71st Pennsylvania Infantry

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71st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
Flag of Pennsylvania.svg
Pennsylvania flag
Active August 1861 to July 2, 1864
Country United States
Allegiance Union
Branch Infantry
Engagements Battle of Ball's Bluff
Battle of Savage's Station
Battle of Malvern Hill
Battle of South Mountain
Battle of Antietam
Battle of Gettysburg
Overland Campaign
Regimental flag of the 71st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
3rd Division Badge, II Corps, Army of the Potomac

The 71st Pennsylvania Volunteers (originally raised as the 1st California) was an infantry regiment of the Union Army that participated in the American Civil War.

History[edit]

The regiment was organized in August 1861 by Oregon Senator Edward D. Baker, composed of 15 companies instead of the standard 10. Although raised from residents of Philadelphia, it was initially designated the 1st California in deference to Baker's wishes. After his death at the Battle of Balls Bluff in November 1861, it was renamed the 71st Pennsylvania. It was paired with the 69th, 72nd, and 106th Pennsylvania regiments to form the famous Philadelphia Brigade.

The 71st was assigned to the II Corps in time to participate in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. During the Seven Days Battles, it made several charges, losing many officers and men. After reaching Harrison's Landing, companies L, M, N, P, and R were merged into the first ten companies. The regiment, along with rest of the Army of the Potomac, was transferred to northern Virginia. Here the 71st fought at the battles of Second Bull Run and Chantilly. It helped cover Pope's retreat. At the Battle of Antietam that September, the regiment lost one third of its strength. It again suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, the 71st was positioned at the famous Angle on Cemetery Ridge. On July 2, it helped defeat the attack by Brig. Gen. Ambrose Wright's brigade. On July 3, it was briefly sent to Culp's Hill but was returned to Cemetery Ridge. Half of the regiment was placed along the advanced wall with the 69th Pennsylvania to its left, while the other half was 50 yards to its right-rear. During Pickett's Charge, the left portion of the regiment was forced back from the wall and nearly routed. Brig. Gen. Alexander S. Webb managed to rally the regiment near the 72nd and 106th Pennsylvania, but was unable to convince any of the three units to counterattack at first. Finally after several minutes, they pushed the Confederates out of the Angle. The 71st lost 98 officers and men during the attack, including nine out of fifteen officers.

The 71st served through the Overland Campaign, losing heavily in both men and officers. At the Battle of the Wilderness, Lt. Col. Charles Kochersperger was wounded and five colorbearers were shot down, and at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Capt. Mitchell Smith was killed. The regiment's last battle as a unit was at Cold Harbor.

Afterwards, those entitled to discharge (a total of 53) were mustered out in Philadelphia on July 2, 1864. The remainder of the regiment was merged into the 69th Pennsylvania. Out of a total of 1,665 men who served in the regiment during the war, only 153 returned uninjured.

Casualties[edit]

  • Killed and mortally wounded: 14 officers, 147 enlisted men
  • Wounded: 24 officers, 372 enlisted men
  • Died of disease: 1 officer, 98 enlisted men
  • Captured or missing: 10 officers, 320 men
  • Total casualties: 49 officers, 1,211 enlisted men

Commanders[edit]

Major battles and campaigns[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]