51st Pennsylvania Infantry Antietam
|51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
2nd Brigade 2nd Division
Location 385 yards South
70 Degrees East
Casualties at Antietam
Recruited in Montgomery,
Northampton, Union Centre,
Lycoming and Snyder Counties.
Virtue, Liberty and Independence
51st Pennsylvania Infantry Antietam
The 51st Regt. P.V.
|Total death roll 314.
Private Charles Keyser, Co. A
5th Sergt. Richard J. Williams, Co. B
8th Corp. George W. Bird, Co. B
Private David S. Hutman, Co. B
Private Henry G. Moore, Co. B
The following comrades were killed:
Field & Staff---Unassigned
Organized at Harrisburg November 16, 1861. Left State for Annapolis, Md., November 16. Attached to Reno's Brigade, Burnside's North Carolina Expeditionary Corps, to April, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Dept. of North Carolina, to July, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to April, 1863: Army of the Ohio to June, 1863; Army of the Tennessee to August, 1863, and Army of the Ohio to April, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to September, 1864. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, to July, 1865.
SERVICE.--Duty at Annapolis until January 9, 1862. Burnside's Expedition to Hatteras Inlet and Roanoke Island, N. C., January 9-February 8. Battle of Roanoke Island February 8. Moved to New Berne March 11-13. Battle of New Berne March 14. Expedition to Pollocksville March 21-22. Expedition to Elizabeth City April 17-19. Camden, South Mills, April 19. Duty at New Berne until July. Moved to Newport News, Va., July 6-9, thence to Fredericksburg August 2-4. March to relief of Pope August 12-15. Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2. Battles of Groveton August 29; Bull Run August 30; Chantilly September 1; Maryland Campaign September 6-24. Battle of South Mountain September 14. Antietam September 16-17. Duty at Pleasant Valley until October 27. Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 27-November 19. Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15. Burnside's second Campaign. "Mud March" January 20-24, 1863. Moved to Newport News February 19, thence to Covington and Paris, Ky., March 26-April 1. Moved to Mount Sterling April 3, to Lancaster May 6-7 and to Crab Orchard May 23. Movement to Vicksburg, Miss., June 3-17. Siege of Vicksburg June 17-July 4. Advance on Jackson, Miss., July 5-10. Siege of Jackson July 10-17. At Milldale until August 6. Moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, August 6-20. Duty in Kentucky until October. Operations in East Tennessee until November 14. Knoxville Campaign November 4-December 23. Campbell's Station November 16. Siege of Knoxville November 17-December 4. Pursuit of Longstreet December 5-29. Regiment reenlisted January 1, 1864, and on Veteran furlough January 11-March 9. At Annapolis, Md., until April 23. Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Ny River May 9; Spottsylvania C. H. May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. Ox Ford May 24. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Bethesda Church June 1-3. Before Petersburg June 16-18. Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864. Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Poplar Springs Church, Peeble's Farm, September 29-October 2. Reconnaissance on Vaughan and Squirrel Level Road October 8. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. Fort Stedman March 25, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee to Farmville. Moved to City Point, thence to Alexandria April 20-28. Grand Review May 23. Duty at Washington and Alexandria until July. Mustered out July 27, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 12 Officers and 165 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 137 Enlisted men by disease. Total 314.
Some time previous to the first Battle of Bull Run, Colonel Hartranft,
who commanded a regiment in the three months service, applied for, and received
authority to recruit one for the three years service. Calling about him
many of his old officers and men, the ranks of the new regiment were soon filled
with a body rarely excelled for qualities essential to good soldiers. With the
exception of a few enlistments, companies A, C, D, F and I, were recruited in
Montgomery county 5 E, H, and K in Union and Snyder; G in Centre, and B in
Northampton. The companies rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, and the regiment was
organized by the selection of the following officers: John F. Hartranft, of
Montgomery county, Colonel ; Thomas S. Bell, of Chester county, Lieutenant
Colonel ; Edwin Schall, of Montgomery county, Major.
On the morning of the 18th of November the regiment left Camp Curtin, and proceeded by rail to Annapolis, Maryland, where, beneath the venerable elms of Saint John s College, it was for the first time formed in line, its details made, and its arms stacked. Burnside s expedition to North Carolina was now being fitted out, and the best drilled and most reliable of the volunteer regiments were selected for that service. The Fifty-first Pennsylvania was early designated as one. Upon its arrival at Annapolis it was at first quartered in the buildings of the College, and subsequently went into camp on the old French burying ground. On the 1st of December the camp was moved two
miles beyond the city, and for six weeks it was subjected to continuous and Laborious drill, during which its efficiency and discipline were rapidly improved, and a foundation laid for its future renown. In the final organization of the corps, it was assigned to Reno s Brigade.*
On the 6th of January, 1862, the regiment embarked, and on the 9th,
the fleet, in three squadrons, set sail from Annapolis, and with sealed orders
passed cut to sea. No sooner had it reached the open ocean than it was overtaken
by a succession of violent storms. It seemed as though a tempest had been
lurking in the waste of waters ready to burst upon it the moment it should
appear. For nearly two weeks, staggering beneath the giant waves, it was
swept about at the mercy of the elements. Braving successfully the tempests, it
finally passed Hatteras Inlet, and came to anchor in Pamlico Sound. On the
morning of the 5th of February, the Flag Ship Philadelphia was anxiously
watched, as it moved, followed by the fleet, and it soon became evident that
Island was its destination. At early dawn, on the 7th, a landing was effected, and the movement commenced. The enemy was found strongly posted in earth works on the north-west corner of the island, nearly surrounded by an impenetrable swamp, approached in front by a single causeway, which was swept by the guns of the fort. Upon arriving at the edge of the swamp, Reno s Brigade was sent to the left to cut off the enemy s retreat south, while Foster was directed to penetrate the swamp to the right of the road, and attack the enemy upon that flank. Hartranft soon found his way completely blocked, and returned upon the track of Foster, leaving two companies of the Fifty-first, which had the advance, still groping in the mire. But before he had reached the lines, Foster had already opened upon the enemy with infantry and artillery, and as the regiment came into position on the right of the line, Foster ordered a final charge, and the enemy was driven from his works, and fled in confusion. The
demonstration upon the left of the road served to heighten his confusion, as he anticipated that his way of retreat was effectually broken. A hot pursuit was immediately made, and the entire force, with numerous heavy guns and small arms, was captured.
On the 3d of March the regiment embarked for the expedition to Newbern, and on the 4th changed its muskets for Enfield Rifles. The fleet sailed on the 11th, and entered the Neuse River on the 12th, anchoring off Slocum s Creek, fifteen miles from Newbern, where, on the following day, the regiment debarked. A portion, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Bell, was detailed to assist in moving the artillery. The rain was descending in torrents, and the roads were soon trodden into a stiff mud, which rendered the movement of the pieces next to impossible. Many of the men lost their shoes, and went into battle on the following day barefoot. But without faltering or pausing by the way, they toiled on over the weary miles, and brought up the pieces in time for the attack. For this important service, General Burnside personally thanked Lieutenant Colonel Bell. In the meantime Colonel Hartranft, with the remaining companies, pushed on with the advance column. Upon its arrival in front of the enemy s earth-works, dispositions for attack were made, Foster occupying the right, Reno the left, and Parke in support upon the centre. The enemy's line upon the left was masked by timber, and in the thick fog which prevailed the extent of his works was undiscovered. They proved to be of great strength, consisting of a thirteen finished redans; bristling with cannon, protected in front by an almost impassable morass filled with fallen timber"* and stretching away far beyond the railroad, where his right was supposed to rest. Foster attacked upon his left; but the enemy concentrating his strength proved more than a match for him.
As soon as he could gain his position on the left, Reno attacked, and
the battle soon became general, raging with great fury for three and a half
hours. The Fifty first had been held in support, and though exposed to a severe
had not been allowed to return a single shot. General Reno becoming impatient at the delay, and at the losses he was sustaining, ordered up Colonel Hartranft for the decisive charge. Forming within a short distance of the rebel
entrenchments, the regiment was led forward through the ranks of the Fifty-first New York, which cheered the column as it passed, to a little hill beyond. General Reno, in person, his face beaming with an expression seen only in battle, ordered the charge. With determined valor the regiment rushed down a ravine chocked with felled timber, up the opposite bank, and without a falter carried the redan in front, planting the old flag upon the ramparts. "All this,"says General Reno in his official report, "was gallantly executed, and the enemy fled precipitately from all their entrenchments. Some fifty prisoners were captured in these works, many severely wounded." Upon reaching the rebel entrenchments I was rejoiced to see our flag waving along the entire line of the enemy s works." After setting fire to the railroad bridge, and a number 6" factories, the rebels abandoned Newbern. Detachments were frequently sent out by General Burnside to reconnoiter and hold important points upon the coast. One was entrusted to Colonel Hartranft, who moved with his regiment into the interior and acquired valuable information. On the 16th of April, a force was sent out consisting of the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, Ninth and Eighty-ninth New York, Sixth New Hampshire and the Twenty-first Massachusetts, which proceeded by transports to a point four miles below Elizabeth City, where it landed. Pushing inland about twenty miles, the weary troops came upon the enemy strongly posted. Two companies of the Fifty-first, A and F, Captains Boulton and Hart, were considerably
in advance of the main column, and when they had arrived within an eighth of a mile of the rebel line, they were suddenly opened upon from the enemy's guns. They were ordered to shelter themselves as best they could, and to hold their position. General Eeno now led the Twenty-first Massachusetts, and the balance of the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, through the woods to the right, bringing them into position upon the enemy s left flank, where they immediately opened fire. In the meantime, the Ninth New York had taken position on the enemy s left centre, and had prematurely charged upon his guns. The ground was open, and being fearfully exposed, the Ninth was repulsed with consider able loss. The Sixth New Hampshire advanced upon the left, and with the two companies of the Fifty-first holding the road, kept the enemy well employed upon that part of the line. The Fifty-first had now turned his left flank, and was pouring in most deadly volleys. "In the meantime," says General Reno, "the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, and the Twenty-first Massachusetts kept up an incessant fire upon the rebels, who had now withdrawn their artillery, and had commenced to withdraw in good order. The Sixth New Hampshire had steadily advanced in line to the left of the road, and when within about two hundred yards poured in a most deadly volley, which completely demoralized the enemy, and ended the battle. Our men were so completely fagged out by the intense heat and their long march, that we could not pursue them. The men rested under arms until about ten o' clock P. M., when I ordered a return to our boats, having accomplished the principal object of the expedition,
conveying the idea that the entire Burnside expedition was marching upon Norfolk. "The loss in the regiment was three killed and twenty-one wounded. The brigade was here commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Bell, and the regiment by Major Schall. On the 30th of June the regiment embarked for Fortress Monroe, but was detained until the 5th of July, when it set sail with the rest of the command, and arrived on the 8th. Here General Burnside commenced organizing the Ninth Corps, destined to win an enviable place in the national armies, and the regiment was assigned to the Second Brigade of the Second Division, composed of the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, Fifty-first New York and the Twenty-first Massachusetts, commanded by General Edward Ferrero. On the 12th of August, Burnside hastened with his command to the support of Pope, and landed at Fredericksburg, whence he pushed forward two divisions to Cedar Mountain, where they formed a junction with General M Dowell. The enemy had already made his appearance on the Rapidan, and Ferrero s Brigade, under Colonel Hartranft, was sent to guard the fords from Mitchell s Station to Raccoon Ford. Lee s columns soon after arrived in force on the opposite
bank, and began to press heavily to gain a crossing, when the brigade was withdrawn, and returning through Stevensburg, re-crossed the Rappahannock at Kelley s Ford. Four companies of the Fifty-first were detailed for the rear guard, and held the enemy at bay until so far separated from the main body as to excite serious apprehension for their safety, but they succeeded in bringing in the gun with which they were entrusted, and crossed the river in safety, losing only a few stragglers. Pope s army maneuvering for several days, finally formed in line on the old Bull Run battle-ground. Kearney held the right, with Reno on his left. Several batteries were posted on a commanding ridge, and away to the right was a wood in which the enemy was concentrated in heavy
force. The Fifty-first supported these batteries. On the afternoon of the first day of the battle, the 29th, Lieutenant Colonel Bell, with a portion of the regiment, was detailed to advance to the picket line in Kearney s front, and remained in this position until the morning of the second day, when it re-joined the regiment, which had been withdrawn during the night. Towards evening, our forces having been driven back, began to move from the field. The line of retreat was along the Centreville road to the right of the position held by Graham s battery. This road was soon completely blocked with the artillery and trains, and much confusion prevailed.
It was a critical moment. The enemy, exulting in his successes, was
pushing on to break in upon the column, while impeded by its trains, and to
crush it in its crippled condition by a single blow. Graham s pieces were
admirably posted for its protection, and were already dealing their death laden
volleys upon the advancing foe; but should his supports fail him, his guns would
be lost, and our whole left flank exposed. Ferrero saw the necessity of holding
these guns at all hazards, and of keeping them in full play. Undaunted by the
masses of the foe hurled against him, he clung to the ground, and poured in
double shotted canister and rapid rounds of musketry, until the enemy's lines
were broken and driven in confusion. Again and again they returned to the
contest with fresh troops, and with renewed zeal ; but no valor could with stand
the shock of Ferrero s column, and the enemy finally retired, leaving
our lines intact, and our trains safe. Ferrero, with the Twenty-first Massachusetts, now moved off, and had become separated from the rest of his brigade. The command of the two remaining regiments devolved on Colonel Hartranft.
Retiring across Bull Run, the two regiments filed into the fields to
the right of the pike, and bivouacked for the night. In the morning they moved
on to Centreville, and re-joined the army. It was soon after discovered that the
rebels were in motion to strike the Union column by a movement upon its right,
and cut off its retreat. Reno's Corps was immediately put in motion with the
cavalry in advance, and was soon joined by Stevens and Kearney.
Hartranft had the rear of the column, and was moving with two batteries, though under no orders to support them, when he suddenly found himself confronting the enemy. The two armies were moving on divergent roads, and the lines were here first struck. Seeing that these batteries were in peril, he instantly ordered them into a commanding position on the left of the road.
In the subsequent operations of the brigade, the Fifty-first, under command of Colonel Bolton, participated, engaging the enemy at Poplar Spring Church, at Beam s Station, at Hatcher s Run, and in the final attack on the 2d of April, which resulted in the evacuation of Richmond. On the 27th of July, after four years of arduous service, extending over the whole line from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, it was mustered out of service at Alexandria, Virginia.