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45th Pennsylvania Volunteers Regimental History

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Taken from: History of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1862-1865

By Samuel Bates

Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer.  1869

Pages 1058-1071

 

 

 

The companies composing this organization were recruited in the counties of Centre, Lancaster, Mifflin, and Wayne from, from July 28th to October 18th, 1861, and were mustered into service of the United States at Camp Curtin.  An organization was effected on the 21st o October by the selection of the following field, and staff officers: Thomas Welch, of Lancaster county, Colonel; James A. Beaver, of Centre county, Lieutenant Colonel; and J. M. Kilbourne, of Potter county, Major.  Theodore Gregg, of Company A, was appointed Adjutant, and John McClure, Quartermaster.  A beautiful flag was presented by Governor Curtin, and was received in an appropriate speech, on behalf of the regiment, by Colonel Welsh. The ceremonies were witnessed by a large number of citizens of Harrisburg, and by thousands of soldiers in camp.

 

At twelve M., it marched from Camp Curtin, and was taken by rail to Washington, arriving on the 23d, and encamped a mile and a half from the Capitol, on the Bladensburg road.  On the 28th, General McClellan, the Forty-Fifth being in line, reviewed the army of the Potomac.  It was assigned to Howard’s Brigade, of Casey’s Division.  On the 3d of November it was detailed to preserve the peace at an election in Prince Frederick.  On the 7th it returned to camp, and was subjected to constant drill.

 

The regiment took transportation for Baltimore at eleven P.M., of the 19th, marched through the city, and embarked on the steamer Pocahontas for Fortress Monroe.  Arriving on the 21st, it moved to Camp Hamilton, three miles from the fort. .  The camp was well arranged and was occupied by the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, which extended to the Forty-Fifth a cordial welcome.  Here it remained until the 6th of December, during which period it was thoroughly disciplined in company and battalion drill.  On the morning of the 6th, the two regiments broke camp and returning to Fortress Monroe, embarked for Port Royal, South Carolina.  At three PM, the command moved off amid the cheers of those remaining at the fort.

 

A beautiful scene was presented on the morning of the 7th, as the sun shone brilliantly out over the world of waters, most of the troops having never seen the ocean before.  The command arrived in sight of Hilton Head at five PM, of the 8th, and with some difficulty passed the shoals and breakers in safety.  The steamer Louisiana, having on board three companies of the Forty-Fifth, and the entire Seventy-Sixth, arrived off the harbor at seven PM, and grounded on Gaskin Bank, near the south channel.  Minute gums were immediately fired, as a signal of distress, and a gunboat, which came to her assistance, succeeded in getting her off the bar.  Fortunately the wind was not high, nor the heavy, or the ship could not have withstood the breakers.  Their comrades on board the Cosmopolitan greeted their deliverance with cheers.

 

Colonel Welsh reported his command to General T W Sherman, and received orders to occupy the sea islands, which made it necessary to divide the regiment.  Accordingly, Lieutenant Colonel Beaver, with the companies A, C, D, E, and I, landed at Bay Point, and took possession of Fort Walker, relieving the Seventy-Ninth New York.  He had command of all the fortifications on the island covering the entrance to Port Royal Bay.  His staff consisted of Major Kilbourne, Lieutenant George D. Smith (acting Adjutant), of company I, , and Lieutenant James P. Gregg (acting Quartermaster).  Colonel Welsh, with companies B, F, G, H and K, sailed for Otter Island, taking with him five large guns, and arrived at noon of the 11th.  On the south point of the island were the ruins of Fort Drayton, which had been blown up by the enemy at the fall of Port Royal, and which Colonel Welsh immediately proceeded to re-build.  Companies F and K, under the command of Captain Rambo occupied Fenwick Island on the 20th.  Fort Drayton being completed, and the guns mounted, it was placed in command of Captain Strahan, of the Fourth Rhode Island Artillery.

 

On the 12th of March, companies D, H and K, Captains Whitney, Scheffelin, and Rambo, all under command of Lieutenant Colonel Beaver, started, in boats, on an expedition to Aiken’s plantation, for the purpose of capturing an outpost of the enemy stationed near the banks of the North Edisto River.  Leaving the boats in charge of Captain Whitney, with a large detail of men, Captain Scheffelin, with company H, was sent to hold a bridge in the rear of the enemy, and cut off his retreat.  The balance of the command, conducted by a Negro guide, proceeded to make the attack.  The night was dark and foggy.  Unfortunately the guide missed the road leading to the building occupied by the rebels, and tools the one leading to the bridge, which was guarded by Captain Scheffelin’s company.  Perceiving a party approaching, and supposing it to be the retreating rebels, the Captain ordered his men to fire, and they poured a destructive into the ranks of their supposed enemies.  Captain Rambo and Corporal Fessler were killed, and nineteen men wounded.  Parties were frequently sent out by Colonel Welsh to visit the neighboring islands, and report any hostile movements of the enemy from the direction of Charleston.  On the 4th of April, Captain Theodore Gregg was ordered to proceed, with company F, to Fenwick Island, where he remained watching the movements of the enemy on the adjacent islands until the 20th of May.  On the 8th of April a brisk skirmish occurred along the banks of Mosquito, Creek, a bayou running from the Asheboo to the North Edisto, and the enemy was driven with a loss of several killed and wounded.  On the 20th of May, Captains Gregg, Haines, and Scheffelin received orders to abandon the islands, and at nine AM they proceeded to join the command on Otter Island.  Colonel Welsh, to join, with six companies of the Forty-Fifth, in the contemplated movement upon Charleston had previously obtained permission. For this purpose he had sent orders to Lieutenant Colonel Beaver to send him company A, Captain Jon I. Curtin; but some cases of small pox being discovered among its members, company I, Captain Hill, was in its stead.

 

On the 21st, companies B, F, G, H, K and I moved to North Edisto Island, where the troops, which were to participate in the expedition, were being secretly landed.  Three companies of the command were sent on the 1st of June to John’s Island on picket duty, and during the night the entire command of General Benham followed.  On the 5th, the regiment marched through a heavy storm of rain to Legreeville, where it remained until the 9th, when it took steamer for James’ Island eight miles from the city of Charleston.  At this place, on the following day, a rebel force, three thousand strong, was encountered.  The command was posted in an old ditch, the embankment of which was thickly overgrown with bush.  The enemy advanced through the woods, with open column of companies, without skirmishes.  Approaching to within a short distance of the line, a well directed fire from the ditch caused the advance, led by the Forty-seventh Georgia, to stagger.  Soon recovering from the confusion into which it was thrown by this fire, its commander attempted to change front; but it received a terrific fire from Captain Hamilton’s Battery, United States Artillery, and from the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, which had come to the rescue, which caused it to retreat in confusion it towards Charleston.  Ninety men, killed and wounded, of the Forty-seventh Georgia, were found upon the field.  The loss of the Forty-Fifth was one man mortally wounded.

 

The regiment of Major Kilbourne, participated in the engagement of the 16th of June, but suffered no loss.  It was engaged in picket duty, and in constructing field-works, until July 1st, when it returned with the brigade to Hilton Head, and moving on the 11th to Elliott’s plantation, five miles distant, went into camp in a beautiful grove, near the shores of Port Royal Bay.  Here the four companies, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Beaver, re-joined the regiment after a separation of seven months.

 

Returning to Hilton Head on the 18th, the regiment embarked on the steamer Arago for Fortress Monroe, where it arrived on the 21st, and encamped three miles from Newport News.  Upon resignation of Major Kilbourne, on the 30th, Captain John I Curtin, of company A, was commissioned to succeed him.  It remained here, engaged in company, battalion, and brigade drill, until the 4th of August, when it was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, Ninth Army Corps.  It reached Aquia Creek on the 5th, and on the following day, nine companies to Brooks Station, on the Richmond and Potomac Railroad, and remained until the 29th.  The second battle of Bull Run was now in progress.  Major Curtin, with three hundred men, marched to Potomac Creek, and burned the railroad bridge.  On the 4th of September, the bridge and buildings at Brook’s Station were burned, and the troops took cars for Aquia Creek.  Here the landing,, warehouse, cars, locomotives, and commissary stores were destroyed on the 6th, and the regiment moved by water to Washington.  On the 9th, in light marching order, it proceeded to Brookville, from thence to Frederick City on the 12th, and to Middletown on the 13th.

 

The army of General Lee, flushed with its successes, was now at South Mountain.  General Burnside made immediate preparation to meet him.  Early in the morning of the 14th, the troops were in motion.  The division marched from Middletown down the turnpike, the Forty-Fifth in advance, and arriving at the base of the mountain, turned left on the old Sharpsburg road.  It then moved at double-quick, and took position on the right of Cox’s Division, commanding the pike.  The Forty-Fifth was supported by the One Hundredth Pennsylvania.  The Forty-Eight New York was formed on the left and rear, the Eighth Michigan on the left, and the Seventeenth Michigan on the right.  Cook’s Battery was placed in position near the road, and ordered to open fire upon the rebel batteries.  It was vigorously replied to by a fire which enfiladed the road, and soon a column of North Carolina Troops advanced to capture the guns.  A volley from the enemy’s musketry drove the cannonueers from their position, and threw the line into temporary confusion.  One company of the Forty-Fifth, with the Seventeenth Michigan, Seventy-Ninth New York, rushed forward, drove back the charging column and saved the artillery.  For some time the fighting was the most desperate, and became general along the line of Wilcox’s and Cox’s divisions.  Generals Rodman and Sturgis promptly came to their support, and a battery of thirty pounder Parrott guns opened from the crest of a hill, near the pike, with telling effect upon the enemy in Turner’s Gap.  By a steady forward movement the troops had secured commanding positions on both e side of the pike, which rendered the expulsion of the enemy certain.

 

At last the order was given for the entire Ninth Corps to advance in line of battle and drive the rebels from the mountain.  Companies A and K were thrown forward as skirmishers on the right of the regiment.  The line advanced under a destructive fire of musketry and artillery, and gradually pressed the enemy down the western slope.  The Forty-Fifth was suffering severely from the fire of the rebels posted behind a rail fence near the edge of a wood.  Supported by the One Hundredth, it moved forward, and drove them from the fence across an open field, when they faced about and took shelter behind a stone wall.  A rapid fire upon the line, at a distance of not more than fifty paces, was kept up, obliging them to hug closely their cover.  Another charge was ordered, and the enemy was driven in the wildest confusion, leaving his dead and wounded, in large numbers, on the field.  The loss of the regiment in this closely contested action was an aggregate of one hundred and forty-five men killed, wounded and, missing.  Lieutenant Smith, of company I, Assistant Adjutant General on the Staff of Colonel Welsh, was among the killed, Captain Grove among the wounded.

 

On the following day the regiment, with the brigade, marched in pursuit of the retreating foe towards Antietam Creek, following close upon the heels of his rear-guard.  He cautiously evaded an engagement, but retired, passing through Boonsboro’ and Keedysville and Williamsport road, one on the Keedysville and Sharpsburg pike, one on the Rohersville and Sharpsburg road, and one near the mouth of the creek, on the road leading from Harper’s Ferry to Sharpsburg, which was finely executed, the regiment again in advance.  The One Hundredth Pennsylvania was on the right, the Thirtieth Ohio, of Sturgis’ Brigade, on the left, and Forty-Six New York in support.  Approaching a stone mill near the town, company K dislodged the enemy and captured the mil and buildings.  The battle raged furiously.  The strong position near the command was withdrawn.  The Ninth Corps, with an aggregate of thirteen thousand eight hundred and nineteen officers and men, had withstood the impetuous assaults of more than thrice its number, had gained the most advanced position of any portion of the army, and had attested its bravery in the most signal manner.  The loss sustained in the Forty-Fifth was thirty killed and wounded.

 

On the night of the18th, General Lee quietly withdrew his entire army across the Potomac, and took position on the opposite bank, near Shepherdstown.  The regiment moved with the corps in pursuit, and went into camp near Antietam Creek.  It marched by rail to Frederick City, on the 11th of October, to defend it against the incursions of Stuart’s Cavalry, which was at the time upon a raid around McClellan’s army.  From Frederick City it proceeded via Point of Rock, Berlin, Snicker’s, ad Ashby’s Gap, Rectortown and Orleans to the Hedgeman River, and encamped, on the 7th of November, near Waterloo.  The troops, suffering much from short rations, styled the camp “Starvation Hollow.”

 

Leaving the camp on the 16th, it marched through Warrenton and Falmouth, and pitched tents, on the 19th, on the north bank of the Rappahannock, opposite Fredericksburg, where it engaged in drill and picket duty until December 12the, when it crossed the river at nine A. M. and bivouacked near the gas-works.  Early on the morning of the 13th, the command marched down the river to the lower crossing, and joined General Franklin’s Grand Division. Here the men were obliged to remain quiet spectators of the fight, in which Reynolds’s Division alone of the Franklin’s Corps was permitted to participate.  Re-crossing the river, on the night of the 15th, the regiment marched to its old camps near Falmouth; where it remained until February 11, 1863.

 

On the 12th it proceeded by rail to Aquia Creek, and thence by Steamer to Newport News, and encamped two miles from the landing, on the banks on the James River.  A new manual of arms was here adopted by the Forty-Fifth, consisting of selections from Hardees’ and Scott’s Tactics, with many original maneuvers.  It comprised one hundred and six movements, which were indicated by taps of the drum.  In the short space of two weeks the regiment became proficient in the new drill, and made a fine appearance, eliciting the praise of all by the perfect manner in which the movements were executed.  On the 13th of March, Colonel Welsh was promoted to Brigadier General, Lieutenant Colonel Curtin and Captains Hill and Kelsey to Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Moor respectively.

 

On the 22d of May, the regiment was ordered to East Tennessee.  Taking passage on the steamer Mary Washington to Baltimore, and moving by rail through Parkersburg, Cincinnati, and Nicholsville, it arrived at Jamestown, Kentucky, on the 1st of June, where it encountered a small force of rebel cavalry.  But it was not to participate in the expulsion of the foe from this region, which had been so long oppressed.  An order came from General Burnside for eight thousand to reinforce Grant in the trenches at Vicksburg.  Although he could illy afford to thus diminish his force, the regiment, with the Corps, moved on the 4th via Lebanon, Louisville, and Cairo, and arrived at Haines Bluff at one P. M. of the 19th.  It was posted, with other troops, to prevent any movement of General Johnston, designed to relieve the beleaguered garrison.  Its duty was here more of observation than direct contact with the enemy.  On The 4th of July, the national arms achieved two signal victories; the capture of Vicksburg by General Grant, and the overthrow of the enemy at Gettysburg by the Army of the Potomac.

 

As soon as the intelligence of Pemberton’s surrender reached General Johnston, he retired from his advanced position, on the Big Black River, towards Jackson.  A large force, under General Sherman was sent in pursuit on the afternoon of the surrender.  General Welsh was in command of the division, and Colonel Henry Bowman of the brigade.  It left camp for the purpose of crossing the Big Black at Jones’ Ford and Birdsong’s Ferry, and marched until midnight.  On the morning of the 5th, the enemy was found in strong force on the opposite bank of the river, with a disposition to dispute further advance.  A position was, however, secured, and Colonel Bowman’s Brigade, by constant exertion, constructed a bridge at the Ferry, upon which the command crossed on the afternoon and evening of the 7th, and encamped in the vicinity of Jefferson Davis’ plantation near Bolton.  Continuing the pursuit on the 8th, it encamped at ten P.M., near Hall’s Cross Roads, and on the following day the enemy’s cavalry was encountered.  The regiment in this march acted as rear guard.  Around the distant horizon could be seen the smoke of burning houses, barns and cotton.  Much suffering was endured by the troops y the want of water, the streams, ponds and springs being filled, by the enraged enemy, with all kinds of filth and putrefying bodies, and rendered unfit for use.

 

At three P.M., of the 10th, the command arrived in front of Jackson, an was formed in order of the battle.  The First Brigade, to which the Forty-Fifth was attached, occupied the right of the line.  The regiment, with the Seventy-Ninth New York, was thrown forward as skirmishers, and, as the division advanced, soon came in contact with the enemy.  Beyond this road is a high ridge,, upon which is situated the State Lunatic Asylum, to which the vedettes retreated.  The Forty-Fifth rushed forward, drove them from the position, and unfurled the flag of the regiment from the dome of the asylum.  The enemy declining to fight in the open field, the line was securely established, and thee troops bivouacked for the night.  On the 11th, the command advanced and compelled the opposing forces to take shelter in their fortifications.  “General Welsh,” says Woodbury, “halted his division, established his line, sheltering his men from the enemy’s battery, and taking up a good position upon a ridge immediately facing the enemy’s defenses…. On the right, the Forty-Fifth Pennsylvania advanced to within five hundred yards of the enemy’s works, and retained its position.”  This was accomplished under a heavy fire of artillery, and musketry, from which it suffered much.  On the 12th, it was relieved by the Seventeenth Michigan, and retired to the wood in the rear of the asylum, using its beautiful grounds for hospital purposes.  An act of rebel inhumanity here occurred which should not escape notice.  Perceiving the use which being of the asylum grounds, he opened a heavy fire of artillery upon the building, a thirty-pound shot passing through it, wounding two of the inmates.  The unfortunate people set up the most lamentable cries, and attempted to break through doors, and windows, to escape danger.  The rebel fire only ceased, upon his guns being silenced by the Union artillery.  On the 13th, a vigorous attempt was made by the enemy to break our lines, but received a most disastrous repulse, and the two armies lay watching each other for several days.  Frequent assaults were made upon his entrenchments to develop his position and force.  On the morning of the 17th, the skirmishers were advanced, but found no enemy, he having his made good his retreat. Large quantities of ammunition and arms, one officer, and hundred and thirty-seven men were captured.  At eleven A.M., the division moved out of Jackson, upon the Canton Road, the Forty-Fifth in advance, towards the Pearl River, for the purpose of intercepting the enemy; but no finding him, destroyed fifteen miles of the Mississippi Central Railroad, and returned to Jackson on the evening of the 20th.

 

Moving towards Vicksburg on the following day, the regiment was detailed to guard the ambulance train, and arrived at the old camping ground at Milldale on the 23rd.  On the 4th of August it proceeded from thence to Haines’ Bluff, and on the next day embarked on the steamer Hiawatha for Cairo.  Thus terminated its services with the Army of the West.  “In returning the Ninth Corps to its former command,” says General Grant, in general orders, dated July 31st, “it is with pleasure that general commanding acknowledges its valuable services in the campaign just closed.  Arriving at Vicksburg, opportunely, taking a position to hold at bay Johnston’s army, then threatening the forces investing the city, it was ready and eager to assume the offensive at any moment.  After the fall of Vicksburg, it formed part of the Army, which drove Johnston from his position near the Big Black River into his entrenchments at the Mississippi Valley.  The endurance, valor and general good conduct of the Ninth Corps is admired by all; and its valuable co-operation in achieving the final triumph of the campaign is gratefully acknowledged by the army of Tennessee.”  It was a severe campaign for both officers and men.  The malaria of the Mississippi camps, the scarcity and bad quality of water, and the sever marching had greatly impaired the health of the command.  General Welsh here contracted a disease from which he died at Cincinnati on the 14th of August.

 

Moving via Cairo and Cincinnati, it proceeded on its memorable march over the mountains of East Tennessee, and arrived at Blue Springs on the 8th of October.  Two days thereafter, it engaged the rebel forces.  The Ninth Corps was ordered in advance, and General Ferrero’s division selected for the attack.  The Forty-Fifth was thrown forward as skirmishers, a charge was made upon their works, and they were driven from their advance position. Halting and reforming in a wood, a charge was again ordered, and the crest of the hill opposite, gained, when darkness put an end to the contest.  The enemy withdrew during the night, leaving his dead and wounded upon the field.  The loss was twenty-one killed and wounded.  The command marched on the evening of the 11th in pursuit of the retreating enemy as far as Rheatown, returned to Blue Springs on the 13th, and moved by rail with the brigade to Knoxville.  The attention of the country was now directed to the field of operations in East Tennessee and Northern Georgia.  The hostile armies were each being strengthened by large reinforcements.  General Hooker, with two corps, the Eleventh and the Twelfth, was ordered from the army of the Potomac to the aid of Rosecrans.  Longstreet, hastening to the aid of Bragg, joined him in time to participate in the battle of Chickamauga.  With Grant, Sherman, Burnside, Thomas and Hooker to lead the Union forces, the country looked forward to the result with confidence.

 

Constant marching and an occasional skirmish occupied the time of the regiment until the 30th, when orders were issued to build winter quarters.  A beautiful grove of oak, twenty-five miles southwest of Knoxville, was selected for this purpose.  With much labor, convenient log huts were constructed, covered with shelter tents; but the period during which they could be enjoyed was short.  The men were called to arms at three o’clock on the morning of November 14th to confront General Longstreet.  He had cut loose from Bragg at Chattanooga, and by a forced march had reached the Tennessee River, six miles below Louden, on the evening previous, and before daylight of the 14th was crossing the stream.  General Burnside taking command in person, ordered General White, with a division of the Twenty-third Corps, supported by Ferrero’s Brigade, to assume the offensive.  The enemy was encountered, vigorously pressed, and driven back to the river.  The nest morning at daylight, General Burnside withdrew his troops to Lenoir Station, the First Brigade of Ferrero’s Division covering the rear.  Knoxville was Longstreet’s objective point, and to prevent his moving his columns past our right and cutting off our retreat, it was necessary to abandon Lenoir.  The valuable mills and factories established here, were destroyed preparatory to evacuating the place.  While the troops were moving back to Knoxville, the First Brigade held the enemy in check.  It was drawn up in line of battle on the Kingston road, and moved forward in a wood, the enemy driving in the skirmishers, but refusing to advance further.  The command gradually fell back to Campbell’s Station, at the junction of the road from Lenoir with Knoxville and Kingston Road, leaving Morrison’s Brigade to cover the retreat.  Frequent attempts were made to break through our line, but each resulted in failure.

 

On the morning of the 16th, the brigade quietly withdrew from its position on the Kingston road, and moved towards Knoxville, Humphrey’s Brigade of the First Division was acting as rear guard.  On reaching the junction, a line of battle was formed behind a rail fence, with the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts on the right, resting on the Kingston Road, the Eight Michigan on the left and the Forty-Fifth deployed as skirmisher.  Unfurling their colors they awaited the approach of the enemy.  Discovering that he was moving to the left in order to gain the wood, the brigade took a second position near a rail fence along the edge of the road, and opened a heavy fire.  A body of rebel infantry was at this time observed approaching our rear from the Kingston Road.  Facing about and taking a new position on the opposite of the field, a volley was poured into the rebel line, which checked its advance, and drove it back in confusion.  It being no longer necessary to hold the junction, the command was withdrawn in good order, but with some difficulty escaped capture, and was soon under cover of artillery, which General Potter, under the direction of General Burnside, had placed in position on high ground just beyond the village of Kingston.  This village is situated between two ranges of hills, which are nearly a mile apart.  Across the intervening space the infantry was drawn up in single line of battle.  General Ferrero’s Division held the right, White’s Division of the Twenty-third Corps, the centre, Hartranft’ Division, of the Ninth Corps, the left.  Benjamin’s, Buckley’s, Gettings’ and Van Schlein’s batteries were on the right of the road Roemer’s Battery on the left, with the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts for its support.

 

The enemy formed in two lines of battle in the woods, with a strong line of skirmishers in front, at noonday advanced.  The whole valley was open to view of the Union Army, as Longstreet moved forward.  When he arrived near the Union line of battle, Benjamin’s and Roemer’s batteries opened fire, and so accurate was their range that the rebel lines were immediately broken, and fell back in confusion.  They rallied, and under cover of the woods on the slope of the ridge, advanced against the right, when Christy’s Brigade of the First Division at once changed front.  Buckley executed a similar movement with his battery, and by a well-directed fire checked their progress in that direction.  They next maneuvered to turn our left, but Burnside, falling back to a stronger position, established a new line at four P.M., under a heavy fire from their artillery.

 

Ferrero was now on the right of the road.  Morrison’s Brigade was placed in rear of the rail fence at the foot of the ridge, on which Benjamin’s Battery had been posted.  The enemy did not seem inclined to attack the Union troops in front, but pushed their columns along the ridge on their left, aiming to strike Hartranft in flank and rear.  This movement was discovered, and as he was moving rapidly, Hartranft opened with his three-inch guns on the rebel line, and during the day drove it twice back in disorder and confusion.  Longstreet failing in all his daring and bold attempts to force Burnside from his position, fell back out of range of artillery.  The troops of the Ninth and Twenty-third corps, with a force of less than five thousand effective men, had held in check for the entire day three times their number.  During the night the army deliberately retired to Knoxville, reaching that place at four A.M., of the 17th.  The regiment, with the brigade, occupied a high hill southwest of the city, one-half mile from the college.  It was here engaged in constructing a line of rifle-pits from the Holsten River to Fort Sanders.  The siege of Knoxville had begun.  Fortifications were rapidly constructed, and the lines strengthened for the defense of the city.  The long weary days passed slowly away, the monotony only broken by an occasional skirmish. 

 

At length it became evident to the rebel commander that the works must be carried by assault, or the attempt to regain possession of East Tennessee abandoned.  On the 28th of November, he made demonstrations upon the skirmish line, which led to a fruitless attack upon our lines.  On the following morning an assaulting column appeared.  The gallant Ninth Corps held the defenses, the Forty-Fifth Regiment on the picket line.  The charging column moved steadily on, over obstructions, removing abatis as they went, and a few succeeded in reaching the parapet.  A desperate encounter ensued.  Exposed to a terrific fire of infantry and artillery, the enemy’s column at length began to falter, and finally, hopelessly broken and disorganized, it retreated across the field.  During the night he quietly withdrew his forces, and the siege of Knoxville was raised.  At daylight of the morning of the 6tth of December, the Ninth Corps marched towards Rutledge in pursuit, and attacked his rear at Blain’s Cross Roads, Beans’ Station, Clinch River Mountains, inflicting upon him some loss.  On the 14th, Captain Hart, of Company I, and Sergeant Major Mullen, with a wagon train and fifteen men were captured.

 

On the 1st of January 1864, four hundred and twenty-six men of the Forty-Fifth re-enlisted “for three years, or during the war,” thus securing to themselves a veteran’s furlough.  Among the mountains, about Clinch River, in mid winter, with scanty provisions upon which to subsist, it became a question, with the officers in command, whether to remain, and longer wait for rations, or to take up a line of march and forage on the way.  The latter alternative was chosen.  An example of heroic endurance, and patriotic devotion to the flag worthy of imitation, was manifested in the conduct of the men on this march.  With only a quart of meal, and five pounds of fresh meat per man, and no certainty of obtaining more on the road, barefoot and poorly clad, it required patriotism as earnest, and a purpose as fixed, to patiently endure the privations and hardships of the march as to achieve victory in the face of the enemy.  On the 16th, the regiment commenced this perilous march via the Cumberland Gap, the few men who did not re-enlist having been transferred temporarily to the Seventy-Ninth New York.  On the 21st it arrived at Barboursville, where the men received full rations, and were supplied with shoes.  On the 8th of February they arrived at Harrisburg and were granted a veteran furlough.

 

The veteran regiment with many new recruits, proceeded, on the 19th of March, to Annapolis, the place of rendezvous for the veterans of the Ninth Army Corps.  Arriving at four P.M. of the following day, it proceeded to Camp Parole, where it remained until the 23d of April.  It was assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division, and moved to Washington, passing, on the 25th, in review before the President, and encamped near Alexandria.  Moving, on the 27th via Fairfax Court House, and the Bull Run battlefield, it encamped at Bristoe Station on the evening of the 28th, and remained, guarding the station, until May 4th.

 

On the 5th the Wilderness Campaign opened.  The regiment crossed the Rappahannock at ten A.M., the Rapidan at Germanna Ford at five P.M, and continued its march through the dense woods and almost impenetrable thickets, bivouacking at night in the line of battle.  At one A.M., of the 6th, the men were aroused, and at three, the division moved out on the road towards Parker’s Store.  The battle opened at daylight with great fury.  General Potter, with Wilcox in support, attempted to seize Parker’s store.  Companies A and K of the Forty-Fifth, were deployed as skirmishers.  To relieve General Hancock, who was hard pressed, Potter subsequently moved his division, at double quick, to the left, nearly a mile along the edge of the Wilderness, and formed in two line of battle, with the First Brigade in advance.  Colonel Bliss having been prostrated by sunstroke, the command of the brigade devolved upon Colonel Curtin.  With Fifty-eight Massachusetts on the right, the Thirty-Sixth Massachusetts on the left, the Forty-Fifth Pennsylvania in the centre, and Seventeenth and Twenty-Seventh Michigan in reserve, the lines moved to the front.  With companies A and K, under the command of Major Kelsey, on the skirmish line, the brigade charged the enemy, delivering a well directed fire, and driving him from his position.  The Men, finding that they were confronting Longstreet’s troops, whom they met at Knoxville, a great shout was given for Burnside, and they pushed on with renewed zeal in pursuit.  The line becoming broken, and somewhat disorganized, the rebel reserves charged upon it, and drove it back through the wood to the edge of the Wilderness.  The command rallied, and again charged, driving the enemy to the works, from which he sallied forth.  The fighting was the most desperate.  The brigade, falling back two hundred paces, prepared for another charge, which was made at five P.M., driving the enemy along the entire line.   Night coming on the contest closed.  The loss one hundred and forty-five killed and wounded.  Among the killed was Lieutenant Evan R. Goodfellow, of Company D. Captain John O. Campbell, of company E, was mortally wounded, and died the following day.

 

At daylight of the 7th, the regiment was in line, and marched towards Chancellorsville, arriving at 9 P.M..  It moved on the 10th, formed a line to the left of General Wilcox’s command, and crossed the Ny River under a heavy artillery fire.  The Forty-Fifth led, deployed as skirmishers, followed by the Thirty-Sixth Massachusetts, the Seventeenth and Twenty-Seventh Michigan, and drove the rebels back over the hills into their breast works around Spotsylvania Court House.  Holding the position and constructing strong works during the night, the command remained until ordered to retire inn the afternoon of the following day.  On the morning of the 12th, the Second Corps made a gallant attack upon the enemy’s works, striking him upon his right centre.  The Ninth advanced toward his lines at double quick, the Forty-Fifth on the right of the brigade, and drove him back, taking some prisoners.   For three hours the battle continued with unabated fury, and until darkness enveloped the scene of the conflict.   For several days it was constantly in line and under fire.   On the 16th, it engaged the enemy and gained some advantage, and on the 21st, drove him across the river Po.  Resuming the march on the 23rd, it moved to support of the Second Corps.  The regiment was detailed as guard to the ammunition train of the Second Division, and crossed the North Anna, near Oxford, on the afternoon of the following day under a terrific fire of the enemy’s artillery.

 

While charging across, the woodwork of the bridge was struck by a shot from a twenty-pounder Parrott gun, knocking the men completely from their feet.  The lines were firmly established on the south side of the river.  At three P.M. of the 26th, a charge was made upon the rebel works, which were carried, his entire line being driven back.  In this assault the regiment exhibited great gallantry, and was among the first to enter the breastworks on the extreme left, on the banks of the North Anna.  At nine P.M. of the next day, the command silently withdrew from its position and re-crossed the river.  It crossed the Pamunkey at Hanovertown, and participated in the battles at Cold Harbor on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of June.  On the 3rd, Lieutenant Scudder, of company F, was killed. Major Kelsey was mortally wounded, and died on the 24th.  The aggregate loss of the regiment in the three days of fighting was one hundred and sixty-three killed and wounded, out of the three hundred who were engaged.  The Forty-Fifth participated in all the movements of the army until it reached the James River, on the evening of the 14th.  Crossing on the following morning, it moved to reinforce the Second Corps, and Butler’s Army, already in front of Petersburg.  It arrived within three miles of the city at ten A.M. of the 16th, and at two P.M., formed in line of battle, marched to the extreme left, and encamped in a piece of wood one-half mile from the enemy’s works.  The Second Corps was ordered to attack at six in the evening, the Ninth supporting.  Potter’s Division was on the extreme left of the corps, Curtin’s Brigade on the left of the division, and the Forty-Fifth on the left of the brigade, thus occupying the extreme left of the army.  The attack was gallantly made, but was not attended with important results.

 

It was determined to renew the attack in the morning of the 17th, and General Potter’s division was selected for the assaulting column.  Griffins’ Brigade led the charge, supported by the First, under command of Colonel Curtin.  The Forty-Fifth, and the Fourth Rhode Island were withdrawn several hundred yards to the rear, and changed front, in order to meet any sudden attack, which might be made from that direction.  The enemy’s works were gallantly carried, and a furious contest was waged for their possession.  It lasted but a few moments, when the enemy gave way and retreated towards Petersburg.  On the 18th, a general assault was ordered at four P.M., and again a large proportion of the fighting fell upon the Ninth Corps.  It was proposed to drive the enemy from a piece of the woods and the railroad cut, which protected his lines.  The attack was vigorously made, General Hartranft’s Brigade in advance, but failed of success.  Of this engagement, General Burnside, in his report, says, “No better fighting has been done during the war than was done by the division of Potter and Wilcox during this attack”.  Colonel Curtin was severely wounded and carried from the field.  The loss of the regiment was three killed, and eighteen wounded.  The troops were now constantly engaged in the construction of earthworks under heavy fire, the conviction becoming settled that Petersburg, could only be reduced by the slow process of siege.

 

On Saturday, the 25th, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants, of the Forty-Eighth Pennsylvania, who had projected the plan of destroying the rebel fort in front of General Potter’s division, by the explosion of a mine, and the commanding general having given his approval, began the work of excavation.  The contending parties constantly kept up firing, and the advanced position held by the Ninth Corps, was continually shelled from the time that operations upon the mine commenced, until its final explosion.  Thirty-two men of the Forty-Fifth were wounded during this period, Lieutenant Gilboney, of company C, and one man of company D were killed.  The work, which was attracting the attention of all, was completed at six P.M. of the 28th, and the mine was to be sprung on the morning of the 30th.  It had been constructed under many disadvantages.  The line at its mouth was exposed to the fire of the enemy’s batteries, and the project had received little encouragement from general officers, beyond that extended Generals Burnside and Potter.

 

       Immediately upon its explosion an assault was to be made along the entire line.  The assaulting column was the First Division of the Ninth Corps, commanded by General Ledlie.  It had formed during the night near the division of General Wilcox.  The explosion was to take place at half-past three in the morning, but owing to a defective fuse it was delayed until nearly five.  Captain Theodore Gregg, in command of the regiment, which now numbered two hundred and ten effective men, received orders, early in the morning, to leave a strong line of skirmishers, under command of an efficient officer, in front of the enemy’s works, and to march the remainder of the regiment back to the edge of the wood in rear of our lines.  One Hundred men, under the command of Captain Fessler, of company K, were detached as skirmishers, and the balance of the regiment formed on the left of the Fourth Rhode Island, along the edge of the wood.  The troops composing the storming party were now ready to move forward according to the battle order of General Burnside.  All eyes were turned to the rebel fort beneath which eight thousand pounds of powder were soon to be ignited.  The fuse, which had become dampened and failed to ignite, was re-lighted, at precisely sixteen minutes before five the mine exploded.  The scene was terrible to behold.  Large masses of the works, with men and artillery commingled, were blown far into the air.  The crater was enshrouded in a dark cloud of sulphurous smoke, lighted up by an occasional flash from the rebel magazines, which were exploded almost simultaneously with the mine.

 

A terrific fire of artillery was immediately opened from one hundred and forty- guns upon the enemy’s works, and the air was filled with howling, screeching projectiles.  The regiment was ordered to follow the Fourth Rhode Island, and marched by the left flank through a covered way.  In crossing the open field it was much exposed to the fire from the rebel lines on the right and left, the whole space traversed being literally swept by minie, grape and canister.  On arriving at the ruined fort, the regiment was ordered to charge a battery in position near some buildings to the rear of the rebel works; but the condition of the crater of the exploded mine was such that it was found impossible to do so.  A charge upon a battery immediately in front was ordered, and as the regiment, which now comprised about eighty men, advanced, the enemy opened upon it with batteries stationed at different points on right and left, accompanied by a heavy fire of musketry from the rifle-pits, which caused it to fall back into the entrenchments around the ruined fort.  Frequent hand to hand encounters occurred, swords were crossed and muskets clubbed, until finally the order to withdraw the troops from the dangerous position was given.  The officers and men behaved with great coolness and courage in this daring, but unsuccessful assault.  The color-bearer of the Sixth Virginia attempted, while fighting in the crater, to plant his regimental flag upon the broken parapet, when Corporal Frank Hogan, of company A, shot him and captured his colors, receiving for his gallantry a medal of honor from the War Department.  The regiment sustained a loss in this contest of six killed, twenty-two wounded and thirty-nine missing.

 

In the 1st of August the dead were buried, and the wounded secured under a flag of truce.  The rebels on the 5th, attempted to explode a mine beneath one of the forts in front of the Eighteenth Corps, but failed, the excavation not reaching to within fifty yards of the fort.  Nearly all the artillery opened upon them, and a constant cannonade, and musketry fire, was kept up the entire day.  On the 15th, the regiment, with the division, moved three miles to the left and relieved a division of the Fifth Corps.  Its loss, from the 30th of July, was two killed and wounded.

 

At three P. M., of the 19th, it marched in advance six miles, to the support of Warren, and was deployed as skirmishers.  Moving through a thick wood, in the dark, the enemy’s line was discovered, and some prisoners taken.  During the night the Forty-Eighth Pennsylvania formed on its right, and the Thirty-Sixth Massachusetts on its left.  On the following morning, the order was given to advance, and open fire upon the enemy.  Still upon the skirmish line, it engaged his vedettes, and drove them in, losing one man wounded.  On the morning of the 30th of September, the First and Second divisions proceeded towards Poplar Spring Church, and found the enemy strongly entrenched.  Moving rapidly to the left of the Fifth Corps, while passing through an open field, the regiment received the fire of a rebel battery, one man being killed and one wounded.  The brigade formed, with the Fifty-Eighth Massachusetts on the right, the Fifty-First New York on the left, Forty-Fifth Pennsylvania in the center, the Thirty-Sixth Massachusetts, Forty-Eighth Pennsylvania, and the Fourth and Seventh Rhode Island were held in reserve, and occupied the works at the front, on Peeble’s farm.  It was here held to support Griffin’s Brigade, Second Division, Fifth Corps, and fought gallantly, repulsing several charges of infantry and cavalry, in rear and in front.  At one time, entirely surrounded by the enemy, it cut its way through his columns, and gained the shelter of a log barn, from which Major Horton, of the Fifty-Eighth Massachusetts, was keeping up a constant fire of musketry.  The little band was here soon surrounded, called upon to surrender.  Lieutenant Colonel Gregg did not propose to yield without an effort to escape.  Calling to the men they moved on with a cheer, but were met with a withering fire of musketry, which killed and wounded the larger part of the command.  The color bearer, Sergeant Ruggleman, being wounded, Sergeant Levi R. Robb took the colors, and tried to save them, but was immediately surrounded by the Tenth Virginia Calvary.  Lieutenant James P. Gregg was killed, while gallantly leading his men.  Being overcome by vastly superior numbers, after a fierce struggle they were forced to surrender.  Among the captured was Lieutenant Colonel Gregg.  The entire casualties in the regiment were one officer and two men killed, and one hundred and fifty officers and men prisoners.

 

On the 1st of October, it numbered only ninety-two men present for duty, but during the winter months of 1864-5 it was rapidly filled with recruits, drafted men and substitutes.  Promotions were made from the non-commissioned officers and men who had served with honor and fidelity since the organization of the regiment in 1861.  It participated in the movement to Hatcher’s Run on the 27th and 28th of October, and on the 10th of December moved with the division to the support of the Fifth Corps, which was making a reconnaissance to the Weldon Railroad beyond Nottaway Court House.  It returned on the 12th, and retained its position on the right of the army until its final assault on the rebel works.  It occupied Fort Rice, near the familiarly known as Fort Hell.

 

At length the waning fortunes of the rebellion were manifest at every point.  Orders were issued to assault the enemy’s position on the 1st of April, 1865, and on the following day the regiment was moved to the rear of Fort Hell.  The artillery opened along the entire line of the corps at four P.M., and at half-past four the troops moved forward.  They were received with a storm of musketry, grape and canister, but through the deadly tempest they steadily advanced.  Nothing could impede their progress.  Abattis were torn away, ditches were passed, walls and parapets scaled, and works carried in the face of a withering fire. Fort Hill and a six-gun battery were captured by the Forty-Fifths, which during the day held the extreme left of the brigade.  In this brilliant affair, Captain Cheesman, commanding the regiment, lost his right leg.  Among those conspicuous for heroism and noble daring was Lieutenant Robb, who fell mortally wounded.

 

Early on the morning of the 3rd, the advance skirmish line discovered that the foe had abandoned his works.  The corps entered Petersburg—the outpost of treason, and at five A.M, General Wilcox informed the commanding general, that it had surrendered.  Pursuing the retreating enemy, the regiment participated in all movements of the brigade from Petersburg to Farmville.  It encamped on the evening of the 3rd at Sutherland’s Station, on the Southside Railroad.  The pursuit was continued on the following morning, when the Ninth Corps was ordered to move to the Coxe Road, and guard the rear of the pursuing army.  Here it remained until the 9th, when Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, at Appomattox, to the victorious Grant.  The work of carnage and death was over.  On the 15th, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Gregg returned to his command from prison life, and was most cordially received.  On the 19th, it marched via Petersburg to City point, and from thence moved by water to Alexandria.  It participated in the Grand Review on the 23rd and 24th of May, and on the 17h of July was mustered out of service.

 

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