In mid-October, 1861, in a closed room inside the
Galt House Hotel of Louisville, Secretary of War Simon Cameron, Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas and newly promoted Commander
of the Department of the Cumberland William Tecumseh Sherman met to discuss war preparations in that theater. Sherman pointedly
argued that new troop levies were all being sent either to Gen. McClellan in Washington or Gen. Fremont in St. Louis, that
his department, geographically the largest, got nothing. Sherman told them that to drive the Confederates from Kentucky would
require 60,000 men and to launch an offensive in that theater would require probably 200,000 men.
turned to the Adjutant General and asked if any troops were available that had not already been assigned. Thomas thought of
Negley's Pennsylvania Brigade at Pittsburg, composed of the 77th, 78th and 79th regiments, and telegraphed the appropriate
orders on the spot. Incidentally, the Adjutant General's report of this conversation was published in the New York Tribune,
which led to the controversy of Sherman being "insane" and his removal from command of the Department of the Cumberland.
The 77th Pennsylvania officially began on the first day of August, 1861, when Frederick S. Stumbaugh
of Chambersburg, PA, was granted authority to raise a regiment of one company of artillery and 8 companies of infantry. From
across the state, the recruits arrived at Camp Slifer, near Chambersburg. Under orders, they left by rail for Camp Wilkins
at Pittsburg, where they were organized, armed, equipped and mustered into United States service on October 8, 1861, as the
77th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Stumbaugh was chosen Colonel and commander.
Peter B. Housum of Chambersburg was made Lt. Col., with Stephen N. Bradford as Major. Charles F. Muehler of Erie who, along
with Housum had recruited most of the artillerymen, was named Captain of the artillery. At that point the regiment had one
company of artillery and six companies--A,B,C,D,F and G--of infantry. The 77th, along with the 78th and 79th PA, were assigned
to the brigade of Brig. Gen. James S. Negley of Pittsburg.
Negley's Brigade left Camp Wilkins
on October 18, 1861, taking steamboats down the Monongahela and Ohio rivers to Louisville, finally pitching tents at Camp
Nevin on Nolin Creek, some 51 miles south of the city. Here they drilled.
Back in Pennsylvania,
a company was formed with Hambright's Regiment, the 79th. When they got to Camp Nevin they were told they were to fall in
with the 77th, which they greatly resented. Calling themselves "Company Q" and the "Independent Rangers,"
and refusing to be mustered into the 77th, they did no duty whatsoever and had to get their supplies through the 79th PA.
In the meantime, all the PA regiments were moved from Camp Nevin to Camp Negley, a mudhole
a few miles down the road. From there the 79th (and 78th) moved on and Company Q was left with no way to procure rations unless
they mustered into the 77th PA. They did so, becoming Company K.
During November, the army
was reorganized as the Army of the Ohio under General Don Carlos Buell. While the 78th and 79th PA regiments remained
under Gen. Negley as part of the Seventh Brigade of the Second Division (of 6 under Brig Gen A D McCook), the 77th was detached
and placed in the Fifth Brigade, with the 29th and 30th Indiana and the 34th Illinois, under Brig Gen T.J. Wood. Muehler's
Battery of artillery was permanently detached from the 77th and made an independent battery on December 4, 1861.
On the 9th of that month the army began to march, stopping at Munfordville (Camp Wood) where they exchanged
their old muskets for heavier, Belgian rifles which they promptly dubbed "siege guns." Here they were also joined
by a small body of men known as Company H, though they were much too few for a full company. Eventually these men were absorbed
into other companies and within a year Company H was no more.
On December 24, General Wood
was ordered elsewhere and replaced by Col. Edward N. Kirk of the 34th Illinois.
the army moved toward Bowling Green. Word came that General Grant had attacked Fort Donelson, and the men came alive with
eagerness to get into battle. But Fort Donelson fell quickly and the 77th was disappointed to countermarch. Arriving at Bell's
Tavern, a station of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, they did take the opportunity to visit Mammoth Cave.
They marched toward Nashville, Rebels burning bridges before them. On March 9th the 77th got its first taste
of combat in a spirited skirmish in which 4 men, including one officer, were wounded. On the last day of that month the Second
Division was ordered to Savannah, TN, to join the forces of General Grant there. On April 6, 22 miles from Savannah, the regiment
heard the boom of cannons in the distance. The Keystone Staters stepped out smartly, covering the last 14 miles entirely at
the double quick or at the run. At 4 AM on the 7th, the 77th embarked on the steamer Crescent City, disembarking
at Pittsburg Landing at 7 AM.
The 77th, under Col. Kirk as part of McCook's Second Division,
was hurried to the front near the center of the Union line. Gen. McCook, believing the enemy had ceased their efforts on the
right of his line and was preparing to turn his left, ordered the 77th PA to the extreme left of the division to repel the
assault being made at that point. The regiment moved over an open field and, taking its position at the point indicated, immediately
engaged the enemy. At this time the conflict along the whole line became terrible. While in this field the regiment repelled
two separate cavalry charges, driving the enemy back with considerable loss, and farther on it cleared the woods of a lot
of sharpshooters, who were trying to pick off the officers in both McCook's and Crittenden's divisions.
From this time till the close of the battle, the 77th was completely isolated from the rest of the division,
having been sent to the left to prevent the Confederates breaking through the large gap or interval between McCook and Crittenden
(on McCook's left.) While here alone, the regiment charged a Confederate battery and captured two of its guns. Leaving the
captured guns in its rear, it pushed on, compelling the rest of the battery to leave the field. Just at the close of the fight,
it captured Colonel Battle of the 20th TN Infantry, who had lost his horse and could not keep up with his men who were being
driven rapidly back. The 20th TN belonged to the Third Brigade of Breckinridge's Corps, which formed the rear guard of the
retreating Confederate army, and consequently were the last of the enemy to leave the field. Thus ended the Battle of Shiloh.
General Halleck took over command of all Union forces and marched slowly to Corinth. It was on the road to
Corinth that the 77th was joined by Company E. On March 10th, by special orders of General Buell, McCook's Division was designated
as the reserve of the center of the army before Corinth, as a special mark of distinction because of its eminent services
in the battle of Shiloh. On the 26th, the division moved to the front and bivouacked inside the line of intrenchments. On
the 27th, it was ordered forward to drive the enemy from the Hamburg-Corinth road and gain possession of Bridge Creek, which
it did. On the 30th, about 6 AM, a roaring noise was heard from the Confederate camp. The Rebs had evacuated and were blowing
up what they could not take along. The 77th rapidly came up to the enemy works and, finding them empty, was the first of the
center division to hoist her flag on those works. At the point where the 77th entered the works was a blue uniform stuffed
with straw, suspended by the neck from a tree, with a card marked "General Halleck" on it. The General happened
to ride up but, his attention directed to the effigy, merely rode off without comment.
Gen. Buell marched the troops through Mississippi and Alabama toward eastern Tennessee. Along the route, on one day in camp,
the officers of the brigade arranged a horse race which gave rise to an argument among a Captain and First Lieutenant of the
77th. A swordfight ensued in which one officer was cut on the head, the other on the arm, before both were placed under arrest.
On the Fourth of July, the boys of Company K killed a large soft-shelled turtle which was turned into "Snapper
Soup", a customary Independence Day dish in their home town at that time. As they moved into Tennessee, the divison halted
on the north side of the Tennessee River. The 77th picketed the north side within easy view of Confederate pickets along the
south bank. Frequent conversations across the river were held by the boys in blue with those in gray.
Bragg was on the move from that point toward Louisville, and McCook's division, along with the Army of the Ohio,
followed him, the 77th entering the city on September 26. Louisville was a scene of great activity, along with the reorganization
of the army. The Army was split into three corps, General McCook to command the First Corps or left wing of the army. The
77th was still in the Fifth Brigade of the Second Division, now in the First Corps.
Sept 29, Col E. N. Kirk, who had been seriously wounded at Shiloh, returned to command his old brigade. Col. Stumbaugh, who
had taken over the brigade during Kirk's absence, reverted to the command of the 77th.
October 1st, the army moved out towards Bardstown, the Second Division in advance, the Fifth Brigade leading, along the Frankfort
Pike. Enemy cavalry in force at Fern Creek was attacked by Union cavalry until the 77th and 34th IL came up to relieve them.
The infantry advanced rapidly, pressing the enemy back until their retreat became a rout. After pursuing them for three miles,
Col. Kirk called upon the artillery to fire, hastening their departure. The column moved forward.
days later, about six miles from Shelbyville outside Clay Village, Col. Kirk learned that an enemy force of four pieces of
artillery, two cavalry regiments and an infantry brigade were drawn up in line of battle to his front. Taking time to fill
canteens before forming a line of battle, the Union line was barely complete when the enemy cavalry came dashing toward it.
After a fierce fight, the Confederates were driven past Clay Village, where Col. Kirk's orders caused him to halt. The enemy
admitted a loss of 42--7 killed, 19 wounded and 16 missing. The missing, 2 lieutenants a color sergeant and 13 privates were
captured by the 77th. The column moved on to Frankfort, the state capitol and past, camping at the battle site of Perryville
on October 11, only days after that battle had taken place, arriving at Nashville November 7th.
October 24, Gen. Buell was replaced by General William S. Rosecrans and the area of occupied eastern TN and northern AL and
GA designated the Department of the Cumberland. The army was renamed the Army of the Cumberland. Gen. Rosecrans designated
Gen. George H. Thomas as commander of the center, Gen. McCook the right wing and Gen. Crittenden the left wing. McCook's wing
consisted of the Second Division now under Gen. J.W. Sill (77th still in that division), the Ninth Division under Gen. Jefferson
C. Davis and the 11th Division under Gen. Phil Sheridan.
The Second Division crossed the
river and moved out the Murfreesborough Pike six miles beyond Nashville, where it went on several reconnaissances. On one
reconnaissance, November 27th, a running fight ensued about 4 miles outside camp until the brigade reached Lavergne, fully
five miles beyond that. Upon reaching Lavergne, Confederate artillery opened fire, the first shell passing directly over Col.
Kirk's head, the second dropping in the midst of his staff. Kirk ordered the 77th and the 29th IN to charge the battery, which
retreated before the onslaught.
At the end of November Col. Kirk was commissioned Brigadier
General, while Col. Stumbaugh, due to ill health, was forced to retire December 7. Another reorganization of the army followed
on the 19th with the Second Division (now under Gen. R. W. Johnson) designated as the Second Division of the Right Wing of
the Army of the Cumberland, with Kirk's Brigade (formerly the Fifth) now the Second Brigade of that division.
This was the organization on Dec. 26, when the march upon Murfreesborough commenced. Skirmishing practically
every step of the way, it became increasingly animated, while rain made the roads increasingly impassable. Skirmishing continued
throughout the 27th until the division, formed into battle line, reached high ground overlooking Triune. Here the enemy, in
force, was in plain view drawn up in line of battle.
The Federals opened a bombardment,
followed by an infantry charge on the enemy artillery. They drove the enemy until torrents of rain caused a temporary delay.
They resumed fighting, again driving the enemy until dark, where they camped in the mud with no fire or shelter.
Another fight occured on the 30th, when the 77th Pennsylvania found itself on the right flank of
the Union line. Two Rebel batteries opened fire and were forced to withdraw by counterfire. The Union camped in line of battle,
the 77th on the edge of a Cedar Brake, facing across a cornfield, with skirmishers on the other side. During the night, movement
of enemy forces was distinctly heard behind the Rebel lines by the skirmishers and the intelligence was communicated up the
chain of command. No one slept in the regiment once it was realized the enemy was massing for an attack. Evidently only the
77th was ready.
At dawn the next morning skirmishers of the 77th saw Confederate heavy
columns advancing, one column, composed of General Patrick Cleburne's First Arkansas regiment, headed directly for
the 77th. As the skirmishers opened fire, the Confederates paid no attention and marched steadily on, singing loudly about
Southern rights. Their command, "Down with the fence," was distinctly heard as they reached a fence barely 50 yards
ahead of the skirmishers. Then the Rebels opened a very hot, heavy fire. So began the Battle of Stone's River.
The regiment advanced to support the skirmishers. In one of the morning's few equal contests, the 77th bested
the Arkansans, driving them through the cornfields and back to the narrow stream west of the Widow Smith house. On reaching
that point, they found the regiments to their right were gone. Compelled by isolation and the enemy's heavy numbers the regiment
fell back, slowly and in good order though their losses were heavy. They fell back about 150 yards and formed on the right
Post's regiment of Davis's division, which, too, was falling back. Edgarton's battery, in plain view to their front, had been
captured by the Rebels with a Confederate battery brought up nearby. Lt.Col. Housum ordered the 77th to charge the guns. Unsupported,
the regiment drove the Confederate gunners away and, but for lack of horses, would have brought the guns back with them. An
overwhelming force of infantry forced the 77th back again and the Reb gunners, back on their cannons, opened up first with
canister and grape, then with sharpnel and solid shot. The regiment retired slowly and in good order. With every puff of smoke
from the cannons, the men would drop to the ground, then rise and retire further until they were finally out of range.
Lt. Col. Housum was mortally wounded here by canister and died the next day. Here, too, the color-bearer,
Sgt. Crawford, who had carried the flag through the Mexican War, received a death wound as did numbers of others. When Sgt.
Crawford fell, 15-year-old James A. Rodgers of Company E caught up the flag and handed it to Lt. Shroad of Company K, who
give it to a Sgt. of Company C, its proper custodian.
The regiment, retiring to the north,
was halted on a slight eminence by a mounted officer and told to hold that position. They turned and stood to face the enemy
while other troops in great disorder streamed past them on both sides. They determinedly stood their ground amid the chaos
until another mounted officer ordered them to retire saying that if they stayed where they were they would all be captured.
Still in good order, they retired, halting on every favorable piece of ground to turn and battle the enemy, until they finally
reached the Murfreesborough Pike. There, in the woods, they found the remnants of the other regiments of the division. Though
the 77th had heavy losses, the retreat of her sister units had been so chaotic that the 77th had nearly as many men in the
reformed line as the other regiments of the brigade combined.
Amidst the trees, four remaining
cannons of the Fifth Indiana battery were brought up and the brigade, now about 500 strong, was ordered to its support.
The battery opened on the enemy, which appeared to check their advance. The brigade was moved a short distance to the right
of the battery, making contact with the right of Van Cleve's division. The Rebel infantry came forward but a rolling simultaneous
fire seemed to surprise them and they were driven back. They soon reformed and came on again. The Union line was ordered to
charge bayonets and rushed forward, driving the Johnnies out of the woods across the fields and back over the grounds they
had come only an hour before.
Having replenished its ammunition, the 77th and the brigade
moved to the front but, as the Confederates made no further attack in that area, were not again engaged. Sharpshooters, concealed
in trees about 400 yards to the front, were a nuisance, however. Captain Thomas E. Rose of Company B took a rifle from one
of his men and stepped into the open to face a particularly annoying Rebel marksman. The Confederate shot and missed, as did
Capt. Rose. The sharpshooter's second shot missed, too. When Capt. Rose fired the second time, the Confederate was seen to
drop out of his tree to the ground and was carried to the rear by his companions.
beginning of the battle, Confederate cavalry had destroyed the supply train of the Second Division. Consequently, during the
four days of the engagement, each man received only a half pound of crackers and a teacupful of flour, though practically
all had coffee in their haversacks.
After the battle, during a review, General Rosecrans
stopped in front of Company E and requested the 15-year-old Rogers step forward. The General complimented him very highly
for having picked up the flag when the color bearer fell and for his bravery and good conduct during the battle. Rosecrans
said, "With an army of such boys, I would meet, without fear of the result, any enemy that might be brought against me."
In another review, General Rosecrans, in riding along the line of the
Army of the Cumberland, paused a few moments in front of the 77th and told Col. Rose, "Colonel, I see your regiment
is all right. Give my compliments to your men. Tell them it is the banner regiment of Stone River. It was the only regiment
on the right wing that never broke ranks."
According to Col. Rose's after action report,
the 77th PA went into the battle with 288 men, lost 5 killed including Lt. Col. Housum, 29 wounded and 29 missing.
With Lt. Col. Housum's fall, the command of the 77th devolved by seniority to Captain Rose, who was promoted
to Colonel. General Kirk, commander of the Second Brigade, was also mortally wounded in the battle and succeeded by Col. Dodge
of the 30th Indiana. After Stone's River the names of the various wings changed to corps, with the Thomas's center designated
the 14th Corps, McCook's right wing the 20th and Crittenden's left wing the 21st Corps. This name change did not, however,
affect either the organization of the army or its various commanders.
After the battle
the 77th, along with the rest of the Second Brigade, was engaged in the construction of a fort near the Nashville pike a short
distance west of the town. This fort, constructed in exactly four months, was considered one of the strongest earth works
in that part of the country. On June 7th, the brigade was relieved of its work on fortifications and returned to the division.
On the 20th, Colonel John F. Miller of the 29th Indiana returned to his regiment and, being senior officer, took
command of the brigade.
Tullahoma was an important railroad junction on the route to Chattanooga.
To reach it, the Army of the Cumberland had to pass through the Cedar Hills, a spur of the Cumberland mountains.
There were few roads suitable for an army to cross the steep, jagged and rocky hills. Among those was the Wartrace Road that
led through Liberty Gap. General Hardee's corps of Bragg's Army of Tennessee held Liberty Gap, among others.
The morning of the 24th of June began with a dreary, dismal rain which made the roads nearly impassable for
artillery and wagons. Johnson's Division followed Sheridan's down the Shelbyville Pike, then turned down another road to face
Liberty Gap. Willich's First Brigade was advanced toward a force of infantry in front of the Gap, which fell back upon their
supports along the crest of the hills which form the northern entrance to the Gap. Halfway up the very steep hills were cultivated,
but from there to the crest was nothing but jagged rock and timber. It was determined to try to flank the position instead
of direct assault, and the 77th PA along with the 29th IN, were ordered up to extend the right of the line.
The line moved forward at the double quick and were met by a furious fire which, from such heights, mostly
went over the heads of the advancing line. Outflanked to right and left, the Confederates fell back. Immediately in front
of the 77th the heights were very rough, rocky and almost perpendicular. The men slung their weapons over their backs and
pulled themselves up, hand over hand, by taking hold of roots and brush. They reached the top, right in the middle of an abandoned
enemy camp that had meals still on the tables.
Advancing more than a mile, the brigade
halted after passing Liberty Church. Here the troops bivouacked in the mud, made soft by the rain which fell all day and continued
throughout the night.
Positive information was received the Cleburne's division had reinforced
the enemy during the night. The Third Brigade had been sent forward, and in the morning Willich's First Brigade was sent forward
to join them. Several fights had occured and, by early afternoon, the 77th Pa, with the 79th IL slightly behind and to the
left, were sent forward in relief.
Immediately past Willich's line was an orchard, then
a corn field deep with mud. About 500 yards beyond that was a creek that flowed along an irregular range of hills about 100
feet high. The 77th entered the orchard and opened fire on the enemy, who was in plain view. Charging through the orchard
and boggy corn field as fast as they possibly could, followed by the 79th IL, they drove the Confederates before them to the
hills. Posted some distance to the right, an enemy battery threw a fierce, enfilading fire into the ranks of the 77th, causing
considerable damage. The regiment did not pause until it reached the creek at the foot of the hills, where it found some protection
from a rail fence. But they were still somewhat exposed to enemy fire. Col. Rose, thinking his men probably too exhausted
to obey and order to charge through the creek, dashed forward himself to mid-stream and waved his men forward. With a shout,
the men of the 77th PA and 79th IL charged through the creek and gained the base of the hills where they were fairly safe
from enemy fire but keep up a good fire at them.
In the meantime, Col. Miller, brigade
commander, had been seriously wounded. That put Col. Rose in command of the Second Brigade. When Col. Rose found out, he ordered
the 34th IL of the Second Brigade forward as reinforcements. The 38th IN, of Gen. Davis's division, also came up, both regiments
suffering as they came on. Then the enemy firing slowed to a halt, as their first two lines had been broken by the 77th's
assault and their third and final line driven away by the reinforcements.
Col. Rose's after action report on this Battle of Liberty Gap, the 77th PA lost one lieutenant and three enlisted men killed
and two captains and 32 men wounded (none missing). He went on, "The loss we inflicted on the enemy was, without exaggeration,
double that of our own....The enlisted men of my regiment fought valiantly, and, with 20 rounds more ammunition, we would
have needed no reinforcements to have given the enemy a terrible rout." Their casualties were fully 20% of their entire
Advancing toward Tullahoma, the army was drawn up in line of battle when
they discovered that the enemy had evacuated. But the steady rains of the preceeding six days made the roads almost impassable,
even to infantry. On entering Tullahoma, General Johnson was placed in command of the city until the next forward advance
of the Army of the Cumberland.
General Braxton Bragg and his Army of Tennessee
fell back to Chattanooga. In a war of maneuver, Rosecrans' feints caused Bragg to withdraw south of the city. Crossing over
the mountains (the 77th Pa over Raccoon Mountain), both sides prepared for battle. Bragg had made several plans for attack
while the Union army was spread out, and when he realized Bragg's intentions, Rosecrans brought his corps together in a defensive
position with Thomas on the left, McCook in the center and Crittenden on the right.
daylight of September 19, Baird's division of Thomas' corps took position along the La Fayette Road at Kelly's Farm. Brannam's
division of that, the Fourteenth, Corps had moved north and east of that position and at 7:30 struck Nathan Bedford Forrest's
cavalry at Jay's Mill, thus opening the Battle of Chickamauga.
Johnson's division, upon
reaching Rosecrans' headquarters, was immediately sent to Thomas, where it arrived at noon. They were immediately sent eastward
into woods just south of Kelly's Farm to support Baird's division. Johnson had gone perhaps 400 yards when he was met by stragglers
from Starkweather's brigade of Baird's division running for the rear. Johnson pushed forward, met the enemy and drove them
about a mile. Having gone too far beyond the line of troops on his left, Johnson halted.
position, the most advanced of the Union line was a mile east of the La Fayette Road near the Winfrey House. Baird came forward
to extend Johnson's left.
Cheatham's Rebel lines were
formed just behind rising ground to the southeast and began a continuous artillery fire on Johnson's position. Late in the
afternoon Cleburne's division was sent from the east, crossed a river and deployed to attack from the direction of Jay's Saw
The 77th Pennsylvania was posted in front, on the far right of the Union
line, the 79th IL on her left, the 29th and 30th IN in reserve (and never brought into the ensuing fight.)A detail of the
77th under Lt. Col. Pyfer was sent into the woods to the right to find that the nearest Union troops in that direction were
three-quarters of a mile away. They were ordered to hold and that troops would be brought up to fill the gap. It was not filled
and the 77th PA, along with the 79th IL, with flanks exposed, were left to fight alone.
darkness fell, General Deshler's Texas brigade of Cleburne's division, nearly 1800 strong, marched through that gap to the
rear of the Union lines and turned on the 77th from the rear. At the same time, General Preston Smith's brigade of Cheatham's
division, also nearly 1800 strong, attacked from the front. (In comparison, the whole of Second Brigade comprised only 1100
men.) In the darkness it was almost impossible to tell friend from foe. The fighting was hand-to-hand.
General Smith and two members of his staff, rode through the Pennsylvania line. General Smith was upbraiding
Sgt. Bryson, mistaking him for one of this own men and in the act of striking him with his sword, when Bryson shot and killed
him. Almost simultaneously the 17th and 18th Texas regiments, of Deshler's brigade, filed across the right flank of the 77th
and opened a terrific enfilading fire. The regiment was hemmed in on all sides.
It is thought
that a Confederate officer finally called, "Cease fire," and both sides did. In the darkness some got away, but
73 soldiers of the 77th PA were taken prisoners including Col. Rose, Lt. Col. Pyfer, Major Phillips, four captains and two
lieutenants as well as 64 enlisted men. Among the enlisted was Cpl. Woolslair of Company C, acting color-bearer. The flag
was captured with him and passed through the ranks of the 17th and 18th Texas. Woolslair died at Andersonville the following
Col. Rose later spearheaded the largest POW escape of the war, from Libby Prison
in Richmond. Enlisted men of the 77th escaped from both Danville and Andersonville prisons. (But those stories are for a different
On the morning of the 20th, the Second Brigade, including the remnants of the
77th PA, was posted on the left of Baird's division north of the Kelly farm. It maintained that position against every attack
until it was withdrawn, along with the army, to Rossville. There they stayed until the night of the 21st, when they were moved
to Chattanooga. The 77th began the battle with less than 200 men, by its end 84 answered Roll Call, a loss of over 50%.
Cut off in Chattanooga, the entire Union army suffered from lack of supplies. The animals died from starvation,
while the men stayed alive on severly reduced rations. A small skirmish occurred involving the 77th PA, when, along with other
units of the first and second brigades, they were posted as pickets along Chattanooga Creek. About 7 o'clock they were suddenly
attacked by a considerable enemy force, to the immediate front of the 77th and the 32nd IN. The Rebels had been in hiding
along the creek and for a while fought a very spirited and daring attack. But the relief detail was cool and poured volleys
that the enemy finally could not withstand. Between the two regiments only 3 men were slightly wounded, while the enemy's
known loss was 4 killed and 16 wounded.
On October 10th, General Rosecrans relieved Generals
McCook and Crittenden from command and consolidated the 20th and 21st Corps into the Fourth Corps, with General Gordon Granger
in command. In this reorganization the Second Brigade was almost entirely dismembered. The 29th IN was assigned to Cruft's
brigade of Stanley's division; the 34th IL to Morgan's brigade of Davis' division; and the 79th IL to Harker's brigade of
Sheridan's division. The 77th PA and the 30th IN, along with the 59th, 75th, 80th and 84th IL and the 9th, 36th and 84th IN,
composed the Third Brigade, commanded by Col. William Grose, of Stanley's First Division of the Fourth Corps. On October 19th,
Rosecrans in turn, was relieved and replaced by General Thomas. On the 23rd, General Grant arrived and took command of the
On the 24th, the First and Third brigades of the First Division, including
the 77th PA, were ordered to march in a driving rain to Rankin's Ferry on the north side of the Tennessee River, to hold a
pontoon bridge at that place and cooperate with General Hooker's command, who was coming up the south bank. The rain never
let up, but the forces met on the 29th as the river was opened and the seige of Chattanooga was lifted. Pursuant to orders,
the brigade crossed the river and camped with General Hooker's command, moving to Whiteside on the 31st. The 77th Pa and the
30th IN, along with Battery H of the 4th US Artillery, were ordered to hold Whiteside while the rest of the command marched
to take part in the Battle of Lookout Mountain. It was the only time throughout the war that the 77th was detached for guard
duty instead of being at the battle front.
On January 5, 1864, three-fourths of the men
re-enlisted as veteran volunteers. On Tuesday, January 26, those who had re-enlisted started as a body for Pittsburg with
veteran furloughs. On Saturday, March 27, the furloughs had expired and the veterans re-assembled at Pittsburg for the train
ride to Nashville, along with a large number of recruits who had enlisted for three years. Marching from Nashville through
Murfreesborough and Chattanooga, the 77th joined up with the brigade at Blue Springs, near Cleveland, Tennessee, on April
24. General O. O. Howard had replaced General Granger as commander of the Fourth Corps.
May 3, numbering about 500 rank and file under the command of Captain J. J. Lawson, the 77th marched from Blue Springs to
Red Clay, on the Georgia line. On May 4, after some skirmishing, it reached Catoosa Springs, Georgia. On May 7 the corps drove
the enemy from Tunnel Hill, Georgia, and took possession of it. But the enemy held Rocky Face Ridge. The brigade's position
was on the left of the rail and wagon roads, leading through Buzzard's Roost Gap, on the Dalton Road. On the 9th, at midnight,
the 77th went on picket and on the 10th it skirmished all day, having 3 men wounded. On the 11th, the 77th, along with the
30th IN, moved onto a ridge commanding Mill Creek Gap and threw up rifle pits. On the morning of the 13th, having been outflanked
further south, the enemy was gone from Rocky Face Ridge. The brigade had lost about 40 men in its assault.
The command moved in pursuit of the Confederates, who were driven through Dalton on the Resaca Road. At noon
on the 14th, the Rebels were in position at Resaca, along the right bank of the Oostenaula River. The brigade formed with
the 77th PA on the extreme left in the front line and, about 2 PM, moved forward, driving the enemy from the dense underbrush
and woods. At daylight on the 15th, the fighting commenced again and continued all day, but the enemy retreated under cover
Skirmishing continually with the enemy, the 77th moved through Resaca, Calhoun,
Adairsville, along the Kingston Road, drove the enemy from their trenches on a high ridge near Cassville, crossed the Etowah
River, along the Atlanta Road, through Euharlee, Burnt Hickory, crossed Pumpkin Vine Creek and, on the 25th, rested in the
rear of Hooker's 20th Corps outside Dallas.
Facing Dallas, on the 26th the command went
into line on the left of the 20th Corps, pressing close on the enemy's lines. The next day the position changed to the left,
relieving Wood's division. Sharp fighting and skirmishing ensued for the next several days, until the enemy retreated the
night of June 3. Except for a couple of marches that took then near Acworth, the regiment rested until June 10th.
Having escaped from Libby Prison, been recaptured and exchanged, Colone Thomas E. Rose returned and resumed
command of the 77th on June 7. On the 10th, the regiment marched four miles to find the enemy strongly entrenched on Pine
Mountain. Heavy skirmishing commenced immediately until the night of the 13th, but the 77th was in the second line and not
involved. The enemy was driven about 2 miles until found in a strong line. Two more days of skirmishing commenced until the
enemy again withdrew during the night. On the 17th they were found again and driven from fortifications on Kennesaw Mountain
and adjacent hills.
From that day until July 2nd fighting continued on Kennesaw Mountain.
At one point the 77th threw up three lines of works in 24 hours. The fighting included a front assault on the Rebels and a
Confederate night attack that was driven off. But on the night of July 2, again under cover of darkness, the Confederates
retreated. On the 3rd, the brigade marched through Marietta and beyond Smyrna, where the enemy was found strongly fortified
on the Atlanta road.
The Fourth was celebrated by charging the enemy's works at 11 in the
morning, capturing their rifles pits with a large number of prisoners, killed and wounded. The 77th's losses were 1 killed
and 1 officer and 17 men wounded. The enemy withdrew during the night to the Chattahoochie River. They were pursued the next
After the river was crossed and the enemy driven yet again, the regiment marched past
Buckhead to Peach Tree Creek, where the Rebels were found again in fortified positions. On the 20th their rifle pits were
attacked and carried with the brigade taking 43 prisoners while the regiment lost two wounded. The next day the 77th moved
forward to the skirmish line, taking casualties of one officer and four men wounded, but that night the enemy again stole
Pursuit was resumed at 3 AM on the 22nd, the 77th in advance. In a heavy fog the
command came upon the enemy quite abruptly at sunrise and, after a sharp fight, drove the Rebels off. Fortifications were
built within two miles of Atlanta.
On July 27, General Howard assumed command of the Army
of the Tennessee, and was succeeded in command of the Fourth Corps by General D. S. Stanley. General Grose was temporarily
placed in command of the First Division with Colonel Post of the 59th IL in charge of the Third Brigade. On August 4, General
Nathan Kimball was given command of the First Division while General Grose returned to his brigade and Colonel Post to his
The brigade charged the enemy's works on August 5 but was repulsed. The 77th
had the heaviest losses with one captain and five men killed and fourteen wounded. From there the 77th was moved from the
right of the brigade to its extreme left as the entire command moved to the right, skirmishing and tearing up railroads all
the way to Lovejoy Station. After a sharp fight the command was withdrawn to Jonesborough, then to Rough and Ready, and finally
Four days after the fall of Atlanta, Jefferson Davis telegraphed General Hood
to prepare to march into Tennessee. General Thomas on September 28th, was sent to Nashville to take command of forces that
would oppose Hood. On October 3, the 77th, along with the Fourth Corps, marched out of Atlanta in pusuit of Hood's army, the
lead element of the Union Army. They followed Hood's command to first to Marietta, then via Pine Top and Lost Mountain to
Allatoona and Kingston, then to Rome where they found Hood had struck the railroad north of Resaca. The Fourth and Fourteenth
Corps marched to Resaca, crossed Rocky Face Mountain north of Snake Creek Gap and forced the enemy to evacuate that pass.
From there they marched through Ship's Gap and down the Chattanooga Valley to Gaylesville, Alabama, arriving on October 20.
General Sherman, having marched to Gaylesville, turned with the bulk of his army back toward Atlanta, ordering
the Fourth Corps to proceed on to Chattanooga where they would receive further instructions from General Thomas. Thomas ordered
them to take the train to Athens, Alabama, and march from there to Pulaski, Tennessee. By November 4, the Fourth Corps concentrated
around Pulaski and completed extensive fortifications that already begun. On November 13, General Schofield with parts of
the 23rd Corps arrived at Pulaski, taking overall command of the forces there.
Hood's army had crossed the river and was moving northward toward Lawrenceburg and then probably to Columbia. Then began a
race to Columbia between the two armies, the 77th and First Division marching 20 miles, guarding the rear of the artillery
and wagon train and going into position on the left of the corps as the Union army reached Columbia first.
Just before daylight on November 26, Confederate infantry attacked the Union pickets and drove them a considerable
distance. Reinforcements were brought up and the Rebels were, in turn, driven back. This was the enemy's only effort to molest
this position on the south bank of the Duck River. On the 27th, the army moved to the other side of the river, destroying
the brigdes behind them. The Rebels made no attempt to interfere.
Word came that the Confederates
were crossing the river above the Union left. At 8 AM on the morning of the 29th, the First and Second divisions of the Fourth
Corps were put in motion toward Spring Hill. The First division was halted at Rutherford Creek and posted to cover the Federal
crossing there. Up until then, it was thought only Rebel cavalry opposed the army but in fact Hood's entire army had crossed
the river and were in pursuit with a much superior force of hostile infantry. Confederate cavalry attacked to the north and
west and it became obvious the Union force was hemmed in and threatened on all sides.
night close in the enemy could be seen rapidly extending his lines, and by 8 o'clock it was evident that at least a corps
of Hood's army was formed in line of battle, facing the turnpike less than half a mile from it. It turned out to be Cheatham's
corps. General Schofield pushed forward with a division, hoping to force an opening to Franklin. Unbelievably, the Confederates
had not cut the road. A second division, despite some skirmishing, also moved on through.
77th Pennsylvania, with the First division, covered the retreat to Spring Hill. The trains, including artillery and
ambulances, numbered about 800 as they began crossing Rutherford Creek at about 1 AM. With only one bridge, the wagons had
to move singly across the creek and it looked doubtful whether they would make it before sunrise. The wagons, especially,
were difficult to keep quiet as Cheathams' corps was camped within 600 yards east of the road.
the night march past the place, the 77th was the rear guard of the entire army and the very last to pass the hostile camps--an
extremely hazardous position.
About the break of day the last of the column had safely
passed Spring Hill when Confederate cavalry made a spirited dash on the wagon train. The regiment at once went into line of
battle and soon repelled the attack without loss, and went back into marching column, reaching Franklin about 10 o'clock on
the morning of the 30th.
On arriving at Franklin, the 23rd Corps was stationed in the suburbs
of the town with its left restong on the Harpeth River above the town, its right extending across and west of the turnpike.
The First Division of the Fourth Corps was posted on the right of the 23rd, with its right on the river below town.
At 11 AM, Col. Rose was ordered to report the 77th for picket duty. Having marched all night and skirmished
already that morning, the men were very tired and took some time to comply with the order. General Grose himself posted the
regiment himself, about a mile from Franklin to the right of the turnpike leading to Centerville. The regiment covered the
entire front of the brigade, adjoining the pickets of Rogers' division on the left and the second brigade on the right. Four
companies were put on the front line, at about 100-yard intervals, with the other four companies in reserve.
The line had scarcely been posted when the enemy appeared and the contest became hotly engaged. The 77th kept
the enemy skirmishers at bay until the line on its left gave way. The company on that portion of the line, instructed to fall
back on the main line, was forced to fall back all the way to the reserve, which they did in good order, fighting all the
way. One by one the outpost companies did the same until all had taken their place in the regimental line.
As soon as the line was formed, the enemy could be seen directly in front, advancing in line of battle. The
77th opened fire and quickly cleared their front. But it immediately received a heavy fire on their right flank, while their
left flank had been uncovered and passed by the enemy. The regiment fell back about 100 yards, turned and fired, then changed
front to receive the enemy on their right flank.
They stopped the Rebels on their right,
only to find the enemy coming down on them from their left, which had been their original regimental front. The 77th fell
back to a partial ravine and changed front to face this threat. The Confederates, on higher ground and within 50 paces, were
decimated by the volley delivered by the 77th and fell back pell mell.
The regiment now
took shelter behind a high, strong fence supposed to be a cattle corral. Colonel Rose, on horseback, could not pass over the
fence easily and was almost caught until some of his men hauled him safely over the fence. The force of the enemy, pouring
into the ravine, was so overwhelming the 77th was obliged to fall back in slight confusion. Order was quickly restored and
fire again opened on the enemy, but it was relatively weak, as most of the men were out of ammunition. Soon the last cartridge
was gone and the ordered back to the breastworks to replenish their supply. As the men started again for the front, General
Grose ordered them to remain in reserve, where they took no further part in the Battle of Franklin.
77th lost two men killed at Franklin, 15 wounded and two missing, more than half the casulaties sustained by the entire Third
From Franklin the Union army easily withdrew to Nashville, unmolested by the decimated
Confederates. The rear of the column reached Nashville at 1 PM on December 1, the Fourth Corps reporting to General Thomas
and assigned by him to its position. On the 3rd, and again on the 8th, the Confederates appeared and drove in the Union pickets,
only to be driven back. The 77th suffered two wounded, one mortally, the other slightly.
daylight of the 15th, the brigade moved from its position near the Franklin Pike, to the right of the Hillsborough Pike. The
77th, on picket duty at the time, followed the brigade as soon as it was relieved of that duty. It was placed in reserve and
not actively engaged for the rest of that day. On the 16th, the regiment was placed in the brigade's second line but was quickly
ordered to the front line, advancing against the enemy's works. A little after noon as assault was ordered and the whole line
moved forward, taking the outpits and first line of works.
On taking the works, the Second
Division, on the left, had moved past the enemy's main line, about 400 yards to the front. The brigade was ordered forward
but, as it began, the regiments to the right of the 77th were halted. The line on the right had not moved and the brigade
would have opened itself up to a severe flanking fire.
The 77th, however, moved forward
to the right of the Second Division, within a few paces of the enemy's main works. The Second Division was repulsed and fell
back to the first line, along with the 77th. Sheltering there, while on the right the fighting became severe, the whole Union
line went forward at 4 o'clock and carried the Confederate works. In this assault the 77th was actively engaged in the front
line, where it captured one gun and many prisoners from one of the Rebel batteries. The brigade moved forward of all the other
troops, on the right of the Franklin Pike, and at nightfall its skirmishers covered the mountain pass at Brentwood.
The next day the pursuit continued, the Third brigade in front, all the way to Franklin. From there the command
crossed Rutherford's Creek, Duck River, occupied Columbia, Pulaski, crossed Sugar Creek and reached Lexington, Alabama. On
the first day of 1865, the command crossed Elk River and marched to Athens, Alabama, and on to Huntsville.
The Battle of Nashville was the last in which the 77th Pennsylvania was engaged. The regiment ended
its fighting career as it had begun, by the capture of a part of a battery and 51 Rebels at Nashville, its last fight, just
as it took a section of a battery and a considerable number of prisoners at Shiloh, its first fight.
losses in all of its engagements were in excess of 370 killed, wounded and missing. Yet through its last battle the 77th never
had more than 8 companies. Two hundred and twenty-five were killed and wounded, and nearly all of those missing or captured
died in Confederate prisons, principally at Andersonville. One hundred eight-two died from various diseases in camps and hospitals,
while many more died from wounds and disease after being discharged.
The 77th remained
in winter quarters at Huntsville until March 13, 1865, when i broke camp and went by rail to Knoxville, Tennessee, marching
from there to Strawberry Plain on the 16th. On March 3, at Huntsville, the regiment was joined by 96 one-year enlistees who
formed Company H. On the 20th, at Strawberry Plain they were joined by Company I and the next day by Company F, all one-year
enlistees. The veteran companies had been so reduced that the men of old Company F was consolidated into Company A and those
of Companies D and E to Company B. On March 25, the First Division marched to Bull's Gap where the regiment was joined by
two new companies of one-year men, new Companies D and E. The total strength of the regiment was now greater than it had ever
been before, reaching 1,064 men.
The regiment made camp at Bull's Gap. Here, on April 10th,
Captain W. A. Robinson of Company E, who had been captured at Chickamauga, rejoined the regiment, being promoted to Major
three days later. On the 18th, the division was ordered to Nashville. Major Phillips rejoined the regiment there, but left
for home, suffering greatly from his wounds. Major Robinson was promoted to Lt. Col, Col. Rose succeeded General Grose in
command of the brigade and Lt. Col. Robinson taking over the regiment. Captain Lawson of Company C was promoted to Major.
Orders were received for the division to ove to New Orleans, first by rail, then by the steamers Havana
and Idaho. Two men fell over and drowned en route. Making camp at the old battlefield where General Jackson
beat the British in 1815, discontent ran through the ranks. The men felt they had enlisted to put down the Rebellion, not
to go to Texas to drive the French out of Mexico. About 40 men deserted there.
Orleans the men were taken through the Gulf of Mexico to Matagorda Island. Many got sick along the way. They marched to Greenlake
where many died of disease in the low, swampy ground. On August 8, the regiment left camp and marched to Victoria, then north
to establish Camp Stanley. The regiment did provost duty for the next two months, eagerly awaiting the orders to muster out
which came December 5, 1865. The next day the regiment left Victoria for the Gulf transports, which they boarded on the 24th.
While in Texas the 77th suffered more from sickness and resulting death than any other
year of the way, leaving 59 buried in New Oreans and Texas.
On January 5, 1866, the 77th
arrived at Cairo, Illinois, where a train of cars was waiting. Passing through Cincinnati and Pittsburg, they arrived at 4
AM in Philadelphia on January 7. On a cold and frosty morning the regiment marched to Camp Cadwallader, a dreary, cheerless
place without fires or shelter. The 77th was the last Pennsylvania regiment in the field. It had been forgotten, its arrival
was unexpected and no preparations had been made for its reception. But the men made the best of it until they were paid and
mustered out on January 16, 1866.
During the whole term of service the regiment had always
been at the front. It was never assigned to post duty, nor was it ever left behind to guard railroads in the rear. It was
the fortune of the 77th to be always where the hardest work was to be done, and it was always done and done well by them.
It came from different parts of Pennsylvania, but was one on the battlefield and on the march. It had very few skulkers, seldom
any grumbling and were always ready to face the enemy.