The Civil War Years- Thomas Ackley Nichols – Part III

Civil War Years- Infantry
Part III

Camp Curtain, Harrisburg Pa, a rendezvous of the PA Volunteers

Camp Curtain 1862 , Harrisburg Pa, a rendezvous of the PA Volunteers. Image courtesy of Harpers Weekly, September, 1862.

When Fort Sumter was fired upon on April 12, 1861, news spread quickly across the nation, and patriotic men rallied to defend their country. Thomas A. Nichols was no exception; he hastened to Harrisburg where on 26 April he volunteered for three months of service in the Fifteenth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co G as a First Lieutenant. Like many of his fellow soldiers, Thomas likely thought that he would soon return home to his family. At age 37, Thomas was not a young man, but he was loyal and determined to do his duty. He did not realize how much he would sacrifice in the coming years.

The Fifteen Regiment formed at Camp Curtain, Pennsylvania, on the 1st day of May 1861. Camp Curtain was the largest Federal camp during the Civil War and was strategically located near a railroad to facilitate moving the troops. Thomas was one of 300,000 men who would be processed at Camp Curtain. After arrival, Thomas was issued his uniform, a musket, percussion cap box, cartridge box, a canteen, and a knapsack.

Camp Curtain

Camp Curtain – Image courtesy of Camp Curtain Historical Society

Next he moved with his regiment to Camp Johnston near the city of Lancaster. Here the men were fortunate to sleep in barracks since tents were not yet issued. It may have been the last comfortable bed Thomas was to sleep in for some time. Drill practice ensued, and the men were soon marched to Camp Patterson near Chambersburg, Maryland.

Their first encounter with rebel forces was on the 2nd day of July near Camp Porter, Virginia. Union skirmishers were sent out in advance of the column of soldiers. They encountered a battalion of cavalry men dressed in blue blouses who appeared to be fellow Union soldiers, but in reality were Confederates. The skirmishers were soon captured, rounded up, and hurried away; the rebels fled on horseback. Thomas escaped capture, but the predicament of the foot soldier who was unable to flee, nor pursue the enemy left an impression upon him.
When the Fifteenth Regiment was mustered out at Camp Carlisle on August 7, 1861 after three months of service, Thomas returned home, albeit briefly. He had come through his first exposure to war unscathed, but was convinced that there was a better way to serve, and it was not on foot as an infantryman.

Fifteenth Infantry PA Volunteers Route April-August 1861

Fifteenth Infantry PA Volunteers Route April-August 1861

© 2014 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.


Genealogy Sketch

Name: Thomas Ackley Nichols
Parents: Matthias Nichols and Sarah Ackley?
Spouse: Helena Knerr and Lillian Watson Bull
Children: John, Bertha, Charles and Mary, Florence, Howard

Relationship to Kendra: 3rd great grandfather

  1. Thomas Ackley Nichols
  2. John Mathews Nichols
  3. Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde
  4. John Frederick Hyde Jr.
  5. Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn
  6. Kendra

About treeklimber

An interest in history and travel lends itself to a passion for genealogy. The more I research, the more I realize there is to discover. It is a never-ending puzzle.
This entry was posted in Biographies, Military Service, My Family Ancestry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Civil War Years- Thomas Ackley Nichols – Part III

  1. Very interesting, looking forward to more of this story. Referring your blog post to some Nichols kinfolk of mine.


    • treeklimber says:

      Thank you, I keep hoping to connect with descendants from this Nichols family but have not found any members yet.


      • Paul Ditchey says:

        I am Thomas A. Nichols’ great-great grandson by his second wife, Lillie Bull Nichols. I liked your article. I also have a different photo of him in his uniform as well as one of Lillie Bull Nichols. I just visited his grave on saturday in Pottsville.


      • treeklimber says:

        One of the reasons I started this blog was to connect with descendants so I am very happy you wrote. Two years ago I visited his grave and posted it on findagrave. I would be thrilled if you could send me a copy of his photos. I have his obituary and his complete pension record plus information about his brothers.


  2. you may find connections to the PA. line in the Descendants of Thomas Nichols. try working up for a while instead of down.


  3. awesome. who is it?


  4. Pingback: EVERY PHOTOGRAPH TELLS A STORY – Mabel NICHOLS HYDE | trekthrutime

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