101st Regiment
Pennsylvania Volunteers

Seven companies, independently recruited during the early part of the fall of 1861, in the counties of Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence, were brought together at Camp Fremont, near Pittsburg, where, under the command of Joseph H. Wilson, of Beaver, who had served successively as Captain, Major, Colonel, and Major General of militia, and who had received authority to recruit a regiment, they remained until the last of October, when they were ordered to Camp Curtin, near Harrisburg. They were here joined by three additional companies, recruited in the counties of Tioga, Bedford, and Adams, and a regimental organization was effected with the following field officers:
  • Joseph H. Wilson, Colonel
  • David B. Morris, of Pittsburg, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Joseph S. Hoard, of Tioga county, Major
The men were carefully drilled from the time of their arrival in camp, but it was not until past the middle of February, 1862, that they received their arms. On the 26th, the colors were presented by Governor Curtin, and on the following day the regiment departed for Washington. Upon its arrival it went into camp at Meridian Hill, and was assigned to Keim's Brigade1. The old style Harper's Ferry muskets, with which it had been armed, were here exchanged for Austrian rifles.

On the 28th of March, Casey's Division, to which Keim's Brigade had been assigned, proceeded to Alexandria, whence it moved, by transports, to the Peninsula, and went into camp near Newport News. The army, as soon as assembled in force, advanced upon Yorktown and commenced the operations of a siege.

On the 16th of April, Keim's Brigade was ordered to the front and joined the division at Camp Winfield Scott. Here the regiment was employed for some time in building corduroy roads, which were made to stretch in every direction over all that marshy neighborhood. On the morning of the 4th of May, it was discovered that the enemy had fled, abandoning his works, and the army was immediately ordered forward in pursuit.

The One Hundred and First passed the enemy's deserted fortifications, and moved on by the way of Burnt Ordinary, bivouacking for the night six miles east of Williamsburg. Early on the following morning General Hooker engaged the enemy in front of that place. The regiment came upon the field at half past four P. M. It was at once formed in line and moved to the front, where it was held under fire as a reserve until the close of the engagement. Its position fell opposite Fort Magruder, and was consequently exposed to heavy fire of shot and shell. Fortunately it was partially shielded by a strip of woods, and had only six or eight wounded. The fighting ceased at dark, when the regiment was thrown forward to the left, into the woods, and was kept in line, under a cold drenching rain, until eleven P. M., when it was discovered that the enemy was again retreating.

On the morning of the 6th, the One Hundred and First, with a few otlier regiments, was ordered to the south bank of the York River, but on the following morning was ordered to return, and moving along the line of the rebel works to Williamsburg, passed through the town and proceeded six miles westward, on the Richmond Road, following the line of the rebel retreat, and holding the advance of the army. Moving forward by easy marches, and passing on the way New Kent Court House, it reached the Chickahominy on the 21st. On the 22d, companies D and I were sent across the river to dig rifle-pits and slash timber, and on the 23d the troops crossed, the One Hundred and First being with the advance, and halted a few miles west of the river.

On the 24th, a spirited artillery engagement took place near Savage Station, and the regiment, with some other infantry troops, was sent to the support of our batteries, but did not become engaged. In the meantime, large numbers of the regiment had sickened, and been left at various points on the march up the Peninsula, many of whom died, while others were so weakened in constitution as to be no longer fit for service. Among these victims was Colonel Wilscn. He was stricken with fever soon after leaving Williamsburg, and was left at Roper's Church, where, on the 30th, he died. He was succeeded in command by Lieutenant Colonel Morris. General Keim was also disabled by disease, of which he also died, and the command of the brigade devolved temporarily upon Colonel Howell, of the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania, but subsequently upon General Wessells.

Battle of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines)

On the 26th of May, the brigade was moved up to Seven Pines, and on the 29th to Fair Oaks. Upon its arrival all available forces were at once put to digging rifle-pits, the enemry being in its immediate front, with whom shots were occasionally exchanged, by which company B lost one man. On the 30th, the entire regiment was upon the picket line, company B engaging the enemy.

At eleven A. M. on the 31st, a few shots from his artillery passed over the regiment, and announced the opening of the battle. At the first discharge the division was recalled from work upon abattis and rifle-pits, and ordered under arms. Hart's Battery occupied the principal work, a redoubt, the Eighty-fifth New York holding the rifle-pits on its left, the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania on its right, and the One Hundred and First a position on the right of these regiments.

The dispositions had scarcely been made, when the battle opened in earnest, the enemy attacking in heavy force on the centre and both wings of the division, a brisk musketry fire extending along the two opposing lines. Against overpowering forces, and until a large proportion of its numbers had been stricken down, this small division, thrust out in advance of the whole army, and receiving the whole weight of the enemy's blow, held its ground. But outflanked and threatened with utter annihilation, it finally was forced back to the second line of works, occupied by Couch, where it was again rallied and remained until the close of the fight. In that desperate struggle every third man in the regiment was either killed or wounded; but the slaughter which it inflicted was terrible. Colonel Morris had ordered his men at the opening of the fight to aim at the waist-belt of the foe, and as he had come up within eighty yards, the fire was most effective, General Wessells declaring it unprecedented. In the heat of the battle, the enemy succeeded in partially flanking the regiment on the right, when, by a timely discovery of the movement, a charge was ordered, which completely frustrated his design. Colonel Morris was wounded early in the fight and carried from the field, when the command devolved on Captain Charles W. May.

In the progress of the battle, and after having been twice rallied, General Kearny rode up to the regiment and called out to its commander,

" for G-'s sake re-gain the woods in front and the day is ours."
Inspirited by the word of the commander, the men pressed forward and took the coveted ground, but soon found themselves well niigh surrounded, the only alternative left to them being to fight their way back again, which they succeeded in doing.

After the battle of Fair Oaks, Wessells' Brigade was ordered to the south of the Williamsburg Road, to a point near White Oak Swamp, where it remained, engaged in guard and picket duty, until the opening of the Seven Days' battles. When the army was put on the march for the James, the regiment was engaged, at intervals, on detached service until the close of the fighting at Malvern Hill. In the withdrawal of the army to Harrison's Landing, Wessells' Brigade was upon the rear guard, and had frequent encounters with rebel cavalry by the way.

Upon the evacuation of the Peninsula, General Keyes was left at Fortress Monroe. Here the regiment went into camp, and was principally employed in drill and discipline.

On the 18th of September, Wessells' Brigade was ordered to Suffolk, the enemy having made a demonstration upon that place. Moving by transport to Norfolk, the regiment proceeded thence by rail, and reached Suffolk the same evening. In the meantime, Major Hoard had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, but owing to ill health was compelled to resign, and in the absence, on account of wounds, of Colonel Morris, who had received his promotion on the 1st of July, Captain May held command of the regiment.

While at Suffolk, the regiment was kept busy with fatigue duty upon the fortifications, and in frequent reconnoissances to the Blackwater, General Peck, who was now in command of the division, being intent upon providing for the safety of his command, and keeping well advised of the whereabouts of the enemy. Colonel Morris re-joined the regiment while here, with Lieutenant Colonel Armour, who had been successively promoted from Captain and Major; but owing to the unhealed wounds of the former, and injuries subsequently sustained by the latter, the command devolved on Major Alexander W. Taylor, promoted from Captain of company H.

On the 4th of December, General Wessells was ordered to proceed with his brigade to Newbern, to reinforce General Foster, who was organizing his forces for a movement upon Goldsboro, designed as a diversion in favor of Burnside, at Fredericksburg. Marching to a point on the Chowan River, near Gatesville, it embarked upon transports and arrived at Newbern on the 9th.

Expedition to Goldsboro

On the 11th, Wessells took the advance, and skirmished lightly with the enemy's cavalry as he proceeded, until the evening of the 13th, when he fell in with rebel troops, and drove them across West Creek, capturing two pieces of artillery. On the following morning, Sunday, the 14th, the enemy was found posted in front of Kingston, along the south bank of the Neuse, and was attacked soon after sunrise by the pickets of the One Hundred and First. The only approach open was by an almost impassable swanip. Struggling through, the troops attacked and drove the enemy from his well chosen ground, pushed him across the Neuse, and drove him in confusion through the town. Tle, bridge had been prepared for firing, and as soon as he was over he applied the torch, leaving loaded muskets upon it, which exploded as the flames reached them. A missile from one of these mortally wounded Colonel Gray, of the Ninety-sixth New York. The fire was soon checked, however, and the Union forces passed over.

With the exception of a slight encounter at White Hall, no serious resistance was met until the command reached Goldsboro. By midday of the 17th, the regiment arrived near the bridge of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, the enemy in considerable force on the north side of the river having been reinforced by troops brought from South Carolina and all available points. The artillery at once opened, under fire of which a party proceeded to the bridge and applied the torch, the flames instantly leaping up and enveloping the whole structure. This accomplished, Foster's forces began to retire; whereupon, the enemy crossed the river and attempted to capture a battery, left upon the field. Wessells' Brigade was at once counter-marched. The artillery practice was rapid, but the shells were thrown over the heads of the Union infantry, and little injury was inflicted. Having little stomach for grape and canister the enemy withdrew, and the return march was resumed. The forest had been fired, and as the troops moved on the night march, the flames streaming up the tall pine trees, presented a majestic scene.

Upon the arrival of the command at Newbern, the regiment was sent to the south of the Trent, near the town, where it was quartered in Sibley tents during the winter months, principally engaged in drill and fatigue duty. A force, consisting of the One Hundred and First, and One Hundred and Third Pennsylvania, and a company of the Third New York Cavalry, all under command of Colonel Morris, was sent on the 7th of March, 1863, to Hyde county, to break up a band of guerrillas infesting that locality. Moving by transport to Swanquarter, it debarked, and marched through the suspected district, passing quite around Lake Mattimuskeet, and returned without discovering the whereabouts of the troublesome gang. On the 4th of April, the regiment joined in the movement for the relief of General Foster, and a small force shut up at Little Washington. It moved by water, but at a point nine miles below the town, the rebel works, commanding the river, were reached, when it was obliged to turn back, and retire to Newbern. An overland expedition for the same destination was undertaken on the very day of the arrival back of the first.

At Swift Creek, the enemy was found with infantry and artillery prepared to dispute the passage. On the side by which the command approached, an almost impassable swamp stretched away above and below, which could only be crossed by a corduroy causeway, which was raked by his artillery. A force of infantry and artillery, of which the One Hundred and First formed part, was thrown to the front, and a sharp engagement ensued, which lasted for two hours. General Spinola, who was in command, regarding the opposition too formidable to be overcome by his force, withdrew, and returned again to Newbern. By this time General Wessells, who had been absent a short time, had returned, and Foster, having run the gauntlet of the river, himself headed a force, which fought its way through, and reached Little Washington, finally relieving the garrison.

Seige of Little Washington

Soon after his return Wessells was ordered with his brigade to Plymouth, near the mouth of the Roanoke River, and was put in command of the dis trict. The troops were at once distributed about the village, and put to work repairing earth-works and building new ones. The One Hundred and First was posted at the lower part of the town, and was principally employed in fatigue, guard, and picket duty during the ensuing summer. Occasional expeditions, in which the whole or detachments of the regiment joined, were made into the neighboring country. One of these, which started on the 28th of June, in which companies D and I, Lieutenants Longenecker and Brown, participated, proved abortive by a fatal blunder of a company of the Twelfth New York Cavalry.

On the 5th of July, the regiment was sent up the river, with the gun-boats, to Williamstown. The town was reached and the infantry skirmished through it, but found no enemy, and returned to camp. On the 26th a force of infantry and artillery, under command of Colonel Morris, was sent to Foster's Mills, for a diversion in favor of General Foster, who was moving for the destruction of the railroad bridge at Weldon. On the afternoon of the second day, the rebel pickets were encountered and driven, and at the mills a brisk skirmish ensued, in which the whole force was engaged. The fighting ceased with darkness, and as it was only designed for a diversion, the troops were withdrawn, and returned to Plymouth on the following day.

During the remaining part of the year 1863, and the early part of 1864, frequent encounters occurred with bands of the enemy, as they were met by detachments, which were frequently sent out to scour the country bordering on the Albemarle Sound and the Chowan River. In one of these, Lieutenant Helm, with company G, surprised the camp of a guerrilla band, and made the entire party prisoners, taking the leader from the chimney of the house, where he had his headquarters, whither he had hie for concealment and safety. The captives, who were brought safely into camp, outnumbered the captors.

In the month of March, the regiment was ordered to Newbern, where an attack was apprehended; but no enemy appearing, it returned and was at once dispatched to Roanoke Island. which was also thought to be in danger. After a few weeks' stay, during which the troops on the island were under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Taylor, it returned to its old camp-ground near Plymouth. It had been for some time known that the enemy was busy at Hamilton, a point on the river above, in building an iron clad ram, with which to open and control the river and the sound below, and that a powerful land force was preparing to co-operate. Accordingly, General Wessells caused obstructions to be placed in the bed of the river, anchored torpedoes in the channel, and strengthened the earth-works, mounting a two hundred-pounder gun at the point where the works met the river above. A considerable part of the command was suffering from ague, and was in hospitals.

Sunday, the 17th of April, was a beautiful spring day, and the troops, after the usual religious exercises, were reposing in quiet in the intrenchments, when, at four P. M., a few shots were heard, in rapid succession, from the pickets posted on the Washington Road. A detachment of cavalry sent out soon returned, bringing the intelligence that the enemy was advancing in force. It proved to be the rebel General Hoke, with a land force variously estimated from seven to fifteen thousand men. Fort Gray, upon the river bank, which commanded the passage, was the first object of attack, and upon this he opened with his artillery, the fort with the gun-boats replying, the ram, called the Albemarle, riding at anchor above, ready to pass down as soon as the fort was reduced.

At night the firing ceased, but was resumed early on the morning of the 18th, the infantry mingling in the fray as the investment was more closely pressed. Soon his skirmishers made their appearance in front of the works below, and opened fire. The Bombshell, a small gun-boat, was struck by one of the enemy's land batteries during the forenoon and soon after sunk. At a little before sunset a heavy line of infantry emerged from the woods in front of the lower works, and sweeping away the Union skirmish line, occupied a fine eminence. on which he immediately planted several batteries. These were at once opened upon the town, the main force of the attack being directed upon Fort Williams, the headquarters of General Wessells.

A transport, dispatched to Roanoke Island, returned at evening, bringing up all available forces, among them two hundred men of the One Hundred and First. By nightfall all the guns on both sides, from land and river, were in full play, and the fire, which had now become fearful, was kept up far into the night. A determined assault was made in the evening upon Fort Wessells, a detached work to the front and right of the town, and though defended with consummate skill and the most determined bravery, by a company of the Eighty-fifth N ew York, under Captain Nelson Chapin, which repulsed repeated charges, throwing hand grenades when the enemy came within reach, and thrusting them from the escarpment with bayonet when they attempted to scale the parapets, it was finally forced to yield, but not until the brave Captain had been mortally wounded.

In the thick darkness, just before the dawn of day, the rebel ram, Albemarle, passing the obstructions in the river without injury, and eluding attack from Fort Gray, made for the gun-boats Southfield and Miami, soon sinking the former and causing the latter to withdraw down the stream.

Towards evening of the 19th, it was discovered that the enemy was moving around, and massing on the left of the line, where, from paucity of numbers, the works were least pro. tected. Detachments of the One Hundred and First were immediately sent to strengthen that part of the line. The enemy opened with his artillery and soon came forward in heavy force. After stubborn resistance, it was forced to yield to superior numbers, but fell back slowly, disputing the ground inch by inch.

At a little before daylight of the 20th, the rebel artillery opened all along the line, the signal for the onset, and shortly after. a full brigade, which had been massed for a decisive move, charged upon the left, while demonstrations were made along the entire line. The shock was bravely met, rand the guns at Conley and Compher redoubts were kept in full play until the rebel line had passed them and was already in the suburbs of the town.

Capture at Plymouth

At Compher redoubt, companies D, I, G, B, and a part of K held their position until their stockade was knocked down, and the enemy was crowding into the works. At Conley redoubt, the handful of men left was withdrawn, when the work was no longer tenable, and made a stand without; but the enemy was already in possession of the streets in its rear, and after contesting the ground, street by street, the town was finally taken. But still the forces, holding a part of the works, including Fort Williams, held out. A third of the troops were by this time prisoners.

The loyal North Carolinians and colored troops, after fighting bravely, now that all hope of successful defence was gone, made for the adjoining swamps, for they well knew their fate if they fell into the hands of their enemies. A truce of a few minutes followed and terms were offered, which General Wessells refused to accept. The guns again opened, the firing being kept up until eleven A. M., when the entire force was surrendered.

"During the whole afternoons' says Adjutant Longenecker,' we could hear the crack of rebel rifles alcng the swamps, where they were hunting down the colored troops and loyal North Carolinians. I heard a rebel Colonel say, with an oath, that they intended to shoot every Buffalo (North Carolinian) and negro they found in our uniform."
The loss in this engagement was five killed, twentyfour wounded, and two missing. Captain May and Lieutenant Brown were among the wounded. The entire regiment, with the exception of a few absent on furlough or detached service, fell into the hands of the enemy, including the following officers: Lieutenant Colonel A. W. Taylor, Adjutant J. H. Longenecker, Quartermaster Thomas King, Assistant Surgeon William Macpherson, Captains Bowers, Compher, Sheafer, Clark, Freeman, Mullin, Benner, and Dawson, and Lieutenants Davidson, Kirk, Morrow, Hippard, Conley, WVerrick, Cubbison, Bcgle, and Helm.

From Plymouth the prisoners, under strong guard, were marched to Tarboro, and thence taken by rail to Andersonville, Georgia. The enlisted men were here incarcerated, and the officers sent to Macon, where they were soon after joined by the Union officers from Libby and other prisons throughout the rebel dominions. They were subsequently moved, successively, to Savannah, Charleston, and Charlotte, and were finally exchanged at Wilmington, in March, 1865. Most of the officers of the One Hundred and First escaped, at various times, as their own daring and heroism prompted, and after incredible hardships and sufferings, hunted by cavalry and blood hounds, a part of them succeeded in reaching the Union lines, at far distant points, while others were captured and returned to prison, to suffer re-doubled torments in punishment of their temerity. Captains Bowers and Dawson, and Lieutenants Conley, Helm, and Davidson thus earned their freedom; but Captains Benner and Freeman, Lieutenants Beegle, and Hippard, and Adjutant Longeinecker, less fortunate, were apprehended and returned to captivity.

The enlisted men, with less opportunities of escape, were closely held at Andersonville until the latter part of the summer, when a part of them were taken to Millen and a few to Savannah, where some were exchanged. With the exception of a few retained at Andersonville, and who were afterwards sent north, via the Miississippi River, nearly all met at Florence, and were exchanged in the spring of 1865, at Wilmiington, North Carolina, and sent to Annapolis, via the Atlantic Ocean and Fortress Monroe. All who were left were exchanged in March, 1865; but before the time of release came, over half had died.

When the attack opened upon Plymouth, the sick of the regiment were sent, by transport, to Roanoke Island. These, with a few officers and men who were absent with leave at the time, were formed into a detachment, under command of Lieutenant David M. Ramsey, and were placed on duty as a part of the garrison of Roanoke Island. To these were added, during the summer, one hundred recruits. As fast as exchanged the officers and men reported at Camp Parole, Annapolis, Maryland, and subsequently rejoined the detachment on Roanoke Island, where the regimental organization was revived. But still the companies were only skeletons. Accordingly, in March, eight new companies were assigned to it. These were, however, never consolidated with the original companies, and on the 25th of June, 1865, the regiment was mustered out of service at Newbern, North Carolina.

____________________________
1 Organization of the Second Brigade, General Keim; Third Division, General Casey; Fourth Corps, General Keyes. Eighty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Joshua B. Howell; One Hundred and First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Joseph H. Wilson; One Hundred and Third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Theodore F. Lehmann; Ninety-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel James Fairman.

Source:

Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.



Organization:

Organized at Harrisburg November 21, 1861, to February 24, 1862.
Moved to Washington, D.C., February 27, 1862.
Attached to 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 4th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 4th Army Corps, to September, 1862.
Wessell's Brigade, Division at Suffolk, Va., 7th Corps, Dept. of Virginia, to December, 1862.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of North Carolina, to January, 1863.
1st Brigade, 4th Division, 18th Army Corps, Dept. of North Carolina, to May, 1863.
District of Albemarle, Dept. of North Carolina, to August, 1863.
Sub District, Albemarle, District of North Carolina,
Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to April, 1864.
Defences of New Berne, N. C., Dept. of Virginia and
North Carolina, to February, 1865.
District of New Berne, N. C., Dept. of North Carolina, to June, 1865.

Service:

Advance on Manassas, Va., March 10-15, 1862.
Ordered to the Peninsula March 28.
Siege of Yorktown April 5-May 4.
Battle of Williamsburg May 5.
Battles of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, May 31-June 1.
Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1.
Brackett's June 30.
Malvern Hill July 1.
At Harrison's Landing till August 16.
Moved to Fortress Monroe August 16-23, thence to Suffolk
September 18, and duty there till December.
Ordered to New Berne, N. C., December 4.
Foster's Expedition to Goldsboro December 10-21.
Kinston December 14.
Whitehall December 16.
Goldsboro December 17.
Duty at New Berne till May, 1863.
Expedition from New Berne to Mattamuskeet Lake March 7-14.
Operations on the Pamlico April 4-6.
Expedition for relief Of Little Washington April 7-10.
Moved to Plymouth May, 1863, and duty there till March, 1864.
Expedition from Plymouth to Nichol's Mills June 28, 1863 (Detachment).
Expedition from Plymouth to Gardner's Bridge and Williamston July 5-7.
Expedition from Plymouth to Foster's Mills July 26-29.
Harrellsville January 20, 1864 (Detachment).
Windsor January 30.
Fairfield February 16.
Moved to New Berne March, 1864; thence to Roanoke Island
and to Plymouth April.
Siege of Plymouth April 17-20.
Regiment mostly captured April 20.
Those not captured served as garrison at Roanoke Island till June, 1865.
Mustered out at New Berne June 25, 1865.

Losses:

Regiment lost during service:
39 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
1 Officer and 281 Enlisted men by disease.

Total 321

Source:  Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Compiled and Arranged from Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of he Adjutant Generals of the Several States, the Army Registers, and Other Reliable Documents and Sources.Des Moines, Iowa: The Dyer Publishing Company, 1908

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