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.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Would anyone know if Col Robert Cummins' family originally hailed from Ireland by any chance?