THE 7TH PENNSYLVANIA
ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND.
DECEMBER 1861-MARCH 1862
After the return and muster out of the three month regiments a majority of men from Schuylkill County would sign enlistment papers for regiments that were being raised for three years, such as the 96th P.V.I recruited in Pottsville and the 48th P.V.I. another Schuylkill County regiment. What compelled the men to enlist again and in different regiments has been well documented in letters and diaries. Some men enlisted for patriotic reasons others for the chance to prove themselves a man, a taste for excitement and adventure, to get away from the poverty of their home towns, especially in the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Francis Reed never outwardly stated what his reasons for enlisting were but I am sure that coming from a small community like Port Carbon were the war fever was high certainly had its effect. Sometime in late November Francis Reed and his friend Henry. H. Snyder traveled to Harrisburg in search of a regiment to enlist in. They arrived at Camp Curtin and planned to enlist in a regiment that a friend was a Lieutenant in. Finding it not too their taste they moved on to Camp Cameron ,located about a mile east of Harrisburg and found a newly formed company of prospective cavalry men being lead by Capt. Charles C. McCormick and under the command of Col. George C. Wynkoop a fellow Schuylkill Countian..
Authorization for the raising of the 7th Regiment was granted in July of 1861, under the care of William B. Sipes of Philadelphia . At the same time George C. Wynkoop, of Pottsville who had served as a Col. During the Mexican war was also authorized to raise a regiment of Cavalry. Lacking any military experience Mr. Sipes was ordered to turn over the companies that he raised over to Col. Wynkoop and on the 21st of August the regiment was formed. On the 26th of August the regiment moved to Camp Cameron, east of Harrisburg, Pa. Between the 26th of August and the 20th of November 12 companies were mustered into United States service.
The first two letters of Francis Reed while in the service of the 7th Pa. Cavalry are recorded from Camp Cameron, Harrisburg, Pa. While at Camp Cameron the men were first supplied with shelter and blankets and some camp equipage. While at this camp the men would also be given their first physical examination of which any rejection was very low.
Harrisburg December 3, 1861.
Knowing you are anxious to here from me I now take this opertunity to write a few lines before going to camp. So far I have not been in camp yet. Harry and I have been staying in town. We have left Lute I. W. Rank and we are going into Wynekoop’s Cavelery Regiment. The regiment Luite Rank belongs to is nothing but raw Irish. The officers of the companies all drink excepting one captain and two lutints. The officers have no controle over their men. The men are fighting all the time, half of the regiment have eather black eyes or cut heads. The first night they were in town 19 were put in the lock up by the police as soon as Harry and I saw what the regiment was composed of we were sick so we would not go along with them. Camp next day but waited a few day there thinking there might be better we whent to the camp to see them but they were the same old party yet
If we would have been half an hour sooner yesterday morning we would have got in General Anderson body gaurd but we did not find the captain till the cars started of he said it was then to late to make arrangements. Now we are going Captain McCormick he is of Tiago County, the two Lutens are from Berks county the non comisioned officers are not yet appointed I think I will yet be able to get a Sargency in that company, I am accuaitnted with the Adjuat and two of the Majors of the regement who promised to use their influance for me. Chaplan is a fine young man a Methesdist from the Baltimore Conference, I have been introduced to him by Capt. McCormick but do not recolet his name. Harry Whent to Lancaster this morning he will be back on Friday maby he will come up ther before he comes back to camp . I am going to camp this afternoon to stay, if you see D.D. Bauns or James Henderson and they still entertain a notion of going the army tell them to come on they can’t find a nicer sett of men than in this regement. A great many church members and all are moral young men. The swearing is tolerable in camp it is reported in town that Wyankop regiment will leave here Munday or Friday, McCormick think it will not leave here Munday. When we do leave we go down to Frankfort Ky. Where we get our horses.
I will be able to give more of the camp life in a few days. I shud like to here from you but we may move before a letter could come from home. If you do write direct in the care of Capt. McCormick Wynekops Cavelry regement. My best respects Mr. Laurence, Mrs. Matesen and fred And Phoeby.
I remain your son,
F.W. Reed ( signed)
Camp C , December 9, 1861.
It is with pleasure I Acknowledge the recept of a letter from you on Saturday. I was glad to here you all enjoying good health. Today all is bustle in camp the difrent companies are getting there sabers . In all the streets squads are standing practicing the difrent cuts that must be learened by the cavelry man, some whoe brofess to be a little posted in sword exersise are giving instruction to others that arte yet unlearned. The carbines are expected to day . Our company is filling up fast, to day 15 men are coming in our company, the Col. Sayed this morning we would go from here some time between this and Thursday next. We go on rail road till Pitsburg. When we take our horses and go on to Cincanata on horse back, that will be a rather long ride for green hand. I think there will be some sick boys before we get to are destination. Yesterday was the 1st Sunday I spent in camp the chaplain of the regiment preached a good sermon from St. Johns the 14th Chap 24th verse. He is a good preacher, the whole regemet formed into a square, he stood in the center on a box. When we get our [uniforms] I will send my [Likeness} home by express. The weather is very warm the last few days, we are walking about in our shirt sleaves. Our camp is very healthy we have no sick. Harry and I are right well, Harry was up in [Tamaqua} last Thursday night, he whent up in the morning and came down at 3 oclock at night he had no time or he would have come to Port Carbon. My best respect to Mr. And Mrs. Geutemier, Mr. Sesinger, Mrs. Matisen and friends.
Mr. Laurence ile give you some of my adventures when I get down amont the canebreaks of old Kentucky.
On the 18th of December 1861 the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry was issued its first stand of colors, given to the regiment by Governor Andrew Curtin, in front of the State Capitol. The 7th was the first regiment to leave Harrisburg for the western theater. On the morning of the 19th the regiment departed Harrisburg by train and headed for Pittsburgh.
The regiment arrived in Pittsburgh on the evening of the 19th being meet by a committee of the local Christian Commission, apparently this left no impression upon Reed because he made no mention of it to his parents. The next day the regiment marched to the loading wharf for their loading on board seven steamboats for their journey west. The names of the boats which transported the regiment are, the steamboat, “Commercial” Capt. George W. Near, the steamboat “Shenango “ , Capt. Samuel B. French, the steamboat “ Sir William Wallace “ Capt. Hugh Campbell, the steamboat “ Angl Saxon” Capt. Robert Dalzell the steamboat “ Prima Donna” Capt. George D. Moore, the steamboat “Denmark” Capt. J.J. Robinson and the steamboat “ Moderator : Captained by W. Haslett.
The steamboats were commissioned to transport the entire regiment and horses and all equipment, with baggage and forage for the horses paying for all expenses and furnish full crews and officers from the Port of Pittsburgh , Penna. To the Port of Louisville, Ky. There was also an agreement that the officers of the seventh would be furnished with cabin passage. Non commissioned officers, musicians, privates and laundress with servants with cabin accommodations, with facilities for cooking on deck with fuel included. All the camp equipage and horse equipment’s and horses were all on board the steamboats when the regiment arrived at the wharves. The order also included the following terms, that said steamboats will proceed from Port to Port with out stopping except to take on fuel and unless ordered to do so by officer in command, and will not take on passengers or freight and shall stay with in hailing distance of each other. The steamboats will be paid by the Quartermaster U.S. Army one thousand dollars each on presentation of contract. On the 20th the regiment boarded the boats, company L was assigned to the Sir. William Wallace and set way for Louisville, Ky. At one point on the voyage Capt. C.C. McCormick noted that one of the horses fell overboard, when they got him on board again he was covered in ice, and he detailed a few men to rub him down so as to keep him warm. On the morning of the 26th the regiment arrived at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
As a small note it is recorded that on debarking form the boats the 7th made a spectacle of themselves while trying to mount horses there horses who had been corralled on board a boat for over a week and were wild with anxiety. The men having no experience with horses, mules and wagons went into camp in a wild crazy frenzy.
The first letter from the field would come on January 12th, seventeen days after arriving in Indiana, and Reed sheds no light on the journey west.
Camp Crittenden, January 12, 1862
Dear Father and Mother,
Yours of the 3rd came to hand, and I was glad to here from you and that you were all well. I am right well at present and hope these few lines may find you same. The weather down by us is very mild like April with us up there. The grass seems to be coming out it is awful mudy, the mud is six inches deep. It is almost most impossible for us to get along, the horses have it very hard they have to lay out in all kinds of weather and no covering . I was very glad to here that the divisin was going to have a lecture and the cause is still alive. Fore here we have some awfull examples of disapatins, men drunk , Harry Snyder and I would like to participate in the pleasures. Dr. Bowers better stay where he is, his desire to join us is only talk. If he waits [he will get] a letter from me, hel never join the army. Danial Paul and Garret have both wrote home a few days ago. They are both well and desire to be rembered to you. You need not trouble yourself to send eny[ ] for we do not know what day we may move, for we are under marching orders for the last week. I think it very small of any person to go around and cackle and crow over one who was worn out and [ ] and standing guard. I know the person who is circulating that report. It is Michael Weavel he knows well that it is not so for I was up before he was nearer than twelve steps. But I was laying down on the ground and would maby have been asleep if he would have come 5 or 10 minuts later. It was when we marched from Martinsburg to Bunker Hill, I had been on guard all night at Martinsburg. Then marched 17 miles than whent out on picket duty, it was the 1st time that I was so overcome. If I would have been asleep he would have had me court marshaled. But you need not be concerned about me now I am so situated that I need not be on guard duty. I need not be out my tent after candle light on duty. And Wednesday I expect to have it better from than I have had it so far. Our regiment has been devided into battalions and each battalion must have an Adudant, and QuarterMaster Sergeant. I have been appointed Quarter Master sergeant of the third battalion, I will give up my position to morrow as Quater Master of our company and Wednesday I am notified to report myself for duty. Fish of Pottsville is Quatermaster of the 3rd batalion and Dr. Warfield, Col. Wynkoops son in law is our Ajudant. Harry Snyder, we are trying to make him Quater Master of the company. I received the 3 postage stamps and was very glad to get them. I will leave some of the folks pay for letters, but some I must pay, you will oblige me by sending me three or four more and when you write, always send me a few . I also recevied the two papers, I would be very glad to get some of our Schuylkill Count papers whenever you can get a hold of one. I am very glad that both Fry is improving and hope he will soon be well altogether. I was sorry when that beauty was dead. It will be time enough when I come home to start a famile of my own. We have plenty to live off, fresh beef two in five days. Fresh bread three days in five, coffe three times a day, port salt or bacon three times in five days, crackers, rice, beans, sugar, potatoes, onions, pepper and salt and everything that is good. But I must close as it is getting late, with my best respects to Mr. W.H. Laurence, Mrs. Mattsen, Bob Turner and [ ] Fry. H. Snyder sends his respect to you and Mr. Laurence and to Hillapasses.
I remain your son,
(signed) F.W. Reed
According to a member of the Seventh who went by the Pen name “ 7th Penna. Cavalry”, he wrote “ The regiment made a fine display while passing through Louisville, and was highly complimented by the inhabitants, for their gentlemanly appearance. I must say that in the large number of men, there was not one intoxicated “. During the march to Bardstown the regiment was subjected to many hardships due to exposure on their marches. Many of the men became sick. By the end of the month over two hundred men were left in hospitals in Bardstown and Louisville. The spring rains created some of the most miserable conditions imaginable for men and horses. As Reed describes some days the march was so hard they could only travel one or two miles at a time.
When they finally reached Camp Thomas the regiment spent the remainder of the month in training both mounted and dismounted. According to Charles Dornblazer co Company E, “ The day was literally crowded with calls to duty from revile to tattoo. The forenoon was occupied in sword exercise and company drill, the afternoon in battalion and regimental drill, under command of Major Wynkoop . Any one failing to turn out on drill or dress parade without a doctors permit was without trial, at once remitted to the guard house.”
Camp Thomas , February 1st 1862.
Dear Father and Mother,
Yours of Jan 18th came to hand and I was happy to here from you, and to here that you were all well. I shall always write to you when ever I can. Since my last letter we have marched a considerable distance towards secession. We are now encamp at Bartstown Ky we were four days coming to this camp from Louisville. We only marched 16 miles a day. We expect to move here in a few days but what direction. Some say to Cumberland and some say to Bowling Green. The men from this part of the country are all in Gen. Buckners Army. The people as we passed along looked daggers at us. They don’t favor Union mutch. But it is not mutch wonder for their husbands and sons are there. A person having friends there cannot be blamed for sympathising with them. We have the awfulest weather here that ever I saw, we have rain every day, the 1st day that we marched we had rain that was impossiable for us to march to this plase, it rained from the time we started tell we got here every one of us were wett to the skin, and no change to put on, and the ground was so wett that we could not lay down all night. To day we got ourself some straw to sleep on which will make us more comfortable as long as we stay, which will only be a few days at the farthes.
My wages are only seventeen dolls a month. But I only drew 13 dolls for the month of December. In about six week we will be paid for two months which I will send home. I have not been giving my money away for eny unneccary trifles, but there was some thing which were very necessary for me to have and it straped me clean. When I do get paid Ill send it all home within two or three dollars.
Yesterday Harry Snyder was taken to the hospital at Bartstown, Harry has been very poorly for the three weeks, but would not consent to go to the docter till he could not stand it weny longer. I read this letter to him and he whiched to be kindly remembered to you and Mr. Laurence and friends and Hillajasses. I could not fined out from the doctir what was the matter with him, but I think all the boys think that he has consumption, he looks so and has a very hollow cough, he has no pain but is very weak noty able to walk hardly. If we stay here to Sunday Robert Huntzinger are going to town to see him.
Thomas Rickerts our regimental Quater Master and ranks as 1st Luitenent and receives ten doll a month more pay than a Luitenent. Than he has a chance to make about 10 thousand dollar a year. Of the men and Uncle Sam his duties are laborous he has to get transportation when required, has to get provisen forage for horses, wood and everything that is required, but he has nothing to say in the regement.
I still read my bible and pray as usual which I wilnot give up. We have not had eny preaching sence we left Harrisburg. The weather has been so unpleasant that the minister could not preach. As we have no tent large enough to whold the men. I did write top Mr. Freed and to [ ] Turner some time ago and will write as asoonas I can again.
To Mr. Laurence I will write soon and give some news and a little of the news of camp as they occur. [ ] The day before we left camp Critenden one man had his head shaved before the whole regement than lead through the camp without a hat and that put out side of the guards .
I was bery glad to here that Bob had got well, but I guess the small pox have not had the effect to make him hid his face. But I must close for this time with my love to you all, to Charles Dav and Emlia, my best respects to Mr. Laurence and all the friends. Direct your next letter to Bardstown Kt. I did not get the papers yet, But I supose they wil be here tomorrow, I receved the postage stamp.
I remain your respectfully
( signed ) F.W. Reed
PS I shall not write eny thing but what is true as far as I know.
Lieut. Bernard Reilley of Company F stated that the regiment was progressing very fast in becoming the best drilled regiment in the division. Francis Reed states in his letter that the turkey he was enjoying was bought by a member of his company, Reilley although claimed, “ Our boys generally lived high along the road, as soon as a the tents were pitched, they would make for the pigs, poultry of known Secesh and I pitied the poor porker that was running loose, for he certainly would be in the haversack of a hungry Pennsylvanian the next morning.”
Camp Thomas, February 3, 1862
Dear Father and Mother.
It is with pleasure that I now write to you to let you know how I am coming onin camp. I am right well now. Harry has been sick for some time, he was taken to the hospital at Bardstown. Since he has been taken out there I have not heard from him, but think he’s getting better or I should have heard from him. The weather continues to be very unplesent with us. Today was to have been inspectun. But it has been so bad that so far the inspectun was postponed. Today I was helping to finish up a turkey which one of the boiys in the company bought. Game is very cheap. Stufed turkeys that weigh 6 or 7 pounds for 40 cts. As long as the money last we live good. When that is all we fall back to the old style.
Enclosed is an allotment roll with which you will draw my wages at the military relief board of Schuylkill county. I think about the first of March. We get our pay the last of Febuary. At least sowe expect. I recceivced a letter fom Uncle Emanuel last week, he is right well. I also got a letter from Mrs. West, they all which to be rembered to you. I must close writing, Love to you. All my best respect to Mr. W.H. Laurnece and Mrs Guterman.
I remain your son.
(Signed) F.W. Reed
On the 1st of March 1862 the regiment arrived in Munfordsville, some foragers of company L and K would have their first skirmish with the enemy. Francis gives an interesting description of the town of Munfordsville in his March 6th, letter. The regiment marched on the 13th of March and arrived at Bowling Green, then visited Nashville on the 17th and camped on the outskirts of the town a place they called Camp Worth on March 22. When marching through Nashville the regiment presented a fine sight, over seven hundred strong in columns of fours, with sabers drawn. The March through Kentucky took over 50 days and now the Seventh Regiment was on its way to the heart of the war in the West, Tennessee.
The city of Mundfordsville left a lasting impression on all the soldiers, Capt. C.C. McCormick, Company L in a letter to his sister stated, “ I only wish you could see the place and country, Around here we begin to see the horrors of war. The desolation it leaves behind.
Our camp is on a hill near the town. We can see for two or three miles in different directions, there is scarcely a fence to be seen any where, even the yard fences about the houses are, or have been torn down. Beautiful groves have been moun down, entrenchment’s thrown up etc. The dead horses of the Texas Rangers are still lying on the ground. I rode over the battle ground and saw where the Rangers attempted to charge on our men but were driven back, leaving quite a number of dead horses in their tracks.”
Mundfordsvill, March 6th, 1862
Dear Father and Mother,
My last I wrote to you from the hospital. I told you that I should be out the next day as we are going to march. We have come to Munfordsvill at last. It took us 7 days to march 40 miles the last 4 days of our march we could only make two and three miles on account of the mud. The last day of our march we had to carry the tents, stoves, camp kettles and provision on the horses. It was imposiable to get their teams along the wagons would sink into the mud up to their axels, sometimes they had to hitch eight and ten mule on one team.
Our team and some 14 others did not get into camp till 24 hours after the regement. I and the teamster had good quarters in a farm house, good super and breakfast, Munfordsvil, I read so mutch of the plase I thought that it was a large plase and Green river I thought was a river like the Ohio. But I was very much disapointed when I first saw the town of Munfordsvill. There is a log court house, one story high, sherif office, one shanty with a sighn on a post in front of the house, Union Hotel, 5 private shaties all of which are now used as hospitals. With all the stables and out buildings and farm houses near it is said that two thousand sick are in and around Munfordsvile. The sight is awfull some look as though as if they were dead, while others are flighty and some sighing to be home or some kind hand to sooth their aching brow, but are near here. We dont expect to stay long at this plase very long when we go the next march I cant say some thing that we go towards the missipici river, down to the gulf and around that way home. We expect to at home about September. Green river is a creek like mile creek. I saw the ground where thay had a small skirmish with the sesses accros the river in a big woods.
I saw Harry Snyder a Bardstown, he is improving asnd is expected to join regement at this place. I am right well now again, Dan Paul is well so is Garhart. I must close with my love to you and all friends. Direct your nrext letter to Munfordsvile Harts County Kentucky.
From your son
(signed ) Francis
The Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry was armed with a variety of different types of weapons throughout their term of service. Company L was armed with the Smith Carbine, and the Savage Army which fired a 36 caliber ball, also their ordnance returns for the month of December show the company receiving Colts pattern 36 caliber Navy revolvers. There were also a number of Adams Cal. 44 pistols issued to the company. And all me in the company carried the model 1840 saber, better known as the “ Old Wrist Breaker”.
March 24th, 1862
Twenty six miles down the river. The second battalion leaves to morrow morning where they are going is not known. We expect to be sent off soon in some direction. Day before yesterday we were put into Gen. Neglys Briggade yesterday we recieved our pistols they are quite a fancy article, Colts Paten revolver six shooter. We are all proud with them, and are anxious to get rid of those detesteable muskets that we have.
We are closing the enemy in to a small plase now I dont think it wilkl be very long till this war will be brought to a close. It was rumored through camp that Jeff Davis had committed suicide but its not generaly creditid. We have smal skirmishis within 4 and 5 miles of our camp, once in while. Morgan is a kind of a partizan warrier, he has no organized Army but goes around 30 or 50 men and where ever he can catch a team or a few men, he falls on them and takes them A few days ago he burned two small ferry boats and tore up a piece of rail road and took 5 wagons loaded with provision for the 77 Penny regements then was a party sent out imediatly in persuite, they got 4 wagons and took six of his men prisoners.
He came into the city of Nashvill so disquised and gets all information that he wants, then goes out a gain a day or two ago. One of our captain was arrested on suspisin of being Morgan. Yesterday Morgan made one of the boldest dashes that I have heard off. He come out of the city a few miles fromthe city, he met a telegraph opporater, he got into conversaten with. Morgan he asked him what he would do if he met Morgan. I would shoot him like a dog, well then you better do it, for I am the man. And [ brought } out a pistole at the same time, and marched the man off, but he escaped the next day. Again the city is infested with a lot of secesionist who make a practice of shooting guards through the night. They carried it on so long and got so bold that General Bull threatened to burn the city if that should be repeated again. But I must close with these few lines. We have no mail here regular but expeck to have in a few days. Direct your letters to Nashvill whenyou write, I send this penny by a Lutenent who is going home not able to stand the preasure. We have not receved eny pay yet nor do we know when we will getr any, are pay rolls are not made out yet. The allotment rolls I sent home I supose will not do you eny good as Rob Henry tryed and fatrher wrote to him that they refuse to pay any of Wynkoop Regement. I am very sorry that it isso for I dont know what to do with my money when we get paid, for it is not safe to send it by mail express. This is [ ] safe in this part of the country. Give my best respect to you, Mr. Laurence, Mr. Matsen, P. May and famlie to Mr. G Guertemeir and to all inquiring friends.
Your Obedient son,