Monday, February 24, 2020

Medal of Honor Recipients in the 85th PA

        For their actions during the Civil War, three members of the 85th Pennsylvania regiment were awarded Congressional Medals of Honor. They were John Shallenberger, William E. Leonard and Francis Morrison.
       Another member of the regiment, James Huff of Company E, stayed in the army following the war and was awarded a Medal of Honor in the 1870's during the army's campaign against the Apache Indians in American's southwest.
      Both Shallenberger of Company B and Leonard of Company F won their medals for capturing enemy flags during the Second Battle of Deep Bottom on August 16, 1864 near Richmond. Their medals were issued on April 6, 1865.
    Francis Morrison of Company H won his Medal of Honor for trying to save a fellow member of his company while under fire at Ware Bottom Church in Virginia on June 17, 1864.
       Leonard and Shallenberger's heroic moment occurred during Grant's fourth offensive against the Richmond-to-Petersburg (Virginia) line in mid-August of 1864, a simultaneous two-pronged attack plan against both cities. The 85th Pennsylvania would cross the James River from the Bermuda Hundred to help pressure the Confederates' Richmond defenses and make the Confederates continue to stretch their line. The 85th Pennsylvania, as part of the brigade of Colonel Francis B. Pond, temporarily poked a hole in the Confederate line near Darbytown Road, but eventually Union forces gave way in the face of Confederate reinforcements. The Union had better success at the other end of the line near Petersburg, capturing the Weldon Railroad.
Pontoon Bridge at Deep Bottom,VA
Across the James River    LOC
      At Deep Bottom, the 85th Pennsylvania and the rest of the Pond's Brigade stormed and captured an enemy position. The brigade suffered heavy losses. One account said that an initial volley by the Confederates killed and wounded many of Pond's men in the assault, but that the rest of the brigade took the Confederate position before the rebels could reload their muskets and fire a second time. Colonel Edward C. Campbell of the 85th Pennsylvania noted it was the first time his men had engaged in hand-to-hand warfare in their nearly three years of fighting. During the final phase of capturing the enemy position, Shallenberger and Leonard snatched enemy colors from two regiments.
     Shallenberger (or Shellenberger), age 24 from Fayette County, worked as a farm laborer after the war He died in 1911 at the age of 71 in Granville, Licking County, Ohio where he spent the last 20 years of his life. Nearly eighty years later, in 1990, a new bronze marker was installed at his gravesite at the Welsh Hills Cemetery in Granville, Licking County. His original marble headstone mentioned only his service in the Civil War. The newer bronze marker hailed him for his Medal of Honor.
         In 2013, the Pennsylvania General Assembly designated a portion of the Mon Valley Expressway Interchange (Exit 18) in Fayette County as the John S. Shallenberger Interchange.
     Like Shallenberger, William E. Leonard captured an enemy flag at Second Deep Bottom. Leonard was wounded in the ear during the assault but survived. Leonard died in early 1891. A fellow soldier from Company F, wrote a tribute to Leonard that appeared in the Washington Observer newspaper (February 26, 1891, page 1) in which Sergeant James E. Sayers wrote a detailed recollection of Leonard's actions that day.
Second Deep Bottom Reenactment  2014
 "To him belongs the honor of capturing the only flag taken from the enemy on the field of battle by a Greene countian during the war...It was at the battle of Deep Bottom, Va., on August 16, 1964. In a charge by our brigade upon the enemy's works, the 85th lost the heaviest it ever did in a single dash.  Massed in 'close column by division at half distance,' which simply means a solid square, we made the outset through a thicket, and coming upon the enemy's rifle pits before we were scarcely aware of their proximity, received the fire of a double line of battle so close that the blaze from their muskets almost reached our faces. Men fell so thickly that I thought they all had laid down. But in an instant, those not hit recovered from the blinding,crashing musketry and with a 'hurrah,' leaped the rifle pits. Many of the Confederates fled, but a large proportion were captured. Ed Leonard went over the works a few rods to my left, and with others, pursed the enemy until recalled or rather forced back by the enemy reinforced...It was a day or two after the charge before Ed reported the capture of the flag. He first told some of his comrades and showed them the flag, and by then it was reported to headquarters. Ed's story is that after he crossed the works, he saw the flag and went for it. The man who carried it was shot...the dead man grasped the staff so firmly that in the haste and confusion of the fight, Ed stripped the flag from its staff and stuffed it in his haversack and it remained there until the hurly burly and anxiety of the fight was over." 

Francis Morrison's Chest Wound
Courtesy of Vallorie Brady
      Francis Morrison enlisted into of Company H as  a 16-year old  from Ohiopyle, Fayette County and was the last of the 85th Pennsylvania soldiers to receive a Medal of Honor for a brave act during the Civil War. On June 17, 1864, at the Battle of Ware Bottom Church during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, Morrison risked his life in an attempt to carry comrade Jesse Dial from the field to safety. Dial died of his wounds, but this did not lessen Morrison's bravery.
      Morrison's citation stated,  "Private Jesse Dial was struck by a bullet and left behind. Private Morrison saw his comrade fall and, with utter disregard of a hail of bullets, advanced towards the enemy and was soon at the side of his friends. As he tenderly raised him from the ground to discover to his dismay that Dial wad dead. He then carried the corpse back to his regiment."
    Morrison's act of bravery was observed by Captain Ross Sanner, who submitted a recommendation for the Medal of Honor.
      Two months later, Morrison was shot through the chest at the Second Battle of Deep Bottom. The gunshot wound through his lung was described as fatal at the time. Morrison recovered, however (he had an open exit wound in his back for the remainder of his life), and went on to live for 49 more years. Morrison had also been earlier wounded at Seven Pines, Virginia in 1862 and on Morris Island, South Carolina in 1863.
Instructor Francis Morrison
Courtesy of Vallorie Brady
       Morrison began receiving a pension for his back wound in 1867. By 1883, he was receiving $18 a month, demonstrating the seriousness of his injury (amputees received $24).
    The postwar life of Morrison, who returned to Ohiopyle, including teaching, farming, serving as as justice of the peace and school board member. He died in 1913 and is buried in the Sugar Grove Cemetery in Ohiopyle. (Laurel Messenger, August, 1968, p.8)
          Morrison received his Medal of Honor 33 years after his valorous act, probably with the intercession of Inspector General Robert P. Hughes, a former officer of the 85th Pennsylvania who helped lead the charge that day at Deep Bottom.
        James Huff of Company E  was from Washington, PA. Huff had the distinction of serving in the infantry, artillery and cavalry during the course of his career. Huff began his military service in the 85th Pennsylvania under sad circumstances. His brother, Andrew, was one of the first members of the regiment to die (from disease) early in the regiment's stay at Washington, DC in 1861.
      James Huff completed his three years in the 85th Pennsylvania, but unlike almost every other member, Huff decided to make the military his career. He reenlisted in 1867 and was sent to the western frontier.
       A biographical entry  from the turn of the century noted,“James W, Huff, a veteran of the Civil War, re-enlisted in the United
James W. Huff
States Army at Philadelphia in 1867, and was assigned to troop ‘L,’ 1st Cavalry. The troop, with others, was sent to Arizona in June, 1869. It remained at Fort Goodwin until 1870, and then went to Fort Apache, which it helped to establish. Huff was the first white man to construct a log-house in that region. The Apache Indians, those scourges of the southwestern frontier, went upon the war-path in the winter of 1872, and during the balance of the winter and spring of 1873 kept the available United States troops very busy. General George Crook, upon the commencement of hostilities, ordered into the field a part of the 1st Cavalry…The Indians were overtaken in the Dragoon Mountains, and defeated.

      "They were separated into small bands and scattered through the surrounding region. When about eight miles from the command, the Apaches were discovered. Notwithstanding that the scouting party was outnumbered five or six to one, the Apaches were without hesitation or delay vigorously attacked. Huff and his three companions during the fight, which was very fierce while it was in progress, succeeded in killing seventeen of the Apaches, when the remainder fled.” 
      After his army service, Huff lived in Georgia and in 1910 and was the overseer of a rifle range in Turkey Creek, CarrollCounty  Huff moved to Florida and died in New Port Richey in 1927 at the age of 87.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Thank You Palm Coast Civil War Roundtable


       I would like to express my appreciation to the Palm Coast Civil War Roundtable for inviting me to give a presentation on February 20 in Palm Coast, Florida. The venue was the Daytona State College - Flagler Palm Coast campus.

      Roundtable president (General) Grant Atkinson made the arrangements for my presentation, which was well attended by an audience of around fifty members and guests.
      Everyone was courteous and asked great questions. In addition to the regular members, thanks to my brother and his wife, Jim and Linda, for attending, as well as my brother-in-law John.
      My next speaking engagement will be in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania on April 14 to the Cornerstone Genealogical Society.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Lucky Card Player

Playing Cards in Camp

       It was common for Civil War soldiers to toss away certain items just before going into battle. Dice, playing cards and pipes were often flipped away along the road or the brush while marching towards a fray. If a soldier were killed in battle, his personal belongings would be sent home to his family; many soldiers did not want their mothers to know that they had engaged in such habits as gambling or smoking.
       Corporal David Miller of Company B of the 85th Pennsylvania apparently did not hold such assumptions about his deck of cards. Perhaps he did use them to gamble. Maybe he thought he would be spared from injury or death. It could have been that his mother was no longer living. Or perhaps he just did not care. In any event, his decision to keep his cards may have saved his life.
      The 34-year old Miller, at the time a resident of Washington County, had already been wounded once, in the side and in the hand, at the Battle of Seven Pines in Virginia on May 31, 1862 when his deck of cards became a lifesaver. During this battle, about 75 men of his regiment suffered wounds, and about 25 died. Miller recovered and continued his service with his regiment.
     Six months later, in December of 1862, the 85th Pennsylvania was sent to New Bern, North Carolina to become part of the Goldsboro Expedition. This two-week mission, led by General John G. Foster, was tasked with disrupting the Confederate railroad center at Goldsboro sixty miles to the west and to interrupt the supply line for Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Battle of Kinston
Reunion of the 45th Massachusetts Regiment
December 14, 1887
Post by Jason Tomberlin
     Foster's 10,000-man force was on their way to Goldsboro when they received word of the disastrous Union loss at Fredericksburg, Virginia.
    It is unclear whether or not Foster's goal was to simply stop supplies from reaching Lee (which did not matter now that the Fredericksburg battle had been fought) or whether he was to capture and occupy Goldsboro. With the federal army already badly defeated at Fredericksburg, the threat loomed of Confederate reinforcements being sent from northern Virginia to assist General Nathan "Shanks" Evans and his undermanned troops in North Carolina against Foster's command,
       Foster altered his plan. Staying in Goldsboro, he determined, was now out of the question. He decided he had time to march on to Goldsboro, destroy a railroad bridge and safely return to New Bern before Confederate reinforcements could arrive.
        On their way to Goldsboro, the 85th Pennsylvania was involved in two engagements in and around Kinston, At Southwest Creek, four miles south of the city, Companies B (including Miller) and D of the 85th Pennsylvania were sent, along with the 9th New Jersey, to force an opening through a thin Confederate artillery position. Both Union regiments made it across the creek at separate locations, gaining a pathway for Foster's force to continue on to Kinston.
     The next day, the 85th Pennsylvania as part of Henry Wessells' Brigade, slogged through a thinly  guarded swamp southeast of city towards the Kinston Bridge that spanned the Neuse River. This is where Miller's deck of cards came into play.
From a Kinston, NC Historical Marker
The yellow circle shows the position of  the 85th PA

       While part of Foster's force marched up the road towards the bridge from the south (the left of the picture below), the 85th Pennsylvania advanced towards the bridge from the southwest through the swamp (top left of the picture).
Kinston Bridge across the Neuse River
Harper's Weekly
      In this part of the assault, the 85th Pennsylvania and their brigade were slowed by the chest-deep waters. Confederate sniper fire also made the passage difficult. The Union troops were slowed by trying to advance through the water. On the other hand, as one member of the 85th Pennsylvania later commented, with the lower two-thirds of their bodies in water, the Confederates had less of a target to shoot at.
      During this advance, Sergeant Miller was struck. Nearly four decades later 85th veteran Manaen Sharp wrote a brief tract about veterans in the area around Amity, PA in Washington County.
      Of Miller, Corporal Sharp wrote,  "At Kingston [sic] while charging through a swamp he [MIller] was badly hurt and helped to solid ground by a comrade, who, examining his wound, found the ball had passed through a deck of playing cards and buried itself in his side." [Sharp, Amity in the Great American Conflict, p. 24]
         How badly was Miller wounded? Records are inconclusive.  Historian Luther Dickey, in his 1915 history of the 85th Pennsylvania, listed the names of the three soldiers from the regiment killed on the expedition but not the names of  five more who were wounded along the way. Miller may or may not have been one of these five. A later biographical sketch noted that Miller was treated for his wound in a field hospital. [Presidents, Soldiers and Statesmen, 1894, p. 1263]
        Miller either marched or rode the sixty miles back to the Union base at New Bern. The regiment stayed there for six weeks through the end of January before being transported to St. Helena Island, South Carolina. Their next military movement was not until April of 1863 when they launched an invasion of Folly Island, South Carolina.  This gave Corporal Miller four months to recover and rejon his regiment.
        Miller stayed with his regiment for the next 18 months, finishing his three-year enlistment in November of 1864. 
       Later, in the 1890 Veteran Schedule, a special census of Union Civil War veterans which detailed their service and physical conditions, no mention was made of Miller having suffered from a permanent wound at Kinston.
        Miller lived in Jefferson, PA in Greene County at the time of the Veteran Schedule. No record of his burial could be found in either Greene or Washington Counties. Was Miller a gambler and/or dd he continue his card-playing habit following the war? Suffice to say, he may have made his best gamble of his by keeping his cards close at hand at Kinston in 1862.

Monday, February 10, 2020

A Poem From Fort Good Hope (Washington, DC)

Interior of a Fort in Washington, DC During the Civil War

          The anonymous poem below was contributed by a member of the 85th Pennsylvania for a reunion in 1885 held in Canonsburg, Washington County. This regimental reunion was held jointly with the 10th Pennsylvania Reserves.
         First, some information about the reunion. A local newspaper noted of the event, "The town was in gay attire, the buildings being decked with flags,
From Boyd Crumrine
History of Washington County
banners and evergreens. On the arrival of the 10:30 a.m. train from Pittsburgh, the visiting comrades were met at the station by the resident members of the regiments, and falling in line they all marched to the Jefferson Academy building..." 

       After several addresses, the veterans continued to the town's skating rink where a banquet dinner was served. At a campfire later in the day, Reverend Jacob L. Thompson, a veteran of Company A, shared some remarks. Another address was made by Alexander Pollock of Company A entitled, "Our Country: The Best Government on Earth." Reverend James S. Speer, a veteran of Company B also made a speech entitled, "Our Absent Comrades."
      During their stay at Fort Good Hope in the District of Columbia during the winter of 1861-1862, the regiment constructed its own fortification (one of 33 that ringed the nation's capital during the war)  and performed duties at several other facilities in the vicinity. Fort Good Hope was located across the eastern branch of the Potomac River, in the southwest corner of Washington, DC near the border with Prince Georges County, Maryland. When they had time, the men would tour the nation's capital. Several claimed to have encountered President Abraham Lincoln near the Capitol Building on various occasions.
        The poem,written during the 85th Pennsylvania's third month in Washington, DC and sixth overall in the army, reflects the writer's homesickness, restlessness in not yet having participated in battle, and frustration with the cold winter weather.

Washington Daily Reporter
October 2, 1885

   The following lines were written by a member of Company E, 85th regiment PA. Vols. In February, 1862, at Camp Good Hope, Washington, D.C. and are handed us with a request to publish,

Alas the pleasant days have fled,
The rude storm king has come,
And I’m nodding in my canvass bunk,
With thoughts of “Home” sweet home.

I’m nodding by my friends,
The snow falls thick and fast,
And I’m thinking of the joy’d ones left
And happy hours we’ve passed.

I’m thinking of the little ones,
Now distant many miles,
Their childish glee, their numerous pranks,
Their tears and gentle smiles.

I’m thinking of the good things too,
Roasts, jellies, cakes and cream,
But oh! Alas such dainty things,
In camp are seldom seen.

I’m thinking of the merry dance,
I see each fairy form
As gracefully they promenade,
And smiling partners turn.

But Oh! How different here the scene;
My heart grows faint and sick,
“Tis shoulder arms,” “Right shoulder shift,”
“Now forward” “Double quick.”

The glorious orb of day is hid,
Nor sheds its genial heat,
To cheer the shivering sentinel,
While on his lonely beat.

The silver moon, the twinkling stars,
With clouds are overcast,
And each in haste a shelter seeks,
To shield him from the storm.

And still the storm king rages on,
With unrelenting will,
As though it were his chief delight,
Our icy cups to fill,

The rain, the hail, the sleet and snow,
Continue to descend,
Old Boreas blows his bitter blast,
That seem to have no end.

But cease complaint, my country calls,
Away with idle thought,
We came to save the stars and stripes,
Our fathers dearly bought.

No blood yet trickling from our feet,
We’re amply clothed and fed,
‘Twas not so with our noble sires
When forth to battle led.

Their footsteps left a bloody path,
As o’er the clods they passed,
Undaunted still they forward pressed,
To triumph at the last.

Though kinds and crowns may threaten us,
Though wild rebellion rolls,
Undaunted by our flag we’ll stand,
Or sleep beneath its folds.

Then comrades on with heart and hand,
We’ll show the gazing world.
While life and through and being lasts,
Our flag remains unfurled.

When limbs are stiff and ache with toil,
The cure lies in St. Jacobs Oil.
New York Illustrated Times
May 24, 1862

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Last Man Killed

Frank Leslie's Illustrated
       In last week's post, I  wrote about James C. Davis, who was the last member of the regiment to be wounded in battle. Davis was hurt on April 2, 1865 at Fort Gregg near Petersburg, VA.
       Davis survived his wound and went on to a prominent career in education. He died in 1914 at the age of 63 and is buried in Kansas.
      The next question to answer is: Who was the last member of the 85th Pennsylvania to die in battle? The answer is not as cut-and-dried as one would imagine. My interpretation of the question is: Who was the last to die AS A RESULT of being wounded in battle. Based on this view, several men who were wounded at Second Deep Bottom could be that last victim. And what about those who WERE members of the 85th Pennsylvania but had transferred to another regiment to meet their permanent fate?
  Following the  2nd Battle of Deep Bottom in August of 1864. the 85th Pennsylvania was involved in the fighting at Darbytown Road, VA (October 13, 1864), Fort Gregg (April 2, 1865) and Appomattox Court House (April 9, 1865) before the war finally ended.
New York Daily Herald
August 17, 1864
    In these final three engagements, the regiment suffered several men from the 85th Pennsylvania were wounded but there were no fatalities.
     That means that the last engagement in which men from the regiment were killed was at 2nd Deep
2DP Reenactment  2014
Bottom. In that engagement 21 men were killed and another 73 were wounded.
      In this one-week operation near Richmond, most men died on the day of the most substantial part of the fight on August 18,1864.             The 85th Pennsylvania, as a member of Francis Pond's Brigade, stormed and captured a Confederate earthwork.
       Captain Lewis Watkins of Company E was severely wounded in the arm and  leg while helping to lead the charge at 2nd Deep Bottom. Watkins died six weeks later at Chesapeake Hospital at Fort Monroe (VA).
        Of the men who suffered fatal wounds, Sergeant Myers P. Titus of Company G lingered until November 2, 1864 before dying in a Hampton (VA) hospital. Corporal James Sturgis, also of Company G, hung on from his wound until he expired on November 6, 1864 in a hospital in Beverly, NJ.
        Next is Corporal James C. Bailey of Company C. Bailey was captured on Whitemarsh Island near Savannah, Georgia on February 22, 1864. The exact cause of his demise is unclear. Bailey was eventually released during a large-scale prisoner exchange but died on the voyage home on December 12, 1864. He may have been wounded on Whitemarsh Island. How much this contributed to his death is unknown. On the other hand, his death may have been due to harsh treatment at Andersonville and other Confederate prison camps. If he were wounded on Whitemarsh Island, was this a a contributory factor to his death?
        Next is Private David Baldwin of Company D. Baldwin  who died in Salisbury (NC) POW camp in North Carolina on December 19, 1864. Baldwin was listed as missing-in-action at 2nd Deep Bottom. Like Bailey, it is unknown if Baldwin were wounded causing him to be captured. If he were wounded, it is also not known if this contributed to his death. He may have died of starvation or caught a disease in camp and expired.
Captain Richard Dawson
James Hadden, History of the Old Flag

      Captain Richard Dawson of Company I was wounded at the second (and successful) Union assault on Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina in January of 1865. Dawson was wounded in the arm, which was amputated, but he passed away a few weeks later from the wound on February 1, 1865.
    But Dawson was not a member of the 85th Pennsylvania at the time. Two months earlier, he had been promoted and was an aide to General Adelbert Ames when he was wounded during the storming of Fort Fisher.


Corporal Joseph W. Burson
Courtesy of Sharon Zbinovec

      Finally there is my choice for the last fatality in the regiment, Corporal Joseph W. Burson of Company D. Burson was wounded and captured at Second Deep Bottom in August. He was released from prison camp near the end of the war, but died on March 17, 1865, three weeks before the war ended. He died at home in Fredericktown, Washington County, just after being accompanied home by his father, Edward, from a hospital in Annapolis, Maryland.
    Therefore, although it is possible Burson's death was caused by his stay in prison camp, his wound does appear to be a contributing factor in his demise.
Walton Cemetery
Clarksville, GreeneCounty, PA

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Ware Bottom Church Preservation Effort

The American Battlefield Trust is working to preserve an additional 53 acres at the Ware Bottom Church battle site in Chesterfield County, VA near Richmond. Please consider a donation towards their efforts. The 85th Pennsylvania was encamped near the site in the spring and summer of 1864. Besides frequent skirmishing with the enemy, the 85th PA fought two battle here. On May 20, the regiment suffered twenty-five casualties including six killed. On June 16, twenty men from the regiment were casualties, including seven killed. My great-grandfather, John Clendaniel, was wounded in this engagement but survived. Four other men on picket duty were captured; two of them died in confinement.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Last Wounded Man

The Daily Courier
Connellsville, PA
September 18, 1911, p.1

    Next week I am going to speculate about which soldier from the 85th Pennsylvania was the last to die in battle or due to a battlefield wound. This week I will focus on the last man to be wounded who survived the war. That man appears to be Private James C. Davis of Company E. 
    The article at the right from 1911 mentions four veterans of the 85th Pennsylvania and has a revealing mention about Davis as the war was closing.
   The four soldiers from the 85th Pennsylvania in the article are, Davis, Eli F. Huston, (Company E), Henry J. Molleston (I) and Joshua Torrance (B). Huston, Molleston and Torrance were all living in Dawson, Fayette County at the time.
   The story is about a dinner party for Davis, who lived in Oklahoma. Davis had come back home for a regimental reunion that year that was held at Brownsville, Fayette County in mid-September. About 75 elderly members of the regiment were in attendance. 
   Eli F. Huston was 76 years old at this time. He was born in Fayette County. He enlisted as a wagoner but spent the war in the ranks as a private. Huston was wounded in the thigh on Morris Island, SC in 1863 when his regiment was digging a series of trenches that resulted in the capture of Fort Wagner. He was a coal miner following the war, working his was up to superintendent of one of the mines near Connellsville.
    Six years later in 1917, Huston attended the regimental reunion in Uniontown and died the next day of pneumonia at age 82.
   Henry J. Molleston, age 74, was given a medical discharge after 30 months of service. After the war, he attended California Normal School (now California University of Pennsylvania, the school from which the author graduated). Besides finding work as a farmer and blacksmith, Molleston worked as an engineer for a coal company . He also became a preacher in the Methodist Church.
          Joshua Torrance. age 67, was captured at Ware
Andersonville Prison   LOC
Bottom Church (VA) on June 16, 1864 while on picket duty. He spent two months at Libby Prison in Richmond and then another 11 months at Andersonville Prison in Georgia. He was released on April 1, 1865, just eight days before the end of the war. He later served as school director, tax collector and auditor for Lower Tyrone Township in Fayette County following the war. 
       James C. Davis, 65 years of age, had enlisted as a 15-year old in 1861. After the war, he served as a school principal in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. He moved to Kansas in 1880 where he served three terms as school superintendent for Chase County. He later purchased land in Oklahoma and became an oil prospector. 
       The article about the dinner party states that Davis was "the last member of the 85th wounded, the date being April 2, 1865."
         This happened during an assault upon Fort Gregg on the last line of inner line of defenses around Petersburg, VA. Earlier in the day, after a ten month siege, Union forces had pierced the Confederates' outer defensive line, forcing Lee out of his trenches. Lee headed west in a futile attempt to link with Joseph E. Johnston's army in North Carolina. Lee surrendered at Appomattox one week later to end the war. 
Storming Fort Gregg    LOC
        Fort Gregg was extremely bloody. Every Confederate  in the fort, numbering about 330 men, was killed, wounded or taken prisoner as the rebels fought to the end to give Lee time to evacuate the Richmond-Petersburg front.
Colonel Thomas O. Osborn
Yates Phalanx
        The 85th Pennsylvania was in the first of four waves to rush the fort. They were commanded by Colonel Thomas O. Osborn of the 39th Illinois. Osborn's Brigade made it into the moat surrounded the earthen fort, which saved many lives until several more waves of Union troops breached the parapet and  forced the fort to surrender. The Union suffered over 700 casualties in the assault. *
        Davis was one of 163 remaining members of the 85th Pennsylvania  after 1864  (these remaining men had reenlisted or had joined the regiment after 1861 and were yet to complete their three years). The majority of the regiment had gone home four months earlier.
        The last battle in which the full regiment was engaged was at Darbytown Road near Richmond on October 13, 1864. Seven men were wounded in this affair, none fatally.
       The seven men wounded at Darbytown Road were: Sgt. Charles Eckels (Company E), Corp. Nicholas Derbins (F), Pvts. David Baker (B), Milton F. Bradley (I), Jacob Huffman (F), Samuel E. Johnson (I), and George Rodeback (C). 
         The reduced 85th Pennsylvania was involved in two more fights during the last week of the war, at Rice's Station and Appomattox (see map below), but the author could find no documentation that any member of the regiment was killed or wounded in either fight. So Davis does indeed appear to be the last man in the regiment to suffer a wound or death on the battlefield.

Last 3 Days of Lee's Retreat to Appomattox, VA
85th PA was part of  the Army of the James [ORD] 

Map by Hal Jespersen
            *NOTE: It has always puzzled the author why the 85th Pennsylvania did not suffer more casualties at Fort Gregg. The 199th Pennsylvania from Philadelphia, engaging in their first battle since joining Osborn's Brigade, suffered ten deaths. The 39th Illinois, also in the brigade, suffered 12 men killed and 31 wounded. Davis was the only soldier in the 85th PA to be killed or wounded while being in the thick of the fight.
           Granted, these regiment were larger that the 85th Pennsylvania at the time. Nonetheless, considering that all of these regiments (along with the 62nd Ohio and 67th Ohio) made the first charge upon Fort Gregg simultaneously, wouldn't one expect to find more losses in the 85th Pennsylvania? 

Monday, January 20, 2020

85th Pennsylvania Original Company Nicknames & Commissioned Officers

                                                     COLOR KEY 
                                                     Killed in Action
                                                           Died from disease
                                                        Captured, later released
                                                      Resigned for health reasons
                                                     Completed 3-year enlistment
                                                  Transferred to a different regiment

[Company A] “Union Guards” (Washington County)
Captain Harvey J. Vankirk (medically discharged, 1862)
1st Lieutenant William W. Kerr (captured at 2nd Deep Bottom, 1864)
2nd Lieutenant John Rowley (medically discharged, 1862)

[Company B] “Ellsworth Cadets” (Washington County)
Captain Morgan W. Zollars (medically discharged, 1862)
1st Lieutenant Robert P. Hughes (promoted to lieutenant colonel, 199th PA, 1864)
2nd Lieutenant George H. Hooker (wounded twice in shoulder & foot; completed 3 yrs)

[Company C] “Redstone Blues” (Fayette County)
Captain John C. Wilkinson (medically discharged, 1863)
1st Lieutenant Isaac R. Beazell (transferred to 168th PA)
2nd Lieutenant Jefferson. G. Vangilder (transferred to 22nd Ringgold Cavalry)

[Company D] “Lafayette Guards” (Greene/Washington Counties)
Captain William H. Horn (medically discharged for shoulder wound, 1862)
1st Lieutenant Rolla O. Phillips (promoted to captain, 1862: served 3 years)
2nd Lieutenant John E. Michener (captured Whitemarsh Island, GA, 1864; exchanged)

[Company E] “Washington Guards” (Washington County)
Captain Henry A. Purviance (killed on Morris Island, 1863, from friendly fire)
1st Lieutenant Lewis Watkins (died from wounds at 2nd Deep Bottom, 1864)
2nd Lieutenant Richard W. Dawson (died from wounds at Fort Fisher, NC, 1865)

[Company F] “Tenmile Grays” (Greene County)
Captain John Morris (discharged after facial wound, 1862)
1st Lieutenant Edward Campbell (promoted to colonel, 1864; completed 3 years)
2nd Lieutenant John Remley (medically discharged, 1863)

[Company G] “Monongahela Guards” (Fayette/Greene Counties)
Captain Isaac M. Abraham (promoted to major, 1863; completed 3 years)
1st Lieutenant John A. Gordon (transferred to Ambulance Corps, 1862)
2nd Lieutenant John M. Crawford (medically discharged, 1864)

[Company H] “Independent Blues” (Somerset County)
 Captain James B. Tredwell (medically discharged for chronic diarrhea, 1862)
1st Lieutenant James Hamilton (killed at Seven Pines, 1862)
2nd Lieutenant Milton Black (died from typhoid fever, 1862)

[Company I] “Howell Fencibles” (Fayette County)
Captain John R. Weltner (medically discharged for lung disease, 1862)
1st Lieutenant E. H. Oliphant (died from typhoid fever, 1862)
2nd Lieutenant Houston Devan (died from typhoid fever, 1862)

[Company K] “Mountain Rifles” (Fayette County)
Captain Hagan Z. Ludington (resigned 1863, died 1865/disease contracted during war)
1st Lieutenant Reason Smurr (medically discharged, 1862; later joined 77th PA)
2nd Lieutenant Stephen K. Brown (medically discharged, 1862, due to typhoid fever)