127th Regiment

Pennsylvania Volunteers

On the 7th of July, 1862, William W. Jennings, a citizen of Harrisburg, received authority to recruit a regiment for nine months' service. Seven companies, A, B, C, D, F, G, and H, were recruited in Dauphin county, compainy E was recruited in Lebanon, I, in Adams and Lebanon, and K, in Lebanon and Schuylkill. The companies rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, wvhen, on the 16th of August, a regimental organization was effected, with the following field officers:
  • William V. Jennings, Colonel
  • Henry C. Alleman, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Jeremiah Rohrer, Major
Company A was detached from the regiment soon after its organization, by order of General Wool, in command of the department, and assigned to provost duty in the city of Harrisburg. Just previous to the expiration of its term of service, this company was ordered to Washington, but never re-joined the regiment.

The remaining nine companies, eight hundred and sixty-nine strong, broke camp on the 17th, and proceeded to Washington. The Peninsula campaign had terminated disastrously, and the legions of Lee were moving down upon Pope in the valley of Virginia.

For ten days the regiment was encamped on Arlington Heights, with other new regiments. It was brigaded with the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-eighth New Jersey, and the Twenty-seventh Connecticut, and on the 23d assigned to. duty in guarding Chain Bridge, where it remained until the opening of winter, Col3nel Jennings commanding the brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Alleman the regiment.

At the beginning of December, upon the eve of Burnside's movement upon Fredericksburg, Colonel Jennings was ordered to proceed with his regiment to Falmouth, where he arrived on the 9th, and was assigned to the Third Brigade, * of the Second Division, Second Corps. During the night of the 10th, the engineers commenced laying pontoon bridges in front of the town, but before they were completed, the workmen were driven away by the enemys sharp-shooters, concealed in houses along the waters' edge. Defeated in his first essay, Burnside ordered up his heavy guns, and opened upon the town.

During the bombardment, the regiment supported batteries, and when this failed of effect, Burnside called for volunteers to cross in boats and drive out the rebel sharp-shooters. A party from Hall's Brigade was chosen; among whom were members of the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh, and leaping to the boats, and pulling lustily in the face of a shower of bullets, they succeeded in reaching the opposite shore. After a brief struggle the enemy was driven and the bridge was completed.

Hall's Brigade was the first to cross, and immediately commenced skirmishing to clear the town. Concealed in houses and coverts, from which they could fire with impunity upon the advancing troops, the rebels clung to their shelter, and by their unerring aim caused grievous slaughter. Captain William Fox was the first man in the regiment hit, being instantly killed while crossing the river. Half of the town was thus skirmished through, the enemy leaving the houses from one side as the Union troops were entering at the other, when the brigade was ordered to halt and occupy the ground gained, and the columns of Sumner commenced crossing.

During the night of the 11th, a Sergeant and a squad of eleven men were captured and carried prisoners to Richmond. A fierce fire of artillery was opened upon the town on the following morning, and the streets were torn by solid shot; but the brigade held manfully to its work.

At a little after noon of the 13th, when repeated attempts to carry the heights in front of the town had failed, Owen's Brigade, to which the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh was temporarily attached, was led to the assault. Moving out to the low, open ground to the left of the city, all the while under a fierce fire of artillery in front, and a flank fire from a deflection in the hills to the right, Owen formed his men in line of battle, the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh on the left of the One Hundred and Sixth, and dashed forward to his desperate task. Braver hearts never beat than filled the bosoms of the men in that devoted line. Onward they went over the prostrate forms of the dead and the dying, and up to within seventy-five yards of the enemy's lines. But the storm of deadly missiles was here too terrible to breast, and they dropped prostrate upon the ground, and commenced screening themselves behind the dead bodies of their fallen comrades, with which the whole plain was strewn. To raise a head was instant death. In this perilous position the regiment lay for hours, exposed to a pitiless fire of musketry and artillery, and until night had put an end to the contest, when it was relieved with the brigade, and returned to the town.

At the conclusion of the battle, it retired to its former camp beyond Falmouth. The loss in the engagement was very severe, being two hundred and fiftyseven killed and wounded. Captain William Fox and Lieutenant James S. Shoemaker were among the killed, and Colonel Jennings, Lieutenant Colonel Alleman, Adjutant A. L. Chayne, Captains James Henderson, and John J. Ball, and Lieutenants James B. Keene, Marcus Novinger, Hudson Denny, Jerome W. Henry, J. WV. Dougherty, and William R. Orth, among the wounded, the latter mortally.

The regiment was soon after settled in comfortable quarters, and was employed during the winter in picket anrid guard duty.

On the 27th of April, at the opening of the Chancellorsville Campaign, the Second Division, now commanded by General Gibbon, moved out to the front of Fredericksburg, and having laid a pontoon bridge, crossed on the 3d of May. Gibbon was joined in the town by Sedgwick's Corps, which had crossed below, and during the night had moved up to the city. An assaulting column was formed, and those frowning heights which had been so successfully defended by the enemy on the previous December, were now triumphantly carried, prisoners, small arms and guns falling to the hands of the victors. Lieutenant Colonel Alleman was wounded in the side, and thrown from his horse.

The enemy retreated towards Chancellorsville, and was closely followed by Sedgwick as far as Salem Church, where Lee, having turned back from Hooker's front, fell upon and, crushed Sedgwick's Corps, compelling it to withdraw to the left bank of the Rappahannock, by Banks' Ford.

In the meantime, Gibbon, who had been left to hold Fredericksburg, took position around the city, and commenced throwing up rifle-pits. With no barrier left to oppose him, the enemy pushed forward from his triumph over Sedgwick, and soon made his appearance in Gibbon's front, where sharp skirmishing ensued. His position was held until the morning of the 4th, when, under cover of a dense fog, he re-crossed the river. The loss of tthe regiment in the engagement was fifty-three killed and wounded. Lieutenant Jacob R. Knisley was among the killed, and Lieutenants David Hummel, Jr., William P. Carmany, and J. W. Dougherty were among the wounded.

The nine months' term of service of the regiment expired on the 14th, and in persuance of orders, it was relieved and returned to Harrisburg, where, two days thereafter, it was mustered out of service. During its brief term of duty at the front, of a little more than five months, it was engaged in two pitched battles unsurpassed in severity, and lost an aggregate of four officers and eighteen men killed, fourteen men who died of wounds, sixteen who died of disease, thirty-eight who were discharged by reason of disability, eleven who were captured, ten officers and one hundred and twenty-two men who were wounded, and three officers who resigned.

_______________________
* Organization of the Third Brigade, Colonel Hall, Second Division, General Howard, Second Corps, General Couch, Centre Grand Division. General Sumner. Seventh Regiment Michigan Volunteers, Colonel N'orman J. Hall; Nineteenth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Arthur F. Dcvereux; Twentieth Regiment Masszachusetts Volunteers, Colonel George N. Macy; Forty-second Regimont New York Volunteers, Colonel James E. Mallon; One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Rtegiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel William W. Jennings; Fifty-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel Max A. Thoman.

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


Organization and Service:

Organized at Harrisburg August 16, 1862.
Moved to Washington, D.C., August 17.
(Co. "A" detached at Harrisburg, Pa., on provost duty entire term.)
Duty in the Defences of Washington till December.
Attached to Jennings' Brigade, Abercrombie's Division, Defences of Washington, to December, 1862.
March to Falmouth, Va., December 1-9.
Attached to 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac.
Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15.
Duty at Falmouth till April.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Operations at Franklin's Crossing April 29-May 2.
Maryes Heights, Fredericksburg, May 3.
Salem Heights May 3-4.
Banks' Ford May 4.
Mustered out May 29, 1863.

Losses:

Regiment lost during service:
4 Officers and 15 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
16 Enlisted men by disease.
Total 35.
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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