History of The Bucktails

Company K �Raftmens Ranger� were recruited in Curwensville, Clearfield County Pennsylvania. The men were for the most part lumbermen, drawn from the mountainous district and were skilled in the use of the ax and rifle. On April 18, 1861, Edward A. Irvin, who upon the firing on Fort Sumnter and the issuance of President Lincoln�s call for troops set out to recruit a company. After E.A. Irvin had returned to Curwensville from a business trip, he opened with the assistance of W. Ross Hartshorne, James M. Welch, and John P. Bard, a recruiting station where names were secured rapidly. Among the first of which were those of John H. Norris, David C. Dale, and Lewis Hoover. Securing the assistance of Daniel G. Blett, a former commander on a company in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, drilling was commenced and continued assiduously. On May 9, 1861, elections for officers were held and the following men were elected: Captain Edward A. Irvin, 1st Lieutenant W. Ross Hartshorne, 2nd Lieutenant James M. Welch. On the following morning at 4 a.m. the company marched to the nearest railroad station, at that time was in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, 36 miles away. Despite the early hour of the company�s departure the people of the area assembled and a considerable demonstration was made. Before they started to Tyrone they were presented a silk flag by Mrs. Jane P. Irvin. This flag would be used as the regimental colors from Second Bull Run to Fredricksburg. Upon arriving in Tyrone it was discovered that transportation for 100 men would be furnished. As the company contained 123 men, it was necessary to send back 23 men. In deciding upon who was to be left behind, the married men of the company were selected first; when the company boarded the cars, only single men remained.

At Harrisburgh things were in a chaotic state. The mustering of troops had been stopped. When Governor Andrew Curtin signed a bill calling the Reserve Corps into existence he appointed George A. McCall Major General of the Reserve Corps. By the early part of June it had been decide that one of the thirteen regiments of infantry of the Reserve Corps would be a rifle regiment, and this regiment the companies of expert marksmen were anxious to enlist. Colonel Thomas L. Kane, organizer of three �Bucktailed� companies of men from the Wildcat Region, was looked upon as the person whom it was proper to rally with. The following petition was sent to Major General McCall:
The undersigned captains of companies now in Camp Curtin, presents their respects to Major General McCall, congratulating the Army of Pennsylvania upon being placed under such a commander. They beg not to be supposed desirous of interfering with Major General McCall�s discretion in expressing a desire to have their companies united to form one regiment under the command of Colonel Thomas L. Kane. They are assured that their men are peculiarly qualified to serve efficiently in a regiment of Rifles under Col. Kane, being with few exceptions, men of extremely hardy habits and trained from boyhood to the use of arms. Captains Philip Holland, Julius Sherwood, George B. Overton, John A. Eldred, William T. Blanchard, Hugh McDonald, Edward A. Irvin, Roy Stone, and A.E. Niles

By June 12, 1861, the regiment was organized as follows: Company A: Anderson Guards, Company B: Morgan Rifles, Company C: Cameron County Rifles, Company D: Raftmens Guards, Company E: Tioga Rifles, Company F: Irish Infantry, Company G: Elk County Rifles, Company H: Wayne Independent Rifles, Company I: McKean County Rifles, Company K: Raftmens Rangers. The regiment was mustered in as a regiment of the Reserve Corps for military duty of three years, with the following officers elected: Col. Charles Biddle, Lt. Col. Thomas L. Kane, Major Roy Stone. The official designation of ht e regiment became �The Kane Rifle Regiment of the Pennsylvania Reserves�. The regiment was already known as the 1st Rifles, Bucktails, 42nd Regiment, and 13th Reserves.

The Bucktails left Camp Curtin June 22, 1861, to join Col. Lew Wallace in the vicinity of Cumberland, Maryland; they then returned to Harrisburgh and joined the rest of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps and were detached to the Army of the Potomac near Washington DC. The Bucktails served with distinction in most of the major engagements of the Army of the Potomac.

The Bucktails� first major battle was the battle of Dranesville, December 20, 1861. In a dispatch to General McCellen, General McCall said that Ord�s brigade, with the 1st Rifles and Easton�s Battery had a brisk affair with four regiments and a battery of the rebels at 12 today...the Rifles behaved finely. Lt. Col. Kane very slightly wounded but still in the field.

In May 1862 Companies C, G, H, and I were detached form the regiment and ordered to act under Lt. Col. Kane, with Bayard�s �Flying Brigade.� There these four companies participated in the Valley Campaign against Stonewall Jackson. This detachment was engaged in the following battles during the Valley Campaign against Jackson: Harrisonburg, Cross Keys, Catlett Station, Chattily, and 2nd Bull Run. The rest of the regiment went with the Army of the Potomac and participated in the Peninsula Campaign. At White Oak Swamp Company K was cut off from the rest of the regiment and the reserves. Capt. E.A. Irvin�s Company K had been ordered along a road toward another bridge farther up the Chickahominy. Company K had advanced some distance when Irvin was warned to withdrawal down stream. Capt. Irvin had been in the Army a little more than a year, but he learned that orders were to be obeyed. Major Roy Stone�s order to retire did not reach Irvin and without it he stayed. It soon became obvious to Company K after attempts to break through, that soldier in grey were all around them. There was nothing to do but retire to the cover of a nearby swamp. Hiding by day and trying to find a way past the enemy at night, the little company finally worked itself back through the swamp nearly to Mechanicsville. Five days without rations, this band of Clearfield County lumbermen spent in the swamp near the Chickahominy. After a rainy night on the morning of July 1, they made a desperate effort to break out. Their captors marched them to Richmond then moved them to Belle Island until exchanged in August.

The Bucktails then participated in the Battle of Groveton, Second Bull Run; at this time the four detached companies rejoined the regiment, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. At Fredericksburg Captain Charles Taylor, whose horse was shot out form under him, had encouraged his men on foot until he fell wounded. Up front Corporal Looney, of Company G, bore aloft the silk flag of Company K. After the Peninsular Campaign the Company K flag had done service as the regimental colors since the first issued flag was lost. As Corporal Looney dropped died from his wound, his blood spurted over the tattered flag.

After Fredericksburg they participated in the battles of Gettysburg, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna and Bethesda Church. On May 31, 1864, the men of 13th Reserves were mustered out. When Mustered out 471 men out of 1,165 remained on the rolls. Of these 154 re-enlisted in the 190th P.R.V.C. On June 1, 1864 General Crawford issued the following farewell order:
Soldiers of the Pennsylvania Reserves- today the connection which has so long existed between us is to be severed forever. I have no power to express to you the feelings of gratitude and affection that I bear to you, nor the deep regret with which I now part from you. As a division you have been faithful and devoted soldiers, and you have nobly sustained me in many trying scenes through which we have passed, with an unwavering fidelity. The record of your service terminates gloriously, and the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House and Bethesda Church have added to the long list of battles and triumphs that have marked your career. Go home to the great state that sent you forth three years ago to battle for her honor and to strike for her in the great cause of the country, take back your soiled and war-warn banners, your thinned and shattered ranks, and let them tell you how you performed your trust. Take back those banners so sacred from the glorious associations that surround them, sacred with the memories of our fallen comrades who gave their lives to defend them, and give them again into keeping of the state forever. The duties of the hour prevent me from accompanying you, but my heart will follow you long after you return, and it shall ever be my pride that I was once your commander, and that side by side we fought and suffered through campaigns, which will stand unexplained in history.

S.W. Crawford







U. S. C. T.

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