Field & Staff---Unassigned
Organized at Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa., September, 1861, to April, 1862. Seven Companies dismounted, left State for Baltimore. Md., April 1, 1862. Five Companies Joined at Baltimore April 14, 1862. Moved to Washington, D.C., April 25, and camp on Capital Hill until June 27. Attached to Sturgis' Command, Military District of Washington, to August, 1862. Buford's Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Army Corps, Army of Virginia, to September, 1862. Price's Cavalry Brigade, Defenses of Washington, to March, 1863. 2nd Brigade, Stahel's Cavalry Division, 22nd Army Corps, to June, 1863. Provost Guard, Army of the Potomac, to December, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, to February, 1865. Provost Guard, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1865.
SERVICE.--Duty in Defenses of Washington, D. C., until July 27, 1862. Moved to Warrenton, thence to Madison Court House, Va., July 27-August 5. Action at Wolftown August 7. Battle of Cedar Mountain August 9. Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2. Chantilly September 1. Reconnaissance to Thoroughfare Gap and Aldie September 16. Antietam September 16-17. Ashby's Gap September 22. Duty in the Defenses of Washington, D.C., until June, 1863. Reconnaissance to Snicker's Ferry and Berryville November 28-30. Berryville November 30. Frying Pan, near Chantilly, December 27-28. Occoquan December 29. Mrs. Violet's and Seleman's Ford, near Occoquan, March 22, 1863 (Detachment). Expedition from Gainesville June 7-8 (Detachment). Headquarters Guard for General Meade June 29. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3. Provost duty at Gettysburg July 5-7. Old Antietam Forge, South Mountain, Md., July 10. Provost Guard duty with Army of the Potomac until December. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Near Bealeton October 22. Fayetteville October 23. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. New Hope Church November 27. Parker's Store November 29. Expedition to Luray December 21-23. Luray December 23. Campaign from the Rapidan to the James May-June, 1864. Todd's Tavern May 5, 6, 7 and 8. Sheridan's Raid to James River May 9-24. North Anna River May 9-10. Ground Squirrel Church and Yellow Tavern May 11. Brook's Church, Fortifications of Richmond, May 12. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Haw's Church May 28. Cold Harbor May 31-June 1. Sheridan's Trevillian Raid June 7-24. Louisa Court House June 10. Trevillian Station June 11-12. White House or St. Peter's Church June 21. Black Creek or Tunstall's Station June 21. Germantown June 22. St. Mary's Church June 24. Charles City Cross Roads June 29. Warwick Swamp and Jerusalem Plank Road July 12. Demonstration on north side of the James at Deep Bottom July 27-29. Malvern Hill July 28. Warwick Swamp July 30. Demonstration north of James River at Deep Bottom August 13-20. Gravel Bill August 14. Strawberry Plains August 16-18. Deep Bottom and Malvern Hill August 18. Dinwiddie Road, near Ream's Station, August 23. Ream's Station August 25. Belcher's Mills September 17. Poplar Springs Church September 29-October 2. Arthur's Swamp September 30-October 1. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. Reconnaissance toward Stony Creek November 7. Stony Creek Station December 1. Expedition to Hicksford December 7-11. Belle field December 8. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865. On provost duty, Army of the Potomac, until June, 1865. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. March to Washington, D.C., May. Grand Review May 23. Consolidated with 20th Pennsylvania Cavalry June 17, 1865, to form 1st Provisional Cavalry.
Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 52 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 193 Enlisted men by disease. Total 253.
This regiment was recruited in the fall of 1861, in various sections of the State, but principally in Philadelphia and in the counties of Crawford, and Tioga, and rendezvoused at Camp Patterson, six miles from Philadelphia.
- Richard Butler Price, of Philadelphia, was commissioned Colonel
- Joseph P. Brinton, of Philadelphia, Lieutenant Colonel
- Charles F. Taggart, Major
- J. Archambault, Major
- Albert C. Walker was appointed Adjutant
The Colonel had seen service in Mexico, and Major Archambault was one of Napoleon's veterans. The regiment was well disciplined, many of its officers having obtained some experience in the three months' service, as members of the Philadelphia City Troop.
On the 1st of April, 1862, seven companies, fully equipped, but not mounted, started for Washington, arriving at Baltimore on the 5th. They were followed on the 14th by the remaining companies, and the regiment was reviewed on the 18th by General Dix, who expressed himself highly pleased with its fine military bearing.
It reached Washington on the 25th, and encamped on Capitol Hill, near the Congressional Cemetery. Here, the regiment was mounted and being well drilled and disciplined, the men were eager for active service.
On the 27th of June it crossed Long Bridge and advanced into Virginia. It encamped near Cloud's Mills and was assigned to the brigade of General Cooke, First Reserve Army Corps, General Sturgis. It moved on the 26th of July, through Centreville to Warrenton, occupying by the way the barracks built by the enemy a year before.
On the 31st it resumed the weary march, crossed the Rappahannock and bivouacked near Amissville. Marching rapidly through Little Washington, Sperryville, Woodville, and Culpepper it reached Madison Court House on the 5th of August and occupied a wood near Wolftown. It was here assigned to the brigade of General Buford. It held the extreme right of the line of pickets on the Rapidan.
Both armies had advanced in force, Pope's resting between Culpepper Court House and Sperryville. The enemy made a descent upon the picket line on the 7th, and a brisk skirmish ensued in which private Dobbins was killed, three men wounded, and two taken prisoners. The rebels were repulsed with some loss. On the following day a reconnoissance was made towards Wolftown.
The command fell slowly back to Madison, where it arrived early the next morning. It was ordered to destroy the camp stores, but before the destruction was completed, the enemy charged vigorously upon the camp, severing the communication with the main body of the army via Culpepper, and compelling the command to seek safety by a, forced march of sixty miles across the mountains to Woodville.
1862 Battles of Bull Run and Chantilly
The cavalry was constantly scouting, and frequently skirmished with the enemy as it was pushed back and compelled to retire across the Rappahannock. The whole force of the enemy, relieved from the pressure of General M'Clellan on the Peninsula, was thrown against General Pope, who after fighting the desperate battle at Cedar Mountain, retired towards Bull Run. The enemy, having burned the bridge across that stream, rendered it impossible to move the supplies in the retreat, and consequently one hundred and forty-seven car loads, valued at two millions of dollars, were destroyed by the regiment. Retreating through Brentsville, it moved to the heights of Centreville, and there re-joined the army. One squadron was attached to the command of General Kearney during this memorable engagement.
It held the Stone Bridge on the Centreville Road during the night of the 30th. On the 1st of September, the wagon train was attacked at Chantilly by Stuart's Cavalry and a section of artillery. A furious storm of rain was raging amid which the fight was waged which lasted for several hours. At night, becoming satisfied of his inability to capture the train, he withdrew having sustained heavy loss.
On the 4th the regiment was united, several squads having been separated on detached service, for some weeks. The losses during the Bull Bun campaign had been severe, and, together with sickness by which many were prostrated, had greatly weakened the effective strength of the regiment.
On the 10th it moved to the neighborhood of Fort Blenker. General Buford was now appointed on M'Clellan's Staff, and Colonel Price succeeded to the command of the brigade. On the 17th a detachment of the regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Brinton, moved in search of General Ewell and his body-guard, one hundred strong, who were reported at Aldie.
Passing along the Bull Bun Mountains, when near Aldie, dispositions were made to attack. Half of the force was dismounted, and a heavy advance guard thrown forward. Captain Brinton with a detachment was deployed to the left to intercept them on their retreat; but before the attack could be made, while groping in the darkness, Ewell heard of the approach and fled towards MIiddleburg. Two officers of his staff and three men of his guard were captured by Captain Brinton.
"Five rebels," says Captain Seip, were captured by a stuttering bugler, who proposed to surrender himself, but it took him such a long time to stammer out the word surrender, that the rebels mistook his meaning and surrendered themselves instead. The bugler called loudly for help, and gained great credit for the achievement."
The regiment returned to camp, the men having been in the saddle twenty-eight hours in succession, and ridden eighty-four miles. It was highly complimented by General Birney as having performed a most daring, rapid, and successful reconnaissance.
On the 20th, Colonel Price with three regiments of cavalry and a battery, nine hundred strong, moved towards Ashby's Gap to capture a rebel wagon train. On the way he had a brisk skirmish with the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, routing it and capturing the commander, Lieutenant Colonel Greene, and wounding two Lieutenants and fifty men. The wagon train had moved the day previous, and the brigade returned to camp on the 23d.
On the 1st of October the regiment was transferred to General Bayard's command, and was assigned to the First Brigade. On the 6th, it moved with the division, fifteen hundred strong, under command of Colonel Davis, towards Rappahannock Station, driving the enemy and capturing several prisoners. The object of the reconnaissance-the capture of the rolling stock of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad being frustrated by its removal to Gordonsville, the command returned to Centreville, and on the 16th under command of General Stahel, moved in pursuit of Stuart's Cavalry, then reported to be at Warrenton.
It proceeded to Aldie, and thence to Middleburg, Rectortown and Salem, where intelligence was received of the capture of a subsistence train at Haymarket by a body of rebels, four hundred strong, who were endeavoring to hold Thoroughfare Gap. Stahel immediately started in pursuit via White Plains, and charged through the gap, driving the enemy through Gainesville and New Baltimore to Warrenton, where a brigade of the enemy was drawn up to check his further advance.
A brisk skirmish ensued resulting in a loss of two killed and ten wounded. One hundred of the enemy were captured. The command then fell back to Centreville.
On the 2d of November an advance of the entire corps was made, and when arrived in the vicinity of Bull Run rapid firing was heard in the direction of Aldie, indicating the advance of Bayard. On the 3d the command occupied Gainesville, and on the following morning approached New Baltimore, where a force of the enemy was encountered, who retreated before the regiment's skirmishers to Warrenton. A sharp fight here occurred, in which the skirmishers, after offering determined resistance, fell back, the enemy eagerly pursuing, until the brigade drawn up in line opened upon him, inflicting considerable loss.
The regiment was almost constantly engaged in scouting until the 28th of December. Early on the morning of that day Captain Chauncey, with on hundred and fifty men, crossed the Occoquan, and fell into an ambuscade, the enemy being three thousand strong, under Wade Hampton. A stout resistance was made and the fight raged fiercely for some time; but the regiment was at lengthoverpowered by superior force. The enemy closely pursued it across the river and captured and destroyed its camp.
Lieutenant Leche of company D was killed, and Lieutenant Thomas G. Snyder of Company F was mortally wounded and soon after died a prisoner. Dr. Weidman suffered himself to be captured, that he might care for the wounded of the regiment. Its loss was fully one hundred in killed, wounded, and missing.
The regiment was subsequently ordered into winter quarters at Accotink, and directed to hold the line of the Occoquan.
On the 4th of April, 1863, winter quarters were broken up, and the regiment marched to Fairfax Court House, where it was assigned to the Second Brigade of General Stahel's Division.
1863 Battle of Gettsyburg
It moved on the 24th of June, on the Gettysburg campaign, crossed the Potomac at Young's Ferry, and encamped on the 28th three miles east of Frederick. General Stahel was here assigned to the Department of the Susquehanna, and the command was turned over to General Pleasanton. The regiment was ordered on the 29th to report to General Meade's headquarters. On the 1st ofJuly, Companies A, H, and K moved to Frederick to gather up stragglers, the balance of the regiment moving with General Meade to Gettysburg.
On the morning of the 3d the three companies, sent to Frederick re-joined the regiment on the field. It was immediately ordered to duty in checking the tide of stragglers crowding to the rear. At a time when the fate of the Republic hung trembling in the balance, every man able to bear a musket was needed at the front. The battle raged fiercely along the entire line, and the earth trembled with the shock of the contending hosts. But victory at last was with the army of the Union.
The regiment was sent; at 12 P. M., to conduct a body of twenty-five hundred prisoners to Westminster, which duty was successfully accomplished and the command returned to Gettysburg on the 5th. It did provost duty upon the field and in the town until the 7th, when it moved via Frederick and joined the army near Middletown. Lee having escaped into Virginia at Williamsport, on the 18th the regiment crossed the Potomac and encamped near Lovettsville. It moved, in pursuit of Lee, through Upperville, and passing through Manassas Gap reached Warrenton on the 25th. On the following day Lieutenant Alfred Biles, of Company B, was surprised and killed by guerrillas, at the house of Mrs. Campbell.
Frequent reconnaissance's were made during the months of August and September, the regiment acting principally as guard at the headquarters of General Meade.
On the 11th of October a spirited attack was made at Culpepper, in which Pleasanton's Cavalry disputed the advance of the enemy from Stevensburg. It gradually retired before superior force to the Rappahannock, where fortifications of a formidable character had been constructed, and the infantry was drawn up in line of battle.
The regiment bivouacked at Bealton, and on the 13th retired to Catlett's. The race for Bristoe Station now became exciting, and before the command reached the Centreville Road, the battle opened and raged furiously until evening. Many prisoners were taken and the enemy's advance effectually checked.
The main body of the army was now entrenched on the heights of Centreville, a position in too close proximity to the defences of Washington to allow the enemy to gain its rear.
On the 19th, the regiment moved to Fairfax Station, and was assigned to the Second Brigade,2 Second Division, Cavalry Corps. The movement towards the Rappahannock and Mine Run began on the 21st, and passing through Thoroughfare Gap the command moved to Warrenton, where on the 22d the regiment was detailed to picket the Rappahannock from Kelly's, to Beverly Ford.
Approaching the railroad the enemy was discovered engaged in destroying the track. An attack was immediately made, the first battallion in advance, in which Major Taggart was mortally wounded while leading the charge. The regiment moved forward and a brisk fight ensued, which was continued until late in the evening. The enemy's cavalry under Fitz Hugh Lee, with a regiment of infantry and a section of artillery, was driven in confusion from Bealton to the heights around Rappahannock Station. The regiment lost five wounded and two captured.
On the 23d it again advanced and attacked the rebels in their chosen position. Their skirmishers were met at ten A.M., and a fierce engagement opened, the enemy retreating to his strong line of defences. Unable to carry these the command retired to Bealton, closely pursued.
On the 24th Colonel Brinton received orders to draw in the regiment to the infantry line, as the enemy was advancing in force to flank the position. Word soon came that the Seventeenth Pennsylvania had been captured, and that the enemy was rapidly following, which served to quicken the speed. When arrived within four miles of Warrenton, the brigade was found in line of battle with guns in position, and every precaution made for a determined fight.
On the 30th the regiment moved towards the Rappahannock for picket duty. A detachment was stationed at Beverly Ford, opposite which was a division of rebels engaged in taking up the iron from the railroad, and dispatching it to Richmond, at which they worked diligently the entire night.
On the 1st of November, the pickets were attacked by several hundred of the enemy's cavalry, and were driven back; but soon rallied and re-established their line. The regiment moved with the army across the Rappahannock, and was constantly engaged in scouting, skirmishing with the enemy, and picket duty, frequently meeting with losses in killed, wounded, and captured.
On the 29th the regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Brinton, encountered the enemy at Parker's Store, and fought with determined bravery, losing thirty-five men killed and wounded, but handsomely repulsing him and inflicting heavy loss.
After participating in the raid on Luray, in December, it went into winter quarters at Warrenton. While here many of the men re-enlisted, and received a veteran furlough.
1864 Battle of Chancellorsville and Sheridan's Raid behind Lee's Lines
Upon the opening of the spring campaign, the Fifty-ninth, with ranks recruited and re-fitted, moved with the Army of the Potomac, and crossing the Rapidan, in advance of the Second Corps, at Ely's Ford, was thrown forward towards Todd's Tavern, bivouacking on the old battle-field of Chancellorsville. It covered the front and flanks of the infantry, engaging the enemy at every available point, in the fierce battle which ensued. The cavalry made a reconnaissance in force on the 5th, and on the 7th met and defeated Fitz Hugh Lee at Todd's Tavern. Lieutenant Lungan of Company A was among the killed.
On the morning of the 9th a heavy cavalry force, of which the regiment was part, under command of General Sheridan, was sent to sever Lee's communications with Richmond. The movement resulted in one of those raids for which its leader became celebrated �short, but destructive. Cutting loose from the army, he crossed the-North Anna and reached the Virginia Central Railway at Beaver Dam Station. He destroyed ten miles of the road, its rolling stock, a million and a half of rations, and released four hundred Union prisoners, who had been captured at the Wilderness, and were on their way to Richmond. Stuart's Cavalry attacked the rear and flank of the command at this place, but effected nothing. It crossed the South Anna at Ground Squirrel Bridge, and possessed Ashland Station, on the Fredericksburg Road, at daylight of the 11th, destroying six miles of the railroad, a train, and large quantities of stores.
Moving towards Richmond it again encountered Stuart at Yellow Tavern, a few miles north of the city, he having passed it by a rapid march, over a circuitous route and massed all his available cavalry. A sharp fight ensued in which the enemy was driven towards Ashland Station, with the loss of its leaders, Generals Stuart and Gordon mortally wounded.
Passing rapidly along the turnpike towards Richmond, the command made a bold attack upon the advanced works before the city, but found the second line too strong to be carried by a cavalry assault, and returned across the Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge. It was here attacked, in front and rear, by a considerable force of infantry, which was repulsed, and it proceeded, after destroying the railroad bridge, to Haxdal's Landing, on the James River, arriving on the 14th. It rested here for a few days, and after procuring supplies, leisurely returning via White House, and Hanover Court House, rejoined the army on the 25th.
The Fifty-ninth participated in the fight at Hawes' Shop, on the afternoon of the 28th, in which the cavalry led by Sheridan, worsted the rebels under Fitz Hugh Lee and Hampton, routing them with heavy loss.
Sheridan's Raid around Lee's Left
On the 7th of June, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Brinton, it was sent, with two divisions of cavalry, around Lee's left, to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad in his rear, which it successfully accomplished. It crossed the Pamunkey, and broke the Fredericksburg Road at Chesterfield, and again struck the Central at Trevilian, where a sanguinary engagement occurred, in which the rebel General Rosser and Colonel M'Allister were killed. It suffered some loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners; but inflicted equal, if not greater loss upon the enemy. It also participated in the unsuccessful attempt to cut the rebel lines near Gordonsville, in which Captain Walker, of company M, was killed.
At St. Mary's Church, on the 24th, where Wade Hampton attacked and attempted to capture the wagon trains, on their way from White House to Harrison's Landing, it fought gallantly, and the enemy was defeated and driven back.
The regiment shared in the heaviest of the fighting and received the special commendations of both its brigade and division commanders for a dismounted charge in line. The loss was severe, Captain Clement R. See being among the wounded, and Lieutenants Dodge and Eastman captured.
General Sheridan's second grand raid having closed, the command returned to the Army of the Potomac, crossed the James River at Long' Bridge, and confronted the enemy before Petersburg. It made a diversion on the right of the lines at the time of the mine explosion, and subsequently re-crossed the river near Bermuda Hundred, and participated in the engagements at Deep Bottom, and at Malvern Hill on the 14th of August, and Charles City Cross Roads on the 16th. In the latter, it was supported by Miles' Brigade of the Second Corps, and drove the enemy some distance, killing its leader General Chambliss; but was in turn driven back.
Lieutenant Martin, of Company K, was killed, and Captain Stone, and Lieutenants Dougherty, Sloan, Schwartz, and Witmer were captured.
At Ream's Station it was heavily engaged, checking and repelling the enemy. The loss of the regiment was two killed, five captured, and several wounded.
Since the crossing of the Rapidan, it had participated in sixteen general engagements, and had lost three officers killed, eight wounded, six captured, and a large number of enlisted men killed, wounded, and missing, reducing its strength to about two hundred.
The subsequent career of the regiment is closely identified with the history of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac. It participated in the engagements at Wyatt's Farm, Boydton Plank Road, M'Dowell's Hill and Five Forks, and was present at the surrender at Appomattox Court House.
On the 28th of February, Lieutenant Colonel Brinton was honorably discharged, his term of service having expired, and Joseph Steele, Junior Major, was promoted to fill the vacancy, Captain Robert M. Brinton succeeding to the Majority.
It participated in the grand review at Washington on the 23d of May, and on the 17th of June was consolidated with the Twentieth Pennsylvania Cavalry, forming the First Pennsylvania Provisional Cavalry, commanded by Colonel William W. Sanders of the Regular Army. Lieutenant Colonel Steele and Adjutant Mumford were mustered out by reason of consolidation, and those whose terms of service had expired were sent to Philadelphia for discharge.
It was finally mustered out of service at Cloud's Mills, Virginia, on the 13th of July, 1865. Captain Seip, in his diary already mentioned, concludes his account of the service of the regiment in the following words:
"The story of their rough rides and fierce conflicts will be rehearsed with honest pride for they fought well, obeyed cheerfully every order, and shirked no dangerous duty.
"Under Buford or under Sheridan, they rode with only the desire to uphold the flag and subdue the rebellion. Their record is a noble one and will not fade."
Pennsylvania carefully preserves the war-worn banner of the regiment, and has inscribed on its folds its historic memories. As a regiment, the Second attained a high degree of proficiency in drill, and in battle it enjoyed a reputation second to none. On the skirmish line it was noted for its steady, plucky advance.
On parade it was distinguished for the regularity of its 'dress' its fine appearance, its cleanliness, and esprit. It furnished several staff officers for the general commanding. But few of the original officers remained at the muster out-their number being greatly reduced by rough duty and loss by battle.
The regiment was filled up three times during its period of enlistment. At the return no formal welcome was extended, and none expected, other than the generous reception each soldier met with at his own social circle. This re-union was dearer than any civic demonstration. The long separation was over, and friends clasped hands, made rough by sabre grasp and bridle rein, with all the enthusiasm of youth. All but the dead, whose bones bleaching from the Potomac to the Blackwater, mark the track of the army in its battle-march, and testify to the glory won on the 'field of honor.'
Source for history & rosters: History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-1865; prepared in Compliance With Acts of the Legislature, by Samuel P. Bates, A Member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Volume II, Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer. 1871.