Field & Staff---Unassigned
Organized at Harrisburg September 3, 1864. Left State for Bermuda Hundred, Va., September 9. Attached to Engineer Brigade, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1864. Provisional Brigade, Army of the James, to November, 1864. Provisional Brigade, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to December, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Army Corps, to May, 1865.
SERVICE.--Duty near Dutch Gap, Va., with Army of the James September 11 to November 28, 1864. Repulse of attack November 19. Transferred to Army Potomac November 28. Siege of Petersburg December, 1864, to April, 1865. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865. Fort Stedman March 25. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Assault on and capture of Petersburg April 2. Occupation of Petersburg April 3. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox C. H. April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Duty at Nottaway C. H. until May. Ordered to City Point, thence to Alexandria and duty there until May 30. Mustered out May 30, 1865. Recruits transferred to 51st Pennsylvania.
Regiment lost during service 30 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 24 Enlisted men by disease. Total 54.
The troops composing this regiment were principally recruited in the
counties of York, Cumberland, and Dauphin, to serve for one year, and were
organized at Camp Curtin, on the 3d of September, 1864, with the following field
Charles W. Diven, formerly Major of the Twelfth Reserve, Colonel;
W. H. H. M'Call, formerly a Captain in the Fifth Reserve, Lieutenant Colonel;
Jacob Rehrer, formerly a Captain in the Sixth Reserve, Major
On the 9th of September, it was ordered to join the army of the James, and upon its arrival at the front, was posted near Dutch Gap, where it rendered efficient service in holding the line. On the night of the 19th of November, the enemy made an attack, with the design of breaking the Union line, but was handsomely repulsed, the Two Hundredth taking an active part and sharing in the triumph.
On the 28th, the regiment was transferred to the army of the Potomac, where it was brigaded with the Two Hundred and Eighth and Two Hundred and Ninth Pennsylvania regiments, constituting the First Brigade, Third Division* of the Ninth Corps, to the command of which Colonel Diven was assigned, General Hartranft commanding the division, and General Parke the corps. The corps at this time occupied the line of intrenchments on the Petersburg front, stretching from the Appomattox to Fort Walker. Hartranft's Division was posted in rear of the main line, as a reserve force, the Two Hundredth occupying a camp near the Dunn House Battery, on the road leading up to Fort Steadman.
During the winter the regiment was thoroughly drilled, and performed fatigue duty upon works thrown up for the protection of the rear of the army. It also participated in several movements in which the division acted as a support to other corps, but did not become actively engaged. As the time approached for the general movement of the Union army on the spring campaign, the rebel leader sought by some daring stroke to loosen the grasp of his antagonist. Should such a blow prove effective, he might still hold his ground, or should it fail, it might serve by attracting troops to the threatened point, to open a way of retreat to form a junction with Johnston in North Carolina.
Accordingly, on the night of the 24th of March, 1865, without materially weakening his main line, he concentrated three powerful divisions, under Generals Gordon and Ransom, on the extreme east of the rebel line, opposite Fort Steadman, and the commanding ground about Meade's Station, on the military railroad connecting with the base of supply to the whole army at City Point, and at a little before light on the morning of the 25th, having stealthily approached and silenced the Union pickets, burst in overpowering columns upon the main line, capturing at a blow Fort Steadman, and batteries to right and left from Fort Haskell to Battery 9, thus swinging open wide gates in the fortified line, and successfully preparing the way for the advance of the powerful rebel supports which stood ready to move. The portion of the line broken, was at the time occupied by M'Laughlin's Brigade of Wilcox's Division, the greater portion of which was captured.
General Hartranft, ever on the alert in the hour of danger, whose division was lying in reserve in rear of the Ninth Corps line, detecting by the sound of the fray, that a powerful and determined attack was being made, dispatched an aide, Captain Dalien, from his headquarters at the Avery House, to the scene of conflict, over a mile and a-half to the right. At ten minutes past five, the aide returned, disclosing the tale of disaster.
In the meantime, General Hartranft had notified his brigade commanders to hold their troops in readiness to move at an instant's notice, and on receipt of an order from General Parke to reinforce General Wilcox, which came at the moment of mounting, he galloped off to General Wilcox's headquarters, two miles away, and about a mile and a quarter in rear of Fort Steadman. After a moment's consultation, he determined to lead his command at once upon the enemy, and directing the Two Hundred and Ninth to move to the right down a ravine, where it would have partial shelter, he proceeded with the Two Hundredth which was nearest to, and immediately in rear of the Fort, to face the enemy, who was rapidly advancing, having already overrun and captured the camp of the Fifty-seventh Massachusetts, and all but a handfull of the men. These had rallied at an old rebel work and were contesting the ground with the enemy's skirmishers. On coming up to these, he ordered them to advance, and followed with his regiment in line of battle, until he had reached the brow of the hill, where was the camp of the Fifty-seventh.
Here the fire became very hot, but the ground was held, and a steady and most destructive fire returned. Finally, however, finding the enemy too strong, and the right of the regiment suffering severely from a heavy fire from the Fort and from the road in front, it was forced to retire a few rods to an old line of works. Immediately rallying and re-forming, it was again led forward to a commanding position, where its fire was most destructive, and where it in turn suffered fearfully. For twenty minutes the regiment stood firm, while the work of carnage went on. But the storm of deadly missiles which here swept its ranks, exposed as it was, was too terrible to withstand, and it again fell back to the old line of works, where it was re-formed. Other troops had now come up, and were also engaged, the Two Hundred and Ninth standing on its right, and with two small regiments of Michigan troops, the Second and Seventeenth, reaching out to Battery 9. On its left for a short distance, the enemy still held an old line of works nearly continuous with that held by the Two Hundredth; but beyond, was the Two Hundred and Eighth regiment, which, together with detachments from the First Division, reached to Fort Haskell. In rear of the centre, in the ravine, under cover, were the Two Hundred and Fifth and Two Hundred and Seventh, and upon the high ground, a mile back, near Meade's Station, was the Two Hundred and Eleventh. Having thus drawn a cordon around the break and visited every part of the line, and having received from General Parke an order to re-take the lost works, General Hartranft made his dispositions for attack. To each of his regiments he sent a notice that he would move to the assault in fifteen minutes, and that the advance of the Two Hundred and Eleventh upon the commanding ground in rear, should be the signal for a concerted movement. This regiment had nearly full ranks, and when drawn out in line, it showed like a brigade. As it began to move, the enemy was seen to waver, and as the entire line dashed resolutely forward, the rebels threw down their arms in large numbers, and began to pass through the advancing ranks to the rear. The triumph was complete. Steadman was re-taken, and the entire portion of the line lost, was re-gained.
The loss in the regiment in this brief engagement was very severe, being fourteen killed and one hundred and nine wounded, an aggregate of one hundred and twenty-three. Colonel Diven, in command of the brigade, Captain Frank A. Hoffman, and Lieutenants Martin L. Duhling, William H. Drayer, Thomas C. Crawford, and John M'Williams were among the wounded. Lieutenant Colonel M'Call, who led the regiment, says in his official report:
"The officers and men of my command all behaved with the greatest daring and bravery. Captain Hoffman seized the colors in the hands of a rebel color-bearer, but was shot through the hand and knocked down with a musket, retaining a piece of the flag which he tore from the standard. Private Levi A. Smith, of company E, deserves particular mention. After the color-bearer had been shot down, I grasped the colors and called for some one to take them, when he, boy as he was, sprang forward, and carried them throughout the action."
General Hartranft, in his official report, says:
"The Two Hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel M'Call commanding, deserves particular mention. This regiment was put to the severest test, and behaved with the greatest firmness and steadiness. The regiment made two stubborn attacks on the enemy, and when compelled to retire, it fell back in good order."
General Parke, in his dispatch to General Grant, says:
"Great praise is due to Hartranft for the skill displayed in handling his division, which behaved with great gallantry, in this, its first engagement."
Soon after the conclusion of the battle, the enemy sent in a flag of truce for removing his dead and wounded, and under it, Major Bertolotte, General Hartranft's Assistant Adjutant General, delivered one hundred and twenty dead, and fourteen badly wounded. The works were re-gained, with all the guns uninjured, and nearly three thousand prisoners with small arms and battle flags were captured. The following stirring order was issued by General Hartranft, congratulating his division:
" With feelings of pride and satisfaction, the Brigadier General commanding, tenders congratulations to the men and officers of his command for their gallant and patriotic conduct in the brilliant achievement of today, which resulted in the re-capture of Fort Steadman and the entire line, together with battle-flags, a large number of prisoners, and small arms. You have won a name and reputation of which veterans might feel proud, and have proved yourselves worthy of being the associates of the brave soldiers of the old Ninth Corps, and the General commanding hopes that this, your first engagement, and signal victory, will nerve and stimulate you for the performance of future deeds of gallantry. To the wounded, and to the families of those who have so nobly fallen in defense of their country, the General commanding tenders his most heartfelt sympathies."
Active operations were now fairly inaugurated, and later on the same day, there was severe fighting further to the left, which resulted in the capture of five hundred of the enemy. On the evening of the 30th, the division was massed, and formed for an assault, but before moving, the order directing it was countermanded. On the evening of the 1st of April, the order was renewed, and the dispositions again made for an assault.
At four A. M. of the 2d, it was delivered, Lieutenant Colonel M'Call leading the brigade, and Major Rehrer the regiment. The column was formed in front of Fort Sedgwick the left resting on the Jerusalem Plank Road, Potter's Division being formed on the left of the road, to whose movements it was to conform. Strong parties of Engineers were thrown forward to cut away the abatis, and to break the wires connecting the chevaux-de-frise, so as to make openings for the advance of the assaulting party. This work was thoroughly done, and the column advanced in the most gallant manner. As it moved on, it was subjected to a severe fire from the front, and from powerful batteries which raked the ground where it was obliged to pass; but the works were triumphantly carried, and the guns which were found were turned upon the foe. The Two Hundredth was held in reserve, when the first dash was made, but was ordered to follow almost immediately, and was subjected to a like destructive fire.
"It is but justice here to state," says Major Rehrer in his official report, "that the officers and men of my regiment did, in this charge under a heavy, fire from the enemy, behave with great gallantry and coolness, at no time showing the least sign of faltering or breaking. At this point of the enemy's works we came in possession of two batteries, each mounting three guns. I at once sent to the rear for artillerists, who were accordingly furnished, and the captured guns turned upon the enemy. These works were held during the entire day by my regiment, and were all the time under a heavy fire of mixed artillery. Three desperate and determined charges were made by the enemy, in which they put forth every effort to re-capture the forts, but they were each time repulsed speedily and with heavy loss.* * * After darkness had set in, I was ordered to remove the abatis and chevaux-de-frise formerly used by the enemy and now in our rear, round so as to confront and face the enemy, and I at the same time advanced one hundred men as a picket line. After this period no attempt was made by the enemy to re-take the works, and by ten P. M., firing began to be less rapid. At midnight no firing at all was done, except now and then a shot from a sharp-shooter."
At four on the following morning, the division advanced rapidly, and entered the city of Petersburg unopposed, the enemy having withdrawn during the night. The loss in the engagement was two killed, thirty-four wounded and three missing, an aggregate of thirty-nine. Major Rehrer was among the wounded, but did not leave the field. The pursuit of the rebel army was at once commenced, the corps following the line of the South Side Railroad, and was, continued with brief intervals for rest, until the 9th, when the rebel army surrendered. The regiment then went into camp at Nottoway Court Eouse, where it remained until after the surrender of Johnston, when it marched to City Point, and thence proceeded by transport to Alexandria. Here it remained until the 30th of May, when the recruits were transferred to the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, and the rest of the regiment were mustered out of service.
* Organization of the Third Division, General John F. Hartranft; Ninth Corps, General John G. Parke; First Brigade commanded by Colonel Charles W. Diven; Two Hundredth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel W. H. H. M'Call; Two Hundred and Eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Alfred B. M'Calmont; Two Hundred and Ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Tobias B. Kauffman. Second Brigade commanded by Colonel Joseph A. Matthews; Two Hundred and Fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel William F. Walter; Two Hundred and Seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Robert C. Cox; Two Hundred and Eleventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel James H. Trimble.
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.