© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedThe right wing of the Fifty-eighth Regiment, consisting of companies A, B, C, D, and K, was recruited in the city of Philadelphia and vicinity, under the direction of J. tichter Jones, who had received the requisite authority from the Governor, and rendezvoused at Roxboro' near Philadelphia. The left wing, companies E, F, G, H, and I, were recruited in the counties of Warren, M'Kean, Cameron, Clinton, Northumberland, Luzerne, and Potter, under Carlton B. Curtis, who had likewise received authority to raise a regiment, and rendezvoused at a camp near Huntingdon, subsequently at Camp Curtin, and finally at Camp Curtis, near Philadelphia, and was designated the One Hundred and Fourteenth. Failing to secure a sufficient number of men for two full regiments, by mutual agreement, the two were consolidated, and the combined force received for its designation the lowest number of the line.
Recruiting commenced in the autumn of 1861, and the final organization of the regiment was effected on the 13th of February, 1862, by the choice of the following field officers:On the 21st the regimental colors were presented, a gift from ladies of Roxboro.
- John Richter Jones, of Sullivan county, Colonel
- Carlton B. Curtis, of Warren county, Lieutenant Colonel
- Montgomery Martin, of Philadelphia, Major
The regiment broke camp on the 8th of March, and moving through the city amidst cheers and joyous demonstrations, proceeded to Fortress Monroe, the right wing direct by water, the left wing by rail to Baltimore and thence by transport, and encamped a mile and-a-half from the fortress, at Camp Hamilton. The day of its arrival was signalized by the world renowned contest between the iron-clad Merrimac and the Monitor, the camp alive with the excitement.
On the 13th it was rumored that General Magruder was advancing to attack the camp. The pickets were driven in, and the troops were ordered into line; but no attack was made.
On the 10th of May, a force consisting of six regiments of infantry, the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania, Tenth, Twentieth, and Ninety-ninth New York, First Delaware, Sixteenth Massachusetts, a battalion of mounted rifles, and a battery, was ordered from camp, and after passing in review before President Lincoln, embarked upon transports, for an expedition to Norfolk, all under command of Major General Wool. As the transports passed the Roads, the fleet was in the act of bombarding Sewell's Point and Craney Island, and the monster Merrimac was in full view. At daylight on the following morning the troops debarked at Ocean View, and commenced the march. The Fifty-eighth was the last to land, and consequently had the rear. At Tanner's Creek it was ordered to the front, and, as it approached the hostile forces, advanced as skirmishers. The enemy had set fire to the bridge, but the flames were quickly extinguished. He had some small guns in position, but as soon as the regiment was deployed, his pickets discharged their pieces and fled. The column moved by the flank, on the Princess Anna Road and upon approaching his intrenchments, it was discovered that they were deserted. The troops immediately took possession, and bivouacked for the night.
In the meantime, the Mayor and city councils of Norfolk came out and formally surrendered the city, which was followed by the possession of Portsmouth, Newtown, Gosport, and the Navy Yard. The flag of the Fifty-eighth was taken to Norfolk, and unfurled upon the Custom House, where it floated in triumph while the regiment remained. The camp was early aroused on the following morning by the blowing up of the Merrimac, causing the solid earth to tremble.
After performing provost guard duty in Norfolk for a few days, the regiment marched to Portsmouth and encamped near the Navy Yard, performing guard duty in Portsmouth, and picket on the intrenchments. Subsequently, it was moved upon the intrenched lines, and was encamped near the "Marine Hospital," where it was engaged in guard and picket duty.
On the 18th of August company G, Captain Winn, was ordered to proceed by the Great Dismal Swamp Canal, to South Mills, North Carolina, near to one of the battle-grounds of Burnside, to break up a rendezvous of rebel recruits. Having accomplished its mission, it returned to camp without having encountered any hostile force. On the 11th of October, the regiment was ordered to Suffolk, where were some fifteen thousand troops encamped under command of General Peck. On the 24th the regiment made an expedition in company with the Ninety-ninth, One Hundred and Twelfth, and One Hundred and Thirtysecond New York, a battery and a regiment of New York mounted rifles, to the Black Water, meeting and skirmishing with the enemy at Zuni. Again, on the 12th of December, the regiment moved with an expedition to the Black Water, and in a skirmish which ensued two men in company C were wounded.
During the month of November, the Fifty-eighth furnished large details for fatigue duty upon the fortifications, and for picket. On the 5th of January, the Fifty-eighth embarked with a force under command of Major General Foster, for Beaufrt, North Carolina, arriving at noon of the following day. Proceeding to Bachelor's Creek Station, eight miles west of Newbern, the regiment encamped, and with the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, and a company of North Carolina Cavalry, all under command of Colonel Jones, held the outposts of General Foster's command, extending from the Neuse River on the right, to the Trent on the left. A fine block-house was constructed near the camp, so situated as to command the bridge, which was protected by a stockade and intrenchment provided with chevaux de frise, and another, at a picket station a mile in advance, where the railroad crossed at right angles a public road, which formed the outer picket line. The camp was in addition strongly fortified with earth-works. During the first month the pickets had frequent encounters with rebel scouting parties. These beginning to be troublesome, on the evening of the 12th of February, Colonel Jones led his regiment in search of their camp. Arriving at Cone Creek, he left company E to guard the bridge, and sending companies A and D to the right, on the Neuse Road, with the balance of his force struck into the woods to the left, and marching all night around the head waters of Cone Creek, crossed the railroad at daylight, and soon arrived within sight of the rebel camp-fires on Sandy Ridge. Companies B and K were immediately sent to right and left to flank the position, while the rest of the command charged full upon its front. The rebel force was surprised and routed. One hundred and forty-three prisoners were taken, four of whom were wounded, and six were killed. The camp was burned, and the command returned in triumph to its quarters.
On the 14th of March, the rebel General Pettigrew, with a heavy force of infantry and sixteen guns, attacked Newbern. Colonel Jones1 was in danger of being cut off and captured. Small reinforcements were sent to him, and by skillful dispositions and manoeuvring of his handful of men, he managed to keep the rebels at bay, who finally retired without gaining any advantage. But the enemy still continued to manifest much activity, and scarcely a day passed in which some portion of the regiment was not out scouting the country between the Trent and the Neuse. On the 15th of April two men of company I were captured by a party of rebel scduts. On the following day a brigade from Newbern, on its way to the relief of the Union forces at Little Washington, passed through the camp, and the Fifty-eighth was ordered out upon the Neuse Road for the protection of the right flank of the column in its passage of the river. In this movement the regiment encountered the enemy under General Ransom, and a sharp skirmish ensued, in which the loss was one killed and three wounded. Sending back to camp for a squadron of cavalry, the command bivouacked upon the field for the night, during which the enemy withdrew. Holding the position until the 20th, it fell back towards camp. At Cone Creek, on the Dover Road, it was again attacked by a considerable force of the enemy. The engagement lasted an hour and a half, the rebels giving ground, and finally withdrawing. The loss was seven wounded.
On 27th of April, parts of two brigades, commanded by Generals Palmer and Prince, consisting of the Eighth, Twenty-third, Twenty-fifth and Twenty-seventh Massachusetts, Ninth New Jersey, with two batteries and a small force of cavalry, arrived in camp, for the purpose of a demonstration upon Kinston. The force advanced in two columns, one led by General Palmer upon the railroad, the other by Colonel Jones by the Dover Road. Company G and two companies of the Twenty-seventh advanced as skirmishers. At Sandy Ridge skirmishing commenced, the enemy retreating to Gum Swamp, where the Dover crosses the railroad. Here he had a formidable line of breastworks erected across the junction, flanked on either side by an impassable swamp. Upon their arrival in front, the skirmishers attacked, but were soon checked by the fire of the enemy from his well sheltered position. As soon as the main body came up, dispositions were made, and after a sharp contest the works were carried. The loss in the Fifty-eighth was one killed. A few prisoners were taken, but most of the enemy escaped. The regiment immediately fell back to camp, and Palmer's command to Newbern.
The enemy, still in force at Kinston, on the 21st of May a body of four infantry regiments, a squadron of cavalry, and a battery, joined the Fifty-eighth, all under command of Colonel Jones, in another expedition for the breaking up the rebel encampment. Leaving quarters soon after dark, the command proceeded to Cove Creek, where Colonel Jones with his own, and the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, struck into the swamp to the left, and by a long detour, marching all night in single file, at times in water to their arm-pits, arrived at sunrise in rear of the rebel works at Gum Swamp, where he found the enemy fighting the column which had arrived in front.
The appearance of the column in rear, was timely. Jones immediately charged and captured the works, taking one hundred and seventy-five prisoners, one gun, many small arms, and valuable medical stores. The command commenced the return march with prisoners and booty; but the enemy, greatly exasperated, followed up and shelled the retiring column. Upon its arrival in camp, the enemy manifesting no disposition to attack, Colonel Jones ordered his co-operating force back to Newbern.
On the afternoon of the same day, the company left to guard the bridge on the Neuse Road, across Bachelor's Creek, suddenly found itself confronted by a considerable force, and was hotly engaged. Proceeding hastily to the threatened point with companies F, K and I, he deployed them as skirmishers, and drove the enemy's line back across the creek. Boldly crossing with his small force, he formed his line of battle, and sent back to camp for a battery. Turning to go forward with his men, he was shot through the heart by a rebel posted behind the chimney of a house just beyond the bridge, and instantly expired. The artillery was soon brought up and the enemy dispersed. On the following day the regiment was relieved, and ordered to Newbern. In a general order announcing the death of Colonel Jones, General Foster says,"Colonel Jones won the admiration of all in this department by the indefatigable, able, and gallant manner with which he filled the arduous duties of Commander of the Outposts. He died whilst yet enjoying the triumph of a victory won by his valor and counsel."Lieutenant Colonel Curtis was promoted to Colonel, Major Montgomery Martin to Lieutenant Colonel, and senior Captain Henry Metcalf to Major.
On the 27th of June the regiment was ordered to Washington, North Carolina, at the head of navigation of Pamlico River. Upon its arrival, it was broken into detachments, and companies A, C, D, G, I and K were posted at different points on the fortifications covering the town. The remaining companies performed provost duty. The post was under the command of General Palmer.
While here the men became proficient in heavy artillery practice. On the 16th of December, Captain Theodore Blakeley, of company B, with a detachment of one hundred men, proceeded on an expedition some fifteen miles south of the town, where he surprised a rebel cavalry encampment, capturing a captain and sixty men with horses and equipments, and returned in safety to camp without having fired a gun. He was complimented for his gallantry in an order from department headquarters. Company K, Captain Cecil Clay, which had been stationed at Hill's Point on the river, below the town, was about this time attacked by the enemy in considerable force. With determined valor he defended his post, and triumphantly repelled the attack. He also received a complimentary order for his excellent conduct. On the 31st of December, Colonel M'Chesney, who had succeeded General Palmer in command of the post, made an expedition to the vicinity of Greenville, where he encountered the enemy at night, and a desperate hand to hand engagement occurred in the darkness, resulting in the discomfiture of the rebel force. One gun, twelve horses, and eight prisoners were taken. Lieutenant Adams was killed. The service of the regiment on the fortifications, on guard, and picket, now continued without incident until the evacuation of the place was ordered towards the close of April, 1864. In the meantime, Captain Charles A. Winn, of company G, was promoted to Major.
Embarking upon transports, the regiment, together with the entire command. proceeded to Fortress Monroe, and on the 1st of May, landed at Yorktown. where General Butler was re-organizing the Army of the James to operate against Richmond. The Fifty-eighth was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Division, of the Eighteenth Corps. On the 4th of May, Butler's Army proceeded by water to Bermuda Hundred, on the right bank of the James. On the 6th the First Division, commanded by General Brooks, moved out to the neighborhood of Petersburg. Here a detachment of two hundred men from the Fifty-eighth was sent to slash the woods near the Appomattox, the gunboats shelling the opposite shore. On the 9th the division had a sharp encounter with the enemy, in which the regiment lost twenty killed and wounded. On the following day it was engaged in destroying the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad. The destruction was made complete for a considerable distance, the rails being twisted, the ties burned, and the bridges destroyed. In the heavy attack of the enemy on the 16th, the regiment suffered no loss. During the remainder of the campaign on the south side of the James, it was actively employed in field and fatigue duty, but was not closely engaged.
Upon the transfer of the Eighteenth Corps, under General Smith, to Grant's Army, near Cold Harbor, the regiment embarked with the command in two transports, one of which, having on board companies A, C, F, and E, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Martin, was disabled on the passage, by which it was delayed several days. The remaining companies, under Major Winn, arrived, debarked at White House with the main body of the corps, and immediately commenced the march to the front, arriving at Cold Harbor on the 1st of June. At five P M., a charge upon the enemy's line was ordered, and the battalion forming with the Fortieth Massachusetts, advanced across an open field, in which it was much exposed, to a wood where the enemy was posted in rifle-pits, from which he was quickly driven, and pursued to his intrenched line in rear of the wood. This it was impossible to carry, and the advantage gained was secured by intrenching, which was executed under the fire of rebel sharpshooters. The loss in this encounter was thirty-five killed and wounded.
On the 3d of June, in the grand assault of the Union forces upon the enemy's works at Cold Harbor, the battalion participated, and was much exposed."The Fifty-eighth," says a correspondent of the New York Herald, "under command of Captain Cecil Clay, of company K, then charged the enemy's works, and succeeded in carrying his rifle-pits. Here, however, the men found themselves close prisoners, as it was utterly impossible for a head or an arm to make its appearance, without being riddled by bullets. For two long hours the regiment held its position, and until it was re-inforced."It sustained considerable loss in this charge, and was daily at the front until the 13th, when the army withdrew. The Eighteenth Corps now returned by transports from White House to Bermuda Hundred, and on the 15t1, crossing the Appomattox, attacked the enemy's lines in front of Petersburg, the Fifty-eighth holding the right of the line. The outer works were carried, and at evening the regiment was relieved from the front, and returned to Point of Rocks.
On the 24th of June, the veterans of the regiment, who had never been allowed the furlough which was promised to all who would re-enlist, were ordered to Philadelphia to enjoy their long delayed respite from duty. In consideration of the patient endurance of the delay, twenty days additional were given to the usual furlough. Captains Leiper and Jaclson, and Lieutenant Cotter remained at the front during their absence, in command of the recruits, and of those who had not re-enlisted, and were almost constantly engaged on picket and fatigue duty.
At the expiration of the furlough, the veterans with new recruits returned to the front, arriving on the 25th of August. The Eighteenth Corps having been relieved from duty on the south side of the Appomattox, and in front of Petersburg, was posted in the line of intrenchments from Point of Rocks to the James River, in front of the rebel Howlett House Battery. The Fifty-eighth held the high ground in front and to the right of the open field near battery Number 4, the picket line close up to the enemy's, extending from the James to a ravine on the right of Fort Wisconsin. While here, the arms of the regiment were exchanged for new Springfield rifled muskets.
On the evening of September 28th, parts of the Tenth and Eighteenth Corps, moved across the James on muffled pontoons. The Third Brigade had the advance, and at sunrise skirmishing commenced. As it pressed forward, the rebels fell back to the forts and defences, which were in full view, extending from the river north, to the vicinity of White Oak Swamp. The brigade was immediately ordered up, and the Fifty-eighth, Major Winn, and One Hundred and Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania, Major Reichardt, regiments were selected to lead the charge upon Fort Harrison, the principal defence. A public road led directly to the fort, and the ground in front, over which the charge must be made, was open, and ascending for about twelve hundred yards. The right of the One Hundred and Eighty-eighth and the left of the Fifty-eighth, rested on the road. Fifty yards from the fort the ground rises quite suddenly to the crest, just in rear of which was the ditch with abatis in front. The fort mounted sixteen guns, two of them one hundred pounders.
Forming for the desperate work, the two regiments moved forward at a regular pace, until within five hundred yards, when, in the face of a storm of shot and shell that swept their ranks, they rushed forward as one man until they reached the little ridge in front of the fort. Here, all, with one accord, dropped upon the ground, under partial shelter; but only for an instant; for at this moment General Ord came dashing up, and, inspired by the presence and daring of their chief, the men sprang forward with wild shouts, passed the abatis and the ditch, and scaling the parapet, drove the enemy in rout and confusion from the fort. The colors of the Fifty-eighth, which had three times fallen in the desperate onset, were planted upon the parapet by Captain Cecil Clay, who, with Adjutant Johnson, was among the first to enter the fort. As Captain Clay, who had just taken the flag from the hands of the fallen corporal, attempted to raise it upon the fort, he received two gun-shot wounds in the right arm. The flag itself was completely riddled, and the staff twice shot off. Of the nine officers and two hundred and twenty-eight men who advanced, six officers and one hundred and twenty-eight men were either killed or wounded. Captains Theodore Blakeley and Daniel F. Linn were among the killed. The victory was complete, and fort, heavy guns, small arms, battle-flags, and prisoners, graced the triumph of the victors. The records of the war furnish few more daring feats of arms than this. On the afternoon of the same day, these two regiments were ordered to attack the Star Fort, situated a mile to the left of Fort Harrison, and near the river. Filled with fiery zeal by their success in the morning, they moved gallantly forward, scaled the ramparts, and spiked the guns; but weakened by their severe losses, the rebel gun-boats playing upon them, and supports failing to come at the critical moment, they were obliged to fall back, and the advantage, dearly purchased, was lost. They returned to Fort Harrison, and all night long were engaged in throwing up a skillfully planned line of earthworks. The next day the enemy attacked in heavy force, and with determined valor; but was repulsed with great slaughter. As the pickets passed the ground at evening, they counted over three hundred rebel dead.
The regiment was now almost constantly employed in picket, guard, and fatigue duty, which was for the most part very severe. Forests were slashed, corduroy roads built, and miles of rifle pits and solid fortifications, were thrown up. Towards the close of October, the regiment, with a part of General Ord's command, participated in the attack on the enemy's works on the Williamsburg and Charles City roads, but was not actively engaged, and suffered no loss. On the 8th of December it was again engaged at Spring Hill, five miles to the right of Fort Harrison, but had no casualties.
At the expiration of his term of service, Major Winn was honorably discharged, and on the 19th of November Captain Cecil Clay was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Bobert C. Redmond to Major. In the final campaign which resulted in the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the capture of Lee's Army, the regiment bore a conspicuous part.
After the suspension of hostilities, it was assigned to duty by detachments in the lower counties of Virginia, and acted under orders from the Freedmen's Bureau, continuing until past the end of the year. It was finally mustered out of service at City Point, on the 24th of January, 1866.
_______________________Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
1 "There are thousands at the North who curse the army for inaction, who, if they knew half the brave things done by the men in the field, would be shamed to silence by their deeds of valor. Colonel Jones and his heroes of the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania, have done some splendid work,and by his vigilance has made the bushwhackers cry for quarter." -Moore's Rebellion Record, Documents, Volume VI, page 45
Organized at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, September 21, 1861, to March 1, 1862.
Moved to Fortress Monroe, Va., March 8-10.
Attached to Camp Hamilton, Va., Dept. Virginia, to May, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of Virginia, to July, 1862.
Viele's Command, Norfolk, Va., Dept. Virginia, to October, 1862.
Foster's Provisional Brigade. Peck's Division, at Suffolk, 7th Corps, Dept. of Virginia, to December, 1862.
Gibb's Provisional Brigade, Division at Suffolk, 7th Corps, Dept. Virginia, to January, 1863.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Army Corps, Dept. of North Carolina, to April, 1863.
Jourdan's Independent Brigade, Defences of New Berne, Dept. North Carolina, to June, 1863.
District of Pamlico, 18th Army Corps, Dept. North Carolina, to August, 1863.
Sub-District Pamlico, District North Carolina, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to April, 1864.
3rd Brigade, 1st Division 18th Army Corps, Dept. Virginia and North Carolina, to December, 1864.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 24th Army Corps, Dept. of Virginia, to June, 1865.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 24th Corps, to July, 1865.
2nd Independent Brigade, 24th Army Corps, to August, 1865.
District of Southwest Virginia to September, 1865.
Sub-District Staunton, District Central Virginia, Dept. Virginia, to January, 1865.
Mustered out January 24, 1866.
Duty at Camp Hamilton, Va., till May 10, 1862.
Occupation of Norfolk and Portsmouth May 10, and duty there till October 11.
Ordered to Suffolk, Va., October 11, and duty there till January, 1863.
Embarked for Beaufort, N. C., January 5, thence moved to New Berne, and duty there till June.
Expedition to Core Creek February 12-13.
Sandy Ridge February 13.
Demonstration on Kinston March 6-8. Near Dover March 7.
Expedition toward Kinston April 16-21.
Core Creek April 17-18. Sandy Ridge April 20.
Demonstration on Kinston April 27-May 1.
Wise's Cross Roads and Dover Road April 28.
Demonstration on Kinston May 20-23.
Gum Swamp May 22. Batchelor's Creek May 23.
Moved to Washington, N. C., June 26, and duty there till April, 1864.
Expedition from Washington to Chicora Creek December 17, 1863 (Co. "B").
Regiment reenlisted January 1, 1864.
Reconnoissance on Neuse River Road January 27-28.
Near Blount's Creek April 5, 1864 (Detachment).
Ordered to Yorktown, Va., April 28.
Butler's operations on south side of James River and against Petersburg and Richmond May 4-28.
Swift Creek or Arrowfield Church May 9-10.
Operations against Fort Darling April 12-16.
Battle of Drewry's Bluff May 14-16.
Operations at Bermuda Hundred May 17-28.
Movement to White House, thence to Cold Harbor May 28-June 1.
Battles about Cold Harbor June 1-12. Before Petersburg June 15-18.
Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865.
Hare's Hill June 24 and 28, 1864.
Veterans on furlough June 24-August 25.
Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30.
Fair Oaks October 27-28.
Expedition to Fredericksburg March 5-8, 1865, and into Westmoreland County March 11-13.
Moved to White House March 13-18.
March to Signal Hill before Richmond March 24-26.
Occupation of Richmond April 3, and duty there till August.
At Staunton till November and at Charlottesville till January, 1866.
Mustered out January 24, 1866.
Regiment lost during service:
6 Officers and 68 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
4 Officers and 139 Enlisted men by disease.
Total 217.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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