Memorial Day, A Tribute to the Keystone Battery of Pennsylvania

Jeff Burgess

Joined April 2008

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Artist's Description

According to their website, the original Keystone Battery was organized in the early part of 1861 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a volunteer infantry company and was drilled as such until the early part of 1862, when it was formed into a light artillery battery. Shortly after converting to artillery tasking, its services were offered to the federal government as an independent battery for one year of service. Their offer was accepted in August 1862. 1862 was a very difficult time for recruiting into military service, and the Keystone Battery was required to furnish 150 men to fully equip it. The Keystone Battery opened its enlistment rolls for two days and had nearly 500 offers to enlist, clearly demonstrating the Keystone Battery’s popularity.

The Keystone Battery was first deployed as part of the defenses of the city of Washington. The war had not gone well for the Union forces prior to the entry of the Keystone Battery: a major defeat had been suffered at Bull Run and the Union incursion into Virginia had been repulsed at Fair Oaks. There was real fear regarding the safety of Washington. Confederate generals Lee and Jackson were poised to strike northward.

In late 1862, Lee moved through Maryland and struck into the fertile heartland of Pennsylvania. Keystone Battery was rushed by rail to Gettysburg, but was placed in reserve and saw no major action there. Following Lee’s withdrawal from Pennsylvania, the Keystone Battery engaged the enemy repeatedly in Virginia. At the expiration of its term of service, The Keystone Battery was returned to Philadelphia.

The Keystone Battery immediately opened a second enlistment and throughout the war kept its force in the field with repeated enlistments. Examination of the troop rosters for the various enlistments reveals that a veteran core of enlisted and officers remained in service with the Keystone Battery throughout the entire war. The Keystone Battery served with distinction during the war.

Subsequent to the Civil War, the Keystone Battery was reorganized and admitted into the Pennsylvania National Guard. The unit saw action during the labor riots of 1877, the Spanish-American War, and the coal strike of 1902.

See also:
The Civil War Archive, Union Regimental Histories, Pennsylvania, Battery “A”, 1st Regiment Light Artillery (43rd Volunteers) (webpage)

The History of Battery A (Formerly known as the Keystone Battery) and Troop A, N.G.P., Compiled and edited by Logan Howard-Smith and J.F. Reynolds Scott, Philadelphia, The John C. Winston Co, 1912 (PDF file, 4.66 MB)

This image combines the image of Lt. Ronald Evans, Commanding officer of the Keystone Battery of Pennsylvania, Batter ‘A’, 1st Regiment Light Artillery 43rd Volunteers. In the USA reinactors, such as Lt. Ronald Evans, go throughout the South and reinact the battles associated with this regiment. There are many folks who participate in these reinactments.

It is Memorial Day in the USA and this image is my contribution to the honorable tradition of honoring those who died in serving the country during war and peace.

Artwork Comments

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