32nd Regiment
United States Colored Regiment

The troops composing this regiment were principally raised in Pennsylvania, though detachments were received from several neighboring States. It was organized at Camp William Penn, the general camp of rendezvous for colored troops in Pennsylvania, in March, 1864, with the following field officers:
  • George W. Baird, Colonel
  • Edward C. Geary, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Benjamin W. Thompson, Major
The regiment was ordered to duty in the Department of the South, and arrived at Hilton Head on the 27th of April. It was here assigned to a brigade of colored troops, commanded by Colonel Bailey, in which it was associated with the First Michigan, and Ninth United States, and was posted beyond the intrenchments, where it was engaged in drill, guard, and fatigue duty. It was subsequently sent to Folly and Morris islands, where it participated in the operations against Charleston; but returned again to Hilton Head in November.

Towards the close of November, General Foster, in command of the Department, was directed by General Halleclk to make a demonstration in the direction of Pocotaligo, for the purpose of diverting attention from General Sherman's front, who was now approaching the sea. Foster could spare but five thousand troops for this purpose, and with these, ascending the Broad River in transports to Boyd's Neck, he landed and hurried forward a force under General J. P. Hatch, to break the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. The Thirty-second was in Hatch's command. On the morning of the 30th, Hatch encountered a rebel force under command of General Gustavus W. Smith, at Honey Hill, three miles from Grahamsville, in a commanding position behind breast-works. Hatch immediately attacked, and though pushing his advance with obstinacy and bravery, he was compelled to fall back, sustaining heavy losses. The Thirty-second had nine killed and forty-two wounded. Lieutenant Robert D. Winters received a mortal wound, and died on the 22d of December. Lieutenant Colonel Geary was severely wounded, by which he was incapacitated from further duty.

Intent on the purpose of his expedition, Foster sent a force under General E. E. Potter, across the Coosawhatchie to Deveaux Neck, where, on the 6th of December, he seized a position commanding the railroad, which he began to fortify. Early on the following morning, the enemy approached stealthily and attacked, thinking to surprise the Union forces. The attack fell mainly on the right wing of the division, the Thirty-second holding the extreme right of the line, company A, standing upon the right of the regiment, receiving the first shock. The regiment was taken unawares, but rallied manfully and repulsed the attack, the position being held without further molestation until General Sherman, in triumph, entered Savannah. Companies A, F, and D, sustained the severest losses.

The loss in the regiment was nine killed, thirty-nine wounded, and one missing. Captains Robert W. C. Farnsworth, George M. Templeton, and Augustus A. Woodward were among the wounded, the latter mortally.

On the 14th of February, General Potter moved with his command for a diversion in favor of General Schimmelfennig, who was operating against Charleston. Landing on James Island, Potter charged and drove the enemy from his works. In this engagement Colonel Baird was wounded, and the regiment sustained, besides, considerable loss.

On the following morning, Potter re-embarked his troops, and proceeding to Ball's Bay, landed under fire of the gun-boats, at a point on the coast fifteen miles north-east of Charleston, with the design of cutting off the retreat of the enemy from that city, but arrived too late to effect the purpose. Two days were spent in scouring the country, following the enemy along the railroad towards Cheraw, to the crossing of the Santee. Potter then marched down and entered the city on the evening of the 18th, the day of the surrender.

At the beginning of April, it was discovered that the enemy was moving his naval stores, and other property of the rebel government inland. General Potter was sent with his division to intercept them. Landing at Georgetown, on the Winyaw Bay, he marched to Florence, thence to Manchester Junction, and thence to Camden, the terminus of the railroad. Returning again to Manchester, he there came upon the trains, capturing twenty locomotives, and two hundred cars heavily laden with naval and military stores.

In this expedition, the Thirty-second was kept upon the march, skirmishing almost daily, for nearly three weeks, participating in brisk engagements at Sumpterville, and at three other points along the Wateree, between Camden and Statesboro. At two o'clock on the afternoon of the 9th, after having had a running fight during all the earlier part of the day, the joyful intelligence was received by flag of truce, of the surrender of Lee; but on the following morning, the joy was turned to mourning, by the sad news of the assassination of President Lincoln.

After the cessation of hostilities, the regiment performed garrison duty at Charleston, Beaufort, and Hilton Head. About the middle of August, it was relieved from duty, and returned to Philadelphia, where, on the 22d, it was mustered out of service.

Source:  Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.

Organization:

Organized at Camp William Penn, Philadelphia, Pa., February 7 to March 7, 1864.
Ordered to Hilton Head, S.C., April, 1864, arriving April 27.
Attached to Bailey's Brigade, District of Hilton Head, S.C., Dept. of the South, to June. 1864.
Morris Island, S. C, Northern District, Dept. of the South, to October, 1864.
3rd Separate Brigade, Hilton Head, S.C., Dept. of the South, to November, 1864.
2nd Brigade, Coast Division, Dept. of the South, to December, 1864.
2nd Separate Brigade, Dept. of the South, to June, 1865.
Dept. of the South to August, 1865.

Service:

Ordered to Hilton Head, S.C., April, 1864, and duty there till June.
Moved to Morris Island, S.C., and duty there operating against Charleston, S. C., till November.
Expedition to Boyd's Neck November 28-30.
Battle of Honey Hill November 30.
Demonstration on Charleston & Savannah Railroad December 6-9.
Devaux's Neck December 6.
James Island February 14, 1865.
Occupation of Charleston February 18.
Potter's Expedition April 5-25.
Dingle's Mills April 9.
Statesboro April 15.
Occupation of Camden April 17.
Boydkin's Mills April 18.
Beach Creek near Statesburg and Denken's Mills April 19.
Garrison duty at Charleston, Beaufort and Hilton Head, S.C., till August.
Mustered out August 22, 1865.

Losses:

Regiment lost during service:
2 Officers and 35 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
113 Enlisted men by disease.

Total 150.

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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