Cannonball

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The 12th Pennsylvania Reserves at Gettysburg – fascinating diary

In a recent post, I mentioned the fact that Company G of the 12th Pennsylvania Reserves was raised in York County in 1861 and fought the following year at Antietam. Yesterday at the York Borders store, I picked up a small book by Mark Nesbitt entitled The Gettysburg Dairies: War Journals of Two American Adversaries, chronicling the daily events of two soldiers in the Gettysburg Campaign — one Union, one Confederate. This has been previously published as 35 Days to Gettysburg. I read it on an airplane flight yesterday and was pleased to discover that one of the two adversaries is from a soldier in Company H of the 12th. The contrast between his movements and those of a Georgian in Benning’s Brigade is quite interesting.


The Union diarist, Sgt. Franklin Horner, was born in Cameron County, Pennsylvania. A carpenter by trade, he enlisted in the 12th in June 1861. He was lightly wounded at Antietam on the same day, September 17, 1862, that a pair of York Countians were mortally wounded. Horner traces the regiment’s final week in the Washington trenches (where they anxiously await news from the front until their orders arrive to move out and join the Army of the Potomac). He then takes us northward through his terse entries in pursuit of Lee until he arrives at Gettysburg on July 2.
Of local interest, Horner mentions that, in the middle of the campaign, on Friday June 12, Sgt. Thomas W. Dick was ordered to leave the regiment and travel to “little York” to recruit new soldiers to refill the depleted ranks. I have not found any local records of Sergeant Dick’s efforts, although we know that concurrently a company of volunteers was raised for service in the emergency militia. One wonders if Dick coordinated his efforts with the militia captain, Seip, or was off on his own, with little success in getting men to sign up for the 3-year term of the Pennsylvania Reserves?
As the Confederates arrived in Franklin, Adams, and York counties, they repeatedly remark about how many men recently discharged from the Union army are standing around the hotels and sidewalks (the Georgian in Nesbitt’s book, Thomas Ware, mentions this several times). Until the days immediately after the Battle of Gettysburg, fewer than expected were re-enlisting. Service records of the 12th Pennsylvania do not indicate if Dick was successful in his mission, as few men were added to the ranks during the campaign and the trip northward.
Pick up a copy of Mark Nesbitt’s little book (it’s only $8.99 and is a fascinating read; particularly the lucid and detailed entries of the Georgia farmer Tom Ware).