Back in the Day: Where Men and Boys - Part 2 of 3
One true moment of glory for the 111th came when they pressed into Atlanta and took the city. See how Erie played its role in America?s Civil War.
Part 2 in a series of 3. Camp Reed was a Civil War training facility located on what is now the corner of Bufflao Road and East Avenue on Erie's East Side.
On August 30, 1861, Matthias Schlaudecker, who had been a Major in the "Wayne Guards" and also a Major General of Militia in Pennsylvania, wired Gov. Andrew Curtin for authority to recruit a new regiment from northwestern Pennsylvania. Upon receiving approval, Schlaudecker set out to raise a second regiment from the Erie area. Schlaudecker sought support of Thomas M. Walker, a civil engineer from Erie and George A. Cobham, Jr. of Warren in raising the new regiment. He also renamed "Camp McLane" after a prominent Erie citizen, General Charles M. Reed, who at the time of his death in 1871, left an estate of nearly $15 million. The mansion that C. M. Reed built is located on the northwest corner of Perry Square and is known today as "The Erie Club."
Schlaudecker realized that morale among his men would greatly improve if they had proper food and housing. The old fair buildings were upgraded and great stoves were requisitioned to keep them warm. Headquarters were established in newer buildings near by Camp Reed. Schlaudecker, born in Bavaria, filled the regiment with a cross section of men with many men of German and Irish lineage found in its ranks but the bulk was native born. Schlaudecker ran the camp under military law and obtained new percussion cap weapons for the guards. A hard taskmaster, every minute of every day was filled with prescribed duties. Food was a ration of hard bread, beef or pork, beans, coffee, and sugar. Those who were closer to home enjoyed food and clothing deliveries from family members. Those from outlying areas were not so lucky.
A typical day at Camp Reed under Schlaudecker's command would start with falling into ranks at 6:30 a.m. for muster and inspection. Breakfast was at 8 and sick call at nine. The regiment was divided into companies of one-hundred men each and they would compete for awards in drilling. Drill would last until lunch and then continue until dress parade, where the regimental band would be stationed behind Schlaudecker and would play while he would review the troops. A school for officers was established, and it met daily. The result of this discipline was a splendid "esprit de corps." During the evening hours the officers would meet and would frequently draw up "Resolutions" concerning the war effort, which would appear in the local papers.
On January 24, 1862 the regiment was filled and elections were held with Schlaudecker being elected Colonel, George A. Cobham, Jr., Lt. Colonel, and Thomas M. Walker, Major. On February 24, marching orders were received and the regiment was to move to Baltimore via Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg on the railroad.
On February 27, they received their rifles, and the regiment then marched across the capital grounds to receive their colors from Gov. Curtin. The regiment was commissioned as the 111th Pennsylvania Volunteers and fought at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg as part of the Army of the Potomac, and then, as part of the Army of the Cumberland, at Wauhatchie, Lookout Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, Savannah, Raleigh, and the surrender of Johnson's Army. They also participated in the "Grand Review" in Washington, D. C. on May 24, 1865. The Regiment was mustered out of service on July 19, 1865. Their total losses were 304 officers and men.
One true moment of glory for the 111th occurred when they were ordered to "press" into the City of Atlanta to determine the strength of Confederate forces. Finding little opposition, the column reached City Hall where it formed a line of battle, unfurled its battle-stained flags and received the surrender of the city. Lt. Colonel Walker, then Commanding Officer of the 111th, took the city in the name of General Sherman, who telegraphed President Lincoln that, "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won!" The whole north burst into enthusiasm over the great victory. The population of northwestern Pennsylvania was exceptionally proud of the accomplishments of its regiment.
The purpose of the Harborcreek Historical Society is to promote awareness of the history and heritage of the Harborcreek area. The Society is located in Knowledge Park near Penn State Erie, the Behrend College campus, and maintains a library and archives that is free and open to the public. Visit our website at www.harborcreekhistory.org for hours and special events information. The Harborcreek Historical Society is a member of Erie Yesterday, a consortium of Erie County historical societies and museums.