United States Regiments & Batteries > Pennsylvania > Infantry


“First California Regiment”

The 71st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment lost 14 officers and 147 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 1 officer and 98 enlisted men to disease during the Civil War. It is honored with the Philadelphia Brigade on a monument at Antietam, and by a monument at Gettysburg. The regiment’s nickname came from being raised by California’s U.S. Senator Edward Baker from men on the east coast and accepted for Federal service as part of California’s quota. Baker’s command was later expanded to a brigade. After he was killed at Ball’s Bluff, the State of Pennsylvania claimed the regiments for their quota, and they became known as “The Philadelphia Brigade.”

1861
April- May Raised as part of the Regular Army by Colonel and United States Senator Edward D. Baker, with Issac J. Wistar as lieutenant colonel and Robert A. Parish as major. The regiment consisted of 15 companies and were outfitted in grey uniforms.
June At Fort Schuyler, N.Y.
July 19 Captain Charles W. Smith of Company C promoted to major
July 22 Moved to Fortress Monroe, Va., then to Washington, D.C. for duty in the Defenses of Washington
September 11 Attacked while on reconnoissance. The regiment’s grey uniforms proved dangerous while on picket duty.
September 21 Captain J. W. Kingenfelter of Company B killed on picket duty near Chain Bridge, Virginia
September 29 Lt. Colonel Wistar commanded the regiment during the affair at Vanderburg’s House and Munson’s Hill while Colonel Baker commanded the column. Four men were killed and 14 wounded.
October 21-24 Moved to near Poolesville, Maryland, for operations on the Potomac attached to Baker’s Brigade, Stone’s (Sedgwick’s) Division, Army Potomac. Lt. Colonel Wistar commanded the regiment with Colonel Baker in command of the brigade.
October 21
Ball’s Bluff

Lt. Colonel Wistar was ordered to Conrad’s Ferry with the Right Battalion, Companies A, C, D, G, H, L, N & P. The Battalion, 520 strong, then crossed the Potomac using a relay of six small boats. Companies A and D advanced as skirmishers and became heavily engaged with a large force of Confederates, lsing all of their officers and two thirds of the men but capturing a number of prisoners, including an officer of the Eighth Virginia Infantry Regiment. After two more hours of heavy fighting Colonel Baker was killed, and the Federal line subsequenty collapsed. The few boats were inadequate to withdraw the force back across the Potomac and many men were killed or captured at the river. In addition to Colonel Baker, Captains Harvey and William E. Otter, Lieutenant Joseph D. Williams and 10 enlisted men were killed, Lt. Colonel Wistar was wounded three times, Captains Markoe and Keffar were wounded and captured, and 37 enlisted men were wounded. Lieutenant William H. Kerns, three other officers and 222 enlisted men were missing. The color sergeant saved the colors from capture but lost them in swimming the Potomac.

October 22 Lieutenant Colonel Issac Wistar was appointed Colonel
November Duty on the Upper Potomac. Majors Parrish and Smith took command until Colonel Wistar recovered from his wounds. During this time the regiment was claimed as part of Pennsylvania’s quota.
1862
February At Harper’s Ferry, W. Va.
March 3 Lieutenant Christian Schaeffer died at Poolesville, Maryland.
March 24-April 1 Moved to the Virginia Peninsula, attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army Potomac
April 5-May 4 Siege of Yorktown
May 5-30 At Tyler’s Farm
May 31-June 1
Battle of Fair Oaks, (Seven Pines)

Captain Markoe wounded.

June At Fair Oaks
June 1 Captain John Markoe of Company A promoted to lieutenant colonel
June 8 Lieutenant Maurine C. Moore killed on picket duty
June 18 Skirmish at Fair Oaks
June 25-July 1 Seven days before Richmond
June 29
Peach Orchard and Savage Station

The regiment lost 68 men killed and wounded.

June 30
Charles City Cross Roads and Glendale

Lieutenant George Kinney killed

July 1 Malvern Hill
July-August
At Harrison’s Landing

Companies L, M, N, P & R were disbanded and the men distributed to the remaining companies.

August 16-28 Movement to Newport News, then to Alexandria. Colonel Wistar resumed command, having partially recovered from his wound
August 28-30 To Centreville and Chantilly
August 31-September 1 Cover Pope’s retreat
September 6-24 Maryland Campaign
September 16-17
Battle of Antietam

The regiment was commanded by Colonel Isaac Wistar until he was wounded in his left arm leading a charge during the brutal fighting in the West Woods. Captain Richard P. Smith assumed command until he was wounded, and finally Captain Enoch E. Lewis took over. Lieutenants John Convery and William Wilson were killed, and over one third of the regiment was lost, with only four officers remaining unwounded the next day.

From the War Department marker for the brigade on the Antietam battlefield at the west edge of Philadelphia Brigade Park:

Howard’s Brigade, following Gorman and Dana in their attack, passed through the East Woods, crossed the Cornfield and the Hagerstown Pike and reached the edge of the West Woods, where its advance was checked about 90 yards east of this point.

Its left flank having been attacked and turned by McLaws’ and Walker’s Divisions, it was forced to retire to the fields north of D.R. Miller’s, where it was reformed and placed in position in support of a part of the Artillery of the First and Twelfth Coprs and of Sedgewick’s Division of the Second Corps.

September 22 Moved to Harper’s Ferry and duty there. Lieutenant Colonel Markoe, who had resigned due to wounds, returned to take command of the regiment.
October 30-November 19 Movement to Falmouth
November 1 Captain Richard Penn Smith of Company A promoted to major
November 29 Colonel Wistar promoted to brigadier general
December 12-15
Battle of Fredericksburg

Over one third of the regiment was lost occupying a position all day in the open close to Confederate entrenchments. Lieutenant Benjamin F. Hibbs was mortally wounded, Lieutenant B. J. McMahon was wounded, and Lieutenant Stiles Boughton was captured.

1863
January 20-24 Burnside’s 2nd Campaign, “Mud March”
February 25 Hartwood Church
March-April At Falmouth. Colonel Wistar is promoted to Brigadier General.
March 31 Captain C. Kochersperger promoted to lieutenant colonel
April 27-May 6 Chancellorsville Campaign
May 1 and 4
Banks’ Ford

Captain E. Carlyle Norris mortally wounded

May 1 Lieutenant Colonel Markoe resigned due to his wounds, and Major Richard Penn Smith was promoted to colonel
June 13-July 24 Gettysburg Campaign
July 2-4
Battle of Gettysburg

The regiment was commanded by Colonel Richard Penn Smith. It brought 331 men to the field, losing 21 killed, 58 wounded and 19 missing. Captains William H. Dull and John M. Steffan were killed, and Lieutenants Stiles Boughton, Byron C. Davis and Jacob S. Devine were captured.

From the monument:

To the left of this point on July 2, the 71st Penna. assisted in repulsing the furious attack of Wright’s Ga. brig. During the terrific cannonading of July 3, the regiment occupied a position 60 yards in the rear of this spot, a number of the men voluntarily helping to work Cushing’s disabled Battery. As the enemy emerged from Seminary Ridge the regiment was ordered forward, the left wing to this point, the right to the right in the rear. When Pickett’s Division rushed upon the wing in overwhelming numbers it fell back into line with the right, thus bringing the whole regiment into action, with the additional use of a large number of loaded muskets gathered from the battle field of the previous day.

July 5-24 Pursuit of Lee
August-September At Banks’ Ford and Culpeper
September 13-17 Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan
October 9-22 Bristoe Campaign
November 7-8 Advance to the line of the Rappahannock
November 26-December 2 Mine Run Campaign
November 27 Robertson’s Tavern or Locust Grove
December-May Duty on the Rapidan
1864
February 6-7 Demonstration on the Rapidan
March Attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army Potomac
May 4-June 12 Rapidan Campaign
May 5-7
Battle of the Wilderness

Lieutenant Colonel Kochersperger was badly wounded and five color bearers lost. With Colonel Smith still recovering from his wound, Captain William M. Smit took command.

May 8-21
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
May 8 Laurel Hill
May 10
Po River

Captain W.M. Smith was wounded, and Captain Mitchell Smith took command.

May 12
Assault on the Salient

Captain Mitchell Smth and Lieutenant Clark killed. Captain Peter W. Grear took command of the regiment.

May 23-26
North Anna River

Lieutenant James Clark killed

May 26-28. On line of the Pamunkey
May 28-31 Totopotomoy
June 1-12
Battle of Cold Harbor
June 12 Veterans and recruits transferred to the 69th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment
July 2 Mustered out under Colonel R. P. Smith. Of the 2,200 men who had served with the regiment, only 153 men returned to Philadelphia to muster out.