By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
The name Cook Neilson is remembered by the Troopers of the 1960’s as one who served
his time on the Active Roll, but then faded from view as he went on to other pastures. His
“pastures” were not of the equine variety, however, but were found on the hot, hard macadam of
the racing oval. Cook Neilson might be one of the most famous Troopers of the past fifty years,
who no one in the Troop today knows. Here is his story.
Clarence Pell Neilson, No 1847 was born in Glen Cove, New York in 1943 and raised in
Wilmington, Delaware in the 1950’s. At the end of June 1963, having just completed his
freshman year at Princeton, Cook saw his future as: finishing college, getting his military service
completed and strapping on a neck time and embarking upon a predictable career in business.
What he really wanted was to own a motorcycle. As a teen his parents had allowed him to own a
Vespa scooter, and he worked at a polo stable in Chester County to pay for it. The Vespa which
his parents thought was safe, was, in fact, more dangerous that a motorcycle. As Neilson
observed, “Little did they know, the Vespa was lethal. While it wasn’t fast, it had no brakes and
wasn’t very stable with its wheelbarrow-sized tires. I crashed three times just getting it home.”
He bought his first motorcycle from Tommy Hannum’s cycle store in Media, a Harley 883.
Returning to Princeton where he studied English Literature, Neilson got himself
into trouble. At the time, Princeton had a rule prohibiting students from having motor vehicles
on campus. Neilson got around the rule by keeping the bike secretly stashed away in the
basement of his Princeton Eating Club. One day, while tooling around on the bike, a police
officer pulled him over for having a bent license plate. As a result of this bust, Neilson was
suspended from Princeton for one academic year. This unexpected hiatus brought Cook to the
Troop which elected him in June 1965.
Back at school a year later, he expected to embark upon a Wall Street career and to that
end spent one Summer before graduation as an intern municipal bond trader. He also began
seriously driving in drag racing events and soon his Harley Sportster morphed into a full-fledged
fuel dragster. When not racing, and while still completing his degree at Princeton, Neilson began
submitting articles on drag racing to Cycle World and The Enthusiast, Harley-Davidson’s
monthly magazine. Right out of college in 1967, and while still on the Active Roll, Neilson was
hired to the staff of Cycle World. The editor of Cycle, Gordon Jennings moved to Car & Driver
and at age 26, Cook Neilson became the Managing Editor of the world’s largest motorcycle
Knowing he needed help, Cook recruited and academic an motorcycle enthusiast from the
University of Wisconsin, Paul Schilling to be his partner at Cycle. The two embarked upon a
successful partnership and life-long friendship. Moving the magazine from New York to
California, Neilson and Schilling grew Cycle’s circulation to close to half a million subscribers.
Now deeply ensconced in Southern California’s racing culture, Cook began in 1973 to race
motorcycles. His bikes of choice, the Italian Ducati GT and the Ducati SS750. By 1976, he was
on the professional tour and finished third at Daytona. In 1977 Cook racing the 750SS won the
checkered flag at Daytona beating the second place finisher by 28 seconds. After the ’77 season
Neilson retired from racing. He was 34 and had compiled a record of 20 wins in 39 races, 4
crashes and 4 Did Not Finishes. Three years later, he surprised the motorcycle world by
resigning from Cycle World and with his wife Stepp, moving to rural Vermont to become a
As the American Motorcycle Association noted, “Neilson left an indelible mark on
motorcycling. Superbike racing came to the fore, Ducati made it to America and Cycle Magazine
reached heights never before realized in the genre.” Cook was inducted into the AMA
Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2008 he crashed a Desmosedici RR, but was unhurt. He has
remained active from his perch in Vermont in the world of motorcycles, and serves today
as the de facto dean of the sport. Champion racer, editor, writer and motorcycle visionary, Cook
Neilson devoted his career to his passion for speed, agility and engineering. His story is yet
another in the long line of First City Troopers who have made a lasting mark upon our national
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
Our Archives contain many interesting tales not known to us in the City
Troop today. One of those unique stories revolves around the Pemberton
brothers: Andrew, Clifford and John.
First City Troopers, Andrew J. Pemberton No. 673 and Clifford
Pemberton, No. 680 had the unique distinction of having a brother who
served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Their brother was
not just any Johnny Reb, but a three star general and the commander of
Vicksburg, the fortress city on the Mississippi that fell to Union forces
under Ulysses Grant in July 1863, ushering in the conquest of the
Western theater of the war by the Union Army and hastening the demise
of the Confederacy.
LTG John Clifford Pemberton, C.S.A. was one of the few northern
officers who fought for the South during the War Between the States.
Pemberton was born in Philadelphia on August 10, 1814,
the son of a Quaker who had fought in the War of 1812 with Andrew
Jackson. Young John attended the University of Pennsylvania, but
wanting to be an engineer, felt the best way to achieve that goal was
by going to the United States Military Academy. Using his father’s
influence with his old War of 1812 friend, now President Andrew
Jackson, Pemberton obtained an appointment to West Point.
While at the Academy, his roommate and best friend was another
Philadelphia boy two classes above him named George Gordon Meade.
Graduating in 1837 in the middle of his class Pemberton was not able to
secure an assignment to the elite Corps of Engineers, but did obtain a
commission in the Field Artillery. Pemberton served in the Seminole
War, the Mexican War and the so-called “war” against the Mormons in
Utah. Peacetime assignments took him to New Mexico, New York and
After the Mexican War he married a Virginian, Martha “Patty”
Thompson whose merchant family were slave holders. When the South
seceded, Pemberton resigned his regular commission in the United
States Army and joined the Confederate Army.
Meanwhile his brothers, Clifford and Andrew had joined the Troop
upon the commencement of hostilities and begged him not to leave the
Union Army, but to no avail. No evidence exists as to where he stood
on Southern secession, so it has been assumed that he threw in his lot
with the Confederacy as a testament of love and loyalty to his wife.
His early service consisted of strengthening coastal defenses in South
Carolina, but mistrust of this Philadelphia-bred Yankee by the South
Carolina state government led to his transfer in 1862 to the District of
Mississippi and East Louisiana. With that came a promotion to
After several losses to Federal forces in the field, Pemberton fell back
to Vicksburg where he girded for a siege by Federal forces commanded
by General Ulysses S. Grant. Unable to withstand the mighty Union
onslaught, Pemberton was eventually forced to surrendered his
command of 30,000 on July 4, 1863. Branded by Southerners as a
traitor for loosing Vicksburg, Pemberton returned to Virginia, a general
without a command. Unable to secure a 3 star billet, Pemberton resigned
his commission and accepted a commission as a lieutenant colonel of
By war’s end he held a staff job as Inspector General of Ordinance.
After the war, he returned to Philadelphia and reunited with his brothers
who reportedly bore him no ill will. He settled in Montgomery County
and died in Pennlyn, Lower Gwynedd Township in 1881. He is buried in
Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Brother Clifford Pemberton did not last long in the First City Troop or
the Army, having resigned on February 6, 1862 with the rank of Private.
The circumstances of his resignation, lost to history. He died on May 6,
Andrew Pemberton however had an active war and was commissioned
as a Second Lieutenant in the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry. Returning to
his cavalry roots, Andrew commanded E Squadron (they weren’t called
“Troops” in those days) of the 3rd Maryland Cavalry. The 3rd Maryland
was a unique unit as its members were former Confederate
POW’s who had been imprisoned at Fort Delaware. Thus, both
brothers, John and Andrew, commanded southern troops during the war,
albeit on different sides!
In June of 1864, Andrew, now a Captain, and campaigning with the 3rd
Maryland in Louisiana tendered his resignation as commander
of E Squadron in favor of a reassignment as a First Lieutenant with the
3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry serving in Virginia. He later saw service with
the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry before being mustered out of service on
August 8, 1865 in Richmond, Virginia. Elected to the Honorary Roll in
1874, Andrew died on March 19, 1900.
The Pemberton saga has one more Troop connection. In 1865, John C.
Pemberton’s old West Point roommate, Major General George Gordon
Meade, the defender of Gettysburg, was elected to the Honorary Roll of
the Troop. In 1904, one George Gordon Meade, Jr. No. 1060 was eleted
to the Troop. While not the son of the General, he was perhaps a
namesake relative. His son, Gordon Meade, 3rd, No. 1464 was elected in
As always, Troop lines run deep in the City of Brotherly Love.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
In the third floor Mess Hall of our Armory hangs a portrait of Third Sergeant William Innes Forbes, Troop No. 989. The unique story behind this portrait can be found in the Troop Archives. Below is an account written on May 12, 1950 by Honorary Forbes.
“In 1906, my sister, Elizabeth Fitzgerald Forbes was taking a course in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts of Pennsylvania. At the Academy at that time was a young man named Harry Rittenberg, who had finished his course there, but who was doing some painting at the Academy. Rittenberg had married and had a small daughter. He also had a studio at the SE corner of 10th and Walnut Streets on the 4th floor; he and his family lived in the studio.
My sister told me that the Rittenbergs were desperately poor and had not even funds to buy food., and asked if would give him some work by painting my picture in the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry uniform simply to help them live. I agreed to do all I could to help them, their situation was so desperate.
So I went down to his studio to see him, introduced myself and told him I might be able to obtain a commission for him to paint a portrait. This studio was a large room on the 4th floor with a curtin across part of it behind which was their living quarters. The place was very poorly furnished and showed signs of being occupied by poor people. I agreed to have my portrait painted, to pay him so much a week if he would paint me mounted in City Troop uniform. Rittenberg was delighted and said he gladly would do this. My portrait was the only work he had, and he seemed eager and grateful to get my commission. A full sized white wooden horse was obtained and hauled up to the studio on the 4th floor. This attracted a good deal of attention while being hauled up by block and tackle on the front of the house.
I took my uniform down to the studio and gave him a great many sittings during the winter of 1906-1907. He called this painting his “masterpiece” and officers of the Troop somehow got wind of this painting and used to come down to the studio to see how it was getting along. The size of the painting impressed them and I was told it was the first painting ever made of a Trooper in uniform mounted. At the time I was Third Sergeant of the Troop, and as such carried the Standard which was presented to the Troop by Captain Markoe in 1774, and is under glass in our large safe in the Armory. It is the first standard or flag to have thirteen stripes and it is from it that Betsy Ross got the idea for her flag. After having sat for him all through this winter, he received a small commission and seemed to loose interest in my portrait, and having seen his family through a hard period, I did not go for any more sittings and left the painting in his studio.
I forgot all about the painting for some time and then one day dropped in to see Rittenberg and he in an embarrassed way told me that he had cut off the rear of my painting as he needed the canvas, but he would make it up to me later, when he got on his feet, by painting a fine portrait of me and at no expense to me.
Around 25 years after this I got his address in New York, and the next time I was over there dropped in to see him; he was in a splendid apartment and a large studio. At first he received me enthusiastically, called his wife and daughter to come and see me, reminding them what I had done for them when they were down and out. He showed me a fine portrait he was painting of his daughter now grown into a woman. This portrait of his daughter I understood took first prize at the Metropolitan Museum in N.Y. Then I mentioned that the last time I saw him he said he would paint a portrait of me as a gift, his whole manner changed saying that he had never made such a promise, and anyway now he received $15,000 for a portrait and he could not afford to paint me. So that was the end of that., and I have not seen him since , and often thought what had become of his “masterpiece” of me. In 1936 a man who worked in an auction store phoned me that he had an oil painting of me on a galloping horse and asked me to come and see it. The great mistake I made, and one no lawyer would have made, was when he said he would paint my portrait, I should have said “ as we may be parted for some time won’t you please write me a letter saying you will paint a portrait of me with no cost attached.”
How the portrait got into the Troop’s collection is unknown; it did not appear on Troop
property records in 1948 when the Troop Two Star history was published. Sometime in the 1980’s
the 69” x 88” portrait was noticed propped up in the basement next to the Hole in the Wall and in
very serious stages of decay. The face of the subject was partially torn away, the canvas showed
signs of dry rot and suffered from extensive cracking and flaking in the paint layer. The Troop
moved to have the piece restored and work was performed on site at the Pennsylvania Art
Conservancy in Berwyn, PA. One challenge for the art restorers was what to do about the damage
to the subject’s face. Fortunately, the Forbes family came to the rescue and provided the Troop with
several photos of William Innes Forbes as a young man thus allowing artists at Pennsylvania Art
Conservancy to re-create his likeness circa 1907 on the newly repaired canvas. After an almost
year-long reconstruction process, the portrait of Honorary William Innes Forbes was returned and
re-hung in the Armory in 1998.
Of interest is the career of the artist, who through the kindness of our member, was fostered and
supported. Henry Rittenberg was born in Lativa in 1879 and came to the United States to study art
with William Merritt Chase at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (“PAFA”). In 1904 he was
awarded the Cresson Traveling Scholarship by the Academy and returned to Europe to continue his
studies at the Bavarian Academy in Munich. Returning to the United States he became a Fellow at
PAFA as well a member of many other important arts organizations. He enjoyed a fine reputation
and his work hangs in many collections including the US Department of Justice in Washington, the
State Capitol in Harrisburg, the Union League of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania and
the National Arts Club.
The portrait also can be considered an unfinished work. Besides the hind quarters of the horse
which Rittenberg admitted to cutting away to use the canvas, the front left leg of the steed while
sketched out was never finished by the artist thus supporting Honorary Forbes’ account that
Rittenberg eventually lost interest in completing the work as his career flourished.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
As a martial organization, it is understandable how the First City Troop often regards the
accomplishments of its members in terms of military service to the nation, the Commonwealth and the
city. Interestingly, however, many troopers have made significant contributions in areas other than
the military. Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Howell, No. 927 is a case in point. Howell was born in
Philadelphia on February 10, 1848. Elected to the Troop on April 5, 1886, he served nine years on the
Active Roll before being elected to the Non Active Roll on January 7, 1895, and to the Honorary Roll just
two months later on March 4, 1895. Apparently these elections were most likely the result of his
appointment as Aide de Camp to the Governor in 1895 and then assignment as Divisional Quartermaster
But it was in art and urban beautification, not the military that Howell made his greatest contribution
to his nation and his city. As a young man, Howell was inspired to create a fund whereby private citizens,
men of stature and civic responsibility could come together to raise money to introduce works of art
into the cityscape of Philadelphia. In 1871, the twenty-three year old Howell approached his Chestnut
Hill neighbor Henry K. Fox with the idea to form an association to undertake the introduction of art into
Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. They recruited Anthony J. Drexel, founder of Drexel University, to the
cause and in 1872 the Fairmount Park Art Association(“FPAA”) was born. Drexel was the first president
with City Trooper H. Corbit Ogden, No. 829 serving as vice president.
The FPAA was the nation’s first private, non-profit organization that sought to integrate public art and
urban planning. From its inception, the FPAA began purchasing art for outdoor permanent display in
Fairmount Park. The goal was to “create a museum without walls” in Philadelphia. The first work
acquired in 1872 was “Hudson Bay Wolves” followed by “Night” a statute by sculptor Edward Stauch.
Among subsequent works commissioned by the FPAA include the statues of General George Gordon
Meade, by Alexander Milne Calder in 1887 and General Ulysses S. Grant in 1897. Both generals were
elected to the Troop’s Honorary Roll in 1865. Other early acquisitions included a monument to
assassinated President James A. Garfield acquired in 1895 and sculpted by the brilliant Augustus Saint-
Gaudens and a gold leaf statute of Joan of Arc (1890).
Howell was the life blood of the FPAA in its formative years, working as secretary for many years and
in 1900 assuming the presidency of the Association. His work with the Association was cut short on June
18, 1902 when he died at the age of fifty-four. In addition to his work at FPAA, he had also served as
Chairman of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Red Cross during the Spanish American War.
The work of the FPAA continued following Honorary Howell’s death with new sculptures being
acquired and erected throughout the park and the city. In 1948 the FPAA and the Aero Club of
Pennsylvania erected the Aero Memorial by Paul Manship. This piece which stands in Aviator Park
across from the Franklin Institute at 20th and Benjamin Franklin Parkway was as a memorial to
Philadelphians who died serving as aviators in World War One. Among the names on the memorial is
one First Lieutenant Norton Downs, Jr, No. 1170 a member of the Active Roll who was killed on
October 23,1918 when his plane crashed in the English Channel. At the time of his death, Downs had
been serving as an instructor in night flying after completing a highly successful combat tour on the
Italian Front for which he had been awarded the Italian War Cross of Merit.
The FPAA continued its work until 1972, when on its 100th Anniversary, it changed its name to the
Association for Public Art (“aPA”), reflecting its expanded role of supporting art throughout the city,
beyond the borders of Fairmount Park. Today the aPa preserves and maintains over 200 pieces of public
art in Philadelphia. Through the vision of First City Trooper Charles H. Howell, the work of the FPAA and
its successor, the aPA, Philadelphia can now boast of having one of the largest collections of public art in
the country. As a Victorian-era gentleman, Howell exhibited a sense of civic noblesse oblige towards
our city and its inhabitants, a font of local pride that lives on today through the work of the
organization that he founded.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
Delving into the Troop archives one is often struck by the forgotten stories of our predecessors.
One such story is the saga of Joseph Penrose Ash, Troop No. 634. Ash was born in Philadelphia
on July 4, 1839 and was a member of the socially prominent Penrose family. He joined the City
Troop at age seventeen in 1859. When war erupted in 1861, he traveled to Washington, D.C.
where he enlisted as a corporal in Cassius Clay’s District of Columbia Infantry Regiment. He
was promoted to First Lieutenant on April 18,1861, and then was offered a commission in the
Regular Army after volunteering to make a hazardous reconnaissance behind enemy lines across
the Potomac. President Lincoln himself, offered him a commission in the 2nd United States
Cavalry. 1862 found Lieutenant Ash in the 5th United States Cavalry and fighting in the
Peninsula campaign in Virginia. He saw action in the Battle of Gaines Mill and was one of the
few officers who survived a cavalry charge in that action. He was in the field during the
Antietam campaign and was active in harassing the enemy’s retreat from Maryland back across
the Potomac River.
He was brevetted Major in the Regular Army on November 8, 1862 for conspicuous bravery at
Warrenton, Virginia where during a close quarter cavalry fight he received three saber cuts and a
gunshot wound. For the next year, Ash recovered from his wounds while serving as a mustering
officer in Trenton, New Jersey. Returning to active service, Ash was given command of A
Company 5th US Cavalry on September 25, 1863. A month later he received his fourth wound in
an action at Morton’s Ford, Virginia and saw further action in the Battle of Bristoe Station. At
Barnett’s Ford on the Rapidan River, he received his fifth wound during a charge he led to drive
out entrenched Confederate infantry. It was during this time that Ash was again cited for
bravery. In one action he galloped along the front of Confederate entrenchments while the enemy
showered him with a hail of lead. In admiration of his courage the Confederates ceased firing,
mounted their breastworks and began cheering his bravery. Captain Ash, reined up his horse and
doffed his hat in a graceful salute to his foes before riding leisurely back to his own lines.
Ash was next sent to support General George A. Custer’s force around Charlottesville,
Virginia and during that campaign he re-conned an enemy force under Confederate General Jeb
Stuart. In this engagement Ash led his sixty man unit in a charge that turned the enemy’s flank.
In his after action report, Custer noted that “Captain Ash drove the enemy back very gallantly,
and succeeded in capturing 6 caissons filled with ammunition…”
Joseph Penrose Ash was killed in action on May 8, 1864 while trying to rally an infantry
regiment at Todd’s Tavern during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. For this action he
was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army. Ash was buried between two apple trees near
the spot where he fell. He was re-interred at the Church of St. James the Less in
Philadelphia on May 15, 1865. In his history of the regiment, George Price wrote of Ash, “He
was one of the most gallant officers in the regiment, and was conspicuous for dash and
intelligence. His brilliant conduct in the presence of the enemy was inspiring, and the regiment
suffered a severe loss when he fell in battle.”
A Postscript. There appeared a Saturday February 12, 1895 article in The Philadelphia
Inquirer recounting how some of his comrades had posthumously recommended him for the
Medal of Honor, and a letter detailing how the award was (at the time) only given to living
veterans. That letter reached his mother only days before her January 1895 passing, and went
unread by her.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
As Troopers of all rolls know, a time honored tradition in the
First City Troop has been “swinging the bucket”. Whether it’s in
the forests of Ft. Pickett or from the rafters of our own Armory
drill floor, generations of Troopers have indulged in this
pastime. The rules are rather simple: find a bucket or some
similar deep draft vessel capable of holding copious and varied
amounts of hard liquor. Season the distilled spirits with a
“sweetener”, or not. Tie the bucket to a length of rope and affix
said rope to an obliging tree branch, the main gun of a tank or
the cross beams in the barracks. Once this has been rigged, the
bucket is surrounded by a squad size element (or larger) of
Troopers who swing the bucket around in a circle or from man
to man. Upon placing hands on the bucket, the receiving
Trooper partakes lustily of the liquid delights contained therein.
The ritual swinging of the bucket is usually musically
accompanied by Troop songs appropriate for the occasion.
How and when did this tradition originate? The Archives are
silent on the genesis of bucket swinging, but do contain clues
about the origin of this unique bit of Troop history. Several
1960’s era photos exist of Troopers holding, swinging or
swigging from buckets. One older photo from the Troop’s 1940
active duty mobilization to Indiantown Gap shows members of
the Machine Gun Platoon sitting for a group portrait, a white
porcelain bucket proudly displayed front and center. The 1960’s
Troopers employed a bucket emblazoned with the Troop’s
famous “For These We Strive” motto beneath our unit crest. It
seems however, that the tradition of Troop bucket swinging
predates even this photographic evidence of the practice.
There exists in the Archives a copy of a short piece taken from
the pages of a book called Cups of Valor written in 1968 by
N. E. Beveridge aka Harold T. Peterson, Chief Curator of the
National Park Service and published by Stackpole Books.
Stakepole Books, founded in 1930 was owned by General E. J.
Stackpole, a Pennsylvania general officer and World War I hero
who won the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star and
the Purple Heart. This piece entitled “Gin Horror” reads as
This was a traditional drink among enlisted men of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. This famous unit boasts a long and distinguished heritage. Organized in 1774, it served during the Revolution earning especial distinction at the Battle of Princeton, and it is still active today. No one remembers when Gin Horror became the regimental enlisted man’s drink, but a veteran recalled the beverage and how it was drunk:
“After the horses were cleaned, fed and Retreat was over the junior man in the squad, or the Junior Sergeant if it was the 1st Sergeant’s tent, would get a [horse] water bucket, clean it out somewhat, get a little ice (if any was available) put a bottle or two of gin in the bucket and add a can of unsweetened grapefruit juice or a few lemons ( if lemons were used a small amount of water was added). The bucket was normally passed counter clockwise. At times, however, it would be tied from a rope at the pyramidal tent or a rafter in a barrack and swung back and forth between cots. This was a very refreshing drink after a long hot day with the horses, or a dusty hot day with the tanks. These gatherings, and there were often four, five or six of them within the Troop at the end of the drill day, would last well into the evening. The secret of survival was to sip each time the bucket came around.
Often times Troop Alumni and friends who were high ranking officers would stop by and did not stick to a sip each time it went around, and would drink a gulp or two with unfortunate results. I can remember on several occasions when a Junior Sergeant would put a garter snake in the bucket while it was being passed around. Each guest would look at the garter snake and look around and presumably feel that no one else saw it so he didn’t either, and would drink and pass the bucket on.
The buckets that are used these days are white enamel buckets rather than the old horse water buckets, but the congenial results are much the same.”
From this account it is likely that the Troop adopted the
tradition in the days when it was still a horse cavalry unit, thus
before World War II. Most likely, Troopers were swinging the
bucket in the late 19th Century or early 20th.
References to “swinging the bucket” even appear in two
1960’s Troop songs called “Illoway First” and “Philadelphia
Curiously the men who served on the Active Roll in the
1980’s adopted a variation of swing the bucket called “Swing
the Hunt” wherein an inebriated Corporal Evan G. Hunt, No.
2200 was passed around a circle of similarly inebriated Troopers
as Troop songs were sung by all. Yet reports of a further and
even more bastardized version of the practice called “Swing the
Bucky” was said to have been in vogue in the late 1980’s to the
early 1990’s although evidence of this has been lost in
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
This article isn’t about the bawdy Troop tunes that fill our Mess Hall when we dine monthly. Rather it
is about the Rogers & Hammerstein Broadway hit play and subsequent movie, The Sound of Music
starring Julie Andrews. The 1959 play and 1965 movie would never had been made if not for
the efforts of one of our own Troop members.
Captain Baron Georg von Trapp, late of the Imperial Austrian Navy, was vehemently anti-Nazi. When
Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938 he was recalled to duty in the Kriegsmarine, the German Navy.
Instead of serving the new Nazi rulers of Austria, he and his wife Maria and their brood of ten children
fled Germany for Italy, then Norway and freedom. Later on their first tour of the United States his family
of choral singers came to the attention of one Henry Sandwith Drinker, Jr, No. 1058, powerhouse
Philadelphia lawyer, lover of music and member of the First City Troop.
Henry Drinker was an interesting man. Born to an illustrious family, his father was an engineer, lawyer
and President of Lehigh University, two of his brothers were professors at Harvard Medical School, his
sister, a famous historian, author and biographer of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Drinker was educated at Haverford College, Harvard Law School and the Law School of the University
of Pennsylvania. After law school he joined the law firm of Dickson, McCouch & Glasgow which had
been founded in 1849. The firm still exists today as Drinker, Biddle & Reath. Henry Drinker was a force
in the law, arguing many cases before the United States Supreme Court and recognized as one of the best
labor lawyers in the nation. As committed as he was to the law, he was passionate about music. So taken
with performing Brahms and Schumann, he designed his home in Merion around a music room where he
gave his children morning music lessons. Eventually admitting that he lacked the musical talent to
perform the masters, Drinker invited several friends to dine with him and after dinner to sing chorus.
Eventually these choral recitals grew to 150 participants who met for a few hours every Sunday in
After the von Trapps’ US tour, the family returned to Norway with the intent of returning for a second
and bigger tour in the US market. Coming to New York in 1939, the family was stopped by immigration
officials at Ellis Island who charged “that we were not temporary visitors but that we wanted to veil our
real intention to hide somewhere in the country, never to go back.” Baron von Trapp contacted Henry
Drinker for help and Henry got the family a six month visa extension. When it expired the Germans had
occupied Norway, making return there impossible for the von Trapps. Drinker got the family settled in
Merion, in the home once occupied by his parents and became the family’s protector. Later when their
tour bus broke down on a West Coast tour, Henry used his contacts at the Budd Company, a client, to
procure a replacement touring bus. The family lived in the Drinker manse in Merion for several years as
they continued to refine their act. With World War Two now raging, their German choral singing was
seen as perhaps a bit too Teutonic and the von Trapps were advised to jazz things up a bit. Unable to find
an agent to represent them, they again turned to Henry Drinker who helped them with representation and
publicity. Eventually, Maria von Trapp wrote a book for publicity called The Sound of Music which was
later adapted for Broadway by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, working out of Hammerstein’s
country retreat in Doylestown. With the publicity garnered by the book, the von Trapps were able to buy a
farm in Stowe, Vermont and returned the keys to the Drinker home to Henry. The play was a hit on
Broadway and has been performed more than 650,000 times since its debut. The 1965 movie was an even
bigger hit and propelled the career of Julie Andrews who played Maria. The Rogers and Hammerstein
scores have become a staple of the Great American Songbook with such songs as “Do Re Mi”, “Maria”,
“Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and “My Favorite Things” achieving iconic show tune status.
Perhaps in honor of their fellow Trooper, Henry Drinker, the Troopers of the 1960’s penned
their own earthier version of “My Favorite Things”. Next time when you hear it sung you might recall
that it was a Trooper who brought The Sound of Music to life!
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
It is not uncommon for the Troop to receive gifts from the families of our members. Uniforms,
photos, medals and letters of City Troopers often find their way into the Armory every
year. It is rare, however, to receive a privately published biography on one of our members wholly
unsolicited. Several years ago, that was indeed the case when the Troop received a manuscript in
the mail written by a descendant of First City Trooper William Turnbull, No. 41. Troop records on
Turnbull are somewhat scanty, so this unexpected gift was a welcome one. The 36 page manuscript
sheds light upon the previously unknown career of one of our early and colorful members.
William Turnbull was born on March 10, 1751 in Stirling, Scotland, the youngest of seven children.
Arriving in Philadelphia around 1772, William was trained to be a “counting room clerk” or what
we now call an accountant. By 1774, William had his own company, dealing in cloth, cotton and silk.
Apparently he was successful enough in business to be elected as a member of the Gloucester Fox
Hunting Club, the organization that spawned the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. With
hostilities looming with Great Britain, most of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club men became
founding members of the Troop. William, however, choose a different path. With fellow
Gloucester Fox Hunter Sharp Delancy, he joined the Philadelphia Associators. Delancy was elected
a captain while William Trumbull served as one of his lieutenants. This unit, now known as the
2d Battalion 111th Infantry, 28th Division, during the early part of the war served picket duty from
the Rahway River to Woodbridge Creek in the northern part of New Jersey. Probably because of his
professional experience as a purveyor and trader in cloth, William found himself by 1776-77 acting
in the role of quartermaster for Pennsylvania regiments, securing supplies as an agent for the
Supreme Council of Pennsylvania. In late 1777 he was elected to the post of Commissioner for
Auditing Claims at the Board of Treasury for the Congress. His accounting experience most likely
qualifying him for this important posting. Still devoted to the cause, and perhaps seeking some
more adventure, William decided to re-join his Gloucester comrades and was elected to our Troop
the same year. Trooper Turnbull was actively in the field with the Troop for both the Battles of
Brandywine and Germantown in 1777 and continued to serve with us during the next two years. In
June 1780 he signed a letter with other members of the Active Roll Troop pledging personal sums of
money to support the credit of the National Bank of the United States. By late 1780, however, he
seems to have been released from active service with the Troop to concentrate upon his
quartermaster duties for the Army. Still the ardent patriot, Trumbull undertook yet another facet of
the Revolution, he became a privateer!
Sometimes called legal pirates, these men operated under a letter of marque which gave
them license to prey upon enemy shipping on the high seas. By 1782 Turnbull was the virtual
admiral of his own small fleet of six brigs totaling 60 guns and 200 hands. His partner in the fleet
was the famous millionaire financier of the Revolution, Robert Morris.
With the war ending, Turnbull turned to real estate and with his new business partner Pierre
Marmie who had previously been private secretary to the Marquis de Lafayette, they began to
purchase substantial lands in Western Pennsylvania. Their operations centered on a parcel of land
at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where stood an old British fort known
as Fort Pitt. Buying Fort Pitt, Turnbull became one of the early settlers of a new community called
Pittsburgh. He and his partner set up an iron foundry in the area, and bought land across the river
on Mount Washington where they mined coal. By 1783, Turnbull was the leading citizen in the area.
William’s business had grown by the mid 1790’s to include iron foundries and mines in nearby
Westmoreland County in addition to a brewery in Pittsburgh. After several hard years building his
businesses, William decided to return to Philadelphia. It may have been because his partner Pierre
Marmie was by this time showing signs of mental illness. At any event, William came home to
Philadelphia in 1797 with the intent to resume his trading activities. Because of interference by
France and Britain with American trade on the high seas, Trumbull’s business ventures suffered. He
speculated in real estate in Philadelphia as well as in Ohio, Kentucky and Western Pennsylvania.
Beset by squatters in these “Western lands”, Trumbull was involved in numerous legal actions to
clear title on his lands. Eventually he withdrew from these endeavors, but not before having to
sell many of his real estate holdings in Philadelphia to pay his legal fees incurred in the western l
ands. To make matters worse, the War of 1812 also caused his business interests to suffer. Finally
in 1813, his health deteriorating and his businesses in tatters, William moved to Baltimore County,
Maryland to live at Montrose, the estate of his brother in law. It was here that William Trumbull
died on July 25, 1822 at the age of 71. The legacy of our early member was one service to his
country, coupled with a bold spirit both on the high seas and in the wilds of the new American
frontier. From cavalry trooper, to privateer, to possibly the first ironmaster in what was to become
America’s premier steel-producing city, William Trumbull, the original “Pittsburgh pirate” lived a
life we can all look back upon with admiration.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
One of the more notable members of the Troop who is sadly, not remembered by most
Troopers today was Homer Hungerford, No. 1607. Non Active Hungerford was one of the few
Troopers who was a professionals soldier most of his professional life. A Main Line native,
Hungerford graduated from the Haverford School and entered Princeton University in July 1944.
With World War II raging, he was eager to get into the fight and left Princeton during his freshman
year. Volunteering for the paratroopers, he joined the 513th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 13th
Airborne Division as a private. He transferred to the 82d Airborne Division and by 1946 had won
himself a commission as an infantry officer with the 11th Airborne Division. The Korean War found
him in in the 3rd Infantry Division and in combat. While a platoon leader with the 3rd Infantry
Division, Homer volunteered to lead a 12 man patrol into enemy territory to recover the body of a
fallen American soldier.
Hungerford’s men set out on their mission “in the cold half-light of the Korean dawn. They could
faintly see the body lying in full view of the Communists. When there was no more cover to follow,
they strung out in a line and raced toward the body. Chinese machine-gun bullets whizzed by all
around them, but they reached the body and carried it to their own lines.” The dead soldier’s
pockets were found to be stuffed with Communist propaganda leaflets. Interviewed by the
Philadelphia newspapers in 1952, his wife Mary said, “ As long as there was a mother’s son to be
rescued, he wouldn’t hesitate.” For his actions on that cold Korean dawn, Non Active Hungerford
was awarded the Silver Star in 1953. He resigned his commission in 1954 shortly after returning to
Philadelphia and joining the Troop. Troop duty, while fun was not exciting enough for Hungerford,
who was elected to the Non Active Roll in 1956. He joined the Hawaii National Guard in 1968
before transferring to the Regular Army in time for service in Vietnam. In Vietnam he served with
the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment then volunteered for Special Forces. After winning his green
beret, he served another tour in Vietnam with the 5th Special Forces Group as an E-7. By
1972, Homer, now a Master Sergeant was with the 10th Special Forces Group out of Bad Tolz,
Germany. His last assignment was at Special Forces Headquarters at Fort Bragg, NC. He retired from
the Army in in 1983. His awards besides the Silver Star included four Bronze Star Medals, two
Purple Hearts, the Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Commendation Medals (one with a V
device for Valor), the Air Medal, six Good Conduct Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the US
Parachutist Badge, the Vietnamese Parachutist Badge, and two Combat Infantry Badges. All told.
Homer spent 52 months in combat. He retired with the permanent rank of First Lieutenant. He was
married four times, his first three wives dying and he fathered eight children. An avid sailor, he
once sailed a ketch from Tonga to Tahiti. Non Active Hungerford retired to Beaufort, South Carolina.
He passed away at age 88 on December 11, 2014. Truly one of the Troop’s most colorful and heroic
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
Every November our Troop celebrates the anniversary of its founding with a dinner at the
Armory. One of the more solemn moments in an otherwise raucous evening is the reading of the
names of Troopers who have died in combat during America’s wars. When the names of the World
War I dead are read, one name called is that of Richard Stockton Bullitt, Volunteer Troop of 1917.
Our Archives contain a memorial book written about Trooper Bullitt which sketches out his life and
recounts his death as a member of the 110th Infantry, 28th Division.
Dick Bullitt was born in Philadelphia on April 22, 1896. His family was prominent; he was the
great-great-great grandson of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. A
graduate of Episcopal Academy and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Bullitt
moved to Detroit to begin his career in business one year before the United States entered the First
World War. He returned to Philadelphia and joined the Troop as a member of the Volunteer
Troop of 1917, replacing those First City men who had taken commissions in other units. The
Troop, now designated as the 103th Trench Mortar Battery went to Camp Hancock, Georgia on
August 25, 1917. On January 5, 1918, Bullitt was appointed as a cadet in the Third Officers’ Training
Camp. Of the 500 cadets in this camp he was one of 70 who won their commissions and was
commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry on April 19, 1918 and assigned as a Platoon Leader
in Company K 110th Infantry. The 110th sailed for England on May 2, 1918 and arrived in Liverpool
on May 16th. By July 15th the 110th was on the Western Front in France at a town called Conde en
Brie. On July 29th Company K was entrenched near the River Ourcq on a gently sloping hill not
far from a wheat field. The terrain they held was an open field except for a stand of woods on the
crest of the hill. These woods were the immediate objective of an attack Company K was to lead that
day. The woods were filled with German machine-gun nests. Without any cover whatsoever, and
without artillery support, Bullitt led his platoon across the field. The men had been without food for
two days, and water for 24 hours. The Germans were in the woods, waiting.
Lieutenant Bullitt led his platoon around the north side of the hill and was attacking the woods
from the northeastern approach when he was hit in the thigh by a machine gun bullet. He could no
longer walk, but seeing an automatic rifle squad near him he crawled over to them and finding its
corporal dead he manned the machine gun until his ammunition gave out. In the process he
received four more wounds in his chest from machine gun bullets. Several times he was approached
by stretcher bearers, but he refused to be carried from the field until all of his wounded men were
cared for first. Although suffering intensely from five bullet wounds, Dick Bullitt continued to direct
fire and encourage his men. A final shot struck him in the forehead, killing him instantly.
Bullitt was buried with his men in a shallow grave, the rifles of the dead stacked over their resting
place. Dick’s canteen hung from one of the bayonets. Inside a note was placed with his name and
the date of his death. Shortly afterwards, the men of the 103rd Trench Mortar Battery, First City
Troopers all, visited the grave to pay their respects to their fellow fallen Trooper. Later his body
was removed to the American Cemetery at Seringes et Nesles.
Dick Bullitt died a soldier’s death, but while he lived he lived a soldier’s life. Perhaps the most
telling aspect of how he saw himself and his duty can be found in a letter he wrote on July 14th,
fifteen days before he was killed.
“ I can truthfully say I am devoted to my work. I think more of my platoon than of anything else in the world. It seems as though every man in it had become a vital part of me. I am crazy about them all, and what pleases me most is to know that every man does what I order not because I hold a commission, but because they respect me and want to do things for me… I cannot express how wonderful it is to be the leader of fifty-seven men who will follow you through hell…They know my heart and soul is in my work, and they know I think of them first- myself last.”
This year, when we read his name and raise our glasses to “To His Memory” know that he was
more than just a name on a brass memorial plaque. He was a man, a soldier, a Trooper.
He was one of us.
November is special for the First City Troop. Not only is it the month of our unit’s 1774 founding, it’s also “Movember,” an annual event when mustaches are grown to raise awareness for issues of men’s health and suicide.
As old photos attest, mustaches were exceedingly popular among First City Troopers during the “wild years” of the 1970s and early 80s. This begs two questions. Was the Troop mustache a product of 1960s hippy fashion? Or was it part of a deeper military tradition? The answer is probably “yes” to both.
A lazy internet search reveals that military facial hair was common during the Troop’s 19th century glory years, and that its origins where probably British. Between 1860 and 1916, British Army uniform regulations required every soldier to keep the hair on his head short, the chin and under lip shaved, and the upper lip free to grow as it pleased. That is, mustaches were MANDATORY. The act of shaving one’s upper lip brought disciplinary action.
The British probably adopted this custom for strategic imperial reasons. In India, bare faces were scorned as being juvenile and un-manly. In Arab countries, mustaches and beards were likewise associated with power. In France, Napoleonic armies required men to have facial hair as marks of bravery and aggression.
Americans also adopted this idea throughout the 19th century, which is why anyone who stops shaving for a long time gets a "Civil War" look to him. Military facial hair came to an abrupt end in World War I, when it became essential to keep the face cleanly shaven for gasmask seal. But beards have had a 21st century renaissance among combat and peacekeeping operators in the middle east.
For those who like word derivations, our English “mustache” comes from the French “moustache,” which came from the Italian “mostaccio," which came from the Latin “mustacium,” which came from the ancient Greek “mustax,” which means “upper lip.” As you can see, the word has been around.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
With the advent of the Troop Social season: Anniversary Dinner, Church Service, Debutante Ball
and the George Washington Dinner, the Troop silver will be on display again. Our collection of
silver, which resides in the safety of the Troop Silver Vault deep in the bowels of the Armory is
truly a delight to behold: goblets, punch bowls, loving cups and candelabras all in gleaming,
ornately carved brilliance. But how did our tiny organization come to acquire such an eclectic and
magnificent assemblage of silver? The story can be found in the Troop Archives in a nine page
single spaced typed document written on onion skin paper. While the author is unknown, it is
believed to be the work of Colonel William Innes Forbes, No. 989 who died in 1967.
According to this account, the genesis of the Troop silver came as a result of the Spanish American
War. Prior to the 1898 conflict, there were some silver pieces in the Armory, usually two handled
loving cups given by the Active Roll to departing Troop Captains upon their change of command.
For their part, the Troopers didn’t care about silver as long as the food was decent and the liquor
was plentiful at monthly dinners and on special occasions when the Troop dined together.
The Troop was called to active duty and ordered to Mt. Gretna on April 28, 1898, after being the
first militia unit to volunteer for service in the War with Spain. On July 29, 1898, the Troop
embarked for Puerto Rico from Newport News, Virginia. The Troop landed at Ponce, P.R. and its
area of operation was on the south side of the island between Ponce and Guyamas. The 1st Army
Corps to which the Troop was assigned received exceedingly poor rations, namely the so-called
“Alger Beef”, named after Secretary of War Russell A. Alger. “This beef was canned and from which
all the blood had been extracted, leaving a white slimy pulp. This pulp was supposed to be cooked
with vegetables to make it more palatable. The Troop called it “Dead Baby.” The rest of the food
was equally bad. Because of the poor rations that it was provided, the Troop’s members returned
to the United States in September 1898 emaciated, underweight and sick. Once landing in Hoboken,
the Troopers boarded a train for Philadelphia where they were met by cheering crowds and then,
mounting police horses, they rode to Horticultural Hall at 260 South Broad Street where the City
Fathers gave them a banquet.
This banquet which consisted of terrapin, chicken salad, champagne and ice cream almost
wrecked the men physically as their systems which had been deprived of good food for the past
three months were simply unable to handle the richness of the menu now spread before them. As
the banquet progressed many Troopers sweating profusely and in apparent gastrointestinal
discomfort were seen to dash out of the meal with great haste headed for the nearest rest room
where they proceeded to “relieve” themselves of the newly consumed delicacies. Present at the
banquet was one Dr. William Smith Forbes, Professor of Anatomy at the Thomas Jefferson College
of Medicine and himself a veteran surgeon with the 13th Corps of the Union Army in the Civil War.
His son, William had deployed with the Troop to Puerto Rico.
The next morning, Dr. Forbes said to his son, “William, my son, I never saw men so emaciated,
under weight and in such poor condition , as the Troop looked last night.” His son replied. “Well,
father, that was the result of our Puerto Rican Campaign.” Dr. Forbes then said that he thought the
Troop parents should do something to honor their sons’ service and asked Will what the Troop
might need. His son suggested a fine silver service similar to those used in the crack British
Regiments. With that, Dr. Forbes, who had himself volunteered as a surgeon with the British Army
in the Crimean War in the 1850’s, decided to approach the fathers of other Active Roll Troopers to
see if a committee might be formed to purchase a fine silver service for the Troop to commemorate
its Spanish War Service. In the end, thirteen Troop fathers joined a “Committee of Fathers of
Troopers” and from their efforts over $5,800 was raised to purchase a 24” Silver Punch bowl, four
10” Silver Candelabra and two tall sterling silver flagons. These pieces were manufactured by the
firm of J.E. Caldwell & Company and were presented to the Active Roll on April 27,1899, a year and
a day after their call to active duty. At the banquet, Dr. Forbes, as Chairman of the Fathers’
“And now on behalf of these parents and kinsmen it becomes my pleasing duty to convey to the Troopers through you, their Commanding Officer, this Memorial, as an expression of the permanent satisfaction they have in regard to the gallant bearing of the Troop during the entire war with Spain.”
From that bequest, the Troop silver collection has grown to include silver pieces commemorating
the Troop’s service in the World Wars as well as subsequent deployments to Bosnia and Iraq. In
2003, our original Spanish American War Silver Service, purchased for $5846.00 in 1898 was
valued at $125,782.77. Fourteen years after that appraisal its value has no doubt increased even
more. To members of all Rolls, our silver, a memorial to our Troop predecessors is indeed priceless.
Does anyone recall a Trooper who went by the pseudonym J. Beauregard Pepys? In 1983, he composed a map of the United States featuring only those town names with sexual double meanings. Although bawdy in general, and obscene in some particulars, it reflected a literature professor's understanding of the English language. It was called Randy McNutty’s Map of the UXA.
The idea for making the map struck Mr. "Pepys" in the 1960s when he was working for the Pennsylvania Rail Road. The old “Pennsy” used to name its sleeping cars after towns along the railroad. Most of these were humdrum enough, but one day he noticed a sleeping car called French Lick, after an Indiana town of that name. After giggling about this like a college sophomore, he wondered, “How many other places in the US have even funnier names?”
To investigate, he went to the Free Library of Philadelphia and found a massive directory listing every town name and zip code in the entire United States. Working on weekends, he combed every page to find any town name which contained the slightest possible hint of double entendre. Places like Intercourse, Blue Ball, and Bird in Hand (all in Lancaster county Pennsylvania) immediately came to mind as obvious examples. But others like, Hot Coffee, Mississippi, Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, and Bend, Oregon required more imagination.
After months of painstaking scholarship, Mr. “Pepys” amassed a daunting list of 3000 place names. With a little help with fellow wits in the First City Troop, he narrowed the list to 1200 winners, and then had them printed into a wall map for sale to the public. Launched in 1983, the map became an instant hit with friends in the Philadelphia area. As Mr. "Pepys" recalls, “It took a lot of effort to find the right names. My reading glasses went up a couple of prescriptions for the eye strain.” He adds, the map was so subtle that you had to really think about some of the names to get the joke. The more you look at it, the funnier it gets.”
Although no longer in print, original copies of the Randy McNutty map can still be found on eBay.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
The Louisiana Maneuvers, 1941. The Army was preparing for war, and to train up for the coming
action in Europe, the National Guard was Federalized. From June to August 1941 over
400,000 men conducted extensive war games in Northern and Western Central Louisiana.
The Troop almost lost a future captain during these exercises when Robert Sturgis Ingersoll, Jr.
No. 1376 became all too familiar with a deadly coral snake. Ingersoll, who The Philadelphia
Inquirer described as a “socialite young Philadelphia attorney” was training as a member E Battery,
166th Field Artillery Regiment when he picked up a deadly coral snake. Ingersoll, then a
First Lieutenant had been transferred to the unit with a number of other First City Troopers when
the 166th was Federalized in 1941. An avid snake collector since his boyhood, Ingersoll had in the
past caught six foot rattlesnakes with his bare hands. While on the great Louisiana Maneuvers with
the 166th he found a coral snake in the forest and picked it up. Unfortunately the snake had
other ideas about the meeting and writhed away before striking Ingersoll with it fangs. The coral
snake is the most venomous snake in North America and in 1941 no anti venom then existed.
Not to be out done (or killed, for that matter) by a mere inhospitable reptile, the redoubtable
Ingersoll, exhibiting remarkable sang froid directed several other soldiers to cut a gash where the
fang marks were and suck out the venom. This being done, he was evacuated from the field to Camp
Shelby, Mississippi for observation. Arriving back on post he telephoned Roger Conant, the curator
of the Philadelphia Zoo and told him of the steps he had taken and asked for his advice. Conant told
him there was nothing to do but wait 24 hours and see if he was still alive. Ingersoll did wait,
found himself alive in the morning, and went back to duty. He served in Europe in World War II,
earning a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart before returning to the Troop and eventually
being elected Captain on July 6, 1948.
One side note, while the saga of the snake bit socialite ended in 1941, the snake bit curse
continued to dog one of the Ingersoll family business for many years and endures to this day. His
father R. Sturgis Ingersoll, Sr. was one of the owners of the “loosingist” franchise in major league
baseball, those fighting Philadelphia Phillies.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
With AT 2017 behind it, the Troop can be proud of yet another training year brought to a successful end. AT 2017 was just one in a long list of past Troop annual trainings that are remembered fondly (or not) by generations of First City Troopers. The Archives contain a charming little pamphlet called Recollections of the Troop March of 1882. Bound in a gold and brown (FTPCC colors) heavy paper, the pamphlet was written by Sergeant Anthony M. Hance No. 894 and privately printed in 1910. It tells the story of the Troop’s 1882 Annual Training and gives us a glimpse of the lives of our predecessors both in and out of the saddle from an earlier era.
The Summer of 1882 was a hot one and many Troopers had by August fled Philadelphia for the seashore or the mountains. With N.G.S. General Order 1882, the men were called back to the Armory to assemble on August 4, 1882 at 1600 hours and in “heavy marching order” proceed to Camp John Fulton Reynolds in Lewistown, PA for the Division Encampment. There they were to be inspected by Adjutant General James W. Latta before passing in review before the General and other assorted state brass.
In the words of Sergeant Hance, a pharmaceutical executive in civilian life, the situation at the Armory was transformational when “straw hats and sticks were replaced by forage caps and sabres: travel-stained linen by regulation flannel; and soon the civilian was metamorphosed into the conventional cavalry-man, with belts, buckles and spurs.”
The Troop entrained to Lewistown and upon arrival were inspected, paraded and then ordered to ride immediately back to Philadelphia, 169 miles away. The Troop was ordered to make the trip in no more than six days. The men mounted up for the return trip just 48 hours after leaving the Armory and without the chance to get any sleep since the night before reporting for duty.
While it’s at times difficult to understand some of the terms used by Sergeant Hance in his reverie, one can deduce their meanings if one understands that the City Trooper of 1882 was in many ways not too dissimilar from the 2017 edition. Hence, the meal “which out of politeness to Quartermaster Craig we called dinner “ was preceded by the Troop first finishing “fragrant Ediths.” While the definition of a “fragrant Edith” is lost to history, could it possibly have been some liquid concoction used by the “mens” to slake their trail thirst? Or maybe it was just a strong cigar.
The 1882 march was no walk in the woods, with Reveille often being blown at 0300, the men immediately watering, feeding, rubbing down and grooming their horses, grabbing a quick breakfast and then falling in to the bugle call “Boots and Saddles”. Each day’s ride was made in plus 90 degree temperatures, the men wearing cork pith helmets to shade them from the unremitting sun. A chocking dust from the trails was everywhere, often turning their blue uniforms the color of chalky grey. Every night the Troop bivouacked in a pasture or a ploughed field, the men often sleeping between the furrows in the field. The daily tedium of the trail march was only broken by the occasional fording of a stream or river which the men often turned into an impromptu bath. On one crossing, one of the mounts decided to lay down in a small tributary of the upper Schuylkill taking his rider and equipment with him.
Surgeon J. William White No. 875 only had two patients on the march, a Trooper Smith who suffered a sprained ankle on a fall from his horse and an unnamed Trooper who claimed to be undergoing withdraw symptoms from civilian life, wishing he was back at “the old Bellevue with a kidney omelet and a pint of Pommery (champagne)”.
Upon reaching the western suburbs of Philadelphia, life for the men improved considerably since many Active Roll members as well as Non Actives and Honoraries maintained estates on the Main Line. Accordingly, the hospitality of several local Trooper-owned homes opened to the men.
The last two days of the march were spent in feasting with the Troop lunching first at the Bryn Mawr estate of Trooper James Rawle No. 903 and later having dinner at the estate of Trooper John C. Groome No. 906 in Haverford. Dinner consisted of corn-beef hash, chicken croquettes, bacon and filet Mignon a la Bearnaise with ice cold champagne.
The next morning the men arrived back at the Armory where they were feted with a magnificent breakfast provided by Troop Captain E. Burd Grubb, No. 839. The march of 1882 was over, and while generally uneventful, it was the longest ride made by the Troop since its participation in the Civil War.
Foreign Awards to City Troopers in World War I
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
So begins the citation for the British Order of Saint Michael and Saint George awarded to Colonel (and former Troop Captain) John C. Groome, No. 906. He represents just one of a number of City Troopers who were decorated for bravery or meritorious service in World War I. The United Kingdom also invested Colonel Groome with the Order of the Bath while France awarded him the Order of the Black Star. Estonia and Imperial Russia also honored Groome with military decorations. Colonel Groome was arguably our most decorated World War I era Trooper although others received impressive gallantry awards.
1LT Frederick Collins Wheeler, No. 1220, while serving as a Marine officer in France received both the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross in addition to the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. France awarded him its Croix de Guerre with Palm. Wheeler’s French citation reads:
“On July 19, 1918, near Vierzy, he led his company to an advanced position in spite of serious losses caused by the machine guns and artillery of the enemy. Although severely wounded he continued his march under the fire of the enemy to indicate to his men the position to occupy. He refused the service of a runner knowing that this man would be exposed to the danger of certain death.”
Major Effingham B. Morris, Jr, No. 1107, later to become Troop Captain was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Legion d’ Honor and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, along with the Purple Heart. The citation to Morris’ Croix de Guerre is insightful:
“An admirably courageous officer. While leading his battalion to the attack when a captain, he was wounded in the leg. Surmounting his pain, he remained at his post for the four following days displaying the finest example of abnegation and contribution largely to the success of the operation.”
Morris and Wheeler along with Captain Harry Ingersoll No. 1112 were the three Troopers who received the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor. Other awards were made to Major Barclay Harding Warburton, No. 923 who was made a member of the Order of British Empire and a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order of Great Britain and a chevalier of the French Legion d’ Honor. Major John Houston Merrill, No. 917 was also made chevalier of the Legion d’ Honor while France honored Major Schofield Andrews, No. 1156 with the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star for his service as a staff officer with the 90th Infantry Division during the attack on St. Mihiel. Major William E. Goodman, Jr, No. 1019 was decorated with the French Order of the Black Star.
Fighting on the Italian front, two City Troopers were decorated by the Kingdom of Italy. Major Robert E. Glendinning, No. 949, was made an Officer of the Order of the Iron Crown for his service as commander of the US Army and US Navy Air Services in Italy. Flying bombers against the Austrians, Norton Downs, No. 1170, was awarded the War Cross of Merit before losing his life when his plane crashed into the English Channel on October 23, 1918.
Another pilot, John H. Hunter, II, No. 1250 who later became a Brigadier General in World War II, flew in France where he was wounded and awarded both the French Wound Medal and Engage Voluntaire Medal. William G. Price, Jr, No. 1347 who later became Adjudant General of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard was awarded both the French and Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Major J. Franklin McFadden No. 934, finished the war with the French Legion d’ Honor and the Order of the Rising Sun (fifth class) of Japan. McFadden’s medals along with his American awards are in the Troop Museum collection. While our many of our members earned numerous awards serving in our armed forces, our allies too recognized the valor and merit of Troopers serving in the War to End All Wars.
By Jack Thomas Tomarchio
Most of us are familiar with the Troop’s distinguished record in the Revolutionary War, but few of us know that of the original 28 Associators one actually switched sides! Andrew Allen, Troop No. 2, was from high born stock, and probably the most high born of the original members of the Troop. Allen was born in 1740 into an extremely wealthy family. His father, William Allen, was a merchant and lawyer who eventually became Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Andrew graduated from the City College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) and read law under the mentorship of Benjamin Chew. He completed his legal education in London where he studied at the Inner Temple. Returning to Philadelphia in 1765, he practiced law and was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly. Within a year he became the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. In 1770, his brother in law, Governor John Penn gave him a seat on the Governor’s Council. With tensions increasing with Great Britain over the passage of the Intolerable Acts in 1774, Allen signed the non-importation agreement boycotting British goods and the same year helped organize the Troop at Carpenter’s Hall. On June 30, 1775, he was appointed to the Committee of Safety by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. And later was elected by the Assembly to be a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. Allen was a conservative and adhered to instructions given to him by the General Assembly to refrain from any legislative actions that would lead to independence from the mother country. Indeed, Allen hoped that Congress would seek a reconciliation with Great Britain rather than walk the path to independence. Dismayed when he saw that the colonies were seeking a break with the Crown, Allen resigned from the Troop in 1776 in April of that year. When the Continental Congress began considering a resolution of independence in June 1776, Allen withdrew from Congress and stopped attending any sessions after June 14th. In December 1776, Allen formally switched sides and decamped for New York and the protection of British General Howe. When Howe and the British Army occupied Philadelphia in 1777, Allen returned to our city. His stay was brief and he again left for New York when Howe and his army evacuated Philadelphia in 1778. He sailed for England soon after, and commenced the practice of law in London. He was indicted for treason by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1781 and his properties were confiscated. After the war, the British government reviewed his losses and Allen was awarded a lifetime pension of 400 pounds. In 1792, Allen was pardoned by Pennsylvania and he returned to Philadelphia in 1794 in an attempt to recover some of the old payments due to him. He was unsuccessful and returned to London and his law practice, dying there in 1825.
From the Archives by Jack Thomas Tomarchio
When Non-active Corporal Evan Hunt No. 2200, watched his daughter Gwen get sworn into the U.S. Navy Medical Corps on June 3, 2017, upon her graduation from Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine, he was likely unaware of the historical link between the Navy’s Medical Corps and the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. That historical link can be found in Honorary William Paul Crillon Barton No. 261. Barton was born in Philadelphia in 1786. His father, a prominent lawyer, was the designer of the Great Seal of the United States. Barton graduated from Princeton University in 1805 and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1808. In 1809, he received his commission in the navy, and for the next thirty-five years, he devoted himself to reforming the Navy’s system of medical care for its sailors and marines. Among Barton’s reforms were his insistence that ship-board medical supplies contain lemons and limes for the treatment of scurvy, his drafting of rules to govern naval hospital administration, and his establishment of what would eventually become the Navy Nurse Corps. In 1830, he became the commanding officer of the Naval Hospital in Norfolk, VA, and he also developed the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. President John Tyler appointed Barton as the first head of the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in 1842, making him the first (unofficial) Surgeon General of the Navy. (The official post of Navy Surgeon General was formally created in March of 1871). In addition to his naval duties, Barton served on the faculties of both Thomas Jefferson Medical College, where he eventually became Dean, and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Barton died in Philadelphia in 1856, his accomplishments to benefit the navy and the country esteemed by all.
By Honorary AQM Jack Thomas Tomarchio No. 2219
Everyone in the First City Troop has a Troop Number, right?
Trooper Andrew Condon was elected at the March dinner meeting and, Troop Number 2464 was assigned. However there are quite a few more than 2,464 members of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry.
The reason for this is twofold. Over the Troop’s history various men have been elected directly to the Honorary Roll without having served on the Active Roll. Most of these have been men of exceptional military merit: generals, admirals, service secretaries and the like. Customarily these distinguished individuals were elected and given a rosette, but not a Troop number. These Honoraries enjoyed full membership privileges, everything except a number.
The first man elected directly to the Honorary Roll was Major J. Harvey Hurst in the year 1800. Some of the more famous Honoraries in this category included Generals George Gordon Meade, William Tecumseh Sherman and Phil Sheridan, as well as Admirals David Dixon Porter and David G. Farragut, all of Civil War fame. In later years Generals John J. Pershing, Wesley Craig and H. R. McMaster were also elected with Troop Numbers being assigned to them.
The other category of numberless troopers are members of the Volunteer Troops of 1898, 1916 and 1917. These men volunteered to join the Troop in time of grave national emergency. They served with us but were never elected to the Active Roll. In 1937, it was determined that these men should be entitled to Troop membership and thus the Bylaws were suspended and twelve from 1898, six from 1916 and fifty-three from 1917 were elected unanimously to the Honorary Roll. Finally, in 1940, one more man from the Volunteer Troop of 1917 was elected to the Honorary Roll.
To celebrate these elections, a special dinner was held at the Armory on May 10, 1937 which was attended by more than 300 members to welcome these numberless Troopers to the Honorary Roll.
Of Polo, Ponies and Precedent
By Honorary AQM Jack Thomas Tomarchio No. 2219
One of the big stories in Philadelphia in 1909 was the curious tale of City Trooper John W. Converse, No. 1035 and John L. Douglas, Jr. (or Dougherty, as some papers reported it).
Prior to World War I, Trooper Converse was a wealthy business executive as well as one of the best polo players in Philadelphia. On June 30, 1909, while playing polo in Devon, he ran down nine-year-old John L. Douglas, Jr, who was watching the game with a group of boys 23 feet beyond the boundaries of the polo field.
The ball was smashed towards the boys and the riders galloped in their direction. All of the polo players were able to pull up, except for Converse, whose pony trampled young Douglas causing serious injuries.
The boy’s father sued Converse for negligence. The case was non suited for failure to prove negligence and the plaintiffs appealed to the Superior Court which ruled that spectators in polo matched were entitled to be protected from out of control polo ponies. Given this new precedent, Mr. Converse and his lawyers promptly settled the case in 1915.
Converse gained a bit of fame next year by becoming the first Pennsylvanian to volunteer for duty on the US-Mexican Border when he requested leave from the First City Troop to join a flying column of regular United States cavalry on their first mission into Mexico to hunt for Pancho Villa.
His request was denied and Sergeant Converse had to settle for mobilization to the Mexican Border with the rest of the Troop in 1916. There he served as the Troop’s Stable Sergeant. After the deployment Converse decided to stay in the National Guard, eventually becoming our First Sergeant and later Cornet.
He saw action in France in World War I as an artillery officer. Ultimately, he retired from the Army in 1935 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Honorary Cornet Converse died in 1944
By Honorary AQM Jack Thomas Tomarchio No. 2219
As we all know, the Troop carries the unique rank of Cornet, the junior-most officer in the unit. From whence did this rank come and why is it that only the Troop enjoys the privilege of having a Cornet on its rolls? Back in 1963, Lieutenant and Assistant Quartermaster, Roger Bradford Hull, No. 1627 addressed these questions to the Active Roll in a “Dear Trooper” letter. That letter is quoted in its entirety.
Many of you have asked about the rank, status, correct title and prerogatives of the Cornet. Here are the facts:
The Cornet is the junior line officer of the Troop. No other unit has one. This rank is recognized by the Regular Army and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you want to read what the Army says, there’s a paragraph in 21-13, the “Soldier’s Guide”. The Troop’s right to a Cornet is established in the Pennsylvania Military Code, 1949, as amended.
The Cornet originally was the troop officer in a British cavalry unit who was given the honor of carrying the standard. With passing years, this custom was dropped. The mortality among officers was too great.
In our Troop, the Cornet has always been the junior line officer. He’s a full officer, not a warrant or candidate, or anything of that ilk.
The incumbent should be addressed as “Cornet”. The word is pronounced “cor net”, with the accent on the first syllable. Troop officers are not synonymous with musical instruments.
Since the Troop carried a Cornet on its rolls when it was associated in 1774, and has held the rank continuously, since that time, the Department of the Army has recognized that the rank of Cornet is “an ancient and honorable privilege” accorded to the Troop, thus permitting us to maintain the rank in our “force structure”. As the only Cornet in the Army, and thus junior in grade to a second lieutenant, our Cornet enjoys the distinct honor of being the lowest ranking commissioned officer in the United States Army and moreover in the entire Department of Defense. An optimist would liken our Cornet to Atlas holding up the entire officer corps! Or maybe not.
The Godfather and the Surgeon
By Honorary AQM Jack Thomas Tomarchio No. 2219
Upon my return from a business trip to Madrid, Spain three years ago I found myself sitting next to a woman who was reading the University of Pennsylvania Alumni magazine. Striking up a conversation with a fellow Penn alum (her a B.S. from the College, me a Masters from the Fels School), I learned that she was an architect who practiced in Madrid, but had deep Philadelphia roots. Her name was Alexandra Rush Dominiquez. Recognizing the name Rush I asked if she any relation to the famous Revolutionary War surgeon Dr. Benjamin Rush. In fact, she was a direct descendant of the esteemed doctor. Something else was familiar about her name though and I asked her if she was any relation to the long-time Troop Surgeon, Dr. Alexander Rush, No. 1349. Indeed she was his daughter and she related a curious story about one of his most infamous patients. Surgeon Rush graduated from Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Elected to the Troop in 1933, he served seven years on the Active Roll before being elected to the Non Active Roll in 1940. Rush was commissioned in the Medical Corps and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, earning three battle stars, and being discharged as a Major. He was elected Troop Surgeon in 1946 and served for many years in that capacity before being elected to the Honorary Roll in 1979. When not drilling with the Troop, our Surgeon became prominent as one of the leading gastroenterologists in Philadelphia with offices at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). One day in the 1960’s two men presented themselves at Dr. Rush’s offices. They said their boss needed to see the “doc” for a painful stomach ulcer and that he was in his car in the hospital parking lot and needed to see the “doc” now. Dr. Rush’s receptionist, a stalwart woman in her fifties politely informed the gentlemen that since their boss had no appointment he could not be seen that day. The men, two swarthy rough-looking characters, informed the receptionist, that it was unwise to say no to the boss and they told her in no uncertain terms that if the “doc knew what was good for him, he’d see the boss now.” Being a quick study, the receptionist consulted with the doctor who came out to size these characters up. Inquiring of the men the name of their boss, Dr. Rush learned it was Angelo Bruno, the Godfather of Philadelphia’s Mafia. On the spot, he decided it would be a prudent career move to see the patient post haste. After the initial consult, Dr. Rush embarked upon a course of treatment that eventually cured Mr. Bruno of his ulcer, no doubt an occupational hazard of Mafia dons. With a healthy and satisfied patient to his credit, Dr. Rush resumed his practice. Several weeks after Mr. Bruno’s last visit, the two gents returned to Dr. Rush’s office bearing an envelope. They asked to see the “doc” and informed him a grateful Mr. Bruno was presenting Dr. and Mrs. Rush a two week all expenses cruise to Italy (where else) aboard the S.S. Leonardo DaVinci. At first Dr. Rush demurred, noting that he had billed Mr. Bruno for his services and this further largesse was wholly unnecessary. Again the visitors reminded Surgeon Rush, that it wasn’t advisable to turn the boss down, and that he should go to Italy and have a nice time with his wife…or else. It was one of the best vacations the Rushes ever had! Surgeon Rush passed away quietly in 1983. His famous patient died not as quietly in 1980, a shotgun blast to the back of his head as he sat in his car on a South Philadelphia street.