A volunteer militia company known as the Logan Guards of Lewiston, Pennsylvania was formed during the years just prior to the Civil War. In the spring of 1858 five young men of the town—R.W. Patton, Frank Sterrett, J. Ard Mathews, William Weber and Jacob Hamaker—organized meetings to establish such a company and the unit took shape. Well trained and drilled in the military methods of the day, the Logan Guards became a fixture at events across Mifflin County. In a ceremony in September 1859, the ladies of Lewistown presented the volunteers with an impressive silk flag, bearing the image of Logan, noted American Indian, and the company's namesake. The motto "Heroic Actions Win Immortality" Emblazed on the front.
Following the surrender of Fort Sumter in April 1861, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to protect Washington, D.C. On April 16, 1861, a telegram arrived at Lewistown Junction from Prennsylvania Governor Curtin requesting troops to defend the Union. Logan Guards commander, John B. Selheimer replied, "We are coming." Captain Selheimer sent out the all across the county and ninety-two men mustered around the town square in mere hours. Volunteers, families and friends gathered throughout downtown Lewistown. Just yards from this location, in front of what is now Coleman House, the company assembled
on Market Street and marched out of town to the railroad station on the night of April 16, 1861. The train was three hours late, pushing their arrival in Harrisburg into early hours of April 17.
Four other companies from eastern Pennsylvania joined the Logan Guard at Harrisburg, where the troops were sworn into ninety days of Federal service. Now numbering over five hundred men, they journeyed together to Washington, collectively known to posterity as the First Defenders. The troops faced a menacing, pro-Southern mob intent on stopping their progress as they made a perilous march through Baltimore, Maryland en route to the capital city. Eventually, the Logan Guards and other volunteers billeted on the night of April 18, 1861 in the halls of U.S. Congress and other government buildings. That first night, while receiving new weapons and fresh ammunition, President Lincoln greeted each man personally, thanking them for their prompt response to the impending crisis.
When the country was in peril, the Logan Guards responded like the Minute Men of old. Over one third of the original 92 volunteers received commissions during the Civil War, and served in a large number of Pennsylvania units. Many gave their lives during the conflict. The comradeship and dedication to their unit in the post war years remained a constant until the last man died in 1929. These were Lewistown's own, the Logan Guards, remembered for their heroic actions in the service to the Union.
Note: Generally when speaking it is common to address a group of soldiers as the Guard, as in National Guard, or the Home Guard. In what seems contrary to modern military nomenclature, the name "Logan Guards, (with an "s) has appeared in print since the company's founding in 1858. The group wrote about themselves as "Logan Guards." The company flag, presented by the ladies of Lewistown in 1859 refers to the volunteer unit on the flag as the Logan Guards.