Wesley W. Davis’ Civil War Experience

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Wesley W. Davis’ military pension application information arrived yesterday. Although there was very little additional family information I did learn a good deal about what his military life was like.


The 39th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment was organized in June of 1861, My second great Uncle Wesley W. Davis was one of its members. This was the 10th reserve regiment and was made up of men from the western part of Pennsylvania and rendezvoused at Camp Wilkins, Pittsburgh.  The length of service for this regiment was three years.


The regiment was mustered into service in Harrisburg and moved to Washington, D. C. Private Wesley would serve for a year before being shot for the first time. In August of 1861 he would be located in Tennallytown and then was on to Great Falls and assigned to the third brigade. He would winter in 1861 in Langley and fight at Dranesville in December.


In the spring of 1862 he was a part of the battle of Mechanicsville and then wounded in the back of the left leg in the Gaine’s Mill battle, June 27, 1862, Virginia. The battle at Gaine’s Mill was a scattered confusing mess and anyone not wounded severely was expected to continue fighting and did not receive medical attention.


On June 30, 1862, Wesley was captured and taken prisoner. He would be sent to Libby Prison in Virginia and remain there through July and August. He would also spend time in a camp at Belle Isle, Virginia. In August he would be included in a swap of men and released. By this time his leg was healing on it’s own and causing Wesley some difficulty causing what he claimed to be large blue varicose veins.


On his release he rejoined his regiment and would fight in the second battle of Bull Run. The second day of the battle, August 29, 1862, Wesley would be shot again. This time the bullet entered his right ankle and then proceeded into the ball of his left foot. Talk about bad luck. Casualties would be heavy for both sides during this day of battle.


This time the wound would take him out of combat action. For the next year they made Wesley a Provost Marshal and his responsibilities would have him riding a horse looking for Union deserters.


His injury claims for his pension would include the wounds from the 2 gunshots, a rupture from jumping a ditch causing a hernia and piles (hemorrhoids) from riding the horse chasing deserters for a year. Before his death his monthly claim payout would be $12.00, raised from the original $5.00.



  1. With all of the disease in the camps and prisons it’s amazing that he survived the war, especially with an untreated wound.

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