28, 1861, Andrew J. Fulton of Stewartstown mustered 63 southern York County
men at Camp Scott, York, Pennsylvania, to form the beginnings of Company
C, 87th Pennsylvania Regiment. The company reached its full complement
of 100 men a month later. Captain Fulton commanded the company until September
1862 when he accepted the colonelcy of the 166th Pennsylvania Regiment.
Captain Murray S. Cross then assumed command.
On September 29, 1861, Company C and four other companies traveled by
rail to Cockeysville, Maryland, to help guard the many vital bridges on
the Northern Central Railroad between the Maryland border and Baltimore.
The regiment spent an uneventful winter stationed over a 30 mile stretch
of the track. On June 22, 1862, the eager boys of the 87th boarded a train
and headed west only to find themselves saddled with more railroad guard
duty, this time the supply depot at New Creek, Virginia (now Keyser, West
Virginia). They spent two hot summer months performing inconsequential
picket duty until beginning four months of grueling mountain marches in
a fruitless search for Rebel guerrillas. On December 24, the exhausted
regiment, now part of General Robert H. Milroy's 8th Corps, was assigned
a permanent camp at Winchester, Virginia.
had eluded the 87th Pennsylvania but it arrived shockingly on June 13,
1863. Confederate General Richard Ewell's corps, on its way to destiny
at Gettysburg, swamped Milroy's badly outnumbered garrison at Winchester.
The 87th suffered one-third casualties, primarily captured, sending every
man for himself. Those who escaped reformed into two units, one at Harpers
Ferry, West Virginia and the other at Bloody Run, Pennsylvania. Not until
late September did they reunite as members of the 3rd Corps, Army of the
Potomac. In November they took part in the abortive Mine Run campaign
and spent the winter camped at Brandy Station, Virginia.
The following March the regiment was transferred to General John Sedgewick's
6th Corps and took part in the bloody battles of the 1864 Overland Campaign.
In July they were detached to General Lew Wallace only to suffer defeat
at the Battle of Monocacy. Later, detached duty sent them to the Shenandoah
Valley to engage in the more successful battles of Fishers Hill and Opequon
under General Phillip Sheridan.
In October 1864 their three-year enlistment had expired. Those who had
not re-enlisted returned to a grateful York to a celebratory feast given
by the town at the Army Hospital at Penn Commons. The 200 remaining members
of the regiment played an important role at the Battle of Cedar Creek.
There, Corporal Daniel Reigle of Company F earned the regiment's only
Medal of Honor. The regiment returned to Petersburg, Virginia, and were
part of the action that broke the Confederate lines there. Recruits and
conscripts filled out the muster rolls, and the now full-sized regiment
took part in the smashing victory at Sailor's Creek in April 1865. They
were encamped just a few miles from Appomattox Court House when General
Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant.
June 14th, 1863, the 87th Pennsylvania Regiment, as part of the 8th Army
Corps under the command of General R. H. Milroy, occupied the fortifications
just outside of Winchester, Virginia. There they were assaulted by superior
numbers of Confederate forces under General Jubal Early and a fierce battle
ensued. Outnumbered and low on rations and ammunition, Milroy decided
to withdraw and under cover of darkness, the men evacuated the fortifications.
Less than five miles from Winchester, the Federal forces encountered the
enemy en masse near the railroad tracks at Carter's Woods (Stephenson's
During the fierce fighting that followed, Corporal Johnston Skelley
of Company F, fell mortally wounded. Less than three weeks later on the
morning of July 3rd, as Skelley lay dying in Winchester, his fiance, Jennie
Wade was struck in the back by a Confederate sniper's bullet, killing
her instantly. Dying with a picture of Skelly in her pocket, she became
the only civilian killed at the battle of Gettysburg. On July 12th, Skelley
succumbed to his wounds. Neither ever learned of the other's fate.