Bates, Samuel P.:  History of the 6th Pennsylvania Reserves

On the 22d of April 1861, two companies, recruited in Bradford county, under the call of the President for seventy-five thousand men, left Towanda for Harrisburg, arriving on the 2d of May, and formed the nucleus of the Sixth Reserve Regiment. Upon their arrival at Camp Curtin, finding it impossible to be accepted for the three months’ service, the quota being already full, they re-enlisted for the term of three years, and became Companies F and I, Thirty-fifth Regiment of the line.

It is a remarkable coincidence, that, although recruited in different sections of the State, six of the ten companies were organized on the same day–April 22 1861-as follows: “The Iron Guard,” Company A, in Columbia county; the “Northern Invincibles,” Company F, in Bradford county; the “J. D. Cameron Infantry,” Company G, in Dauphin county; the “Tioga Invincibles,” Company H, in Tioga county; the “Towanda Rifles, Company I, in Bradford county, and the “Susquehanna Volunteers,” Company K, in Susquehanna county. The remaining four companies B, C, D and E were from Snyder, Wayne, Franklin and Montour counties respectively. The men, with but few exceptions, had had no previous military experience.

On the 22d of June, the organization of the regiment was effected by the selection of the following field officers:

  • W. Wallace Ricketts, of Company A, Colonel
  • William M. Penrose, Lieutenant Colonel
  • Henry J. Madill, Major

Lieutenant Henry B. McKean, of Company I, was appointed Adjutant.

The Fifth Regiment and the Kane Rifles were, on the same day, ordered to the western border of Maryland, leaving Colonel Ricketts, the senior officer, in command of the camp. While here the regiment did guard duty and received instruction in the manual of arms. Orders were issued on the 11th of July to be in readiness to march on the following morning to Greencastle, Pennsylvania, and the necessary equipments were received. It was armed with the Harper’s Ferry musket, excepting Companies A and K, which were supplied with Springfield rifles. Arriving at Greencastle on the morning of the 12th it was placed in Camp Biddle, where drill was resumed under the instructions of Major Harshbarger.

On the 22d it moved by rail via Harrisburg and Baltimore to Washington. In its passage through Baltimore, a private of Company E, slipped upon the pavement and fell; his musket was discharged by the concussion, and wounded Sergeant William Kriner in the leg. The men supposing that they were fired into from the crowd gathered on the streets, and that a repetition of the scenes of the 19th of April was to be enacted, were with great difficulty kept from discharging their pieces at their supposed assailants. The command was halted and the true cause of the alarm ascertained, when the march was quietly resumed.

Reaching Washington on the the afternoon of the 24th it encamped east of the Capitol, where the regiment was mustered into the United States service on the 27th, by Lieutenant Ellwood of the regular army. From thence it moved to Tenallytown, where General McCall had established his headquarters, and was organizing his division of Pennsylvania Reserves. Here it was engaged in performing guard and picket duty and assisting in the construction of forts.

About this time General McCall, in his report to General McClellan, says of the Sixth, “the regiment is very well drilled.” The hardy yeomanry composing the Sixth had thus far escaped the sickness and disease incident to camp life, but the malaria arising from the low grounds about Washington, where they first encamped, produced its effect, transforming it from a healthy regiment with no sick list, to an invalid organization with a sick roll numbering hundreds.

The Sixth was assigned to the Third Brigade1of General McCall’s Division.


On the 9th of October, the regiment, with the division, marched across Chain Bridge and encamped near Langley. A commendable degree of proficiency in discipline was attained, which was severely tested upon many well fought battle-fields. On the 19th, a reconnoissance was made for the double purpose of driving in the enemy’s pickets and securing forage. This accomplished, it returned to camp on the 21st, but soon to go forth and confront the foe, who was reported in force near Dranesville. The order was given on the 19th of December to march at 6 A. M. of the following day, and leaving camp in buoyant spirits, the regiment proceeded to the Leesburg pike, where the column was formed and speedily moved towards the field of battle. The Ninth Reserve was posted on the right, the Sixth in the centre, the Kane Rifles on the left and the Tenth and Twelfth in reserve.

While the position was being taken by the Reserves, the enemy opened fire from a battery posted on the Centreville road, which was promptly responded to by a section of Easton’s Battery of the First Pennsylvania Artillery, the first discharge eliciting cheers from the entire line. Immediately after the Sixth then on the pike, with its right resting a short distance from the intersection of the pike with the Alexandria road, was ordered forward, and after crossing a field and ascending a gentle slope, entered a wood, into which it advanced a short distance, when the Ninth was met slowly retiring, having encountered the rebel force under such circumstances as to make it doubtful whether it was the enemy or the Kane Rifles. His true character was not long in being developed and volley after volley was exchanged without an attempt by either party to advance. At length a charge was ordered upon his battery. At the word “forward” the regiment bounded the fence in front, crossed the open field and in a moment had driven him from his position in confusion, capturing one caisson and some prisoners. Thus the initial victory of the Reserves was won.

Privates Samuel C. Walter, of Company A, and Daniel Darling, of Company C, were killed.

But little occurred during the next two months to vary the monotony of camp life. Constant drill and guard, picket and fatigue duty were regularly performed. On the 26th of February, 1862, Colonel Ricketts was discharged on account of his continued ill health, and Lieutenant Colonel Penrose having previously resigned, Major Madill was left in command of the regiment. Remaining in Camp Pierpont until the 10th of March, when the army of the Potomac advanced upon the rebel fortifications at Centreville and Manassas, it marched sixteen miles to Hunter’s Mills, remaining there until the 14th, when ordered to Alexandria, where it arrived on the 16th, after one of the most fatiguing marches, through rain and mud, shelterless and hungry, experienced during its whole term of service.

On the 1st of April, Lieutenant William Sinclair, of the Third United States Artillery, and Adjutant Henry B. McKean were elected respectively Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel. Quartermaster Sergeant A. A. Scudder was commissioned Quartermaster vice R. H. McCoy, resigned. The regiment changed its camp on the 27th, to a beautiful grove near Bailey’s Cross Roads, and had secured comfortable quarters by appropriating the tents of an unoccupied camp in the vicinity, when orders came on the 10th to march to Manassas. Moving through Fairfax Court House and Centreville, and crossing Bull Run at Blackburn’s Ford, the command reached Manassas Junction on the 12th. These points were full of interest to the men, in consequence of being the winter quarters of the rebel army.

On the 18th, the command marched, following the line of the Orange and Alexandria railroad, to Catlett’s Station. Remaining there until the 2d of May, it advanced with the division through Hartwood to Falmouth, where it arrived on the 3d, and encamped a mile north of the town. Comfortable and pleasant quarters were constructed of lumber obtained at an adjoining mill. Here General Ord took leave of the brigade, having been promoted to Major General, and assigned to the command of a division. To the Third Brigade he was a valuable officer and friend, and the parting was full of sadness to the men who had become devotedly attached to the “Hero of Dranesville.” He was succeeded by Brigadier General Truman Seymour.

Extensive preparations were being made for an advance upon Richmond from Fredericksburg, the troops being clothed and equipped for the campaign in the best possible manner. But these plans were all frustrated by the advance of Stonewall Jackson down the Shenandoah Valley, and his defeat of Banks. It was then determined to send the Reserves, by water, to the support of McClellan’s army, operating on the Peninsula. The announcement of this fact by General McCall brought forth hearty cheers, and the General from that time grew in popularity with the men until his association with them terminated.

On the 13th of June, the regiment embarked for White House, where it arrived on the following day. Here had been accumulated vast stores for the supply of McClellan’s army. The First and Second Brigades had already arrived and had moved forward. Upon the arrival of the Third Brigade the post was in a state of considerable alarm, Stuart having on the night previous made his famous cavalry raid in McClellan’s rear, temporarily cutting his line of supply. The Sixth Regiment was detailed to remain behind, when the brigade marched to join McClellan’s column, and was stationed at Tunstall’s Station, four miles from White House, on the Richmond and York River railroad.

White House

On the 19th, five companies were ordered to fall back to White House, and the companies remaining at Tunstall’s were set to work throwing up earthworks for their protection. The advance of the rebels on the right flank of the Union army rendered White House no longer tenable as a base of supply, and preparations were hastily made for its evacuation.

On the morning of the 28th, everything wore a gloomy aspect. Railroad and telegraphic communication with the front was severed, and Dispatch Station was in possession of the enemy. Innumerable transports, laden to their fullest capacity with government stores, were moving away,, and huge piles, remaining for want of transportation, were prepared for destruction by surrounding them with hay and saturating them with whiskey. The dense clouds of black smoke grandly rolling up towards the sky, at length indicated the nature of operations at White House.

At four P. M., Colonel Sinclair, in command of the companies at Tunstal’s Station, received orders to march to White House without delay. On the way he was twice urged forward by orders from General Stoneman, and finally directed to throw away everything except arms and cartridge boxes, and move at double quick. The enemy followed closely, but made no demonstration. Upon its arrival at the landing, the command immediately embarked, the other five companies having already departed. The view of the shore was inexpressibly grand, and in strong contrast with the appearance it presented a few days previous. Where everything had been one busy scene of action-the whole plain a vast storehouse-was now swept by the destructive flames.

Proceeding via Fortress Monroe and James River, the regiment, passing on the way the wrecks of the Congress and the Cumberland, vividly re-calling the struggle of these noble crafts with the powerful iron-clad Merrimac, arrived at Harrison’s Landing on the 1st of July. During the night the wagon trains from McClellan’s discomfitted columns began to arrive, and towards morning brigade after brigade came pouring in. A sad spectacle was presented as the worn and thinned regiments, just from the fields of the seven days’ battles, many not larger than a full Company, came toiling in through the mud. The wounded, barely able to walk, yet eager to escape capture, dragged themselves along and reached the landing in a state of exhaustion well nigh to death. The meeting of the Sixth with its comrades of the division was touching indeed, their greatly reduced numbers enabling the regiment to fully realize how dreadful had been the late contest before Richmond.

On the 4th, the Sixth was transferred to the First Brigade.2 The regiment at this time exchanged its arms for the Springfield rifles, and did skirmish duty alternately with the Kane Rifles. The band which had hitherto been connected with it was on the 10th mustered out of service. From the Peninsula it moved by water on the night of the 14th of August, reached Acquia Creek on the morning of the 16th, and the same day was sent by rail to Falmouth. At dark on the evening of the 21st, with the division, it marched towards Kelly’s Ford, on the Rappahannock, but by attempting to take a short route, the command became detached and scattered so that nearly the whole night was spent in fruitless wanderings. The next day an unusually long and severe march was made, reaching Kelly’s Ford at dark.

The march was resumed on the following day in the direction of Rappahannock Station, which place was reached just in time to see a column of rebels beat a hasty retreat under a galling fire from Captain Matthew’s Battery, First Pennsylvania Artillery. On the 24th, it reached Warrenton and encamped on the Sulphur Springs Road, remaining several days. The regiment was sent out on the 26th, to guard a signal station on a neighboring mountain, but finding no trace of the signal party, returned to camp.

Battle of Gainesville

The contending forces were preparing for a desperate encounter upon the memorable field of Bull Run. On the 27th, the division marched on the Alexandria and Lynchburg pike, crossed the line of the enemy’s march, and encamped at New Baltimore. On the morning of the 28th, as the command approached Gainesville, it was suddenly brought to a halt by a rebel battery, which opened fire from a wood some distance to the left of the Centreville pike. A line of battle was immediately formed and Captain Cooper’s Rifled Battery replied with telling effect, soon silencing the enemy’s guns. A portion of the Sixth was deployed as skirmishers and moved forward across the open fields. No further demonstrations were made, and the command reached the Alexandria pike, where it bivouacked for the night.

Battle of Groveton

On the morning of the 29th, the command was early under arms, and moving towards the enemy’s position near Groveton. Advancing some distance it came upon an open plain where it took position on the extreme left of the Union line, and pushed immediately out through a piece of wood. A rebel battery which had been posted on an elevation about a half mile to the left and a little to the rear of the line of the division, now opened fire upon it. With a view of getting upon the enemy’s right flank, the division was immediately faced about and marched a short distance to the rear, remaining in no single position any length of time, but making a demonstration first at one point and then at another, constantly under the enemy’s fire, but not firing a single shot in return.

Late in the afternoon an attack was made on the right by General King and at the same time a demonstration was made on the left by General Reynolds. Moving forward through the wood, across the cornfield in front, under a galling fire from the battery occupying a high position only a few hundred yards distant, the Reserves reached the base of the elevation upon which the rebel force was stationed. This position was so completely under the hill that the rebels could scarcely depress their guns sufficiently to effect the lines of the Reserves. The Sixth advanced up a ravine to the right flank of the battery, with orders to capture it if possible. After reconnoitering the position and becoming satisfied that the battery, which was supported by a heavy infantry force, could not be taken, the fact was reported to General Reynolds, who speedily withdrew the division to the rear and afterwards to the same ground occupied the evening before. During the night the position of the division was very imprudently disclosed by the kindling of fires in the rear for the purpose of making coffee, seeing which, the rebels opened fire from one of their batteries which became very annoying. Singularly enough one of the first shots fired struck one of the men who had been its cause and carried away his arm.

Battle of Bull Run

On the morning of the 30th, the sun rose cloudless, and everything was quiet and calm upon that field soon to be made the scene of carnage and death. Troops began to move early, preparatory to the day’s work. The Reserves marched to the left of the Warrenton pike, near Groveton, where the Sixth was ordered to the support of Cooper’s Rifled Battery, of the First Pennsylvania Artillery. In the meantime the skirmishers proceeded on past Groveton, and, met the rebel skirmishers in the woods beyond. The regiment was then moved to the left and forward to a position slightly in the rear of the advanced line of skirmishers, covering the left flank of the division. This position was held until relieved by the advance of Porter’s Corps when the division was marched to the rear about two hundred yards, and massed on the top of a hill from which the operations of Porter’s troops were plainly visible.

Steadily the enemy was compelled to retire, until reinforced, when Porter was driven back with loss. The Reserve Division was ordered to form across their line of retreat, behind which they might rally and re-form. The First and Second Brigades had scarcely moved from their position, when the enemy appeared immediately to the left, and the Third Brigade, of which the Sixth was a part, was compelled to resist his advance. Gallantly did it perform its duty, but was obliged to retire before superior force.

At this time, General Reynolds was ordered to take position to the right of the Henry House on the hill south of the Warrenton pike, a short distance from its junction with the Manassas road. The artillery was formed on the brow of the hill, and the division drawn up in column of brigade for its support. A brisk artillery duel lasted for some time, when the enemy in well dressed lines started forward, evidently intent on securing the road which lay between the contending forces. Immediately the word “forward” was given, and the Reserves swept down the hill with headlong impetuosity, reaching the bank at the upper side of the road, as the enemy was approaching the fence on the lower, and sprang down the bank into the road before them. The rebels, dismayed at the rapidity and success of the movement, turned and fled in confusion, under a terrific fire from the charging column. Thus was the enemy repulsed, and an important position retained.

In this charge, the flag of the Sixth was shot from the staff, while in the hands of Major Madill. It was instantly taken by the gallant Reynolds, who, holding it aloft, dashed along the line, the wind catching it as he turned and wrapping it about his noble form. The sight inspired the men to deeds of greater valor, and for an instant they paused in the midst of battle and gave a tremendous soul-stirring cheer for their commander.

Returning again to the hill, after resting an hour, night coming on, the division marched towards Centreville, and bivouacked at Cub Run. The loss in this sanguinary battle, extending through three days, was six killed, thirty wounded and eight missing. On the 31st, it moved to Centreville, where, for the first time since the 24th, full and adequate rations were issued. The regiment was placed on picket near Cub Run, and remained through the following day. At five P. M. of September 1st, it was relieved and followed the division to Fairfax Court House, rejoining it at nine. The march was resumed on the following morning, the command passing through Annandale and Bailey’s Cross Roads, to Hunter’s Chapel, where it encamped for the night. Subsequently it moved to Munson’s Hill.

On the 30th of August, Major Madill was elected Colonel of the One hundred and Forty-first Regiment, and a few days thereafter took leave of the Sixth, not without many regrets; for in the last battle at Bull Run he had displayed conspicuous daring and gallantry, and had won the confidence of all. On the evening of the 6th of September, the regiment marched with the division across Long Bridge, through Washington, Leesboro, Poplar Springs and New Market, and shortly after noon on the 13th, encamped on the west bank of Monocacy Creek. The following morning it moved via Frederick City and Middletown to South Mountain, where the enemy was posted in large force, and took position in column of companies on the extreme right of the army.

Battle of South Mountain (Turner’s Gap)

The line of battle advanced a considerable distance towards the summit, the enemy being compelled to fall back upon his supports. An attempt was made at this point by the Sixth to dash up the mountain side, with a view of getting on his flank. The movement was, however, discovered and the rebel lines again yielded without affording the regiment an opportunity to open fire. It then moved forward to a piece of woods near the mountain top. To the left of the woods was cleared land, on which the enemy hotly contested its advance.

The time for earnest work had now come. The top of the mountain was only a few hundred yards distant, and when reached would end the battle on that part of the field. Night was fast approaching and the battle raged furiously for many miles to the left. Companies A and B, Captains Ent and Roush, were ordered out to seize and hold the knob of the mountain immediately in front. They marched from the wood, passed the enemy’s flank and firing into it one volley, made straight for the mountain top.

When within one hundred yards they received the fire of the enemy protected by a ledge of rocks which capped the summit. Immediately Companies C, D and E, Captains Wright, Dixon and Lieutenant Richards were ordered to their support, and forming to the left of the first two, the line advanced at a charge. The numbers of the enemy were largely in excess of those of the Sixth, but the five companies restrained during the earlier part of the battle, dashed like a steed released from his curb against the very muzzles of their guns. The enemy staggered by the impetuosity of the charge, yielded the first ledge of rocks and retreated to the second, from behind which he delivered a most galling fire, causing the advance to reel under the shock and threatening its annihilation. The rebel line to the left, which had been passed by these companies, had in the meantime been compelled to yield to the persistent hammering of the other regiments of the Reserves. The cheers of the Brigade were distinctly heard by both, when the rebels, broken in spirit by the severity of their losses and the determined front presented by the Reserve, fled down the mountain side. These five companies had performed an important service and driven before them in confusion the Eighth Alabama Begiment. The loss was twelve men killed, two officers and thirty-nine men wounded.

Battle of Antietam

Remaining on the mountain until day-light, it having been ascertained that the enemy had retreated, the regiment with the brigade marched to Keedysville and encamped for the night near a mill on Antietam Creek. On the morning of the 16th, a general forward movement was made, the Sixth moving with the brigade across the creek where the enemy’s line was found posted to resist further advance. The Bucktails were ordered forward as skirmishers, with the Sixth Regiment in support. Emerging from a wood, the Bucktails soon became hotly engaged, and the Sixth, gallantly led by Colonel Sinclair, rushed to their assistance. The two regiments gained the contested ground; but it being already dark and no disposition to advance being manifest, the fire slackened and the lines were established for the night, the Sixth occupying the edge of the wood next to the cornfield.

The night was very dark, and the men slept on their arms, ready at a moment’s notice to repel an attack. The gray dawn at last appeared, and every man nerved himself for the conflict. The deathlike stillness was at length broken, and the enemy advanced under cover of the corn. The caution was given to “fire low,” and the sharp report of musketry soon marked the commencement of this fierce battle. The position was held, notwithstanding the persistent efforts of the enemy to advance, until the troops which had pressed forward into the cornfield were compelled to retire, when the enemy gained the wood and subjected the Sixth to a flank as well as a front fire. The line to the right having yielded, several of the rebel batteries concentrated their fire on the wood, which, after unsuccessfal efforts to clear it, was abandoned, and, for the first time since the opening of the contest, the firing ceased. Moving to the right, the division took a position in support of artillery, where it remained the balance of the day unengaged, but subjected to the artillery fire of the enemy.

In this engagement the regiment was much protected by the woods, yet sustained an aggregate loss of one hundred and thirty-two. Eight enlisted men were killed, and Captains Wright, Meeker and Carle and Adjutant Coleman were wounded.

Resting on the battle-field during the following day, in which General Lee silently withdrew his forces, on the 19th it marched to the banks of the Potomac near Sharpsburg, where it remained until the 26th of October. During this period much attention was given to the discipline of the regiment and it left camp one of the best drilled of the division, which reputation it maintained ever after. It marched via Berlin and Hamilton, crossing the Potomac on the 29th, to Warrenton, where it arrived on the 6th of November, and went into camp on the ground occupied by the Reserves a few days previous to the second battle of Bull Run.

The camp at Warrenton was broken on the 11th and the march resumed through Fayetteville, Bealton Station, Morrisville, Grove Church, Hartwood and Stafford Court House to Brook’s Station on the Acquia Creek and Fredericksburg railroad, where a very comfortable camp was formed.

Colonel Sinclair was now in command of the brigade, General Seymour having been relieved at his own request. Lieutenant Colonel McKean having resigned, the command of the regiment devolved upon Major Ent, and Captain Gore was detailed as field officer.

Battle of Fredericksburg

The movements preliminary to the battle of Fredericksburg began December 8th, when the Sixth with the brigade marched from Brook’s Station and reached the hills on the north side of the Rappahannock, overlooking Fredericksburg, on the 11th. On the morning of the 12th it crossed the river on a pontoon bridge about three miles below the city. A line of battle was formed at right angles with the river, the left of the brigade resting upon it. This position was held until daybreak of the 13th when the pickets became engaged, and the brigade, the Sixth in advance, crossing a small stream, under a dense fog, marched through a cornfield to the Bowling Green road, where the line was re-formed. The regiment advanced as skirmishers and drove the enemy from the crest of the hill and from his shelter behind fences and the railroad embankment. The battle now raged furiously. The enemy’s second line proved a formidable obstacle, but soon yielded to the impetuosity of the Reserves.

Moving along up the hill, followed closely by the brigade, it reached a road running along the brow of the hill near which a third line was encountered and a terrific fight ensued, ending in the discomfiture of the rebels. The regiment had now lost more than one-third of its entire number, the brigade had suffered heavily, and Colonel Sinclair had been borne from the field wounded, when the enemy was detected moving through the woods to the right in large numbers. At the same time a terrific fire of musketry was opened on the left of the brigade. The line began to waver and no supporting troops being at hand it finally yielded, and the regiment, with the brigade, fell back over the same ground on which it had advanced.

In this battle, of the three hundred men who went into action, ten were killed, ninety-two wounded and nineteen missing. Moving to the opposite side of the river on the 20th, the regiment went into camp near Belle Plain.

After having participated in the celebrated “mud march,” it returned to its old camp, and remained there until the 7th of February, 1863, when it was ordered to Alexandria to join the Twenty-second Corps. It did guard and picket duty until the 27th of March, and then moved to Fairfax Station, where it remained until the 25th of June, when it moved to join the Army of the Potomac and participate in the memorable Gettysburg campaign. Colonel Sinclair having resigned, the brigade was under the command of Colonel William MCandless of the Second Reserve.

Battle of Gettysburg

Marching via Dranesville, Edwards’ Ferry and Frederick, the regiment joined the army on the 28th, and was again assigned to the Fifth Corps, which was commanded by General Sykes. Continuing the march through Uniontown and Hanover it reached Gettysburg at two o’clock P. M. of July 2d, and made a charge from Little Round Top with but small loss. Remaining in front during the night, on the morning of the 3d skirmishing commenced which continued through the entire day. Towards evening another charge was made, capturing a number of prisoners, re-capturing one gun and five caissons and relieving a large number of Union prisoners. In this encounter the Sixth remained on the skirmish line until two P. M. ot the 4th, when it was relieved and bivouacked on Little Round Top. It sustained a loss of two men killed, and Lieutenant Rockwell and twenty-one men wounded.

Pursuing the retreating rebels to Falling Waters, constantly skirmishing on the way, it encamped on the 14th, after having captured some prisoners near Sharpsburg, when it was ascertained that the rebel army had escaped across the river. Marching and an occasional skirmish and reconnoissance occupied the time until August 18th, when the regiment arrived at Rappahannock Station, and remained until the 15th of September.

In the meantime Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Ent was promoted to Colonel, Captain W. D. Dixon, of Company D, to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain W. H. H. Gore, of Company I, to Major.

Leaving Rappahannock Station on the 15th, it reached Culpepper Court House on the 16th, and went into camp two miles beyond the town, where it remained until October 10th. Returning, it re-crossed the river on the 12th, and encountered the enemy at Bristoe Station on the 14th, having three men wounded by his shells.

On the 19th, it crossed Bull Run and bivouacked on the old battle-ground. The march was continued on the next day through New Baltimore to Auburn, and from thence, on the 7th of November, to Rappahannock Station, crossing the river on the 8th, and on the 10th taking possession of rebel barracks, where it remained until the 24th.

New Hope Church

It again crossed the river on the 26th, at Wykoffs Ford, and moving out on the road towards Gordonsville, met the enemy at New Hope Church. The Sixth was deployed as skirmishers, and sent forward to the support of the cavalry, which was now engaged. Two charges of the rebels were repulsed by the left wing of the regiment, under command of Major Gore. Its loss was two killed and four wounded.

1864 Overland Campaign

On the 5th of December, the regiment went into winter-quarters near Kettle Run, where it was engaged during the remainder of the winter on guard duty. Preparations had been carefully made for the spring campaign, and breaking camp on the 29th of April, it marched to near Culpepper, and on the 4th of May crossed the river at Germania Ford, halting at the Wilderness tavern.

On the following day the Wilderness campaign opened. It was actively engaged on the 5th and 6th, contesting with great gallantry every inch of ground. On the 7th it had only a slight skirmish, in which Captain Allen, of Company G, was wounded. At Spottsylvania, on the 8th, it was engaged in heavy fighting nearly the entire day, and on the 9th, moved to the right of the line and built rifle-pits. On the 10th it made two unsuccessful charges upon the enemy’s works, and again on the 12th, in which it was led by Major Gore, Colonel Ent having command of the Third Brigade.

In this engagement Captain John M. Guyer, of Company I, was killed. The loss during these engagements was thirteen killed, sixty-four wounded and nine missing.

Constantly upon the skirmish and picket line, the Sixth met the enemy on every field with unflinching courage. On the 22d it captured ninety men belonging to Hill’s Corps.

Bethesda Church

At length the final day of its service arrived, and with it the crowning success of the Reserves at Bethesda Church. The regiment was deployed as skirmishers, and had gained the Mechanicsville road, near the church, when it was attacked by an overwhelming force and compelled to retire with considerable loss. It then threw up a rifle-pit, upon which the enemy impetuously charged. Retaining its fire until the approaching foe was sufficiently near, it poured forth a volley which inflicted most terrible slaughter. Although but about one hundred and fifty strong, the Sixth captured one hundred and two prisoners, and buried seventy-two dead rebels in its immediate front. Colonel Ent and Captain Waters were wounded and nineteen men captured.

After three years of service in the camp and on the march, from its initial victory at Dranesville to its final brilliant success at Bethesda Church, sharing always the privations and hardships of the Army of the Potomac as well as the glory which clusters around its name, the regiment on the 1st of June started for Harrisburg, where, with the Reserves, it was enthusiastically received on the 6th, and on the 14th was mustered out of service.

  1. Organization of the Third Brigade, Colonel John S. McCalmont, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, General George A. McCall. Sixth (35th) Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, Colonel W. Wallace Ricketts; Ninth (38th) Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, Colonel Conrad F. Jackson; Tenth (39th) Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, Colonel John S. McCalmont; Twelfth (41st) Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, Colonel John H. Taggart.
  2. Organization of First Brigade, Colonel William Sinclair, Reserve Division, General Truman Seymour, Fifth Corps, Major General Fitz John Porter. Sixth (35th) Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, Lieutenant Colonel Henry B. McKean; First (30th) Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, Colonel R. Biddle Roberts; Second (31st) Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, Colonel William McCandless; Fifth (34th) Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, Colonel J. W. Fisher.