< J. Cougher Bio
Bates, vol. V, p. 1147
Pennsylvania. Legislature (Bates). History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. 5 vols. Harrisburg:
State Printer, 1870.
THE rebel army had no sooner achieved its triumph
in the second battle of Bull Run, than it hastened northward, and commenced crossing the Potomac. The
southern border of Pennsylvania lay in close proximity, all unprotected, and by its rich harvests invited
The Reserve Corps which was originally organized for the State
defense, had been called away to the succor of the hard pressed
army of McClellan upon the Peninsula, and was now upon the
weary march, with ranks sadly thinned in the hard fought
battles of Mechaniceville, Gaines' Mill' Charles City Cross
Roads, and the second Bull Run, to again meet the foe, but
powerless to avert the threatened danger.
The result of the struggle on the plains of Manassas, was no
sooner known, than the helpless condition of the State, which
had been apparent from the first, became a subject of alarm.
On the 4th of September, Governor Curtin issued a proclamation,
calling on the people to arm, and prepare for defense. He
recommended the immediate formation of companies and regiments
throughout the Commonwealth, and, for the purpose of drill and
instruction, that after three P. M., of each day, all business
houses be closed.
On the 10th, the danger having become imminent, the enemy being already in Maryland, he issued a general
order, calling on all able bodied men to enroll immediately for the defense of the State, and to hold
themselves in readiness to march upon an hour's notice; to select officers, to provide themselves with
such arms as could be obtained, with sixty rounds of ammunition to the man, tendering arms to such as
had none, and promising that they should be held for service, for such time only as the pressing exigency
for State defense should continue.
On the following day, acting under authority of the President of the United States, the Governor called
for fifty thousand men, directing them to report by telegraph for orders to move, and adding that further
calls would be made as the exigencies should require.
The people everywhere flew to arms, and moved promptly to the State Capital. One regiment and eight
companies were sent forward during the night of the 12th, and others followed as fast as they could be
On the 14th, the head of the Army of the Potomac met the enemy at South Mountain, and hurled him back
through its passes, and on the evening of the 16th, and day of the 17th, a fierce battle was fought at
In the meantime, the militia had rapidly concentrated at Hagerstown and Chambersburg, and General John
F. Reynolds, who was at the time commanding a corps in the Army of the Potomac, had assumed command.
Fifteen thousand men were pushed forward to Hagerstown and Boonsboro, and a portion of them stood in
line of battle in close proximity to the field, in readiness to advance, while the fierce fighting was
Ten thousand more were posted in the vicinity of Greencastle and Chambersburg, and "about twenty
thousand," says Governor Curtin, in his annual message, " were at Harrisburg, on their way to
Harrisburg, or in readiness and waiting for transportation to proceed thither.
The Twenty-fifth regiment, under command of Colonel Dechert, at the request of General Halleck, was
sent to the State of Delaware, to guard the Dupont Powder Mills, whence the National armies were principally
But the enemy was defeated at Antietam, and retreated in confusion across the Potomac. The emergency
having passed, the militia regiments were ordered to return to Harrisburg, and in accordance with the
conditions on which they had been called into service, they were, on the 24th, mustered out and disbanded.
The train on which the Twentieth regiment was returning over the Cumberland Valley Road, collided,
when nearing Harrisburg, with one passing in the opposite direction, by which four men were killed and
In a letter addressed to Governor Curtin, by General McClellan, thanking him for his energetic action
in calling out the militia, and placing them in the field, the General adds; "Fortunately, circumstances
rendered it impossible for the enemy to set foot upon the soil of Pennsylvania, but the moral support
rendered to my army by your action, was none the less mighty. In the name of my army, and for myself,
I again tender to you our acknowledgments for your patriotic course. The manner in which the people of
Pennsylvania responded to your call, and hastened to the defense of their frontier, no doubt exercised
a great influence upon the enemy."
In an order issued by Governor Bradford, of Maryland, soon after the battle, he says: "To Governor
Curtin, of Pennsylvania, and the militia of his State, who rallied with such alacrity at the first symptoms
of an invasion, our warmest thanks are also due. The readiness with which they crossed the border, and
took their stand beside the Maryland brigade, shows that the border is, in all respects, but an ideal
line, and that in such a cause as now unites us, Pennsylvania and Maryland are but one."