By Matt Borders
Samuel Johnson – 9th Pennsylvania Reserves (38th Pennsylvania Infantry)
Born: January 28, 1845
Mustered in: July 27, 1861
Assigned to: Company G, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves
WIA: September 17, 1862
Transferred to: Veteran Reserve Corps – 6/4/1863 as a 2nd Lieutenant
Samuel Johnson of Connellsville, Pennsylvania, was the oldest of eight children, only 16 when he enlisted in 1861. He had attempted to enlist in April of that year but was turned away due to his age. Following the Union disaster at Bull Run that July however, recruiters were far less picky, and Samuel was sent to Pittsburgh to muster into Company G, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, later known as the 38th Pennsylvania Infantry.
The 9th Pennsylvania Reserves had been ordered to Washington, DC on July 22, 1861 and arrived there four days later. Samuel Johnson mustered into Federal service on July 27, 1861, with the regiment completing its muster the following day. The regiment spent time in camp training in Washington, DC, as well as Tennallytown (Tenleytown). The 9th Pennsylvania Reserves also helped build Fort Gaines and picketed Great Falls, MD where they skirmished with Confederate troops on the opposite shore. On September 21, the regiment turned in its Harpers Ferry muskets and received new Springfield Rifles prior to being reviewed by Major General McClellan, Governor Andrew Curtin and the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron. Soon afterward the 9th Pennsylvania Reserve was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, commanded by Brigadier General George McCall. 
This is the twelfth essay in our monthly series “Finding Antietam – A Guide’s Story.” Each month, we’ll feature the story of one of our guides and what sparked their interest in Antietam and the Civil War and why they became an Antietam Battlefield Guide. Antietam Battlefield Guide Matt Borders shares his story this month.
When it comes to my involvement with Antietam National Battlefield I can honestly say it grew out my love of Civil War history as a whole. I got hooked on this history when I was nine years old, after a family vacation that had included a stop at Gettysburg National Military Park. I was fascinated by the idea that the country had torn itself apart and had managed to, albeit imperfectly, stitch itself back together. This was the point I began to understand the power of these historic landscapes to relate to visitors and to tell their stories.
I devoured pretty much anything Civil War-related through high school, aided by a best friend who was easily as big a nut as I was. It was during this period I got involved with reenacting and living history, portraying Union artillery up in Michigan. It was a good hobby and gave me the briefest glimpse into what the Civil War might have been like for the men in the ranks. It was also at this time that I began to consider a career in history.
After a brief stint in pre-Vet, I registered as a history major at Michigan State University. I was fortunate to have a variety of supportive professors that not only encouraged my passion for history but challenged me to look at the larger context of history, how the American Civil War plays into American and indeed world history as a whole. Those lessons stuck with me and along with my interest in the historic landscapes themselves, I cast about looking for a summer internship or job that could aid in this. Thus in the summer of 2002, I got picked up as an intern at Antietam National Battlefield.
I thought I prepared myself pretty well. I read the classic works on Antietam and had a good idea of the flow of the battle. It was only after getting here and working with the rangers and volunteers that I realized just how little I actually knew about the campaign and how the battlefield terrain dictated the movements and positions of the armies. I had a lot to learn! Continue reading →