Camp Scott was a Civil War military training base located on the grounds of the York Agricultural Society’s Fairgrounds near the intersection of King and Queen streets in the southeastern quadrant of York, Pa. Named for Union general Winfield Scott, the camp hosted regiments primarily from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York in the first year of the war.
I recently acquired an original assistant quartermaster’s report from May 1861 signed by Lt. J. M. Campbell of the 3rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Thirty-nine-year-old Jacob Miller Campbell, a prominent businessman in Johnstown, Pa., had been a soldier only a month, having enrolled on April 20 in Harrisburg as the first lieutenant of Company G. The 3rd Pennsylvania was a three-month regiment, reflecting the optimism in the North that this would be a short-lived rebellion and the men would be home by summer. Campbell was soon promoted to Quartermaster.
Before the was he worked for a magazine publishing company in Pittsburgh and then with newspapers in New Orleans. He was engaged in steamboating on the lower Mississippi River from 1814 to 1847 and in gold mining in California in 1851. He aided in the building of the Cambria Iron Works in Johnstown from 1853 until he resigned in1861. Campbell was a delegate to the first Republican National Convention at Philadelphia in 1856.
Image of Camp Scott in York, Pa. from the New York Illustrated News, May 25, 1861.
Note the items requisitioned by the 3rd Pennsylvania — mostly paper items including stationery, printing blanks, and the official Regimental Book. On May 24, there is an expense associated with the Regimental Colors.
Jacob M. Campbell mustered out in July 1861 and returned home to Johnstown. The native of “white Horse” in Allegheny Township in Somerset County soon received an appointment as a colonel and was given the task of raising what became the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry. He enlistment papers indicate he was 5′ 10″ tall with dark hair and hazel eyes.
The 54th was primarily raised in Johnstown and Cambria County, with companies also from Somerset and Northumberland counties. They received training at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg and then spent most of the war guarding the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad from Cumberland, Maryland, eastward. The regiment participated in several battles in the Shenandoah Valley, including New Market, Piedmont, Lynchburg, Snicker’s Gap, Third Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, and others. Three men would received the Medal of Honor.
Colonel Campbell would lead his regiment throughout most its three-year enlistment until he received brigade command. He mustered out on September 3, 1864. He was brevetted Brigadier General, U. S. Volunteers on March 13, 1865, for “gallant and meritorious conduct as the Battle of Piedmont, Va., June 5, 1864”.
He returned to Johnstown as an influential civic and political leader, as well as a prominent businessman. He resided on Lincoln and Walnut Street (now the site of a Presbyterian Church).
Campbell was elected as a Republican to the 45th Congress. He lost a bid for reelection two years later, but then won again for the 47th, 48th, and 49th congresses before losing his bid for renomination in 1886.
In 1888 he received consideration as a leading nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania, but died that year on September 27.
The Johnstown Camp #14 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is named in honor of Jacob M. Campbell. He is interred in Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown (see his Find A Grave memorial for a photo of his monument). His wife filed for a widow’s pension on June 9, 1908, Application #896993, Certificate #668200.
For a complete biography of Congressman Campbell, click here.
I was very pleased to pick up Campbell’s signed document from Camp Scott for only $12.50 at the recent York Book & Paper Fair at the Holiday Inn in West York. Not a bad price for a signature of a four-term U. S. congressman on a document he penned at Camp Scott in York PA!
Follow Scott Mingus on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.