155th Regiment
Pennsylvania Volunteers

Eight of the companies composing this regiment were recruited in Allegheny county, and rendezvoused at Camp Copeland, three miles from the city of Pittsburg. On the 3d of September, 1862, they were moved by rail to Harrisburg, where they were joined by two companies, G, and H, recruited in Clarion county, and a regimental organization was effected with the following field officers:
  • Edward J. Allen, Colonel
  • James Collard, Lieutenant Colonel
  • John H. Cain, Major
On the day following its organization, it was clothed, armed, and accoutred, and resumed the journey to Washington. Cooped up in cattle cars, with scarcely air to breathe, this ride from Pittsburg to the National Capital, was as comfortless as can well be imagined.

The roar of the battle at Bull Run had scarcely died away when it arrived, and it was hurried forward to the defenses of the city across the Potomac. It was here assigned to the Second Brigade, Third Division, of the Fifth Corps, composed of the One Hundred and Thirty-first, One Hundred and Thirty-third, One Hundred and Twenty-third, and One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania regiments, Colonel P. E. Allabach in command.

The enemy having advanced into Maryland, the Union army was put in motion to meet him. Pausing at Washington long enough to exchange the worthless Austrian rifles with which it had been armed, for the smooth-bore Springfield muskets,the regiment pushed forward through Maryland, over the battle-ground of South Mountain, and was greeted, as it approached Antietam, with the sound of the conflict. The Fifth Corps was held in reserve during the engagement,and hence the regiment was not called into action.

After the battle, the army settled down in camp, near the field, and the regiment was thoroughly drilled. In the meantime, the troops suffered much from sickness and privation. Though near the great depot of stores, at Washington, requisitions for tents,clothing, and medical supplies, were unavailing, even in securing articles of the most pressing need, and it was only through the liberality of citizens of Pittsburg, and friends at Sharpsburg, that the wants of the regiment were relieved.

For taking a single room in the house of a noted rebel, for a hospital for his sick, near unto death, Colonel Allen was placed in arrest, by those who ruled the army at this time, and the dying soldiers were turned out of the rebel house. Over two hundred were at this time in hospital.


In the battle of Fredericksburg, which was principally fought on the 13th of December, the regiment first met the enemy. The Fifth Corps was in the Centre Grand Division, led by Hooker. It was not until the army, on all sides, had met repeated and most bloody repulsed, and the fortunes of the dacl were overshadowed with gloom, that the Third Division, led by the veteran Humphreys, was ordered in.
"My troops," says General Humphreys in his official report, "were in the act of forming for the third time, on the crest of the hill fronting Marye's Heights, some six or eight hundred yards distant, when I received an urgent request from Major General Couch, in person, to support that part of his corps on the left of the Telegraph Road, and almost at the same moment, a staff officer rode up and informed him that General Griffin was ordered to reinforce him. A few minutes later, I was also directed to do so, and without an instant's delay, the Second Brigade, commanded by Colonel Allabach, the nearest to the Telegraph Road, was moved to the front.* * * The day was not clear, and there was much smoke overhanging the ground, so that I had not yet seen distinctly the position occupied by the enemy, or that of our own troops, and the necessity was so urgent, that I could not take time to examine it, without the aid of some one who had been on the ground.  At my request, an officer of General Hancock's staff, (Captain Hancock,) accompanied me, first to a ravine crossing the Telegraph Road, where the troops could form under partial cover, some three hundred yards from the enemy, then to the plain above, on which, some two hundred yards in advance, were the troops I was to support, partially sheltered by a slight rise or fold in the ground. One hundred and fifty yards beyond them was a heavy stone wall, nearly a mile in length, which was strengthened by a trench.This stone wall was at the foot of Marye's Heights, the crest of which running from one to four hundred yards in rear of the wall, was crowned with batteries. The stone wall was heavily lined with the enemy's infantry. A wide, deep ditch, or canal, impassable for troops, ran through the ravine, and was crossed by two roads only, the Telegraph Road, and the Plank Road. My troops were obliged to pass in column down the Telegraph Road, until the ditch was crossed. There was barely room for a brigade to form in double lines, between the ditch and the edge of the ravine next the enemy. The Second Brigade was quickly formed here, under my direction by Colonel Allabach, and then led by him and myself, it moved rapidly and gallantly up to General Couch's troops, under the artillery and musketry fire of the enemy. The nature of the enemy's line of defense could not be clearly perceived by me, until I reached this point. The troops I was to support, as well as those on their left and right, were sheltering themselves by lying on the ground. This example Colonel Allabach's brigade immediately followed, spite of our efforts to prevent it, and opened a fire upon the enemy. A part only of our men were able to reach the front rank, owing to the numbers already occupying the ground. The continued presence of the troops I was to support, or relieve, proved a serious obstacle to my success. As soon as I ascertained fully the nature of the enemy's position, I was satisfied that our fire could have but little effect upon him, and that the only mode of attacking him successfilly was with the bayonet. This I resolved to do, although my command was composed of troops that entered the service in August. With great difficulty their firing was arrested, chiefly by the exertions of myself and staff, and Colonel Allabach, aided by Colonel Allen, Colonel Clarke, and Captain Tyler. Whilst this was being done, I sent a staff officer to General Tyler, commanding the First Brigade, with instructions to bring his command to the left of the road, in the ravine, and prepare them to support or take the place of Allabach's Brigale, as the event might require. The charge was then made, but the deadly fire of musketry and artillery broke it after an advance of fifty yards. Colonel Allabach re-formed the brigade, a portion in the line from which the charge was made, the remainder in the ravine from which they had advanced."
Humphreys still had a fresh brigade, that of Tyler, and with this he again advanced, charging with the bayonet, and dashing over the lines of Couch's men, his own tittering wild hurrahs, led them close upon the enemy's works.
"The fire," says Humphreys, "of the enemy's musketry and artillery, furious as it was before, now became still hotter. The stone wall was a sheet of flame, that enveloped the head and flanlks of the column. Officers and men were falling rapidly,and the head of the column was at length brought to a stand, when close upto the wall. Up to this time, not a shot had been fired by the column, but now some firing began. It lasted but a minute, when, spite of all oure fforts, the column turned and began to retire slowly."
"During the last part of the cannonading," says General Hooker in his official report, "I had given directions to General Hlumyhreys' Division to form, under the shelter which a small hill afforded, in column for assault. When the fire of the artillery ceased, I gave directions for the enemy's works to be assaulted. General Humphreys'men took off their knapsacks, overcoats, and haversacks. They were ordered to make their assault with empty muskets, for there was no time then to load and fire. When the word was given, the men moved forward with great impetuosity. They ran and hurrahed, and I was encouraged by the great good feeling that pervaded them. The head of General Hulmphreys' column advanced to within perhaps fifteen or twenty yards of the stone wall, which, was the advanced position held by the rebels, and then they were thrown back, as quickly as they had advanced. They left behind, as was reported to me, seventeen hundred and sixty, out of four thousand."
A full proportion of this loss fell upon the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth. Captain Lee Anshltz was mortally vwounded, dying on the following day, and the color-sergeant,and entire color-guard were shot down. The battle was not renewed, and on the night of the 15th, with muffled tread, the army withdrew.

General Hooker succeeded General Burnside in the command, and on the 27th of April, 1863, started with the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth corps, for Chancellorsville. In the unfortunate battle which ensued, Humphreys' Division did little more, in the early stages, than reconnoitre towards Fredericksburg, and subsequently fortify a position on the left of the line, which was firmly held.

On the morning of the 3d, after the disasters which had befallen the Eleventh Corps, it was moved forward to the centre, and supported batteries which were posted to check the enemy's advance. It subsequently fell back to the intrenchments, where it remained until the close of the battle.

Upon the muster-out of the nine months' regiments, with which the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth had been brigaded, it was assigned to the Second Brigade, Second Division, of the Fifth Corps, where it was associated with the Ninety-first Pennsylvania, and One Hundred and Fortieth, and One Hundred and Forty-sixth New York regiments, commanded by Colonel Patrick H. O'Rorke, subsequently by General Weed.


At Gettysburg, where the two armies next met, the Fifth Corps did not arrive upon the field until the morning of the second day of the battle, and was at first held in reserve, in rear of the Cemetery. The supreme important, of Little Round Top, soon became evident to the leaders of both armies, and troops from both sides were sent to occupy it, Ayers' Division, of the Fifth Corps, being hurried forward on the part of the Union army for this purpose.

In the valley, between Round Top and Little Round Top, which was soon made a valley of death, the waves met, and dashed with fearful violence against each other, Vincent's Brigade, with Hazlett's Battery, supported by the One Hundred and Fortieth New York, receiving the weight of the shock on the Union side. General Weed was killed, and Heazlett, while bending over the lifeless form, likewise met swift destruction. The remainder of the bligade was hurried forward, and won the summit of the rocky fastness, the OneHundred and Fifty-fifth gaining the very crest of the Mount, just in front of the spot where Weed and Hazlett had fallen. Against this line the fury of the rebel assault was spent, and when the enemy despaired of gaining it, he took shelter behind every rock and covert, even to the tree tops, and commenced a murderous fire of sharp-shooting.

The Devil's Den just opposite, was his stronghold, and from this many a bullet was sent on its unerring message. Colonel O'Rorke, who had succeeded to the command of the brigade, was killed by a sharp-shooter. Colonel Cain, who had command of the regimeint, sent out a skirmish line, under Major Pearson and Captain George F. Morgan, which finally cleared the ground in front. In its rocky fortress on Little Round Top, the regiment passed the 3d without molestation, where it was witness to the fearful cannonade and final grand charge of the enemy.

Captain M'Kee, of company I, was among the severely wounded. After the battle was over, the regiment joined in the pursuit of the rebel army, and a skirmish line of the brigade came up with the enemy's rear-guard near Williamsport, taking some prisoners. In the battles of Rappahannock Station, and Mine Run, and in other minor skirmishes of the fall campaign, the regiment participated, displaying its wonted gallantry, and at its close, was assigned to duty along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.

Soon after the battle of Gettysburg, Colonel Allen, on account of disability, had been honorably discharged, and shortly afterwards, Colonel Cain, who had been promoted to succeed him, resigned; whereupon, Lieutenant Colonel Pearson was promoted to Colonel, Major John Ewing, to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain J. A. Cline, to Major. Upon assuming command, Colonel Pearson adopted the French Zonave uniform, and at once commenced the French skirmish and bayonet drill, in which the regiment soon became proficient, attracting much attention in the army by the accuracy and novelty of its movements.

On the 24th of January, 1864, Captain Joseph B. Sackett, while returning from the picket line, was accidentally drowned in Cedar Creek. Before moving on the spring campaign, the Second Division was reduced to a brigade, and made part of the First Division, commanded by General Griffin.

The Overland Campaign

Upon its arrival, on the 5th of May, on the battleground of the Wilderness, the brigade was formed in two lines of battle, and with a line of skirmishers thrown forward under command of Captain George M'Laughlin, of the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth, advanced through tangled thickets upon the enemy, who had here determined to attack. The occasionual crack of a musket on the skirmish line, as it advanced, indicated that he was not far distant, and soon he was found in force. The regulars of the brigade, who had the first line, were repulsed, and the volunteers, who held the second, pressed forward to their support By their gallantry, the ground was held until the broken lines of the regulars, which were being pressed upon by overwhelming numbers, could be successfully withdrawn. In this desperate encounter, Captain John C. Stewart, and Lieutenant Edward P. Johnston, were severely wounded. The latter was left in the enemy's hands, who robbed him of his watch and clothing. An hour later he was rescued, but owing to the neglect and harsh treatment he had received, was obliged to submit to the loss of an arm.

On the following day, the enemy early assumed the offensive, but was repulsed with great slaughter. With the evening of the 6th, the hard fighting ceased, and during the night of the 7th, the army moved from its works towards Spottsylvania Court House. At Laurel Hill the Fifth Corps, which had the advance, found the enemy in force. Repeated assaults were delivered, participated in by Griffin's Division; but the enemy was found to be too strongly fortified to be driven.

The One Hundred and Fifty-fifth here suffered severely, Captain Edward E. Clapp, and Lieutenant Charles C. Johnston, being among the killed. "Both these gallant officers," says the report of the battle, were killed within a few yards of the enemy's works." Clearing the Sixth and Second corps, the Fifth swung around and came in upon the immediate front of the Court House. But here the enemy was also found well intrenched, and though repeated and most gallant assaults were made, they proved unavailing.

On the afternoon of the 23d, Griffin's Division crossed the North Anna at Jericho Ford. Arms were stacked, and preparations made for supper, when the enemy, who had been lurking in concealment, made a most vigorous and determined assault. The excellent discipline of the troops served them admirably in this hour of need. Though taken unawares, and with a swift flowing stream at their backs, they flew to arms, and gave the foe such a reception as soon convinced him that he had no laurels to win from them.

The bloody battles of the Tolopotomy, and Cold Harbor, soon followed, which fully attested the devotion of the Union soldiers, but failed to overcome the enemy. On the 15th of June, the division crossed the James River, and on the 18th, joined in an assault upon the enemy. His first works were carried, but his main line, strongly intrenched, again proved too strong to be overcome. In this charge the regiment lost, in the space of ten minutes, eighty-three men in killed and wounded. Captain Samuel A. M'Kee was among the killed.


On the 18th, a charge was delivered by the brigade, which resulted in rescuing a portion of the line of the Suffolk and Petersburg Railroad from the enemy. The regiment was then employed in constructing earth-works and bomb-proofs, and in defending working parties from the assaults of the enemy. On the 18th of August, the corps made a descent upon the Weldon Railroad, at Peam'sStation, in which the regiment acted as skirmishers, driving the enemy, andholding him in check while the road was being destroyed. On the 30th of September, the Fifth Corps was led to Peebles' Farm, where sharp fighting ensued, and two lines of earth-works were captured. Colonel Pearson had command of the brigade in this battle, and by his gallantry in leading hismen against the rebel works, and his zeal in the pursuit, won the rank of Brevet Brigadier General.

In the severe engagement at Hatcher's Run, the brigade was warmly engaged, repelling repeated attacks, but, fortunately, theregiment suffered only small loss.Continually reaching out upon the left, General Grant arrived at Dabney's Mills, on the 7th of February, 1865. But this extension of the line was not made without a serious struggle. The Second and Third divisions had met the enemy, and after severe fighting, had thrown up slight works for their protection. The Second Division, with ammunition exhausted, was holding the ground with the bayonet. At this juncture, General Pearson was ordered to move with his brigade to its relief. Nobly did these gallant regiments re,spond to the order, and dashing past the troops of the Second Division, weresoon hotly engaged. By some sad misunderstanding, the troops in the rear fired a volley into the ranks of the brigade, which inflicted some loss, and at the same time, the troops upon the right fell back, leaving the right flank exposed, which the enemy soon took advantage of, moving his artillery, and opening an enfilading fire. Seeing the danger to which he was exposed, Pearson moved his reserve into the fatal break, and by rapidity of action, checked the enemy. The One Hundred and Fifty-fifth held its place in the line until after night-fall, when it was relieved.

At half-past three, on the morning of the 29th of March, the Fifth Corps moved on its last campaign. At the Quaker Road, the advance of the column came upon the enemy unawares, and was repulsed. Three regiments of Pearson's Brigade, including the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth, were hurried to its relief. As they approached the enemy, sheltered by breast-works, they received a volley, by which a number of men and officers were killed and wounded. Lieutenant James Strong was among the killed. General Pearson, seeing the confusion into which his command was liable to fall, in face of so murderous a fire, seized the colors of his old regiment, and dashing forward, called on his men to follow. The enemy was quickly routed, and his works and some prisoners were taken. The regiment was highly complimented by General Meade, for its gallantry, and General Pearson was brevetted to MajorGeneral.

The triumphal course of the corps was marked by well contested actions at Gravelly Run, Five Forks, and Sailor's Creek, in each of which the regiment was engaged. At Five Forks, Lieutenant Thomas B. Dunn was killed. At Appomattox Court House, the regiment, under command of Major Morgan, was ordered upon the skirmish line, and having advanced into the town, making numerous captures as it went, was about to attack the enemy's main line, when a white flag was displayed, and the joyful intelligence communicated that Lee had surrendered. Its days of fighting ended, it returned to the neighborhood of Washington, where, on the 2d of June, it was mustered out of service.

On reaching Pittsburg, whither it proceeded in a body, it was received by the Mayor and citizens, with marks of honor and rejoicing, and was finally disbanded.

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


Organized at Pittsburg and Harrisburg September 2-19. 1862.
Moved to Washington, D.C., September 4.
Attached to 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to May, 1863.
3rd Brigade, 2nd Division. 5th Army Corps, to March, 1864.
4th Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps, to April, 1864.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps, to June, 1864.
1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Army Corps, June, 1864.
2nd Brigade. 2nd Division, 5th Army Corps, to July, 1865.
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps, to December, 1864.
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps, to June, 1865.


Moved to Sharpsburg, Md., and duty there till October 30, 1862.
Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 30-November 19.
Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15.
Burnside's 2nd Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863.
Duty at Falmouth, Va., till April 27.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5.
Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24.
Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3. Pursuit of Lee July 5-24.
Duty on line of the Rappahannock and Rapidan till October.
Bristoe Campaign October 9-22.
Auburn October 13.
Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8.
Rappahannock Station November 7.
Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
Duty on Orange & Alexandria Railroad till April, 1864.
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12.
Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Laurel Hill May 8; Spottsylvania May 8-12;
Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21.
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.
Bethesda Church June 1-3.
Before Petersburg June 16-18.
Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865.
Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30 (Reserve).
Six Mile House, Weldon Railroad, August 18-21.
Poplar Springs Church, Peeble's Farm, September 29-October 2.
Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28.
Warren's Raid on Weldon Railroad December 7-12.
Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865.
Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9.
Junction Boydton and Quaker Roads and Lewis Farm, near Gravelly Run, March 29.
White Oak Road March 31.
Five Forks April 1.
Appomattox Court House April 9.
Surrender of Lee and his army.
Moved to Washington, D.C., May 1-12.
Grand Review May 23.
Mustered out June 2, 1865.


Regiment lost during service:
5 Officers and 137 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
1 Officer and 111 Enlisted men by disease.
Total 254.

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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