91st PA--miscellaneous facts

91st PA--Veterans

Index

introduction

veterans' furlough

problems returning from leave

men who went AWOL

number of veterans

transfers

final disposition of veterans

names of veterans (separate page)


Introduction

Because they were worried about losing all the troops who had enlisted for three years in 1861, the War Department decided to grant a special status to regiments that were willing to reenlist for the duration of the war: they could retain their organization, and would be called "Veteran Volunteers". (See Army of the Potomac orders.)

On 5 October 1863, Colonel Gregory read the General Orders relating to reenlistments, and commented:

It is very evident the Government is desirous of receiving the services of as many of the old troops as possible, for they well know, as I do, they are worth double their number of new troops I should be proud to see every man of the 91st re-enlist--considering himself--as I do myself--in for the war; but think the matter over, seek out the right, and then each for himself do as seems to him good. ('Col E M Gregory' (Alexandria Gazette 12 October 1863 page 3)

On 6 October 1863, Colonel Gregory asked company commanders to report how many men who had less than one year to serve were willing to reenlist, and how many men who had more than one year but had served 9 months (circular, HQ 91st PA, 6 Oct 63). On 7 October 1863, Colonel Gregory first reported that the regiment was willing to reenlist: 200 of the 250 enlisted men, and all 17 commissioned officers, were willing to reenlist (letter). Of those 200,

Thomas Walter claims that 42 men from company A reenlisted the day after the War Department Orders were read to them, and the reenlistment of the regiment was ensured within 48 hours after that ('Personal recollections', Grand Army Scout and Soldiers' Mail volume 3 number 43 page 1). He explains why he decided to reenlist although he believed no amount of money could compensate him for the risks:

"In thinking it over, finally, I decided that it was foolishness for me to talk of quitting soldiering so long as I could do a soldier's duty, or the war lasted. I decided that it was better to see the conflict through in our good company that I knew and got along with so well, rather than to go into another after awhile, even with higher rank, that might prove a weak or inefficient organization." (number 43 pages 1 and 6)

On 21 December 1863, the Army of the Potomac issued an order about reenlisting as veteran volunteers. On 22 December 1863, they issued an order about supernumary officers. On 23 December 1863, Sinex reported that no officers were supernumerary, since at least 3/4 of the regiment, and at least 3/4 of the companies, were willing to reenlist (letter). And he also appointed William Carpenter recruiting officer (letter).

On 22 December 1863, Robert J Armstrong (H) wrote a letter to his family, telling them that he had reenlisted. After briefly and baldly mentioning it in the body (referring to the regiment in the third person), he added a postscript asking them not to worry.

On 28 December 1863, Sinex gave yet another report of the numbers (letter).

[See letters received, #51-54, general orders received, #146 and #148, and circulars received, #56, 57, 59, 60, 61, and the last unnumbered entry for relevant letters and orders]

Reenlistment continued for months. Some men serving in the Department of Washington had not yet been remustered as veteran volunteers on 14 March 1864, when Lieutenant Colonel Sinex asked that the mustering officer remuster them (letter, Sinex to Marvin, 14 March 1864). And on 20 March 1864, Sinex asked company commanders to tell him who wished to reenlist and who had received furloughs for reenlisting (circular, HQ 91st PA, 20 Mar 64). Wilfred Bywater did not reenlist until 30 March 1864, because of disability.

On 28 March 64, Sinex reported that 37 men who had returned at the end of their furlough were ready to be paid (letter, Sinex to Warren, 28 Mar 64).

transfer to 155th PA

Men who were not eligible for a furlough were temporarily transfered to the 155th Pennsylvania [Bates, p.190; circular, HQ 91st PA, 8 Mar 64]. This may not have been clear to everyone; one newspaper report of the regiment's return for furlough claims that "About three hundred are left of the entire regiment, who have all, to a man, re-enlisted" [Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday 5 January 1864, page 2 column 3]. According to a letter by William H Johnson, Colonel Gregory was going to try to have the men transferred back to the 91st, but Johnson was hoping they would not be, claiming that 'we have good officers now and the men our [sic] all willing to do what is right as long as they are treated right'. Sinex's circular suggests that the men may have been returned to the regiment on 7 or 8 March 1864.

According to the compiled service record for Charles Hannigan (E), he was transferred (presumably back to the 91st) on 25 February 1864. The 'detachment was temporarily transferred to and mustered with the 155 Reg't Pa. Inf. per S.O. No. 177, Jan. 1, 1864, and S.O. No. 30, Feb. 25, 1864, Hd. Qrs. 2d Div., 5 A.C.'.

veterans' furlough

The regiment travelled from Warrenton, Virginia, to Alexandria by railroad, through a severe snowstorm. At least one company was transported on open platform cars; Francis Cole became ill on that trip and died on 18 January 1864. The furloughs were issued on 15 January 1864, and permitted the men to be on leave from 16 January 1864 until 16 February 1864. I have transcribed the furlough for Francis C Cole.

William H Johnson (K) sent $100 to his parents with William Cloud (K).

Problems returning from leave

The regiment was late leaving for the front: the order to return to the front was dated 20 February 1864, but the regiment did not actually arrive until 5 March 1864.

The problem may have been that Colonel Gregory was not making arrangements expeditiously, since while he was still officially in command, he was also commanding the rendezvous for returning regiments. According to Lieutenant Colonel Sinex, he received all orders through Colonel Gregory, and was not really in command of the regiment until they left for the front. Sinex's chronology, of course, shifts the blame from himself to Gregory; I do not know whether it is accurate. Here is his chronology:

16 Feb 64
left Philadelphia for Chester
order from Sup Rec Serv (rcvd through Gregory 20 Feb 64)
20 Feb 64
Gregory "verbally" gave command to Sinex
Sinex receives order (through Gregory) from Sup Rec Serv of 16 Feb
regiment deficient in knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, and shelter tents; new recruits had neither arms (rcvd 29 Feb) nor clothing (rcvd after return to field); Sinex orders supplies
HQ Army of the Potomac ordered the regiment to return to the front, rcvd 25 Feb
25 Feb 64
Sinex receives (through Gregory) order from HQ Army of the Potomac of 20 Feb
Sup Vol Rec Ser orders regiment to return to Army (rcvd 26 Feb, through mail)
26 Feb 64
afternoon: Sinex receives (through mail) order from Sup Vol Rec Serv, 25 Feb
27 Feb 64
Sinex applies for transportation
transportation ordered (rcvd 1 Mar)
29 Feb 64
new recruits received clothing
1 Mar 64
Sinex receives (through Gregory) transportation order dated 27 Feb
Sinex applies for train, from Phila Wilmington & Balt RR
2 Mar 64
train arrives at noon; regiment left at noon
regiment arrives in Baltimore at midnight
3 Mar 64
10 AM: left Baltimore for Washington (first available transportation)
4 PM: regiment arrives in Washington, too late for the boat on the 3rd
4 Mar 64
3 PM: left for Alexandria
5 Mar 64
7 AM: left Alexandria
11 AM: arrived at Warrenton Junction

[sources: letters, Sinex to Gilbert, Sinex to Barstow, and Sinex to Vincent, 2 Mar 64; letter, Sinex to Barstow, 5 Mar 64; letter, Sinex to Fowler, 23 Mar 64 (this last letter reports Sinex's version of the events)]

Men who went AWOL

205 enlisted men (53% of the total in the regiment) were absent without leave when the regiment was first at Chester Pennsylvania. The number drops for several days, reaching 150 on 19 February. But then the number started increasing again. Because of the length of time the regiment was waiting for orders, many men left the camp without permission. The fact that the schedule Colonel Gregory issued included no instruction or drill, and hence allowed the men large amounts of free time, can't have helped (general order 1, HQ 91st PA, 17 Feb 64; cf. the other schedules). Walter claims that Colonel Gregory stopped issuing leaves because of this, but it did not reduce the number AWOL. Perhaps this happened on 27 February, when the number of men absent with leave dropped dramatically; see the chart below. At its worst, on 27 February, 221 enlisted men (54% of the total!) and 5 commissioned officers were AWOL! When the regiment arrived with the Army, more than one-third of the enlisted men, and one officer, were AWOL: 204 enlisted men were present, 156 absent without leave. By the 10th of April, Sinex was referring to the absent men as having "overstayed their furlough", not as absent. (On 23 Apr 64, 1 vet in co.E returned from AWOL. See the consolidated morning reports for more data.)

[sources: Walter, 'Personal recollections', number 44 pages 1-2; letter, Sinex to Marvin, 6 Mar 64].
date F&SA B C D E F G H I K enlistcom offtotal enlisted in regiment% AWOLenlisted men absent with leave
17 Feb0 50 17 31 18 30 13 9 24 10 3 205 0 390 53% 8
18 Feb 0 48 13 25 17 18 12 8 20 10 4 175 0 392 45% 3
19 Feb 0 44 11 21 15 14 10 9 16 7 3 150 0 400 38% 6
20 Feb 0 43 11 23 10 25 10 9 17 7 3 158 1 401 40% 17
21 Feb 0 50 14 21 8 25 11 9 15 8 3 164 0 401 41% 21
22 Feb 0 50 14 21 8 23 11 10 16 6 4 163 0 400 41% 19
23 Feb 0 46 16 24 8 20 11 10 18 6 2 161 0 407 40% 22
24 Feb 0 40 18 22 10 20 11 7 12 6 3 149 0 408 37% 23
25 Feb 0 31 20 21 12 31 9 8 13 5 2 152 0 408 37% 27
26 Feb 0 54 24 21 12 31 17 11 16 6 6 198 0 406 49% 36
27 Feb 0 52 22 25 23 30 16 14 23 10 6 221 5 406 54% 8
28 Feb 0 47 24 26 21 32 16 10 22 10 9 217 4 406 54% 16
29 Feb 0 52 23 26 16 30 16 13 22 10 8 216 3 406 53% 14
1 Mar 0 56 12 16 11 15 9 7 16 7 6 155 0 410 38% 10
2 Mar 0 50 12 19 20 25 7 7 18 7 5 170 2 412 41% 2

On 13 Mar 64, 146 enlisted men were absent without leave.

On 7 March 1864, only 12 officers and 134 enlisted men were present and equipped for duty (letter, Sinex to Marvin, 7 Mar 64).

On 13 Mar 64, 13 officers and 249 enlisted men were present for duty (total 262), 1 officers and 76 enlisted men of whom were "on duty east of Cedar Run". 298 were absent, including 9 officers on detached service, 1 officer sick, 61 enlisted men on detached service, 146 enlisted men awol, 72 enlisted men sick, and 9 enlisted men in confinement (letter, Sinex to Marvin, 13 Mar 64)

On 19 Mar 64, 13 officers and 293 enlisted men (306 total) were equipped for duty

Veterans slowly trickled in. This table summarizes Sinex's reports; in some cases, the numbers change because of reporting errors. (Numbers in square brackets have been calculated by me.)

datepresentabsentreturneddetachedsick in hospitaldischargeddiedsource
5 Mar108      letter, 20 Mar
7 Mar  2    letter, 20 Mar
9 Mar  1    letter, 20 Mar
15 Mar  4    letter, 20 Mar
17 Mar  4    letter, 20 Mar
18 Mar  30    letter, 20 Mar
20 Mar149      letter, 20 Mar
1 Apr162 12  1 letter, 1 Apr
  13     report, 5 Apr
5 Apr16372   12report, 5 Apr
5 Apr169 6    letter, 5 Apr
8 Apr  1    letter, 8 Apr
10 Apr17045 [20]   letter, 10 Apr
12 Apr17342  5  letter, 12 Apr
13 Apr17540  5  letter, 13 Apr
14 Apr17936  5  letter, 14 Apr
15 Apr18734  5  letter, 15 Apr
20 Apr19229  6  letter, 20 Apr
21 Apr19228  6  letter, 20 Apr
22 Apr19828  6  letter, 22 Apr
28 Apr19927  6  letter, 28 Apr
datepresentabsentreturneddetachedsick in hospitaldischargeddiedsource

On 24 March 1864, Sinex reported that some men who had been on furlough had lost their furlough, and asked how they could receive the commutation the Secretary of War had authorized. I do not know what commutation he is referring to, or what losing a furlough meant. Company commanders had to endorse the furloughs of men who returned on 5 March 1864 (circular, HQ 91st PA, 25 Mar 64).

While all men who were absent without leave had reported or been dropped by the end of July 1864, the regiment continued to regain men from desertion. For example, on 3 August 1864, George Getz (G) returned from desertion; I suspect he and other veterans deserted while the regiment was in Philadelphia or Chester.

Number of veterans

On 7 October 1863, 200 of the 250 enlisted men, and all 17 commissioned officers, were intending to reenlist [letter].

On 21 December 1863, 232 of the 292 present were intending to reenlist, including 199 of the 249 with less than one year to serve, and 33 of the 43 with more than one year [letter].

On 22 December 1863, 11 more had decided to reenlist (9 with less than 1 year to serve, and 2 with more than one year) [letter].

On 28 December 1863, Sinex reported that 303 total enlisted men were present with the army. Of these, 217 had reenlisted, 37 were willing to reenlist, and 49 were not willing to reenlist. 217 of those with less than one year to serve had reenlisted, and 40 were not willing to. Fourteen of those with less than 15 months to serve had sworn in writing that they were willing to reenlist, and 4 would not reenlist. 23 of those who had less than 20 months to serve would reenlist, and 5 would not. All 20 commissioned officers were willing to reenlist. [letter]

On 5 April 1864, Sinex reported that 163 veterans had returned to the regiment, 2 had died while on furlough, 1 had been discharged, and 72 were absent (report to Locke, by Sinex, 5 Apr 64; see also letter, Sinex to Marvin, 8 Apr 64). This yields a total of 238.

However, on 11 April 1864, Sinex gave a company-by-company summary of the number of enlisted men who had reenlisted, and his total was 246! (letter, Sinex to Marvin, 11 Apr 64)

Joseph H Prickett is not listed as a veteran in Bates, but is in the descriptive roll.
William W Burns is listed as a "veteran recruit" in the descriptive roll, but not as a veteran in Bates.

Transfers

Some veterans were transfered from the 62nd PA. Bates lists 8, and a letter from Lentz [letter, 19 July 1864, Lentz to Bennett] claims 9 present and 3 absent veterans from the 62nd were to remain (perhaps after 25 August 1864).

Final disposition of veterans

Bates gives these final dispositions for the 265 veterans he mentions.

143mustered out with company/regiment
24died [at least 15 of wounds received in or at battles]
23absent, sick at muster out
14killed [1 accidentally]
12discharged on surgeon's certificate
10deserted
6discharged by general order
6absent at muster out [unspecified]
4not accounted for
4not on muster-out roll
4transferred to VRC
3absent, in hospital, at muster out
3absent, on furlough, at muster out
2discharged (unspecified)
1absent, on detached duty, at muster out
1discharged by special order to accept commission
1wounded [nothing more stated]
1transferred to US Navy
1dismissed
1commissioned but not mustered in as 1st lt
1mustered out [unspecified, but earlier than company]
265total

Additionally, Joseph H Prickett was killed in action, and William Burns was absent at muster out.


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revised 12 Apr 15
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