The History of the 110th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War
by Andy Waskie, Ph.D.
In patriotic response to President Lincoln's first call for troops to serve for three years to defend the Union, ten independent companies raised in various counties of the Commonwealth rendezvoused at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg and were formed into a regiment designated the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The regiment begun mustering into service as early as October 24, 1861, although the unit was not completely authorized and officially mustered until December 20, 1861. The Regiment was nicknamed the 'Juniata Regiment', since most of the men came from the Juniata Valley and the regiment had rendezvoused and trained there. It was composed of the following companies:
Companies A, and later H from Blair County
Companies B, and D from Huntingdon County
Company C from Blair and Bedford Counties
Companies E, F, G, I from Philadelphia The 'Irish Brigade'
Co. K from Center and Clearfield Counties
William D. Lewis of Philadelphia, former colonel of the 18th regiment of Pennsylvania militia (3 months' service), was named colonel.
The regiment trained at Camp Curtin until January 2, 1862 when it departed for service in Western Maryland and Western Virginia. Arriving at Hancock, Md. on January 4th, the men received their arms and were brigaded with the 7th and 29th Ohio, the 7th Indiana, and the 1st West Virginia into Tyler's Brigade of Lander's Division of Banks' Corps (3rd brigade; 2nd division, V Corps). Here they were assigned to guard bridges and tunnels of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the vital East-West transportation link.
The division, later serving under General James Shields, was sent into the Shenandoah Valley in early March, moving into Winchester, Va. and skirmishing frequently with Colonel Turner Ashby's Rebel cavalry.
On March 23rd was fought the battle of Kernstown. Shields' plan was to attack the enemy's left flank, led by Stonewall Jackson. Tyler's Brigade was posted on this flank with the 110th on the extreme right of the Union line; i.e., the position of honor. The 110th dashed with a great cheer upon the Confederate left flank, put the Stonewall Brigade to flight and drove the enemy from the field. For great gallantry in action, the regiment was specially complimented in official orders. Its loss was 13 killed and 39 wounded out of 300 present for duty.
After Kernstown, the 110th was detached for provost guard duty, and then sent across the mountains to join McDowell's Corps at Fredericksburg, ostensibly to support McClellan's Peninsular Campaign, then getting underway.
Soon after arriving at Fredericksburg, however, the 110th was sent back to the Shenandoah Valley with McDowell's Corps to support Banks and Fremont in their battles with Jackson. The regiment met the Rebels in battle at Port Republic and Front Royal losing considerable numbers of killed, wounded and prisoners.
The 110th now retired to Alexandria, Va. and for several weeks remained within the defenses of Washington. Upon organization of Pope's Federal Army of Virginia, the 110th found itself assigned to the 4th Brigade (Carroll), 2nd Division (Ricketts) of McDowell's Corps. The troops moved south to Culpeper, Va., where on August 9, 1862 Banks' Corps fought at Cedar Mountain, the 110th seeing duty in support of the artillery and some skirmishing.
Afterwards, falling back slowly, the regiment arrived on the 29th of August at the old battlefield of Bull Run. The 110th served first on the right, and was later shifted to the left and stood with the 'Pennsylvania Reserves', gallantly contesting the advance of superior numbers until it was forced back, losing many casualties. It was here that the color-bearer of the 110th, realizing he was about to be captured, tore the colors from its staff and hid them about his person. Though taken prisoner, he was later able to make his escape and returned himself and the beloved colors safely to camp.
After the disaster at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run, the division to which the 110th belonged was posted in the defenses of Washington. The 110th found itself stationed at Arlington Heights, camping on the grounds of Arlington House, the home of Robert E. Lee. The regiment took no part in the Antietam Campaign.
Now under General Whipple of Franklin's Corps, the division containing the 110th moved south again with the Army of the Potomac to fight in Burnside's abortive Battle of Fredericksburg, where on December 13, 1862 the regiment fought on the left of the line, at the Sunken Road in front of Marye's Heights, suffering severely.
Colonel Lewis resigned on December 23rd due to physical disability and Lt. Colonel James Crowther was appointed to replace him.
Except for the disastrous "Mud March," the 110th spent the winter in camp at Stoneman's Switch. Due to reduced numbers, the regiment was consolidated early in 1863 into a battalion of six companies. The 110th, now assigned to the 2nd Brigade (Bowman), 3rd Division (Whipple) of the III Corps (Sickles) moved with Hooker's Army to Chancellorsville. Shifted about several times, on May 3, 1863 the 110th found itself engaged in furious battle near the Chancellor House opposing succeeding waves of Rebel troops. Here the division commander (General Whipple) and Colonel Crowther of the 110th were killed, and the regiment lost almost half its strength on this terrible field. Due to severe losses in battle and the expiration of enlistments from numerous regiments, the Army of the Potomac was realigned. The 110th, now reduced to 152 officers and men, was reassigned to the 3rd Brigade (de Trobriand), 1st Division (Birney) of Sickles' III Corps.
In the middle of June 1863, the regiment, now under command of Lt. Colonel David M. Jones, set off in pursuit of Lee's insurgent Army of Northern Virginia, who was intent on invading the North.
Moving with the III Corps, the 110th arrived at Emmetsburg, MD, near the Pennsylvania line, where the new army commander, General George G. Meade, expected to meet Lee. Sickles hurried off, however, to support Reynolds at Gettysburg, 15 miles away. The 3rd Brigade of which the 110th was a part was left at Emmitsburg, Md. and it only reached the battle line on the afternoon of July 2nd. The regiment was posted at the advanced III Corps front, across the brow of a rocky, wooded elevation, just to the left of and parallel to the Emmitsburg Road, near the Peach Orchard. Here the 110th was in the very eye of the storm of battle that swirled and boiled around it. With desperate valor, the 110th unleashed volley after volley into the relentless, onrushing Rebels, but were, in the end, forced back to the Cemetery Ridge line, sustaining losses of 53 killed and wounded. Lt. Colonel Jones lost a leg in the battle, and the command of the regiment passed to Maj. Isaac Rodgers.
Down to the size of a single company, the 110th now moved south again, seeing much exhausting skirmish duty until it went into winter camp at Brandy Station, Va.
In January of 1864, the regiment reenlisted, thus preserving its unit identity and receiving a veteran's furlough. The regiment, now the 110th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Regiment, recruited up to 400 effectives and was drilled by the recently appointed Lt.Colonel Isaac Rodgers. The 110th was now assigned to the 1st Brigade (Ward), 3rd Division (Birney) of the II Corps (Hancock). The Army of the Potomac was consolidated into three Corps: the II, V and VI from the original seven: I, II, III, V, VI, XI and XII. The XI and XII Corps were sent west and the I and III Corps were broken up, their units integrated into the remaining three.
On May 4, 1864 the 110th embarked upon the Virginia Campaign with the Army of the Potomac. It was engaged in the Wilderness with the II Corps upon the old battlefield of Chancellorsville, and suffered severe losses. May 8th witnessed its march to Spotsylvania where the regiment was again actively engaged, for a time serving with the V Corps on the south side of the Po River. After six days of heavy fighting and marching, the 110th had lost fully one-quarter of its strength.
The regiment fought at Spotsylvania on May 12th, charging the Rebel line at the "Bloody Angle" and helping to capture an entire Rebel division. Colonel Rodgers was mortally wounded in this action, and the command passed to Lt. Colonel Enoch Lewis.
The 110th, serving with Birney's division, took a conspicuous part in all the actions attending the southward movement of the army. Troops of the 110th were engaged at the North Anna, Totopotomoy Creek, Shady Grove Church, Cold Harbor and the Chickahominy, enduring constant skirmishes, stand-up battles and fatiguing marches.
On the 14th of June the regiment crossed the James River below Richmond and was thrown into battle at Petersburg in support of the XVIII Corps, sustaining heavy losses. Lt. Colonel Lewis was severely wounded, and the command passed to Lt. Colonel Isaac Hamilton. The regiment moved with the Corps around to the south of Petersburg and dug in. June 23rd saw the consolidation of the veterans and recruits of the 115th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment with the 110th, since its term of service had expired and the unit had not "veteranized."
During its eleven months in the trenches before Petersburg, the regiment was twice called upon to march north across the James where the enemy was met and defeated at Deep Bottom. The regiment was in support during the explosion of the great mine, was engaged at Hatcher's Run on the left of the lines and moved with the V Corps around the left to cut off the railroad lines to Petersburg. Between raids and skirmishes the 110th garrisoned Fort Hell during the winter.
The final campaign of the war opened on March 25, 1865 with Lee's attack on Fort Stedman. The 110th was thrown into battle to counterattack and press the Rebels back. In this action the regiment sustained many casualties, including Lt. Colonel Hamilton, who was severely wounded. Command of the regiment now passed to Maj. Frank Stewart, subsequently commissioned Colonel, who would serve in that capacity until the final muster out. Sent across Hatcher's Run in pursuit of the retreating Rebels, the 110th now raced, along with the entire Army of the Potomac, to cut off and crush Lee. Past Petersburg, to Dinwiddie Court House and Amelia Springs, the regiment pursued the Rebels. On April 6th the enemy was encountered and put up a determined, desperate resistance. The 110th charged and broke the Rebel lines, sustaining severe losses in killed and wounded. The enemy was routed and sent reeling past High Bridge and Farmville. On April 9th, the 110th reached Clover Hill, near Appomattox Court House, and received in the afternoon the joyous news of General Lee's surrender.
Taking up the homeward march, the regiment proceeded through Richmond toward Washington, which was reached in mid-May. With its division and Corps, the 110th marched in the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac.
The regiment was mustered out of Federal service in Washington on June 28, 1865 after four years of gallant service in 26 major engagements.
The Regiment's Battle Flags that the men had so gallantly held and protected through so much fighting were turned back over to a grateful Commonwealth, when Gen.Meade himself accepted
the flags from the hands of the men on July 4, 1866 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Service Record of the 110th Pennsylvania
Mustered in: October 24, 1861
January 4, 1862 3rd Brigade (Tyler) , 2nd Division (Lander/Shields), V Corps (Banks).
June, 1862 4th Brigade (Carroll), 2nd Division (Shields), III Corps (McDowell).
July, 1862 4th Brigade (Thoburn), 2nd Division (Ricketts), III Corps (McDowell), Army of Virginia (Pope).
November, 1862 2nd Brigade (Carroll), 3rd Division (Whipple), III Corps (Stoneman), Center Grand Division (Hooker), Army of the Potomac (Burnside).
March, 1863 2nd Brigade (Bowman), 3rd Division (Whipple), III Corps (Sickles), Army of the Potomac (Hooker).
June/July, 1863 3rd Brigade (de Trobriand), 1st Division (Birney), III Corps (Sickles), Army of the Potomac (Meade).
March, 1864 1st Brigade (Ward) , 3rd Division (Birney), II Corps (Hancock), Army of the Potomac (Meade).
December, 1864 1st Brigade (de Trobriand), 3rd Division April, 1865 (Mott), II Corps (Humphreys), Army of the Potomac (Meade).
Mustered out: June 28, 1865
Hancock, Md., Kernstown, Va., Front Royal, Port Republic, Cedar Mt., Thoroughfare Gap, 2nd Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Auburn, Kelly's Ford, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Totopotomoy, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom, Poplar Spring Church, Boydton Road, Hatcher's Run, Watkin's House, Amelia Springs, Appomattox Court House.
196 officers and enlisted men of the 110th were either killed in action, mortally wounded or died of disease during their terms of service with the regiment. This represents slightly over 10% of
the total enrollment.