119th Regiment

Pennsylvania Volunteers

Near the close of July, 1862, Peter C. Ellmaker, of Philadelphia, who had organized in the Spring of 1861, a regiment for home duty, known as the Gray Reserves, and which he commanded, received authority from Governor Curtin to raise a regiment for three years' service. Recruiting commenced on the 5th of August, and on the 31st, before the organization had been perfected, it was ordered to Washington. It proceeded thither on the following day, eight hundred strong, and was assigned temporarily to duty at the Arsenal. It was here joined by a company of one hundred and thirty men, recruited by Captain John B. Adams, and the organization was completed with the following field officers:
  • Peter C. Ellmaker, Colonel
  • Gideon Clark, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Charles C. Knight, Major
On the 19th of September, two days after the battle of Antietam, it was ordered to fatigue duty on the northern defences of the Capital, and was employed in the construction of forts Mansfield and Reno. A month later it joined the Army of the Potomac, still in camp in the neighborhood of the Antietam battle-field, and was assigned to the First Brigade,1 Second Division, Sixth Corps. Though suddenly thrown among veterans of two campaigns, it was prepared, by its thorough training, to hold its place with credit.

After crossing the Potomac, it moved with the Corps to Acquia Creek, thence to White Oak Church, and on the 11th of December started onl the Fredericksburg campaign. Moving up to the river bank near the lower crossing, it remained in position, awaiting the laying of the pontoons, until the following day, when it crossed, and was posted on the left of the corps, along the Bowling Green Road. The battle opened on the 13th, and the regiment was exposed to a heavy fire of artillery, under which it manfully maintained its ground, though for the first time under fire. Skirmishing was renewed on the following day, but there was little more determined fighting on that part of the line, and on the night of the 15th, it re-crossed the river, returning to its former camp on the 19th. The loss was five wounded, among whom was Major Knight.

On the 20th of January, 1863, the regiment moved on Burnside's second campaign, marching up to Banks' Ford. But before any troops had crossed the river, the movement was cut short by impassable roads, and the columns, with great labor and suffering, returned to camp.

Upon the organization of the "Light Division," the One Hundred and Nineteenth, and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, were assigned to the Third Brigade of the First Division, where they were associated with the Thirty-third New York, and Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania, and were under command of General David A. Russell, General Brooks being in command of the division, and General Sedgwick of the corps.

On the 28th of April, the brigade again moved to the Rappahannock, at the lower crossing, and under cover of darkness, passed the stream in pontoon boats, captured and drove the enemy's pickets, effecting a permanent lodgment on the right bank. On the following morning it moved forward in line of battle, three-quarters of a mile, engaging the enemy's pickets, and taking his rifle-pits. In this position it remained until the 3d of May, when his intrenched position on Marye's Heights was carried by assault, and his works were occupied. The corps was immediately put in motion in pursuit of the flying foe. The One Hundred and Nineteenth, and the Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania, were detached from the brigade, and moved upon the plank road towards Chancellorsville.

At Salem Church, midway, they came upon the enemy posted in a wood, concealed from view, and were at once heavily engaged at close quarters with his infantry. They were posted on the left of the road, and with other troops, were under the immediate command of General Sedgwick. With great gallantry they held their position, sustaining grievous loss. Sedgwick, finding himself confronted by vastly superior numbers, and likely to be overpowered, retired on the following day by Banks' Ford. Out of four hundred and thirty two present for duty, the regiment had twelve killed, and one hundred and twelve wounded. Captain Peter Rogers was among the killed, and Captains Charles P. WTarner and Andrew T. Goodman, and Lieutenant John M. Cook, among the wounded.

Upon the disbandment of the "Light Division," soon after the battle, the Fifth Wisconsin, and Sixth Maine, were assigned to the Third Brigade. Returning to its former camp, it remained until the 7th of June, when a detachment of two hundred and sixty men, under Major Henry P. Truefitt, who had succeeded Major Knight, with details from other regiments, was ordered to Hartwood Church, whence, under command of General Russell, it moved, and crossing the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford, pushed forward to the support of the cavalry, hotly engaged at Beverly Ford.

Returning at sunset, it proceeded to Bealton Station, remaining until the 14th, when it started to rejoin the rest of the regiment, already on the march for the Pennsylvania camlpaign, coming up with it at Fairfax Station. At Fairfax Court House, the regiment went into camp, and remained a week. The march was then resumed, arriving at Manchester, Marylanld, on the evening of Jily 1st. From this point, the corps was summoned in haste to Gettysburg, and at nine o'clock commenced the march. It was continued without interruption until four P. M:., of the following day, when it arrived upon the field, and the brigade remained massed in rear of the Fifth Corps during the night.

On the morning of the 3d, it was moved to the extreme left of the line, in rear of Round Top, to meet any flank movement from that direction, but did not become engaged, the enemy making no determined demonstration on that part of the field. On the 4th, it moved to the summit of Little Round Top, where it remained during the day.

On the 5th, it took the advance in pursuit of the retreating enemy, striking his rear near Fairfield, where a slight skirmish ensued. Direct pursuit was here abandoned, and the column moved to the left, following down the south side of the mountain, and crossing it with the trains, attended with great hardship and suffering, came up with the enemy in the neighborhood of H:agerstown, at once engaging his skirmishers; but on the night of the 14th, he made good his escape. The two armies now moved down over the old Virginia battle-grounds, the regiment reaching Warrenton on the 26th, where it remained for several weeks. This time was given to drill and discipline, which was studiously employed. While here, two hundred and five substitutes were received.

On the 5th of October, the regiment relieved the pickets of the Second Corps at the fords of the Rapidan. Soon afterwards the rebel leader initiated a movement upon the right flank of the Union army, compelling it to fall back rapidly to Centreville. Defeated in his purpose, he in turn began to retreat. At Rappahannock Station he was found, on the 7th of November, in an entrenched position, covering his pontoon bridge. At his earnest solicitation, General Russell, in command of the division, was directed to storm the works. His own brigade, now led by Colonel Ellmaker, Lieutenant Colonel Clark commanding the regiment, was selected to lead the charge.

With the Fifth Wisconsin and Sixth Maine deployed as skirmishers, supported by the One Hundred and Nineteenth and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, aided by Upton's Brigade, it went forward in the face of a fierce fire of infantry and artillery, carried the works at the point of the bayonet, and captured the entire force, with artillery, battle-flags, and small arms. In his congratulatory order, General Meade says:

"'The commanding General congratulates the army upon the recent successful passage of the Rappahannock, in the face of the enemy, compelling him to' withdraw to his intrenchments behind the Rapidan. To Major General Sedgwick, and the officers of the Sixth Corps, participating in the attack, particularly to the storming party under Brigadier General Russell, his thanks are due, for the gallantry displayed in the assault on the enemy's intrenched position of Rappahannock Station, resulting in the capture of four guns, two thousand small arms, eight battle-flags, one bridge train, and one thousand six hundred prisoners."2
In this fierce struggle the regiment lost seven killed, and forty-three wounded. Captain Cyrus M. Hodgson, and Lieutenants Edward Everett Coxe and Robert Reaney, were among the killed.

Crossing the Rappahannock, the pursuit was continued to the Rapidan, the regiment encamping near Brandy Station. On the 26th, it joined in the Mine Run campaign, the brigade being under Colonel Ellmaker, and the regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Clark. On the 28th, the pickets of the regiment engaged the enemy in front of his strong works behind Mine Run. Upon the abandonment of operations, it returned to its former camping ground near Wellford's Ford, on the Hazel River, where it went into winter-quarters.

On the 12th of January, 1864, Colonel Ellmaker resigned, and was honorably discharged, the command devolving on Lieutenant Colonel Clark. With the exception of a movement to Robertson's River, made on the 28th of Fcbruary, 1864, in support of cavalry, the regiment remained quietly in quarters until the opening of the spring campaign under General Grant. Moving shortly after daylight on the 4th of May, the brigade crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford, and at noon on the following day, became hotly engaged in the thickets of the Wilderness. With the Fifth Wisconsin on its right, and the Forty-ninth Pennsylvania on its left, the regiment battled manfully, the enemy disputing the ground with desperate valor. The fighting ceased at night-fall, the regiment having lost seven killed and sixty-three wounded, Lieutenant George G. Lovett, mortally. Four color-bearers were either killed or wounded.

Early on the following morning, the advance was ordered, and the fighting continued at intervals throughout the day. At night-fall, after the noise of battle had died out, and the two armies, apparently utterly exhausted, had sunk down to rest, the enemy massed his troops and struck heavily tpon the extreme right of the line, held by the Sixth Corps, crushing it in and making some captures, among them the hospitals and wounded. This sudden onset was, however, soon checked and the lines re-possessed.

On the 7th, the corps moved by flank via Chancellorsville, to the vicinity of Spottsylvania Court House, where the enemy was again found. On the 9th, General Sedgwick, while examining the ground, was killed by a rebel sharp-shooter. General Wright succeeded him, General Russell taking command of the division, and General Eustis of the brigade. On the 10th, the fighting was very severe. At 4 P. M., a charging column was formed, under cover of a wood, in three lines, the Fifth Maine, Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania, and One Hundred and Twenty-first New York, in the first, the Fifth Wisconsin, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, and Sixth MIaine in the second, and the One Hundred and Nineteenth Pennsylvania, Seventy-seventh, and Forty-third New York, in the third, all under command of Colonel Upton, the whole supported by the Vermont Brigade.

Clearing the woods, it went gallantly forward, and when arrived upon the open ground, in front of the enemy's works, was saluted by a torrent of deadly missiles from front and flanks. Nothing daunted by this terrible death storm, it swept on and over his first line, capturing nine hundred prisoners. Rushing bravely on to his second line, the colors of the One Hundred and Nineteenth were borne boldly up, and planted on his works; but here the color-bearer was shot down, and the storming party failing of support on the left, was exposed to a severe enfilading fire, before which the bravest could not stand, and it was obliged to fall back, losing its dearly bought advantage, and suffering fearfully while retiring. Lieutenant Edward Ford, Jr., was among the killed.

At seven o'clock on the 12th, it again went into action in front of a salient in the enemy's works, captured at daylight by the Second Corps, and until night-fall was unceasingly engaged, expending two hundred rounds of ammunition per man. Major Henry P. Truefitt was killed early in the engagement, and almost immediately thereafter, Captain Charles R. Warner, who succeeded him in command, was also killed. The scene of this struggle was known as the " Bloody Angle,"' or the "' Slaughter Pen.;"

In the series of engagements up to this time, commencing on the 5th of May, out of an aggregate for duty of four hundred, the regiment had lost two hundred and fifteen.

On the 18th, Lieutenant Colonel Clark resumed command, the regiment having been led since the fall of Warner, by Captains Gray and Landell. At noon of the 1st of June, the command reached Cold Harbor, and at five P. M., attacked in column by battalion, developing the position of the enemy in heavy earth-works. At dawn of the 3d, the attack was renewed, advancing by parallels, and in the operations of the day, Lieutenant George C. Humes, acting Adjutant, was among the killled. Until the 12th of June the command remained on the front line, within one hundred and fifty yards of the enemy's works, constantly under fire. On that day, General Eustis was relieved, and Colonel Clark succeeded him, Major Gray assuming command of the regiment, the latter officers having had temporary command on the 1st, and during the, fierce fighting which succeeded. Moving again to the left, the command reached the James River on the 16th, and embarking upon transports, proceeded to Bermuda Hundred, whence it marched out to Butler's intrenchments.

On the 19th, it crossed the Appomattox, and moving up to the Petersburg front, went into position along the bank of that stream, on the extreme right of the army. On the 29th, it proceeded to Ream's Station, on the Weldon Railroad, to the relief of the cavalry under Wilson, and joined in tearing up the road and intrenching the position, returning on the 2d of July. A few days later, four additional regiments were assigned to the brigade, Colonel Oliver Edwards, of the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts, succeeding to the command.

The threatening attitude assumed by the enemy under General Early, who had entered Maryland, and was pushing down, unchecked, towards the National Capital, rendered it necessary that troops should be sent to its relief. The Sixth Corps was accordingly dispatched. Early was driven, and beat a hasty retreat to the Shenandoah Valley. For more than two months the troops were kept upon the march, under a burning sun, between the Valley and Washington, without gaining any apparent advantage.

In the meantime, the veterans and recruits of the Twenty-third Pennsylvania, had been added to the regiment, and General Sheridan had assumed command of the army. At three A. M., on the morning of the 19th of September, the regiment moved from camp, crossed the Opequan, and engaged the enemy in the battle of Winchester. At a little before mid-day, the line having been formed, it advanced to the attack, driving the entire rebel force for half a mile, when it was temporarily checked, the enemy making a most determined stand. At four P. M., the lines being re-formed and strengthened, and Sheridan leading, it again went forward; and now, nothing could withstand the fiery zeal of the troops, the enemy being driven in utter rout, the victory the most complete and gratifying in which the One Hundred and Nineteenth had ever had a share. In this engagement General Russell was killed.

On the 20th, the brigade was detached from the division, and ordered to garrison duty in the town of Winchester, where it remained until November, when it re-joined the corps, now reposing, after having again beaten and utterly routed the rebel army. The veterans of the Twenty-third, which had been assigned to this regiment, were here transferred to the Eighty-second. On the 30th of November, the corps having been ordered to return to the Petersburg front, the brigade moved by rail to Washington, and thence by transport to City Point, arriving in the vicinity of Yellow House, on the 5th of December, and relieving a brigade of the Fifth Corps.

Early in February, 1865, the brigade, now under command of General Hamlin, moved to the support of the Fifth Corps, engaged near Dabney's Mills, but returned without coming to battle. During the winter, the command was severely taxed in furnishing details for fatigue duty, in the construction of earth-works and enclosed fortifications.

Upon the surprise and capture of Fort Steadman, on the 25th of March, the division was ordered to the support of the Ninth Corps; but before it could arrive on the ground, the fort had been re-taken. On the same day, the regiment participated in a sharp picket skirmish, brought on by an attempt to advance and straighten the lines.

At two o'clock on the morning of the 2d of April, the regiment took its position in line, preparatory to storming the enemy's works. At four, the signal for the advance was given, and under a fierce fire from front and flank, his intrenched line was carried at all points, the One Hundred and Nineteenth, unaided, dislodging him from a formidable interior work, capturing many prisoners, with artillery, small arms, and stands of colors. In this desperate encounter, Colonel Clark, Lieutenant George W. Shriver, and Adjutant John D. Mercer, were severely wounded, the latter mortally, the command devolving on Lieutenant Colonel Gray.

During the night of the 3d, the enemy evacuated Petersburg, and at the dawn of the 4th, the pursuit was commenced. On the afternoon of the 6th, the corps came up with him, strongly posted on Sailor's Creek. Fording the stream, here waist deep, a resolute charge was made, in which the One Hundred and Nineteenth gallantly participated, by which he was routed and his demoralized troops captured in mass.

For three days longer the march was continued, when, at Appomattox Court House on the 9th, the rebel leader surrendered his entire army. Returning to Burkesville Station, the regiment remained in camp until the 17th, when, with the corps, it made a forced march to Danville, on the North Carolina border.

After the surrender of Johnston, the command returned to the neighborhood of Washington, and on the 6th of June proceeded to Philadelphia, where, on the 19th, it was mustered out of service.

1Organization of Pratt's, formerly Hancock's Brigde, Smith's Division, Franklin's Corps, First Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Corps, Fifth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, Colonel Amasa Cobb; Sixth Regiment. Maine, Volunteers, Colonel Hiram Burnham; Forty-ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel William H. Irwin; Forty-third Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel Francis L. Vinton; One Hundred and Nineteenth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Peter C. Ellmaker.

2Moore's Rebellion Record, Vol. VIII, page 166, Does.

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


Organized at Philadelphia August 15, 1862.
Moved to Washington, D.C., August 31-September 1.
Duty in the Defences of Washington till October.
Joined Army of the Potomac in the field and attached to 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to February, 1863.
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, and Army of the Shenandoah to June, 1865.


Duty at Hagerstown, Md., till October 29, 1862.
Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 29-November 19.
Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15.
Burnside's 2nd Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863.
At White Oak Church till April.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Operations at Franklin's Crossing April 29-May 2.
Bernard House April 29. 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.
At and near Funkstown, Md., July 10-13.
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 near Brandy Station till May, 1864.
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12.
Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania May 8-12.
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.
Weldon Railroad June 22-23.
Siege of Petersburg till July 9.
Moved to Washington, D. C, July 9-11.
Repulse of Early's attack on Washington July 11-12.
Pursuit of Early July 14-22.
Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign August to December.
Demonstration on Gilbert's Ford, Opequan, September 13.
Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19.
Duty in the Shenandoah Valley till December.
Moved to Petersburg, Va. Siege of Petersburg December, 1864, to April, 1865.
Fort Fisher, Petersburg, March 25, 1865.
Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9.
Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2.
Appomattox Court House April 9.
Surrender of Lee and his army.
Moved 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 19, 1865.


Regiment lost during service
9 Officers and 132 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
1 Officer and 71 Enlisted men by disease.
Total 213.

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






U. S. C. T.

©  Alice J. Gayley, all rights reserved

Web Space provided by