“…the enemy opened upon them with a terrific fire of artillery, but with no better results, every volley from the enemy’s musketry, and every discharge from his cannon, seeming to give renewed energy to our brave men, and to increase their determination to maintain their position at all hazards, and against any assault the enemy might be capable of making against them. There was no wasting of ammunition here; every man fired with the utmost coolness and deliberation, taking careful and steady aim at his object, as if firing at a target for a prize; not a man flinched under the terrible fire to which he was now subjected…”
– Colonel Orlando Morris
U.S. 3rd Corps
28 April 1863
The Battle of Chancellorsville would be the first major action seen by the 140th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment. The 140th was mustered in Sept. 8, 1862, and would see action over the next three years until being mustered out May 31, 1865. They participated in many of the Civil War’s major battles such as Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, the siege of Petersburg, and the Appomattox Campaign.
The men from the regiment were recruited from Beaver, Greene, Mercer, and Washington counties. Company C was made up primarily of men from Washington County. Before leaving Washington, Company C paraded down East Maiden Street, and then turned south on Main Street, marching up Gallows Hill where they would rest before continuing their march to meet up with the rest of the regiment. They rested on property owned by Dr. Francis LeMoyne. In 1876, many years after the Civil War, LeMoyne built his crematory on the land where the company had taken a brief respite.
In 2018, working with the web series Searchers, a survey was performed of the property surrounding the crematory. This consisted of both metal detecting and archaeological surveys. During their metal detecting survey, Rich Baker and Bryan Cunning found many historical artifacts. Those included an 1825 Spanish Real, a 1799 French Decime, several Civil War period projectiles, and the object pictured here.
This object, found by Rich Baker, is a latchet for a dispatch case. After doing some research and consulting with a few historians, it was determined that this is a Civil War era latchet. This latchet, and the other Civil War period items found during the survey, help to tell the story of these men marching through Washington, and then resting on top of the hill. As they rested on the hill, they would look down on their homes for the last time before they went off to war … a war that many of them, like Capt. David Acheson, would never come home from.
This object, and the others found, are now in the collection of the Washington County Historical Society. If you would like to see the episodes of Searchers filmed at the Crematory, they are available at wchspa.org/searchers and are also available on YouTube.
Clay Kilgore is executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.