Private, Co. C, 133rd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, USA
August 13, 1862 - December 13, 1862
John Perrin volunteered his services to the United States Army enlisting with the 133rd Regiment during its organization in August of 1862. The regiment was made up of ten companies, Companies C and K having been recruited from
. Beginning the 1st of August, the recruits began to gather at Bedford County Camp Curtin, a military training facility near . Harrisburg
HARPER'S WEEKLY, issue dated September 20, 1862
Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania, has issued a proclamation recommending the immediate formation throughout that State of volunteer companies and regiments in conformity with the militia act of 1858; also that, in order to give due opportunities for drill and instruction, all places of business be closed daily at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, so that all persons employed therein may, after that hour, be at liberty to attend to their military duties.
Arrangements are being made to dispatch to the entrance of
Cumberland Valleyall the troops now at Harrisburg, and other regiments from this State and New Englanddetained there for that purpose. The citizens are organizing themselves into companies under the Governor's proclamation, and a very martial spirit prevails. By the invasion of Maryland, at Frederick, the city of , Franklin County, Pennsylvania, is threatened. General Andrew Porter has reported to Governor Curtin for the organization of the Chambersburg militia. The rebels are reported to have invaded Pennsylvania Pennsylvaniaat . Hanover
On August 19th the 133rd set out for
Upon arrival, the regiment reported to General Silas Casey by whom it was immediately ordered to Washington D.C. Arlington Heights, Virginialocated across the Potomac River from It was here the 133rd joined forces with the 123rd, 131st and the 134th Pennsylvania Regiments under the command of Colonel Peter H. Allabach of the 131st. Washington D.C.
The regiment was sent to
on August 27th where it was encamped for three days. On the 30th, following the defeat of the Union forces at the second Battle of Bull Run, the troops were moved to Alexandria . This installation was one of the sixty-eight earthen forts built to protect Fort Ward Washington D.C.and was located on the west side of . For the next two weeks, the troops were involved in picket duty and entrenchment construction at the fort. Alexandria
On September 12th, the brigade, which had been strengthened by the addition of the 155th
Pennsylvaniaregiment, crossed back over the Potomac to While enroute, they were attached to Gen. Andrew A. Humphrey's Division of the 5th Corps, Army of the Washington D.C. Potomac. The brigades of Humphrey's division were from with most of the troops being newly recruited nine-month volunteers. During the two-day stay at Pennsylvania Washington, the soldiers exchanged the arms that had originally been issued to them for muskets. Each man was issued a small canopy, called a dog tent by the soldiers, and sixty rounds of ammunition. Springfield
Sunday morning, September 14th, the troops headed for
. Delayed for a day at the Washington County, Maryland Monocacy River, the corp reached Sharpsburgon the morning of the 18th, the day after the Battleat Antietam. While continuing to skirmish with Union troops that day, the Confederate forces began to withdraw southward across the Potomac River into the Shenandoah Valley. The morning of the 19th, the troops crossed Miller's cornfield, covered with the dead and the wounded of both armies. The Pennsylvania Volunteers set up camp a mile outside of Pennsylvania Sharpsburgon the road leading to . Shepherdstown, West Virginia
regiments remained for about six weeks engaging in company and battalion drill. In late October the regiments began their march toward Pennsylvania Falmouth, Virginialocated on the opposite side of the Rappahannock Riverfrom . Fredericksburg Falmouthwas the headquarters of Union General Ambrose E. Burnside and the Army of the Potomac, which included the 133rd volunteer regiment. Arriving there about November 17th, the Pennsylvania troops, for nearly four weeks, continued to drill diligently in preparation for the upcoming engagement with the Southern forces. Pennsylvania
The Town of
Falmouth, Virginiaon the Opposite Side of the Rappahannock Riverfrom . Fredericksburg Falmouthwas Union headquarters for GeneralAmbrose E. Burnside and the Army of the Potomacwhere Pvt John Perrin spent the last few weeks of his life. - Artist unknown
About 8:30 a.m., December 13, 1862, the first Battle of Fredericksburg began. It has become known as one of the most one-sided battles of the War Between the States. The Union army suffered horrifying casualties while engaged in the futile frontal assaults Burnside launched against the well-entrenched Confederates on the Heights behind the city of
. Civil War scholars attribute this Union defeat to Burnside's indecisiveness in his plan of action, lack of preparation, delays in the arrival of equipment needed to cross the river and communication failures. Fredericksburg
The Open Fields Crossed by the Union Troops with Marye's (pronounced Marie's) Heights in the Background.The fields had become littered with fallen soldiers by the time Pvt. Perrin's unit arrived that afternoon. From the Heights, the Confederate troops had an almost unobstructed view and were well entrenched in the
Sunken Roadbehind the Stone Wall. " The Union soldiers lay where they fell, (including Pvt. John Perrin) in the cold winter air as night crept over them, blanketing their agonized cries.” - unknown
Courtesy ofthe National Archives and Records Administration
An excerpt from the official report of Colonel Franklin B. Speakman, commander of the 133rd
PennsylvaniaInfantry gives his account of the Battleof : Fredericksburg
" Between two and three o'clock P.M., on Saturday, the 13th of December, the regiment, in common with the other regiments of the brigade, was ordered to cross the river. This was successfully done, although the shells from the enemy's batteries were falling thick and fast, and exploding over us. I
advanced my regiment as directed, through
, crossed the canal, or race, just outside of the city, and filing to the left, formed line of battle under cover of a small hill. The regiment was placed on the right, and in the advance, the fourth battalion, Colonel Allen, being on our left. Knapsacks were unslung, bayonets fixed, and orders received to charge the works on Marye's Heights. Fredericksburg
We charged up and over the hill, about two hundred and fifty yards, when we came upon a line of troops, lying down. My men, not knowing that they were to pass over this line, covered themselves as well as they could in the rear of this line. The troops in front, neither advancing nor retreating, and a second charge being ordered, I passed over the prostrate troops, charged to the right of, and past the Brick House, and to within about fifty yards of the stone-wall, and to the left of the house, to the crest of the hill. These positions were held for an hour, under a most terrific fire from the enemy's infantry and artillery, and until dusk, when I was ordered by General Humphreys to withdraw, which I did, and re-formed line of battle on the right of the road, and a little in rear of where our original line for the charge had been formed. Here we remained for a time, only sending out squads to scour the fields and bring off our killed and wounded.” - Colonel Franklin B. Speakman
(From: HISTORY OF PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS, 1861-65; prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature, by Samuel Penniman Bates; from the collection of Making of America Books.)
At the age of thirty-four, Pvt. John Perrin was among the seventeen enlisted men of the 133rd Pennsylvania Volunteers to give his life that December day. As he lay dying, surely the faces of his beloved wife, Alsa, and their four young children passed before his eyes. Lying on the cold
Virginiaground, Pvt. Perrin would soon be warmed by the memory of the earth he had called home as he drifted into his final rest. John Perrin died fighting for the beliefs he called righteous and true. He served with honor; he died bravely. Bedford County
Pvt. John Perrin was born 1828 in
Southampton Township, . He was the son of Edward and Nancy Perrin. John's siblings were Rebecca, Jesse, Leary Ann, William, Jonathan (John's twin), Deborah, Sarah and Amos. Rebecca married Samuel Awford, Leary Ann is believed to have married David Walter, Jonathan married Maria Gordon and Deborah married Daniel Gordon. Amos' wife's first name was Rosanna. Bedford County, Pennsylvania
On September 2, 1851, John Perrin and Alsa Gordon were married at the home of Artemas Bennett. John and Alsa were the parents of four children - Susan, George W. Dallas, Alpha Pearce and Emily Williard Perrin. Susan married Joshua T. Lucas (Pvt. Co. C, 133rd Pa. Vols.), George married Susan Wigfield and "Emma” married David Mearkle, all of
. "Alf” never married and moved to Bedford County Alberta, . Canada
Pvt. Perrin was the grandson of John Perrin, one of
's earliest settlers. John's grandfather John died in 1816; his grandmother Sarah died in 1834. John and Sarah were the parents of Edward, Eli, Rebecca, Amelia, Nancy and Liddy Perrin. Liddy married Jacob Crow. Bedford County
Sharon Spielman Ashcraft
Great-Great Granddaughter of
W. DallasPerrin and Susan Wigfield
References: Holdings of Bedford County Historical Society; Bedford County Land and Orphan's Court Records; Federal Census Enumerations; National Archives and Records Administration - Civil War Widow's Pension File of Alsa Perrin, Application No. 9992; Pennsylvania State Archives - Land Warrant Register and Civil War Registration Cards; BEDFORD GAZETTE.
1862 Fredericksburg, Virginia
The Start of
Frederic Cavada, a Union lieutenant, recorded the vast and futile charge against the strong Confederate line along Marye's Heights on the afternoon of December 13, 1862. Pvt. John Perrin was one of the casualties . Courtesy of Historical Society of
With flashing sword, Gen. Andrew A. Humphrey leads his
division against the Confederate line on Marye's Heights, on the afternoon of December 13, 1862.Courtesy of Library of Congress Pennsylvania
The insert in the drawing above reads:
"In the mist of doubt, in the collapse of creeds, there is one thing I do not doubt and that is that the faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blind accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has no notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.
—CAPT. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES,
Probably no other area in the United States so exemplifies the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Holmes as Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Here, within a radius of 17 miles, occurred over 100,000 American casualties in the battles of
Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania CourtHouse, all involving strategy and tactics beyond the understanding of the average soldier. The park preserves and interprets some of the scenes of those four great Civil War battles. The quiet, peaceful woods and fields are a constant reminder of how much we owe to the sacrifice of others. Here they came, here they fought, and here they died.” - National Park Service, History Online
Just before the battle, Civil War artist Alfred R. Waud sketched this peaceful view of
Fredericksburgfrom across the river at . Courtesy of Library of Congress Falmouth
As the attack by the Federal left, positioned below the town began to founder, Burnside ordered his right wing to assault the heavily defended Marye's Heights behind
. In this sketch by Waud, waves of infantry push across the broken plain on December 13th in the face of fierce Confederate musket and artillery fire.Courtesy of Library of Congress Fredericksburg
"THAT TERRIBLE STONE WALL”On Marye's (pronounced "Marie's”) Heights and in thesunken road behind the stone wall at the base of the Heights, (Confederate Lt.-Gen.) Longstreet had placed a division and a full brigade of troops.
Union) Gen. William French's division ...formed for the attack on the edge of the city, it came under a devastating artillery fire from the Confederate guns on the surrounding hills. Then as the brigades swung out in battle formation across the open fields, their alignment was broken by a canal drainage ditch that ( Commanding Gen.) Burnside obstinately refused to admit existed. The blue line staggered and slowed as men fell like leaves in an autumn wind. Regrouped under fire, the men sprang forward again, passing under the range of the artillery on the hills, only to be met by a sheet of flame as the Confederates behind the stone wall...exploded into action. When the smoke eddied away, remnants of the Federal regiments could be seen retreating across the fields to the shelter of a slight rise in the ground. USA
Burnside stubbornly refused to admit his mistakes. He continued to hurl brigade after brigade against the stone wall... As one soldier described it: "They reach a point within a stone's throw of the stone wall . . . that terrible stone wall.No farther. They try to go beyond but are slaughtered. Nothing could advance farther and live."
It was hopeless and useless, a waste of life, a horrible mistake. Nothing was accomplished by the attack. Darkness mercifully put an end to it. And that night, as the snow lay hard on the hills, many of the wounded slowly froze to death. "It is fearful to wake at night," one veteran wrote, "and to hear the sounds made by the men about you.Allnight long the sounds go up of men coughing, heavy and hoarse with halfchoked throats, moaning and groaning with acute pain, a great deal of sickness and suffering on all sides . . .." - National Park Service, History Online
Not one Union soldier reached the stone wall this fateful day.
Confederate Soldiers behind the Stone Wall, Dec. 13, 1862.
Saturday, December 13, 1862Weather: Morning fog
"They were repulsed with zeal and driven back with much loss on every occasion." - Maj. General Lafayette McLaws, CSA.
"Six times did the enemy, notwithstanding the havoc caused by our batteries, press on with great determination to within 100 yards of the foot of the hill, but here encountering the deadly fire of our infantry, his columns were broken and fledin confusion to the town. ...the last [assault] occurred shortly before dark. This effort met the fate of those that preceded it, and, when night closed in, the shattered masses of the enemy had disappeared in the town, leaving the field covered with dead and wounded." - General Robert E. Lee, CSA
"I gave my life up. The nervous strain was simply awful. The atmosphere seemed surcharged with the most startling and frightful things. Death, wounds, and appalling destruction everywhere." The Sunken Road Behind
- Lt. Frederick L. Hitchcock, 132nd PA Infantry The Stone Wall - Marye's Heights
Map of the
Battleof Fredericksburg, Virginia
December 13, 1862
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