© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reserved
The companies of this
regiment were recruited as follows:
It was organized at the place of rendezvous, Camp Howe,
near the city of Pittsburg, on the 1st of September, 1862, at a moment when the
smoke from the disastrous field of Bull Run hung in gloom over the Union army,
and reinforcements were sorely needed.
The field officers were:
- Company A - Mercer County
- Company B - Armstrong County
- Company C - Armstrong County
- Company D - Allegheny County
- Company E - Allegheny and Armstrong Counties
- Company F - Allegheny and Armstrong Counties
- Company G - Allegheny County
- Company H - Beaver and Allegheny County
- Company I - Allegheny County
- Company K - Allegheny County
- Frederick H. Collier, Colonel
- James D. Owens, Lieutenant Colonel
- William H. ioody, Major
It was immediately ordered to the front, departing on the
evening of the Ist, receiving arms at Harrisburg on the 2d, and arriving at
Washington on the 3d. The dead in the battle of Bull Eun were still unburied,
and this regiment was sent to the field under fag of truce to perform the
mournful duty of consigning them to the earth. For three days it was incessantly
Several days had now elapsed since the dead had fallen, the
battle having commenced on the 27th of Autgust, and the corpses exposed to a
summer sun were in a loathsome condition. Very few of the rebel dead had been
left unburied, but the Union soldiers lay as they fell, scattered over all the
field in every conceivable position. Many had been robbed of hats, coats, and
shoes, and in many instances stripped entirely naked. One thousand seven hundred
and ninety-nine Union soldiers were committed to graves, the best, in view of
their condition, that could be given them. This duty ended, the regiment
hastened forward after the army, coming up with it on the 17th of September, the
day of the battle of Antietam, and was at once put in line but did not become engaged.
On the following day, the enemy having retreated, it was pushed forward to the
Potomac, participating in a skirmish near Williamsport.
Upon its incorporation with the army, it was assigned to
the Third Brigade, Third Division of the Sixth Corps, where it was associated
with the Ninety-third, Ninety-eighth, and One Hundred and Second Pennsylvania,
and the Sixty-second New York.
In the battle of Fredericksburg, fought on the 13th of
December, the Sixth Corps, commanded by General Smith, formed part of General
Franklin's Grand Division, but was held in reserve near the river bank while the
fighting was in progress, and beyond being under a heavy artillery fire was not
engaged. The regiment lost thirteen wounded, the effect of the enemy's shells.
In the Chancellorsviile campaign it was made the duty of
the Sixth Corps, here led by General Sedgwick, to cross the Rappahannock below
Fredericksburg and drive the enemy from the heights, while the main body of the
army under Hooker, moved above and came in upon the rebel flank. The brigade,
commanded by General Wheaton, crossed the river at eight P. M., of the 2d of
"At twelve P. M." says General Wheaton in his
official report, "the division marched from its bivouac on the south side of the Rappahannock towards
Fredericksburg, this brigade following First. Just before daylight we reached
the enemy's works upon the heights, and when ordered by General Newton to feel
them and learn something of the nature of their defenses, force, number of guns,
etc., selected the Sixty-second New York and One Hundred and Second
Pennsylvania, and forming them in line just below the crest, marched up to draw
the enemy's fire. Before the regiments were two hundred yards from the brigade
line, they were opened on by a heavy musketry fire, and apparently five pieces
of artillery from the rebel works and rifle-pits not two hundred and fifty yards
distant, and compelled to fall back a few yards to a line where the slopes
afforded them some protection from the enemy's fire, which position they held
until the heights were taken. The remaining three regiments of my brigade were
then marched forward on a line with, and to the left of the two above mentioned,
and formed the first line of battle. * * * At about noon the heights in our front were assaulted on the extreme right by the
Light Brigade, and as soon as they were carried, my own regiments and all I
could find in their vicinity were moved up at double quick to the support of the
attacking column, and to hold the heights."
When possession of the ground was
assured, the troops were formed in two lines, Wheaton's Brigade in advance, the
One Hundred and Thirty-ninth being the first regiment on the left of the main
road. When arrived on the main ridge one and a half miles out, the two other
divisions came up, and when re-formed again advanced to Salem Church, where the
enemy was found in strong position. The One Hundred and Thirty-ninth was at
first posted in support of a battery, but soon followed where the Ninety-Third
and One Hundred and Second were desperately engaged. For some time an unequal
contest was maintained, and the enemy, who had come in upon the rear by a
ravine, were driven back by the well directed fire of these regiments. They were
finally obliged to retire, and took position in support of batteries.
following day the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth occupied an important position on
the front line, and could not be relieved when the rest of the brigade at night
retired to the junction of the Main and Banks' Ford Roads. The enemy having
moved a heavy force around upon the flank of the corps in the direction of
Fredericksburg, it was obliged to retire towards Banks' Ford, the enemy
following up and contesting every rood with great daring. Finally, on the night
of Monday, the 4th the division re-crossed the river on the pontoons which had
been previously laid to ensure its safety, and encamped a mile and a half back.
In few battles have troops suffered more severely than did Wheaton's Brigade in
this. The One Hundred and Thirty-ninth lost one hundred and twenty-three in
killed, wounded, and missing. Captain John C. Dempsey, and Lieutenant James T.
Harbison, were of the killed, and Sergeant Frederick E. Dake lost his right arm.
On the 8th of June, the Sixth Corps again crossed the Rappahannock at
Franklin's Crossing, and was busily engaged in fortifying. The enemy gave
no attention to this movement, but soon afterwards started for a grand campaign on northern soil, At Gettysburg, on the 1st of July; he met the advance of the Union army, and the great battle was at once opened. At
eight o'clock that evening, the Sixth Corps was resting thirty miles away, when
it was first apprised of the fighting at Gettysburg, and received orders to
proceed with all dispatch to the field of carnage.
Wheaton's Brigade arrived on the afternoon of the 2d, and
was at once ordered to the support of the Third and Fifth Corps. Forming with
the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth on the extreme left of the line, the brigade
swept across the open ground to the right of Little Bound Top, and over the
rugged wooded knoll to the right of the road leading over to the Peach Orchard.
Here it took up a position which it held, checking the enemy in every attempt to
penetrate the Union lines.
On the following day it was withdrawn a short
distance, where it remained until the close of the battle. Captain Jeremiah M.
Sample was mortally wounded in this engagement.
" He was an old man,"
says Colonel Collier, "when he went into the service. His father was a
soldier of the war of 1812. A nobler old man never died for his country."
In the campaign which was inaugurated after the two armies
had returned to the valley of Virginia, the regiment participated, taking part
in the brilliant affair at Rappahannock Station, and in the preliminaries to the
contemplated assault upon the enemy's works at Miine Run. Upon the abandonment
of offensive operations, it went into camp near Brandy Station. Near the close
of the year 1863, Wheaton's Brigade was detached from the Army of the Potomac,
and ordered to Elarper's Ferry. The weather was unusual for severity, even at
that season, and the journey, made upon box cars without fire, was attended with
great suffering. After crossing the Potomac, and advancing to lHalltown, the
brigade was ordered back, and went into permanent quarters at Harper's Ferry.
About the middle of March, it returned and re-joined the corps at Brandy
Station, where it was transferred from the Third to the Second Division.
A number of recruits were added to the regiment during the winter, and when the corps moved from winter-quarters for the spring campaign in the Wilderness, it presented an array of nearly its original strength.
Second Division was separated from the rest of the corps, soon after crossing
the Rapidan, and was ordered to take position at the junction of the Brock and Plank
roads, four miles east of Parker's Store, and to hold it until the Second Corps
could return from its march southward of the early morning. While moving forward through the dense thickets, this division was
suddenly attacked. The One Hundred and Thirty-ninth was on the front line, and
with the Ninety-first received the first fire. It was promptly returned, and
the enemy driven. The fighting during the afternoon was very severe, but a breast-work thrown up along the Brock Road, proved an impassable barrier, and the fierce assaults of Longstreet's Corps, on the following day, were repulsed with immense slaughter. The regiment lost in killed and wounded
one hundred and ninety-six, including nearly every commissioned officer. Major Abraham H. Snyder, and Lieutenant Ephraim C. Grace, were among the killed. Major Snyder was mounted, acting as Lieutenant Colonel, and was urging on his men, when he was struck by a rebel bullet directly in
the forehead, and killed instantly.
In the operations about Spottsylvania Court House, which lasted from the 8th
to the 21st, the regiment bore a part, being almost constantly under fire, and at
times contesting the ground with the most determined bravery. At the Northl Anna, the regiment was but lightly engaged; but at Cold Harbor, where the enemy was again found athwart the way of march, the fighting was most bloody and heroic. The enemy held advantageous ground, which was well fortified,
and against this the Union forces were led, in repeated but vain assaults. Lieutenant Colonel Wvilliam H. Moody, while leading in the action of the 2d of June, was instantly killed, and Captain William T. Dyer,
and Lieutenant Robert N. Culmer, were mortally wounded. The losses in both men and officers were very severe.
On the 15th, the corps crossed the James, and marching up, immediately commenced operations in front of Petersburg. On the 18th, a grand assault was delivered, but the enemy's works proved too strong to be carried. On the 29th, the regiment joined in a movement upon the Weldon Railroad, which resulted in the destruction of a portion of the road, and in the relief of the cavalry which had been cut off while upon a raid on the enemy's
communications in rear of Richmond.
Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign
On the 9th of July the Sixth Corps, which, since the fall of Sedgwick at Spottsylvania, had been commanded by Wright, was ordered to Washington, to meet the enemy runder Early, advancing triumphantly through Maryland. Early was easily repulsed, and sent flying through Virginia to the
Shenandoah Valley. No decisive action was had, though the corps was kept almost
constantly on the move, until Sheridan took command of the Union forces. He soon inspired all with new life and energy, and in the hard fought battles of Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek, gained signal victories,
capturing large numbers of guns, standards, and small arms, taking many prisoners, and completely annihilating the rebel power in the Valley. In this
triumphant campaign, brilliant in victories beyond any other during the war, the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth bore an honorable part, attesting its bravery by severe losses on every field. In the action at Cedar Creek, Lieutenant
James P. M'Kean was killed, and Captain Daniel Crum mortally wounded.
There being nothing more for it to do in the Valley, the Sixth Corps returned on the 1st of December to its place in the lines before Petersburg, where, during the winter, it remained in comparative quiet.
On the 25th
of' March, 1865, the enemy attempted to force the Union lines at Fort
Steadman. A counter move was immediately ordered along the whole front, to
discover' if the enemy had materially weakened any part. The brigade was ordered
tow go forward on the Sixth Corps' front. The enemy's outer works were
gallantly carried; but on approaching his strong fortifications, they were found
amply manned,, and the brigade subsequently retired, the purpose of the advance having been fully accomplished. In this encounter, Lieutenant Michael Mullen was killed.
While the army was lying in front of Petersburg, Lieutenant General Grant had received from patriotic citizens the sum of four hundred and sixty dollars, to be presented to that soldier who should be the first to plant the Union flag on the ramparts of Richmond, upon its down-fall. As Richmond was not taken by assault, but fell without resistance, as a consequence of the successful
assault on Petersburg, on the 2d of April, General Grant deemed General Grant deemed that the'
donors' wishes would be best met by dividing the sum among the three Color Sergeants most conspicuous for gallantry in the three corps of the army most
warmly engaged in' the final struggle. lie, accordingly, called on the corps
commandlers, to designate the' men who should be the recipients of this coveted
honor. General Wright, who commanded the Sixth Corps, reported the name of Sergeant David W. Young, of company E, of the One Hundred and Thirtyninth Pennsylvania Regiment, as most deserving in his corps. The one-third part of the above named sum, together with an autograph letter, of which
the following is a copy, was, accordingly, transmitted to Sergeant Young:
WASHINGTON, July 22, 1865.
Sergeant DAVID W. YOUNG,
The action on the part of the brigade was spirited and was attended with considerable loss. After the abandonment of Petersburg and retreat of the enemy, the corps pushed on to the support of Sheridan, who was straining every nerve to intercept the rebel army and prevent its escape. At
Sailor's' Creek it came up with the cavalry and stern fighting ensued; but the enemy was finally obliged to yield, and Ewell with large numbers of his corps was captured. A few days later the entire rebel army surrendered.
Company B, 139tb Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers:
The sum of four hundred and sixty dollars was sent to me by patriotic citizens to be presented as a reward for gallantry to the soldier who should first raise our flag over Richmond. As Richmond was not taken by assault, I have concluded that the donors' wishes will be best carried out by dividing the sum between three soldiers most conspicuous for gallantry in the final and successful assault on Petersburg.
You have been selected by Major General H. G. Wright, commanding the Sixth Army Corps, as entitled to this honor on behalf of that commands and I herewith present to you one hundred and fifty-three dollars and
thirty-three cents as one-third of the original sum.
It affords me great satisfaction to receive from your Commanding General such
unqualified testimony of your gallantry and heroism in battle, and to be the medium of transmitting to you this recognition of the worth of your services in defense of our common country.
U. S. GRANT,
Sherman's March to the Sea
Subsoquently the regiment moved with other troops to the North Carolina border to the support of Sherman. But Johnston soon after surrendering, hostilities ceased, and the regiment returned by way of Richmond to the neighborhood of Washington, where, on the 21st of June, it was mustered out of service.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organized at Pittsburg September 1, 1862.
Moved to Washington, D.C., September 1-3.
Attached to 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps,
Army of the Potomac, to September, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps,
Army of the Potomac, to October, 1862.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, to January, 1864.
Wheaton's Brigade, Dept. of West Virginia, to March, 1864.
1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, and
Army of the Shenandoah to June, 1865
Bury dead at Bull Run, Va., September 4-7, 1862.
Maryland Campaign September 7-24.
Battle of Antietam September 16-17 (Reserve).
At Downsville September 23-October 20.
Movement to Stafford Court House October 20-November 18, and to Belle Plains December 5.
Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15.
Burnside's 2nd Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863.
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.
Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 13-July 24.
Battle of Gettysburg July 2-4.
Pursuit of Lee July 5-24.
Duty on line of the Rappahannock and Rapidan till October.
Bristoe Campaign October 9-22.
Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8.
Rappahannock Station November 7.
Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
At Harper's Ferry till March, 1864.
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12.
Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania May 8-21.
Assault on the Salient May 12.
North Anna River May 23-26.
On line of the Pamunkey May 26-28.
Totopotomoy May 28-31.
Cold Harbor June 1-12.
Before Petersburg June 17-18.
Jerusalem Plank Road, Weldon Railroad, June 22-23.
Siege of Petersburg to July 9.
Moved to Washington, D.C., July 9-11.
Repulse of Early's attack on Washington July 11-12.
Pursuit to Snicker's Gap July 14-24.
Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign August to December.
Near Strasburg August 13.
Near Charlestown August 21-22.
Demonstration on Gilbert's Ford, Opequan, September 13.
Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19.
Strasburg September 21.
Fisher's Hill September 22.
Battle of Cedar Creek October 19.
Duty in the Shenandoah Valley till December.
Moved to Petersburg, Va., December 9-12.
Siege of Petersburg December, 1864, to April, 1865.
Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865.
Fort Fisher, Petersburg, March 25.
Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9.
Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2.
Pursuit of Lee April 3-9.
Sailor's Creek April 6.
Appomattox Court House April 9.
Surrender of Lee and his army.
March to Danville April 23-27, and duty there till May 23.
March to Richmond, Va., thence to Washington, D.C., May 23-June 3.
Corps Review June 8.
Mustered out June 21, 1865.
Regiment lost during service:
10 Officers and 135 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
5 Officers and 86 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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