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Emmitsburg Road, south of Codori buildings Gettysburg
Field & Staff---Unassigned
Organized at Philadelphia April 20, 1861. Mustered in May 27, 1861 (a detachment attacked in streets of Baltimore April 19, 1861). Moved to Washington, D.C., June 15, 1861. Attached to Defenses of Washington to August. 1861. Hooker's Brigade, Division of the Potomac, to October, 1861. Grover's Brigade, Hooker's Division, Army of the Potomac; to March, 1862. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 3rd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac; to March, 1864. 1st Brigade, 4th Division, 2nd Army Corps, to June, 1864.
SERVICE.--Duty in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., until October, 1861, and at Budd's Ferry, Md., October 20, 1861, to April 1, 1862. Moved to the Virginia Peninsula, Siege of Yorktown, April 5-May 4. Battle of Williamsburg May 5. Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, May 31-June 1. Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1. Oak Grove June 25. Savage Station June 29. White Oak Swamp and Glendale June 30. Malvern Hill July 1. Duty at Harrison's Landing until August 16. Action at Malvern Hill August 5. Movement to Centreville August 16-26. Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 26-September 2. Bristoe Station, Kettle Run, August 27. Battles of Groveton August 29; Bull Run August 30; Chantilly September 1. Duty in the Defenses of Washington, D.C., until November. Operations on Orange & Alexandria Railroad October 10-12. Movement to Falmouth, Va., November 18-28. Battle of Fredericksburg. Va., December 12-15. "Mud March" January 20-24, 1863. Operations at Rappahannock Bridge and Grove Church February 5-7. At Falmouth until April. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5. Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24. Battle of Gettysburg (Pa.) July 1-3. Whapping Heights, Va., July 23. Duty on line of the Rapidan until October. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Kelly's Ford November 7. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. Payne's Farm November 27. Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7, 1864. Near Brandy Station until May. Rapidan Campaign May 4-28. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. Harris Farm, on Fredericksburg Road, May 19. North Anna River May 23-26. Ox Ford May 24. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Left front May 28. Mustered out June 18, 1864. Veterans and Recruits transferred to 99th Pennsylvania.
Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 143 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 71 Enlisted men by disease. Total 222.
The Twenty-sixth Regiment was organized soon after the election of Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency in 1860, and together with the Twenty-seventh, formed the Washington Brigade.
In the latter part of January, 1861, Colonel Wm. F. Small, its commander, tendered its services to President Buchanan, through the agency of Hon. Simon Cameron. Believing that pacific counsels would prevail, the President declined the offer, but complimented the patriotism and zeal thus promptly displayed. When intelligence was received that the " Star of the West" had been fired upon in Charleston harbor, a tender was again made to the Government. Mr. Cameron was then Secretary of War, by whom it was immediately accepted, and Colonel Small was ordered to report, with his command, in Washington.
On the evening of the 18th of April, he started from Philadelphia with his brigade, under orders requiring it to be taken through Baltimore "at or before daylight;" but through the negligence or treachery of the railroad employees, it was detained until noon of the 19th. Upon its arrival it was attacked by a mob. A Massachusetts regiment accompanying the brigade, fully armed and supplied with ammunition, though desperately opposed, fought its way through the city. The mob, returning from its encounter with the Massachusetts men, attacked Colonel Small's command with great fury. Being entirely defenceless and unable to cope with its assailants, it was withdrawn and returned to Philadelphia; but not until one of its number was killed and several wounded.
This regiment was then offered to Governor Curtin for the three months' service, and was accepted, but not mustered in at that time. The men were not, however, disbanded, but were maintained by the private resources of the officers and their friends, from April 20th, to May 25th, when they were mustered for three years, by direct order of the Secretary of War, under the call of May 3d, 1861, their muster being dated back to May 5th. Very few of the men of the original organization, or who had been in the Baltimore expedition, were finally enrolled. In company H, not one of the eighty-six who marched with Captain Tilghman on the 19th of April, remained with the company upon its final organization.
Captain John B. Adams, in 1860, commanded a militia company known as the "American True Blues," the name being subsequently changed to the "Anderson Guard." This company, upon the call of the President, was rapidly recruited until it formed a batallion, but was absorbed in the formation of the regiment, Captain Adams' company becoming company B. The men composing the regiment were nearly all from Philadelphia or its immediate vicinity, except company K, which was chiefly from Chester, Delaware county. In general, the enlisted men were destitute of military experience.
The regiment was finally organized on the first of May by the choice of the following officers:Arms and clothing were received during the first week in June. On the 15th it was ordered to Washington, and, upon its arrival encamped near Kalorama Heights, north of the Capitol, remaining there about six weeks.
- Wm. F. Small, of Philadelphia, Colonel
- Rush Van Dyke, of Philadelphia, Lieutenant Colonel
- Caspar M. Berry, of Philadelphia, Major
Company B, Captain Adams, was detached by order of General Mansfield, in command of the department, to guard the depot of quartermaster and commissary stores, situated at the foot of G street. This was the general depot for the supply of the entire army of the Potomac. It was made an independent post, and Captain Adams was assigned to it as commandant, with orders to report directly to the head-quarters of General M'Clellan, then in command of the army, thus entirely severing its connection, for the time, with the regiment. The company had been under the instruction of a drill-master of twenty-six years' experience in the regular army. The duty to which it was assigned was a very important one, having stores to guard, which, at times, amounted in value to sixty millions of dollars, requiring the utmost vigilence of officers and men.
Company H was also temporarily detached to guard the Flying bridge at Georgetown, D. C., and company A, Captain Moffitt, for duty at the United States Arsenal.
Early in August, 1861, the Twenty-sixth was assigned to a brigade commanded by General Joseph Hooker, and encamped near Bladensburg. It remained here until about the 1st of October,and during this time improved greatly in drill and discipline. The officers were several times called together for instruction by Colonel Small, but no regular school was held.
On the 20th of October, this brigade,1 together with Sickles' Excelsior, and the Second New Jersey Brigades, forming Hooker's Division, marched to Budd's ferry, Maryland, where it encamped and remained until the 1st of April, 1862.
From the date of its organization to the 1st of January, 1862, the brigade was commanded by Colonel Cowden of the First Massachusetts, and subsequently by Brigadier General Nagle. The only duty performed while here consisted in picketing the bank of the Potomac opposite the rebel batteries, and drilling when the weather would permit. During a temporary inability of the field officers, the regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Fisk of the Second New Hampshire, by special assignment. In the month of February a beautiful silk flag2 was received, which was made and presented by Mrs. Frederick M'Crellish and Mrs. Wm. A. Woodward of San Francisco, wives of the editors of the Alta California, formerly Philadelphians. It was formally presented, on behalf of the ladies, in an eloquent speech, by Robert M. Foust, Esq., and was responded to by Lieutenant Colonel Rush Van Dyke, in a feeling manner, pledging the honor of the regiment to its protection.
About the 1st of April Hooker's Division embarked for the Peninsula, and took part in the operations before Yorktown. As soon as active service commenced the moralo of all the troops was greatly improved. The Twenty-sixth was assigned to duty in the trenches on the right centre of the line, in front of General Heintzelnan's head-quarters. Upon the evacuation of Yorktown, Hooker's Division marched in pursuit; but for want of orders from the headquarters of the army, necessary to give precedence, its march was cut off by other divisions, under senior officers, crossing the road, and, after waiting many hours it was forced to make a long detour. It was nearly midnight when the Twenty-sixth reached the bivouac in front of the redoubts near Williamsburg.
The division moved at early dawn on the 5th of May, and the engagement commenced at 7 o'clock, A. M. Colonel Small was ordered by General Hooker to occupy the Yorktown and Williamsburg turnpike, and open communication with Sumner's Corps. The road was found clear of the enemy, who had, however, skirmishers in a line of rifle-pits in front of Fort Magruder. Colonel Small deployed five companies as skirmishers, and drove the enemy back into the fort, but was himself severely wounded and carried from the field. The command devolved upon Major Berry, and the regiment remained in the road at the edge of the slashing, about eight hundred yards from the fort, until four o'clock, P. M., when it was relieved by fresh troops, and a complete victory was achieved. The loss in the Twenty-sixth in this engagement was eight killed, twenty-three wounded, and three taken prisoners-a loss but slight compared to that of the remainder of the division, owing to its position on the extreme right, while the main attack of the enemy was on the left. It afterwards appeared that General Hooker had sent orders to move the regiment to the left, which had never reached the officer in command.
The division remained at Williamsburg about two weeks after the battle, the Twenty-sixth being detailed to take charge of rebel prisoners and to do provost guard duty in the town. When the army of the Potomac marched upon Richmond, the Twenty-sixth moved and crossed the Chickahominy in support of a brigade of Casey's division. While on the march, Lieutenant Colonel Wells of the First Massachusetts was assigned to the command by General Grover.
At the battle of Fair Oaks it occupied a position on the extreme left of the army, towards White Oak Swamp, and did good service in preventing the enemy from operating on that flank. Immediately after the battle it marched to Seven Pines and occupied a position in the front line, between the Williamsburg turnpike and the railroad, where it was engaged in intrenching and in picket and skirmish duty, until the evacuation of that place.
On the Twenty-sixth of June, Heintzelman's Corps, consisting of Kearney's and Hooker's divisions, advanced along the Williamsburg turnpike to a point about three miles from Richmond, meeting but a moderate resistance, when they were halted by orders from General M'Clellan. On the following day the ground was abandoned and the intrenched line re-occupied.
On the 28th, orders were received to destroy all extra stores, tents, and baggage, and to retreat at day-break. The division was engaged at Savage Station until about four o'clock, P. M., and then marched through White Oak Swamp. On the following day it was engaged from noon until night, and at a little before dusk the Twenty-sixth was ordered to make a bayonet charge, which was executed with good effect, the enemy breaking and offering no further resistance. The regiment remained in line of battle during most of the night, but before day-break fell back to Malvern Hill. At about two o'clock, P. M., it was again engaged, supporting batteries and exposed to a heavy artilleryfire, but suffered little, the men lying down and being under partial shelter. It remained in position during the night and at early dawn marched to Harrison's Landing. Owing to the entire want of orders from the commanding general to regulate the march of the different corps, the whole army was moving by the same road at the same time; consequently the troops were huddled, together, the officers were utterly unable to find their men, and for several hours the army was little better than a mob.
While the army was encamped at Harrison's Landing, near the end of July, General Hooker returned to Malvern Hill and re-occupied that stronghold. In this movement the Twenty-sixth had the advance and was actively engaged. The losses in the several engagements before Richmond, in which the regiment participated, was twenty killed and forty-five wounded. Eleven died of disease contracted in the miasmatic swamps of the Chickahominy.
The moral and religious interests of the men were studiously cared for by the chaplain, Rev. Charles A. Beck. In July, 1862, a few patriotic ladies in Philadelphia presented the regiment with a chapel tent. This was regularly pitched in the camp while in winter quarters, and was kept well supplied with books, magazines, papers and writing materials, making it a favorite place of resort. Preaching twice on Sunday, with prayer meetings twice in the week, singing class and temperance meetings during week day evenings, exerted an excellent influence, the tent being regularly filled with a quiet, attentive audience.
About the middle of July, Lieutenant Colonel Wells left the regiment and was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel Bush Van Dyke, and upon his resignation, Major Tripp, of the Eleventh Massachusetts, was temporarily assigned to the command. Captain Bodine, of company K, was soon after commissioned Major, relieving Major Tripp.
On the 16th of August, 1862, the regiment left Harrison's Landing with the main body of the army, and on the 20th embarked at Yorktown, on the steamer Baltic, for Alexandria Virginia. Heintzelman's Corps was immediately pushed out to Warrenton Junction to the support of General Pope, now facing the rebels on the line of the Rappahannock. Scarcely had it arrived when intelligence was received that Stonewall Jackson, with a heavy column, had struck the railroad at Bristoe Station, thus cutting off all communication between Pope's army and his base of supply.
Kearney's division was immediately ordered to Gainesville, and Hooker's to march upon the railroad towards Manassas Junction. The regiment was now under the command of Major Bodine, and took the advance of the brigade. A sharp engagement ensued at Bristoe Station, wherein the rebels were defeated and driven back. Bivouacking for the night, it pushed forward on the following morning and re-established communication with the base of supplies. In this movement the Twenty-sixth lost all its baggage and books by the burning of the train of cars upon which they were deposited, rendered necessary by the destruction of the bridge over Kettle creek.
After a tiresome march through Centreville the regiment reached the Bull Run battle-field on the 29th, and at once went into the fight, taking position on the right of the turnpike leading from Centreville to Groveton. The brigade was manceuvered with little skill. Thrown into a dense wood without skirmishers or support, with both flanks exposed, it was marched directly up to an old railroad embankment, where it received a sudden and destructive fire from the enemy lying in heavy masses behind it. In less than an hour two officers were killed, and sixty-three men killed and wounded. It bivouacked upon the field, and on the following day was held in support of three different batteries, rapidly moving from point to point, where most needed. In the evening it retired with the main army, in good order, to Centreville.
On the afternoon of the 1st of September it was sent to the support of Kearney, whose division was hotly engaged at Chantilly, and where that heroic officer was killed. On the 2d the brigade marched to the vicinity of Alexandria and encamped at Fort Lyon. Since leaving Alexandria on the 23d of August, preceding, the regiment had lost two officers killed and three wounded, twenty-one enlisted men killed, forty-seven wounded and six taken prisoners.
The Twenty-sixth did not take part in the battle of Antietam, being at that time ordered to duty in front of Washington. While encamped at Fort Lyon about forty recruits were received, and the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers was added to the brigade, to the command of which Brigadier General Joseph B. Carr was assigned, and Brigadier General Daniel E. Sickles to the command of the division.
On the 5th of October, Major Bodine was ordered to report with the Twenty-sixth to Colonel Sharp, of the One Hundred and Twentieth New York Volunteers, at Upton's Hill, and, in conjunction with that regiment, to hold and picket that position.. Soon afterwards Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin C. Tilghman re-joined the regiment, after a severe illness, assuming command, and on the 2d of November marched to Fairfax Court House, and on the 3d proceeded via Centreville to Union Mills, to hold the Orange and Alexandria railroad, and the bridge across Bull Run at that place. Two companies were detached under command of Captain S. G. Moffitt, to guard the bridge at Blackburn's ford.
Early in December the army was concentrated in the neighborhood of Fredericksburg, under General Burnside, in preparation for a general engagement. The Twenty-sixth marched in that direction, but was detained on the way nearly a week, in guarding ordnance stores near the Occoquan. Arriving at Falmouth it returned to its brigade, and on the morning of the 12th of December was posted in the rear of batteries showering shot and shell into Fredericksburg.
Late in the day the Third Corps, under General Stoneman, embracing the Twenty-sixth, was sent from Hooker's Grand Division in the centre, to reinforce Franklin on the left, and reached the pontoon bridges at about eight o'clock, P. M. At noon of the next day it crossed to the right bank of the river, and was moved at once to the front. The regiment was briskly engaged with the enemy's skirmishers during the afternoon and under fire from his batteries. For thirty hours, with only a brief interval, it was in the front line of battle continuously, and up to the time of re-crossing the river. The total loss in this engagement in killed and wounded was seventeen.
Returning to its former camp it remained till the first of January, General Carr commanding the brigade, General Berry the division, and General Sickles the corps. The regiment was then moved to a grove near corps headquarters, where it was placed in permanent winter quarters.
Burnside's second attempt to cross the Rappahannock was suddenly arrested while in full progress and with every prospect of success, by the sudden breaking up of the roads. The Twenty-sixth participated in the advance, but its principal service consisted in building corduroy roads, and assisting in extricating teams and artillery from the mud.
During the month of January it was detailed to support a cavalry raid on the Upper Rappahannock, which resulted successfully, the railroad bridge across the river, which had been re-built by the enemy, being destroyed, and the incursions so frequently indulged only his cavalry and scouts broken up. The march lasted three days, during two of which the rain and snow fell without cessation, causing much suffering.
While in this camp, a school of instruction for officers was established, and placed in charge of Major Boding, and another for non-commissioned officers, under Lieutenant Henry Jacques, of company G. The elementary principles of military science and army regulations were studied and discussed, and intricate manoeavers illustrated.
In February its active strength was sensibly increased by the return to its ranks of a full and well disciplined company, under Captain Adams. This company had been detached to guard commissary stores in Washington, soon after entering the service, and notwithstanding the repeated applications from the successive commanders of the regiment, approved by the superior officers, to have it ordered to the field, and the desire of Captain Adams himself to have it relieved and placed on active duty, every application had been returned with the endorsement "not granted." Its long retention is its best certificate of good soldierly conduct.
In March, 1863, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin C. Tilghman was commissioned Colonel, and Captain John B. Adams, Lieutenant Colonel. Upon the resignation of Lieutenant Colonel Adams, soon after, Major Bodine was promoted to fill the vacancy.
The battle of Chancellorsville commenced on the 29th of April. Preparations had been for a considerable time in progress. The regiment broke camp and moved with the Third Corps, about fifteen miles down the Rappahannock to divert the attention of the enemy, while the principal part of the army was crossing about twelve miles above the town. On the 1st of May it returned, and crossing at United States ford rejoined the main body, in position near Chancellorsville.
On the morning of the 2d of May, the Twenty-sixth was ordered to advance up the road in front of General Hooker's head-quarters, to drive back the enemy's skirmishers who occupied the wood, and ascertain whether the road was held in force. This order was successfully executed, but involved a brisk skirmish and some loss; several prisoners were taken, and the enemy were found in line of battle with artillery well posted on the road. The result was reported to General Hooker in person, who expressed his satisfaction.
At about four o'clock, P. M. the division marched to cover the retreat of the Eleventh Corps, and at dusk formed line a of battle in the woods. Colonel Tilghman, finding his right entirely uncovered, reconnoitered the ground, and found, about six hundred yards distant, an intrenched line, held by Griffin's Division, with several batteries. The scouts reported the woods in front clear of the enemy, but that about three-fourths of a mile beyond they could hear troops marching, apparently in force, towards our left. This intelligence was promptly reported to an officer of General Berry's staff. Diring the night several attacks were made on the left of the division and repulsed, none of them reaching the position held by the Twenty-sixth.
At day-break a heavy artillery fire was opened on the left, followed by musketry, which rolled steadily nearer. The skirmishers in front were attacked, and the Seventy-second New York, soon after giving way, left the flank uncovered. Colonel Tilghman endeavored to change front, but being under a heavy fire and in a thick wood, it was imperfectly done, and in making the attempt, was himself severely wounded. The fire, though irregular, was well sustained for some minutes, when, judging from the increasing numbers and direction of the enemy, that the division had been broken and its position lost, an order was given to retreat to General Griffins intrenchments, which was effected in good order, the men keeping up a steady fire so long as the enemy followed. Taking position in rear of batteries, it remained in support while the army held the field, and upon its withdrawal returned to its camp near Falmouth. The loss in the engagement/was four officers wounded, eighteen enlisted men killed, sixty-four wounded and ten taken prisoners.
The severity of Colonel Tilghman's wound rendered it necessary for him to retire from the field, and he did not again rejoin the regiment. Upon his recovery his resignation was accepted to enable him to take command of the Third United States colored troops, to which he had been appointed. Lieutenant Colonel Bodine succeeded to the command, and was soon after commissioned Colonel.
New camping ground was soon after selected on a beautiful knoll, and the men labored zealously in laying out streets with proper drainage, building bowers of green foliage over and in front of their tents, and vieing with each other in cleanliness and good order. Early in June the regiment was detailed to accompany the wagon train of the Third Corps to Morrisville, a tedious march of twenty-nine miles through dust and heat, re-joining the brigade at Beverly ford. This was the initiation of the march to Gettysburg, which was continued through Centreville and Gum Springs, crossing the Potomac at Edwards' ferry. Moving up the South Mountain and guarding its passes to prevent the incursion of rebel cavalry, it proceeded through Middletown valley to Frederick, Maryland, and thence to Emmittsburg. Here General Sickles received an order from General Meade, now in command of the army, to march to the neighborhood of Middleburg and soon after a message from Howard, advising him of the fall of Reynolds, and calling loudly for help. Perplexed as to his duty, he decided to follow the Napoleanic precept, to march to the sound of the enemy's guns, and arrived in the vicinity of Gettysburg on the evening of July 1st.
The Third Corps bivouacked for the night near the battle-field, and early on the morning of the 2d the regiment was detailed to tear down the fences along and near the Emmittsburg road, to facilitate the movement of artillery and troops. The lines were then formed with the Twenty-sixth on the extreme right of the corps and on the Emmittsburg road. The advantage of position in this part of the line was in favor of the enemy, as it was exposed in the open field and liable to be swept by artillery from the ridges beyond. Late in the day the regiment changed front while undcv severe fire, in order to receive the charge of a Florida brigade, advancing in mass obliquely from the left front. No sooner was it checked than the Twenty-sixth in turn charged the enemy and drove him in confusion across the road, making numerous captures. The day proved disasterous to the corps, but it fought wth determined bravery, and inflicted severe losses upon the enemy.
On the 3d the brigade was principally occupied in supporting batteries, and was marched to the weakest and most threatened points. The Twenty-sixthwent into battle with three hundred and sixty-four enlisted men, of whom two hundred and thirteen were killed and wounded; out of eighteen officers two were killed and nine severely wounded; two of the nine died of their wounds, and five were disabled from further service and made cripples for life; three color bearers were killed. The severity of the loss was owing to the faulty position of the line, and the entire absence of shelter, either natural or constructed; but it inflicted as well as suffered great slaughter.
On the 5th of July it moved with the army in pursuit of the enemy, passing through Emmittsburg and Frederick, crossed the South Mountain, and proceeded to the neighborhood of Williamsport. After the successful escape of the rebel army into Virginia the regiment marched to Harper's Ferry, where necessary supplies were received. Again taking up the line of march, passing Snicker's Gap and Upperville, to Manassas Gap, with orders to intercept any force of the enemy retreating up the Shenandoah Valley, it succeeded in striking his rear guard at Wapping Heights, where a sharp action ensued. At this place Colonel Bodine was ordered to lead his own, with a section of artillery, to a commanding position on the extreme right, for the purpose of checking the rebel cavalry operating in that direction. The force was withdrawn on the following day towards Warrenton.
General Sickles having been severely wounded at Gettysburg, and no longer in the field, the command of the corps was assigned to Major General W. B. French, and that of the division to Brigadier General Henry Prince. At Warrenton the regiment halted for a few days for rest and much needed supplies.
On the 20th of August it marched at daylight in advance of the army, to picket the Rappahannock from Freeman's to Beverly ford, and on being relieved on the following day rejoined the brigade near the latter place. A camp was laid out and the routine of drill, parade and picket duty resumed. While here one hundred and ninety-two recruits were received and distributed to the companies, and their drill and discipline commenced.
On the 15th of September it marched from camp, and, on the following morning crossing the Rappahannock at Freeman's ford, proceeded to Culpepper Court House. Here the regiment was detailed to guard the approaches from the south, and protect the wagon trains parked near the town.
The ladies in California who had manifested their regard for this regiment, and their desire for the success of the national cause, by presenting it on its entrance into service with a beautiful stand of colors, had, with never-failing interest, watched it in its many campaigns, and believing that the fiery scourge of battle, to which it had been so frequently subjected, had rendered the first flag useless, sent a new one, a counterpart of the first, which was received with every manifestation of gladness. Upon the occasion of its presentation the regiment was drawn up in hollow square, in the centre of which were the generals commanding the division and brigade, with their respective staffs, and other invited guests. The flag was presented by Major Charles Hamlin, son of Vice President Hamlin, and was received in behalf of the regiment by Colonel Bodine; an appropriate prayer was offered, and the band played patriotic airs, after which the invited guests sat down to a collation.
General Meade, having ascertained that Lee had dispatched Longstreet to East Tennessee, pushed forward to the line of the Rapidan, and was preparing to cross, when orders were received from Washington to detach the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps, under command of General Hooker, for the relief of Rosecrans, at Chattanooga. Meade, accordingly, found it necessary to retire. When the movement commenced, the Twenty-sixth was ordered to escort the wagon train of the corps. At Bealton station, on the Orange and Alexandria railroad, it was called by General Owen to the support of a battery in position to prevent an attack upon the supply trains. At Beverly ford it was again placed to defend the approaches, and was detailed on the flank of the army on the march to Centreville. Encamping at Union Mills it remained doing guard duty and engaged in drill until the army again commenced a forward movement, along the Orange and Alexandria railroad, when it was employed in re-laying the track upon that road, which, upon its abandonment, had been destroyed by the enemy. When it was finished, the army again passed the Rappahannock, the Twenty-sixth crossing at Kelly's ford, where it was actively engaged in pushing back the enemy. At Brandy station, November 19th, the regiment went into winter quarters; but as the sequel proved for only a brief period.
Upon the heels of the success at Rappahannock station was initiated the Mine Run campaign. On the 26th of November the regiment marched to Jacob's ford on the Rapidan, and was immediately deployed as skirmishers. Moving to the attack, it drove the enemy steadily about two miles through the wood leading the Union column. On the following day it was again engaged near the Orange Court House road, where it held the left of the line, the affair resulting in a brisk fight lasting from two o'clock, P. M., until dark. Having moved by a wrong road too far to the right of the army, it was ordered to withdraw to Robinson's tavern, and arrived on the afternoon of the 28th.
On the following day it was sent on a reconnaissance to ascertain the exact position of the enemy, now holding a line of works along Mine Run.3 Preparations were made for an assault, the Twenty-sixth holding a position on the right of the Second Corps, the extreme left of the army. On account of the severity of the weather and the strength of the enemy's works, it was deemed advisable not to attack, and further operations were abandoned. The regiment was then ordered to report to General Gregg at Parker's store, on the plank road leading from Fredericksburg to Orange Court House, where it arrived at one o'clock, P. M., and was immediately placed in position to repel an attack of the enemy following up the line of retreat. At daylight on the 2d of December it resumed the march, bringing up the rear of the army, crossing the Rapidan at Culpeppel Mine ford, and returned on the 3d to camp at Brandy station, with a loss in the expedition of one officer and five men killed, and one officer and twenty-three men wounded. During the ensuing winter the command was engaged in constructing roads, in drill and picket duty, and in the general routine of camp life. More than half of the men re-enlisted in conformity to the terms of the government, receiving the tendered bounty and a thirty days' furlough. Thirty-five recruits were received and distributed among the several companies.
In March 1864, by the order of General Meade, the Third Corps was broken up, and the brigade to which the Twenty-sixth had, from the first, been attached, was re-organized by taking from it the Eleventh Massachusetts and Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania, and by adding the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth New Jersey and the One Hundred and Fifteenth Pennsylvania. General Mott was assigned to its command, and General Carr to that of the division; but subsequently General Mott was placed in command of the division, and Colonel Robert McAllister, of the Eleventh New Jersey, to that of the brigade.4In in the meantime General Grant having been placed in command of all the National forces, had fixed his head-quarters with the army of the Potomac, and in connection with General Meade, was directing its operations.
On the 4th of May, 1864, the regiment, under command of Major Samuel G. Moffitt, took up the line of march for Ely's ford, and crossing upon the pontoons reached the old battle-ground at Chancellorsville late in the afternoon) bivouacking upon the same field where it had fought just a year before. On the following day it moved with the corps towards the Wilderness, and was deployed as skirmishers on the extreme left of the army, where the enemy was soon met in force and the engagement became general. Remaining on the left through the entire battle it steadily held its position against every attempt to turn it. The loss5 was twelve killed and twenty-seven wounded.
On the morning of the 8th the regiment was detailed with the Eighth New Jersey and Sixteenth Massachusetts, as a provisional brigade, under Colonel Ramsey, to guard the ammunition train, en route for Todd's tavern. It rejoined the brigade on the 10th and marched with the corps to Spottsylvania Court House, when it was formed in line of battle on the extreme left of the army, where it was engaged in constructing rifle-pits. In the afternoon a charge was made upon the rebel works, but without success.
On the 12th the regiment participated in the grand charge of the Second Corps. Advancing in two lines, Barlow's and Birney's divisions forming the first, and Gibbon's and Mott's the second, under cover of a dense fog, Hancock swept over the earth works held by Edward Johnson's Division, of Ewells Corps, completely routing it, taking five thousand prisoners, forty guns, and capturing Generals Johnson and Stewart.
The regiment took two Napoleon guns, which they turned upon the enemy, with good effect. The captured works were held during the continuance of the battle, from the 10th to the 15th. In this engagement, known as the battle of Spottsylvania Court House, the loss in the Twenty-sixth was twenty killed and forty-five wounded.
In the advance of the army, the regiment, while posted to defend the left flank was attacked by Rosser's cavalry. The shock was sudden and severe. Nine men were killed and two wounded by a single discharge from his light battery, but he was repulsed with slight additional loss.
On the 21st it moved at dawn, crossing the railroad near Guinea station, and, passing through Bowling Green and Guilford, it encamped on the west side of the Mattapony creek. The next day it was engaged in building breastworks near Carolina county poor. house, and on the 23d marched near to the North Anna river, where it was exposed to heavy shelling from the enemy, but succeeded in pushing him across. On the 24th it crossed under heavy fire and immediately deployed as skirmishers to the right of the bridge, and continued in active duty in all the operations at this place. On the 27th it moved towards the Pamunky river, and crossed at Nelson's ford. Advancing about two miles, it was employed in throwing up breastworks.
Here, the term of service having expired, it was relieved from duty. The re-enlisted men and those whose time had not expired were transferred to the Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania, belonging to the First Brigade, Third Division of the Second Corps. Marching to White House landing, it embarked upon a propeller for Washington, where it arrived on the 4th of June and was quartered at the Soldiers' Rest. On the following day it proceeded to Philadelphia where it was escorted, by the Henry Guards, to the Cooper Shop Refreshment Saloon, thence to Independence Hall, where it was disbanded. On the 18th the men were paid and formally mustered out of service.
From its first entrance into service, it was almost constantly engaged in active duty; though never, but for a brief period, out of Virginia, long and fatiguing marches were frequent, repeatedly crossing its own track, and often marching and fighting over the same ground. Its campaigning opened upon the Peninsula and ended midway in the Wilderness. Its first experience was in the trenches before Yorktown, its last, by a few hardened veterans-the remnants of a once full ranked and stalwart body-amid the bursting of shells in the breast-works of the Pamunky.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.