Field & Staff
Enlisted for Three Years or During the War. Incorporated With the First Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac.
Field & Staff---Unassigned
Organized at Philadelphia March 3 to May 4, 1864, from 1st Battalion Militia Infantry (6 Mos.). Moved to Washington, D.C., May 18, 1864. Moved to join Army of the Potomac May 26, and reported at Cold Harbor, Va., June 6. Cold Harbor June 6-12. Before Petersburg June 16-18. Siege of Petersburg June 16 to September 22. Attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps. Jerusalem Plank Road, Weldon Rail- road, June 21-23. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30 (Reserve). Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Relieved September 22 and ordered to Philadelphia. Garrison and escort duty at Camp Cadwalader, Philadelphia, Pa, and provost duty at other points in Pennsylvania until August, 1865. Guard of honor over remains of President Lincoln in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, and escort to funeral cortege May, 1865. Mustered out August 3, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 66 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 69 Enlisted men by disease. Total 136.
A body of troops known as the First Battalion, which had been organized previous to the invasion of the State, in July, 1863, for six months', and which had performed guard and provost duty at various points in the State, was, upon the expiration of its term, re-organized and recruited as a part of this regiment. Four new companies were added to it, and the regimental organization was completed in March, 1864, at Camp Curtin, with the following field officers:
While here, it performed camp and provost duty, and was regularly drilled. Soon after its organization, it was assigned, by companies, to duty at military posts in the State. On the 18th of May, an order was received from the War Department for the various to assemble at , preparatory to joining the Army of the Potomac.
- Joseph F. Ramsey, Lieutenant Colonel
- George W. Merrick, Major.
Leaving Harrisburg on the 19th, it proceeded to Washington, went into camp at Arlington Heights, where its equipment, which had been defective, was made complete.
On the 26th it started for the front, proceeding by transport to Port Royal, and thence marched by Bowling Green, capturing two of the enemy's scouts on the way, pausing at the Matapony to build a bridge, and reaching the battle-beaten ranks of the army during the progress of the fierce fighting at Cold Harbor. It was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, of the Fifth Corps, commanded respectively by General J. L. Chamberlain, General Charles Griffin, and General G. K. Warren.
For a few days subsequent to the battle of Cold Harbor, the regiment was engaged in picketing and entrenching, and in the various changes of position of the corps. At two A. M., on the morning' of the 7th, the corps moved to the extreme left of the army, and threw up entrenchments on the north bank of the Chickahominy, the enemy keeping up a continuous fire upon it as it passed.
For several days the corps remained in position, covering the army in its passage of the Peninsula. On the 16th it crossed the James, and made a forced march to the position which the army had taken up before Petersburg, arriving at midnight, and during the fighting of the 17th, supported the Ninth Corps. Heavy firing was kept up during the night, the troops sleeping upon their arms.
On the morning of the 18th, the corps moved by the left flank, the enemy shelling it as it went, and crossing the Petersburg and Norfolk Railroad fell with impetuosity upon the enemy's right, while the Second Corps engaged him in front, and drove him back with heavy loss to his inner works, compelling him to abandon the line of railway. The lines were then re-formed, the enemy at the same time opening a galling fire, and at three P. M., the Second and Fifth corps moved to the assault of his last line. His pickets in front of the Fifth were driven, and pressed to a ravine not more than fifty yards from his works, when he opened a murderous artillery fire on the front and left flank of the corps, compelling it to fall back with heavy loss.
The One Hundred and Eighty-seventh, led by Major George N. Merrick, lost in the engagement more than a tenth of its numbers in killed and wounded, holding its place in the most gallant manner, and winning, by its good conduct, the special commendation of General Chamberlain, who, himself, received a dangerous wound. Major Merrick, and Lieutenant Jonathan J. Jessup, each lost a leg while leading their men in the charge.
At five in the evening, the enemy made a desperate counter-charge, but was repulsed with great slaughter. The work of intrenching was immediately commenced, and pushed until the 20th, when the corps moved to a position on the Jerusalem Plank Road, to the right of the Second Corps, where it was again set to intrenching, and day and night the work was pushed, a hot picket and artillery fire being constantly kept up between the two lines.
On the 4th of July, a salute of two hundred guns was fired from the Union side, which was answered in full chorus by the enemy, the bands on both sides playing patriotic airs. On the 9th, in response to orders to strengthen the lines, several strong forts were commenced. The largest of these, standing on a commanding ground, was made to mount sixteen guns, and was christened Fort Sedgwick, but has since been popularly known as Fort Hell.
Early on the morning of the 18th of August, the Fifth Corps moved south upon the Jerusalem Road, about five miles, when, facing westward, it moved in the direction of the Weldon Railroad. After advancing half a mile, the skirmishers struck the enemy's out-posts, when the Union line of battle moved up to their support, and Griffin's Division advanced to the railroad, striking it at Yellow House.
In the meantime, the remaining three divisions were drawn up in line for its protection, and just as they had commenced the work of throwing up breast-works, the enemy, under A. P. Hill, who had come out from Petersburg, arrived in the front, and at once attacked. For some time the battle raged furiously on both sides, each sustaining heavy losses.
Finally, Griffin's Corps was withdrawn from its destruction of the railroad, and placed in support of the corps line, when a charge was delivered by the entire force, driving the enemy back. He, however, rallied, and made a counter-charge, but suffered a disastrous defeat. All night long intrenching was vigorously pushed, the pickets keeping up a sharp fire. The battle was renewed in the morning, and raged furiously until noon, when the enemy, having suffered severely, withdrew to his works.
On the 20th, the position of the corps was changed, and its ground strongly fortified. The One Hundred and Eighty-Seventh was actively employed upon this work, until the 22d of September, when it was ordered from the front, and proceeded for duty to Philadelphia. Lieutenant Colonel Ramsey had retired from the service in the previous August, and Major Merrick having been disabled by his wounds from further field service, the line officers joined in a petition to the Governor of the Commonwealth for the appointment of Captain John E. Parsons, who was then serving as Assistant Adjutant General of the brigade, to the command. He was accordingly commissioned.
Upon its arrival in the city, it was placed in Camp Cadwalader, and was employed in garrison and escort duty. Opportunity was here, given for thorough drill, which was studiously practiced. At the funeral obsequies of President Lincoln, it was assigned to the head of the procession, on its way from the Baltimore Depot to Independence Hall, and was left as guard of honor while the remains lay in state. With the First City Troop, it was detailed to escort the remains from Independence Hall to the New York Depot, as they were borne away.
On the 11th of May, it was detached by companies for guard and provost duty in various parts of the State. Early in August, the war being now over, the, companies rendezvoused at Harrisburg, where, on the 3d, the command was mustered out of service.
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 V, Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer. 1871.