© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedThe quota of Allegheny County under the call of the President, of July 1st, 1862, was fifteen companies. To encourage and hasten enlistments, a mass meeting was held on the 28th, on West Commons, Allegheny City, at which a vast concourse of people was assembled, estimated at not less than fifteen thousand, at which patriotic speeches were made by Governor Curtin, and leading citizens of the county. Resolutions were adopted calling on all loyal men to flock to the national standard, and providing for a subscription for a bounty of fifty dollars to each volunteer.
The Rev. John B. Clark, at that time pastor of the Second United Presbyterian Church, in Allegheny, and a clergyman of nearly eleven years' standing, at the close of his services on Sabbath, the 5th.of August, requested those of his congregation who were willing to enlist in the national armies, to meet him in the basement of the church on the following Monday evening. Many came, and in three days' time three companies were organized, of one of which, Mr. Clark was elected Captain.
Drill was immediately,commenced at the Allegheny Commons, and in a little time ten full companies had been recruited, and a regimental organization effected with the following field officers:Companies F and I were recruited at Tarentum, a village twenty miles up the Allegheny River. A small squad which entered company H, was from Greene county. The rest of the regiment was recruited in and about Pittsburg and Allegheny.
- John B. Clark, Colonel
- Frederick Gast, Lieutenant Colonel
- Hugh Danver, Major
On the 29th of August the regiment, a thousand strong, proceeded to Harrisburg, arriving at Camp Curtin on the morning of the 21st, where it was armed and equipped, and on the evening of the same day started for Washington. Upon its arrival it crossed the Potomac, and went into camp at Camp Stanton. Drill was at once resumed, schools for the instrnction of ofhicers were established, and the command soon became proficient in duty, eliciting on parade the compliments of its superior officers by its fine soldierly bearing. It was assigned to the Second Brigade,1 Third Division, Fifth Corps.
On the 29th of August, at the opening of the Second Bull Run battle, the regiment was moved out in the direction of Bailey's Cross Roads, and formed in picket line, with orders to suffer no person to pass through in either direction. For a day and a half this order was rigidly executed. But as the battle raged and increased in violence on the plains of Manassas, the Union army was borne back, and the broken and dispirited troops came pouring in, until they could be no longer held, the confused mass breaking through and moving on towards Washington, whither the division was soon afterwards ordered to follow.
At the Capital, the regiment exchanged its arms, Austrian muskets, with which it had at first been supplied, for Springfield rifles. On the morning of the 14th of September, the command started on the march through Maryland, and arrived near Frederick at night-fall of the 16th. Here the division remained during the 17th, under orders to cover Frederick from the direction of Harper's Ferry. At sunset it received orders to move to Antietam, and at the moment of receiving the orders the sound of battle was heard for the first time that day. The command was again put upon the march, and for the entire night, up and down the rugged way it was urged forward and at a little after sunrise on the following morning, was halted on the Antietam battle-field, a short distance from Sharpsburg.
A renewal of the battle was momentarily expected, and the men, though worn out by forced marches, stood ready for the onset. The ground was strewn with the unburied dead. Hour after hour it waited, but no sound of battle came. Finally, it having been ascertained that the enemy had withdrawn the brigade was ordered to Shepherdstown Ford, where it was saluted by a few shots from the enemy's artillery, from the opposite shore, but suffered no, loss. At night it retired a mile back from the river, where it went into bivouac, and while it remained in Maryland, was studiously drilled and disciplined.
With the army it crossed the Potomac, and marched up, the Loudon Valley to Warrenton, where M'Clellan was relieved and Burnside put in command. From Warrenton the regiment marched to a point on Potomac Creek, four miles from Fredericksburg, where it went into camp and was engaged in drill and picket duty until the 12th of December, when it marched to the music of cannon towards Fredericksburg.
On the following day the battle opened, and at three P. M., after the corps of Hancock and French had been checked and terribly slaughtered, Humphreys' Division was ordered in. It was a forlorn hope, but gallantly it went forward, and charged again and again those impregnable heights. What brave men dare do, they did; but it was all in vain. No human power could stand against the storm that swept that fatal ground. The One Hundred and Twenty-third occupied a position in the line, with its right reaching nearly to the pike, and bore manfully its part in the battle, suffering grievously. Lieutenant James R. Coulter was among the killed, and Captain Daniel Boisol and Lieutenant George Dilworth among the mortally wounded. The entire loss was twenty-one killed, and one hundred and thirty-one wounded. All night long it lay in position, and through the weary hours of the following day, exposed to a constant fire of the enemy's pickets, and until nine at night, when it was ordered to retire.
On the night, of the 15th, when the army re-crossed the river, the regiment was posted above the Court House, on the outskirts of the city, forming part of the rear guard, and just as daylight was breaking on the following morning, re-crossed the river and took up the line of march for its old camp ground.
In January, 1863, the regiment moved to a camp a mile nearer Falmouth, where it was employed in camp and picket duty. At the opening of the spring campaign under Hooker, the Fifth Corps, now under command of General Meade, moved on the 28th of April, with the main body of the army for Chancellorsville. Immediately alfter its arrival onl the 1st of May, the division marched out on the road leadiglc towards Banakls' Ford, passing on the way through the deserted camp of a Mississippi Brigade, the tents still standing. It had not gone far before an order was received to counter-march, and not ten minutes after its arrival at the Chancellor House, the corps was attacked, the brunt of the action falling on Sykes' Division of regulars. The brigrade was hurried away to the extreme left, where it was at once put to fortifying.
At evening of the 2d, heavy firing was heard away to the right, where the Eleventh Corps stood, and at midnight. Jackson having succeeded in breaking and driving in the right wing, a desperate struggle with infantry and artillery was made to push him back, and re-gain some of the lost ground. In anxious suspense the troops awaited the coming of morning, when the brigade was led at double-quickl to the road leading from Chancellorsville to United States Ford, where most of the hard fighting of the 3d, the Sabbath, occurred. It was immediately posted in support of batteries, which position it occupied until the close of the battle. While here, seven men were wounded by the explosion of a single shell, and five were taken prisoners. All night of the 6th, while the army was re-crossing the river, the men of the One Hundred and Twenty-third toiled manfully, in the midst of a fearful rain, to move the artillery through deep mud to the crossing-the river at flood-tide-and afterwards occupied rifle-pits until nearly all had crossed.
After two days spent in camp, its term of service having expired, the regiment was ordered to Harrisburg, where, on the 13th of May, it was mustered out. Returning to Pittsburg in a body, it met a flattering ovation, the people turning out en masse to receive it, and was finally disbanded.
1Organization of the Second Brigade, Colonel P. H. Allabach, Third Division, General A. A. Humphreys, Fifth Corps, General Fitz John Porter. One Eundred and Thirty-first te.g-iment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel P. H. Allabach; One Hundred and Thirty-third Regiment PenDsylvania Volunteers, Colonel F. B. Speakman; One Hundred and Twenty-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, John B. Clark; One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Coloniel Edward J. Allen.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organization:Organized at Allegheny City August, 1862.
Moved to Harrisburg, Pa., thence to Washington, D.C., August 20-23, 1862.
Attached to 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to May, 1863.
Service:Maryland Campaign September 6-24, 1862.
Duty at Sharpsburg, Md., till October 30.
Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 30-November 19.
Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15.
Burnside's 2nd Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863.
Duty at Falmouth till April 27.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5.
Mustered out May 13, 1863.
Losses:Regiment lost during service:
3 Officers and 27 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
1 Officer and 41 Enlisted men by disease.
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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