Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: Winter/Spring 2007 Volume 44 Numbers 1&2, Pages 52–53

Tredyffrin Volunteers in the Civil War

George Harlow

Page 52

Illustration from page 52

During the Civil War most of the men who volunteered in this area enlisted in the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, the Chester County regiment. They were mustered in at Camp Wayne in West Chester, PA on the 29th of October 1861 for a period of three years or the duration of the conflict. When the regiment was disbanded on the 11th of September 1865 only six of the original group of more than a dozen men had survived death, wounding, or disease. Because of poor sanitary and living conditions, and primitive medical treatment more than half of all deaths were caused by illness rather than battle. The six men from Tredyffrin were William E. Davis, George Harrison, Jermyn Burrow, John Kauffman, Casper C. Fahnstock, and Theodore Beerbrawer.

The 97th Infantry Regiment was sent south to help seal off or capture the southern ports to prevent the importation of war materials. One of the early actions was at Morris Island, SC, just south of Charleston Harbor, where they participated in the assault on Battery Wagner. The movie "GLORY", about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, which stared Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, depicted this battle. After occupying various coastal forts as far south as Florida the regiment moved north in the spring of 1864 to join the Army of the James in northern Virginia.

In May 1864 the 97th was ordered to join General Grant's Overland Campaign where they encountered some of the fiercest fighting of the war. They were to make direct frontal attacks on entrenched Confederate lines at Cold Harbor and elsewhere.

Illustration from page 52

First Lieutenant Levi March, a painter from Paoli. Mortally wounded at Petersburg Mine, VA. Died 14th August 1864.

Page 53

In July the Regiment was a part of the force sent to capture Petersburg and Richmond, VA. The Battle of the Crater at Petersburg was an attempt to blow up a section of the Confederate fortifications by digging a tunnel underneath them and exploding 7,000 pounds of black powder. The plan was a success, blowing a crater 138 feet long, 68 feet wide, and 40 feet deep. Unfortunately the military follow-up was a disaster. Instead of charging around the sides of the crater, the troops entered the hole and were trapped and many were killed. Fortunately the 97th was actively involved in the area but not in the crater itself and were able to help rescue some of those in the crater. One of the last battles to involve the unit was the capture of Fort Fisher at the mouth of the Cape Fear River near Howellville in North Carolina.

Other local men, some from the Howellville area, joined the 7th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry at Harrisburg. Surgeon John Aiken, from the valley near Howellville, served until July 1864 with the 71st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, who were veterans of the Gettysburg Campaign of July 1863.

Illustration from page 53

Monument to the 97th in West Chester

After leaving Harrisburg the 7th Cavalry Regiment trained at Jefferson, IN and then left in January 1862 for the advance on Nashville, where they were involved in many skirmishes and raids in Kentucky and northern Tennessee. In November 1862 General Rosencrans superseded General Buell and reorganized the Cavalry. The 7th Regiment was assigned to the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division. After capturing Nashville they continued south and captured Murfeesboro, TN in late December 1862. At Eagleville, just south of Murfeesboro, the unit joined with General Sheridan and proceeded to the west where they captured Franklin. In late June General Rosecrans continued the advance to the south taking Columbia and Selbyville.

Then in early September 1863 the 7th joined with the army for the Chickamauga Campaign. About this time Colonel Sipes, the commander, drew Spencer rifles and new horse equipment for the entire regiment now freshly mounted and swelled by recruits to 1,500 rank and file. On the 30th of April 1864 they broke camp and joined General Sherman's march on Atlanta, fighting at Rome, GA on the 15th of May and Kenesaw Mountain on the 27th of June.

The Regiment also took part in raids on the Augusta and Atlanta Railroad tearing up and destroying the rails at Covington on the 21st of July. On the 1st of August 1864 the 7th Cavalry entered the lines at Atlanta. After Atlanta they were ordered back to Louisiana to remount and reequip. The 7th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry was mustered out on August 13th 1865.

Illustration from page 53

97th Regiment re-enactors


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