97th REGIMENT INFANTRY

Jeremiah Hennessey served in the 97th Regiment Infamtry which was organized at West Chester August 22 to October 28, 1861. Moved to Washington, D.C., November 16-17, thence to Fortress Monroe, Va., November 20-22. Attached to Dept. of Virginia to December, 1861. Wright’s 3rd Brigade, Sherman’s South Carolina Expedition, to April, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of the South, to July, 1862. District of Hilton Head, S.C., Dept. South, to September, 1862. District Hilton Head, S.C., 10th Corps, Dept. South, to April, 1863. Stevenson’s Brigade, Seabrook Island, S.C., 10th Corps, to July, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Morris Island, S.C., 10th Corps, July, 1863. 3rd Brigade, Morris Island, S.C., 10th Corps, to August, 1863. 1st Brigade, Morris Island, S.C., 10th Corps, to October, 1863. Fernandina, Fla., Dept. South, to April, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Army Corps, Dept. Virginia and North Carolina, to May, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, to June, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 10th Corps, to December, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 24th Army Corps, to January, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Terry’s Provisional Corps, Dept. North Carolina, to March, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 10th Corps, Dept. North Carolina, to August, 1865.

SERVICE.–Duty at Camp Hamilton, near Fortress Monroe, Va., till December 8, 1861. Moved to Port Royal, S. C, December 8-11. Duty at Hilton Head, S.C., till January 21, 1862. Operations in Warsaw Sound, Ga., against Fort Pulaski, January 21-February 25. Expedition to Florida February 25-March 5. Occupation of Fernandina March 5, and duty there till March 24. Moved to Jacksonville, Fla., March 24, and duty there till April 9. Moved to Hilton Head, S.C., April 9-14. Expedition :to Edisto Island, S.C., April 19-20. Expedition to James Island. S.C., June 1-28. Action on James Island June 10. Battle of Secessionville June 16. Evacuation of James Island June 28, and duty at North Edisto Island till July 18. Moved to Hilton Head, S.C., July 18, and duty there till November 20. At St. Helena Island, S.C., till January 15, 1863. At Hilton Head and Seabrook Point till April. At Seabrook Island till July 8. Expedition to James Island July 9-16. Battle of Secessionville July 16. Moved to Folly and Morris Islands July 17-18. Assault on Fort Wagner, Morris Island, July 18. Siege of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, and operations against Fort Sumpter and Charleston July 18-September 7. Capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg, Morris Island, September 7. Duty on Morris Island till October 2. Moved to Fernandina, Fla., October 2-5, and duty there till April 23, 1864. Expedition from Fernandina to Woodstock and King’s Ferry Mills February 15-23, 1864. Moved to Hilton Head, S.C., thence to Gloucester Point, Va., April 23-28. Butler’s operations on south side of the James and against Petersburg and Richmond May 4-28. Capture of Bermuda Hundred and City Point May 5. Swift Creek or Arrow field Church May 9-10. Proctor’s Creek and operations against Fort Darling May 12-16. Battle of Drewry’s Bluff May 14-16. Bermuda Hundred front May 17-28. Chester Station May 18. Green Plains May 20. Movement to White House, thence to Cold Harbor May 28-June 1. Battles about Cold Harbor June 1-12. Before Petersburg June 15-18. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16 to December 7, 1864. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30 (Reserve). Demonstration on north side of James River at Deep Bottom August 13-20. Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom, August 14-18. Bermuda Hundred August 24-25. Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30. Charles City Road October 7. Battle of Fair Oaks October 27-28. In trenches before Richmond till December 6. Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C., December 6-27. Second Expedition to Fort Fisher January 3-15, 1865. Assault and capture of Fort Fisher January 15. Sugar Loaf Battery February 11. Fort Anderson February 18-19. Capture of Wilmington February 22. Advance on Goldsborg March 6-21. Advance on Raleigh April 9-13. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett’s House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. Duty at Raleigh till July 10, and at Gaston and Weldon, N. C., till August 28. Mustered out August 28, 1865, at Weldon, N. C. Moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and discharged September 4, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 130 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 184 Enlisted men by disease. Total 322.

HISTORY OF THE NINETY-SEVENTH REGIMENT

Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, during the war of the Rebellion 1891 – 65

By Isaiah Price, DDS

Philadelphia, PA  1875

Company E, Mulligan Guards

Company E was recruited by William McConnell, a naturalized citizen of the United States, born in Cavin Co. Ireland about the year 1827.  He received an excellent education at a college in Londonderry.  He emigrated to this country , with other members of his family, about the year 1848, settled in Philadelphia, and was engaged in a mercantile house as a clerk and book-keeper.  After a few years, he went to New York, where in 1852, he married Eliza Jane Jephson, of that city.  He soon afterward found employment as a house painter.  He then returned to Philadelphia and about 1853 removed to West Chester, PA, where he followed the occupation of painting and with the diligence and success, for several years previous to the war.  He became an active member of the National Guards, and was a thoroughly drilled soldier.  He had received an appointment in the various movements of the drill, etc.

When his company, commanded by Capt. H.R. Guss, marched to Harrisburg, in April, 1861, to enter the three months’ service, with a sufficient number of men enrolled to organize three companies, he was appointed 1st sergeant of Company E, 9th Regiment P.V., and served in that capacity during the term, a account of which is elsewhere given.

Upon return and muster out of the Regiment at Harrisburg, July 29, 1861. Sergt. McConnell was authorized , by Col. H.R. Guss, to recruit a company for his Regiment.  Upon this duty he entered with energy and determination about the 5th of August, 1861, and soon began to realize success.  The men he enlisted were chiefly naturalized citizens, of his native land, residents of Chester County, who espoused the cause of their adopted country in her conflict with treason.  They generally made sturdy, reliable soldiers, efficient in the field of battle and in the arduous trench duty that became so largely the experience of the regiment during the war.

On September 9, 1861, the first muster for the company was made, by Maj. G. Pennypacker, of thirty men, on the 11th, two men, on the 16th, ten men on the 24th, one man , and aggregate of seventy men, when John W. Babb of West Chester  (note: his was a neighbor of Jeremiah Hennessey), was mustered as 1st lieutenant of the company.  On the 20th of September, Capt. McConnell collected his men, sixty having been mustered, and occupied the barracks on the eastern side of Camp Wayne.  Additional musters were made each day, as recruits were enlisted.  On 2nd October, the number had reached eighty-two, when Capt. McConnell was mustered, and the company designated as Company E, 97th Pennsylvania Volunteers, it being the sixth company organized.  John McGrath, of West Chester, was also mustered on the 2nd of October as 2nd lieutenant.  The officers and non-commissioned officers were as follows.  Captain William McConnell, West Chester, 1st lieutenant, John W. Babb, West Chester, 2nd lieutenant, John McGrath, West Chester; 1st sergeant, James McWilliams, 2nd sergeant, Samuel D. Smith; 3rd sergeant, James Coughlin; the sergeant, John McNamee; 5th corporal, William Glanding, 6th corporal, James O. Day; 7th corporal, John Sullivan; 8th corporal, William H. Spicer; musicians, Charles Riley, Jr. and Hugh O’Donnell, Jr.; wagoner, Johathan Pine.

The militia name adopted by the company was Mulligan Guards.  The company was filed to the maximum number, October 29, seventeen men having been mustered subsequent to October 2; on November 89 and December 26, two additional men were mustered to fill vacancies from desertions.  One of these, enlisted by 1st Lieut. Taylor, of Company H, joined the company at Warsaw Sound, Ga., July 15, 1962.  On February 10, 1862, another recruit, Francis Carter, was enlisted at West Chester, PA, and forward to the company with other recruits, he was subsequently promoted to corporal, re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer, in February 1864, and died at Annapolis, MD December 30, 1864, while a paroled prisoner of war.  The men of Company E were of a hearty, robust physique, and many of them after receiving the benefit of careful training by Capt. McConnell and his officers, made very good soldiers; but the climate of the South proved more disastrous to this company than to some of the others, the men seeming to be more subject to the chills and prevalent tendency to chronic diarrhea.  Those who remained able for duty were very effective soldiers, both in the field and at fatigue duty upon the lines of entrenchment and earthworks.

There has been no complete record found of the dates of promotions of the non-commissioned officers from which a correct list could be made, or it would have been given.  It is believed that the roster of the company will show the names of all who were thus promoted, in the different grades, but some dates are necessarily omitted.

From the newspaper, Village Record, West Chester, PA  Tuesday, May 13, 1879 “complimentary Mention of the Ninety-Seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, in the History of the First Artillery, U.S. Army.

From a history of the First Regiment……..

Action at Foster’s Place, VA, May 18, 1864.

Almost immediately in front of the position occupied by Battery M, 1st Artillery, was a farm known as “Foster’s Place,” where our picket line ran just beyond this farm, the ground was held by a detachment from the 8th Maine Volunteers.  On the morning of the 18th May, 1864, Beauregard’s forces, having advance to within a short distance of the picket line, assaulted this portion of the line and drove the 8th Maine detachment.  The position was retaken at 8 AM by the 97th Pennsylvanian Volunteers, commanded by the then Lieut. Col. G. Pennypacker, and the enemy drive beyond the line, which was re-established and held throughout the day under a constant fire of the enemy.  the gallant Pennsylvanians lost in this affair four killed and over fifty wounded.  The battery could be of little or no service to them, because they were in line with the enemy and so closely engaged that a shot fired at the latter endangered their own men, and after two or three attempts, further effort to aid them was abandoned.

Throughout the 18th and 19th the enemy constantly pressed the contested position, but were constantly repelled by our men.  the 97the Regiment having been withdrawn on the evening of the 19th……All that seems to have been known there was that the positions re-captured on the morning of the 18th, by the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteers, had been again lost.  What was more natural then than to order that gallant regiment out again on the same errand.  anyhow it soon came to be noised about that such orders were issued, and that to re-establish the line it had been deemed necessary to send in only ” the plucky regiment that had proved its efficiency and valor on the same ground, one which they knew the way so well.”

It was nearly noon when Col. Cyrus I. Dobbs, with three hundred of the 13th Indiana, and Lieut. Col. Pennypacker, with about the same number of the 97th Pennsylvania, began marching out of the entrenchments trough an opening within a few yards of battery M.  The 97th was leading and Col. Dobbs in command of the whole detachment.

Tuesday, May 20, 1879

Having cleared the entrenchments the command was halted, and there ensued an unaccountable delay of over three hours, during which the task before it grew every moment more difficult.  It was not till nearly 4 PM that the column again marched on.  Very soon it became a target for the rebel artillery.  It was moving a little to the left of our line of fire and our guns were able to play on those of the enemy and thus cover the advance.  Arriving at the point from which the charge was to be made, there was a halt and a brief rest.  Here the rebel missiles were seen bursting over their heads, and under the shell-wreaths of smoke clear spaces opening in the column.

The 13th Indiana was held in reserve, and Col. Pennypacker ordered by Col. Dobbs to “form his regiment in the line of battle across the open field and charge the rebel line on the right, as the centre was already taken”  This last was, to put it Mildly, evenly an erroneous assumption.

But with a few words of stirring appeal Col. Pennypacker called on his brave Pennsylvanians to follow him.  Responding with a cheer they dashed forward.  There were instantly met by a crushing fusillade of musketry and a scattering fire of canister from six field pieces.  The line was pierced by cruel gaps, but it never wavered, as the brave fellows with bent heads and traile muskets pressed on at a run.  the men were falling fast; some rose and staggered a few steps forward, only to be shot a second time and sink a little nearer their foes.  The flag went down for a moment, but it was quickly seized by other hands and carried on in the line.  Again and again it was seen to go down until seven of the color guard who had borne it in turn were stretched on the field.  The incessant hail of lead and iron tore through their ranks and marked the path of the intrepid battalion with the bodies of its slain and wounded, but the fragments of the broken line drew nearer and nearer to the color, torn now by many a shot and pressed steadily forward.

It was a brief and awful drama, and played in full view of two opposing armies as spectators.  too distant to distract by sounds of suffering or cries for succor, it appealed less to humanity than to imagination.  And though the roar of cannon shook the plain, thousands stood motionless, oblivious of all else but that fast diminishing group moving with the flag through the drifting smoke.

The end came soon.  the battalion was being annihilated.  At the rate the men were going down no one in the disproportionately small force could live to get to the position.  Before it reached within a hundred yards of the enemy, more than half of the number who had started on the terrible charge less than five minutes before lay writhing or motionless along its blood-stained track.  Still the regiment kept steadily on with its daring leader.

97th Pa. Regiment

The 97th regiment was recruited from the 7th Congressional district. State Senator H. Jones Brooke of Chester and Delaware County Districts, originated the idea and the request was forwarded to the Honorable Simon Cameron, Secretary of War who approved he request July 25,1861. Colonel Henry R. Guss, of West Chester, Pa. was charged with having the regiment ready for marching orders within 21 days. Colonel Guss then contacted several men he had known or had served with him in the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment to recruit men for the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Organized at Camp Wayne near West Chester, the 10 companies of the 97th Infantry were recruited in mostly Chester and Delaware Counties. Companies D, G, and I were from Delaware County. The regiment received its first state color on November 4,1861 when Governor Curtin and several of his staff went by train to Camp Wayne to present the flag. The honor of being the first color bearer went to Sergeant John D. Beaver of Company C. From this point on Company C was designated the color company.

On November 5,1861, the regiment received their marching orders and departed Camp Wayne. They were ordered to the nation’s capital to await further assignments. The Regiment’s journey took them through Philadelphia, Pa. Baltimore, Md.,, arriving in Washington, D.C. on November 7,1861 at dusk. The purpose of the Washington encampment was to become acclimated to army life, provide protection for the nation’s capital, and to complete the equipage of the 97th..while there they turned in their old .69 caliber smoothbores and were issued the new Springfield rifles. This exchange of weaponry took place at the Washington Arsenal. Colonel Guss received orders on November 19,1861 to prepare the regiment to proceed to Fortress Monroe, Virginia. Arriving on November 2,1861, Major General John E. Wool, commandant issued orders to the 97th to camp near the village of Hampton, Virginia. Camp Hamilton was established there. The 97th shared the camp with other Pennsylvania regiments. Those mentioned were 11th Pa. Cavalry (mostly from Chester County and commanded by Colonel Josiah Harlan from our county), 45th P.V.I., 55th P.V.I. and the 76th P.V.I. The camp was under the direction of Brigadier General James K. F. Mansfield.

By December 8,1861 the regiment was on the move again. They were assigned to the Department of the South and ordered to Port Royal, South Carolina. They arrived there on December 14,1861 after a very stormy sea voyage aboard the steam frigates Minnesota and Roanoke. Colonel Guss reported the 97th ready for duty at headquarters encamped on Hilton Head Island. General Sherman, commander, assigned the regiment to Brigadier General Horatio G. Wright’s Brigade. The objective for the Department of the South was to rout the Confederates from their positions at Fort Walker, Hilton Head, Fort Beauregard, and Fort Sumter. The army organization was to be segmented in finite groups which helped all the soldiers, officers and enlisted men knew where they belonged. These groupings from largest to smallest were: Corps, Division, Brigade, Regiment, Company. So within the Department of the South, the 97th was assigned to the 10th Corps, 1st Division, 1st Brigade. All correspondence from officers always listed the organization from the smallest group to the largest. It is also noted that the 97th was assigned to different Brigades and Divisions while in the 10th Corps. This was done at the discretion of the army to assign units where they needed them, even on a temporary basis. It is to note that when Colonel Guss was assigned to command a Brigade his regiment usually followed him to that brigade. In Guss’s absence as Regimental commander Lt. Colonel Duer, Major Pennypacker (later Lt. Colonel, then Colonel), or Captain Price (later Major) would take command of the Regiment. The 97th served gallantly in this theater of action. They were sent as far south as Fernandina, Florida. Florida seemed to be a place where regiments were sent to recuperate from the rigors of battle. his is interesting because Florida had its share of Rebels and was by no means a totally safe haven for Union forces. One of the battles the 97th was in that has a great deal of notoriety was the attack on Fort Wagner. The movie GLORY made the 54th Mass Colored Troops famous in their struggles for recognition. They went out in a blaze of glory on the first attack on Fort Wagner. The 97th was part of the battle and was assigned to the third wave of attacks upon the fort. The Generals in command actually saved the 97th from massive casualties by calling then back just as they were about to move forward. There was a change in objectives because of the devastation of the first two Brigades sent in ahead of the third assault. Fort Wagner was eventually taken by the Union army by October 1863. The 97th was assigned to the first wave to attack the fort this time. They met no resistance and upon entering the fort found it abandoned except for the dead and severely wounded. During this period Colonel Guss was assigned, on August 1, to command the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Corps. Regiments that were in his command were the 97th PVI, 3rd NHI, 4th NHI and the 9th Maine Infantry. The 3rd United States Colored Troops were soon assigned to this Brigade as well.

The preceding information was supplied by Dennis Wales, 97th Pa. Re-enactors

Chronology of the 97th

July 1861 – Recruitment for 97th Pa begins.

Aug – Sept 1861 – 10 companies raised A, B, C, E, F, G, H, K primarily from Chester

County and D and I mainly from Delaware County. Company B was formed from a Parkesburg and Cochranville group and called themselves the “Chester County Grays” Organized at Camp Wayne near West Chester. Henry Guss Colonel to lead.

Nov 1861 – headed to Washington, DC

Dec 1861 – Sent to Port Royal, SC

Jan 1862 – Participated in an action designed to divert attention from an impending attack on Fort Pulaski near Savannah, Ga.

Late Feb Early March 1862 – Sent to Fernandina, Fla. where they occupied the town and Fort Clinch without opposition.

March 1862 – Sent to Hilton Head

Jun 1862 – Involved in Battle of Secessionville. First deaths (3) in action for the 97th.

July 1862 – Mar 1863 – Various patrols, but little action. Suffered severely during Sep – Nov 1862 from various diseases.

Apr 1863 – As part of 1st Brigade, First Division, Tenth Corps, participated in aborted attack on Charleston. Transferred to third brigade.

Jun 1863 – Involved in attack on Fort Wagner, never got into battle, recovered wounded members of 54th Mass Colored Regiment of “Glory” fame.

Sep 1863 – Fort Wagner occupied without resistance. Mounted siege guns for assault on Fort Sumter.

Oct 1863 – Return to Fernandina, Fla and Garrison Fort Clinch. 215 conscripts (draftees) added to roster.

Feb 1864 – Various patrols in Northern Florida. Called back to Fort Clinch after disaster at Olustee, Florida (not part of battle).

Mar 1864 – 337 re-enlist and get veteran furloughs.

Apr 3,1864 – Lt Col. Duer resigns as result of prolonged illness. Galusha Pennypacker succeeds him.

Apr 1864 – Leave Fernandina, Fla and transfer to Fort Monroe, Va to reinforce Army of the James on the peninsula as part of First Brigade, Third Division of Tenth Corps

May 1864 – Engaged in battles around Petersburg, Va. at Swift Creek (9th) and Drury’s Bluff (10th). Henry Guss returns as head of Brigade. May 16 engaged in battle at Green Plain. Major engagement May 19, 47 killed, 121 wounded and twelve captured. Transferred to area near Cold Harbor where it was frequently engaged.

Jun 1864 – near Petersburg, Bermuda Hundred, and Foster’s Plantation

Late June and July 1864 – Occupied trenches around Petersburg near the Cemetery. Part of charge on Rebel positions after explosion of the Crater. Medal of Honor won by Oxford man in this action.

Aug 1864 – Battles at Deep Bottom, Strawberry Plains, Bermuda Hundred. Pennypacker placed in command of 2nd Brigade including 97th and 203rd regiments.

Sep 1864- Battle at New Market Heights and Fort Gilmer.

Oct 1864 – Battle at Darbytown , Members of the regiment who had not re-enlisted end term of service. 150 original veterans remained, the ranks filled by draftees and substitutes.

Dec 1864 – To Fort Monroe and thence to North Carolina for attack on Fort Fisher.

Jan 1865 – Attack on Fort Fisher near Wilmington. NC. Pennypacker , the 97th and 203rd play pivotal role in capture of Fort Fisher.

Feb 1865 – Occupied Wilmington, NC. Released 4000 Union prisoners, some from the 97th.

Mar 1865 – Joined up with Sherman at Goldsboro, NC

Apr – July 1865 – Surrender of Johnston’s rebel army. end of war, stationed at Raleigh

Aug 28,1865 – Mustered out of service at Weldon, NC.

Sep 4,1865 – Officially disbanded.

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