Military Encampments in Waynesboro Before the American Civil War

When you search through old newspapers, or web sites such as the “Valley of the Shadow,” it never ceases to amaze me what you will find. I love reading the stories, editorials, and the news of the day from times gone by. Going through some of the Waynesboro items, I ran into a series of stories that caught my eye, driving me in search of more information.

On June 1st, 1859, the Franklin Repository reported that an encampment had occurred. The story details several units that encamped nearby in Franklin County and it also notes the number of men in each outfit and any artillery they had with them.

On June 8th, 1859, the Valley Spirit ran an in depth article on the four day military encampment which began on May 31st and ended on June 3rd. The main story read: “The Military Encampment held at this place, and which commenced on Tuesday week last, continued until Friday forenoon, when it was broken up and the soldiery assembled returned to their homes, and our town once more resumed its wanted quiet. The companies in attendance presented a handsome appearance and are not surpassed by any in the State for correct discipline, and the accuracy with which they perform all military evolutions. The encampment throughout was well conducted and all its arrangements were in strict conformity with the laws and regulations prescribed for camp duty. We saw much that we would like to praise but it might seem invidious in us to draw distinctions where all looked well, behaved well, and performed their duty well. The companies present, we have no doubt, profited much by their instructions and experience in the duties of camp life, while they socially enjoyed themselves in a delightful manner, and contributed greatly to the gratification of the immense crowds assembled to witness the display.”

The following officers and companies were in attendance:
Brigadier General David Detrich, Brigade Inspector J. McCurdy, Colonel F. S. Stumbaugh, and Major R. W. McAllen

The companies and officers present:

St. Thomas Artillery from St. Thomas, numbering 40 men
Captain James G. Elder
1st Lieutenant Jacob West
1st Lieutenant, Junior, D. W. Dixon
2nd Lieutenant A. H. Stump

National Guard, numbering 40 men
Captain W.W. Sellers
First Lieutenant J.B. Sausom
Second Lieutenant D.L. McNulty

Washington Blues from Harrisonville, Fulton County, numbering 57 men, the largest on the ground
Captain James C. Austin
1st Lieutenant D. H. Betz
2nd Lieutenant David L. Michaels
3rd Lieutenant Michael Miller

Greencastle Light Infantry from Greencastle, numbering 30 men
Captain Joseph Stickle
1st Lieutenant Edgar Washabaugh
2nd Lieutenant A. Kreitzer

Washington Blues from Fannetsburg, numbering 40 men
Captain Samuel Walker
1st Lieutenant John Walker
2nd Lieutenant Jno. H. Witherow

Wayne Rifles from Waynesboro, numbering 30 men
Captain J. H. Clayton
1st Lieutenant George J. Balsley
2nd Lieutenant Emanuel Defendaffer

Union Guards from Mercersburg, numbering 40 men
Captain F. Winger
1st Lieutenant Thomas McAfee
2nd Lieutenant E. Hammill

Light Dragoons from Chambersburg, numbering 40 men
Captain C. T. Campbell
1st Lieutenant K. S. Taylor
2nd Lieutenant C. C. Folts

Chambers Artillery from Chambersburg, numbering 50 men
Captain F. S. Stumbaugh
1st Lieutenant P. B. Housum
1st Lieutenant, Junior, Matthew Gillan
2nd Lieutenant Calvin Duncan

A year later on June 6th, 1860, the Franklin Repository reported another military encampment that had taken place near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. The story read: “Seven companies of Volunteers began an encampment last week at Camp Antietam near Waynesboro.” However the story only listed six companies in attendance and those companies are as follows:

The Union Horse Guards of Mercersburg
Captain McAfee
1st Lieutenant Hamel
2nd Lieutenant Boyd

Light Infantry of Greencastle
Captain Strickler
1st Lieutenant Kreitzer
2nd Lieutenant Riley

Chambers Artillery of Chambersburg
Captain Housum
1st Lieutenant Doebler
1st Lieutenant, Junior, Gillan
2nd Lieutenant Miles

St. Thomas Artillery of St. Thomas
Captain Elder
1st Lieutenant West
1st Lieutenant, Junior, Montgomery
2nd Lieutenant Stump

Washington Blues of Fannetsburg
Captain Walker
1st Lieutenant McCurdy
2nd Lieutenant Witherow
Quarter Master Barclay

Wayne Rifles of Waynesboro
Captain Crouse
1st Lieutenant Diffendarfer
2nd Lieutenant Washabaugh
Quarter Master Rhoyual

I can’t help but wonder, what were these companies doing here in 1859 and 1860? Were they preparing for a war that they knew was inevitable? How did the citizens of the area receive them, with jubilation or with disdain? Did they passionately believe in the causes that was leading them to war or were they simply defending their homeland? As a historian, these are the answers that I seek. Keep checking back, as more will be posted on this topic as new information is uncovered.

The Wayne Rifles were known as the Cornstalk Company due to the lack of muskets that were available to the men who were drilling in the School of the Soldier, with cornstalks being used in the place of muskets. This name was derived from the Mexican War period to the late 1850’s. Ted Alexander and I are in agreement that the Wayne Rifles may very well be the Waynesboro Sharpshooters that mustered into service as Company E, of the 126th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

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