97th Regiment

Pennsylvania Volunteers

Near the close of July, 1861, Henry R. Guss, a citizen of West Chester, who had commanded a company in the Ninth Regiment of the three months' service, received authority from the Secretary of War to recruit a regiment for three years. Enrolling was immediately commenced, and in two months' time its ranks were full.

Companies D and I were principally from Delaware county. The remaining companies were from the county of Chester. A large proportion of officers and men had served in the three months' campaign, and militia organizations. The companies rendezvoused at Camp Wayne, near the borough of West Chester, where an organization was effected by the selection of the following field officers:

  • Henry B. Guss, Colonel
  • Augustus P. Duer, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Galusha Pennypacker, Major
Clothing, arms, and equipments were furnished from the arsenal in Philadelphila, and the drill and discipline of the command was commenced. An excellent Band, consisting of twenty-two members, was attached to it. A school for commissioned officers, conducted by Colonel Guss, was established, and also one for non-commissioned officers, conducted by line officers. The citizens of Chester county contributed freely of whatever could add to the health and comfort of the men.

On the 12th of November, Governor Curtin, accompanied by his staff, visited the camp, and presented the State colors in presence of a great concourse of citizens, delivering an eloquent address, which was responded to by Adjutant H. W. Carruthers, in behalf the regiment.

Port Royal

On the 12th of November the command broke camp and proceeded to Washington, and upon its arrival went into camp a half mile north of the Capitol. After remaining here a week, in the meantime receiving new Springfield rifled muskets in exchange for the smooth-bore which had originally been given, it proceeded via Baltimore to Fortress Monroe, and went into camp near the ruins of the village of Hampton. It was soon after ordered to Port Royal, South Carolina, and embarking upon the steamer Errickson on the 8th of December, arrived at the entrance of the harbor on the 11th; but a storm arising, it was obliged again to put to sea, and for three days, was buffeted by winds and waves, the men suffering from sea-sickness, and from the crowded condition of the steamer. Upon landing it was hospitably received by the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, which had preceded it, and marked the beginning of that close intimacy between the two regiments, which continued to the end of their terms of service.

On the 21st of January, a brigade, consisting of the Sixth Connecticut, Fourth New Hampshire, Ninth Maine, and the Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania, under command of General H. G. Wright, embarked on transports, accompanied with gunboats, for an expedition to Warsaw Sound, Georgia, thirteen miles from Savannah, designed as a diversion in favor of troops secretly operating for the capture of Fort Pulaski. Heavy guns were landed on a low marshy island, and taken across it by a road which had been constructed in the night time, and brought within a few hundred yards of the fort, without attracting the attention of the enemy. The commandant was summoned to surrender, but not complying, the guns were opened, and so persuasive did one day's bombardment prove, that on the following morning a white flag was displayed, and the fort was delivered up with its garrison and armament.

On the 9th of February the troops at Warsaw landed, and remained in camp until the 19th, when they again embarked, and on the 28th, the fleet, consisting of thirty-one vessels, twenty-six of which were gunboats, proceeded to St. Mary's River, the transports anchoring off the old town of Fernandina. On the 5th of March the Ninety-seventh landed and possessed the town, the enemy having abandoned it, together with Fort Church and other surrounding places. On the 9th company A, with a detachment of cavalry, made a scout to Harrison's Landing, but found no enemy. On the 24th the regiment proceeded to Jacksonville to reinforce the troops already there, and were busily employed in throwing up fortifications and in repelling occasional attacks.

In March, General Hunter relieved General Sherman in command of the Department, and at once ordered the evacuation of Florida. The regiment, accordingly, embarked with General Wright's command, and returned to Hilton Head.

On the 19th of April it again struck tents and proceeded to North Edisto Island, where it was engaged in fatigue and guard duty until the beginning of June, when it crossed the Edisto with General Wright's command, and moved across John's Island to Legareville. With a squadron of cavalry it made a reconnoissance on the island on the 7th of June, and encountered a body of the enemy which was driven, taking some prisoners, and losing two wounded.


Under cover of the gunboats, the troops commenced crossing the Stono River to James' Island on the following day. Two companies of the Ninety-seventh, G and H, under Lieutenant Colonel Duer, were left to occupy Legareville, the rest of the regiment encamping with Wright's Division in front of Secessionville, where the enemy was intrenched. On the evening of the 10th the pickets of the Forty-seventh New York, the Forty-fifth and Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania, were attacked. Colonel Guss, who was in command of the picket line, promptly moved up with his reserve, and by great personal bravery succeeded in steadying his wavering force, and in holding the ground until a battery was brought into position, and the gunboats opened with their huge shells, when the enemy was driven back, leaving seventeen dead upon the field and eight wounded, who fell into the hands of the victors, reporting that many of their dead and wounded had been carried off. The loss in the Ninety-seventh was three killed and eleven wounded.

In the battle of Secessionville, which was fought on the 16th of June, the regiment was much exposed and held its position with unflinching bravery; but fortunately escaped with only small loss. Engaged in picket and fatigue duty, and in the actions of the 10th and 16th of June, it remained upon the island until July 1st, when it returned with the Sixth Connecticut to North Edisto, and soon after to Hilton Head, Colonel Guss being assigned to the commiand of the post.

1863 Campaign in South Carolina

At the beginning of September the regiment was detailed for duty on Broad River, and was distributed as follows: Companies A, F and I, under comlmaind of Ma.jor Pennypacker, at Seabrook Point; B, G and K, under Lieutenant Colonel Duer, at Stoney's Plantation; H and E, at Drayton's Plantation; C and D, under Captain Price, at Spanish Mills. A week later the regiment was relieved and returned to camp. when a handsome sword and sash, in acknowledgment of his worth, was presented to Colonel Guss by the line officers.

In September fevers prevailed to an alarming extent, so much so that all drill and unnecessary labor was dispensed with. By the middle of October there were five hundred cases of intermittent fever, and frequent cases of yellow fever, many of which proved fatal. Every precaution was taken to improve the sanitary condition of the camp, but to little purpose. On the 20th of November the regiment, with the exception of company C, was removed to St. Helena Island, where the health of the men rapidly improved.

Early in April, 1863, the second expedition against Charleston left Hilton Head. The First Brigade, First Division, Tenth Corps, consisted of the Eighth 1Maine, and Seventy-sixth and Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania, and was under command of Colonel Guss. It landed at Folly Island, where it remained during the bombardment of Sumter. The attack not proving successful the fleet drew off, and the land forces again returned to Hilton Head. On the 21st of April the Ninety-seventh was detached from the First, and ordered to the Third Brigade, commanded by General T. G. Stevenson, then occupying Seabrook Island.

About the middle of June General Gilmore assumed command of the Department, and at once began preparations for active operations against the approaches to Charleston. Terry's Division, the First, was sent to James' Island for a diversion, where, on the 16th of July, the enemy made a spirited attack, but was signally repulsed. Abandoning James' Island, Terry proceeded to Folly Island, where he landed, and marching up to Light House Inlet, passed over, and joined the forces which had already effected a lodgment upon Morris Island.

Fort Wagner

Forts Wagner and Gregg, upon the upper end of the island, covering Sumter, were held by the enemy. General Gilmore determined to carry Wagner by assault. General Strong's Brigade, supported by Putnam's, formed the storming party, while Stevenson's Brigade, to which the Ninety-seventh belonged, was held in readiness to advance in case the assault proved successful.

At dusk the order to advance was given, and the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (colored) leading the way, the assaulting column moved forward. A fierce fire of artillery was poured upon it as it advanced, and on reaching the fort a deadly storm from small arms. Without faltering it passed the obstructions, and gained the slopes of the works; but here the slaughter was appalling; and the remnant, unhurt, recoiled and turned back. Putnam's Brigade followed, but shared a like fate. Stevenson's Brigade was ordered forward but was almost immediately re-called, the failure of the assault being but too apparent.

Two companies, A and F, under Lieutenant Colonel Duer, were ordered to the abattis on the beach, whence they were to advance as skirmishers, as near to the fort as possible, and cover the parties detailed to pick up the wounded. Companies C, D, E and I, under Captain Price, were ordered to stack arms and proceed upon this latter duty, in which they were engaged during the entire night. General Stevenson remained upon the ground until the last, superintending in person the removal, manifesting the greatest anxiety that no colored soldier should be left to fall into the hands of the enemy, saying to the officer in command,

"You know how much harder they will fare at the hands of the enemy than white men."
The search was pushed to the moat and slopes of the fort, the men crawling, prostrate upon the ground, under cover of darkness, listening as they went for the groans of the wounded, and when found, dragging them away to a point where they could be taken up and carried back. At daylight these companies, with the two on the skirmish line, were relieved, and joining the rest of the regiment, went to the rear, where they were established in camp.

The siege of Fort Wagner by regular approaches now commenced, in which the regiment participated, furnishing regular details for fatigue and guard duty, losing some men almost daily from the enemy's missiles, but more from sickness caused by fatigue and exposure. The seventh and last parallel was at length completed, and on the evening of the 6th of September, the commanders of regiments were summoned to General Terry's headquarters, to receive their instructions, preparatory to making an assault on the following morning.

During the night a rumor was circulated that the enemy had evacuated his works, and two men who volunteered to enter them, found them abandoned. The forts were immediately occupied, and the engineers were set to work to change their fronts. Fatigue parties were regularly detailed, and under a continuous fire from the surrounding forts, labored incessantly until the works were completed, and the heavy siege guns were mounted, bearing upon Sumter.

Fernandina, Florida

On the 2d of October the regiment was ordered to , to garrison that fort, and the works at Fort Clinch. Early in October, two hundred and fifteen conscripts were added to the regiment, some of whom proved good soldiers, but many worthless and troublesome.

On the 9th of February, 1864, a detachment of the regiment, consisting of two hundred and ninety men, under Major Pennypacker, crossing the river, moved up with the design of attacking the enemy at Camp Cooper, near Baldwin Station, on the Florida Railroad, fourteen miles distant. Cautiously approaching, the proper dispositions were made, and a charge ordered; but the camp was found unoccupied, and the command returned, by the same route to Fernandina, Major Pennypacker having communicated to a company upon a gunboat, which had run up the river for a co-operative demonstration, the result of the expedition.

A week later Major Pennypacker with three hundred men was sent to the Woodstock and King's Ferry Mills, on the St. Mary's River, to secure lumber and mill-fixtures for use in the Department. The Naval Schooner Para accompanied the party as an escort. Several transports were loaded with lumber and rafts prepared for floating down the river, in the meantime keeping the enemy at bay, who made his appearance on the opposite shore.

On the 22d Major Pennypacker was ordered to return with all possible dispatch, the engagement at Olustee having proved disastrous to our arms. Subsequently a reconnoissance was made up the St. Mary's, on the steamer Island City, with company F, under Captain Lewis, in which the enemy's pickets were encountered and driven, and some rebel property and machinery captured.

On the 16th of March three hundred and thirty-seven of the regiment reenlisted, and departed for home on veteran furlough, under command of Captain Mendenhall. They were accompanied by Colonel Guss and Adjutant Carruthers, their first absence since taking t he field. On the 3d of April Lieutenant Colonel Duer, who had for some time been suffering from disease contracted in the service, resigned, and Major Pennypacker was promoted to succeed him, assuming command of the regiment. Captain Price was pro mroted to Major.

1864 Advance upon Richmond

On the 23d of April, the Ninety-seventh having been relieved at Fernandina by the One Hundred and Fifty-seventh New York, was ordered to Hilton Head, where, upon its arrival, it joined the Tenth Corps in its movement to Fortress Monroe to reinforce the army of the James under General Benjamin Butler. At Gloucester Point, where Butler's forces were being prepared for an active campaign, the Tenth Corps was re-organized, the Ninety-seventh being assigned to the First Brigade, Third Division, composed of the Fifty-fifth and Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania, Fourth New Hampshire, and the ighth and Ninth Maine, commanded by Colonel Richard White of the Fiftyfifth, General Ames commanding the division, and General Gilmore the corps.

Bermuda Hundred

Moving up the James with his army, Butler landed on the 7th of May at Bermuda Hundred, and marched over towards the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, halting at Foster's Plantation, where a line of earthworks was thrown up. This was subsequently extended from the James above, to the swamps and tide waters of the Appomattox below.

On the 9th Generals Gilmore and Brooks advanced upon the railroad, and the Ninety-seventh was sent forward to tear up the track and cut the wires of the telegraph. This work was effectually accomplished, the enemy's cavalry watching the operations at a distance, but not attempting to interfere in the work. On the afternoon of the 9th the regiment took part in the action at Swift Creek, near Petersburg, and early on the morning of the 10th was ordered to support General Terry in his movement upon Richmond, being subsequently engaged in the action at Drury's Bluff. Soon afterwards Colonel Guss and the veterans returned, the Colonel being assigned to the command of the brigade.

Drewry's Bluff

On the morning of May 16th Beauregard, in command of the rebel forces, having concentrated his troops, attacked at daylight, under cover of a heavy fog, striking the right wing. The Ninety-seventh was at the time on duty at General Butler's headquarters. It was immediately ordered to join the Thirteenth Indiana, and to take position at the Wier Bottom Church Road, and hold the enemy in check on that side until the forces on the left could be withdrawn. As soon as the line was formed, company F was thrown forward as skirmishers. At two P. M. the enemy opened with artillery, his infantry being in force in front, but was held steadily in check by these two regiments. At dusk they withdrew to the intrenchments. The loss was two wounded and five captured.

On the morning of the 18th, General Beauregard's forces having advanced to within a short distance of the picket line, assaulted a portion of it near Green Plain, from which the pickets of the Eighth Maine were driven. At eight A. M. the Ninety-seventh was ordered to the front to re-take it, Four companies were deployed by Lieutenant Colonel Pennypacker, and advanced under his command in a skirmish line, supported by the rest of the regiment under Major Price. In the face of a hot fire of musketry, the command advanced, routing the enemy and occupying his line. An uninterrupted fire of musketry was kept up on both sides during the rest of the day. At ten P. M. the regiment was relieved. In this daring charge the regiment lost nineteen killed and thirty-eight wounded. Among the latter were Captains Francis M. Guss and Samuel V. Black, and Lieutenant Abel Griffith.

On the evening of the 19th of May, one hundred and fifty men, comprising companies A, B, C and E, were detailed for picket duty, under command of Major Price, to occupy the same line held on the previous evening. Soon after getting into the rifle-pits, the enemy charged, but was repulsed with considerable loss. Twice during the night, the enemy attempted to drive in the left of the Ninety-seventh and the right of the Ninth Maine, but was as often driven by the steady fire of our well trained marksmen. He could be distinctly heard moving his artillery and giving his orders, evidently massing for a determined attack. This was reported to the officer in command, and reinforcements asked for, but none came. Picks and shovels were distributed, and the works strengthened, the men working industriously all night.

Dmring the morning a fog prevailed, preventing satisfactory observations; but when it lifted, a rebel earth-work on a knoll in front, with embrasures for three guns, less than a mile distant was revealed, and a heavy force of infantry, as subsequently ascertained, Pickett's whole division. His skirmishers were several times advanced, evidently to develope the strength in his front. The little puffs of blue smoke at regular intervals of three paces, the intervals at which Price was obliged to distribute his men, but too plainly disclosed its weakness. The peril of the position without reinforcements, and without the prospect of having any, was made painfully manifest as three rebel regiments, with banners flying, marched out, en echelon, to the right, across the front, and the rebel batteries opened. When the rebel infantry had reached a piece of wood opposite the left, it suddenly veered, and with a yell charged the Ninth Maine, holding that part of the line, driving it back in confusion. A gap was thus opened through which the enemy poured, and having gained the shelter of the abandoned works, opened a galling flank fire upon the Ninety-seventh. Just then the Thirteenth Indiana, in three skirmish lines, came up for support, but was subjected to so severe a fire that nearly the entire force was either killed or wounded. Outflanked and confronted by overwhelming odds, Major Price severely wounded, the only alternatives were, retreat under a fire that was almost certain destruction, or surrender. The former was chosen, and the fragment of the command remaining, made its escape as best it could.

When it was realized at headquarters that a part of the line had been lost, Lieutenant Colonel Pennypacker, with about three hundred of the regiment that had not been on duty in the morning, was ordered to advance and recapture it. The command was promptly formed, and with a regular and unwavering front, went forward under a murderous fire of grape and canister, and musketry, until the leader had been thrice wounded, and half had fallen, when, the hopelessness of the attempt being apparent, the order to retire was given. The loss in this heroic but fruitless charge, was three officers and forty-four men killed, eight officers and one hundred and twenty-one men wounded, and twelve taken prisoners, an aggregate of one hundred and eightyeight.

On the 27th, in obedience to the orders from General Grant, the Eighteenth Corps, and a part of the Tenth Corps, were dispatched to White House in transports, and thence marched to form junction with the army in front of Cold Harbor. The position of the Ninety-seventh, from the time of its arrival until its return on the 12th of June, was at the front constantly, where it well maintained its character for courage and efficiency, sustaining a loss of one killed and nine wounded.

Before Petersburg

Returning again to the south side of the James, at a point two and a-half miles from Petersburg, it came upon the enemy's entrenched line. Just before sunset of the 15th, the Eighteenth Corps and the Second Division of the Tenth, charged and captured the enemy's works, taking four hundred prisoners and sixteen pieces of artillery. The position of the ninety-seventh was in the second line of works, and during the night it was busily employed in entrenching. On the following day another general advance was made, in which a second line of the enemy's works was captured. Shortly afterwards the Second Division, which had been serving with the Eighteenth Corps, returned to Bermuda Hundred, and re-joined the Tenth at the entrenchments near Fester's Plantation.

On the 22d Colonel Guss resigned, and Lieutenant Colonel Pennypacker was promoted to succeed him, the latter being prevented by wounds from joining the regiment for several weeks, the command in the meantime devolving on Major Price.

On the evening of the following day, the Tenth Corps was again ordered to the front berore Petersburg, the Ninety-seventh taking position in front of Cemetery Hill, where it was kept constantly engaged, losing men almost daily.

On the 30th one hundred men from the Ninety-seventh, and three hundred from other regiments, all under command of Captain Mendenhall, were ordered to advance upon the enemy's works in front of the Cemetery to engage the attention of the enemy, while a stronger force, under Colonel Barton of the Forty-eighth New York, made a real assault. Moving rapidly over meadow, ravine, and wood, Mendenhall boldly charged across an open field, and gained the works whence a rapid fire was opened, which was vigorously returned. In the meantime Barton's forces failed to move, and the situation of this small detachment, on which the enemy was left free to concentrate his forces, was critical. But the ground was resolutely held until nightfall, when it was re-called, one hundred and fifty of the four hundred having fallen. The loss in the regiment was five killed and sixteen wounded.

For nearly six weeks after this affair, the division continued to occupy the trenches between the City Point and the Norfolk and Petersburg railroads. Upon the occasion of the explosion of the mine, on the 30th of July, it was brought up and formed in rear of the batteries bearing on the rebel works, and when the assaulting column had gone forward, was ordered to advance in support. But the distance to pass over was so great, and so many obstructions were met by the way, that before it could reach the works to be taken, the enemy had recovered from his panic, and was opening with his artillery right and left, and bringuing up reserves of infantry. Nevertheless the command moved steadily on, and captured and held a portion of the enemy's works. While the Ninety-seventh was moving, a staff officer succeeded in detaching the five companies on the left, by ordering the Lieutenant in command of the leading company, marching by the left flank, to turn aside. These companies, Captain G, Hawkins in command, were ordered to charge a line of rifle-pits, which was successfully executed.

Subsequently Major Price, who commanded the regiment, attempted to move this detachment so as to unite the two wings, but was prevented by a sudden attack, and it remained apart until the close of the action. The mine had been successfully exploded, and never had troops displayed greater valor, but it was found impossible to hold the advantage gained, and the forces were withdrawn, not without serious loss. The Ninety-seventh was relieved at half past two P. M., and with the division retired to its position in front of the Cemetery. Its loss was ten killed, and twenty-eight wounded. Captain Mendenhall and Lieutenant Levi L. Marsh were among the wounded, the latter mortally.

Deep Bottom and Strawberry Plain

On the 13th of August, Colonel Pennypacker having measureably recovered from his wounds of May 28th, returned and assumed command, and immediately thereafter the regiment moved with the corps across the James, where it participated in the capture of the intrenchments at Deep Bottom on the morning of the 15th, and in the action at Strawberry Plains, on the 16th, wherein the enemy was driven from his works, but subsequently recovered them by a flank movement, and inflicted severe loss, the Ninety-seventh losing ten killed, eleven wounded, and eighteen captured. Among the killed was the former Adjutant, Captain lienry W. Carruthers, and among the prisoners, Captain Samuel V. Black.

On the 20th the corps returned to its old position at Bermuda Hundred, where, on the morning of the 25th, as it was being relieved at the front, the enemy made a furious attack, and captured a part of the line. In the evening of that day, it was re-captured by the Second Division, in which the regiment lost two killed and three wounded.

Towards the close of August the corps returned to the Petersburg front, occupying the lines from the Appomattox to Cemetery Hill, and soon afterwards Colonel Penypacker was assigned to the command of the Second Brigade, Second Division, composed of the Forty-seventh and forty-eightlh New York, Seventy-sixth, Ninety-seventh, and Two Hundred and Third Pennsylvania, the command of the regiment devolving at intervals, in the absence of Major Price, on account of sickness, on Captains Lewis and Hawkins, and Lieutenant Wainwright.

Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights

On the 28th of September, having crossed to the north bank of the James, the Tenth Corps, simultaneously with the attack on Fort Harrison, attacked the enemy's works on New Market Heights, and captured them. Advancing, it assaulted the rebel Fort Gilmore, but found that work too strong to be taken with the weakened force in hand. Colonel Pennypacker led his brigade on the right of the assaulting column, and was obliged to pass over nearly a mile of slashings, and a small stream, the ground proving unfavorable for rapid moment. The loss in the Ninety-seventh was ten wounded and two missing; among the wounded was Colonel Pennypacker, and Lieutenants Gogriff and Dufee. The regiment was led by Lieutenant Wainwright, who, with Lieutenmant Eves, was commended in orders by General Butler.

Not relishing the proximity which the Union forces had attained, the rebel commander sent a heavy force under Fields and Hoke to turn the right flank of the army and force it back. The cavalry of Kautz, occupying an advanced position, was encountered and driven; but coming upon the Tenth Corps they found it ready to receive them, and after several attempts to drive it, gave up the contest.

Towards the close of October the Tenth Corps, together with the Eighteenth, had a spirited engagement near the little village of Darby-town, in which the Ninety-seventh lost two killed, eight wounded, and one missing. Captain George W. Hawkins, in command of the regiment, was mortally wounded.

In the meantime, as the term of service of officers and men who had not re-enlisted expired, they were mustered out of service, and by the end of October all had been retired except veterans and recruits, numbering one hundred and fifty, who were left in command of Lieutenant John Wainwright.

Soon afterwards a sufficient number of drafted men and substitutes were added to give it the full regimental strength. In December the Army of the James was re-organized, the white troops of the Tenth and Eighteenth Corps becoming the Twenty-fourth, and the colored troops of these corps the Twenty-fifth.

Fort Fisher

On the 7th of December, the Second Division of the Twenty-fourth Corps, embracing the Ninety-seventh, and Paines First Division (colored) of the Twenty-fifth, the whole numbering about six thousand five hundrled men, left the front and proceeded to Fortress Monroe, and on the 13th accompanied the expedition of Butler and Porter against Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Lieutenant Martin was left in charge of the camp of the regiment, with a portion of the conscripts, whom he was instructed to drill.

At noon of the 24th the bombardment of the fort commenced, the powder boat Louisiana, at a quarter before two that morning, having been exploded without effect. On the afternoon of the 25th, a force of about three thousand men, under General Ames, in which was the Ninety-seventh, landed. A reconnoissance was at once made by General Weitzel, who reported adversely to an assault, and accordingly General Butler ordered the troops to be withdrawn, and re-embarking, returned to their camps on the James.

On the 2d of January, 1865, the same troops, with the addition of Abbott's Brigade of General Terry's First Division of the Twenty-fourth Corps, numbering one thousand five hundred men, and a small siege train, all under command of General Terry, again departed for the reduction of Fort Fisher.

Eight commissioned officers and one hundred and eighty-one men of the Ninety-seventh, under command of Lieutenant John Wainwright, accompanied the expedition. Landing upon the narrow peninsula upon which the fort is built, Terry approached within two miles of the works, and established a line running quite across from the ocean to the river, which he intrenched, and behind it planted his artillery, the fire of the navy in the mean-time being continuous and effective. Ames' Division, consisting of the brigades of Curtis, Pennypacker, and Bell, was selected for the assault.

One hundred sharp-shooters, armed with Spencer repeating rifes, were sent forward at a run, to within one hundred and seventy-five yards of the fort, where with spades with which they were provided they soon sheltered themselves in pits. The three brigades, in the order above named, then moved up in rear of the sharp-shooters and also intrenched.

"At twenty-five minutes past three P. M.," says General Terry, in his official report, "all the preparations were completed, the order to move forward was given to General Ames, and a concerted signal was made to Admiral Porter to change the direction of his fire. Curtis Brigade at once sprang from their trenches, and dashed forward in line. Its left was exposed to a severe enfilading fire, and it obliqued to the right so as to envelope the left of the land front. The ground over which it moved was marshy and difficult; but it soon reached the palisades, passed through th1em, and effected a lodgment on the parapet. * * When Curtis moved forward, Ames directed Pennypacker to move up to the rear of the sharp-shooters, and brought Bell up to Pennyp-acker's late position, and as soon as Curtis got a foothold on the parapet, sent Pennypacker to his support. Pennypacker advanced, overlaping Curtis' right, and drove the enemy from the heavy palisading, which extended from the west end of the land face to the river, capturing a considerable number of prisoners; then pushing forward to their left, the two brigades together drove the enemy from about one-quarter of the land face. Ames then brought up Bell's Brigade, and moved it between the works and the river.' * * Hand to hand fighting of the most desperate character ensued, the huge traverses of the land face being used successively by the enemy as breastworks, over the tops of which the contending parties fired into each others faces. Nine of these were carried one after the other by our men. * * * Until six o'clock, the fire of the navy continued upon that portion of the work not occupied by us. After that time, it was directed upon the beach, to prevent the coming up of re-inforcements. * * * The fighting for the traverses continued till nearly nine o'clock, two more of them being carried.

"Then a portion of Abbott's Brigade, which had been brought to the support of the assault, drove the enemy from their last remaining strongholds, and the occupation of the fort was completed. The same brigade, with General Blackburn's Regiment, (colored,) was immediately pushed down the point to Battery Buchanan, whither many of the garrison had fled. On reaching the battery all of the enemy, who had not been previously captured, were made -prisoners. Among them were Major General Whiting, and Colonel Lamb the commandant of the fort. * * * In all the works were found one hundred and sixty-nine pieces of artillery, nearly all heavy, over two thousand stand of small arms, considerable quantities of commissary stores, and full supplies of ammunition. Our prisoners numbered one hundred and twelve commissioned officers, and one thousand nine hundred and seventy-one enlisted men. I have no words to do justice to the behavior of both officers and men on this occasion. All that men could do they did. Better soldiers never fought. Brigadier General Curtis, and Colonels Pennypacker, Bell, and Abbott, the brigade commanders, led with the utmost gallantry. Curtis was wounded after fighting in the front rank rifle in hand; Pennypacker, while carrying the standard of one of his regiments, (the Ninety-seventh,) the first man in a charge over a traverse. Bell was mortally wounded near the palisades."

"Colonel G. Pennypacker," says General Ames, in his report, "commanding Second Brigade, was severely wounded, while planting the colors of his leading regiment (the Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania) on the third traverse of the work. This officer was surpassed by none, and his absence during the remainder of the day was most deeply felt and seriously regretted."
Lieutenant John Wainwright, who led the regiment, was honorably mentioned by General Ames.
"A series of traverses," says Lieutenant Wainwright, "each a fort itself, were charged and re-charged, and for seven long hours the two armies fought furiously inside the fort, and not until ten o'clock at night were the rebels finally subdued and forced to surrender, which was greeted with deafening cheers by the weary soldiers, and a display of hundreds of rockets by the fleet."
The regiment lost four killed, Lieutenant Henry Odiorne being of the number, and thirty-seven wounded. Colonel Pennypacker, and Lieutenants T. M. Smedley, C. F. Haines, J. B. Taylor, L. R. Thomas, and G. W. Duffee, were among the wounded, Lieutenant Haines mortally. The regiment was encamped after the surrender near the magazine, but was fortunately ordered away before the fatal explosion.

Abandoning Fort Caswell and the extensive works at Smithville, the enemy retired to Fort Anderson, and prepared for a stubborn defence of Wilmington, his chief remaining port of entry. Terry was joined soon after by the Twenty-third Corps, and General Schofield assumed command of the entire land force, known as the Army of the Ohio. A flank movement turned the enemy out of Fort Anderson, and on the 22d of February, Wilmington, with its immense stores of arms, ammunition, and cotton, was occupied. So rapid was the movement, that about four thousand Union prisoners, which he was unable to remove, fell into the hands of the victorious army. Some of these belonged to the Ninety-seventh. The joy of the sick and wounded men, famishing with hunger, knew no bounds. They danced, sang, and wept; they hugged their old comrades, and in every way manifested their gratitude at being rescued from inevitable starvation and death.

Surrender of General Johnston

Remaining at Wilmington until the 15th of March, General Terry moved to effect a junction with General Sherman's Army, at Goldsboro, General Schofield at the same time setting out from Newbern for the same destination. Schofield and Terry arrived on the 21st, and met Sherman coming up from Georgia, on the day following. In the advance upon Raleigh, the Ninety-seventh was detached and sent to the assistance of the cavalry train under Kilpatrick, and remained with it, performing arduous service, until it reached the State Capital, whence Sherman pushed up vigorously, and after some ineffectual negotiations, received the surrender of the rebel army under Johnston at Durham's Station on the 26th of April.

From the 16th of April until the 10th of July, the regiment remained at Raleigh, engaged in various duty incident to securing tranquility, and putting in operation the Freedman's Bureau. In the meantime, considerable sickness prevailed, several died, and a number, for various causes, were discharged.

On the 23d of May, Colonel Pennypacker was promoted to Brigadier General, and took leave of the regiment which he had served with from the first, and which he had led in the most desperate encounters. On the 11th of July, seven companies, under Colonel Wainwright, were stationed at Gaston, and three, under command of Captain Underwood, at Weldon, Major Martin being on duty in a court martial.

The regiment was subsequently detailed for various duty in this Department. It was finally mustered out of service on the 28th of August, at Weldon. Returning, six hundred strong, by rail to Petersburg and City Point, it moved by transport to Baltimore, and thence by rail to Philadelphia, where it was received with fitting honors, and was bountifully entertained at the Cooper Shop and Union Volunteer Refreshment saloons. Retiring to Camp Cadwalader, it remained until the 4th of September, when it was paid and finally disbanded.


Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.


Organized at West Chester August 22 to October 28, 1861.
Moved to Washington, D.C., November 16-17,
thence to Fortress Monroe, Va., November 20-22.
Attached to Dept. of Virginia to December, 1861.
Wright's 3rd Brigade, Sherman's South Carolina Expedition, to April, 1862.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of the South, to July, 1862.
District of Hilton Head, S.C., Dept. South, to September, 1862.
District Hilton Head, S.C., 10th Corps, Dept. South, to April, 1863.
Stevenson's Brigade, Seabrook Island, S.C., 10th Corps, to July, 1863.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, Morris Island, S.C., 10th Corps, July, 1863.
3rd Brigade, Morris Island, S.C., 10th Corps, to August, 1863.
1st Brigade, Morris Island, S.C., 10th Corps, to October, 1863.
Fernandina, Fla., Dept. South, to April, 1864.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Army Corps, Dept. Virginia and
North Carolina, to May, 1864.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, to June, 1864.
3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 10th Corps, to December, 1864.
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 24th Army Corps, to January, 1865.
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Terry's Provisional Corps,
Dept. North Carolina, to March, 1865.
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 10th Corps,
Dept. North Carolina, to August, 1865.


Duty at Camp Hamilton, near Fortress Monroe, Va., till December 8, 1861.
Moved to Port Royal, S. C, December 8-11.
Duty at Hilton Head, S.C., till January 21, 1862.
Operations in Warsaw Sound, Ga., against Fort Pulaski, January 21-February 25.
Expedition to Florida February 25-March 5.
Occupation of Fernandina March 5, and duty there till March 24.
Moved to Jacksonville, Fla., March 24, and duty there till April 9.
Moved to Hilton Head, S.C., April 9-14.
Expedition to Edisto Island, S.C., April 19-20.
Expedition to James Island. S.C., June 1-28.
Action on James Island June 10.
Battle of Secessionville June 16.
Evacuation of James Island June 28, and duty at North Edisto Island till July 18.
Moved to Hilton Head, S.C., July 18, and duty there till November 20.
At St. Helena Island, S.C., till January 15, 1863.
At Hilton Head and Seabrook Point till April.
At Seabrook Island till July 8.
Expedition to James Island July 9-16.
Battle of Secessionville July 16.
Moved to Folly and Morris Islands July 17-18.
Assault on Fort Wagner, Morris Island, July 18.
Siege of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, and
Operations against Fort Sumpter and Charleston July 18-September 7.
Capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg, Morris Island, September 7.
Duty on Morris Island till October 2.
Moved to Fernandina, Fla., October 2-5, and duty there till April 23, 1864.
Expedition from Fernandina to Woodstock and King's Ferry Mills February 15-23, 1864.
Moved to Hilton Head, S.C., thence to Gloucester Point, Va., April 23-28.
Butler's operations on south side of the James and
against Petersburg and Richmond May 4-28.
Capture of Bermuda Hundred and City Point May 5.
Swift Creek or Arrow field Church May 9-10.
Proctor's Creek and operations against Fort Darling May 12-16.
Battle of Drewry's Bluff May 14-16.
Bermuda Hundred front May 17-28.
Chester Station May 18.
Green Plains May 20.
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 to December 7, 1864.
Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30 (Reserve).
Demonstration on north side of James River at Deep Bottom August 13-20.
Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom, August 14-18.
Bermuda Hundred August 24-25.
Battle of Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30.
Charles City Road October 7.
Battle of Fair Oaks October 27-28.
In trenches before Richmond till December 6.
Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C., December 6-27.
Second Expedition to Fort Fisher January 3-15, 1865.
Assault and capture of Fort Fisher January 15.
Sugar Loaf Battery February 11.
Fort Anderson February 18-19.
Capture of Wilmington February 22.
Advance on Goldsborg March 6-21.
Advance on Raleigh April 9-13.
Occupation of Raleigh April 14.
Bennett's House April 26.
Surrender of Johnston and his army.
Duty at Raleigh till July 10, and at Gaston and Weldon, N. C., till August 28.
Mustered out August 28, 1865, at Weldon, N. C.
Moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and discharged September 4, 1865.


Regiment lost during service:

6 Officers and 130 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
2 Officers and 184 Enlisted men by disease.

Total 322.

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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