74th Regiment

Pennsylvania Volunteers

Early in the summer of 1861, when the government was in pressing need of troops, the design was formed of recruiting in Pittsburg and vicinity, a regiment to be composed of German citizens. A spirited appeal for pecuniary aid to prosecute the enterprise, in an editorial of the Evening Chronicle, so aroused the public feeling that in a single day the requisite funds were secured, the Economy Society contributing, unasked, the sum of five hundred dollars.

Having received the proper authority from the War Department, the committee in charge, headed by I. I. Siebeuck, Joseph Abel, Joseph G. Siebeuck and Charles M'Knight, citizens of Pittsburg, commenced recruiting, and in three weeks' time had a regiment of nearly the requisite number ready for acceptance by the government. It was composed largely of trained soldiers. As fast as enrolled the men rendezvoused at Camp Wilkins, near Pittsburg, and on the 14th of September were mustered into the service of the United States, as the Thirty-fifth Pennsylvania Regiment.

Entirely disinterested, and only anxious to secure the most efficient field officers, the committee obtained the services of Alexander Von Schimmelfennig, of Philadelphia, a Prussian staff officer, possessed of fine scientific attainments, and large experience in the art of war, and withal an ardent lover of liberty and the Union, as Colonel, and to him, with the line officers, was left the selection of the remaining field and staff.

On the 19th the regiment left Camp Wilkins and proceeded to Philadelphia, where it was joined by'a considerable body of recruits under Captain Von Mitzel. While here Colonel Schimmelfennig was badly injured by the fall of his horse. Soon afterwards the regiment moved to Washington, and went into camp near the Capitol, where it received arms, uniforms and equipments.

A week later it marched to Roaches Mills, Virginia, and subsequently to Hunter's Chapel, where it went into winter quarters. Here the number of the regiment was changed from the Thirty-fifth to the Seventy-fourth, and a company which had been raised in Philadelphia, under Captain Von Hartung, and had been on duty at Fort Delaware, was added to its strength. It was attached to General Blenker's Division, was assiduously drilled during the winter months, and performed a large amount of fatigue duty upon the fortifications.

Colonel Schimmelfennig formed a school for officers, in which particular attention was given to outpost duty, and skirmishing, which had formed the subject of his special studies in the staff school of the Prussian Army at Berlin, and his practical duty in the war of Schleswig Holstein and the Revolt of Baden in 1848-9.

Upon the opening of the campaign on the 10th of March, the regiment broke camp and moved to Fairfax Court House, where after two weeks' delay, during which the greater part of the army of the Potomac retired to Alexandria, and thence proceeded to the Peninsula, the division marched to Centreville, and was thence ordered to West Virginia to reinforce General Fremont, in command of the Mountain Department. The sufferings of the men on this march were intense. Much of the way the column moved at the rate of twenty miles per day, the men being without tents or shelter of any description, and sometimes bivouacking in the snow with but a single blanket.

At Winchester they received new clothing, shoes, and gum blankets. After a halt of two weeks, they again took up the line of march, and reached Franklin, their destination, in nine days. For nearly two weeks the regiment was engaged in picket duty and in throwing up fortifications, during which period it was reduced to the last extremity of hunger, the country having been swept bare of provisions, and the men forced to subsist on fresh beef without salt, and less than a cracker a day per man.

With the brigade the regiment commenced a forced march via Petersburg and Moorefield, to Strasburg, where it joined in the pursuit of Stonewall Jackson, who, with his army, had just passed that point on his retreat up the valley, when it arrived. At Cross Keyes, on the 8th of June, the enemy was brought to bay, and a severe battle ensued, in which the regiment lost six killed and thirteen wounded.

Returning to Mount Jackson after the battle, the brigade proceeded to Middletown, the corps being now in command of General Sigel. From the 7th of July until the 8th of August, it was stationed at Sperryville. At ten o'clock on the evening of the latter day it was ordered to move by forced marches, to Cedar Mountain, a distance of forty miles, where the enemy was making his appearance in force. For two days and one night, without sleep or rest, the column moved, but arrived too late to have part in the battle.

Pope's Northern Virgniia Campaign

From Cedar Mountain the regiment proceeded to Robinson's River, the outer post of General Pope's army. After remaining here a few days it fell back, with the whole army, in the direction of the old battle-ground of Bull Run. At Freeman's. Ford, there being no enemy in sight, though supposed to be in the neighborhood, Colonel Schimmelfennig was ordered to cross, and ascertain his position. The regiment had scarcely commenced the advance on the opposite shore, when it came upon his pickets posted in a wood. They were quickly driven out into the open field beyond, when Colonel Schimmelfennig suddenly found himself in rear of a heavy column of the enemy on the march. On discovering the position of the regiment the enemy halted, turned back, and immediately commenced an attack on its front and flanks. By skillful disposition of his men, followed up by a daring charge with the bayonet, Colonel Schimmelfennig succeeded in checking the enemy's advance, and in creating the impression among the overpowering numbers by which he was environed that he had supports at hand. Taking advantage of the confusion and bewilderment produced by this adroit movement, retiring suddenly, the men leaped into the river, and under cover of the Union guns, which had by this time got into position, succeeded in reaching the shore, but with a loss of twelve killed, two officers and thirty-five men wounded, three drowned, and sixteen missing. General Bohlen, in command of the brigade, was among the killed. He was succeeded by Colonel Schimmelfennig, and the command of the regiment devolved on Major Blessing.

Under General Carl Schurz, who commanded the division, the regiment resumed the march, and arrived on the battle-ground, near Groveton, on the 28th. During the two succeeding days it was engaged, and shared the fate of the army on that disastrous field, with a loss of seventeen killed and wounded. Retiring to the fortifications of Washington, the regiment remained on duty until after the return of the army from the Antietam campaign. In the meantime Colonel Schimmelfennig was promoted to Brigadier General, and the command of the regiment devolved upon Major Von Hartung, who was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Colonel. The regiment went into winter quarters near Stafford Court House, Virginia, and received, while there, a considerable number of recruits.


The Seventy-fourth was ordered to the front to participate in the battle of Fredericksburg, but did not arrive in time to have part in that bloody, but fruitless struggle. Subsequently the command having been given to General Hooker, the entire army was thoroughly re-organized, and the most extensive preparations were made for a forward movement. During the closing days of April, 1863, the regiment marched with the Eleventh Corps, and crossing the Bappahannock and Rapidan rivers, reached Chancellorsville, in rear of the rebel army, without encountering any opposition of any moment, and without exciting suspicion that a general'movement was in progress. Few movements of an army, is face of a vigilant foe, were ever planned and executed of such magnitude, with such complete success as attended this. After manoeuvring for a day the army finally settled down into position with Howard's Corps on the extreme right, general headquarters at the Chancellor House, and the left resting on the river. It is worthy of remark here, that the right of the line rested in a level country, interspersed with wood and open fields, and had no natural protection, nor any adequate formation to resist attack. The Seventyfourth was formed in line of battle facing the plank road which runs from Fredericksburg to Orange Court House. Several regiments of the First Division were similarly posted on its right, and the Sixty-first Ohio on its left.

"At five and a-half o'clock P. M.," says Colonel Von Hartung, in his report of the battle, " the regiments on our right were suddenly attacked in very great force, 1 and his attack was also directed on our right flank and rear. The regiments on our right broke and came crushing through the ranks of the Seventy-fourth in such wild confusion, as to throw them into disorder, which was increased by several guns from Dickman's Battery in front, suddenly falling back, and becoming-intermingled also with the general crowd. Preserving as much order as possible, I led the regiment back behind a rifle-pit, near the old headquarters of Major General Howard. There the most perfect order was soon restored, and the regiment awaited the approach of the enemy. Different regiments were 6n our right and left, and well rallied again. We were soon furiously attacked, but the enemy was handsomely checked and driven back, the men fighting with the most determined bravery.2 Being at length flanked, however, by greatly superior numbers, we were again compelled to fall still further back, the artillery again retreating and breaking through our ranks. The troops on our right also withdrew, and being left nearly alone again, the Seventy-fourth could do nothing else but retreat, which it did, to a point near General Hooker's headquarters, where with the whole corps it was again rallied. The loss of the regiment, during the engagement, was sixty-one in killed, wounded, and missing."


A week after the battle of Chancellorsville the regiment moved to its old camp at Stafford Court House, where it remained until the 12th of June. It then started with the Corps northward, and arrived at Gettysburg on the afternoon of the 1st day of July, the First Corps having been heavily engaged during the greater part of the day, and already hard pressed by vastly superior numbers. Moving rapidly forward by the Emmittsburg Pike, the brigade passed through the town, and took position on the left of the corps, to the right of the Mummasburg Road, the Seventy-fourth on the extreme left reaching out towards, but not connecting with the right of the First Corps. It was so much reduced in numbers, and the distance to be covered so great, that it formed but little more than a skirmish line, which rested along a by-road connecting the Carlisle with the Mummasburg Road, and in front of Dilger's Ohio Battery.

The enemy was already in front, and their fierce fighting opened immediately. Colonel Von Hartlung, himself in command of the skirmish line, was severely wounded, and Lieutenant Colonel Von Mitzel, who had but just escaped from imprisonment, succeeded him. Unable to preserve its disjointed lines against the overwhelming forces of the enemy pressing down upon all sides, the corps was forced back through the town to Cemetery Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Von Mitzel was again taken prisoner, and the command devolved on Major G. Schleiter. Of the fourteen officers and one hundred and twenty men who advanced to the ground of the first day's battle, one officer and six men were killed, four officers and forty men wounded, and fifty-two missing, a total of one hundred and twelve, leaving but four officers and eighteen men to bear, and defend the flag.

Upon its arrival in the new position, it was posted in front of the batteries in the Cemetery. Here it was joined by the men who had been sent on picket on the previous night, and to this position it clung through the terrible storm of battle of the two succeeding days, losing one officer and eight men killed, and one officer and fifteen men wounded, a total loss in the entire battle of one hundred and thirty-six.

Folly's Island, South Carolina

About two weeks after the battle of Gettysburg, the regiment re-crossed the Potomac at Berlin, and marched to Warrenton Junction, where it was on duty for a short time on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. On the 7th of August General Schimmelfennig's Division, now commanded by General Gordon, was ordered to Folly Island, South Carolina, where it arrived on the 14th. The Seventy-fourth was assigned to duty on Coles' and Kiowa's Islands. It was sent on expeditions to the neighboring islands on several occasions, and encountered the enemy, losing some men. In conjunction with the crew of the gunboat Pawnee it proceeded to James Island on Christmas morning, where it captured two guns. In February, 1864, the brigade was sent to John's Island, near the North Edisto River, where on the 9th, 1lth, and 11th it skirmished with the enemy, capturing several of his cavalry with horses and equipments.

James Island

Early in July the regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Von Mitzel, who had made his escape from Libby Prison, was again sent to James Island, where, in the grand movement to capture Charleston, it was for several days engaged. Company G was detailed to duty with a Rocket Battery; company B, with heavy artillery, and was stationed at Fort Mahon, upon the southern extremity of Folly Island, and afterwards at a fort on Coles' Island; Captain John Zeh, of company K, was detailed, with a body of picked men, to raise torpedoes, avery delicate undertaking. Twenty-four of these villainous engines were removed without injury.

West Virginia

On the 17th of August it was ordered to return to Washington, and upon its arrival was stationed at Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy, where it performed duty as heavy artillery. In September the men, whose terms of service had expired, to the number of one hundred and thirty, were mustered out of service. Shortly afterwards the regiment was ordered to West Virginia, and while on.the way companies G and K, with a part of the field and staff, were also mustered out. Upon its arrival at Grafton a considerable number of the men reenlisted, and its strength was increased by the addition of recruits and drafted men. Captain Gottleib Hoburg was in command, and it was engaged in guard and garrison duty on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. In March, 1865, seven new companies were assigned to it. On the 30th of March, a passenger train was wrecked at a point about five miles from Green Spring, the headquarters of the regiment, by a party of bushwackers, and the passengers robbed, and subjected to the grossest indignities. They seized every thing of value, even to the clothing of the passengers, including about fifty thousand dollars in money, and escaped before the guards in force could be concentrated.

From Green Spring the regiment proceeded by rail to Webster, and thence' marched to Beverly, arriving on the 8th of April. It remained here, engaged in picket and guard duty, until the 12th of May, when it was ordered to Clarks, burg, where were deposited large quantities of government stores, from which the troops in Western Virginia were supplied. The headquarters were established here, and subsequently at Parkersburg, and the regiment was detailed, by squads and companies, for guard duty along the Parkersburg branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Road. It was mustered out of service on the 29th of August, 1865, at Clarksburg, and immediately returned to Pittsburg, where it was finally disbanded.

1 Major G. Schleiter says, "You will better understand my indignation when I inform you that, as Adjutant to General Schimmelfennig, I nearly killed my horse in riding to inform General Howard of the fact that the enemy was massing troops on our right flank, and that I was received with an incredulous smile, and t directed to tell General Schimmelfennig to stop reconnoitring, and remain in the position assigned to him. This was two hours before the attack was made."

2 Schimelfennig's Brigade, of Schurz's Division, made a rapid change of front to the west, and resisted the advance of the enemy for an hour or upwards. -Army of the Potomac, Swinton, page, 286.

GENERAL SC1IMMEILFENNIG'S LETTER TO GENERAL SCHURZ. It has become known by this time, I hope, that the First Division, which gave way on the 2d of May, (because assailed in front, in rear, and in flank,) was that of General Devens; that it was the second line of your division which changed front, from south to west in less than two minutes' time; that it was the brigade battery, commanded by Captain Dilger on the left, which checked the heavy column of the enemy pouring into us from the front, and from both flanks; and that the first line of your division, in connection with Colonel Buschbeck's Brigade of General Steinwehr's Division, formed behind two of my regiments-the Eighty-second Illinois, Colonel Hecker, and the One Hundred and Fifty-seventh New York, Colonel Brown-and occupied the riflepits, Barlow's Brigade having been detached from the corps, at this critical moment, by command of Major General Hooker. Your two brigades, and that of Colonel Buschbeck, together comprising not quite four thousand muskets, alone received the entire shock of the battle, and held the enemy in check for at least an hour. * * *

The three brigades above named, although both their flanks were turned, stood their ground until a sufficient time had elapsed for the corps behind them to come to ther assistance, and take a position in their rear. Your command did every thing that could have been expected under the circumstances. For the surprise on the flanks and the rear, in broad daylight, by a force outnumbering us four to one, the responsibility falls not on the Third Division, holding the centre, but upon the First Division, which held the right wing, and upon those whose duty it was to anticipate such a contingency, and to prepare for it. General, I am an old soldier. Up to this hour I have been proud of commanding the brave men of this brigade; but I am convinced that if the infamous lies uttered about us are not retracted, and satisfaction given, their good will and soldierly spirit will be broken, and I shall no longer see myself at the head ofthe same brave men whom I have heretofore had the honor to lead. -Moore's Rebellion Record, Vol. VI; page 589.

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


Organized at Pittsburg as 35th Pennsylvania Volunteers September 14, 1861.
Moved to Philadelphia, thence to Washington, D.C., September 23.
Attached to Blenker's Brigade, Division of the Potomac, to November, 1861.
Bohlen's Brigade, Blenker's Division, Army Potomac, to March, 1862.
Bohlen's 3rd Brigade, Blenker's Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army Potomac, to April, 1862
3rd Brigade, Blenker's Division, Dept. of the Mountains, to June, 1862.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of Virginia, to September, 1862.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 11th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to November, 1862.
1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 11th Corps, to July, 1863.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 11th Corps, to August, 1863.
1st Brigade, Gordon's Division, Folly Island, S.C., 10th Corps, Dept. of the South, to April, 1864.
Folly Island, S.C., Northern District, Dept. of the South, to August, 1864.
2nd Brigade, DeRussy's Division, 22nd Corps, Dept. of Washington, to October, 1864.
Reserve Division, Dept. of West Virginia, to January, 1865.
2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, West Virginia, to April, 1865.
1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, West Virginia, to May, 1865.
Sub-District of Clarksburg, W. Va., Dept. West Virginia, to August, 1865.


Duty in the Defences of Washington, D.C., till March, 1862.
At Fairfax C. H, Va., March 10-24.
Moved to Petersburg, W. Va., April 6-May 11.
Operations in the Shenandoah Valley till June.
Cross Keys June 8.
At Sperryville July 7-August 8.
Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2, Freeman's Ford
and Hazel Run August 22.
Grovton August 29.
Bull Run August 30.
Duty in the Defences of Washington, D.C., till November.
Moved to Centreville November 1-19, thence to Fredericksburg, Va., December 9-16.
"Mud March" January 20-24, 1863.
At Stafford C. H., Va., till April 27.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5.
Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 13-July 24.
Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3.
Pursuit of Lee July 5-24.
Moved to Folly Island, S.C., August 7-14.
Duty on Folly Island, S.C., operating against Charleston, S. C., till August, 1864.
Demonstration on James Island, S. C., May 21-22, 1864, and June 30-July 10.
James Island, near Secessionville, July 2.
Ordered to Washington, D. C., August 17.
Duty at Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy till October.
Ordered to West Virginia, and duty guarding Baltimore & Ohio Railroad till April, 1865.
At Beverly April 8-May 12, and at Clarksburg, W. Va.,
and guarding Parkersburg branch of Baltimore & Ohio Railroad till August.
Mustered out August 29, 1865.


Regiment lost during service:
2 Officers and 54 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
1 Officer and 88 Enlisted men by disease.
Total 145.

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.

Direct questions or comments to pacivilwar@pa-roots.net

©  Alice J. Gayley, all rights reserved

Web Space provided by