Featured Article: O.O. Howard’s Honorary Degree

By Ryan Nadeau ’16

“Oliver Otis Howard, 1830-1909, bust portrait, facing left; in uniform.” Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Digital ID: cph.3b00473. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-52494.
“Oliver Otis Howard, 1830-1909, bust portrait, facing left; in uniform.”
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Digital ID: cph.3b00473. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-52494.

On 11 August 1866, Major General Oliver Otis Howard, Director of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands and former commander of the Union Army’s XI Corps, wrote to D. A. Buehler, Chairman of the Pennsylvania College Board of Trustees, to thank him for the award of an honorary degree. Only two days before, on 9 August 1866, the board had voted to confer unto Howard the honorary LL.D, or Doctorate of Laws.

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Folly at Fredericksburg: A Wound to the Pride of the 127th PA

By Kevin Lavery ’16

War games and drilling, though essential to military training, are no substitute for the real thing. They have their place: soldiers must be able to react automatically in the most straightforward of circumstances so that they can focus their energies on the less-predictable aspects of battle when the stakes become real. As the Dauphin County Regiment dove into its first battle, fresh from guard duty, the men had no idea of what they would face on the slopes of Marye’s Heights. The regiment showed courage and valor, but ultimately lacked discipline in the face of fire.

After three months in Washington, the Dauphin County Regiment was at last headed south. Resentment in the ranks at the last-minute transfer had been replaced by enthusiasm for the coming battle. At last, the men were to see the fight they had enlisted to join.

As the regiment marched across the Rappahannock River, General Oliver Howard chided the men who ducked away from shells, which were “‘not half as dangerous as they seem[ed].’” Perhaps not, but they were certainly dangerous enough to make Captain William Fox – a disinclined Confederate draftee who had deserted in favor of the Union – the regiment’s first casualty of battle. A shell landed directly beneath Jennings’ horse, but fortuitously it was a dud. Minutes later, when Howard himself was caught flinching away from an incoming shell, an anonymous member of the regiment smugly reminded him of his own advice. Humbled, Howard admitted that “dodging appears to be natural.”

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