Dedication of monument
91ST REGIMENT INFANTRY
[footnote: Organized at Philadelphia from September 9 to December 4, 1861, to serve three years. On the expiration of its term of service the original members (except veterans) were mustered out and the organization composed of veterans and recruits retained in service until July 10, 1865, when it was mustered out.]
SEPTEMBER 12, 1889
ADDRESS OF CHAPLAIN JOSEPH WELCH
The Ninety-first regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, was recruited in the city of Philadelphia, and mustered into the service of the United States December 4, 1861, with the following staff: Colonel Edgar M. Gregory; lieutenant-colonel, Edward E. Wallace; major, George W. Todd; adjutant, Benjamin F. Tayman; quartermaster, Lieutenant George W. [page 501] Eyre; surgeon, Isaac D. Knight, M. D.; assistant surgeon, Charles W. Houghton, and chaplain, Joseph Welch.
The regiment camped on the west bank of the Schuylkill river, at Camp Chase, until January 21, 1862, when it embarked for the front, and went into camp north of the city of Washington on the Bladensburg turnpike, at Camp Stanton.
March 22 it occupied the Franklin Square barracks, and was employed in provost and other duties under the military governor until April 26 when it was ordered to Alexandria, Virginia, Colonel Gregory being appointed military governor, and Captain Joseph H. Sinex, of Company D, being provost marshall.
Severe and unenviable service now kept the regiment fully occupied for four months.
On the 23d of August the regiment was assigned to the First Brigade, General E. G. Tyler, in the Third Division, General A. A. Humphreys, of the Fifth Army Corps, General Fitz John Porter, and went into camp at Cloud's Mills.
The brigade at this time being composed of the Ninety-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel E. M. Gregory; One hundred and thirty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel M. S. Quay; One hundred and twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel J. G. Elder, and One hundred and twenty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel J. G. Frick.
In consequence of the excitement following the second battle of Manassas, the command was kept in motion in the vicinity of the capital, south of the Potomac, until September 15 when it joined the pursuit of the enemy under Lee, who had crossed the river into Maryland; pushing on, by a night march of the 17th, it reached the battlefield of Antietam on the morning of September 18 with headquarters at a rail fence crossing a part of the field.
Remaining in camp here, till the forward movement of the middle of October, it reached Warrenton, Virginia, October 30; by the middle of November the division reached and encamped at Stoneman's switch on the Aquia Creek railroad, and remained here until the movement for the attack on the position of the enemy at Fredericksburg.
Taking up the line of March [sic], the regiment crossed the river by the upper pontoon bridge, marching through the town, and formed in line behind a graveyard, the stone wall of which afforded some protection against the fire of the enemy; from this point, through the various changes of its position on the field, its losses were severe.
Lieutenant [George] Murphy and a number of men were killed on the field. Major Todd and a large number were wounded, the major dying very shortly afterwards; the final charge led by Generals Humphreys and Tyler, which was made with the cheers of the men, proved in vain, and met with a heavy loss.
The last company to recross the river (Company E) made the passage as the skirmishers of the enemy entered the town; with all the experiences the regiment was destined to have in the subsequent history of the army, it never forgot those of the battle of Fredericksburg.
The camp of the army was practically continuous varied by an ineffectual attempt to move in January, 1863, until April 28, when the manoeuvers took place, resulting in the battle of Chancellorsville. Here the colonel was [page 502] severely wounded; from the effects of this wound he never entirely recovered, and ultimately died.
The expiration of the term of enlistment of the regiments of the division, except the Ninety-first and One hundred and fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, caused the assignment of these to the Second Division composed largely of regulars, General George Sykes commanding. The command was stationed at Stoneman's switch guarding the railroad about two weeks, and then moved to United States Ford on the river, where it remained till June 7.
On the night of June 7, the regiment moved during a heavy rain storm, marching all night, halting about 4 o'clock the next morning at Mount Holly Church for breakfast. At 7 o'clock the march was resumed, continuing till night, and halted at Catlett's Station on the Orange and Alexandria railroad.
On the morning of the 9th the march began at 2 o'clock and continued under a hot sun till 3 o'clock, going into camp at Manassas Junction, doing picket duty for three days.
From this point to Gum Springs, halting two or three days, at which time General Weed took command of the brigade, thence to Aldie in support of the cavalry who were skirmishing with the cavalry of the enemy; from here to Leesburg where the regiment formed picket line, guarding the flank of the army as it passed northward.
Leaving Leesburg about 3 p. m., crossing the Potomac river at Edwards' Ferry, it marched to Poolesville, Maryland, arriving about 9 o'clock; the march was resumed the following morning about 4 o'clock, reaching Frederick City, Maryland, and halting for two days.
While the regiment was at this point, General Meade took command of the Army of the Potomac, General Sykes taking the corps and General R. B. Ayres the division. From Frederick City the regiment marched to Uniontown, bivouacking here in the rain, crossing the South Mountain and halting at Boonesboro, on ground rendered familiar by the campaign of Antietam the previous year. Here a welcome issue of shoes was made, which had become badly needed. Marching thence to Union Mills.
Having been mustered for pay, the regiment left Union Mills on the morning of July 1, marching to Hanover, Pennsylvania, where it halted for a brief rest for dinner. As soon as coffee was disposed of, the march was resumed for Gettysburg, where fighting had already begun; the tidings of which began to arrive in the evening; at midnight a rest was taken on the side of the road over which the march lay.
On the morning of July 2, an early move was made and the regiment was thrown into line east of the Baltimore turnpike, a short distance below Gettysburg, at which point Captain Hall of Company E was wounded; it was then moved to a position of support in the center of the line, from which in a short time the brigade was taken as a support to the Third Corps which was being flanked by the enemy.
The brigade marched up one side of Round Top, as the enemy charged up the other side, too late to capture a position that became of inestimable worth to us in a few hours. The regiment was then ordered to the right at double-quick to support Battery I of the Fifth U. S. Artillery. This position had barely been reached when the regiment was ordered back to Round Top, and [page 503] drawn up in line in front of Battery D, Fifth U. S. Artillery which fired over it. After collecting the wounded lying in front of the line, the regiment during the night threw up a stone wall as a protection from the enemy's sharpshooters, who, from Devil's Den, were harrassing the men; General Weed commanding the brigade and Captain Hazlett of the battery were both killed here.
On the morning of July 3, the enemy's batteries opened on this position, preparatory to further attempts, our own battery making no reply at the time. After various changes which occupied the morning had been made, the artillery of the enemy opened at 1 o'clock all along the line. This was the prelude of the serious and decision effort of the grand charge which began about 3 o'clock. The enemy advanced in three lines, in splendid order and determined persistence. Out [sic] battery opened on them with a flanking fire that was terrible in its power and fearful in destruction. Three times was the attempt made in the fact of murderous musketry and artillery that literally mowed them down in heaps. The effort was then abandoned and the position was left in our undisputed possession. In the evening our pickets were advanced beyond the Devil's Den, meeting no opposition. A heavy rain set in during the night, continuing part of the following day, in which the regiment remained in the position it occupied. A memorable fourth of July to us, but whose full significance could not then be foreseen.
On the morning of the 5th, the skirmish line advanced over the enemy's breastworks, capturing a number of prisoners, until they came up with the rear guard of the retreating army, when they were called into the regiments, which were already on the march along the Emmitsburg turnpike. A heavy rain coming on in the afternoon, rendered the camp ground at night literally a field of mud.
At 5 o'clock on the morning of the 7th, the march was resumed, reaching Utica. On the 8th, crossed South Mountain and camped near Middltetown. On the 9th marched to near Boonesboro. On the 10th to near Antietam creek. On the 11th and 12th having heavy skirmishing. Marched in line of battle and reached Williamsport, Maryland, where the enemy crossed the river.
July 14, marched to Berlin where the regiment crossed the Potomac. A detail was now made of three officers and six men for recruiting services who were sent to Philadelphia. The regiment marched to Wapping Heights, skirmishing through the gap in time to see the rear of the enemy's army on its retreat. From Wapping Heights to Stony creek, halting for the night. Passing Warrenton, it camped three miles beyond the town where it remained till August 3, when it marched to Beverly Ford on the Rappahannock and there going into camp.
September 16, marched to Brandy Station, halted for the night, thence marched beyond Culpeper, where it camped till October 10. From this date the regiment was almost continually on the march for forty-five days, in a series of movements that in detail alone, would seem aimless and inexplicable, but were part of a whole, both needful and wise, that for hard work varied with a spice of fighting, would be eminently satisfactory to the most ardent campaigners. From Culpeper to Raccoon Ford on the Rapidan, thence back the following day. In the old camp one night, then to Brandy [page 504] Station, halting a few hours, then to Rappahannock Station, crossing the river and moving up to Beverly Ford.
The next day the command re-crossed and advanced in line of battle to near Brandy Station. At 2 a. m. it fell back and recrossed the river to Beverly Ford. In a few hours the regiment was deployed as flankers and reached Manassas Plains. About dusk the enemy attacked the Second Corps at Bristoe Station, and the regiment went on double-quick to its assistance. The attack being repulsed, the march was resumed, lasting all night, and in the morning the command reached Centreville. Resting a few hours, it then resumed the march by the Fairfax road to near Fairfax Court House. On the afternoon of the following day, it marched back about five miles and bivouacked for the night, and reached Centreville on the day following.
On the 18th, marched to Fairfax Court House. The following day to the old Bull Run battlefield. Left this at 1 o'clock a. m., and marched to Haymarket and thence to New Baltimore.
After building road, the march was resumed to Three Mile Station on the Warrenton Branch railroad. From thence to Rappahannock Station, where line of battle was formed and skirmishers thrown out. About dusk a charge was ordered, and the forts were captured with a number of prisoners and guns. Camping in front of the captured works, on November 8 the command marched to Kelly's Ford, where, after a few hours, the river was crossed.
On the 10th marched to Mountain run where quarters were built and occupied till the 24th. Starting on the 26th the river was crossed and the regiment reached Hope Church [on 27 Nov], halting for the night; then marched to Parker's Store where line was formed under a heavy fire of artillery from the enemy.
The following day moved toward Robertson's Tavern and relieved the Second Corps; going to the front, laid there till 2 a. m., when the corps moved to the right to make a charge [the near-charge occurred on 30 Nov]; lying under arms here until the following night when it was withdrawn, some of the men being frozen to death during the exposure in the severe cold. [note: I haven't found anyone in Bates who died on the 27th or 28th of November 1863. Walter reports that some men in the Pennsylvania Reserves were supposed to have frozen to death.]
Then again to the front, relieving the Pennsylvania Reserves December 1, after dark ordered to retire as quietly and quickly as possible, moving by Robertson's Tavern, recrossed the river at Culpeper Ford, getting breakfast about 8 a. m.; marching all day, halting at night, crossing the Rappahannock and halting beyond Rappahannock Station. The next day marched to Warrenton Junction, thence back to Kettle run; lying here till the 10th when the regiment marched to Bealton and went into camp. Here it lost Captain [Horace] Faust of Company D, by death. The regiment was mustered December 26 into the service for three years more; those who did not re-enlist being transferred to the One hundred and fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers.
December 27, marched to Warrenton Junction, thence, January 2, 1864 [they actually left on the 4th], to Alexandria; passing through Washington and Baltimore, being entertained at the Soldiers' Rest; it reached Philadelphia, marching through the city to Independence Hall; after a dress parade, it was dismissed on furlough.
Headquarters were established on Chestnut street and Lieutenant [Howard] Shipley detailed for recruiting service.
February 16, 1864, the regiment assembled and marched to the Baltimore railroad depot, taking the train to Chester, Pa., where it lay till March 2, [page 505] when it left for the front, in command of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph H. Sinex; passing through Washington and Alexandria it proceeded to Warrenton Junction and encamped.
April 30, broke camp and marched to the Rappahannock, crossing the river at Rappahannock Station, marched to Brandy Station; moved at midnight crossing Rapidan at Germanna Ford, marched down into the wilderness.
May 5, the brigade advanced in two lines through dense underbrush, charging through an open space, but was repulsed; it was then reformed under the brow of a hill and there stayed. The next morning the regiment moved out to protect pioneers throwing up breastworks; taking position here the enemy charged, but lost heavily and retired. From this position the regiment moved to Todd's Tavern, where heavy skirmishing and throwing up defenses occupied the time till the 12th, when the line advanced to attack the enemy's defenses under a heavy fire; Lieutenant-Colonel [Joseph] Sinex and Lieutenant [Howard] Shipley were here wounded, and Major [John] Lentz took command.
In the afternoon the regiment marched to the left in support of the Sixth Corps. Moving again to the left toward Spotsylvania Court House, with the One hundred and fortieth New York in line, the regiment charged the Galt House which was captured. Having been relieved here by a brigade of the Sixth Corps which was driven out, the regiment was again ordered to take the position; advancing to the attack, under fire of our own guns trained on the enemy from which it suffered, it again captured the position; thus marching, fighting and countermarching, and still fighting, the story of the regiment is that of the army in the campaign from the Rappahannock to the James.
On the 9th the division was reviewed by General Ayres, and the corps was reorganized, the Ninety-first regiment being assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division. Moving by Bottom's bridge and White Oak swamp, on the 13th it crossed the Chickahominy and was thrown into line; marching by St. Mary's Church, a crossing of the James river was effected at Wilcox's Landing and an advance made up the Petersburg road to Prince George Court House, where the regiment lay till the 18th, when charging across the Norfolk and Petersburg railroad, it occupied the position. Moving forward again, it charged and captured the inner line, with a loss of eighty-two men killed and wounded. Immediately throwing up breastworks, the command lay here till 5 o'clock the next morning when it was moved to the left, still moving as the developments of the field warranted, until, charging and driving the enemy, the position was captured on which Fort Hell was afterward built. Relieved about 11 o'clock p. m. by the Sixty-second Pennsylvania, the regiment was changed to another position, and on the 23d was ordered to capture breastworks taken by the enemy from the Second Corps on the preceding day. Charging under a heavy fire, the works were captured, when the Second Corps reocccupied them and the command returned to the camp it had left; it was then moved to the left to support the Sixth Corps which was engaged with the enemy. The following day it returned to camp on the Jerusalem plank road. While here, the members of the Sixty-second Pennsyl-[page 506]vania whose term of service was not expiring with that of the regiment, were transferred to the Ninety-first.
July 6, the regiment began work on what became known as Fort Prescott, continuing this until the 30th of that month, when it took part in the engagement attending the explosion of a mine, which, from its peculiar results, became known as the Crater.
August 18, the command moved against the enemy on the Weldon railroad, capturing it, and at once throwing up breastworks; the enemy repeatedly attempted its recapture but were defeated with the loss of the entire brigade taken prisoners.
On the 30th [of September] the enemy were driven out of their works and Pegram's house was captured. Moving almost daily, and fighting with every move, capturing, on the 8th of October, the Davis house which was burnt, the regiment on the 14th received a detachment of new recruits, and was occupied in continuous drill the 27th, when a demonstration was made across Hatcher's run; Captain [James] Closson was wounded during this demonstration, and died shortly afterwards; after the enemy had been driven behind their defenses the command returned to its position.
In December the command moved to the rear of Fort Stevenson, striking the Weldon railroad at Jarratt's Station, skirmishing and destroying the railroad all night, reaching nearly to Hicksford, returning to its position at Fort Stevenson.
February 6, 1865, started at 4 o'clock a. m., toward Hatcher's run; having deployed skirmishers, the enemy's works were struck about 4 p. m. A charge was made and repulsed, the command being fired upon through mistake, by a division of our Sixth Corps. Captain [John] Edgar was killed, Captain [George] Finney captured, and the colors only saved by Sergeant [Thomas] Devereux of Company C, stripping them from the staff and concealing them on his person; the command then returned to camp near Hatcher's run.
March 29, the command moved out at 3 a. m., proceeding about twelve miles on the Quaker road, when the enemy was met and drive some distance; halting till about 11 p. m., when an advance was made of about a mile, and then entrenched. The following morning the command moved forward, and found the enemy near Dabney's Mill; halting here till the next day, were then relieved by the Second Corps, moved to the left, and thrown into line behind Gravelly run; about noon were ordered to the support of the Second and Third divisions, which were being driven by the enemy; the advances resulted in driving the enemy about four miles to the White Oak road; here the command was ordered to support General Sheridan, moving against Five Forks.
The regiment and the Sixteenth Michigan, both under Colonel E. G. Sellers of the Ninety-first, formed en echelon in rear of the Third Division, advanced on double-quick, evidently taking the enemy by surprise. General Warren was here relieved and General Griffin took command of the corps. Moving forward in line on the right of the Third Division, along a road across which the enemy, posted behind breastworks, was attacked, and nearly all captured, the command still pushed forward till night when it returned and camped on the Five Forks road. [page 507]
The following day April 3, about noon, the command moved out to the South Side railroad, striking it at Church Road crossing and formed across it with pickets out, and halted for the night. The following day it again moved forward, driving the enemy as far as Sailor's creek, where it entrenched; that night it was ordered to support General Custer, and captured two hundred wagons, after which it returned to its position.
The next day the movement was resumed, and the march lasted till nearly midnight of the 8th; the next day it marched again reaching nearly to Appomattox Court House about 8 a. m., when the command was drawn up in line with skirmishers deployed, and advanced under cover of a ridge; here the enemy sent in a flag of truce, and hostilities ceased.
The command marched through the town and was placed in position beyond, the brigade being ordered to receive the arms of the enemy.
The following morning, the command moved closer to the position of the enemy, and was drawn up, right resting on Appomattox creek, and received the guns as they were stacked by the enemy, as they came up by divisions.
At dusk the command returned to its position of the preceding night, and remained here two days; it then started for Burkeville Junction, stopping for the night near Farmville, where the news was received of the assassination of President Lincoln.
By easy marches the command moved toward Washington, passing through Petersburg, and being reviewed at Richmond by General Halleck. The regiment camped near Alexandria until July 10, having participated in the grand review of the army by President Johnson and General Grant; it was mustered out of the service and returned to Philadelphia, where it arrived on the morning of July 12, 1865.