“Our Pottsville Volunteers” – A song about Schuylkill County’s brave Civil War soldiers

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the bravery and courage of the volunteer soldiers of Schuylkill County immediately became the stuff of legends. The famed “First Defenders,” a group that included a sizable number of men from Pottsville and surrounding communities, were among the first to arrive in Washington to protect the United States capital from potential attack by Southern rebels.

In the years that followed, the reputation of the units that were raised from Schuylkill County only grew. In 1863, a song-writer and musician in Philadelphia decided to croon about the bravery of these gallant soldiers of the Coal Region. Though the date of this song’s creation is unknown, clues within the lyrics suggest that this was written in the spring of 1863, during or immediately after the Battle of Chancellorsville.

It refers to the bravery of the officers who led the 48th, 50th, 96th, and 129th Pennsylvania regiments and the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Though there is no tune listed that this song was meant to accompany, by the lyrical patterns, this could possibly have been arranged to “The Bonnie Blue Flag.” That song, written as a Confederate war anthem, was often appropriated by Northern song-writers for their own cause.

From the collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Library of Congress

OUR Pottsville Volunteers

Composed and Sung by L. C. Crosland. 

 

Come, freemen lend an ear, I’ll sing to you a lay; 

Our Army has been moving, marching on the way; 

The column is in motion, the stars and stripes appears, 

Among them is our gallant men, Our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

Our soldiers they have gone to war, and left their homes and wives, 

In defence of our country’s cause, they’ve sacrificed their lives, 

Their battle-flag is hoisted, so proudly it appears, 

‘Tis carried by a noble band, our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

At Newbern, North Carolina, the rebels shared their fate, 

‘Twas there where Gen. Nagle he led the 48th; 

The rebels they were put to rout and scattered into fears, 

For they could’nt stand the press of our Pottsville Volunteers. 

General James Nagle (48th Pennsylvania Blog)

 When first we met disaster ’twas at the battle of Bull Run, 

The teamsters they skedaddled, and scattered all to fun; 

The rebels they were routed, but our men they had no fears— 

For they knew we had some Union boys, our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

They thought McClellan fast asleep, now just see what he done; 

He led our large army and marched on Bull Run; 

The rebels they skedaddled, and scattered into fears— 

For they knew we had some Union boys, our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

A victory comes to show how well our boys do fight, 

Yorktown we have taken, and put the foe to flight; 

The rebels have evacuated, and scooted off like deers— 

For they could’nt stand the press of our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

At Malvern Hills you all well know the rebels were badly fixed; 

‘Twas there where Col. Cake, he led the 96th; 

The Rebels they are routed, and scoot off like deers— 

For they could’nt stand a charge from our Pottsville Volunteers. 

Colonel Henry L. Cake of the 96th Pennsylvania (Library of Congress)

Our next move was for Richmond, and then to Charleston, 

To plant the flag on Sumpter’s walls, where first this war began; 

Then traitors they shall die, and treason soon disappears— 

We’ll rally round that good old flag, our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

In Nashville, Tennessee, the foe was put to flight, 

‘Twas there where Col. Wynkoop, he made the Rebels fight; 

He made them all skedaddle and shout into fears— 

We cant stand the sabres of The Pottsville Volunteers. 

Colonel George C. Wynkoop, 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry (Find-A-Grave)

 At Fredericksburg the other day, I’m sure you all do know, 

‘Twas there where Gen. Hooker, he fought the retreating foe; 

The enemy was routed, and thrown into fears— 

For they soon found out the spirit of our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

The rebels they were positive that they would us all lick, 

But indeed they was mistaken when they met with Col. Frick; 

He made them all skedaddle and scoot off like deers— 

For they could’nt stand the press of our Pottsville Volunteers. 

Colonel Jacob G. Frick of the 129th Pennsylvania

 When first they crossed the river, the Rebels at them did point, 

Until they received a volley from the 129th; 

It made them all give up, and run into fears— 

For they couldn’t stand a volley from our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

But still we cheer our Generals, who our battles they have planned, 

We’ll not forget the gallant men who followed their command; 

And those that read our history will say in future years— 

God bless the dead of our gallant men, our Pottsville Volunteers. 

 

H Johnson, Printer, No. 7 North 10th street,Philad’a.


Featured Image: Officers of the 50th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry in 1865. This was a unit made up primarily of men from Schuylkill County.  

Read more of our posts about the Civil War in the Coal Region HERE. 


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