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A Brief History of the 13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

By  Patrick McSherry

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The 13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry served from May, 1898 until March, 1899. During this time, the unit stayed in the continental U.S.

Unit History:

The 13th Pennsylvania was formed with troops from the following counties:

Company A – Lackawanna (Scranton)
Company B – Lackawanna (Scranton)
Company C – Lackawanna (Scranton)
Company D  - Lackawanna (Scranton)
Company E – Wayne (Honesdale)
Company F – Lackawanna (Scranton)
Company G –Susquehanna (Montrose)
Company H – Lackawanna (Scranton)

The  13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was formed from the 13th Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard. The unit was first sent to the state muster point and training center at Mount Gretna’s Camp Hastings on April 28, 1898. The 13th was mustered into service on May 12-13. At the time of muster in, the 13th Pennsylvania consisted of thirty-six officers and 604 enlisted men. On May 19 was ordered to Camp Alger, near Dunn Loring, Virginia, where it arrived on May 20, 1898. At Camp Alger, the unit became part of the 2nd Army Corps, First Division, Third Brigade. Initially, each company consisted on 75 men and three officers. In June, each company was increased in size to 100 men and three officers.

13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in Camp

13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

Camp Alger suffered from the same problems as did many of the large army camps. Supplies were not available and the camp was able to be kept in a sanitary condition. Overcrowding was excessive. Disease became widespread, and took its toll. Frederick Stillwell, major of the 13th regiment commented:

“Camp Alger soon became known as a fever camp, and considering the fact that it was situated on low ground, with numerous small surface springs which soon became infected owing to the crowding of the troops, and that no disinfectants were furnished by the Quartermaster Department, , and the repeated recommendations of our National Guard medical officers were ignored by higher authority, it is astonishing that up to December1, we had lost only fifteen men by death from fever. Water had been ordered boiled, but our requisitions for boilers were held up for two months, and then returned with a request for specifications, as there was no such item on the army lit o supplies. In the meantime we had purchased boilers with private funds provided by our home people and the request for specifications was ignored.”

To attempt to improve conditions, the 13th Pennsylvania’s camp was relocated slightly, and the camps provided with a better layout. The change resulted in some improvement in the health of the unit. The  unit remained in the new camp until August 31, 1898, when it was ordered back to Pennsylvania’s new Camp Meade, located near Middletown. They were not to see action, since the fighting ended on August 13, 1898. On October 27, the regiment took part in the Philadelphia Peace Jubilee.

On November 14, the 13th  Pennsylvania was ordered south, to Camp Mackenzie near Augusta, Georgia. The unit was still part of the 2nd Corps, which was being held in reserve for the occupation of Cuba. However, it’s service in Cuba was not needed. When it arrived, it found it camp covered with scrub oak.. The men set to work clearing the land while a steady rain fell. Once the land was cleared, the camp was set up…only to have the unit receive orders to relocate its camp two hundred yards to allow for the nearly-cleared level land to be used as a parade ground. The 13th went back to work clearing the land for their new camp. The unit, previously nicknamed the “Lazy 13th” was now called the “13th Pennsylvania Land Improvement Association.”

Finally, on March 11, 1899, the 13th Pennsylvania was ordered to Scranton, Pennsylvania for mustering out. It arrived back in Scranton on March 13, 1899. At the time of muster out, the unit consisted of thirty-seven officers and 858 enlisted men. During its term of service, the unit lost one officer and twenty-one enlisted men to disease. Additionally, four enlisted men were court-martialed, ten enlisted men deserted and thirteen more were discharged on disability.

Joseph Cross, 13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 1898

An image of Joseph Cross, of Company B, 13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry


As a service to our readers, clicking on any title in red will take them to that book on

Mizelle, Phyllis Cross (image of Joseph Cross)

Sauers, Richard A., Pennsylvania in the Spanish-American War. (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, 1998). 2, 10, 22, 26, 46, 80, 81.

Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called into Service During the War with Spain; with Losses from All Causes. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).

Stewart, Adj. Gen. Thomas J., Record of the Pennsylvania Vounteers. (Harrisburg: William Stanley Ray, 1901), 529.

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