© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedBy order of the War Department of August 1st, 1861, Colonel John F.Ballier was authorized to raise a regiment of infantry to serve for three years, in place of the Twenty-first Regiment of the three months' service,which he had commanded, the term of which had expired on the 29th of July,though not mustered out till the 8th of August. Recruiting was immediatelycommenced, and on the 17th the first company, I, was mustered in. Companies D, C, F A E, K, and B were mustered at intervals between that date and the 26th of September, and as mustered were sent to Camp Ballier,within the limits of the city of Philadelphia, where the regiment was exclusively recruited.
The majority of men and officers were of German origin, had served in the Twenty-first Regiment, and many of them in the armies of their native land. They received clothing immediately on entering camp, but arms and accoutrements were not delivered until two months later. The arms were the Belgian rifled musket, an excellent piece for distance and accuracy, much prized by the men, which in 1863 were exchanged for the much lighter Springfield rifle.
A regimental organization was effected by the selection of the following field officers:The first eight companies left Philadelphia on the 30th of September, for Washington, and upon their arrival encamped at Kalorama Heights for nine days, when they were ordered to join General Peck's Brigade,* stationed at Tenallytown. During the month of December the two remaining companies, G and H, joined the regiment, bringing the number up to the full standard.
- John F. Ballier, Colonel
- Adolph Mehler, Lieutenant Colonel
- George Wynkoop, Major
Evolutions of the line, which had been commenced while in camp at Philadelphia, were continued at Tenallytown, and a thorough drill with the use of arms was instituted. A school for officers was established, which was in session one hour nightly, and the non-commissioned officers received instruction in artillery drill at Fort Pennsylvania, later Fort Reno. The monotony of the camp was not disturbed until the 10th of March, 1862, when the brigade was ordered across the Chain Bridge to Prospect Hill, where it lay under arms for nearly a week, exposed to a severe rain storm, when it returned again to its old quarters.
On the 26th of March it embarked from Alexandria for the Peninsula, where, upon its arrival, it encamped near the ruins of the little village of Hampton. After ten days it proceeded to Warwick Court House, where it was principally employed in building corduroy roads, bastions and breastworks.
On the 4th of May, the enemy having retreated, the works constructed with so great care were abandoned, and after a weary march, it arrived in front of Williamsburg, where it fought its first battle. The Ninety-third was in the advance and was first engaged. The Ninety-eighth followed, or rather relieved it. The conflict was severe, but more keenly felt than subsequent contests of greater magnitude, because here the men looked upon their first dead and wounded. The loss was four killed and four wounded.
On the 7th of May the Ninety-eighth was ordered to General Stoneman's command, and moved with the advance guard, comprising in addition Roberts' Battery of Sixth United States, the Eighth Illinois Cavalry, and the Second Rhode Island Cavalry. The three weeks spent on the march fromWilliamsburg to Mechanicsville, for ease and comfort, were not excelled during the campaign. Starting on the march at the precise hour of the morning appointed, and bivouacking at an early hour in the evening, with plenteous food at regular hours, travelling through a beautiful country, with just enough of skirmishing to give a pleasant excitement, the command was brought to its destination near Mechanicsville on the 26th of May.
Being thus detached from the brigade it was prevented from participating in the battle of Fair Oaks. It made a forced march to Hanover Junction, where it intercepted a train of cars, which was destroyed with a portion of the track.Upon its return to camp it was ordered to re-join its brigade, advance guards being now no longer needed. Crossing the Chickahominy it proceeded to the neighborhood of White Oak Swamp, where it was put upon picket, in line facing Richmond.
From the morning of the 27th to the morning of the 28th, it was engaged near Fair Oaks in holding the enemy in check, having one killed and nine wounded. Skirmishing its way back to Malvern Hill, it was there engaged on the 1st of July, during the entire day, and until its ammnunition was exhausted, of which it had been very saving, only using it when brought into actual conflict with the foe missing, supposed to be killed. Captain William Sehr and Lieutenant Christian A. Gallas were killed.
Worn and fatigued to the last degree, the regiment got into camp on the 3d; but it proved an unhealthy locality and many sickened and died, their constitutions probably weakened by previous hardships and exposure. The order, which came on the 11th, to break camp and move, was not unwelcome.
Proceeding to Yorktown, it encamped in a peach orchard, a most agreeable spot, until the 30th, when it was taken by transport to Alexandria. The baggage was sent by separate transport, which was sunk on its way, and all the property, books, and papers of the regiment were lost.
After its arrival it lay along the streets of the town for two hours, and then was ordered to go forward; "and forward we did go," says Colonel Ballier; "but soon it became evident that something must be wrong, for ambulances, army wagons, ammunition trains, artillery, and straggling cavalry and infantry came hurrying towards us in the most complete confusion, faster than we could hurry onward. Besides it appeared that ours was the only brigade out of our division, Couch's, that had been sent on. This division had, at Yorktown, been taken out of the Fourth Corps, and had not been assigned to any other command. Still onward we hurried, without rest, all night, until we reached the neighborhood of Centreville, where the brigade halted at last. As the hours wore on, the confusion increased. Soon after daylight one regiment of infantry after another, mixed up with artillery and vehicles of all description, came hurrying down the road, and the firing came nearer and nearer. It was the route from Bull Run! We rested on our arms until morning, and then, too, began to fall back gradually, about one hundred paces at a time, and always coming to a front again, until we reached Fairfax Court House."
After a few days rest the regiment took up the line of march, crossing the Potomac on the 12th of September, into Maryland, at Edwards' Ferry, and proceeded to Rohrersville, where it was kindly received. Here it remained until the morning of the 18th, when it proceeded on a reconnoitring expedition to Maryland Heights, overlooking Harper's Ferry, the battle of Antietam having been fought on the previous day. It returned at night to the neighborhood of Sharpsburg, and rested upon the ground where the battle had been raging.
On the 20th it marched to Williamsport, to intercept a raiding party of the enemy, but arrived too late to effect anything. Re-crossing the Potomac at Berlin, the regiment marched to New Baltimore, where M'Clellan surrendered the command of the army to Burnside.
At White Oak Church, near Falmouth, it went into camp apparently for the winter; but on the 12th of December was called out, and crossing the river at the lower bridges, was held in reserve near the river, during the battle of Fredericksburg, retiring with the army from the fruitless struggle on the 15th, and returning to its old camp. It spent four days, from the 20th to the 24th of January, marching and counter-marching in Burnside's Mud Campaign, and again returned to its camp.
Under General Hooker's organization of the army, the brigade, now commanded by General Wheaton, was attached to the Sixth Corps. In the Chancellorsville Campaign, this corps was left to operate upon the flank and rear of the enemy. It crossed the Rappahannock at the lower, or Franklin's crossing. The Ninety-eighth passed over on Saturday evening, the 2d of May, and moved up to the city of Fredericksburg, the enemy who had been left to guard the town being easily routed, and rested at night upon the streets. At dawn, on Sunday morning, it was saluted with rapid rounds of grape and canister, and was soon in position, pressing forward upon Maryes' Heights, which were carried and occupied, the Ninety-eighth losing one killed and one wounded.
Without pausing longer than to re-form the columns, Sedgwick pressed on in pursuit of the flying enemy, and came up with him intrenched near a crossroads, known as Salem Heights.
"During the battle at Salem Heights," says General Wheaton, in his official report, "the Ninety-eighth Pennsylvania and the Sixty-second New York were necessarily left on the south side of the mainroad, where they performed gallant service, under the officer in charge of that part of the line. They lost heavily, and held their positions to the last. Colonel Ballier, of the Ninety-eighth, at that time received a severe wound in the foot, and was taken from the field. During Sunday night the brigade, except the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth Pennsylvania, which could not be relieved from its important position in front, was assembled in a field near the junction of the main and Banks' Ford Road; here we bivouacked, filled our ammunition boxes, received our knapsacks, sent by train from Fredericksburg, and rested after having fought two battles in twelve hours, and skirmished all day.
"At three and a half P. M. on the 4th, the left of the Third Division was attacked by a strong column of the enemy, but our batteries soon drove them back. At five P. M. our extreme left, held by the Second Division, was hard pressed, and I was ordered to send a regiment to Howe's right. The Ninety-eighth, under Lieutenant Colonel Wynkoop, was immediately dispatched, with a staff officer, and almost immediately after, I was ordered to the same point with the whole brigade. We moved down the Plank Road at a double quick and turned into a field on our left, and formed line of battle advancing. The most advanced rebel battalions of the attacking column were within fifty yards of a low furze fence, just as the Ninety-eighth was at an equal distance from this side. Shouting and firing as he advanced, Lieutenant Colonel Wynkoop reached the fence first, and checked the rebels, who found an unexpected line to meet them. Seeing it well supported, and my other three regiments advancing, they fell back and were easily captured."
Sedgwick's Corps being over powered and nearly surrounded, was obliged to retire, and crossing the river at Banks' Ford, returned to its former camp. The loss in the regiment was one officer and four men killed, and three officers and seventeen men wounded. Lieutenant George Busch was mortally wounded.
Until the 20th of June the regiment remained in camp, when with the division it proceeded to Kelly's Ford, and crossing the river was engaged in building a line of entrenchments. When completed, they were abandoned, it having been ascertained that the enemy had determined to invade the north, and was already far on his way. The march north was accordingly commenced, and on the 1st of July it arrived at Manchester, Maryland. On the evening of that day, in response to urgent calls, it commenced a forced march to Gettysburg. Soon after its arrival on the field, on the afternoon of the 2d, Wheaton's Brigade was ordered into action on the left, and took position on the low wooded hillock to the right and front of Little Round Top, the Ninety-eighth occupying the right of the brigade.
When the troops of Sickles' Corps, which had been posted on a more advanced line, were driven back, this brigade held its position unmoved, and on the following day advanced a little, and though exposed to a terrible artillery fire, had few casualties, except from sharpshooters. Two officers and ten men wounded, was the extent of its losses in the entire battle.The 4th was given to burying the dead and removing the wounded, and on the morning of the 5th the corps started in pursuit.
Beyond slight skirmishing with his rear guard, no serious collision took place, until in the neighborhood of the Antietam battle-field, where he was overtaken and preparations were made for a battle; but before it was delivered, he escaped. And now ensued a campaign over the old ground in Virginia, reaching from the Blue Ridge to the Potomac and the Rapidan, in which were frequent minor collisions of parts of the army with the enemy, but no general engagement, and at its close at Mine Run, on the 2d of December, where great suffering and hardship were endured, it returned to camp at Brandy Station, and went into winter-quarters.
At its entrance into service, the regiment numbered one thousand and ten men; in the summer of 1862, and subsequently, bodies of recruits were added to it; it was now reduced to three hundred and twenty-nine. Of this number two hundred and twenty-nine re-enlisted for a second term,and were mustered on the 23d. The promised furlough, which had operated as a strong inducement to re-enlist, was long delayed.
At the close of December, the brigade was ordered to Harper's Ferry. The weather was intensely cold, and the movement, by rail, in box cars, and in open trucks without fire, was attended with great suffering. From Harper's Ferry the brigade marched to Halltown, where the Ninety-eighth was detached and sent forward to Charlestown. Colonel Ballier was made commander of the post at Charlestown, and the companies were comfortably quartered in unoccupied buildings about the town.
On the 1st of February the long promised furlough was granted, and leaving the one hundred, who had not re-enlisted, at Harper's Ferry, the veterans departed for home. On the 18th of March, the furlough being ended, they assembled at Chester, where they remained until the 26th. They then returned to their old camp at Brandy Station.
Meanwhile the men left at Harper's Ferry had performed guard duty at the Harper's Ferry prison,and subsequently had been ordered to Halltown, whence they had been sent at intervals on picket to Snicker's Gap. Towards the close of March they joined the veterans at Brandy Station.
With the corps, the regiment moved on the 3d of May on the WildernessCampaign, and on the morning of the 5th, while on the march, was suddenly attacked, before the line of battle could be formed. The One Hundred andThirty-ninth was in advance, and received the first shock. The enemy, who at first seemed to be retreating, was followed up; but he soon made a determined stand, and fought desperately, the Ninety-eighth holding its ground for two hours under a furious musketry fire, and until its ammunition was all spent, when it was relieved. The loss in this day's fight was one officer, Lieutenant Charles H. Wiedman, and eight men killed, and four officers and fifty-two men wounded.
The men slept in the rifle pits at night, and in the morning went forward, past their dead comrades, still lying where they fell, and followed the enemy up for nearly two miles, when he was found behind breastworks, and was attacked. By a movement in concentrated force upon the flank, he compelled the Union line to fall back in some confusion. General Getty was here wounded, General Wheaton succeeding to the command of the division, Colonel Ballier to that of the brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Kohler of the regiment.
On the evening of the 7th the regiment moved away towards Spottsylvania. At four o'clock on the morning of the 11th, eight companies, under Lieutenant Colonel Kohler, were ordered to picket duty near Spottsylvania Court House. The firing upon the picket line was incessant, and these companies lost two killed and four wounded. The remaining two companies were engaged with the brigade, and had one killed and six wounded. The picket was relieved on the 13th, and on the 14th the regiment moved to Anderson's Farm. At evening of the 17th it was summoned back, and marched or rather crept all night, and crossed the breastworks at daylight of the 18th. It was saluted by a shower of shot and shell as it passed the open field, having five men wounded, without an opportunity of returning the fire. At eleven o'clock it was relieved, and marching, crossed the North Anna, but soon re-crossed,and on the 28th crossed the Pamunky, and moved to Hanover Court House.
On the 1st of June it was ordered to Cold Harbor. After being exposed to the hot sun all day, it was obliged to work all night on the rifle-pits. Here, while out upon the picket line, Major John W. Beamish was killed. On the following day it was called away from the works, and ordered to attack farther to the right. The fighting lasted the entire day, in which Adjutant Edward Schwatlo and thirteen men were killed, and two officers and thirty-nine men wounded.
Marching and fighting, it finally reached the James River, and crossed on the 16th of June. In the operations in front of Petersburg, the regiment was engaged on the 18th in an unsuccessful charge, in which it had two killed and eleven wounded, and on the evening of the 21st, with the corps, moved upon a raid to the Weldon Railroad, which it partially destroyed.
The enemy having made his appearance in force in front of Washington, on the 9th of July the Sixth Corps started for the Capital, where upon its arrival, the brigade, now under command of Colonel Ballier, marched to Fort Stevens, and the Ninety-eighth was ordered to establish a picket line in front of the fort. The enemy kept up a rapid fire, and before the line could be formed the regiment had five wounded. On the following morning the enemy made a serious attempt to force the line, which was defeated, and the regiment held its ground during all that day and the following night, with a loss of eight killed and twenty-eight wounded. Colonel Ballier and Lieutenant Colonel Kohler were wounded, the former seriously. He was soon after promoted to Brigadier General.
The campaign of the Shenandoah now opened, but for over two months was carried on without advantage, though marching and counter-marching made the duty unusually severe. Finally, General Sheridan was sent to take command of the army, and on the 19th of September attacked the enemy in his chosen position upon the Opequan. The ground was stubbornly contested,and the Ninety-eighth was hotly engaged. At length the enemy was driven, and retreated rapidly up the valley. The Ninety-eighth lost one officer, Lieutenant John Heppler, and five men killed, and three officers and nineteen men wounded. Among the killed were some whose term of service had expired.
Sheridan followed up rapidly, and at Fisher's Hill found his adversary disposed again to fight. In the engagement which followed, the brigade was selected to charge up a steep hill in face of infantry and artillery fire, and triumphantly carried the difficult position, the colors of the Ninety-eighth being the first planted upon the works. The loss was only three men wounded.
The Union army now fell back behind Cedar Creek, where early on the morning of the 19th of October, just one month from the battle of Winchester, the rebel army attacked, and were successful in driving a part of the army and making extensive captures. The Sixth Corps stood firm for a time,and in the desperate struggle which it made to hold its ground, the Ninety-eighth was frequently shifted, according to the emergencies of the battle, from point to point, all the while under a most destructive fire, and losing, at one time, within a few minutes, fourteen men killed and thirty-four wounded. The enemy finally succeeded in outflanking this corps, and in forcing it back.
At noon General Sheridan, who was at Winchester when the battle opened, arrived on the field. After a brief respite the army was put upon the offensive, and after severe fighting, the enemy was driven with heavy loss in men and material. Lieutenant Colonel John B. Kohler, while inspecting the pickets as officer of the day, was killed. The army now marched back and went into camp four miles above Winchester.
In January the corps was ordered to return to the lines in front of Petersburg. Here the regiment for two months was employed in building forts and breastworks, performing picket duty, and preparing for the spring campaign.On the morning of the 2d of April, the regiment was formed in line in front of the enemy's works, and with the brigade was ordered to attack. His first line was easily carried, and after a brief struggle his main works were taken.
Following up the advantage, he was driven some three miles beyond Hatcher's Run. The brigade then returned and joined the division, and was led towards Petersburg. The enemy opened fire upon it from all sides. A battery posted near the house, where, in the morning, General Lee had had his headquarters, was captured by the brigade, and the enemy was again driven. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Reen, commanding the regiment, was severely wounded, losing a leg. The regiment had besides, one officer, Lieutenant Herman Solbrig, and two men killed, and two officers and eleven men wounded.
On the 6th the corps attacked the enemy at Sailor's Creek, and captured General Ewell and staff, and a large body of his men. Three days later the entire rebel army surrendered. On the 10th the regiment returned to Burkesville,where seven hundred drafted men and substitutes, without arms, were assigned to the regiment, and on the following day started on a forced march to Danville, on the borders of North Carolina.
Upon its arrival it went into camp. The necessity for further service in the field having ended, shortly after, it returned by easy stages to Washington, where on the 29th of June it was mustered out of service.
Upon its return to Philadelphia, it was received with the warmest manifestations of rejoicing. The colors, which had been presented by the State in the summer of 1863, and had been inscribed, during the time of the veteran furlough, with the battles in which the regiment up to that time had fought, were, on the 4th of July, 1866, returned to the Governor of the State, at Independence Hall, amidst the imposing ceremonies of that occasion.
* Organization of Peck's Brigade, Couch's Division, Keyes' Corps: Ninety-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel James M. M'Carter; Ninety-eighth Regiment PennsylvaniaVolunteers, Colonel John F. Ballier; One Hundred and Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Thomas A. Rowley; Sixty-second Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel John L. Riker; Fifty-fifth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel Regis De Trobriand. At the conclusion of the Peninsula Campaign, the Fifty-fifth New York was detached and the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth Pennsylvania, Colonel Frederick H. Collier, was added to it.
Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organized at Philadelphia August 23 to November 6, 1861.
Regiment moved to Washington, D.C., September 30, 1861.
Companies "G" and "H" joined in December, 1861.
Attached to Peck's Brigade, Couch's Division, Army Potomac, to March, 1862.
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to July, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, to September, 1862.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to October, 1862.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, to January, 1864.
Wheaton's Brigade, Dept. West Virginia, to March, 1864.
1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, and Army of the Shenandoah, to June, 1865.
Duty in the Defences of Washington, D. C., till March, 1862.
Advance on Manassas, Va., March 10-15.
Moved to the Virginia Peninsula March 25.
Siege of Yorktown April 5-May 4.
Battle of Williamsburg May 5.
Slatersville, New Kent C. H., and Sister's Mills May 9.
Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, May 31-June 1.
Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1.
About Fair Oaks June 26-29.
Malvern Hill July 1.
At Harrison's Landing to August 16.
Movement to Alexandria, thence to Centreville August 16-30.
Cover Pope's retreat to Fairfax C. H. August 30-September 1.
Chantilly September 1 (Reserve).
Maryland Campaign September 6-24.
Battle of Antietam September 16-17 (Reserve).
At Downsville, Md., September 23-October 20.
Movement to Stafford C. H. October 20-November 18, and to Belle Plains December 5.
Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15.
Burnside's 2nd Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863.
At Falmouth till April.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Operations at Franklin's Crossing April 29-May 2.
Maryes Heights, Fredericksburg, May 3.
Salem Heights May 3-4.
Banks' Ford May 4.
Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 13-July 24.
Battle of Gettysburg July 2-4.
Pursuit of Lee July 5-24.
Duty on line of the Rappahannock till October.
Bristoe Campaign October 9-22.
Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8.
Rappahannock Station November 7.
Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
Duty at Brandy Station till May, 1864.
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12.
Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania May 8-21.
Assault on the Salient May 12.
North Anna River May 23-26.
On line of the Pamunkey May 26-28.
Totopotomoy May 28-31.
Cold Harbor June 1-12.
Before Petersburg June 17-18.
Jerusalem Plank Road June 22-23.
Siege of Petersburg till July 9.
Moved to Washington D.C., July 9-11.
Defence of Washington against Early's attack July 11-12.
Pursuit to Snicker's Ferry July 14-18.
Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign August to December.
Charlestown August 21-22.
Demonstration on Gilbert's Ford, Opequan Creek September 13.
Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19.
Strasburg September 21.
Fisher's Hill September 22.
Battle of Cedar Creek October 19.
Duty in the Shenandoah Valley till December.
Ordered to Petersburg December 9-12.
Siege of Petersburg December, 1864, to April, 1865.
Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865.
Fort Fisher, Petersburg, March 25.
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.
Moved to Richmond, thence to Washington May 23-June 3.
Corps Review June 8, Mustered out June 29, 1865.
Regiment lost during service:
9 Officers and 112 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
1 Officer and 72 Enlisted men by disease.
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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