Pennsylvania 62nd Infantry Regiment

Regimental History:
A Bunch of Boys from Company D
Encounter a Stranger

62d Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg

" _______________ Tells a War Story," retold by George Smith

Originally published in the Marshall County News, Marysville, Kansas, submitted to the Saltsburg Press, Saltsburg, Pa., by R. B. McNeil.
The _______________ refers to George Smith's brother. There were several Smiths in Company D, but Sergeant William H. Smith is the only one I know to have moved to Marysville, Kansas. I have no idea why the name was left blank. All the other names in the story match those in the roster of Company D. The clipping from which this story was first transcribed had no dates and some words and whole lines were missing.

    We were a bunch of boys in Company D, 62nd Penns Infantry. We were called the Elderridge Miss [sic] because we were from a place by that name in the ... of Western Pennsylvania [Elders Ridge is in southern Indiana County where it borders with Armstrong County] where Donaldson preached the gospel according to John Calvin and owned and conducted a school for boys called [Elders Ridge] Academy. We were the first bunch to answer the call to war from that community. We had some difficulty getting to the front. We were held for several weeks in Pittsburgh because more boys answered than the Government called.
    After the Battle of Bull Run had been fought and lost there was a hurry up call for us and we were soon ... Washington and across the Potomac ... the hills of Virginia. There we were made into seasoned soldiers by constant drill every day from morning to night. We had the parade ground in front of our camp tramped as hard as the alley ball court back of the old Academy.
    A much used military highway passed between our camp and the parade ground. Officers and staffs in new uniforms enjoyed galloping along the road kicking up dust that settled into our soup and coffee and caused us to use language that ...

[Here follows several unreadable lines]

... impertinent questions ... get that hat? Who made your coat? Where do you preach? What size are your boots? Who made them? Did you kill the cow and tan the hide yourself? He stood the gaff fine and said, "Boys, how is your soup?" Johnny Watson passed his up and said, "Taste it." The stranger tasted it and kept on tasting spoonful after spoonful until Johnny begged him to stop. Then he said, "How are your meats?" Hiram Klingensmith handed up his chunk. The stranger took a couple bites out of it and said, "It seems all right. It is sweet yet." Klingensmith said, "Turn it over." Stranger turned it over and grinned. Klingensmith made an unprintable remark about the hair on it. (Army bacon was not scalded and hair pulled off it, the hair was just mowed off with a butcher knife.)
    Bob Townsend said, "Stranger, where are you from?" He answered, "Illinois." John Henderson said, "What's your name?" He answered, "Lincoln." "Your first name?" Answer, "Abraham." Bob said, "That's the name of the president of the United States." The stranger said, "I am the man." We were all on our feet cheering the president and the regiment gathered around us and joined in the cheering. He made us a nice little speech and walked down the line.
    That was the first time we ever saw Abraham Lincoln. He tied us fast to him there and then and we always remembered that he tried to keep the dirt out of our soup. An order came out a day or so later that there was to be no racing on that road while meals were being cooked or eaten.
    We afterwards scolded Klingensmith for what he said about the hair on the meat but he begged off and said he didn't know that we were entertaining the President.

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This page authored and maintained by John R. Henderson (jhenderson @ icyousee . org), Lodi, NY.
Last modified: 24 February 2013