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A Young Soldier

in the Army of the Potomac

Diary of Howard Helman, 1862

 

When the siege of Richmond ended in the summer of 1862 and Union armies retreated northward, President Lincoln issued a call for 300,000 additional volunteers. The threat of imminent invasion of the North stirred a patriotic response to that call for troops, and actions were taken to implement it. On July 7, the Adjutant General of the United States Army requested Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania to raise twenty-one new regiments immediately(1). In a speech at a mass meeting held at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, on July 24, Governor Curtin implied that those in the North who had discerned success in General McClellan's exploits in Virginia had only deluded themselves. The Union armies had been driven back to the gates of Washington, and, in this critical hour, he emphasized the need for a new effort to enlist men for the defense of the Union.

Recalling those days, one observer reported: "Many youths who had never hitherto entertained a thought of enlisting, suddenly felt themselves impelled to enroll.(2) A newspaper editor praised the noble example and the spirit manifested by young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one years who were responding to the call for troops.(3) In Lewistown, county seat of Mifflin County, Joseph S. Waream, who had served in the Logan Guards, a militia unit from Lewistown which had been among the first to reach Washington in I86I to defend the capital, made an appeal for volunteers.(4) To the

1 Under the Maltese Cross, Antietam to Appomattox. The Loyal Uprising in Western Pennsylvania, 1861-1865. Campaigns With Regiment, Narrated by the Rank and File (Pittsburgh, ), 46-47.

2 Ibid., Preface.

3 Lcwistown Gazette, Aug. 13, 1862.

4 Ibid., July30, 1862.

Reprinted with Permission from: the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 87 (1963), pp. 139-155 Arthur W. Thurner's "A Young Soldier in the Army of the Potomac: Diary of Howard Helman, 1862"

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