of the command. The days march was uneventful, save in the short but eloquent speeches made by the captains in obedience to orders, and in the responsive and ringing cheers made by the gallant soldiers as they marched by the trooper of Company G, who stood with streaming guidon, on the boundary line of the State, indicating our exit from doubtful Maryland into loyal Pennsylvania.

The restful camp that followed our march over the mountain was memorable only in the departure of Company G on a social visit for the night to their homes, at and near Waynesboro, in the exercise of authority reluctantly given them by Colonel Kellogg, and their return without a man missing by sunrise on the following morning, in fulfillment of their pledge of honor. The day s march had a significance, however, far beyond the comprehension of the toiling officer and soldier of the line. The trained eye and splendid forecast of General Buford, scanned with eager interest the landscape that opened to his view on this mountain highway. Gravely impressed by the importance of impending events, Buford said to the officers surrounding him “within forty-eight hours, the concentration of both armies will take place upon some field within view, and a great battle will be fought.” By the examination of a local map obtained in the neighborhood, the remarkable convergence of broad highways at Gettysburg was first clearly disclosed to the officers in command, and indicated the approximate field of the coming conflict. To this point, under general instructions, Buford hastened and directed his next day s march. It is a remarkable coincidence that on the evening of this day, June 29, General Lee issued his order for the concentration of his army at Cashtown, recalling General Ewell from the Susquehanna. The march of

Buford’s column northward, reported to Lee by his secret service, indicated the advance of the Army of the Potomac in the same direction. This movement precipitated preparations for what was then, as well as subsequently, believed to be the greatest battle of the war.

The advance of all columns was upon Gettysburg on the morning of June 30, save that commanded by General Stuart; General Ewell from the east, General Hill from the north, General Longestreet from the west; from the south, General Buford on the left, General Gregg on the right, covering the capital, and the face of the country from Hanover to Fairfield the Army of the Potomac, under a new commander was moving to strike the Army of Northern Virginia whenever found.


BACK IN PENNSYLVANIA, pg. 396-397

On the night of June 29th, the regiment encamped upon Pennsylvania soil, about eight miles from Waynesboro, almost in sight of the homes of the members of Company G. I heard Colonel Bean, in a public address, make the statement that Captain Kurtz, commanding Company G, asked permission at this time to allow his men to visit their homes during the night, and that this permission was granted upon condition that every member of the company must report for duty again at sunrise the following morning; and that, to the credit of Company G, it could truthfully be said that every member of the company answered roll call the next morning.

Advertisements

First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry

History of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry: From Its Organization 1774 to November, 1874, printed For The Thoop, By Hallowell & Co, Philadelphia, PA, 1874, Pg 71-74.

On the morning of the twentieth, requisition for ammunition, tents, &c., was made upon the State Government, and promptly complied with, and orders were received to proceed by rail to Gettysburg. After a delay of four hours, transportation was furnished, and in half an hour afterwards the horses, wagons, equipments and men were in the cars. Much to the regret of the Company, Sergeant Maher was compelled by sickness to return to Philadelphia.

The Troop reached Gettysburg at 4 o’clock the next morning, and immediately disembarked, in the midst of a violent rain storm, and after coffee had been prepared and enjoyed by the men, the Command was mounted and marched into the town, when without much ceremony it quartered itself at the McClellan House; the horses in the stables and the men in the hay loft over them. The Company reported to Major Granville O. Haller, of the Seventh United States Infantry, who was in command of this post at the time. He at once ordered a detail of ten men to reconnoitre in the direction of Chambersburg. This party, under command of Cornet Randall, fell in with some of the enemy and captured three of their number. In the chase preceding the capture, private White’s horse becoming unruly dashed him against a tree and broke his leg.

This reconnoissance established the presence of a large body of the enemy between Williamsport and Chambersburg, and was therefore most valuable in its results. In the afternoon of the same day a rumor reached Gettysburg that a large body of the enemy were advancing from the direction of Fairfield, which lies a few miles south-west of Gettysburg. The remainder of the Troop, under First Sergeant Rogers, was ordered out to reconnoitre.

The detachment was accompanied by Captain Robert Bell and a squad of local cavalry from the Company under his command, as well as by Major Haller. About one mile east of Fairfield the party came up to a body of about one hundred and sixty of the enemy’s mounted infantry, who were scouring the country for forage and plunder of every kind, particularly for horses, of which they were much in need. The main body of the enemy was stationed at a barn in the outskirts of the town, while detachments were out in various directions. Major Haller being satisfied with what he saw, returned in haste to Gettysburg, leaving the command with Captain Bell, who proved himself a brave, intelligent and conscientious soldier. Captain Bell, after taking necessary precautions to avoid surprise from the rear, advanced with care until within a half mile of the town, the command was then ordered to charge, which it did through the town and for more than a mile beyond, driving the enemy rapidly towards the mountain pass. Night coming on the Column was halted, and after a short stop in Fairfield, where it received many marks of kindness and loyal support, it returned to quarters.

Gettysburg at this period was so much exposed that the Troop wagons were sent to Oxford, in the direction of York, so as to avoid their capture in case of a sudden advance of the enemy. At this time privates Conover and Welsh were detailed as orderlies to Major Haller.

On the afternoon of the twenty-second, a detachment was sent out scouting in the direction of Cashtown, which returned at midnight. During the afternoon of the twenty-third, the Troop accompanied by Major Charles McLean Knox of the 9th New York Cavalry, operating with the army of the Potomac, was ordered to move rapidly toward Cashtown on the Chambersburg Turnpike, in order to intercept a body of the enemy which had been seen moving across that road an hour or two before. The Troop reached Cashtown, a distance of eight miles, after a sharp gallop, and it there ascertained that the enemy was some distance above that point near a tavern called Moonshours, in Newman’s Gap of the South Mountain. Darkness coming on, a picket guard of ten men under Sergeant Brown was stationed at Cashtown while the rest of the Command returned to Gettysburg where it arrived after 9 o’clock. The order to unsaddle had hardly been obeyed when ” boots and saddles” was again sounded, and the men remained up all night, momentarily expecting to see their pickets driven in.

Detachments of the Troop patroled all the roads leading in the direction of the enemy, and those remaining at quarters kept their horses, saddled day and night. The wagons having been sent to the rear as before stated, the men were largely dependent upon the patriotic kindness of the citizens of Gettysburg, who were unremitting in their generous attention, and it was never too late or early for them to have ready a meal for the Troopers on their return from scout or picket duty. Their sympathy and kind offices will ever be gratefully remembered.

The Troop was kept on continuous duty, no member obtaining more than four or five hours sleep in the twenty-four, and this rest frequently broken by orders to “saddle up.” For several nights the only rest obtained by the men was that got while lying in front of their horses, bridle in hand, ready to mount at a moments warning.

 

14th Virginia Cavalry Raiding Horses at Monterey Pass

From the Richmond Dispatch, April 5, 1896, Diary of Lieutenant Hermann Schuricht, of the Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry.

June 18th.—My company on picket, and I am officer of the day. Nothing of the enemy.

June 19th.—The company was ordered to Waynesborough, Pa., to capture horses and cattle in the neighborhood for our army. A powerful thunder-storm surprised us at night, and we took refuge on a large farm. The proprietor was obliged to furnish us with rations for ourselves and our horses.

June 20th.—We succeeded in capturing a number of horses and some cattle. At noon we came to the farm of an old Pennsylvania German. He was scared to death at catching sight of us, and shouted ‘O mein Gott, die rebels!’ I soon reassured him, telling him that no harm should result to him if he furnished us with a dinner and rations for our horses, and we were well cared for. A Federal cavalry regiment passed in sight of the place, fortunately not discovering our presence, and I concluded to march with my command to Lestersburg, Md., where the citizens furnished us with supper. We camped for the night in an open field, midway between Lestersburg and Hagerstown.

June 21st and 22d.—The 14th Virginia Cavalry Regiment readvanced towards Chambersburg, Pa., but Co. D, in charge of Captain Moorman and Major Bryan, of Rhodes’ Division, was detailed to proceed to the South Mountain to capture horses, of which about 2,000 had been taken there by farmers and industrial establishments to hiding places. We again passed through Lestersburg and then entered on the mountain region. It proved to be a very dangerous section for cavalry movements. At 1 o’clock at night we came to Use’s Iron-Works. Mr. Use, upon demand, furnished provisions, but as we discovered on the following days, secretly informed the farmers and troops of our approach.

The 9th New York Cavalry At Monterey Pass Before Gettysburg

Cheney, Newel. History of the ninth regiment, New York volunteer cavalry War of 1861 to 1865, Poland Center, N. Y. I90I. Pg. 100-102

Sunday June 28, Buford’s Division crossed the Catoctin range to Jefferson and marched thence to Middletown. The 9th N. Y. moved on about a mile beyond Middletown for picket duty that night. After entering Maryland some of the people along the route of march showed much enthusiastic loyalty in waving the Stars and Stripes and bringing refreshments to the men. At a picket post of the regiment at Miller’s Mill west of Middletown eleven Confederate prisoners captured at Hagerstown were brought in. A citizen from Frederick City also passed. He had been with his horses away north of Chambersburg, Pa., to keep them from the Confederates. He reported that he had seen nearly the whole of the Confederate army pass through Chambersburg. Ewell’s Corps was in the advance, Hill’s corps next, then Longstreet’s. He counted eighty-six pieces of artillery. The Confederates were taking all available supplies. They crossed the Potomac at Williamsport.

June 29, Gamble’s and Devin’s brigades of Buford’s Division marched westwardly across South Mountain to Boonsboro, thence north through Cavetown to Smithburg, thence east over South Mountain by way of Monterey Springs and bivouacked on the eastern slope of the mountain, making a long march of about forty miles. Merritt’s brigade of Buford’s Division moved from Middletown to Mechanicstown. It was learned that a large Confederate column of infantry had passed through Boonsboro about a week before and moved by way of Waynesboro toward Chambersburg. As the long column of Buford’s brigades passed, the people were enthusiastic in their greetings and expressions of satisfaction at the approach of the Union army. The first large National flag was displayed at the little village of Mount Pleasant north of Boonsboro, Md. It was spread out in front of a dwelling as if just brought from concealment. One old man stood beside the road near Monterey Springs, with his hat off and tears streaming down his face. As the column passed the men cheered him heartily. At Monterey, some of the officers called and got a well served supper of bread, butter, ham, apple-butter and coffee.

Tuesday, June 30. Buford’s column moved early, the men being called up at 3 a. m., intending to take the road by way of Fairfield, but encountering a strong outpost of the enemy who was in considerable force at Fairfield, and not wishing to bring on a battle there, Buford turned to the right toward Emmittsburg where the I Corps was found and
thence took the Emmittsburg road to Gettysburg.