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.