Friday, September 19, 2008
Corp. Joseph Richards, Donaldson, Schuylkill County A Rebel in the Union Army.
The Rebel Works At Hatchers Run.
CORPORAL JOSEPH RICHARDS
A REBEL FROM DONALDSON FIGHTS FOR THE UNION AT HATCHERS RUN, VA.
Company F of the 184th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment was raised in Schuylkill County. The regiment was organized in May of 1864. This letter was written to the Miners Journal in 1865.
This is an interesting story about a boy from Donaldson, Schuylkill County.
Editors Miners Journal. On the 5th inst. We broke camp and took our line of march for the south side railroad. On the afternoon of the same day, we encountered the enemy. Slight skirmishing took place, we driving the enemy to the other side of Hatchers Run where we found that he had heavy works in which he took refuge. We then formed in line of battle and threw up works, but before we had them finished the enemy charged on us with four lines of battle, but were repulsed three different times. In the thickest of the fray, one form could be seen urging the men to deeds of bravery, by his actions and words. Many were the question’s asked by other regiments, who could it be that appeared to lead a charmed life, for it seemed that neither bullet or shell could hit him, but when he came along the line to his own regiment the shout went up from the boys of the 184th, “Welcome to Joe,” for he is a favorite of all. I enquired who he was, and was told it was Joseph Richards of Co. F a returned prisoner of war from Andersonville. His encouraging words will be remembered d by many, for there is not a man in the 184th but would follow him to death.
The strange thing is, he is a deserter from the Rebel Army. He deserted when Lee made his first raid into Pennsylvania, and lived in Donaldson until last spring when he enlisted under Lieut. William D. Williams from Tremont. On the 22 day of June he was taken prisoner and stayed in bondage for five months, but has returned to his company to revenge the wrongs which he experienced at the hands of the rebels.
Lt. Harrison Jones
Lieut. William D. Williams from Tremont Died at White House , Va. On June 9, 1865 from wounds he received at Cold Harbor, Va.
7 companies of this regiment, recruited in various and widely separated sections of the Commonwealth, for a term of three years, rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, where, in May, 1864, they were organized, and on the 14th of that month, moved under command of Major Charles Kleckner, to join the Army of the Potomac, coming up with it as it was crossing the Pamunky River, on the 28th of May. It was immediately assigned to the Second Brigade, Second Division, of the Second Corps, and on the day following its arrival, was led to battle at Tolopotomy Creek. It was engaged in skirmishing on the way to Cold Harbor, and on the second day of the battle, led the brigade in two desperate assaults upon the enemy's works, losing sixty-seven killed, and one hundred and thirteen wounded, and leaving some of its dead on the enemy's entrenchments. Lieutenants William D. Williams, and S. Hamilton Norman, were mortally, and Leonard F. Brahm, severely wounded. For its unflinching bravery, it was warmly commended by its brigade commander. For ten days it remained upon the front line, heavy skirmishing being constantly kept up. It then moved with the corps, and crossing the James, assaulted the enemy's works on the 16th, repeating the assault on the two following days, and losing in each very heavily. On the 22d the assault was renewed, and the brigade, after having charged and gained a position close upon the fortifications, was out-flanked, and a large number were taken prisoners. In this engagement, the regiment lost fifty-two in killed and wounded, and one hundred and fifteen taken prisoners. Captains Evans, Haines, Huff, and M'Keage, and Lieutenants Rahn, Stover, Bryan, and Adjutant Muffly, were among the prisoners. Out of five hundred men who stood in the ranks on the banks of the Tolopotomy, on the 29th of May, three hundred and fifty, including twelve officers, had been either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, in a period of twenty-five days-a loss unprecedented. Of the number taken prisoners on the 22d, sixty-seven died at Andersonville, and a number at Salisbury and Florence. The greater part of the -wounded prisoners died at Petersburg. Near the close of July, the handful which remained, joined in an expedition to Deep Bottom, where it was engaged in skirmishing for a day, returning on the 29th. On the 16th of August, the command again crossed the James, and in the neighborhood of Deep Bottom, after skirmishing during the entire forenoon, made a determined assault, in which it lost, out of ninety-seven 152 ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FOURTH REGIMIENT, engaged, twenty-seven in killed and wounded. Returning to the Petersburg front, the corps, with but little delay, moved out upon the Weldon Railroad, and commenced its destruction. On the afternoon of the 25th, the enemy attacked with terrible earnestness, but was three times repulsed, with fearful slaughter. In a fourth assault, which he delivered with fresh troops, and in overpowering numbers, the little brigade was overborne, and compelled to fall back. Lieutenant Colonel Kleckner, in command, while at the head of his regiment, cheering on his men, was severely wounded. On the same night, the fragment that remained marched back to Petersburg, and was placed in the trenches, where it was employed in fatigue duty, until near the close of October. In the meantime, three new companies, recruited for one year's service, were added to the regiment, completing its full number. On the 25th of October, the regiment marched with the corps to Hatcher's Run, where, on the 27th, it was hotly engaged, the corps being outflanked and roughly handled. The regiment lost fifteen in killed and wounded. After the battle, it returned and was placed in the trenches between forts Haskell and Steadman. It was here subjected to constant duty, in close proximity to the enemy's lines, where it lost a number in killed and wounded, from the unerring fire of his sharp-shooters, Captain Joseph S, Jenkins being instantly killed. In December, the regiment moved to the left flank of the army, and here it was joined on the 1st of January, 1865, by Colonel John H. Stover, who had been commissioned at its organization, and now assumed command. Colonel Stover had previously served as Captain in the Tenth, and Major of the One Hundred and Sixth. On the 5th of February, he led-his command to Hatcher's Run, where, on that and on the following day, it was warmly engaged. It encamped on the field, and remained there during the winter, the lines being extended to that point. On the 28th of March it broke camp, and on the 1st of April, took position in line of battle in front of the enemy. On the 2d, in common with nearly the entire army, it moved to the assault, breaking the enemy's lines, and capturing his works with but small loss. It then moved with the corps in pursuit, and skirmished as it went, until it reached Appomattox Court House, where the rebel army surrendered. It then marched back to the neighborhood of Washington, and participated in the grand review of the armies. On the 2d of June, the three companies last added to the command, were mustered out, and the remaining seven, which formed th