© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedOn the 9th of August, 1861, George Hay, a citizen of York, and previouslyCaptain of a volunteer rifle Company, received a commission as Colonel,and was authorized to recruit a regiment. Recruiting was immediately commenced. By the 12th of September five Companies had been mustered intoservice, and on the 16th, under command of John W. Schall, who had beenselected as Lieutenant Colonel, were sent to relieve the 20th Indiana, thenguarding the Northern Central Railroad, from the Pennsylvania line to Baltimore.
The regimental organization was Completed on the 25th of Septemberby the election of Captain Charles H. Buehler, Major. Eight of the Companieswere recruited in the county of York, and two, F and I, in Adams. The regiment entire was employed in guarding this line of road, and was scattered overa distance of more than thirty miles, some Companies covering a space ofsix miles, being divided into from six to twelve squads, under command ofa non-commissioned officer. Notwithstanding the disadvantages to drill anddiscipline in being thus scattered, daily practice in the manual of arms, andin squad drill, were rigidly enforced, and the Companies were frequentlybrought together and exercised in field evolutions.
On the 26th of May, 1862, the whole force having been united a few daysprevious, marched to Baltimore and encamped. On the 23d of June it wasordered to proceed by rail to Martinsburg; but while on the way further orderswere received to continue on to New Creek, West Virginia, on the Baltimoreand Ohio Railroad. It was on duty here during the heat of Summer, andthrough the care of the surgeons, and the observance of the strict sanitaryorders of the Colonel, the health of the regiment was well preserved, the mortality being much less than that of other regiments encamped about it.
Inthe latter part of August it was ordered to Rowlesburg, where General Kellyin command led it in person in pursuit of bands of the enemy under Imbodenand Jenkins. After a fruitless chase across Laurel Hill and Rich Mountain,through Beverly to Elk Water, it turned back, on the 12th of September,moving through Philippa to Webster, and thence by rail to Clarksburg. Whilehere a number of recruits were received.
On the 20th of October, with the command of General Milroy, it marchedto Buckhannon, occupying the place, and remaining in camp until the 31st,when it moved on to Beverly. After a week's delay, it again set forward,crossed the Cheat and Allegheny Mountains, and on the 12th of November arrived at Franklin. From thence it proceeded through Beverly and Philippato Webster, whence it returned by rail to New Creek. This march was verytiresome, leading over rugged mountains and swollen streams, and a portionof the time in face of snow and rain.
Middletown and WinchesterOn the 6th of December, the Eighty-seventh, with Milroy's command, tookup the line of march for Petersburg, and after three days' continuous marching through a deep snow, arrived and went into camp. A week later the command moved to Moorefield.
On the 18th of December, the Eighty-seventh,with a detachment of Milroy's troops, under command of General Cluseret,started with five days' rations on a scout in the direction of Wardensville,where Imboden's men were supposed to be lurking. Instead of returning atthe end of five days, as was expected, the scout was continued through Wardensville, Capon Springs, and Strasburg, to Winchester, arriving on the 21th.Milroy's Division reached Winchester via Romney on the 2d of January, 1863,bringing up the trains and baggage of the entire command, where it went intowinter-quarters. The picket duty during the winter was very severe. Thecavalry force was too small for the service required, and scouting parties ofinfantry had to be kept out constantly on nearly all the roads leading to thetown, rendering the service, while in winter-quarters, equal in point of hardship to active campaigning.
In May, 1863, the regiment was sent to Webster, on the Parkersburg branchof the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, to look after straggling bands of the enemy,who were committing depredations on friend and foe alike.
While here, Colonel Hay, who had been physically disabled for further field service, and hadsome time previous tendered his resignation, was notified of its acceptance.Lieutenant Colonel John W. Schall was elected to succeed him as Colonel,Captain James A. Stahle, (who had been elected Major to fill the vacancy occasioned by the promotion of Major Buehler to Colonel of the One Hundredand Sixty-Sixth,) Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Noah G. Ruhl, Major.
On the 20th of May the regiment returned to Winchester, leaving Companies G and H on the way at Bunker Hill. On the 12th of June Colonel Schall,with four hundred men of the Eighty-seventh, two hundred of the ThirteenthPennsylvania Cavalry, and a section of Battery L, Fifth Uhited States. Artillery, was ordered on a reconnoissance in the direction of Strasburg. Milroywas still in command in the valley, and there was now beginning to be considerable activity on the part of the enemy, who was about starting from hiswinter camping grounds on the Rapidan, for his invasion of Pennsylvania.
After proceeding about ten miles, Schall's advance reported the enemy in itsfront. The command was immediately halted and drawn up for action. FiveCompanies of infantry were sent forward, two hundred yards, to the brow of thehill, and formed in the field to the right of, and facing the pike in a positionscreened from view of the rebel cavalry, as it would advance. The artillerywas posted to command the brow of the hill, where it is crossed by the pike,with the remaining infantry in support. The cavalry, except the advanceguard, was massed on the pike in rear of the artillery. The dispositions hadscarcely been Completed, before the advance guard, which had been sent outas a decoy, made its appearance on the hill, coming in on the run, closely pursued by the rebel cavalry, charging with furious yells. When the enemy'scolumn was well across the hill and in the very teeth of the Union force, theartillery opened a raking fire, and the infantry poured in deadly volleys,creating confusion, and at the opportune moment the cavalry charged, Completing his discomfiture, and driving him in rout towards Strasburg. Helost fifty killed and wounded, and thirty-seven prisoners, together with smallarms and horses. After collecting the arms and caring for the wounded, Colonel Schall returned with his command to Winchester.
On the morning of the 13th, the battle in front of the town opened, andthroughout the day the Eighty-seventh was engaged on the skirmish line between the Front Royal and Strasburg roads. Immediately after dark, it wasposted in the streets, at the southern extremity of the town, where it remaineduntil two o'clock in the morning. It was then moved back to the fortificationson the north-western side of the town. Soon after day-break on the 14th, itwas discovered that the rebels had effected an entrance to the town on theeastern and southern sides. The Eighty-seventh and the Eighteenth Connecticut were ordered to drive them out and hold the town, which was successfully done.
Companies G and H, and two Companies of the One Hundred and SixteenthOhio, in all about two hundred men, stationed at Bunker Hill, were attackedby Jenkins' Cavalry, fifteen hundred strong, on Saturday the 13th, at fiveo'clock P. M. After a short resistance outside the town, they fell back, takingposition in two old churches, near the Martinsburg and Winchester Pike. Thefighting continued until nine o'clock, when the enemy fell back in the directionof Smithfield. About midnight, these Companies retired to Winchester and rejoined their regiments. The two Companies of the Eighty-seventh had oneofficer and one man killed, and three wounded.
At four o'clock in the afternoon of Sunday the 14th, the regiment was relieved by the Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania, and returned to the fortifications.At dusk it was posted in the rifle-pits around the outside of the main fort, andat eight o'clock assisted in repelling an attack made by the enemy on the fort.In the retreat, which commenced soon after midnight, it was the third in theorder of march, the One Hundred and Tenth and One Hundred and Twentysecond Ohio regiments preceding it. When the head of the column was attacked from Carter's Woods, four miles out, with artillery and infantry, it immediately formed and charged, but was repulsed. Three times it moved uponthe enemy's lines, but could not break them, and in the last charge ColonelSchall had his horse shot under him.1
Organized resistance being at an end,the regiment succeeded in eluding the enemy, and retreated by Smithfield andCharlestown to Harper's Ferry. Among the killed were Captain Wells A.Farrah, and Lieutenant Michael S. Slothower, both of Company H.
Monocacy, Opequan and Fisher's HillOn the 16th, with the infantry stationed at Harper's Ferry, it crossed thePotomac and encamped on Maryland Heights.
On the night of the 1st ofJuly the Heights were evacuated, and with other troops, the Eighty-seventhwas detailed to guard the boats which carried the ordnance and quarter-mastcr's stores to Georgetown. It arrived on the 4th of July, and immediatelymarched out and encamped at Tenallytown, where intelligence of the victoryat Gettysburg was received.
On the morning of the 6th it moved by rail to Frederick city, on the following day joined the army of the Potomac at Middletown. With the Third Brigade, Third Division of the Third Corps, to which it was here attached, it participated in the engagement at Manassas Gap, July 23d, at Bealton Station, October 26th, Kelly's Ford, November 7th, Brandy Station, November 8th, Locust Grove, November 27th, and at Mine Run, November 30th.
At the close of the campaign the regiment went, into winter-quarters nearBrandy Station. While here one hundred and eighty of the men re-enlisted,and in the month of April, 1864, were given a veteran furlough. Upon thebreaking up of the Third Corps the Eighty-seventh was assigned to the FirstBrigade, Third Division of the Sixth Corps, Composed of the One Hundredand Sixth, One Hundred and Fifty-first New York, Tenth Vermont, FourteenthNew Jersey, and Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania, and with it bore a part, uponthe opening of the spring campaign, in the battles of the Wilderness andSpottsylvania, but without serious loss.
In the battle of Cold Harbor, on the 1st of June, the Eighty-seventh andOne Hundred and Fifty-first New York, formed the second line in the chargingparty, with orders to cross the rebel works, the first line having orders to giveplace to the second on reaching them. The order was gallantly executed, theworks carried and held until the force was withdrawn just before daybreak.Though attaining a position in advance of the troops on the right and left, itsustained a smaller proportionate loss than other regiments of the brigade.The valor displayed by the division in this charge called forth a congratulatoryorder from General Meade.
In the advance on the 3d, Colonel Schall, while in command of the brigade, was wounded in the arm, and Captain Thaddeus S. Pfeiffer, in charge of the picket line, was shot through the body, and died a few hours after. In the actions of the 1st and 3d the regiment sustained a loss, in killed and wounded, of nearly a third of its strength.
With the corps it withdrew from the position at Cold Harbor, and crossingthe Chickahominy, marched to the James. Taking boats at Wilcox's Landingit moved to Bermuda Hundred, where debarking it remained for three dayswith General Butler's command. It then crossed the Appamattox and tookposition in front of Petersburg, on the extreme left of the army. On the 23dof June, General Wright, with a portion of the Sixth Corps, of which theEighty-seventh formed part, moved upon the Weldon Railroad, and tore upthe track for a considerable distance. The enemy attacked, but was repulsedand driven back.
At four o'clock on the morning of the 6th of July, Ricketts' Division wasordered to City Point, where it took transports and moved to Baltimore, tothe support of Wallace, in command of the Department, who, with his slenderforce had gone out to meet the enemy under Early. Ricketts moved immediately by rail to Frederick, where Wallace was already confronting a heavyrebel force. Retiring across the Monocacy, he prepared to offer stubborn resistance upon the line of that stream, Tyler having the right, covering theBaltimore Pike, and Ricketts with the only brigade of his division which hadarrived, the left, covering the high road to Washington. Each had three smallguns, while Early confronted them with sixteen heavy pieces, with a force ofinfantry of proportionate superiority. The battle soon opened and the fightingin front became very warm. Sending a heavy body of his troops to cross theriver below, and out of range of our guns, he came in upon Ricketts' flank.Changing front to meet the threatened danger, Ricketts formed a single linewithout reserves, but was unable even then to present a front equal to the approaching foe. The enemy's first line charged, but was handsomely repulsed;his second line advanced, but was also beaten back with great slaughter.
Ricketts' other brigade was momentarily expected, and in hope of speedy arrival, the weakened line continued for an hour to hold its ground, when, nohelp coming, after having maintained a heroic struggle for over five hours,against vastly superior numbers, it was ordered to retire, and sullenly withdrew, leaving three hundred of the enemy's slain stretched on that gory field.
The loss in,the regiment was greater in this than in any other battle in its entire term of service. Among the killed were Adjutant Anthony M. Martinand Lieutenants Charles F. Haack and Daniel P. Dietrich, and LieutenantsJohn F. Spangler and Henry F. Waltmeyer, mortally wounded.
For two months, during the heat of summer, the regiment performed toilsome marches with the corps through Maryland and Virginia, to little apparent purpose. In September, while encamped near Perryville, one hundredand seventy recruits were received.
On the 19th of September it moved withthe army under Sheridan against the enemy at the Opequan. Ricketts' Division was sent at ten in the morning, over rugged ground to attack the enemy'sfront. When the wooded heights had been cleared, and the summit attained,Early, seeing the danger which threatened him, hurled his shells with frightful effect, and charged with overwhelming force. Ricketts was swept back withconsiderable loss; but rallying, held his ground, and again advanced, regaining his lost ground, and hurling the enemy before him. The Eighty-seventh lost in this engagement sixty in killed and wounded. The advantage was followed up, and on the 22d at Fisher's Hill, the enemy was again routed with a loss to the regiment of one killed and one wounded.
On the 23d of September, the original term of service having expired, theregiment, with the exception of veterans and recruits, was ordered to York,where on the 13th of October it was mustered out of service. The veteransand recruits were consolidated into a battalion of five Companies, which wascommanded by Edgar M. Ruhl, senior Captain. He lead his battalion in thebattle of Cedar Creek, October 19th, where he was instantly killed by a rifleball.
In March, 1865, five new Companies were assigned to the battalionbringing it up to the full strength of a regiment. Captain James Tearney, subsequently commissioned Colonel, had assumed command on the previous December, and retained it until the final muster out. On the 2d of April it participated in a charge upon the works before Petersburg, losing two officers andfive men killed, and three officers and twenty-three men wounded. Lieutenants Samuel W. Keasey and Peter Nickle were among the killed. It was alsoengaged at Sailor's Creek, on the 6th, with a loss of one wounded. It wasfinally mustered out at Alexandria, on the 29th of June.
1 EXTRACT FROM GENERAL MILROY'S OFFICIAL REPORT.-"About the time the contest commenced on my left, by my orders, the Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Colonel Schall, advanced against the enemy's left, but was soon driven back. I then supported the Eighty-seventh by the Eighteenth Connecticut, and the two regiments, under Colonel Ely, again advanced into the works, but were again driven back. I then supported Colonel Ely with the One Hundred and Twenty-third Ohio, and again advanced the line, but it was repulsed with considerable loss, the range of the enemy's guns being so elevated as to render his artillery inefficient. At this time a signal gun, fired at Winchester, announced the approach of the enemy in my rear. Colonel Ely's command was again rallied and formed in line of battle west of the Martinsburg road, and that officer again directed to engage the enemy.
At this time the One Hundred and Tenth, and One Hundred and Twenty-second Ohio were still maintaining their fire on the left with unabating energy. I then gave instructions that my forces unengaged, and trains, should retreat under cover of the contest."-Moore's Rebellion Record, Vol. vii, p. 33.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organized at Yorktown September, 1861.
Attached to Railroad Guard, Middle Department, to May, 1862.
Baltimore, Md., Middle Department, to June, 1862.
Railroad Division, 8th Corps, Middle Department, to March, 1863.
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 8th Corps, Middle Department, to June, 1863.
1st Brigade, Elliott's Command, 8th Corps, to July.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 3rd Army Corps, Army Potomac, to March, 1864.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army Potomac and Army Shenandoah, to June, 1865.
Guard duty on Northern Central Railroad from Pennsylvania line
to Baltimore, Md., September 16, 1861, to May 24, 1862.
Duty at Baltimore, Md., till June 23.
At New Creek, W. Va., till August 20.
Expedition under Gen. Kelly across Laurel Hill and Rich Mountain August 27-September 12.
Expedition over Cheat and Allegheny Mountains October 31-November 12.
March on Petersburg, W. Va., December 6-9.
At Winchester till May, 1863.
Reconnoissance toward Wardensville and Strasburg April 20.
Expedition to Webster May 20.
At Winchester till June 15.
Reconnoissance toward Strasburg June 10.
Middletown June 12.
Newtown June 12.
Bunker Hill June 13 (Cos. "G," "H").
Battles of Winchester June 13-15.
Retreat to Harper's Ferry.
Escort stores from Harper's Ferry to Washington, D.C., July 1-3.
Joined Army of the Potomac and pursuit of Lee July 5-24.
Wapping Heights, Manassas Gap, Va., July 23.
Bristoe Campaign October 9-22.
Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8.
Kelly's Ford November 7.
Brandy Station November 8.
Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
Payne's Farm November 27.
Reenlisted December, 1863.
Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7, 1864.
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12, 1864.
Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania C. H. May 8-21.
Assault on the Salient May 12.
North Anna River May 23-26.
Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28.
Totopotomoy May 28-31.
Cold Harbor June 1-12.
Before Petersburg June 17-18.
Siege of Petersburg till July 6.
Weldon Railroad June 22-23.
Moved to Baltimore, Md., July 6-9.
Battle of Monocacy Junction July 9.
Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign August 7-December 1.
Charlestown August 21-22.
Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19.
Fisher's Hill September 22.
(Old members mustered out October 13, 1864.)
Battle of Cedar Creek.
Duty at Kernstown till December.
Moved to Washington, D.C., thence to Petersburg, Va., December 3-7.
Siege of Petersburg December, 1864, to April, 1865.
Fort Fisher, Petersburg, March 25, 1865.
Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9.
Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2.
Pursuit of Lee April 3-9.
Appomattox C. H. April 9.
Surrender of Lee and his army.
March to Danville April 23-27, and duty there till May 23.
March to Richmond, Va., thence to Washington, D.C., May 23-June 3.
Corps Review June 8.
Mustered out at Alexandria, Va., June 29, 1865.
Regiment lost during service:
10 Officers and 80 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
112 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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