Henry I. Zinn, Co. H, 7th Pennsylvania Reserves


HENRY I. ZINN, Colonel of the One Hundred and Thirtieth regiment, was born on the 11th of December, 1834, in Dover township, York county, Pennsylvania. He was the son of John and Anna Mary (Beitzel) Zinn. He received his education at the Cumberland Valley Institute, which gave a thorough training in the branches of a liberal course, and here he stood among the first for readiness of apprehension and soundness of views. By nature well endowed, and by taste studious, he was fitted to have taken a commanding position among his fellow men in any walk or profession. He was, in stature, five feet ten inches, stout, robust, and healthy. He was married on the 18th of September, 1855, to Miss Mary Ann Clarke.

Henry I. Zinn

He entered the service of the United States on the 23d of April, 1862, when he was elected First-Lieutenant of Company H, Seventh Pennsylvania Reserve. He was promoted to Captain of that company on the 28th of June; but in August following resigned. Re-entering the service, as Captain of Company F, One Hundred and Thirtieth, on the 9th of August, a few days thereafter he was made Colonel of the regiment. He was in this position in a sphere fitted to his capabilities, and under his moulding hand the regiment rapidly gained a knowledge and skill in the practice of military duty. He was posted in the fortifications covering the approaches to Washington, during the battles of Groveton and Chantilly, and at Antietam took a prominent part, his regiment being stationed on the left of the right wing of the Union army, losing severely. He was here conspicuous for gallantry, and had a horse shot under him. After this engagement, Colonel Zinn was posted at Harper’s Ferry, where his men suffered for want of camp equipage, and even for food. But in spite of the many difficulties, he instituted and pursued a regular plan of daily battalion and company drills. “He was,” says one of his subordinate officers, “one of the best drill masters in the corps.” Captain Joshua W. Sharp, a brave man, who led one of the companies in Colonel Zinn’s regiment, gives the following graphic account of the part it bore in the battle of Fredericksburg, and of the heroic death of its leader: “The One Hundred and Thirtieth started for Fredericksburg on the 11th of December, crossed the Rappahannock on the following morning, and shared in the charge made on Marye’s Heights by French’s division, supported by Howard’s, on the long to be remembered 13th, when, with this portion of the right wing of his army, Burnside sought to pierce the rebel centre, defended by lines of rifle pits, and a stone wall along the base and sides of the encircling heights, and by numerous batteries that covered their summits. Over that fearful valley of death the One Hundred and Thirtieth advanced at a double-quick, enfiladed on both right and left, and with a tremendous fire in front. Twice it was ordered to lie down, the second time just in front of the enemy; and here it is believed that some of our own shells from the guns on Stafford Hills fell among its ranks. It is certain that some of its men were killed by bullets from Federal soldiers in their rear; for the column of attack was from twenty to forty men deep. Galled by so many fires, whole regiments of the attacking force fell back into Fredericksburg. Meagher’s men, with their green emblems streaming in the air, had come flying back from their bloody charge with numbers sadly reduced. The One Hundred and Thirtieth was about to follow, when Colonel Zinn, rising up, clasping the banner which had been presented by the State in his left hand, and waving his sword with the right, called out:

“Stick to your standard, boys! The One Hundred and Thirtieth never abandons its standard!”

Hardly had he uttered the words when he fell, pierced in the temple by a MiniĆ© ball. But the regiment, now under the command of Captain Porter, stuck to its standard, and a portion of it did not leave the field until after night-fall.”

Thus fell one of the truest and boldest spirits that went forth from the Keystone State to do battle for his country. It was not a reckless bravery – a daring without thought – but with appreciative heroism, he went with considered step to his death.

Say not so! ‘Tis not the grapes of Canaan that repay,
But the high faith that failed not by the way;
Virtue treads paths that end not in the grave;
No ban of endless night exiles the brave;
And to the saner mind,
We rather seem the dead that stayed behind.

City Letter Carrier at USPS | augustmarchetti1980@gmail.com | Website | + posts

Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.