© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedThis regiment, at first known as the Fortieth, was composed, almost exclusively, of Germans from Philadelphia, manv of whom had seen service in the armies of European States. Recruiting began in August, 1861, under authority of the Secretary of War, and the companies rendezvoused at a camp in West Philadelphia, called Camp Worth, in honor of General Worth, with whom Colonel Bohlen had served as aid-de-camp, in the campaign in Mexico.
Henry Bohlen, of Philadelphia, was commissioned Colonel, August 7, 1861. He selected as his field officers, who were accordingly commissioned, the following gentlemen from Philadelphia:The discipline and drill, while remaining at Camp Worth, were highly creditable. Seven companies were fully organized, equipped, and armed with the old, altered flint-lock musket, which were soon after exchanged for the Harper's Ferry musket. On the 26th of September, with about eight hundred men, the regiment proceeded to Washington. Others soon followed, until its ranks were filled to the maximum number.
- Francis Mahler, formerly an officer and participant in the Baden Revolution
- Lieutenant Colonel; Alvin Von Matzdorff, Major.
Soon after its arrival at Washington the regiment was assigned to Blenkers Division, and crossing the Potomac, by the Long Bridge, encamped at Roach's Mills. Remaining here until the 12th of October, it was ordered to move to Hunter's Chapel, where it went into winter quarters. A well organized band from Philadelphia, under the leadership of Rudolph Wittig, joined the regiment on the 31st. It here became proficient in squad, Company, regimental, and battalion drill, under the instruction of Colonel Bohlen.and Lieutenant Colonel Mahler. Its arms were here exchanged for the new Springfield rifled musket.
Frequent details were made during the winter to assist in the construction of fortifications. As a part of General Sumner's Corps, the brigade moved, on the 10th, in the general advance of the army, reaching a point near Annandale the same night, and on the following day Burkes' Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, where it remained until the 15th. Moving thence to Fairfax Court House it remained until the 23d, when it proceeded to Centreville, and occupied the works just vacated by the enemy. Moving over the battle-field of Bull Run, on which traces of the sanguinary conflict of the 21st of July were distinctly visible, the command reached Warrenton Junction on the 26th. Here it suffered severely from scarcity of provisions.
Upon the departure of Sumner to the Peninsula, Blenker's Division was ordered to report to General Fremont, in command of the Mountain Department. On the 6th of April it moved through Warrenton to Salem, where it bivouacked four days, taking shelter in the woods during a heavy snow storm. It proceeded on the 11th, via Upperville to Paris, and from thence to Berry's Ferry.
On the 15th it was ordered to cross the Shenandoah, and move to Winchester, in pursuit of Stonewall Jackson's force then confronting Banks. Several rafts were constructed to cross the troops. The river was high, and the current rapid. Company D, the skirmish Company, crossed in safety, when, to save time, an old ferry boat, which had been partly burned by the enemy, was repaired, and a rope stretched across the stream to guide it. Companies I and K embarked, and when near the middle of the stream, the boat swamped and suddenly began to sink. It was a moment of terror. A shriek of agony rent the air as they were suddenly engulphed. Scores of knapsacks covering the surface of the water were all that was visible of the unfortunate men as they floated, thus burdened, in the river. Captain Christian Wyck, of Company K, Lieutenant Adolph Winter, of Company I, First Sergeant Joseph Tiedemann, of Company K, and fifty enlisted men were drowned. Sergeant Tiedemann, an expert swimmer, sacrificed his life in a vain attempt to save that of his Captain.
This unfortunate event cast a deep gloom over the remaining portion of the regiment. Finding that it was impracticable to cross, the command returned via Paris and Upperville, and marched to Snickerville. It here passed over by means of a rope ferry constructed by the troops of General Banks, and on the 18th arrived at Winchester. The division was temporarily placed under the command of General Rosecrans. The regiment remained in camp until the 6th of May to recruit, and during the interval it received new clothing, and a full supply of rations. On the 28th of April, Colonel Bohlen was promoted to Brigadier General.
Moving thence via Romney and Petersburg the command reached Franklin on the 14th, twice crossing the South Branch of the Potomac on its way. The men here endured much suffering from hunger, the supplies being brought from New Creek, a distance of seventy miles over a rough mountainous route. The defeat of Banks, and his retreat down the Shenandoah Valley, rendered it important for Fremont to hasten forward his forces to intercept the retreat of Stonewall Jackson. Returning to Petersburg, knapsacks were left, and the march immediately resumed to Moorefield, at several times fording deep and rapid streams. The regiment moved rapidly on through Moorefield and Wardensville to Strasburg, where the rear of Jackson was encountered. Many of the most robust men of the command became exhausted and sank by the roadside.
An exciting race up the valley now took place, the enemy leaving the road strewn with clothing and stores, indicating a hasty retreat, and a close pursuit by Fremont's troops. On the 4th of June, at Mount Jackson, the bridge was found totally destroyed by the retreating foe, and the march delayed. Pontoons were with great difficulty laid, and on the 6th the column moved towards Harrisonburg, where the Bucktails and the cavalry of General Bayard encountered the enemy, and the rebel General Ashby was killed.
On the following day, in the battle of Cross Keyes, the brigade of General Bohlen, of which the Seventy-fifth formed part, supported the left. The line of battle was a mile and a half long, General Schenclr on the right, General Iilroy in the centre, and General Stahl on the left; Stahl occupying the right of the division, Bohlen the left, and Steinwehr in reserve. Thus formed, our army advanced steadily and successfully, under a storm of shot and shell, losing heavily in men, but constantly gaining ground, until after three o'clock, when Stahl's Brigade, having passed through the wood in its front to a clover field, which gradually ascended to another wood filled with rebels, encountered a murderous fire, by which its ranks were fearfully thinned, and its progress arrested. Two of Bohlen's regiments were ordered up to its support; but before they could arrive, Stahl's Brigade had recoiled, understanding, as is alleged, that it was to give place to Bohlen's men. Two companies, I and K, which had been detached to support of Weidrick's Battery, returned at nine o'clock A. M., and fought with determined bravery. The regiment retired with the army, after the battle, to Mount Jackson.
On the 16th companies B and E, with a Company of Fremont's body-guard, and two mountain howitzers, were sent in pursuit of guerrillas. The party succeeded in destroying the building where the band had rendezvoused, and returned, by a forced march of thirty-two miles, to camp.
General Blenker was here succeeded in command of the division by General Carl Schurz, and soon after General Fremont, at his own request, was relieved and General Franz Sigel directed to assume command of the Department. In the re-organization of the army which followed, the Seventy-fifth was assigned to the Second Brigade,1 Third Division, First Corps of the Army of Virginia.
Having previously marched to Middletown, near Winchester, on the 6th of July, the Seventy-fifth proceeded to Sperryville, via Front Royal and Luray, crossing the Blue Ridge through Thornton's Gap. Here it remained until the 8th of August, when it resumed the march to Culpepper Court House, on the occasion of the battle at Cedar Mountain. Late in the evening, too late to participate, the corps of Sigel arrived. On the field, where both parties claimed the victory, the weary troops rested.
The command now moved to the Rapidan, on the right of Pope's army. As Lee advanced Pope retreated, via Culpepper to the Rappahannock. On the 20th Lieutenant Colonel Mahler was promoted to Colonel, Major Alvin Von Matzdorff to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain August Ledig to Major. At Freeman's Ford, on the 22d of August, the enemy was encountered, and a brisk skirmish ensued, in which Brigadier General Henry Bohlen was killed.
Sigel, supported by Banks and Reno, marched up the left bank of the Cappahannock, and on the 24th occupied Sulphur Springs and Waterloo. On the 29th the regiment advanced, at five A. M, with the division, and at seven the engagement became desperate. Steadily it gained ground, under a most destructive fire, until Jackson was reinforced, and its supply of ammunition was nearly exhausted, when it was relieved while holding, against superior numbers, a position near the railroad cut.
At eight o'clock on the morning of the 30th it withdrew from its advanced position to one in rear of the division of General Schenck, on an open space near Dogan's Farm, where it remained until four o'clock, P. M. The command then advanced and occupied a position immediately in rear of the brigade of General Stahel, which soon became engaged. The Second Brigade, Colonel Kryzanowski, was ordered to its support, and occupied an elevation to the left. It moved forward in fine style, the Seventy-fifth gallantly charging the rebel column, repulsing it with heavy loss, and gaining the crest of the hill. From this position it delivered an effective fire, but was exposed to a raking fusilade from the combined forces of three of his infantry regiments, one of which made a furious charge, but was repulsed, and the position held. A well directed artillery fire from the enemy, and the withdrawal of the troops from the left rendered it necessary, after having withstood the repeated attacks of an overwhelming force, to withdraw. It retired one hundred and fifty paces to the rear, when a rebel regiment was discovered in ambush, near by, lying upon the ground, in close column. A few volleys from the Seventy-fifth, with the assistance of the artillery which was turned upon it, threw it into disorder, and soon drove it in complete rout.
The two wings of the army having been pressed back, the centre was compelled to yield, and to fall back towards Washington. The entire army withdrew duting the night, which was very dark, and in the morning Bull Bun separated the hostile forces. The loss was two officers and twenty-eight men killed, and five officers and ninety-eight men wounded. Lieutenants Frcelich and Bowen were among the killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Mahler, Captain Schwartz, and Lieutenants Ledig, Fromhagen, and Theune, among the wounded.
Of those conspicuous for coolness and courage was Color Sergeant Robert Jordan, of Company A, formerly an officer in the Schleswig-Holstein army. He fell gallantly bearing aloft the flag of his adopted country. Especial mention was made, in official reports, of the gallantry of Sergeants Charles Haserodt, of Company A, color bearer, Eugene Weigand, and Jacob Maurer, of Company B, John Emleben, who though wounded remained on the field, and took the flag from the hands of Sergeant Jordan as he fell; Louis Mahler, and Jacob Pauley, of Company D, George Brueckmame, of Company F, Henry Schmull, of Company H, and Andrew Schmidt, of Company I also of Corporals Schweigert. Hanner, Abraham, and Rosenthal, and private Jacob Ullmann.
The regiment remained in the defences of Washington until the first of November, when it advanced to Fairfax Court House, and from thence through Thoroughfare Gap to New Baltimore. On the 9th it marched to Gainesville, where it remained until the 18th, and then back to Centreville. While here the regiment was strengthened by recruits and men returning from hospitals.
The corps of General Sigel was, on the 14th, designated the Eleventh, of the Army of the Potomac. On the 9th of December the tents and surplus baggage were sent to Fairfax Court House, and the regiment marched, on the following day, towards Fredericksburg. It passed the Occoquan at Davis' Ford, experiencing much difficulty in crossing the train. It proceeded through Stafford Court House and Brooks' Station, and reached the Rappahannock, one mile from Falmouth, on the 15th. The attack on Fredericksburg had failed of success, and the regiment returned to Stafford Court House, where it remained until Burnside's second advance, on the 19th of January, 1863, which was cut short by a heavy rain storm, transforming the "1 sacred soil" into a dismal mud, through which the artillery and heavy caissons were dragged along with great difficulty. It then moved to Hartwood Church, four miles from Falmouth, in the direction of Banks' Ford, where it remained until the 6th of February, when it returned to Stafford Court House. The Seventy-fifth formed part of the Second Brigade, Third Division of the Eleventh Corps, the brigade being commaided by Colonel Kryzanowski.
Hooker had succeeded Burnside in command of the army of the Potomac, which, during the past two months, had become well organized and efficient.
Battle of ChancellorsvilleThe command moved early on the morning of the 27th from Stafford Court House, via Grove Church and Morrisville, and crossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford, the Seventy-fifth in advance. The march was continued on the 28th, in line of battle, driving the enemy until three o'clock on the following morning, when the regiment bivouacked until daylight.
The Twelfth Corps then led the advance, followed by the Eleventh, the Fifth bringing up the rear. It crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford, and moved rapidly on to Chancellorsville. The regiment halted north of the Hawkins' Farm, near the plank road leading from Culpepper Court House to Fredericksburg. The flank movement of Hooker was a complete success, and inspired him with confidence in his ability to achieve a signal victory. His order of May 30th says,"the operations of the last three days have determined. that our enemy must either ingloriously fly, or come out from behind his defences, and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him."On the morning of the 2d of May the regiment was ordered to a position on the right of the division, which was apparently threatened, the Eleventh Corps occupying the right of the line of battle, which Lee determined to assail in flank and rear. The Seventy-fifth was formed on the left of the Twenty-sixth Wisconsin, with skirmishers thrown forward under command of Captain Schindler. The balance of the regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Matzdorff, except a color-guard of sixteen men, was soon after ordered to the picket line, the Fifty-eighth New York relieving it.
At a little before night of the 2d of May, Stonewall Jackson, with forty thousand men, fell suddenly like an avalanche upon the right wing of the Union army held by Howard's Corps. The shock was overwhelming, and the Seventy-fifth was among the first to feel its weight. Flanked and overborne, the command was compelled to retreat. In doing so some confusion ensued. In crossing an open field the regiment was much exposed to the fire of the advancing enemy. Many of the men became separated from the command, and Lieutenant Colonel Matzdorff and forty men were taken prisoners. The scattering fragments of the regiment occupied a position, in a line of rifle-pits, near the United States Ford, until eleven o'clock P. M., when it was relieved by the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Pennsylvania, and assigned to a position in the second line of battle, in support of a battery of the First Rhode Island Artillery. Among the wounded in this engagement was Captain William Schindler, who received a severe flesh wound, the ball passing through both his legs.
Battle of GettysburgOn the 6th the command re-crossed the Rappahannock, and proceeded to its former camping ground, where it remained, performing the ordinary camp and guard duty, until it entered upon the Gettysburg campaign, which opened on the 12th of June. It then moved through Hartwood, Weaversville, and Centreville, and on the 25th crossed the Potomac at Edwards' Ferry. Passing through Middletown, Frederick City, and Emmittsburg, it reached Gettysburg on the morning of the 1st of July, by the Taneytown Road, the Second Brigade of the Third Division in advance, and passing through the town took position in a field, north of the village, to the right of the Carlisle Road. The First Corps had already engaged the enemy, and was hard pressed. After a brief rest, to recover from the fatigue occasioned by a forced march of fourteen miles, the Seventy-fifth, with the brigade, engaged the enemy, and after a severe conflict, in which the regiment lost two officers and twenty-six men killed, six offcers and ninety-four men wounded, and six prisoners, it fell back through the town with the remnants of the First Corps, and took position on Cemetery Hill. Colonel Mahler was wounled in the leg simultaneously with his horse, which fell upon him. Extricating himself he proceeded, though suffering severely, to the left of the regiment, which was then exposed to an enfilading fire, and here while bravely cheering on his men, and urging them to stand firm against the advancing rebel lines, he was again wounded, and now mortally. He was immediately removed to the Corps Field Hospital, where he died on the morning of the 5th. The regiment retained its position on Cemetery Hill, under fire of the enemy's artillery, during the two following days, and suffered some loss from his shells. Sergeant Frederick Wendler, of Company D, received a wound from which he died on the 4th. Among the killed during these three days' conflict, were Lieutenants Henry Hauschild and Louis Mahler. Lieutenant William J. Sill was severely wounded in the leg, which was amputated; but he died on the 21st. The loss of the regiment was thirty-one officers and men killed, one hundred wounded, and six taken prisoners.
After a long, weary march in pursuit of the retreating enemy, passing through Emmittsburg, Turner's Gap, and Middletown, the advance encountered and skirmished with the enemy's rear-guard at Boonsboro, on the 8th, reached Hagerstown on the 12th, and Williamsport on the 14th, to find that Lee's army had escaped across the Potomac.
On the 15th the command returned to Hagerstown. As it moved through the town cheer upon cheer was given by the emergency militia, as the thinned ranks of the veteran army passed by. Having marched and countermarched, during an almost constant storm of rain, it crossed the Potomac, at Berlin, on the 19th, passed through Lovettsville, and encamped near Waterford. It moved thence through White Plains, and New Baltimore, reaching Warrenton Junction on the 25th, where, with an occasional change of camp, it remained, doing picket and guard duty, until the 24th of September, when the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were ordered to Tennessee.
The regiment left Washington on the 25th of September, and arrived at Bridgeport, Alabama, on the morning of the 2d of October. On the evening of the 19th it was ordered to join the Third Brigade, Colonel Hecker, Third Division, which was composed of the Seventy-fifth, the Eighty-second Illinois, Eighty-second Ohio, and Sixty-eighth New York. On the following morning the regiment reported to its new commander, and was ordered to picket and patrol duty along the mountain ridge. It proceeded on the 27th to guard the pontoon bridge across the Tennessee, during the passage of the Eleventh, and part of the Twelfth Corps, and at evening went into bivouack at Shellmound. The brigade moved, on the following day, towards Chattanooga, and participated in the operations for the relief of the half famished army of the Cumberland.
Operations in Lookout ValleyAt a little past midnight the regiment was aroused, and sent to the support of General Geary, who was engaged in a desperate midnight struggle with the veterans of Longstreet's Corps. It lay, protected by the railroad bank, under continuous fire, while the First Brigade was briskly engaged. With all the advantages in favor of the assailants-familiarity with the country, and the effects of a night surprise-the foe was repulsed and retired, leaving his killed and wounded on the field.
Campaign in TennesseeCrossing the Tennessee, at Chattanooga, on the 22d of November, the regiment moved through the town, and bivouacked near Fort Wood. It participated in all the movements and fighting of the division around Chattanooga, culminating, on the 25th, in carrying Missionary Ridge, and the complete rout of the enemy. On the 27th the Corps moved, the Third Brigade in advance, through Rossville to Red Clay, where it destroyed the railroad track and depot. It was ordered, on the next day, to the assistance of General Burnside, who was closely besieged at Knoxville. It proceeded by the way of Charleston, where it crossed the Hiwassee, but learning that the siege had been raised, the command returned to Cleveland on the 15th of December, and thence through the mountains to its former camp in Lookout Valley.
On the 2d of January, 1864, the regiment was re-mustered as a veteran organization, and received its furlough for thirty days, seventy-five men, who chose not to re-enlist, being temporarily transferred to the Eighty-second Illinois. On the 8th of March, with its numbers largely increased by recruits, it left Philadelphia, and proceeded via Louisville, Nashville and Stevenson to Bridgeport, from whence it returned to Nashville on the 31st of July, and encamped near Fort Gillem. Here several companies were detailed to proceed to Johnsonville, to guard the trains on the North-Western Railroad. On the 12th of October a reconnoissance was made for the purpose of ascertaining the whereabouts of a guerrilla band prowling about the country. A small party was unexpectedly encountered, but was quickly put to flight, and its horses and effects captured.
At the battle of Franklin, on the 30th of November, where the army of Hood received a disastrous check in his advance upon Nashville, a mounted detachment of the Seventy-fifth occupied the town, and companies A, C, F, G, H, I and K were encamped at Fort Granger, on the right bank of the Harpeth. It was under fire, but not actively engaged, and suffered no loss. Company E, stationed at a point several miles south of the town on the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad, was captured. At eleven o'clock P. M. the regiment reported at the headquarters of General Schofield, and was assigned to the duty of guarding prisoners. Leaving Franklin at one A. M., under command of Colonel Von Matzdorff, it marched to Brentwood, and on the 1st of December fell back to Nashville, and turned over the prisoners to the proper authorities. The mounted detachment, while performing provost duty in the town was frequently fired upon by the citizens, whereby it sustained some loss. It was soon after ordered as body guard to the general commanding, and moved to the opposite side of the Harpeth, where it remained until the 5th, and then joined the balance of the regiment at Fort Gillem. It remained in reserve during the engagement at Nashville on the 15th and 16th. On the 20th it was ordered to return to Franklin, and upon its arrival bivouacked upon its former camping ground.
During the winter, and until the final surrender of the rebel armies, it was chiefly engaged in guarding trains, scouting, and provost duty. It was finally mustered out of service on the 1st of September, and on the 9th left Murfreesboro' homeward bound, arriving at Harrisburg on the 12th, with an aggregate number of two hundred and thirty-six officers and men.
On the the 4th of July, 1866, its tattered banner, carried through all its campaigns, was presented to the Executive for preservation in the archives of the State, and the colors presented by ladies of Philadelphia, before leaving in 1861, were deposited in Independence Hall.
1Organization of the Second Brigade, Colonel W. Kryzanowski, Third Division, Brigadier General Carl Schurz, First Corps, Major General Franz Sigel, Army of Virginia, Major General John Pope. Seventy-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel F. Mahler; Fifty-fourth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel Eugene A. Kozlay; Fiftyeighth Regiment New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Gellman.Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organization:Organized at Philadelphia August and September, 1861, as 40th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Left State for Washington, D.C., September 26, 1861.
Attached to Casey's Provisional Division, Army Potomac, to November, 1861.
Bohlen's 3rd Brigade, Blenker's Division, Army Potomac, to March, 1862.
3rd Brigade, Blenker's Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army Potomac, to April, 1862.
3rd Brigade, Blenker's Division, Dept. of the Mountain, to June, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Corps, Army of Virginia, to September, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 11th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to October, 1863.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 11th Army Corps, Army Cumberland, to April, 1864.
Unattached, 4th Division, 20th Army Corps, Dept. Cumberland, to March, 1865.
1st Brigade, 1st Sub-District, Middle Tennessee, to September, 1865.
Service:Duty in the Defences of Washington, D. C., till March, 1862.
Advance on Manassas, Va., March 10-15.
Near Catlett's Station till April 6.
Moved to Petersburg, W. Va., April 6-May 11.
Operations in the Shenandoah Valley till June.
Battle of Cross Keys June 8.
At Sperryville July 7-August 8.
Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2.
Freeman's Ford August 22.
Sulphur Springs August 24.
Battles of Gainesville August 28; Groveton August 29; Bull Run August 30.
Duty in the Defences of Washington, D.C., till November.
Moved to Centreville November 1-19, thence to Fredericksburg December 9-16.
"Mud March" January 20-24, 1863.
At Stafford C. H. till April 27.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5.
Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 13-July 24,
Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3.
Guard duty along Orange & Alexandria Railroad till September.
Movement to Bridgeport, Ala., September 24-October 3.
Operations in Lookout Valley October 19-26.
Reopening Tennessee River October 26-29.
Battle of Wauhatchie, Tenn., October 28-29.
Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign November 23-27.
Orchard Knob November 23. Tunnel Hill November 24-25.
Mission Ridge November 25.
March to relief of Knoxville November 28-December 17.
Duty in Pleasant Valley till January, 1864.
Veterans on furlough till March.
Moved to Bridgeport, Ala., March 8, and duty there till July.
Moved to Nashville, Tenn., July 31, and guard trains on
Nashville & Northwestern Railroad till December.
Moved to Franklin December 20, and duty there till September, 1865,
guarding trains, scouting and provost duty.
(Co. "C" was stationed on Tennessee & Alabama Railroad and captured.)
Mustered out September 1, 1865.
Losses:Regiment lost during service
6 Officers and 46 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
2 Officers and 107 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
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861; 65 , Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
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