A Brief History of the 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

By Patrick McSherry


A view of the men of the the 12th Pennsylvania National Guard, Co. C   who enlisted as members of Company C of 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. These men became the core of the Company with the remaining men being new enlistees. Basically, the company would have been 1/3 National Guardsmen, and 2/3 new enlistees. This shows the relationship that the National Guard units had with their state volunteer regiment counterparts. This photo was taken at Camp Hastings at Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania on may 12, 1898. The photo came from a collection apparently owned by Benjamin Budd Cannon, of Milton, Pennsylvania. Cannon was a first lieutenant in the National Guard unit, and enlisted in the federal service at the same rank. He was later promoted to the rank of Captain. (Photo Courtesy of Clifford Morse)
General:

The 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was raised in north central Pennsylvania. The unit did not see service outside of the continental United States during the war.

The History:

The unit was formed from the Twelfth Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard. The various companies came from the following locations:

Company A - Union County (Lewisburg)
Company B - Lycoming County (Williamsport)
Company C - Northumberland County (Milton)
Company D - Lycoming County (Williamsport)
Company E - Northumberland County (Sunbury)
Company F - Montour County (Danville)
Company G - Lycoming County (Williamsport)
Company H - Clinton County (Lock Haven)


Along with the remainder of the state's National Guard force, on April 27, 1898 the men of  the 12th Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard were ordered to report to Camp Hastings at Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania. The unit arrived a day later, reporting with 513 men. On May 4, Governor Hastings reviewed the unit. After some additional recruiting, required since 5 officers and 118 men declined to volunteer for federal service and their spaces had to be filled, the various companies were mustered into the federal service between May 11 and May 13, officially becoming the 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. At the time of muster in, the 12th Pennsylvania consisted of thrity-six officers and 604 enlisted men.

The unit remained at Camp Hastings until May 19, when it was ordered to Camp Alger, just outside of Washington, D.C. at Falls Church, Virginia. Here the unit was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Division or the Second Army Corps. While the 12th was at Camp Alger, the companies were ordered to be increased in size to include 109 men each. Eventually the unit would grow to include 36 officers and  829 enlisted men. While at Camp Alger, the unit spent its time in drill and on many practice marches. The crowded and cramped conditions at the camp led to unsanitary conditions, and typhoid fever began to appear. The unit's camp was eventually relocated to improve the health of the men.

On August 17, the Twelfth Pennsylvania was provided with a set of regimental colors, the gift of J. Henry Cochran of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The event was somewhat anti-climatic. The fighting portion of the war ended with an armistice between Spain and the U.S. a few days before. On August 29 the unit was ordered back to Pennsylvania, to Camp Meade at Middletown, Pennsylvania.

The men of the 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were given a thirty day furlough, with the regiment reassembling on October 19.  The unit stayed in service long enough to take part in the Peace Jubilee held at Philadelphia on October 27, 1898. The Twelfth Pennsylvania was finally mustered out on October 29, 1898. At the time of muster out, the unit consisted of thirty-six officers and 867 enlisted men.

The Spanish American War would finally conclude with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. By that time, the 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was already a part of history.

During it term of service, the 12th Pennsylvania lost one officer and twenty men to disease. Five more men were discharged on disability and three men deserted.


The men of the 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry apparently performing morning exercises. This is believed to be the men of Company C.  (Photo Courtesy of Clifford Morse)



Bibliography:

(As a service to our readers, clicking on title in red will take you to that book on Amazon.com)

Morse, Clifford  (photos of Company C)(submitted through the courtesy of Jean Morse)

Sauers, Richard A., Pennsylvania in the Spanish-American War. (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, 1998) . 8, 26, 93 (image above from page 22).

Stewart, Adj. Gen. Thomas J., Record of the Pennsylvania Vounteers. (Harrisburg: William Stanley Ray, 1901) 489-490.

Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called into Service During the War with Spain; with Losses from All Causes. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).


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