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Camp Crossman is Populated and Supplied

The members of the group of men formerly known as the Tyrone Cavalry, Company D, 14th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, under the command of Captain James Crowther, was eager to go back to active duty. On September 5, 1861 the following appeared in a local newspaper, the Huntingdon Globe:
MOUNTAIN ENCAMPMENT – This camp is located at Cold Springs on Shoemaker’s farm, three miles from Huntingdon. The camp was opened on Wednesday morning (Sept. 4). – the first company entering was from Tyrone, Capt. Crowther’s. In the afternoon, a company from Woodberry, Bedford County, also went into camp. The ground is splendid for the purpose for which it has been selected – fine water and shade in the immediate neighborhood, and the right distance from town. Several additional companies are expected to arrive in camp within a few days. We hear the Colonel William G. Murray of Hollidaysburg is raising a regiment to enter this camp.
I think it is very significant that James didn’t arrive in camp alone. The fact that the other members of his troop returned with him is a demonstration of his leadership abilities. These men had received an honorable discharge just as James had. If any of them were unhappy with his leadership style this would have been a good time to jump ship. The fact that they chose to return with him demonstrates he had the ability to perform the duties of a command position in a wartime environment. It is an indication that he was indeed prepared to play a larger role.
Since Camp Crossman was less than twenty miles from Tyrone it wouldn’t take long for James to get home. It would have been a rather quick commute by train but sometimes duty calls and you have to work late at the office. One such occasion happened to James just two days after the article above appeared in the Huntingdon Globe. James wrote a letter to Sarah, the only one that survives from Camp Crossman, on September 7, 1861. In it he told her:
It is impossible for me to get home this evening as Lieut. Holliday was sent out to Bedford Co. for to bring two companies and will not be back till Tuesday and General James will be here on Monday and I want to see Him. We have got good quarters and two companies here now and one will be here this evening.
It sounds like James is pleased with the camp but something is on his mind that he wants to talk over with the general. If his concern was for shelter for the men who were at the camp, the problem was solved in a couple of days. On September 10th the Huntingdon Globe reported:
MOUNTAIN ENCAMPMENT – Two carloads of tents, etc. arrived for the encampment yesterday. We have been assured that a full regiment will be in the field within a week.
On the 12th, the Huntingdon Globe reported the arrival of a couple of additional companies. As always there would be opportunity for others to join if they were so inclined.
MOUNTAIN CAMP – On Tuesday, a company from Blair County, Capt. J.M. Bell, and another from the lower end of the county, Capt. Benner, went into camp. Both companies want more men to fill up.
On Wednesday, a company from the upper end of this county, Capt. G.W. Patterson, went into camp. This company also wants men to fill up.
An item published in the Shirleysburg Herald, another local Huntingdon County newspaper, on the 13th of September provides a few more details regarding conditions at the camp and who is in charge:
MOUNTAIN ENCAMPMENT – We visited this camp on Wednesday morning and found it a rather rough and romantic spot (as it’s name indicates). It is three and one half miles from Huntingdon, on the road leading to the Warm Springs. The ground is an open field of perhaps six acres, quite undulating, and entirely surrounded by woods. There were four Companies (rather parts of Companies) in camp, numbering about two hundred men in all. Col. James of Philadelphia is the Commanding Officer of the camp; but he having not yet arrived, Capt. Crowther of Tyrone is in temporary command. The tents are new and good. They kept the men entirely dry during the rain on Tuesday night.
If he read this article, General James may have written a letter to the newspaper concerning their attempt to reduce him in rank. Of more importance to us is the news that James has been placed in temporary command of the camp. Perhaps this was a result of the meeting with General James that he spoke of in his September 5th letter. The camp is taking shape and will soon be ready to perform the function for which it was established, training soldiers for combat.
Next: Visiting Camp Crossman