Archive for November 11th, 2010

The Brave “Old Bucktails”

November 11, 2010

Image from the National Music Museum

Some Recollections of the Late War.

[Late of the Forty-Fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers.]



Those who saw General Burnside on the morning of December 13, 1862, say that his countenance wore a look of anxiety and depression quite unusual. It was perhaps the most momentous day of his life. No one appreciated better than he the difficulty and hazards of the task before him, and his mind must have been burdened with misgivings. The prospect for winning a victory was not encouraging. His well-laid plans, so far, had failed. The unexpected delay in crossing the river had dissipated all his hopes of taking Lee by surprise. No strategy or rapid maneuver would avail now. If he beat his adversary at all, he must seek him in his own chosen position or fight at fearful disadvantage. The Confederate position was one of great strength naturally, and when elaborately fortified and defended by at least eighty thousand determined, disciplined veterans the Rebels might with good reason feel tolerably secure.

Briefly stated, the position of Burnside’s army before the battle was something like this: Sumner’s grand division, composed of the Second Corps, under couch, and the Ninth, (Burnside’s own,) commanded by Wilcox, occupied the right of our line, being in and about the town and extending some ways below to a considerable stream called Deep Run. Then came Franklin, with the Sixth Corps under W.F. Smith and the First commanded by Reynolds. The cavalry, under Bayard, were also with Franklin, whose lines reached some three or four miles below Fredericksburg. Hooker, with the Third Corps under Stoneman and the Fifth then commanded by Dan. Butterfield, was to support Franklin or Sumner, as the exigencies of the battle might demand. Below Deep Run, along Franklin’s front, there was a plain, from one to two miles wide, between the river and the wooded hills on which were planted the enemy’s batteries. The Richmond and Fredericksburg railroad and the road to Port Royal, which cross this valley, were fringed with fences and thick hedges which, with some deep ditches that had evidently answered the purpose of fencing, afforded shelter to the Rebels and would impeded the progress of our troops. General Lee expected that the main attack would be made on this part of his line, and had placed his most trusted lieutenant in command there. Stonewall Jackson would hold it if anybody could. Stuart with his cavalry and light infantry protected the flank, his line, which extended to the river, being formed at right angles with Jackson’s infantry. He would have an enfilading fire on our lines when they advanced.
Burnside proposed that Franklin, who, with the addition of Stoneman’s two divisions, (Birney’s and Sickle’s,) which were to support him, had about sixty thousand men at his disposal, should make a vigorous attempt to beat Jackson and get possession of the railroad, by which the Rebels received their supplies from Richmond, and at the same time send in Sumner to storm the heights opposite the town. If these movements succeeded, or even if the railroad could be taken and held, Lee would have to retreat. The principal attack on the left was to be made by Gen. Reynolds with the First Corps, consisting of three divisions — Gibbon’s, Meade’s and Doubleday’s. Gibbon joined the Sixth Corps on the right. Meade, with the Pennsylvania Reserves, came next, being directly in front of the railroad crossing which it was intended to seize. Doubleday’s division was drawn up nearly at right angles with Meade, facing Stuart.

A dense fog hung over the valley of the Rappahannock on the morning of December 13, delaying active operations several hours during the earlier part of the day. The artillery kept pounding away; however, and there was considerable skirmishing in the forenoon. Meanwhile Meade, supported by Gibbon, had advanced fully a half-mile and taken position beyond what was called the Bowling Green road, and was forming his line to assault the intrenchments in his front, his division having been selected to lead the attack. Meade had three brigades. The First, under Col. Sinclair, was composed of the First Rifles (Bucktails), the First, Second and Sixth Regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserves. The Second Brigade was commanded by Colonel Magilton, and consisted of the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Eight Regiments of he Reserves and the 142d Pa. Vols. The Third Brigade, commanded by Gen. C.F. Jackson, consisted of the Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Reserves. Sixteen pieces of artillery were attached to his division. Stuart was pitching solid shot and shells into Meade’s lines. Doubleday answered vigorously, keeping the Rebels at a respectful distance.

Shortly after noon, everything being ready, Meade advanced, with the Sixth Reserves thrown out as skirmishers. Our batteries opened on the enemy’s position. Jackson’s guns thundered back. More than two hundred pieced were in full play. “The direction of Meade’s advance brought him against Lane’s and Archer’s (Rebel) brigades,” writes the correspondent of the Boston Journal, whose graphic description of the battle is the best ever printed. “They were on the railroad and in the woods. There was a gap between the brigades, and there Meade drove the entering wedge. It was a fierce and bloody contest along the railroad, in the woods, upon the hillside, in the ravine, on the open plains and on the crest of the ridge. The fourteen guns on the hill poured a murderous fire into Meade’s left flank. The guns by Deep Run enfiladed the line from the right, while in reserve were two full brigades — Thomas’s and Gregg’s — to fill the gap. But notwithstanding this Meade, unsupported, charged down the slope, through the hollow, up to the railroad and over it, routing the Fourteenth Tennessee and Nineteenth Georgia of Archer’s and the whole of Lane’s brigade. With a cheer the Pennsylvanians went up the hill, crawling through the thick underbrush to the crest, doubling up Archer and knocking Lane completely out of line. It was as if a Herculean destroyer had crumbled with a sledge-hammer stroke the keystone of an arch, leaving the whole structure in danger of immediate and irretrievable ruin. Gibbon ought to have been following Meade, driving up the hill through the gap, but he halted at the railroad.” Gibbon’s division were hotly engaged, made a gallant charge, the General himself being wounded, but were unable to force the enemy’s position and keep up with Meade.

Doubleday had his hands full attending to Stuart. Several divisions which were to support Meade had not even been ordered to advance. The Pennsylvania Reserves were struggling alone. Stonewall Jackson was quick to take in the situation. His line was broken. Meade had cut it in two. The Pennsylvanians must be driven back, or the day was lost to his chief. Massing all his available forces, he hurled them with terrible energy and effect upon Meade’s front and his exposed flanks.

A member of Company E of the  Bucktails, Sergeant J.V. Morgan, who participated in the fight, says in substance: “Our brigade — the First — occupied the right of Meade’s line. We moved forward about 12 o’clock. The enemy defended his first line along the railroad with great determination, but the steady advance and accurate fire of our brigade were irresistible, and the moment the rebels seemed to waver orders were given for us to charge. Rushing forward upon the run, we leaped a deep ditch, drove the enemy from a cut of the railroad and pressed them back to their second line before they could re-form their broken ranks. The Rebels threw down their arms and fled in confusion. Following them up, we came to a third line, where we found several stacks of guns which the enemy in his haste to get away had abandoned. The First and Third Brigades had broken clear through the enemy’s line, taking about 300 prisoners. So far our success was complete. The victory was won. Unfortunately, however, we had no support, and pretty soon long lines of Rebels came down upon us in front and on both flanks. Yet believing that help would surely come, we fought on until our last cartridge was expended, and then fell back to avoid being captured. Our Company had four killed and twenty-one wounded. Henry Jackson had both legs torn off by a shell, yet he insisted on sitting up while being carried to the rear on a stretcher, and even begged a chew of tobacco from his comrades. He died that night. William M. Morgan was shot through both lungs and left upon the field. In his pocket diary, which I have before me, I find recorded in his own hand that he laid upon the battle-field from Saturday afternoon until the following Tuesday, without care of any kind, and with no food save a few crackers which he happened to have in his haversack; and that upon his arrival at Libby prison, in Richmond, to which place he was conveyed in a freight car, he received no treatment whatever except the bathing of his wound by his fellow-prisoners. He died — of course. The death of Henry Rote, another comrade, was tragical and extraordinary. Henry was a man of great piety, and frequently engaged in prayer. In the uproar and confusion of the battle he got down upon his knees to pray, and while in this attitude was shot dead.”

“A battery which had an oblique fire upon our position raised the mischief with us,” adds Lieutenant-Colonel (then Captain) Niles, “”One shot knocked over seven of my men. We were badly cut up. Our ranks were much broken, and there were not men enough left to close them up. Each man stood up — a brigade in himself — and blazed away. Wallace Moore, of my company, having used up all his ammunition, took some thirty rounds from his fallen comrades, and standing up with no-one near him, fired them at the advancing Rebels. The order to fall back was repeated several times before the men could be persuaded to start, and even then, as long as they had a cartridge left, the boys insisted upon facing about occasionally to make a stand and let drive with their rifles. The Bucktails were not worth a copper to retreat.”

Captain Charles F. Taylor (brother of the renowned traveler, Bayard Taylor,) commanded the Bucktails at Fredericksburg, and was wounded. The Captain was only about twenty-two years of age. He was shortly after promoted to Colonel, but enjoyed his well-earned laurels only a short time, being killed at Gettysburg in July following.

Gen. C.F. Jackson, commanding Meade’s Third brigade, was killed, and Col. Sinclair, another brigade commander, was severely wounded. But perhaps the greatest individual loss on that part of the field was the death of Major-General Geo. D. Bayard, in command of the cavalry, who was killed by a shell. Gen. Bayard was but twenty-eight years of age. He was expecting to be married very soon to an estimable young lady, upon whose heart the death of her hero must have fallen with crushing weight. But, dear reader, hers was only one among a thousand or more tender hearts that ached and were desolate on learning the result of that fatal day.

The attack on the left was not renewed. Of the sixty thousand men whom Franklin had at his disposal that day less than twenty thousand were engaged at all, and not more than ten thousand were in action at any one time. That fifty thousand soldiers should be allowed to lean passively on their muskets while a mere division or so of their comrades were being overwhelmed and crushed by thrice their number must ever remain one of those mysteries which genius and generalship may be able to understand; but common-sense and patriotism will always look upon such “strategy” with suspicion and regret.

Of the troops who participated in the battle a large proportion were Pennsylvanians. Tioga county was well represented; and having no achievements of the Forty-fifth to relate this time — our division was in reserve during the fight — it becomes a pleasure not unmixed with sadness to notice, so far as I know, the fruitless valor displayed by other men from this county on the luckless and bloody field of Fredericksburg. In Meade’s First brigade were two regiments whose movements were watched with a deal of interest by many anxious readers of the AGITATOR during the war. I allude, of course, to the Bucktails and the Sixth Regiment of the Reserves.

Company E of the Bucktails, many of your readers will remember, was composed mostly of young men from Wellsboro and the adjacent townships; and on making inquiry one is astonished to discover how very few of the original members came back. Dranesville, the battles n the Peninsula, the second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and many other minor engagements in which the Regiment bore a prominent part — beig often deployed as skirmishers and always filling a place of danger and trust — together with long marches and three years and a half of exposure, had thinned their ranks until barely a corporal’s guard of the old boys remained. The Company, it is hardly necessary to mention, was commanded most of the time by Captain A.E. Niles, who, though twice grievously wounded and for several months a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, managed to pull through. He came out as Lieutenant-Colonel, and is with us to-day, reclining on his laurels, well preserved, and modest as ever; and, with his trusty rifle — which he has not forgotten how to use, as many fine bucks have found to their sorrow — on his shoulder, the Colonel is just as eager now to guide a squad of his cronies in search of bear-meat and venison as he was to lead a skirmish line of Bucktails twenty years ago.

Of the members of Company A of the same Regiment, recruited in the northern part of the county, who of course shared the same fate and are entitled to as much credit, I knew but little during the war, but have met many of them since — some maimed and with empty sleeves.

What has been said of the Bucktails will apply in most part to the Sixth Regiment of the Reserves. The tow regiments were much of the time together, in the same brigade. They fought side by side. Their dead are buried beneath the sod of the same battle fields — from Dranesville, 1861, to Bethesda Church, 1864. They marched together, tented on the same grounds and were disbanded about the same time. There was however, but one company from this county in the Sixth. Some of the finest young men of Wellsboro and the vicinity buckled on their armor and went out with Julius Sherwood in the spring of ’61; and alas! how easy it is to count the number of those who came back. Captain Jas. Carle commanded the Company at Fredericksburg, as he did most of the time during the war.

Among those who fell that day perhaps the memory of none is greener in the hearts of the people of Wellsboro than that of Lieutenant R.M. Pratt, of the Sixth Reserves. I knew him well. Reuben was not only a faithful soldier, but a gentleman of culture and refinement as well. Yes, and more than that; for he was a devout Christian. I remember very well that a few years before the war Mr. Pratt, with another young men from the borough, came up here on the hill to establish a Sunday school. They succeeded; and I will undertake to say that the good seed which was sown that summer did not fall on stony ground. A prize was offered to the scholar who should recite the longest lessons, and I have now before me a neat pocket Bible which I have kept more than a quarter of a century. On its fly-leaf is written, “Presented by R.M. Pratt;” and whenever I take up the book, which is less often that it should be, I am reminded of one who, in common with thousands of other young men, sacrificed a life full of hope and promise — offering it freely as an atonement, so to speak, for the shortcomings of his race and his country.

And while writing of soldiers from Tioga county who fought at Fredericksburg let us not forget the 136th Pennsylvania Volunteers. In this regiment, which was commanded by Colonel Bayne, now member of Congress, were at least two companies from this county. “We (the 136th) went into the fight some two miles below Fredericksburg,” says Sergeant C.W. Barlow, who participated in the engagement and was wounded, “and drove the enemy from his breastworks along the railroad. Our Color-Sergeant being shot down, Corporal Petty, of the color-guard, seized the flag, and planting the staff firmly in the ground, the brave little fellow fired thirty rounds before our Regiment was rolled back by the enemy. We were on the right of the Reserves, [evidently in Gibbon’s division]. Theodore Bacon, of our Company [A], was killed, and William Gridley and Moses Locey died of wounds soon after. The overcoat of Harlan Prutsman, our First Sergeant, was riddled with bullets, yet he escaped without a scratch.”

The writer was acquainted with only some of the members in Company A — Company D, I think, was also from this county, and was commanded by Captain Phillips — which was recruited and commanded most of the time by Captain John J. Hammond, with John I. Mitchell and R.C. Bailey as Lieutenants. Michell wore a Captain’s bars on leaving the service; and it seems to me that we have heard that name occasionally — if not oftener — during the last dozen years. It is a name which the people of this county have honored very many time with pleasure, and honor to themselves. But now Senator Mitchell does not belong to us in the sense in which he once did. We have lost him. He has gone up higher — a good deal higher. So rapid, indeed, has been his promotion that, although scarcely turned the corner of middle-age, only one step intervenes between the position he now occupies and the topmost round of the ladder which leans against the suffrages of a free people. What if this great big Nation of ours should have to come up here among the hills and hemlocks of Tioga county for a President? Well, more surprising events than that have happened.

But whither am I drifting? Our next will tell something of the assault on Marye’s Hill.

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennyslvania) Mar 20, 1883

The Brave “Old Bucktails.”


Last Thursday and Friday the survivors of he famous “Bucktails,” or the first Rifles Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, was held at Williamsport. It was the first time since the war that many of the brave men who shared the privations of the field and the thrilling scenes of the war had looked into the eyes of their comrades. Twenty-two years have furrowed their faces and whitened their beards, but their hearts are still warm with fraternal love as when they marched shoulder to shoulder in the ranks of the grand volunteer army of the Union.

The famous Bucktails was the Forty-second regiment from the State and it was organized May 31, 1861. It was also called the First Pennsylvania Rifles, and Kane’s Rifles, being commanded at first by Col. Thomas L. Kane. The regiment took a very active part in the war, and the excellent marksmanship of the sturdy mountaineers and the bucktails worn in their hats soon made them well known and feared by the Rebel soldiers. The regiment took a gallant part at Gettysburg and there lost its brave Colonel Taylor, and many of its men. It was subsequently led by Colonel Hartshorne through that battle and until it was mustered out in June, 1864. Many of the men re-enlisted and were transferred to the One Hundred and Ninetieth regiment. By the death of Colonel Taylor Lieutenant Colonel A.E. Niles, of this borough, became commanding officer, the regiment not being large enough at that time for a Colonel. But Niles was wounded at Gettysburg, and thereafter Hartshorne was the active commanding officer until the following fall, when Niles was forced to leave the regiment because of his wounds.

In every important battle during the war the Bucktails faced the enemy. They were usually ordered to perform light infantry duty in skirmishing, and they never failed to drive out the Rebel sharpshooters. After this work was accomplished the Bucktails were formed in a solid column to share the heavy work of the battle-field. They never flinched. Their faces were always to the foe. The “bucktails” on their hates became the symbol of all that is brave and true in soldierly character.

In the spring of 1861, when Northern hearts were burning with indignation because of the insults offered to our flag by the traitors at the South, there appeared in the AGITATOR of the 17th of April the following notice:


In consequence of the existing deplorable crisis of affairs in the Southern part of this Confederacy the Governor of Pennsylvania has recommended and the Legislature has passed a law for the better arming of the State. The latest dispatches assert that the President has called upon this State for sixteen regiments for the purpose of preserving the Union as our fathers made it and enforcing its laws. In obedience to the calls of true patriotism the undersigned would respectfully call upon the young men of Tioga county to meet them on Saturday, April 20th, 1861, at two o’clock p.m., at the Wellsboro House, in Wellsboro, where we will receive the names of such volunteers as wish to form an independent uniformed rifle company. The Wellsboro Brass Band will be present.


Short as this notice was it was enough to arouse the patriotism of this borough and the whole county. The ladies began making flags, and soon the Stars and Stripes were floating from all the principal buildings in town. In that hour, when our flag was being trampled in the dust by Southern traitors, it was thrice dear to Tioga county’s sons, and they stepped forward and offered their lives in defense of the Republic.

The first company organized consisted of eighty-seven men under Captain A.E. Niles. Almond Wetmore was First Lieutenant and Samuel A. Mack was Second Lieutenant. This company, together with Captain Sherwood’s company, started for the front by way of Troy in 78 wagons on Wednesday, April 24, 1861.

On the 3d of May the three companies from this county, under Captain A.E. Niles, of this borough, Philip Holland, of Lawrenceville, and Hugh McDonald, of Tioga, together with the companies raised in Potter, Elk, Clearfield, McKean and Cameron counties, were formed into a regiment at Camp Curtin near Harrisburg, and the following officers were elected: Colonel, Thomas L. Kane; Lieutenant-Colonel, T.B. Eldred; Major, Julius Sherwood. a correspondent of he New York Tribune, who was writing from Harrisburg, said: “One of hte most notable instances of persevering patriotism and determination is that of the mustering of the ‘Wild-cats’ of this State by Col. Thomas L. Kane, of McKean county, the very heart of the ‘wild-ca district.’ He traveled over 500 miles on his horse, enlisting three hundred and seven men in thirteen days. Over one-half of these men are ‘crack’ shots who are armed with their own rifles. They came into this city bearing a huge pair of buck horns in front and each man having the tail of a deer ornamenting his soft felt hat. They have been mustered in and form a regiment with the companies from Tioga county, who have the same characteristics. These men are in earnest, and when they draw the trigger of their rifles they do not intend to waste powder.”

One remarkable characteristic of this regiment was that when it was organized almost every trade and profession known in this country had a representative in his ranks.

On the 26th of June, 1861, the AGITATOR learned from a private letter that the “Wild-cat” regiment left Harrisburg on the 22d for the South, to begin its active and memorable career at Cumberland.

In another private letter dated Jul 18th the first engagement of the “Wild-cats” is chronicled. The boys went up the Potomac from Cumberland and met a detachment of rebels whom they quickly whipped. The “rebs” couldn’t stand the superior marksmanship of these “wild-cats” from the wooded districts of Pennsylvania. By this time the regiment had come to be generally known as the “Bucktails” and under this honored name it became famous throughout the North and the South. A special order from the War Department allowed this regiment alone to wear the bucktails in addition to the regulation uniform.

The surviving veterans of the gallant Bucktails made their headquarters during the reunion at the City Hotel in Williamsport last week. On the balcony of the house a fine stuffed buck was mounted. This was contributed by the boys from Clearfield county, who also produced the tattered battleflag that belonged to the regiment. That flag was presented to the boys when they started out in 1861. It is now stained with the blood of a gallant Bucktail and is riddled with rebel bullets.

On Thursday afternoon an election of officers was held at the Reno Post rooms, with the following result: President, General W.R. Hartshorne, of Academia; Vice-Presidents, Colonel A.E. Niles, of Wellsboro, and Colonel E.A. Irwin, of Curwensville; Secretary and Treasurer, W.H. Rauch, of Philadelphia; Chairman of Executive Committee, Captain John P. Bard. In the evening a public meeting was held in the Court-house, Mayor Jone presiding. Addresses of welcome were delivered by Congressman H.C. McCormick and H.C. Parsons in behalf of the city and the Grand Army of the Republic, and they were responded to by ex-Congressman W.W. Brown, who was a Corporal in the regiment. Other addresses were delivered as follows: On Colonel Hugh McNeil, killed at Antietam, by Colonel E.A. Irwin; on Colonel Fred Taylor, killed at Gettysburg, by General W.R. Hartshorne; on line officers killed in battle, by Captain L.W. Gifford, of St. Mary’s; on enlisted men killed in action, by Captain John P. Bard, of Curwensville. Impromptu addresses were made by Dr. W.C. Doane, of Williamsport, and Sergeant W.H. Rauch, of Philadelphia.

Image of 1914 Buckails Reunion from Rootsweb.

Dr. W.C. Doane read the following poem, written by Mr. M.H. Cobb, who was editor of the AGITATOR during the stirring scenes of the war:

Six and twenty years ago —
When the tide of war’s alarms
Made the fires of Freedom’s altar brightly glow,

From these hills the sturdy yeomen
Answered to the patriot call,
Moved by sternest purposes all,
Sworn to fight the fight as treason’s foemen.

Resolved they gathered then —
Form workshop and from field,
Our liberties to shield —
The best defense of all — a wall of living men;

Nor shrank they from the trial —
The mothers and the wives;
The treasures of their lives
They laid upon the altar with noble self-denial.

They questioned not, they gave,
Those hero wives and mothers,
Sones, husbands, lovers, brothers,
To find returning welcome or perish with the brave.

And thus they marched away —
That band of hardy yeomen,
And worthier foes than they
Never were matched with foemen;
In many a bloody fray,
Wherever MEN were wanted,
The Bucktails led the way
And bore the brunt undaunted.

As face to face we stand
We raise familiar faces,
A shattered, grizzled band;
And many vacant places.
Yet, brothers, not in vain
Did these our comrades perish,
They rise, they live again
In memories we cherish.
They fought the fight — they bought
A purer, higher freedom,
Their sacrifices wrought
The death of what was fraught
With all that blighted Edom.


Ho, Bucktails! listen while I sing
Of a most wondrous transformation
Which happed anent that grewsome thing
Which killed a crime and made a Nation.
Some of you know, and maybe all
That every buck’s a double-ender,
And some perhaps have had a call
To make a choice or else surrender.
I never hunted much, but yet
If left a choice I’d choose the latter,
Because the horns are bad, you bet,
When an old buck goes on a batter.
And yet the buck’s tail came to mean
A mighty dangerous thing to Johnny,
He ducked his head when that was seen
Borne by the Bucktail lads so bonnie.

On Friday morning a business meeting was held and a Monument Committee was appointed. A motion prevailed declaring it to be the desire of the “Bucktails” that their Monument Committee be instructed to urge upon the Commission appointed by the Governor the consolidation of the appropriations to each regiment and battery of Pennsylvania, the same to be applied to the erection of a memorial building on the battle-field of Gettysburg.

It was also decided that the next reunion should be held at Bradford, McKean county.

At three o’clock on Friday afternoon there was a parade in the following order: Platoon of policemen under Captain John Stryker; Chief Marshal D.R. Foresman and aides, Colonel A.H. Stead and Chaplain Woodruff; Fisk Military Band; Companies D, G and B, National Guard, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas W. Lloyd; the Bucktail veterans; carriages in which were Mayor Jones, General Harshorne, Colonels Niles, Irwin and other officers of the Bucktail regiment; Twelfth Regiment Drum Corps; Reno Post and Barrows Post.

In the evening a camp-fire was held at the Court-house, which was largely attended. Captain John P. Bard presided. Addresses were made by Comrades Brown, Smith, Allen, Truxem, Corcoran, Hartshorne, Irwin, Freeman, Dr. Doane and others. The “little orderly,” Comrade Rauch, furnished amusement by several German dialect recitations. Excellent music was furnished by the Fisk Military Band. The camp-fire proved a very happy and interesting affair, and at its conclusion all were loath to depart.

After the close of the camp-fire the “Bucktails,” escorted by the members of Reno Post, and headed by the Fisk Military Band, proceeded to the Reno Post rooms, where an elegant lunch was served.

There are about three hundred survivors of this historic regiment, and something over one-half that number were present at the first reunion. Many of the men wore the same bucktails that graced their hats when they went down to the front in ’61, and which gained for them a national reputation for endurance and bravery.

Over twenty veterans from this county were present.

Including the original number and the recruits to the Bucktails during the war, about two thousand men belonged to that regiment. Think of it, — seventeen hundred brave men waiting on the other side for the great reunion when the scattered three hundred grizzled veterans shall join them!

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Oct 25, 1887


When President Lincoln called for troops to serve for three months, the War Department directed the State of Pennsylvania to furnish seventeen regiments. The Keyston State responded with twice that number, and thousands of men were sent back to their homes after reaching Harrisburg. Among those who reached Camp Curtin too late was a battalion from the “wild-cat” district. They were commanded by Thomas L. Kane, a brother of the Arctic explorer. They came floating down the Susquehanna river on rafts, and they were 300 strong, each armed with his hunting rifle and wearing in his hat the tail of a deer. When they found that they were too late, they decided not to return home but to await further developments.

Then came the meeting of the Legislature, and the act was passed authorizing the enlistment of the fifteen regiments of Pennsylvania Reserves to serve for three years or the war.

On June 12, 1861, the Bucktail regiment was organized as follows: Colonel, Charles J. Biddle; Lieutenant-Colonel, Thomas L. Kane; Major, Roy Stone; Captain Co. A, Phil. Hollands; Captain Co. B, Langhorn Wistar; Captain Co. C, J.A. Eldrid; Captain Co. D, Hugh McNeil; Captain Co. E, Alanson E. Niles; Captain Co. F, Dennis McGee; Captain Co. G, Hugh McDonald; Captain Co. H, Charles F. Taylor; Captain Co. I, W.T. Blanchard; Captain Co. K, Edward A. Irwin. Thomas L. Kane had been elected Colonel, but he believed that the regiment should be commanded by an officer of experience, and so he resigned and recommended the election of Captain Biddle, a veteran of the Mexican war and a thorough disciplinarian, in his stead.

The regiment was designated as the Thirteenth Reserves, the First Rifles, the Kane Rifles, and the 421 of the line; but the name by which it is known to all “Yanks” and “Rebs” is the “Bucktails.”

Upon going to the front the Bucktails were attached to the Second Brigade of the Reserves, commanded by the then Brig. Gen. George B. Meade. That fall Colonel Biddle was elected to Congress and resigned the command. At Dranesville, December 20, 1861, the Bucktails won the first victory for the army of the Potomac. At that battle Lieut. Col. Kane was seriously wounded and Captain McNeil was soon after made Colonel.

Six companies of the regiment were in the Peninsula campaign. At Mechanicsville Companies E and D were left to guard a detached position and were captured. At Charles City Cross-roads Captain Phil. Hollands was killed and Generals McCall and Reynolds were captured.

Shortly after, Major Stone resigned to recruit a “Bucktail” brigade under special orders from the War Department. He was made Colonel of the 149th, and Captain Wistar became Colonel of the 150th.

The remaining four companies commanded by Kane were sent to aid Fremont in the Shenandoah valley. At Harrisonburg Kane was wounded, and as Captain Taylor refused to leave his chief, both were captured.

The regiment was at Second Bull Run, after which, in recognition of his own gallantry at that battle and at Callett Station, Kane was made a Brigadier-General. Captain Irvin, of Company K, was made Lieutenant-Colonel, and Captain Niles, of Company E, was promoted Major.

The Bucktails participated in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. At the latter engagement McNeil was killed. Captain Taylor of Company H, a brother of Bayard Taylor, then became Colonel. Lieut.-Col. Irvin resigned on account of wounds and Major Niles succeeded him, and Adjutant, now General, W.Ross Hartshorne, was promoted to Major.

At Gettysburg the regiment suffered severely. Colonel Taylor was killed and Lieut.-Col. Niles and three Captains were wounded.

The brave men were at the front during that terrible campaign from the Wilderness to Petersburg, and this famous regiment filled the cup of its glory to over-flowing by fighting the battle of Bethesda Church after its term of service had expired.

Many of the men re-enlisted, and these, with the other re-enlisted men of the Reserve Corps, were formed into the 190th regiment, of which Major Hartshorne was made Colonel.

Including the original number and the recruits to the Bucktails during the war, about 2,000 men belongs to the regiment. There are not less than 300 of these brave men left, and they are scattered in 28 States of the Union to day. Last year 11 joined the 1,700 and more on the other shore, and it will not be many years until there will be a grand reunions of them all on the other side of the dark river.


Col. S.D. Freeman, of Smethport, who was the first Surgeon of the Bucktails, says that several erroneous statements have been published regarding the origin of hte use of the buck’s tail as a symbol for the regiment. He says that after the enlistment of the regiment in 1861, Capt. W.T. Blanchard, of Co. I, and Col. Kane, were discussing the question on the streets in Smethport, McKean county. A large deer was hanging cut in front of a market opposite the public square. Blanchard noticed it and said, “Why not take a buck tail?” Kane replied, “That’s just  the thing!” They went over and cut the tial off that deer and the hide was cut up into small pieces and put on the soldiers’ hats. The first man to wear the bucktail was James Landragan, of Kane. He attended the reunion last week.

The Executive Committee of the Bucktails desire to thank the citizens of Wellsboro for their assistance and generosity and the ladies of Co. E for their activity in arranging for the entertainment of the visitors.

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Oct 21, 1890

The Seven-Days Fight.

Forty-nine years ago this week the famous “Bucktails” were under fire in the seven days’ battle in front of Richmond, beginning at Mechanicsville and ending at Melvern Hill. Two companies of this regiment were recruited in Tioga county. It was in this battle that Capt. Phil Hollands and Orrin Stebbins, who was the Agitator’s correspondent known as “Colonel Crocket,” were killed and many of the Bucktails wounded or captured.

So far as is known, the only survivors of the two companies under Capt. Phil Hollands and Capt. Alanson E. Niles are as follows: A.K. Sayles, Westfield; Eli B. Seamons, Westfield; Luther Wiles, Nelson; J.V. Morgan, Wellsboro; Wallace M. Moore, Iowa; E.A. Allen, Washington, D.C.; Lorenzo Catlin, Charleston; William W. English, Delmar; John English, Morris; James Olmstead, Tiadaghton; B.B. Potter, Michigan; William Pitts, Mansfield; Eugene Stone, Delmar; O.B. Stone, Corning; A.F. Spicer, Washington state; Henry Varner, Corning; Peter B. Walbridge, Wellboro; Geo. A. Ludlow, Aberdeen, South Dakota; George O. Derby, Wellsboro; Jacob Cole, Wellsboro.

Wellboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Jun 28, 1911

Battle of Dranesville image from Wikipedia


Veterans in Wellsboro Celebrate the First Union Victory.

Last Wednesday evening the veterans of Wellsboro who are survivors of the fight at Dranesville, December 20, 1861, with other comrades and their wives and a few invited guests, commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the first Union victory. They arranged for a banquet at the Hotel Wilcox and some after-dinner speaking. The event was enjoyed by all who were fortunate enough to be present.

At the tables were seated about seventy-five persons among the number being the following members of the regiments in the Sixth Pennsylvania Reserves which participated in the victory which caused the North to take heart in ’61: Company H of the Sixth — Major George W. Merrick, Ransford B. Webb, D.D. Holiday, Job Wetmore, James Hazlett, Almon Wetmore, Asa Warriner; Company E of the First Rifles, or “Bucktails” — Geo. O. Derby, William W. English, J.V. Morgan, Peter D. Walbridge and Henry Varner, of the 12th regiment — Nelson H. Robbins and James N. Herbert.

The banquet was all that could be desired. Messrs. R.L. Tomb & Sons, the new proprietors of the Hotel Wilcox, made a fine first impression, the menu being excellent in every detail and the service of the best. The patriotic decorations of the dining-room were excellent in arrangement. Everybody was in good spirits and the hour passed quickly.

Comrade George O. Derby was the toastmaster. He read letters of regret from Hon. Henry M. Foote, of Washington, D.C., who enlivened the occasion with reminiscences and anecdotes of his comrades, also letters from Capt. George A. Ludlow, of St.Cloud, Florida; Benj. B. Potter, now in Michigan, and Harry C. Bailey, who recently went from Mansfield to Oregon, an a number of other  comrades.The toastmaster then called on his comrades and the guests about the board for entertainment. Brief addresses in reminiscent vein, with anecdotes, humor and congratulation were made by the following persons: R.B. Webb, W.W. English, Major Geor. W. Merrick, J.V. Morgan, Dr. J.M. Gentry, Hon. F.H. Rockwell, Rev. C.G. Langford, Rev. A.C. Shaw, D.D., Rev. John O’Toole, Rev. P.H. Hershey, Rev. F.P. Simmons, Prof. W.H. Longstreet, Supt. E.E. Hubble of the Corning M.E. district, Prothonotary E.J. Channell, Arthur M. Roy and N.H. Robbins. It was near midnight when the company dispersed, the universal opinion being that it had been a well-spent evening.

The engagement at Dranesville was a bloody skirmish between Federal and Confederate foraging parties. It was the first time that a Union victory could be claimed in any considerable action in which any Tioga boys were engaged and it caused great rejoicing in the North. It was particularly of moment to the people of this region because the Tioga county boys there got their baptism of fire. George Cook, the first man from Tioga county to fall in battle, was killed at Dranesville. His memory lives in the name of the George Cook Post, G.A.R., of Wellsboro. Capt. Alanson E. Niles, of the Bucktails, was wounded there, and a number of other Tioga county boys. The people at home, as well as the men at the front began to realize fully after Dranesville what war really meant.

The Confederate left 43 dead and dying on the field. Their wounded numbered 143, and eight men were missing, a total of 194 casualties. The Union loss was seven killed, 61 wounded, and three missing; total, 71. Lieutenant Colonel T.L. Kane, of the Bucktails, was wounded in the mouth. Four captains also were wounded.


From the Agitator files of 1861 we extract the following notes, some of which were contained in the letters of “Col. Crocket,” who is remembered as Orrin Stebbins, of Company A of the Bucktails. He was a regular correspondent of the Agitator, among others from the front, till he was killed in the battle of the Peninsula, in 1862.

The members of the Bucktail regiment were feeling quite despondent about the first of December, 1861, because of the resignation of their Colonel Charles J. Biddle, who had been elected to Congress.

“Last Thursday,” said Crockett, under date of Dec. 8, 1861, “a large foraging party from Gen. McCall’s division went out to the vicinity of Dranesville. They brought back 24 loads of wheat, 19 of corn, five of potatoes, two of brick, 27 hogs, 40 hams, seven horses, five negro slaves, five prisoners, and turkeys, geese, duck, chickens, etc., by the wagon-load. Another party from Smith’s division had still better success.” This shows what war meant to the inhabitants between hostile armies. The Rebels cleaned up everything that the Federals left.

In its issue of Dec. 25th the Agitator contained a full report of the battle of Dranesville. This is an extract: “For some days previous to the battle about a hundred of the enemy’s cavalry had been in the habit of coming down to Dranesville and foraging between there and the Potomac. Gen. McCall determined to attempt their capture. He ordered the Third Brigade, consisting of four regiments commanded by Gen. Ord, to Dranesville for that purpose and to forage. Forty or fifty wagons were taken along.

“The skirmishers of the Sixth regiment were fired upon by the Rebels in ambush. The Bucktails returned the fire. After a few rounds a Rebel battery opened up on our men, but with little effect as the falls passed over their heads. The Rebels it seems had knowledge of the attack and were prepared to meet our boys. The Rebels were concealed in a thicket and did not leave it during the fight.

“When our forces charged the enemy was completely routed, their retreat hastened by a galling fire from the Pennsylvania Reserves, leaving the {field?} strewn with their dead and wounded. Our men loaded their wagons with the forage the Rebels had abandoned. 17 loads of hay, 22 loads of  corn in the ear, the  arms, accoutrements and clothing the Confederates had thrown away in the panic.”

Mr. M.H. Cobb, who was in Washington, wrote home that “the Tioga county boys gave a glorious account of themselves.” He spoke of Capt. A. E. Niles as a fearless leader, who received a bullet through his lung. George Cook was shot through the heart; Benj. Seely got a bullet through his cheek; Tom Conway a slight wound over the eye; Charles Yahn a wound in the cheek. The Bucktails lost three killed, one in Co. E, and thirty wounded. Mr. Cobb adds, “Tioga county sent no cowards to the front.”

Lewis Margraff, of Wellsboro, was taken prisoner at Dranesville.

Soon after New Years, 1862 in the Virginia camp, the regiments which participated in the Dranesville fight were presented with their battleflag by Hon. Galusha A. Grow. Inscribed in letters of gold on the white stripes was “Dranesville, Dec. 20, 1861.”

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania Dec 27, 1911


Looking Back Half a Century or More to Incidents of Those Days.

The report of the fiftieth anniversary of Dranesville printed in the Agitator last week reminds some of us a couple of our most interesting war relics — reminders of the great conflict that are sure to attract the attention of the observing visitor in Grand Army Hall. One of these is the original muster roll of Company H of the 6th Pa. Reserves. Naturally, the paper, written fifty years ago, is somewhat faded, but remarkably well preserved, as though some one had taken good care of it. The document was presented to the Post by Captain R.B. Webb, a year or two ago, and is now in a substantial frame and will be cared for as one of our most valued mementoes of the civil war.

What makes the paper peculiarly interesting to me is that it is in the beautiful handwriting of Erwin R. Atherton, one of my boyhood companions, and whose name appears on the list with the pathetic remarks written later on by another hand — “Died, June 12, 1862.”

Many old-timers who read this will remember Erwin Atherton. He was a Charleston boy and taught school several terms before the war. Members of his company say he was a good soldier, it is nothing against him that he died of disease instead of being killed in battle. Twice as many soldiers died of disease as were killed or died of wounds during the war. And it often required more courage to meet death uncomplainingly — to die by inches in hospitals, as many poor fellows did — than to be killed in a great battle where the inspiration and excitement of the conflict made it comparatively easy to face the music and to die if necessary.

Look over the names on the muster roll of Co. H when you are in G.A.R. hall and see what happened to the boys during the war and then look around and see how many of them are left.


Alanson E. Niles

The other relic referred to is the vest that Captain Niles, of the Bucktails, had on when he was shot through the right lung at Dranesville. The vest, with a ragged hole in front showing where the bullet went in may be seen behind the glass in our “show case” in the Hall. We all remember Captain Niles. The mere mention of his name carries me back sixty years instead of fifty. Along in the late forties or early fifties “Lant.” or “Shiner,” Niles, as we affectionately called him, taught school at the old Young (if that isn’t too much of an Irish bull) schoolhouse that stood near where the little church on “Mount Zion” now stands, a couple miles east of Wellsboro.

Niles was a good teacher all right. If he was as strict a disciplinarian in the army as he was when teaching young ideas how to shoot ten years before the war, Company E of the Bucktails had to walk the chalk line and do it scientifically.

Image from roster of Co. G, 45th Pennsylvania Infantry

I know he scared me out of a year’s growth (more or less) one day when I was a kid, telling me what he would do if I didn’t quit walking across the floor between the boys’ and girls’ sides of the house, which I thought I had a perfect right to do without asking permission of his “Royal Nibs.” Of course he had told us what we could do and what we mustn’t do in good plain English; but much of the English language was like Greek to me in those days. And I have thought since that the big boys used to grab my hat and run off with it just to hear me take on in French and yell after them, “Sacre cochon donne moi mon chapeau!” (D__n pig, give me my hat) I was big enough to know that “sacre” was a bad word because my father had promised to skin me alive, or something of that kind, if he ever caught me using it. Anyway, I never said “sacre” or its equivalent unless I thought the occasion required it. All of which carries us back to the old days — the care-free school days of the long ago! The days of the spelling schools, when the big boys and girls met occasionally of an evening when the days were short, on Shumway Hill at the Round Top, in Dartt Settlement, or at the Young schoolhouse, to choose sides and “stand up and spell down,” and then (if we had spunk enough to ask them and they didn’t give us the mitten) go home with the girls.

The days of the husking bees, apple cuts and sociables, where the boys and girls played “wink and catch ’em,” “ring round the rosy” and other delightfully silly games which with the trimmings and incidentals that go with that sort of thing, were dear to the heart of every healthy boy and girl, and always will be as long as boys are boys and girls are girls! The good old days of Auld Lang Syne! How much of the fag end of life do you suppose some of us would give — if we had it to give — to be back there a year, or a month even?

But there it is again — always wanting something we haven’t go. When we are kids we want to be grown ups. When old and gray nothing looks quite so good as the happy-go-lucky days fifty, sixty, maybe seventy years ago. Why not take our “medicine” as it comes and quit finding fault? Take it as we used to take our castor oil and our quinine, fifty years ago. Nasty and bitter was it? Sure. But the blamed stuff was good for what ailed us then, and whatever the Great Physician prescribes for us now must be all right!


The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Jan 3, 1912

More About the Bucktails

November 11, 2010

"Old Bucktails" Veterans - 1900

Image is cropped from another image on the Planet Smethport website.


Famous Tioga County Unit Recalled By Son Of A Former Member.

The son of a former member of the Bucktail Regiment writes the Agitator as follows:

“Recently, I ran onto what to me at least, were some interesting facts in connection with the use of a buck tail as an insignia on a soldier’s cap or hat. I had always been under the impression that the use of the buck’s tail as a soldier’s insignia was original with the old “Bucktail Regiment,” which was recruited in Tioga county, until I read the paragraphs which are quoted in the enclosed paper.

“It occurred to me that such an item might be of interest to the readers of your paper, although all of the old soldiers are now gone, I believe, so I have made a statement quoting from the book mentioned.

To this item i have added the names of as many of the members of Co E that I can recall and with most of whom I was personally acquainted when I lived in Wellsboro, others, I have heard my father speak of. There may be others whose names should be included.

The “Bucktails” organized in Northwestern Pennsylvania in 1861 was one of the most famous regiments in the Union Army in the Civil War. Co. E of the “Bucktails” was organized in Tioga county, Pa., and the Captain was Alanson E. Niles, who lived in a large white house on lower Main street in Wellboro, about opposite the house formerly known as the L.A. Gardner house.

The members of this famous regiment were riflemen and generally were used as scouts and on the skirmish line. They were called the “Bucktail Regiment” because every member wore a buck’s tail in his cap.

Most people doubtless are under the impression that the name of this regiment was original and probably the only body of soldiers even known by this designation. However, this is incorrect because the Minute Men of Culpeper county, Va., raised in 1775 and 1776 to serve in the Revolutionary War, “wore in their hats buck-tails and in their belts tomahawks and scalping knives.”

This is quoted from page 3 of “Genealogical And Historical Notes on Culpeper County, Va., embracing a revised and enlarged edition of Dr. Philip Slaughter’s History of St. Mark’s Parish” (1900) Culpeper, Va.

Also, at pages 12-13 of the work cited, under the chapter headed “The Culpeper Minute Men,” it is stated:

“The late Capt. Slaughter, of Slaughter’s Mountain, left a journal of his daily life from the year 1775, when at the age of 16 years he joined Capt. John Jameson’s Company of Minute Men.

“We encamped in Clayton’s old field. Some had tents, and others huts of plank etc. The whole regiment appeared according to orders in hunting shirts made of strong, brown linen, dyed the color of the leaves of the trees, and all that could procure for love or money buck’s tails wore them in their hats.”

It is also interesting to read in the same work, at page 2, under the chapter cited, that John Randolph, in referring to the Minute Men of Culpeper, made the following observation in the United States Senate concerning them:

“They were raised in a minute, armed in a minute, marched in a minute, fought in a minute, and vanquished in a minute.”

Therefore, they were called “Minute Men,” and by the same token the regiment was called “Bucktails.”

Some of the members of Co E living for many years in and around Wellsboro may be recalled by our older readers and may for that reason be interesting: Capt. Alanson E Niles, Lt. Lucius Truman, Lt. George A. Lulow, Sgt. Jonathan V. Morgan, Sgt. Peter D. Walbridge, Sgt. George W. Sears, Sgt. George O. Derby, Cpl. Robert Kelsey, Edwin R. Allen, Daniel Bacon (later an M.D.), Morgan L. Bacon (later an M.D.), William S. Boatman, John English, William W. English, Charles T. Kimball, Chester F. Kimball, Andrew J. Kriner, James C. Kriner, Eugene H. Stone, Aaron B. Torpey, Henry Varner.

Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Dec 7, 1949

Kane's Rifles - The Bucktails

This next part was a follow-up to the December 7th  article above. These are screen clips of the actual article, in lieu of a transcription.

More About the Bucktails

Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Dec 14, 1949

Old Bucktails Answer the Final Roll Call

November 11, 2010

Alanson E. Niles



Last Thursday morning Colonel Alanson E Niles, of this borough, died at the German hospital in Philadelphia, where he went on the 21st of September to undergo a delicate surgical operation. He stood the operation well and seemed to be on the way to recovery, when Bright’s disease was developed and he rapidly grew weaker until the end. Mrs. Niles and his son Lieut. Nathan E. Niles were at his bedside. The remains were brought home on Friday, and on Saturday afternoon the funeral was held at his late residence on Main street, the burial being with military honors.

Alanson Erric Niles was a son of Mr. Nathan Niles, one of the early settlers of Charleston township. He was born on his father’s farm near this borough October 5, 1816. He inherited the homestead and was engaged in farming until 1857, when he came to this borough and engaged in the mercantile business with Mr. Aaron G. Elliott, the firm of Niles & Elliott doing business in the old wooden building which stood on Main street on the corner just below the First National bank.

In 1861 Mr. Niles was among the first to respond to the call  for volunteers to suppress the Rebellion. He enlisted in this borough, recruiting a company of men, and was elected Captain of Company E of the First Pennsylvania Rifles, better known throughout the country as the “Bucktails.” He was mustered into service May 31, 1861.

At Dranesville on December 20, 1861, the Bucktails are credited with winning the first victory of the war for the army of the Potomac. Here Captain Niles was severely wounded, being shot through the lungs. He was in the hospital some time, but as soon as he was able he hastened back to his regiment.

On the morning of the second day of the battle of Gaines Hill six companies of the Bucktails were stationed on a hill above a swamp to guard a bridge, the only crossing for miles in either direction. When the armies retreated, Companies D and E, with Captain Niles in command, were left to hold the bridge. The boys stood their ground until a Rebel brigade came up in their rear to within ten rods, when they retreated over the brow of the hill to fall into Jackson’s advancing corps. They were completely surrounded and taken prisoners. Company E was the color company of the regiment and rather than have their flag fall into Rebel hands they burned it in the swamp. Captain Niles was in Libby prison for 49 days, when he was exchanged, together with most of the members in his company, and they at once went to the front again.

Captain Niles was promoted to the rank of Major on March 1, 1863, and on the 15th of May following he was made Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment. It was while with the Bucktails in their charge on Little Round Top at Gettysburg, on the 2d of July, 1863, that he was wounded in the left thigh.

Lieut Col Niles was afterward transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps with promotion to the rank of Colonel. He commanded the corps during the raids of the famous Mosby in eastern Virginia, and at White House Landing he held the field against Mosby’s men for one whole day, when he was relieved by Gen. Sheridan.

Colonel Niles was then sent to Point Lookout, a general depot for prisoners, where he remained in charge until after Lee’s surrender. He then went to Washington.

On the night that President Lincoln was assassinated Col Niles was in Ford’s theater, and he heard the pistol shot and hastened to the hallway and saw the wounded President being carried out.

Col Niles participated in the following battles during the war: New Creek, Hunter’s Mills, Dranesville, Gaines Hill of the seven days fight before Richmond, Fredericksburg, South Mountain, Antietam and Gettysburg.

When the war closed and the grand review was held in Washington Colonel Niles was selected from among the thousands of officers to be the officer of the day, and he had full military charge of the city at the time.

Col Niles was then commissioned as Captain in the regular Army, and for three years he was stationed at Plattsburgh, N.Y., in command of the military barracks.

On account of disability by reason of his wounds he was retired in 1869 with the rank and pay of a Captain, and he came to this borough to reside. After his retirement he lived here quietly, enjoying the respect and esteem of his neighbors, and always taking a lively interest in the affairs of the Government. He was an ardent lover of rifle-shooting and recently notwithstanding his years, he made some remarkable scores on the rifle range.

It can truthfully be said of Col Niles that he was a stranger to fear and a martyr to duty. His record during the war was one of great personal courage and of thorough devotion to the exact discharge of military duty in every station. At home among his friends although of a naturally retiring nature, he was cheerful, genial and steadfast.

Col Niles was married November 10, 1842 to Angeline Austin, of Charleston. Two sons and two daughters were born to them. His widow and Lieut Nathan E. Niles of the Navy, survive him.

The funeral was held last Saturday afternoon at the family residence and it was largely attended. Rev. Dr. A.C. Shaw conducted the service. The Cook Post, G.A.R. attended in a body, and twenty five members of Col Niles’s company acted as a military escort to the cemetery and tenderly committed the remains of their late commander to the dust. Each member wore the distinguishing bucktail on his hat. Among the many floral tributes was a buck constructed of white flowers, which was a testimonial of Company E of the Bucktails. At the cemetery the service was in charge of the Cook Post No. 315, G.A.R.

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania Oct 14, 1891

Image from Find-A-Grave

Mr. Henry Clay Roland died at his home in Delmar township last Friday morning — a victim of the prevalent influenza. Mr. Roland was born in Lycoming county forty-eight years ago; but he came to this county when still young, living for a time in Charleston and afterward in Delmar.

During the war of the Rebellion he was an efficient soldier of the Union, being a member of Company E of the Bucktails, under the late Colonel Niles.

After the war he was engaged in farming, and he was an excellent citizen and a man respected and liked by all his acquaintances. The funeral was largely attended last Sunday at the family residence, many of Mr. Roland’s old comrades being present. The interment was in the cemetery in this borough. Mr. Roland leaves a widow and four children — two sons and two daughters.

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Apr 6, 1892

Flag image from the Descendant’s Association of the 149th PA Bucktails

Death of Mr. Jacob Huck.

Mr. Jacob Huck, aged 72, died after a week’s illness of pneumonia, on Friday evening at the home of Mr. George W. Smith, at Cedar Run, with whom he made his home. He was a member of Co. E, of the famous 1st Pa. Rifles, or “Bucktails,” and served through the civil war. Five brothers also served in this war.

Mr. Huck had been a member of Wellsboro Lodge, I.O.O.F., for 25 years. He was a conscientious, upright Christian gentleman and was respected and esteemed by all who knew him. Mr. Huck never married. He is survived by the following brothers and sisters: Messrs. Harrison Huck, of Lockhaven; Myron, of Delmar, and Samuel and John, who live in the West, and Mrs. Bert Lloyd, of Olmsville. The Wellsboro Odd Fellows sent a beautiful floral offering and several members of that Lodge besides many Slate Run Odd Fellows attended the funeral at the Cedar Run Methodist church on Monday at 2 p.m.

The following was written by a comrade of the deceased:

“Sergeant Jacob Huck was one of six brothers who enlisted in 1861. Jacob, George and Samuel served in Co. E, of the “Old Bucktails.” Jacob was Color Sergeant for two years and during that time he was wounded three times. At the battle of Cold Harbor a Rebel soldier seized the flag staff and tried to capture the colors. Huck killed him instantly by running him through with a saber. As a soldier and friend none excelled him. He was characterized by his extreme modesty, never mentioning his brave deeds to his most intimate friends. His brothers, Harrison, of Lockhaven, and Myron, of Delmar, with their families, and his sister, Mrs. Bert Lloyd, of Olmsville, attended the funeral. Comrades G.O. Darby, Peter D. Walbridge and W.W. English, of Co. E, with three other veterans acted as pall bearers.”

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Mar 1, 1905

Image from Find-A-Grave

Mr. Chester F. Kimball, aged 64, died Saturday evening about 9 o’clock at his home on Crafton street. He was apparently as well as usual on Saturday afternoon, but was stricken suddenly with paralysis about 4 o’clock while making purchases in Finkelstein Bros.’ store. He was removed to his home, where he passed away within a few hours.

Mr. Kimball was born at Homer, Cortland county, N.Y., on April 30th, 1842. He was twice married, his first wife being Sarah Boydson, whom he married on December 20, 1870. and who died on May 18, 1878. Two sons were born to them, Charles N. Kimball, Esq., of Sistersville, West Virginia, and Mr. Everett E. Kimball, of Cleveland, Ohio, both of whom survive.

On April 30, 1890, Mr. Kimball married Sarah Rollins, of Roundtop, who survives him, with one daughter, Clara A.

Two sisters also survive him, Mrs. Adelbert Green, of Syracuse, N.Y., and Mrs. Miles Dunbar, of Necedah, Wisconsin.

Mr. Kimball enlisted on August 7, 1861, in Co. E, of the 1st Pa. rifles, better known as the “Old Bucktails.” He served with honor and distinction and was one of the best soldiers in his company. He later served with the 13th Veteran Reserve Corps. He was a member of the Union Veteran Legion and of the Methodist church. The deceased was a good man, an upright and progressive citizen and was highly esteemed by all who knew him.

Funeral services will be held this morning at 10 o’clock at the late home of the deceased, Rev. W.H. Reese, D.D., officiating.

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Jan 30, 1907


Another Veteran Mustered Out.

At his home near Ewing, Neb., February 16th, of bronchitis, Orsamus P. Borden answered the final roll call. He was born November 30, 1829 at Pultney, N.Y., and at the time of his death was 77 years, 2 months and 16 days old.

When a young man he moved with his parents to Tioga county, Pa. He married Miss Sarah Impson, January 28, 1854, in Delmar, Pa. To this union were born four children, three sons and one daughter, only one of whom survive, namely, Arthur H. Borden of Genessee, Potter county. His wife died April 17, 867.

On November 2, 1867, he married Miss Josephine S. Butler, his present wife. To them were born thirteen children of whom five are living, three sons and two daughters.

In 1861, Mr. Borden enlisted in Company E of the “Bucktails.” He served through the entire war. Was taken prisoner at Mechanicsville, June 26, 1862, and spent some time in Libby and Belle Island prisons.

In 1882 he moved his family to Nebraska and settled on a homestead, where he spent the remainder of his days, and with his faithful wife, fought the hard battles, and faced the privations of a frontier life. In courage and fidelity to what he considered right, he proved himself in every respect a man. He was a member of the Grand Army, General Anger Post 192 of Ewing, and no one of its members was more faithful in attendance at its meetings, or more loyal to its laws.

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Mar 27, 1907

Another Veteran Gone.

Samuel Freeland, aged 75 years, died last Tuesday morning at 3:45 o’clock at his home in Corning of paralysis.

Mr. Freeland was born in Chatham Tioga county, Pa., December 1, 18[3]3, and the early part of his life was spent on farms in different parts of this country. When the civil war broke out he enlisted in Company A, Bucktails. Early in the war he was captured by the Confederates and was in Libby prison for a number of weeks until he was exchanged. When he entered this famous prison pen he was a large man, weighing over 200 pounds but so severe was his treatment that when he came from the confinement he tipped the scale at only 100 pounds. He was so worn and changed that his own brother failed to recognize him. He again went into active serviced and shortly after he was wounded in the right hip. He lay for four days on the battle field where he received the wound and was finally found by the Rebels and again taken to Libby prison. During the days that he lay on the filed of battle he had only one drink of water, this from the canteen of a Rebel captain. This time he was confined in Libby prison only about six weeks and when exchanged he was honorably discharged from service because of his wound. He carried the bullet to the day of his death.

After recovering from his injury he lived at Addison where he worked in the sash and blind factory and where he married Mary L. Seaman on the first day of February, 1865. He also lived at Coudersport for a time. About four years ago he removed to Corning where he had since lived. Besides his wife he is survived by five children — G.V. Freeland, of Spokane, Wash., C.H. Freeland, of Corning; William Freeland, of Hunt, N.Y.; Mrs. Arthur Slad with whom he lived, and Mrs. Rose Varner, of Albany Falls.

He was a member of the Arch Jones Post, G.A.R. at Coudersport, and was one of the charter members of the W.W. Angle Post, at Addison.

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania Mar 3, 1909

Image from the Richard Warren Smith family tree on

Benjamin W. Topping, Sr., died recently at his home in Elmira, aged 79 years. He is survived by his widow, one son, B.W. Topping, Jr.; one daughter, Mrs. B.G. Birney, of Cincinnati. Mr. Topping had been a resident of Elmira for many years. He was a veteran of the civil war and was a captain in Co. H, Pennsylvania “Bucktails.” He was a commercial traveler for 35 years and, as a cigar salesman, was well known in almost every city and town in northern Pennsylvania and southern New York.

Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania Feb 21, 1917

Image from Find-A-Grave


Highly Esteemed Civil War Veteran Died Last Wednesday.

Peter D. Walbridge, aged 83 years, died at the Blossburg hospital early last Wednesday morning, following the amputation of his right leg, which operation was performed Monday. Mr. Walbridge’s right foot had caused him much suffering for several years and not long ago gangrene developed and amputation of his knee was necessary as the only hope of saving is life, but he failed to recover from the shock of the operation.

He is survived by one son, Peter D. Walbridge, Jr., of Pueblo, Colorado, and three daughters, Mrs. W.D. Riffle and Miss May Walbridge, of Wellsboro, and Miss Maude Walbridge, of New York city.

Mr. Walbridge served with conspicuous bravery during the civil war as a member of Co. E, of the famous “Old Bucktails” regiment, and many are the tales of heroism his comrades tell of him, but Mr. Walbridge seldom spoke of his own experiences during the dark days of ’61-’65. He was a prisoner at Andersonville for nearly a year and that trying ordeal took a heavy toll from his naturally strong constitution. Mr. Walbridge had a host of warm friends to whom his death brings deepest sorrow.

The funeral was held Saturday afternoon at two o’clock at the First Baptist church, Rev. C.W. Macgeorge officiating; burial in the Wellsboro cemetery.

The Wellsboro Agitator (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Dec 3, 1919


Brief Review of a Brave Soldier’s Career During the Civil War.

The brilliant and gallant Civil War record of the late Peter D. Walbridge, of Wellsboro, who died a few days ago at the Blossburg Hospital, following amputation of his left leg for gangrene, should not pass unnoticed. He was one of the first from Wellsboro to enlist in the original Old Bucktails under Captain Alanson E. Niles and served throughout the entire Civil War.

Notwithstanding Peter Walbridge was always conceded one of the bravest and most daring soldiers of the fighting Bucktails, having performed many heroic deeds worthy of note, he bore his honors meekly, without display, blow or bluster. He had a big heart and it was in the right place, as all his comrades in arms can testify.

The Gazette takes great pride in presenting the following summary of this brave soldier’s war record:

Peter D. Walbridge enlisted April 28th, 1861, from Wellboro, Pa., and was mustered into the United States service May 31st, 1861, at Harrisburg, as a private to serve for a term of three years in Company E, First Regiment, Penna. Vol. Rifles, under Captains A.E. Niles and S.J. Mack and Cols. Theodore L. Kane, J. Biddle, H.W. McNeil and C.F. Taylor. The Regiment was the 42nd Pa. Vol. Inf., 1st Bucktails or 13th Regiment, Penna. Reserves Infantry.

Moved to a point opposite Cumberland, Md., June 22nd, thence to West Va., in support of Lew Wallace till October; then moved to Tennallytown and attached to McCall’s Reserve Division, Army of Potomac. Engaged at Drainesville, Va., Dec. 20th, ’61. Moved to Virginia Peninsula, June 9th to 12th, ’62.

Attached to 5th Corps Army of Potomac. Engaged in seven days battle before Richmond, Jun 25th to July 1st, ’62; battle of Mechanisville, June 26th; Meadow Bridge, June 26th; Gainesville, July 27th; Savage Station, June 29th; Charles City, Cross-Road and Glendale, Jun 30th ’62; Malvern Hill, July 1st, ’62; battles of Gailnesville and Groveton, August 28th and 29th, ’62; Second Bull Run, August 30th, ’62; South Mountain, Md. Sept. 1?, Antietam, Md., Sept. 7th, ’62. Was wounded here by gunshot in right leg and sent to Harrisburg. Received 50 days furlough to go home from Governor Curtin. Rejoined regiment and participated in battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 13th, ’62, and March, January 20th to 24th, ’63.

Ordered to Washington, D.C., Feb. 6th, ’63. Duty there and at Alexandria till June 25th, ’63. Rejoined the Potomac Army, June 25th, ’63. Attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Div., 5th Corps, Army of Potomac. Engaged in Battle of Gettysburg, July 1st to 3rd, ’63. Pursuit of Lee, July 5th to 24th, ’63. Engaged at Rappahannock Station, Nov. 7th, ’63; Mine Run, Nov. 26th and 28th, ’63.

Honorably discharged Feb. 27th, ’64. Re-enlisted as a veteran Feb. 28th, ’64, in the field as Sergeant in same Company and Regiment, three years more, or during the war, under Captains S.J. Mack and Col. A.E. Niles. Participated in Battle of the Wilderness, May 5th-7th, ’64;; Laurel Hill, Va., May 8th; Spottsylvania, May 8th to 12th, ’64; assault on the Bloody Angle, May 12th ’64; Spottsylvania Court House, May 13th to 21st, ’64; Harris Farm, May 19th; North Anna River, May 23rd to 26th, ’64; Jericho Ford, May 25th; Penunkeg River, May 26th to 28th; Totokotomy, May 29th to 31st; Bethesda Church, May 30th to June 6th.

Was wounded May 30th in head, left leg and right arm by shell explosion and was captured and taken to Spotts Hospital, Richmond, Va., until July ’64. Then was placed in Andersonville, later Florence, prison. Was paroled and sent to Annapolis, Md. Received furlough home until April, 1865. Rejoined regiment. Was on May 31st, 1865, transferred to Co. E, 190th Reg., Pa. Vol., Infantry, which he joined close to Petersburg. Engaged at Appomattox Court House, Lee’s surrender, April 9th, 1865. Washington, D.C., May 1st to 12th; Grand Review, May 23rd, 1865. Honorably discharged June 28th, 1865, at Harrisburg, by reason of close of war.

The Wellsboro Gazette (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Dec 11, 1919

Image from Find-A-Grave


James T. Hebel, 79 years old, a veteran of the Civil War, while accompanying a neighbor, Joseph Lenig from his home in Hunter’s Valley to Newport, Perry County, Pa., on Friday morning, May 26, got off the wagon in the narrows, along the steep mountain road to walk up a hill, and while walking along back of the wagon, dropped dead in the road. Death was due to heart failure.

His son, Alfred of Osecola Mills, went to visit him on Monday, May 22, as had been his custom, about every four to six weeks. On Tuesday morning his father suggested that they go to Newport on Wednesday morning, as he wanted to buy a suit and hat and shoes to wear to the Memorial services at Liverpool on Sunday, May 28 and on Tuesday, May 30. As planned, they went to Newport on Wednesday morning and after making the purchases, and were about to part to go in different directions to their homes, and as his father said “Good Bye” to his boy he remarked, he would wear his new clothes to the memorial services, neither thinking that the time was so near at hand when he should answer the final “roll call” and be numbered among those whose graves would be strewn with flowers, by his few surviving comrades on that day.

Mr. Hebel was born near Liverpool Perry County, Pa., March 19th, 1843. He was the son of George and Rosanna (Matchet) Hebel, natives of Lancaster and Dauphin Counties. The early part of his life was spent in working as a millwright with his father. He was eighteen years old when the Civil War broke out and at once enlisted in the service of his country in Co. B, 7th Penna. Reserves, being organized at Liverpool by Capt. G.K. Shull and after serving in this regiment and company for some time was transferred to the “Old Bucktails” and at the expiration of his 3 year enlistment re-enlisted, for three years more, or until the close of the war. He took part in nearly all the important battles between the Army of the Potomac and the Confederate forces under command of Robert E. Lee, from the first battle of Bull Run to Appomattox. Then took part in the Grand Review at Washington, D.C. Then went to Harrisburg where he was honorably discharged from the United States Service, July 5th, 1865, after having served his country over four years, in its most trying hours.

He then returned to his home in Perry County, but in December of the same year, came to Clearfield, where he learned the carpenter trade under Ezra Ale. During the spring of 1867 he was united in marriage to Miss Charlotte Deis, and moved to Luthersburg, where he followed his trade, farming and lumbering until October 1897 when he was appointed and assumed the position of post master. He resigned that position April, 1906 and moved to Curwensville where his wife died on the 19th of December 1907. He then returned to Perry county and purchased forty acres of land in Hunter’s Valley, near the place of his birth, and about midway between Newport and Liverpool, where he lived during the summer and spent the winter with his four surviving children, Alfred M. of Osceola Mills, Mrs. Mary Freedline of Bell Township near Mahaffey, Clearfield County, Pa., Mrs. C.U. Downs of Kansas City, Mo and Warren L. of Harrisburg, Pa. He is also survived by nine grandchildren.

His Body was taken to Osceola Mills to the home of his son Alfred, on Saturday evening at which place funeral services were held Sunday afternoon at 4:30 o’clock, conducted by Rev. J.W. Shillington of the M.E. Church. On Monday morning the body was taken to Luthersburg where it was laid to rest beside that of his wife and deceased children.

Mr. Hebel was a kind and affectionate father and was dearly loved by his children. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church from the time he first moved to Luthersburg until he returned to Perry County, where he associated himself with the church he attended as a boy and was regular in attendance at services until his advanced age made it almost impossible for him to walk the six miles to the church and back.

Clearfield Progress (Clearfield, Pennsylvania) Jun 2, 1922


Eugene H. Stone Was Nearly One Hundred Two Years Old.

Eugene H. Stone, of near Wellsboro, civil war veteran, died at the Soldiers’ Facility, Bath, N.Y., Thurdays afternoon, Sept. 2, after a long illness.

There is now only one civil war veteran living in Tioga county, John Eldridge Harvey, aged 101, of Westfield.

Mr. Stone was a half-brother of the late William A. Stone, a former governor of Pennsylvania. He was born in Delmar, Jan. 31, 1842, son of Israel and Abbie Stone. At the age of 19 in August, 1861, he enlisted with Co. E, 42nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, known as the Bucktails.

Mr. Stone was captured July 22, 1862, at the battle of Mechanicsville, after being in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. He was held prisoner at Libby and Belle Isle Prisons 40 days, when he was exchanged and rejoined his regiment. He was mustered out Aug. 7, 1864, at Petersburg, Va.

On Nov. 9, 1864, he married Sarah Francis, daughter of Ephraim Francis, of Charleston. For six years they resided on his parents’ farm and then he purchased adjoining farms in Shippen and Delmar townships.

He went to Pawnee county, Kans., where he took up 160 acres of government land. Three years later he returned to Tioga county.

He served as school director and Shippen township Supervisor, was a member of the Masons and the Grange.

The funeral was held Saturday at the Johnson Funeral Home in Wellsboro, Rev. C.W. Sheriff officiating’; burial in the West Branch cemetery.

Mr. Stone is survived by a son, Fred A. stone, of Ansonia; two daughters, Mrs. Hobart Maynard and Mrs. Rankin Stermer, of Wellboro, R.D.; five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

The first three “Bucktail” companies were organized by Thomas L. Kane at Smethport, McKean county, in April, 1861. One volunteer, seeing a deer suspended in front of a market, cut off the buck’s tail and stuck it in his hat and when he enlisted the name “Bucktail” was adopted.

The Tioga county contingent was organized in early May, 1861, by R.C. Cocks, of Liberty, afterward Colonel of the 207th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers and later advanced to Brigadier General, in answer to President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 men.

The Wellsboro regiment was commanded by Alanson [E.] Niles. This troop, with four others, marched overland to Troy and took the Northern Central Railroad to Harrisburg, announcing the arrival at the state capitol by a salvo of musketry. The contingent became Co. E, First Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment, and entered active service.

Mr. Stone participated in many of the principal battles of the war. He had three brothers in the Union forces. One was a member of his own company. All returned to their homes at the close of the war.

Of adult population of 6,000, 2,000 Tioga county men enlisted in the civil war and 445 never came back, a record equaled by only one other county in the union in proportion to population.

Wellsboro Agitator (Wellboro, Pennsylvania) Sep 8, 1943

From Armistice to Veterans’ Day

November 11, 2010

President Eisenhower signing ceremony the change from Armistice to Veterans’ Day

A New Name for November 11

THE ACTION of Congress in changing the designation of November 11 from “Armistice Day” to “Veterans’ Day” has probably heightened the significance of that date as a time to pause in respect and memory of the valiant deeds of our armed forces in wartime.

Throughout America’s history the strength of the nation has had its finest expression in the willingness of our sons and daughters to give of themselves when the need arises. Their service has preserved the freedom which has become synonymous with America and our way of life. It continues to provide hope and leadership for a troubled world.

It is fitting that on this first occasion known as Veterans’ Day we should all pause in our daily activity to pay high tribute to those who have served their country.

The County-side observance being conducted this year by veterans organizations, guided by the Alameda County Veterans’ Day Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and City Councils, seems most appropriate. The members of the Commission should be complimented for their efforts in establishing a new and enlightened interest among both veterans and the general public.

It is to be hoped that this year’s colorful parade and military demonstrations in Oakland will be but the forerunner of observances to be held in other cities of the County in future years.

Daily Review (Hayward, California) Nov 11, 1954