198th Regiment

Pennsylvania Volunteers

This regiment was recruited in the city of Philadelphia, under the direction and aid of the Union League Association, during the summer of 1864. Recruiting was commenced soon after the muster out of service of the Reserve Corps, and Horatio G. Sickel, who had commanded the Third Reserve Regiment, was selected in conjunction with James H. Orne, Esq., Chairman of the Executive Committee of the association, to superintend the work of filling the ranks and organizing the command. In five weeks it was completed, and on the 9th of September, a regimental organization was effected, with the following field officers:
  • Horatio G. Sickel, Colonel
  • John B. Murray, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Edwin A. Glenn, Major
Early on the morning of the 19th, the regiment moved from camp, and pausing at the Headquarters of the Union League to receive the State colors, thence proceeded to join the army of the Potomac in front of Petersburg. Upon its arrival it was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, of the Fifth Corps, and joined it at a point on the Weldon Railroad, which had just been captured from the enemy. Soon after its arrival, Colonel Sickel was placed in command of the brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Murray succeeded to the command of the regiment.

The battle of Peeble's Farm opened on the 30th, and here the regiment had its first baptism of fire. It had scarcely got into position, when incessant volleys of musketry and artillery were opened upon it from a wood in front, where the enemy was posted. Advancing at once to the attack, the regiment opened fire, and though little accustomed to the terrible ordeal to which it was subjected, finally succeeded by hard fighting, in driving the enemy from the first line of works, inflicting severe loss upon him, two of his field officers being included among the prisoners.* Thursday, May 03, 2001 12:16:52 Breast-works were immediately thrown up, and here the regiment remained heavily engaged until the 2d of October, when it moved up near the enemy's works, where, for five hours, it held its ground under a severe fire. It was then withdrawn a short distance, and again threw up works, and on the following day went into camp half a mile to the rear. The regiment lost in this engagement one killed and five wounded. On the 27th, it moved with the corps for a demonstration upon the South Side Railroad, in which it was joined by the Second and Ninth Corps. With four days' rations and forty rounds of ammunition to the man, it moved at daylight, and after five hours toilsome marching, through dense timber, arrived in front of the enemy's formidable works, where it was exposed to a severe artillery fire. At sunset a strong picket line was thrown out, which was engaged nearly the entire night. Until noon of the following day, the pickets were kept busy, when the entire regiment was withdrawn two miles to the rear, where it was posted in support of batteries, but soon after returned to its encampment on the Squirrel Level Road. Here comfortable quarters were erected, in which the National Thanksgiving on the 27th of November was spent, in the enjoyment of a profusion of dainties sent by kind friends of members of the command at Philadelphia. On the 6th of December it marched with the corps for the destruction of the Weldon Railroad. Until the evening of the 9th, the work of destruction was vigorously pushed, the ties being burned and the rails twisted for a considerable distance beyond Bellefield. Upon the return march there was much suffering, the weather being intensely cold, and the troops being exposed to the peltings of a pitiless storm. Winter quarters were again erected, and a neat chapel for religious and other meetings was built, as had been previously done at the encampment on the Squirrel Level Road. Lieutenant Colonel Murray was relieved on account of physical disability on the27th of December, and the command devolved on Major Glenn.

On the 5th of February, 1865, the Fifth Corps, in light marching order, moved for an assault upon the enemy's works, and came upon them near Hatcher's Run. At three in the afternoon, the advance of the column encountered, and after a desperate struggle, carried a portion of his fortifications. Soon afterwards, the First Division, commanded by General Griffin, was sent for a diversion towards Dinwiddie Court House. This feint was a complete success. A large force of the enemy followed it, thus weakening the lines in front of the main body of the corps, which assaulted when this force was well away, and carried his works. Upon the return of the division, it was placed in the captured works, and a heavy skirmish line was thrown out. At threeon the afternoon of the 6th, it was attacked by a heavy force of the enemy anddriven in, a general engagement ensuing. General Sickel, seeing that the Second Brigade was hard pressed, led his command to its support. The One Hundred and Ninety-eighth moved at double quick, through mud and water, andwheeling sharply to the right into an open field, charged with shouts upon Mahone's rebel forces. Sickel with sword in hand led the charge, and with desperate valor his men fell upon the foe. After a sanguinary struggle, in which General Sickel received from a rifle shot, a painful flesh wound in the left thigh, the brigade succeeded in driving him from the field and re-estalishing its lines. Determined to re-gain his lost ground, if valor could accomplish it, the enemy massed his forces during the night, and approaching cautiously, attacked in the darkness with overpowering force. For a time he gained possession of apart of the Union works. At the first signal of alarm, the One Hundred and Ninety-eighth rushed to arms, and delivering a volley, sprang upon the foe with the bayonet. The struggle for a time was hand to hand, muskets being clubbed, and bayonets freely used. He was finally beaten back, and amidst the fiery flashes of the musketry and of bursting shells, the works were re-gained and made secure. Strong lines of works were erected in rear, on the opposite side of Hatcher's Run, for the more ample protection of the position, and on the 14th, when the defenses were completed, the regiment moved half a mile to the rear, and for the third time built winter quarters and a chapel. The loss during the operations of the 6th and 7th, was three killed and thirteen wounded. Lieutenant Charles W. Frazier was among the killed, and Captain J. H. Withington, Jr., among the wounded.

On the 25th of March, the enemy having pierced the Ninth Corps' lines at Fort Steadman, the regiment was early put in motion, and during nearly the entire day was kept upon the march for the support of portions of the line where active operations were in progress. Late on the evening of the 28th, it was ordered to strike tents and rest upon its arms in readiness for an early march, the whole army awaiting the signal to deliver a decisive blow. At three o'clock on the morning of the 29th, the One Hundred and Ninety-eighth marched at double quick, leading the corps in a southerly direction, and crossing Rouanty Creek below the junction of Gravelly and Hatcher's runs, pursued the road to Dinwiddie Court House as far as the Quaker Road, into which it turned, and again crossing Gravelly Run, encountered the enemy near the Old Saw Mill, where he was strongly posted behind earth-works. A cleared field stretched out in front of his fortifications, which was flanked on either side by heavy timber, in which his sharpshooters were posted. Across this space of a thousand yards, the regiment, in conjunction with the One Hundred and Eighty-fifth New York, and led by Sickel, dashed with determined bravery, and though receiving murderous volleys from front and flanks, reserved its fire until near the works, when, pouring in a well directed shot, it rushed upon the foe with the bayonet. The struggle for a few moments was at close quarters and desperate; but the firm bearing of the men of this brigade was triumphant, and the enemy was driven, though fighting most determinedly, and disputing every inch of ground with great valor. On reaching the Boydton Plank Road, unable to withstand the steady pressure brought to bear upon him, he broke and fled in confusion. In this action, known as the battle of Lewis' Farm, the regiment sustained grievous losses. Major Charles I, Maceuen and Captain George W. Mulfrey were killed, and General Sickel, Captains, Samuel Wrigley, Benjamin F. Gardner and Thomas C. Spackman, and Lieutenants Jeremiah C. Keller and William A. Miller wounded. The entire loss was three hundred and eleven, of whom twenty-eight were killed and one hundred and seventeen wounded. After the surrender of Lee, the rebel General Ewell, in speaking of this battle, told General Chamberlain, that the One Hundred, and Ninety-eighth, supported by the One Hundred and Eighty-fifth New York, and one battery of the Fifth United States Artillery, were fighting no less than three brigades of the best Confederate troops.

The regiment bivouacked upon the field, where it remained for thirty-six hours, exposed during a part of the time to a driving storm. On the morning of the 31st, it again moved off, leading the column, and came upon the enemy at White Oak Swamp. Quickly forming, it was led to the attack, and after a spirited action, drove him from the field. The loss was six killed and forty-six wounded. Lieutenant A. A. Pomeroy was among the killed and Captain Isaac Schroeder mortally wounded. Soon after the conclusion of the battle, the regiment moved forward towards Five Forks, and bivouacked for the, night. On the following day it greeted with hearty cheers Sheridan's Cavalry, and, when he had passed, joined in the movement, plunging into a dense thicket of pine which lay before it. Scarcely an hour had elapsed, when the stillness of the forest was broken by the sharp fire of the skirmishers, followed by heavy volleys. Hastening forward, the regiment soon reached the scene of conflict, encountering the enemy's skirmishers, and driving them in upon his heavy defensive works. As the Union line emerged from the timber, an assault was ordered, which was gallantly made, but failed to dislodge the enemy. As the troops were falling back, General Chamberlain, who was in command of the division, dashed up to Major Glenn, quietly awaiting orders, and exclaimed, "Major! Can you take those works, and hold them?" Turning to his men, the Major asked, "Boys, will you follow me?"' With a wild cheer they answered, and pressing with their standard close upon the footsteps of their brave leader, dashed forward in the face of a terrific fire of musketry with irresistible force. Thrice was the standard beaten down, and as often was caught up and borne bravely forward, until finally, blood-stained and torn, it floated in triumph over the works. The enemy was driven and his ground was held. Filled with a soldier's pride, General Chamberlain, who had witnessed this gallant and triumphant charge, rode forward to congratulate the leader, and order his promotion on the field. But, alas! At the moment when the triumph was assured, and Major Glenn had seized one of the enemy's colors from the hands of a rebel standard bearer, he was pierced by a bullet, which inflicted a mortal wound. The evidences of rout and confusion were visible on every hand, and prisoners, guns, and battle-flags fell to the hands of the conquerors. The loss in the One Hundred and Ninety-eighth, was one killed and fifteen wounded. That night the regiment slept upon the field of its triumph, and at eleven on the following morning, moved on one of the most tiresome marches of its entire service, extending far into the night, and being resumed at light of the following day. On the 5th, the joyful tidings were received, that Richmond had fallen, and that Lee was retreating with his whole army. On the marching columns pressed, passing the debris of the fleeing enemy, and guided by the thunder of Sheridan's relentless guns. Late on the evening of the 8th, overcome with exhaustion, the troops threw themselves upon the ground and slept soundly. On the morrow, they were early on the march, and passing through a narrow curtain of wood, suddenly came upon a grand spectacle. There, on the wide fields stretching far away, and surrounded by heavy timber, completely hemmed in by the Union forces, was Lee's entire army. The skirmishers advanced, and the enemy withdrew to his main line; but soon a white flag was displayed, and the news of the surrender quickly spread from rank to rank through the Union army. On the 11th, the enemy stacked arms and furled his flags, and, on the 15th, the regiment commenced the homeward march. At Arlington Heights it went into camp, where it remained until the 3d of June, when it was mustered out of service, and returning to Philadelphia, was received with demonstrations of rejoicing.

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* In referring to this action, General Sickel says: " While our brigade was forming for the charge, the regimental commander misunderstood the order, and filed his regiment into apiece of woods in the rear, leaving our left exposed. When the right of the line reached the enemy's works, I found our flanks exposed and threatened, and a disaster might have been the result, but for the discerning sagacity of Captain John E. Parsons, Adjutant General of the brigade, who galloped all through a storm of bullets, re-formed the regiment, and directing the charge in person, routed the enemy, and the result was a complete victory.
Source:  Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.

Organization:

Organized at Philadelphia September 9, 1864.
Left State for Petersburg, Va., September 19, 1864.
Attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps.

Service:

Siege of Petersburg September, 1864, to April, 1865.
Poplar Springs Church September 29-October 2, 1864.
Reconnoissance to Boydton Road October 8.
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.
Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9.
Junction, Quaker and Boydton Roads March 29.
Lewis Farm near Gravelly Run March 29.
White Oak Road March 30-31.
Five Forks April 1.
Appomattox C. H. April 9.
Surrender of Lee and his army.
March to Washington, D.C., May 1-12.
Grand Review May 23.
Mustered out June 4, 1865.

Losses:

Regiment lost during service:
6 Officers and 67 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
44 Enlisted men by disease.
Total 117.

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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