Charles H Banes.

History of the Philadelphia Brigade. Sixty-ninth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, and One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryCharles H BanesHistory of the Philadelphia Brigade. Sixty-ninth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, and One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 22)
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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1876, by

In the OflBce of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.



In the preparation of this History, the author has
had access to official documents, as well as journals and
reports in the possession of members of the Brigade.
In order to more fully illustrate the operations of the
command, brief accounts of army movements have been
introduced. For much of this general information, the
writer is indebted to "Swinton's Army of the Potomac,'^
the " Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the
War/' and unpublished reports on file in the War De-
partment, w^hich he has been permitted to examine. He
has attempted to give a connected history of the com-
mand from its formation until its regiments were mus-
tered out, and in doing so he has endeavored to confine
his work to a simple narrative of its toils and conflicts,
without any flattery of regiments or officers, and without
any attempt at criticising the operations of the army.

With the exception of two or three companies formed
in the interior of Pennsylvania, the four regiments of the
Brigade w^ere composed chiefly of volunteers from the
city of Philadelphia, and for that reason might properly


be called the Philadelphia Brigade. It consisted of the
Sixty-Ninth, Seventy-First, Seventy-Second, and One
Hundred and Sixth Regiments of Pennsylvania Vol-
unteers, and was designated the Second Brigade of the
Second Division, Second Corps, Army of the Potomac.
The command had, from the first enrollment until the
muster out, three hundred and fifty field, staff, and line
officers, and over six thousand non-commissioned officers
and privates. The officers and men of the regiments
were equal in courage, endurance, and discipline to the
best commands of the army, and their soldierly bearing
on the march and in battle helped to make the history
of the Army of the Potomac.

To his surviving comrades this volume is respectfully
offered, in the belief that the old scenes revived in these
pages will cause increased respect for the memories of
those who have fallen, renewed sympathy and regard for
the true men who survive, and, above all, an abiding
appreciation of the birthright for which the battles were



The Formation ....




Chain Bridge



Ball's Bluff

. 24


Camp Observation . .



Across the Potomac

. 37





Fair Oaks

. 58


The Seven Days' Fight



Pope's Campaign

. 91





Harper's Ferry ....

. 119






. 147





The March after Lee .

. 166





The Rappahannock and Mine Bun

. 198


The Wilderness



Spottsylvania Court-House .

. 237


North Anna



Cold Harbor

. 268





Honorably Discharged .

. 287

Roll oe

' Dead







Edward D. Baker, a member of the United States
Senate, and a soldier of high spirit, full of patriotism
and military ardor, was the father of the Philadelphia
Brigade. He was born in England about the year 1800,
and came to this country when very young in life, find-
ing a home in Philadelphia. He had been in the city
but a few years when, by the death of his father, he was
thrown entirely upon his own resources to support him-
self and a younger brother. His force of character and
self-reliance enabled him to cheerfully undertake the
task, and he speedily found work for both in one of the
mills in the lower part of the city. At the age of
twenty-one, his restless spirit and his ambition for
greater success led him to start with his younger brother,
carrying their entire worldly possessions on their backs,



for the great West, the land of hope at that time, if not
now, for young men having as their only capital for
investment strong arms, stout hearts, and honest aspira-

They settled first in Springfield, Illinois, where Ed-
ward commenced the study, and afterwards the practice,
of law, and having fine natural gifts improved by close
attention to his profession and extensive reading, he
soon reached a high position at the bar. In the year
1846 he was elected from his district to Congress, where
he bid fair to become one of the leaders of the House.
When the Mexican War broke out he at once returned
to Illinois and raised a regiment of volunteers, with
which he joined General Scott's army on its march to
the city of Mexico. After the battle of Cerro Gordo
he was placed in command of a brigade, which he led
during the rest of the war w^ith distinguished credit.
When the Mexican War was ended he was again elected
to Congress, and served another term. In 1851 he
transferred his residence to San Francisco, where he
speedily became one of its most prominent lawyers.
Baker soon changed his residence again, locating this
time in Oregon, from which he was elected in 1860 to
the United States Senate.

The spirit that aroused the men of the North on the
taking of Fort Sumter, found an enthusiastic response
in the breast of Edward D. Baker ; and in one of his
last public addresses delivered in New York just before
he commenced to raise the Philadelphia Brigade (then
called the California Regiments), he uttered these elo-
quent and prophetic words : " And if from the far
Pacific a voice feebler than the feeblest murmur upon


its shore may be heard to give you courage and hope in
the contest, that voice is yours to-day ; and if a man
whose hair is gray, who is well-nigh worn out in the
battle and toil of life, may pledge himself on such an
occasion and in such an audience, let me say as my last
word, that when, amid sheeted fire and flame, I saw and
led the hosts of New York as they charged upon a for-
eign soil for the honor of your flag, so again, if Provi-
dence shall will it, this feeble hand shall draw a sword
never yet dishonored — not to fight for distant honor in
a foreign land, but to fight for country, for home, for
law, for government, for constitution, for right, for free-
dom, for humanity, and in the hope that the banner of
my country may advance, and wheresoever that banner
weaves there glory may follow and freedom be estab-

Colonel Baker was especially commissioned by Presi-
dent Lincoln to raise the Seventy-First Pennsylvania
Regiment, or, as it was called at the muster, the First
California Regiment, and recruiting was commenced in
the early part of April, 1861, at Philadelphia. It was
among the first of the three-year troops that were en-
listed, and the work of enrolling was under the imme-
diate charge of Colonel Isaac J. AYistar, of Philadelphia,
who had commanded Indian Rangers in California and
Oregon in 1850, and who had had considerable experi-
ence in the warfare incidental to the early settlements of
the Pacific coast.

In a few weeks over one thousand men were enlisted,
and were sent by detachments to report to the regimental
headquarters established in New York city, where they
were mustered into the service, and organized by the



choice of the following as field-officers: EdwardD. Baker,
Colonel ; Isaac J. Wistar, Lieutenant-Colonel ; K. ^A.
Parrish, Major. The regiment had not been recognized
by either Pennsylvania or New York, and was treated
as belonging to the regular army, its returns being made


Until the last of June it was engaged in drilling and
completing its organization in the vicinity of New York,
—part of the time at Fort Schuyler. On the 1st of
July it was ordered to Fortress Monroeism Philadelphia ;
and as it passed in column through the streets of the
city, it reflected the greatest credit on its officers, and
elicited the heartiest applause from the citizens who
crowded the line of march, and who, in spite of the
rebel gray uniform and the regimental name of a far-off
sister State, recognized in the regiment marching towards
the South— in every step giving evidence of its fine drill
and discipline— hundreds of the young men of the
Quaker City. Upon its arrival at Fortress Monroe it
was assigned to duty, picketing and scouting on the
Peninsula; its tour of duty extending to the vicinity

of Big Bethel.

The regiment remained at Fortress Monroe until after
the first battle of Bull Eun, when it Avas transferred to
the south bank of the Potomac, opposite Washington,
and engaged, along with other commands, in building
Fort Ethan Allen, near Chain Bridge, and in strength-
ening the defenses of the capital.

The Seventy-Second Pennsylvania, known in its earlier
history as the Philadelphia Fire Zouaves, was the second
regim'ent of Baker's Brigade to leave Philadelphia. Ke-
cruiting was commenced on the 3d of August, 18G1, and



in one week its ranks were full. A regimental organi-
zation was effected by the choice of the following officers:
DeAYitt Clinton Baxter, of Philadelphia, Colonel; Theo-
dore Hesser, of Philadelphia, Lieutenant-Colonel; James
M. DeWitt, of the Chicago Zouaves, Major.

Colonel Baxter had served as lieutenant-colonel of the
Nineteenth Kegiment of three-months' men, and was
noted for his knowledge of the drill and tactics of the
school of the soldier. The regiment had two flank or
skirmish companies, that had been thoroughly instructed
in the peculiar bayonet exercise and evolutions of the
Chicago Zouaves ; this drill proved subsequently of very
little value in the woods of Virginia, or under the fire of
the long-range rifles, and was speedily looked upon by
the men, in the rapid development of their military ex-
perience, as a pleasant sort of gymnastics. The " fancy
drill'^ — as it was termed by the soldiers — enjoyed for a
brief period considerable popularity; so much so, that
the citizens of Philadelphia crowded the Academy of
Music to witness the manoeuvres of one of Baxter's
companies before its departure.

The Fire Zouaves contained representatives from
almost every fire company in the city of Philadelphia.
Kival organizations, that had fought for the "first
stream" or the ^'best plug" at the fire in the exciting days
of the volunteer department, buried their animosities,
and united against one common foe. The uniform of
the men was of a description calculated at first sight to
please the eye of one who looked more at the picturesque
than at the serviceable, although it was far from being
as showy and foreign as that of the New York Zouaves.
It consisted of light-blue pants, cut wide, with red stripes


at the side ; a cut-away jacket, with rows of bright bell
buttons, only one of which was for use, — that next the
throat ; a shirt of some bright color, not uufrequently
having the letter of the company embroidered on the
bosom ; regulation cap ; and white leggings, confining
the bottom of the pants. The jacket was well adapted
to keep the throat warm in summer, and to expose the
vital parts of the body to the blasts of winter, and by
the utter absence of any convenient location for pockets
it deprived the men of a safe hiding-place for many a
little luxury, while it furnished nothing to carry extm
ammunition. The white leggings, when worn at night
or on the skirmish line, were dangerously conspicuous,
and gave poor compensation for their only advantage, —
the protection of the feet from the dust while on the
march. Early in the war, and before the men were
thoroughly disciplined, when the route lay through a
muddy country, the soldiers, in their endeavors to pro-
tect their handsome white leggings from being soiled,
Avould spread over a wide space to keep the solid ground.
On one such occasion, a general officer rode up to the ,
colonel commanding and suggested that he should ^Hake
his armed mob out of the way, and let the troops pass
by." As uniforms wore out and were replaced, the old
portions were frequently given to the cam23 followers
and officers' servants, and, as they were to be found in all
parts of the column, it sometimes appeared as if Baxter's
men were represented everywhere. It. was no small sat-
isfaction to both officers and men that, after a few months'
experience, the zouave uniform was discarded for the
regulation dress.

The regiment was formed at Camp Lyon, in West


Philadelphia, and spent the time until its departure in
equipping the companies and drilling .the men. On the
afternoon of Sunday, September loth, an order was re-
ceived from Colonel Baker to break camp and start at
once for Washington. The order was promptly obeyed,
and those men who Avere absent visiting their friends in
the city were notified through the ringing of fire-alarm
bells. At an early hour of the same evening the com-
mand left Camp Lyon, and marched through the city
to the Volunteer Refreshment Saloon at Prime Street
Wharf, and, after a collation, took passage on the Balti-
more cars. The demonstrations along the route of the
column, on the part of the fire department and citizens,
were of the most enthusiastic character. Bonfires were
lighted, fire-bells were rung, and as McGonigle and the
men of the " Weccacoe,'^ Peto and the " Hope Hose
Boys," Captain Cook with members of the " Hibernia,"
and many other officers and men were recognized from
the sidewalks, cheers and hearty good-byes from friends
and old comrades filled the air.

After reaching Washington, the regiment was ordered
to the Virginia side of the Potomac near Chain Bridge,
where it was placed on fatigue duty with the California
Kegiment, on the fortifications.

On the date of the mustering of Colonel Baxter's com-
mand, the Twenty-Fourth Regiment of three-months'
men, commanded by Colonel Joshua T. Owen, was
mustered out. The regiment had served under Gen-
eral Patterson on the Upper Potomac, in the Shenandoah

Colonel Owen — subsequently made a brigadier-gen-
eral for distinguished service in the field — was well cal-



dilated by his generous and genial spirit in camp and
his bearing in action to gather speedily about him a
rep-iment for the new call of the President for three
years, and many of his old command at once signified
their willingness to re-enlist. A camp of rendezvous
was established at Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, and the
work of filling the companies commenced. AYith the
exception of a few recruits from the mining districts of
Pennsylvania, the men were residents of Philadelphia,
and mostly of Irish extraction, possessing the soldierly
qualities of their race, calculated to endure the hardships
and privations of the march by their robust habits, and
by their enthusiastic and courageous dispositions well
fitted for effective service in the charge. This last char-
acteristic was manifested in a number of actions, and the
sobriquet ^' Paddy Owen's Riglars,'^ at first applied by
their comrades in good-natured jests, was made honor-
able by more than one steady advance with bayonets fixed.

The companies were mustered into the service of the
United States on the 19th of August by Colonel E. D.
Baker, and the regiment was organized by the choice of
the following field-officers : Joshua T. Owen, of Phila-
delphia, Colonel ; Dennis O'Kane, of Philadelphia, Lieu-
tenant-Colonel ; John Devereux, of Philadelphia, Major.
The men were shortly after armed and equipped.

On the 17th of September the regiment was sum-
moned to AVashington by a telegram from the Secretary
of War. It broke camp and moved at once. Upon its
arrival at Washington it was ordered to cross the Po-
tomac and join Colonel Baker's command at Fort Ethan
Allen. At this place it was reinforced by two skirmish
companies that had been acting as independent com-


mands under the name of the Baker Guards. These
two oro-anizations wore a uniform somew^iat similar to
that of the Fire Zouaves, except in the color of the
trimmings, green having been substituted for the scarlet
of Baxter's men. This force raised the regiment to
tw^elve companies. The Sixty-Ninth, in addition to
their State flags, carried, as emblematic of their nation-
ality, a handsome green flag Avith the arms of Ireland,
presented by the citizens of Philadelphia; and in many
an action these standards went in together and honor-
ably came out side by side.

Colonel Turner G. Morehead, a prominent and ex-
ceedingly capable oflicer of the Pennsylvania militia,
and the commander of the Tw^enty-Second Regiment of
three-months' men, -was mustered out of service w^ith his
regiment on the 7th of August, 1861. He at once com-
menced recruiting a regiment for Baker's Brigade. In
this work he was assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel Curry
and Captain J. J. Sperry, as well as by many of the offi-
cers and men of the Twenty-Second, who were anxious
again to risk their lives for the preservation of the
Union. The regiment was organized, Avith the ex-
ception of Company K, between the 14th of August
and the 31st of September, 1861, in the city of Phila-
delphia. Company K w^as formed from a number of
men enlisted as sappers and miners under the charge of
Lieutenants Fimple and W. L. Curry, and its organiza-
tion was completed by the transfer of Captain Martin
Frost and twenty men from the Sixty-Ninth. Its com-
pletion took place on the 28th of February, 1862, when
it was mustered into the One Hundred and Sixth llegi-
ment as an infantry company.


This organization, known at first as the Fifth Cali-
fornia Regiment, but subsequently as the One Hundred
and Sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, joined the Phila-
delphia Brigade at Camp Observation, near Poolesville,
Maryland. With the exception of one or tAVO fine
companies from the interior of Pennsylvania, it was
composed mostly of Philadelphians, and although it did
not have the iclat in its formation belonging to either of
the other regiments of the brigade, it was their equal in
morale and discipline. Most of the regimental and
company officers were familiar with the duties of the
soldier, and seemed to take a proper interest in the
development of a high standard of excellence in their



From the time of their arrival until the end of Sep-
tember, the regiments were kept actively at work on
picket and fatigue duty near Chain Bridge, and the men
began to realize some of the discomforts incidental to a
change from the pleasant homes of the city to tent-life
on the rough hill-sides of Virginia.

Employed as they were, but little attention could be
given to the instructions of officers, or to the drill and
discipline of the men. There were occasional company
drills, and in one instance Colonel Baker attempted to
manoeuvre the brigade, but the rough character of the
ground, from which in many places trees had just been
cut, hindered any profitable exercise. Picketing and
scouting were of daily occurrence, and to the California
Regiment particularly hazardous, their uniforms being
gray, like those of the Confederates. Among the killed
while in this service was Captain James ^y. Lingenfelter,
of Company B, Seventy-First Regiment, who was shot
September 21st. He was one of the officers who had
come from the Pacific coast to serve with Colonel

The proximity of the rebel line to the camps of the
brigade caused the men to feel that they were in a hos-



tile country, and assisted them materially in learning
the duties and habits of the picket. The last arrivals
looked upon the California men, with their soiled uni-
forms, as comparative veterans, and were willing listeners
to their relation of incidents in the campaign at Fortress
Monroe and in the vicinity of Big Bethel.

Until the troops learned to distinguish between the
false and the true reports. Madam Rumor played some
strange pranks in the camp, and it was amusing to see
with what singular rapidity false reports would spread,
and as quickly die away. At one time the enemy would
be moving on Fort Baker, and the next day report had
the brigade ordered to Missouri.

The life of a soldier is one calculated to sharpen the
percej^tive faculties, and it was but a short time before
the men became very skeptical in their reception of
camp news, and even learned to make a fine distinction
as to the shades of difference between the reports.
Rumors that had no foundation except in the imagina-
tion, and which were often started while the company's
cooks were serving out the rations, were styled ^^ cook-
house news," whilst the flying camp reports that might
contain a few grains of truth were called '^chin-chin;"
and it was frequently asked, when a report had gained
extensive circulation, to which class it belonged: if it
was ^^ chin" it was deemed more trustworthy than ^^ cook-

In the composition of the regiments all classes of
society, as well as trades and professions, were repre-
sented, and there were no duties that soldiers might be
called upon to perform that did not find men ready to
step forward fully prepared for the work, even though


it should be the reading of a telegraphic " sounder/' or
the artistic handling of intrenching tools in the ditch.
The " eternal fitness of things'' could not always be pre-
served, and occasionally a young man bred to the law
found himself in a detail at work in the trenches under
a non-commissioned officer who knew more about the
spade than the pen.

The majority of the men seemed to take to camp life
with good nature, and gradually learned to place the
proper estimate of value on their comrades, and the
officers began to realize that duty to themselves and to
those under their charge brought no inconsiderable re-

With every day came some new developments of char-
acter ; men w^ere learning to read those about them, and
officers were acquiring a better knowledge of the material
of their commands. On one occasion in a ludicrous
experience, an officer realized that there might be in the
rank and file of his com])any men who knew more
about the tactics of the soldier than he had yet learned
from " Gilmore" or " Hardee." A special detail had
been made for headquarters guard, and after the inspec-
tion and the men had been placed at their posts, the
sergeant of the guard visited post number one, in front
of the tent of the general commanding, to ascertain if
the sentinel fully understood his duties. The man at
once took the regulation position of ^'arms port," and
listened carefully to the instructions for tlie guard, only
replying in response to an inquiry " Whether he had
ever served in that position before?" that he had, "But
it was some years since, in front of General Scott's
headquarters in the city (jf Mexico."


The same insurmountable difficulty — scarcity of sup-
plies — that compelled the Government to issue gray
uniforms, instead of blue, to the California Regiment
interfered with the proper equipment of the brigade in

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Online LibraryCharles H BanesHistory of the Philadelphia Brigade. Sixty-ninth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, and One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 22)