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Chapter 9: famous divisions and brigades.

Within the corps organizations there were certain divisions and brigades which also achieved distinction, sometimes greater than that of the corps to which they belonged. Prominent among these was the famous division of the Pennsylvania Reserves--the only division of three years men in the Union Armies which was composed entirely of troops from one State.

Pennsylvania Reserves.

The Reserves included thirteen regimlents of infantry, divided into three brigades. The Thirteenth Reserves was the celebrated regiment known as the Bucktails, or First Pennsylvania Rifles. In addition to the infantry, two other regiments were organized in connection with the division,--the First Pennsylvania Cavalry and the First Pennsylvania Light Artillery--but after a few months they were detached, and the division proper included only the three brigades of infantry. The Reserves were prominently engaged at Dranesville, Mechanicsville, Gaines's Mill, Charles City Cross Roads (Glendale), Manassas, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and in the Wilderness campaign. At Fredericksburg the division made a gallant fight, the losses being unusually severe in proportion to the number engaged. The division was commanded in turn by Generals McCall, Reynolds, Meade, and Crawford. It was attached, originally, to the First (McDowell's) Corps, but while on the Peninsula it served in the Fifth Corps. At Manassas, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, it was again in the First Corps. After Fredericksburg it was ordered to Washington to rest and recruit its shattered regiments, but it rejoined the Army on the Gettysburg campaign, when it was assigned to the Fifth Corps, in which it remained until mustered out.

The casualties in this division do not amount to the heroic aggregate shown by some other divisions, but the percentage of loss was heavy; the regiments became reduced in numbers, received but few recruits, and did not re-enlist. Governor Curtin requested the War Department to furlough the regiments,--a few at a time — promising that the State of Pennsylvania would return them to the field with full ranks; but the Government refused. Many of the men, however, reenlisted, and when the division returned home at the expiration of its three years, these reenlisted veterans, together with the recruits, were organized into two regiments,--the One Hundred and Ninetieth and One Hundred and Ninety-first Pennsylvania--which served until the war ended. The battle of Bethesda Church, June 1, 1864, was the last action in which the Reserves, as a division, were engaged.

Two of the Reserve regiments served in West Virginia during the early part of 1864, distinguishing themselves at the battle of Cloyd's Mountain. The eleven remaining regiments were formed into two brigades, constituting Crawford's (3d) Division, Fifth Corps.

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S. W. Crawford (2)
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