October 13, 2011

'Three Days in Camp': A Newspaper Editor's Visit

Location: Camp Wilkins, Pittsburgh, PA 15201, USA
J. M. Willis Geist, editor of the Daily Evening Express
From Ellis and Evans' 1883 History of Lancaster County

A strong theme that quickly emerges when researching the 79th Pennsylvania is the deep connection between the regiment and the hometown newspapers, especially the Daily Evening Express--the only daily paper at the way's onset and predecessor to the New Era (see examples of printing work here).  Its editor, J. M. Willis Geist (bio), started the paper in 1856 around the same time he was involved with starting Lancaster County's Republican Party.  Throughout the war, soldiers continuously requested their friends in Lancaster forward copies of the Express, and many of the regiment's diarists note regular arrival of the Express in camp.

Allegheny Arsenal, Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, PA
Just up the street from Camp Wilkins (Source)

Shortly after Col. Hambright's regiment left Lancaster, Geist traveled to spend three days, October 12-14, with the regiment in camp.  When he returned, he published the following account posted below in the October 16, 1861, Express (alternate link).  I truncated the company rosters mentioned in the account and will post them on another occasion.

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