48th Pennsylvania Infantry

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48th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
Flag of Pennsylvania.svg
Active September, 1861 to July 17th, 1865
Country United States
Allegiance Union
Branch Infantry
Engagements Battle of New Bern
Battle of Second Bull Run
Battle of Chantilly
Battle of South Mountain
Battle of Antietam
Battle of Fredericksburg
Battle of Blue Springs
Battle of Campbell's Station
Siege of Knoxville
Battle of the Wilderness
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
Battle of North Anna
Battle of Totopotomoy Creek
Battle of Cold Harbor
Siege of Petersburg
Battle of the Crater
Battle of Globe Tavern
Battle of Peebles's Farm
Battle of Boydton Plank Road
2nd Division, IX Corps IXcorpsbadge2.png

The 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the "Schuylkill Regiment", was an infantry regiment of the Union Army during the American Civil War.


The 48th Pennsylvania Infantry was recruited in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania and organized at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during August and September, 1861. It was mustered into federal service there, by detachments, in mid-September. Many members of the regiment had seen prior service in at least three Pennsylvania units which had seen service as 'three-month term of enlistment' organizations - the 6th, 14th, and 25th Pennsylvania Infantry regiments. A large number of men in the regiment had been miners prior to the war.[1]

On September 17, 1862 at Antietam (Sharpsburg), the brigade including the 48th Pennsylvania assisted in carrying Burnside's Bridge, and crossed it soon after 1:00 PM. After the repulse of three divisions later in the day, two brigades advanced to the crest of the ridge to check Confederate pursuit. The 48th Pennsylvania supported and relieved the 51st Pennsylvania, engaging the Confederates posted on the line and behind the stone walls right and left of that point. The engagement continued into the night, and the regiment and brigade bivouacked on the ground on which they had fought.[2]

In mid-1864 at Petersburg, Grant wanted to defeat Lee's army without resorting to a lengthy siege—his experience in the Siege of Vicksburg told him that such affairs were expensive and difficult on the morale of his men. Lt. Col. Henry Pleasants, commanding the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's IX Corps, offered a novel proposal to solve Grant's problem. Pleasants, a mining engineer from Pennsylvania in civilian life, proposed digging a long mine shaft underneath the Confederate lines and planting explosive charges directly underneath a fort (Elliott's Salient) in the middle of the Confederate First Corps line. If successful, Union troops could drive through the resulting gap in the line into the Confederate rear area. Digging began in late June, creating a mine in a "T" shape with an approach shaft 511 feet (156 m) long. At its end, a perpendicular gallery of 75 feet (23 m) extended in both directions. The gallery was filled with 8,000 pounds of gunpowder, buried 20 feet (6.1 m) underneath the Confederate works.[3]

Sketch of the explosion seen from the Union line.

At 4:44 a.m. on July 30, the charges exploded in a massive shower of earth, men, and guns. A crater (still visible today) was created, 170 feet (52 m) long, 60 to 80 feet (24 m) wide, and 30 feet (9.1 m) deep. The blast destroyed the Confederate fortifications in the immediate vicinity, and instantly killed between 250 and 350 Confederate soldiers.

Total strength and casualties[edit]

Eight hundred and fifty-eight officers and enlisted men were mustered into service as members of the regiment, of whom 11 officers and 145 enlisted men were killed and mortally wounded and 3 officers and 142 enlisted men died by disease, for a total of 301.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Antietam on the Web 48th Pennsylvania Infantry
  2. ^ Antietam on the Web 48th Pennsylvania Infantry
  3. ^ Eicher, pp. 720-21; Davis, pp. 67-69, 72; Trudeau, pp. 99-105; Kennedy, p. 355; Salmon, pp. 418-20; Welsh, p. 122.
  4. ^ 48th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers Webpage by Alice J. Gayley


External links[edit]