Among the many organizations in Pennsylvania volunteer soldiery during the Civil War, none stood higher in efficiency in service or brilliancy in record than the One Hundred and Fortieth Regiment, five companies of which were recruited in Washington county, three in Beaver, one in Mercer and one in Greene. Col. R. P. Roberts, of Beaver, killed at Gettysburg, was its first Colonel. W. S. Shallenberger, now Second Assistant Postmaster General, was its efficient Adjutant. This Regiment is accredited with the highest per cent of casualties in action of all the regiments enlisted in Pennsylvania. It stands fourth in this respect in the entire army during that fearful war in the '60s.
Upon its organization, at Harrisburg, Sept. 8, 1862, the Regiment was stationed for three months on the Northern Central R. R. with headquarters at Parkton, Md. And there, while on important guard duty, it was carefully drilled and schooled for military service. Then the Regiment, on Dec. 10, '62, was ordered to the front. On the evening of Dec. 13th, it marched out of Washington, D. C., crossing bridge over East Branch. The route was on the Maryland side, through Piscataway to Liverpool Point, from which we crossed on a transport vessel to Aquia Creek landing, and thence we marched to Falmouth, Va. One week was consumed in the marching, and the Regiment stood well the test. Then into winter quarters, an integral part of the Army of the Potomac. The Regiment is assigned to Col. Zook's Brigade, Gen. Hancock's Division, and in Maj. Gen. Sumner's Right Grand Division.
The Regiment had its baptism of blood in the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1-5, '63, withstanding the trying ordeal well. Back in camp, near Falmouth, the Regiment was skillfully trimmed and equipped for greater service. It was to have place ever after in a Corps, whose record was most brilliant, the Second, under command of the gallant Gen. Hancock. This Corps had in it six of the nine regiments sustaining the greatest numerical loss in killed during the war, aggregating 1848 out of the 2674 killed in the nine regiments. The Regiment was in the First Division, Gen. Caldwell commanding, with Gen. Barlow as his successor; and in the 3rd Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Zook commanding. He being killed at Gettysburg, Gen. Miles came in command of the Brigade. In the long and exciting march to Gettysburg, Centerville, Gainsville, Edward's Ferry, the Monococy and Uniontown, Md., were important points. Uniontown was reached by forced march -fully 15 miles- by whole Corps in a day; and our Brigade, on July ist, was rear-guard for wagon train, most of the 30 miles to Gettysburg being made in the night, and, exhausted, we went on the battle line on left center. Eloquent and pathetic was the record of the 140th at Gettysburg. The immediate casualties in the Regiment in the fighting on the evening of July 2, '63, amounted to about 60 per cent of the number engaged, our Lieutenant Colonel, John Fraser, being by rank in command of Brigade through balance of the conflict at Gettysburg. Col. Roberts was shot while in front of the Regiment to direct it to change of position to check, if possible, the column of the enemy flanking our right. Disastrous as was the loss of our brave Colonel at such a time, the Regiment faltered not but held its place till ordered out. The Regiment participated in the attempt to intercept Gen. Lee before he could recross the Potomac, the route taken being through Frederick City, reaching Burkittsville July 8th. Near the vicinity of Williamsport we came in touch with the enemy, and on the 14th, near Falling Water, we took part in engagement with the rebel rear-guard, a goodly number of them being captured. Thence our route led us to Harper's Ferry across on 18th to Loudon Valley, through Hillsboro, to Snicker's Gap, to Bloomfield to Ashby Gap, where we had skirmishing, July 22nd; then passing to Linden and east along railroad to White Plains, and southward to Warrenton, in the vicinity of which the command remained several days, and, passing on, reached Morrisville July 31st. Participated in the reconnoisance-in-force at the U. S. Ford, Aug. 31st - Sept. 4th, returning to Morrisville. Crossed over the Rappahannock Sept. 12th; engaged the enemy at Culpepper C. H.; pressed on to the Rapidan, southwest of Culpepper, by the 17th, where considerable maneuvering, fortifying and fighting were done, until the early days of October, when a retrograde movement began. October 11th found the Regiment near Bealton Station, north of the Rappahannock. Again the evening of the 12th found us well into the open country south of the river; and a great demonstration was made by campfires, bands, etc. But to no purpose, for Lee seemed bent on an attempt to dash into Washington. So all night we tramp, crossing the river for the third time. Taking the flank of army, we pass to Auburn Creek, sometime in the night of 13th, in touch with the enemy most of time. Early morning of 14th came the engagement on Auburn Hill, our Regiment being in rear-guard of the Corps. Over to Catlett's Station by noon; then on a run to Bristor's Station, where we fought all afternoon, winning a neat victory. Thence to Bull Run, and to Centerville by daylight 15th. Lee foiled, and so returns southward. In a few days we follow. In vicinity of Fayetteville several days are spent. Extensive drilling done. The 7th of November finds the Regiment near the Rappahannock, east of the O. & A. R. R. The 8th we are at Thoms, south of the river, where we remain till Nov. 24th. Then came the noted movement across the cold Rapidan, and the Mine Run engagement, Nov. 29-30, with its varied experiences and rigorous exposures, and return to north side, and going into winter quarters at Stevensburg Dec. 7th. On Feb. 6, '64, the Regiment took part in the reconnoisance-in-force at Morton's Ford on Rapidan.
May 3rd found the whole army on the move. The Regiment, crossing the Rapidan at Ely's Ford, plunged into the Wilderness, and at once found the Johnnies plentiful, but held them level. In battle of Todd's Tavern May 8th. Engaged the enemy on 10th and 11th west and southwest of Spottsylvania C. H. Then came the march in dark and rainy night, and at earliest dawn on the 12th that most brilliant charge of whole Corps and wholesale capture of the garrison of the salient. Here the 140th lost 52 in killed, while at Gettysburg the killed numbered 61.
In this charge Gen. N. A. Miles had command of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division. The 140th was a part of this Brigade, and of the Regiment he then and ever after spoke well. Gen. Miles, the lines having been formed for the charge, sent his horse to the rear, and, placing himself at the head of the Brigade, led it in the charge. And he and members of his staff testify that the 140th was the first Regiment to enter the rebel works. And we deem it worthy to be here recorded that, when the Second Corps marched back through the vicinity of this battle, after the surrender of Lee, Gen. Miles claimed the stump of the tree, cut down by the dreadful rain of the missiles of war in that "bloody angle" at Spottsylvania, and took it. And Capt. Sweeney, then on his staff, by order conveyed it to Washington and turned it over to Secretary Stanton with Gen. Miles' compliments. This stump is now encased in glass among the war relics at Washington City.
Grant's "fighting it out on that line" took the Regiment on through Bowling Green, Milford, to North Anna river, and across it, where the enemy is given battle, near Hanover junction, May 23-26. River is re-crossed for another flank movement, and the 140th plods on to near Hanovertown, where again it crosses the river, and at Totopotomy Creek engages the enemy, May 29-31, where the brave McCollough, commanding, fell. At Cold Harbor for days the fight goes on, and the 140th suffers many casualties. Then Grant chose to plant his army south of the James, and on June 13th the Regiment crossed the Chicahoming at Jones' Bridge, and with some skirmishing about Charles City found itself on the 14th south of the James; and on the 15th was in the engagement in front of Petersburg. We held position for a while on the Jerusalem plank road. On July 27th occurred our engagement with the enemy at Deep Bottom, north side of the James. Then the return to a place in the line east of Petersburg, where we wrought much on the defenses. Again, on Aug. 12th, via City Point and transports, the 140th finds itself in Deep Bottom, and fought the enemy on the flank, while the 5th Corps broke the enemy's grip on the Welden R. R. Then withdrawing in a tedious night march we get back to our camp. But we set out at once south along the Welden R. R. till we reach Ream's Station. There miles of track are destroyed. A. P. Hill's Corps appear to drive us off. A sharp conflict wages through afternoon of Aug. 25th. In the shades we stole back and took position on the railroad south of Petersburg and fortify. In that position the fall and winter are spent, with occasional diversions. There was the engagement at Hatcher's Run latter part of October, another one Dec. 10th, and the Dabney's Mill on Feb. 6th, '65, constant vigilance not allowing the enemy any rest.
The final campaign opening, the 140th was constantly in touch with the enemy from March 25th till Lee's surrender, the special engagements being at Sutherland Station April 2nd; Jettersville, the 5th; Sailor's Creek, 6th; and Farmville, the 7th. The route was directly on line of retreat of Lee's army. The 140th was on skirmish line covering road into Appomattox C. H. the morning of April 9th, the time of the surrender of the Army of Virginia.
The Regiment encamped at Burkville from April 13th to April 30th. Was at Amelia C. H., May 2nd. And, passing through Richmond and on through Fredericksburg, the 140th ended its long route of marching at Washington, D. C., May 23, '65, from which it had set out Dec. 13, '62, having marched an aggregate of 1108 miles, and having taken part in 22 distinct battles, nine marked skirmishes and several reconnoisances-in-force. The battles were in duration from six hours to five days. With a total enrollment of 1132, 198 were killed in action and 128 died in service. The wounded numbered 537. The total casualties were about 850. There were present at the muster-out on May 31, '65, 295.
On the disbanding of the Regiment, its citizen soldiery again took their places in institutions of learning, offices, shops, stores, or on farms, or represented their constituents in places of trust, content that they had done their duty in saving the country, and rejoicing in seeing it rise in worth and influence to highest rank among the nations of the world.