A Brief History of the 15th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

By Patrick McSherry


This photo is labeled "Second Day in Camp" and apparently shows Company G at Camp Hastings at
Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania. The first man standing at left is Floyd Chapman.
Click here for the roster of the 15th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

Click here to read about the death of Lt. James Hoskinson
Click here to read about the 15th Pennsylvania at Camp Hastings, Mount Gretna, PA

General:

The 15th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry served its term of service within the continental United States.

Unit History:

The Fifthteenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, was mustered into service at Camp Hastings, Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania, on May 10 and 11, 1898. At the time of mustering in, the regiment consisted of thirty-six officers and 604 enlisted men. The regiment was formed around the 15th Regiment, National Guard of Pennsylvania, the eight companies of which came from the following areas:
 

Company A - Erie, Pennsylvania
Company B - Meadville, Pennsylvania
Company C - Erie, Pennsylvania
Company D - Clarion, Pennsylvania
Company E - Butler, Pennsylvania
Company F - Grove City, Pennsylvania
Company G - Sharon, Pennsylvania
Company K - Greenville, Pennsylvania
When the call went out for volunteers, the guard units formed and rendezvoused at Camp Hastings. Fairly typical of the type send off provided by the local communities is that which was provided for Company G. In Sharon, where the company was headquartered, the main street was decorated and lined with cheering civilians as the troops marched to the train station. The troops were escorted by the local community band, local veterans organizations, etc. Once at Camp Hastings, the companies were initially recruited up to a strength of 75 men. Later, some were increased to 106 men. Prior to its mustering in, the regiment was reviewed by Governor Hastings on May 3.

Following its mustering into the federal service, the regiment remained at Camp Hastings for a month until June 11,when orders were received from the U.S. Army's Department of the East ordering the regiment to positions at Sheridan Point, Virginia and Fort Washington, Maryland. These two fortifications, located on the Potomac River, south of Washington DC, near Mount Vernon were placed to defend the river - and the nation;s capital and the Washington Navy Yard - from incursion. Companies A, B, D, F, G and K were sent to Sheridan Point, whereas Companies C and E were sent to Fort Washington. The Fort Washington contingent was placed under the command of the regiment's Lt. Col. Mechling. On June 23, companies A and G were shifted from Sheridan Point to Fort Washington.

Sheridan Point was originally part of the Mount Vernon estate, until 1892. In 1897, work began to construct concrete emplacement for 8-inch breechloading "disappearing" guns (guns which raised when fired, but dropped below the fortification wall when being loaded). The members of the 15th Pennsylvania would have lived in tents at the site, since barracks were not constructed until 1899. In that same year, the fortification was renamed "Fort Hunt" in honor of Civil War general Henry Hunt.

Fort Washington was an historic fortification by the time of the Spanish American War, having been completed by 1842. At Fort Washington, Company E was given the assigment of operating two 10-inch "disappearing" guns  in Emplacement C (probably called "Battery Decatur"). The company had the unique experience of having the inventor of the disapearing gun carriage, Major Crozier, come to review the guns, during which the company drilled with and fired each gun twice. The work of the gun crews received the commendation of the inspectors. Also at Fort Washington, Company C was assigned to a 10-inch barbette gun and one 15-inch muzzleloading smoothbore gun. While the regiment was at Fort Washington and Sheridan Point, an armistice was reached between the United States and Spain, ending the wars fighting.

In late summer, when the general realignment of forces to new camps for health reasons occurred, the 15th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, on September 9,  was ordered to Camp Meade, in the regiment's home state of Pennsylvania. Camp Meade was located at Middletown, Pennsylvania. The trip required thirty-two rail cars to hold the regiment. At Camp Meade, the regiment was assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division of the Second Army Corps. From September 17 to October 2, the regiment served on provost duty at the camp. Sady, however, just before their departure, Privates Coffey and Greener of Company A drowned as they were corssing the Potomac River in a small boat.

On October 22, 1898, the regiment was reassigend to the First Brigade, Third Division of the Second Army Corps, and five days later took part in the Philadelphia Peace Jubilee Celebration.

A week later, Company G of the regiment was ordered south to Athens, Georgia. Company G was followed on November 11 by the remainder of the regiment. While the regiment was in Georgia, Spain and the United States signed the Treaty or Paris, formally ending the war on December 10, 1898. On December 14, President McKinley and General Wheeler visited Atlanta. The 15th Pennsylvania and the 3rd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry served as the president's escort during his visit.

The regiment was mustered out of service at Athens on January 31, 1899. At the time of muster out, the regiment consisted of thirty-three officers and 675 enlisted men.

During the regiment's term of service, the 15th pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry lost one officer and four enlisted men to disease. Additionally, two enlisted men drowned, twenty-one enlisted men were discharged on disability, and four men deserted.

This is an image of  Floyd Arthur Chapman of the 15th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. G . The image was taken in Lebanon, not
far from Camp Hastings. Interestingly, he is not in full uniform, lacking his belt and accoutrements.  Chapman would become a corporal,
but his uniform does not yet have his corporal stripes. Chapman was born in Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio on April 17, 1875. His
father, Adriel, died young and by the time he was five years old he and his mother, Dora, were living with her brother's family Sharpsville,
Mercer County, Pennsylvania. After serving in the war he moved down to Lawrence County, where he married Lillie May Dunlap on January
22, 1902. The couple had two children, Floyd Robert and Ned. Chapman became the manager and then superintendent of a tin mill for the
American Sheet and Tin Plate Company in New Castle, Pennsylvania. He had a heart condition and went to the sanitorium in Battle Creek,
Michigan, where he was put on a vegetarian diet. His condition worsened, but even when he knew he was dying, he kept his sense of humor
telling his wife that he would try not to die on a Monday and interfere with her laundry day! He died onThursday, May 9, 1929 and was buried
in Graceland Cemetery in New Castle, Pennslyvania



Bibliography:

"115th [sic] Penna Goes Home" Trenton Evening News, Trenton, New Jersey, September 9, 1898, Page 1 [Info. on the trip from Virginia to Camp Meade].

"Atlanta's Jubilee," North Adams Evening Transcript, North Adams, Massachusetts, December 15, 1898, page 1 [McKinley's and Wheeler's visit to Atlanta].

Chilcote, Elaine - Photo of and info. on Floyd Chapman, and photo of Company G in Camp.

Correspondence relating to the War with Spain And Conditions Growing Out of the Same Including the Insurrection in the Philippine Island and the China Relief Expedition. Vol. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902) 615.

"Montauk Point," Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, Indiana, September 8, 1898, page 1 [Info. on deaths of Coffey and Greener].

National Park Service, "Fort Washington, Coast Defense of the Potomac" http://www.nps.gov/fowa/coastdefense.htm

National Park Service, "Fort Hunt Park - Fort Hunt, Virginia -- A Historical Sketch" http://www.nps.gov/gwmp/fohu/fohu-history.htm

"Off to War," undated newspaper article found in papers of Floyd Chapman, provided by Elaine Chilcote.

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).

Stewart, Adj. Gen. Thomas J., Record of the Pennsylvania Vounteers. (Harrisburg: William Stanley Ray, 1901) 613-614.

"The President," Steubenville Herald-Star, Steubenville, Ohio, December 15, 1898, page 1 [McKinley's visit to Atlanta].


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