Juniata County Military History
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Juniata County Military History

Port Royal Times
Wednesday, July 11, 1973

Juniata County Military History

Revolutionary War

At the time of the Revolutionary War, there were no Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, Union, or Juniata Counties; all the territory now embraced in these counties formed only the outlying, wilderness portions of Cumberland and Northumberland Counties.

We learn that early in the war two companies of volunteers were formed in Juniata County, each company containing eighty men, besides their officers. The one company was commanded by Captain Gibson, the other by Captain Purdy.

Captain John Hamilton, who lived within the present limits of Walker Township, organized a "Company of Horse" in 1776. The men composing it, --of whom Hugh McAlister was the first to enlist--met at the house of William Sharon. Fermanaugh Township to perfect their organization. No roster of this company has been preserved.

Thomas Turbett, son of John Turbett, (for whom Turbett Township was named) was married to Jane Wilson, daughter of Thomas Wilson, the founder of Port Royal.

In 1776, he raised and marched a company to Carlisle for Continental service. This company saw much service. At Trenton, Captain Turbett won renown by a bold encounter with a British officer, whom he shot. He has many descendants in this community.

War of 1812

In the Second War with Great Britain or the War of 1812, a company of about fifty men was recruited in Juniata and Mifflin Counties by Captain Mathew Rodgers, great-grandfather of the late Mrs. Noah Hertzler and Robert A. Robinson, both of Port Royal. This company belonged to the regiment of Pennsylvania Militia commanded by Colonel Reese Hill and served from May 5, 1813 until November 5, 1813, or six months enlistment.

John Rice, son of Peter Rice, and grandson of Zachariah Rice, also became members of one of this company by serving as a substitute for Jacob Kepner who lived on the farm near Church Hill now owned by Hugh Sarver. He was the last survivor of Perry's Victory on Lake Erie, which took place September 10, 1813. No doubt this was one of the contributing factors in the naming of Perrysville.

Civil War

At least two companies were recruited at Perrysville during the Civil War; Company I, 53rd Regiment, under Captain Henry S. Dimm, Captain George D. Pifer, and Captain William Van Ormer and Company F, 126th Regiment, under Captain John P. Wharton. This company served from August 15, 1882 until May 20, 1863.

At the time of the formation of Company F under Captain Wharton, his youngest son wished to enlist. His father refused to take him because he thought the boy was too young and because he wished to leave him at home to help and comfort his mother, who had already given two sons to her country. The boy would not accept his father's refusal and went to Mifflintown where he enlisted in the Company commanded by Captain Amos H. Martin, under whom he served for the period of his enlistment.

Captain Wharton was the father of the late Miss Alberta Wharton, who, until recently, lived at Third and Main Streets, Port Royal. Under his supervision, a fort was built on the site of the silk mill and soldiers were camped on the old fair grounds, on the Moyer farm, and behind the property now owned by Miss Maude Groninger at Old Port. This was early in 1863, and it was feared that Lee's army would probably come down the Tuscarora Valley on its way to Harrisburg, destroying the Pennsylvania Railroad en route. When the battle of Gettysburg allayed all fears of attack in this section of the country, the men encamped here were immediately sent elsewhere and the fort abandoned.

Interesting Incident

An interesting and romantic incident in connection with Capt. Wharton's company is narrated in "Sketch of the Regiment" by Judge Rowe. "William Fitzpatrick enlisted in Company F from Juniata County and went to the war with the One Hundred & Twenty-sixth Regiment. In a short time he fell ill, and on the 24th of August, 1862, whilst the regiment lay at Cloud's Mills, he died at the hospital at Alexandria. On the day he died, Frank Mayne a sergeant of Company F, unaccountably deserted. When Mayne enlisted, he was a stranger to all the men of that company, but in a few days he had so ingratiated himself with his comrades and officers as to be promoted to sergeant. He was not hear of any more while the regiment remained in service; but long after, in the far West, a soldier, wounded badly in battle was discovered to be Frances Day, who told how she had followed Fitzpatrick into the Army and under the name of Mayne, became herself a soldier and sergeant, in the One Hundred Twenty-sixth Penna. Volunteers; of her desertion upon her lover's death, and the army. To verify her story, letters were written to the officers of Co. F, at Perrysville and thus the mystery of the sergeant's desertion was dispelled."

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