THE Purnell Legion Maryland, Volunteers, consisting of nine com- panies of infantry, two companies of cavalry, and two batteries of light artillery were recruited under the auspices of the Hon. William H. Purnell, Postmaster at Baltimore, Md., at Pikesville Arsenal, near Baltimore, between October 31, 1861, and December 31, 1861. The Legion was raised, under special authority of the Secretary of War, to serve three years.
Upon the resignation of Colonel William H. Purnell, in February, 1862, the Legion organization was discontinued and the different arms of the service—infantry, cavalry and artillery—were made independent of each other.
PURNELL LEGION REGIMENT INFANTRY.
The Purnell Legion Infantry, Maryland Volunteers, was organized at Pikesville, near Baltimore City, Md., between October 31, 1861, and December 31, 1861, to serve three years. The command consisted of nine companies, of which A, B, C, H and K were recruited in Baltimore City, Company E in Cecil County, Company F in Baltimore County, Companies D and G in Somerset and Worcester Counties.
The command, after being drilled and disciplined and prepared for field duty, was assigned to Dix's Division, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1862, and then assigned to the Middle Department, 8th Army Corps, until May 25, 1862. The command formed a part of General Lockwood's Brigade that drove out all armed bands of the enemy from the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
At the time that General Banks' Division was driven out of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in May, 1862, the command was sent hurriedly to Harper's Ferry, Va., where, with other troops, they succeeded in preventing the further advance of the enemy.
The command was then assigned to the 2d Division, 2d Army Corps, Army of Vir- ginia, and, under General Pope, participated in his campaigns in Northern Virginia in the summer of 1862. The command distinguished itself in the battle at Catlett's Station, Va., August 22, 1862.
The command was then assigned to the 3d Brigade, 2d Division, 12th Army Corps, until October, 1862, and, with that Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac, partici- pated in the battle of Antietam, Md., September, 1862.
After the battle of Antietam the command was assigned to the 2d Brigade, 2d Divi- sion, 12th Army Corps, until December, 1862, when the command was again assigned to the Middle Department, 8th Army Corps, until May 26, 1864, and performed duty in that department until assigned to the 2d Brigade, 2d Division, 5th Army Corps, when, with this Army Corps, it participated in all the severe battles, marches and hardships incident to the movements of Grant's Army until October 24, 1864, when, upon the expiration of their term of enlistment, the original members, except veterans, were mustered out of service, the veterans and recruits being transferred to and consolidated with the 1st Maryland Infantry, Veteran Volunteers.
The command, during its term of service, marched eight hundred and eleven (811) miles, travelled three hundred and sixteen (316) miles by railroad, and six hundred and fifty-three (653) miles by boat—an aggregate of one thousand seven hundred and eighty (1780) miles.
The command participated in the following engagements and battles, viz.; Harper's Ferry, Va., May 29-30, 1862; Antietam, Md., September 17, 1862; Harper's Ferry, Va., July 27, 1863; Shady Grove, Va., May 30, 1864; Bethesda Church, May 31 and June 1, 1864; Cold Harbor, Va., June 2-5, 1864; assault on Petersburg, Va., June 18,1864; siege of Petersburg, Va., June 19, October 24, 1864; Weldon Railroad, August 18-21, 1864; Poplar Springs Church, Va., September 30, 1864; Chapel House, Va., October 1-3, 1864; Peeble's Farm, Va., October 7-8, 1864.
The casualties in the command were as follows, viz.: Killed in battle, died of wounds, etc., one commissioned officer and forty-two enlisted men. Died of disease, etc., one commissioned officer and seventy-three enlisted men; or a total death list of one hundred and seventeen.
Text courtesy of the Maryland State Archives, Archives of Maryland Online, Purnell Legion Infantry.