151st Regiment Infantry

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South Reynolds Avenue, Reynolds Woods

Front Reads:
July 1st Fought here and in the Grove West of the Theological Seminary. July 2. In reserve on Cemetery Hill. July 3, in position on left centre and assisted in repulsing the charge of the enemy in the afternoon.

Present at Gettysburg, Officers 21, men 446
Killed and mortally wounded, Officers 2, men 79
Wounded Officers 9, Men 172
Captured or missing, Officers 4, Men 71
Total loss, Officers 15, Men 322

1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Corps.

Roster

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

K

Field & Staff

Organized at Harrisburg October 18 to November 24, 1862. Moved to Washington, D.C., November 26. Attached to 3rd Brigade, Casey's Division, Defenses of Washington, to February, 1863. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to July, 1863.

SERVICE.--Duty in the Defenses of Washington until February, 1863. Moved to Belle Plains, Va., and Joined 1st Army Corps. Duty there until April 27. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Operations about Pollock's Mill Creek April 29-May 2. Battle of Chancellorsville May 2-5. Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3. Pursuit of Lee July 5-24. Mustered out July 27, 1863.

Regiment lost during service 2 Officers and 67 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 53 Enlisted men by disease. Total 123.

Companies A and C, of this regiment, were recruited in Susquehanna County, B, in Pike, F, in Warren, D, in Juniata, E, G, H, K, and part of I, in Berks, and the remaining part of I, in Schuylkill. They rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, during the month of September, where a regimental organization was effected, with the following field officers:

  • Harrison Allen, of Warren County, Colonel

  • George F. M'Farland, of Juniata County, Lieutenant Colonel

  • John W. Young, of Susquehanna county, Major

Colonel Allen had served as Major of the Tenth Reserve, but had been compelled, on account of ill health, to resign. The material of the regiment was, in general, excellent, many of the men being experienced marksmen, and most of them well formed and hardy.

Company D was largely composed of the instructors and students of M'Alisterville Academy, of which Lieutenant Colonel M'Farland was the Principal, and there were in the regiment nearly a hundred who had been school teachers.

On the 26th of November, the regiment moved for Washington, and upon its arrival, proceeded to Arlington Heights. Rations in haversack had become exhausted, and the commissary train had failed to come up. In this extremity, the men of the Twenty-fifth Maine, encamped near by, proffered a share of their own rations to the famishing troops, early affording a lesson of generosity which the One Hundred and Fifty-first was not slow to improve on subsequent occasions.

On the following day the train arrived, bringing abundant rations, and one hundred rounds of ammunition to the man, filling cartridge boxes, and loading down knapsacks. On the 3d of December the regiment marched in conjunction with the brigade of Colonel F. G. D'Utassay; to Alexandria, and thence proceeded by rail to Union Mills, twenty-two miles out, where it was placed on duty, relieving a Vermont Brigade. It was here in an enemy's country, infested by Moseby's guerillas, where every inhabitant was an informer, and every visitant a spy. Unceasing vigilance, and unquestioning obedience to orders were exacted, and through a hard school, was a most useful one, and the lessons there learned served it in many a trying' hoar, where, for lack of them, disaster and ruin would have been entailed.

Colonel D' Utassay, who had been a Hungarian officer, and General Alexander Hayes, who succeeded him, were-both strict disciplinarians, and were untiring in their efforts to have the command well instructed and drilled.

About the middle of February, the regiment was transferred to Belle Plain, where it was brigaded with the One Hundred and Twenty-first, One Hundred and Thirty-fifth, and One Hundred and Forty-second Pennsylvania regiments, commanded, for a time, by Colonel James I. Porter, but subsequently by General Thomas A. Bowie, forming the First Brigade, of the Third Division, of the First Corps, General Doubleday commanding the division, and General J. Reynolds the corps.

Arriving at night, without tents or rations, the men were obliged to lie down hungry, upon the cold ground, without protection from the wintry weather. During the night, several inches of snow fell, and soon afterwards a cold rain set in, in the midst of which a part of the regiment was ordered out upon the picket line. Privation and exposure induced sickness, from which some died, and many were sent to the hospital. Among the victims were Lieutenants Urias F. Hollenback, and Caleb Parvin, both of whom died of diseases contracted while in the line of duty.

Just previous to the opening of the Chancellorsville campaign, the Third Division was sent to Port Conway, on the Lower Rappahannock, for a diversion in favor of the operations soon to commence. The movement was successful, inducing Stonewall Jackson to move, with his whole corps and train, to a point on the opposite bank. The division was out forty-six hours, during thirty-six of which rain fell incessantly, making the march a difficult and trying one. Upon its return to camp, General Doubleday sent a communication to Colonel Allen, through his Adjutant General, in these words:

"The General commanding the division desires me to express his appreciation to Colonel Allen, of the good order and compactness which marked the march of the One Hundred and Fifty-first, both in going to, and returning from Port Conway. He desires me to say that the same circumstances attracted the attention and commendation of Major General Reynolds and staff, who wished this compliment tendered."

Before marching to the battle-field at Chancellorsville, the First Corps moved down to Franklin's Crossing, where it was twice subjected to a vigorous shelling from the enemy posted on the opposite shore. On the 2d of May, the corps made a forced march to United States Ford, and crossing, was about to encamp, when it was summoned to the front to occupy the line on the right of the army, from which the Eleventh Corps had been driven. During Sunday the 3d, and Monday the 4th, the regiment occupied a position on the picket line, between the Ely's and Germania Ford roads, where it confronted the enemy, who sought every favorable opportunity to dispute the ground.

On Wednesday the army withdrew, when the regiment went into camp near White Oak Church. Considerable sickness prevailed while here, the morning report at one time showing one hundred and sixty on the sick list.

The march to Gettysburg commenced on the 12th of June, the right wing of the army composed of the First and Eleventh Corps, under General Reynolds, making a forced march of one hundred and five miles in three days, throwing itself suddenly between Lee's Army, (which was moving down the Shenandoah Valley,) and Washington. At Broad Bun they halted for the enemy to develop his plans. His cavalry having been defeated at Aldie and Upperville, and he having crossed the Potomac above, Reynolds hastened forward to Middleburg, where he again interposed between the enemy, and the cities of Baltimore and Washington.

As the enemy pushed on into Pennsylvania, Reynolds followed, and on the 1st of July, his cavalry, under Buford, met the head of the enemy's columns, and immediately commenced the battle, the brigades of Cutler and Meredith coming up soon after, and continuing the fight. The First Brigade, now commanded by Colonel Chapman Biddle, arrived upon the field at half past ten A. M., and took position on the extreme left flank of the corps, the One Hundred and Fifty-first, under command of Lieutenant Colonel M'Farland, in the absence of Colonel Allen, holding the left of the brigade line. As it moved into position it was saluted by the booming of cannon and the rattle of musketry, and soon was whispered the sad intelligence of the fall of Reynolds.

Without delay it was pushed forward, by order of General Rowley, now in command of the division, the men unslinging knapsacks as they went, and advanced obliquely to the top of a ridge to the west of the Theological Seminary, where it remained some time. All firing now ceased for nearly an hour, the enemy having been driven back, and General Archer captured with some eight hundred of his men. About noon the enemy opened again on both front and right. The latter being a flank fire, to which the brigade was exposed, it was ordered back into the hollow, and here,, supporting Cooper's Battery and subjected to a constant fire of shot and shell, it maintained its position for two hours and a half, only varying its line to avoid the destructive cross fire of the enemy. At half past two the One Hundred and Fifty first was detached from the brigade by General Rowley, to be held as a reserve, and was posted behind a fence along the south end of Seminary Grove, and facing north. A few moments later it changed front forward on the left company, and occupied a temporary breast-work erected by the Second Robinson's Division earlier in the day, just in rear of the Seminary, facing west. By this time the enemy had concentrated in large force and began closing in. With only this single regiment in reserve, and with but a single line, Doubleday was opposing thrice his numbers, coming on three lines deep, and reaching out far beyond him on either flank. This pressure soon began to tell upon the integrity of the Union line. A gap, occasioned by severe losses, was soon manifest between the brigades of Biddle and Meredith, which was threatening to prove fatal to the entire left wing. Into this gap, by order of General Rowley, the One Hundred and Fifty-first was thrown, to stay the tide which was fast sweeping on,-the last reserve thrown into action. In perfect order, it moved forward, and closed up the broken line, company D standing directly in front of, and about twenty-five yards distant from the point of woods where General Reynolds was killed. It had not gained its position when men began to fall, but not until the word was given was the fire returned, and then only deliberately, not by battlion, but, as each could deliver an effective shot. The fighting was now terrific, and the losses of the enemy in front of the position where the regiment stood, as was acknowledged by his official reports, was most grievous.

" I know not," says Colonel M'Farland in his official report, " how men could have fought more desperately, exhibited more coolness, or contested the field with more determined courage."'

But the contest was too unequal to continue long. The one attenuated line, with the last reserve thrown in, was becoming shattered. The Iron Brigade having borne the brunt of the battle for five hours, was finally withdrawn, thus exposing the right of the One Hundred and Fifty-first. The regiments only its left were, likewise, overborne, and one after another was forced back, until this was left alone to resist the enemy's front and flank fire. Finally, when more than half its number had fallen, seeing that it was being flanked by powerful masses, and that it would certainly be engulfed if it longer stood, the order was given to retire.

Deliberately the order was obeyed, the enemy following with caution. At the barricade of rails in the edge of the grove back of the Seminary, it again took position, where fragments of other regiments had assembled, and as the enemy's lines came on in front, a deadly fire was delivered upon them, which again checked their mad advance. But here a new danger threatened. Finding that he could not walk over, even the remnants of the First Corps, by direct advance, the wily rebel leader had sent a heavy force to the Union left, by stealthy movement to come in upon that flank. Before a warning of its presence had been given, the regiment received a heavy enfilading volley, by which Lieutenant Colonel M'Farland was shot down, receiving severe wounds in both legs, and large numbers of the men were disabled. The moment had come when it could no longer stand, and with remnants of other commands it retreated rapidly towards the town.

General Early, who had closed in on the extreme Union right, was already in the streets, having flanked the Eleventh Corps, and here, the way being impeded by trains and retreating troops, a number of the regiment fall into the enemy's hands.

Upon its arrival on Cemetery Hill, it mustered but ninety-two men. This number was increased by the arrival of men who had been cut off from the column in passing through the town, to one hundred and thirteen. Captain Owens assumed command, and took position in support of a battery in rear of the Cemetery, where it remained until five o'clock of the evening of the 2d. It was then moved at double-quick to the support of the troops of Sickles, on the extreme right of the line. In marching down the Taneytown Road, and when approaching Round Top, the line of the brigade was broken by troops moving in a diagonal direction across its path, and the One Hundred and Fifty-first, with the Twentieth New York State Militia, became separated from the rest of the brigade, and amidst the confusion consequent, failed to regain its position. Finding themselves thus separated, Colonel Gates and Captain Owens decided to act as an independent command, and moved up upon the front line, taking position on the left of the Second Corps, where it remained during the night. When, on the afternoon of the 3d, the enemy made his grand charge, these two regiments hastened to the right to the support of the troops at the menaced front, loading and firing as they went. Beaching a knoll where a battery of the Second Corps was posted, and in front of which the enemy was advancing they made a stand, and for a short time maintained a sharp fire, driving the enemy from a slashing in which he had taken refuge from a flank attack of Stannard's (Vermont) Brigade. The enemy was finally driven at all points, many throwing' down their arms and surrendering, and the dear-bought victory was won. At this point, Adjutant Samuel T. Allen was severely wounded. After the fighting was over, these regiments moved back near General Meade's headquarters, and on the morning of the 4th rejoined the brigade.

The heroism displayed by the One Hundred and Fifty-first in this battle, is unsurpassed; it went into the fight with twenty-one officers, and four hundred and sixty-six men. Of these, two officers and sixty-six men were killed, twelve officers and one hundred and eighty-seven men were wounded, and one hundred were missing, an aggregate loss of three hundred and sixty-seven, upwards of seventy-five per cent.

"At Gettysburg," says General Doubleday, who commanded the First Corps, " they won, under the brave M'Farland, an imperishable fame. They defended the left front of the First Corps against vastly superior numbers; covered its retreat against the overwhelming masses of the enemy at the Seminary, west of the town, and enabled me, by their determined resistance, to withdraw the corps in comparative safety. This was on the first day. In the crowning charge of the third day of the battle, the shattered remnants of the One Hundred and Fifty-first Pennsylvania, with the Twentieth New York State Militia, flung themselves upon the front of the rebel column, and drove it from the shelter of a slashing in which it had taken shelter from a flank attack of the Vermont troops. I can never forget the services rendered me by this regiment, directed by the gallantry and genius of M'Farland. I believe they saved the First Corps, and were among the chief instruments to save the Army of the Potomac, and the country from unimaginable disaster."

The encomium here awarded by General Doubleday, a general who never shunned hard fighting, was won, as has been shown, at a fearful cost, and it was by the stubborn fighting of this regiment, and such as this, that the great battle was finally won. Lieutenants Aaron S. Seaman and George A. Trexler, were of the killed, and Lieutenant Colonel M'Farland, Adjutant Samuel T. Allen, Captains George L. Stone, and James W. Weida, and Lieutenants Benjamin F. Oliver, Thomas L. Moyer, Henry H. Merkle, William 0. Blodget, and Albert Yost, were of the wounded, and Captains William K. Boltz and William L. Gray, and Lieutenants James L. Reber and Charles P. Potts, were taken prisoners. Lieutenant Colonel M'Farland submitted to the amputation of one leg on the field, and for want of suitable medical attention, the operation had to be repeated, and the other leg was left terribly mangled. For many weeks his life was despaired of, but he finally recovered.

The captured officers and men suffered all the horrors of long imprisonment. Colonel Allen, who had been granted a furlough, as soon as he learned that a battle was imminent, hastened to the front, arriving on the 3d, and resumed command. At six o'clock on the morning of the 6th the regiment moved with the army in pursuit of Lee, coming up with his rear guard at Funkstown on the 12th, and his main body near Williamsport on the 14th. That night the enemy escaped. Its term of service had now nearly expired. It was, accordingly, relieved from duty on the 19th, and returned to Harrisburg, where, on the 27th, it was mustered out.

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

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