Fourth Pennsylvania Infantry

By Patrick McSherry


Click here to see the flag of the 4th Pennsylvania
Click here for a link to the "Allen Rifles,"( 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. D)
Click here for a 1920's view of  veterans including John Leffel of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
Click here for a biography of Willard McSherry of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. L
Click here to read the Letters of Peter Hertzog, of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. B
Click here to read the Letters of William Weinsheimer, of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. D

General:

Dates of Muster-In/Muster-Out: Companies A through H were mustered in on May 9 and 10, 1898. Companies I through M were mustered in during early July and joined the Regiment in Georgia.

Size of Regiment:  45 officers, 1211 men at muster out.

Losses: During the regiment's term of service, it lost 3 officers and 32 men to disease. Three additional men were disabled.

Location of Service:  Puerto Rico.

Actions:  Actions around the towns of Arroyo and Guayama, Puerto Rico.


Unit History:

This regiment was the first to be mustered into the United States Volunteer Service from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The unit was first sent to Camp Hastings in Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania. After being mustered in, the 4th Pennsylvania was ordered to Camp Thomas, situated on the old Civil War battlefield at Chickamauga, Georgia where it arrived on May 16, 1898. The 4th Pennsylvania was brigaded with the 3rd Illinois and the 4th Ohio Regiments.

Company I of the 4th Pennsylvania at Harrisburg, PA

While the 4th Pennsylvania was at Camp Thomas, President McKinley issued his second call for volunteers. As a result, four companies (I, K, L, and M) were added to the organization. At Camp Thomas drilling and training began in earnest.

During their stay at Camp Thomas, the 4th Pennsylvania's the daily schedule was as follows on most days:
 

4:55 a.m.        First Call
5:00 a.m.        Reveille; Roll Camp
6:00 a.m.        Mess Call
7:30 a.m.        Company Drill
9:00 a.m.        Guard Mount
12:00 Noon    Mess
1:30 p.m.        School
3:00 p.m.        Regimental Drill
5:30 p.m.        Mess
6:00 p.m.        Dress Parade
9:00 p.m.        Tattoo; Roll Call
9:15 p.m.        Taps
At times, the drill got a bit too intense. Once, two battalions of the regiment squared off in a war game, then called a "sham battle" on Snodgrass Hill. The men out so much effort into the action that it began to get out of hand. The event had to be called off for the safety of the men involved. Still, it was not all work. On Saturday evenings, the regiment held music programs for entertainment.

On July 4, the 4th Pennsylvania was ordered to Charleston, South Carolina, arriving on July 25. Each man was ordered to carry fifty rounds of ammunition, and an additional one hundred fifty rounds per man were shipped to Charleston. The regiment was apparently equipped with the older .45-70 "trapdoor" rifles.

On July 27, the regiment embarked aboard the CITY OF WASHINGTON and the SENECA, and left Charleston's harbor, passing the old forts of Sumter and Moultrie (now having new armament installed) and bound for Puerto Rico. Transport life was far from pleasing. The vessel had already made several trips as a transport and was showing the effects. A member of the 4th Pennsylvania commented that "Outside of the cabin she was unfit for human habitation." Below deck "small portholes furnished the only ventilation. If the sea was rough the holes had to be kept closed for fear of flooding the ship. After the first night few slept in the dirty hole. As night approached the men would take their blankets and find their way to the upper deck where they spent the night." The potable water was bad  and it was impossible for the men to stay clean.

Willard McSherry,  4th PA, Co. LThe transports arrived at Guanica, Puerto Rico on August 2. They were immediately sent to Ponce harbor, where the transports spent the night until being ordered to Arroyo, about fifty miles east. At Arroyo, the regiment disembarked, while the guns of the auxiliary cruiser ST. LOUIS, cruiser CINCINNATI, and the GLOUCESTER blazed away, shelling the hills beyond the town. One man in the 4th Pennsylvania commented that "This was the first sight of active war we had seen and aroused the spirit of the men to the highest pitch."

A permanent camp was set up about one half mile from Arroyo. The regiment served on picket duty on the Patillo, and Guayama roads, and the road leading into the mountains. Company I was detached to serve in the town of Arroyo, and did not rejoin the regiment until the unit left Puerto Rico. While in this camp, the 4th Pennsylvania was rearmed with the new Krag-Jorgensen .30 cal. rifles.

On August 6, the brigade advanced on and captured the town of Guayama, however, the 4th Pennsylvania was held in reserve and did not take an active part in the battle.

On August 13, the regiment readied itself for an attack on the Spanish forces that were strongly entrenched in the mountains north of Guayama. Two battalions of the regiment advanced to the iron bridge about a mile north of Guayama, in support of the artillery force consisting of the 4th Ohio, Missouri Battery A (apparently with four dynamite guns), Pennsylvania Battery B, Illinois Battery A, and the 27th Battery, Indiana Volunteer Artillery. The regiment's third battalion remained at Arroyo to cover the town.

During the engagement, the 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was to conduct a flanking movement on the enemy, but it was discovered that the Spanish forces were attempting to make a flanking movement on the 4th Ohio itself! The 4th Pennsylvania's second battalion was ordered to the high ground overlooking the Cayey Road, on which the 4th Ohio was supposed to be advancing. Also, Company B of the 4th Pennsylvania was ordered into the town to take possession of the barracks and public buildings. While all of this activity was going on, news arrived that the peace had arrived. The actions were suspended.

The Regiment was moved into camp on the Ponce Road, just south of the town. On August 28, the regiment, consisting of twelve hundred men, twenty-eight army wagons, ten ox carts and the regimental ambulances, was ordered to march to Ponce. The regiment arrived in Ponce two days later. On August 31 and September 1, the 4th Pennsylvania embarked on the CITY OF CHESTER. At 2:00 p.m., the transport weighed anchor, and the regiment left to return to the United States, arriving in New York on September 6, 1898.

The 4th Pennsylvania was given sixty days furlough. On October 27, about one thousand members of the regiment took part in the Peace Jubilee in Philadelphia. The regiment was mustered out on November 16, 1898.

The individual companies of the 4th Pennsylvania were formed from the following counties:
 

Company A        Berks County
Company B        Lehigh County
Company C        Lancaster County
Company D        Lehigh County
Company E        Berks County
Company F        Schuylkill County
Company G       Schuylkill County
Company H       Lebanon County
Company I         Dauphin County
Company K       Lancaster County
Company L        Lancaster County
Comany M        Montgomery County


Bibliography:
 

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

Sauers, Richard A., Pennsylvania in the Spanish-American War. (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, 1998) 16, 17, 60, 61, 91.

Stewart, Thomas J., Adj. Gen., Record of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. (Harrisburg: William Stanley Ray, 1901).


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