© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedSeven companies of the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Regiment, A, C, E, F, G, I, and K, were recruited in Chester county, and three B, D, and H, in Delaware. They rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, near Harrisburg, but before an organization could be effected, they were ordered to Washington, and proceeded thither on the 12th of August, 1862, under command of the senior Captain, Joseph W. Hawley. Upon their arrival, they went into camp near Fort Albany, two miles south-east of the Capital, and on the 17th a regimental organization was effected, with the following field officers:On the 7th of September the regiment was ordered to Rockville, Maryland, where, upon its arrival, it was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, of the Eleventh Corps. Having been but a little more than three weeks recruited, and most of this time having been given to change of camps requiring heavy details for fatigue duty, little attention had been given to drill, when, on the afternoon of the 9th, it was ordered upon the march to meet the enemy.
- Joseph W. Hawley, of Chester county, Colonel
- Simon Litzenberg, of Delaware county, Lieutenant Colonel
- I. Law. Haldeman, of Delaware county, Major
Crossing South Mountain on the evening of the 15th, it followed up the retreating foe to the banks of the Antietam Creek, where he was found strongly posted. As the regiment moved rapidly in advance of the trains, rations in haversack soon became exhausted. Fresh beef was delivered during the evening of the 16th, but scarcely had it been received when the regiment was ordered into line, and moved rapidly to the support of General Hooker, in command of the right wing of the army.
" It was ordered to the front," says Major Haldeman in his official report,'" at seven A. M. On reaching the extreme edge of the woods on the east side of the corn-field, our line was formed and stationed in a position behind the fence. We were then ordered to advance, our right extending across the road, and beyond the grain-stacks. We were led in line into the corn-field about twenty paces, and ordered to halt, as we could not distinguish our own troops. We were then ordered to fall back to the edge of the corn-field, and takle position again behind the fence, which was done in good order. We were again ordered to advance, when the right, after proceeding about one hundred yards, received a raking fire fiom the enemy in the woods, which was responded to by repeated volleys from our men; but the fire from our left, and from a battery of the enemy on the right, compelled us again to fall back to the stacks. A battery was now pla ted on the hill, between the wood and the corn-field, opposite the stacks, and the right wing of the regiment was ordered to its support. The left wing followed up the advance through the corn-field making successful charges upon the enemy, until it was also ordered to the support of the batteries. The enemy's guns were silenced, and at three P. M., the regiment was ordered to the rear, where it was directed by General Hancock to remain in readiness to support batteries upon the right; but not being required, it bivouacked upon the field during the night."The loss in this engagement was fifty in killed and wounded. Lieutenant Isaac Finch received a mortal wound from which he died on the 20th of October. Colonel Hawley was among the wounded.
On the day following the battle, the regiment was employed in burying the dead, and on the 19th started for Pleasant Valley, reaching it on the 20th, after a severe march. It was subsequently posted on Maryland Heights, but again returned to its old camp at Pleasant Valley, where it was transferred to a brigade commanded by General Kane. On the 30th of October, Kane's Brigade was ordered to London Heights.
On the 8th of November a reconnoissance was made, up the valley, by a detachment of the regiment consisting of one hundred men, with two pieces of artillery, which returned at daylight on the following morning, bringing in abandoned stores of the enemy. In consequence of the alarm of the pickets on the mountain, on the night of the 16th, the regiment was ordered, with a portion of the brigade, to the support of a battery posted thereon, remaining until the 19th. The heavy guns which had been mounted on Maryland Heights, sufficiently commanding the position, the garrison was relieved and returned to camp. Whilst here, drill and discipline were studiously prosecuted.
On the 10th of December, upon the eve of the movement upon Fredericksburg, the Twelfth Corps, which had been held in the neighborhood of Harper's Ferry, was ordered forward, and by forced marches over almost impassable roads and swollen streams, in the bleak wintry weather, arrived across the Occoquan on the 15th. The fighting at Fredericksburg being over, it was ordered to re-cross the Occoquan on the 17th, the regiment returning to Fairfax Station.
On the 28th it was again put upon the march to meet Stuart's Cavalry, but failed to find it. On the 8th of January, the brigade made a reconnoissance to the vicinity of Wolf's Run Shoals, returning without encountering opposition. On the 19th the brigade again broke camp and crossing the Occoquan, joined with the army in Burnside's second campaign, and after toiling painfully through the mud and under drenching rains, the trains and artillery being moved only by the most vigorous efforts, it finally rested at Stafford Court House, the campaign having been abandoned.
On the 21st of March, the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth, and the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth, which had been brigaded with it, were transferred to Geary's Division of the Twelfth Corps, General Kane being transferred with them, and taking command of the brigade to which they were assigned.
At daylight of the 27th of April, the regiment, with eight days' rations, marched on the Chancellorsville campaign. Crossing the Rappahannock in rear of the Eleventh Corps, the Twelfth moved on to Germania Ford, where its progress was impeded by the troops in advance, and did not reach the Chancellor House until three P. M., of the 30th. Line of battle was immediately formed, the position of the regiment falling in the right wing of the corps.
On the following morning, May 1st, the brigade advanced, and soon encountered the enemy's pickets, pushing them back into the woods beyond. Having attained a position considerably in advance of the main line, its safety was much endangered by a flank movement of the enemy, and it was withdrawn to the original position of the previous evening, where, during the night, it was busily employed in throwing up breast-works, being compelled for want of intrenching tools to use bayonets and tin plates. During the early part of the following day, the enemy shelled the line at intervals, and at three P. M., the brigade was again ordered to advance, the regiment moving along the Fredericksburg Plank Road, and forming line of battle in the woods, where the enemy, concealed from view, had fortified. Unable to move him from his position, the brigade fell back, and at five returned to the breastworks, reaching them just as the broken troops of the Eleventh Corps came pouring in from the extreme right. Geary's Division was at once faced under a heavy artillery fire of the enemy, to meet the threatened storm, and succeeded in holding its position until ten on the morning of the 3d, when the enemy, having outflanked it on the right, compelled it to fall back to a second line of defense which had been taken up, more contracted, and easily held.
On the 6th the regiment re-crossed the river, and returned to its camp at Acquia. On the 9th, the term of service having expired, it was relieved from duty, and returned to Harrisburg, where, on the 16th, it was mustered out of service.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organization:Organized at Harrisburg August, 1862.
Left State for Washington, D.C., August 12.
Camp near Fort Albany, Defences of Washington, till September 7.
March to Rockville, Md., and attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division,
12th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Army Corps, to January, 1863.
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 12th Army Corps, to May, 1863.
Service:Maryland Campaign September 7-24.
Battle of Antietam, Md., September 16-17.
Burying dead September 18.
March to Pleasant Valley, Md., September 19-20.
At Maryland Heights till October 30.
At Loudon Heights till November 8.
Reconnoissance up the Shenandoah Valley November 8-19.
Near Harper's Ferry till December 10.
March to Fredericksburg, Va., December 10-15; thence to Fairfax Station.
Burnside's 2nd Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863.
At Stafford Court House till April 27.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5.
Ordered to Harrisburg, Pa., and there mustered out May 16, 1863.
Losses:Regiment lost during service:
1 Officer and 17 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded
and 36 Enlisted men by disease.
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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