The Civil War Diary of Henderson George



After receiving my discharge from the army at Wheeling, I returned to Pittsburg and there found the "Roundhead" regiment, or rather the military companies that later were named the "Roundheads," assembling at Camp Wilkins, and on August 31st., saw it mustered into the military service of the United States for a term of three years or during the war.

The Roundheads originally went out as an independant regiment. The thought and ambition of Colonel Leasure who organized and commanded the regiment, seems to have originally been to use it as a military "free lance," that is, it was to act independant of any other command. This attitude was soon found to be impractical.

Simon Cameron, who was Secretary of War at this time was asked to give the regiment a name. He suggested the name "Roundheads," because like himself, the majority of the men composing it were descendants of Cromwell's Roundheads, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. The name was therefore accepted as euphonious and appropriate; it was, however, sometime later numbered, taking its place in the line of Pennsylvania Troops as the one hundredth P.V.I. In the line this was a high number, when in fact it should have had a low number because it was among the earliest military organizations to take the field. It was, however, always designated, and generally known as the Roundhead Regiment, and was always proud of the name.

Company E. of the Roundheads was largely made up of the young men of Plain Grove, North Liberty, Harlansburg, Mercer, and other near by places. Many of these men I knew personally; brother Samuel was a member of this company. 0n the 2nd. of September 1861, was ordered to Washington.

Turning my face homeward it was with much regret that I was left behind; but at the same time it was with the thought, that as my only brother was in the service, it should be my duty to return home and help father with the farm work. This thought received added force, when it was considered that from many of the homes the young men were already in the army, causing a shortage of farm labor which only could be met by mothers and sisters going into the field.

I remained at home until the next summer, (1862). At this time, Dr. William Taylor of North Liberty, and the writer, undertook on our own initiative and responsibility, the project of raising a new Military Company to be merged with the "Roundheads" as the twelfth company. The regiment now had eleven companies, but originally was to have had twelve. We were successful in enrolling the necessary number of men, about one hundred, and in August were making ready to call the men together to start for the front. Just at this juncture, the War Department issued an order reorganizing the Infantry Regiments then in the field, to consist of ten companies of one hundred men, and regiments with more than ten companies were to be reduced to this number,and all future regiments to be organized on this basis.

This order of the War Department was to Dr. Taylor and myself a distinct disappointment. It was our anticipation that the company we had enrolled would be incorporated with the Roundheads as the twelfth Company. Our men were enrolled with this understanding, and we could not expect to hold them to any other agreement.

It was really the preference of Dr. Taylor and myself to join the Roundheads; but as we could not do so as a company (on account of the recent order of the War Department), with the prospect of becoming commissioned officers, we determined to go as recruits. We therefore called upon the men to know how many would be willing to go with us; to our solicitation about twenty five or thirty men responded. In a few days we came together and started for the front; and on the 12th. of September 1862, at Harrisburg Pa., were mustered into the military service of the United States,and assigned as recruits to the 100dth., P.V. (Roundhead Regiment.)

After the defeat of General Pope in Virginia, the rebel army invaded Maryland, and the two battles, South Mountain, on September 14th., and Antietam, Sept. 17th., 1862, were fought, in which the Roundheads lost nine killed and thirty two wounded. Among the wounded was my good boyhood friend the late Colonel Hugh Morrison, who was also a brother- in-law of Dr. William Taylor. At the date of these battles we had not yet left Harrisburg, but soon after were ordered to Washington, and from there to Harpers Ferry, joining the Regiment a few miles away at a place called Pleasant Valley.

Dr. Taylor, William J. Morrison, and the writer were assigned to Co. G., the rest of the men were assigned among the other nine companies. We have now reached our goal -- we are now an integral part of the Army of the Potomac, a potent part of the great Union Army.

Up to this time our armies have not made progress, but in a general way have suffered more or less defeat. At best success was mainly negative. Hundreds of men in conflict on both sides have already laid down their lives. Clouds and darkness obscure the future -- when will the end be -- we are safe only as we look up to the throne that is founded in Justice and Judgment.