United States Regiments & Batteries > Pennsylvania > Infantry

“Birney’s Zouaves”

The 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment lost 5 officers and 110 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 3 officers and 70 enlisted men to disease during the Civil War. It is honored by a monument at Gettysburg.

April 18 – 21 Recruited in Philadelphia at the Arsenal for 3 months service, with many members coming from the 1st Pennsylvania Militia. After only three days recruitment the regiment was ready for service.

The regiment at first wore the colorful Zouave uniform. Unfortunately, these wore out after six months, and were replaced with the standard army issue uniform.

April 21 Mustered in for three months service under Colonel Charles P. Dare, Lieutenant Colonel David Birney, and Major George C. Spear.

Moved to Perryville and duty by detachments along Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, with four companies at Perryville, two at Havre-de-Grace, two at Elkton, one at Bush river, and one at Gunpowder river. The Elkton post was commanded by Major W. T. Sherman, whose battery was under Colonel Dare’s orders.

May 28 Relieved by the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry and moved by rail to Chambersburg, Pa. Attached to Geo. H. Thomas’ Brigade, 1st Division, Patterson’s Army
June 6 March to Greensburg
June 15 Crossed Potomac and advanced on Martinsburg Road
June 16-24 At Williamsport
June 25 At Downsville
July 2 Recrossed the Potomac, and engaged the enemy at Falling Waters
July 3 Occupation of Martinsburg
July 15 Advance on Bunker Hill
July 17 Moved to Charlestown, then to Harper’s Ferry.
July 29 Returned to Philadelphia
July 31 Mustered out

Reorganized for three years service

August Three years regiment recruited. Colonel Dare was forced to resign due to illness, and died some time later.
August 31 Organized at Philadelphia for three years service under Colonel David Birney, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Wilhelm and Major George Spear. Fifteen companies were formed, accompanied by two vivandieres and a band of 36 musicians.
September Ordered to Washington, D.C. and duty in the Defenses of Washington. Attached to Graham’s Brigade, Army of the Potomac.
September 8 Transferred to Camp Graham, four miles north of Washington.
October Attached to Buell’s (Couch’s) Division, Army of the Potomac.
December One officer and fifty men died of cholera in camp, and the regiment was moved to camp on better ground near Bladensburg.
February 20 Colonel Birney was promoted to brigadier general, and Captain Thomas H. Neill took over as colonel. The five extra companies were ordered to be detached, with Companies L, O, P and R transferred under Major Spear to the 61st Pennsylvania and Company M to be disbanded, the men to be distributed among the rest of the regiment and the officers mustered out of the service. This was done, although under protest.

March Attached to 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac
March 11 Major Spear was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 61st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment
March 10-15 Advance on Manassas, Va.
March 26 Marched to Alexandria and embarked on steamer Vanderbilt for the Virginia Peninsula
April 4
Warwick River

The 23rd lost one man, the regiment’s first casualty.

April 5-May 4 Siege of Yorktown
May 5
Battle of Williamsburg

The regiment was in reserve but lost five men wounded to artillery fire.

May 20-23 Operations about Bottom’s Bridge
May 23 Reconnaissance toward Richmond
May 31-June 1 Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines

The regiment lost 7 officers and 136 men in heavy fighting, including three color bearers; Lieutenant Colonel John Ely was severely wounded and Colonel Neill had his horse shot under him.

June 30 White Oak Swamp and Charles City Cross Roads

At White Oak Swamp the regiment lost 14 casualties, having been split into two wings, one under Colonel Neill and the other under Captain John F. Glenn.

The next day the regiment lost 2 killed and 30 wounded after spending thirteen hours under fire on the skirmish line.

July 1 Malvern Hill
July At Harrison’s Landing; attached to 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps.
July 20 Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm resigned
August 5-7 Reconnaissance to Malvern Hill under the command of Major Glenn, as Colonel Neill was in temporary command of a brigade.
August 16-30 Movement to Alexandria via steamer City of Richmond (which towed a transport moving the 61st Pennsylvania) then a forced mach to Chantilly
September 1

The regiment suffered five casualties.

September Maryland Campaign. Attached to 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac
September 2 The regiment rested at Alexander for a few hours, then crossed the Chain Bridge to Washington and left town on the Harpers Ferry Road.
September 11-24 Guard Potomac from White’s Ford to Nolan’s Ferry during battles of South Mountain and Antietam as part of an independent brigade under the command of Colonel Thomas H. Neill.
September 15 White’s Ford. Company “B” captured at Nolin’s Ford by Colonel White’s Command. A party of 24 men of the regiment and nine men from the 2nd Rhode Island Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Garsed of Company B were captured when they crossed to the Virginia side of the Potomac to attempt to bring in arms supposedly secreted in a barn.
September 22 Lt. Colonel Ely returns from recovering from his Fair Oaks wound, and the regiment receives a new stand of colors,a gift of the ladies of Philadelphia.
September 24 Moved to Downsville and picket duty on the Potomac
October Attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps
November 1-19 Movement to Falmouth, Va.
December 12-15
Battle of Fredericksburg

The regiment was under the command of Major Glenn, as Colonel Neill had been recently promoted to brigadier general. The regiment was massed for the final charge but it was cancelled, and only suffered two casualties.

Lieutenant Colonel Ely returned from a temporary absence to resume command, and was commissioned colonel to date from the 13th. Major Glenn was promoted to lieutenant colonel.

January 20-24 “Mud March”
February-April At Falmouth
April 27-May 6 Chancellorsville Campaign
April 29-May 2 Operations at Franklin’s Crossing. the brigade carried pontoon boats for the crossing two miles on their backs to prevent the noise of their wheels from being heard by the Confederates.
May 3
Fredericksburg, Maryes Heights

One wing of the regiment deployed under Lieutenant Colonel Glenn in a successful feint to feel Confederate positions on Marye’s Heights, losing 16 men. In the charge that followed the 23rd was intended to be in reserve, but it spontaneously joined the charge and took the place of another regiment which broke. The 23rd carried the Confederate works, losing 6 killed and 27 wounded.

May 3-4
Salem Heights and Banks’ Ford

The regiment sustained light losses supporting Maxhammer’s Battery and in the withdrawal back across the river. Total casualties for the entire campaign were 71 killed and wounded and two captured.

June 6-13 Operations about Deep Run Ravine
June 16 The regiment marched 18 miles in extreme heat, the division losing 22 men to sunstroke, six of whom died.
June 30 The regiment reaches Westminster via Poolesville and New Market
July 1 Orders were received at 8 in the evening to join the fighting at Gettysburg, and the corps set off at once, cheering and singing, arriving at the field at 2 p.m. on the 2nd after a march of over 30 miles without halt or rest.
July 2-4
Battle of Gettysburg

The regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John F. Glenn, and brought 538 men to the field.

From the monument:

About 9 p.m.of July 1, (the regiment) marched from Manchester thirty-seven miles reaching the field about 2 p.m. on July 2. Coming into position about 5 p.m. with Shaler’s Brigade, near Little Round Top on morning of July 3. Ordered to Culp’s Hill, where it remained until ordered to support of left centre. Started in pursuit of Lee July 5.

The Regiment was placed in reserve in rear of this position at 9:30 a.m. of the 3rd, and subsequently five companies advanced into the breast-works. During the heavy cannonade it moved with the brigade to support the ‘left center’.

Loss in the action- two officers and twenty-nine enlisted men killed and wounded.

Captain John B. Fassett of Company F earned the Medal of Honor on July 2 when, acting as an aide, he voluntarily led a regiment to the relief of a battery and recaptured its guns from the enemy.

July 5 The regiment was detailed for picket duty at Fairfield, capturing 83 prisoners.
July 9 The regiment support the cavalry on the skirmish line.
July 10-11 Engaged with Confederates near Funkstown.
July 19 Crossed the Potomac at Berlin after being supplied with clothing.
July 20-21 Proceeded to Warrenton via Manassas Gap
August 15 Ordered to the mouth of the north fork of the Rappahannock on picket duty
August 17 Returned to Warrenton, where the regiment was reinforced by 146 drafted men.
September 2 Colonel Ely rejoined the regiment and resumed command.
October 9-22 Bristoe Campaign
November 7-8 Advance to line of the Rappahannock
November 7 Rappahannock Station (Reserve)
November 26-December 2
Mine Run Campaign

The regiment lost 1 killed and 7 wounded.

December 6 Colonel Ely resigned due to his wounds and sickness. Lt. Colonel Glenn was commissioned colonel and assumed command of the regiment. Major William Wallace became lieutenant colonel, and Captain Henry Rees was promoted to major.
December The regiment received a new stand of colors bearing the names of the regiment’s battles, as well as six hundred pairs of woolen gloves, the benefit of a Philadelphia ball given in the regiment’s benefit. Ear warmers were also received from patriotic ladies in Bucks County.
December 30 Regiment reenlisted; Veterans proceeded on furlough to Philadelphia under Colonel Glenn.
January 6 Balance of regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Wallace moved via Wheeling and Sandusky to Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie, Ohio (marching across the ice to the island) to guard Rebel Prisoners.
February 11 Veterans rejoin from furlough and rejoin the regiment at Johnson’s Island.
May 9-13 Moved to Washington, D.C. then to Belle Plains; attached to 4th Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, guarding Rebel Prisoners and processing them for distribution to Federal prison camps, and escorting a five hundred wagon supply train to the front.
May 23-June 12 Rapidan Campaign
May 23-26 North Anna River, destroyed the line of the Virginia Central Railroad
November 26-28 After a forty mile march rejoined the army on line of the Pamunkey.
May 28-31

The regiment was on the skirmish line, losing two men.

June 1
Battle of Cold Harbor

The regiment charged five hundred yards across open ground, and fought for twenty-five minutes in the Confederate works, but were forced to withdraw fifty yards, at which point they entrenched.

The 23rd suffered heavy losses in this short time: 4 officers and 71 enlisted men killed, 5 officers and 111 enlisted men wounded, and 3 men captured, including Captain Henry Marchant, Lieutenants James Johnson, John D. Boyd and James G. Williamson.

June 2 Lieutenant Colonel Wallace and five other men were wounded and three men killed during the heavy sharpshooting. The regiment expanded its rifle pits and entrenchments and spent the next several days in close trench warfare.
June 16 After extensive marching and counter-marching, the regiment arrived at the farm of ex-President Tyler on the James River and embarked on the steamer Cauliflower for Bermuda Hundred.
June 19 Crossed the Appomattox and attempted to push into Petersburg, losing ten men.
June 22-23 Ream’s Station, Weldon Railroad
June 25 Siege of Petersburg
July 9-11 Moved to Washington, leaving the trenches and marching to City Point, where the regiment embarked on the steamer Eastern States.
July 11-12 Arrived at the Arsenal Wharf in Washington and immediately marched to Fort Stevens, where it formed skirmish line in front of the works.
July 14-18 Snicker’s Gap Expedition; marched to Poolesville, crossed the Potomac at White’s Ford, and proceeded via Leesburg to Snicker’s Gap.
July Operations in Shenandoah Valley; attached to 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Corps, Army of the Shenandoah. Returned to Washington, passing again through Leesburg and crossing the Chain Bridge, but then was ordered to return to the Shenandoah, and marched via Rockville, Centreville, Knoxville and Sandy Hook, arriving in Harpers Ferry on the 29th. After a march to Halltown, the regiment returned to Frederick, Maryland.
August 7 Recrossed the Potomac and marched through Halltown, Berryville and Winchester to Cedar Creek.
August 21 Charlestown. Ordered home for muster out. Veterans and Recruits transferred to 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry
September 8 Mustered out at Philadelphia.