Monday, July 14, 2008

7th Pennsylvania Cavalry He Fell In A Glorious Cause The Francis Reed Letters

Lieut. Francis W. Reed




Francis William Reed





Francis William Reed, Orderly Sergeant of company L, 3rd Bat, 7th Pa. Cavalry, who was recently killed at the battle of Duck River, Tenn. Was the son of Obediah Reed, of Port Carbon, in this county, in the 24th year of his age and unmarried.
Immediately after the bombardment of Fort Sumter by the Southern traitors and rebels, Mr. Reed was one of the first patriotic young men of Port Carbon who enlisted in Capt. ( Now Col. ) Sigfried’s company, and served faithfully during the three months service. Soon thereafter he joined the 7th Penna. Cavalry, although he was not in very good health at the time, remarking, that being a young man it was his bounden duty to go to war and defend the flag of his country, and if in the order of providence he should fall, he could not die a more glorious death, and as long as he saw old gray haired men shouldering the musket in defense of our liberties he could not bear the idea of remaining at home.
Sergeant Reed was a sober, moral, intelligent, honest strictly religious young man, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Port Carbon, a brave soldier, highly esteemed by all who new him, and his death at the hands of the enemies of his country, is deeply mourned by his companions in the army, and a large circle of friends and relatives. His remains were interred near the battle field-Peace to the gallant young hero’s ashes.

Francis W. Reed was born in the year 1839 to Obediah and Catherine Reed of Port Carbon, Pa. He was the oldest of four children. Charles born in 1842, David born in 1853, Thomas born in 1862 and Emily born in 1859 Charles was born mentally handicapped and had to be taken care of by the family. Francis worked as a carpenter in his fathers business up until his enlistment in the army in 1861. His parents were Dutch and spoke very little English. When Francis enlisted in the Army his farther Obediah had to sell l out the family business because the labor and work depended upon Frank. Obediah sold his business for 240 acres of land in Minnesota. Frank told his father that he should look for a piece of property in the local area and he would help his father on his return home from the Army.
At 4 a.m. on April 12th 1861 the bombardment of Fort Sumter by Confederate artillery was begun. And the start of the American Civil War, American killing American. It was feared by the Federal Government that confederate forces would march on Washington. President Lincoln immediately issued a proclamation and the call for 75, 000 troops to defend the Capital for a period of three months.
The call went out to every loyal state and every village and city responded with the utmost of patriotism. In Schuylkill County the news of the bombing of fort Sumter was taken with the greatest of alarm and the patriotic fever swept over the whole county. On April 15th the presidents proclamation was received by the officials and on April 17th the two old militia companies of Schuylkill County numbering 250 men were ready to march to Harrisburg and then on to Washington were they would write their name in history as two of the five companies that were first to arrive in that city in defense of the government and would forever be known as the First Defenders.
As the war fever spread throughout the county new companies of volunteers were being raised daily. Their compliments were rapidly filled by old gray haired men and young boys who were immediately rejected because of their age and were only taking the young volunteer. Flag raising ceremonies were held daily in every little patch town or village or larger city. Citizens were forming organizations that were going to take in donations for the help of families that a father or son who was serving. The women of Schuylkill formed various Ladies Aid Societies, for the help and comfort of the soldier boys.
It is with this patriotic fever that Francis W. Reed felt compelled to join with 76 men in the local company being raised in Port Carbon, Pa. The Marion Rifles. Led by Captain J. K. Sigfried. Port Carbon would have the proud distinction of having the most men serve per capita in any other town in the United States during the Civil War. The Marion Rifles were immediately heralded into the newly formed 6th Pennsylvania volunteer Infantry regiment and signed up for a tour of duty for three months. The 6th regiment moved to Harrisburg by way off the rail road and rendezvoused there on the 22 April at Camp Curtin. The men were mustered, by companies into the service of the United States for a period of three months. By 9 p.m. the regiment was on the move once again and proceeded to Philadelphia. Their first taste of military duty came with a guard detail of the Baltimore Rail Depot. The men drilled and had regimental parades both in the morning and evening. On the 7th of May the regiment was split up and the different companies were assigned guard duties along the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore railroad.
On the 28th of May the regiment was reassigned to the Brigade of Col. George H. Thomas. On June 5th the men were readying themselves for another toward Greencastle. At six o’clock the next morning the Brigade moved and settled into camp.
This is were the Francis Reed story begins, with the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment at Greencastle Pa, with a letter to his parents in Port Carbon Schuylkill County Pa. And will end with one of the most gallant and heroic charges ever made by a cavalry regiment in the American Civil War, the Seventh Pennsylvania’s charge through Shelbyville Tenn. June 27, 1863.

Authors note: A lot of the spelling errors within the letters are left in to give authenticity to the way Reed wrote.

Earlier I had published a post dealing with the Charge of the 7th at Shelbyville Tenn. In June of 1863. This is the complete look at Francis Reeds letters from the time he was in the early war 6th Pennsylvania Infantry until hs death at Shelbyville Tenn.
These letters were transcribed from copies at Schuylkill County Historical Society and some I found in Reeds personal files at the National Archives.

Chapter 1.

The 6th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry



Green Castle, June 7, 1861

Dear Father and Mother,
Yours by J.B. Sesinger came to hand and I haste to answer by the same person, I am right well never enjoyed better health than I do now, I also received your cakes and my pantaloons, and the needle case from Miss Phoebe Freed, I can not write it on paper how happy it makes me feel to get something from home. My best respects and sincere thanks to Miss Pheobe for her present. It comes very handy to a soldier to have something of that kind about him. The cakes I share out to the boys in our mess and gave some to the officers and Mr. Sessinger and Holder for their super and breakfast, the pantaloons I put on this morning to go down to town. The Captain gave to Paul and James Glaspel and myself a pass to come down town. We came down to the entrance of the town then were stopped by the gard as the Captain did not give us a pass to go into town. No soldier is allowed to go around town without a pass from his Captain, if he does get slip past the guard he will be arrested by the patrol gaurd that goes all through town, I am writing this letter on the door step of a house, while James Gelaspie has gone back to get a pass from the Captain. Charles Paul is lying under a shade tree taking a snoos. The boys are all in good spirits. Mr. Holan and Mr. Sessinger can tell can tell you all the particulars better than I can write them to you, Mr. Holder sleep in the tent with George last night. We were all very happy to see our Port Carbon friends. I should have been very glad to see you here father. You woulda have seen nice sight if you woulda have come along. A splendid country and the soldiers are worth a great deal to see. I wrote you a letter from Chambersburg and mentioned that I only received one letter with postage stamp on, I have not secured any letter from Mr. W. H. Lawrence , but have looked continuously for one but all in vain so far. I write a letter about every week Mr. Shaple and Seleghman have more time to write than I have I am a regular cook, all the time and that keeps me busy. I will bring all my things home that I have, if I can, ----------is right well at present, nothing the matter with him, only wishes the three months were up. Then he says he will never play soldier again. Mr. May sends his best respects to you and all and Mr. W.H. Lawrence. I have wrote several letters to Mrs. West and also invited her to Port Carbon when I come home and she has excepted my invitation to come. I read my bible pages as much as I have time every day. I am glad you remember me in your prayers. Still continue to pray for us all for all need the prayers of the neighbors more to sustain us. Tell Mr. McQuade I do not know exactly wether our prayers had made eny inpisen on him particular, Sam is right smart and the tales told up then about him are not true. He has been sober and conducted himself like a man since we left home as far as I know of. I should like very much to see Emlia also David and Charles . It is only six weeks more tillour time is up than if God spairs our lives we will return home and all and never again play soldiers. Mrs. West in her last letter wished to be remembered to you and Mrs. Turner. While writing this Daniel Paul and I are inmates of the Gaurd House in Green Castle. But you must not for the moment think that we did anything bad to merit this. I will tell you the whole for I suppose there will be some that will make a tale out of it, as stated before James Gelaspie, whent back Lieut. McWeand came along he gave C. Paul and I a pass which we thought would do, we walked down town with him to the Franklin House where he steped in and we passed on. We had not left him three minutes before we were arested by the Captain of the day, we showed him our pass, but he said a pass from the Lieutenet would not do so we went for half an hour when an officer came around and told Charles and I to sneek out of town by the back road we did and arrived at camp safe. Then we all had a jolly laugh over our adventure but we will not risk to go to town without a good pass.
No more at present, I remain your son
F.W. Reed

Direct your letters
Greencastle Franklin
County Pennsylvania.

On June 8th in a letter to the Pottsville Miners Journal William W. Potts a Lt. In the Nagle Guards gave a description of what the daily life in the regiment was like.

June 8th. We have thrown out a picket guard some 6 miles in front of us, to prevent a sudden attack in case the enemy should feel disposed. Our camp is visited daily by thousands of strangers who came from every direction, some of them many miles.

June 9th. There is no Sunday for a soldier there duty being the same as on the other days, which is revile at half past four, company drill at 5, surgeons call at 6 breakfast at 7, regimental parade at 8 guard mounting at 9 inspection at 11, dinner at 12, target practice and company drill at 3 p.m. regimental parade at half past 6 tattoo and roll call at half past 9 and taps at 10 o’clock, which finishes the day.

June 10th, Nothing of interest here today but visits still on the increase

June 11th, This morning the Rhode Island Regiment with their battery of rifled cannon passed here and went into camp about a mile below us. They join and complete our brigade

On June 15t the regiment advanced and crossed the Potomac river, the regiment went into camp near the town of Williamsport, from where the enemy cavalry was visible on the opposite shore.
Francis writes home about his further adventures in the army and the seeing of many new sights.

The camp Falling Waters, June 17th, 1861.

Dear Mother and Father,
It is with the greates of pleasure that I now haste to write to you a few lines to inform you that I am still well enjoying very good health. Since my last we have traveled over considerable country, at present we are in Virginia at a place called Falling Water. About ten miles from Martinsburg. So far we have not had any engagement with the enemy but this morning our picket gaurd that is stationed about 4 miles in advance of our army were chased in by the Secessuals and our army was drawn up in the battle array for the first time. Since we are out the Secessonest did not come up to our main army but we expects before many days to have a battle. Our boys are confident of victory and they were very anxious to go and meet the enemy. All the members in our company are all right well and in very good spirits. This morning James Kane, William Shaple and myself whent over to Col. Leigh House. It is quite deserted, he is commander in Chief of the Virginia forces and left his house with all his famile and his negros last week for Richmond. This Afternoon C. Paul, Joseph Selighman went over again. In the morning the Germans of the 23d Regiment whent over brock open the doors in the house and cleaned it of everything they could get, in the shape of bread wine of which there were large quantities stored away in the pantry and also hams of which there must have been 5 hoggsheads, I have got a few small relicks which I will bring home from his house if I come home again. I have also got the likeness of Lieut. William Cunnigham Commander of a large body of cavelry in the Secessinest Army, he with his father and their families only left the night before we come here, they left their blacks behind them. The blacks say there is a grand change in Virginia. The time was when the blacks run away from the whites but now the whites run away from the blacks. We expect to follow up the secesinest perty smart. I often read account of the Patomack river but last Sunday I saw it for the first time. It would have been amusing to you to see us forde the Patomack the water whent about up on the middle of the men they had to put their guns on their heads but they all thought it sport to wade through the famous river. It took us from eight o’clock till after six o’clock in the evening before the whole army had crossed over. I was licky I got a chance to ride across the river in an old bataux, I received a letter from B.T. Fry and also from Bob Lumer but I had no time to answer them ever since that time we have been moving not staying at one place more than over night. I do not know when I will be able to answer them now for we are now in swamp country and the only way we have of mailing letters now is to send them by teamsters who go back to get provisions, as all mail communications are cut off from this old Dominion, but my best respects to them both I will try and write to you as often as I possible can I also intend to writing Mrs West soon and I have an idee of inviting her to Port Carbon about the time our company comes back to old Port, if you will fetch her from the depot with horse and carrage at Pottsville or maybe one of her girls may come for they want to come up in old Schuylkill county . Father please send Mr. And Mrs. West and daughter a invitation to come up about the 1st of July and spend the warm months there. Mr. West I dont think can leave his business but Mrs. West and daughter can come up there I would be very happy to see them their when I come home. You can get Mr. Lawrence to write your letter for you, tell Mr. Lawerence if I get time I want to give him a long letter, a full account of our crossing the Patomac and some of my scouting expeditions in old Viriginia, with all the flurishings and also our strawberry party. I will send you a few cards that I took out of Col. Leigh House give one or so to Mr. Lawrence the rest you may give to some one else. If I come home I will have a match box for father and a silver sugar spoon for mother and a gold breast pin for Emlia and I have some other things that I got hold of. I have nothing more to write at present. My best respects to all my friends. I would like very much to see my little sister only five weeks more then we can go home if we live.

I remain your Son,
Signed F.W. Reed

If you write to me send your letter to Williamsport, Washington County Maryland there our teams go for Provision they will bring them along.

On June 30, 1861 Francis wrote an interesting letter to his family describing the daily life and times of the common soldier. Although a religious man Frank was concerned about the lack of religious devotion on Sunday, yet he adapted very good to the life of a soldier.

Camp Dounvil , June 30th, 1861

Dear Father and Mother,
Yours by one of our men came to hand. I now take this opertunity to write to you an inform you a little of the news as much as I know of. We are all well at present, and in very good spirits. We sure can not enjoy Sunday, as we would like our duties on Sunday are the same as on any other days, in the morning at 4 1/2 the revelle, at 5 breakfast, at 6 1/2 regimental parade, at 10 gaurd mounting, at 11 inspectin of knap sacks and arms, at 12 dinner at 3 company dril, 5 1/2 supper, at 6 1/2 regimental parade. At 9 the tattoo, at 10 the tapes after which all lights in the camp must be put out. Then silence reigns, in the camp, religious devotion is little thought of by military men and mutch less practiced by meny but Paul and myself often think of the prayer meeting and church. And which we could set under the sound of the gospel on Sunday. Meny of the regimints of Penn. Have chaplains with them, and have servis on Sunday. I do not know why it is that our Reg. has not been supplied with one, but religious devotion are not forgotten by us, we read our bible and also have prayer among ourselves. Yesterday Col. Nagle recived quite a lot of tracts to distribute among the soldiers. While writing the rain is pouring down in torents. And all drills are suspended while it rains. Our houses are prety good water proof. We can keep ourselves as nice and dry almost as you can in the brick house. Our accommodations for setting and writing are not as good as yours are, but we have become so accustomed to setting on the ground and using our knap sacks as writing desks, that it will be some time again after we get home to use ourselves to all the convenience, the picket gaurd came ion this morning with four prisoners, they were brot before the Col. Who sent them to Col. Thomas, who has comand of this brigade. He could not find any thing against them, they were releesed. Last Tuesday I wrote a letter to Mr. John Medlar. I did not think that we would move from that camp then for some time. I had not mailed the letter ten minutes till we got orders to march. We marched till about 11 o’clock to the camping place we are now. But expect before you get this we will be shifted again. We have receved orders to have three days provisien cooked by the time it is cooked we expect their will be orders to march. We have no idee where our next plase will be, it is reported that Gen Johnston with 15 thousand secesionests are laying oposite Williamsport on Bunkers Hill. It is quite likely their will be something done soon by Gen. Pattersons brigade. This mornig two more regiments encamped here. I suppose the whole number of soldiers laying here must be in the neighborhood of 15 thousand. The 1st Wisconcin Regement and the 11th Pennsyl Regement arrived here last night. It is not likely that so large a force would be concentrated at this plase if something was not intended to be done. We have news here that McClelelen is coming in from the west, and the western Virginians are also coming on and Butler from Norfolk. They are driving the Seceseonests before them, and if we cross the Potomak we will soon have them fenced in so they will have to show fight or give up the game. As to our futur movements we know no more than you do. But do not belive every report that you may see in the papers the most are fictions, not to be relied upon, if any our company should be unfortunate we will send you word. All report that concern our company do not believe them till you here it from one of the company. It has also been report by some in Port Carbon that we have not had enough to eat. That is not so we have plenty to eat and drink such as it is. Crackers, beef, Pork, rice, buns and coffe. It seems that some glory in circulating fals reports. I have also seen a letter that it was stated in that I had a silver snuff box and other things I did not write such things. I have a few small articles but no silver snuf box, I dint care for my part but those things come back to camp men and they all know about it, and know that I havent not got such articles than they think I write such things home. I makes one feele a little ...... to have such things poked at him. We have also heard that some one wrote home that we seen the enemy in our retreat from Virginia that was also false. We did not see the enemy but it was reported that they were in our rear. I wrote a letter to W. H. Laurance from Williamsport I have not heard wether he received it.
I should have been very glad to have been at home to diner on Sunday to eat diner with you. What we have for diner you would not call very good, crackers and beef and water but we are getting fat, I am healthier now than I have been for years at home I never was so healthy as I am now, I like the living part of soldiers life but the traveling part I do not much like, with forty pounds on my back. Mr. R. May sends his best respects to you all and to Mr. W. H. Laurence and all enquiring friends. Remember me to Charles and David and little Emelie, my best respects to Mrs. Matesen to Bob Lume and Sister Lume, Bob Fry, Mr. Medlar and Mrs. Medlar and all enquiring friends I cannot remember them all. I wrote a letter to grandfather this other day. Our time is fast drawing to close three weeks from to day we expecs to start for home. You said I should let you know two weeks before I come home, when I was coming but that is impossable for me to do for we cannot find out anything before we must march. You had better invite Mrs. West she can stay a month and longer if she wants to.
I remain your son,

F.W. Reed ( signed)

On July 1, 1861 the 6th Regiment again crossed into Virginia, marching toward the Falling Waters area, the advance of the regiment made contact with the enemy on the 2nd and a sharp skirmish took place. The regiment began a hot pursuit of the fleeing rebels until they were ordered to halt. Finally after two days the regiment went into camp at Martinsburg were they found fifty four locomotives and railroad cars destroyed by the rebels.

Martinsburg, July 9th 1861

Dear father and Mother,
Again I take the profered opertunity to write you a few lines. I wrot two letters to you in the course of the past week. But we are on the eve of moving so I thought I would write again. I have no receipts of letters to acknowledge this time, as I have not receved any, last night orders came that we were to have two days cooked provisen in our haversacks and be ready for marching this morning at 4 o’clock, but this morning the order was again countermanded on account of some New York regiments that came in yesterday they are not able to move their feet are to sore but we move tomorrow morning. Where to is not exactly known but it is suposed towards Winchester, where we expect to have a little brush with the enemy. We are satisfied that they will not stand for they are unwilling soldiers, every day deserters from the enemys camp come in. Some that came in the other day asured us that their are over one thousand soldiers that will desert or give themselves up as prisoners. We will soon have Gen. Johnston hemed in so that he cannot get out McClellan is coming from Ohio, the western Virginia are coming on him, Butler is coming in by Harpers Ferry, Gen. Patterson going by Martinsburg the only place that Gen. Johnston holds here now is Winchester.
Cooking seem somewhat to interest you. Their is generally two or more apointed to cook, for a certain time then some one els takes it. James Boyd and John Lang are doing it now. Yesterday I believe I seen all the Port Carbon boys those that did not go with the Port Carbon companies, Thomas Bull, John Bull, Edward Whirtly, Henry Huber, Thomas Bly, Alexander Smith, Abraham McIntire. Thomas Bull and Abraham McIntire and A. Smith left the city of Washington on last Sunday and came by the way of Harpers Ferry, Thomas Bull says Harpers Ferry looks foresaken the whole town nearly burnt to ashes. Gen Butler had a little engagement somewhere down that direction a few days ago their were about two hundred wagons dispatched from here to go and bring some grain and flour that we had taken.
The grain in this part of Virginia seem to be very good the farmers since we come are reeping as fast as they can, but the men are scarce. Their is a great deal of grain in the valley between here and Williamsport, that is distroyed, while encamped at Hainsville we took sheaves of wheat to sleep on.
I was very glad to here that the ladies had a notion of coming to meet us at Harrisburg. May be will not get to Harrisburg some think that we will go to Harpers ferry and from their we have only one mile to the Phila and Willminton and Baltimore R.R. from thense to Phila where we would get our discharge. I dont think that we will be able to let you know when we come home to the day, for some regiments that have only eight days to serve yet have been sent on from Lancaster Co. Pa. Yesterday. Since we have left Williamsport I have not slept in a tent we only have four tents to each company. They are for knap sacks and ammunition and guns, we take our blankets an lay out on the hill, we sleep very good. Yesterday it was a little unpleasant as rained tremendious. Some of the tents came near being washed away by the flood. Thro some of the tents their was a stream of water running like the stream at old Shepards. As meny as could get in the tents, the rest had to do the best they could, but such an only jokes for a soldiers getting wet and mudy is nothing when the boys were chasing the rebels on the 2nd some were mud up to their eyes almost. I do not know wheter I will be able to write any more. If I get a chance I will my best respects to Mr. Laurence tell him I am still waiting for that promised letter to Mrs. Matisen, Mr. And Mrs Medlar. Bob Fry, and sister Fumer, Rev. James McCarter preached in town last Sunday but I did not here him, he is chaplain of the 14th Penn. Regiment.

I remain your son,

F.W. Reed ( Signed)

With his time as an infantryman drawing to a close Frank wrote one more letter to his parents while still a member of the 6th Pennsylvania. On the 15th of July the 1st Brigade which the 6th was a member of was sent in pursuit of some rebel cavalry. On the 17th the whole brigade marched to Charlestown, and the regiment encamped on the spot were John Brown hung. Their term of service expired and the regiment was mustered out with a stiring speech from General Patterson. After one week of marching the regiment was paid and mustered out of United States service on July 26, 1861 having served for 109 days.

Charlestown Virginia, July 18, 1861

Dear Mother and Father,
I receved your letter yesterday morning about 4 o’clock in the morning just as we were ready to march to Winchester as we thought, but after marching about 1/4 mile we soon found out we were not going towards Winchester. A report came that the rebs had burnt down the town and were retreating towards Richmon, this morning the report is confermed in regard tot he burning of Winchester by the rebs our whole divisun of the army is now at this place, to cut off their retreat by Harers Ferry. We are only 8 miles from Harpers Ferry. From this position where we are now we have a good view of the field were Gov. Wise hung John Brown. The hole is also to be seen on the prison where Cook made his escape. The people of this place are all secesunests the female part of the [population are very insulting to our soldiers, the 17th regiment got one cannon 4 box muskets that where in a house when a secesun company had for a drill room. A lady in town took out a large secessun flag shook it in the face of some of the soldiers and said that was the right flag. The flag was taken from her and taken to General Patterson. Capt. Doubleday also took a secesion it was on a pole. When he was taking it down the man of the house asked him what it was about, the Capt. Told him he wanted that flag, he said you have no buisness with it at the same time pushing him away with his hands. The Capt. Caught him by the throat and pitched him over a fence and took down the flag it was torn to pieces by his men. He has the man in prison now. This morning we have orders again to have two days privision cooked and be ready to march at a moments notice, without any baggage. Where to we have no idee. But it is suposed to some point up towards Winchest to cut off the retreat of the enimy we all expected that. To day would march to Harpers Ferry and lay their until our time is up but I do not think that we will get their now for a day or two. The 25th regiments time is up today, some of the men say their Col. Has their discharge in his pocket, they expect to go to Washington this afternoon and from their go home. Their is a little talk of us going around to the city of Washington and from their to Phila or Harrisburg to be discharged, as to when we start for home, no one can say we are kept ignorant of all things. We find out nothing till we get orders to go. Then we never find out were we are going till we are almost to the plase. We would all like to shut of Jeff Daivs before we come home, if Gen. Johnson will be taken I think the war will almost be over, but it will be necessary to keep a standing Army in diferant parts of the state of Virginia to keep the hot heads down.
Mr. Philip May is right well he wants you to tell his folks that he will be home with the compoany as soon as they come. He sends his respects to you all and to Mr. Laurence.
I will close by sending my best respects to you all to Mrs. W.H. Laurence, Mrs. Matisen and all Inquiring friends.

I still remain your son,

F.W. Reed ( signed)

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