13th New York State National Guard during the Pennsylvania Campaign

On June 18th, 1863, the 496 men of the 13th New York State National Guard were ordered to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania during the Confederate invasion. They were commanded by Colonel John Woodward. The men were ordered to pack knapsacks and wear their grey fatigue uniform. Their grey uniform was very similar in appearance to the famous 7th New York State National Guard’s uniform. As the men marched through Brooklyn for their second campaign of the Civil War, they were hailed by its citizens. Arriving at the train depot, the men traveled in cattle cars to Philadelphia and from there to Harrisburg.

On June 20th, the 13th New York SNG arrived at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where they were mustered into U.S. military service.  By June 23rd, the 13th New York SNG began working on the defenses of FortWashington. They put down their muskets and picked up axes, shovels and picks, and began clearing the woods surrounding FortWashington to prevent them from providing shelter or cover for the approaching Confederate army. As the soldiers worked on the entrenchments of Fort Washington, they saw thousands of refugees fleeing into the city in the wake of the approaching Confederates.

As the 13th New York SNG worked on the fort, their camp was located along the crown of a high hill, which overlooked the Susquehanna River. The hill sloped toward the bank of the river. The camp of the 23rd New York State National Guard was located next to the 13th SNG, and those men cut a pad into the side of the hill to level their tents. However, Colonel Woodward recalled his regiment’s camp:  “Tents are therefore uncomfortably slanting, and the men are obliged to dig their toe-nails in deep to keep themselves from sliding out of their tents at night.”

Just as many other New York National Guard regiments serving in Pennsylvania, the 13th New York SNG was viewed as the invader rather than the defenders of the city. The negative feeling that they were unskilled and inefficient soldiers was viewed by many, however, the prompt and vigorous soldiers would prove themselves as effective men during the Pennsylvania Campaign.

On June 25th, the 13th New York SNG was ordered out to Camp Crook at Fenwick, several miles from Fort Washington for picket duty. By 8:15 pm, the men were under arms with one wool blanket, and one rubber gum blanket, and had moved out of Fort Washington. By 10:30 pm, they reached their designation. They were told that General Charles Yates was engaged and getting “pounded,” but upon arrival, the general was sleeping. When he awoke, he was surprised and had no idea of what to do with another regiment. The 13th New York SNG was ordered into the cattle cars of the train and went to sleep for the night.

The next day, the men awoke with no rations. They sent out foraging parties to the local farms in the area and brought back what little food  they could find. By 11:00 am, the men were ordered to the picket line. There, they remained all day in the woods. Upon relief, they marched back to their camp, where soldiers of the 12th New York State National Guard provided them with some rations. By 4:00 pm, Colonel Woodward was ordered back to Harrisburg for supplies for his regiment. He was given six wagons, which were loaded up with rations and supplies. Due to the lack of room, he was forced to leave the regiment’s knapsacks behind. He started out for Fenwick. Upon arrival, he found his regiment back on the picket line at the edge of a wooded area.

During the night, rain had fallen and the soldiers were soaked to the bone. Tents and shelter halves were still about a mile behind the colonel, leaving the regiment exposed to the cold rain that fell during the night.

By daylight of June 27th, Colonel Woodward began issuing shelter halves to his regiment. The men made their camp in the wooded plot as the rain fell during the day. All the run-off of the rain made the area a mud hole. Colonel Woodward recalled:   “The tents improved our condition only as would an umbrella that of a man in a bath-tub with the shower-bath turned on.” To help dry out their clothes, the 13th New York SNG built bon-fires that burned all day. By 6:00 pm, the rain slacked off to a drizzle. By night fall, worn out from the day, the men quickly fell asleep, but the conditions of the ground they slept upon was much like a swamp. Sometime during the day, the wagon containing the men’s knapsacks and overcoats had arrived from Fort Washington.

By 8:00 am of the morning of the 28th, Colonel Woodward addressed his regiment for an outstanding job. Since arriving in Pennsylvania, not one man had complained. The regiment had been in a line of battle for about forty hours resting in short doses before being ordered for another task.

As the sun shined during the late morning, Colonel Woodward scouted the area while his regiment dried their clothes. The men were wearing a mix batch of their messmates clothing due to the heavy rain that fell during the day before. Once tattoo was sounded, and after cleaning themselves up, the men went into their tents for a good night’s rest.

At 11:30 pm, the 13th New York SNG was awoken and ordered to General Yates’ headquarters. The men were ordered on detach duty for the night. One company was ordered to garrison an earthwork made of railroad ties and sandbags. Two other companies were ordered to garrison an earthenwork composed of piles of rocks on a high hill commanding a back road. By 2:00 am of the 29th, Colonel Woodward and a guide was ordered out with two companies to obstruct a side road leading through Miller’s Gap, west of Harrisburg.

The march up Blue Mountain was steep and already obstructed. The tired detachment of men under Colonel Woodward was exhausted and could no longer keep up with him. Colonel Woodward ordered his men to halt while he and the guide rode ahead. The men were unable to keep up because of three nights worth of picket duty, and another assignment given by General Yates.

After halting his men and riding ahead, with no luck on finding this road through Miller’s Gap, Colonel Woodward turned to his guide and gave him “a dose” of tongue lashing. The colonel turned around and headed back to where he left his men. Upon arrival, he found the men fast asleep in the roadway. He got them up and headed back to CampFenwick, arriving there around 6:00 am. By 7:00 am, the colonel found General Yates still sleeping in his headquarters. Colonel Woodward took personal charge and responsibility of ordering his exhausted regiment back to CampCrook, Fenwick. The men spent the rest of the day resting and were left undisturbed by General Yates.

On June 30th, there were no signs of the Confederate army near, or coming to Fenwick. All the mountain gaps located along the northern tier of South Mountain and Blue Mountain, near Harrisburg, were barricaded by blasting rocks and felling trees along the roadways. For any Confederate force moving toward Harrisburg along these roads it would be a slow and tedious process. However, sounds of cannonading at Oyster Point were heard by the soldiers of the 13th New York SNG as Confederate General Albert Jenkins and his brigade of cavalry skirmished with portions of General Ewan’s brigade of militia. This Confederate force, along with General Richard Ewell’s Corps was ordered to withdraw from this area of south-central Pennsylvania and begin moving to Gettysburg, where Confederate General Robert E. Lee wanted to concentrate his army. The next day, the Battle of Gettysburg would erupt.

As the first day’s battle at Gettysburg raged, the men of the 13th New York SNG cleaned up the camp. During the day, they held company drills and ended their day with dress parade. During the afternoon, General JEB Stuart and his cavalry were in the area of Carlisle. During the evening, the Confederates sent a dispatch to General William Smith to surrender the town. General Smith refused and the Confederate artillery opened fire. However, Stuart learned that a battle near Gettysburg had erupted earlier that day, and withdrew from Carlisle after torching the barracks.

While there was Confederate activity in the area, several portions of the New York State National Guard were detailed out. At Fenwick, Colonel Woodward received orders at 11:00 pm to break camp and march back to FortWashington. By 12:30 am on July 2nd, the 13th New York SNG began their march, and by early morning reached Fort Washington. The men broke ranks and by 6:30 am, were sound asleep using the tents of the 23rd New York SNG, who were detached to Carlisle.

As morning came on July 3rd, the 13th New York SNG awoke and cleaned up their camps. Colonel Woodward anticipated that orders would be issued by nightfall to move out. During the day, he ordered Company E to detach service in light marching orders and well armed. They were to march to the railroad and protect the workers while they made repairs to the tracks.

By 11:00 pm, orders from headquarters came. They stated that the 13th New York SNG was to prepare to move out in light marching orders. The men were to carry one blanket, haversack of available rations, and their canteens. They were to be ready to move out by 2:00 am to the railroad bound for Carlisle.

The 13th New York SNG arrived in Carlisle just after 7:00 am. About five hours later, they were ordered to move through South Mountain via Mount Holly Springs. During the day, the march was easily made toward Mount Holly Springs until a terrible rainstorm blew in from the west. Soon the rain fell in torrents. The men marched a few miles and took refuge inside of a large barn. Staying there for a few moments, orders came to move on. After marching a few miles, the men took refuge in the woods surrounding the mountain. By 10:00 pm, orders to bivouac were issued and the men were forced to sleep in the muddy road as the rain fell all night. Colonel Woodward sarcastically wrote home in a letter on July 6th, “I slept very well, never better.” The rainstorm that occurred during the night of July 4th-5th, would be a topic written in great detail by the New York State National Guard in several unit histories.

The next morning on July 5th, the march resumed around 9:00 am with no rations. The march brought them to Pine Grove Forge. There they were halted and the men wasted no time in finding food. They confiscated flour from the locality there and mixed it with water. Soon after a paste was made, they baked it on their tin plates and ate that for breakfast.

At 2:00 pm, orders were issued to move out. They would take the road leading toward Bendersville and from there to Newman’s Gap, near Cashtown Gap. After a grueling five mile march, the 13th New York SNG was ordered to halt. The men took to the woods and bivouacked there for the night. During the evening, the rain again picked up, making the conditions even worse.

By 7:00 am the next morning, the 13th New York SNG was on the march. The weather had begun to clear, and the roads began to dry out. As the men marched, more and more Confederate deserters were found and taken prisoner. Colonel Woodward even escorted a few to headquarters. For being in the wilderness, cold and wet, and without any food, the men of the 13th New York SNG were in good spirits. However, Colonel Woodward recalled feeling ill since leaving Pine Grove Forge, and took time to show his feelings toward the conditions in which he was in. He wrote, “Am now well, never felt better in my life, hungry, wet as a rat; having forded a dozen streams boots hang tight to my legs, overcoat weighs fifty pounds.”  The march continued throughout the day. By 10:00 pm, a halt was ordered and the men soon fell out. They found a plot of woods and fell asleep after an exhausting day.

On the morning of July 7th, the 13th New York SNG woke up and by 8:00 am, they began a ten mile march. After marching for five miles, they came to Newman’s Gap, situated on the Chambersburg Pike. The men were given one day’s rations consisting of hardtack. Soon a steer was butchered and the men were given a meat ration to eat as well.

By 3:00 pm, the 13thNew York began their march again, descending down SouthMountain toward Caledonia and Greenwood. Once they arrived at Greenwood, they marched due south on the Waynesboro Road to Mont Alto. There, the soldiers were ordered to camp and broke ranks. The men were exhausted.

The 13th New York SNG bivouacked in the woods near the West Branch of the Antietam Creek. By 10:00 pm, the rain began to fall in torrents. The saturated ground could not hold back the water flow and soon the banks of the Antietam Creek began to overflow. It washed out fire pits and nearly drowned several sleeping members of the 13th New York SNG. Needless to say, the night was hideous and miserable.

During the morning of July 8th, the rain continued to fall until 11:00 am. By 12:00 pm, as skies began to clear, the men began to march toward Waynesboro, where the rear of the Confederate army had passed a day before. By 7:00 pm, the 13th New York SNG had made its way into Waynesboro. Once there, they were ordered to the south to establish camp on a high hill facing toward Leitersburg, Maryland and the Mason Dixon Line. The area consisted of open fields and woods. The 13thNew York, while in battle line, was supported by a battery. As they made their camp, they were located toward the rear of their division under the command of General William Smith.  It was a pleasant place for a camp.

For the next two days, the men of the 13th New York SNG remained stationary. The quartermaster arrived with their baggage. While enjoying the down time, many of the men took time to clean themselves up while others performed camp duties or looked for food. No passes were issued to any of the men to head into Waynesboro. About two miles to their front was the Antietam Creek, and the charred remains of a wooden bridge that the rearguard of Confederate army had burned. The Confederate army was only a few miles to their front near Leitersburg, Maryland.

On July 11th, the 13th New York SNG was still encamped near Waynesboro. During the day, the men received full rations for the first time since July 3rd. Up until July 11th, the men had to “beg or buy” whatever food they could find. Colonel Woodward noted that his men were in poor condition for another march. However, in the same paragraph to a letter to his father, wrote, “Health of the regiment is not good as it was, but it is not bad.”

Orders came, and by 8:00 pm, the men began to march toward Leitersburg, fording the Antietam Creek, and marching over the Mason Dixon Line.  By 10:30 pm, a halt was made near Leitersburg. The New York State National Guard would spend the night bivouacked in a clover field.

At 4:00 am, on July 12th, the 13th New York SNG was up and on the march. They counter marched back to Leitersburg and took the road leading to Cavetown. The men were rationless. During the afternoon, the skies began to show signs of bad weather moving in, and this storm was going to be severe. As the men were marching during the day, straggling became a huge issue for Colonel Woodward. Just moments before the storm hit, he recalled marching with about seventy-five of his men. The rest were located in front and in rear of the column. Seeing an open clover field with a small brook running through, Colonel Woodward ordered a halt.

Shortly, after 2:00 pm the storm hit with intense lightning, thunder, wind, and rain. Whatever soldiers Colonel Woodward had left, quickly buttoned shelter halves together and the men pitched their tents and took refuge under them. Unfortunately, that was of little use as the rain blew into the tents from the open sides, and the men quickly wrapped their rubber gum blankets around themselves and squatted on the ground trying to keep dry.

As the storm raged, the majority of the New York State National Guardsmen of General William Smith’s Division was about a half mile ahead, just outside of Cavetown. General Smith sent couriers back to Colonel Woodward and ordered him to bring up his regiment, but his regiment was scattered all about. Located in the open field were about twenty-five men. Colonel Woodward decided to wait out the storm, or at least the worst of it before concentrating his regiment and moving onward. He later found out that some of his regiment made it to Cavetown, and were “buying or stealing food.”

By early evening the storm subsided, and many of the men of the 13th New York SNG made their way into Cavetown, although their camp was located just outside of town limits. The New Yorkers saw few secessionists, and many of the New Yorkers were “growling” about their treatment. “Darn militia are not worth anything anyhow” wrote Colonel Woodward during his experience there. In the same letter to his father, Colonel Woodward recalled: “However, it does seem hard to make as many sacrifices as we have and then, when here, to be snubbed and maltreated. The three-years’ troops who are all here have everything.” It seemed as the colonel began to force blame onto Cavetown for the malnourished troops under his command.

Upon leaving Waynesboro, another issue came into play. The men carried everything in their knapsacks strung upon their backs during these long grueling marches and counter marches. They carried a canteen and eating utensils in their haversacks with no rations in them. The lack of food began to break down discipline. During the evening as Colonel Woodward waited out the storm, he noted that the lack of camp guards allowed the men to come and go as freely as they pleased.

Colonel Woodward also penned about his brigade commander General Joseph Knipe. The colonel seems to take up issue, as did many other New Yorkers under the brigade commander’s command. Colonel Woodward even saw General Knipe strike down a teamster upon the wagon. Colonel Woodward noted that General Kinpe had some sort of grudge against the New Yorkers. He had threatened to give them hell, and Colonel Woodward, as well as other New York regimental commanders, all agreed that he had succeeded. As night came, with the ground being wet, and the soldiers cold from being wet, they began to tear down the worm fences for firewood.

By 8:00 am on July 13th, the men of the 13thNew York began their march to Boonsboro. Rain, again, fell during the day. The men halted between Boonsboro and Cavetown, and went into camp. They built fires anticipating rations being issued, but none came.

By 6:00 pm, the 13th New York SNG was ordered, along with its brigade, to march to Boonsboro. By 10:00 pm, the men halted a short distance beyond town and made their camp in an open “stony” field. As the men looked upon the area, they quickly realized that they were surrounded by the campfires of the veteran soldiers of the Army of the Potomac.

The next morning, the 13th New York SNG was issued small portions of beef and one barrel of flour. By 11:00 am, General Knipe’s brigade was on the march, heading toward Hagerstown. Soon orders came to halt the column. By early evening, Colonel Woodward heard that the Confederate army had made its escape across the Potomac River. As the evening wore on, rumors of the draft riots in New York were heard and the men began anticipating orders for a return to their home state.

Early in the morning on July 15th, all New York State National Guardsmen serving in the Army of the Potomac were ordered to march to Frederick, Maryland at once. The 13th New York SNG began marching toward SouthMountain, and crossed at Turner’s Gap into MiddletownValley. From there, they would march through Middletown, and up, and over the CatoctinMountain at Braddock’s Gap to enter Frederick in the late evening. There, they were ordered to Monocacy Junction, where they would bivouac for the night.

The next morning, the men waited on the train that would take them to Baltimore, Maryland, and then homeward bound. By the 17th of July, the men were in Baltimore and waited for the train to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By July 21st, the men were officially mustered out of U.S. military service, ending their campaign in Pennsylvania and Maryland.


Kennedy, Elijah, R. John B. Woodward, a biographical memoir, by Elijah R. Kennedy. New York: De Vinne Press, 1897.


The Thirty Days Campaign; New Yorkers Defending the Keystone and the Old Line State, Part Two

3f03825vAs the Battle of Gettysburg raged for three days, the New York State National Guard continued to guard and picket the various networks of roads and mountain gaps leading to Harrisburg. The units in Baltimore kept up their efforts of escorting Confederate prisoners to Federal prison camps, and picketing the network of roads. On July 3rd, the 17th and the 84th NYSNG were the last New York National Guard regiments to enter Baltimore. The 18th NYSNG was the last regiment to enter Harrisburg. By July 3rd, nearly fourteen thousand New York State National Guardsmen were serving in Maryland and in Pennsylvania. As the day closed on July 3rd, their role in the Pennsylvania Campaign would take a heavy toll, testing each man, especially those in Pennsylvania.

On July 4th, those New York State National Guard regiments serving under General Joseph Knipe in Pennsylvania were issued marching orders. They were to move to Carlisle, and from there march directly into South Mountain via Mount Holly. That afternoon, a serve thunderstorm hit the entire area. Roads were flooded as mountain creeks rose quickly from the rain. As daylight turned into darkness, South Mountain became hideous to the extreme. The men were trying to get to Pine Grove Furnace and block the northern gaps of South Mountain preventing the retreating Confederate army from using that area.

Many men noted that in some cases they had to fell trees over creeks and try to walk over them or in between them from being swept away by the raging current. The men were soaked to the bone and by the time they reached Pine Grove, the Pennsylvania Militia had taken refuge inside the outbuildings, forcing the New Yorkers to sleep outside during the pouring rain.

Not all New York State National Guardsmen suffered as badly as those in General Knipe’s Brigade. Several regiments stayed behind at Harrisburg maintaining the forts and garrisons there. To the south at Baltimore, those regiments faired much better, as they continued to garrison the forts.

The next day, General William Smith’s Division, of which General Knipe’s Brigade was part of, was ordered to Newman’s Gap just west of Cashtown. Many bivouacked near Bendersville that night as they began to follow the South Mountain ridge toward their destination. Many of the soldiers had no rations to eat and because of the nature of the torn up roads, the quartermaster and commissary wagons were not able to keep up and were forced to lag behind.

To the south, the 7th New York State National Guard was ordered to Frederick city. The 7th New York State National Guard would eventually take over the Provost command of Frederick. Crude camps were made in the fields surrounding Monocacy Junction, and the men of the 7th New York State National Guard would picket area roads leading into the city.

By July 6th, Smith’s Division moved to Caledonia Furnace and encamped there for the night. The next morning, they were ordered to Waynesboro, PA. They marched to Mont Alto where they encamped for the night. During the day other New York State National Guard units based in Harrisburg began to move to Carlisle. From there they took the rail to Shippensburg. Arriving there at night, the men of Yates’ Brigade were ordered to march by the light of the moon toward Greenville, near Chambersburg.

At Frederick, the 7th New York State National Guard had already begun to see the advance units of the Army of the Potomac. They were hackled by the Union veterans, but for the most part, the 7th New York State National Guard would continue their picketing duties. The next day, the 7th New York State National Guard would be in charge of the Provost duties in Frederick.

As dawn came on July 8th, the New Yorkers of Smith’s Division awoke and began marching to Waynesboro. They would reach the town during the late afternoon where they just missed the rear of the Confederate army and were greeted by members of the Army of the Potomac Sixth Corps. They marched out of town on the Leitersburg Pike and made camp near the Antietam Creek, along the Mason Dixon Line. Yates’ Brigade remained stationary during the day.

The next several days, Smith’s Division picketed the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike as well as other major roads leading into Waynesboro. The men were idle in camp and were not allowed to go into Waynesboro during their down time. Several regiments of New Yorkers were ordered out to observe the retreating Confederate army as they marched toward Hagerstown.

By July 11th, Yate’s Brigade made their entrance in Chambersburg and they would encamp there until July 14th, when they were ordered to Greencastle. Smith’s Division, located along the Mason Dixon Line received orders to march toward Boonsboro. The 7th New York State National Guard in Frederick were relieved of Provost duty and continued to picket area roads leading into Frederick.

On July 12th, the New Yorkers took the turnpike that led to Smithsburg. During their march, a frightfully severe thunderstorm struck. As the men took refuge near Cavetown, lightning had struck a shelter tent of the 56th New York State National Guard, killing some and wounding others.

The next morning, the New Yorkers at Cavetown were ordered to march to Boonsboro. Throughout the day, they heard cannonading from the direction of Hagerstown and Williamsport. They reached Boonsboro late in the evening and encamped just outside of town.

On July 14th, Smith’s Division was ordered to march toward Williamsport via Beaver Creek. The soldiers within Smith’s Division heard rumors of rioting occurring in New York City due to the drafts. Yates’ Brigade marched from Chambersburg to Greencastle, where they halted. Those New York regiments located in Baltimore and Frederick were ordered to board the train and head back to New York to assist in putting down the Draft Riots.

As dawn came on the morning of July 15th, the New Yorkers in Smith’s Division were ordered to proceed at once to Frederick, Maryland. They marched through Boonsboro, and Turner’s Gap upon South Mountain. By afternoon, they reached Middletown where they crossed the Catoctin Mountain via Braddock’s Gap. By late evening, Frederick was reached. They had marched about twenty-five miles from Beaver Creek to Monocacy Junction, where many of the men dropped over from fatigue and exhaustion.

The next morning, many of the soldiers boarded the train and headed toward Baltimore. Many regiments went onto New York City, while several others headed back to Harrisburg. By mid July, the majority of those New York State National Guardsmen were mustered out of U.S. service.

Their exploits during the Pennsylvania Campaign were far from anything they had experienced before. Fast paced marches over long distances, sleeping on the cold, wet ground during severe thunderstorms. Several regiments managed to skirmish with the Confederates during the days leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg. A few men immediately began to write books about their experiences in Pennsylvania and Maryland. All wanted their story to be told, and the men themselves wanted recognition for what they contributed, in protecting the people during their thirty days’ campaign.

The Thirty Days Campaign; New Yorkers Defending the Keystone and the Old Line State

September Edition, Emmitsburg News Journal

7th2On June 15th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 100,000 militiamen to help defend Pennsylvania and Maryland during the Confederate invasion. Lincoln had asked for men from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio to serve for a period of six months, unless the threat ended sooner. However, this call would not be answered by the many able bodied men in those states. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin both appealed to New York State Governor Horatio Seymour to mobilize 20,000 soldiers of the New York State National Guard. The governor of New Jersey was also asked to send troops from its militia.

During the last two weeks of June, New York had mobilized 14,000 soldiers from twenty-six National Guard regiments. The majority of those would protect or work on the defenses of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, while other units would serve near Baltimore, Maryland. The first to leave their home state of New York was the famous 7th New York State National Guard, where they would serve under the Middle Department. Upon arriving at Philadelphia, they were ordered to Baltimore, Maryland. The 8th New York and the 71st New York Regiments of the National Guard were the first New York soldiers to ender into Harrisburg.

Upon arriving at Harrisburg, the New Yorkers were amazed to see so many able men who had not enlisted into the militia, answering Lincoln’s call for manpower. One New Yorker recalled “The people of Harrisburg did not seem prepared or inclined to act on the defensive.” Another soldier recalled “Hundreds of strong men in the prime of life loitered in the public thoroughfares, and gaped at our passing columns as indifferently as if we had come as conquerors, to take possession of the city.”

While in downtown Harrisburg, many of the New Yorkers noticed the cool reception they had with the inhabitants of the city. The people there seemed to dislike the New Yorkers event though they were there to protect them during this troubled time. The people of Harrisburg also failed to notice that for this two week period, the eyes of the entire northern population looked upon this city as if they were the Confederate target. This did not sit well with the New York National Guardsmen.

Not only did the New Yorkers receive a cold shoulder, but many of the New Yorkers were upset that most of the stores and businesses were closed. Other New Yorkers were dismayed with the inflated prices of goods that the businesses were charging the soldiers for their merchandise. The New Yorkers felt a bit betrayed since they were there to do their duty and to protect the citizens of this great city.

As many of the New Yorkers entered into Camp Curtin, they were disappointed with the living conditions. Many wrote about the foul smells that arose from the camp. Camp Curtin was the Federal training ground for many of Pennsylvania’s regiments that had participated in several major battles. No sooner had the New Yorkers made camp, many were ordered out of Harrisburg to guard and picket the various fords along the Susquehanna River.

The 8th and 71st Regiments of the New York National Guard were ordered to Franklin County. They arrived at Shippensburg by rail and marched toward Chambersburg. These two New York regiments operated in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Militia and were ordered to stall the advancing Confederate force, but not to engage in a full-fledged battle. In other words, they were to buy Harrisburg time for the defenses to be completed.

Many of the New York National Guardsmen were ordered to drop their rifles and pick up axes, picks, and shovels to prepare to create the defenses of Harrisburg. Two major fortifications in Harrisburg would be constructed, and then came the improvements in case the Confederate army would make its way there. Forts Washington and Couch were located across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg. Other New Yorkers were ordered out to obstruct major roadways leading into the city via the Cumberland Valley.

While many of the New York National Guardsmen were stationed in the fortifications at Harrisburg, tempers began to flare. Several of the Pennsylvania Militiamen began noticing the New Yorkers attitude. The New Yorkers had a sort of cockiness to them. The Pennsylvania Militiamen felt as if the New Yorkers looked down upon them. These feelings may have come from the fact that many of the New Yorkers came from a higher society and social status in Brooklyn and New York city itself. They were well drilled, well trained, and well equipped. Some had seen combat and some had not. Either way, the Pennsylvania Militiamen did not appreciate the New Yorkers.

Several regiments of the New York State National Guard skirmished with the lead elements of the Confederate army during the last week of June. Each skirmish bought valuable time for the defenses of Harrisburg to be completed. Skirmishes near Greencastle, Shippensburg, Carlisle, Kingston, Oyster Point, and finally Sporting Hill all helped to delay the advancing Confederate forces as they approached Harrisburg. By June 30th, only the Confederate rear guard remained, as orders came for the Confederate concentration at Gettysburg. This forced General Richard Ewell’s corps to begin marching to rejoin the main Confederate army. Harrisburg was no longer a target.

7thFurther to the south in Maryland, the 7th New York State National Guard had a much more pleasant experience. Other New York National Guard regiments would also trickle into Baltimore. For the next two weeks, the 17th, 47th, 55th, 69th, and the 84th Regiments, New York State National Guard would be attached to the Middle Department under the command of General Robert Schenck ,as they departed New York.

Baltimore was a divided city with regard to loyalty to the preservation of the Union. During the early days of the Pennsylvania Campaign, when the Confederate army was marching into the Cumberland Valley, no one knew what their intentions were. Was it Philadelphia or Harrisburg in Pennsylvania? Or would the Confederate army turn south for a possible attack on Baltimore? Either way, the defenses of these cities was important. The 7th New York State National Guard was ordered to serve in the various fortifications surrounding Baltimore.

7th1The 7th New York State National Guard arrived in Baltimore on June 18th. Each company was detailed to serve various duties. Just like those units in Harrisburg, the 7th New York State National Guard would garrison Fort Federal Hill and Fort Marshall. The gray clad New Yorkers also barricaded the streets leading into the country side from the city. Many put their rifles down and picked up axes, shovels, and picks and began to build entrenchments. As Confederate prisoners arrived from the Western Theater, various detachments of the 7th New York State National Guard would escort those Confederates to Fort McHenry, as well as Fort Delaware. The 7th New York State National Guard also served as the Provost for the city.

On June 20th, the 7th New York State National Guard commander Colonel Marshall Lefferts assumed command of Fort Federal Hill. There was no time for relaxation, and the regiment itself was busy performing their various duties. The 7th New York State National Guard had operated in this area a year before in 1862. They knew about the Southern sympathizers who lived in the city. As Provost, the 7th New York State National Guard searched and seized several arms, and arrested those who were trying to aide the Confederate Army.

On June 28th, there were major changes that occurred in both the Union and Confederate armies. In the Army of the Potomac, General Joseph Hooker was relieved of command, and General George Meade was appointed as the new commander. He ordered the concentration of his army to Frederick, Maryland and from there, early next morning, he would order his army northward toward the Mason Dixon Line. For the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee had learned about the layout of the Union army and the change of command. He issued orders for a concentration of his army east of South Mountain via Gettysburg. Two of his corps under General Longstreet and Hill was spread out from Cashtown to Chambersburg. At the same time, General Ewell’s Corps was spread out from Carlisle to Wrightsville in Pennsylvania. By June 29th, his army began its movements to Gettysburg.

By June 29th, it looked as if Harrisburg was no longer a Confederate target. With the Confederate movements to the east, this caused panic in Baltimore, while easing the minds of Harrisburg citizens. City wide drills in Baltimore were held. In comparison to Harrisburg, Baltimore was ready for a possible attack. But as July 1st dawned, the citizens and the military that were ready for an attack began to breath easier as the Battle of Gettysburg unfolded.