Original "Bucktails" gather for an outdoor portrait.
Today's Bucktails marching across a field in Gettysburg.
Some of the original "Bucktails" pose in a portrait studio.
McPherson's Barn in Gettysburg.
Monument to the 149th on Hancock Ave., Gettysburg.
A group of Bucktail members, later in life.
The Bucktails during a recent reenactment at Jackson Mansion, Berwick.
"We Have Come to Stay"
The History of the 149th Bucktails
Here is a short history about the Bucktail Regiment from information originally compiled in 1908 by Dyer Publishing
and re-used here by permission of Nathan Zipfel, President, PA-Roots.com, Inc.
© Alice J. Gayley, All Rights Reserved.
The efficient service rendered by the original Bucktails, as skirmishers and sharp-shooters, during the first year of the war, caused a desire that more troops like them should be brought into the field. One battalion of the old Bucktails, under Lieutenant Colonel Kane, had remained with McDowell in the valley of Virginia, while the other, under Major Stone, had shared the fortunes of McClellan's Army upon the Peninsula, and had been at the fore-front in almost every deadly encounter. So marked was their bravery, that they had become the pride of our own soldiers, and the terror of the foe. Colonel McNeill, who was afterwards killed at Antietam, in writing to Governor Curtin from Harrison's Landing, a few days after the close of the seven days' fight, says:
"During the severe engagement of the past few days, my regiment was in the hottest of the fight, under the command of Major Stone. The Generals of the Reserve Corps speak in the highest terms of its efficiency, and of the distinguished gallantry of that accomplished officer. * * * I can speak impartially of the brave fellows, as it was not my privilege to lead them, and, as to the Major, to him is eminently due the credit of their heroic conduct on the Peninsula. A Bucktail Brigade of light infantry would reflect additional honor on the old Commonwealth."
In conformity with this latter sentiment, which was iterated by many general officers, the Secretary of War authorized Major Stone to proceed to Pennsylvania, in July, 1862, for the purpose of raising a Bucktail Brigade. In less than twenty days twenty companies were organized, and soon afterwards the One Hundred and Forty-ninth and One Hundred and Fiftieth regiments were formed. At this juncture, and while other companies were being rapidly recruited and reporting at the general camp of rendezvous at Harrisburg, and a fair prospect existed of having a third and even a fourth regiment in the brigade, the rebel army invaded Maryland, and these two regiments were suddenly ordered to Washington. This action frustrated the completion of the brigade, as had been originally purposed, and the companies, which had been recruited for service in it, hastened to join other regiments then being organized.
The troops comprising the One Hundred and Forty-ninth, were from the counties of Potter, Tioga, Lycoming, Clearfield, Clarion, Lebanon, Allegheny, Luzerne, Mifflin, and Huntingdon. The men were well formed, of hardy habits, skilled in the use of the rifle, and wore the bucktail, as did the men whose name they adopted.
The regiment was organized with the following field officers:
Roy Stone, Colonel
Walton Dwight, Lieutenant Colonel
George W. Speer, Major
After reaching Washington, the regiment remained on duty in and about the city, as did the One Hundred and Fiftieth, until the middle of February, 1863, when they were ordered to the front, and proceeded to Belle Plain, Virginia, where, with the One Hundred and Forty-third Pennsylvania, they constituted the Second Brigade of the First Corps, to the command of which Colonel Stone was assigned.
On the afternoon of the 28th of April, at the opening of the Chancellorsville campaign, the brigade moved from camp near Belle Plain to a position near Pollock's Mills, where it halted for the night. On the following morning it moved down to the bank of the Rappahannock, where it was subjected to a rapid fire of shells, from the enemy on the opposite shore, the men manifesting a commendable steadiness. At eight o'clock on the morning of the 2nd of May, it marched to join the army now hotly engaged at Chancellorsville, and arrived upon the ground at two o'clock on the morning of the 3rd, having moved, in the meantime, over twenty-two miles, under a hot sun, the men burdened with ammunition and eight days' rations. It went into position on the Ely's Ford Road, on the right of the line, and immediately commenced constructing abattis and throwing up rifle-pits, having by nine o'clock a good line of defense. At day-light scouts and sharp-shooters were sent out under command of Lieutenant Howe, who at the distance of three-fourths of a mile encountered the enemy's pickets, exchanging shots with them, and capturing many prisoners.
The work of feeling the enemy was kept up while the command remained in position, and was of great service. At six P. M. of the 4th, the entire brigade was sent out to reconnoitre the road leading south from General Robinson's left, who occupied that part of the line. Advancing cautiously, with the skirmishers on front and flank, the enemy was found well posted a mile in front, the scouts approaching within hearing of the voices of the foe, undiscovered. At dark the command returned to the breast-works; the object of the movement having been attained.
On the 6th of May the command re-crossed the river and marched back to White Oak Church, Colonel Stone reporting on his return
"more men for duty and more arms than when the campaign commenced, and in excellent spirits and condition."
The Gettysburg campaign followed close upon that of Chancellorsville, Lee moving northward early in June. Buford, with a small force of cavalry, met the enemy a mile or two out of Gettysburg on the Chambersburg Road, on the morning of the 1st of July. The brigade had bivouacked the night previous four miles away. As soon as the noise of battle was heard, the column was put in motion for the relief of Buford's hard pressed troopers. It arrived upon the field at eleven A. M. Reynolds had already fallen, and Doubleday was in command. By his order, the brigade was posted on the first ridge beyond that on which the seminary stands, and parallel with it, the right resting on the Chambersburg Pike, and the left reaching nearly to the wood occupied by Meredith's Brigade, with a strong force of skirmishers thrown well down the next slope, and the pike held by a platoon of sharp-shooters. In gaining their position, the skirmishers had to pass an open field, under a hot fire from the enemy, sheltered by a fence. Without firing a shot, they dashed forward, drove the rebel line from the fence at the point of the bayonet, and held it throughout the day. Until after midday, the disposition remained unchanged, the enemy keeping up a constant fire from batteries posted on the opposite ridge. At this juncture, the enemy opened from a battery posted on a hill to the extreme right of the line, which completely enfiladed it, and compelled the troops on the right of the brigade to fall back to the Seminary Ridge, exposing its flank, and leaving it in an extremely hazardous position. The One Hundred and Forty-ninth was immediately thrown out upon the pike, facing to the north, and soon after, as the enemy's infantry came forward in heavy force, the One Hundred and Forty-third was thrown to the right on a prolongation of its line, leaving the brigade in the form of a right angle, the One Hundred and Fiftieth facing west, and the other two regiments facing north.
" At about one and a half P. M.," says Colonel Stone in his official report, " the grand advance of the enemy's infantry began. From my position, I was enabled to trace their formation for at least two miles. It appeared to be a nearly continuous double line of deployed battalions, with other battalions en masse as reserves. Their line being formed not parallel, but obliquely to ours, their left became first engaged with the troops on the northern prolongation of Seminary Ridge. The battalions engaged soon took a position parallel to those opposed to them, thus causing a break in their lines, and exposing the flank of those engaged to the fire of my two regiments on the Chambersburg Road. Though at the longest range of our pieces, we poured a most destructive fire upon their flanks, and with the fire upon their front, scattered them over the fields. A heavy force was then formed parallel to the Chambersburg Pike, and pressed forward to the attack of my position. Anticipating this, I had sent Colonel Dwight, with the One Hundred and Forty-ninth, forward to occupy a deep railroad cut, about one hundred yards from the pike, and when they came to a fence within pistol shot of his line, he gave them a staggering volley, re-loaded as they climbed the fence, and waiting until they came within short range, gave them another volley, and charged, driving them back over the fence in utter confusion. Returning to the cut, he found that the enemy had planted a battery which perfectly enfiladed it, and made it untenable. He accordingly fell back to the pike."
Soon afterwards, Colonel Stone fell, severely wounded, and the command devolved on Colonel Wister. After being repulsed and driven back in an advance from the north, the enemy again came on in heavy force from the west, and struggling over the railroad cut, pushed forward nearly to the pike; but a vigorous bayonet charge drove him back. Manfully the little brigade stood, in the face of greatly superior numbers, until it was ascertained that Meredith's Brigade, upon the left, had retired, when, finding that the enemy was coming in upon that flank, and that it was in danger of being surrounded, it fell back gradually, fighting as it went, and making an occasional stand, to Seminary Ridge, where a new position was taken, and a stubborn stand made. But, finally, finding itself outflanked, and likely to be swept away by the swarming legions of the foe, it fell back through the town, and took position on Cemetery Hill.
General Doubleday, in his official report, says:
" I relied greatly on Stone's Brigade to hold the post assigned it, [between the brigades of Cutler and Meredith,] as I soon saw that I should be obliged to change front with a portion of my line, to face the north-west, and his brigade held the pivot of the movement. My confidence in. this nolble body of men was not misplaced, as will be shown hereafter. They repulsedl the repeated attacks of vastly superior numbers, and maintained their position until the final retreat of the whole line. Stone, himself; was shot down, battling to the last."
"No language," says Stone, "' can do justice to the conduct of my officers and men on the bloody first day, to the coolness with which they watched and awaited. under a fierce storm of shot and shell, the approach of the enemy's overwhelming masses, to their ready obedience to orders, and prompt and perfect execution, under fire, of all the tactic of the battle-field, to the fierceness of their repeated attacks, and to the desperate tenacity of their resistance. They fought as though each man felt that upon his own arm hung the fate of the day and the nation. Nearly two-thirds of my command fell on the field. Every field officer, save one, was wounded and disabled. Their names are to be found already in your general report. Not one of them left the field until completely disabled. Colonel Wister, while commanding the brigade, though badly wounded in the mouth, and unable to speak, remained in the front of the battle, as did, also, Lieutenant Colonel Luidekoper, commanding the One Hundred and Fiftieth, with his right arm shattered and a wound in the leg, and Lieutenant Colonel Dwight, commanding the One Hundred and Forty-ninth, with a dangerous gun-shot wound through the thigh.
* * * The officers of my own staff present, and to whose bravery and intelligence high praise is due, were Lieutenant John E. Parsons, Acting Assistant Adjutant General, and Lieutenants Daigleish, and Walters. The two latter served also under Colonel Wister and Colonel Dana, while those officers commanded the brigade, and received from them the highest commendation. Lieutenant Walters is especially praised for his gallantry in rallying and leading in repeated charges, such portions of the troops as had become detached from their commands."
When the ambulances and artillery were well out of the way, the troops that had remained at the barricade, just back of the Seminary, retired by the old railroad bed, and by the pike, but were harassed, and many taken prisoners in passing through the town. What remained of the regiment was reformed with the brigade, in reserve, behind the western part of Cemetery Hill.
Towards twilight of the 2nd, it was moved to the assistance of Hancock's Corps, which had been driven in by a desperate charge of the enemy; but before reaching -he position, the enemy had retired. Shortly afterwards, the One Hundred and Forty-ninth, and One Hundred and Fiftieth, were sent out to rescue some guns which had been lost. After a spirited engagement, close to the enemy's line of battle, they succeeded in re-taking two pieces, and bringing them off. These two regiments remained upon the field during the night, and until re-called on the following morning. During the terrible cannonade on the afternoon of the 3d, the regiment was fearfully exposed, and when the charge of Picketts' Division, the last blow from the concentrated might of the rebel army, was delivered, it was held in readiness to charge with the bayonet. But before it could be brought into action; that blow had been received, and the power which had given it was prostrate in the dust. Keeping up a great show of strength in front, the rebel leader began to withdraw from the field, and was soon in full retreat. During the 4th, the regiment remained in position on the field; on the following day it moved a few hundred yards to the rear, to more pleasant camping grounds; and on the 7th, moved with the army in pursuit of Lee. Its losses in the entire engagement were thirty-four killed, one hundred and seventy-one wounded, and one hundred and' thirty-one missing. In the fall campaign which followed, none but minor engagements occurred, and in these the regiment bore but an unimportant part.
Early in December, upon the return of the army from Mine Run, it went into quarters, where, during the winter, it rested and received considerable, accessions of strength from new recruits.
The One Hundred and Forty-ninth broke camp near Culpepper, on the 4th of May, 1864, and crossing the Rapidan at Germania Ford, moved out to near the old Wilderness Tavern, where it bivouacked for the night. Again moving on the following morning, it proceeded a mile out on the Log Road, and halted till near midday, when, with the brigade, it formed in battle line, and pressing forward a mile and a half, through dense underbrush and dwarfed forest, encountered the enemy, having a warm contest at close quarters. The Union line was finally forced back, the regiment retiring to a point near the Lacy House, where it was re-formed, and held in readiness to advance until evening. In this first encounter the regiment lost heavily, having met an enemy lying in wait for it, and familiar with every part of this almost impenetrable maze.
At six in the evening, it moved to the left and formed on the right of the Second Corps, where it was engaged, and drove the enemy, firing being kept up until late at night. The loss on this part of the field was but slight. Lieutenant Alonzo B. Horton was here severely wounded, and taken prisoner. At a little before day-break of the 6th, the lines advanced to the attack, and by light-, the battle had begun. Charging resolutely in the face of a defiant foe, he was driven across the Plank Road. At seven A. M., the line fell back a short distance on the plank. Two hours later, another charge was made, and in this General Wadsworth, in command of the division, was killed. He was at the extreme front with the One Hundred and Forty-ninth, at the time he was stricken down.
"I was sitting," says Major Osborne, "'on my horse, within two or three feet of the General, just in rear of the front line, when he fell. At that very instant the whole line of our army, so far as I could see, gave way, and we were compelled to leave the brave old General, in a senseless and dying condition, to the mercy of his foes."
The line fell back to a point on the mud road leading to Chancellorsville, where it crosses the planks where a line of works had been thrown up before advancing. The key to the position was a little hill at these forks of these roads, and this the enemy made desperate efforts to gain. At four in the afternoon, after several fruitless attempts, Longstreet massed a heavy body of his troops, and finally succeeded in gaining a portion of the coveted ground. The brigade was lying at this time in reserve, near by, and was immediately ordered up to re-take it. Gallantly did it respond, and rushing upon the foe, drove him with great loss from his dear-bought prize. The brigade was soon after relieved, and led to the rear, where it rested for the night, and during the following day.
In the progress of the battle, Colonel Stone, in command of the brigade, was thrown from his horse, the old wound received at Gettysburg being re-opened by the fall, and he was obliged to retire. Colonel Bragg, of the Sixth Wisconsin, was assigned by General Cutler, who had succeeded General Wadsworth in command of the division, to succeed Stone. During the two days in which the regiment had been engaged, it lost fifteen killed, ninety nine wounded, and ninety-two taken prisoners.
At a little after dark, on the evening of the 17th, the regiment moved off, and proceeding by Todd's Tavern, reached Laurel Hill early on the following morning. The cavalry was already engaged when the brigade arrived, and it was immediately sent forward to relieve it. The position of the One Hundred and Forty-ninth was such, that it was much exposed, and suffered severely, but held its ground, and at evening threw up breast-works.
On the following day it lay, in reserve, and on the 10th again charged, driving the rebels into their defenses, and lying within one hundred and fifty yards of their works until after night-fall. The loss was severe, being three killed, and fifty-six wounded. Lieutenant Sylvanus D. Hamler was among the killed, and Captain Francis B. Jones, and Lieutenant William M. Dalgliesh among the wounded.
On the 12th, another charge was delivered, but was fruitless, and the command fell back to its works. At midday the regiment moved to the left, to the support of the Sixth Corps, and was thrown upon the front line, where it was exposed, without protection, to the fire of the enemy's sharp-shooters. Returning on the morning of the 13th to its former position, it remained until late in the evening, when it took up the line of march to the left, moving during the entire night, and taking position on a road a mile east of Spottsylvania Court House. On the 17th it again changed position, connecting with a portion of the Ninth Corps, where works, as in the former position, were built.
North Anna River
On the 21st, the regiment again moved forward, joining in the general movement of the army, and on the 23rd crossed the North Anna. It was towards evening, and while the regiment was advancing to a piece of woods to encamp for the night, it came suddenly upon heavy masses of the enemy, who at once opened fire, and advanced upon its flank with the design of cutting it off. Falling back a short distance, this gallant brigade came into position, and though greatly outnumbered, checked his advance, and held and fortified the ground. Cooper's Battery, of the First Pennsylvania Artillery, rendered signal service in this sanguinary struggle. The loss was four killed, sixteen wounded, and ten taken prisoners. Lieutenant Christian Zimmerman was among the killed.
Re-crossing the river on the 26th, the regiment moved forward, and took position with the brigade on the 30th, on the right of the Pennsylvania Reserves, near the Mechanicsville Road. On the 1st of June, it formed line of battle near Bethesda Church, driving in the rebel skirmishers, and throwing up a line of rifle-pits in the woods, exposed the while, to a severe fire from the enemy's artillery. Until the 5th, their position was maintained, a warm picket and artillery fire being kept up to their last, with a loss of one killed and eleven wounded. It then moved to the left, continuing the march during the entire night.
On the 6th, the brigade was transferred to the First Division, and General Chamberlain was assigned to its . On the 16th the corps crossed the James.
"We marched," says Colonel Irwin, in his official report, " near Petersburg, halting at eleven P. M., in rear of the Second Corps, where we lay until the 18th, when we moved forward and formed on the right of the Fourth Division. At three o'clock we charged the enemy's lines, advancing under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry. We gained a position about three hundred yards from the enemy's line of works. Our advance was checked, but we held this position until the morning of the 19th, when, at day-break, we were withdrawn to a second line. Colonel Chamberlain, commanding the brigade, was severely wounded in this charge, and was succeeded by Colonel Tilton."
The loss was one killed and twenty-two wounded. In summing up his losses, from the time, the regiment crossed the Rapidan, in the opening of May, until the close of July, Colonel Irwin reports two commissioned officers and thirty-two men killed, six commissioned officers, and two hundred and forty-three men wounded and one hundred and twenty one missing, an aggregate of four hundred and four.
All attempts to carry the enemy's works by assault having failed, siege operations were commenced. In these the regiment was closely engaged until the 18th of August, when it marched with the corps in its first assault upon the Weldon Railroad. The fighting was severe, but the brigade, owing to its well chosen position, suffered little loss, easily repulsing the most desperate assaults of the enemy. The regiment lost two killed, seven wounded, and four missing.
For a period of nearly three weeks, the regiment was engaged in building forts and rifle-pits, and otherwise strengthening the line. On the 11th of September it was relieved from the front, and sent to the rear as a reserve, where it remained until the 1st of October. It then moved out on the Vaughan Road, three miles from the railroad, where it threw up works. In the engagement which resulted at Peebles' Farm, it did not participate, and on the morning of the 4th, returned to its former camp.
On the 27th it again moved by the Vaughan Road, and at Hatcher's Run met the enemy. Returning on. the following day, it was posted on the front line, on the right of the corps, where it went into winter-quarters. The repose of camp life, which was beginning to be settled, was disturbed on the 7th of December, by the movement of the corps on the grand raid upon the Weldon Railroad. In the return of the corps, the regiment was of the rear guard, and had frequent skirmishes with the enemy's cavalry. Its loss was one killed, eight wounded, and three missing.
Upon its arrival at the front, it was held under marching orders, near Fort Slocum until past the middle of the month, when it was again placed in winter-quarters. Six weeks of comparative quiet ensued. This was broken on the 5th of February, 1865, by the movement of the corps to Dabney's Mills. At three P. M., of the 6th, the regiment became engaged, and at dark, fell back to the breast-works.
At daylight on the following day, it again moved forward, and met strong resistance, but finally drove the enemy, and erected a line of works. For three days succeeding, it was employed in fortifying, at the end of which the brigade was detached from the army of the Potomac, and ordered to duty in the North.
At Baltimore, the brigade was broken, and this regiment, in company with the One Hundred and Fiftieth, proceeded to Elmira, New York, where they were placed in charge of the camp for rebel prisoners, and where they remained until the close of their terms of service.
The One Hundred and Forty-ninth was mustered out on the 24th of June, and proceeding to Harrisburg, was paid and finally disbanded.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organized at Harrisburg August, 1862.
Ordered to Washington, D. C., September, 1862.
Attached to Defences of Washington, D.C., to February, 1863.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to December, 1863.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, to March, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, 5th Army Corps, to June, 1864.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps, to September, 1864.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, to June, 1865.
Duty in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., till February, 1863.
Ordered to join 1st Army Corps at Belle Plains, Va., and duty there till April 27, 1863.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Operations about Pollock's Mill Creek April 29-May 2.
Battle of Chancellorsville May 2-5.
Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24.
Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3.
Pursuit of Lee July 5-24.
At Bealeton Station till October.
Bristoe Campaign October 9-22.
Haymarket October 19.
Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8.
Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7, 1864.
Duty near Culpeper till May.
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12.
Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Laurel Hill May 8; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21.
Assault on the Salient May 12.
North Anna River May 23-26.
Jericho Ford May 25.
On line of the Pamunkey May 26-28.
Totopotomoy May 28-31.
Cold Harbor June 1-12.
Bethesda Church June 1-3.
Before Petersburg June 16-18.
Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865.
Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864 (Reserve).
Weldon Railroad August 18-21.
Poplar Springs Church September 29-October 2.
Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28.
Warren's Raid on Weldon Railroad December 7-12.
Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865.
Ordered to Baltimore, Md., February 10; thence to Draft Rendezvous, Elmira, N.Y., and duty there till June. Mustered out June 24, 1865.
Regiment lost during service:
4 Officers and 160 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and
172 Enlisted men by disease.
Source: Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Compiled and Arranged from Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of he Adjutant Generals of the Several States, the Army Registers, and Other Reliable Documents and Sources.Des Moines, Iowa: The Dyer Publishing Company, 1908
Bucktail regiment information by Alice J. Gayley and used here by permission of Nathan Zipfel, president, PA-Roots.com, Inc.
© Alice J. Gayley, All Rights Reserved.