Saturday, February 27, 2010


Private Washington Artillery (Co. H, 25th Penna. Infantry) April 18, 1861; honorably discharged July 29, 1861.
Second Lieutenant 48th Penna. Infantry October 1, 1861; First Lieutenant May 5, 1862 ; Captain June 2, 1862 ; Major June 10, 1864 ; honorably mustered out October 1, 1864.
This article was taken from Pennsylvania MOLLUS
Major Oliver C. Bosbyshell

Military Essays and Recollections.
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States

A Speech Given By Major Oliver C. Bosbyshell
Major Oliver Bosbyshell a Schuylkill Countian who shook the hand of Lincoln.

In the year 2012 we will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. As most civil war scholars know Schuylkill County had two of the first five companies to go to the defense of the Union on April 18, 1861. On that date Bosbyshell along with all the members of the five companies of First Defenders got to shake the hand of President Lincoln.
The two companies from Schuylkill County are The Washington Artillersits and the National Light Infantry. Bosbyshell was a member of the Washington Artillerists.

Oliver Bosbyshell was a member of the famed Washington Artillerists, one of the first companies to arrive in Washington on April 18, 1861.

For more information on Major Bosbyshell go to John Hoptak's Blog on the 48th P.V.I.


I was always interested in politics, long before I was a voter. My immediate surroundings and influences were strongly "native American." My initial presidential vote was cast in the Fall of '60, and it is very certain that I was deeply interested months before in the campaign. To have followed the leaning of those whose opinions I treasured, would have carried me into the ranks of the Bell and Everett Party, but as a young man with eyes wide open, watching the current of events, and with ears absorbing the new views sweeping over the country, I read and studied Mr. Lincoln's great speech delivered to young men in the Cooper Institute, New York City. That speech settled my views, and I became an ardent " wide awake," marching and shouting, night after night, through the valleys and over the hills and mountains of Schuylkill Co., Penna., whooping it up with all my might, with the banner of the irresistible Lincoln at the fore. That was a campaign, more like the war following it, than any of its successors, as broken heads, skinned faces and shins and bruised bodies from assaults of sticks and stones hurled by the enemy fully attested. Having carried the " wide awake " lamp through many dangers to elevate Lincoln to the Presidency, what more logical conclusion than at the first call of this great man for volunteers to resist an attempt to overthrow the Government, I should exchange my lamp for a musket and assist in the maintenance of the Government. What a stir that first call for 75,000 men made through the Nation ! It reverberated amidst the mountains of my old home and before its echoes died away, over two hundred men were marching through the streets of Pottsville in response, and as many more answered from Berks, Union and Lehigh. Mustered into the United States Service as volunteer soldiers of the Republic, at the Northern Central Railway Station in Harrisburg, on the morning of the 1Sth of April, 1861, 530 Peunsylvanians boarded cattle cars, hastily fitted up with rough board seats, and the journey to Washington began. It is needless to recite the thrilling march through the streets of Baltimore, where disloyal crowds heaped insults upon the heads of these men and hurled sticks and stones into their ranks. Suffice it to say, as the " shades of night were falling," these First Defenders arrived at the Capital. Under cover of the darkness, no doubt purposely intended, as the journey had been needlessly delayed, the men detrained and marched into the Capitol Building, where all were quartered. These Pennsylvanians arrived in the nick of time to frustrate designs about to be carried out that very night, in the seizure by those disloyal of many of the public buildings and government offices. Our own John W. Forney spread the news of this arrival through the corridors of Willard's Hotel, and being anxious to make the most of it added an additional naught to the sum, saying 5,000 Pennsylvania soldiers had arrived, when 500 was the figure, but the mantle of night had shielded the

First Defenders Medal

arrival, so that numbers could not be known. The good old Washington Artillerists were quartered in the rooms from which the ladies' gallery of the Senate chamber was entered, and here, that same evening, April 18th, 1861, came President Abraham Lincoln, to thank the men for their prompt response to the call for troops. Imagine the scene, Companions—here were a lot of sturdy young fellows, suddenly called upon to don the uniform of soldiers, many of whom had never been out of sight of the mountains of their state, spread out upon the hard marble floors of the Capitol of the Nation, in an effort to secure some rest from the fatiguing journey just completed, when every man is brought to his feet by the announcement of the presence of the one man in the United States each one most desired to see—the honored Chieftain of the Nation, Abraham Lincoln. Profound silence for a moment resulted, broken by the hand clapping and cheers of the tired volunteers. Yes, here, towering over all in the room, was the great central figure of the war. I remember how I was impressed by the kindliness of his face and awkward hanging of his arms and legs, his apparent bashfulness in the presence of these first soldiers of the Republic, and with it all a grave, rather mournful bearing in his attitude. Accompanying the President, in fact his guide and inspirer of the visit, was our own State's great citizen, Simon Cameron, Secretary of War. He was highly elated and proud to introduce Mr. Lincoln to the soldier boys of his own Commonwealth, who had outstripped all others in reaching the Capital. The President's words were few, but earnest and impressive; he welcomed them most heartily and expressed his great relief and satisfaction at their presence. He then passed along the ranks shaking the hand of each and every one of the men, retiring quietly to visit others of the command. A kind of awe seemed to come over the boys, and many for the first time realized the peril brought upon the Nation—the close contact with the man at the nelm was more than the satisfaction of personal curiosity, it was a kind of baptism of responsibilities, heretofore unheeded, a revelation of a state of profound seriousness in the solving of which each one listening to the great leader's words, felt personally called upon to do his best. The man's presence, his simple charming manner, his plain earnest words, in fact his whole attitude, took away all feeling of a three months' picnic and stamped the movement with a gravity befitting the beginning of a great strife.

Lincoln At Antietam

The sanguinary battle of Antietam had been fought, and the 9th Army Corps was encamped about the Antietam Iron Works, near the junction of the creek with the Potomac River. The President of ,the United States was to review McClellan's Command, and great were the preparations therefor. The President desired to visit each camp and it was noised about that he was coming. I remember well that ride through our camp—we were alongside of the 4th U. S. Battery, and here between the two camps came a long array of mounted officers and orderlies, conspicuous amidst which was the long, lank form of Mr. Lincoln, clad in sombre black, a tall beaver hat, with a broad band of crepe around it, covering his head. It was querried then, and we never found out why, that the President should have been given so small a horse to ride, his legs almost touched the ground, and riding beside so majestic a figure as General Burnside and other officers of high rank, our worthy President d,id not present a very dignified appearance. It is no wonder that a red headed
Irishman of the 4th U. S. Artillery, hastily summoned from his tent on the announcement of the approach of the President, should have given vent to his disgust, when he saw this uncouth figure ambling along on the diminutive beast, by the utterance of two words unfit to write, and drop back into his shelter. Eighteen months of care and worry had left its .impress upon the good man's countenance. There was no mirthful twinkle in the eye and heavy lines marked the wasted features of his face. The ride and all he saw may have been interesting to Mr. Lincoln, but no outward sign was visible in the look we had of him as he passed slowly on.
In the Spring of 1864, the 9th Army Corps rendezvoused at Annapolis, Md., where a reorganization took place by reason of the veteranizing of the regiments in the command. The time came for its return to the Army of the Potomac, and on the 24th of April, 1864, the march to Washington began.
The Corps had four divisions, a division of eight large regiments of colored troops having been added to it during its recruiting stay at Annapolis, so the movement of so great a body of troops, the commands fully recruited to their maximum strength, attracted much attention around Washington, and its passage through the city was to be an event of no small importance. It became known that the President himself would review the Corps as it passed through. This caused the men to burnish up their arms and accoutrements and give themselves as fine an appearance as possible. The long and tiresome march through the city on the 25th of April tested the endurance of the command to the uttermost, and many a pair of sore feet resulted therefrom. We entered the city at New York Avenue and thence on to Fourteenth Street, adown which we wended our way over the Long Bridge into Virginia once more. On a portico on the second story of the Fourteenth Street side of the old Willard Hotel stood President Lincoln beside Major-General Burnside, the idol of the 9th Corps. I shall never forget the appearance of the President, he was much changed—three years of war had left its trace across his face. He was, if possible, thinner than ever, and stood a gaunt figure, whose raiment of black hung loosely about his bony shoulders and arms, whilst his countenance was shrunken and pale as death itself. His eyes were lustreless, and whilst apparently observing the moving troops below, they seemed not to see. It looked as though a corpse was propped up on the balcony instead of a solid flesh and blood man. The contrast between the commanding figure of Burnside was most marked, and as we gazed at the two men, sympathy profound welded forth to the great man bearing the burden of a Nation in the throes of war. It was my last look at the martyred President, and I am sure he was no ghastlier in his coffin.

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