site logo
D.S. Wilkinson

D.S. Wilkinson

Federal (USV)


David S. Wilkinson

(c. 1840 - ?)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 124th Pennsylvania Infantry

Before Antietam

Age 22, from Coatesville, PA, he enlisted on 1 August 1862 in West Chester and mustered as Corporal, Company D, 124th Pennsylvania Infantry on 8 August in Harrisburg.

On the Campaign

Like many soldiers, his focus was on his stomach on the march in Maryland that September. On the 10th, for example:

I was on guard all day; we marched about 15 miles, and I went to sleep without any supper.
On 11 September:
Started on march without breakfast; we passed through the town of Damascus and encamped for the night. It rained all night and I got wet. I was so hungry that Morgan Pinkerton and I broke camp and found an old house in which an aged couple lived; they baked us a great, big corn cake and boiled string beans and potatoes. We furnished coffee and sugar and we had a good time, and gave the old folks a dollar. We ate so much that we could hardly get to camp in the dark and rain.
The next day he wrote "tired, hungry, and not enough water to drink. I came near giving out, but I stuck to it."

On the 13th:
Started at sunrise; marched all day, and stopped near Frederick City for the night. Lieutenant Isaac Finch and I went into town and found an old Chester County [PA] man, and he gave us a first-class supper.
They left Frederick on the 14th and were not engaged on South Mountain that day. David did not mention food.

On the 15th:
Marched a short distance early in morning, and stopped to get something to eat. I found a cornfield, made a fire, and filled myself full of corn and coffee. Started again about 10 A. M. ...
On the 16th ...
... All I could get to eat during the day was a few army crackers, but in the evening live steers were driven into camp and killed. Started march again at 11 P. M., and marched until 3 A. M., when we lay down in the mud in a plowed field.
About his experience at Antietam on 17 September 1862 he wrote:
We were hurried forward, and Company A passed through Miller's yard, crossed the [Hagerstown] pike, past the barn into the field, advanced part way up the hill, and lay down [near Miller's famous cornfield]. We were soon ordered up, and the Rebs fired at us; one ball took off my cap and nearly took my little finger, and one passed through the right sleeve of my coat. We were again ordered to lie down, and in a few minutes were ordered forward [into the cornfield]. I had fired about three loads when a ball went through my [right] leg.

The rest of the War

He was treated at a field hospital near the battlefield and then sent on to a hospital in Hagerstown. On 26 September he was moved to the Academy building on E. Queen Street in Chambersburg, PA, and on the 29th to a hospital in Harrisburg. On 15 November he was discharged from the regiment on a Surgeon's Certificate of Disability, and was sent home to Coatesville on the 21st. He noted that the "doctor said I would never get well."

He enlisted again, on 16 June 1863 as a Private in Myers' Company of Independent Cavalry for service during the "emergency" and mustered out with them after the invasion threat was over, on 31 July.

After the War

In 1910 he was still living in Coatesville, a shoe maker with his own shop at 240 Main Street, and was by then a widower living with his daughter's family. He served in the Pennsylvania National Guard, was a member of the GAR, and was active in regimental reunions to at least 1915. He was among the men of the 124th who raised funds for their monument at Antietam (1901-04) and was present at its dedication on the battlefield on 17 September 1904.

References & notes

His service information from the Register 1 and Bates.2 Further details from his own diary, quoted above, and his picture, from a photograph, both in the History.3 Personal details from the US Census of 1910.

More on the Web

A treasure trove of objects including his diary and other documents, pictures, veteran memorabilia, and guns were sold by Perry Adams Antiques.


c. 1840


1   Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Adjutant General's Office, Register of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, 16 volumes, Harrisburg  [AotW citation 23848]

2   Bates, Samuel Penniman, History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg: State of Pennsylvania, 1868-1871  [AotW citation 23850]

3   Green, Robert McCay, compiler, History of the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion 1862-1863, Philadelphia: Ware Brothers Company, printers, 1907, pp. 110, 111, 157, 305, 365, 392  [AotW citation 23849]