91st PA--origin


Home guard

According to Thomas Walter, the 13th ward home guard was a predecessor. Since he says 'of our organization', it's not completely clear whether he means of Company A or of the whole 91st PA. It may be relevant that Eli Sellers, of company G, served as captain of a Home Guard unit.

On 19 April 1861, the City Councils suggested that each ward form a Home Guard, and Colonel Augustus J Pleasonton was named commander on the 20th. Most wards formed Home Guard units, spurred by local businessmen. [J Matthew Gallman, Mastering wartime: a social history of Philadelphia during the Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pages 16-17; see also Winnifred K Mackay, 'Philadelphia during the Civil War, 1861-1865' (Pennsylvania magazine of history and biography, pp.3-51, at pp.13-14)]. The Philadelphia City Archives has material on the Home Guard, 1862-1863, in group 60.1, Annual Message and Reports of Departments, which might have further interesting information. [John Daly, Descriptive inventory of the archives of the city and county of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, 1970]

By 29 April 1861, the Thirteenth Ward had organized one company, and was more than halfway to organizing two others. Edgar Gregory was elected Captain of the first company (the "juniors") by acclamation. ['Local intelligence: Home Guard', Philadelphia Inquirer, 29 April 1861, page 2; 'Local intelligence', Philadelphia Inquirer 4 May 1861 page 2]

In June 1861, Gregory and John M Bickel ran for election as Colonel of the Home Guard. Results published in the Inquirer have Bickel winning 408 to 297 votes. ['Home Guard elections' Philadelphia Inquirer 26 June 1861 page 8]

The Home Guard, including the Thirteenth Ward Home Guard, took part in a Fourth of July parade in 1861. ['Local intelligence', Philadelphia Inquirer 5 July 1861 page 8]

When he formed the 91st, Gregory apparently brought with him from the Thirteenth Ward Home Guard his first lieutenant (Frank Gilbert), his second lieutenant (Ansel Hamburg), and his first corporal (Randolph M Smith, initially a first sergeant, later promoted to second lieutenant)). Also, John Lentz was captain and David H Lentz was second lieutenant of the Ellsworth Guard, from the first ward; B J Tayman was first sergeant of the Sixth Ward Home Guard; Peter Keyser was fourth lieutenant of the Young Guard (from the twelfth ward), and Eli Sellers was captain of the Putnam Guards (from the Twentieth Ward). ['The Home Guard organization', Philadelphia Inquirer, 29 June 1861, page 2]

On 7 August 1861, Brigadier General Pleasonton promised to release men from the Home Guard unconditionally if they wanted to volunteer for active service. On the same day, Gregory claimed six companies were already connected with the regiment, and invited other company commanders to join. [source: 'The Philadelphia Home Guard Regiment' and 'Head-quarters Home Guard', Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 August 1861, page 5; see also 'The city' (Philadelphia Press Tuesday 20 August 1861 page 2)]

Members of the Twentieth Ward Home Guards were invited to Gustavus Bernstein's funeral.

Wallace's regiment

On 20 August 1861, the War Department authorized Edward Wallace to form an infantry regiment. By 29 August 1861, he was recruiting, with George Todd as lieutenant colonel. They were at Camp Edwards, which was on Islington Lane, opposite Odd Fellows' Cemetery. Their regimental headquarters was in the Government buildings at Chestnut below Fifth, which was formerly Colonel Chantry's regiment's headquarters--but they thoroughly cleaned it before moving in!

Sometime betwen 4 and 19 October 1861, this regiment was consolidated with Colonel Gregory's regiment.

Sources: Bates, [page 186]; 'Attention, Captain of companies (Philadelphia Inquirer, 29 August 1861, page 5 (also 28 Aug 1861 page 5)); 'Captains and others commanding companies' (Philadelphia Inquirer, 31 August 1861, page 5, also 2 September page 5); 'The Wallace Regiment' (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 September 1861, page 5 (also 6 September page 5)); 'Col. Wallace's Regiment' (Philadelphia Inquirer 4 October 1861 page 8); 'Camp Chase at Gray's Ferry' (Philadelphia Inquirer 19 October 1861 page 8); 'Col Wallace's regiment' (Philadelphia Press, Wednesday 25 September 1861 page 1); 'Col Wallace's regiment' (Press, Monday 30 September 1861, page 2); and 'Col Wallace's regiment' (Press Tuesday 1 October 1861, page 1)

Fire departments

Thomas Walter also identifies two other squads in company A, one as the "Fishtowners", or "Shad Hose" fellows", and another as the "Ringgold Hose" gang. William Redheffer has received information from the Philadelphia Fire Museum that explains this. The 'Shads' was a nickname for Kensington Hose Company #30, which also used the name "Fishtowners"; twenty of its members volunteered for service during the Civil War. Ringgold Hose Company had thirteen members volunteer for service during the Civil War. (These were volunteer companies, and few names of members survive.)

Members of the Humane Hose Company were invited to the funerals of James Sulger (C, died 7 Nov 1862), William Carpenter (C, died 21 June 1865), and William McNally (C, died 17 July 1870). Members of the Northern Liberty Hose Company were invited to attend the funeral of Samuel Chambers (K, died 14 Dec 1862). Members of the Globe Engine Company were invited to attend the funeral of John Pomeroy (C, d. 24 Mar 1901). Members of the Washington Engine Company were invited to attend the funeral of John A Henry (E, d. 2 May 1864).

A Samuel Lamb (perhaps Samuel Lamb (B/F) was assaulted in 1850, allegedly because of 'hostile feeling between the members of rival fire companies'.

Francis J Blee (D) seems to have been a director of the Western Hose Company in 1842.

In a letter dated 16 June 1862, Andrew Brown (C) asked his father and sister to send soap with William Shieffer (C)informing them that they 'can see him at the [United] States hose house'. Also, members of the US Hose Company, and the Relief of Disabled Fireman Association, were invited to attend his funeral in August 1882.


Many members of the Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church were in the regiment. (Annals of Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, 1801 1893, W Swindells comp., 1893, pp.49-50; thanks to Claire Labenz for letting me know about this reference).

"Dr. Alday came to the church in war times. The church was thoroughly aroused in support of the Government. The district in which it stood was intensely American. The Stars and Stripes floated over the front entrance of the church, so that whoever entered the building was compelled to salute the Flag. Many of its members had enlisted, while many young men at the front had been members of the Sunday-school. To show [page 50] the patriotism of the church, it is worthy of note that the day succeeding the Battle of Gettysburg, although it was Sunday, twelve sewing-machines were brought into the lecture-room, the Sunday-school was dismissed, and the entire afternoon was devoted to the manufacture of hospital raiment and the picking of lint. At the same time a meeting was held in the main audience-room, and addressed by Colonel Edgar M. Gregory, of the 91st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, who referred with much enthusiasm to the large number of young men of the church who were on the roster of his regiment. ..."

Milton, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania

A surprising number of men from Milton joined the 91st, most (at least) in 1861. (Click on the heading to sort by that column.)

name co.enlistement (yr mo dy)note
Foust, Henry Augustus F1861 10 25  
Deihl, Abel F1861 10 25 ? 
Critzer, William F1861 10 25  
Bartholemew, John F1861 10 25  
Fetzer, Aaron C F1861 10 18  
Kountz, Lewis F1861 10 18  
Hause, Edwin F1861 10 22 ? 
Derr, Jeremiah F1861 10 18 ? 
Gehrig, Joseph Brown F1861 10 21  
Foust, Oscar F1861 10 25  
Hause, Henry F1864 02 24 [20 years old at enlistment]
Stitzman, Adam F1861 11 06  
Fordsman, David M F1861 11 27  
Goodman, Isaac F1861 10 25 ? 
Anten, Joseph (perhaps) B1862 09 09 [the Joseph Anten in Milton may not be he]

Status in August 1861

At a meeting on 19 August 1861, reporting the status of regiments in training, Edgar Gregory reported that his regiment comprised seven incomplete companies, two of which were to be mustered in on the 20th, and that the regiment could be ready to march in two weeks. [see 'Important military movements', Philadelphia Inquirer 20 August 1861 pages 1 and 8]

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revised 27 Dec 14
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