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NP: October 21, 1864 The Bedford Inquirer: Co. K, 208th PA Arrives at the Siege of Petersburg, Late September 1864

COMPANY K, 208th Reg[imen]t., P[ennsylvania]. V[olunteers].
Sept., 23d 1864.


Permit me through your columns to give the readers of Bedford county further particulars of the organization of company K, 208th Reg[imen]t., P[ennsylvania].V[olunteers].1

1st Serg’t, James R. O’Neal.

2nd Serg’t, William H. Bates.

3rd Serg’t, Wilson M. Williams.

4th Serg’t, Oliver C. Ramsey.

5th Serg’t, James H. Foor.

1st Corporal, George Riley.

2nd Corporal, Samuel W. Williams.

3rd Corporal, John W. Sams.

4th Corporal, Joseph S. Bussard.

5th Corporal, Joseph Messersmith.

6th Corporal, George Hevener.

7th Corporal, Jacob Chamberlain.

8th Corporal, George F. Staily.

Volunteers are pouring in very fast, and a more orderly body of men have not met together in a military capacity since the commencement of the war. Six full regiments are now in this camp, and in close proximity to Butler’s intrenchments.2 The “Dutch Gap” canal work is progressing favorably and will be completed shortly.3 The Company’s health is good and all are looking forward to the election of Old Abe with much anxiety; of course they don’t look for the election of anybody else. The Johnnies say if McClellan is elected, their independence shall be established and the war shall go on, but if Lincoln is elected they will give up, for they are fully associated with Lincoln’s policy.4

Brisk firing is kept up day and night, all along the line. Very heavy cannonading greets our ears every hour, but there is little harm done by the rebel guns.

Since the magnificent victory of Gen. Sheridan in the Shenandoah valley[5 SOPO Editor’s Note: Sheridan fought Jubal Early and won a smashing victory on September 19, 1864 at the Third Battle of Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley.], the Johnnies are very pouty; some of our boys ask them if they ever heard of Gen. Sheridan. They then get their muskets up and if the Yank leaves his head up two minutes, it is a target for Johnny’s shot.

We are all very anxious to see the Bedford Inquirer. We will send you some new subscribers very soon.

Very Resp[ectfully]. yours,


SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Roy Gustrowsky.

If you are interested in helping us transcribe newspaper articles like the one above, please CONTACT US.

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: The 208th Pennsylvania had just been organized in August to September 1864, and hadn’t left for the front until September 13, 1864, just a week and a half before this letter was written.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: I am speculating here a bit, but the six regiments were probably all “high number” Pennsylvania regiments which ended up being grouped into a Provisional Brigade that manned the Bermuda Hundred line until December 1864.  A quick look at Dyer’s Compendium shows the regiments were probably the 200th, 205th, 206th, 207th, 208th and 209th Pennsylvania. If you know of any other source which might shed light on the specific regiments, please Contact Us.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Dutch Gap Canal was Army of the James commander Benjamin Butler’s pet project.  He was trying to do what Grant had tried at Vicksburg: bypass a Confederate held point by creating a canal at the base of a small peninsula.  By creating this canal, Butler was hoping to bypass the Howlett House battery at the western end of Trent’s Reach on the James River. Like Grant’s Vicksburg Canal, this canal would not truly be successful at changing the course of a river until after the war.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: As so many other letters around this time did, this letter contains some speculation on the outcome of the Presidential Election of 1864.  As with most soldiers in the Army of the James and Army of the Potomac, these men wanted Abraham Lincoln to win.
  5. “Company K, 208th Regt., P. V.” The Bedford Inquirer (Bedford, PA), October 21, 1864, p.1, c.6.
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Sue Fox Moyer September 26, 2021, 7:22 pm

    I am beyond words to find these letters written home from Petersburg by my Great-great Grandfather, John Emanuel Satterfield.
    The Bedford Gazette still is in operation so I guess they still own the copyright. I will check via my Newspapers.com acct. i really would like to bring this to their attention.
    John lived to be 100. Thank you, thank you again.

    I was helping another person in finding their Civil War ancestor.

  • Brett Schulte September 27, 2021, 7:50 am


    I’m glad I was able to connect you to the writing of your ancestor. By all means please do bring it to their attention. They should be able to do some Civil War posts on the anniversaries of these letters. There are dozens of them, and I only covered 1864-65. Any newspaper articles (and books for that matter) written before approximately 1923 are in the public domain. So anyone can use them, despite the New York Times’ ridiculous subscription model.


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