during the war
The Home Guard
In June 1861, Gregory and John M Bickel ran for election as Colonel of the Home Guard. Results published in the Inquirer have Bickel winning 408 to 297 votes.(B2). He was captain of Company A, from the Thirteenth Ward.(B3) He and the Thirteenth Ward Home Guard took part in the Fourth of July parade in Philadelphia.(B4)
Civil War--through 1862
He began forming a regiment sometime in July 1861.(B5) The Home Guard held a meeting on 18 July 1861, with Gregory as chair, discussing forming a regiment.(C8) The regiment was based on the Home Guard, particularly Gregory's company in the Thirteenth Ward, whose members were discharged honorably if they volunteered for active service.(C6)
In fall 1861, he was still living at 876 North 6th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the city directory lists his occupation as 'colonel'.(C17)
At a meeting on 19 August 1861, reporting the status of regiments in training, Edgar Gregory reported that his regiment comprised seven incomplete companies, two of which were to be mustered in on the 20th, and that the regiment could be ready to march in two weeks.(C9)
On 26 September 1861, he had not yet taken possession of the camp, but was going to do so soon.(C7)
On 27 November 1861, he and other commissioned officers of the regiment attended a dinner given by Mr Harmer, a neighbor of Camp Chase. Gregory and others gave after-dinner speeches.(C12) A newspaper article published on the same day describes him as "a gentleman and a soldier, who will leave nothing undone to promote the comfort and discipline of his men".(C20)
They received their state flags on 6 December, and Gregory made a brief speech thanking the Governor for them. Gregory made another brief speech on 11 December, when the regiment received a stand of colors from friends.(C1)
On 15 December 1861, he spoke at a meeting at the Union Methodist Episcopal Church, which was aimed at "diffusing religious reading in the camps, and promoting the spiritual interests of the soldier".(C13)
The regiment trained until 21 January 1862, when it was sent to Washington. On 27 April it was sent to Alexandria, Virginia. He was Provost Marshal of Alexandria, beginning on 23 April 1862.(C15) He was acting Military Governor of Alexandria, Virginia from 27 April 1862 until 21 August 1862.(C2)
Occasional rhetorical flashes show up in the dry language of his orders. For example,(C3)
We come here to be soldiers; to that end we must bind our energies.
It is the pride of every true soldier to know his duty and do it well, while the indolent and shiftless find it more congenial to their feelings to spend their time in grumbling and complaining of their hard fate.
One contemporary newspaper article described Colonel Gregory as the "energetic and popular Provost Marshal", but later gives a different impression, by suggesting that Gregory would appreciate support from "some of our Alexandria ladies, who now express so much indignation at his every official act".(C14)
In June 1862, Gregory attended a ceremony marking the display of a new flag outside the City Hall, and gave a speech there.(C14) He ordered Reverend Bitting, of the Baptist Church in Alexandria, that if he could not pray for the President and for the success of the Union, he would close the church, and when Bitting refused, Gregory closed the church.(C21) He also refused to return a escaped slave to a Maryland citizen, even though the citizen had sworn a loyalty oath, and had a warrant for the arrest of the slave.(C19)
On 29 June 1862, the regiment's commissioned officers (except Gregory) signed a statement denying accusations that they were on the verge of open mutiny, that the regiment had been reduced to 400 men, and that Gregory was too lenient to Confederates and too harsh to men in the regiment.(C5)
In fall 1862, he had moved to 1438 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the city directory lists his occupation as "merchant".(C18)
On 10 October 1862, he was president of a Court, which tried (among others) Franklin L Clough (though he was absent for Clough's trial).(C24) The Division Commander, General Humphreys, regarded the decision as unreasonably light, but with one small exception the Court adhered to their original decisions.
On 13 December 1862, he led the left rear of the charge of Tyler's Brigade at Fredericksburg. He was wounded slightly, in his right hand, and his horse fell under him, shot by five balls. He took a sword from another officer, shouted "Come on, my Ninety-first!", and ran towards the Confederate position, having lost his hat, and with his "grey hair streaming in the wind". Humphreys mentions him as one of the officers 'who distinguished themselves by their gallant bearing'.(C5b) And on 27 February 1863, the regiment's commissioned officers gave him a horse, and the enlisted men gave him a "costly and beautiful sword", presented by Joseph Sinex and David Mansfield respectively.(C11) George W Simon & Brother, Philadelphia, made the sword.(C23) The sword was exhibited to the public, in the window of Grover & Baker (on Chestnut Street below Seventh) on 13 February 1863.(C23)
When the regiment was ordered to withdraw, company E had been detached and had not yet returned. Colonel Gregory did not want to retreat without them, but the Aide conveying Brigadier General Tyler's orders to him insisted, saying "It's all right. Forward, Colonel, with your regiment; you have no time to lose". Unfortunately, part of the company did not receive the order, and eleven men were captured, with others having to cross the river after the bridges had been removed.(C16)
The Philadelphia directory for 1863 lists him as a merchant, at 1438 North 13th Street, in Philadelphia.(D20) The IRS annual Tax Assessment list for 1863 (dated May 1863) lists him at the same address, with an income of $736, a tax rate of 3%, and a bill of $22.08.(D21)
On 23 March 1863, Gregory's friends serenaded him at his residence. Gregory made a short speech after the performance, in which he stressed that the war was a war against slavery. An "entertainment" followed inside the house, with various speeches.(D25)
He was severely wounded, in action, by a gun-shot wound of his right leg, at Chancellorsville on 3 May 1863.(D3) According to a newspaper account, "a ball passed through his leg, shattering the bone badly".(D3) He was permitted to return to Philadelphia for medical treatment, at his home.(D3) He initially had a twenty-day leave, starting on 9 May 1863.(D10) On 28 June 1863, he was scheduled to speak at a meeting organized in Philadelphia by the YMCA.(D24) On 23 August 1863, he attended a service at Hedding Methodist Episcopal Church (16th and Coate Streets, Philadelphia), and gave the opening prayer.(D23) His leave was extended seven times, until sometime in September 1863.(D11) He probably returned about 23 September 1863, when John Jamison [or possibly David Jamison] began serving as his hostler.(D4) However, he was not officially reported returned until 25 September 1863.(D17) Jamison continued until 16 October, and Henry Shaeffer took over on 17 October, and was still his hostler on 14 November and 30 December.(D5)
In fall 1863, he was still living at 1438 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the city directory lists his occupation as 'Colonel'.(D22)
The Philadelphia directory for 1864 lists Gregory as a Colonel, still at 1438 North 13th Street.(E22)
He returned thanks, on behalf of the men in his command, for the patriotic reception tendered them. The shouts of Union victory on the battle-field inspired the soul with courage, and the shouts of patriotism at home kindle the flame of love for our country. The brave men of my command have re-enlisted for the war. (Great cheering.) They may not have to serve for three years more, because we think we see the beginning of the end of the rebellion. (Cheers.) He would make one remark, and that is this--the rebellion never will end until the shackles are broken from every slave in the country. (Immense cheers.) The war cannot cease until every black man is set free, and this country becomes, what God Almighty intends it to be in reality, the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Enthusiastic cheers--voice from a window of American Hotel, "Good, good;" voice from the crowd, "That's the ring of the true metal, no copperheadism about that.")
Mr. President, ladies and friends of the 91st Regiment, we accept this suit of colors with grateful hearts. Boys, these are your colors, the colors of your country. I need not say that you will defend them. The audience know it. He then proposed three cheers for the colors, which were heartily given. The men then sat down, and the Colonel proceeded. He said: We receive these colors with gratitude to you; with thankfulness to God that we have friends at home. We have returned to your midst, but not all of us. We have left brave men behind, but we expect to meet them at the judgment seat, where they will not be condemned for what they have done on the battle-field. He had made up his mind that when the last chain shall be severed from the body of the last slave in America, then he believed the war would be at an end, and he hoped it would be at the time when Abraham Lincoln was re-elected President of these United States. [Cheers.] We have lost many dear ones on the fields of Virginia. The day will come, and, we trust, before long, when this was will be over. We have 403 [my note: last digit unclear] men left out of 1,100 and odd, and we have recruited about one hundred lately. We come to Philadelphia to fill our regiment to a thousand strong, and we expect to do it, and you young men must come forth. We are in for this war to the end. This Government was founded upon principle--the principle of freedom to every man. The Government was ordained by God, and we believe that it was ordained that Abraham Lincoln was to lead us through this trial. We accept these banners, and they will be accepted and protected we believe. He then introduced to the audience Sergeant Chism, who, he said, had carried the other flag through every battle. Should these banners fall, I should find you, from your past character, beneath them. These colors you are to carry. May God spare you to carry them through this context. Take this color, and I ask no more of you in the future than I have had from you in the past. The State flag was then placed in the hands of Corporal Winner [sic]. This rebellion, he continued, has cost much and it will cost more. This Government is destined to be the greatest in the world, and to-day there is not a monarchy in the Old World which does not tremble at the power of our Government. This all arises from the one national principle of freedom to all within it. He believed that this rebellion would have been crushed before had it not been for the fire from the Copperheads in the rear. [Applause.] Heaven grant that there shall never be peace until every rebel shall lay down his arms, and the shackles be broken from every slave in the land. [Applause.]
On 4 February 1864, he was relieved from the recruiting service, and ordered to go to Chester Hospital and take command there of the rendezvous for all troops sent for furlough and reorganization to the eastern district of Pennsylvania.(E15) On 18 February 1864, he was 'assigned to the command of Chester Hospital, Chester, Pennsylvania, so long as it may be used as a point of Rendezvous for Veteran Volunteers'.(E16) The regiment was late leaving for the front, and many enlisted men took an unofficial leave (that is, went absent without leave) because of the delay. Lieutenant Colonel Sinex seems to have blamed the delay on Gregory; he claimed he received the relevant orders days after they were issued, through Gregory, who was still officially commanding the regiment.(E20) The War Department also raised some question about Gregory's authority to detail officers and enlisted men for draft and recruiting service; Gregory apparently thought Lieutenant Colonel Sinex knew about the relevant order, which Sinex denied.(E21)
In the Spring of 1864, he attended a meeting raising money for the Christian Commission. When they had trouble reaching their goal of fifty thousand dollars, Gregory stood and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, if you had been present at the last battle in which my regiment was engaged, and where I lost nearly half my men, and seen the work that delegates of the Commission did among my wounded and dying, you would soon make up the balance of the amount Mr. Stuart asks for". The rest of the money was soon raised.(E29)
On 28 May 1864, he was ordered to take the provisional battalion under his command and three companies of recruits organized at Alexandria Virginia, to Port Royal by the steamers Argo R. Barton and W. Williams.(E19) In May/June, he was present with the regiment.(E17) And on 28 May 1864 he was ordered to proceed to Port Royal with the provisional Battalion under his command. 3 companies organized at Alexandria. to report for orders there (SO 86, HQ Rendezvous for drafted men and volunteers, Alexandria VA).
On 5 June 1864, he was in command of the First Brigade, Second Division.(E1) He rejoined the regiment at Cold Harbor on 6 or 8 June 1864.(E2) He was in command of the first brigade, second division, after Brig. Gen. Romeyn B Ayres.(E3) On 18 June 1864, he was in command of the 91st Pennsylvania, the 32nd MA, 21st PA cav (dismounted). 155th PA, attacking the Confederates and driving them across the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad.(E4) And on 20 and 30 June, he was in command of the 91st.(E5)
At Cold Harbor, and perhaps when he first rejoined the regiment, he allowed an itinerant chaplain to hold a service, addressing men under his command who were resting before going into battle.(E30)
While commanding the brigade, he often lead religious services, sparking a revival in the 155th Pennsylvania Infantry (especially companies G and K).(E37)
He was commanding the brigade during the destruction of the Weldon Railroad in August 1864.(E27) The brigade faced only one attack, on 21 August 1864, which was repulsed with only light casualties.(E27) And on 24 August 1864 the Fifth Corps was ordered to cut brush in front of the line he had constructed.(E8)
In fall 1864, he was still living at 1438 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the city directory lists his occupation as 'colonel'.(E31)
On 3 October 1864, Brigadier General Griffin (Fifth Corps commander) recommended that Gregory be promoted to Brigadier General 'for gallant conduct displayed' on 30 September 1864, saying that '[t]he bravery and valor evinced by them and their commands in the operations of that day have not been excelled in any action during the war'.(E9)
On 14 October 1864, the War Department assigned him to duty corresponding to his brevet rank, ordering him to report by letter to Lt General Grant.(E10) On 17 October 1864, the Fifth Corps headquarters announced Gregory had been promoted to brevet Brigadier General.(E11) On 22 October 1864, the Fifth Corps headquarters assigned him to the First Division.(E12) On 24 October 1864, he was assigned to command the Second Brigade. The 188th NY was assigned to the Second Brigade.(E13)
He was appointed brevet brigadier general for 'gallant and distinguished service in the battle of Poplar Spring Church near Petersburg Va.', to date from 30 September 1864, by General Order No. 15, dated 6 February 1865.(E14) He continued commanding the brigade through the end of the war.(E18)
The Second Brigade left camp on 29 March 1865, arriving at Gravelly Run in the afternoon, and fought their way to the Quaker (or Telegraph) Road. On 30 March they occupied earth-works near the Boydton Road. On 31 March they moved to the right of the Second Division, and then advanced across Gravelly Run, retaking ground that had been lost. On 1 April they drove the enemy from their position at Five Forks in what Gregory described as "desparate ... fighting". On 2 April they marched for several hours, and bivouacked in line of battle, near Sutherland's Station. On 3 April they marched fifteen miles. On 4 April they continued to the Danville Railroad, where they met with Sheridan's command. On 5 April stayed in their works except for a short movement to support some cavalry. On 6 April they moved to within four miles of the Appomattox River. On 7 April through 9 April they moved, ending near Appomattox Court House. The brigade was advancing when they heard that Lee had surrendered. (See Gregory's report for more details.)(E32)
When Lee surrendered, the Christian Commission's agent of the Fifth Corps suggested to Gregory "that no event in American history demanded more hearty thanksgiving to Almighty God" than the end of the war. Gregory immediately ordered his brigade to form a column, and they sang the doxology "Praise God from whom all blessings flow".(E28)
C1. muster-out roll. Bates, page 186. Field and staff muster-in roll, in Compiled service record. Regimental descriptive book. state flag presentation and speech: Philadelphia Inquirer Saturday 7 December 1861, page 8. second set of flags: Philadelphia Inquirer 13 December 1861.
C2. Bates, page 186. The muster rolls for 2 Aug to 31 Dec 1861 and for 2 Aug to 31 Oct 1861 do not state whether he was present or absent, but the muster rolls for Jan/Feb 1862, Mar/Apl 1862, May/June 1862, and July/Aug 1862 all have him present, as does the Field and staff special muster roll for 18 August 1862 [Compiled service record].
C5b. Andrew A Humphreys, report, dated 16 December 1862, Official Records series 1, volume 21, pages 430-434, at p.432. Casualty sheet, 13 Dec 1862, based on casualty report, 1st brigade 3rd division, 5th corps (in compiled service record) (slightly wounded in right hand). The muster roll for Nov/Dec 1862 has him present (compiled service record). Tyler's report about Frederickburg, pp.437, 438
C6. 'The Philadelphia Home Guard Regiment' and 'Head-quarters Home Guard', Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 August 1861, page 5
C13. 'Another Union meeting in behalf of the soldiers' (Philadelphia Inquirer 14 December 1861 page 5), 'Another union meeting in behalf of the soldiers' (Philadelphia Press, Saturday 14 December 1861, page 3).
C15. 'By magnetic telegraph'. North American and United States Gazette (Philadelphia PA), 24 April 1862. See also 'Our Alexandria letter', Philadelphia Inquirer 23 August 1862, page 1 (which claims he was Provost Marshal beginning 25 April), and [appointment as provost marshal of Alexandria] ([Baltimore] Sun 24 April 1862 page 4); 'Col Gregory' (Alexandria Gazette 13 May 1862 page 2; transcribed 26 March 2011, from GenealogyBank)
C16. court-martial record, trial of James B Bonsall, 3 January 1863, and trial of D B Baker, 3 January 1863, National Archives, Record Group 153 (Judge Advocate General, Army), file KK691; and court-martial record, trial of James B Bonsall, 12 January 1863, and trial of D B Baker, 12 January 1863, National Archives, Record Group 153 (Judge Advocate General, Army), file KK664 (D B Baker )
C21. See 'A secesh church shut up' (New York Times 19 June 1862, page 4), 'Churches for hospitals' (New York Times 16 June 1862, page 5), 'A Philadelphia minister in trouble' (Philadelphia Press Monday 21 July 1862 page 3), and 'Disloyal ministers', (Philadelphia Press Tuesday 22 July 1862, page 2).
D3. Bates, p.188. consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 7 May 63. Field and staff muster roll for 28 Feb to 10 May 1863 (in compiled service record), according to which he had a 20 days leave from 9 May 1863. Casualty report, based on Nominal report of casualties in 5th corps, in operations on South Bank of the Rappahannock River (in compiled service record) ("severely wounded"). Tyler describes the wound as slight; Welch claims he eventually died of it. The regimental and division surgeons pronounced him "seriously" wounded (casualty sheet, based on casualty report, 1st brigade, 3rd division, 5th corps, in action of 3 May 1863) (in compiled service record). See also Humphreys' report about Chancellorsville, and 'Further from General Hooker's army', Philadelphia Inquirer, 7 May 1863, page 1; 'List of some of the killed and wounded', Pittfield Sun 14 May 1863, and 'Killed and wounded in Gen. Sykes' division on Friday' (Philadelphia Press, 6 May 1863, page 1), 'The ninety-first Pennsylvania volunteers' (Philadelphia Press, Wednesday 13 May 1863, page 2), 'The Ninety-first Pennsylvania at Chancellorville', (Philadelphia Inquirer 13 May 1863, page 8).
D4. letter, Gregory to Marvin, 29 September 1863. In his letter of 14 November 1863, Gregory claims James Jameson, company H, was his hostler from 29 September to 16 October. Bates lists no James Jameson in company H. The Sept/Oct 1863 muster roll has him present (compiled service record).
D7. organization table, Army of the Potomac, 10 October 1863. Official Records series 1 volume 29 part 1 page 221.
D8. organization table, Army of the Potomac, 31 December 1863. Official records series 1 volume 29 part 2 page 603.
D9. Jan/Feb 1865 muster roll (compiled service record).
D10. Field and staff muster roll, 28 Feb to 10 May 1863 (from second auditor's roll) (in compiled service record). Letter, R Crowell (Act Asst Surgeon in charge, 91st Regt PV), 1 May 1863 (in compiled service record). request for leave to Philadelphia for medical treatment: letter, Gregory to Ranney, 7 May 1863, with endorsements approving it (in compiled service record). consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 9 May 1863.
D11. Field and staff muster roll 10 May to 30 June 1863 (on leave for 20 days from 16 June 63); July/Aug 1863 (surgeon's certificate for 20 days dated 15 Aug 63) (in compiled service record). Medical certificates, 22 May 1863 (and consolidated morning report 28 May 63); 11 June 1863; 6 July 1863; 26 July 1863; 10 Aug 1863; 4 Sep 1863; and 9 Sep 1863 (in compiled service record; see also consolidated morning report 19 Sep 63 for the 9 September extension). All except the 4 and 9 September certificate grant him 20 days leave; the 4 September certificate grants him 10 days, and the 9 September certificate grants him 15 days.
D12. Detachment muster-out roll, 25 Dec 1863 (in compiled service record); Supplementary muster and descriptive roll of vet. vols (in compiled service record).
D13. Field and staff muster roll, Nov/Dec 63 (in compiled service record).
D14. Request for leave: letter, Gregory to Captain McClellan, 10 March 1863 (in compiled service record). Granted 13 March 1863: endorsements (in compiled service record).
D21. IRS Income Tax Assessment list, Pennsylvania, district 4, annual lists, May 1863, page 66, line 10 (available on Ancestry.com): May, Gregory EM, 1438 Nth 13th St, [valuation=] 736, [rate of tax = ] 3[%], [number in abstract, class A = ] 32, [income tax=] 22.08
E1. report, Lentz, 9 August 1864. An edited version was printed in Report of Major John D Lentz, Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry, 9 August 1864. Official Reports series 1 volume 36 part 1 pages 555-557, at page 557.
E2. 6th: report, Lentz, 9 August 1864. An edited version was printed in Report of Major John D Lentz, Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry, 9 August 1864. Official Reports series 1 volume 36 part 1 pages 555-557, at page 557. Also Welch, page 505. 8th: letter, Gregory to Bennett, 16 June 1864
E3. Casualties at Cold Harbor, Bethesda Church, etc. 2 to 15 June 1864. Official Reports series 1 volume 36 part 1 page 170.
E5. special order 47, HQ 91st PA, 20 June 1864; and special order 55, HQ 91st PA, 30 June 1864. The May/June muster roll has him present (compiled service record). See also the consolidated morning report for 3 July 1864, which no longer reports him absent on detached service, unlike the 10 June report; the 29 June report (the only one between those dates) is unclear]
E9. letter, Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin to Brig Gen E D Townsend, 3 October 1864. Printed in Official Records series 1 volume 42 part 3 pages 59-60. Regimental descriptive book See also, but do not trust, the stories in Augustus Buell , The Cannoneer. Recollections of service in the Army of the Potomac (Washington DC: The National Tribute, 1897. Especially pages 320-321 and 321-322). As Bill Flis has told me, Buell was a notorious fraud; see the Wikipedia entry on him (accessed 26 March 2010).
E14. Hunt & Brown, Brevet brigadier generals. General order no 15, War Dept, AGO, 6 Feb 1865, in Compiled service record; 'Promotions and confirmations of Pennsylvania officers', Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 February 1865, page 3
E15. Special order 72, Office Supt Vol Rec Ser Eastern Dis PA office AA Provost Marshal General at Phila, 4 Feb 1864 (in compiled service record). According to the muster rolls for January/February and March/April 1864, he was absent on duty, in command at the Chester Hospital Rendezvous (by special order 80, 18 Feb 1864) (in compiled service record).
E16. Special order 80, paragraph 22, War Department, AGO, 18 February 1864 (in compiled service record). Field and staff muster roll, Jan/Feb 1864 (in compiled service record). The Mar/Apr 64 muster roll still has him commanding the Chester Hospital Rendezvous (in compiled service record). He was again assigned to this command on 31 March 1864, by special order 133, paragraph 56, War Department, AGO, 31 March 1864; I do not know how the two assignments differ.
E17. Field and staff muster roll, May/Jun 64 (in compiled service record).
E18. Field and staff muster rolls, Sep/Oct 1864, Nov/Dec 1864, Jan/Feb 1865, Mar/Apr 1865, and May/June 1865 (in compiled service record).
E27. 'Report of Col. Edgar M. Gregory, ... commanding second brigade, of operations August 18-30', The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies Series 1, volume 42, part 1, pages 466-467
E28. Henry A Willis, Fitchburg in the War of the Rebellion, p.248 (Fitchburg: Stephen Shepley, 1866), and Francis J Parker, The Story of the thirty-second regiment Massachusetts infantry, pp.253-4 (Boston: C W Calkins & Co., 1880).
E32. [Report by Gregory of 2nd brigade's actions 29 May to 9 Apr 1865]. House Miscellaneous Document 208, part 1: 'The War of the Rebellion: ... [Main Eastern Theater: Richmond-Petersburg Campaign/Operations against Fort Fisher and Wilmington/Sheridan's Expedition to Petersburg/Appomattox Campaign; January-June 1865; series 1, volume 46, chapter 58, part 1]'. Serial Set volume 3261, session volume 33, 53rd Congress, 2nd session. Pages 853-855.
E34. 'Arrival of the 91st regiment Pennsylvania volunteers' (Philadelphia Press 9 January 1864, page 2)
E37. Pennsylvania Infantry. 155th Regt., 1862-1865, Under the Maltese Cross, Antietam to Appomattox. The loyal uprising in Western Pennsylvania 1861-1865 (Pittsburg [sic], PA: The 155th Regimental Association, 1910), page 220