A Brief History of the Third Virginia Volunteer Infantry

By Patrick McSherry

Officers and NCOs of the 3rd Virginia Volunteer Infantry
Officers and non-commissioned officers before the of the 3rd Virginia Volunteer Infantry

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The 3rd Virginia Volunteer Infantry did not see service outside of the continental United States during the Spanish American War.

Unit History:

The 3rd Virginia Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service at Richmond, Virginia between May 13 and 26, 1898. At the time of its mustering in, the unit consisted of forty-six officers and 955 enlisted men.

The regiment served as part of the First Division of the Second Army Corps, and was encamped at Camp Alger, near Dunn Loring, Virginia. Later, on August 2, it was assigned as part of Second Brigade, Third Division of the Second Amy Corps.

As the spring changed into summer, disease began to break out thoughout the camp. By August, the decision was made to move the entire Second Army Corps to a new camp at Middletown, Pennsylvania, called Camp Meade. However, while still at the Camp Alger, a serious issue arose. There was an alteration between a member of the regiment who was assigned to the hospital corps, and an African American teamster employed at the hospital. The two men came to blows and corpsman suffered the worst from the altercation. Approximately seventy-five to one hundred men from the 3rd Virginia learned of the altercation and chased the teamster into a nearby woods, yelling, "lynch him" and "hang him". Luckily, the man appears to have escaped. The disturbance was reported and other forces arrived. The Virginians apparently returned to their camp and were seemingly indignant over other regiments being called on to quell the disturbance, and jeered at these other troops from Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Officers of the brigade and division command arrived and a roll call of the 3rd Virginia was ordered. The men, however, refused and were reported by some to be near mutiny. Witnesses also reported that the regiment's non-commissioned officers who were present but did not make an effort get the men to comply. Also, none of the regiment's officers were present. The situation calmed, but the movement of men from the camp of the 3rd Virginia was severely limited and the regiment was subjected to four roll calls per day to verify all were present. The event placed at cloud over the regiment's service.

The regiment was mustered out of service on November 5, 1898 at Richmond, Virginia. At the time of mustering out, the regiment consisted of forty-six officers and 1,222 enlisted men.

During its term of service, the regiment had one officer and twelve enlisted men die of disease. In addition, one enlisted man committed suicide and one was court-martialed. Significantly, and unusually, the regiment had no desertions during its period of service.


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

Clerk of Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899) Vol. 3, 474, 477, Map of Camp Alger, opposite page 484.

Pendleton, Robert - photo of the 3rd Virginia

"Regiment Under Arrest," Scranton Tribune (Scranton, PA). August 10, 1898, 8.

Sauers, Richard A., Pennsylvania in the Spanish-American War. (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, 1998) 26.

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).

"Was Virginia's Day," Richmond Dispatch (Richmond, VA). August 14, 1898, 11.

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