Friday, November 24, 2006
Pvt. William J. Reichard
Pvt. William J. Reichard
The One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Regiment was recruited in response to the proclamation of the Governor, of July 21st, 1862, calling for troops to serve for nine months. Companies D and G were raised in Lehigh County. William J. Reichard enlisted at Allentown the first week of August, 1862. Other companies of this regiment were raised in Bucks and Berks Counties. The Lehigh County companies were mustered in on August 12, 1862, at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. William was twenty years of age at the time he was mustered into service.
The regiment left Harrisburg, moved through Washington, crossed the Potomac and encamped for a week on Arlington Heights. The regiment was involved in various manuvers but did not engage in any fighting. Late on the evening of September 16th, the regiment arrived at Antietam Creek just outside Sharpsburg, Maryland. At eleven o'clock that evening it was led across Antietam Creek to support Gen. Hooker's troops, who had already opened the battle. At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 17th, it bivouacked in a plowed field. At 6 o'clock, the 128th regiment was ordered into the fight and made a most gallant charge through the woods and into the memorable corn-field, where the enemy lay concealed. While in the act of giving orders to bring his command into position, Col. Croasdale, the regiments leader, was instantly killed. Soon after, Lt. Col. Hammersly was severely wounded, and borne from the field. Fresh from civilian life, hardly a month in service, with two of their commanding officers stricken down before their eyes, and comrades falling at every hand, the men fell into some confusion. This was soon corrected, and the command held the ground where the struggle had been most desperate, and where the regiment lost some of the bravest and the best.
The One Hundred Twenty-eighth was finally relieved by order of Gen. Williams, in command of the division, and rested on the field until night-fall. The units loss was beyond measure severe, being thirty-four killed, eighty-five wounded, of which six subsequently died from their wounds. After the battle, the regiment was encamped at Sandy Hook.
While encamped at Sandy Hook, William J. Reichard, a member of Company G of the 128th Pennsylvania Volunteers, wrote a letter to his father. It reads as follows:
Camp near Sandy Hook, Maryland
Monday morning Sept 22nd 1862I received your letter of the 12inst. yesterday morning soon after I had sent off my letter, so I thought I had a little leisure time I would write again, for if you are only half as glad to hear from me as I am from home I think it will be welcome. We had inspection last evening and reg. dress parade. Lieut. Col Selfridge seems to be liked by all, he seems as a father to us. He would like to take our reg. to a camp of instruction for a short time. I think it would be needful. We are encamped at the bottom of Maryland heights, about half mile from the Potomac. The days are warm here and the nights very cold. Fire wood is very scarce, we must use fence rails to cook with, that we have done since leaving Virginia. The water is plenty for cooking and drinking. Each man has (or ought to) a tin cup, tin plate, knife and fork, haversack, canteen, blanket, some gum coats. Our rations are shared out to each man. We get about 12 crackers (when plenty), 2 tablespoonful of coffee and 2 of sugar, 2 of salt per day, some times beans, and a piece of pork or fresh beaf per day, about half a pound, then each man cooks as he wishes. I can do it up prime if I have it. We are often scant on a march but when we lay still a day we make up for it. We dont get much news here. I also received that paper you sent me. I would like it very much if I had a new pair of boots or shoes for I often get wet feet crossing creeks but I am afraid you cant send them just now. I suppose Lieut. Miller is still at Allentown. Capt. Huber is sick in hospital, I think at Frederick. Lieut. Hamilton (formerly orderly) is our only officer. The loss in our reg. in the battle of Wednesday, was about 30 killed & 80 wounded, so our reg. is somewhat reduced. Tell Sallie to make my small bags of thin oil cloth and roll them up like a paper and send by mail. We dont know how long we stay here, the bridge crossing the river to Harpers ferry is burnt by the rebels, so if we cross just now we must wade it. We have now slept in the open air over two weeks clear or rain and still I must say my health is much better than at home. I feel very thankful to God Almighty for giving me such a blessing. By your letter there must have been exciting times in our state and I am glad to hear that the love of country is still so great in the hearts of the Allentonians. I hope they may not have such hardships to undergo as we have, still we dont I hear many complain; we only hope it may do something toward drawing this rebellion to a speedy close. I would like it if you could pass through the country the rebels have passed through. It looks very desolate especially the town of Sharpsburg, in most every house you could see holes of shot and shell. They having passed through; and along the road to here you could hardly get a piece of bread for love or money, the reels have taken all in their hungry flight, I cant say where they are just now. Some of our boys who were slightly wounded are coming in from hospitals and are glad to be with us again. It is strange to see and hear of the narrow escapes some of our boys had in battle, some were shot in caps, haversacks, coats &c. Tell George I would write to him when I could get time but could hardly get time just now for time, paper, and stamps are scarce. Frank Keck & Charley Pfeifer are still missing, we think they are prisoners for their bodies were not found on the field. I must close with my sincere love to you all, hoping I may soon hear from you at home. The mails are not as regular now as when in regular camp but still welcome, you ought to see the beaming faces when one has a letter handed to him.From William
—Proceedings of the
Lehigh County Historical
Society, vol. 22, 1958
In December the Twelfth Corps, to which the 128th regiment was attached, moved rapidly to Fredericksburg, as fighting had broken out at that place, however, the battle was over before the corps arrived. The unit spent the winter in Stafford Court House. On the 1st of May the corps reached Chancellorsville where Gen. Joe Hooker was planning to challenge the Army of Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee. Full details of this battle can be found elsewhere. The 128th participated in the fighting at Chancellorsville, positioned upon the left center of the Union line. After night fall, the rebels broke through the right wing and came in on the flank and occupied the Union works. The 128th suddenly found itself in the clutches of the enemy. Nine officers and two hundred and twenty-five non-commissioned officers and men were taken prisoners and marched to Richmond. At the close of the battle, the regiment had been reduced to one-hundred and seventy-two men. On the 12th of May, the term of service having expired, the regiment was relieved of duty and proceeded to Harrisburg where on the 19th it was mustered out. The officers and men that were taken prisoner, were held but a short time in captivity returning in time to be mustered out with the rest of the command.
Individuals mentioned in Private William J. Reichard's letter of Sept 22, 1862:
Lt. Co. James L. Selfridge - second in command of the 46th PVI Regiment was assisting in the training of the new recruits from the 128th after the battle at Chancellorsville. He was promoted to Colonel, May 10, 1863, and then to brevet Brigadier General, March 16, 1864 and was mustered out with the 46th PVI Regiment, July 16, 1865.
1st Lt. Daniel C. Miller - assigned to Co. G of the 128th and was mustered out with the regiment, May 19, 1863.
Capt. Peter C. Huber - Company G; captured at Chancellorsville, but was mustered out with the regiment, May 19, 1863. He is veteran buried in Union and West End Cemetery.
2nd Lt. George W. Hamilton - Assigned to Co. G; Promoted from 1st Sgt. on August 18, 1862. Mustered out with regiment, May 19, 1863.
Pvt. Franklin J. Keck - wounded at AnAntietam September 17, 1862. Discharged on a Surgeon's Certificate, February 14, 1863. A veteran buried in the Union and West End Cemetery.
Sgt. Charles A. Pfiefer - A First Defender (Allen Infantry). Pfiefer joined the 128th on August 12, 1862, as a Sergeant. He deserted on September 17, 1862, the day of the battle of Antietam. He was arrested in Allentown in December 1862 and presumably returned to his unit. He was again arrested in Allentown in March, 1863, but was not with his regiment when it was mustered out, May 19, 1863. Charles A. Pfiefer is buried in the Union and West End Cemetery.~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lt. Col. W. W. Hammersley - wounded at Antietam on September 17, 1862. Left arm shattered. Discharged on a Surgeon's Certificate, January 31, 1863. A veteran buried in the Union and West End Cemetery.
Private William J. Reichard survived the war and was mustered out with his regiment, May 19, 1863. It is not known where William is buried.
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