© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedAt a moment of iminent peril, in April, 1861, five volunteer companies from Pennsylvania rushed to the rescue of the National Capital, seriously menaced by traitors-the first troops to respond to the urgent call of the government. Among the foremost of these companies was the Logan Guards, of Mifflin county. When the three months' service was ended, this company, recruited and re-organized, was again mustered for three years, as company A, in the Forty-sixth Regiment. Company C, recruited in Northampton county, had served in the First Regiment, under Captain Selfridge, as company A. Company D, recruited in Dauphin county, had also served in the Fifteenth Regiment, as company E. Many of the members of other companies, both officers and privates, had served in the first campaign, but the organizations of no other companies had been preserved. Companies B and F were recruited in Allegheny county, E in Berks, G and H in Potter, I in Luzerne, and K in Northumberland.
Rendezvousing at Camp Curtin, the regiment was organized on the 1st of September, 1861, by the selection of the following field officers:
- Joseph F. Knipe, of Dauphin county, who had served during the three months' campaign on the staff of General E. C. Williams, Colonel;
- James L. Selfridge, from Captain of company C, Lieutenant Colonel;
- Arnold C. Lewis, Major.
On the 22d of September, Major Lewis, while attempting to enforce discipline in a case of insubordination, was shot and instantly killed by[John Lanaham] a private of Company I, who afterwards suffered the extreme penalty of the law for his offence. Captain J. A. Matthews, of company A, was promoted to Major.
Upon the resignation of General Patterson, from the command of the army of the Shenandoah, General Banks was appointed to succeed him. His forces were posted on the Upper Potomac, along the Maryland shore, in the neighborhood of Harper's Ferry. Soon after its organization, the Forty-sixth was ordered to General Banks' command. Upon its arrival it was assigned to the First Brigade,1 of the Second Division, of his corps. Little of interest, save the usual drill and camp duty, and an occasional skirmish with the enemy, occurred until the opening of the spring campaign.
In January, 1862, Stonewall Jackson, with a well appointed force of all arms, having for some time occupied the Shenandoah Valley, had pushed out as far west as Hancock, where he was met and driven back by General Lander. Lander pursued, but soon after died, and was succeeded in command by General Shields, who continued the pursuit to Winchester.
On the 24th of February, General Banks commenced crossing the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, and occupied, in turn, Leesburg, Charlestown, Martinsburg and Winchester. Shields continued the pursuit of Jackson as far as New Market, whence he returned to Winchester. In the meantime, Banks had dispatched one division of his corps to Centreville, and had himself departed for Washington. Considering himself superior to the Union force remaining, Jackson turned upon Shields, and a severe engagement ensued in the neighborhood of Kernstown. Three companies of the Forty-sixth, under command of Major Matthews, arrived upon the field in time to participate in the conflict. Jackson was beaten, and Banks returning, gave chase, which was continued to Woodstock. In this pursuit the Forty-sixth was conspicuous, Colonel Knipe manifesting his usual enterprise and daring.
Jackson, who was fearful of a union of the forces of Fremont and Banks, marched hastily across the mountain to M'Dowell, where he encountered the head of Fremont's column, under Milroy and Schenck, and defeated it, inflicting considerable loss. Returning with his characteristic celerity of movement, and masking his progress by his cavalry, he fell suddenly upon Colonel Kenley, occupying an outpost at Front Royal, and, routing his small force, was making for the rear of Banks' army, before the latter was aware of an enemy's presence in his front.
WinchesterTurning his trains towards the Potomac, and dispersing the rebel cavalry, which appeared upon his, rear, Banks commenced his retreat down the valley. Finding that he must make a stand to save his trains, he drew up his little army in line of battle, in front of Winchester, and with an entire force of only about seven thousand men, prepared to meet Jackson with not less than twenty thousand. For five hours the unequal contest was maintained, the Forty-sixth holding its ground with unexampled coolness and bravery. At length, finding himself outflanked and likely to be overpowered, he withdrew and made his way to the Potomac, where his trains had already arrived, and crossed in safety. In this engagement the Forty-sixth lost four killed, ten wounded, and three taken prisoners. The loss to the Union force in withdrawing through the streets of the town was considerable, the inhabitants, both male and female, vieing with each other in pouring forth insults and deadly missiles."My retreating column," says General Banks in his official report, "suffered serious loss in the streets of Winchester; males and females vied with each other in increasing the number of their victims by firing from the houses, throwing hand grenades, hot water, and missiles of every description."Upon the appointment of General Pope to the command of the army of Northern Virginia, the scattered forces upon the Rappahannock, the Shenandoah, andin West Virginia, were concentrated, and were organized in three corps, commanded respectively by Sigel, (formerly Fremont,) Banks, and M'Dowell.
Cedar MountainOn the 7th of August, 1862, Crawford's Brigade was stationed at Culpepper Court House. The divisions of Ewell, and Stonewall Jackson, followed by that of Hill, a force twenty-five thousand strong, had already arrived upon the- apidan, and had commenced crossing, driving back the Union cavalry. On the 8th, Crawford was ordered forward towards Cedar Mountain, and on the following morning Banks followed with the rest of his corps, consisting of seven thousand men. Jackson, having pushed forward his columns with celerity, had taken position with his artillery on Cedar Mountain, at an elevation of two hundred feet above the surrounding plain, but had kept his infantry masked under the shadow of the forests. Four guns had been advanced, farther to the front, and lower down the side of the mountain. These, with the more elevated ones, opened on Crawford's Brigade, and at five o'clock P. M., the Union forces, in two columns, advanced to the attack. The position of the Forty-sixth fell opposite the enemy's advanced pieces, and upon these the men charged with desperate valor. But before reaching them, they had to pass an open field, now covered with shocks of full ripened wheat. Here they were fearfully exposed, and the enemy's artillery, and his strong lines of infantry concealed from view, poured in a merciless storm of shot and shell. Three times was it led to the charge across that fatal plain, when Colonel Knipe fell severely wounded, and the regiment was withdrawn." Had victory been possible,' says Greeley, " they would have won it. * * * The best blood of the Union was poured out like water. * * * General Crawford's Brigade came out of the fight a mere skeleton."The loss in the Forty-sixth was thirty killed, thirty-four severely wounded, and six prisoners. Among the killed were Lieutenants Robert Wilson, S. H. Jones, and Wm. P. Caldwell, and among the wounded Colonel Knipe, Major Matthews, Captains Lukenbach, Brooks, and Foulke, and Lieutenants Selheimer, Caldwell, Craig, and Matthews.
AntietamIn the battle of Antietam, Banks' Corps was commanded by General Mansfield, and early in the day of September 17th was led to the support of Hooker, battling with a heavy force of the euemy on the extreme right of the line, across Antietam Creek. Crawford's Brigade was sent to the support of Ricketts' Division and advanced carrying the woods to the right of, and beyond the cornfield, and maintained its position until relieved by Sedgwick's Division of Sumner's Corps. The Forty-sixth was here led by Lieutenant Colonel Selfridge, Colonel Knipe still suffering from the effects of his wounds. The loss was six killed and three severely wounded. Captain George A. Brooks was among the killed.
Soon after the battle of Antietam, Colonel Knipe was promoted to Brigadier General, and assigned to the command of the Brigade; Lieutenant Colonel Selfidge was promoted to Colonel; Major Matthews to Colonel of the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, which was assigned to Knipe's Brigade; Captain William L. Foulke, of Company B, to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Cyrus Strouse, of company K, to Major.
Upon the inauguration of the Fredericksburg campaign, the Forty-sixth, which was then lying with the division at Fairfax, was ordered forward, but did not arrive upon the field in time to be engaged.
In the re-organization of the army, which was made upon the accession of General Joseph Hooker to the chief command, Knipe's Brigade became the Second of the First Division of the Twelfth Corps, the division being commanded by General A. S. Williams, and the corps by General Slocum.
ChancellorsvilleOn the 27th of April, 1863, the Eleventh and Twelfth corps, which had been lying near Falmouth during the winter, marched north to Kelly's Ford, where they crossed the Rappahannock, thence to Germania Ford, where they crossed the Rapidan, and arrived at Chancellorsville without encountering serious opposition. Here it was joined by the Fifth Corps, and on the 30th, by the Third Corps.
There were three roads centring at Chancellorsville, the main direction of each being eastward. Upon each of these Hooker ordered an advance on the morning of the 1st of May, Meade upon the left, Sykes, commanding a division of regulars belonging to the Fifth Corps, in the centre, and Howard upon the right. At two o'clock P. M., the movement commenced, and after proceeding some three miles the central column encountered the enemy in considerable force, and Knipe's Brigade was sent to its support, where it was engaged and lost some men; whereupon Hooker ordered a retrograde movement and a concentration upon the line of the previous night with the Chancellor House as headquarters, Meade on the left, Slocum in the centre, and Howard, somewhat in the air, on the right.
Desultory fighting continued during the day of the 2d of May, when, at near night fall, Stonewall Jackson, with twenty-five thousand men, burst like an avalanche upon Howard's Corps, resting unsuspicious of danger, and drove it, in rout and confusion in upon the centre. This brought the enemy upon Slocum's right, and during the early part of the night a sharp conflict was kept up, wherein Knipe's Brigade was engaged, loosing many in killed and wounded, and a considerable number of prisoners. Here fell Major Strouse, his body riddled with bullets, while attempting to escape when called on to surrender. At midnight a counter charge was made by Birney's Division, and a part of the guns lost by Howard and his abandoned rifle-pits, were re-gained, and the enemy thrown into some confusion.
On the morning of the 3d, Williams' Brigade was sent to the support of Birney; and here the battle raged with great fury, the enemy losing heavily, and being broken and driven in great confusion. Upon the return of Hooker to the north bank of the Rappahannock, the regiment occupied its old camp, where it remained until the advance of the army into Pennsylvania. The loss in the Chancellorsville campaign was four killed, a considerable number wounded, two severely, and two taken prisoners. Major Strouse and Lieutenant 0. R. Priestly were among the killed.
GettysburgEarly in June, Lee commenced a movement north, marching down the Shenandoah Valley, and crossing the Potomac at Williamsport. On the 1st of July, he met the Union army at Gettysburg. On the evening of the same day, the Twelfth Corps arrived upon the field, and was posted on the right of the line holding the summits of Culp's Hill, where a formidable breast-work was thrown up. On the afternoon of the 2d, the First and Second divisions were ordered to the support of the left, leaving their works unoccupied, save by a thin line of Green's Brigade, of the Second Division. During their absence, the enemy attacked and carried the left of the works, and, upon their return at evening, they found the rebels in possession. Dispositions were promptly made to re-take them.
Before dawn of the 3d, a heavy fire of infantry and artillery was opened upon the enemy, and after an obstinate resistance of several hours, he was driven back at the point of the bayonet. The Forty-sixth held the extreme right of the line, and after the re-occupation of the breastworks, was pushed-across an open space beyond Spangler's Spring, and held a piece of wood fringing Bock Creek. The loss, owing to the sheltered position which the regiment occupied, was inconsiderable.
Upon the withdrawal of Lee into Virginia, the Union army followed up his line of retreat, at the same time covering Washington, until it reached the Rapidan. Here the Eleventh and Twelfth corps were detached from the Army of the Potomac, and ordered to the support of Rosecrans, in Tennessee and Northern Georgia. Marching to Washington, the regiment proceeded by rail to Nashville. Here the First Division was detailed to guard the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, from Tullahoma to Bridgeport. The country through which the road passes was infested with guerrillas and rebel cavalry, ever watchful for an opportunity to destroy the road, and to wreck the trains. It was vital to the existence of the army that this line should be kept open, and that it should be operated to its utmost capacity. The vigilance and fidelity with which this service was performed on the part of the Forty-sixth, elicited the warm approval of its superior officers. Early in January, 1864, a large proportion of the officers and men of the regiment having re-enlisted for a second term of three years, insuring its continuance as an organization, they were given a veteran furlough and proceeded to Pennsylvania.2 Here its ranks were rapidly recruited, and upon its return the division rejoined the corps, in winter quarters, in and about Chattanooga.
The Atlanta CampaignOn the 6th of May Sherman's army, seventy thousand strong, with one hundred and fifty guns, broke up winter quarters and moved on the ever memorable Atlanta campaign. At Dalton, where Johnston, who commanded the rebel army, was first met, the enemy was turned out of a position,' strong by nature and well fortified, by a flank movement through Snake Creek Gap, which had already been captured by Geary's Division.
Following up the retreating enemy, Sherman found him well entrenched at Resaca, prepared to dispute his further progress. Here Sherman again attempted a movement by the right flank; but Johnston, taking advantage of his antagonist's weakened lines in front, delivered a heavy and well sustained attack, falling upon the divisions of Hooker and Schofield. He found Hooker not unprepared for the encounter, and after a bloody conflict, Johnston was driven, with a loss of four guns and many prisoners. In this engagement the Forty-sixth prticipated, losing three killed and five wounded. Among the killed was Lieutenant John H. Knipe, of company I.
Pushing the enemy steadily back, on the 25th of May, the regiment was again engaged at Pumpkinvine Creek and at New Hope Church. The country is here broken, and the enemy was well entrenched, his lines stretching across Lost, Pine and Kenesaw mountains, from Dallas to Marietta, presenting an unbroken front. From the 25th of May until near the middle of June, Sherman, always fruitful in resources, operated against the enemy's lines, compelling him, by constant battering, and picket firing, and by frequent assaults, gradually to give ground, taking first Pine Knob, then Lost Mountain, and at length the long line of breast works connecting the latter with Kenesaw.
Finally, on the 22d of June, the enemy, finding himself slowly but surely pushed from his strong position, suddenly assumed the offensive, and made a furious attack upon Hooker's Corps, in position near the Culp House. It fell principally upon Knipe's Brigade, and was led by Hood, but signally failed. Hood was repulsed with heavy loss, including some prisoners."Williams' Division," says General Thomas in his official report, "skirmished itself into position on the right of Geary's Division, the right of Williams resting at Culp's House, on the Powder Spring and Marietta Road. About 4 P. M., the enemy, in heavy force, attacked Knipe's Brigade in its advanced position, before his men had time to throw up any works, and persisted in the assault until sundown, when they withdrew, their ranks hopelessly broken, each assault having been repelled with heavy loss."In the various engagements at Dallas, Pine Knob, Kenesaw Mountain and Marietta, in all of which the Forty-sixth participated, the loss was fourteen killed and about thirty wounded. Captain D. H. Chesebro and Lieutenant J. W. Phillips were among the killed.
On the 16th of July, Sherman crossed the Chattahoochee River, and, sweeping around to the left, began closing in upon Atlanta, M'Pherson reaching out to strike the Augusta railroad. While these movements were in full progress, and the army. only partially across Peach Tree Creek, a considerable stream running in a westerly direction in front of Atlanta, Hood again attacked, leading a heavy force, and precipitating it with great violence upon the Union columns, falling principally upon Newton's, and upon Hooker's Corps. The Forty-sixth was much exposed, and suffered severely; but with ranks undismayed, led by Colonel Selfridge, who was in the thickest of the fight, conspicuous by his white, flowing locks, encouraging and steadying his men, they hurled back the rebel hordes at the point of the bayonet. With columns sadly decimated, Hood retreated from the field, leaving five hundred dead, one thousand severely wounded, and many prisoners in the hands of the victors. The loss in the regiment was ten killed and twenty-two wounded. Captain S. T. Ketrer, Lieutenants H. J. Davis, Samuel Wolf, and David C. Selheimer, and Adjutant Luther R. Whitman, were among the killed.
Shifting the Army of the Tennessee from the left to the extreme right, Sherman was preparing to cut off the railroads, and invest the city on the south, when Hood, detecting the movement, again fell upon the Union lines, only partially formed. The attack was made with the rebel leader's characteristic impetuosity, but it fell like the beating of the mad waves of the sea against the immovable cliff. The regiment lost here six killed and a considerable number wounded.
On the 1st of September, Atlanta surrendered, and Sherman's victorious columns entered the city in triumph. The hard fighting of the regiment was now ended. General Knipe was here transferred to the command of cavalry, and Colonel Selfridge to the Brigade, leaving Major Patrick Griffith in command of the regiment.
Sherman's March to the SeaOn the 11th of November, Sherman commenced his march to the sea. On the 21st of December, he reached Savannah, and, after a brief conflict at Fort M'Allister, took possession of the city. With but a brief respite, he faced his columns to the north, and on the 17th of February, Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, was taken without resistance, and a month later he reached Goldsboro, the end of his hostile wayfaring.
Johnston surrendered on the 26th of April, and the army immediately commenced its homeward march. On the 16th of July, 1865, the Forty-sixth regiment, after nearly four years of faithful service, was mustered out near Alexandria, Virginia.
1Organization of First Brigade, Brigadier General S. W. Crawford, Second Division, Brigadier General A. S. Williams. Forty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Joseph F. Knipe; Tenth Regiment Maine Volunteers, Colonel George Beale; Fifth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Colonel George D. Chapman; Twenty-eighth New York Volunteers, Colonel Dudley Donnelly; First Maryland, Colonel John Kenly; Best's Regular Battery.
2YOUTHFUL VETERANS. —" The claim of Missouri to have the youngest veteran soldier, is disputed by the Keystone State. We are informed that Henry Weidensaul, in his fourteenth year, entered the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania Infantry, participated in the battles of Winchester, Cedar Mountain, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Resaca, Dallas, Kenosaw. and Peach Tree Creek; was wounded for the first time in the last named fight, and re-enlisted last Winter with the greater part of his regiment. He was seventeen years of age on the 1st of July last."- Louisville Journal.
Henry Weidensaul, named above, was a native of Morgantown, Berks county. He was first wounded at Cedar Mountain, in August, 1862, where he was taken prisoner, and was confined in Libby Prison for nearly five weeks. He was again wounded at Atlanta.Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organized at Harrisburg October 31, 1861
Ordered to Join Banks November, 1861
Attached to Gordon's Brigade, Banks' Division, to March, 1862
1st Brigade, 1st Division, Banks' 5th Corps, and Dept. of the Shenandoah
to June, 1862
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Corps, Army of Virginia, to September, 1862
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac,
to October, 1863,
and Army of the Cumberland to April, 1864
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps,
Army of the Cumberland, to July, 1865.
Guard and outpost duty on the Upper Potomac till February, 1862.
Advance on Winchester March 1-12, 1862.
Near Winchester March 7.
Occupation of Winchester March 12.
Ordered to Manassas, Va., March 18, and return to Winchester
Pursuit of Jackson up the Valley March 24-April 7.
Columbia Furnace April 16
Skirmish at Gordonsville and Keazletown Cross Roads April 26.
Operations in the Shenandoah Valley May 15-June 17.
At Strasburg till May 20.
Retreat to Winchester May 20-25.
Front Royal May 23.
Kernstown and Middletown May 24.
Battle of Winchester May 25.
Retreat to Williamsport May 25-26.
At Williamsport till June 10.
Moved to Front Royal June 10-18.
Reconnoissance to Luray June 29-30.
Luray June 30.
At Warrenton, Gordonsville and Culpeper, July.
Battle of Cedar Mountain August 9.
Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2.
Guard trains during the Bull Run battles.
Manassas Junction August 28.
Maryland Campaign September 6-24.
Battle of Antietam September 16-17 (Reserve).
Duty in Maryland till December 10.
March to Fairfax Station December 10-14, and duty there till January 19, 1863.
"Mud March" January 20-24.
Moved to Stafford Court House and duty there 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 5-24.
Duty on line of the Rappahannock till September.
Movement to Bridgeport, Ala., September 24-October 3.
Guard duty on Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad till April, 1864.
Regiment reenlisted January, 1864.
Atlanta Campaign May 1-September 8.
Demonstration on Rocky Faced Ridge May 8-11.
Battle of Resaca May 14-15.
Near Cassville May 19.
New Hope Church May 25.
Operations on line of Pumpkin Vine Creek and battles about
Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5.
Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-July 2.
Pine Hill June 11-14.
Gilgal, or Golgotha Church, June 15.
Lost Mountain June 15-17.
Muddy Creek June 17.
Noyes Creek June 19.
Kolb's Farm June 22.
Assault on Kenesaw June 27.
Ruff's Station or Smyrna Camp Ground July 4.
Chattahootchie River July 5-17.
Peach Tree Creek July 19-20.
Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25.
Operations at Chattahootchie River Bridge August 26-September 2.
Occupation of Atlanta September 2-November 15.
March to the sea November 15-December 10.
Siege of Savannah December 10-21.
Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865.
Thompson's Creek, near Chesterfield Court House, S.C., March 2.
Thompson's Creek, near Cheraw, S.C., March 3.
Averysboro, N. C., March 16.
Battle of Bentonville March 19-21.
Occupation of Goldsboro March 24.
Advance on Raleigh April 9-13.
Occupation of Raleigh April 14.
Bennett's House April 26.
Surrender of Johnston and his army.
March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20.
Grand Review May 24.
Duty at Washington till July.
Mustered out July 16, 1865.
Regiment lost during service
14 Officers and 165 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
2 Officers and 136 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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