The area around White House on the Pamunkey River was already hot and disease was running rampantly through the troops of the Army of the Potomac that June 10th, 1862. Major General George B. McClellan was in the later stages of his Peninsular Campaign, readying to move on Richmond, and the division of Brigadier General George A. McCall had just begun to arrive. Late of Irwin McDowell's I Corps they would attach themselves to the V corps of Fitz-John Porter.
As if the anticipation of battle was not enough to fray the nerves of these Pennsylvanians, the sight that greeted them on the wharves upon landing, was. A number of undertakers had set up shop there, and one sign in particular would have stood out, a sign of ominous portent. It read:
“Undertakers and Embalmers of the Dead – Particular Attention payed to Deceased Soldiers.”
That would set a man to thinking he should cast away his playing cards and dice, perhaps even his pipe, and begin a new regimen of prayer to Almighty God. And even more so these men, for they were the Pennsylvania Reserves and the fighting down on the Peninsula would be their first real taste of the war.
My question though, has always been this: What other kind of soldier, other than a deceased one, would need the “Particular Attention” offered by these fellows?