Heading home… without knowing it.

Posted on June 12, 2013 by


As we continue to move forward to the Sesquicentennial of Gettysburg, I’m also reminded… for whatever reason, why today, I have no clue… that there were also soldiers from Gettysburg, heading home… though, at this point, 150 years ago… that wasn’t what they were thinking.

I realize there was more than just one company of men headed home, but my thoughts focus on Co. K, of the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves. Just 150 years ago on June 4, they had paused to have this photo taken at Fairfax Court House…


They wouldn’t cross the Potomac at Edward’s Ferry until later in June, but Capt. H.N. Minnigh remembered as they closed-in on their home town…

When approaching the familiar haunts of former days, and some of the company began to recognize well known faces, though themselves unknown, it was amusing to note the surprise of the citizens, upon hearing their names deliberately called out by the unknown soldiers. “Vy Chon, for vat de defil you left dem repel soljers gum up heyr, Yey?” John’s reply was, “Why, Uncle Sam, it was all planned out so that I could get home to see my Mammy.”

To lay joking aside, it was a serious matter to be thus summoned in defence of our own homes. We had gone out two years before, to conquer the enemy on his own soul, but were now returning, after two years of struggle, to meet him face to face at our own door. What the feeling of each member of the company was, under these circumstances, may be better imagined than described, for we have seen enough of the ravages of warfare in the south-land, to cause us to be anxious for the welfare of our loved ones, now exposed in like manner.

stewartwilliamwarrenAlong with the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves was William Warren Stewart (seen in the photo to the right), who had been appointed lieutenant colonel only a months before. Though a distant second cousin to me, he was descended from two branches of my family… the McKinney and Quigley branches… and was a grandnephew to my fifth great grandparents. Furthermore, while the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves weren’t around the Winchester area at the time of the advance of the Confederates, at this time 150 years ago… Stewart (and I) had cousins who resided there, and have a different opinion on the war. Descendants of that family… the Hollingsworths… lived just to the east of what today is known as “Old Town Winchester”… in a place known as “Abram’s Delight“.

I suppose what this tell us (and, perhaps, to some degree, a continuation of the lesson from yesterday’s post) is… they really weren’t so far removed from one another… many of those who were on opposite sides.

*Lt. Col. W.W. Stewart and the 1st Pa. Reserves started their part in the battle on the northern decline of Little Round Top, facing the Wheat Field. For some great reminiscences from members of Co. K, 1st Pa. Reserves, I highly recommend Capt. H.N. Minnigh’s book, History of Company K, 1st (Inft.) Penn’a Reserves, which was republished by Thomas Publications, Gettysburg, Pa., in 1998.