Pennsylvania Reserves


Pennsylvania Reserves

The Pennsylvania Reserves was an infantry division in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Noted for its famous commanders and high casualties, it served in the Eastern Theater, and fought in many important battles, including Antietam and Gettysburg.

Organization

When President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers to "put down the rebellion" in the spring of 1861, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania found itself with more volunteers than needed to meet its Federal quota. The Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, was a political enemy of Andrew Curtin, Pennsylvania governor, and refused to take the extra men into Federal service. Curtin decided to retain the extra men and organized, trained, and equipped them at state expense. The creation of the special division was approved by the Pennsylvania legislature on May 15, 1861. The men were trained at camps of instruction in four cities: Easton, Pittsburgh, West Chester, and Harrisburg. The training camp near Harrisburg was named Camp Curtin for the governor.

Fifteen regiments were formed, known as the 1st through 15th Pennsylvania Reserves (they were later designated the 30th through 44nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, but generally retained the label of the Pennsylvania Reserves). At the time of the redesignation, Pennsylvania had other troops both in the field or in various stages of development using the same numbers. While many of these units used their designations into middle and late 1862, much confusion arose over the naming convention. Additional naming confusion occurred within the ranks of the reserves. The 13th Pennsylvania Reserves (42nd Pennsylvania Volunteers) was additionally named the 1st Pennsylvania Rifles. Although better known as the "Bucktails," this regiment became officially known as the First Rifles. The same can be said regarding the 14th and 15th Pennsylvania Reserves (43rd and 44th Pennsylvania Volunteers), which officially were designated as the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery and the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry, respectively.

The regiments were grouped into a division of three brigades, and the entire unit normally fought together until the initial enlistments expired in 1864. The exceptions to this include the 2nd Brigade, most of which did not take part at Gettysburg, as it was assigned to the Washington, D.C., defenses, and the detachment of several artillery batteries and cavalry troops to other divisions.

Command history

The first commander was George A. McCall, and later division commanders were John F. Reynolds, George G. Meade, and Samuel W. Crawford. Truman Seymour twice was acting commander, once on the Peninsula and once at Antietam, when Meade became acting commander of I Corps (ACW). The initial brigade commanders were Reynolds, Meade, and Colonel John S. McCalmont (until Edward Otho Cresap Ord took official command of the 3rd Brigade).

History

The division although part of I Corps, served with the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula Campaign. The division was then attached to the III Corps during the Second Bull Run Campaign. The division returned to the I Corps during the battles of South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, particularly distinguishing itself at Fredericksburg, where it penetrated the Confederate lines. Between Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, the division was a part of the XXII Corps assigned to Washington, D.C. It was part of the V Corps again for the Battle of Gettysburg, where it distinguished itself on July 2 1863, fighting around Little Round Top. One brigade drove Confederate forces from the western slopes of Little Round Top back to the Wheatfield. Under Crawford, the Pennsylvania Reserves continued to fight with the Army of the Potomac until just before the Battle of the Bethesda Church or Battle of Totopotomoy Creek, when the men's three-year enlistments expired.

A large number of the men re-enlisted and became the 190th and 191st Pennsylvania Volunteers and fought until the end of the war.

Regimental articles

*3rd Pennsylvania Reserve Regiment
*4th Pennsylvania Reserve Regiment
*8th Pennsylvania Reserve Regiment

References

*Boatner, Mark M. III, "The Civil War Dictionary: Revised Edition", David McKay Company, Inc., 1984, ISBN 978-0-679-73392-8.

External links

* [http://www.pareserves.com Pennsylvania Reserves 1861-1864]
* [http://www.psupress.psu.edu/books/titles/0-271-02166-7.html Gibbs, Joseph, "Three Years in the "Bloody Eleventh", Penn State Press, 2002] ISBN 0-271-02166-7
* [http://www.pa-roots.com/~pacw/reserves/reservecorps.html Muster of the Pennsylvania Reserves]


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