William W Wallace
"In God We Trust"

 

One of the unique units formed and organised for the Civil War was the "Bible Company" from Huntington County, Pennsylvania. Its organiser and commander was a Scottish Presbyterian coal miner called William W Wallace. After the union defeats in the spring and summer or 1862, President Lincoln called for an additional 300,000 men for nine months service.

Wallace with the help of a divinity student and a law student, organised a company in the name of God and religion, with each man taking a musket and his bible to face the enemy.

In August 1862, the Huntington Bible Company became Co. C, 125th Pennsylvania Infantry, with the honour of serving as the colour unit. Wallace suggested that a religious meeting follow morning roll calls. The company soon adopted the slogan "In God We Trust" and there is speculation that it provided inspiration for placing the motto on U.S. coins two years later. Captain Wallace turned the motto into a battlecry at the battle of Antitiem(Sharpsburg) when ordered to lead his company into some woods. When the colour bearer was hit, Wallace took the regimental standard and held it during a Confederate counter attack. A Confederate veteran later told him that 100 men had fired at him.

After serving in the battle of Chancellorsville, Wallace and his company were mustered out at the expiration of their service on May 18th 1863. Wallace was again in the service briefly, as part of the state's militia during General Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania.