The first company from Allegheny county, Pa., that entered the service of other states, was the organization that bore this name in the Second Virginia regiment. The company was organized in Pittsburgh and Allegheny by Major Abijah Ferguson, an old Mexican veteran, who being rather feeble for active service, the command devolved upon Captain A. C. Hayes, who was chosen to that office, with D. L. Smith, first lieutenant, and Oliver R. West, second lieutenant. It was among the first companies organized after the attack upon Fort Sumpter, and immediately tendered its services to Gov. Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania. So anxious were the men to serve their native state, that they sent Lieut. Smith to Harrisburg, personally to urge the acceptance of their services, presuming from the fact of his having recently been a member of the legislature, that he could prevail upon the Governor to accept them. The quota of the state having been filled, however, Lieut. Smith was informed that his company would have to wait another call for troops. The men now became impatient, and in the midst of the excitement of the occasion, news came that the enemy had captured Harper's Ferry, and taken possession of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, were moving on the Pennsylvania line, and were menacing Wheeling, Va. The loyal people of Wheeling called for aid, and this company, then known as the "Washington Rifle Guards," chartered the steamer McCombs and took passage for Wheeling, arriving there on the 10th of May 1861. On the 21st of May 1861, Major James Oakes of the U. S. army, mustered them into the service of the United States for three years. This was the first company of Pennsylvanians that was mustered for three years service, all the troops that were mustered prior to that time, being known as three months men.
On the morning of the 25th of May 1861, the company, together with the First Virginia Infantry, three months troops under command of Col. B. F. Kelley, left Wheeling and advanced along the line of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad toward Grafton, which place was then held by the enemy.
At Glover's Gap, company A was detached to guard that important position, and more particularly to break up a rebel military organization, known to be in that section, under command of Captain Christian Roberts. On the morning of May 27th, a detachment of the company under command of Lieut. West, encountered Captain Roberts and a portion of his command, and in the fight that followed, Captain Roberts was killed, being the first armed rebel soldier that fell in the war. Thus the honor fell to this company of killing the first armed soldier of the confederacy. Jackson, the slayer of the gallant Colonel Ellsworth, killed a few days previously, was a civilian, while Captain Roberts was a regularly mustered officer of the confederacy. After this the company went to Grafton, where it lay while the battle of Phillippi, the first battle of the war, was being fought some sixteen miles away.
Upon General George B. McClellan assuming command of the army in Western Virginia, Company A was detailed as his body guard, along with one company of infantry of the U. S. Regular Army, and remained at his headquarters as such, during the time he remained in command of that department, participating in his successful Western Virginia campaign which terminated in Beverly, from which point General McClellan was called to Washington, after the first battle of Bull Run, to take command of the armies of the United States. Company A always retained the most pleasant recollections of their campaign under General McClellan, as his body guard. His engaging manners, and sense of justice to his men, greatly endeared him to his soldiers.
The following is the muster out roll, showing list of members and their record. The company was mustered into the U. S. service at Wheeling May 21, 1861, and mustered out June 14, 1864. All the members not otherwise marked, were mustered out with the company. The recruits, and veterans were transferred to the 6th West Virginia cavalry when the company was mustered out.
NOTE: ROBERT R. MORRIS - Marked in Company A roster, page 44, "Deserted March 2, 1863; should read, "Discharged by order of Secretary of War."
Albert C. Hayes, the first captain of Company A, was born in Pittsburgh, in the year 1837, being only twenty-four years of age when he assumed command in April, 1861. He had been but lately married to an exceedingly bright and handsome young lady, and on the evening before departing for the seat of war, he marched the company up to his residence, where his wife, on behalf of herself and other ladies, presented the company with a handsome bunting flag, which their own fair hands had made. This flag was carried by the company through its three years term, and is now in 1he custody of comrade Wm. H. Graham, of that company, to whom it was given by Cap. Oliver R. West, who brought the company home in June, 1864. Cap. Hayes served as commander of the company during Gen. McClellan's successful Western Virginia campaign, and resigned July 22, 1861. After returning home, he engaged in the planing mill business in Pittsburgh. He represented that city in the Legislature of Pennsylvania in 1874. He removed to the West about 1886, and his present whereabouts are unknown.
William Otto, Company A's second captain, was born in Germany in 1828, and came over to this country when a young man. He enlisted in the regular army and served ten years on the western plains. Shortly before the war he left the army and accepted a position as first mate on an Ohio river steamer. While his boat was lying at the Pittsburgh wharf, Fort Sumpter was fired upon, which aroused the old martial spirit in him and he enlisted in Cap. Hayes' company. On account of his army experience and knowledge of tactics, he was elected orderly sergeant. He was an excellent drill master and a brave officer, and upon the resignation of Cap. Hayes, he was commissioned captain and served as such until March 13, 1862, when, owing to a misunderstanding with a superior officer, he tendered his resignation. He afterwards served as an officer in Hancock's Veteran Corps, until the conclusion of the war, when he went back to his old em~ployment on the Ohio river, and if now living his whereabouts are unknown.
John A. Hunter, Company A's third commander, was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1831, and came to this country when fourteen years of age. He located in Pittsburgh and learned the trade of cabinet making. He had an extensive furniture establishment there when the war broke out. He and Cap. Alexander Scott, afterwards lieutenant colonel of the regiment, recruited Company F, and as second lieutenant accompanied it to Wheeling, Va. He was promoted to first lieutenant and finally, March 20th, 1862, was promoted to captain and assigned to the command of Company A. He served with great gallantry during the Fremont and Pope campaigns. After the West Virginia campaign, August 1st, 1863, he was relieved from command and returned to Pittsburgh. After the war he engaged in business in the Pennsylvania oil regions, Venango and Crawford counties, for a number of years, but afterwards returned to Pittsburgh and engaged in the grocery business. He was elected school director and served as such several terms. He married Miss Mary Fowler and has seven children, all living. He has now retired from active business, though still residing in Pittsburgh.
Oliver R. West, the fourth and last commander of Company A, was born in Allegheny county, Pa., October 17th, 1829. He learned the trade of machinist, and was employed as such when the war broke out. He was elected second lieutenant of the company and participated in all the marches, campaigns, skirmishes and battles of the company during its three years hard service. He was promoted to first lieutenant March 1st, 1862, and finally captain August 18th; 1863. He had a constitution like iron, that enabled him to be always ready for duty, and on hand in every fight. At the battle of Allegheny Mountain he was wounded in the knee, and narrowly escaped death. Lieut. Sickman, of Company G, who was temporarily acting as first lieutenant of Company A, was mortally wounded and died in his arms. His bravery and many sterling qualities endeared him to the men of his company and he was familiarly termed by them "Old Standby." He brought the company home to Pittsburgh, and then settled down to his trade of machinist, and as such is still employed in Allegheny. He never married, but faithfully supported and resided with his aged mother until her death in 1890.
David L. Smith was born in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 1826, and moved with his parents to Pittsburgh in May 1836. He was married to Elizabeth Gordon in September 1852, who died in 1877; was married to Helen M. Armstrong in 1879, and moved to Chester county in December 1881, where he now resides and is engaged in farming. He was elected a member of the Common council of Allegheny City in 1854, and served one year; was elected to the legislature of Pennsylvania in 1854 and served in the session of 1855. He was a clerk by profession, and in 1861 when the war of the rebellion commenced, was chief clerk in the commissioner's office of Allegheny county. After the war, in 1861, he was again elected amembet of common councils of Allegheny City, and a member of the school board, in which he served eleven years. At the election in 1867, he was again elected to the Legislature and represented Allegheny county in the session of 1868.
He took an active part in forming and organizing a company of volunteers, then known as the Washington Rifles, of which he became first lieutenant.
At Grafton on the 25th of May, he was detailed as acting assistant quartermaster and commissary of subsistence, in charge of posts all over Western Virginia. In August 1861, on the resignation of Capt. A. L. Hayes, he was promoted to the captaincy of Company A and went to Beverly to take command of the company, but General McClellan would not relieve him from his detail as assistant quartermaster, remarking that "good quartermasters were harder to find than good captains."
On the 19th of February 1862, he was appointed by the Secretary of War a commissary of subsistence, with the rank of captain. In June 1862 he was ordered on duty on the staff of General Sigel at Martinsburg, Va. In September 1862, he was assigned as acting chief commissary of subsistence of the Twelfth Army Corps, General Mansfield commanding. In March 1863 he was assigned to 5th Corps Headquarters, General George G. Meade commanding, as acting chief commissary of the Corps, and on the 25th of September 1864, was made chief commissary of the Fifth Corps, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He served on the Fifth Corps staff until the corps was disbanded in September 1865, and was honorably discharged on the 16th of March 1866, having remained on duty as post commissary of subsistence at Baltimore, Md., until that date, when he was relieved from duty by one of the officers of the regular army, thus serving continuously from May 19th 1861 to March 16th 1866 or 4 years, 9 months and 27 days.
James Black was born in Canada, in 1826, and followed lumbering most of the time. He was sojourning in Pittsburgh when the war broke out, and enlisted as a private in Company A; was elected fifth sergeant and gradually worked his way up until March 1st, 1862, he was commissioned second lieutenant. He was a brave officer and served with credit through the campaigns under Gens. Fremont and Pope. After the battle of Antietam the regiment was transferred to Western Virginia, and while lying at Beverly, May, 30th, 1863, he returned to civil life. After the war he removed to Big Swamico, Brown county, Wis., where he engaged in the lumbering business and is still residing there. He led the squad while at Beverly, 1862-63, that captured Hornet, a bushwhacker in the mountains, and was with the picket at Beverly bridge, when the confederate force attacked our camp in April, 1863.
James R. Hutchinson is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., born in the year 1838. After receiving a common school education he worked in a printing office for a number of years. He then served an apprenticeship of four years at the engine works of Robinson, Minis & Miller. After thus learning his trade, he was employed on locomotive work in the Connellsville Railroad Shops. While serving his apprenticeship in 1857, he joined a volunteer rifle company and drilled faithfully in the manual of arms, marching and skirmish drills, thus obtaining that knowledge that was of such great service afterward in the dark days of the sixties. The opening of the war found him employed at the engine works of Nuttall & Kirkpatrick, in Allegheny. He promptly enlisted and was mustered into the service for three years in Company A as first duty sergeant. By strict attention to duty and bravery in action, he was promoted to orderly sergeant, and August 18th, 1863, to second lieutenant. He richly merited and deserved promotion to first lieutenant, and would undoubtedly have received it, but unfortunately was sent out, September 25th, 1863, to an exposed and defenseless picket post on Cheat river, thirteen miles from nearest support, with a small force of thirty men, where he was surrounded and surprised at night by a rebel battalion commanded by Major Lang, and after brief resistance, during which one of his command was killed and several wounded, he and the rest of the squad were captured. He was kept a prisoner until close of the war, being transferred from Richmond, Va., to the following rebel prisons: Danville, Va.; Macon, Ga.; Charleston and Columbia, S. C.; Goldsboro, Raleigh, and Charlotte, N. C. Lieut. Hutchinson was a universal favorite, not only in the company, but also in the regiment, on account of his good humor and jollity. He always had a smile or joke ready to enliven the gloomiest march: He was married April 26th, 1866, to Miss Mary E. Corken, whose father was a soldier and was killed in the battle of Cedar Mountain, Va. After Lieut. Hutchinson returned to civil life, he started in the steam engine and machine business, in Allegheny, and still continues at it. He has been commander of Post 88, G. A. R., and also commander of Encampment No. I, Union Veteran Legion.
Wm. H. Graham, corporal Company A, was born in Allegheny, Pa., August 3d, 1844. He attended the public schools until fourteen years of age, when, owing to the death of his father, he as the oldest son, was compelled to leave school and seek employment, to help support his widowed mother and family. He was in the employ of Maffit & Old, brass manufacturers, when Fort Sumpter was fired upon, and although not seventeen years old, he managed to get enrolled in the Washington Rifle Guards, afterwards Company A, and was mustered into tqe United States service for three years. He participated in most all of the engagements, scouts, and campaigns with his regiment. Was wounded in the right arm in the battle of Rocky Gap, and after a few months sojourn in the West Penn Hospital, at Pittsburgh, rejoined his regiment in time to start with the expedition under Gen. Averill, culminating in the brilliant victory of Droop Mountain. Upon the expiration of his three years term, he accepted service in the quartermaster's department, and was attached to Gen. Sheridan's headquarters during that dashing general's brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, resulting in the great victories of Winchester, Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek, where Sheridan made his famous ride. He also accompanied Sheridan in his march across Virginia and ride around Richmond, joining Gen. Grant at Petersburg; thence Gen. Sheridan, with his cavalry and the Fifth Corps of Infantry, swung around Lee's flank and fought the decisive battle of Five Forks, breaking Lee's line and capturing Petersburg, and compelling the evacuation of Richmond. During these operations and the vigorous pursuit of Gen. Lee's army, he served as a volunteer aid, and it was while carrying a message to Sheridan, the eventful 9th day of April, 1865, that he rode out between the two lines of battle to the little village of Appomattox, and there, in the house of Mr. McLain, had the rare good fortune to be one of the few spectators that witnessed the memorable interview between the two great generals, that terminated in the surrender of Gen. Lee. After taking part in the grand review at Washington he returned to civil life. He was engaged in the wholesale leather business in the firm of Graham & Spangler, then became chairman of Mansfield & Co., Limited, brass manufacturers. He also took an active part in Republican politics, being elected a member of common councils, Allegheny, in 1873, member of select councils 1874, and member of the House of Representatives, Pennsylvania, 1875, 1876, 1877 and 1878. He was elected recorder of deeds of Allegheny county in 1881, and is now serving his ninth year in that office. He was married September 30th, 1869, to Miss Sadie K. Shields, and they have had six children.
The subject of this sketch is a native of Armstrong county, Pa., born at Freeport, October 11, 1838. He received a common school education, and removed to Johnstown in 1859, where he engaged in the manufacture of fire brick until the spring of 1860, and then went to Miltenberger, Fayette county, Pa., and was employed as foreman in the Miltenberger fire brick works until he enlisted. in Pittsburgh, becoming a member of Company A. He served his full enlistment, and was a brave soldier, almost to rashness, and as true as steel. He was a universal favorite, on account of his unfailing good humor, and good qualities as a man. When mustered out, he re-enlisted in an Independent Battalion of Pennsylvania troops, and served until November 14, 1864, when he was honorably discharged. He was so crippled with rheumatism that he had to give up the manufacture of fire brick, and accepted a position as salesman in the Cambria Iron Company's store, Johnstown, Pa., where he has been for nearly 21 years.
FRED H. BRAUN.
| "A" | "B" | "C" | "D" | "E" | "F" | "G" | "H" | "I" | "K" |