Civil War Voices: Part 11 – Eager volunteer runs away to join 87th Pennsylvania
In September 1861, recruiters enlisted enough men primarily from York and Adams counties to form a three-year regiment, the 87th Pennsylvania. Seventeen-year-old Henry Schultz was among those eager volunteers. He was a hired hand on the Baum farm in Hellam Township. “I worked on a farm, and they didn’t want me to go,” he later stated. One evening, he threw his clothes into the garden and waited for an opportunity to further his getaway.
That came when those in the house tended to a sick girl staying there.
“When they went to take care of her, I sneaked out to the hay loft with my clothes and hid them under the steps,” he wrote.
He described his departure: “The next morning, I took the colt out to the pasture and kept looking into the house at the table. When I saw Mr. Baum go to the table, I watched my chance and went to the barn where I changed clothes. I jumped from the barn when no one was looking, into the corn field and came out at Kreutz Creek.”
Henry walked to York and enlisted at Penn Common.
Mr. Baum and his father wanted him to come home, and the enlistment officer asked Henry if he really wanted to go to war.
“When I said I did,” Henry said, “they left me go.”
Historian George W. Prowell recounted one of the newly raised 87th Pennsylvania’s first “battles” in October.
Several companies were ordered to participate in a battalion drill.
“When the order ‘Forward March’ was given, a delightful and inspiring sight was afforded the spectator,” he wrote. “The men moved down the slope with steady ringing tread in almost perfect alignment.”
They seemed invincible. The band playing. The colors flying. A martial spirit in the air.
Then some of the boys stepped on a bumble bee’s nest. Then another.
“They were regular black-headed Maryland buzzers and stingers, and soon began a spirited attack,” Prowell noted. “The line was temporarily broken along the left and the amusing antics of some of the men excited the risibilities of the sternest officers.”
But the bumble bees lost the fight.
“Camp kettles filled with hot water were hurried to ‘the front,’ ” Prowell related, “and the live bumble bees soon disappeared from the face of the earth.”