"In the summer of 1861, the raising of regiments and companies
was going on and we were watching and looking for the best
organization to join. About August 1st. the Ex-Governor of Maryland
procured permission from the government to recruit a Brigade of three
regiments of infantry and a Battalion of Cavalry for service along the
Potomac for the protection along the borders of Maryland and
Pennsylvania. Consequently Old Captain John Horner recruited a company
of Cavalry from Adams County and from the vicinity of Emmitsburg in
Maryland. Thinking this would be a nice and easy organization to
belong to and we would never get very far from home, Captain Horner
soon had his company ready to be mustered in. The scene of parting
from parents and sisters comes vividly before my eyes today. It was a
trying moment. Everybody had some little gift for us that we might
possibly need for comfort. I remember one article called a "Housewife"
filled with pins, needles, buttons, etc. With many kisses and "God
Bless You" we left Gettysburg in several large farm wagons for
Emmitsburg. The last lady I remember kissing was Mrs. Soleme Welty,
mother of Mrs. Dr. McKnight. We stayed at Emmitsburg a while and with
the additional recruits from that town we started for Frederick where,
the next day, we were examined by doctor to see if we were all right
physically and after that we were sworn I to the United States
Military Service and we were full fledged soldiers.
We went into camp in the old fair grounds which enclosed the old
Military Barracks which are still standing, but used now as a
hospital. We did not have our uniforms yet or tents, but we slept very
comfortably in the horse stalls around the fair grounds. All we had to
do for a long time was drill and do some guard duty. We had not drawn
our horses yet but were very anxious to get them. Finally there was a
detail made out of a certain number of men from each company to go to
Washington for our horses. We were to that we would go to Washington
fey rail and draw our horses, saddles and bridles and ride on our
horses back, but instead of going on the train we had to walk more
than fifty miles from Frederick to Washington. That was an experience
I will never forget. We were so worn out when we got to Washington
that many of us could not stand on our feet. After resting a day or so
and going through the great Capitol building, which was a Wonderful
sight to boys who were never more than ten miles away from home, we
were finally marched out to the corral where there were thousands of
horses and mules, some running loose and some tied with rope halters."
William McIlhenny, Cole's Cavalry Company C
"After being in camp of instruction at Frederick, Md., until
about the middle of December, 1861, we were put on duty. I enlisted
with the understanding that I was to be 2nd Bugler. Max J. Coble, a
very fine musician, and a particular friend of mine, was to be 1st
Bugler. I had never seen a Bugle, and did not know any more about
blowing the calls on one than I did of making bean soup, and did not
care whether I got the position or not. I always loved the pomp and
funs of soldiery, and where I got to camp it would have taken a young
regiment to have driven me away. I never thought of the hardships,
vicissitudes, destruction, suffering and death, all of which are
present during war, and doubly increased in all civil wars.
I was extremely fond of the Drill. All of
us were green in that line, I had taken lessons in Gettysburg from
other soldiers there. We created a sensation, as it was new and rather
fantastic; movements quick and many difficult. Our lady visitors were
delighted with maneuvers, and I had as many interested spectators as
the Dress parades, but this was not cavalry drill.
I spent my leisure time in reading the
tactics on cavalry drill; I soon mastered the initial maneuvers, and
although it was not a part of my duty, I would drill a squad of the
new recruits, after regular drill, in cavalry on foot. (We did not
have horses yet).
By the 1st of November we had all our arms,
swords, revolvers and carbines, and at the same time our horses and
horse equipment came, I tell you it was a lot of stuff to take car of
- 25 to 30 thousand dollars worth. We were in the saddle every day and
made good use of our time, and I must acknowledge that I devoted much
more time to studying the drill book than the bugle calls, and often
was in consultation with the officers, who, I feel honored in saying,
accepted my instructions.
During our stay at the old U.S. Government
Barrack at Frederick we had plenty of fun, along with our drilling.
Military tactics was not the only tactics practiced there. The many
lovely maidens of the city and vicinity did not pay us daily visits
entirely for naught. I can recall a number of marriages that can
easily be traced to these daily visits, also many acquaintances that
ripened into very kind and good friends. I made one myself that lasted
all through the war, and so far as I know. although the lady is
married is as friendly now as then, "but every rose has its thorn".
Our 1st Lieut. John Motter Annan was
accidentally shot through the head and killed, by his best friend, J.
Wallace Morring of Emmitsburg. A private of Company "B" from
Clearspring, shot his nephew dead while instructing him in guard duty.
In less than sixty days the Uncle's hair was white as snow caused by
Our brigade was allowed to select their own
commissioned officers by ballot. After the death of Lieutenant John M.
Annan, an election was held in our company to fill the vacancy. My
having been successful in giving instructions in drill, made me a
prominent candidate, even before Lieutenant John M. Annan was buried.
I felt grieved and compelled by friends to wait. To tell it all, I
only wanted to be a soldier, office had no allurements for me, and
perhaps I would have refused positively to stand, but a majority of
our company insisted that I must, and the other candidates, eight in
number combined and one or two of them misrepresented me."
Captain Albert Hunter, Cole's Cavalry, Company C
"Frederick, Maryland, Dec.10  There are three Brigades
encamped within three miles of this city viz: Gen. Abercrombie's east;
Gen Hamilton's south east, (and Perkins Battery nearby) Gen William's
Brigade west, at the edge of the mountains. All the camps are
abundantly supplied with pure mountain water. The First Regiment of
the Home Brigade moved their tents last week, and are now encamped two
miles north of the Barracks on the farm of Mr. Worman. There are
between 12 and 13 thousand men in and around the city.
Heavy cannonading was heard here today in the direction of
Harper's Ferry. We are getting quite expert at our drill horses are
being trained quite rapidly. In a few weeks we expect to get our new
uniforms from the Government. No doubt Uncle Sam intends giving us a
"Christmas Gift". We have no swords yet, but will get them in a few
days. Business in the city is very brisk. The glorious old Flag is
flying from all public buildings and also from many private
residences. Gen Banks has been ill for a few days, but he is
considered better." Corporal Joseph H.C. Wills
"Camp Conocheague, Dec.23,  We are now within sight of the
Rebel pickets, one mile west of Williamsport, Md., which,, by the way
is a town of considerable importance at this time, on the Potomac. The
citizens were thrown into the wildest excitement on Tuesday morning in
consequence of a report that the rebels had made their appearance, in
large numbers, at Dam No. 5. and Falling Waters intending to cross and
plunder the town. The Union troops are prepared for an attack, which
is hourly expected, at Dam No.5 or Falling Waters.
A detailed guard of 32 men, 16 of the Keystone Rangers and 16 of
the Cole Rangers, commanded by Captain COLE, and Lieuts MORRISON and
VERNON, went on a reconnoitering expedition on Friday to Dam No.5, and
while there observed a party of rebels felling trees. A round was
fired at them by our party, when they (the rebels) scattered in all
directions. On Thursday, Perkins1 Battery was engaged in shelling
Honeywood Mill, across the river, but the shells took no effect, the
distance being too great.
In the evening a party of five men from the Battery went across
and fired the mills, capturing a large number of picks, spades,
blankets and fire arms. On Friday a young man from one of the infantry
companies, bravely volunteered to go across the river, and fire a
large brick house where the Rebels have had their headquarters. There
was a large quantity of shells secreted in the house, the explosion of
which was terrifically grand.
Our camp is in a pleasant situation, at the edge of a pine
woods, one mile from the Potomac, on the Greencastle road. We have
good quarters for our horses having built barracks of saplings,
thatched with straw and pine branches. Some of the boys have very
tasty huts, built of logs, plastered with mud. We are now in a
The boys all, without an exception, express a willingness to go
into "Dixie" You may rest assured that the "Keystone Rangers" will
give a good account of themselves when they meet the Rebel hordes.
There is a number of our men carrying dispatches to and from the
different camps We enjoy excellent health, and all are in fine spirits
hoping soon to meet the enemy, and give them a warm reception."
Private Clayton, Cole's Cavalry, Company C