Authors Posts by Bill Weidner

Bill Weidner

Bill Weidner
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Bill is the Chief Regimental Historian of the 54th (Co. L), 190th and 191st Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers and an avid researcher who focuses on the history of the Pennsylvania Reserves in the American Civil War.
Calvin Bates Condition

“Sent to Hell”: Experiences In One Southern Prison

After their capture at the Weldon Railroad, the Union prisoners were ushered towards Petersburg where they were kept in an open, wet, muddy field until the evening of the twentieth. Westwood A. Todd, an ordinance officer in Mahone's Brigade (Confederate), observed, "The prisoners passed by me as they were coming out. I thought we had captured their whole army for I had never seen so many prisoners in a battle before. Among them was a full regiment of Pennsylvania 'Bucktails,' so-called from each man wearing a buck's tail in his hat. Our men were very much pleased with buck tails, and have asked the prisoners for them.  Some of our men took the buck’s tail without saying ‘by your leave.”
Battle of Fredericksburg, Va. Dec 13th 1862

Shock Troops for the Union: The Pennsylvania Reserves at the Battle of Fredericksburg

October 26 to December 14, 1862 The fighting along Antietam Creek ended almost six weeks ago. The Confederate army returned to Virginia within days of the battle but the Army of the Potomac was still...
Scene of Battle by Sketch. Library of Congress.

After the Reserves: Lead-in to Five Forks – March 28 to April 1,...

The five days of March 28 thru April 1, 1865, are complex in the history of the 190th/191st Regiments due to controversies, confusion of orders and differences in descriptions of the troop positions, fighting, etc.  The most significant controversy involved Major General Philip Sheridan, commander of Union operations on the left flank, and Major General Gouverneur K.  Warren, Fifth Corps Commander, while the confusion in orders was between Generals Grant and Meade sent to General Warren for operations and for dispatching Fifth Corps troops to General Sheridan.  Because of this confusion and controversy, Gen. Sheridan relieved Gen.  Warren of command during the Battle of Five Forks.  A court of inquiry was finally granted to Warren in 1879 by President Hayes which exonerated him of most of Sheridan's charges.  Unfortunately for Warren, the findings were not released until after his death which occurred on August 8, 1882.
"Grant's Movement South of the James-Battle of Poplar Spring Church-Gallant Charge of a Part of the Fifth Corps on the Confederate Fort, September 30th, 1864." From Frank Leslie's Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War

After the Reserves: In the Trenches Again with a Few Exceptions (September 23,...

While the Army of the Potomac prepared for a fall campaign, a letter home from Pvt. Nelson Robbins (12th Pa. Res., Co. C, 190th Pa., Co. E) described conditions around the camp of the 190th & 191st Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. "Here I am in this land of desolation and ruin - for what else can I call it? There are neither houses nor trees to be seen for miles around - nothing but forts, rifle pits and the camps. Drills, reviews, and parades are frequent now that the army is resting…”
Lithograph of the Battle of Weldon Railroad, August 18-19, 1864.

After the Reserves: Disaster at the Weldon Railroad (August 18-21, 1864)

As part of Grant's Fourth Offensive, about 5 a.m., General Warren led his V Corps south on the Jerusalem Plank Road from their camp near the Chieves House Gust south of Ft. Warren). Their objective was the Weldon Railroad, one of the last two railroad supply lines for General Lee's army and the citizens of Petersburg and Richmond.
Major-General Samuel W. Crawford and Staff; Library of Congress

After the Reserves: Into the Trenches

Introduction Except for a few pages in Samuel Bates' History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, there is no published regimental history for these two units.' As a follower of the Pennsylvania Reserves, I felt this omission...

The Death of Ashby (Mostly From the Bucktails’ Perspective)

After recovering from his Dranesville wound, Col. Thomas L. Kane returned to the Bucktails in their winter quarters (1862) where he began working on his Instructions for Skirmishers which was a new concept for...
Artist Louis Guillaume's rendering of the Surrender of Lee's Army to Grant.

When Legend Becomes Fact

In the John Wayne classic movie, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a reporter makes the comment "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." This is probably true many times in history, and...
he battle of Petersburg Va. April 2nd 1865, Lithograph by Currier and Ives

Meanwhile… The 54th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers

While their "cousins" in the 190th and 191st Regiments were involved in more noted events in the concluding chapter of the Petersburg siege, the remnants of the 3rd and 4th Reserves, now formally "adopted"...
Sketch of Emmitsburg, Maryland by Alfred Waud. From the Library of Congress.

Rumors: Mustering Out of the Pennsylvania Reserves

The date for muster out was finally settled for the Reserves. However, as the muster out date approached, rumors of their lack of reenlistment spread through the Army of the Potomac causing a suspicion...