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Francis R. Sbunk was chosen governor in 1845, and during his term of office the war with Mexico occurred. Two volunteer regiments, one under command of Col. Wynkoop, and the other under Col. Roberts, subsequently under Col. J. W. Geary, were sent to the field, while the services of a much larger number were offered, but could not be received. Toward the close of his first term, having been reduced by sickness, and feeling his end approaching, Gov. Shunk resigned, and was succeeded by the speaker of the senate, William F. Johnston, who was duly chosen at the next annual election. During the administrations of William Bigler, elected in 1851, James Pollock, in 1854, and William F. Packer, in 1857, little beyond the ordinary course of events marked the history of the State. The lines of public works undertaken at the expense of the State were completed. Their cost had been enormous, and a debt was piled up against it of over forty million dollars. These works, vastly expensive, were still to operate and keep in repair, and the revenues therefrom failing to meet expectations, it was determined in the administration of Gov. Pollock to sell them to the highest bidder, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company purchasing them for the sum of seven million five hundred thousand dollars.
In the administration of Gov. Packer petroleum was first discovered in quantities in this country by boring into the bowels of the earth. From the earliest settlement of the country it was known to exist, and it had been gathered in small quantities and utilized for various purposes. In 1859 Mr. E. L. Drake, at first representing a company in New York, commenced drilling near a spot where there were surface indications. When the company would give him no more money he strained his own resources and his credit with his friends almost to the breaking point, and when about to give up in despair finally struck a powerful current of pure oil. From this time forward the territory down the valley of Oil creek and up all its tributaries was rapidly acquired and developed for oil land. In some places the oil was sent up with immense force at the rate of thousands of barrels each day, and great trouble was experienced in bringing it under control and storing it. In some cases the force of the gas was so powerful on being accidentally fired as to defy all approach for many days, and lighted up the forests at night with billows of light. The oil has been found in paying quantities in McKean, Warren, Forest, Crawford, Venango, Clarion, Butler and Armstrong counties, chiefly along the upper waters of the Allegheny river and its tributary, the Oil creek. Its transportation has come to be effected by forcing it through great pipe lines, which extend to the great lakes and the seaboard. Its production has grown to be enormous. Since 1859 a grand total of more than three hundred millions of barrels have been produced in the Pennsylvania oil fields.
In the fall of 1860, Andrew G. Curtin was elected governor of Pennsylvania, and Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States. The war of the great rebellion followed, and in the spring of 1861 Pennsylvania was called on for sixteen regiments, her quota of the 75,000 volunteers that were summoned by proclamation of the President. Instead of sixteen, twenty-five regiments were organized for the three months' service from Pennsylvania. Judging from the threatening attitude assumed by the rebels across the Potomac that the southern frontier would be constantly menaced, Gov. Curtin sought permission to organize a select corps, to consist of thirteen regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and one of artillery, and to be known as the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, which the legislature, in special session, granted. This corps of 15,000 men was speedily raised, and the intention of the State authorities was to keep this body permanently within the limits of the com•monwealth for defense. But at the time of the first Bull Run disaster in July, 1861, the national government found itself without troops to even defend the capital, the time of the three months' men being now about to expire, and at its urgent call this fine body was sent forward and never again returned for the execution of the duty for which it was formed, having borne the brunt of the fighting on many a hard-fought field during the three years of its service.
In addition to the volunteer troops furnished in response to the several calls of the President, upon the occasion of the rebel invasion of Maryland in September, 1862, Gov. Curtiu called 50,000 men for the emergency, and, though the time was very brief, 25,000 came, were organized under command of Gen. John F. Reynolds, and were marched to the border. But the battle of Antietam, fought on the 17th of September, caused the enemy to beat a hasty retreat, and the border was relieved" when the emergency troops were dis- banded and returned to their homes. On the 19th of October Gen. J. E. B. Stewart, of the rebel army, with 1,800 horsemen under command of Hampton, Lee and Jones, crossed the Potomac, and made directly for Chambersburg, arriving after dark. Not waiting for morning to attack, he sent in a flag of truce, demanding the surrender of the town. There were 275 Union soldiers in hospital, whom he paroled. During the night the troopers were busy picking up horses—swapping horses perhaps it should be called—and the morning saw them early on the move. The rear guard gave notice before leaving to remove all families from the neighborhood of the public buildings, as they intended to fire them. There was a large amount of fixed ammunition in them, which had been captured from Longstreet's train, besides government stores of shoes, clothing and muskets. At 11 o'clock the station-house, round-house, railroad machine shops and warehouses were fired and consigned to destruction. The fire department was promptly out; but it was dangerous to approach the burning buildings on account of the ammunition, and all perished.
The year 1862 was one of intense excitement and activity. From about the 1st of May, 1861, to the end of 1862, there were recruited in the State of Pennsylvania 111 regiments, including eleven of cavalry and three of artillery, for three years service; twenty-five regiments for three months; seventeen for nine months; fifteen of drafted militia, and twenty-five called out for the emergency; an aggregate of 193 regiments—a grand total of over 200,000 men—a great army in itself.
In June, 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee, with his entire army of Northern Virginia, invaded Pennsylvania. The army of the Potomac, under Gen. Joseph Hooker, followed. The latter was superseded on the 28th of June by Gen. George G. Meade. The vanguard of the army met a mile or so out of Gettysburg on the Chambersburg pike on the morning of the 1st of July. Hill's corps of the rebel army was held in check by the sturdy fighting of a small division of cavalry under Gen. Buford until 10 o'clock, when Gen. Reynolds came to his relief with the first corps. While bringing his forces into action, Reynolds was killed, and the command devolved on Gen. Abner Doubleday, and the fighting became terrible, the Union forces being greatly outnumbered. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon the eleventh corps. Gen. O. O. Howard, came to the support of the first. But now the corps of Ewell had joined hands with Hill, and a full two-thirds of the entire rebel army was on the field, opposed by only the two weak Union corps, in an inferior position. A sturdy fight was however maintained until 5 o'clock, when the Union forces withdrew through the town, and took position upon rising ground covering the Baltimore pike. During tho night the entire Union army came up, with the exception of the sixth corps, and took position; and at 2 o'clock in the morning Gen. Meade and staff came on the field. During the morning hours, and until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the two armies were getting into position for the desperate struggle. The third corps, Gen. Sickles, occupied the extreme left, his corps abutting on the Little Round Top at the Devil's Den, and reaching, en echelon, through the ragged ground to the Peach Orchard, and thence along the Emmittsburg pike, where it joined the second corps, Gen. Hancock, reaching over Cemetery Hill, the Eleventh corps, Gen. Howard, the first, Gen. Doubleday, and the twelfth, Gen. Slocum, reaching across Culp's Hill—the whole being crescent shaped. To this formation the rebel army conformed, Longstreet opposite the Union left, Hill opposite the center, and Ewell opposite the Union right. At 4 p. M. the battle was opened by Longstreet, on the extreme left of Sickles, and the fighting became terrific, the rebels making strenuous efforts to gain Little Round Top. But at the opportune moment a part of the fifth corps, Gen. Sykes, was brought upon that key position, and it was saved to the Union side. The slaughter in front of Round Top at the wheatfield and the Peach Orchard was fearful. The third corps was driven back from its advanced position, and its commander, Gen. Sickles, was wounded, losiug a leg. In a more contracted position, the Union line was made secure, where it rested for the night. Just at dusk the Louisiana Tigers, some 1,800 men, made a desperate charge on Cemetery Hill, emerging suddenly from a hillock just back of the town. The struggle was desperate, but the Tigers being weakened by the fire of the artillery, and by the infantry crouching behind the stone wall, the onset was checked, and Carroll's brigade, of the second corps, coming to the rescue, they were finally beaten back, terribly decimated. At about the same time a portion of Ewell's corps made an advance on the extreme Union right, at a point where the troops had been withdrawn to send to the support of Sickles, and unopposed gained the extremity of Culp's Hill, pushing through nearly to the Baltimore pike, in dangerous proximity to the reserve artillery and trains, and even the headquarters of the Union commander. But in their attempt to roll up the Union right they were met by Green's brigade of the twelfth corps, and by desperate fighting their further progress was stayed. Thus ended the battle of the second day. The Union left and right had been sorely jammed and pushed back.
At 4 o'clock on the morning of the 3d of July, Gen. Geary, who had been ordered away to the support of Sickles, having returned during the night and taken a position on the right of Green, opened the battle for the recovery of his lost breastworks on the right of Culp's Hill. Until 10 o'clock the battle raged with unabated fury. The heat was intolerable, and the sulphurous vapor hung like a pall over the combatants, shutting out the light of day. The fighting was in the midst of the forest, and the echoes resounded with fearful distinctness. The twelfth corps was supported by portions of the sixth, which had now come up. At length the enemy, weakened and finding themselves overborne on all sides, gave way, the Union breastworks were reoccupied and the Union right made entirely secure. Comparative quiet now reigned on either side until 2 o'clock in the afternoon, in the meantime both sides bringing up fresh troops and repairing damages. The rebel leader, having brought his best available artillery in upon his right center, suddenly opened with 150 pieces a concentric fire upon the devoted Union left center, where stood the troops of Hancock, Doubleday and Sickles. The shock was terrible. Rarely had such a cannonade been known on any field. For nearly two hours it was continued. Thinking that the Union line had been broken and demoralized by this fire, Longstreet brought out a fresh corps of some 14,000 men, under Pickett, and charged full upon the point which had been the mark for the cannonade. As soon as this charging column came into view, the Union artillery opened upon it from right and left and center, and rent it with fearful effect. When arrived within musket range, the Union troops, who had been crouching behind slight pits and a low stone wall, poured in a most murderous fire. Still the rebels pushed forward with a bold face, and actually crossed the Uuion lines and had their hands on the Union guns. But the slaughter was too terrible to withstand. The killed and wounded lay scattered over all the plain. Many were gathered in as prisoners. Finally the remnant staggered back, and the battle of Gettysburg was at an end.
So soon as indications pointed to a possible invasion of the North by the rebel army under Gen. Lee, the State of Pennsylvania was organized into two military departments, that of the Susquehanna, to the command of which Darius N. Couch was assigned, with headquarters at Harrisburg, and that of the Monongahela, under W. T. H. Brooks, with headquarters at Pittsburgh. Urgent calls for the militia were made, and large numbers in regiments, in companies and in squadrons, came promptly at the call to the number of over 36,000 men, who were organized for a period of ninety days. Fortifications were thrown up to cover Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and the troops were moved to threatened points. But before they could be brought into action, the great decisive conflict had been fought, and the enemy driven from northern soil. Four regiments under Gen. Brooks were moved into Ohio to aid in arresting a raid undertaken by John Morgan, who with 2,000 horse and four guns had crossed'the Ohio river for a diversion in favor of Lee.
In the beginning of July, 1864, Gen. Early invaded Maryland, and made his way to the threshold of Washington. Fearing another invasion of the State, Gov. Curtin called for volunteers to serve for 100 days. Gen. Couch was still at the head of the department of the Susquehanna, and six regiments and six companies were organized, but as fast as organized they were called to the front, the last regiment leaving the State on the 29th of July. On the evening of this day, Gens. McCausland, Bradley Johnson and Harry Gilmore, with 3,000 mounted men and six guns, crossed the Potomac, and made their way to Chambersburg. Another column of 3,000 under Vaughn and Jackson advanced to Hagerstown, and a third to Leitersburg. Averell, with a small force, was at Hagerstown, but finding himself over-matched, withdrew through Greencastle to Mount Hope. Lieut. McLean, with fifty men in front of McCausland, gallantly kept his face to the foe, and checked the advance at every favorable point. On being apprised of their coming, the public stores at Chambersburg were moved northward. At 6 A. M. McCausland opened his batteries upon the town, but, finding it unprotected, took possession. Kinging the court-house bell to call the people together, Capt. Fitzhugh read an order to the assembly, signed by Gen. Jubal Early, directing the command to proceed to Chambersburg and demand one hundred thousand dollars in gold, or five hundred thousand dollars in greenbacks, and if not paid to burn the town. While this parley was in progress, hats, caps, boots, watches, clothing and valuables were unceremoniously appropriated, and purses demanded at the point of the bayonet. As money was not in hand to meet so unexpected a draft, the torch was lighted. In less than a quarter of an hour from the time the first match was applied, the whole business part of the town was in flames. Burning parties were sent into each quarter of the town, which made thorough work. With the exception of a few houses upon the outskirts, the whole was laid in ruins. Retiring rapidly, the entire rebel army recrossed the Potomac.
The whole number of soldiers recruited under the various calls for troops from the State of Pennsylvania was 366,000. In May, 1861, the Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania, an organization of the officers of the Revolutionary war and their descendants, donated $500 toward arming and equipping troops. By order of the legislature the sum was devoted to procuring flags for the regiments, and each organizaton that went forth was provided with one emblazoned with the arms of the commonwealth. These flags, seamed and battle-stained, were returned at the close of the war, and are now preserved in a room devoted to the purpose in the State Capitol. When the war was over, the State undertook the charge of providing for all soldiers' orphans in schools located in different parts of the territory, furnished food, clothing, instruction and care, until they should be grown to manhood and womanhood. The number thus gathered and cared for has been some 7,500 annually, at an average annual expense of some six hundred thousand dollars.
At the election in 1866, John W. Geary, a veteran general of the war, was chosen governor. During his administration, settlements were made with the general government, extraordinary debts incurred during the war were paid, and a large reduction of the old debt of forty million dollars inherited from the construction of the canals was made. A convention for a revision of the constitution was ordered by the act of April 11, 1872. This convention assembled in Harrisburg November 13, and adjourned to meet in Philadelphia, where it convened on the 7th of January, 1873. and the instrument framed was adopted on the 18th of December, 1873. By its provisions the number of senators was increased from thirty-three to fifty, and representatives from 100 to 201, subject to further increase in proportion to increase of population: biennial in place of annual sessions, making the term of supreme court judges twenty-one in place of fifteen years, remanding a large class of legislation to the action of the courts, making the term of governor four years in place of three, and prohibiting special legislation, were some of the changes provided for.
In January, 1873, John F. Hartranft became governor, and at the election in 1878, Henry F. Hoyt was chosen governor, both soldiers of the war of the Rebellion. In the summer of 1877, by concert of action of the employes on the several lines of railway in the State, trains were stopped and travel and traffic were interrupted for several days together. At Pittsburgh conflicts occurred between the railroad men and the militia, and a vast amount of property was destroyed. The opposition to the local military was too powerful to be controlled, and the national government was appealed to for aid. A force of regulars was promptly ordered out, and the rioters finally quelled. Unfortunately Gov. Hartranft was absent from the State at the time of the troubles.
At the election in 1882 Robert E. Pattison was chosen governor. The legislature which met at the opening of 1883, having adjourned after a session of 156 days, without passing a congressional apportionment bill, as was required, was immediately reconvened in extra session, by the governor, and remained in session until near the close of the year, from June 1 to December 5, without coming to an agreement upon a bill, and finally adjourned without having passed one.
James A. Beaver was elected governor of Pennsylvania in November, 1886, and is the present incumbent. He is a native of Perry county, Penn., and a graduate of Jefferson College. He read law, and was admitted to practice in 1859. In April, 1861, he went into the army as a first lieutenant, and served with distinction, being mustered out in December, 1864, with the rank of brigadier general. The most prominent law enacted during his administration, is the Brooks license law, passed in 1887. The proposed amendment to the constitution, prohibiting the manufacture or sale of intoxicants within the State,was voted on in the spring of 188i),and was defeated by a large majority.