Field & Staff---Unassigned---Band
Organized at Lancaster September 19, 1861. Moved to Pittsburgh, thence to Louisville, Ky., October 18, and to Nolin Station, Ky., October 24. Attached to Negley's 4th Brigade, McCook's Command, at Nolin, to November, 1861. 7th Brigade, Army Ohio, to December, 1861. 7th Brigade, 2nd Division, Army Ohio, to March, 1862. Negley's Independent Brigade, Army Ohio, to August, 1862. 28th Brigade, 3rd Division, Army Ohio, to September, 1862. 28th Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Corps, Army Ohio, to November, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Centre Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, Army Cumberland, to April, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, to October, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, to July, 1865.
SERVICE.--Duty at Nolin until December, 1861, and at Munfordsville until February, 1862. Moved to Bowling Green, Ky., thence to Nashville, Tenn., February 14-March 3. At Nashville until March 28. Ordered to Columbia, Tenn., and guard Nashville & Decatur Railroad until May. Expedition to Rodgersville, Ala., May 13-14. Lamb's Ferry May 14. Negley's Expedition to Chattanooga May 28-June 17. Jasper, Sweeden's Cove, June 4. Chattanooga June 7-8. Ordered to Tullahoma, Tenn., and duty there until August. Ordered to Nashville, thence march to Louisville, Ky., in pursuit of Bragg August 21-September 26. Pursuit of Bragg into Kentucky October 1-16. Battle of Perryville October 8. Guard Louisville & Nashville Railroad at Mitchellsville November 9-December 7. Advance on Murfreesboro December 26-30. Jefferson December 30. Battle of Stone's River December 30-31, 1862, and January 1-3, 1863. Duty at Murfreesboro until June. Expedition to McMinnville April 20-30. Middle Tennessee or Tullahoma Campaign June 23-July 7. Hoover's Gap June 24-26. Occupation of Middle Tennessee until August 16. Passage of Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River, and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22. Davis Cross Roads or Dug Gap September 11. Battle of Chickamauga September 19-21. Rossville Gap September 21. Siege of Chattanooga September 24-October 26. Reopening Tennessee River October 26-29. Battle of Chattanooga November 23-25. Reenlisted February 9, 1864. Veterans on furlough March and April. Atlanta (Ga.) Campaign May 1-September 8. Demonstration on Rocky Faced Ridge May 8-11. Battle of Resaca May 14-15. Operations on line of Pumpkin Vine Creek and battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5. Pickett's Mills May 27. Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-July 2. Pine Hill June 11-14. Lost Mountain June 15-17. Assault on Kenesaw June 27. Ruff's Station, Smyrna Camp Ground, July 4. Chattahoochie River July 5-17. Peach Tree Creek July 19-20. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. Utoy Creek August 5-7. Flank movement on Jonesboro August 25-30. Battle of Jonesboro August 31-September 1. Operations in North Georgia and North Alabama against Hood September 29-November 3. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Siege of Savannah December 10-21. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. League Cross Roads, near Lexington, S.C., February 15. Cloud's House February 27. Averysboro, N. C., March 16. Battle of Bentonville March 19-21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24. Advance on Raleigh April 9-13. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20. Grand Review May 24. Mustered out July 12, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 118 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 145 Enlisted men by disease. Total 268.In the early part of August, 1861, Henry A. Hambright, of Lancaster, was authorized by the Secretary of War to recruit a regiment. With the exception of company D, which was recruited in Washington county, the companies were all raised in Lancaster county. As fast as organized they were sent to Camp Wilkins, near Pittsburgh, and on the 11th of October the last company had arrived. The regimental organization was effected by the selection of the following field officers:
in the three months' campaign. Brigadier General James S. Negley was assigned to the command of the brigade composed of the Seventy-seventh, Seventy-eighth and Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania Regiments, and on the afternoon of the 17th of October, it left camp and marched to Allegheny City, where the State colors were presented by Governor Curtin, who accompanied the presentation with a stirring address.
- Henry A. Hambright, of Lancaster, Colonel
- John H. Duchman, of Lancaster, Lieutenant Colonel
- William S. Mellinger, of Monongahela City, Major
- The officers and most of the privates had served
On the following day the brigade marched through the city of Pittsburg and embarked upon a fleet of steamers bound for Louisville. Kentucky. A short time before starting the deck of the steamer Sir William Wallace, on which was a part of the Seventy-ninth, gave way with a tremendous crash, seriously injuring Adjutant C. Lt. Frailey, so much so as never after to return to the regiment. Daniel Landis of company B, and Daniel Clemens, Leader of the Band, also suffered some injuries. Soon after its arrival, the brigade proceeded by rail to Camp Nevin, on Nolen Creek, and three weeks later across the stream to camp Negley. On the 17th of December it moved south, and after some delay at Bacon Creek it continued the march to Camp Wood, near Munfordsville, on the north bank of Green River. It was here engaged in drilling, and in picket, guard, and scout duty.
Soon after its arrival a detachment under Captain Kendrick, of company A, was sent out to repair the lines of telegraph between Columbia and Pulaski. While busily engaged in this duty it was suddenly pounced upon by a squad of Morgan's Cavalry, and nearly the whole party captured. As soon as intelligence reached headquarters, four companies under command of Major Mellinger, a squadron of cavalry, and a section of artillery, were dispatched in pursuit. When near Pulaski, the prisoners, who had been paroled, were met on their way back to camp. Mellinger moved forward to the town, encountering a few rebel pickets who fled rapidly as he approached, and occupied it without opposition. He was soon after relieved by Colonel Sirwell of the Seventy-eighth and returned with his command to camp.
The Union forces in eastern and central Kentucky had at first been under the command of General Anderson, of Fort Sumter fame, but subsequently under General Sherman. The latter upon being relieved at his own request, was superseded by General Buell. Early in April the main body of the army of the Cumberland, moved to Pittsburgh Landing, to the support of Grant, but the Seventy-ninth was left as a guard upon the Nashville and Decatur railroad.
On the 10th of May General Negley made an expedition to Rodgersville, Tennessee, the advance brigade consisting of the Seventy-eighth and Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry, two battalions of cavalry and a section of artillery, all under command of Colonel Hambright.. The enemy was discovered upon the opposite side of the river, which is here about seven hundred yards wide. The brigade was hastily formed, the Seventy-ninth in advance, and opened fire. The enemy took shelter in some log huts standing along the shore, but were driven out by a few well directed shells.
On the 16th the command moved on towards Florence. Before starting, a detachment of eighty men, under command of Captain Klein, of company F, was sent down the river in boats for the purpose of capturing and destroying rebel crafts and contraband property, that they should find on the way. In passing the Muscle Shoals, which extend ten or twelve miles, many difficulties were encountered, the boats grounding and the men being compelled to leap into the water and work their way through as best they could. Nine boats were destroyed and a rebel scout captured. From Florence the command retuned again to Columbia.
The cavalry was held under cover in the timber, and the artillery, which had been brought up and advantageously posted, opened fire. A few shells sent the enemy flying in confusion, when the cavalry emerging from the woods, gave chase. Two miles out he was overtaken when a spirited skirmish ensued in which his loss was considerable.
Without further opposition the command advanced, and arrived in front of Chattanooga on the 7th of June. The enemy was found on the opposite side of the river, well intrenched, close to the bank, and on the summit of the hill overlooking the stream, and prepared with artillery to dispute the crossing. Hambright's Brigade was ordered forward to reconnoitre the ford. Sypher's and Nell's sections of artillery were brought into position, with the Seventy-ninth in support, company A, Captain Benson, being thrown forward to the river bank to act as sharpshooters and to pick off the enemy's gunners. The Fifth Kentucky Cavalry. Colonel Haggard, and the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, Major Wynkoop, were thrown to the rear under cover, and out of the range of the enemy's guns for the protection of flanks and rear. His infantry soon opened from his intreuchments, and his artillery, consisting of one twenty-four pounder, one eighteen pounder, and four smaller pieces, was served with spirit. The fire was promptly returned, and for five hours a brisk cannonade was kept up, silencing his guns, and causing him to beat a hasty retreat. The loss in the Seventy-ninth was one wounded.1
The object of this expedition was a diversion in favor of General Smith, who was attempting to force his way through Cumberland Gap, into East Tennessee. The end having been accomplished, General Negley returned with his command to Shelbyville, having been absent but fourteen days, had two engagements with the enemy, and performed a toilsome march of two hundred and eighty-four miles.
The 4th of July was celebrated by the command with becoming honors, raising a National flag, firing salutes, and parading. Hon. Edmund Cooper delivered an oration, after which the command was treated to a dinner prepared by the citizens. To this date the following changes in the regiment had occurred: seven men had deserted, thirty-three had died, and fifty-one had been discharged, leaving nine hundred and seven, of whom fifty were in hospitals. Early in July, Major Mellinger, with four companies was ordered to Wartrace to reinforce General Barnes, who, having left a small force to hold the place, and gone in search of the enemy. A few days later the entire regiment was ordered forward. A detachment of two companies was sent to Duck River with orders to fortify the south bank, erect a stockade on the north bank, and protect the railroad bridge at that point. It soon became evident that the position must be abandoned, and before the works were completed, an order was received to reduce them, and retire with the regiment to Tullahoma.
Upon its arrival it was assigned to a brigade composed of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Nineteenth Regulars, commanded by General William S. Smith. From Tullahoma the brigade proceeded to Manchester, where a detachment of the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry was engaged in picket duty. On the 8th of August the regiment was ordered to Nashville, and upon its arrival encamped on College Hill, south of the city. The enemy hovered about the Capital, and made frequent attempts to -capture the place and destroy the railroad. The regiment was sent by General Miller on the 20th, to the support of a party of Indiana troops defending the trestle-work of a bridge near Gallatin, and threatened by a superior force. Before its arrival the enemy had succeeded in destroying it, but could not overpower the guard. It was, subsequently, again ordered to Gallatin to the support of the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, which had been attacked by Morgan's bands, but did not arrive in time to have a part in the engagement. After remaining a few days it returned again to Nashville, and was assigned to the Third Brigade, General Starkweather, First Division, General Rousseau, Fourteenth Corps, A. M'Dowell M'Cook. The brigade was composed of the Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania, First Wisconsin, Seventeenth Kentucky, and Fourth Indiana Battery. About this time the regimental band was mustered out by general order of the War Department, and returned home.
Early in September the movement of Buell's Army north, commenced. Bragg with a strong force had broken into Kentucky, ravaging and destroying on every hand, and was directing his course towards Louisville. Buell made forced marches to reach it in advance of him and was successful, arriving in front of the town on the 26th. Foiled in his purpose, Bragg soon turned back, and, having collected immense stores, began to make his way south. Encumbered with his trains, his progress was slow. Buell moved in pursuit and came up with him near Perryville. To save his trains Bragg was obliged to turn and give battle. Artillery firing commenced early on the morning of the 8th of October. Rousseau's Division was hastened forward and drawn up in line, Barn's and Lytle's Brigades on the right, Harris' in the centre, and Starkweather's on the left, with Terrill's Brigade of Jackson's Division on the left, in front of, and some what in advance of the main line. Favored by irregularities of ground, and woods in his front, the enemy was enabled to approach upon the left in heavy force unobserved, and at a little after noon, fell upon Terrills Brigade in great violence, accompanied with unearthly yells. This brigade, composed of raw troops, staggered under the terrible blow, and soon fled in confusion. General Jackson was killed by the first volley.
Starkweather's Brigade stood in rear of Terrill, the First Kentucky and Fourth Indiana Batteries on the hill, the Twenty-first Wisconsin in front, the Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania, the First Wisconsin, and Twenty-fourth Illinois in rear and in support of the batteries. As soon as the panic stricken troops of Terrill had passed to the rear, the enemy followed up his advantage, with intent to crush and turn M'Cook's left, but was met by Starkweather who stood firm. The batteries of Bush and Stone did fearful execution, and the infantry poured in a steady fire. Three times the rebels charged with determined valor, but were as often bloodily repulsed. At length, the ammunition having been exhausted, the infantry retired to replenish it, the guns were moved back near Russell's House, and the infantry again returned to its place in the line. The battle raged upon the right with equal violence, and the line was carried back; but the divisions of Mitchell and Sheridan, of Gilbert's Corps, stubbornly held their ground and the enemy was at length forced to give up the contest.
Upon advancing on the following morning, it was discovered that he had fled during the night. The Seventy-ninth lost in this engagement, thirty-seven killed, one hundred and forty-nine wounded, and three missing, an aggregate of one hundred and eighty-nine. Captain Samuel J. Boone and Lieutenant Henry J. Test, were of the killed.
The army followed up the retreating rebels, harrassing their rear, passing Drainesville, where a large number of their wounded were found, Stanford, Crab Orchard, Lebanon, and Bowling Green, at which place the pursuit was stayed, and General Buell was superseded by General Rosecrans. While here sanitary stores from the "Patriot Daughters of Lancaster" were received.
On the 9th of November the brigade, under command of Colonel Hambright, was sent to Mitchellsville with orders to guard the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The regiments were detailed along the road, the headquarters of the Seventy-ninth being at Camp M'Cloud, six miles south of Mitchellsville.
On the 27th the division left camp and marched down the Franklin Pike, thence across to Nolansville, and to the Murfreesboro Pike, at a point about ten miles north of Murfreesboro, where a junction was formed with the main column on the evening of the 29th. Early on the following morning the army moved forward, the advance soon encountering the enemy's skirmishers, who fell back before it. Late in the evening the brigade was dispatched to Jefferson, on the Stone River Pike, to protect the train and cut off the retreat of the rebel cavalry.
On Tuesday, the 30th, the wagon train belonging to the brigade separated from the main train and followed the column to Jefferson. While on the way it was attacked by Wheeler's Cavalry, and before help could be obtained twenty-two wagons, containing stores and camp equipage, were burned, and six men captured.
On the following morning the brigade crossed the Stone River Bridge and moved on towards Murfreesboro. Two miles out, a number of stragglers were met who reported Rosecrans' Army cut to pieces and retreating towards Nashville. Soon an orderly came who directed the brigade to return and join the division, which was accomplished before nightfall. It was moved into a thicket of cedars and posted to repel an attack. The following day, January 1st, 1863, was spent in feeling the enemy and reconnoitring.
Early next morning the enemy opened a brisk fire. The infantry was rapidly moved forward and the engagement, which soon became general, raged with unabated fury for four hours. The Third Brigade was in line with the left resting on the pike, the Seventy-ninth in support of Loomis' Battery. The rebel guns, half a mile distant, opened a rapid fire upon it, to the sore annoyance of the supports, but was finally silenced. In the afternoon the enemy made a fierce assault upon the left, but was met and driven by Negley's command. During the evening the brigade was moved to the front line, the Seventy-ninth occupying a rifle-pit which was hastily thrown up after darkness had set in. Companies C, E, H and I were thrown out as post pickets, but the enemy having learned their position, posted a battery so as to command it and drove them out, gaining possession of the cedars and holding them until the following evening. During the night he was dislodged, but before morning had withdrawn, leaving his dead unburied. The loss of the regiment was two killed and ten wounded.
The casualties up to this time had been as follows: nine commissioned officers had resigned; one died of disease; two killed in action; three wounded in action; one captured; thirty-seven enlisted men killed in action; one hundred and fifty-six enlisted men wounded; seventeen died from wounds received in action; fourteen captured, paroled and exchanged; six captured, paroled and not exchanged; one hundred and three discharged for disability; eighteen, members of band, mustered out; forty died of disease; fifty-three deserted and two transferred; sixteen recruits received. It numbered at this time thirty-five commissioned officers, and six hundred and eighty-eight enlisted men, of whom twenty-five officers and four hundred and eighty-four men were present for duty. One hundred and forty-eight were sick, of whom seventy-six were wounded. The remainder were on detached duty. Of the one hundred and three men discharged for disability, thirty-five were for wounds.
Bragg, taking the alarm, evacuated Chattanooga, and moved out to, and beyond Ringgold, where, having been heavily reinforced, he faced about, assumed the offensive, and gathered in his forces for a decisive battle. Negley had been sent on the 12th to Dug Gap, to cut off Bragg's way of retreat by the valley beyond, but encountered obstinate resistance, and it now became fully evident that he intended to fight. The Third Brigade, now changed to the Second, was sent to Negley's relief, who was thereby barely enabled to get off in safety.
The Second Brigade was now ordered forward. As it moved by the flank the enemy suddenly sprang up from his lurking place and poured in a galling fire, causing fearful havoc. Taking advantage of the confusion produced by this sudden attack, he charged upon the brigade battery, and captured it, before the pieces could be unlimbered or a gun fired. Having suffered severely, the division was moved half a mile to the rear where the line was re-formed, and late in the afternoon, favored by the heavy fighting on the extreme right, advanced and retrieved much of the ground that had been lost in the early part of the day. Just before dusk the enemy made a determined assault, when the Union lines were again forced back. In the darkness Lieutenant Colonel Miles and about twenty enlisted men became separated from the regiment, and were taken prisoners. A new line was finally established and all night long the men labored erecting temporary earthworks.
Sunday morning dawned dull and cold. A dense fog hung over the entire valley, obscuring every object. Screened by the mist, the enemy moved out and commenced the attack, on the right, before the line had been properly formed. By ten A. M. the fight had become general, the crash of infantry and roar of artillery mingling peal on peal. For hours the battle raged without a lull. The batteries of the First Division which had good range, poured in grape and canister with fearful rapidity, as the enemy in heavy columns charged again and again upon this one unsupported line. The carnage in its front was fearful, the artillery opening wide gaps in his dense ranks, and the fire of the infantry sweeping them with a shower of leaden hail. In the centre, the Fourteenth Corps held firmly its ground and was ready to advance, but the wings had been broken and scattered.
At length the enemy's fire began to slacken, and General Thomas, apprised of the disasters on other parts of the field, fell back. During the night he retired four or five miles to the neighborhood of Rossville, and on the night of the 21st, wrapping the wheels of the artillery with shelter tents, withdrew without molestation to Chattanooga. The Twentieth and Twenty-first Corps were already in line in front of the town, and the dispositions were soon made which rendered its occupation secure, the two wings resting on the river.
The Seventy-ninth entered the battle with seventeen officers and three hundred and fifty men, of whom sixteen were killed, sixty-six wounded, and forty seven missing, an aggregate of one hundred and twenty-nine. Captain Lewis Heidegger was among the killed, and Lieutenant Frederick Strasbaugh mortally wounded.
The enemy immediately invested the towns and cut all communications, except by mountain paths. The army soon began to suffer for want of food, the animals dying by thousands from starvation. General Hooker with two corps of the Army of the Potomac finally arrived, and under the skillful leadership of General Grant, who had now superseded Rosecrans in chief command, the river was opened and supplies began to be received but in insufficient quantities, and the men were still obliged to subsist on short rations. On the 23d, 24th and 25th of November the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge were fought, which drove the enemy in disaster from our front.
While these battles were in progress the Seventy-ninth was posted in the forts around Chattanooga and was not engaged.
The enemy having fallen back, the division moved along the base of St. John's Mountain, through Snake Gap, had a brisk skirmish midway between Dalton and Resaca, and arrived at Resaca on the 16th of May. The Seventy-ninth was here detailed to collect the arms and bury the dead left upon the field. Fifteen hundred stands of arms were gathered, and two hundred and twenty-eight of the enemy's dead buried. Soon afterwards, the regiment was sent to escort a wagon train to Ackworth. This duty done, it re-joined the brigade, and was again engaged on the 18th of June, losing eight men wounded.
In the operations in front of Kenesaw Mountain it was employed in throwing up works, and in skirmishing, losing several killed and wounded. In the advance of the enemy on the 20th, Major Locher and seven enlisted men were wounded, and the command devolved on Captain J. S. M'Bride. In connection with the Twenty-first Ohio it was ordered to charge the enemy's works, and succeeded in driving him out, but with a loss of one killed and sixteen wounded.
The enemy now fell back to his intrenched lines about Atlanta, and the operations to turn him out commenced. In these the regiment participited, and, upon the fall of the city, the division was commended for its gallantry in an order from General Carlin in command.
After the occupation of the city the division was sent back as far as Marietta, where it was engaged in repairing the railroad, which the enemy had destroyed. The losses during the entire Atlanta campaign were six killed, eighty-six wounded, twelve mortally, and two taken prisoners, an aggregate of ninety-four.
On the 16th of November, clothing and rations having been issued, the
regiment set forward on the Great March to the Sea. The following brief extract
from the record of its progress will illustrate the general character of that
"24th of November, left camp at seven A. M., crossing the Oconee River, marching ten miles on Sandersville Road and encamping. 25th, not on the march; day spent in foraging. 26th, left camp at seven A. M., the division in rear of cavalry train. A swamp at Buffalo Creek delayed the train, and it was midnight before the wagons all got over. 27th, left camp at seven, A. M.; crossing the swamp, marched three miles to Scragg Creek Swamp, passing through Sandersville at one P. M., and thence south-east, striking the Macon and Savannah Railroad and encamping. 28th, left camp at eight A. M., and at Davidsboro Station came up with the Twentieth Corps, engaged in tearing up the road."On the 21st of December the regiment entered Savannah, the enemy having retired without offering serious opposition. After its occupation the regiment went into camp a few miles from the city, where supplies of clothing were issued, and where it rested for a month.
On the morning of the 19th the division, the Third Brigade in advance, moved for Goldsboro. Skirmishing began soon after leaving camp, and the line of battle was formed as the troops came up. The enemy was found in position and soon opened briskly. The Seventy-ninth was posted in support of the First Division Battery, but was soon ordered away, three of its number being wounded as it passed. A line of works was hastily thrown up and a charge ordered to develop the enemy's strength.
The Seventy-ninth was of the charging column. It moved boldly up to within thirty yards of the rebel works, when receiving a murderous fire, and the supporting regiment giving way, it was forced to yield. The charge had been made along the entire line, but was repulsed, at every point with heavy loss. Soon after, the division was flanked, and the rebels swarming in behind the works drove regiment after regiment towards the right. The Seventy-ninth held the extreme right of the division, and the enemy now in flank and rear had reached the line of the brigade. Quickly changing front to meet the advancing foe, the regiment charged, encountering a terrific fire. By hard fighting the brigade held the ground until the troops in rear had thrown up breastworks, when it retired. During the night the works were strengthened and securely established. In this engagement, known as the battle of Bentonville, the loss was thirteen killed and forty-six wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Miles, in command of the brigade, was among the wounded.
On the 22d the command moved on to Goldsboro, where the regiment received two hundred recruits. From Goldsboro it moved to Raleigh, and thence to Martha's Vinyard, where it was encamped when news was received that General Johnston had surrendered, and the war was practically at an end. At quick step and with light hearts, the division marched via Richmond to the neighborhood of Washington, where, on the 12th of July, the regiment 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 II, Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer. 1871.