Neill Avenue, Wolf Hill (Lost Lane) Gettysburg
Borrowed from "Stone Sentinels" web site. Excellent site.
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Field & Staff
Organized at Pittsburg September 7, 1861. Ordered to Washington, D.C. Attached to Jameson's Brigade, Heintzelman's Division, Army Potomac, to February, 1862. Graham's Brigade, Couch's Division, Army Potomac, to March, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to July, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, to September, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, to October, 1862. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, to February, 1863. Light Brigade, 6th Army Corps, to May, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to July, 1864. Army of the Shenandoah to December, 1864, and Army Potomac to June, 1865.
SERVICE.--Duty in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., until March, 1862. Reconnaissance to Pohick Church and Occoquan River November 12, 1861. Advance on Manassas, Va., March 10-15, 1862. Reconnaissance to Gainesville March 20. Moved to the Peninsula, Va., March 26. Siege of Yorktown April 5-May 4. Battle of Williamsburg May 5. Operations about Bottom's Bridge May 20-23. Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, May 31-June 1. Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1. Seven Pines June 27. White Oak Swamp and Charles City Cross Roads June 30. Malvern Hill July 1. At Harrison's Landing until August 16. Reconnaissance to Malvern Hill August 5-7. Movement to Alexandria, thence to Chantilly August 16-30. Chantilly September 1. Maryland Campaign September 6-24. Battle of Antietam, Md., September 16-17. Williamsport September 19-20. Duty in Maryland and on the Potomac until November. Movement to Falmouth, Va., November 1-19. Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15. Burnside's 2nd Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863. At Falmouth until April. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Operations at Franklin's Crossing April 29-May 2. Maryes Heights, Fredericksburg, May 3. Salem Heights May 3-4. Banks' Ford May 4. Operations about Deep Run Ravine June 6-13. Battle Of Gettysburg, Pa., July 2-4. South Mountain, Md., July 6. Duty on line of the Rappahannock and Rapidan until October. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Rappahannock Station November 7. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. At Brandy Station until April, 1864. Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Parker's Store May 5; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Spottsylvania C. H. May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Before Petersburg June 17-19. Siege of Petersburg until July 9. Jerusalem Plank Road June 22-23. Moved to Washington, D.C., July 9-11. Repulse of Early's attack on Fort Stevens and the Northern Defenses of Washington July 11-12. Pursuit of Early to Snicker's Gap July 14-19. Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign August to December. Charlestown August 21. Gilbert's Ford, Opequan Creek, September 13. Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19. Fisher's Hill September 22. Battle of Cedar Creek October 19. Duty in the Shenandoah Valley until December. Ordered to Petersburg, Va., December 1. Siege of Petersburg December, 1864, to April, 1865. Fort Fisher, Petersburg, March 25, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox C. H. April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. March to Danville April 23-29, and duty there until May 23. Moved to Richmond, Va., thence to Washington, D.C. Corps Review June 8. Mustered out June 28, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 19 Officers and 218 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 100 Enlisted men by disease. Total 338.
The Sixty-First Regiment was originally recruited at Pittsburg, and was organized at Camp Copeland in August, 1861. Oliver H. Rippey, who had served as a private in the Mexican war, and as Lieutenant Colonel of the Seventh Regiment in the three months' service, was commissioned Colonel, and Frank P. Robinson, Lieutenant Colonel.
The pressing demand of the government for troops, at this period, caused it to be ordered to the field with ranks only partially filled, and it proceeded to Washington, about six hundred strong, in less than a month from the time that recruiting commenced. It was first stationed at Camp Advance, south of the Potomac, and assisted in building Fort Lyon. During the succeeding winter it was consolidated into six companies, the original organizations having never been recruited to the minimum strength, no opportunity having been given. Soon after taking the field, Lieutenant Colonel Robinson resigned.
In February, 1862, it was ordered to report to General Buell, whose division was encamped near Bladensburg. Here, four companies under Major Spear, were transferred from Colonel Birney's Regiment, the Twenty-third, which had fifteen companies, to the Sixty-first, raising it to the full maximum strength. Major George C. Spear, of Philadelphia, was then commissioned Lieutenant Colonel, and George F. Smith, of Chester county, Major. The service here was comparatively light; drill and camp duties were regularly performed, the discipline was good, and the officers spent two hours daily in the study and discussion of tactics. The regiment was assigned to Graham's Brigade.1
On the 10th of March, the Sixty-first, fully officered, armed, and equipped, the men in excellent spirits and eager to meet the enemy, broke camp and marched towards Manassas. But the foe, having abandoned his fortifications, had fled upon the approach of the Union Army, and the regiment returned to its old camp. Two weeks later it again broke camp and proceeded by transport to Fortress Monroe, arriving on the 30th. Sharing in the toils of the march to Yorktown, in common with the army, the regiment encamped before that place in the neighborhood of Warwick Creek, on the left of the line of investment. Upon the evacuation of the town, the pickets of the Sixty-first were the first to enter the deserted works in their front.
Pushing immediately forward, Couch's Division was ordered to Williamsburg, and after a weary march, through deep mud and a drenching rain, it arrived, on the evening of the 5th of May, upon the battle-field, but too late to have much part in the action. The advance up the Peninsula was soon after resumed, the only relief to its monotony being an occasional reconnoissance. One was made to Bottom's Bridge, over the Chickahominy, in which companies A, Captain Jacob Creps, and H, Captain Robert L. Orr, crossed to the right bank, the first troops over, and another in the direction of White Oak Swamp; but in each failed to meet the enemy. Finally, on the evening of the 30th. the regiment reached Seven Pines, and was immediately ordered to the right two miles, to Fair Oaks Station, where skirmishers were thrown out, who soon found the enemy, and companies G, Captain Crosby, and H, Captain Orr, were established upon the picket line.
Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven PinesOn the morning of the 31st the rain poured down in torrents until about half past nine, when it ceased, and the enemy attacked. The battle raged fiercely for nearly two hours on the left of the advance line, when, out-flanked and over-powered by the weight of numbers, it gave way, and the enemy struck Couch's Division holding the second line."No field officer," says General Abercrombie, then in command of the brigade, "of the Sixty-first Pennsylvania is left to make out the report of that regiment. At twelve o'clock M, I received notice to warn the men to fall in at a moment's notice. * * The position of the Thirty-first (Eighty-second) Pennsylvania, Colonel Williams, was near the railroad, upon the road leading from the station to Richmond; that of the Sixty-first, Colonel Rippey, near the railroad leading from the depot to the Chickahominy. The duty assigned to these two regiments was to guard the crossing at the depot. I received orders at one o'clock to take position with the First Chasseurs, the Thirty-first, (Eighty-second,) and the Sixty-first Pennsylvania, and Brady's Battery of the First Pennsylvania Artillery, near the camp of the Thirty-first, to prevent the enemy from turning our right flank. Shortly afterwards the Sixty-first was placed in position near the Twenty-third, then already engaged. * * * The dead of the enemy on the portion of the battle-field occupied by the First Long Island, the Twenty-third and Sixty-first Pennsylvania, are the proofs I have of the gallantry displayed by these regiments. The Sixty-first Pennsylvania mourn the loss of all their field officers, the Colonel killed, the Lieutenant Colonel and Major wounded and missing."The loss fell heavily upon the Sixty-first. Eleven officers and two hundred and sixty-nine enlisted menwere either killed, wounded, or missing. Colonel Rippey, Captain Gerard, and Lieutenants Moylan, Scott, Pollock, and Rhodes were among the killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Spear and Major Smith were wounded and taken prisoners.
"At a little past two o'clock," says General Keyes in his official report, "I ordered Neill's Twenty-third, and Rippey's Sixty-first Pennsylvania regiments to move to the support of Casey's right. Neill attacked the enemy twice with great gallantry. In the first attack the enemy were driven back. In the second attack, and under the immediate command of General Couch, these two regiments assailed a vastly superior force of the enemy, and fought with extraordinary bravery; though compelled at last to retire, they brought in thirty-five prisoners. Both regiments were badly cut up, Colonel Rippey of the Sixty-first and his Adjutant were killed; the Lieutenant Colonel and Major were wounded and are missing. The casualities in the Sixty-first amount to two hundred and sixty-three, and are heavier than in any other regiment in Couch's Division. * * * The Sixty-first withdrew in detachments, some of which came again into action near my headquarters."2
Without a field officer, the remnant of the regiment, in command of Captain Robert L. Orr, fought in the second position until it was too dark to see the enemy. On the following day, the fighting was resumed by Sumner's Corps and the ground which had been lost was regained. The regiment remained in camp, near the old battle ground, engaged in picket duty, participating in occasional skirmishes, until the night of June 28th, when it was ordered to the extreme right of the line, which had been attacked and beaten back to the Chickahominy, but arrived too late to be of much avail.
At three o'clock A.M., of June 29th, it was ordered to start on the retreat from the Chickahominy to the James, the special duty assigned to the division being to open and to hold the roads leading to Charles City, which was accomplished after much fatigue, but with little loss. The pickets of the regiment were attacked at Charles City Cross Roads, by a force of cavalry, but which had seen no field service, and was quickly put to flight.
Resuming the march, it reached the James River on the morning of the 30th of June. After two hours rest, it again moved inland, and participated in the action at Turkey Bend, preliminary to the sanguinary battle of Malvern Hill. The loss in the regiment here was but slight.
On the morning of July 1st, upon the opening of the final struggle of the campaign, it was again called into action, and during the entire day and until after dark it was hotly engaged; but, owing to its sheltered position, suffered comparatively small loss, being but two officers and thirty-two men. Captain Dawson and Lieutenant Rhodes were among the wounded.
Taking up the line of march at one P. M. of the 2d, in the midst of a driving rain, it reached Harrison's Landing on the following morning in a state of complete exhaustion. In the afternoon a ration of whisky was issued-a ration which will doubtless be long remembered by the men, who, from prostration, were in need of stimulants.
Malvern HillOn the morning of July 4th the army began to assume an organized form, and the Sixty-first was moved into position, near to the James River facing Malvern Hill, and ordered to build breast-works. The pioneers soon had the wilderness cleared, and in twenty-four hours a substantial work, of sufficient strength to withstand the action of artillery, was completed. With the exception of a reconnoissance to the old battle ground at Malvern Hill, the regiment remained in camp at this place until the 16th of August, when orders were received to march, which were well understood to mean evacuate. The heavy material and the knapsacks of the men had previously been shipped by transports, and, leaving without regret the scene of this severe but unfortunate campaign, the regiment proceeded through Charles City and Williamsburg to Yorktown. The division was here for some time engaged in levelling the old besieging works of the previous April.
Rumors of Lee's northward march were now rife, and soon the division was ordered to move by transports to Alexandria where, upon its arrival, it received orders from General M'Clellan"to debark immediately and march to Centreville, where further orders would be given."
At daylight of September 2d, the regiment marched to Chantilly, where the enemy under Jackson was reported to be in force, but arrived on the field too late to be engaged, and there, for the first time, got definite intelligence of the discomfiture of the Union Army at Bull Run, and of the death of Generals Kearney and Stevens in the severe battle of the previous evening.
A retrograde movement was immediately commenced, and the division, acting as rear guard to a part of the army, was formed for battle three times in as many miles; but the sole purpose of the enemy seemed to be to delay, and not to engage the column. Crossing the Chain Bridge the regiment moved on the Maryland campaign, and was posted along the line of the Potomac for picket duty. Here it remained until the morning of the 17th, when it joined the division, reaching the battle-field of Antietam on the evening of that day. Skirmishing at once opened, which was continued at intervals until the 20th, resulting in some loss, when it received orders to march with the division to Williamsport, where the enemy's cavalry was met and quickly put to flight.
On the 23d the regiment went into camp at Downsville, where it remained, with the exception of a short interval, in which it made an expedition up the Potomac to Hancock, until the 31st of October. In the meantime the Sixtyfirst, with the division, was assigned to the Sixth Corps, to which it remained attached until the close of its term of service, and during the period in which that corps won a reputation for valor unsurpassed by any in the army. Crossing the Potomac with the corps, it moved down the valley of Virginia to the neighborhood of Warrenton, remaining in the vicinity until the opening of the Fredericksburg campaign under Burnside. It was in the left Grand Division, under Franklin, in that ill-starred battle; but fortunately was only lightly engaged and suffered little loss. Upon the abandonment of the struggle it returned to camp on the left bank of the Rappahannock, where it remained, with the exception of a short interval while out upon the "Mud March," until the re-organization of the army under General Hooker.
On the 3d of February, 1863, the Sixty-first was chosen, together with four other regiments, the Thirty-first and Forty-third New York, Sixth Maine, Fifth Wisconsin, and Harn's Light Battery, Third New York, to form the Light Division of the Sixth Corps, organized for special service, and designed to act in emergencies with great celerity. It was posted at Belle Plain until April 28th, when it broke camp and marched to the Rappahannock, near Fredericksburg, the duty being assigned to the Sixth Corps of making a co-operative movement upon the rebel strongholds above the city, while Hooker, with the main body of the army, was moving upon Chancellorsville. A successful lodgment was formed on the south side of the stream, and the corps, under command of General Sedgwick, passed over. Preparations were made for carrying Marye's Heights by storm.
At eleven o'clock on the morning of May 3d, the troops moved to the assault, the Light Division in advance, the Sixty-first leading the right column. The ground was open, over which it must advance to reach the enemy's entrenched position, and was raked by his guns; but without faltering, it moved forward, and, though men were swept from the ranks at every step, his strong works were carried and possessed. Colonel Spear, while bravely leading in the assault, was killed. The loss in killed and wounded in this brief struggle was three officers and seventy-four men.
Pushing forward in pursuit of the flying enemy, he was encountered in heavy force at Salem Heights, and a short but bloody struggle ensued. Overborne by weight of numbers, who had turned back from Hooker's front, the corps was forced to retire, and re-crossed the river at Banks' Ford. The Light Division, which had performed signal service in this campaign, and had been greatly crippled in the desperate fighting in which it had been engaged, was now broken up, and the regiments composing it were distributed among other organizations.
The Sixty-first was assigned to the Third Brigade, Brigadier General Thomas H. Neill, Second Division, General Howe, Sixth Corps. Upon the fall of Colonel Spear, the command devolved on Major Dawson, in the absence of Lieutenant Colonel Smith, on account of sickness. The latter was subsequently promoted to Colonel to date from May 4th; Major Dawson was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain John W. Crosby, of company G, to Major.
Gettysburg CampaignEarly in June it was discovered that the enemy's columns were in motion, but his plans were as yet undeveloped. On the 5th and 6th the regiment participated in a reconnoissance across the Rappahannock, to discover the significance of his activity. The usual routine of camp and picket duty, with occasional skirmishes, continued until the 13th of June, when it broke camp and moved with the corps towards Pennsylvania, Lee having faced his columns in that direction, and being now on the march. After a series of exhausting marches, for the most part performed beneath a burning sun, it reached Manchester, Maryland, on the 1st of July, where, at evening, tidings were received of the opening of the battle of Gettysburg, and orders to move with all possible dispatch to the field.
The corps was immediately put in motion. After a most wearisome march of upwards of thirty miles, it arrived in the midst of the desperate fighting of the second day, and the tired and footsore troops were hurried into action. The corps was broken, and detachments distributed to parts of the field, where the lines were most sorely pressed, Neill's Brigade being sent to the Twelfth Corps, and posted on the right of the inc. The Sixty-first was but slightly engaged, principally in skirmishing, and sustained only slight losses. After the battle the brigade was ordered to pursue one of Lee's columns, which was retreating through Fairfield Gap, and to push and harass its rear. This duty was performed with vigor until it reached Waynesboro', where the troops, completely exhausted by the previous five days of marching and fighting, went into camp and were suffered to rest for twenty-four hours. Following up the enemy's retiring columns, he was at length found entrenched upon the banks of the Potomac, and in a position so favorable for defense that it was deemed imprudent to attack.
Re-crossing the Potomac with the army, it moved forward until it reached a permanent camp, about the middle of July, at White Sulphur Springs. After being engaged in the usual camp and picket duty here for a month, the regiment moved on the 16th of September to Culpepper, and thence on the 5th of October to the Rapidan, the division acting as a corps of observation.
The movement of the enemy north, and his crossing of the river having been discovered and his purposes divined, the division was ordered to move rapidly northward, commencing the march in the midst of a furious storm, and without a halt making twenty-nine miles in fifteen hours. At Rappahannock Station, the troops were drawn up in line in expectation of an attack; but the enemy declining battle, the columns again moved on towards Washington. The regiment reached the neighborhood of Fairfax Court House on the 15th of October, whence after a few days rest, it again marched through Gainesville, New Baltimore, to Warrenton, where it went into camp.
On the 7th of November it participated in the brilliant action at Rappahannock Station, but suffered little loss. Crossing the river soon after, it proceeded to Brandy Station, where winter quarters were established. Here the strength of the regiment was considerably increased by the return of the men from hospitals, and the assignment of new recruits.
On the 16th of April, 1864, Lieutenant Colonel Dawson was honorably discharged, and Major Crosby was promoted to succeed him, Captain Robert L. Orr, of company H, being subsequently commissioned Major.
The WildernessOn the night of the 4th of May, the regiment, five hundred strong, crossed the Rapidan, and at noon of the 5th met and engaged the enemy in the dense thickets and underwood of the Wilderness. In the face of a hot fire of musketry, it advanced, driving him back for half a mile. At dusk the enemy attacked in heavy force with the design of turning the right of the line, and struggled hard to push the regiment from its position, but failed of his pur pose, and was successfully repulsed. The loss in this first day in the Wilderness, was twelve killed and thirty wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Crosby was of the latter.
At daybreak on the morning of the 6th, the battle was renewed and the regiment was hotly engaged, suffering severely, Captain Robinson, Lieutenant Brown and fifteen enlisted men being killed, and Lieutenants Dawson, Hager, Stewart and Koerner, and forty men wounded. Late at night the enemy again attacked with considerable show of strength, but was easily repulsed with slight loss to the regiment.
During the following day the men were engaged in digging rifle pits and at night marched by the left towards Spottsylvania. On the night of the 8th, whilst advancing through a wood to gain its position in the new line, company A, Lieutenant Price, and company I, Captain Greene, holding the right of the regiment, encountered a body of the enemy, who were attempting, under cover of darkness, to gain its rear by a gap which had been left between it, and the troops upon its right, and a hand to hand engagement ensued, in which the enemy was repulsed, losing two officers and six men captured with several killed and wounded. The loss in the regiment was one killed, several wounded, and Lieutenant Caldwell captured. The latter was re-captured at Beaver Dam Station, by the cavalry under Sheridan, and soon after returned to his command.
During the following day the men hugged closely their rifle-pits under a heavy artillery fire. Five enlisted men of company D were killed, and one wounded, by the explosion of a single shell. On the 10th the regiment moved to the front, and from eleven A. M. until six P. M. was engaged in skirmishing, when, with the First and Second Brigades, it charged upon the enemy's works, capturing a battery and a line of rifle-pits; but supports failing to come up in time, it was obliged to retire, losing the advantage gained. The loss in the Sixty-first was eight killed, wounded and missing. Lieutenant Lippincott was among the wounded.
Remaining in rifle-pits until the morning of the 12th, the regiment, with the exception of three companies, which had been sent out upon the picket line, moved to the left, near Spottsylvania, to the position captured from the enemy at early dawn, by the Second Corps. During the day he made repeated assaults to recover his lost works, pressing with desperate valor to possess the part known as "the angle," but was handsomely repulsed in all his efforts. In repelling a single one of these assaults, the Sixty-first lost ninety in killed and wounded, and during the entire day one hundred and forty. Colonel Smith, Captains Taylor and Donnelly, and Lieutenants Clausen, Dean, Parsons and Ryan were numbered among the wounded.
Until the night of the 17th, the regiment was constantly employed in digging rifle-pits and moving gradually to the left, when it was ordered to march back to the position fought over on the 12th, and at daylight of the following day, charged across the very ground which had then been so stubbornly contested, moving under a heavy artillery fire. Meeting with little success here, the regiment was ordered to the extreme left of the army, where for several days it was engaged in picketing and throwing up rifle-pits. In the successive movements of the army by the left, carrying it across the North Anna, the Pamunkey, and the Chickahominy, the regiment actively participated, being uninterruptedly employed in digging, picketing, marching, and skirmishing, and almost daily sustaining some loss.
From the crossing of the Rapidan on the 4th of May, when the Wilderness campaign opened, until the regiment halted near Fort Powhattan on the James, where it closed, the loss in killed, wounded, and missing was about thirty officers, and four hundred enlisted men.
PetersburgOn the 16th of June, the regiment crossed the James, and marched to the neighborhood of Petersburg, where it was immediately employed in the operations of the army for carrying the defences of the city by assault. These failing, the slow operations of the siege were commenced, and the regular fatigue and picket duty succeeded.
On the 29th the brigade marched to Ream's Station, on the Weldon Railroad, to open a line of retreat for the Cavalry Divisions under command of Generals Wilson and Kautz, who, having made a raid on the South Side Railroad, in attempting to regain the Union lines, were intercepted by a heavy force of the enemy. On the following day, the cavalry having escaped by making a detour, the regiment returned to its former position and was engaged in destroying the railroad, picketing, and constructing earthworks.
Defence of WashingtonOn the 9th of July, the regiment broke camp at the front, and marched to City Point, whence it proceeded, by transports, to Washington, the Sixth Corps now under command of General Wright, having been ordered to the defence of the capital, menaced by the enemy. Arriving at three o'clock P. M. of the 11th, it marched through the city, encamping near Fort Massachusetts, and on the following day, met the enemy in front of Fort Stevens, where a sharp and sanguinary battle was fought, resulting in his complete discomfiture and rout. Lieutenant and acting Adjutant Laughlin, and six men were killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Crosby and twenty-five men wounded. The loss fell heavily upon the brigade, every regimental officer being either killed or severely wounded.
The pursuit was immediately commenced, the line of march leading through Poolesville and across the Potomac at Conrad's Ferry, through Leesburg and Snicker's Gap to the Shenandoah River. On the 20th it crossed and continued the pursuit, but failing to overtake the enemy, Wright fell back to Washington, and the regiment encamped near Fort Gaines. The enemy again showing a, bold front, and returning towards Maryland, the corps retraced its steps and from this period until the 18th of August, the regiment was kept constantly engaged marching and countermarching through Maryland and the Shenandoah Valley, when it finally encamped near Charlestown.
Three days later the brigade, together with the Second Brigade, was attacked by Rhode's Division of Ewell's Corps, and in the engagement which ensued the force was obliged to yield, the Sixty-first losing Captain Redenback and six men killed, Lieutenant Price mortally, and Captain Glenn, Lieutenant Caldwell and fifteen men wounded. On the night of the 22d the regiment moved back to Halltown, and a week later took up its old position near Charlestown.
On the 3d of September, the original term of service of the regiment having expired, leaving the veterans and new recruits in camp at Berryville, the men whose term was now completed under command of Colonel Smith, proceeded to Philadelphia where they were mustered out of service.
In compliance with an order issued from the headquarters of the army, the men remaining in the field were consolidated into five companies, known as the Battalion of the Sixty-first Regiment, and placed under command of the senior captain, Charles S. Greene, Major Orr being on staff duty. On the 27th Colonel Smith was re-appointed and returned to service.
Shenandoah Valley CampaignAt two o'clock A. M. of the 19th of September, the army of the Shenandoah, now under command of General Sheridan, moved in the direction of Winchester, with the purpose of giving battle, and at daylight met the enemy at the Berryville Crossing of the Opequan. The contest was maintained until midday with unabated fury, when Sheridan, who, having his men well in hand, and inspired with his own fiery zeal, ordered a general advance, and the enemy was swept from the field. In this engagement known as the battle of the Opequan, or Sheridan's battle of Winchester, the battalion suffered severely. It went into the fight with three officers and one hundred and twenty-five men, and of this number lost twenty-two killed and wounded. Among the latter was Captain Greene, who received a shot in the right eye causing also a fracture of the jaw.
The battalion joined in the pursuit of the fleeing enemy, and on the 22d, the division to which it belonged, now under command of General Getty, carried the famous position at Fisher's Hill, the Sixty-first sustaining considerable loss in the assault. The pursuit was continued to Mount Crawford, which was reached on the 29th. After various movements up and down the valley, which continued until the 14th of October, the division finally encamped at Cedar Creek, and here, before light on the morning of the 19th, General Early, who had brought his army into position under cover of darkness, and a dense fog which completely masked his movements, suddenly attacked the Union troops upon either flank, at a moment when they were reposing unsuspicious of danger, and their leader "twenty miles away." In the tumultuous action which ensued, in which the army was driven, and in its turn routed and almost annihilated its adversary, the battalion, now numbering but about one hundred men, lost in killed the only two remaining officers, Captains D. J. Taylor and John Barrett, and fourteen men killed and wounded. For its gallantry in this engagement, it was highly complimented by the commanding general.
After the battle, the division to which it was attached, was pushed forward considerably in advance of the main body, and was posted near the town of Strasburg. While here, one hundred and eighty drafted men were assigned to the command, who were organized in two new companies, raising the number to seven, and officered by the veteran sergeants. Many of the wounded returned to the ranks, bringing its effective strength to about three hundred and fifty men.
Remaining in camp at this point until the 8th of November, it moved down the valley to the neighborhood of Kernstown, where it encamped and continued until the 3d of December. In pursuance of orders, it broke camp on that day, and proceeded to re-join its old companions of the army of the Potomac, in front of Petersburg, and was assigned a place in the besieging lines on the Squirrel Level Road, which it continued to hold during the remainder of the siege.
On the 2d of March, 1865, two new companies, fully armed, equipped, and officered were sent to the battalion from Harrisburg, increasing the number to nine, and restoring it again to the proportions of a regiment. In the January preceding, a beautiful flag3 had been presented to the battalion by citizens of Philadelphia,.
On the morning of the 25th of March, the enemy under General Gordon made a sudden attack upon, and succeeded in breaking through the lines of the Ninth Corps. General Grant immediately ordered an advance along the entire lines, and the Second Division of the Sixth Corps, to which the Sixtyfirst belonged, attacked and carried the outer lines of the enemy's fortifications in its front. The loss in this assault was eighteen killed and wounded.
On the night of April 1st, the regiment was ordered to be in readiness to again assault at daylight. At four o'clock, the word was given for the advance, and the Sixty-first in the front brigade, moved with intrepidity against the frowning works, which for many months it had faced, and vainly sought to carry. The struggle was short but severe, and the enemy was driven in confusion from his intrenchments. Pursuit was immediately given, and the regiment during the day captured two rebel colors, a wagon train, fifty-two men, sixteen horses, and three brass twelve-pounders with caissons. Colonel Crosby, who had lost an arm from the effects of the wound received at Fort Stevens, near Washington, was killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Orr wounded.
On the morning of the 3d, it moved with the army in pursuit of Lee, whose rear guard, Longstreet's Corps, was brought to bay at Sailor's Creek, where the Sixty-first fired its last shot at the enemy, who surrendered three days thereafter, April 9th, at Appomattox Court House.
After the surrender the regiment returned with a considerable portion of the army to Burkesville Junction, where, on the 17th, it was honored by being chosen to escort the captured flags of the division to army headquarters.
General Johnston, in command of a rebel army in North Carolina, still held out. Grant accordingly put his columns in motion to assure its capture should it continue in hostile attitude. In four days the regiment marched one hundred and sixteen miles, reaching Danville on the 27th, where it was detailed for provost duty.
After remaining here until the 21st of May, Johnston having in the meantime laid down his arms and surrendered to Sherman, it moved by rail to Richmond. Marching through the rebel capital on the 24th, it crossed the Pamunkey on the 25th, passed Fredericksburg and Marye's Heights on the 29th, Fairfax June 1st, arriving at Ball's Cross Roads, near Washington, on the 2d. On the 8th the corps was re-viewed in the National Capital, which for four years had been menaced, and which, by its opportune arrival, it had preserved in its direst extremity.
On the 28th of June the regiment under command of the following field officers Colonel Robert L. Orr, Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Greene, and Major Oliver A. Parsons, was mustered out of service, and ordered to Pittsburg for payment. Upon its arrival there it was publicly received by the Mayor and citizens, and entertained at a grand banquet. Two days thereafter the organization which had been maintained for four years, at length "its warfare over," ceased to exist.
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.
Nathaniel A. McKown (McKowan) Some records state he was in Co. A, B or C, 58th PAV, but he is not found in any of those units.