United States Regiments & Batteries > Pennsylvania > Infantry

(42nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment)
“First Rifles” “Bucktails”

A total of 1,165 officers and men served with the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves during the Civil War. The regiment  lost 11 officers and 151 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 2 officers and 88 enlisted men to disease during the Civil War. Four hundred forty-two men were wounded but recovered.

The regiment is honored by a monument at Gettysburg, where there is also a monument to Colonel Taylor at the spot where he was killed.

April – June Organized at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg from the following companies:

Company A – The Anderson Guards (Tioga County) – Captain Phillip Holland
Company B – The Morgan Rifles (Perry County) – Captain Langhorne Wister
Company C – The Cameron Rifles (Cameron County) – Captain John A. Eldred
Company D – The Raftsman’s Guards (Warren County) – Captain Roy Stone
Company E – The Tioga Rifles (Tioga County) – Captain Alanson E. Niles
Company F – The Irish Infantry (Carbon County) – Captain Dennis McGee
Company G – The Elk Rifles (Elk County) – Captain Hugh McDonald
Company H – Wayne Independent Rifles (Chester County) – Captain Charles Taylor
Company I – The McKean Rifles (McKean County) – Captain William Blanchard
Company K – The Raftsman’s Rangers (Clearfield County) – Captain Edwin A. Irvin

Three hundred woodsmen in McKean County had built three large rafts and rafted down the Sinnamahoning River to the Susquehanna and to Harrisburg under the direction of Thomas Kane.

The regiment was under the command of Colonel Charles Biddle, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas L. Kane, and Major Roy Stone. Kane was originally elected colonel and Biddle lieutenant colonel, but Kane wanted Biddle, a Mexican War veteran, to have command. A second election reversed the two offices.

The men were initially given smoothbore muskets but many refused to accept them, as they were recruited as a rifle regiment. The nickname of “Bucktails” came from the buck tail that each man wore on his hat, proclaiming their ability as marksmen.

June 21 Mustered in at Harrisburg. Moved by rail to Hopewell, then marched 23 miles to Bedford Springs. a point opposite Cumberland, Md.
June 27 Marched 40 miles to the Maryland – Pennsylvania state line and established Camp Mason and Dixon to support General Lew Wallace.
July 7 Marched to Cumberland to protect the property of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
July 12 Lieutenant Colonel Kane led a scouting party of 60 men into Virginia, fighting a skirmish at New Creek Village which killed eight and wounded sixteen of the attacking Confederate cavalry. Kane then advanced on to Ridgeville.
July 27 Returned to Harrisburg and reviewed by Governor Curtin.
August 1 Ordered to Harper’s Ferry and assigned to George H. Thomas’ Brigade, Banks’ Division
October 1 Moved to Tennallytown, Md. and attached to 2nd Brigade, McCall’s Pennsylvania Reserves Division, Army of the Potomac
October 10 Moved from Tennallytown, Md., to Camp Pierpont, near Langley, Va.
October 20 Expedition to Hunter’s Mills under Lieutenant Colonel Kane (Companies A, G, H, I and K)
December 6 Expedition to Grinnell’s Farm
December 12 Colonel Biddle resigned to take his seat in Congress. Lieutenant Colonel Kane took command of the regiment.
December 20
Battle of Dranesville

Two men were killed and Lieutenant Colonel Kane and 25 other men wounded

January 22 Captain Hugh McNeil of Company D was elected colonel over Lieutenant Colonel Kane with 64% of the vote.
February Colonel McNeil went on sick leave with typhoid fever.
March 7 By order of General McClellan, Companies C, G, H & I were placed under Lieutenant Colonel Kane “to be trained in special tactics that Kane had devised.”
March 10-15 Advance on Manassas, Virginia attached to 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac. Major Stone commanded the six companies of the regiment that were not detached under Lieutenant Colonel Kane, as Colonel McNeil was still absent sick
April 9-19 McDowell’s advance on Falmouth. Attached to 3rd Brigade, McCall’s Division, Dept. of the Rappahannock
April-June Duty at Fredericksburg
May 12 Companies C, G, H and I under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kane were attached to Bayard’s Cavalry Brigade, Department of the Rappahannock. They are often referred to as the 1st Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion. For four months Kane’s Battalion would operate independently from the main body of the regiment, which would be in a different department.
Companies C, G, H and I while attached to Bayard’s Cavalry Brigade (May-August 1862)
May 15 Reported to Colonel Bayard
May 25-June 6 Pursuit of Jackson up the Shenandoah Valley. The battalion would march 60 miles in five days.
June 1 Harrisonburg
June 2 Strasburg
June 2 Strasburg and Staunton Road
June 3 Woodstock
June 3 Mount Jackson. Attached to 1st Corps, Army of Virginia
June 6-7
Battle of Harrisonburg

The battalion, with just 104 men after the attrition of the last week’s marching, lost 52 casualties in a fight with the Confederate brigade of George Steuart. Colonel Kane was wounded in the leg and captured, and Captain Taylor was captured while attempting to bring Kane off the field. Less than 50 Bucktails left the battlefield, but they mortally wounded “Stonewall” Jackson’s cavalry commander, General Turner Ashby.

June 8
Battle of Cross Keys

Only 40 men remained in the ranks by the end of the battle.

August 16-September 2
Pope’s Campaign in Northern Virginia

The remnants of the battalion were assigned to General Pope’s headquarters guard.

August 22
Catlett’s Station

The battalion lost 19 men captured to Stuart’s Confederate cavalry.

August 30-31
Bull Run Bridge

The battalion acted as rear guard at the Stone Bridge.

September 7 Rejoined Regiment
Companies A, B, D, E, F & K (June-August 1862)
June 9-12 Moved to White House and attached to 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac.  Colonel Hugh McNeil was sick with Typhoid fever, and Major Roy Stone commanded the six companies.
June 25-July 1 Seven days before Richmond
June 26
Battle of Mechanicsville

Also known as Beaver Dam Creek. The regiment lost over 100 men.

Company K under Captain Edward Irvin was cut off during the retreat. They would try to make their way back to Union lines for five days before finally being captured.

June 27
Battle of Gaines Mill

Company E was cut off and captured during the retreat. The regiment had just 131 men left by the end of the day when they went into a defensive line at Boatswain’s Creek.

June 29 Battle of Savage Station
June 30
Battle of Charles City Cross Roads or Glendale

The regiment was able to put 155 men into battle near Long Bridge Road. Forced into a fighting retreat, the regiment was the nucleus for resistance on the flank.

July 1
Battle of Malvern Hill
At Harrison’s Landing

The regiment had lost 247 officers and men during the Seven Days Battles, over 80%. Colonel McNeil returned from sick leave.

August 16-26 Movement to Join Pope. attached to 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 3rd Corps, Army of Virginia
August 28 Battle of Gainesville
August 29 Major Stone was promoted to colonel of the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment
August 29 Battle of Groveton
August 30
Second Battle of Bull Run
Regiment reunited
September 6-24 Maryland Campaign. Attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac. The regiment was rearmed with the Model 1859 Sharps breechloader rifle.
September 6 Lieutenant Colonel Kane was promoted to brigadier general.
September 14
Battle of South Mountain

The reunited regiment brought less than 300 men to the battle. Captain Edward Irvin of Company K was wounded in the head when he led the regiment in a successful charge up the steep ridge. The position was taken at the cost of some 60 men. Captain Edward A. Irvin of Company K would be promoted to lieutenant colonel for his bravery.

September 16-17
Battle of Antietam

Colonel McNeil was mortally wounded on the evening of September 16 leading the regiment in heavy skirmishing after crossing Antietam Creek. Captain Dennis McGee took command of the regiment when Colonel McNeil fell. Less than 200 men could be mustered by the end of the evening on the 16th. Three dozen more would be killed or wounded on the 17th.

There are two War Department markers for Seymour’s Brigade on the Antietam battlefield. The first marker is on Mansfield Avenue at Smoketown Road. From the marker:

Seymour’s Briade of Meade’s Division, after its engagement with the enemy of September 16, 1862, bivouacked on either side of the road at this point , with pickets thrown forward in the east woods.

The second marker is on Smoketown Road. From the marker:

Seymour’s Brigade became engaged at daybreak, and advanced on either side of this road into the East Woods, where it became heavily engaged with the enemy.

At the western edge of the East Woods its advance was checked by the enemy, and its ammunition having been exhausted, it was relieved about 7 A. M. by Ricketts’ Division, and withdrawn to the ridge in the rear of Joseph Poffenberger’s.

September-October Duty in Maryland
October 30-November 19 Movement to Falmouth, Va.
December 12-15
Battle of Fredericksburg
January 20-24 “Mud March”
February 6 Ordered to Washington, D.C. to rest and refit. Duty there and at Alexandria attached to 1st Brigade, Pennsylvania Reserve Division, 22nd Corps, Dept. of Washington
March 1 Captain Charles Taylor of Company H was promoted to colonel and Captain Alanson Niles of Company E to major.
May 15 Major Niles was promoted to lieutenant colonel to replace Lieutenant Colonel Edward Irvin, who had resigned due to his wound from South Mountain.
June 25 Ordered to join Army of the Potomac in the field attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps
July 1-3
Battle of Gettysburg

The regiment was commanded by Colonel Charles F. Taylor until he was killed on July 2nd. Lieutenant Colonel Niles was wounded, and Major William R. Hartshorn took command.

July 2nd in the evening charged from the hill in rear to this position and held it until the afternoon of July 3rd when the Brigade advanced through the woods to the front and left driving the enemy and capturing many prisoners.

Present at Gettysburg 30 officers and 319 men. Killed and died of wounds 2 officers and 9 men. Wounded 8 officers and 27 men. Captured or missing 2 men.

July 5-24 Pursuit of Lee
August-October Duty on the Rapidan
October 9-22 Bristoe Campaign
November 7-8 Advance to line of the Rappahannock
November 7 Rappahannock Station
November 26-December 2 Mine Run Campaign
December Guard Orange & Alexandria Railroad
March 28 Lieutenant Colonel Niles resigned.
May 4-31 Rapidan Campaign
May 5-7
Battle of the Wilderness
May 8 Laurel Hill
May 8-21
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
May 12 Assault on the Salient
May 19
Battle of Harris Farm
May 23-26 North Anna River
May 25 Jericho Ford
May 26-28 On line of the Pamunkey
May 28-31 Totopotomoy
June 1 Veteran volunteers and Recruits transferred to 190th Pennsylvania Infantry
June 11 Mustered out, end of term, under the command of Major Hartshorn.