143d Regiment
Pennsylvania Volunteers

The companies composing this regiment were recruited in Luzerne county, with the exception of two, H and K, which were from Susquehanna, Wyoming, and Lycoming. A camp of rendezvous was established three miles from Wilkesbarre, in July, 1862, which these companies were the first to occupy, and here on the 18th of October, the regiment was organized by the choice of the following field officers:
  • Edmund L. Dana, Colonel
  • George E. Hoyt. Lieutenant Colonel
  • John D. Musser, Major
Colonel Dana had been. a soldier in the Mexican war, and was at the time serving as a Major General of militia. Drill was immediately commenced under the instruction of Colonel Dana, and Major Hendrickson, of the regular army-mustering officer at the camp-who voluntarily rendered valuable assistance. On the 7th of November the regiment broke camp and proceeded to Harrisburg, where it was armed with Enfield rifles, and thence to Washington.

Upon its arrival at the Capital it was sent to camp on the south side of the Potomac, where it remained a few days, when it returned and was assigned to duty in the northern defenses of the city, encamping near Fort Slocum. It remained there three months, during which time large details were daily made for fatigue duty upon the fortifications, schools were established for the instruction of officers, which were regularly attended, and drill was actively prosecuted. On the 17th of February, 1863, it was ordered to the front, and proceeded to Belle Plain, where it was assigned to the Second Brigade,1 Third Division, First Corps.

On the 20th of April, the regiment accompanied the division on an expedition to Port Royal, below Fredericksburg, where a feint was made of crossing the river, returning to camp on the 22d. Ample preparations having been made for the spring campaign, the army moved on the 27th, the First Corps proceeding to Pollock's Mill, on White Oak Run, below Fredericksburg. On the 29th the regiment was under a brisk cannonade from the opposite bank of the Rappahannock, the sharp-shooters on both sides being very active, and the division sustaining some loss.

Battle of Chancellorsville

In the meantime three corps of the army had crossed the river above Fredericksburg, under the lead of General Hooker in person, and were engaged at Chancellorsville. Thither the Third Corps, which had accompanied the First, proceeded on the 30th, and on the morning of the 2d of May, the First followed it, arriving on the field at midnight, after a long and fatiguing march, and passing for the last three or four miles many of the wounded who were being borne from the front. The First Corps went into position on the extreme right of the army, on the wooded heights overlooking Hunting Creek, and stretching away towards the Rapidan.

At five o'clock on the morning of the 3d, the enemy attacked in heavy force, to the left of the position occupied by the One Hundred and Forty-third, which was on the extreme left of the corps, the fire extending at times nearly to the position which it held. Strong breast-works were thrown up, with abattis in front. The fighting continued until nearly noon. Another attack was made, to the left of the corps on the afternoon of the 4th, and at five P. M. the brigade was sent out on a reconnoissance in rear of the enemy's position. Early on the afternoon of May 6th, the return march was commenced, and after a tedious circuit by White Oak Church and Belle Plain, it went into camp at Falmouth on the 8th.

Battle of Gettysburg

A month later the corps started on the Gettysburg campaign, and was the first to reach the field of action. It had bivouacked on the night of the 30th at a point on Marsh Creek, about four miles from the town of Gettysburg.

On the morning of the 1st of July it moved forward and soon the sound of artillery was heard, the cavalry under Buford engaging the enemy's advance. At a little before noon the brigade went into position upon a, ridge beyond that on which the Theological Seminary stands, under a heavy fire, the One Hundred and Forty-third forming on the line of railroad.

Early in the action General Reynolds was killed, and Colonels Stone and Wister were wounded. The command of the brigade then devolved on Colonel Dana, that of the regiment on Lieutenant Colonel Musser.

A terrific fire of infantry and artillery was brought to bear on the position, but it was manfully held, though the dead and wounded on every hand told at what a fearful cost. Repeated charges were made with ever fresh troops, but each was repulsed with fearful slaughter. Finally the enemy succeeded in flanking the position, and the line was pressed back a short distance, but made a stand in a field a little back from the first railroad cut.

Later in the afternoon the brigade was forced to retire to a position near the Seminary. When this movement became necessary --the Union force being vastly outnumbered, and the command for it had been given--the color bearer of the regiment and many of the men could with difficulty be made to face to the rear, seeming determined to die rather than yield the ground. In executing this movement the color bearer, Benjamin H. Crippen, Sergeant Company E, was among the last to move and was killed in the act, still clinging to his standard. This incident is thus recorded by an English officer, who was at the time with the enemy, in an article in Blagckwood's Mlagazine.

"General Hill," he says, " soon came up. * * * Said he had had two of his divisions engaged, and hadl driven the enemy four miles into his present position, capturing a great many prisoners, some cannon, and some colors. He said, however, that the Yankees had fought with a determination unusual to them. He pointed out a railway cutting in which they had made a good stand; also a field in the centre of which he had seen a man plant the regimental colors, round which the enemy had fought for some time with much obstinacy; and when at last it was obliged to retreat, the color bearer retired last of all turning round every now then to shake his fist at the advancing rebels. General Hill said he felt quite sorry when he had seen this gallant Yankee meet his doom."2
The flag was rescued and brought safely off. When all hope of longer holding the position was gone, the brigade fell back through the town and took position on Cemetery Hill, where the shattered ranks of the two corps which had been engaged were re-formed.

On the morning of the 2d, artillery and picket firing opened early, but was light on the immediate front occupied by the brigade. In the afternoon a heavy attack was made upon the left of the line where Sickles' Corps stood, and the brigade was ordered over to its support. The movement was executed under a heavy fire of shells, from which some loss was sustained, and a position taken on the left centre in open ground, where it rested for the night and threw up works, the ground being lowest of any part of the whole line.

At four o'clock on the morning of the 3d, a heavy artillery fire was opened which extended along the right of the line, and at one P. M., the enemy opened with all his guns enveloping the whole Union front, the shells and solid shot ploughing the fields in every direction. Later in the afternoon the enemy made his last grand infantry charge upon the left centre, the strength of which fell a little to the right of the position where the regiment lay. This charge, though made in great force, and pressed with singular obstinacy, was completely repulsed, and the enemy fell back not again to renew the battle.

The regiment entered this engagement with four hundred and sixty-five men, rank and file. Of these, the killed, and missing in action, supposed to be killed, was forty-seven, and the wounded and prisoners were two hundred and five, an aggregate loss of two hundred and fifty-two, more than half of its entire strength. Lieutenants Charles W. Betzenberger, and Lee D. Groover, were among the killed, and Lyman R. Nicholson mortally wounded.

After the battle, the regiment joined in pursuit of the rebel army, which fell back rapidly towards the Potomac, and followed up until the enemy escaped. It then crossed the river at Berlin, and moved down the valley of Virginia.

On the 2d of August, it was assigned to duty on the line of railroad near Bealton Station, and in guarding the depot of stores there established. On the 7th of September, ninety-nine recruits were added to its ranks, on the 15th, one hundred and twenty-four, and on the 3d of October, one hundred and forty, bringing its aggregate strength up to five hundred and thirty.

Bristoe Campaign

With the army it moved forward to the Rapidan, occupying a position at Raccoon Ford on the 27th of September, at Morton's Ford on the 10th of October, and at Kelly's Ford on the following day. It then made a forced march to Centreville, the enemy displaying great activity in attempting to turn the right flank of the Union army. On the 19th, the regiment advanced to Haymarket. Towards evening the Union cavalry was driven in by the enemy, and the One Hundred and Forty-third, with a battery, was sent to check the pursuit, which was handsomely accomplished, the regiment losing two wounded in the engagement. The army again advanced towards the Rapidan, and on the 22d of November the regiment was posted at Manassas Junction to guard the railroad.

On the 5th of December it was relieved, and on the following day crossed the Rappahannock and marched to Paoli Mills. Again moving on the 27th, it proceeded to Culpepper, where, after a campaign of eight months, rarely paralleled for severity, it was finally settled in winter quarters. The winter was passed in comparative quiet, until the 6th of February, when the First Corps marched to Raccoon Ford, where it demonstrated as if to cross. The enemy was in force on the opposite side, and a brisk fire of infantry and artillery was exchanged. On the evening of the 7th, the object of the expedition having been attained, the corps returned to camp.

Towards the close of March, the First Corps having been greatly reduced in numbers, was broken up, and in the re-assignment, the One Hundred and Forty-third became part of the First Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps. Upon the death of Lieutenant Colonel George E. Hoyt, which occurred in June previous, Major Musser was promoted to succeed him, and Captain Charles M. Conyngham was promoted to Major.

The Wilderness Campaign

On the afternoon of the 4th of May, the regiment moved on the Wilderness campaign, encamping at night near the house which Jackson had made his head.quarters in the battle of Chancellorsville. Early on the following morning, it resumed the march with the corps, but shortly encountered the enemy's skirmishers, and the corps was formed in battle line. Advancing past the line of Union skirmishers, it soon came upon the enemy, in heavy force, and the fighting became severe. Colonel Dana had his horse shot under him, and was wounded and taken prisoner with Captains Little and Gordon, and a number of his men. Lieutenant John C. Kropp was killed, Lieutenant Michael Keenan was mortally wounded, and Lieutenant Jarius Kauff was taken prisoner, and died while in confinement.

The division was finally forced back into the open ground, where it was re-formed. On the following day the battle was renewed, and several fierce charges of the enemy were triumphantly repelled, in one of which Lieutenant Colonel John D. Musser was killed. The fighting was continued on the 7th, but at evening the division marched out to Laurel Hill. Scarcely had the troops got into position, when the enemy charged. A slight change of front was made to meet it, and he was repulsed. On the following day he again charged, but was met with a steady front, and again repulsed.

On the 10th the Union lines in turn charged, but were driven back with slaughter, the One Hundred and Forty-third suffering much, Lieutenant Charles H. Riley being among the killed. On the following day, three successive assaults were made upon his works, but without avail. Major Conyngham, commanding the regiment, was severely wounded in leading one of these assaults, whereupon, Captain George T. Reichard assumed command, and was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Chester K. Hughes to Major.

During the fierce fighting of the 13th, the regiment was under a continuous and very heavy fire of artillery, and towards evening was sent to the support of the Second Corps, advancing close upon the enemy's works, and holding the position gained. On the following day the command was withdrawn, and moved about ten miles, to a position on the Po River, and on the 21st reached the North Anna. Two days later it moved to Hanover Junction, where it was attacked and driven back a short distance, but succeeded in establishing a line, where breast-works were thrown up. The enemy kept a bold front, as the army pressed forward for the defenses of Richmond, defying all attempts to break through, and on the 16th of June the regiment reached the James. It immediately crossed, and with the corps moved up towards Petersburg.

Petersburg

On the 17th there was cannonading and skirmishing during the entire day, and on the 18th a general advance by the whole Union line, the regiment participating, and gaining a position within two hundred yards of his principal line of works, which was well intrenched, Lieutenant Ezra L. Griffin was mortally wounded in this charge.

From the 20th of June to the 14th of August, the regiment was principally employed in fatigue duty upon Fort Hell. On the 18th, it participated in the fighting for the possession of the Weldon Railroad. About a month later, the regiment was transferred to the Third Division, commanded by General Crawford, and Colonel Dana, who had been in captivity since the first day in the Wilderness, returned and resumed command, having been exchanged, after great suffering and hardship, he having been one of the fifty officers who had been placed under fire of the Union batteries in the city of Charleston.

On the 1st of October, the regiment joined in a movement upon the Vaughan Road, and participated in the fighting of the day, throwing up breast-works at night in continuation of the line of investment. Returning to camp on the 4th, it was, on the following day, assigned to garrison and guard Fort Howard and two batteries on the investing line.

Hatcher's Run

On the 27th of October the regiment moved with the corps in the first advance upon Hatcher's Run. The Third Division was detached and ordered to charge the enemy, which was promptly executed, and many prisoners were taken. Before daylight on the following morning it re-crossed the Run, forming connection with the balance of the corps, and had, during the forenoon, some sharp skirmishing, returning in the afternoon to camp.

At daylight on the morning of the 6th of December the regiment again moved from camp, General Warren leading his corps, on a raid upon the Weldon Railroad. On the 7th he crossed the Nottoway River, encamping at night near Sussex Court House. On the 8th he struck the railroad below Stony Creek Station, and commenced its destruction-burning ties, heating and twisting rails-continuing the devastation until late at night. On the following morning the work of devastation was resumed, Jarrett's Station being burned and large quantities of corn destroyed. For a distance of twenty miles the road and its appurtenances were laid in ruins. Finally, the enemy was found in force in front and considerable artillery firing ensued, but the purpose of the expedition having been accomplished, Warren turned back, the enemy's cavalry following. The One Hundred and Forty-third Pennsylvania and the Twenty-fourth Michigan were on picket and repulsed repeated charges.

On the 11th the brigade acted as rear-guard to the column. Frequent attacks were made upon it, but retiring slowly in line of battle, it kept the rebel forces at bay, halting and firing when hard pressed. The weather was extremely cold, the ground being covered with ice and sleet. The command reached camp on the 12th, and soon after went into winter-quarters.

Comparative quiet was preserved until February 5th, 1865, when the Fifth Corps in conjunction with the Second, and Gregg's Cavalry, moved for a still further extension of the line to the left. After crossing Hatcher's Run the commrand came upon the enemy, and drove him for some two miles, when, turning upon Crawford's Division, he drove it back to near the main road from which it had advanced. The ground was subsequently recovered, and, the line was permanently held as far out as Hatcher's Run. The One Hundred and Forty-third suffered severely in this battle, Captain Asher Gaylord being among the killed.

After fortifying the line, the regiment returned to its former camp. Three days later, the One Hundred and Forty-third, with three other regiments of the brigade, all greatly reduced by hard fighting, and all among the most trusted troops, was detached from the corps, and ordered to proceed North for special service. On the 11th it moved from City Point, via Baltimore, to New York, whence it was sent to Hart's Island, in New York Harbor, for guard duty at the camp of rendezvous, at that point. The regiment was engaged in this duty, and by details in escorting recruits and convalescents to the front, and subsequently in guarding the prison camp established there, until the 12th of June, when, with the. exception of Colonel Dana, it was mustered out of service, and ordered to. Harrisburg for pay. It proceeded thither by way of Wilkesbarre, where it was received with every expression of enthusiasm, and on the 20th was paid and finally discharged.

Colonel Dana was retained in service for special duty, was subsequently brevetted a Brigadier General, and was mustered out in August following.

___________________________________
1Organization of the Second Brigade, Colonel Roy Stone, Third Division, General Abneri Doubleday, First Co6ps, General John F. Reynolds. One Hundred and Forty-ninth Regiment Pennsylvania. Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel Walton Dwight; One Hundred and Fiftieth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Langhorne WBister; One Hundred and Forty-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Edmund L. Dana.

2 Blackwood's Magazine for September, 1863, Am. Ed., p.; 877. 62-Vol. IV.

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


Organization:

Organized at Wilkesbarre October 18, 1862.
Left State for Washington, D.C., November 7, and duty in the Defences of that city till January 17, 1863.
Attached to 1st Brigade, Defences of Washington, north of the Potomac, to January, 1863.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to December, 1863.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, to March, 1864.
3rd Brigade, 4th Division, 5th Army Corps, to June, 1864.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps, to September, 1864.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, to February, 1865.
Hart's Island, New York Harbor, Dept. of the East, to June, 1865.

Service:

Ordered to Join Army of the Potomac in the field January, 1863.
Duty at Belle Plains, Va., till April 27.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Operations at Pollock's Mill Creek April 29-May 2.
Battle of Chancellorsville May 2-5.
Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24.
Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3.
Pursuit of Lee July 5-24.
Duty at Bealeton Station till October.
Bristoe Campaign October 9-22.
Haymarket October 19.
Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8.
Warrenton November 7.
Guard at Manassas Junction November 22-December 5.
Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7, 1864.
Duty near Culpeper till May.
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12.
Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Laurel Hill May 8; Spottsylvania May 8-12;
Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21.
Assault on the Salient May 12.
North Anna River May 23-26.
Jericho Ford May 25.
On line of the Pamunkey May 26-28.
Totopotomoy May 28-31.
Cold Harbor June 1-12.
Bethesda Church June 1-3.
Before Petersburg June 16-18.
Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to February 10, 1865.
Mine Explosion July 30, 1864 (Reserve).
Weldon Railroad August 18-21.
Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28.
Warren's Raid to Weldon Railroad December 7-12.
Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865.
Ordered to New York February 10.
Assigned to duty at Hart's Island, New York Harbor, guarding prison camp, and
escorting recruits and convalescents to the front till June.
Mustered out June 12, 1865.

Losses:

Regiment lost during service:

8 Officers and 143 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
2 Officers and 150 Enlisted men by disease.

Total 303.

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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