188th Regiment Infantry



Field & Staff---Unassigned

Organized at Fortress Monroe, Va., April 1, 1864, from 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery. Moved from Camp Hamilton, Va., to Yorktown April 25. Attached to 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 18th Army Corps, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to December, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 24th Army Corps, Dept. of Virginia, to July, 1865. 2nd Independent Brigade, 24th Army Corps, to August. 1865. Dept. of Virginia, to December, 1865.

SERVICE.--Butler's operations on south side of James River and against Petersburg and Richmond, Va. May 4-28. Swift Creek or Arrowfield Church May 9-10. Proctor's Creek and operations against Fort Darling May 12-16. Battle of Drewry's Bluff May 14-16. On Bermuda Hundred front May 16-28. Moved to White House, thence to Cold Harbor May 28-June 1. Battles of Cold Harbor June 1-12. Before Petersburg June 15-18. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Hare's Hill June 24 and 28, 1864. In trenches before Petersburg until September. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30 (Reserve). Battle of Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, north of the James, September 28-30. Battle of Fair Oaks, near Richmond, October 27-28. Duty in trenches before Richmond until March, 1865. Expedition up the Rappahannock to Fredericksburg and destruction of large quantities of tobacco and stores March 5-8. Expedition from Fort Monroe into Westmoreland County March 11-13. March to Signal Hill before Richmond. Occupation of Richmond April 3. Guard and provost duty at Lynchburg and in Central Virginia until December, 1865. Mustered out at City Point, Va., December 14, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 10 Officers and 114 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 66 Enlisted men by disease. Total 192.

The Third Artillery, One Hundred and Fifty-second of the line, was organized for garrison duty at Fortress Monroe. Numerous recruits were sent to it from time to time, after entering the service, and as it sustained few losses, its ranks were not only kept full, but a large number of unassigned men accumulated. The number of surplus men had become so great by the first of April, 1864, that an order was issued from the War Department, directing a call to be made for volunteers from this regiment, to form a new infantry regiment. In response to the call, over six hundred men volunteered, and in less than two weeks, a new regiment, afterwards known as the One Hundred and Eighty-eighth, was organized, with nearly nine hundred men.

The following field officers were appointed, promoted from captains of companies in the Third:

George K. Bowen, Lieutenant Colonel
Francis H. Reichard, Major

A large proportion of the men had served in other organizations before entering the Third, over three hundred having been in the Reserve Corps. The organization, arming, and equipping of the new regiment had scarcely been completed, when it was ordered to the field.. On the morning of April 25th, it took up the line of march from Camp Hamilton, a mile and a half from the Fortress, where the organization had been made, for Yorktown.

Upon its arrival, it was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Division, of the Eighteenth Corps, where it was associated with the Second Connecticut, Fourth New Hampshire, and Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania regiments. On the 4th of May, the Eighteenth Corps moved by transports to Bermuda Hundred, above City Point, on the James. Skirmishing commenced soon after the debarkation, which continued for a full week before the advance reached Fort Darling, at Drury's Bluff, a strong work upon a commanding position.

At Proctor's Creek, on the 10th, the command was warmly engaged, losing two killed, and on the 13th and 14th, again sustained some loss. Major Reichard, who was in command of the skirmish line of the brigade, had succeeded in driving the enemy out of a small redoubt, within eight hundred yards of the fort, and had posted some of his men behind some log huts, where they picked off the enemy's gunners. During Sunday, comparative quiet prevailed, the men busying themselves in throwing' up breast-works.

On the morning of Monday the 16th, the enemy having massed his forces and prepared them for action, under cover of a dense fog, which hung like an impenetrable curtain on every hand, made an unexpected and most determined assault. The firing was of necessity much at random, but the struggle was maintained with unflinching valor, and positions were taken and re-taken at the point of the bayonet. The enemy bore heavily upon the right of the line, and Heckman's Brigade, which held this ground, was driven in.

The Third Brigade was moved to its support, and in the midst of the movement, the right wing of the regiment, consisting of six companies, under command of Colonel Bowen; by order of Captain Reed, of General Brooks' staff, was separated from the left, and took position to the right, and considerably in advance of the rest of the brigade. Soon after taking position, Captain Reed rode forward and informed Colonel Bowen that the position was an important one, and must be held to the last extremity. Other aids came, and finally General Brooks himself, to encourage the men, and to magnify the importance of the position. Finally, Captain Reed called for volunteers to go forward a few hundred yards to bring off a Union battery which had been abandoned. The battalion responded in a body, and soon had possession of the battery, but found it so disabled, that they were unable to remove it.

Discovering this movement, the enemy opened a heavy and a most murderous fire upon the command, compelling it to fall back to its first position. By this fire, Captain Hiram I. Shinkle was mortally wounded, and fell into the enemy's hands, dying while a prisoner at Richmond. As the command executed this retrograde movement, the portion of the Union line, which was posted in its rear, unfortunately mistook it for a charge of the enemy, and opened fire upon it, delivering two volleys before the mistake was discovered. The division was finally driven back, and took position behind its works at Bermuda Hundred. The loss in this unfortunate engagement, was eleven killed and sixty wounded. The command was immediately put to fortifying, and for a period of two weeks, it was kept busy in strengthening and improving the works.

Near the close of May, the Eighteenth Corps, under command of General Baldy Smith, was ordered to reinforce the Army of the Potomac, and on the evening of the 1st of June, came up to the Sixth Corps near Cold Harbor, taking position on its right. Scarcely had the newly arrived forces got into position, when the word to advance was quietly passed along the lines, and a simultaneous and most desperate charge, by the entire Union force in position, was made on the enemy's strong lines of well abatised earth-works and forts. These proved to be well manned, and the storm of deadly missiles which was poured upon the advancing troops, caused them to recoil. Three times the lines were rallied, and returned to the attack, when, just as darkness was setting in, the enemy's outer line of works was carried, and though exposed until far into the night to a desperate artillery fire, was held and fortified, every spade, lick, tin cup, plate, even to the hands of the men, being brought into requisition.

At a little before dawn, on the morning of the 3d, the troops were again formed, and two desperate charges were made, but all with no avail. Their ranks were swept with terrible effect, and they were compelled to desist, after having displayed unparalleled daring and courage, and left the ground strewn with their dead and wounded, many of them lying close up under the enemy's guns. Falling back to their lines, they fell to fortifying and strengthening their works, and for a period of ten days, artillery was plied with little cessation, but without material effect. In the two brief struggles on the 1st and 3d, the One Hundred and Eighty-eighth lost twenty-four killed, and a large number wounded. Among the killed were Captain Herman C. Moeller, and Lieutenants William Dieterlie, Ernest Schmidt, and Adam W. Mattice, and among the mortally wounded was Captain Harry E. Breel.

When further efforts to carry the enemy's works by assault were deemed fruitless, the Union forces moved out of their trenches, and crossing the Peninsula and James River, came on the 16th upon the enemy in front of Petersburg. He was soon driven from a strong line of fortifications, extending, along a bluff which stretches away some miles to the south and east of the city.

After several days of severe fighting, a line was established some distance in advance of the bluff, where strong lines of intrenchments and covered ways were built. The Eighteenth Corps was posted on the extreme right of the line, its right resting on the Appomattox, and fronting the rebel work known as Fort Clifton. The rebel guns at the fort, and the guns of batteries placed on the opposite side of the river, were so posted as to easily command the position occupied by the regiment, which would have been untenable, had it not been in a measure protected by the Union guns. In this position the regiment remained nearly two months, and during that time, lost eighty in killed and wounded, and a much larger number by disease. Lieutenants Charles Stark, and George B. Sherbon, were among the killed. The latter had just been promoted, but had not been mustered, when, by a sharp-shooter's bullet, he was cut down.

On the 5th of July, company F, which, since the 16th of May had been on detached service at Drury's Bluff, re-joined the regiment with full ranks, materially adding to its strength.

On the 27th of August, the Eighteenth Corps was relieved by the Tenth Corps, the Eighteenth proceeding to occupy a position on the Bermuda Front, which the Tenth had vacated. On entering the works, the troops were saluted with a fierce fire from the enemy's guns; but this was soon silenced, and they remained in comparative quiet and security to near the close of September.

On the night of the 28th, the entire corps was relieved, and moving silently, crossed the James on a muffled pontoon bridge, at Aiken's Landing, and just at day-break, commenced a cautious advance upon the enemy. His pickets were soon encountered and driven, and pushing on at quick time, through a thick wood with tangled undergrowth, the troops at length emerged upon open ground in front of the rebel works, but a few hundred yards away. Fort Harrison, strongly built and bristling with cannon, was in their immediate front, and before the garrison was hardly aroused, the order to charge at double-quick was given. A long stretch of open ground was passed at a run, and though the enemy brought all his guns and his small arms to bear, he failed to get the range of the advancing troops, firing for the most part too high. At a point within fifty yards of the fort was a slight ravine, which stretched along in its front, capable of affording some protection, and here the line was re-formed, and the men took breath. They were now under a desperate fire, and to go forward was sure to entail heavy slaughter; but pausing only for a moment, the word was again given to charge, and without flinching, as one man the line sprang forward. A terrible volley swept it, and many brave men fell. For an instant it seemed to waver; but only for an instant, and recovering, it dashed on, and the works were carried. Fortunately, the men of the One Hundred and Eighty-eighth were well schooled in the use of the Fortress guns, and instantly turned the guns of the fort upon the foe. The victory was complete. The rebel stronghold, with all its guns, small arms, and many prisoners, was taken. General Ord, in command of the corps, and General Stannard, in command of the division, were wounded, and General Burnham was killed.

The First Division was soon rallied, and advanced upon Fort Gilmer, to the left, under cover of rebel gunboats on the James, and batteries posted along its banks; but it was repulsed, and suffered grievous slaughter in returning to the fort, Lieutenant George M'Neil receiving a mortal wound when close upon the rebel works. At nightfall, the troops were put to work in preparing the fort for effective defense, and at dawn it had been reversed and presented a new face. This labor was completed not a moment too soon, for during the night the rebels had been reinforced, and daylight showed them preparing for an assault. They were soon discovered in motion. On they came in solid column; but not a shot was fired from the fort until they had come within a few yards, when, just as they were commencing to utter that unearthly screech, so familiar to Union ears, the signal was given, and such a volley was poured into their ranks as caused them to recoil, and retire in utter confusion, leaving the ground covered with their dead, and their fallen colors. Re-forming, again they advanced, but again were they stricken, and sent staggering back. In desperation, their officers flew to the front, and a third time led them on; but all to no purpose. They fell like grain before the sickle of the reaper, and they were finally compelled to yield the ground, and give up the contest. Many of their men were swept in as prisoners, and twenty stands of colors taken.

Though foiled in their main purpose, they succeeded in throwing a body of sharp-shooters upon the right of the Union line, in such a position as to enfilade the brigade line, which began to suffer severely, the traverses of the works having been only partially completed. Captain Henry B. Dickson, who had led the regiment in all this fierce fighting, a, gallant officer, was instantly killed by the missile of a sharp-shooter, from this enfilading fire. The slaughter in the regiment was very great, the killed amounting to nearly sixty, and the wounded to upwards of a hundred. Lieutenant John Carson was also among the killed.

Not long afterwards, important changes were made in the strength and organization of the corps, and its designation was changed to that of the Twenty-fourth, the brigade to which the One Hundred and Eighty-eighth belonged, being changed to the Third, of the Third Division. Recruits, to the number of four hundred, were sent to the regiment while here. They had been recruited for the Third Artillery, but as that regiment was full, were sent to this. As the cold weather approached, the Brigade, which had been posted some distance to the rear of the fort, as a reserve, erected permanent winter-quarters, the various regiments vicing with each other in the plan and finish of their soldier villages.

The monotony of camp life, which was little disturbed during the winter, was broken on the 4th of March, 1865. On that day the brigade moved, under Colonel Roberts, to Deep Bottom, and thence proceeded by transports, down the James and up the Rappahannock to Fredericksburg, landing at various points on the way, and effecting immense destruction of stores and property collected for the use of the rebel army. At Fredericksburg, a large quantity of tobacco, ready to be shipped to the rebel capital and depots of supplies, were committed to the flames. Upon its return, the brigade touched at Fortress Monroe, from which point it conveyed supplies to White House, destined for Sheridan, who was coming in from the Shenandoah Valley, having effected the destruction, on his way, of the James River Canal, and the railroads centering at Richmond.

Early on the morning of the 3d of April, there was an unusual stir in the camps about Fort Harrison, and rumors of strange movements of the enemy in front were circulating. The division, which was now commanded by Colonel Devens, was hastily formed, and, advancing, found the rebel lines deserted. A rapid march towards Richmond was commenced, and on coming in sight of the city, it was discovered to be on fire, and the wildest confusion prevailing, the explosion of shells and of whole magazines of ammunition, multiplying the terrors of the burning city. A part of the division was hurried away to assist in checking the flames, which were finally subdued, and comparative quiet, was restored. The brigade was soon after settled in camp, in Manchester, a village on the opposite side of the James to Richmond.

On the 28th of June, the members of the One Hundred and Ninety-ninth, whose term of service had not expired, were consolidated with those of the One Hundred and Eighty-eighth, with James C. Briscoe, of the former, as Colonel, and S. Irvin Givin, of the latter, as Lieutenant Colonel, and the new regiment was ordered to Lynchburg. Soon after arriving there, Colonel Briscoe was promoted to Brigadier General, and placed in command of the post, leaving the regiment in command of Lieutenant Colonel Given, who retained it until the final muster out. Five of the companies were sent out into as many different counties surrounding the post, for guard and provost duty, and the remaining five were sent to Danville, where they were also distributed for similar duty. Thus separated, the companies served until the 14th of December, when they were ordered to assemble at City Point, where they were mustered out of service.

Previous Page

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.