The men formed into double columns, but were held in reserve. The 75th Pennsylvania advanced to relieve other units on the left flank, sustaining heavy losses. Thereafter, the regiment executed an orderly withdrawal. The next morning, federal troops found that the Confederates had abandoned their positions during the night.
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The Battle of Cross Keys was considered a Confederate victory. On June 30, upon assuming command of the First Corps, Sigel dispatched a communication to Major General Pope from Middletown, Virginia , which read in part: "The troops forming the First Corps are not in good condition; they are weakened and poorly provided. From Luray, the regiment proceeded east and, after passing through Thornton's Gap, it arrived at Sperryville, Virginia.
The regiment remained in this location for several weeks. The men then marched downstream along the north bank until they reached a point near Rappahannock Station. Also, on that date, a series of promotions altered the command structure of the regiment. Lieutenant-colonel Mahler was promoted to colonel, Major Alwin Von Matzdorf was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and Captain August Ledig was promoted to major. On the morning of August 22, the 75th Pennsylvania moved upstream to Freeman's Ford.
The regiment waded across the Rappahannock and mounted the steep bank on the far side. General Sigel had ordered the troops to reconnoiter the area to the left of the ford. After moving inland a short distance, they encountered Confederates in heavy force and fell back toward the river. During the skirmish at Freeman's Ford, which is considered part of the First Battle of Rappahannock Station , Brigadier General Bohlen , the original commander of the 75th Pennsylvania, was killed by enemy fire.
On August 28, the 75th Pennsylvania was first ordered to march toward Manassas , but was then redirected toward Centreville.
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On August 29, the regiment was thrown forward against the forces of Confederate Generals Ewell and Jackson about a mile east of Groveton. The men crossed the turnpike then forded Young's Branch. The troops moved north toward an unfinished railroad embankment. Skirmishers soon encountered a strong force of the enemy. The Confederates advanced in mass and a general battle erupted.
The 75th Pennsylvania furiously engaged the enemy until the Fifty-eighth New York Volunteer Regiment could be brought forward. At great cost, the men succeeded in driving the enemy back and gained possession of the railroad embankment. There it received a heaving shelling from an enemy battery.
The men were ordered forward and managed to seize the crest of a wooded hill. At that point, a fierce firefight erupted. When a Confederate battery opened, the men were forced to seek cover in a ravine about yards behind the position they had previously occupied. A general retreat was ordered. During the Second Battle of Manassas , another defeat for the Union Army, the 75th Pennsylvania suffered casualties.
In January, , the 75th Pennsylvania participated in General Burnside's failed second advance, the infamous " Mud March. On, April 27, the regiment marched from camp near Brook's Station, proceeding northwest. The men crossed the Rappahannock River by pontoon bridge at Kelley's Ford, and proceeded south, crossing the Rapidan River on a makeshift bridge at Germanna Ford. The clearing contained a farmhouse, the Hawkins' farm, the Wilderness Church, and an inn known as Dowdall's Tavern.
On May 2 Union commanders received reports of a large body of Confederate troops marching rapidly to the west. Major General Howard, in charge of the Eleventh Corps, of which the 75th Pennsylvania was part, ignored this potential threat. Several elements of the 75th Pennsylvania were overtaken. Due to the confusion and the thickness of the undergrowth surrounding the area, several groups of men became separated from the main force. Casualties were high. Altogether, the Confederates captured 40 men from the regiment, including Lieutenant-Colonel Alwin Matzdorff.
The 75th Pennsylvania did not see any serious action for the remainder of the battle, which was a resounding Confederate victory. On May 5, General Hooker ordered a general retreat, and the regiment returned to its camp near Brook's Station. The German-speaking troops were made the scapegoats for the Union defeat at Chancellorsville.
On June 12, , the 75th Pennsylvania embarked on an exhaustive series of marches, in response to a threatened Confederate invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania. By June 30, the men had reached Emmitsburg, Maryland , where they camped on the grounds of the St. Joseph's Seminary. On the morning of July 1, the regiment was rushed toward Gettysburg, Pennsylvania , along the Taneytown Road. There, an intense firefight occurred. The 75th Pennsylvania held this position for nearly an hour. However, a Confederate flanking maneuver and the collapse of adjacent regiments exposed the men to an enfilading fire that cut large gaps in the ranks.
Colonel Mahler, the regiment's commander, was hit in the leg at the same moment that his horse was shot out from under him. Mahler was able to drag himself from under the stricken animal and stayed in the fight. However, he was soon struck by a second shot and lay mortally wounded. Mahler would die in a field hospital on July 5. Lieutenant Sill was shot through the leg, which was later amputated.
Following the Flag: From August 1861 to November 1862
He died in a field hospital several weeks later. In the midst of these mounting casualties, Major August Ledig took command. The 75th Pennsylvania fell back through town, rallying at Cemetery Hill. From this position, it continued to exchange fire with the enemy. During the Battle of Gettysburg , the 75th Pennsylvania lost many men and officers, with 31 killed, nearly wounded, and six taken prisoner. These losses amounted to 72 percent of those who participated in the battle.
Only one other regiment at Gettysburg, the 1st Minnesota, which recorded losses of 82 percent, sustained higher casualties. The overwhelming bulk of the casualties occurred within a relatively short period, perhaps 20 minutes, on the afternoon of July 1. Lieutenant Steiger spoke of the losses as follows:. While there were many regiments who suffered terrible and naturally sustained great loss in this action, yet we claim that the magnitude of its loss, here sustained, as made manifest in its shrunken ranks, was painfully evident to all as the regiment proceeded on the march from Gettysburg to follow the retreating troops of the Confederate army, when its largely depleted ranks presented an object lesson of grim significance.
For such was the decimation in its ranks that the little band of men, numbering but fifty-two survivors, evoked the tender sympathy of troops of the emergency corps, whom we passed drawn up in line as we went through the village of Middletown while on the march in pursuit of General Robert E. Lee's retreating army … These troops viewed with amazement the passing column of battle scarred men … which in themselves practically constituted the remnant of this regiment as it emerged from the battlefield of Gettysburg.
During late summer , much of the Union Army lay besieged in Chattanooga, Tennessee. To alleviate this situation, about 18, troops from the Army of the Potomac were transported to the Chattanooga area by train. The 75th Pennsylvania was among those units transferred. On September 24, the regiment received marching orders and immediately broke camp at Warrenton, Virginia. The troops marched east through the night, arriving at Warrenton Junction the following morning. There, the men were herded aboard railroad cars. In a complex movement that entailed several changes of trains and engines, the troops passed through Washington, D.
From there, they travelled south, passing through Louisville, Kentucky , and Nashville, Tennessee , before arriving in Bridgeport, Alabama , on October 2, In the early morning hours of October 29, the regiment engaged in a rare night battle near Wauhatchie, Tennessee. Between November 23 and November 26, the regiment played a role in the Battle of Chattanooga. According to Lieutenant Steiger, the regiment "participated in all the movements and fighting of the division around Chattanooga, culminating on the 25th in carrying Missionary Ridge and establishing the complete rout of the enemy.
On November 28, the regiment, as part of the Eleventh Corps, was ordered to proceed to the relief of General Burnside, who was under siege at Knoxville, Tennessee. After a difficult winter march, which took the troops eastward through Cleveland , Sweetwater , Philadelphia , Loudon, and Unitia , they arrived in Louisville, Tennessee , on December 5. They were ordered to return to the vicinity of Chattanooga. On January 2, , the 75th Pennsylvania was remustered into the army as a veteran organization.
The furlough ended on March 8, when the troops left Philadelphia by train, the ranks having been swelled by new recruits. The regiment participated in the Battle of Franklin , Tennessee, on November Of this engagement, Lieutenant Steiger reported:. The several detachments … were under fire but … suffered only a small loss. Company E, however, under the command of Lieutenant Wiegand, which had for some time been stationed at a point several miles south of the town on the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad, was captured by the advancing rebel army …This unfortunate episode entailed a loss of one commissioned officer and about thirty enlisted men, who, after several months' confinement as prisoners of war, were released on parole and sent to their homes.
During the remainder of its service, the regiment played a supporting role, guarded and transported prisoners, guarded the railroad, and engaged in provost duty in the vicinity of Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee. The 75th Pennsylvania was mustered out of service on September 1, On the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania , two monuments commemorate the role of the 75th Pennsylvania. The first, dedicated in , is located in the national cemetery southeast of town.
The front panel reads "In Memoriam of Our Comrades. This monument marks the position held by the 75th Pennsylvania on the afternoon of July 1, , before it was overrun by Confederate forces. July 1. Fought on this position from 2 p.
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Held position at stone wall near the Cemetery as shown by monument there. Present at Gettysburg ; Killed, officers 3, men 16; Wounded, officers 5, men 89; Captured or missing, men 3; Total loss A monument to the 75th Pennsylvania also exists on Orchard Knob at Chattanooga, Tennessee , marking the participation of the 75th Pennsylvania in clearing Confederate resistance from around that city.
Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, From August, , to November, , With Following the Flag. Condition: Good Hardcover.
Save for Later. About this Item Early printing. Originally published in by Ticknor and Fields. Blind ruled terra cotta cloth, gilt-stamped spine. Ex-library with the usual markings, pages lightly soiled, one illustration re-glued, spine cocked, cloth worn, a good only copy.
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