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Federal (USV)


George J. McKinny

(c. 1843 - ?)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 128th Pennsylvania Infantry

Before Antietam

Age 19, he enlisted in Reading, PA on 5 August 1862 and mustered for a term on 9 months as a Private in Company B, 128th Pennsylvania Infantry on 14 August in Harrisburg. He was promoted to Corporal on 16 August.

On the Campaign

He was wounded in the right hand in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862:

Shortly after daybreak our division was ordered to the front to relieve the "Pennsylvania Reserves" who had been doing picket duty all night and who opened the fight with the rebels in the morning. We marched forward from our place of bivouac in a ploughed field, for some distance when we were halted in a "corn field" for about fifteen minutes. Here would have been the place for - had any of the men been so inclined - to shirk their duty. But none were so. We were then ordered to forward at a charge on the double quick. There was a small party of rebel sharpshooters in our front in the woods whom we easily dislodged obliging them to flee for safety. We were then immediately upon our arrival at the front line ordered to charge into the "Corn field".

This order was very near not being executed as our "Colonel" was at this time Killed and the Lieutenant Colonel wounded and the Major I dont know where. But Capt Wm Andrews of company "C" [E] led us on. Poor fellow he never came out as he went in at the head of the men but his body was recovered by some of the men towards evening, dead, with bullet holes and bayonet thrusts through different parts of his body.

We did not hold the field but a short time when we were obliged to fall back to our own lines. It was shortly after this that I was wounded. It happened thus. I had placed the cartridge into the bore of the rifle and was about to put in the ramrod to charge it home and for that purpose had my right hand high up in air when I was struck in the back part of the hand by a "Minnie Rifle" ball which entered the hand between the thumb and forefinger passing out at the little finger. I immediately left the front for the rear of the battle field and after some search found the surgeon "Doctor Helwig" of my Regt.

He after carefully examining my hand told me it could not be saved but would have to be amputated. I would not at first agree to this so he bandaged it up for the time being. Towards evening the hand had become completely discolored, black, and I then went to the Doctor and told him if he could not save, to cut it off. He then amputated it.

The rest of the War

I lay on a pile of straw in the field that night and next day was sent with others to the [Lyceum Hall] hospital at Hagerstown. Here I remained two days and then was sent to Harrisburg and next day I went to the Hospital at Reading. Here I remained while I received my discharge which is dated Philadelphia Pennsylvania November 29th 1862.

References & notes

His service from Bates1 and the Register,2 as George P.J. McKinney. Hospital details from Nelson.3 The quotes above from a letter of 16 July 1867 he wrote entering a left-hand penmanship contest, now at the Library of Congress.


c. 1843


1   Bates, Samuel Penniman, History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg: State of Pennsylvania, 1868-1871  [AotW citation 23967]

2   Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Adjutant General's Office, Register of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, 16 volumes, Harrisburg  [AotW citation 23968]

3   Nelson, John H., As Grain Falls Before the Reaper: The Federal Hospital Sites and Identified Federal Casualties at Antietam, Hagerstown: John H. Nelson, 2004, pg. 314  [AotW citation 23969]