History of Warren County, Chapter 17

CHAPTER XVII

THIRTY-NINTH REGIMENT - TENTH RESERVE

Where Recruited - The Warren Guards - Regimental Rendezvous - Organization of the Regiment - It Proceeds to Harrisburg - Thence to Washington - Brigade Assignment - General Ord in Command - The Fight at Dranesville - A Weary March to Fredericksburg - Transferred to the Peninsula - In Fitz John Porter’s Command - Battle of Mechanicsville - Gaines’s Mill - Gallant Behavior of the Tenth Reserve - It Sustains Heavy Loss - White Oak Swamp - Men Completely Exhausted - Close of the "Seven Days’ Fight" - The Reserves at Second Bull Run - South Mountain - Antietam - Fredericksburg - Gettysburg - Winter Quarters 1863 - 64 - In the Wilderness - On Hand at Spottsylvania Court-House - Bethesda Church the Tenth Reserve’s Last Battle-Field - Muster Out - Roster of its Members from Warren County.

HIS regiment was recruited in the western portion of the State, for the most part in the counties of Warren, Crawford, Mercer, Venango, Lawrence, Clarion, Beaver, Washington, and Somerset. A majority of the companies were organized for the three months service. Some were accepted and went into camp, where, the quota for the short term being full, they awaited further orders. Others remained at home, but preserved their organizations, and upon the first call for the three years service were in readiness to move.

As mentioned in the preceding chapter, Captain Harrison Allen’s company, locally known as the "Warren Guards," left Warren Thursday morning, May 30, 1861, and proceeded by rail, via Erie and Cleveland, to Pittsburgh. Here the companies rendezvoused at Camp Wilkins, and here a regimental organization was effected by the choice of John S. McCalmont, of Venango county, a graduate of West Point, as colonel; James T. Kirk, captain of Company D, as lieutenant-colonel, and Harrison Allen, captain of the "Warren Guards" as major. The latter company was soon after designated Company H. It was mustered into service June 22, 1861, but some ten or twelve of those who accompanied it from Warren were rejected as unfit for military service. The camp near Pittsburgh proved to be quite unhealthy, and much sickness prevailed in consequence. Hence on the first of July the regiment moved twelve miles up the east bank of Allegheny River to Camp Wright, and occupied grounds beautifully located. We will here make note of the fact that the "Warren Guards" were the first to locate at Camp Wright, and for a number of days Captain Allen was the commandant of the camp.

The regiment left camp under orders to move to Cumberland, Md., July 18, 1861, but before reaching Bedford, Pa., the order was countermanded, and it was hurried forward to Harrisburg. The unexpected disaster at first Bull Run, the news of which had just been received, was disheartening, but none faltered. Late on the afternoon of the 22d the regiment moved by rail to Baltimore and bivouacked in the open square, near the railroad station, until the evening of the 23d, when it marched with loaded arms and fixed bayonets and encamped on the common south of the city. On the 24th it proceeded to Washington and encamped about a mile east of the capitol, where it remained until August 1, when it marched to Tenallytown, where the Pennsylvania Reserve regiments were assembled. Here it was assigned to the Third Brigade (composed of the Sixth, Ninth, Tenth and Twelfth Regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps), at first commanded by Colonel McCalmont, but subsequently by Brigadier-General E.O.C. Ord.

On the 10th of October the regiment moved into Virginia and took position in line with the army, the right resting on the Potomac and the left connecting with General Smith’s Division. Just two months later the enemy under Stuart was met at Dranesville by General Ord’s Brigade, both parties being out upon a foraging expedition in force. The action opened at a little past midday by a smart firing between the skirmishers, soon followed by the artillery of the enemy, which was replied to by Easton’s Battery. The result was the blowing up of one of the enemy’s ammunition boxes, the killing of several horses, and the killing and wounding of many of his men. The enemy was completely routed and driven from the field. This success greatly elated the spirit of the troops engaged, and tended to counteract the depressing effects of the Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff disasters. On the 14th of February, 1862, Major Allen, who, having been for a long time in ill health, resigned, and Adjutant S.B. Smith was elected to succeed him.

Early in March the regiment joined in a forward movement of the army, and after many days of marching and counter-marching, making long and apparently aimless detours, etc., exposed to storms and snow, sleet and rain, over roads deep with mud, it finally reached the vicinity of Fredericksburg, Va., where the Reserves were attached to the command of General McDowell. While here several changes among regimental and brigade commanders took place.

About the middle of June the Reserves were detached from McDowell’s Corps and ordered to the Peninsula to reinforce McClellan. Reaching its new field of operations by water transportation and marching, the regiment was attached to the command of Fitz John Porter. At the battle of Mechanicsville, which was fought June 26, the Tenth occupied the ground immediately to the right of the road leading to Mechanicsville, near its crossing of the Beaver Dam Creek, only a short distance above its confluence with the Chickahominy River. Its left rested upon the embankment at the old mill and connected with the right of the Ninth. Easton’s Battery was stationed on the brow of the hill, just in rear of the Tenth, and in front of the regimental line a portion of the regiment were in rifle pits, while others were thrown forward as skirmishers. On both sides of the creek, which is here a sluggish stream, the ground is swampy and was covered with a growth of underbrush. On the Mechanicsville side the ground descends for a quarter of a mile to the creek bottom. As the enemy came down the descending ground, through the fields and along the road, Easton’s Battery opened a rapid fire, and when within rifle range the men posted in the pits and along the old mill-dam poured in so destructive a fire that he was forced back with terrible slaughter. Notwithstanding this bloody repulse, again and again he renewed the attempt to reach the creek and to force a passage, his main attempts being made along the road and upon the bridge near the mill. But the rebels could not stand the steady fire of the Reserves, and his columns advanced only to be broken and beaten back with most grievous slaughter. The line of the Tenth was everywhere preserved intact, and a joyful exultation was felt when night put an end to the battle. On account of the favorable position which the regiment occupied, it suffered but a small loss.

At three o’clock on the morning of the 27th an order was received to fall back in the direction of Gaines’s Mill, the position of the Union army at Mechanicsville being considered by McClellan as no longer tenable. The withdrawal was successfully executed in the face of the enemy, and the column retired in good order. In the neighborhood of Gaines’s Mill, Porter’s Corps had taken position with the river at its back, to resist the enemy now moving in great force upon the right flank of the Union army. Gaines’s Run is a small stream which has worn for itself a deep channel and has rough wooded slopes on either side, except near its confluence with the Chickahominy, where the ground is low and cleared. The battle on the center and left was principally fought in the rough wooded slope on the left bank of the stream. Behind this belt of woods were level fields. The army was drawn up in three lines, the front in the woods, and as one line was broken and driven back another was sent in to take its place. The artillery, posted in the open fields in the rear, was of little service until the enemy had driven our infantry from the woods and began to emerge therefrom.

The Tenth Regiment was posted in the second line, and was not engaged until half-past three in the afternoon. It was then moved hurriedly a half mile to the right in anticipation of an attack, but was almost immediately taken back at a double-quick, and placed in support of a battery to the right and front of the original position. At this time the battle was raging furiously along the entire line. In its immediate front was felled timber, through which the line receded, and, as reinforced, drove back the enemy. A half an hour later the Tenth was ordered further to the left, where it was brought in under a heavy fire, ready for a charge. It was here in a trying position, just upon the brow of a ravine, where it caught a heavy fire from the enemy, without the possibility of returning it. Many here fell. Soon the order came to charge, and with resistless power it swept forward, crossed the ravine, and up the opposite bank and, clearing the woods of the enemy, held this advanced position against every attempt to dislodge it. It was then ordered to retire to the brow of the slope next the enemy, where it was partially under cover, and from which a heavy and uninterrupted fire was delivered until near sundown, when, our left having been turned, it was compelled to fall back, emerging from the woods just in time to save itself from being cut off by the advancing enemy. Night put an end to the contest, and under cover of darkness its broken ranks were closed and it retired across the Chickahominy. In this engagement the Tenth sustained heavy losses; more, indeed, than in any subsequent action during its term of service.

On the 28th the regiment was detailed for picket duty on the Chickahominy, and at three o’clock on the morning of the 29th it commenced the march towards White Oak Swamp and the James River. The march was a weary, never-to-be-forgotten one by its participants, the trains in many places blocking the way, and extended far into the night. On the following day, a little after noon, the regiment was drawn up in line of battle. The left of the division was posted by General McCall in person, in a zigzag line, the Twelfth Regiment on the left, the Tenth and Ninth next in order, with the Eighth and Second in support. A German battery occupied an elevated position near a house, partly between and in the rear of the Tenth and Twelfth Regiments. A heavy fire was suddenly opened upon this battery from the rebel guns just brought into position. The fire was but feebly returned, and in a few minutes the battery was deserted. The left of the Tenth, which had been extended to protect these guns from infantry, remained at its place. Immediately after this the rebel lines were advanced, and a charge was ordered by General McCall. The peculiar formation of regimental lines at this juncture led to considerable confusion when the order for all to advance at the same time was given; but Lieutenant-Colonel Warner, in command of the Tenth, held the left under a sharp fire until the regiment had executed a half wheel, then charged forward with the rest of the line upon the advancing foe, whose ranks were quickly broken, and his whole line driven from the open field back to the cover of the woods and his guns. The Tenth captured sixty prisoners and a stand of colors in this charge.

The enemy returned to the charge with greatly augmented numbers soon after, however, and inflicted heavy losses upon the Union forces opposing it. Here the battle continued with wavering fortunes during the remainder of the day, but so stubbornly had the field been contested by the Reserves and a portion of Hooker’s Corps, which came opportunely to the support of the left wing, that the enemy failed to push his advantage, and left the Reserves in possession of nearly the same ground occupied by them at the beginning of the battle. The men were completely exhausted, and they dropped down to rest where they stood; but at the expiration of two hours they were again summoned into line. It was with the utmost difficulty that they could be aroused. Many, after being awakened and ordered out, fell asleep again, even dropped down after taking their places in ranks, and in the darkness that prevailed were left behind to be awakened next morning by the enemy and marched as prisoners to Richmond. During the night the regiment moved to Malvern Hill, but it was not engaged in the battle fought thereat on the succeeding day. In the series of battles known as the "Seven Days’ Fight," which commenced at Mechanicsville, the regiment lost in killed, wounded, and missing more than two hundred officers and men, Company H (the "Warren Guards ") alone losing six killed, thirteen wounded, and eight missing.

The word missing written opposite a man’s name immediately after a battle means a great deal, and is thoroughly understood only by those who have stood there at such a time in link. It includes brave fellows who have fallen in battle unseen by their comrades; others who have fallen into the hands of the enemy, unknown to their immediate commanders; and lastly, of those lacking "sand" - chaps who have mysteriously dodged and ran away, with no wish to fight on this or any other day.

From the Peninsula the regiment with its corps passed to the army under General Pope, and participated in the second battle of Bull Run. During the 29th of August several feints were made by the Reserves, with a view of drawing off the enemy from other points of attack. The Tenth was several times under fire, but was withdrawn without severe loss. Early on the following morning it was posted with the division on the extreme left of the army. Toward the close of that day a heavy attack was made upon that part of the line, and the Tenth was hotly engaged with varying success, the men fighting bravely and suffering severe loss; but it was found impossible to withstand the superior force concentrated against it. It had been pressed back a half mile, when night put an end to the conflict. The army at once began its retreat, falling back upon Centerville. The division, under the command of General Reynolds, was handled with great skill throughout the three days of battle. The loss in the Tenth was twelve killed, thirty-four wounded, and nineteen missing.

The regiment next met the enemy at South Mountain. It fought its way to the summit, captured three hundred of the enemy, and was highly complimented on the field for its gallantry, both by General Hooker and General Meade. Its loss here was four killed and nineteen wounded.

At Antietam, commanded by the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Warner, the Tenth again won imperishable honors. During that battle, while thrown forward as skirmishers, it held at bay for thirty minutes an entire division of the enemy well supplied with artillery.

General Burnside assumed command of the Army of the Potomac November 7, and soon after began his preparations for an active campaign against the enemy. His plan involved marching his army from the vicinity of Warrenton, and crossing the Rappahannock near Fredericksburg. Before his pontoons had arrived, and his army was ready to cross, the enemy had concentrated on the opposite bank and stood ready to contest his passage and his further advance. On the night of the 10th of December, however, the Tenth left camp with the Third Brigade, under command of Brigadier-General Jackson, and marched to the bank of the river, three miles below Fredericksburg, where two pontoon bridges were speedily laid and a crossing was effected without loss. On the morning of the 13th the regiment moved with the division to the point whence the attack was to be made, where it was formed, and was soon under a heavy fire of artillery. Soon the order was given to advance, and in the face of a destructive fire of musketry and artillery it swept forward and carried the enemy’s intrenchments; but failing of support, the division was forced back and compelled to retire with great loss. The Tenth in this engagement was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Knox. The loss was severe, being, eleven killed, seventy-five wounded, and fifty-one captured.

Subsequently the regiment participated in the toilsome but fruitless attempt of General Burnside to again cross the Rappahannock, and soon after, with the entire division, was ordered to the defenses of Washington to rest and recruit. At this time some of the companies had become so much reduced by constant service as to be unable to muster more than three or four files of men on parade, and these without a commissioned officer or sergeant. Company H, the "Warren Guards," was in better condition than some others, as it then reported forty men present for duty under the command of First Sergeant William McCann.

As part of the Fifth: Corps, the First and Third Brigades of the Reserves reached the field of battle at Gettysburg on the morning of July 2, 1863. They bravely performed all that they were ordered to do on that and the following day, but, holding strong, well-sheltered positions, suffered but little loss. Thereafter the regiment participated in the general movements of the army, and passed the following winter at Warrenton and Manassas Junctions.

Winter quarters were abandoned on the 29th of April, 1864, and the regiment moved to the vicinity of Culpepper, where it joined the army of General Grant, the Pennsylvania Reserves, commanded by General Crawford, being still attached to the Fifth Corps. At midnight of the 3d of May the division crossed the Rapidan and bivouacked in the Wilderness on the night of the 4th. During the following day the regiment was engaged in skirmishing with the enemy and maneuvering, and at one time, the troops on the right having been heavily engaged and driven back, the entire division was in imminent danger of being cut off; but was safely withdrawn, the Tenth without loss, to the neighborhood of the Lacy House, where the line was reformed and intrenched. On the 6th the regiment moved with the brigade to the right, and was pushed forward a mile or more, driving the enemy. In this advance Colonel Ayer, of the Tenth, was severely wounded. At night it was moved on the double-quick to the right, to meet a night attack on the Sixth Corps. Again, on the 8th at Spottsylvania Court House the regiment was hotly engaged, and on the 9th until late at night, when it was moved to the right, forming a line at the base of a long wooded ridge which extended to the River Po. Fighting its way with the division, it crossed the Pamunky on the 28th, and on the 29th moved forward to Tolopotomy Creek, skirmishing as it went. On the 30th the enemy was met in considerable force near Bethesda Church, where the Reserves were at first driven back in some disorder; but finally, forming in a favorable position, a temporary breastwork of rails was thrown up and the enemy was checked. Re-forming his lines he attacked in heavy force, but was repeatedly repelled and driven back in confusion, the Reserves inflicting great slaughter and taking many prisoners. This was their last battle, their term of service having expired. Many of the Tenth had re-enlisted as veterans, and these were transferred to the One Hundred and Ninetieth and One Hundred and Ninety-first Regiments. On the 11th of June, 1864, the remnants of this brave and once strong body of men, which had fought in nearly every battle in which the Army of the Potomac had to that time been engaged, was mustered out of service at Pittsburgh. Following is a list of those who represented Warren county in this regiment, with remarks copied from muster-out rolls:

FIELD AND STAFF.

Major Harrison Allen, mustered into service June 29, 1861; resigned February 14, 1862.

COMPANY H.

Captain Henry V. Partridge, resigned July 16, 1862.

Captain Daniel W. Mayes, promoted from second lieutenant to captain; killed at Fredericksburg, Va., December 13, 1862.

Captain Lemuel B. Norton, promoted from first lieutenant to captain May 1, 1863; resigned June 22, 1863; was appointed chief signal officer, Army of the Potomac, in August, 1863.

Captain William McCann, mustered out with company June 11, 1864.

First Lieutenant David Service, mustered out with company June 11, 1864.

Second Lieutenant Henry B. Fox, killed at Bull Run, Va., August 30, 1862.

First Sergeant Eben N. Ford, discharged on surgeon’s certificate December 24, 1861.

First Sergeant Ransom S. Bates, mustered out with company.

Sergeant Leamon L. Bowers, mustered out with company.

Sergeant Martilles Porter, wounded at Fredericksburg December 13, 1862; absent in hospital at muster out.

Sergeant J.B. Harrington, mustered out with company.

Sergeant Nat. S. Falconer, wounded at New Market Cross Roads; discharged November 30, 1863.

Sergeant Simeon Marsh, wounded at Bethesda Church May 30, 1864; transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Sergeant Thomas O. Rodgers, killed at New Market Cross Roads June 30, 1862.

Sergeant Ira Johnson, killed at Fredericksburg December 13, 1862.

Corporal Alonzo P. Barnes, mustered out with company.

Corporal C.N. Burnham, mustered out with company.

Corporal H.T. Houghton, mustered out with company.

Corporal Lewis B. Learn, mustered out with company.

Corporal George W. Brown, mustered out with company.

Corporal George Merchant, discharged on surgeon’s certificate August 20, 1861.

Corporal Charles F. Nelson, discharged on surgeon’s certificate December 8, 1861.

Corporal Henry C. Dyon, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Corporal John Donlon.

Corporal Byron D. Tomes.

Musician Casper Y. Stroup, discharged on surgeon’s certificate January 11, 1863.

Musician B.D. Hotchkiss, discharged on surgeon’s certificate December 24, 1862.

Privates.

William Allen, discharged on surgeon’s certificate November 1, 1862.

D.C. Aylesworth, discharged on surgeon’s certificate December 24, 1861.

John G. Brower, mustered out with company.

Ira G. Barber, discharged on surgeon’s certificate September 20, 1862.

Charles Babcock, discharged an surgeon’s certificate August 22, 1861.

Daniel H. Bowers, discharged on surgeon’s certificate October 3, 1862.

Frank Brower, discharged on surgeon’s certificate February 24, ____.

Charles Brown, killed at Gaines’s, Mill June 27, 1862.

Jesse M. Conner, mustered out with company.

William Calvert, discharged November 20, 1862, for wounds received at New Market Cross Roads June 30, 1862.

John Cameron, discharged on surgeon’s certificate October 8, 1863.

Charles Clark, discharged on surgeon’s certificate December 27, 1861.

Nelson P. Curtis, discharged on surgeon’s certificate February 13, 1862.

Richard Calvert, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Ed. D. Crittenden, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Andrew Clendenning, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Isaac Culbertson, transferred to 190th P.V.June 1, 1864; veteran.

John M. Cowan, killed at South Mountain September 14, 1862.

Victor Chase, died at Washington, D.C., October 13, 1861.

Abram G. Degroff mustered out with company.

Ira H. Dennison, discharged on surgeon’s certificate December 19, 1861.

George W. Demars, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Irvine Demill, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Orlando L. Davis, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Ephraim Enos, killed at Spottsylvania C.H. May 12, 1864.

J. Burton Geer, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

George S. Gilson, killed at Gaines’s Mill, Va., June 27, 1862.

John Hurley, mustered out with company.

Henry Howard, mustered out with company.

William H. Houghton, mustered out with company.

Stephen G. Harris, discharged October 11, 1862, for wounds received at South Mountain September 14, 1862.

Roland H. Huntley, discharged September 20, 1862, for wounds received at Dranesville December 20, 1861.

Samuel Jones, discharged on surgeon’s certificate February 6, 1862.

Jacob Kline, mustered out with company.

J.M. Kingsbury, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Noah R. Kingsley, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Charles Lyon, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Edwin A. Lyon, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Andrew Lesh, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

James A. Learn, killed at Gaines’s Mill June 27, 1862.

James R. Mitchell, mustered out with company.

James A. Morton, discharged on surgeon’s certificate June 2, 1862.

Henry D. Miner, died of wounds received at Gaines’s Mill January 27, 1862.

H.V. McDowell, mustered out with company.

Patrick McGraw, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Enos W. McPhaill, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Chase Osgood, wounded at Bull Run August 30, 1862; discharged February 3, 1863.

Ed. J. Palmer, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Hiram Parker, died November 23, 1862, at Memphis, Tenn.

Henry Parker, died September 14, 1862, of wounds received at Bull Run August 30, 1862.

Oliver P. Robbins, wounded, with loss of leg, at Gaines’s Mill June 27, 1862; discharged February 26, 1864.

Charles E. Reynolds, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

L. Robbins, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Thomas Ryne, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

Edward Ryan, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

John Ruger, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

D.F. Robinson, died September 14, 1862, of wounds received at Bull Run August 30, 1862.

William Stilwell, mustered out with company.

John Shipman, discharged on surgeon’s certificate December 17, 1861.

Leroy Snyder, discharged on surgeon’s certificate August 18, 1862.

W.A. Salisbury, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864; veteran.

James R. Shook, transferred to 190th P.V. June 1, 1864.

Jacob Schirk, killed at Bull Run August 30, 1862.

James E. Simmons, died July 3, 1862, of wounds received June 30, 1862.

William Sturdevant, killed at Gaines’s Mill, Va., June 27, 1862.

George W. Trask, mustered out with company.

E.N. Thompson, wounded, with loss of arm, at New Market Cross Roads June 30, 1862; died September 25, 1862.

Jacob Tomes, discharged on surgeon’s certificate December 17, 1861.

John Turner, discharged on surgeon’s certificate April 13, 1862.

D.J. Van Vechten, discharged on surgeon’s certificate June 12, 1862.

Charles Wentworth, transferred to Signal Corps, date unknown.

Henry C. Wright, killed at Gaines’s Mill June 27, 1862.

Edmund White, missing at Bull Run August 30, 1862.

William S. Winchester.

Orsamus A. Young, discharged on surgeon’s certificate April 13, 1862.

SOURCE: Page(s) 169-179, History of Warren County, J.S. Schenck & W.S. Rann, Syracuse, New York: D. Mason, 1887