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91st PA in December 1862

December 1862

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Throughout this month, the 91st was in the First Brigade, Third Division, Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac. [Dyer, v.3 p.1604]

? William Hill (B) discharged on surgeon's certificate
Thomas Birmingham (B) discharged on surgeon's certificate
Daniel Bolen (B) discharged on surgeon's certificate (maybe 10 Jan 63)
Robert McMullin (B) discharged on surgeon's certificate (maybe 5 Feb 63)
Henry Cole (B) absent sick in hospital at Philadelphia Pennsylvania beginning December 1862
James Todd (I) developed bronchitis and dysentery, while near Falmouth, and was sent to hospital
? Walter was held at Libby Prison before being taken to Fortress Monroe and thence to the Parole Camp at Annapolis Maryland. [Walter v.3 #38 pp.1-2]
1 Joseph Everhart confined at Libby Prison, Richmond, VA
Amos Truman (G) probably promoted to sgt
2 William McNeely (H) discharged at Frederick MD on surgeon's certificate
3 John S Haines (E) may have been discharged (or possibly on 28 November 1862)
4 Joseph Welch (F&S) mustered in as chaplain [probably 4 December 1861]
5 Joseph McKeever (E) discharged on surgeon's certificate
John R Allen (F) promoted to sgt (probably 5 Sep 62 or 1 Jan 63))
6 Israel Lazerus (D) detailed by Genl Humphreys as stretcher bearer
7 Thomas B Scott (F&S) discharged on surgeon's certificate at camp near Fredericksburg, VA
8 Walter Stark (I) deserted
Samuel Wilson 2nd (D) discharged at Providence RI on surgeon's certificate [possibly 8 Dec 63]
John R Lynch (B) transferred from Patent Office General Hospital, Washington DC
9 John R Lynch (B) entered Newton University General Hospital, Baltimore MD
10 Randolph Smith (A) resigned because of ill health (possibly 13th)
John Brass (A) promoted to 2nd lt
Thomas Walter (A) promoted to 1st sgt vice Brass (effective date)
Horace Faust (D) went to Washington DC sick
John Bateman (H) discharged on surgeon's certificate at Falmouth VA (perhaps 11th)
11 Marched to Phillips House. [Bates, p.187]
The Fifth Corps broke camp in morning, and marched to the left bank of the Rappahannock. The Third Division [which included the 91st PA] marched in the center of the corps, to the right of a road passing from camp to the Phillips house. They bivouacked near the river bank. [report by Brig. Gen. Butterfield (Fifth Corps), p.399]
John Young (F&S) left on sick leave
John Bateman (H) discharged on surgeon's certificate at Falmouth VA (perhaps 10th)
George Johnson (I) deserted
Frederick Young (I) deserted
Patrick Beatty (F) discharged on surgeon's certificate of disability, at Providence
12 Opening of the Battle of Fredericksburg
The Corps bivouacked near the river bank, waiting for the bridges to be completed and the preceding troops to cross. [report by Brig. Gen. Butterfield (Fifth Corps), p.399; Bates, p.187; Dyer, v.3, p.1604]
Joseph Everhart was paroled at City Point, VA
Elisha Skipper (D) was wrongly reported deserted, by the 2nd Maryland infantry
13 Battle of Fredericksburg
Crossing the river

The First Brigade marched from bivouac on morning of 13th: the 91st PA had 23 officers and 401 men. The Fifth Corps was ordered to cross the river about 2 pm. They crossed on the pontoon bridges opposite Frederickburg, with Humphreys' Division [which included the 91st PA] in the center. The division, which was massed near Phillips house, received orders at 2.30 to cross river and enter Frederickburg. The regiment crossed the pontoon bridge about 12 am [sic; I suspect this should be pm, but perhaps the regiment crossed before the rest of the corps]. It proceeded to stores in middle of city, and deposited knapsacks and surplus baggage there.

Moving to the front

About 3 pm Humphreys' division moved to the junction of Hanover Street and the Orange turnpike. It formed on the left of the Culpeper Road by brigade front, and in a short time occupied three different positions. The first position of the brigade was right of Plank Road; it was subject to enfilading fire from batteries on crest of hill.

(First position?) The regiment initially marched to the rear of city. About 3.30, it and the brigade moved to the battle field, along one of the main roads leading to the rear of the city. They crossed a canal or creek and took up position on left of road, where they halted briefly. This may be where they supported a battery of the Second Corps, just outside the town, behind the stone enclosure of a graveyard.

(Second position?) The regiment then moved at the double-quick to the right of the Frederickburg road, beneath a hill, with its right resting on a meadow, near a tan-yard. The Confederates moved a gun to enfilade the 91st's lines. There Lieutenant George Murphy and three (or six) others were killed, and Major Todd was mortally wounded; his right leg was shattered.

(Third position?) The regiment moved immediately to its former position, on left of road.

Preparing for the charge

Humphreys' division was ordered to attack the Confederate line on the heights, which was behind a stone wall, near the foot of a crest, covered with batteries, which covered the approach with a severe cross fire. Since it could not be taken by firing, they were ordered to attack with bayonets. Humphreys adressed the regiment by saying, "Sons of Pennsylvania, yonder is the enemy! The honor of your State is in your keeping! This means charge bayonet! Now show them how to do it!" Humphreys' division attacked to the left of Sykes'. When the division was ordered to support Major-General Couch on the left of the Telegraph Road [i.e., to attack the heights], Allabach's Second Brigade was sent, and the First Brigade (Tyler's, including the 91st PA) was ordered to follow and form on the right of the Second Brigade. Tyler was then ordered to come to the left of the road in the ravine, and support or take the place of Allabach's brigade. Allabach's charge (with bayonets, not firing) failed. Humphreys and Tyler then formed Tyler's brigade, after Humphreys stopped a battery firing, which would have made it impossible for Tyler to advance. Humphreys ordered his troops not to fire, and to ignore the men they would be passing over. Formation of the brigade line prior to the charge was delayed by limbers' constantly passing to rear and front, and by deep mud.

The charge

Humphreys and Tyler led the charge, which started about sunset. (They were ordered to charge at 5 pm.) The regiment's position was to the left of the 126th PA, in the rear of 129th PA. They moved forward as well as possible in the mud until they reached troops lying on the ground in front of the brick house and along the slight elevation to its right and left. The officers ordered the brigade to halt, and the men tried to convince the troops not to continue. The brigade marched over them, but was forced to form a column, partly, instead of a line. When they were close to the wall (about 80 yards away), about 30 or 40 yards past the brick house, they were fired on from the rear, and after giving the Confederates several volleys the brigade fell back.

Col. Gregory received a slight wound in his hand, and his horse was killed, pierced by five balls. [one newspaper report claims the horse was alive in February 1863, with seven bullets in his body ('Compliments to Col E M Gregory' (Philadelphia Press Saturday 14 February 1863, page 2)] The 91st lost 2 officers and 87 enlisted men in this charge.

The aftermath

After Humphreys' attack failed, he was ordered to reform behind Sykes. General Tyler reformed the brigade under cover of the ravine. At 8 pm, the regiment was ordered back into the city, and remained under arms until about 5 am of the 14th. It then proceeded to the battlefield and held its old position until daylight.

[report by Brig. Gen. Butterfield (Fifth Corps), p.399-400; report by Brig. Gen. Humphreys (Third Division); report by Brig. Gen. Tyler (First Brigade); report by Col Gregory; Bates, pp.187-8; 'From the Ninety-First Penna Regiment'; Welch, p.501; see also Dyer, v.3 p.1604]

Casualties include (incomplete list):
Richard Rodgers (I) killed
Henry Gentle (K) mia
Newton Collins (I) killed
James Patterson (D) killed
Thomas Hallowell (D) killed
WH Baumgardner (I) killed
James O'Brien (D) wounded
Samuel Grier (D) mortally wounded
William Wilds (D) killed
Griffith Williams (B) wounded
John P Johnson (C) killed
Robert McFeeters (D) wounded
Henry Mason (A) wounded
Amos Godfrey (A) killed
William Elder (B) fatally wounded
William Brown (C) fatally wounded; died on 13th, near Fredericksburg)
William Troutwine (C) killed by musket ball; body left on field
Charles Beaver (D) wounded
William Davis (D) wounded
Samuel Steel (D) killed (according to Bates, but in fact he died on 3 May 1863)
Henry Lour (D) wounded
Henry Murphy (B) wounded
Joel Weeks (B) wounded
James Gordon (A) wounded, shot in leg
James Lewis (A) wounded
James Delavan (C) wounded
James Tierney (C) wounded
John McGilley (I) wounded
William Clark (E) wounded in Battle of Fredericksburg [!?]: lost part of hand
William H Jeffries (E) [descriptive roll has 10 December, but Bates has 13 December]
Harry H Dunham (G) wounded [Bates]
George Todd (F&S) right leg shattered
Thomas Wallace (B)
William D Pentland (D)
Robert H Sinex (D)
William Tinney (D)
Daniel Murphy (D) wounded
George Mettinger (B)

George Todd promoted to brevet lt col
Randolph Smith (A) resigned because of ill health (possibly 10th)
Alpheus Bowman (B) dismissed by order of the president for being in Washington without proper authority
Amos Mooney (D) promoted to corp vice Hallowell (killed)
Charles Manning (118th PA) deserted
Henry Wiggins (H) wounded
John F Casner (K) promoted to sgt
George W Bowman (E) developed chronic rheumatism from lying in water through a cold night
Charles T Loper (G) wounded by a piece of shell in left shoulder
John Callahan (I) slightly wounded in right side by shell
14 Battle of Fredericksburg continued.
At midnight, the regiment went back to the front to protect the removal of the wounded. About 5 am, they returned to battle-field and remained at the old position until daylight. Returned to town at daybreak. [Gregory's report; Bates, p.188; see also Dyer, v.3, p.1604]
Samuel Chambers (K) died in Annapolis MD of "bilious pulmonia"
15 Battle of Frederickburg concluded

At noon, the Fifth Corps was assigned to defend Fredericksburg between Hanover Street (on the left) and the Rappahannock River (on the right). Humphreys' division was assigned the portion between Fauquier Street and Amelia Street.

At night, the regiment was ordered to the right to protect working parties throwing up earthworks. A few hours later, the regiment moved to the left, relieving part of the Sixth Corps. Pickets were posted along the Richmond Railroad.

About 8 pm the regiment proceeded to the rear of city, between Amelia and Fauquier streets, and posted three lines of pickets. The front line was company A, under Lt Francis Gregory, with its left resting on west wall of grave-yard, extending west to road. The second line was company E, under Capt John D Lentz. The third line was company F, Capt. John H Weeks, about 60 years to the rear, and parallel to, company A. They were fired into by Col. Roberts' troops; one man slightly wounded. The reserve (seven companies) was about 100 yards to the rear of the second line.

About 10 pm the Fifth Corps was assigned to defend the entire town, since the main body of the army had been withdrawn. Humphreys was assigned to the line from Hanover Street to the left, along with General Griffin.

The regiment was relieved by the 5th NY, and ordered to proceed ASAP. It reached a post near the railroad about 1 am of 16th.

a dog was found near William Brown's body, which licked his face when it was uncovered, refused to leave, and followed as his body was carried off for burial

[report by Gregory; report by Brig. Gen. Butterfield (Fifth Corps), p.400; Bates, p.188; and 'Fidelity of a dog on the battlefield' [Saturday Evening Post 27 December 1862]; see also Dyer, v.3, p.1604]
John Graham (A) discharged at Fredricks, Maryland, on surgeon's certificate
Alpheus Bowman (B) recommissioned
William Stewart (D) discharged on surgeon's certificate
Joseph S Miller may have been discharged, either from co.A or from the regular army

About 1 am, the regiment arrived below the city near a railroad. At 3.30 am, the Fifth Corps was ordered to withdraw from Frederickburg, recross the river, and cover the withdrawal of the bridges. The regiment remained in its position until daylight, when it was ordered to retire. The last brigade of the Fifth Corps (Sykes' division) crossed about 8 am, and the bridges were taken up by 9 am.

Company E, commanded by Captain John Lentz, was left unrelieved on picket 'by the neglect of duty of a subordinate officer, on picket duty, of General Humphreys' division, and the failure to comply with precise orders given'. Butterfield said Lentz 'deserves an acknowledgment and reward for his conduct'. (He was promoted to Major effective 20 December.) They, along with some of Berdan's sharpshooters, had been assigned to the 126th Pennsylvania, to replace some of their pickets. They were posted in and near a blockhouse. They were supposed to fall in as skirmishers on the flank and rear once the 126th PA started to move down the road, but Lentz never received the order, because Lieutenant Bonsall of the 126th conveyed the order to Acting Second Lieutenant Baker, thinking Baker was commanding the company. The 126th barely made it across the river--the lower bridge was gone, and the upper bridge had already been swung away from the bank, but was returned, and cut loose only after the 126th crossed. The detachment of company E, unfortunately, was still in the blockhouse. About 10 am, they thought they saw troops being relieved, but then realized that Confederate troops were leading prisoners away. (See Battle of Fredericksburg for a list of the men captured from company E.) They made it back to the river. After Private James Clark swam across the river, two men brought them over on a pontoon boat. Eleven men were missing at roll-call, presumably captured by the Confederates. Lieutenant Bonsall was charged with failure to deliver orders, but was restored to duty. He and Acting Lieutenant Baker were both tried twice, convicted twice, and not punished, because their convictions were overturned.

[report by Brig. Gen. Butterfield (Fifth Corps), p.401; report by Gregory; report by Lentz; Bates, p.188; Welch, p.501; Franklin County Soldiers' Monumental Association, A Sketch of the 126th regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. Chambersburg PA, 1869, pp.22-24 and 30-31; court-martial record, trial of James B Bonsall, 3 January 1863, and trial of D B Baker, 3 January 1863, National Archives, Record Group 153 (Judge Advocate General, Army), file KK691; and court-martial record, trial of James B Bonsall, 12 January 1863, and trial of D B Baker, 12 January 1863, National Archives, Record Group 153 (Judge Advocate General, Army), file KK664]
17 Franklin Clough (A) deserted (probably when he left with wounded)
William S Shaw (H) discharged on surgeon's certificate
19 George Todd (F&S) died of wounds suffered 13 Dec
James A Todd (I) wrote to his mother, about his illness and the effects of the Battle of Fredericksburg
Hiram Ashton (G) discharged on surgeon's certificate
20 John Allen (G) contracted chronic diarrhea
capt John D Lentz promoted to major, replacing George Todd
Matthew Hall promoted to captain (E) replacing Lentz
[Bates, p.188]
James Stratton (G) discharged on surgeon's certificate at Philadelphia PA
[see 'The battle of Fredericksburg Va: list of killed and wounded', Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 December 1862, page 3]
21 Sgt John Hamill wrote a death notification letter to the widow of Thomas Hallowell
his writing it for Captain Sinex may suggest that Sinex was already commanding the regiment (see 7 Feb 63)
22 Alpheus Bowman (B) mustered into service
Edward J Maguigan (C) promoted to 2nd lt
James Delavan (C) commissioned 1st lt
Joseph Gilbert (C) appointed 5th sgt
Charles Higgins (C) appointed 4th sgt [?]
Bartholomew Fleetwood (A) discharged at camp in the field on surgeon's certificate
Charles Guyer (A) discharged at camp in the field on surgeon's certificate
John Sage (C) discharged on surgeon's certificate
Joseph Wilson (E) discharged on surgeon's certificate
B B Eyre (I) signed a discharge certificate for James Allen Todd (I), at Camp in the Fields near Falmouth VA
23 John de Barry (G) discharged on surgeon's certificate at Philadelphia PA
25 Charles Bournonville (C) returned from being sick, in Columbia College Hospital
26 Samuel Amey (H) discharged on surgeon's certificate
Samuel Grier (D) died (possibly 14 March 1863)
28 Samuel Williamson (E) transferred to co G by regimental order, because co E was over the maximum
29 Samuel Hawks (D) discharged on surgeon's certificate at US General Hospital, Frederick MD
30 John Dyke (H) resigned
31 regiment still part of 1st brigade (Tyler), 3rd division (Humphreys), 5th corps (Meade) [organization]
George Eyre (F&S) died of disease, in Philadelphia PA
Aaron Lewis (A) discharged at hospital in Rhode Island on surgeon's certificate (possibly 7 Feb 63)

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revised 9 Aug 15
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