Upon the muster out of service of the regiments composing the Reserve Corps, a large number of veterans and recruits, whose terms had not expired, still remained. These were collected and organized into two new regiments, known as the One Hundred and Ninetieth, and One Hundred and Ninety-first. The first of these was composed of men from the First, Seventh, Ninth, two companies of the Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Reserve regiments, to the command of which the following field officers were appointed:
- William R. Hartshorne, who had been Major of the 13th [Reserves], Colonel
- Joseph B. Pattee, a Capttain in the 10th [Reserves], Lieutenant Colonel
- John A. Wolfe, a Captain in the 13th [Reserves], Major
The second was composed of men from the Second, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Tenth Reserve regiments, and had the following field officers:
- James Carle, a Captain in the 6th [Reserves], Colonel
- George W. McCracken, a Captain in the 10th [Reserves], Lieutenant Colonel
- Milton Weilder, a Lieutenant in the 1st [Reserves]. Major
Lieutenant Colonel McCracken was obliged to retire from the service, on account of wounds, soon after the organization, and was never mustered.The last battle in which the Reserve Corps participated, was that of Bethesda Church, on the 30th of May, 1864, and the new regiments were organized in the field immediately thereafter. They were at once pushed up to the front, and during the fierce fighting at Cold Harbor, were subjected to a severe artillery and musketry fire, answering with good effect. As soon as a lull in the fighting would permit, these regiments were organized, and constituted the Third Brigade, Third Division, of the Fifth Corps, Colonel Hartshorne, by reason of seniority, assuming command. He was soon after granted a furlough, and the command devolved on Colonel Carle. When the army commenced moving across the Peninsula, the Fifth Corps was thrown out towards Richmond, to cover the right flank of the advancing columns. These regiments were posted on the roads leading to Charles City, on the 13th of June, where they were attacked, and during the entire day, held at bay a superior force of the enemy. Colonel Pattee, in command of the One Hundred and Ninetieth, had his horse killed under him, and a number in both regiments were killed and wounded.After crossing the James, the command moved rapidly towards Petersburg, arriving in front of the enemy on the 17th, and taking position after night-fall, in a slight ravine to the left of the position occupied by the Ninth Corps. A thin curtain of trees, on the bank in front, skirted a narrow open field, which sloped up to a sandy ridge, where was a body of timber, along the farther edge of which were the enemy’s breast-works. The Ninth Corps had taken and were holding a portion of them. This brigade was ordered to drive out the enemy in its front, and hold the part connecting with that occupied by the Ninth Corps. Colonel Carle, accordingly, formed his line, and commenced cautiously to advance. It was hardly in motion before the enemy made an assault upon the troops of the Ninth Corps, driving them back; but coming upon this brigade, was checked, and in turn driven, some prisoners captured from the Ninth Corps being re-taken, and an entire rebel regiment, the Thirty-ninth North Carolina, was captured. On reaching the crest of the sandy ridge, the command dropped upon the ground, and while one-half kept up a vigorous fire, the other half began to scoop up the sand, and build breast-works. Though vigorously assailed by infantry and artillery, the ground was held, until relieved. The loss was considerable. Lieutenant Robert G. Christnot, of the One Hundred and Ninetieth, was killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Pattee, in command of the same regiment, and Major Wolfe, who succeeded him, and Lieutenants Edward Greenfield and Daniel Blett, were severely wounded, the two latter mortally.Until the morning of the 23d, the brigade was kept on active duty, losing daily killed and wounded. It was then relieved, and after a day’s rest, moved to the left, into pits vacated by the Second Corps. On the way to this position, the column was exposed to a sharp fire from the enemy’s artillery and sharp-shooters, throwing it into some confusion, and occasioning some loss. During the 24th and 25th, sharp-shooting was incessant, after which a truce was entered into upon the picket line, which secured immunity from peril.At the opening of July, the brigade was ordered back, and commenced the construction of Fort Warren, and two weeks later to a position where was subsequently located Fort Crawford. On the 18th of August, the Fifth Corps moved upon the Weldon Railroad, capturing and destroying a portion, near the Yellow House. Colonel Hartshorne, who had just previously returned to duty, was in command of the brigade, which was early ordered upon the skirmish line. It continued to advance, over heavily timbered ground, driving back the enemy until it came in front of his breast-works, where a line was established and fortified. This advanced position was held, without supports, and with no connecting force on its flanks, until four o’clock on the afternoon of the 19th, when it suddenly found itself completely surrounded, and was forced to surrender. The captives were hurried away to rebel prisons at Richmond, Salisbury, and Danville, and were kept in confinement until near the time of Lee’s surrender. Lieutenant Henry L. Stock was among the killed in the operations of the 19th.A small detachment, had been ordered to the rear for provisions and ammunition, which escaped capture, and this, together with men returning from furlough, and from detached duty, was organized under command of Lieutenant Colonel Pattee, who soon after returned from an absence occasioned by his wounds, and was transferred to the Second Division, commanded by General Ayers, participating with that division in the remaining hostile operations of the year 1864.On the morning of March 29th, 1865, Colonel Pattee with his own, and a battalion of the One Hundred and Fifty-seventh, moved with the corps across Hatcher’s Run, and on the following day, passing Gravelly Run, advanced as skirmishers, and threw up rifle-pits. Towards evening the enemy attacked, but were easily repulsed by the rapid fire from the Spencer Repeaters, with which the command was armed. On the morning of March 31st, the enemy, by a flank movement, drove a part of the corps back across Gravelly Run. Pattee’s command was upon the skirmish line, and held its ground to the last, but was finally forced back, losing a number in prisoners.After re-crossing the run, the corps moved further to the left, and coming in upon the enemy’s flank, re-gained the ground lost in the morning. During the night, it marched to the relief of Sheridan, at Five Forks, arriving within supporting distance at daylight on the morning of April 1st. Here the command was allowed some rest, of which it was sorely in need. At noon it was ordered forward, and came into line on the extreme left, resting on the rebel line of works. As usual, it was thrown upon the skirmish line, and bravely advancing, a hundred yards in front of the line of battle, led the way in that grand left wheel around the rebel rear, which crushed his entire force at one blow. When the last charge was made, the skirmishers awaited the coming up of the main Union line, when, joining in, they advanced with the column and shared in the glorious triumph, bearing away guns and small arms, and crowds of captive officers and men.From the 2d to the 9th, the pursuit was pushed, the skirmishers hanging upon the flank and rear of the rebel army. On the morning of the 9th, after having crossed the Lynchburg Railroad, Colonel Pattee was summoned to the front with his command, by General Ayers, and ordered to deploy to cover the front of his division, and push forward to the assistance of the cavalry.
Returning after the surrender, to the neighborhood of Washington, the two regiments went into camp, where, on the 28th of June, they were mustered out of service.
NOTE.-The greater portion of the rank and file of these two regiments were captured before they had been three months in these organization, and consequently passed a much longer period in imprisonment, than in the field, not being released until the close of the war. It is but just, therefore, that some record should be made of the service of these brave men, while waiting, and starving, and dying in the miserable prison-pens where they were incarcerated; for they no less served their country, than those who stood at the front and faced the deadly missiles of the foe. From the 19th of August until the beginning of October, they were confined on Belle Island, near Richmond. They were then taken to Salisbury, North Carolina, where they remained until death, or the advancing columns of Grant and Sherman. compelled their release.
*The One Hundred and Eighty-ninth Regiment was organized from surplus men of the One Hundred and Twelfth, on the 18th of April, 1864, and participated in the Wilderness campaign, and in the operations before Petersburg, until the 5th of September, when what was left of it was returned to the old regiment from which it was taken. The records of the men will accordingly be found in the rolls of that regiment.