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North Reynolds Avenue, north of Railroad Cut
|Inscriptions on the front:
Field & Staff---Unassigned
Jacob Smithers (Smethers)--Co. C
Organized at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, March 7, 1862. Left State for Washington, D.C., March 8. Attached to Defenses of Washington to May, 1862. Doubleday's Brigade, Dept. of the Rappahannock, to June, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 3rd Corps, Army of Virginia, to September, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Array Corps, Army Potomac, to September, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, to July, 1865.
SERVICE.--Duty at Fort Albany, Defenses of Washington, until April 4, 1862, and at Budd's Ferry until April 24. At Aquia Creek Landing until May 10. Guard railroad bridge at Potomac Creek May 21-27. (Five Companies moved to Belle Plains May 10.) Guard duty near Fredericksburg until August 9. Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2. Battles of Gainesville August 28; Groveton August 29; Bull Run August 30. Maryland Campaign September 6-24. Battles of South Mountain September 14; Antietam September 16-17. Duty on the battlefield of Antietam until October 20. (Co. "A" at Fairfax October 20-30.) At Bakersville October 20-30. Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 30-November 19. Union, Va., November 2-3. Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15. Burnside's 2nd Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863. At Falmouth and Belle Plains until April 27, 1863. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Operations at Pollock's Mill Creek April 29-May 2. Fitzhugh's Crossing April 29-30. Chancellorsville May 2-5. Brandy Station and Beverly Ford June 9. Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3. Pursuit of Lee July 5-24. Duty on line of the Rappahannock until October. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7, 1864. On Veteran furlough March 10-April 17. Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Laurel Hill May 8; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Spottsylvania C. H. May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. Jericho Ford May 25. 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 (Reserve). Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Poplar Springs Church September 29-October 2. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. Warren's Raid on Weldon Railroad December 7-12. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Lewis Farm near Gravelly Run March 29. Boydton and White Oak Road March 31. Five Forks April 1. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Appomattox C. H. April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. March to Washington, D.C., May 2-12. Grand Review May 23. Mustered out at Philadelphia, Pa., July 1, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 7 Officers and 111 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 96 Enlisted men by disease. Total 215.
This regiment was organized at Camp Curtin, in the fall of 1861. The
men Composing it were from various sections of the State, but principally from
Philadelphia, and the counties of Indiana, Centre, Luzerne, Schuylkill,
Susquehanna, and Wayne. On the 1st of September, Sullivan A. Meredith, of
Philadelphia, who had been Colonel of the Tenth (three months') Regiment, was
appointed Colonel by Governor Curtin. Soon after J. William Hofmann, and Thomas
S. Martin, of Philadelphia, both of whom had served in the Twenty-third (three
months') Regiment, and had, for several years, been members of the Washington
Grays, an artillery Company, were appointed Lieutenant Colonel and Major,
respectively. Subsequently, Major Martin was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of
the Eleventh Regiment, and John B. Smith, of Pittston, Luzerne county, was
The regiment remained in Camp Curtin during the winter, and on the 8th of March, 1862, its organization still incomplete, having but eight and a-half Companies, left Harrisburg for Washington. Reaching the capital at six A. M., of the 9th, it encamped on Kalorama Heights, from thence moved to Meridian Hill, and subsequently to Fort Albany, where it remained until April 4th. During its stay at the fort, the first death in the regiment occurred-that of Sergeant Gordon, color bearer. From the fort the regiment proceeded by steamer to Budd's Ferry, on the Lower Potomac, and was there engaged in guarding government property.
On the 24th it embarked for Acquia Landing, the terminus of the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad. Arriving on the following morning it occupied huts built by the enemy, and located in rear of a ridge, half a mile south of the landing. Until May 10th, the regiment was engaged in repairing damages done by the enemy to the railroad and landing, when five Companies, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Hofmann, moved to Belle Plain. The idea of conquering the rebellion by acts of kindness had not yet been abandoned, and while here, a request was made by a citizen to have his property guarded. Lieutenant Colonel Hofmann declined to furnish the guard, when the applicant threatened to present the matter to General M'Dowell. The next morning he returned with the following order:
"Special Order No. 68.
HEADQTUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF RAPPAHANNOCK,
OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA., May 16, 1862.
"Colonel Meredith, commanding the Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania, will furnish, from his regiment, a guard for the property of Mr. L. J. Huffman, who lives near Belle Plain. Colonel Meredith will see that no more corn is taken from Mr. Huffman, and that no more fencing is disturbed. The guard will be so placed as to make this sure, even if it should be necessary to place a sentinel over every pannel of fence. By command of
MAJOR GENERAL M'DOWELL."
It soon became apparent that such indulgent treatment was useless, and that the contest must be waged on a different principle from this.
On the 21st of May, the regiment moved to Potomac Creek, to guard the railroad bridge over that stream. On the 27th it proceeded to Fredericksburg, and encamped on the left bank of the Rappahannock, near the Phillips' House. It was occupied in doing guard duty until the 9th of August, when it was assigned to Doubleday's Brigade1, King's Division, M'Dowell's Corps, and moved towards Cedar Mountain, crossing the Rappahannock on a wire suspension bridge built by the corps of General M'Dowell. At eight P. M. the command bivouacked in the road leading to Ely's Ford, and at seven the next morning, resumed the march, reaching Culpepper at twelve P. M.
On the 16th it moved to Cedar Mountain, and on the 19th to Rappahannock Station, near which place, on the 21st, the men heard, for the first time, the shrieks of passing shells. For two hours the cannonade was kept up; but being sheltered by a high bank, no loss was sustained. Moving from Sulphur Springs, through Warrenton, the column was suddenly checked, on the evening of the 28th, by a battery of the enemy, stationed on a ridge near Gainesville. The firing was badly directed, and the shells passed harmless overhead. A narrow strip of wood lay near by, under cover of which the line of battle was formed, the Fifty-sixth occupying the left of the brigade. On emerging from the wood a body of the enemy's infantry, which, in the darkness, had not been observed, opened a severe fire of musketry by which Captain George Corman, of Company F, was killed, and Colonel Meredith was severely wounded.
Lieutenant Colonel Hofmann immediately assumed command of the regiment, and, on the following morning, with the division, moved to Manassas Junction. At 2 P. M., the division moved back to within a mile of the scene of conflict of the previous evening. The column was moved into the field, to the left of the road, when the enemy's skirmishers immediately opened, supported by a strong line of battle. Here a regiment was required, by General Hatch, commanding the division, to hold them in check while the troops deployed to the left. The Fifty-sixth was ordered forward, and immediately filed into the field parallel with the road, changed front, under fire, in a most creditable manner, and soon replied, when the balance of the division filed past, in rear of the regiment, and formed on its left. The line of battle was on a small elevation. After a few moments of rapid firing, at easy range, the enemy came forward in heavy force, his line extending to the right, beyond the turnpike. The regiment held its ground until ordered to retire, when it became somewhat disorganized, the way leading through a thick wood. Captain Osborn and Lieutenant Mumford were wounded while leading in the thickest of the fight. In this action the color bearer and the colors of the regiment fell into the hands of the enemy.
On the morning of the 30th, only one hundred and fifty-four men of the regiment were present for duty, and at 2 P. M. it again went into action, but only as support to other troops. Several hours later, when the whole army retired, the brigade formed the rear guard, on the right of the turnpike, and suffered considerable loss. Fording Bull Run it moved eastward several miles and bivouacked until morning, when it marched to Centreville, thence to Fairfax Court House, where it encamped. On the 6th of September it marched through Georgetown and Washington, to Leesburg, where a few days' rest was given the troops.
The campaign in Maryland soon opened, and the regiment was hurried for. ward through Lisbon, New Market, Frederick, and Middletown, to the foot of South Mountain, the crest being held by the enemy. The duty of dislodging him on the right of the road was assigned to Hatches Division, of which the Fifty-sixth formed part. The brigade, commanded by General Doubleday, was moved to the right of the road, half a mile, formed line of battle, and moving to the crest, engaged and repulsed the enemy in its front. General Hatch was severely wounded during the action, and the command of the division devolved on General Doubleday; that of the brigade on Lieutenant Colonel Hofmann, and of the regiment on Captain Williams, of Company D. The loss in the engagement was severe. In the battle of the 16th and 17th, at Antietam, it occupied the extreme right of Hooker's Corps, and suffered but little loss. After the battle it bivouacked in a wood, half a mile west of the Dunkard Church, until the 24th, when it moved a short distance to the west,, and encamped until October 20th. It then proceeded to Bakersville, a small village midway between Williamsport and Sharpsburg, where Company A was detailed for provost duty at Fair Play. Crossing the Potomac on the 30th, it was ordered to move towards Union, to the support of the cavalry, under Pleasanton, who was engaged in repelling the enemy at the gaps of the mountains. Hofmann reported with his brigade, at a point near Union, on the 2d of November, and was directed to drive the enemy from the town. Upon his approach the rebel cavalry and artillery retired to a position, half a mile west, from which they were driven, when they again took position, and opened with artillery. The brigade moved promptly forward to the attack, and drove them in confusion.
In this engagement the regiment lost five killed and ten wounded. On the 3d it was engaged in holding important positions, and at night bivouacked at Upperville, where it received the congratulations of the division commander for its gallant conduct in the action of the 2d. It moved on the 5th through Rectortown to Warrenton, and encamped. On the 11th, Lieutenant Colonel Hofmann was relieved of the command of the brigade by Colonel Wainwright, of the Seventy-sixth New York.
Preparations were now being made for the Fredericksburg campaign, and on the 9th of December, the command was at Brooks' Station, and on the 12th, at eight P. M., crossed the Rappahannock, on a pontoon bridge, near Mansfield. Moving across the plateau, on the following morning, it took position, on the left of Franklin's Division, near the Massaponax Creek, but was not actively engaged. Later in the day it held a position along the Bowling Green Road. It is remarkable that not a man in the regiment was killed, or even injured, while those in front, and in rear of the Fifty-sixth, and those on either flank, suffered considerable loss from the enemy's cannonade.
On the night of the 15th the command re-crossed the river, and encamped near its banks, where it remained until the 25th, when the corps moved to Pratt's Landing, at the mouth of Potomac Creek. Here huts were erected in the expectation that the encampment was for the winter. But on the 20th of January, 1863, the command was put in motion, for a second advance, when, at ten P. M., a severe storm of rain, sleet and snow, burst upon it, which caused a general breaking up of the roads, arrested the advance, rendered locomotion impossible, and left the army hopelessly floundering in the mire. The movement failed of its object, and the command returned to its former camp, where it remained until the 28th of April.
On the 8th of January, Lieutenant Colonel Hofmann was promoted to Colonel, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the promotion of Colonel Meredith to Brigadier General. Captain George B. Osborn, of Company A, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and on the 12th of February, upon the resignation of Major Smith, Captain John T. Jack, of Company H, was promoted to succeed him.
On the 28th of April, the regiment moved on the Chancellorsville campaign, and bivouacked at night, on the banks of the Rappahannock, near the Fitz Hugh House. The regiment now numbered twenty-one officers, and two hundred and eighty-nine enlisted men. General Hooker had succeeded to the command of the army. Early on the morning of the 29th, an effort was made to lay pontoon bridges across the river at Pollock's Mills. The enemy's sharp-shooters, posted in rifle-pits, were very annoying, and delayed the work, rendering it impracticable, until they were driven from their shelter. To effect this, a storming party was sent across in boats, accompanied by General Wadsworth, the division commander, who swam his horse. To cover the crossing of this party, the Fifty-sixth was deployed as skirmishers on the left bank of the river. Under cover of the fire of the regiment, the party effected a landing, and captured some prisoners. The river was soon crossed by the corps, the object of which was to divert the attention of the enemy from the real point of attack, to be made by crossing a considerable distance above Fredericksburg. Works were erected, covering the bridge, and the position occupied until ten A. M. of the 2d of May, when the division moved to United States Ford, and bivouacked for the night.
The loss to the regiment, in this demonstration, was two killed, and seven wounded. Private Kelly, of Company B, who was wounded in the thigh, and suffered amputation, was taken prisoner, carried to Richmond, afterwards exchanged, and recovered.
At five A. AM. of the 3d, the command formed line of battle on the Ely's Ford Road, and held it until it was ordered to re-cross the river. After this it encamped near the Fitz Hugh House, and remained until the 7th of June, when the regiment was detailed, with the 7th Wisconsin, to support the cavalry at Brandy Station. loving vie Hartwood and Kelly's Ford, it reached the point of destination at twelve M. of the 9th. Forming line of battle it held the position, under the enemy's artillery fire, until two P. M., when it moved to Beverly Ford by direction of General Buford. Colonel Hofmann formed the regiment in rear of the crest of hills half a mile west of the ford, and remained until the cavalry had re-crossed the river. While holding this position, Companies A and F, under command of Captain Runkle, were thrown forward to a stone wall where it repelled a furious charge of the enemy's cavalry.
On the 25th of June the march towards Gettysburg commenced. The command proceeded across the Potomac, on a pontoon bridge, at the mouth of Goose Creek, through Middletown, and reached Frederick at three P. M. of the 28th. On the following day it moved, acting as rear guard, towards Emmittsburg, which place it reached at one A. M. of the 30th.
The brigade had the advance of the First Corps, and the Fifty-sixth was the second in the brigade column. As the head of the column arrived at the front, the regiment was the first to get into position, and as the enemy at the moment advancing, was within easy musket range, it was immediately ordered to fire, which opened the battle. Brigadier General Cutler, then in command of the First Division of the First Corps, in a letter dated November 5, 1863, addressed to Governor Curtin, says:
" In noticing in the papers to-day an account of the proposition for a National Cemetery at Gettysburg, for the men who fell there in July last, I am reminded that I have neglected a duty which I owe to one of your regiments, the Fifty-sixth, and its brave commander, Colonel J. William Hofmann. That regiment is in the Second Brigade2 of this division, and was at that time under my command. It was my fortune to be in the advance on the morning of July 1st. When we came upon the ground in front of the enemy, Colonel Hofmann's regiment (being the second in the column) got into position a moment sooner than the others, the enemy now advancing in line of battle within easy musket range. The atmosphere being a little thick, I took out my glass to examine the enemy. Being a few paces in the rear of Colonel Hofmann, he turned to me and inquired, 'Is that the enemy?' My reply was, 'Yes.' Turning to his men he commanded, 'Ready, right oblique, aim, fire!' and the Battle of Gettysburg was opened. The fire was followed by other regiments instantly; still that battle on the soil of Pennsylvania was opened by her own sons, and it is just that it should become a matter of history. When Colonel Hofmann gave the command' aim, I doubted whether the enemy was near enough to have the fire effective, and asked him if he was within range; but not hearing my question, he fired, and I received my reply in a, shower of rebel bullets, by which many of the Colonels men were killed and wounded. My own horse, and those of two of my staff, were wounded at the same time. I desire to say to your Excellency that the Fifty-sixth is one of the very best regiments in the service, and that Colonel Hofmann is, without qualification, one of the best officers, brave, faithful and prompt, and a most excellent disciplinarian. I most earnestly hope that his faithful services may be suitably rewarded. I hope that you will cause proper measures to be taken to give that regiment the credit, which is its due, of having opened that memorable battle."
The position of the regiment was in a field in front of a wooded ridge, known as Oak Ridge, where the battle raged furiously for twenty minutes, after which the regiment was withdrawn in good order. It soon after engaged the enemy, under Hill, at the northern extremity of the wood. Occupying Seminary Ridge, that overlooks the town from the west, the struggle was resumed with vigor, our troops having the advantage of position. Its ammunition being expended, the brigade was relieved by that of General Baxter, and moving through the town, formed in the cemetery, near the Baltimore Pike, and subsequently moved to a field on the right of the pike, nearly opposite the entrance to the cemetery, where it rested on its arms during the night. Lieutenant Gordon, of Company B, and seven men were killed, Captains Burritt and Flynn, and Lieutenant Hubler, and sixty-one men were wounded, and seventy-eight missing. On the 2d, the regiment moved into the woods on Culp's Hill, and occupied the angle at the summit. Scarcely had it got in position, when the rebels began the ascent of the slope in front. A murderous fire was poured in upon them, causing them to retreat in confusion, but not until some had approached within twenty yards of the works. They sought the shelter afforded by trees and rocks, and from their covert continued firing until late at night. In this action the regiment lost two killed, and three wounded.
On the following day it remained inactive until six P. M., when it was moved to the cemetery to support the batteries on its crest. On the 6th it moved to Emmittsburg, and on the 7th crossed the Catoctin mountains, and reached Middletown at noon of the 8th. It participated in the pursuit of the enemy which followed, crossed the Potomac at Berlin, and moved with the corps in the retreat to Centreville, and the advance to, and retreat from Mine Run.
On the 25th of July, while at Warrenton Junction, Colonel Hofmann, and a number of officers and men of the regiment, were detailed to conduct drafted men from Philadelphia. While in the city, that the men might readily learn their duties and responsibilities, Colonel Hofmann caused to be published a pamphlet containing the articles of war, and extracts from the army regulations of such paragraphs as particularly apply to the enlisted men, and, on his return, furnished each of them with a copy, a Comparatively small outlay that resulted in great good.
Colonel Hofmann was ordered, on the evening of the 30th of November, with his own and the One Hundred and Forty-seventh New York regiments, to guard the bridge across Mine Run until three o'clock of the following morning; then to withdraw his pickets, and destroy the bridge; all of which was successfully accomplished. During the movement on Mine Run, the regiment lost five men wounded.
On the 7th of November, Lieutenant Loren Burritt of Company K, who had been Aid-de-Camp to General Cutler, was promoted to Major, and subsequently to Lieutenant Colonel, and Brevet Colonel of the Eighth United States Colored Troops, and Captain Burritt, of the same Company, was made Aid. Lieutenant Colonel Osborn was appointed Division Inspector, which position he retained until the expiration of his term of service. Remaining quietly in camp until the 6th of February, 1864, the regiment, under command of Major Jack, Colonel Hofmann being in command of the brigade, participated in the demonstration at Raccoon Ford.
On the 10th of March, a sufficient number of the men having re-enlisted to entitle it to retain its organization as a veteran regiment, it was granted a veteran furlough, and returned to Philadelphia. On the 17th of April they met at Chester, Pennsylvania, and on the 20th left for the front. A few days of camp life, and then came the memorable Wilderness campaign. The regiment crossed the Rapidan, at Germania Ford, at four A. M. of the 4th of May, and on the morning of the 5th moved towards Parker's Store. The brigade occupied the extreme left of the division, and the regiment the extreme left of the brigade. At noon the line moved forward, through a dense wood a short distance, when it became engaged. Captain Barger, of Company H, occupying the left of the line, discovered and reported the enemy moving around the left flank. Scarcely had he given the intelligence, when the whole line, bravely contending against great odds, was forced back. In this encounter the Fifty-sixth sustained heavy loss in killed, wounded, and missing. Among the killed was Lieutenant Titman, of Company G, a faithful officer, whose sword-drawn for the first time in this battle-was presented him in acknowledgment of his services in the ranks. The division re-formed in front of the Lacy House, and at six P. Mi. moved through the woods to the support of the Second Corps, then engaged with the enemy on the plank road, west of the Brock Road.
On the morning of the 6th, the Fifty-sixth and the Seventy-sixth New York, both under command of Colonel Hofmann, were ordered to drive away, and, if possible, capture the enemy's skirmishers in front, and a battery that had been brought to the crest, beyond the ravine in which the troops then were, and had become annoying. The two regiments gallantly charged up the slope, and with such rapidity that the greater part of the shirmish line was captured, and the battery Compelled to retire. In this charge, Lieutenant Eby, of Company H, was killed, and Captain Runkle lost an arm, while gallantly leading his men.
At noon the Fifty-sixth, again occupying the left of the line, rested with its left on the plank road. The enemy was again advancing in heavy force. At the order of General Wadsworth, Colonel Hofmann swung his line around facing the road, when it poured in a deadly fire. In a short time, notwithstanding there was displayed the most desperate valor, the whole division line was forced to retire. In this fierce encounter General Wadsworth was killed. In the evening the regiment assisted in driving the enemy from the intrenchments, which had been captured from the Second Corps, and was the first to plant its flag on the works, where a moment before had floated the rebel colors.
"At that critical moment," says Lossing, "Colonel J. W. Hofmann, with parts of nine broken regiments, (less than five hundred men,) struck the assailants a blow that made them re-coil, and thus saved the day on the left, as Hancock then declared."
At ten P. M., the command moved towards Spottsylvania Court House, reaching Todd's Tavern at daylight. It fought determinedly at Laurel Hill, driving, in connection with the Ninety-fifth New York, the enemy from an orchard and farm house on the hill. A large detachment thrown cut as skirmishers, under command of Lieutenant Michaels, was captured. Lieutenant Miller, of Company F, was severely wounded in both arms, losing one by amputation. The division fell back, and took position a hundred and fifty yards in rear of the line, where it fought and threw up works.
On the 11th a storming party, consisting of the Fourteenth Brooklyn, Ninety-fifth, and One Hundred and Forty-seventh New York, and the Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania, prepared to charge the enemy's position at Bloody Angle. This design was relinquished, but the command remained to prevent the rebels from sallying out and attempting to break our lines. To accomplish this purpose, a continuous fire was directed upon their works, which, upon their abandonment of the position on the following morning, was found to have done good execution, the bodies of forty men being found between two traverses, a distance of not more than fifty feet.
At eleven P. M. of the 13th, the division moved a half mile east of the Court House, on the Fredericksburg Road, where breastworks were erected, which were occupied until the 21st. On this day, Colonel Hofmann, being the ranking officer, assumed command of the brigade, and Captain Black, of the regiment. Crossing the North Anna at Jericho Ford, the brigade proceeded a short distance up the latter stream, to a wood, through which the enemy was moving to turn the right of the corps. The brigade changed front and with the aid of Mink's New York Battery, met and repulsed his advance, taking several hundred prisoners. Captain Black was severely wounded, and the command devolved upon Lieutenant Baker, of Company A.
Heavy skirmishing on the picket line occurred on the 25th, in which Lieutenant Young, of Company D, was killed, and Lieutenant Shaw, of Company K, severely wounded. On the 30th it participated in the engagement at Bethesda Church, but suffered no loss. Captain Burritt, who had been absent on account of wounds received on the 6th of May, returned, and was assigned to staff duty, as brigade inspector. The regiment shared the fortunes of the army from this time until it crossed the James River, on the 16th of June, during which time Lieutenant Cunningham, of Company B, was seriously wounded.
On the 17th, it moved forward and faced the foe near the Blackwater Road and and on the following morning moved upon his worts in front, but found them abandoned. The enemy had fallen back and thrown up a line of breast-works on the crest beyond the Petersburg and Norfolk Railroad, which shortened by several miles, his line of defense. At three P. M., this new line was attacked by the whole corps, the Fifty-sixth charging at a point a quarter of a mile south of the site afterwards selected for the mine. After reaching a position within thirty yards of the enemy's entrenchments, unable to carry the works, the men were obliged to throw themselves upon the ground, to secure the protection of the elevation in front, where they remained until after dark, when they withdrew. In this assault Captain Mumford, fell at the head of his regiment. Captain Barger was severely wounded.
Firing was kept up by both parties, at intervals, until July 31st, when the mine was exploded. The brigade, on this occasion, was attached temporarily to the division of General Ayres, and was to have charged with his division. For this purpose it took position inthe covered way, west of the railroad, in readiness for the advance. The order to assault was delayed, and finally withheld.
On the 18th of August the Fifth Corps took possession of the Weldon Railroad at Yellow House. On the march, the Fifty-sixth was in the rear, but, before the action closed, it was in the front line, and was in the thickest of the fight. The brigade afterwards supported General Ayres, and scarcely had it taken position, when the enemy made a furious attack, but was repulsed with loss.
On the following day, at four P. M., another desperate attack was made, in which the Fifty-sixth settled, with the rebels, an old debt. At the battle of Bull Run, August 29th, 1862, its color-Company was surrounded, and colors captured. The opportunity, now offered, to avenge the loss. The foe was repulsed and hotly pursued. In the pursuit the regiment captured the battle flag of the Fifty-fifth North Carolina, and the Secretary of War awarded a medal of honor to private James T. Jennings, of Company H, for his gallantry in securing it. Captain Burritt was again severely wounded.
During the night, amid a pelting storm of rain, the men constructed breastworks, which served a most excellent purpose on the following day. At nine A. M., the enemy attacked, in heavy force, a brigade of Mahone's Division, approaching immediately in front of Hofmann's position. With a valor rarely paralleled, it marched, in face of a heavy fire, to within twenty feet of the breastworks, whence it was repulsed with terrible slaughter, leaving fifty killed, three hundred prisoners, and three battle flags. A shell from a battery, stationed in the road, in rear, dropped into the works, taking off the leg of a brave soldier, who had served from the organization of the regiment-Sergeant Lebo, of Company I. He soon after died; but, before he expired, when asked if he suffered pain, be replied, "yes, very much, but we drove them back."
The regiment occupied the works until the 13th of September, when the First Corps was consolidated into one division, and assigned as the Third Division of the Fifth. The Third Brigade of the Third Division was Composed of the Fifty-sixth, and the Ninety-fifth and One Hundred and Forty-seventh New York regiments, and was commanded by Colonel Hofmann. Subsequently, the Ninety-fourth New York, and the One Hundred and Twenty-first. and One Hundred and Forty-second Pennsylvania were added.
The regiment participated in the advance to Hatcher's Run, on the 27th of October, and to Hickford, on December 5th. It destroyed several miles of the Weldon Railroad, on the 8th. On the 13th the regiment encamped between Lee's Mills and Jerusalem Plank Road, where it remained until February 4th, 1865.
In the meantime Colonel Hofmann had been brevetted Brigadier General, and- Lieutenant Colonel Osborn, Colonel. On the 23d of December Colonel Osborn was discharged, his term of service having expired. Captain Burritt had been discharged on the 21st of November, on account of his numerous wounds, and Lieutenant Healy, on the 7th of January, on account of failing health. On the 26th of December Major Jack was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Lieutenant Henry A. Laycock, of Company I, to Major.
On the 5th and 6th of February, the regiment participated in the second engagement at Hatcher's Run. A month later General Hofmann, and Lieutenant Colonel Jack were discharged, their terms of service having expired. On the 16th of March Major Laycock was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Black, of Company B, to Major, and, on the following day, to Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel, respectively. Captain Michaels, of Company F, was promoted Major. It shared in the perils and honors of the final campaign, which brought the once defiant army of Northern Virginia to surrender, and, on the 1st of July, was mustered out of service at Philadelphia.
1Organization of Doubleday's Brigade, King's Division, M'Dowell's Corps. Fifty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Sullivan A. Meredith; Seventy-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel William P. Wainwright; Ninety-fifth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel George H. Biddle; Seventh Regiment Indiana Volunteers, Colonel James Gavin; First New Hampshire Battery, Captain George A. Gerrish.
2 Organization of the Second Brigade, Brigadier General L. Cutler, First Division General James S. Wadsworth, First Corps General John F. Reynolds. Fifty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel J. William Hofmann; Seventh Regiment Indiana Volunteers, Colonel James Gavin; Seventy-Sixth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel William P. Wainwright; Ninety-fifth Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel George H. Biddle; One Hundred and Forty-seventh Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel John G. Butler; Eighty-fourth Regiment New York Volunteers, (Fourteenth Brooklyn, Colonel Edward B. Fowler.
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.