South Hancock Avenue, Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg
Field & Staff---Unassigned
Organized at Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh August to October, 1861. Ordered to Washington, D.C. Attached to Defense's of Washington, D.C., until May, 1862. McCall's Division, Dept. of the Rappahannock, to June, 1862. McCall's Division, 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to July, 1862. 1st Brigade, Cavalry Division, Army Potomac, to September, 1862. 3rd Brigade, Pleasanton's Cavalry Division, Army Potomac, to November, 1862. Averill's Cavalry Brigade, Center Grand Division, Army Potomac, to February, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army Potomac, to June, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army Potomac, to August, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army Potomac, to July, 1865.
SERVICE.--Provost duty at Washington, D.C., until May 10, 1862. (Cos. "A," "B" escort to Gen. Keys December 28, 1861, to February 25, 1862.) Joined McDowell at Fredericksburg May, 1862, and scouting on the Rappahannock until June 14. Moved to the Virginia Peninsula, arriving at White House June 24. Companies "A," "G," "H" and "K" ordered to Yorktown, Va., June 25. Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1. Meadow Bridge near Mechanicsville June 26. Mechanicsville June 26. Gaines' Mill, Cold Harbor, June 27. Reconnaissance to Bottom's Bridge June 28. Rear guard to Army Potomac June 29. Glendale or Nelson's Farm June 30. Malvern Hill July 1. Reconnaissance to Charles City C. H. July 2-3. At Harrison's Landing until August 16. Reconnaissance from Harrison's Landing July 11 and July 29 (Co. "F"). Rear Guard to Yorktown August 16-18. Duty at Yorktown until August 25. Reached Washington, D.C., September 4. Maryland Campaign September-October. Battles of South Mountain September 14, and Antietam September 16-17. Sharpsburg September 19. Shepherdstown Ford September 19. Kearneysville and Shepherdstown, W. Va., October 15-16 (Detachment). Scout to Smithfield October 16-17 (Detachment). Hedgesville October 20 and 22. Hillsboro and Lovettsville Road October 21. Bloomfield, Union and Upperville November 2-3. Ashby's Gap November 3. Markham Station November 4. Manassas Gap November 5-6. Jefferson November 7. Little Washington November 8. Duty near Hartwood Church until December. Gaines' Cross Roads November 10. Waterloo November 14. Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15. Scout to Catlett's Station and Brentsville December 21-23 (Detachment). Expedition to Richard's and Ellis' Fords, Rappahannock River, December 29-30. "Mud March" January 20-24, 1863. Operations at Rappahannock Bridge and Grove Church February 5-7. Hartwood Church February 25. Kelly's Ford March 17 and 29. Chancellorsville Campaign, Stoneman's Raid, April 29-May 8. Passage of Kelly's Ford April 29. Raccoon Ford April 30. Ely's Ford May 2. Stevensburg, Brandy Station and Beverly Ford June 9. Aldie June 17. Middleburg June 18-19. Upperville June 21. Hanover, Pa., June 30. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3. Green Oak July 5. Near Harper's Ferry July 14. Shepherdstown July 15-16. Scouting until September. Corbin's Cross Roads September 1. Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan September 13-17. Culpeper C. H. September 13. Near Culpeper C. H. October 1. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. James City October 10-11. Near Warrenton October 11. Warrenton or White Sulphur Springs October 12-13. Jeffersontown October 12. Auburn and Bristoe Station October 14. St. Stephen's Church October 14. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. Brentsville November 26. New Hope Church and Catlett's Station November 27. Brentsville November 29. (Cos. "A," "F" at Bull Run Bridge November, 1863, to January 20, 1864.) Scout to Middleburg January 22-24, 1864 (Detachment). Kilpatrick's Raid on Richmond February 28-May 4. Beaver Dam Station February 29. Brook's Turnpike March 1 (Veterans on furlough March 25-April 25. At Camp Stoneman until May 12, and Joined Army Potomac May 19.) Campaign from the Rapidan to the James May-June, 1864. Sumner's Bridge May 3. Todd's Tavern May 5-8. Sheridan's Raid to James River May 9-24. North Anna River May 9-10. Ground Squirrel Church and Yellow Tavern May 11. Glen Allen Station May 11. Brook Church or Richmond Fortifications May 12. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Haw's Shop May 28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor May 31-June 1. Sumner's Upper Bridge June 2. Sheridan's Trevillian Raid June 7-24. Elliott's Mills June 8. Trevillian Station June 11-12. White House or St. Peter's Church June 21. Black Creek or Tunstall Station June 21. St. Mary's Church June 24. Siege of Petersburg June, 1864, to April, 1865. Charles' Cross Roads June 29. Warwick Swamp July 12. Demonstration on north side of the James July 27-29. Malvern Hill July 28. Warwick Swamp July 30. Demonstration north of the James at Deep Bottom August 13-20. Gravel Hill August 14. Strawberry Plains August 16-18. White Oak Swamp August 18. Weldon Railroad August 18-21 (Detachment). Dinwiddie Road near Ream's Station August 23. Ream's Station August 25. Reconnaissance to Poplar Springs Church September 13. Reconnaissance toward Dinwiddie C. H. September 15. Belcher's Mills September 17. Ream's Station September 29. Poplar Springs Church September 29-October 2. Arthur's Swamp September 30-October 1. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. Reconnaissance to Stony Creek November 7. Stony Creek Station December 1. Hicksford Expedition December 7-12. Bellefield December 8. High Hill December 10. Rowanty Creek February 5, 1865. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Lewis Farm near Gravelly Run March 29 (Co. "C"). Dinwiddie C. H. March 30-31. White Oak Road March 31 (Co. "C"). Five Forks April 1. Paine's Cross Roads and Amelia Springs April 5. Sailor's Creek April 6. Farmville April 7. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Expedition to Danville April 23-29. Expedition after Extra Billy Smith May 20-22. At Lynchburg until June 10. Mustered out July 1, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 9 Officers and 89 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 3 Officers and 257 Enlisted men by disease. Total 358.
The Fourth Cavalry was recruited under the direction of David Campbell, of
Pittsburg, in compliance with authority granted by Governor Curtin, dated
September 4th, 1861. Recruiting took place in the following counties:
Company A - Northampton county
Company B - Allegheny County
Company C - Westmoreland County
Company D - Westmoreland County
Company E - Allegheny County
Company F - Lebanon County
Company G - Allegheny County
Company H - Indiana County
Company I - Indiana County
Company K - Indiana County
Company L - Venango County
Company M - Luzerne County
The companies rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, but were soon after transferred to camp near the Soldiers' Home at Washington, where the men were mustered into the United States service, and were organized in three battalions of four companies each, commanded by the following field officers:
David Campbell, Colonel
James H. Childs, of Pittsburg, Lieutenant Colonel
James K. Kerr, of Venango county, First Major
William E. Doster, of Northampton county, Second Major
James H. Trimble, of Westmoreland county, Third Major
Colonel Campbell had commanded the Twelfth Regiment in the three months' service, and previously a militia company of considerable repute in the city of Pittsburg. The State colors were presented by Governor Curtin in person at Camp Campbell, on the 20th of September, 1861, and were received on behalf of the regiment by the commanding officer.
During the winter the discipline of the command was regularly and rigidly enforced, Colonel Campbell personally superintending drills, parades, and guard mounts, being particularly strict in his attention to guards and sentinels. The thorough instruction given to officers and men, made guard and out-post duty familiar, and was the basis of the signal success to which the regiment attained in these in all its service in the field. The men were partially armed and equipped before leaving Harrisburg, and received a complete outfit soon after reaching Washington. The greatest drawback was the difficulty experienced in getting suitable horses. So late as the 1st of March, 1862, only six companies were fully mounted, and one other partially so. Four of these companies were acting as provost guard in the city of Washington. An ingenious piece of strategy was practiced to mount the balance. The captains of companies not mounted, procured an order authorizing them to select a certain number of disabled horses from the corral daily, until all were supplied. These were immediately traded for those ridden by the companies on guard in the city. On inspection day, these worthless animals were condemned and the men directed to draw sound ones from the corral for artillery horses. In point of morality this action is indefensible; but it saved the regiment from disbandment, and is hence not without some redeeming qualities.
On the 12th of March, Colonel Campbell resigned, to take command of the Fifth Cavalry, and Lieutenant Colonel Childs was promoted to succeed him. Major Kerr was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain George H. Covode, to Major.
The cavalry arm of the service was not at this time in favor, and many organizations were transformed to infantry. Through the influence of prominent members of Congress from Pennsylvania, this one was preserved intact, and early in May was ordered to join M'Dowell's column upon the Rappahannock, where, upon its arrival, it was assigned to M'Calls Division, the Pennsylvania Reserves. Here it soon settled into a routine of picket aid scouting duty, varied by an occasional regimental drill. One of its scouting parties, following the line of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, went as far as Hanover Court House, where it communicated with M'Clellan's pickets; M'Dowell's whole corps was at this time upon the point of moving overland to join the army upon the peninsula, but was prevented by the appearance of a heavy column of the enemy in the Shenandoah valley. The troops which were already across, accordingly returned to the north bank of the Rappahannock.
M'Call's Division was soon after ordered to proceed by water to re-inforce M'Clellan, and the Fourth accompanied it, arriving at White House on the 24th of June. Here a battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Kerr, consisting of companies H, A, K and G, was ordered to Yorktown, where it remained on duty until the close of the Peninsula campaign.
On the day following its arrival, the balance of the regiment proceeded to the front. As the bugler sounded a halt, upon its approach to General M'Call's headquarters, the column was saluted by a number of shells from the enemy's batteries. They passed harmlessly by, tearing up the ground beyond, but as an evidence of being at the front, were conclusive.
On the 26th, a squadron under command of Captain Herron, of company E, was sent on picket in the neighborhood of Mechanicsville, in advance of the Bucktail regiment. In the afternoon, a party which he led, scouting beyond the line, met the advance of the rebel army, and fired the first shot on the Union side, in the bloody Seven Days' battles which immediately ensued.
At Beaver Dam Creek, detachments from the Fourth were employed in escorting batteries in their movements on the field. On the following day it was stationed in the rear of Gaines' House, where it was drawn out in line to stop stragglers. At the top of the hill in front, the whole field was in full view, and the only relief to the tedium of guard, was in riding up and watching the progress of the fight. Towards evening, the number of stragglers began to increase, platoons and companies, and finally regiments, broken and disordered, hurried over the hill and were stopped at the line of the Fourth.
When at length the Union infantry, broken and overpowered, was leaving the field, the day irretrievably lost, the regular cavalry under General Philip St. George Cooke, posted far up the hill, charged over the crest. The lancers followed, but the regulars, sadly thinned by the intensity of the enemy's fire, were driven in upon the lancers, and the whole came back in disorder.
Two squadrons of the Eighth Illinois on the right of the Fourth, leaving the field by order of General Cooke, opened a gap, and through this the vast crowd of stragglers which had accumulated in its front, rushed in wild confusion, and made for the crossings of the Chickahominy. The regiment was thus left upon the front line. Soon the enemy swarmed over the hill, where the corps headquarters had been. Colonel Childs in desperation, resolved to charge in line. The word of preparation was passing along the front, when the Union batteries posted on a hill in the rear, opened with shrapnel and canister. Never was artillery more effectively served. Rapid as were the discharges, the effect of each was plainly visible. The dense masses of the enemy on the heights in front wavered, were checked, and finally turned back over the hill.
At this juncture the regiment was ordered from the field by the General-in-Chief. As it filed away, the head of Meagher's Brigade was met, just advancing upon the field. After leaving the field, Colonel Childs was ordered to re-organize the stragglers, and while this was going on, a captain in a staff officer's uniform announced, "that while our fighting had held the enemy on that side of the Chickahominy, M'Clellan's advance had marched into Richmond and was in full possession of the city." The report was believed; the disheartened troops revived, and cheer after cheer rent the air, inducing the belief in the rebel army that large reinforcements were arriving, and that the battle would be renewed on the same ground.
At night the regiment crossed the river and had a day of rest. On Sunday, after many delays, it marched past Savage Station, across White Oak Swamp, and on the following day, June 30th, was posted on the extreme left of Seymour's Brigade of M'Call's Division. The position of the former seemed admirable, and he expressed himself in advance, in extravagant terms of satisfaction.
There was a long delay in which perfect quiet reigned. At length was heard rapid firing on the skirmish line, and soon the rebels made their appearance and charged in columns, firing as they came. They were warmly greeted, but answered with equal violence. A battery immediately in front of the Fourth, began to move hurriedly from the field, and its infantry support carried back along with it, broke the line of the cavalry, but was quickly re-formed. One of the guns fell into the hands of the enemy, and as it was being turned upon our own men, Captain Parke, of company B, with his platoon charged upon, and recovered it. For the rest of the day the regiment was under a hot fire, but not otherwise engaged.
The use of cavalry as dismounted skirmishers was not then thought of, and the nature of the ground prevented any effectual mounted charge. Adjutant Biddle and two men were wounded, and fell into the hands of the enemy. Surgeon Marsh remained upon the field, to care for the wounded, and was also held a prisoner.
At Malvern Hill on the following day, a squadron of the Fourth acted as a body guard to General Porter, and the rest of the regiment was on the field and under fire, supporting weak parts of the line as needed. The camp at Harrison's Landing gave rest to the whole army. In the night attack on the 31st of July, by the rebels from the opposite side of the James, the Fourth lost four men and six horses. On the following day, a detachment was sent across the river to act in conjunction with the other troops in making the ground secure from future surprises.
From, Harrison's Landing the regiment marched via Williamsburg to Yorktown, where it was joined by the battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Kerr, whence it proceeded to Washington, arriving too late to have a part in the second battle of Bull Run.
Battle of Antietam
In the movement into Maryland, the army being again under General M'Clellan, the Fourth had the advance until it reached Frederick City, when it was assigned to General Averill's Brigade. The illness of the latter preventing him from taking the field, the command of the brigade devolved upon Colonel Childs, that of the regiment upon Lieutenant Colonel Kerr.
Death of Colonel Childs
The brigade crossed the Antietam with the troops upon the left, and was posted in front of the Stone Bridge, where the Fourth supported Clark's Battery and held the line upon its right. A single solid shot, which fell in the midst of the squadron supporting these guns, killed two men and four horses. Colonel Childs was among the killed in this battle. He had completed an inspection of the skirmish line, and was with the staff, under cover of a hill, in a place of comparative safety. While there chatting pleasantly, he was struck by a solid shot on the right hip. The ball passed across him, throwing him from his horse and disemboweling him. He was at once carried to better shelter, when conscious of his certain death, he first arranged his military duties, sending Captain Hughes to report to General Pleasanton, and another of his aids to Lieutenant Colonel Kerr, that he might take command of the brigade. He then dispatched an orderly to Dr. Marsh, to tell him " if not attending to any one whose life could be saved, to come to him, as he was in great pain." Lastly, he called Captain Henry King, Assistant Adjutant General, to whom he delivered his last messages to his family, and wishes as to his property. He lived forty minutes after he was struck, but was unconscious during the last twenty.
Upon the fall of Colonel Childs, Lieutenant Colonel James K. Kerr was promoted to Colonel; Major Doster, to Lieutenant Colonel, and Adjutant William M. Biddle and Captain S. B. M. Young, were promoted to Majors.
During the early part of the fall of 1862, the regiment was encamped upon the North bank of the Potomac, near Hancock, Maryland. A battalion under command of Captain Duncan, was detailed for duty with General Newton, at Clear Springs. The latter having ascertained by his scouts, that the enemy in front was not in great force, he ordered Captain Duncan to cross the river and make a descent upon the headquarters of the picket reserve at Hedgesville. Heading his battalion, Captain Duncan proceeded cautiously, until within a short distance of the town, when he ordered a charge, and before the astonished rebels were aware of the presence of an enemy, they were made captives. Without firing a shot, the whole party, consisting of three officers and twenty men, with horses and equipments complete, were brought off in triumph. For this dashing exploit the command was honored with a complimentary order from General M'Clellan.
The regiment was with Pleasanton in his pursuit of Stuart, and shared in the mortification of seeing the latter escape across the Potomac without being brought to battle. In the march of the army from Harper's Ferry to Warrenton, it took part in the numerous cavalry skirmishes which signalized that movement. In the neighborhood of Upperville it had a brisk skirmish with a large opposing force, routing and driving it several miles into the vastnesses of the Blue Ridge. In the movement under Burnside from Warrenton to Falmouth, it formed part of the rear guard. During the battle of Fredericksburg, it was stationed on the north bank of the Rappahannock, and was engaged in guarding the fords above the town. After Burnside's mud march in January, active operations closed, and the Fourth went into winter quarters at Potomac Creek Station, where it was engaged in picketing the roads and fords near Hartwood Church.
Hooker takes Command
Upon General Hooker's accession to the chief command, the cavalry was given that position in the organization of the army, which had previously been denied it. It had to this time been but an appendage to infantry. But the establishment of a cavalry corps by Hooker, placed it at once upon its proper footing, giving it the strength and vitality to achieve victory without the aid of infantry. In the battle of Kelly's Ford, in which General Averell led his division across the river, and gained over Fitz Hugh Lee the first real cavalry victory of the war, only two squadrons of the Fourth, under Major Covode, were engaged. The main body of the regiment was at Hartwood Church on the 15th, on the following day at Kelly's Ford, and on the 17th, the day of the battle, together with the First Massachusetts cavalry, held the railroad from Bealton to Catlett's Station, listening with impatience to the sound of battle in which their comrades were engaged. In the movement upon Chancellorsville, the cavalry was assigned an important part. Crossing at Kelly's Ford, the Second Division skirmished over the ground of its previous triumph, in which it easily drove the enemy. On the following day it passed Culpepper, pushed on over the battle-field of Cedar Mountain and bivouacked that night at Rapidan Station. A day was here passed in fruitless attempts to force a passage. The difficulties of the ford gave to the party holding it, too great an advantage to be readily overcome, numerous charges made on either side being successfully repulsed. Abandoning the attempt, the division proceeded to Ely's Ford. During the night after its arrival, a sudden and vigorous attack was made upon its camp, throwing it into confusion. Soon rallying, the troops were led to the bank of the river and quickly silenced the attacking party. On the following morning, May 2d, the division passed in rear of the lines of infantry, and was placed in position in support of the Eleventh Corps.
Upon the transfer of Averell to the command in West Virginia, the division was placed under General Duffie. Under him it skirmished lightly with the outlying guards of the enemy, while the remaining divisions of the corps were heavily engaged at Brandy Station. It took but an unimportant part in that engagement, arriving when the heavy fighting was over. Soon afterwards General D. M'M. Gregg was placed in command of the Second Division, and Colonel J. Irvin Gregg, of the Second Brigade.
In the movement of the army on the Gettysburg campaign, when opposite Aldie, the First Brigade of the division was attacked, Gregg's Brigade supporting. On the following day Gregg had the front, and after severe skirmishing and hard fighting, drove the enemy back to Middleburg. During the third day, the Second Brigade was held in support, while the First again took the advance. On the fourth day, the Second initiated the fighting, though a, part of the First was called to its aid. The ground was hotly contested, the fighting continuing until the ammunition was exhausted, but not until the enemy had been driven past the town. Sunday was a day of rest, neither party renewing the fight.
On Monday, the whole corps pushed vigorously forward, the Fourth supporting a battery which was served with remarkable precision, hastily driving the rebel guns from successive positions assumed. By three in the afternoon, the contending forces were at Upperville. Here the Fourth was ordered to report to Kilpatrick, who, with a squadron of the First Maine, had scouted beyond the town. By his order Covode's Battalion took the right, Biddle's the left, and Young's the road, which had a substantial stone wall on either side.
While forming, the squadron of the first Maine, which had been in advance, was driven back, closely followed by the rebel cavalry. The signal for the charge was given and the regiment dashed forward, scattering and turning back the enemy. He was driven for half a mile, when coming upon two of his fresh regiments in reserve, the Fourth was in turn driven, till a sharp fire from the dismounted men under cover of the walls checked further pursuit. Quickly re-forming, a second charge was made, which again sent the enemy back, and the rest of the division coming up, ended this the last of the series of engagements.
Battle of Gettysburg
Crossing the Potomac, the division marched through Maryland, and arrived upon the banks of the Susquehanna, opposite Columbia, in time to behold the smouldering ruins of the bridge which spanned the river, but too late to save it from destruction. Returning by a forced night march, it passed Hanover, the scene of the cavalry fight the day before, and arrived at Gettysburg on the morning of the 2d of July.
In the afternoon the Fourth was detached and taken to the front, moving past the artillery reserve, where it was assigned as guard to General Pleasanton. It was still at its post on the ever memorable 3d of July, when the fire opened which was the prelude to the final struggle, the whole line being plainly visible.
In the afternoon it was taken to the extreme right, where the division had been warmly engaged. Here for two hours it was held under fire of artillery, which was too distant to be attacked, yet near enough to send its missiles with uncomfortable accuracy.
The 4th was a day of inaction. On the morning of the 5th, the cavalry commenced the pursuit of the rebel army. The scene of the first day's fight presented a sickening spectacle, even to those who were accustomed to look on gory fields. Skirmishing with the enemy's rear guard soon commenced, which was kept up until the column reached Chambersburg. Quiet and inaction followed, until the rebels re-crossed the river and a new campaign opened.
The march into Virginia brought sharp work for the cavalry, initiated at Shepherdstown by the Second Division in a brisk engagement, in which the Fourth bore a prominent part, and was followed by numerous skirmishes of little note, but involving much rough marching. Upon the resignation of Lieutenant Colonel Doster, which occurred on the 18th of October, Major Covode was promoted to Colonel, Major Young to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captains Alexander P. Duncan and James T. Peale to Majors.
Warrenton or White Sulphur Springs
After advancing to the Rapidan, General Meade found it necessary to retire towards Centreville. On the 12th of October, while the army was upon the retrograde, the Thirteenth Pennsylvania cavalry was on picket beyond Jeffersonville. Early in the morning, it was attacked by a superior force and driven back. The Fourth was sent to its support. By hard fighting the ground lost was re-gained, and at noon there was a lull of two hours. In the meantime the horses had been sent back towards Warrenton, five miles distant, except those of one squadron of the Fourth. At two o'clock P. M., the enemy attacked in overwhelming force, and notwithstanding the most strenuous exertions of the mounted men, and heroic daring of the officers to check his advance, he succeeded in cutting off and capturing the greater part of both regiments. The Fourth as it went into position in the morning, had three hundred and seventy-five men, and the Thirteenth three hundred and fifty.
On the following morning, owing to the loss of horses, the two regiments could muster but sixty mounted men. The actual loss in the Fourth in killed, wounded, and taken prisoners, was nearly two hundred. Lieutenant Colonel Young was severely wounded in the arm, losing the use of the elbow joint. The prisoners shared a hard fate. They were at first taken to Richmond, and subsequently to Andersonville, where many languished and died, but few surviving to return.
On the morning of the 14th, the command was early saluted by the enemy's shells, and in the march to Catlett's, the Second Brigade was deployed as skirmishers. The First and part of the Second Brigades, which were in advance, in route column, had crossed the ford at Bristoe, when the enemy dashed in, cutting off the Eighth, Sixteenth, and what remained of the Fourth. But the infantry was now at hand, who gave him abundant occupation; and with little hindrance they crossed the river in the neighborhood of Brentsvillc, and leisurely re-joined the column. A skirmish near Beverly Ford in which the Fourth participated, closed its active operations in this campaign. Upon its arrival at Centreville, the regiment was detached from the Brigade, and posted to guard the line of the Orange and Alexandria railroad for the winter, thus escaping the Mine Run campaign. In this duty, though making frequent scouts, and vigilantly guarding the country against the incursions of guerrillas, but two men were lost during a period of four months.
At the appointed time for veteran re-enlistments, more than two-thirds of the men enrolled themselves for a second term, entitling them to a veteran furlough, and the regiment to a continuance of its organization. The furlough was long delayed. After joining the division, detachment after detachment of raw recruits were sent to swell its ranks, until they had become so numerous that had the entire rank and file, who had the right to do so, re-enlisted, they would have been insufficient to entitle the regiment, under the regulations established, to their promised and fairly earned furlough. The veterans were finally allowed to depart, leaving about two hundred men under command of Major Biddle.
The Wilderness Campaign
Some progress had been made in drill and discipline; but the order to cross the Rapidan and enter the spring campaign, found the Fourth a veteran regiment in name only, not twenty of the enlisted men of the old regiment being present for duty. Several officers re-joined the command while the battle of the Wilderness was in progress, and the happy ignorance of the effects of bullets which distinguishes troops on their first appearance under fire, enabled it to go through without forfeiting its prestige. During the first three days, and throughout the campaign, the cavalry, while with the main body of the army, was moved from point to point as needed, to hold and strengthen the line of battle, the men dismounting and forming upon the skirmish line, as the varying fortunes of the day demanded.
Sheridan's Raid to the James River
The raid of Sheridan upon Richmond, entered upon early in the campaign, was a continual skirmish, at times assuming the proportions of a battle, from the time he left Beaver Dam Station, until he reached the James. At Yellow Tavern, the Fourth, while acting as rear guard to the column, handsomely repelled the charge of a rebel regiment, and later in the day held its position against large opposing force with skill and determination. In the battle which was fought inside the outer line of intrenchments of Richmond, the regiment supported King's Battery, and for four hours was under a heavy fire from the enemy's guns, which were served with great precision. Unfortunately the main purpose of the expedition, the surprise and capture of the rebel capital, failed from the error of attempting to move so large a body of men upon the thoroughfare, the enemy being in time apprised of his danger and prepared to meet it.
The command re-joined the army at the North Anna, when the Fourth received considerable reinforcements, the returning veterans and new recruits swelling its ranks to proportions exceeding those of any regiment in the corps. The engagement at Hawes' Shop, which occurred on the 28th of May, was unlooked for, the division being stretched out, covering a line of many miles in extent. The enemy attacked with cavalry and mounted infantry; but with a tenacity of purpose for which he became famous, Gregg held his ground and successfully repelled every advance. Lieutenant Francis P. Bowen was here mortally wounded. In the engagement of the infantry at Cold Harbor on the first of June, the force of the enemy's blow was greatly lightened by the nerve and steadiness of the cavalry in preventing him from turning the left flank of the army.
Sheridan's second raid, the objective point of which was Lynchburg, on account of the delay, as in the first, culminated at Trevilian Station. In the early part of the engagement, the Fourth and Second regiments coming upon the rear of a body of the enemy's troops which had cut off Custar's command, by a vigorous charge of dismounted men scattered the foe, stampeding their horses, and giving them an easy prey to Custar.
Immediately after, the Fourth was separated in the thick woods; one squadron under Colonel Covode taking the right of the First Division, the remainder under Major Biddle, moving to the centre of the brigade and holding the line near the railroad, where it successfully held the enemy at bay.
At four P. M., the regiment being again united, a charge was ordered. With a yell the squadrons advanced at a run, losing forty-five men in passing a distance of one hundred yards, but bearing down all before them. Driven from his first position, the enemy took shelter behind the railroad embankment. For a few minutes the contest raged with great fury, and it seemed doubtful whether the position could be held, when Captain Martin, with the reserve squadron, arrived most timely upon the left rear of the enemy's line, attacking it in flank. His line wavered and the Fourth with renewed energy pushed forward to the railroad, driving his forces in rout and confusion. The following day was given to the destruction of the railroad. The enemy appearing in too great force to warrant further advance, Sheridan retired.
At White House the army trains were met, and with them in charge, the corps started for the James. When arrived near Charles City, the Second Division, leaving the trains, took the road leading to Haxall's Landing. Near St. Mary's Church, the enemy appeared in force, where he had taken position, and was busily engaged in fortifying it. Supposing this to be the advance of the corps he anticipated a heavy engagement. The Second was rapidly thrown into position, the First being held in supporting distance. Beyond slight skirmishing, little was done, Gregg knowing well his inability to cope with the overwhelming force opposed to him. Message after message was sent to Sheridan for reinforcements, but these were all captured by the enemy, who was thus apprized of the weakness of the force in his front. Leaving his earthworks, he immediately assumed the offensive and opened a vigorous attack.
The ground on which Gregg stood proved unfavorable, and the position was, soon forced. As the enemy pushed forward in pursuit, a charge was made by a squadron of the Eighth, and Captain Smith's squadron of the Fourth, which: checked his advance, and by drawing his attention from Randall's Battery which was in peril, enabled him to withdraw his guns. Each new position taken by Gregg was quickly flanked; but the men contested the ground with great gallantry, falling back sullenly, and always keeping a determined front to the foe.
Nearly two miles of the retreat had been successfully made, when Colonel Covode, while issuing his orders and directing the fight, was shot down by a party of the enemy, whom in their partial concealment he had mistaken for his own. He was carried from the field, and, much against his own will, nearly three miles to the rear; but in a desperate final rally of the enemy he fell into their hands. His wounds were mortal, and he expired on the following day. Darkness put an end to the contest, and enabled the division to retire in safety. The Fourth lost eighty-seven in killed, wounded and missing.
A few days later the division crossed the James* near Fort Powhattan, and during the remainder of the summer was almost constantly engaged in skirmishing, marching and picket duty. After the departure of the First and Third Divisions of the corps for the Shenandoah Valley, the service was much increased in severity, and in this several affairs of considerable importance occurred.
On the 30th of July, the division crossed to the north side of the James, where it encountered the enemy's cavalry under Fitz Hugh Lee, at Second Swamp. The Second Pennsylvania was in the advance, lost heavily, and was driven back over the swamp to a point where the Fourth had advanced dismounted, and taken up a strong position. Lee was checked and soon driven.
Early in August, the regiment was again engaged upon the Jerusalem Plank Road, where it sustained some loss. In this engagement, Captain Frank H. Parke was mortally wounded. Colonel Covode was succeeded in command by Lieutenant Colonel Young. Major Duncan was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captains R. A. Robison and William B. Mays, to Majors.
During the progress of the siege, the cavalry was frequently engaged along with the infantry in advancing the lines, and extending them to the left. On the 28th of October, in the advance upon the Boydton Plank Road, the Fourth under command of Lieutenant Colonel Duncan, marched with the division. The enemy was met in heavy force. The battle opened at nine in the morning and continued until night-fall. The cavalry moved upon the left of the infantry, and rendered important service. The regiment lost one killed and several wounded.
At Hatcher's Run, on the 1st of December, Gregg's Cavalry and a battery were engaged, in which the Fourth performed signal service. It was led by Major Mays. A fort near the point where the railroad crosses the run, stood in the way of further advance, and it was necessary to capture it. This duty was assigned to the Fourth. Plunging into the stream. it crossed above, and making a detour, came in upon and attacked the rear of the work, while the front facing the river was held by the Sixteenth Cavalry dismounted. Assailed thus in front and rear, the garrison was soon compelled to surrender.
Two hundred prisoners, three cannon, with arms, equipments, and stores were captured. The loss was considerable. Captain Francis M. Ervay was among the wounded.
The Bellefield raid, or second advance upon the Weldon Railroad, was made on the 7th of December, by the Fifth Corps and Gregg's Cavalry. Near Gray's Church, the enemy's cavalry was met and a spirited engagement ensued. The ground was held and at night the cavalry picketed the rear, while infantry destroyed the road. Twelve miles of the track from the crossing of the Notaway River were completely broken up. The loss was twelve wounded. Upon its return, the regiment went into winter quarters, and with the exception of the engagement at Hatcher's Run on the 6th of February, 1865, wherein Captain John Harper was killed, little of note occurred until the final move in the spring campaign.
In that short but brilliant campaign for the cavalry, the Fourth, Lieutenant Colonel Duncan in command, performed a conspicuous part and lost several officers of much prominence. In the engagement at Dinwiddie Court House, the cavalry moved against a heavy force of infantry, and was repulsed. Lieutenant Charles E. Nugent was among the killed, and Clement Engelman mortally wounded. From this time forward until the surrender, the regiment marched and fought almost constantly, it being necessary for the cavalry to act with the greatest promptness and energy.
In the action at Farmville on the 7th, Major Mays was killed, and Lieutenant John A. Welton mortally wounded. On the very morning of the surrender, Gregg's Division had cut off a large body of rebel cavalry, and would have soon compelled its surrender, had not the movement been arrested by the appearance of the white flag which proclaimed a suspension of all further operations and put a period to fighting.
As soon as the terms of surrender had been agreed on, the division returned to Petersburg, where, after a few days' delay, it proceeded to North Carolina, but soon returned again to Petersburg, when the regiment was assigned to permanent duty at Lynchburg. It was charged with restoring order.
Lieutenant Colonel Duncan was made Provost Marshal of the district, which embraced nine counties. A vast amount of property belonging to the rebel government was taken in charge and restored to the National authorities. On the 1st of July it was mustered out of service at Lynchburg, and returning to Pittsburg, whence it had started four years before, it was finally disbanded.
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.