© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedThe companies composing this organization were recruited in the counties of Centre, Lancaster, Mifflin, Tioga, and Wayne, from July 28th to October 18th, 1861 and were mustered into the service of the United States at Camp Curtin. An organization was effected on the 21st of October by the selection of the following field and staff officers:Theodore Gregg, of Company A, was appointed Adjutant, and John M'Clure, Quartermaster. A beautiful flag was presented by Governor Curtin, and was received in an appropriate speech, on behalf of the regiment, by Colonel Welsh. The ceremonies were witnessed by a large number of the citizens of Harrisburg, and by thousands of soldiers in camp.
- Thomas Welsh, of Lancaster county, Colonel
- James A. Beaver, of Centre county, Lieutenant Colonel
- J. M. Kilbourne, of Potter county, Major
At twelve P. M. it marched from Camp Curtin, and was taken by rail to Washington, arriving on the 23d, and encamped a mile and a half from the Capitol, on the Bladensburg road. On the 28th, the army of the Potomac was reviewed by General M'Clellan, the Forty-fifth being in line. It was assigned to Howard's Brigade, of Caseys Division.
On the 3d of November it was detailed to preserve the peace at an election in Prince Frederick. On the 7th it returned to camp, and was subjected to constant drill. The regiment took transportation for Baltimore at eleven P. M., of the 19th, marched through the city, and embarked on the steamer Pocahontas for Fortress Monroe. Arriving on the 21st, it moved to Camp Hamilton, three miles from the fort. The camp was well arranged and was occupied by the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, which extended to the Forty-fifth a, cordial welcome. Here it remained until the 6th of December, during which period it was thoroughly disciplined in company and battalion drill.
On the morning of the 6th, the two regiments broke camp, and returning to Fortress Monroe, embarked for Port Royal, South Carolina. At three P. M., the command moved off amid the cheers of those remaining at the fort. A beautiful scene was presented on the morning of the 7th, as the sun shone brilliantly out over the world of waters, most of the troops having never seen the ocean before. The command arrived in sight of Hilton Head at five P. M., of the 8th, and with some difficulty passed the shoals and breakers in safety.
The steamer Louisiana, having on board three companies of the Forty-fifth, and the entire Seventy-sixth, arrived off the harbor at seven P. M., and grounded on Gaskin Bank, near the south channel. Minute guns were immediately fired, as a signal of distress, and a gunboat, which came to her assistance, succeeded in getting her off the bar. Fortunately the wind was not high, nor the sea heavy, or the ship could not have withstood the breakers. Their deliverance was greeted with cheers by their comrades on board the Cosmopolitan.
Colonel Welsh reported his command to General T. W. Sherman, and received orders to occupy the sea islands, which made it necessary to divide the regiment. Accordingly, Lieutenant Colonel Beaver, with companies A, C, D, E and I, landed at Bay Point, and took possession of Fort Walker, relieving the Seventy-ninth New York. He had command of all the fortifications on the island covering the entrance to Port Royal Bay. His staff consisted of Major Kilbourne, Lieutenant George D. Smith, of company I, acting Adjutant, and Lieutenant James P. Gregg, acting Quartermaster.
Colonel Welsh, with companies B, F, G, H and K, sailed for Otter Island, taking with him five farge guns, and arrived at noon of the 11th. On the south point of the island were the ruins of Fort Drayton, which had been blown up by the enemy at the fall of Port Royal, and which Colonel Welsh immediately proceeded to re-build.
Fenwick Island was occupied on the 20th by companies F and K, under conmand of Captain Rambo. Fort Drayton being completed, and the guns mounted, it was placed in command of Captain Strahan, of the Fourth Rhode Island Artillery.
On the 12th of March, companies G, H and K, Captains Whitney, Scheffelin, and Rambo, all under command of Lieutenant Colonel Beaver, started, in boats, on an expedition to Aiken's plantation, for the purpose of capturing an outpost of the enemy stationed near the banks of the North Edisto River. Leaving the boats in charge of Captain Whitney, with a large detail of men, Captain Scheffelin, with company H, was sent to hold a bridge in the rear of the enemy, and cut off his retreat. The balance of the command, conducted by a negro guide, proceeded to make the attack. The night was dark and foggy.
Unfortunately the guide missed the road leading to the building occupied by the rebels, and took the one leading to the bridge, which was guarded by Captain Scheffelin's company. Perceiving a party approaching and supposing it to be the retreating rebels, the Captain ordered his men to fire, and they poured a destructive volley into the ranks of their supposed enemies. Captain Rambo and Corporal Fessler were killed, and nineteen men wounded.
Parties were frequently sent out by Colonel Welsh to visit the neighboring islands, and report any hostile movements of the enemy from the direction of Charleston. On the 4th of April, Captain Theodore Gregg was ordered to proceed, with company F, to Fenwick Island, where he remained watching the movements of the enemy on the adjacent islands until the 20th of May. On the 8th of April a brisk skirmish occurred along the banks of Musquito Creek, a bayou running from the Asheboo to the North Edisto, and the enemy was driven with a loss of several killed and wounded. On the 20th of May, Captains Gregg, Haines, and Scheffelin, received orders to abandon the islands, and at nine A. M. they proceeded to join the command on Otter Island.
Permission had been previously obtained, by Colonel Welsh, to join, with six companies of the Forty-fifth, in the contemplated movement upon Charleston, and for this purpose he had sent orders to Lieutenant Colonel Beaver to send him company A, Captain John I. Curtin; but some cases of small-pox being discovered among its members, Company I, Captain Hill, was sent in its stead.
On the 21st, companies B, F, G, I, I and K moved to North Edisto Island where the troops which were to participate in the expedition were being secretly landed. Three companies of the command were sent on the 1st of June to John's Island on picket duty, and during the night the entire command of General:Benham followed. On the 5th, the regiment marched through a heavy storm of rain to Legreeville, where it remained until the 9th, when it took steamer for James' Island, and landed eight miles from the city of Charleston. At this place, on the following day, a rebel force, three thousand strong, was encountered. The command was posted in an old ditch, the embankment of which was thickly overgrown with brush. The enemy advanced through the woods, with open column of companies, without skirmishers. Approaching to within a short distance of the line, a well directed fire from the ditch:caused the advance, led by the Forty-seventh Georgia, to stagger. Soon recovering from the confusion into which it was thrown by this fire, its commander attempted to change front; but it received a terrific fire from Captain Hamilton's Battery, United States Artillery, and from the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, which had come to the rescue, which caused it to retreat in confusion towards Charleston. Ninety men, killed and wounded, of the Forty-seventh Georgia, were found upon the field. The loss of the Forty-fifth was one man mortally wounded.
The regiment, under command of Major Kilbourne, participated in the engagement1of the 16th of June, but suffered no loss. It was engaged in picket duty, and in constructing field-works, until July 1st, when it returned with the brigade to Hilton Head, and moving on the 11th to Elliott's plantation, five miles distant, went into camp in a beautiful grove, near the shores of Port Royal Bay. Here the four companies, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Beaver, rejoined the regiment after a separation of seven months. Returning to Hilton Head on the 18th, the regiment embarked on the seamer Arago for Fortress Monroe, where it arrived on the 21st, and encamped three miles from Newport News.
Upon the resignation of Major Kilbourne, on the 30th, Captain John L Curtin, of company A, was commissioned to succeed him. It remained here, engaged in company, battalion, and brigade drill, until the 4th of August, when it was assigned to the First Brigade,2First Division, Ninth Army Corps. It reached Acquia Creek on the 5th, and on the following day nine companies moved to Brooks' Station, on the Richmond and Potomac railroad, and remained until the 29th.
The second battle of Bull Run was now in progress. Major Curtin, with three hundred men, marched to Potomac Creek, and burned the railroad bridge. On the 4th of September the bridge and buildings at Brooks' Station were burned, and the troops took cars for Acquia Creek. Here the landing, ware-houses, cars, locomotives, and commissary stores were destroyed on the 6th, and the regiment moved by water to Washington. On the 9th, in light marching order, it proceeded to Brookville, from thence to Frederick City on the 12th, and to Middletown on the 13th.
The army of General Lee, flushed with its successes, was now at South Mountain. General Burnside made immediate preparations to meet him. Early in the morning of the 14th, the troops were in motion. The division marched from Middletown down the turnpike, the Forty-fifth in advance, and arriving at the base of the mountain, turned to the left on the old Sharpsburg road. It then moved at double-quick and took position on the right of Cox's Division, commanding the pike. The Forty-fifth was supported by the One Hundredth Pennsylvania. The Forty-eighth New York was formed on the left and rear, he. Eighth Michigan on the left, and the Seventeenth Michigan on the right. Zook's Battery was placed in position near the road, and ordered to open fire Apon the rebel batteries. It was vigorously replied to by a fire which enfiladed the road, and soon a column of North Carolina troops advanced to capture the guns. A volley from the enemy's musketry drove the cannoneers from their position, and threw the line into temporary confusion. One company of the Forty-fifths with the Seventeenth Michigan, and Seventy-ninth New York, rushed forward, drove back the charging column and saved the artillery. For some time the fighting was most desperate, and became general along the line of Wilcox's and Cox's divisions. Generals Rodman and Sturgis promptly came to their support, and a battery of thirty-pounder Parrott guns opened from the crest of a hill near the pike, with telling effect upon the enemy in Turner's Gap. By a steady forward movement the troops had secured commanding positions on both sides of the pike, which rendered the expulsion of the enemy certain.
At last the order was given for the entire Ninth Corps to advance in lineof battle and drive the rebels from the mountain. Companies A and K were thrown forward as skirmishers on the right of the regiment. The line advanced under a destructive fire of musketry and artillery, and gradually pressed the enemy down the western slope. The Forty-fifth was suffering severely from the fire of the rebels posted behind a rail fence near the edge of a wood, upported by the One Hundredth, it moved forward, and drove them from the fence across an open field, when they faced about and took shelter behind a low stone wall. A rapid fire upon their line, at a distance of not more than fifty paces, was kept up, obliging them to hug closely their cover. Another charge was ordered, and the enemy was driven in the wildest confusion, leaving his dead and wounded in large numbers, on the field. The loss of the regiment in this closely contested action was an aggregate of one hundred and forty-five men killed, wounded, and missing. Lieutenant Smith, of company I, Assistant Adjutant General on the staff of Colonel Welsh, was among the killed, and Captain Grove among the wounded.
On the following day the regiment, with the brigade, marched in pursuit of the retreating foe towards Antietam Creek, following close upon the heels of his rear-guard. He cautiously evaded an engagement, but retired, passing through Boonsboro and Keedysville, crossed the creek, and took up a strong position upon the heights beyond. The creek is here spanned by four stone bridges; one on the Keedysville and Williamsport road, one on the Keedysville and Sharpsburg pike, one on the Rohrersville and Sharpsburg road, and one near the mouth of the creek, on the road leading from Harper's Ferry to Sharpsburg.
The command occupied the extreme left, opposite the Rohrersville and Sharpsburg bridge, but some distance from it. At four P. M., Colonel Welsh received orders from General Burnside to charge over the hill towards Sharpsburg, which was finely executed, the regiment again in advance. The One Hundredth Pennsylvania was on the right, the Thirtieth Ohio, of Sturgis' Brigade, on the left, and the Forty-sixth New York in support.
Approaching a stone mill near the town, company K dislodged the enemy and captured the mill and buildings. The battle raged furiously. The strong position near Sharpsburg was firmly held, but the necessary re-inforcements failing to arrive, the command was withdrawn. The Ninth Corps, with an aggregate of thirteen thousand eight hundred and nineteen officers and men, had withstood the impetuous assaults of more than thrice its number, had gained the most advanced position of any portion of the army, and had attested its bravery in the most signal manner. The loss sustained in the Forty-fifth was thirty killed and Wounded.
On the night of the 18th, General Lee quietly withdrew his entire army across the Potomac, and took position on the opposite bank, near Shepherdstown. The regiment moved with the corps in pursuit, and went into camp near Antietam Creek. It marched by rail to Frederick City, on the 11th of October, to defend it against the incursions of Stuart's Cavalry, which was at that time upon a raid around M'Clellan's army.
From Frederick City it proceeded via Point of Rocks, Berlin, Snicker's, and Ashby's Gaps, Rectortown and Orleans, to the Hedgeman River, and encamped, on the 7th of November, near Waterloo. The troops, suffering much from short rations, styled the camp "Starvation Hollow."
Leaving camp on the 16th, it marched through Warrenton and Falmouth, and pitehed tents, on the 19th, on the north bank of the Rappahannock, oppsite Fredericksburg, where it was engaged in drill and picket duty until December 12th, when it crossed the river at nine A. M, and bivouacked near the gas-works. Early on the morning of the 13th, the command marched down the river to the lower crossing, and joined General Franklin's Grand Division. Here the men were obliged to remain quiet spectators of the fight, in which Renolds' Division alone, of Franklin's Corps, was permitted to participate. e-crossing the river, on the night of the 15th, the regiment marched to its old camp near Falmouth, where it remained until February 11, 1863.
On the 12th it proceeded by rail to Acquia Creek, and thence by steamer to Newport News, and encamped two miles from the landing, on the banks of the James River. A new manual of arms was here adopted by the Forty-fifth, consisting of selections from Hardee's and Scott's tactics, with many original manceuvres. It comprised one hundred and six movements, which were indicated by taps of the drum. In the short space of two weeks the regiment became proficient in the new drill, and made a fine appearance, eliciting the praise of;all by the perfect manner in which the movements were executed. On the 13th of March, Colonel Welsh was promoted to Brigadier General, and Lieuteiant Colonel Curtin and Captains Hill and elsey, to Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, and Major, respectively.
On the 22d of May, the regiment was ordered to East Tennessee, Taking passage on the steamer Mary Washington to Baltimore, and moving by rail through Parkersburg, Cincinnati, and Nicholasville, it arrived at Jamestown, Kentucky, on the 1st of June, where it encountered a small force of rebel cavaly. But it was not to participate in the expulsion of the foe from this region wich had been so long oppressed. An order came to General Burnside for eight thousand men to re-inforce Grant in the trenches at Vicksburg. Although he could illy afford to thus diminish his force, the regiment, with the Corps, moved on the 4th via Lebanon; Louisville, and Cairo, and arrived at Haines Bluff at one P. M. of the 19th. It was posted, with other troops, to prevent any movement of General Johnston, designed to relieve the beleaguered garrison. Its duty was here more of observation than direct contact with the enemy.
On the 4th of July two signal victories were achieved by the national arms; the capture of Vicksburg by General Grant, and the overthrow of the enemy at Gettysburg by the army of the Potomac.
As soon as the intelligence of Pembertons surrender reached General Johnston, he retired from his advanced position, on the Big Black River towards Jackson. A large force, under General Sherman, was sent in pursuit on the afternoon of the day of the surrender. General Welsh was in command of the division, and Colonel Henry Bowman of the brigade.3 It left camp for the purpose of crossing Big Black at Jones' Ford and Birdsong's Ferry, and marched until midnight. On the morning of the 5th, the enemy was found in'strong force on the opposite bank of the river, with a disposition to dispute further advance. A position was, however, secured, and Colonel Bowman's Brigade, by constant exertion, constructed a bridge at the Ferry, upon which the command crossed on the afternoon and evening of the 7th, and encamped in the vicinity of Jefferson Davis' plantation, near Bolton. Continuing tle pursuit on the 8th, it encamped at ten P. M.,near Hall Cross Roads, and the following day the enemy's cavalry was encountered. The regiment in this march acted as rear guard. Around the distant horizon could be seen the smoke of burning houses, barns, and cotton. Much suffering was endured by the troops for want of water, the streams, ponds, and springs being filled, by the enraged enemy, with all kinds of filth and putrefying bodies, and rendered unfit for use.
At three P. M. of the 10th, the command arrived in front of Jackson, and was formed in order of battle. The First Brigade, to which the Forty-fifth was attached, occupied the right ofthe line. The regiment, with the Seventy-ninth New York, was thrown forward as skirmishers, and, as the division advanced, soon came in contact with the enemy. Beyond this roadis a high ridge upon which is situated the State Lunatic Asylum, to which the vedettes retreated. The Forty-fifth rushed forward, drove them from the position, and unfurled the flag of the regiment from the dome of the asylum. The enemy declining to fight in the open field, the line was securely established, and the troops bivouacked for the night. On the 11th, the command advanced, and compelled the opposing forces to take shelter in their fortifications.
"General Welsh," says Woodbury, 4 "halted his division, established his line, sheltering his men from the enemy's battery, and taking up a good position upon a ridge immediately facing the enemy's defences. * * * On the right, the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania advanced to within five hundred yards of the enemy's works, and retained its position." This was accomplished under a heavy fire of artillery, and musketry, from which it suffered much. On the 12th, it was relieved by the Seventeenth Michigan, and retired to the wood in the rear of the asylum, using its beautiful grounds for hospital purposes. An act of rebel inhumanity here occurred which should not escape notice. Perceiving the use which was being made of the asylum grounds, he opened a heavy fire of artillery upon the building, a thirty-pound shot passing through it, wounding two of the inmates. The unfortunate people set up the most lamentable cries, and attempted to break through doors, and windows, to escape from danger. The rebel fire only ceased, upon his guns being silenced by the Union artillery. On the 13th, a vigorous attempt was made by the enemy to break our lines, but received a most disastrous repulse, and the two armies lay watching each other for several days.
Frequent assaults were made upon his entrenchments to develop his position and force. On the morning of the 17th, the skirmishers were advanced, but found no enemy, he having made good his retreat. Large quantities of ammunition and arms, one officer, and one hundred and thirty-seven men were captured. At eleven A. M., the division moved out of Jackson, upon the Canton Road, the Forty-fifth in advance, towards the Pearl River, for the purpose of intercepting the enemy; but not finding him, destroyed fifteen miles of the Mississippi Central Railroad, and returned to Jackson on the evening of the 20th.
Moving towards Vicksburg on the following day, the regiment was detailed to guard the ambulance train, and arrived at the old camping ground at Milldale on the 23d. On the 4th of August it proceeded from thence to Haines' Bluff, and on the next day embarked on the steamer Hiawatha for Cairo. Thus terminated its services with the Army of the West.
"In returning the Ninth Corp to its former command," says General Grant, in general orders, dated July 31st, "it is with pleasure that the general commanding acknowledges its valuable services in the campaign just closed."Arriving at Vicksburg opportunely, taking a position to hold at bay Johnston's army, then threatening the forces investing the city, it was ready and eager to assume the offensive at any moment. After the fall of Vicksburg, it formed part of the army which drove Johnston from his position near the Big Black River into his intrenchments at Jackson, and after a siege of eight days, compelled him to fly in disorder from the Mississippi Valley.
The endurance, valor and general good conduct of the Ninth Corps are admired by all; and its valuable co-operation in achieving the final triumph of the campaign is gratefully acknowledged by the army of Tennessee. It was a severe campaign for both officers and men. The malaria of the Mississippi camps, the scarcity and bad quality of water, and the severe marching had greatly impaired the health of the command. General Welsh here contracted a disease from which he died at Cincinnati on the 14th of August.
Moving via Cairo and Cincinnati, it proceeded on its memorable march over the mountains of Tennessee, and arrived at Blue Springs on the 8th of October. Two days thereafter, it engaged the rebel forces. The Ninth Corps was ordered to advance, and General Ferrero's Division selected for the attack. The Forty-fifth was thrown forward as skirmishers, a charge was made upon their works, and they were driven from their advanced position.
Halting and re-forming in a wood, a charge was again ordered, and the crest of the hill opposite, gained, when darkness put an end to the contest. The enemy withdrew during the night, leaving his dead and wounded upon the field. The loss was twenty-one killed and wounded. The command marchedon the evening of the 11th in pursuit of the retreating enemy as far as Rheatown, returned to Blue Springs on the 13th, and moved by rail with the brigade5 to Knoxville.
The attention of the country was now directed to the field of operations in East Tennessee and Northern Georgia. The hostile armies were each being strengthened by large re-inforcements. General Hooker, with two corps, the Eleventh and Twelfth, was ordered from the army of the Potomac to the aid of Rosecrans. Longstreet, hastening to the aid of Bragg, joined him in time to participate in the battle of Chickamauga. With Grant, Sherman, Burnside, Thomas and Hooker to lead the Union forces, the country looked forward to the result with confidence.
Constant marching and an occasional skirmish occupied the time of the regiment until the 30th, when orders were issued to build winter-quarters. A beautiful grove of oak, twenty-five miles south-west of Knoxville, was selected for this purpose. With much labor, convenient log huts were constructed, covered with shelter tents; but the period during which they could be enjoyed was short. The men were called to arms at three o'clock on the morning of November the 14th to confront General Longstreet. He had cut loose from Bragg at Chattanooga, and by a forced march had reached the Tennessee River, six miles below Louden, on the evening previous, and before daylight of the 14th was crossing the stream.
General Burnside taking command in person, ordered General White, with a division of the Twenty-third Corps, supported by Ferrero's Brigade, to assume the offensive. The enemy was encountered, vigorously pressed, and driven back to the river. The next morning at daylight, General Burnside withdrew his troops to Lenoir Station, the First Brigade of Ferrero's Division covering the rear. Knoxville was Longstreet's objective point, and to prevent his moving his columns past our right and cutting off our retreat, it was necessary to abandon Lenoir. The valuable mills and factories established here, were destroyed preparatory to evacuating the place.
While the troops were moving back towards Knoxville, the First Brigade held the enemy in check. It was drawn up in line of battle on the Kingston road, and moved forward in a wood, the enemy driving in the skirmishers, but refusing to advance farther. The command gradually fell back to Campbell's Station, at the junction of the road from Lenoir with the Knoxville and Kingston Road, leaving Morrison's Brigade to cover the retreat. Frequent attempts were made to break through our line, but each resulted in failure.
On the morning of the 16th, the brigade quietly withdrew from its position on the Kingston Road, and moved towards Knoxville, Humphrey's Brigade of the First Division actingas rear guard. On reaching the junction, a line of battle was formed behind a rail fence, with the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts on the right, resting on the Kingston Road, the Eighth Michigan on the left and the Forty-fifth deployed as skirmishers. Unfurling their colors they awaited the approach of the enemy. Discovering that he was moving to the left in order to gain the wood, the brigade took a second position near a rail fence along the edge of the wood, and opened a heavy fire.
A body of rebel infantry was at this time observed approaching our rear from the Kingston Road. Facing about and taking a new position on the opposite side of the field, a volley was poured into the rebel line which checked its advance, and drove it back in confusion. It being no longer necessary to hold the junction, the command was withdrawn in good order, but with some difficulty escaped capture, and was soon under cover of its artillery, which General Potter, under the direction of General Burnside, had placed in position on high ground just beyond the village of Kingston.
This village is situated between two ranges of hills which are nearly a mile apart. Across the intervening space the infantry was drawn up in single line of battle. General Ferrero's Division held the right, White's Division, of the Twenty-third Corps, the centre, and Hartranft's Division, of the Ninth Corps, the left. Benjamin's, Buckley's, Gettings' and Van Schlein's batteries were on the right of the road, and Roemer's Battery on the left, with the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts for its support.
The enemy formed in two lines of battle in the woods, with a strong line of skirmishers in front, and at noonday advanced. The whole valley was open to the view of the Union army, as Longstreet moved forward. When he arrived near the Union line of battle, Benjamin's and Roemer's batteries opened fire, and so accurate was their range that the rebel lines were immediately broken, and fell back in confusion. They rallied, and under cover of the woods on the slope of the ridge, advanced against the right, when Christy's Brigade of the First Division at once changed front. Buckley executed a similar movement with his battery, and by a well directed fire checked their progress in that direction. They next maneuvred to turn our left, but Burnside, falling back to a stronger position, established a new line at four P. M., under a heavy fire from their artillery.
Ferrero was now on the right of -the road. Morrison's Brigade was placed in rear of the rail fence at the foot of the ridge, on which Benjamin's Battery had been posted. The enemy did not seem inclined to attack the Union troops in front, but pushed hs columns along theridge on their left, aiming to strike Hartranft in flank and rear. This movement was discovered, and as he was moving rapidly, Hartranft opened with his three-inch guns on the rebel line, and during the day drove it twice back in disorder and confusion. Longstreet failing in all his daring and bold attempts to force Burnside from his position, fell back out of the range of artillery. The troops of the Ninth and Twenty-third corps, with a force of less than five thousand effective men, had held in check for the entire day three times their number.
During the night the army deliberately retired to Knoxville, reaching that place at four A. M., of the 17th. The regiment, with the brigade, occupied a high hill south-west of the city, one-half mile from the college. It was here engaged in constructing a line of rifle pits from the Holston River to Fort Sanders. The siege of Knoxville had begun. Fortifications were rapidly constructed, and the lines strengthened for the defence of the city. The long weary days passed slowly away, the monotony only broken by an occasional skirmish.
At length it became evident to the rebel commander that the works must be carried by assault, or the attempt to re-gain possession of East Tennessee abandoned. On the 28th of November, he made demonstrations upon the skirmish line, which led to a fruitless attack upon our lines. On the following morning an assaulting column appeared. The gallant Ninth Corps held the defences, the Forty-fifth Regiment on the picket line. The charging column moved steadily on, over obstructions, removing abattis as they went, and a few succeeded in reaching the parapet. A desperate encounter ensued. Exposed to terrific fire of infantry and artillery, the enemy's column at length began to falter, and finally, hopelessly broken and disorganized, it retreated from the field. During the night he quietly withdrew his forces, and the siege of Knoxville was raised.
At daylight of the morning of the 6th of December, the Ninth Corps marched towards Rutledge in pursuit, and attacked his rear at Blain's Cross Roads, Beans' Station, and Clinch River Mountains, inflicting upon him some loss. On the 14th, Captain Hart, of company I, and Sergeant Major Mullen, with a wagon train and fifteen men, were captured.
On the 1st of January, 1864, four hundred and twenty-six men of the Forty-fifth re-enlisted for three years, or during the war, thus securing to themselves a veteran furlough.
Among the mountains, about Clinch River, in mid-winter, with scanty provisions upon which to subsist, it became a question, with the officers in command, whether to remain, and longer wait for rations, or take up the line of march, and forage on the way. The latter alternative was chosen.
An example of heroic endurance, and patriotic devotion to the flag worthy of imitation, was manifested in the conduct of the men on this march. With only a quart of meal, and five pounds of fresh meat per man, and no certainty of obtaining more on the road, barefoot and poorly clad, it required a patriotism as earnest, and a purpose as fixed, to patiently endure the privations and hardships of the march, as to achieve victory in the face of the enemy.
On the 16th, the regiment commenced this perilous march via Cumberland Gap, the few men who did not re-enlist having been transferred temporarily to the Seventy-ninth New York. On the 21st it arrived at Barboursville, where the men received full rations, and were supplied with shoes. On the 8th of February they arrived at Harrisburg and were granted a veteran furlough.
The veteran regiment, with many new recruits, proceeded, on the 19th of March, to Annapolis, the place of rendezvous for the veterans of the Ninth Army Corps. Arriving at four P. M., of the following day, it proceeded to Camp Parole, where it remained until the 23d of April. It was assigned to the First Brigade,6 Second Division, and moved to Washington, passing, on the 25th, in review before the President, and encamped near Alexandria. Moving, on the 27th, via Fairfax Court House, and the Bull Bun battle-field, it encamped at Bristoe Station on the evening of the 28th, and remained, guarding the station, until May 4th.
On the 5th the Wilderness campaign opened. The regiment crossed the Rappahannock at ten A. M., the Rapidan at Germania Ford at five P. M., and continued its march through dense woods and almost impenetrable thickets, bivouacking at night in line of battle. At one A. M. of the 6th, the men were aroused, and at three the division moved out on the road towards Parker's Store. The battle opened at daylight with great fury. General Potter, with Wilcox in support, attempted to seize Parker's Store. Companies A and K, of the Forty-fifth, were deployed as skirmishers. To relieve General Hancock, who was hard pressed, Potter subsequently moved his division, at double-quick, to the left, nearly a mile along the edge of the Wilderness, and formed in two lines of battle, with the First Brigade in advance. Colonel Bliss having been prostrated by sun-stroke, the command of the brigade devolved upon Colonel Curtin. With the Fifty-eighth Massachusetts on the right, the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts on the left, the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania in the centre, and the Seventeenth and Twenty-seventh Michigan in reserve, the lines moved to the fronto With companies A and K, under command of Major Kelsey, on the skirmish line, the brigade charged the enemy, delivering a well directed fire, and driving him from his position. The men, finding that they were confronting Longstreet's troops, whom they had met at Knoxville, a great shout was given for Burnside, and they pushed on with renewed zeal in pursuit. The line becoming broken, and somewhat disorganized, the rebel reserves charged upon it, and drove it back through the wood to the edge of the Wilderness. The command rallied, and again charged, driving the enemy to the works, from which he had sallied forth. The fighting was most desperate. The brigade, falling back two hundred paces, prepared for another charge, which was made at five P. M., driving tha enemy along the entire line. Night coming on the contest closed. The loss was one hundred and forty-five killed and wounded. Among the killed was Lieutenant Evan R. Goodfellow, of company D. Captain John O. Campbell, of company E, was mortally wounded, and died on the following day. At daylight of the 7th, the regiment was in line, and marched towards Chan. cellorsville, arriving at nine P. M. It moved on the 10th, formed a line to the left of General Wilcox's command, and crossed the Ny River under a heavy artillery fire. The Forty-fifth led, deployed as skirmishers, followed by the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts, the Seventeenth and Twenty-seventh Michigan, and drove the rebels back over the hills into their breast-works around Spottsylvania Court House. Holding the position and constructing strong works during the night, the command remained until ordered to retire in the afternoon of the following day. On the morning of the 12th, the Second Corps made a gallant attack upon the enemy's works, striking him-upon his right centre. The Ninth advanced towards his lines at double-quick, the Forty-fifth on the right of the brigade, and drove him back, taking some prisoners. For three hours the battle continued with unabated fury, and until darkness enveloped the scene of conflict. For several days it was constantly in line and under fire. On the 16th it engaged the enemy and gained some advantage, and on the 21st, drove him across the river Po. Resuming the march on the 23d, it moved to the support of the Second Corps. The regiment was detailed as guard to the ammunition train of the Second Division, and crossed the North Anna, near Oxford, on the afternoon of the following day under a terrific fire of the enemy's artillery. While charging across, the woodwork of the bridge was struck by a shot from a twenty-pounder Parrott gun, knocking the men completely from their feet. The lines were firmly established on the south side of the river. At three P. M. of the 26th, a charge was made upon the rebel works, which were carried, his entire line being driven back. In this assault the regiment exhibited great gallantry, and was among the first to enter the breastworks on the extreme left, on the banks of the North Anna. At nine P. M., of the next day, the command silently withdrew from its position and re-crossed the river. It crossed the Pamunky at Hanovertown, and participated in the battles at Cold Harbor7 on the Ist, 2d and 3d of June. On the 3d, Lieutenant Scudder, of company F, was killed. Major Kelsey was mortally wounded, and died on the 24th. The aggregate loss of the regiment in the three days of fighting was one hundred and sixty-three killed and wounded, out of the three hundred who were engaged. The Forty-fifth participated in all the movements of the army until it reached the James River, on the evening of the 14th. Crossing on the following morning, it moved to re-inforce the Second Corps, and Butler's Army, already in front of Petersburg. It arrived within three miles of the city at ten A. M., of the 16th, and at two P. M., formed in line of battle, marched to the extreme left, and encamped in a piece of wood one-half mile from the enemy's works. The Second Corps was ordered to attack at six in the evening, the Ninth supporting. Potter's Division was on the extreme left of the corps, Curtin's Brigade on the left of the division, and the Forty-fifth on the left of the brigade, thus occupying the extreme left of the army. The attack was gallantly made, but was not attended with important results.
It was determined to renew the attack on the morning of the 17th, and General Potter's division was selected for the assaulting column. Griffin's Brigade led the charge, supported by the First, under command of Colonel Curtin. The Forty-fifth, and Fourth Rhode Island were withdrawn several hundred yards to the rear, and changed front, in order to meet any sudden attack which might bemade from that direction. The enemy's works were gallantly carried, and a furious contest was waged for their possession. It lasted but a few moments, when the enemy gave way and retreated towards Petersburg. On the 18th, a general assault was ordered at four P. M., and again a large proportion of the fighting fell upon the Ninth Corps. It was proposed to drive the enemy from a piece of woods and the railroad cut which protected his lines. The attack was vigorously made, General Hartranft's Brigade in advance, but failed of success. Of this engagement, General Burnside, in his report, says,"'No better fighting has been done during the war than was done by the divisions of Potter and Wilcox during this attack."8Colonel Curtin was severely wounded and carried from the field. The loss of the regiment was three killed and eighteen wounded. The troops were now constantly engaged in the construction of earthworks under heavy fire, the conviction becoming settled that Petersburg could only be reduced by the slow process of a siege.
On Saturday the 25th, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, who had projected the plan of destroying the rebel fort in front of General Potter's division, by the explosion of a mine, and the commanding general having given his approval, began the work of excavation.
Fixing was constantly kept up by the contending parties, and the advanced position held by the Ninth Corps, was continually shelled from the time that operations upon the mine commenced, until its final explosion. Thirty-two men of the Forty-fifth were wounded during this period, and Lieutenant Gibboney, of company C, and one man of company D were killed.
The work which was attracting the attention of all, was completed at six P. M. of the 28th, and the mine was to be sprung on the morning of the 30th. It had been constructed under many disadvantages. The line at its mouth was exposed to the fire of the enemy's batteries, and the project had received little encouragement from general officers, beyond that extended by Generals Burnside and Potter.
Immediately upon its explosion an assault was to be made along the entire line. The assaulting column was the First Division of the Ninth Corps, commanded by General Ledlie. It had formed during the night near the division of General Wilcox. The explosion was to take place at half-past three in the morning, but owing to a defective fuse it was delayed until nearly five. Captain Theodore Gregg, in command of the regiment, which now numbered two hundred and ten effective men, received orders, early in the morning, to leave a strong line of skirmishers, under command of an efficient officer, in front of the enemy's works, and to march the remainder of the regiment back to the edge of the wood in rear of our lines.
One hundred men, under command of Captain Fessler, of company K, were detached as skirmishers, and the balance of the regiment formed on the left of the Fourth Rhode Island, along the edge of the wood. The troops composing the storming party were now ready to move forward according to the battle order of General Burnside. All eyes were turned to the rebel fort beneath which eight thousand pounds of powder were soon to be ignited. The fuse, which had become dampened and failed to ignite, was re-lighted, and at precisely sixteen minutes before five the mine exploded.
The scene which was presented was terrible to behold. Large masses of the works, with men and artillery commingled, were blown far into the air. The crater was enshrouded in a dark cloud of sulphurous smoke, lighted up by an occasional flash from the rebel magazines, which were exploded almost simultaneously with the mine.
A terriffic fire of artillery was immediately opened from one hundred and forty-four guns upon the enemy's works, and the air was filled with howling, screeching projectiles. The regiment was ordered to follow the Fourth Rhode Island, and marched by the left flank through a covered way. In crossing the open field it was much exposed to the fire from the rebel lines on the right and left, the whole space traversed being literally swept by minie, grape, and canister. On arriving at the ruined fort, the regiment was ordered to charge a battery in position near some buildings to the rear of the rebel works; but the condition of the crater of the exploded mine was such that it was found impossible to do so. A charge upon a battery immediately in front was ordered, and as the regiment, which now comprised about eighty men, advanced, the enemy opened upon it with batteries stationed at different points on right and left, accompanied by a heavy fire of musketry from the rifle-pits, which caused it to fall back into the intrenchments around the ruined fort. Frequent hand to hand encountres occurred, swords were crossed and muskets clubbed, until finally the order to withdraw the troops from the dangerous position was given.
The officers and men behaved with great coolness and courage in this daring but unsuccessful assault. The color-bearer of the Sixth Virginia attempted, while fighting in the crater, to plant his regimental flag upon the broken parapet, when Corporal Frank Hogan, of company A, shot him and captured his colors, receiving for his gallantry a medal of honor from the War Department. The regiment sustained a loss in this contest of six killed, twenty-two wounded and thirty-nine missing.
On the 1st of August the dead were buried, and the wounded secured under a flag of truce., The rebels, on the 5th, attempted to explode a mine beneath one of the forts in front of the Eighteenth Corps, but failed, the excavation not reaching to within fifty yards of the fort. Nearly all the artillery opened upon them, and a constant cannonade, and musketry fire, was kept up the entire day. On the 15th, the regiment, with the division, moved three miles to the left, and relieved a division of the Fifth Corps. Its loss, from the 30th of July, was two killed and one wounded.
At three P. M., of the 19th, it marched in advance six miles, to the support of Warren, and was deployed as skirmishers. Moving through a thick wood, in the dark, the enemy's line was discovered, and some prisoners taken. During the night the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania formed on its right, and the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts on its left. On the following morning, the order was given to advance, and open fire upon the enemy. Still upon the skirmish line, it engaged his vedettes, and drove them in, losing one man wounded.
On the morning of the 30th of September, the First and Second divisions proceeded towards Poplar Spring Church, and found the enemy strongly entrenched. Moving rapidly to the left of the Fifth Corps, while passing through an open field the regiment received the fire of a rebel battery, one man being killed and one wounded.
The brigade formed, with the Fifty-eighth Massachusetts on the right, the Fifty-first New York on the left, and the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania in the centre; the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts, Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, and the Fourth and Seventh Rhode Island, were in reserve, and occupied the works at the front, on Peeble's farm. It was here held to support Griffin's Brigade, Second Division, Fifth Corps, and fought gallantly, repulsing several charges of infantry and cavalry, in rear and in front. At one time, entirely surrounded by the enemy, it cut its way through his columns, and gained the shelter of a log barn, from which Major Horton, of the Fifty-eighth Massachusetts, was keeping up a constant fire of musketry. The little band was here soon surrounded, and called upon to surrender. Lieutenant Colonel Gregg did not propose to yield without an effort to escape. Calling to the men they moved on with a cheer, but were met with a withering fire of musketry which killed and wounded the larger part of the command. The color bearer, Sergeant Ruggleman, being wounded, Sergeant Levi R. Robb took the colors, and tried to save them, but was immediately surrounded by the Tenth Virginia Cavalry.
Lieutenant James P. Gregg was killed while gallantly leading his men. Being overcome by vastly superior numbers, after a fierce struggle they were forced surrender. Among the captured was Lieutenant Colonel Gregg. The entire casualties in the regiment were one officer and two men killed, and one hundred and fifty officers and men prisoners.
On the 1st of October it numbered only ninety-two men present for duty, but during the winter months of 1864-5 it was rapidly filled up with recruits, dr:afted men, and substitutes. Promotions were made from the non-commissioned officers and men who had served with honor and fidelity since the organization of the regiment in 1861. It participated in the movement to Hatcher's Run on the 27th and 28th of October, and on the 10th of December moved with the division to the support of the Fifth Corps, which was making a reconnoissance to the Weldon Railroad beyond Nottaway Court House. It returned on the 12th, and retained its position on the right of the army until its final assault on the rebel works. It occupied Fort Rice, near that familiarly known as Fort Hell.
At length the waning fortunes of the rebellion were manifest at every point. Orders were issued to assault the enemy's position on the 1st of April, 1865, and on the following day the regiment was moved to the rear of Fort Hell. The artillery opened along the entire line of the corps at four P. M., and at half-past four the troops moved forward. They were received with a storm of musketry, grape and canister, but through the deadly tempest they steadily advanced. Nothing could impede their progress. Abattis were torn away, ditches passed, walls and parapets scaled, and works carried in the face of a withering fire. Fort Hill and a six gun battery was captured by the Forty-fifth, which during the day held the extreme left of the brigade.
In this brilliant affair, Captain Cheesman, commanding the regiment, lost his right leg. Among those conspicuous for heroism and noble daring was Lieutenant Robb, who fell mortally wounded.
Early on the morning of the 3d, the advance skirmish line discovered that the foe had evacuated his works. The corps entered Petersburg-the outpost of treason -and at five A. M., the commanding general was informed by General Wilcox, that it had surrendered. Pursuing the retreating enemy, the regiment participated in all the movements of the brigade from Petersburg to Farmville. It encamped on the evening of the 3d at Sutherland's Station, on the Southside Railroad. The pursuit was continued on the following morning, when the Ninth Corps was ordered to move to the Coxe Road, and guard the rear of the pursuing army. Here it remained until the 9th, when Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, at Appamattox, to the victorious Grant. The work of carnage and death was over.
On the 15th, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Gregg returned to his command from prison life, and was most cordially received. On the 19th it marched via Petersburg to City Point, and from thence moved by water to Alexandria. It participated in the Grand Review on the 23d and 24th of May, and on the 17th of July was mustered out of service.
1 EXTRACT FROM THE OFFICIAL REPORT OF GENERAL H. G. WRIGHT. The troops of the entire column left the field in the most perfect order, the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania Regiment bringing up and covering the rear, as-far as our front line of pickets, where it was halted and remained in position till all prospect of an attack, on the part of the enemy, had passed away.-Moore's Rebellion Record, Vo. 5, page 211, Does.
2 Organization of the First Brigade, Colonel Thomas Welsh, First Division, Brigadier General O. B. Wilcox, Ninth Army Corps, Major General A. E. Burnside. Forty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major John I. Curtin; Forty-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel Joseph Gerhardt; One Hundredth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel David A. Leckey; Thirty-sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Henry Bowman.
3Organization of First Brigade, Colonel Henry Bowman, First Division, Brigadier General Thomas Welsh; Ninth Corps, Major General John G. Parke. Forty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel John I. Curtin; Thirty-sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel John B. Norton; Seventeenth Regiment Michigan Volunteers, Colonel Constant Luce; Twenty-seventh Regiment Michigan Volunteers, Colonel Dorus M. Fox.
4Burnside and the Ninth Army Corps, p.-285.
5 Organization of the First Brigade, Colonel David Morrison, First Division, General Ferrero; Ninth Army Corps, Major General John G. Parke. Forty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel John I. Curtin; Thirty-sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, Major William F. Draper; Eighth Regiment, Michigan Volunteers, Colonel Thomas S. Clark; Seventy-ninth Regiment, New York Volunteers (Highlanders,) Major John More.
6 Organization of the First Brigade, Colonel Z. R. Bliss, Second Division, Brigadier General Robert B. Potter, Ninth Corps, Major General Burnside. Forty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel John I. Curtin; Forty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants; Fifty-eighth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel John C. Whiton; Thirty-sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Wm. F. Draper; Thirty-fifthRegiment Massachusetts Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel John W. Hudson; Fourth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel M. P. Buffum; Seventh Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel Percy Daniels.
7 On the right, the brunt of the battle fell upon the Ninth Corps. * * ^ Colonel Curtin's Brigade of General Potter's Division made a daring charge, drove in the enemy's skirmishers, carried some detached rifle-pits, forced the enemy-consisting of portions of Longstreet's and Ewell's corps-back into the inner works, and established itself in close proximity to his intrenchments.-Burnside and the Ninth Army Corps, pages 397-8.
8 Burnside and the Ninth Army Corps, Woodbury, p. 413. Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organization:Organized at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, October 21, 1861.
Moved to Washington, D.C., October 21-23.
Attached to Jameson's Brigade, Heintzelman's Division, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1861.
Unattached, Sherman's South Carolina Expeditionary Corps, to April, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of the South, to July, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to September, 1862.
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to April, 1863,
and Army of the Ohio to June, 1863.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee, to August, 1863,
and Army of the Ohio to April, 1864.
1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to July, 1865.
Service:Expedition into Lower Maryland November 3-11, 1861.
Moved to Baltimore, Md., thence to Fortress Monroe, Va., November 19-21.
Sailed for Port Royal, S.C., December 6-8.
Companies "A," "C," "D," "E" and "I" assigned to duty at Bay Point;
Companies "B," "F," "G," "H" and "K" occupy Otter Island, S.C., December 11, and duty there till May, 1862;
Companies "F" and "K" occupy Fenwick Island December 20, 1861;
Company "F" at Fenwick Island April 4 to May 20, 1862;
Companies "B," "F," "G," "H," "I" and "K" moved to North Edisto Island, S.C., May 21, 1862.
Operations against James Island, S.C., May 21-June 28.
Action on James Island June 10.
Battle of Secessionville June 16.
Evacuation of James Island and movement to Hilton Head June 28-July 1.
Moved to Newport News, Va., July 18-21; thence to Aquia Creek August 4-5.
Operations on the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers till September.
At Brook's Station August 5-29.
Destruction of bridges at Potomac Creek and Brook's Station September 4.
Destruction of stores at Aquia Creek September 6.
Battles of South Mountain September 14; Antietam September 16-17.
Duty at Pleasant Valley, Md., till October 26.
March to Lovettsville, Va., October 26-29; thence to Warrenton October 29-November 19.
Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15.
Burnside's 2nd Campaign January 20-24, 1863.
At Falmouth till February 11.
Moved to Newport News February 11, thence to Lexington, Ky., March 19-23.
Duty at various points in Kentucky till June.
Moved to Vicksburg, Miss., June 7-14.
Siege of Vicksburg June 14-July 4.
Advance on Jackson, Miss., July 5-10.
Siege of Jackson July 10-17.
At Milldale till August 5.
Moved to Covington, Ky., thence to Crab Orchard August 5-18.
Burnside's Campaign in East Tennessee August 16-October 17.
Blue Springs October 10.
Knoxville Campaign November 4-December 23.
Lenoir Station November 14-15.
Campbell's Station November 16.
Siege of Knoxville November 17-December 4.
Pursuit of Longstreet December 5-24.
Regiment reenlisted January 1, 1864.
Operations in East Tennessee till March, 1864.
Strawberry Plains January 21-22.
Movement to Annapolis, Md., March 21-April 6.
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12.
Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania May 8-12;
Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21.
Assault on the Salient May 12.
Stannard's Mill May 21.
North Anna River May 23-26.
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 April 2, 1865.
Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864.
Weldon Railroad August 18-21.
Poplar Springs Church September 29-October 2.
Peeble's Farm October 1.
Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28.
At Fort Rice till April, 1865.
Fort Stedman March 25, 1865.
Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2.
March to Farmville April 3-9.
Moved to Petersburg and City Point April 20-24, thence to Alexandria April 26-28.
Grand Review May 23.
Duty at Washington and Alexandria till July.
Mustered out July 17, 1865.
Losses:Regiment lost during service:
13 Officers and 214 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
252 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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