Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 22, 1861: "Venus in Distress"

The 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment was one of the first volunteer three-year regiments created in 1861.  Colonel Tilghman Good, of Allentown, was appointed regimental commander.  Originally touted as "Col. Good's Zouaves," the 47th was a conventional infantry regiment, wearing the standard Federal blue uniform. 

Col. Good had been the Captain of the Allen Rifles in the Pennsylvania Militia when the war broke out in April.  The Allen Rifles served in the three months service as Company I, 1st PA      Regiment.  During that service, Good was appointed Lieutenant Colonel, under Colonel S. S. Yohe. 

In Easton, two companies of the 47th were recruited. Captain Richard A. Graeffe, age 33, recruited men for Company A ["Easton Rifles"] at Glantz's Saloon and at F. Beck's Saloon on Northampton Street.  Captain Charles H. Yard, age 33, recruited men for Company E ["Honor Colors Company"] at Lafayette Yard's Saloon on Northampton Street.  Yard had been a lieutenant in the 1st PA Regiment during the three months service.  Patriotic music, alcoholic beverages and Victorian bravado helped with the recruitment process. 

Pomp's Coronet Band, led by Professor Thomas Coates, became the regimental band.  Coats has been called "the Father of Band Music in America" and was the most famous bandsman of the 1860s.  Coates was the first coronet soloist in America; he played in the band that escorted General Marie Joseph P. Y. R. G. du Montier, Marquis de Lafayette, during his visit to the US in 1824; and he later played at the funeral of President [Hiram] U. S. Grant.

Captain Charles A. Heckman, of Phillipsburg, and Lieutenant W. H. Abel, of the 1st PA Infantry Regiment during the three months service, had set up a recruiting office in White's Hotel in Center Square, Easton.  the two officers were forming an infantry company known as Company D ["Scott Guards"].  Company D became part of the three years enlistment troops of Colonel James Miller's 1st PA Volunteer Infantry Regiment at Camp Washington. 

Camp Washington, a National Guard camp, was located outside of Easton. The new recruits were sent to this camp to begin their training while further recruitment continued.  In the Easton Daily Express issue of August 22, 1861, the headline "VENUS IN DISTRESS" could be seen.  The story was of a patriotic camp follower who became a little too popular with the recruits in Camp Washington.  The newspaper reported, "It was discovered in Camp Washington this morning, that a certain young lady of easy virtue and strong Union proclivities had testified her loyalty to the Federal cause by establishing her headquarters at camp, where she passed a restless night in exhorting the military to patriotic deeds of daring when they should be brought face to face with the Southern foe, etc.

"The commanding officer, being apprised of the fact and being unwilling that her health should fall victim to her zeal, ordered a military escort to conduct her beyond the boundaries of the camp.  Accordingly, our Amazon was marched off with military honors, but terrible to relate so thoroughly had she ingratiated herself into the good graces of the soldiery, that they refused to leave her without some substantial token by way of a remembrancer. The result was, that in the absence of anything else, they stripped her of her clothing, and when   our informant got a glimpse of her, she was seated on a log, dressed in the style of the utmost simplicity, her entire wardrobe being limited  to a pair of boots and a capitola.

"Actuated by instinctive modesty, she had erected an earthen breastwork around her person to protect herself from a battery of curious and prying eyes.  Our informant compares her to 'Eva Repentant,' 'Powers Greek Slave,' or 'Patience on a Monument'."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

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