Life in Company "A", 61st Pennsylvania Volunteers

The information below was taken from the 1913 edition of History of Indiana County, Pennsylvania (pages 119-123). This book was first published in 1880 and it contained a history of Company A based largely on diary notes by James Miles Walker, who was a company musician for the original 3 year term of the 61st PA Volunteers. Company A originated in Indiana County and most of its soldiers throughout the war came from there. Walker's notes also became an important primary source for the regimental history that was written by A.T. Brewer in 1911.


Enlistment and Early Camps (1861-62)

This company was organized in July, 1861, by the union of two companies recruited for three months service, one by John Pollock, in East Mahoning, North Mahoning, Montgomery and Canoe townships, and the other by Jacob Creps, in Rayne, Green and East Mahoning: the two embracing the villages of Covode, Marchand, Georgeville, Richmond, Decker's Point, Taylorsville, Dixonville, Kellysburg, Kintersburg and Marion Center. The call for three years caused many to withdraw, and a union of the remnant of two companies was effected at Decker's Point, Marion from thenceforth became the general headquarters for recruiting, where the company was fully organized in July, 1861, by the election of Jacob Creps, captain; John Pollock, first lieutenant; G. W. Brady, second lieutenant; Frank M. Brown, first sergeant, and a full complement of minor officers.

The request of Oliver H. Rippey, of Pittsburgh, to join his regiment was granted by a vote of the company. The citizens gathered at Marion Center in immense procession to accompany the soldiers to Indiana; the citizens of Kintersburg gave a free dinner, and those of Indiana free lodging for the night. The men went by rail in box cars to Pittsburgh, and quartered in Camp Wilkins, and were mustered into the United States service August 21, 1861. By order of the Secretary of War, about September 1st the partly filled regiment was ordered to the front, only three companies, viz. Creps' Gerard's and Foulk's, being full.

We were stopped at Harrisburg on the plea of "no transportation" and sent to Camp Curtin to await it. An effort was made to break up the regiment: Captain Foulk's company was bought off, and Company A assigned to another regiment. Captain Creps and Gerard objected to the assignment, as well as to all offers for purchase, Company A insisting that Captain Creps should sacredly keep its pledge to Colonel Rippey. Then all cooking utensils were taken from us, and orders were issued to strip us of our uniforms, which had been furnished by the State, the post commander instructing the post quartermaster to give us no rations, except upon requisition in the name of the regiment to which we had been assigned.

Anticipating trouble, we had send our old clothing home, and of course retained the uniform. Captain Creps furnished security for the government price of the rations until the matter could be settled, as it was in part by Colonel Rippey, upon his arrival, agreeing that the State should have the credit of his regiment, and he, in consideration therefore, should have his regiment filled; an agreement for some reason never fulfilled by the State on its part. In consequence of this little unpleasantness, the companies not so fortunate in the matter of uniforms, suffered for want of clothing, men going on picket duty at Camp Advance, Va., without shirts or pants, being wrapped in blankets secured around them with their gun straps, their own clothes worn out in building Fort Lyons, and the government not yet able to uniform and fully equip its army.

After those rejected in examination were sent home, and two transferred to Company B, the company went to the front with 101 officers and men, going into camp south of Alexandria, Va., subject to orders of General Jamison, and spent the fall of 1861 alternating between drill and detail work on Fort Lyons, being moved February 19, 1862, to Queen's farm, north of Washington, D.C., and attached to Graham's brigade, Buell's division, Keye's (4th) army corps.

Great anxiety prevailed on account of an order to disband all regiments not numbering eight hundred men. Colonel Birney, in the interest of a brigadier general's commission, agreed to allow four companies of a regiment to be transferred to the 61st, and this transfer also included the commissions of both the lieutenant colonel and major for the regiment. Still further to make matters smooth at Harrisburg, he required the post savings fund of the 61st. The signing of the order for this fund being refused by Captain Creps, Acting Lieutenant Colonel, closed finally all chance for promotion for him during the war, and he remained senior captain of the regiment for three years, often commanding the regiment, but the combined vote of the line officers was not sufficient to gain him promotion.

The Peninsula Campaign (1862)

On March 10, 1862, we marched to Prospect Hill, Va., on the way to Manassas, but learning that the Confederates had evacuated their works, leaving only wooden guns, we turned our faces towards camp again, passing two days and nights near Chain Bridge, on short rations, clothes wet through, no shelter, fire would not burn, and we did not understand soldering very well at that time, so that, to the company, it was one of the memorable events of the war. March 26, 1862, we went on board the old rotten steamer Wilson Small, arriving at Hampton, Va., on the evening of the next day. This was one of the perils of the service, and fair weather probably our only salvation. The steamer was so worthless and overloaded we had to so divide as to balance the vessel; the captain of it finally prohibited our moving around any, and cursed us when we tried to stretch our cramped limbs, so we sat still, trusting the Lord for fair weather to reach Fortress Monroe, The crazy old from its watery grave.

The next stopping place for any length of time was at Warwick C. H., Va., April 6, where we first fired on by Confederate artillery, April 15th, and the occasional sing of the sharpshooter's bullet introduced us to that so prominent feature of warfare on the Rebel side during the war; and they finally got so good range of our camp that we moved to a more sheltered place. We lived three days without rations, nine miles of corduroy road having to be built before we could be supplied. However, we could get fair drinking water by digging a hole eighteen inches deep, anywhere, but the offal of the camps was buried about the same depth, and it required strong faith to accept the theory there advanced that a few inches of earth as a filter purified the water. The pickets of the 61st regiment were first into the Confederates' deserted works on our front May 4, 1862; our regiment taking its place in the line of march, reached Williamsburg too late to be engaged there, but was pushed on advance picket near New Kent Court House, March 14th. We reached the Chickahominy river at Bottom's Bridge, May 21st, and Companies A and H crossed--the first troops over--and picketed the front while the pioneer corps bridged the same.

On the 29th and 30th of May, we occupied a position at Fair Oaks Station, the enemy in front and an overflowing river with the bridges swept way in our rear. We were attacked May 31st, by a large force of Rebels, and fought until our ammunition was spent, clubbing muskets and fighting. A skirmish line was pushed forward on our right flank, and rear. Notes taken on the field, place Company A's loss in killed and wounded at thirty-four. In the wounded list were Captain Creps and Lieutenants Pollock and Brady, Lieutenant Pollock fighting hand to hand after being wounded. He died a few days afterwards and
Indiana County lost a brave soldier and useful citizen. Captain Creps, being slightly wounded, took command again the next morning. General Keye's report says of the regiment: "It fought with extraordinary bravery and the casualties in the 61st amount to 263 and are heavier than any other regiment in Couch's division. The 61st withdrew in detachments, some of which came again into action near my headquarters." The real loss of the regiment was 280.

June 27, 1862, Companies A and H, were ordered to establish a picket line on the left of Seven Pines, where we were attacked by the full battle line of the enemy. Being deployed in open ranks, we retired with but one man wounded and a few bullet holes in our clothes. For the first and only time during the war, we were called cowards, and then by the colonel of the 55th New York regiment that ran away in a body at Fair Oaks a few days before, and now attempted to do what we failed to do but could not succeed, and a full brigade was ordered forward which with guns and shovels fought and fortified alternately.

June 28, 1862, we moved in a line of march in McClellan's retreat toward the James river, encountering some Confederate cavalry at Charles City Cross Roads, but soon routed them without any serious casualties in the company; and reached the James river on the 30th, returning to Malvern Hill in the evening. We moved in support of the batteries early in the morning of July 1st, losing one in the company mortally wounded, another slightly, in getting into position, where our protection was secured somewhat by lying in an old road worn in the sand a few inches lower than the surface ground on the side next the enemy. Here for several hours an almost continuous fire of shot and shell fell around us, shells bursting but a few feet from our heads and fragments falling beyond us. Case shot were little used then and without them it was impossible to dislodge us. Towards evening, with other troops, we made a flank movement down a muddy and woody ravine on the right, at right angle with the batteries, creeping into position on our hands and knees, coming our on the flank of the Confederates as they charged to their "close Column" en masse troops that defies any description. But few of them were left to tell the tale. We remained on the field meeting another weaker charge, and alternating with the batteries lying down while they fired close over us, and charging while they ceased, until the foe retired at eight p.m.: Our loss was comparatively small, Company A's casualties not exceeding eight, and the regiments loss thirty four. The bad aim of the enemy has credit for this, as nearly every volley fired was too low, raising a cloud of dust twenty feet in front of us.

July 2, 1862, we moved to Harrison's Landing in deep mud and stopped where we could neither sit nor lie down, but after several hours of suffering got to a better place in the woods and the sound of the pioneer's axe was heard. With the exception of one reconnoiter to Malvern Hill, and an occasional shell thrown from the south side of the James, we had quiet. At this point Captain Creps, to relieve himself of an unpleasant duty, asked the company to elect a second lieutenant with resulted in the election of Isaac M. Price, a corporal, an action of which the company may well be proud, for none ever questioned his ability or bravery.

August 16, 1862, we left Harrison's Landing for Yorktown, which we reached on the 20th, our knapsacks, sent by steamer on the 11th, reaching us the 24th. We were detained at Yorktown ostensibly to level down forts, but "the boys" will remember the oyster, lobster and clam fishing. August 28th, we went on board the bark Metropolis in tow of the City of Richmond and started up the bay that night in a driving storm. Our bark very nearly ran down the steamer, which was also loaded with troops. "The boys" had got almost proof against cholera morbus, but didn't know how to flank seasickness and were captured.

Fall and Winter (1862-63)

Off Occoquan creek we were ordered to proceed to Alexandria and from there we were ordered to the army near Fairfax Court House, arriving on the morning of September 2d, where we learned of the disaster to our troops at Bull Run. We were then ordered on the rear guard, retiring slowly to Alexandria; thence we went by steamer to Kingstown, to Georgetown, crossing the south side of the aqueduct bridge in the night; next morning, September 4th, recrossing at Chain Bridge, we marched to a point above Great Falls, where we were posted as guards along the river and crossings. September 14th, we moved by way of Rockville and South Mountain, reaching the battlefield at Antietam on the evening of September 17th, and next morning, the front towards Sharpsburg, we skirmished with the enemy, continuing all day, losing some wounded. We pushed forward and past Sharpsburg on the morning of the 19th, and finding the enemy across the river there, we retraced our steps and moved up the river to Williamsport, where in skirmish with the Rebel rear guard we lost John A. Work, killed. We then went into camp near Downsville, Md., and about this time were transferred to the 6th Army Corps.

On October 19th, we made a reconnaissance to Hancock, Md., marching in one day twenty-eight miles, returning to our old camp again. It was on this march we first met General Kilpatrick, then a colonel, whose boyish face we were loath to believe was that of the dashing cavalryman of such notoriety. October 31st, we left Downsville and marched to Harper's Ferry, thence down the Louden valley and via Thoroughfare Gap to New Baltimore, Va., guarding trains November 6th and 7th, in a disagreeable snowstorm. We remained at this point until we received the farewell visit of General McClellan when we moved forward again, reaching Belle Plains, Va., in the midst of a driving snowstorm, December 5th. We suffered intensely on the night of the 6th, our blankets, not very dry, freezing stiff, where not in contact with our bodies.

On December 12, 1862, we crossed the Rappahannock below Fredericksburg, and that and the next day lay under the artillery fire till quite late on the second day, when we moved to the front on the left, our movement opposed by artillery and desultory infantry fire, neither inflicting much loss. The next two days were spent in maneuvering and there could not have been much ground between the river and hills we were not marched over, the enemy sorely vexed trying to keep range of us in all our movements. This was our share of the first Fredericksburg, but thousands fell elsewhere on the field in a vain endeavor to storm the Confederate stronghold. The next move was in the historical "Mud March", fair at the start, but rain came in dashes, filling the sand and overflowing the streams -- wagons sunk in to the axles, and mules buried in mud and water. Yet Company A was never caught straggling anywhere when moving towards the ford and reported in good shape, except muddy and wet, at the appointed camp near the United States ford, on the evening of the 20th of December. Many regiments were discouraged by this unfortunate march so soon after the terrible repulse at Fredericksburg, and it is doubtful whether they could have fought if called into action. The entire object of this march failing, the regiment returned to camp and was transferred to the "Light Division", 6th Corps.

We then proceeded to make dugouts in the hillside near Belle Plains, although under marching orders all the time, and fixed up the best we could for the winter. The survivors of the regiment yet wear the green cross of the Light Division over the white one when wearing the corps badge. During the winter a bakery was built, and we ate "soft bread" the first time in eleven months. Company A had received to this time twenty pairs of brothers' we name a few and refer to you the company roll; J. A. and H.V. Stewart; L and I.V. Brady; E.W. and R. W. Fairbank, I.N. and David Price; and of which but one remained to tell the tale at the close of the war, and he almost helpless.

Chancellorsville and Gettysburg Campaigns (1863)

On the night of April 20, 1863, Company A, with others, carried the shallops or pontoon boats from the heights to Franklin's crossing, one mile, and were to man the boats, row across, and drive the enemy's pickets from their pits. The order was countermanded on account of fatigue of the men. After many moves we found ourselves at daylight, Sunday morning, May 3d, in the city of Fredericksburg, preparing to charge the heights above it, the 61st to go out double quick, left in front, and form line by file left on the charge after getting across the canal on the street bridge. Conflicting orders were given by the lieutenant in command of left company, doubling his men at the end of the bridge. In this double quick movement, the moving column ran into them, and for a few fatal seconds, under a terrible fire of grape and canister, there was confusion. Captain Creps and Lieutenant Price, of Company A, both ran forward to assist in getting all right again, for all were anxious to get forward out of range of the artillery. The Captain got pushed off the bridge into the canal, wading out on the other side with his long boots full of mud and water, and took command of the regiment when Commander Spear fell. This momentary delay righted, Company A crossed and was over the enemy's works almost as soon as any of the troops, capturing most of the Confederates in the works it sealed. The loss was reported as ninety-nine men in the regiment, seventy probably having fallen in that charge, but the fight continuing in the effort to reach Hooker's force at Chancellorsville, more men being wounded, the actual loss of the charge cannot be given.

On the evening of the 4th, in the effort to reach Bank's ford after a detour from the main force to hold Stonewall Jackson's force at bay at a certain point, the 61st was fired into buy our own batteries, the first shell killing five men. Captain Creps ordered the regiment to seek cover in a stream bed in the mud and water, and ran forward in the face of the battery, three charges being fired before he reached it and stopped its dreadful work. The remnant of the regiment crossed at Bank's ford. The Light Division was so cut up in the two day's fight that it was disbanded and the 61st assigned to the Second Division.

June 7, 1863, we once more crossed to the south side of the river and reconnoitered about the enemy's works, but no engagement ensued and we withdrew, Lee by this time moving northward, west of our entire force. This was our third and last crossing of the Rappahannock near Fredericksburg.

June 14th, marched northward, going thirty-two hours without sleep, only reaching Dumfries in that time, being so often delayed; thence to Fairfax C.H., forming line of battle near Centreville; the enemy withdrawing, we marched by Manassas to Bristoe Station, where, for five days, the small force there seemed to be entirely separated from all the army, and in suspense we awaited the sound of gun or arrival of mail. Leaving on the 26th, we made a forced march via Drainsville, Va., Edwards Ferry, Poolesville, Md., Newmarket and Mount Airy Station, to a point near Manchester, Md., one day making thirty-six miles.

We were ordered forward to join the forces at Gettysburg on the evening of July 1st, but passed a sleepless night in getting fairly under way and marched thirty-six miles July 2d, reaching the field before night, and were immediately pushed forward in the line of battle; after which, in driving the 2d Division, 6th Corps, into details for weak points, our brigade was assigned to duty as flank guard to the right of Brook river, and while skirmishing was kept up all day along our line, our loss was slight. R. W. Dilts of Company A was taken prisoner on skirmish line. We occupied a post of honor and usually a very dangerous one, but not so at Gettysburg, as there was no attempt made to turn either flank. The enemy falling back, we followed closely in an almost continuous skirmish with them on the road we went until we reached Waynesboro. After crossing Antietam creek, they made a decided stand, attempting several times to destroy the bridge in their rear. The good people of Waynesboro handed us food as we marched through their streets and encouraged us by their many deeds of kindness in the twenty-four hours we remained near their town.

For a few days more ensued marches and skirmishes near Hagerstown and Funkstown, until the last squad of Confederates was driven across the Potomac, July 4th, when we marched by way of Harper's Ferry and down the Virginia valleys again. In the days subsequent to the Gettysburg battle on the march we lost more men from sunstroke than wounded, the heat being our most terrible enemy.

July 23d, we were attacked by a squad of cavalry while we were guarding supply trains near White Plains, Va., with occasional relief served as train guard to camp near Warrenton, Va. This was our long turn at this kind of duty, and the boys of Company A did not admire it, preferring to battle line to managing mule trains and Confederate guerrillas. In camp near White Sulphur Springs the company was recruited very much by new men and return of sick and wounded, and had an inspection each Sunday, the Lord willing. One inspection here was by the colonel of the 7th Maine Volunteers, a regular army officer, and he kept us standing in line three hours.

Fall and Winter (1863-64)

September 16th, left Sulphur Springs, marching to Culpepper C.H., Va., and here turned out at "present arms" to receive our warm friends and comrades, the Vermont brigade, as they returned from an expedition North to quell riots gotten up in behalf of and to further the interest of Jefferson Davis, Esq., & Co. Went on advanced picket October 5th, at railroad bridge at Rapidan, where for once, sharpshooters ceased and we conversed with the enemy. Retired to Rappahannock Station night of October 10th, crossing the river closely pressed by the enemy, but returned and recrossed the river in support of cavalry which drove the enemy back beyond Brady Station. At midnight of the 11th they attacked us again before daylight. Our march continued northward through the day and night, making three days and nights without rest or sleep, except that obtained under arms. We moved on in much the same style, serving in the rear guard or on skirmish line and marching alternately, without daring to unpack our knapsacks, till we reached Gainesville, Va., October 19th. Resting one night we about faced and marched to New Baltimore, where we were moved to the front, where the cavalry fight had just ended, placed on skirmish lines; but the enemy withdrew and we were called in again and sent on like duty at Warrenton. This was probably the longest continued duty of this kind we ever did, and weary, hungry and without food, we reported to our brigade from which for several days we had been detached.

November 7, 1863, we marched to Rapahannock Station, found Rebels in some force on this side of the river. The company participated both in driving in their skirmish lines and in the subsequent charge upon the fort, losing some wounded.

The Rebels retreated to the Rapidan and we went into camp near Brandy Station and from that place moved on the Mine Run campaign, suffering more in three days than pen or words can ever tell. Crossing the Rapidan at Jacob's ford, we had a little brush with the enemy where we seemed to be sent in support of a portion of the 3d Corps; then by movement to left and thence to Mine Run, and in the night were formed for charge on the enemy's lines but morning discovered to us a frozen, icy stream, dams on it and a formidable abatises [Fr: sharpened branches] beyond, which with the severe cold and freezing to death of wounded pickets who had got hurt in crossing the stream were sufficient to defer the charge. We formed in circles and ran continuous races to keep from freezing, getting no real rest day or night until we recrossed the Rapidan.

The later part of February and March 1, 1864; we were in reconnoitering party with Custer's cavalry to Freeburg Mills, the cavalry pushing forward almost to Charlottesville. During the winter several members of Company A reenlisted for the war and the company received recruits enough to fill it up; Indiana County furnishing the men. The morale of the company was always good, an inducement to friends to see that it was kept recruited with good men.

The Overland Campaign (1864)

May 4, 1964, we crossed the Rapidan and on the 5th at noon engaged the enemy in the Wilderness and continued till night, driving them from their position and holding them. On the morning of the 6th the fight was renewed with our relief, ammunition being forwarded to the lines, During the day we were relieved from front and formed in reserve line. At sunset the Confederates mustered their force for a charge, and in the dusk of evening pushed forward, flanking the 3d Division, and thus compelling our brigade of the 2d Division to fall back and partly change front, which could not occur in that dense woods, without somewhat scattering our men, who soon rallied, and Company A with others deployed, this deployed line checking the advance of the Confederates in the flank, our troops resting nearly on the old ground at nine p.m. Company A's loss in the two days was heavy--among others Lieutenant Brown, mortally wounded.

On the night of May 8th, in getting into position near Spotsylvania C. H., Companies A and I ran into a Confederate force trying to move to their rear in the open space between the lines and a hand to hand fight ensued in which Sergt. L. Brady was killed and several others wounded. The day and night of the 9th was subject to heavy artillery fire, one shot killing five men in the regiment.

May 10th, was a day of continuous fighting with a charge on the enemy's works in the evening, where our regiment captured a battery and a line of pits. Company A's loss for the day was slight. The regiment rested on the 11th and dried its wet clothing and prepared for the fatal 12th of May where in an effort to hold the ground thus far taken from the enemy it was fought over repeatedly, each in turn having possession of the works, our regiment in one charge, losing ninety men. Firing never ceased all day and the regiment remained in the works over night and part of the 13th, and on the 14th we moved to the left of Spotsylvania where, on Sunday, we had prayer instead of inspection. On the 17th we moved back to the right, passed Alsop farm and a little to the right, of the battleground, and advanced on the enemy's line on the morning of the 18th, but retired under cover from the artillery fire, finding the enemy strongly fortified. Our regiment's loss here was nine wounded and one killed.

We immediately moved back to the left again and then followed almost continuous active work-skirmish through May 26th, then train guard, in skirmish on the 28th, serve skirmish again beyond North Anna river, May 31st. Being at this point on the extreme right, we became rear guard again to Cold Harbor, coming in too late to participate in the days fight of June 1st, but we pushed to the front in the evening. The evening of June 3d we were in the general engagement along the line being covered by breastworks our loss was slight; by June 5th the works were extended till the opposing forces were but a hundred yards apart and in the continued rattle of musketry along the line Lieutenant Price was wounded. We have spoken of his bravery before, but let us record here, when told his wound was so serious he must go to the hospital, he cried with grief at being separated from his company. He gave his life for his country, and our flattering words affected him not. The regiment retired from the immediate front at Cold Harbor June 6th, the loss to that time in the campaign being, according to Bates' History of Pennsylvania Volunteers in killed, wounded and missing, about thirty officers and four hundred enlisted men.

The regiment now moved towards the James river, crossing familiar ground of the campaign of 1862, and on this march some of Company A had no rest or sleep for three days and nights except under arms by the wayside, a few moments at a time. We crossed the James river with the rear of the supply train on the night of June 16th reaching the vicinity of Petersburg on the 17th weary and footsore, yet we moved to the front near the Appomattox river. The next day we supported some colored troops that stormed the pits and small forts in our front., which we occupied under fire from skirmishes till midnight, June 21st, when we moved a few miles to the left, when our skirmish line was left to expend all its ammunition and fall back, losing considerable ground before support was got forward. While the regiment's loss was slight, we felt very severely the loss to the 4th Vermont, which was captured almost entire in the dense thickets in our front and near the Weldon railroad. There was a feeling akin to brotherhood existing between the 61st and the Vermont brigade.

June 29th, hearing the sound of Wilson's guns in the rear of the enemy, we were pushed forward to Reams Station, but too late to help them. Captured a few Confederates scattered in the woods, recapturing a few of Wilson's cavalrymen, buried some of his dead, gathered up some contraband hidden in the woods, and brought in some caissons abandoned by both sides; also tore up three or four miles of railroad track, burning the ties and heating and bending the rails.

Fort Stevens and the Shenandoah Valley (1864)

July 9th, embarked at City Point and landed at Washington, D.C., July 11th, when we were told that the Confederates were menacing the defenses of Washington, militiamen and citizens holding them back. Flags and banners were flung to the breeze, kerchiefs waved by the ladies, and cheers rose from groups on the sidewalks, as our veteran 6th Corps advance moved out to Seventh street in our usual "arms at will" and forced march style, and soon occupied ground within the line of forts. On the 12th moved our and found the enemy in considerable force in front of Fort Stephens. The Confederate outposts called to each other, The Army of the Potomac so loud as to be heard by our company. The fight was sharp, the loss to Company A three killed, six wounded, and this loss, considering our reduced numbers at this time, was heavy, for very few of the wounded in the summer's campaign had yet returned to the company. Horace A. Ellis, of Company A, 7th Wisconsin, in hospital recovering from wounds, got a gun and went into the battle by the side of his brothers Asaph and John of whom John Ellis was killed.

In pursuit of the enemy we crossed the Potomac at White's ford, wading in water some places to our belts, and at Leesburg, Va., found Confederate guerrillas secreted in the houses. These murderers were the most contemptible of all men, and the annoyance to soldiers in the ranks. The fact is that some of our commanders sacredly guarded their property with Union troops as we marched up and down the valleys, until circumstances compelling the scorching they afterwards got. Company A, of the 61st regiment rarely found a man of Union proclivities in these Virginia valleys. They were easily recognized if only suspected of being Union men, for the Confederates drove off their stock. Finding the enemy's rear guard at Snikers Gap and Early safe in the Shenandoah valley, we retraced our steps to Leesburg, and thence to Fort Gaines, D.C. on July 23d.

July 26th, marched through Maryland at Harper's Ferry, Va., and after much maneuvering, "making history", it was called then, the troops finally got to Fredericksburg, Md. It could scarcely be called marching, for all seemed to finally get to doing about as they pleased, and army curses heaped upon the imaginable head of General Wright, who was generally far enough ahead to be out of danger. Men fell by scores from the effects of sunstroke, unable to march, and not half enough ambulances to carry the sick; not over one hundred men of our brigade stacked arms when halt was ordered at Frederick, Md., on the evening of July 30th. These are days of hardships that will never be forgotten while soldiers live to tell the story. The well-founded complaints of the men finally wrested from the commanding officer an respecting the subsequent marches, which being enforced by the men themselves made matters much better. The boys of 61st will likely never forget the first morning's march after the order was issued, when the regulation hour by the order had come for breakfast, how they stopped in a field, when almost to a wood; the hour had come and they meant to enforce the order, and after that an aid came back to inform us of the hour.

August 3d, we started for Shenandoah Valley again, coming up with a Confederate force at Cedar Creek, Va., they having by this time got the harvest pretty well off in the valley, General Early being as good a harvester as the Confederates ever had. Had quite a severe skirmish with the Confederates here August 13th, driving them to Strasburg, when it seemed about time for us to retrograde, and we reached Charlestown on the 18th.

August 21st, 1864, the last day of the three years service for the first hundred men of the company, we copy notes taken on the field: "We were very much surprised this morning by the Confederates coming down on our pickets on the pike and driving them back. Our regiment was chosen from our brigade to go to their support. Regiments followed each other until three from our brigade were on the line, our regiment engaged with the enemy. Are losing a good many men. Lieutenant Price wounded again, we fear mortally. The regiment remains in the line at noon, and ammunition is being taken to it. We have lost four officers at noon. The regiment is being relieved at dark. Two more of Company A wounded but not forced to leave the field. Regiment's loss four killed and eighteen wounded."

At one o'clock on the morning of August 22d, those whose term of enlistment had expired received orders to march
from the line of battle, and the regiment was ordered back at daylight. Thus ended three years of service. We remained with the company and regiment till September 3d, when others time expired: and on that day, near Berryville, Va., we took leave of the regiment, Company A, about fifteen, and probably seventy in the regiment. Were supplied with one hundred rounds of ammunition, if need be to fight our way to Harper's Ferry. Were mustered out at Harrisburg September 7th, and reached Indiana September 9, 1864.

The veterans and recruits, nearly all veterans in the service now, retained the name and place in the battalion, receiving by consolidation of the veterans of Company H, few in number, and we would note here that Company A was the only one in the regiment that kept recruited as the war progressed, consequently formed a large part in the battalion which was engaged in the
fight at Opequon Creek, September 19th. Was in the storming of Fisher's Hill, September 22d, and also in the engagement at Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, and for gallantry in this engagement was highly complimented by the commanding general.

The Final Campaign (1865)

It was then moved back to Petersburg, was recruited to the proportions of a regiment again by the addition of companies of one-year men and on March 25, 1865, was in the attack and storming of the Confederates outworks and in the front of the assault upon the main works at four o'clock next morning [actually April 2nd] in both cases successful. Pushing forward after the retreating forces, the regiment took during the day two Confederate colors, a wagon train, fifty-two men, sixteen horses, and three brass twelve pounders with caissons.

On the morning of April 3, 1865, the regiment fired its last shot at the enemy, and its active service ceased.


Transcribed by: Vernon Cook
Edited by: Rich Walsh

Return to the 61st Pennsylvania Volunteers home page