The 61st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment enrolled a total of 1,987 officers and men in the Civil War. It lost 19 officers and 218 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded (more officers killed than any other Federal regiment) and 1 officer and 100 enlisted men to disease, 19 of whom were in Confederate prisons. Another 635 men were wounded or missing. It never lost a battle flag, and three members were awarded the Medal of Honor. It is honored by a monument on the Gettysburg battlefield.
|August||Six companies were organized at Pittsburg under the command of Colonel Oliver H. Rippey.|
|September 7||Although only partially organized, the need for troops was so great Companies A,B,C,E,F & K were ordered to Washington, D.C.|
|September||Duty in the Defenses of Washington, D. C. at Camp Advance near Mount Vernon attached to Jameson’s Brigade, Heintzelman’s Division, Army Potomac.|
|November 12||Reconnaissance to Pohick Church and Occoquan River|
|February||Returned north of the Potomac to Camp Stanton (near Bladensburg). Attached to Graham’s Brigade, Couch’s Division, Army Potomac|
|March||Attached to 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, Army Potomac. Companies L, O, P and R of the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry were transferred to the 61st Pennsylvania under the command of Major Spear, who was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. These became companies D,G,H & I. Captain George F. Smith of Company B, 49th Pennsylvania, transferred in as major.|
|March 10-15||Advance on Manassas, Va.|
|March 20||Reconnaissance to Gainesville|
|March 26||Moved by transport to Fortress Monroe on the Virginia Peninsula.|
|April 5-May 4||Siege of Yorktown|
|May 5||Battle of Williamsburg|
|May 20-23||Operations about Bottom’s Bridge|
|May 31-June 1||
Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines
The 61st Pennsylvania was on the right flank of the 4th corps when it was hit by a flank attack led by confederate Colonel Micah Jenkins. The regiment lost 92 men killed or mortally wounded and 171 wounded or missing. Colonel Rippey, Captain Joseph Gerard and Lieutenants Alfred Moylan, William Scott, John Pollock, and Charles Rhodes were killed or mortally wounded. Captain Robert Orr took over command of the regiment as senior surviving officer.
Lieutenant Colonel George C. Spear and Major Smith were wounded and captured. Both were promoted while in captivity, Spear to to colonel and Smith to lieutenant colonel.
|June 25-July 1||
Seven days before Richmond
|June 27||Gaines’ Mill|
|June 29||Ordered to retreat from the Chickahominy to the James, holding the roads leading to Charles City.|
|June 30||White Oak Swamp and Charles City Cross Roads
A a force of cavalry attacked the pickets of the regiment at Charles City Cross Roads but quickly driven off. The regiment reached the James River.
The regiment was once again on the right flank of the army, supporting artillery against Confederate flanking attacks. It lost 4 men killed and 28 wounded. Captain Dawson was wounded.
Attached to 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps
|July 2||The regiment reached Harrison’s Landing in early afternoon in a pouring rain and in total exhaustion. A special ration of whisky was issued.|
|July 4||The regiment was placed in the defensive line at Harrison’s Landing near the James River facing Malvern Hill.|
|July17||Colonel Spear was paroled and released from prison in Richmond.|
|August 5-7||Reconnaissance to Malvern Hill|
|August 16-30||Marched via Charles City and Williamsburg to Yorktown, by transport to Alexandria, then marched to Chantilly.|
|August 17||Lieutenant Colonel Smith was paroled after being imprisoned in Libby prison in Richmond and Salisbury, North Carolina prison.|
|September 2||Marched to Chantilly but arrived too late to participate in the fighting.|
|September 3||Covered crossing of the Potomac at Great Falls.|
|September 6-24||Maryland Campaign. Attached to 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps|
The regiment was in reserve in Pleasant Valley and did not reach the battlefield until the 18th.
|September 19-20||Engagement with Confederate cavalry at Williamsport.|
|September 23||Went into camp at Downsville.|
|October-November||Duty in Maryland and on the Potomac. Attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps|
|November 1-19||Movement to Falmouth, Va.|
|December 1||Captain George W. Dawson of Company C was promoted to major.|
|December 11||Crossed the Rappahannock below Fredericksburg.|
Battle of Fredericksburg
The regiment lost two men killed. It recrossed the river on December 14.
|January 20-24||Burnside’s 2nd Campaign, “Mud March”|
|February 2||At Falmouth. Attached to Light Division, 6th Army Corps. The Light Division was an experiment, “organized for special service, and designed to act in emergencies with great celerity.”|
|April 8||Marched at the formal review for Abraham Lincoln|
|April 16||Major George Dawson was discharged.|
|April 23||Lieutenant Colonel Smith was discharged for disability due to “diarrhea and derangement of the liver accompanies with typhoid symptoms.”|
|April 27-May 6||Chancellorsville Campaign|
|April 28||Ordered to move pontoons to the river at Franklin’s Crossing with as little noise as possible to assist the engineers in laying a bridge.|
|April 29||The regiment crossed the Rappahannock.|
|May 2||Advanced through the outer Confederate lines in Fredericksburg.|
Maryes Heights, (Second Fredericksburg)
The regiment led the right column of the two columns that stormed Marye’s Heights, followed by the 82nd Pennsylvania. The four man wide column moved down a narrow causeway with an impenetrable marsh on each side. The intense fire broke up the head of the column and killed its leader, Colonel Spear, but the column closed up and carried the heights.
The regiment lost 15 men killed and 59 men wounded. Colonel Spear was killed and Lieutenant George Harper was mortally wounded.
After the storming of Marye’s Heights the division continued west to Salem Heights, where it encountered reinforcements that Lee had sent from Chancellorsville. After a sharp fight it was evident that it was not possible to break through to join McClellan at Chancellorsville, and there was grave danger that the whole force would be outnumbered and surrounded. It was decided to withdraw back across the Rappahonnock at Bank’s Ford.
After the battle George F. Smith rejoined the regiment and was promoted to colonel. Major Dawson was commissioned lieutenant colonel but was not mustered, and Captain John W. Crosby of Company G was promoted to major.
|May 4||Banks’ Ford.|
|May 11||The Light Division was dissolved. Attached to 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army Potomac|
|June 6-13||Operations about Deep Run Ravine|
|June 13||Broke camp and began the march north.|
|June 27||Crossed the Potomac River on the way north into Maryland.|
|July 1||Reached Manchester, Maryland after a series of exhausting marches under a hot summer sun. In the evening word was received of the battle at Gettysburg and the regiment was immediately started on the road.|
The regiment was commanded by Colonel George F. Smith. It brought 400 men to the field, losing 1 wounded and 1 missing.
From the monument:
After a march of 37 miles reached the field about 4 p.m. July 2nd. Moved to support of 12th Corps. Occupied this position from morning of July 3rd until close of battle.
Extreme right of infantry of the army.
From the War Department marker for Neill’s Brigade on the Gettysburg battlefield:
July 2. Arrived after a march of 33 miles from Manchester Md. and about 6 P. M. was detached from the Corps and ordered by Major Gen. G. G. Meade to hold Powers Hill. Later was ordered by Major Gen. H. W. Slocum to support the front line but at midnight was ordered to Powers Hill.
July 3. The Brigade by order of Major Gen. Slocum crossed Rock Creek and took position on the extreme right of the Army making connection with the Cavalry pickets and encountered and checked the advancing Confederate sharpshooters and skirmishers and remained until the close of the battle.
|July 5||Pursued Lee’s main body through the Fairfield Gap.|
|July 6||South Mountain, Maryland|
|July 10||Reached Waynesboro and took 24 hour rest period.|
|July 12||Faced Lee’s entrenchments at Williamsport|
|July 16||Reached White Sulpher Springs|
|September 15||Moved to Culpeper|
|October 5||Moved to the Rapidan|
The regiment marched 29 miles in 15 hours on the first day of the withdrawal.
|October 15||Arrived at Fairfax Court House|
|November 7-8||Advance to line of the Rappahannock|
Battle of Rappahannock Station
|November 26-December 2||
Mine Run Campaign
The regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George F. Smith. It brought 400 men to the field, losing 1 wounded and 1 missing.
|December||Moved to Brandy Station and went into winter quarters.|
|April 16||Major George Dawson was discharged.|
|April 22||Captain John W. Crosby of Company G was promoted to major.|
|May 4-June 12||Rapidan, or Overland Campaign|
|May 4||Crossed the Rapidan River|
The 61st was heavily engaged throughout the battle, helping to halt Gordon’s attack on the federal right. The regiment lost a total of 34 men killed and 117 men wounded or missing in the three days.
|May 5||Parker’s Store. The regiment encountered Early’s Confederates and attacked, driving them half a mile in the dense woods. In the evening they counterattacked but were driven off. The regiment lost 12 men killed and 30 wounded. Major Crosby was among the wounded.|
|May 6||The battle continued at daybreak and the intense fighting continued through the day. Captain W.O.H. Robinson, Lieutenant Frank Brown and 15 enlisted men were killed. Captain William Dawson and Lieutenants Augustus Hager, Samuel Stewart and Eugene Koerner, and 40 men were wounded. The Confederates again attacked at night but were easily repulsed.|
|May 7||Engaged in digging rifle pits. That night marched by the left towards Spotsylvania.|
The regiment lost 44 men killed and 95 men wounded or missing. Adjutant George W. Wilson was killed on May 9. Lieutenant Caldwell was captured on May 8. Lieutenant Lippincott was wounded on May 10.
Between May 5 and May 21 the 61st Pennsylvania lost 60% of its strength.
|May 8||Company A under Lieutenant Price and company I under Captain Greene were advancing through the woods toward Spotsylvania Court House when they ran into a large number of Confederates who were attempting to move into a gap on the right of the regiment. They were thrown back in hand to hand fighting. Two Confederate officers and six men were captured and several killed and wounded. The 61st Pennsylvania lost one killed and several wounded with Lieutenant Caldwell captured.|
|May 9||The men sheltered in their rifle-pits under heavy artillery fire. Five enlisted men of company D were killed and 1 wounded by a single shell.|
|May 10||Moved to the front and skirmish from late morning until early evening. At 6 p.m. the 1st and 2nd Brigades charged the Confederate works, capturing a battery. But the regiment was forced to withdraw when supports failed to come up. The 61st Pennsylvania lost eight men killed, wounded and missing. Lieutenant Richard Lippincott was wounded.
Lieutenant Caldwell was freed by Union cavalry at the Battle of Beaver Dam Station while he was being transported as a prisoner to Richmond and was returned to the regiment.
|May 11||The regiment remained in its rifle pits.|
Assault on the Salient
The regiment spent two hours on the firing line in support of the attack, losing 140 men casualties. Colonel Smith was shot in the right thigh. Captains David Taylor and Vincent Donnelly, and Lieutenants Charles Clausen, Smith D. Dean, Oliver A, Parsons and John W. Ryan were also wounded.
1st Sergeant Charles H. Clausen of Company H was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the battle. His citation reads, “Although severely wounded, he led the regiment against the enemy, under a terrific fire, and saved a battery from capture.”
|May 13-17||Dug rifle pits and shifted to the left.|
|May 23-26||North Anna River|
|May 26-28||Line of the Pamunkey|
The regiment lost 2 men killed.
|June 16||Crossed the James River.|
|June 17-19||First Assault on Petersburg|
|June 22-23||Jerusalem Plank Road|
|June 29||Reames’ Station, The regiment destroyed the Weldon Railroad, picketed, and constructed earthworks.|
|July 9-10||Marched to City Point and boarded transports to move to Washington, D.C.|
Fort Stevens and the Northern Defenses of Washington
The regiment landed in Washington in mid-afternoon and marched through the city to camp near Fort Stevens. Lieutenant and acting Adjutant William Laughlin and six men were killed, and Major Crosby, Lieutenant John Caldwell and 24 enlisted men wounded. Every regimental commander in the brigade was killed or badly wounded.
|July 14-19||The regiment pursued Early through Poolesville, crossed the Potomac at Conrad’s Ferry, and marched through Leesville and through Snicker’s Gap to the Shenandoah crossing of the Shenandoah River.|
|July 21||Returned to Washington and camped near Fort Gaines.|
|July 24-August 18||Marched and countermarched in Maryland and the Shenandoah Valley without catching Early or his men|
|August 18||Camped near Charlestown|
Charlestown (Summit Point)
The regiment and its brigade were attacked by Rodes’ Confederate Division. Six men were killed, Captain Lewis Redenback and Lieutenant Isaac Price were mortally wounded, and Captain William J. Glenn, Lieutenant John Caldwell and fifteen men were wounded.
|August 22||Withdrew to Halltown.|
|August 29||Returned to Charlestown|
|August-December||Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign|
|September 7||The original term of enlistment expired. The few survivors of the original enlistees who chose not to re-enlist mustered out in Harrisburg, led by Colonel Smith. Veterans and unexpired men were consolidated into a battalion of five companies at Berryville under Captain Greene, as Major Orr was on staff duty..|
|September 13||Gilbert’s Ford, Opequan Creek|
The battalion brought 3 officers and 125 men to the field and lost lost 3 men killed and 19 wounded. Captain Greene was wounded, shot in the eye and with a fractured jaw. Lieutenant John F. Young took command of the regiment as senior officer.
The regiment lost 2 men killed.
Sergeant Sylvester D. Rhodes of Company D was awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism. Sergeant Rhodes was on the skirmish line which drove the enemy from the first entrenchment and was the first man to enter the breastworks, capturing one of the guns and turning it upon the enemy.
|September 29||The battalion continued the pursuit of Early’s army to Mount Crawford. George Smith rejoined the regiment as colonel.|
The battalion lost 6 men killed and 12 wounded out of less than 100. The only two remaining officers, Captains David J. Taylor and John Barrett, were both killed, along with Sergeant Major Jer. H. Murphy.
|October-November||Duty in the Shenandoah Valley. Reinforced by 180 new recruits of draftees and substitutes at the end of October, expanding the battalion to 7 companies. Returning wounded brought strength up to around 350 men in November.|
|November 8||Moved down the Valley to Kernstown.|
|December 3||Ordered to Petersburg, moving to Washington and taking ship to City Point, Virginia. The battalion was assigned to the line between Fort Fisher and Fort Welch. Captain Robert L. Orr, who had been detached serving as Acting ACM on the staff of Brigadier General Getty, rejoined the regiment and was promoted to major.|
|December 15||Lieutenant Colonel Crosby mustered out.|
|February 22||Companies H, I & K were reconstituted from new recruits, bringing the 61st back to regimental organization and a strength of around 500 men. Lieutenant Colonel Crosby was re-commissioned, having partially recovered from the loss of his arm after Fort Stevens..|
Fort Fisher, Petersburg
The regiment attacked and captured the outer lines of the Confederate defensive works in its front in the counterattack Grant ordered after the Confederate assault on Fort Stedman. It lost four men killed and 14 wounded.
|March 28-April 9||Appomattox Campaign|
Fall of Petersburg
The regiment was chosen to lead the attack to break through the Confederate lines. The attack was successful, and the Confederate defense collapsed. The 61st Pennsylvania captured two rebel colors, a wagon train, fifty-two men, sixteen horses, and three brass twelve-pounder Napoleons with caissons. It lost ten men killed and 52 wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Crosby was killed and Major Orr and Lieutenant William Price were wounded.
Two Medals of Honor were awarded to members of the 61st Pennsylvania in the battle, both to members of Company C. Corporal Joseph Fisher was awarded the Medal of Honor for when he “carried the colors 50 yards in advance of his regiment, and after being painfully wounded attempted to crawl into the enemy’s works in an endeavor to plant his flag thereon.” Private Milton Matthews was awarded the Medal of Honor for his capture of the flag of 7th Tennessee Infantry.
|April 3||Pursuit of Lee. Major Orr was promoted to lieutenant colonel.|
Battle of Sayler’s Creek
The regiment fired its last shots of the war.
Appomattox Court House
Surrender of Lee and his army.
|April 17||Returned with much of the army to Burkesville Junction. The regiment was honored by being chosen to present the Division’s captured flags to Army Headquarters.|
|April 23-29||Marched 116 miles to Danville in four days and duty there as Provost guards.|
|April 26||Colonel Smith resigned. Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Orr was promoted to colonel.|
|May 15||Captain Charles S. Greene of company C was promoted to lieutenant colonel and Captain Oliver A. Parsons of Company D was promoted to major.|
|May 21- June 2||Moved by rail to Richmond, Va., then marched to Washington, D.C.|
|June 8||Special Corps Review|
|June 28||The 61st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment mustered out under the command of Colonel Robert Orr, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Greene and Major Oliver Parsons and was ordered to Pittsburg for payment, were it was greeted with a grand banquet given by the mayor and citizens.|