Friday, January 8, 2010
The following letter was written to the Pottsville Miners Journal by an unidentified soldier from Schuylkill County, who served in the 210th P.V.I. during the Battle of Hatchers Run.
WITH THE SCHUYLKILL BOYS OF TH3 210TH PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS
BATTLEFIELD NEAR HATCHER’S RUN, VA.
FEBRUARY 9TH, 1865
Editors Miners Journal: Knowing that the voice of every Union Soldier ever finds ready echo in the columns of your Union devoted journal. I, as one hailing from old Schuylkill, take the liberty of availing myself of this privilege to state what our company, composed of Schuylkill and Columbia County boys did in the battle of Sunday and Monday, 4th and 7th inst.
The 210th P.V. in common with the whole of our corps 5th broke camp on Sunday at 5 o’ clock. (Pleasant Sabbath introduction) reveille having been sounded at 4 a.m. and marched towards Hatcher’s Run along what was the Weldon Railroad getting to the run at 10 a.m., where we formed. Our advance cavalry engaged a Brigade of I think Pegram’s Rebel Davisson. Our Generals, Warren, Ayres, and Gwyn Corps, Division and Brigade Commanders, respectively being in advance of the 3d brigade, ordered the veteran regiment of the 3rd to move forward which they did at the double quick, leaving our regiment (210th P.V.) to cover their rear. By this time musketry fell as thick as hail stones. Our regiment being formed in line of battle the Colonel than whom no braver man breathes the breath of vitality, ordered us to charge, which we did with a hurrah and a cheer peculiar to old and experienced veterans. By this time musketry was still in fur owe, and very evidently bringing victory to our side. We charged some hundred yards, when we were reluctantly obliged to halt by reason of the Run, which the “Johnnies” had rendered impassible by means of dams, they being on the opposite side posted behind breast works. Some of our boys more impervious than others jumped and saved themselves from drowning by swimming across. Prominent among them were Lieut’s Giles and Richy, who lost their haversacks while crossing. I shall here mention that General Gwyn, no doubt from brave motives, threateningly insisted on our crossing, but General Warren and Ayres checked it by saying there was no need for this impractical step.
Col. William Sergeant of 210th
Our own Colonel, hitherto not very popular with the boys, because of his rigid discipline(He being a Regular) interposed, saying he did not want any more of his men to cross in this way. Some twenty however got across, who participated in the capture of twenty-five of the N.C. Rebels, who were without shirts and wore only their cotton pants. They were good looking young fellows and appeared most joyful at their capture. One young fellow only sixteen told me he had been two years in the rebel army, and that he was always forced to fight. This they all said. Among them there was only one haversack, containing some ........ of such a compound as might baffle the vegetable condiments. On seeing our full ones their desiderata to get a few “Hard Tack” though unexpressed, was to me quite conspicnine. I therefore opened mine and gave four to each of five, who kindly thanked me, remarking “we don’t get four each day”. Let me here say that I believe in the adage”A magnanimous enemy before a Pusillanimous Friend.” Rebels and Copperheads. All our boys crossed by means of trees which pioneers felled; the “Johnnies” retreated in demoralized confusion and in making their escape, leaving a few killed behind and two officers and twenty-five men captured. These represent rebeldom in a collapsing condition, a fact patent to all rationale men. Copperheads excepted. Leaving the Run about 12M we marched further south and then commenced a counter march towards the Southside, coming to an open field at 3P.M. where we bivouacked until 12 midnight when we were ordered to fall in, and continued marching till 5 A.M. at which time we found ourselves on the ground taken from the rebels by the 2nd Corps on Sunday. Here we lay for some five hours under the most trying circumstances and privations it has ever been my lot to experience. The night was freezing hard; the wind had been biting, with little or no wood to make a fire. I assure you they were no desirable circumstances to endure. However, all these and other privations become dissipated considering the force and gravity of the classic stage.
We left the field at 10 a.m. maneuvered till 2 P.M. when musketry again resonantly comes on the ear. Then our brigade was ordered to front and formed into three lines of battle moving by the left flank. Three parallel lines, when Lo came the cavalry, “helter Skelter” through or formed lines in a most demoralized condition. As a natural consequence we stamped for about two minutes, being, to use a military term, “green” Pennsylvania troops, who were that day to be mentioned in the category of bravery indigenous to the Old Keystone. Soon we redeemed what was the instant significant of utter demoralization. At the same time Messr Editors, understand that the 210th was not the first to falter. The whole brigade with the old famous Reserves, with the 3rd and 4th Delaware for a moment was confused. The drums beat “Rally”, the Rebel balls flying the dust in a hurricane. General almost frothing, exhibited the most signal bravery, and amongst all of this chaos, was one who was cool and deliberate, calculating and reserved. This was William Sergeant, Colonel of the 210th P.V. brother in law of General George Meade, General Commanding, and worthy of distinguished connection. Seated on his black horse, he cries “Rally 210th “. In less than one minute he has his boys following him. it is not “go boys, “ but “follow me” is the motto. In five minutes the whole command, five hundred strong, was leading their veteran comrades, headed by their idolized Colonel. Today who can throw any obloquy on Col. Sergeant’s name in the hearing of any man of the brigade, much less his own boys. He led them putting his hat on the tip of his sword: exclaiming like a true Union Soldier, “Follow Me Boys, and Follow Me!” Today the Army of The Potomac hears of the 210th and their beloved Colonel, for every man has pledged himself to never desert him. The green Horn regiment with their old, though not thirty five Colonel, is now the topic everywhere in the army. At his instant command we rallied, pursued and hunted Hill’s veterans, for two and a half miles through interminable woods, disregarding shells and bullets which were flying like snow and only felt a regret at our Colonels “Cease Firing”. In our company we lost one St. Clair man wounded, since died and six others slightly wounded. In the regiment we had about sixty killed wounded and missing. One of my boys an Ashland man, in a hand to hand conflict, captured a Johnny and brought him to General Gwyn. This is Lewis Stolte. We went in at two o’clock and came out at five o’clock. Among those deserving honorable mention are captain Palmer, Co.G, Foster, Co. I, Bowman Co. A. McKnight Co. D, and Kenny Co. F. and Lieuts Richy, Killen Ruggle and our newly appointed adjutant. Of the fifty three men we have for duty forty six are from old Schuylkill. The rest are from Columbia. On Tuesday evening the 3rd Division of our Corps captured a battery of eight guns, and reports say two thousand prisoners. Yesterday we again pursued the rebs, but they wouldn’t give battle. Before clothing let me state, we are leaving this line that the rebs shell feel what Union means. Enough for this time.
A Union Soldier, Co. E. 210th P.V.
Jacob E. Raub
Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Served in the Civil War as Assistant Surgeon of the 210th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery at the Battle of Hatchers Run, Virginia on February 5, 1865. His citation reads “Discovering a flank movement by the enemy, appraised the commanding general at great peril, and though a noncombatant voluntarily participated with the troops in repelling this attack”. He had be initially stationed in a Federal field hospital well away from the fighting, but when he learned his regiment was entering the battle without a surgeon, he obtained permission to advance with them. While attending wounded soldiers under fire, he observed the Rebel movements that threatened the flank and, while still under severe fire, found division commander General Romeyn B. Ayres, who was able to change the direction of the nearest Union brigade in time to save his flank. His Medal was issued on April 20, 1896.
From Find A grave (bio by: Russ Dodge)
The boys of Company E recruited in Schuylkill and Columbia County
J. Milton Shuman
William S. Morris
Uriah W. Tiley
John R. Miller
Isaac J. Wagner
Charles P. Koch
Joseph E. Thomas
Martin M. L'Ve1le
Betz, Henry C.
Buck, John C.
Daddow, Henry G.
Evans, Thomas E.
Evans, Jckson L.
Evans, Reese M.
Fisher, William T.
Gensel, Jacob G.
Hetler, Hiram H.
Houseknecht, B. J.
Hall, James W
Hinchcliffe, S. H.
Ke1ly, William H.
Krebs, Pharoah W.
Rounds, Horace R.
Reed, David J.
Swartwout, William H.
Sissem, Charles A.
Staub, Henry H.
Smith, Thomas G.
Sanford, William R.
Snyder, James R.
Shipman, Andrew J.
Staub, Jacob J.
Swift, Andrew J.
Torrey, Nathan W.
Wilt, George W.
Warner, Seth V.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Sgt. Harold Brigade receiving the Bronze Star Medal
Awhile back I posted a story about my uncle, Sgt. Harold Brigade, entitled “Sgt. Harold Brigade Gave All For His Country” This article is a follow up on his story.
My brother Rick and his wife Sally had a fabulous opportunity to go to France and Belgium recently and got to visit Harold’s grave site. They have a friend Patrick who is a military historian and lives in Belgium. He took them to the area the 86th Cav. fought at, and also to the place he thought Harold was killed at. Below are the photos of their trip.
My brother wrote:
“Seeing Harold’s grave site and seeing where Patrick believes he was killed was a very moving experience. Also neat, as you can see from the photos, was the upkeep and dignity which is shown to the soldiers that are buried there. The person in charge of the cemetery, who showed us around, was a retired US Army vet that was really into what he was doing and treated us like royalty. He said it is imperative that the families of these soldiers are treated with respect, and he certainly did that. He also said the locals treat the cemetery with the utmost respect. This was good to hear because sometimes the French and other European countries, as you know, are not always on board with our foreign policies. Last thing about the cemetery….throughout France there are gigantic statues and monuments to the likes of Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle and other French heroes, and there in the cemetery with his men is Gen Patton with a grave marker that is no higher, no more elaborate than the men that served under him. That was cool!
The pictures of the holes in the ground are fox holes that are on Patrick’s land. The land that he owns is about 5 miles from where Harold was killed. He and the other living historians that live in that area have scoured the fields and woods for battle relics and have found some really good stuff. Patrick showed us the helmets, uniform pieces, gun belts, and spent ammunition he has found. He even found a P38 German pistol.”
Harold's Grave site:
General Patton's Grave
The Following Photos are the area Harold fought in and was killed in, also the foxholes that are on Patrick's land.
BELOW IS THE STORY OF SGT. HAROLD BRIGADE 86TH CAV. RECON.
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud –rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities and in the end they are the guys that wars can’t be won without.”
This is the story of a man a hero to his country, a man who sacrificed all for the love of his country. A man who I am proud to say was my uncle. Sgt. Harold R. Brigade.
Harold was born and raised in Palo Alto,Pennsylvania he was my mother Isabel’s older brother. This is the story of how I found out what happened to my uncle. You see my mother only knew he was killed in action during the battle of the Bulge in December of 1944 and January of 1945. She only knew from a member of his unit that he was trying to help a wounded comrade and was killed in the process. My mother always talked about Harold's medals he earned the Bronze Star for actions in 1944 and the Silver Star awarded posthumously for the above mentioned action.
With my search and lust for all information that concerns the U.S. military I decided to write up a history of my grandson Nathaniel Dixons family lineage. He has someone who has served in every conflict excluding the Korean War, the United States has been in since the Revolutionary War.
In researching Harold’s story I utilized the wonders of the Internet. Harold was a member of the 86th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron 6th Armored Division. And fortunately for me there was a web site of the 86th CRS. I contacted the web master, a Mr. Charles W. Barbour and asked him in an email if anyone knew of a Sgt. Harold R. Brigade. This is how the story unfolded.
Harold Brigade slept in the bunk next to me in Company C of the 86th Armored Reconnaissance Battalion when both of us were recruits in April 1942. I remember the first night we were together. He was I think 17 at the time and had enlisted because he wanted to get those Japs. I was an old man of 22 at the time. Harold really hit it of with another 17 year old from Philadelphia named Frank Dalton and they were inseparable. Both became sergeants and both were killed in action.
I remember that Harold once told me he had been nicknamed “Buckets” because he fumbled in a football game.
In September 1943 the battalion was split up and only those assigned to assault guns remained with the company, which was designated as E troop. The rest of us were scattered around the other troops. I wound up in Headquarters, Harold in B troop and Frank in Troop B.
Harold was with Troop B on January 9, 1945 when it was attached to Combat Team 9 (for 9th Infantry) commanded by Lt. Col Frank J. Britton when it was ordered to attack a deep dug in position in woods east and just south of Bastogne. Harold and eight other troopers were killed in action and another 17 wounded.
I talked with Capt. Donald L. Tillemans, the commanding officer of B troop after the war and he told me Harold came to him and told him knew he would not be coming back from this one and gave him his watch. Tillemans was convinced that his troops should never have been used in that fashion, but there was nothing he could do about it.
There are very few of us survivors left. The one we had in our last reunion in Arlington, Va in 2001 was Antony Olivo, who had been his platoon leader in Troop B.
I am sending you by snail mail an excellent picture of Harold and one of Frank Dalton together. I have treasured them down through the years but feel they more appropriately belong to his family.
Email A. Olivo
February 13, 2002
Thanks for writing me…I will try to recap what I remember. On January 9th we were given a mission to become observers to watch the troop movements of the Germans. Our assignment was to get into the woods and watch the Germans on the road below the woods, before I left I asked the Colonel for at least a tank or two for protection, but he said, Don’t worry, there is nothing in those woods. I told my men if we encountered any enemy fore to withdraw at once and don’t wait for my command. As we approached the edge of the woods the Germans were in foxholes at the very edge of the woods and as we got closer they opened fire on us. Your Uncle was on my left flank leading a group of men and I was in the center column and another Sgt. Was on the right flank. I looked over to my left and saw your Uncle was shot and screamed to him to “Stay Down”, instead he jumped up and proceeded a few feet and was hit again and he did not get up. The thing that upset me so much was that before this action he was notified that he had just become a father to a son. This is all I can tell you I ended up in the hospital for four months. I was hit on the same day as your uncle was hit.
Bronze Star Awarded: Sgt. Harold R. Brigade (B) GO 56-44
Silver Star Awarded: *Sgt. Harold R. Brigade (B) GO 205-45
CASUALTIES AND AWARDS
The 86TH received its share of honors for its accomplishments.
Troops A and D were awarded Distinguished Unit Citations for their gallantry at the Prum and Eder Rivers, respectively. Individually, 117 troopers received the Silver Star Medal, 401 were awarded the Bronze Star Medal, two (T5 Mark H. Doren and T5 Ralph W. Wheeler of Troop A) received the Soldier's Medal and 171 were awarded the Purple Heart. T5s Doren and Wheeler received their Soldier's Medals for entering a crashed, burning plane and removing the pilot from the wreckage. They were thwarted in their attempts to rescue a second person when the plane exploded.
It must be remembered, however, that these awards are only those cited in General Orders of the 6th Armored Division, and that many others were made to individuals in hospitals. A man evacuated to the hospital who did not return to the squadron could only have gotten his award from the hospital. For instance, while only 171 troopers received the Purple Heart through division General Orders, more than twice that number had to have received the award through hospitals.
Capt. Frederick H. Eickhoff of Troop A-Headquarters, Capt. Jimmie H. Bridges, 1st Lt. Deforest Sweeney and 2nd Lt. Elroy W. Lesher of Troop D and First Sgt. Knox C. Bellingham each received an Oak Leaf Cluster to go with his Silver Star Medal.
Sgt. Anton Geiger of Troop D received the Bronze Star Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and 2nd Lt. Joseph J. Policastro of Troop B, Sgt. Charlie Cole of Troop A and T4 Robert W. Thoms and T5 John L. Craven of Troop D received two Oak Leaf Clusters with their Bronze Stars.
Overall, Headquarters Troop received nine Silver Stars and 36 Bronze Stars, Troop A received 27 and 82, Troop B received 17 and 59, Troop C received 12 and 25;4 Troop D received 22 and 119, Troop E received 14 and 54, Company F received 8 and 24 and the Medical Detachment received 8 and 8.
Nine enlisted men received battlefield commissions as second lieutenants: First Sergeant Lowell Cornelius and Staff Sergeant Casey J. Rodgers from Troop A, Staff Sergeant Joseph J. Policastro from Troop B, Staff Sergeant Roy L. Ryse from Troop C, First Sergeant William M. Johnson and Staff Sergeant Elroy W. Lesher from Troop D, Staff Sergeant Bert H. Emerson from Troop E, and Staff Sergeant Harold Weeks and Staff Sergeant William J. Speckerman from Company F.
Capt. Delaney of Troop E and Capt. Hughes of Company F firmly believe that their commands were short-changed in both recognition and awards because of the support roles to which they were relegated.
"Company F had the thankless mission to support the recon troops, usually on a piecemeal basis," Capt. Hughes said. "We were rarely mentioned in Troop After Action Reports except as an afterthought. As an example, did you know that a platoon from Company F was with Troop D when it received a unit citation?
"My comments are not written in bitterness, but with regret that so many fine, dedicated men served so well and received so little recognition."
"Because of the constant assignments and reassignments with the Troops of the 86th, the combat commands, even outside Infantry and other operations--and these fluctuated on almost a daily basis--we in Troop E, and I'm sure the same thing applies to Company F, really did not get full accreditation for things we were involved in because we were attached troops," Capt. Delaney said.
"When we did work as a unit on several occasions, especially after we started operating as Artillery, in support of whomever, I think the accreditation was fine. But it was when we were bouncing around constantly and the Task Force commander was the CO of whatever unit we were attached to that we were considered as a secondary rather than a primary part of that particular unit. Of course, this was just a simple fact of life."
Neither Capt. Delaney nor Capt. Hughes begrudges the units they supported any of the recognition they received. They just feel that their commands deserved a fair share of the credit and that when a unit received a special citation the attached troops should have been included.
The squadron also had its share of casualties. Battle casualties included eight officers and 101 enlisted men killed in action, 18 officers and 301 enlisted men wounded in action and four enlisted men missing in action. Non-battle casualties, including only men evacuated from the squadron, numbered 28 officers and 355 enlisted men. Total casualties, battle and non-battle, were 54 officers and 759 enlisted men. Of that number, 236 returned to duty and 573 were replaced by reinforcements.
On the following pages are listed the names of the 109 - 86thers killed in action, copies of the Distinguished Unit Citations awarded to Troops A and D, and squadron members who received the Silver Star Medal or the Bronze Star Medal through General Orders of the 6th Armored Division, with the GO number and year of award.
This is from the 86th Cav Recon Sqdn web site and includes the action y uncle was killed in.
THE ARDENNES CAMPAIGN
Christmas Day was spent in Metz with religious services and a turkey dinner, plus an opportunity for many of the troopers to tour the fortress city and avail themselves of the hospitality of the citizens of Metz.
The squadron marched 68 miles to Stegen, Luxembourg, on December 26 and relieved the 1Oth Armored Division's 90th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron Mechanized the next day, moving the CP to Schieren, Luxembourg. Troops A and C were running patrols on the squadron front, maintaining roadblocks and observation points. Troop D was attached to CCA until December 29, when it rejoined the squadron on a move of 44 miles to Anlier, Belgium. Squadron was placed under direct control of division, but on December 30 four armored cars and three peeps from Troop D were attached to each combat command. Troop B made a route reconnaissance from Sure, Belgium, to Martilage, Belgium, where it established its CP before placing guards on five bridges in the vicinity of Sure, Chene and Rodange, Belgium.
On New Year's Day of 1945 Troop A was assigned to CCB, Troop C and one platoon of Troop D were attached to CCA and two platoons of Troop B were guarding bridges as squadron moved 14 miles to Traimont, Belgium. The remainder of Troop D plus one light tank platoon from Company F were attached to CCA on January 3 and Troop B and another light tank platoon from Company F followed on January 5. Squadron moved 12 miles to Assenois, Belgium, where it prepared for future operations through January 11. It was during this period that Troop B, assigned by CCA to Combat Team 9 (Lt. Col. Frank K. Britton), was ordered to attack a dug-in German position in the woods east and just south of Bastogne. Denied tank support, Troop B nevertheless made its attack. 1st Lt. Clifton E. Gordon, in his first major battle with the squadron, was killed along with Sgt. Harold R. Brigade, Cpl. Irving Fabricant, Pfc. Edward M. Crosier, Pfc. Arthur A. Pregosin, Pfc. Robert G. Stevens, Pvt. Albert J. Abrams, Pvt. Howard N. Cowan and Pvt. Waiter L. Ware. Another 17 enlisted men were wounded. The attack failed and it eventually took a much stronger force to drive the enemy from the woods.
The 86th was under control of CCA on January 12 when it moved five miles to Marvie, Belgium. The S2 halftrack was demolished by land mines on arrival, leaving Maj. Kennon, Capt. King, driver Norman L. McLaughlin and radio operators Walter Wesolowski and Guido Frazzoni temporarily "homeless." Troop C, supported by tank destroyers and Engineers and followed by two platoons of Troop D, attacked from the woods and reached its objective--Wardin, Belgium--taking 68 prisoners without losing a man. Company F sent a platoon of light tanks north of Bastogne in an attempt to observe enemy movement on the eastward road from Lalompre to Comonge.
The squadron (-) attached to Reserve Command on January 14, moved 2 1/2-miles back to Bastogne on the 25th and marched 27 miles to Weicherdange, Luxembourg, on the 28th. There it regained detached troops, established outposts and prepared for future operations.
On January 30 the 86th was ordered to relieve elements of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, and CCB and to contain and defend the sector on the line just north of Fischback-Heinerscheid-Kalborn with the 128th Field Artillery Battalion in direct support, the 696th Field Artillery Battalion in general support and one company of the 68th Tank Battalion attached for command purposes. The CP was moved to Hupperdange, eight miles away.
Maj. Brindle's summary for the period:
"This month brought forth new experiences in cavalry reconnaissance work. The squadron was broken down to cover most all task forces of the division. The majority of our strength was absorbed by CCA.
"The division changing from offensive to defensive status necessitated further breakdown of reconnaissance personnel. The troops were broken down into platoons and distributed over the entire division front to tie in, fill gaps, outpost task force fronts and continue aggressive patrolling to the front.
"The above breakdown of cavalry organizations did not greatly curtail the efficiency of the squadron. However, control by the troop CO was difficult at the best."
"This period covered winter conditions that had not been experienced before, such as icy roads, failure of vehicular engines due to extreme low temperatures, constantly living out of doors and use of winter camouflage. The troops were able to adjust themselves to winter conditions rapidly.
"In all operations during this period the high standard of proficiency in operations established by the squadron in prior monthly reports was even improved."
"Reinforcements were considered adequate both in officers and enlisted men."