153d Regiment
Pennsylvania Volunteers

The unusual activity displayed in Northampton county, upon the call of the President for troops to serve for nine months, resulted in the speedy organization of thirteen companies, subsequently consolidated in ten. On the 6th of October, 1862, these companies proceeded from Easton to Camp Curtin, where, on the 29th, a regimental organization was effected, with the following field officers:
  • Charles Glanuz Colonel
  • Jacob Dachrodt, Lieutenant Colonel
  • John F. Frueauff, Major
On the 12th the regiment proceeded to Washington, and after a sojourn of a few days in the neighborhood of the Capital, was ordered to duty with the Eleventh Corps, then resting in the neighborhood of Gainesville, and was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division. 1

On Sunday, the 9th of November, the brigade was ordered to Aldie, where it confronted the enemy, and on the 18th retired to the neighborhood of Chantilly. On the 9th of December, upon the eve of the battle of Fredericksburg, the brigade was ordered forward, and reached Stafford Court House, after a most exhausting march, on the 16th, disaster, in the meantime, having befallen the Union army. Soon after its arrival here, the regiment went into camp, south of Accakeek Creek, where it was engaged in picket and guard duty. On the 20th of January, 1863, upon the opening of the iaLd March, it moved, in connection with the Eighth New York, and a section of Dickman's Battery, to Brooks' Station, where it went into camp, and for three days was engaged in picketing the railroad. Upon the giving up of the campaign, it proceeded to Acquia Landing, where substantial quarters were erected, which were abandoned at the end of three days, the command having been ordered to Potomac Creek Bridge. Here it was soon settled in permanelt winter-quarters, and here it remained, performing the usual camp and fatigue duties, until the opening of the spring campaign. Considerable sickness prevailed during the winter, and a number died or were permanently disabled.

Chancellorsville

On the morning of the 27th of April, the One Hundred and Fifty-third was early astir, and reported seasonably at the place of rendezvous of the corps; but, owing to the number of troops on the march, was not in motion for several hours. The Eleventh Corps crossed the iappahannock at Keliy's Ford, and the Rapidan at Germania sMills, and at four o'clock on the evening of the 30th, arrived on the Chancellorsville battle-ground. It was immediately posted along the Old Turnpike, leading from Orange Court House to Fredericksburg, facing southward, the left resting near Dowdall's Tavern, the ground forming the water-shed between the tributaries of the Ny River on the south, and Hunting Creek on the north. The night was quiet, and the weary troops slept soundly.

At mid-day of the 1st, the enemy attacked away to the left of the line, and the brigade was ordered to move to its support. This order was soon countermanded, but was again renewed, and until near midnight the brigade was kept in motion for threatened points. It then returned to its old position on the right, where, during the forenoon of the 2d, it was engaged in erecting barricades, throwing up rifle-pits, and felling the timber in front. The First Division held the right of the corps, and the First Brigade the right of the division. The Forty-first, and Forty-fifth New York, were upon the general line of the corps, south of the Old Turnpike. Upon the right of the Forty-fifth were two pieces of artillery commanding the turnpike. The One Hundred and Fifty-third Pennsylvania, and the Fifty-fourth New York, were north of the pike, upon a line refused, and nearly at right angles with the pike, forming the extreme right of the line of the army. The One Hundred and Fifty-third was disposed more as a close line of skirmishers, than as a regular line of battle, the men being ordered to stand three feet apart, its left resting on the turnpike, the line extending through the wood and across a road leading into the turnpike, its right supported by the Fifty-fourth New York. When the rebel leaders came out from Fredericksburg, and found Hooker well posted about the Chancellor House, they despaired of routing him by direct attack. Lee accordingly determined 2 to send Jackson, with all his corps, comprising two-thirds of the entire rebel army, by a circuitous route by the front of the Union army, to its extreme right and rear, and strike it unawares with this overwhelming force. Taking by-roads, and screening his movements by clouds of cavalry, that hovered upon his right flank, Lee, in the meantime, keeping up a noisy demonstration along the Union front looking towards Fredericksburg, the daring leader brought his men to the point desired, without having his purposes disclosed to the Union commanders. The movement of this heavy column with all its trains, past the front, was observed at various points, but a strange infatuation seemed to have seized the Union commanders, that their fine strategic move in crossing the river, and gaining the rear of the rebel army unopposed, had intimidated the rebel leader, and that he was now in full retreat. General Howard says, in his official report: "I should have stated that just at evening of May 1st, the enemy made a reconnoissance on our front, with a small force of artillery and infantry. General Schimmelfennig moved out with a battalion, and drove him back."

During Saturday, the 2d, the same General made frequent reconnoissances. Infantry scouts and cavalry patrols were constantly pushed out on every road." The unvarying 3 report was,'" The enemy is crossing the plank-road and moving towards Culpepper."

At one o'clock P. M., of the 2d, three shots were fired by the enemy, which were answered by a tremendous volley from the brigade line, thus disclosing its position and strength. A party of skirmishers was at once thrown out, under command of Captain Owen Rice, and precautions taken against a surprise. At a little before five o'clock, the skirmishers were driven in, and before they had reached the line of battle, the enemy's bugles sounded the charge, and in three lines, with powerful supports, supplied with artillery, he broke like a whirlwind upon the feeble and attenuated line of Von Gilsa's Brigade.4

The One Hundred and Fifty-third was first struck. This was its first experience of battle; but with the steadiness of veterans, a volley was poured in with deadly effect. The two pieces of artillery immediately started to the rear, and with them went the troops in support on their left. The enemy was coming in on both flanks; to stand longer was certain destruction, and accordingly, Colonel Von Gilsa gave the order to retire. "Our backward moveihent," says an officer of the regiment, " was begun just in season. Had we remained a minute longer, all would doubtless have been captured. The enemy had not only outflanked us on our extreme right, but were also advancing in force on our immediate left." Broken and disorganized by this overwhelming blow, the fragments of the brigade retired rapidly, little opportunity being given to re-fbrm, until they reached the open ground to the west of Chancellorsville. Here the regiment was rallied, and a position assigned it for the night.

A fatigue detail of fifty men was given, who, in conjunction with similar parties, were sent to bury the dead, remove the wounded, and construct breast-works. These were kept busily employed until two o'clock on the morning of the 3d. At three o'clock the regiment was aroused, and with the division, went into breast-works on the left centre of a new and more contracted line, looking eastward, and covering the United States Ford Road.

Colonel Glanz having fallen into the enemy's hands, and Lieutenant Colonel Dachrodt having been wounded, the command devolved upon Major Frueauff, who was relieved for that purpose, at his own request, from service on the staff of General Devens.

At ten A. M., the firing in front opened. A heavy line of skirmishers was at once thrown out to meet the advancing enemy, and the main line was speedily strengthened, under the supervision of Colonel Von Gilsa. Sharp-shooting and a heavy cannonade was kept up during the entire day, but, fortunately, with little loss to the regiment. It was renewed on the following morning, but the division continued to hold its position until the night of the 5th, when, with the army, it withdrew, and returned to its camp at Potomac Creek Bridge. The loss in the entire battle was nineteen men killed, three officers, and fifty-three men wounded, and thirty-three prisoners.

Gettysburg

Until the opening of the summer campaign northward, few changes occurred, and the regiment was engaged in the usual camp duties. On the afternoon of the 12th of June, with three days' rations, and sixty rounds of ammunition per man, the march towards Pennsylvania was commenced. On the 16th, Colonel Glanz re-joined the regiment; but enfeebled by the hardships of his late imprisonment, he was unable to resume command. The corps arrived at Emmittsburg on the 30th of June. At eight o'clock on the following morning, it was put in motion towards Gettysburg, moving at a rapid rate to the sound of the enemy's guns, and passing through the town at half-past one.

At the Poor House, north of the town, the brigade halted and deposited knapsacks, and was then ordered to advance at double-quick, and dislodge the enemy from a piece of woods to the right of the line taken up by the Eleventh Corps. Gallantly did the brigade advance, and cleared the intervening ground; but the enemy was already in heavy force, advancing on all sides, the brigades of Hayes and Hoke, in double line, in its immediate front, and infantry and artillery, most advantageously posted, away to the right and flank of its position. It was losing fearfully, and had no hope of gaining any advantage, when Colonel Von Gilsa, unwilling to sacrifice his men needlessly, ordered them back. In this brief engagement, the regiment lost one officer, and thirtytwo men killed, eight officers, and ninety-three men wounded, and eighty-two missing and prisoners.

The corps was soon afterwards ordered to retreat through the town, and take position on Cemetery Hill. Von Gilsa's Brigade went into position to the right of the Baltimore Pike, behind a low stone-wall, nearly opposite the Cemetery gate, and in front of batteries F, and G, of the First Pennsylvania Artillery. Content with his victory, the rebel leader neglected to follow up his advantage, and the exhausted troops slept undisturbed.

During the 2d, the artillery fire bearing upon the centre was very severe, but little loss was sustained until four in the afternoon, when a perfect storm of shot and shell was poured upon it, inflicting merciless slaughter, men on every hand writhing in the agonies of death. Towards evening it was discovered that the enemy was moving for a demonstration upon the right flank, and a change of front to meet him was made. Scarcely had the change been effected, when a powerful column of the enemy, which had secretly formed under cover of a rising ground, consisting of the brigades of Hayes and Hoke, burst upon the view, and charged full upon the position occupied by Von Gilsa. Shot and shell were poured into them from the artillery crowning the hill, and showers of bullets from the well poised muskets of the infantry; but unheeding the fall of comrades, they rushed on undismayed, crossed the low stone-wall, and were among the guns. It was no longer a question of steady aim or effective missiles, but a hand-to-hand encounter, in -which clubs and stones were freely used. "

At one time," says the officer above quoted, "defeat seemed inevitable. Closely pushed by the enemy, we were compelled to retire on our first line of defenses, but even here the enemy followed us, while the more daring were already within our lines, and were now resolutely advancing towards our pieces. The foremost one had already reached a piece, when, throwing himself over the muzzle of the cannon, he called out to the bystanding gunners: "I take command of this gun.''

"Din sollst sie haben," was the curt reply of the sturdy German, who, at that very moment, was in the act of firing. A second later, and the soul of the daring rebel had taken its flight." With a desperate persistence, the enemy struggled for the mastery; but all in vain. His bravest had fallen. The Union lines were being rapidly reinforced, and seeing no hope of holding the ground, he sullenly retired.

During the following day, the position was subjected to a fierce artillery fire, but the enemy made no more attempts with his infantry upon that part of the line. At six o'clock on the morning of the 4th, unusual movements of the enemy having been observed, a detachment of seventy-five men, forty-six of whom were from the One Hundred and Fifty-third, under Lieutenant Bachschmid, was sent out towards the town to discover the rebel strength. They were soon greeted by hostile shots, but pushing forward, they captured two hundred and ninety prisoners, and two hundred and fifty stands of arms, and found that the main body of the rebels had gone. The loss in the entire battle was one officer, Lieutenant William H. Beaver, and ten men killed, eight officers, and one hundred and eight men wounded, and one hundred and eighty-eight missing; an aggregate of three hundred and eight.

With the battle of Gettysburg, ended the hard fighting of the regiment; but hard marching was still in store for it. When arrived at Emmittsburg, whither the regiment was led in pursuit of the retreating rebel column, the term of service of six of the companies had expired, and they asked for their release; but their request was not granted, and the command continued to move with the corps until it came up with the rebel column, in the of Funkstown, where skirmishing was in progress.

On the morning of the 14th, orders for the discharge of the regiment having been received from Washington, it moved by Frederick City and Baltimore, to Harrisburg, where, on the 24th, the regiment was mustered out of service. On the following day, it returned in a body to Easton, where an enthusiastic public reception was accorded it, and it was finally disbanded. On taking leave of the regiment, upon its departure from his brigade, Colonel Von Gilsa said:

" I am an old soldier, but never did I know soldiers, who, with greater alacrity and more good will, endeavored to fulfill their duties. In the battle of Chancellorsville you, like veterans, stood your ground against fearful odds, and, although surrounded on three sides, you did not retreat until by me commanded to do so. In the three days' battle at Gettysburg, your behavior put many an old soldier to the blush, and you are justly entitled to a great share of the glory which my brigade has won for itself, by repulsing the two dreaded Tiger Brigades of Jackson. In the name of your comrades of the First Brigade, and myself, I now bid you farewell."

__________________________
1Organization of the First Brigade, Colonel Leopold Von Gilsa, First Division, General Julius Stahel, Eleventh Corps, General Franz Sigel. Eighth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel Felix Prince Salm Salm; Forty-first Regiment New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel Ernest WV. Holmstedt; Forty-fifth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel George Von Amesburg; Fifty-fourth Regiment New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel' Charles Ashby; One Hundred and Fifty-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel- Charles Gazln; Eighty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers, Colonel Frederick Hecker;

2 " Lee and Jackson passed the night of the 1st under some pine trees on the left of the Plank Road, just where the Confederate line crossed it. The difficulty of attacking the Federal position in front, had induced General Lee to order his cavalry to reconnoitre the right flank of the Union army. During the night. they reported favorably to an attack in that direction. At day-break, General Jackson dispatched two of his staff to ascertain if a practi' cable route existed by which, with speed and secrecy, he might move round the flank of the hostile army. The needed information was soon obtained. Seated upon two cracker boxes, the debris of an issue of Federal rations the day before, the Confederate leaders held their consultation. With a map before him, General Jackson suggested an entire circuit of the right of the opposing army, and that the attack be made on its rear. Lee inquired with what force he would do this? Jackson replied,'With my whole corps, present.' Le then asked what would be left to him with which to resist an advance of the enemy towards Fredericksburg?'The divisions of Anderson and M'Laws,' said Jackson. * * Jackson was directed to carry out the plan." -The Battle-fields of Virginia. Hotchkiss-Allan, (Rebel) page 41.

3Major Frueauff, who was serving on the staff of General Devens, in command of the First Division, states that two scouts from an Ohio regiment, reported in his presence, an hour before the firing commenced, to General Howard, while riding along the line, and when to the right of General Devens' headquarters, that the rebels were massed, and had stacked arms in an open field fronting the Union lines, and were taking refreshments; that General Howard discredited the report, and said the enemy were retreating.

4 " The turnpike reached, the Confederate column turned down it, towards Chancellorsville. Every precaution was taken to conceal the presence of the troops. Orders were given in a low tone; no guns were permitted to be fired; no cheeriln was allowed as the general passed along. Passing down the road some distance, Jackson formed his force in three lines of battle, perpendicular to the turnpike, and extending about one mile on each side of it. Rhodes occupied the front line, with his brigades, in the following order: Iverson's and Rhodes' Brigades on the left of the road, Doles' and Colquitt's on the right. Two hundred yards in rear, Colston, (commanding Trimble's Division,) was drawn up; Nicholl's and Jones' Brigaides on the left of the pike, and Colston's Brigade on the right. Rienseier's Brigade, of Rhodes' Division. extended the line on the right, in support of Colquitt. Part of A. P. iit's Division, as fast as it arrived, was formed in line, in support of Colston, and the remainder marched in column along the Old Turnpike. Two pieces of Stuart's Horse Artillery moved along the Old Turnpike with the first line. Orders were given to the second and third lines to support the first. whenever it might be necessary, without waiting specific instructions."-The Battlefields of Virginia. Hotchkiss-Allan, (Rebel) page 47.

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


Organization:

Organized at Easton September, 1862.
Moved to Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, October 6;
thence to Washington, D.C., October 12, 1862.
Attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 11th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to July, 1863.

Service:

Duty in the Defences of Washington, D. C, till December, 1862.
Reconnoissance from Chantilly to Snicker's Ferry and Berryville, Va., November 28-30.
March to Fredericksburg, Va., December 9-16.
Duty at Stafford Court House till January 19, 1863.
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.
Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24.
Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3. Pursuit of Lee July 5-12.
Mustered out July 24, 1863.

Losses:

Regiment lost during service:
1 Officer and 48 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
28 Enlisted men by disease.
Total 77.

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

Home

Artillery

Cavalry

Infantry

Reserves

U. S. C. T.

Direct questions or comments to pacivilwar@gmail.com

©  Alice J. Gayley, all rights reserved

Web Space provided by