Welcome


Welcome to "Remembering the 142nd PVI". The purpose of this site is post pictures, information, and the final resting places of this regiment of the American Civil War. It seeks to tell a "bottom up" history, straight from the common soldiers themselves. If you have any information concerning the 142nd, please email me at bmonticue@gmail.com. Thank you and enjoy.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July

Happy Independence Day!

As we all celebrate the 4th of July, lets take a moment to remember those who have come before us to secure the freedoms that we hold so dear.

On July 4, 1863 the men of the 142nd joined the rest of the Army of the Potomac in chasing the Confederate forces back down south of the Mason-Dixon. There are however, at least 11 veterans of the unit buried in Gettysburg.  Burials are in the National Cemetery unless otherwise marked.

Samuel Campbell, Co. A
Samuel Coburn, Co. I
Alexander Collins, Co. H (Evergreen Cemetery)
Samuel Cramer, Co. B
Samuel Finefrock, Co. B
James Hill, Co. I
Joseph Jones, Co. A
William Reynolds, Co. I
James Taff, Co. D
William Van Buskirk, Co. K
Cyrus Walter, Co. B

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gettysburg, Day Three

On July 3rd, the 142nd was held in reserve on Cemetery Ridge, near General George Meade's headquarters and the center of the Federal line. This was the spot that Confederate General Robert E. Lee chose to make his famed, and poorly named, "Pickett's Charge." They were close enough to the line that one man was killed during the Confederate artillery barrage that preceded the charge.

While this high drama and intrigue was happening south of town, back on Seminary Ridge the situation deteriorated into a bloody mess. Co. K's Lt. Jeremiah Hoffman was wounded and kept in the Seminary starting on July 1st. He wrote his recollections of his time there less than five years after the battle. The following are from the account that Lt. Hoffman wrote, and were part of a Gettysburg Magazine article by Michael Dreese entitled "Ordeal at the Lutheran Seminary Hospital."

"My first recollection of the hospital at Gettysburg Seminary is that our doctors had no instruments. They were taken prisoner, and in the hurry and excitement of the battle, neither of the parties recollected that it was necessary to attend to the wounded...On the first day, shortly after I was in the building, some of the men who were unhurt came in complaining that our own forces were firing upon the building in which we lay. The two armies had taken the people of the place by surprise, and everything was not packed away as nicely as it might have been. So it happened that our hostess, whose invitation to come in we could not receive, because she was not there, had left a generous petticoat of red flannel lying on a sort of lounge. The men asked what signal we could make to out army. I was the only officer in the room and the men turned to me. So we agreed that a red flag must be hoisted, and by dint of strict orders and threats of punishment in case of disobedience, we were able to persuade a soldier to mount the cupola, and to hoist thence the largest pieces he could tear from the garment. Thus, it happened during the fight and for some days after, the undergarment of our hostess floated over the building..."

"During the first night I was lying awake. I could not sleep for a long while after I was wounded. Col. Cummins was brought in soon after me...The Colonel was shot through the right lung. His agony was so great that one would have thought he was unconscious...While he was writhing and groaning with pain, he would cast his arms about wildly and sometimes sit up...Towards morning [Private Chester] Cammer came to me and said that the Colonel was sleeping. I asked him to watch him well, and soon he came and reported that the Colonel's feet and hands were becoming cold. I ordered him to hunt over the upper floors of the building and he would find some doctors. Just as day was breaking he came downstairs with two surgeons of our brigade. They looked at the Colonel as he lay, and ordered that he should not be disturbed as he was then dying. I could see him but could not speak to him. If he said anything on the subject, Cammer must have kept it to himself. They buried the Colonel the same morning in the garden..."

"On the morning of the Fourth, Capt. [Charles] Evans came to me and said the Act. Adjt. Tucker had died. Tucker had pushed me on his horse after I was wounded, he having been wounded through the arm. That was the last time I saw him alive. On that same day, the Fourth, they brought his body downstairs in a blanket. They roughly lined his grave with fence palings and buried him beside the Colonel. I as then lying on the bunk, and by lifting my head I could see into the garden. I could not assist in the burial but I could look on. They were holding the body over the grave when the head slipped over the edge of the blanket and the Lieutenant's beautiful, jet black hair dragged over the ground. The thought of his mother and sisters was called up, and surely it cannot be called unmanly that a few tears stole down my cheeks..."

Works Cited:
Dreese, Michael A. "Ordeal in the Lutheran Theological Seminary: The Recollections of First Lt. Jeremiah Hoffman, 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteers." Gettysburg Mag No. 23: pp. 100-10 (11 photocopied pages). E475.53G482no23. Includes info on civilians caring for wounded after battle.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Col. Robert P. Cummins

The 142nd PA Infantry's original commander, Col. Robert P. Cummins was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg during the first day's fighting on July 1, 1863. He was wounded in the chest as his regiment fell back from an ill-fated charge into the 47th NC on Seminary Ridge.


Before he was Colonel of the 142nd, Robert Cummins was a captain in the 10th PA Infantry. He gained valuable military experience here, but came back to Somerset, PA when he was elected Sheriff.
The husband and father of seven helped to raise the three Somerset County companies of the 142nd, and in August of 1862 was elected their Colonel.

When Colonel Cummins heard that there was going to be a battle in Fredericksburg in December 1862, he left his hospital bed in Washington, DC and arrived to lead his regiment moments before they saw their first action. He had horses shot out from under him at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.

His last recorded words in battle were an exhortation to his men, to encourage them along as their army was getting pushed back and their regiment in particular was getting raked with Confederate artillery. "Rally round the flag," came the shout from the Colonel. Moments later he caught a minie ball in the chest.
His soldiers did not want to leave him behind, and tried carrying his body off, but each one was shot. Finally, one soldier simply uncuckled his belt, grabbed his sword, and waved it above his head as he ran back to meet his regiment.

Col. Cummins was captured by the Confederate soldiers and taken to "Old Dorm", the main Lutheran Seminary building that had been turned into the largest field hospital of the battle. The colonel was in considerable pain, but still wanted to be able to sit up and dangle his feet from the bed. At one point, in delirium, he's recorded as shouting out "For God's sake men, rally! We can whip them yet!"

 

He died in the Seminary on July 2, 1863 and was buried in the yard. A week or so later his body was exhumed and taken home to Somerset, PA. It arrived on July 11, 1862. The next day, his body laid in a casket draped with an American flag and covered with flowers. The hearse was drawn by two white horses and had a military escort to Union Cemetery. Three volleys were fired in tribute.
Later, his troops raised money for a very large headstone.


In 1889, the 142nd held a reunion and monument dedication at Gettysburg. The granite cross lists the battles waged by this unit and the carnage felt by it on that battlefield.

In 2003, descendents of members of the 142nd and their friends raised money and had a monument to Col. Cummins and the 142nd erected in the Colonel's hometown of Somerset, PA. The monument is located by the old jail, which is where Robert Cummin's sheriff office was.


In 2013, on the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Old Dorm, where Col. Cummins died, was turned into the Seminary Ridge Museum. This new museum tells the story of the first day's battle and of the hopsital that the building became. Col. Cummins played a key role in both of these stories.





Sunday, June 30, 2013

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

It's finally here. The best known and most discussed battle in the entire American Civil War is now celebrating its sesquicentennial. The small town of Gettysburg, PA is undoubtedly inundated with tourists and battle enthusiasts this week as the nation remembers the turning point of our bloodiest conflict.

Among this week's festivities is the opening of Gettysburg's newest museum, the Seminary Ridge Museum, which I've written about before on this site. Seminary Ridge is named for the Lutheran Seminary that sits on the west side of town and around where much of the first day's fighting took place, and it is the location that we will be focusing on today.

Schmucker Hall, Lutheran Seminary building with cupola in the background

July 1, 1863. The First Day

This is the most of overlooked of the three days of battle. It does not have the memorable locations, such as Devil's Den or Little Round Top. It does not have the drama and personification of a movement that we see in Pickett's Charge. What it has are the awkward first steps of battle, like a child stumbling a bit before finding his rhythm. What it also has is the bloodiest and costliest day that the 142nd PA Volunteer Infantry would encounter.

After the battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia started moving northward. They crossed over to the west side of the Blue Ridge mountains to move through the Shenandoah Valley. By the end of June, they had crossed over into Northern territory, and on June 30, elements of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac spotted each other west of the town of Gettysburg.

Confederate General Heth's infantry forces clashed with Union General Buford's Cavalry forces early in the morning on July 1st, while General John Reynold's Union 1st Corps made their way up from the south.



General John Reynolds
General John Buford

 

















The 142nd was part of General Reynolds' 1st Corps, and spent the night just north of the Maryland line. That morning, while most of the Corps got up and hurried their way up the Emittsburg Road toward Gettysburg, the 142nd and the rest of the First Brigade, made its way along the back roads, notably Nunemaker Mill Road, approaching the town further west. 

By the time the 142nd made it to Seminary Ridge around noon, the infantry battle was already in full swing. First Corps commander John Reynolds was killed a little after 10:00 am.


Battle map, courtesy of The Civil War Trust
For 2 hours in the early afternoon, the 142nd was under a constant barrage of Confederate artillery fire, as well as infantry fire from the 47th and 52nd North Carolina regiments that were in very close range in front of them. Company B's commander, Daniel Wilkins stated that "We could almost see the whites of their eyes." 

Hoping to somehow turn the tide of this battle, First Brigade Commander Col.Chapman Biddle grabbed the 142nd's colors and led a charge against the 47th NC. The charge did not last long and was quickly repelled, sending the 142nd retreating back toward the Seminary building.

It was during this charge that the 142nd's commanding officer, Col. Robert P. Cummins was mortally wounded. He was captured and taken to the hospital that was set up in Schmucker Hall, the Lutheran Seminary's building.

The 142nd retreated and ran back through the streets of Gettysburg, to Cemetery Ridge on the other side of town. Co. F's Sergeant-Major, Jacob Zorn described it in his diary this way:

"...unfortunately for us the Rebels come in on our left flank wich forced our line back. back back until at last the Whole Column broke to the Rear in confusion many going right for the City. and the Eleventh Corps retreating through the Streets caused the Streets to be Jamed full of Retreating Soldiers and Artillery and as soon as the Rebels got their Artillery in position they threw Greap and canister through the Streets Just Raking them from one end to the other the men broke out in evry direction through houses and any thing that come in the way. C.P.HEFFLEY & I Scurried up Main St to the upper end of town where we were cut off and had to Surrender..."

Sgt-Major Zorn was paroled a month later.

When the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry arrived on the farm fields of Gettysburg on the morning of July 1, 1863, the regiment numbered 336 officers and men. By the end of the day, they lost 141 men who were either killed or wounded, and another 70 men missing or captured.

The 142nd reformed on Cemetery Ridge where they remained for the next two days, getting a front seat view to Pickett's Charge on July 3rd. On July 4, the 142nd joined the Union Army in chasing General Lee's army back down across the Mason-Dixon line into Maryland. That same day, General Grant defeated the Confederates at Vicksburg, securing the Mississippi River for the Union army. The momentum of the war, in both the Eastern and Western Theaters, shifted in the Union's favor, and all on the 4th of July.

Works Cited:

Croner, Barbara. A Sergeant's Story. 1999. Closson Press, Apollo, PA.

Downey, James W. A Lethal Tour of Duty. Master's Thesis. Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Dreese, Michael A. The Hospital on Seminary Ridge at the Battle of Gettysburg. 2002. McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC.

Martin, David G. Gettysburg July 1. 2003. Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA.

Warren, Horatio N. Two Reunions of the 142d Regiment, Pa. Vols. 1890. The Courier Company, Printers, Buffalo, NY.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Pvt Lotwig Evans, Co. A

Lotwig Evans was a Welsh miner who immigrated to the United States in 1860. He sailed on the Bridgewater and landed in New York on June 19.  While his journey from immigrant to soldier wasn't quite as drastic as the stories about Irish immigrants walking off the boat and into the recruiting office, it wasn't far off either. Lotwig fought with Compay A, 142nd PVI out of Mercer County, PA and was wounded twice during his service time.

Location of Mercer County, PA

In 1906, at the age of 68, he wrote a letter back to his family in Wales. Of his time as a Civil War soldier in his adopted country, he wrote:

"I was in the Civil War in this country. I was wounded twice. The first was a flesh wound in the left thigh. The second was pretty near the centre of the right leg between the knee and the groin. The bullet, a large one, hit the bone and flattened right out. I carried the bullet in my leg for 20 months and 18 days. I had to undergo a surgical operation. I was put under the influence of chloroform. When the surgeon started to use the knife I could feel it and I knew I was saying something. All at once I lost myself and when I awoke I could taste liquor on my lips and I felt pretty sick. I asked an American fellow (a Yankee) laying on a cot next me if the doctor had given some whiskey and he replied that they had given me liquor of some kind. He said they did not give you enough chloroform and when they started to cut at you, you tried to get up and hit the doctor and you was talking very patriotic in English. Then they put the chloroform to your nostrils again. You then started to curse in French like anything. The fellow thought that I was a Frenchman and I guess I was talking Welsh. Well, I was shot the second time in the first day's fight 1st July 1863 at the great battle of Gettysburg PA. I was taken prisoner in the Lutheran college becuase I could not walk. I was retaken by our men on the morning of 5th July 1863."


Lutheran Seminary where Pvt. Evans and the 142nd fought, and where many were captured
 After the war, Lotwig married another Welsh immigrant, Sarah Bingham, and the two moved to Lawrence Township, Stark County, OH, where Lotwig continued mining and became a sheriff's deputy. Lotwig died on 20 April 1922 and is buried in Newman's Creek cemetery.

A special thanks goes out to Pvt. Evans' great-grandnephew John Jenkins, and to his extended family in Wales, for providing the information and letter about their ancestor.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Not REALLY about the 142nd...The Hon. Alexander H. Coffroth

A few months back I went to see Steven Spielberg's film "Lincoln". I know I'm going to write some things that sound contrary to this, but I had a great time and really enjoyed the film. I loved the feel, the look, and the tone of it.


None of the historical inaccuracies throughout are particularly important to the central theme of film. My biggest complaint about the movie is not important to its theme of determination and justice either. My complaint is simply that of a "homer" who doesn't want to see any of Somerset County, PA's native sons shown in an unflattering light.

The day after I watched the film, in a fit of righteous indignation, I wrote a short essay defending US Rep. Alexander H. Coffroth from what I considered to be an incorrect attack on his reputation. I clicked "save" and said, "There, I feel better now." Realizing that no one else would read it, I filed it and went on with my life. I found it today, cleaning off my desktop, and decided that even though Alexander Coffroth was not a member of the 142nd PA Infantry, three companies in that regiment shared the same county home with him, and that I would post it here.

Thanks for reading!


Alexander Hamilton Coffroth (May 18, 1828 – September 2, 1906)

Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site estimates that as of 2012, over 15,000 different books have been written about Abraham Lincoln. That is an average of almost 150 books a year written about our 16th President. Since his death in 1865, President Lincoln has been portrayed in book, film, and stage. By reenactor, and  as a wax figurine. Despite this market saturation, a book entitled “Team of Rivals” by renowned historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin has recently captured the minds and  imagination of America. Published in 2006, Steven Spielberg has recently brought the book to life in the movie “Lincoln”.
The book and movie both focus a lot of time and attention on the arduous task Lincoln had in creating the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States. The world of 1865 was much more nuanced than many popular historians would like us to believe. Just because someone would fight for the preservation of their country did not always translate into that person being an abolitionist. This made the task at hand far more difficult than it would originally seem.
The journey to ratify the 13th Amendment would take the work of the President, his advisors, and both houses of Congress. It would take political gamesmanship as well as some soul-searching for politicians. “Lincoln” has its own take on this process, and one of the politicians the movie portrays that would be absolutely essential in making slavery illegal was Somerset, PA native Alexander Hamilton Coffroth.
Jeremiah S. Black
Alexander Coffroth was a Somerset Democrat who was born there in 1828. The son of John and Mary Coffroth, Alexander went to the Somerset public schools, as well as the Somerset Academy. After he was finished with school, Coffroth was the editor of the Somerset Visitor, the Democratic newspaper of the town, before turning his attention to law. He was admitted to the bar in 1851, having studied in the offices of another famous Somerset County native, Jeremiah S. Black. Black became the Attorney-General, and then Secretary of State, under President James Buchanan. 

Alexander lived and practiced law in Somerset, and in 1854 married Nora Kimmel, with whom he would have four children.
It was during the trying times of civil war that Coffroth decided to get into politics. He was a delegate to the famous 1860 Democratic National Convention in Charleston, SC that saw the Party split in two along slave and free state lines. The split caused both sides to nominate a Presidential candidate, which made it easier for Abraham Lincoln to be elected.
In 1862, Somerset County was part of Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District, which also included Bedford, Franklin, Fulton, and Adams Counties. Coffroth squeaked out a victory by defeating incumbent Edward McPherson to become the youngest member of the House of Representatives. 

US Capitol Building under construction in 1861
President Lincoln began lobbying for a Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery during the first half of 1864. The Senate passed the bill, but it lost momentum in the House. Alexander Coffroth was one of the many Democrats were opposed to this bill. In a speech to the House of Representatives on June 14, 1864, Coffroth stated:
“If slavery is to be abolished, allow it to be done according to the principles of common justice. Allow the people in each State the inalienable right through their legally constituted authorities to control their own domestic institutions in their own way.”
A few months later, President Lincoln was reelected and he again pushed ahead for a Constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. But it was also during this election cycle that Coffroth’s political life was very much in limbo.
When the votes were tallied in October of 1864, Coffroth had beaten his opponent, William H. Koontz by a few votes. Koontz thought that it was a little too close and contested it. The race was in fact so close that Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin would not certify the results. Finally, in July 1866, Koontz won the recount and took his seat in Congress. 

[I recently ran across a blog called "Battlefield Back Stories" that digs in way deeper and does much more justice to the issue of Coffroth vs. Koontz than I did here. Please check those articles out HERE and HERE ]

This period of uncertainty was when Alexander Coffroth changed his mind on the question of amending the Constitution to outlaw slavery. During the January 31, 1865 debate on the subject, Coffroth told the House:
“Mr. Speaker, I desire above all things that the Democratic party be again placed in power. The condition of the country needs the wise counsel of the Democracy. The peace and prosperity of this once powerful and happy nation require it to be placed under Democratic rule. The history of the past demonstrates this. The question of slavery has been a fruitful theme for the opponents of the Democracy. It has breathed into existence fanaticism, and feeds it with such meat as to make it ponderous in growth. It must soon be strangled or the nation is lost. I propose to do this by removing from the political arena that which has given it life and strength.”
The movie Lincoln tells the story (incorrectly, I believe) that Alexander Coffroth was bullied into changing his position and that he felt compelled to change parties to save his political life, but there is absolutely no evidence that this ever happened. He was a Democrat before he took office. He was a Democrat in Congress. He was Democrat when he was finished in office.
It does seem, though, that he was prepared for his Democratic colleagues and his constituents to be unhappy with his decision.
“Many of the honorable gentlemen of this House with whom I am politically associated may condemn me for my action to-day. I assure them I do that only which my conscience sanctions and my sense of duty to my country demands…If by my actions to-day I dig my political grave, I will descend into it without a murmur, knowing that I am justified in my action by a conscientious belief I am doing what will ultimately prove to be a service to my country…”
Coffroth’s vote, along with the few other Democrats that crossed party lines, helped pass the 13th Amendment by a count of 119-56, a mere seven votes above the necessary two-thirds majority. His vote garnered the attention of many. After the assassination of President Lincoln in April 1865, Coffroth was chosen from among all the Pennsylvania Congressmen to be the President’s honorary pallbearer.
After his removal from office in 1866, Alexander Coffrorth moved back to Somerset and returned to practice law until he was again elected to Congress for one term in 1878, still as a Democrat.
His most famous post-political job was as defense for the Nicely Brothers in their 1889 murder trial. This trial gathered national attention and had such a monopoly on the local newspapers that the great Johnstown Flood of that same year played second fiddle to it. The Nicely brothers, David and Joseph, were later hanged in Somerset for the murder of Herman Umberger. Coffroth teamed up with his 1864 political rival, William H. Koontz for this high profile job.
At the time of his death at the Markleton Sanitarium on September 2, 1906, Alexander Coffroth was the last living pallbearer from Abraham Lincoln’s funeral. His is a uniquely American story. From his birth in the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania, to studying law under the Attorney General, to amending the United States Constitution so that no one in America again suffered the indignity of slavery, Alexander Coffroth took advantage of his opportunities and lived life with a purpose greater than himself. But he always remembered his home.  His burial in Somerset’s Union Cemetery ended the story of one of the most interesting, important, and forgotten public servants in Somerset County’s rich history. 







 Works Cited:
Ancestry.com. The Indiana Democrat (Indiana, Pennsylvania) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.
Original data: The Indiana Democrat. Indiana, PA, USA. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper.
Biographical Review, Vol. XXXII, Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania. Boston, Biographical Review Publishing Company: 1899, pp. 17-21
Blackburn, E. Howard and Wefley, William H. History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania, Volume 3. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company: 1906, pp. 1-7.
Coffroth, A.H. Speech of Hon. A.H. Coffroth, of Penna., Delivered in the House of Representatives, June 14, 1864. Digitized by Friends of The Lincoln Collection of Indiana, Inc.
Congressional Globe, 38th Congress, 2nd session (January 31, 1865), 524.
Doncaster, Jr, William Trall. Legends from the Frosty Sons of Thunder. White Stone, VA, Brandylane Publishers, Inc: 1999, pp. 63, 65-67.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg

Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the bloody battle of Fredericksburg, VA. Confederate forces held the town, and for two days, Federal forces under the command of General Ambrose Burnside had been building pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River.

General Ambrose Burnside, of facial hair fame.
As the 142nd PA Infantry waited across the river from their first battle, they were doing so without their commanding officer, Col. Robert P. Cummins, who was sick in the hospital in Washington, DC. They were being commanded by Lt. Col. Alfred B. McCalmont. The regiment was part of a larger group of Pennsylvania units in Gen. John Reynold's First Corps. On the afternoon of Dec. 12, 1862, the 142nd crossed a pontoon bridge near Deep Run Creek, and spent the night on the Fredericksburg side of the river.

Most scholarship on the battle of Fredericksburg has centered around the Federal assault on the stone wall at the base of Marye's Heights that resulted in the destruction of so many Union troops. The 142nd was not involved in this action however. They were involved in an assault a few miles south of town, on what is now known as the Slaughter Pen Farm.

Battle map of Slaughter Pen Farm action, Dec. 13, 1862.  142nd is part of Magilton's Brigade .  PhotoCredit:www.civilwar.org



The boys woke up on the morning of the 13th knowing that they were going into their first battle. Company F's 1st Sgt. Jacob Zorn wrote extensively about the preparations for battle in his diary:

"At Seven oClock. we moved forward to the Left & front about a half mile when we were ordered to unfling Knapsacks. about this time the Reb Shells began to find us. which excited more than a little. Im sure we dodged when the Shells went high above our head. after unflinging knapsacks we moved forward. crossed. Bowlin green Road about 40 Yards beyond the Road and about twenty Steps in the Rear of our batterys we were ordered to lay down. after lying here Some time Col CUMMINS came riding into the field when least expected as he had been sent away Sick. hearing of the advance of the Army the Col left a Sick bed inorder to get to his Regt in time of nead but when come into the field the Regt gave three hearty cheers."

Further north, at Marye's Heights, Federal commanders kept sending wave after wave of troops to assault the stone wall that the Confederate forces used as cover. They never came close to breaking through the Confederate lines. The Slaughter Pen Farm was the only time the Union troops broke through southern lines. Under a helpful cover of dense fog, Federal troops under Gen. George Meade crossed the open fields and the railroad tracks. Sgt. Zorn wrote that "...the way the field was raked with Schell and canister is entirely beyond description."

The Union breakthrough was short lived, and soon the Federal troops were pushed back by the Confederate artillery batteries on the high ground. The 142nd  fell back away from the field of battle to the spot the occupied two days prior.

Federal losses for the day were high: 12,600 casualties to the Confederates 5,300. The 142nd PVI lost 270 men, killed, wounded, or missing.

Two days later, they would cross the pontoon bridges and settle in Culpeper, VA for their winter camp as combat veterans. In 1889, at the unit's second reunion,  the 142nd's final commander, Col. Horatio N. Warren spoke about his regiment's first battle:

"Here, my comrades, let me say, is where our first genuine experience of war commenced - here is where we passed the first ordeal that was calculated to try men's souls - here is where we heard the first rattle of musketry and knew and realized the leaden missiles, screaming past our ears, coming directly from the muzzles of well-aimed muskets, in the hands of our common enemy, must deal death and destruction to our ranks, and summon many a good friend and comrade to lay his life upon the altar of his country and manfully meet his God."

The Union loss at Fredericksburg was but the first faltering step taken by the 142nd PVI. This step would lead to a run that would end in Appomattox Courthouse, VA two and a half years later.