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Forward March!
"... By Sea... "
Keep Up Your Fire Boys

 

On April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries* under the command of General Pierre G. T. Beauregard opened fire on the Federal forces at Fort Sumter*, South Carolina. With this act of war, the Confederate States of America– which would number eleven states after the fall of Fort Sumter–would declare war on the United States of America. President Abraham Lincoln called on all states loyal to the Union for 75,000 volunteers.

 

   
The war would last for four bloody years and cost the lives of an estimated 600,000 soldiers. The idea to recruit a Pennsylvania regiment first came from State Senator H. Jones Brooke of Pennsylvania. He then forwarded his idea to the Honorable Simon Cameron, Secretary of War. Cameron approved the request on July 25, 1861, four days after the Battle of Bull Run.
 
Colonel Henry R. Guss was charged with having the regiment ready for marching in 21 days. Guss recruited most of his men from the 7th Pennsylvania Congressional District. Most of the officers that he recruited served with him in the Old 9th Pennsylvania. This regiment was a 90 day regiment* and served along the Delaware and Maryland border. This regiment was stop any army or Confederates crossing into these states. After the 90 days the regiment was disbanded.
 
After contacting these men from the old 9th Pa., they started to recruiting for the ten companies in the regiment (see page 3). After the companies (see page 3) were recruited they were to assemble at Camp Wayne and Camp Everhart. They were both located in West Chester. Camp Wayne, today, is located where the West Chester University Dorms are. Camp Everheart is located in Everheart Park in West Chester. All ten of the companies assembled at Camp Wayne in West Chester. At the camp the men practice drilling non-stop. Before the companies were formed the regiment was supposed to be called the 49th Pennsylvania, but by the time the regiment was formed, that number was already taken.
   
 So Governor Curtain told them to be the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. During the month of October (1861) the regiment would parade through West Chester every afternoon. People would turn out by the thousands to see the regiment. The regiment would drill* at least four to six hours a day. The ages of the regiment ranged from 18-40. The average age was 22. While the companies were being assembled Col. Guss set out to find the best surgeon.
 
He found Dr. George Everheart and his assistant George Miller. After they were mustered* in as regimental surgeon, Col. Guss made David Jones; of Company H, Regimental Quartermaster. Guss was also in search of the best drummer in the county. He found James St. John Sr. "The Best Drummer in Pennsylvania."
 
 This 61 year old man was a drummer in the War of 1812. He brought his two sons Willie(12) and Thomas(15). But their ages were listed respectively as 17 and 18 in the muster books. Their mother also came along with them. The men in the regiment referred to her as "Mother". She cooked and cleaned for the men and the officers. She stayed with them for three years. On November 4th 1861 Governor Curtain came to West Chester to give the regiments first flag. The first color bearer was Sergeant John D. Beaver of Company C. Beaver was from West Chester.

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Information on this web site has been compiled by Neil Hurst
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