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Sickles Avenue, the Loop Gettysburg
The Regiment engaged
Present at Gettysburg 589 Officers and men.
Mustered in August & September 1862.
Field & Staff---Unassigned
Organized at Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and mustered in September 8, 1862. Ordered to Parktown, Md., September 9, and duty guarding Northern Central Railroad until December. Attached to 8th Corps, Middle Department, to December, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to September, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Army Corps, to May, 1865.
SERVICE.--Ordered to Join Army of the Potomac in the field, and reached Aquia Creek December 15, 1862. Duty near Falmouth, Va., until April, 1863. 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. Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan September 13-17. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Auburn and Bristoe October 14. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7, 1864. At Stevensburg until May. Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Corbin's Bridge May 8; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Po River May 10; Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21. "Bloody Angie," assault on the Salient, May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. On line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Before Petersburg June 16-18. Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Jerusalem Plank Road June 22-23, 1864. Demonstration north of James River July 27-29. Deep Bottom July 27-28. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30 (Reserve). Demonstration north of James River at Deep Bottom August 13-20. Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom, August 14-18. Ream's Station August 25. Reconnaissance to Hatcher's Run December 9-10. Hatcher's Run December 9. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865. Watkins' House March 25. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Skirmishes on line of Hatcher's and Gravelly Runs March 29-30. Boydton Road and White Oak Road or Hatcher's Run March 31. Sutherland Station April 2. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Flat Creek, near Amelia Court House, April 5. Sailor's Creek April 6. High Bridge, Farmville, April 7. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. March to Washington, D. C, May 2-12. Grand Review May 24. Mustered out May 31, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 10 Officers and 188 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 127 Enlisted men by disease. Total 326.Recruiting for the 140th took place as follows:
About the middle of December the regiment was ordered to the front, and proceeded by Washington to Acquia Creek, arriving just after the return of the army from the disastrous battle of Fredericksburg. It was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Division, of the Second Corps, commanded by General Zook, and went into camp in the neighborhood of Falmouth.
On the evening of January the 18th, 1863, the regiment was supplied with new Springfield rifles, in place of the Vincennes1 muskets, with which it had originally been armed. During the winter it was engaged in drill and picket duty along the river, enlivened by occasional reviews.
"The firing" says Colonel Morris, "was maintained for upwards of four hours, during which the enemy made repeated and determined assaults upon our lines, and was each time gallantly repulsed by our men with severe loss. At nine o'clock A. M. all his efforts to break our lines with infantry alone having proved futile, the enemy opened upon them with a terrific fire of artillery, but with no better results, every volley from the enemy's musketry, and every discharge from his cannon, seeming to give renewed energy to our brave men, and to increase their determination to maintain their position at all hazards, and against any assault the enemy might be capable of making against them. There was no wasting of ammunition here; every man fired with the utmost coolness and deliberation, taking careful and steady aim at his object, as if firing at a target for a prize; not a man flinched under the terrible fire to which he was now subjected; every one of them felt that the high and enviable reputation of the gallant old Third Brigade was in his special keeping, and was determined that it should not be tarnished by any act of his."Swinton, in his Army of the Potomac, says,
"Hancock's front, especially, was assailed with great impetuosity, but the attacking column was held in check in the most intrepid manner by Hancock's skirmish line, under Colonel Miles."During the morning of the 3d, while the One Hundred and Fortieth was supporting the Fifth Maine Battery, the White House, near by, which was being used as a hospital, took fire. A part of company F, under command of Captain Thomas Henry, was ordered to rescue the inmates from the devouring flames. Thirty-three wounded men, and three women who had taken refuge in the cellar, were brought forth from the burning wreck, which was utterly destroyed. The regiment was finally ordered to retire to the new line of works, and took up a position with the brigade in the breast-works to the left of White House. Here, during the remaining three clays of the battle, it remained, subjected to occasional artillery fire of the enemy, and on the morning of the 6th, re-crossed the river and returned to its old camp near Falmouth. Lieutenant Joseph W. M Ewen was among the killed in this engagement.
Little worthy of note occurred, until the corps started, now under command of General Hancock, in pursuit of Lee as he moved northward. At Thorougfare Gap a collision occurred, but the fighting did not become general, and the corps crossed the Potomac on the 24th of June.
The Second Corps arrived on the field on the morning of the 2d, and took position on the left centre, stretching away from the heights above the Cemetery, towards Round Top. After noon, Sickles, who occupied the extreme left, was fiercely attacked and driven. Portions of the Fifth Corps were sent to his relief, but shared a like fate.
Finally, Hancock sent Caldwell's Division, of his own corps, to check the enemy's mad advance, and repair the threatened disaster. Moving rapidly across the little wooded knoll to the right and front of Round Top, he first sent the brigades of Cross and Kelly to penetrate the wheat-field and the wood beyond, where the fiercest fighting had been. Colonel Cross was killed, and his command was terribly torn as it advanced upon the fatal wheat-field, on three sides of which the enemy in heavy numbers was concealed.
And now, as a forlorn hope, the brigades of Zook and Brooke were sent forward. Zook was killed while leading his troops into. the fight, and before he had hardly got into action. The command of his brigade then fell upon Colonel Roberts, of the One Hundred and Fortieth. Gallantly did these two small brigades push forward over that devoted ground, in the face of a severe fire. The enemy was swept back from the cover of the woods, and the rocky ridge beyond the wheat-field, a position of great natural strength, was gallantly carried. But this advantage, gained at a fearful cost, was of no avail. The angle in Sickles' line at the Peach Orchard, the weak point in Sickles' formation, had been hopelessly broken, and through this opening the enemy swarmed, and turned the right of Caldwell's position, compelling him to withdraw. He rested at night on the low ground on the left centre of the line, where he remained during the heavy cannonade of the succeeding day; and until the close of the battle.
Colonel Roberts, Captain David Acheson, and Lieutenant Alexander A. Wilson, were among the killed. The loss in killed and wounded, was two hundred and sixty-three, more than half of its effective strength.
"In the regiment," says Captain Acheson, in the account above quoted, "Quartermaster Sergeant Smith had received a commission, but not being mustered, need not have gone in. He thought his duty was there, went in, and was killed. Lieutenant Purman was wounded, losing a leg, and gave a rebel his watch for lifting him into the shade. Lieutenant Vance lost his hand by a shell. Lieutenant Stokes lost his arm at the shoulder. Lieutenants Cook, Paxton, and the Major were captured. Captain Campbell was wounded, and as he fell a rebel seized his sword. He lay still and told the Johnny he needed it. The rebels were driven back, and he got away. Captains M'Callister and M'Cullough, and Adjutant Shallenberger were wounded."After the return of the army into Virginia, changes were made in the organization of the division, whereby the One Hundred and Fortieth became a part of the First Brigade, in which it was associated with the Sixty-first New York, the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, and subsequently the Twenty-sixth Michigan, and the One Hundred and Eighty-Third Pennsylvania, the command of which Colonel Nelson A. Miles, of the Sixty-first, who had displayed unusual gallantry in holding the skirmish line at Chancellorsville, was assigned.
Upon the fall of Colonel Roberts, Lieutenant Colonel Fraser was promoted to Colonel, Major Rodgers to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Thomas Henry, to Major. In the advance of the army to the Rapidan, and retrograde to Centreville, and subsequent advance to Mine Run, where the campaign ended without coming to a decisive battle, the regiment shared the fortunes of the corps, participating in the action at Bristoe Station, on the 14th of October, and in the skirmishing in front of the enemy's intrenched position at Mine Run, sustaining some loss in wounded. It returned with the army across the Raptdan, and was soon after comfortably settled in winter-quarters.
On the 9th it crossed the Po River, and at dusk was placed upon the picket line, where the rebel pickets were encountered. At daylight skirmishing opened, and was kept up until three in the afternoon, when the noise began to deepen, and grew to the roar of battle. Finally, the line was withdrawn to near the Po, where a line of works was thrown up, which was subjected to a severe artillery fire, by which considerable loss was sustained. To this time, the loss in the Wilderness battles in killed, wounded, and missing, was about seventy-five.
"At two A. M., of the 12th," says Captain Acheson, "we began passing troops, massed for battle. The picket line was so close that the shots seemed beside us, and so heavy was the air that a musket seemed a cannon-shot. At half-past three we formed in battle array, with the First Division in front, followed by the Second, Third, and Fourth, respectively. With the first streaks of day we advanced, going, moderately for a hundred yards, then starting at a double-quick, with a cheer. A close pine thicket was encountered that broke the ranks, but each one rushed forward on his own account. The rebel picket line delivered a weak volley and fled. I noticed one or two of our own pickets behind covers, who were as much surprised at our approach as the Johnnies. On, on rushed the mass of blue coats, clambering over felled trees, rushing through underbrush, leaping over obstructions, all half bent, to escape the balls hissing over us. Day-break had come, and the works were just before us. We pushed on, the impediments were such that the worst had to be avoided, and the troops got into paths, as it were. I found myself on one of these paths, and very near the head of the column. The rebels had a line of works with logs, along the top, so that a crack was left to put their guns through and fire. I saw the column to the left gain the works, and one fellow raise his musket, and plunge his bayonet through a rebel who was backward aboutl surrendering, The Johnnies all along our front began holding up their hats, in token of submission. We looked to the right, and saw a grand sight. That part of the line had farther to go, and had not reached the works yet. They were moving on with a rush, struggling through briers, springing over dead comrades, crowding through gaps in the abattis, until at last, with decimated ranks, they climbed the works and captured the foe. Some rebel officers wanted to lay back on their dignity, and deliver their swords only to officers of equal rank. It was a poor time for dignity though, and some of the soldiers persuaded them so, like a flash of lightning. The fighting was severe. The atmosphere was heavy, and the smoke hung just where it left the guns. We were on the extreme left of the line. I thought some balls were coming from the right, and suspected our own men were firing into us. A fellow just in front of me was ramming his gun, when a ball knocked two fingers off, and spattered the blood in my face. Got the men started to the right, and then we moved to the front again. We came to two batteries, twelve gurins, parked. We had just got past them, when our line began falling back. They had met another line of works too strong for them. The corps took refuge behind the line captured. * * Our brigade moved towards the left, and took its position on a little knoll, in a wood of small pine trees. The balls from the rebel skirmishers were flying thick. M'Callister, Grove, Ray, and I, were talking about the casualties of the day. I was facing the rebel line, and not fifty yards from their skirmishers. Having eaten nothing since supper, I took out my sugar poke to get a lump. As I loosed the string, a ball passed between Grove and M'Calister. I felt myself twisted half way around, and bent double. I was jarred and blinded by the shock, and called Ray. He led me back until I recovered my sight. I was the fourth in the family who was shot in the cheek."The surprise of the rebel lines was complete. The weather favored the daring movement. A heavy mist hung low over all the hostile lines. But when the first had been carried, and the troops, elated by their success, were rushing on to the second, the enemy rallied, and hurrying reinforcements to the menaced point, and fighting desperately, were able to hold their own. The captures of men and material were very great, including two general officers. On the following day, the rebel leader made repeated attacks on the Union line, to wrest from the Second Corps his lost ground, but without success.
On the 18th, Hancock again moved upon the rebel works at the point of his previous triumph, but without avail, the enemy being strongly intrenched, and shielded by dense abattis. The loss of the regiment in these two engagements in front of Spottsylvania, was very heavy, amounting in killed, wounded, and missing, to over a hundred.
On the night of the 20th, the Second Corps quietly withdrew from the front, and commenced a grand flank movement followed by the rest of the army towards Richmond. On the 23d the corps crossed the North Anna, and took position on the left of the line, the enemy in front, strongly posted. Finding that he could not attack, but at a great disadvantage, Grant re-traced his steps, and moved on towards Cold Harbor.
At Totopotomy Creek the enemy was found strongly intrenched and dispositions were made to force him from his position. Hancock, who occupied the centre, succeeded in carrying the enemy's advanced line, but found his main position too strong to be overcome. In this engagement the One Hundred and Fortieth sustained some loss, Captain John F. M'Cullough being among the killed.
On the 21st, the Second and Sixth corps were sent to the left, as far as the Jerusalem Plank Road, where a position was taken and fortified. Butt the enemy, in heavy force, coming upon a fatal break between the lines of these corps, crushed through, and caused much confusion to Barlow's Division, by which it sustained considerable loss. A line was finally established, against which the enemy in vain beat. Until near the close of July, the command was kept busy in fortifying.
On the 26th, a movement was inaugurated to the north side of the James, for a demonstration in favor of the attack to be made upon the springing of the Mine. Crossing the Appomattox and the James, it moved out to a position occupied by the Nineteenth Corps. Skirmishing opened at day-break of the 28th, and the brigade charged the enemy's works, capturing prisoners and four Parrott guns. On the 30th, the corps returned to the Petersburg front; but the attack upon the explosion of the Mine resulting disastrously, it again crossed the James, and on the evening of the 14th of August, reached Deep Bottom. On the morning of the 15th, the rebel works were carried by Birney's Division, and captures made, the line approaching within a few miles of Richmond.
On the 20th, the corps returned to its place in font of Petersburg. but on the following morning moved to the support of troops operating upon the Weldon Railroad, and at Ream's Station was attacked by a superior force of the enemy, but succeeded, by desperate fighting, in re-gaining a portion of his lost ground. Captain James M. Pipes was severely wounded, losing an arm.
In the subsequent operations of the corps during the fall and winter the regiment bore a part, being hotly engaged in front of Petersburg on the 9th of September; in the general movement of the 27th of October; suffering much from inclemency of the weather in the expedition to Hatcher's Run from the 8th to 10th of December; and in that to Dabney's Mills from the 5th to 7th of February, 1865. Apart from these, it remained undisturbed in winter-quarters, until the opening of the spring campaign, on the 25th of March.
On that day the Second Corps made an advance upon the rebel lines at Hatcher's Run, and a portion of his works, designed to cover the South Side Railroad, was, carried. In this assault Captain John F. Wilson was mortally wounded. For four days the fighting was continued on this part of the line, the corps making daily some substantial advance, Miles' Division executing a brilliant move at Sutherland's Station, on the 2d of April, whereby extensive captures of men and materials were made.
The corps was again engaged on the 6th, at Sailor's Creek, and on the 7th, at Farmville, fought its last battle. In this engagement an assaulting column led by General Miles was bloodily repulsed, Captain Samuel S. Kerr and Lieutenant William J. Cunningham were killed. Night put an end to the contest, and under cover of the darkness the enemy withdrew. Two days later Lee surrendered. Hostile operations were soon after concluded, and returning to the neighborhood of Washington, the regiment, on the 31st of May, was mustered out of service.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.