Edmund Townsend papers  1862-1864
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Biography

Townsend, Edmund

Rank : Quartermaster

Regiment : 3rd Delaware Infantry Regiment (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 Spring-1865 June 3

Edmund Townsend is as pugnacious a soldier as ever is likely to be found. He enlisted as Quartermaster in the 3rd Delaware Infantry, which was planned as early as December, 1861, but was not filled out until the following Spring. Raised primarily in the middle and southern portions of the state, the 3rd Delaware mustered in at Camp Fisher, near Camden, Del., under the command of Col. William O. Redden and Lt. Col. Samuel H. Jenkins. The regiment was ordered to assist in the defence of Harper's Ferry in May, 1862, where they saw their first action. En route, a train carrying Townsend, the Colonel, troops and supplies ran off the tracks, crushing a number of men and horses, and destroying much of the unit's equipment. Townsend managed to survive uninjured by leaping from the train, and he participated in efforts to rescue the survivors trapped inside the wreck.

In the summer of 1862, the regiment was engaged at Sulphur Springs, Chantilly, and Antietam, but following the latter battle, they were assigned to garrison duty at Frederick City, Md. After a year of comparative quiet, they transferred to garrison duty at Relay House, Md., as part of the Middle Department of the VIII A.C. under Robert Schenck.

Redden resigned his commission in January, 1863, and was replaced as colonel in March by Jenkins. Townsend, who seems to have gotten along with Redden, quickly developed a deep and mutual animosity for Jenkins. It appears that Jenkins brought Townsend before a court martial at least twice in 1863, though the specific charges are not known. Characteristically, Townsend did not submit passively to his arrest, instead proferring countercharges against Jenkins (as he did at other times against others) and using all the influence he could muster in his defence. Townsend's charges may have included the assertion that Jenkins refused to allow leaves of absence to soldiers to return home to vote in the 1863 congressional elections. In a letter to his brother, Townsend wrote that Jenkins feared the election would be a close one and wished to prevent soldiers from voting for the Republican candidate, and eventual victor, N. B. Smithers. Townsend effectively used Smithers' influence, letters of support from Col. Redden, and petitions to General Schenck not only to gain his own release, but to lead to the arrest of Jenkins in December, 1863. Jenkins was later acquitted, according to Townsend, by Freemasons on the court who let him off so that he could save the disgrace of dismissal by voluntarily resigning.

In April, 1864, the regiment was reassigned to V Army Corps, and took part in many of the major battles in central Virginia between the Wilderness and Cold Harbor through the end of the war. After the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, the regiment was consolidated into the 1st Delaware Infantry, and was mustered out at Arlington Heights on June 3rd, 1865.