62d Pennsylvania Volunteers

Campaigns and Battles


62d Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg

The Wheatfield

Campaigns and Battles

This acrylic painting entitled “The Wheatfield-Whirlpool of Death” depicts the 62d during the second day’s fighting at Gettysburg.

Prints made from the painting are available for sale, and the proceeds will benefit, in part, the Co. D, 62nd PVI Living History Unit; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Camp #43; and the "Rest on Arms" Indiana County Civil War Memorial Project. More information available from from Slim Bowser, of the Co. D, 62nd PVI Living History Unit, and the artist Larry A. Smail.

This website is not affiliated with any of those organizations or projects. Image of the painting used by permission.


On this page is a summary of the campaigns and battles. For a more detailed description, go to the following pages:

Peninsular Campaign | Second Bull Run | Antietam | Chancellorsville | Gettysburg | Overland Campaign (Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor) | Petersburg

In Frederick H. Dyer's A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (1908), the 62d Pennsylvania's service is listed:
 
Camp near Fort Corcoran, Defenses of Washington, D.C., till October, 1861, and near Fall's Church, Va., till March, 1862.
1862
Moved to the Peninsula March 22-24.
Reconnaissance to Big Bethel March 30 [sic; the date was actually March 27].
Howard's Mills, near Cockletown, April 4.
Warwick Road April 5.
Siege of Yorktown April 5-May 4.
Hanover Court House May 27.
Operations about Hanover Court House May 27-29.
Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1:
Battles of Mechanicsville June 26;
Gaines Mill June 27;
Savage Station June 29;
Turkey Bridge or Malvern Cliff June 30;
Malvern Hill July 1.
At Harrison's Landing till August 16.
Movement to Fortress Monroe, thence to Centreville August 16-28.
Battle of Bull Run August 30.
Battle of Antietam September 16-17.
Shepherdstown Ford September 19.
Blackford's Ford September 19.
Reconnaissance to Smithfield October 16-17.
Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15.
Expedition to Richard's and Ellis' Fords, Rappahannock River, December 30-31.
1863
Burnside's second Campaign, "Mud March," January 20-24, 1863.
At Falmouth till April.
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5.
Middleburg June 19.
Upperville June 21.
Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3.
Pursuit of Lee July 5-24.
Duty on line of the Rappahannock till October.
Bristoe Campaign October 9-22.
Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8.
Rappahannock Station November 7.
Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
Duty at Bealeton Station till May, 1864.
1864
Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12.
Battle of the Wilderness May 5-7.
Battle of Laurel Hill May 8.
Battle of Spottsylvania May 8-12
Battle of Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21.
Assault on the Salient May 12.
North Anna River May 23-26.
Jericho Ford May 25.
Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28.
Totopotomoy May 28-31.
Cold Harbor June 1-12.
Bethesda Church June 1-3.
Before Petersburg June 16-18.
Siege of Petersburg till July 3.
Left front July 3.
Veteran volunteers and late recruits transferred to 155th Pennsylvania, July 2 & 3.
Mustered out July 13, 1864.
Companies "L" and "M" transferred to 91st Pennsylvania, July 20. Mustered out August 15.

Here is a more annotated list of the campaigns and battles in which the 62d Pennsylvania saw action, as well as some notable marches and encampments.
brigade flag of the 2d Brigade 1st Division of the 5th Army Corp

This Brigade flag of the 2d Brigade 1st Division of the 5th Corps saw action in one of the most brutal battles of Gettysburg; the Wheat Field (note the musket ball holes). The red Maltese cross designated 5th Corps, the field of white; 1st Division, and the vertical blue stripe; 2nd Brigade. Colonel Jacob Bowman Sweitzer commanded the 2d Brigade at Gettysburg. It is believed that a member of the 62nd donated this flag to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Military Museum, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, from whom this image was obtained.

My thanks to Grant Gerlich, Curator of Collections, for permitting its use on this site, and to Mimi Reed, descendant of Colonel Sweitzer, for sending it to me.

Defense of Washington, September 1861 to March 1862.

Defenses of Washington, D.C. till October 1861 and near Fall's Church, Va., till March 1862.
From Camp Cameron, near Harrisburg, the regiment proceeded to Camp Rapp, north of Washington, D. C. It was about the same time that the 62d arrived in Washington, D.C., area, that George McClellan formed the Army of the Potomac. As the commander of the army, McClellan frequently reviewed the rapidly growing army, oversaw their drilling, and gave them encouragement. Even as McClellan proved to be a hesitant commander and unsuccessful field general, his leadership in these early days fostered in his troops a long-lasting and dedicated loyalty. At Camp Rapp, the regiment was equipped with uniforms and arms. Six companies received Springfield rifles and six the older smoothbore muskets. On 11 September 1861 the 62d crossed the Potomac to set up camp near Fort Corcoran. It was here that the regiment was assigned to the Second Brigade of Porter's Division. On 26 September the regiment with its new brigade to Munson's Hill, near Falls Church. After only a few weeks, it moved to Minor's Hill to set up winter quarters. Now in slightly more permanent quarters, the regiment gave its new camp the name Camp Bettie Black, after the Colonel's youngest daughter. In December, the State colors were presented to the regiment, and also in December the regiment won and received the new Chasseur uniforms and equipment.
NON-BATTLE Reconnaissance at Manassas, 10 - 12 March 1862.
The first military action of the Pennsylvania 62d was a reconnaissance mission. The preparations for battle would be repeated many times over. The 62d broke camp early in the morning, received three days cooked rations, and moved out. Porter's Division was sent to explore Manassas to confirm the reports that the Confederates had abandoned it. The Second Brigade proceeded to Fairfax Court House in a difficult march over muddy roads that had been cut up by the artillery and cavalry that preceeded them. They trudged through mud that was knee deep in several places. They were still two or three miles from Fairfax Court House after the first days march and bivouacked with their brigade in pine thicket. Fortunately for the tired soldiers, Fairfax Court House had been abandoned, so there was no engagement. Porter's division was sent the next day to Centreville and discovered that the Rebel works there, too, had been abandoned. What they did discover were painted logs propped up to look like cannons. Reporters discovering the "Quaker guns" wrote in their dispatches that General McClellan had been fooled, and not only was the Confederate army no longer threatening the nation's capital, but the Federal army had been kept in check by an illusion.
 
The division remained in the advanced position for six days near where the First Battle of Bull Run had been fought. Orders were then received to move back to Minor's Hill, and the Sixty Second returned to Camp Bettie Black. On the march home the troops endured torrential rain and floods. This would not be the last time such difficult and unpleasant marches would be undertaken. The importance of the reconnaissance was that it changed McClellan's future plans. With no need to try to defend Washington, D.C. against imminent threat, the plans for the Peninsular Campaign were born. McClellan, having lost Lincoln's confidence, was removed as general-in-chief of all the Union forces, as he remained commander of the Army of the Potomac. There is evidence through letters, diaries, and newpaper accounts that the troops under McClellan still had confidence in him, since they had been able to take the Confederate positions without loss of life.
Peninsular Campaign
The Peninsular Campaign was the first major offensive by the Union army into Virginia. The goal was the capture of the Confederate capital, Richmond, and, perhaps a decisive battle that would destroy the Army of Northern Virginia. The plan was to make a rapid march up the Virginia Peninsula and take Richmond before the Confederate forces could become well defended. By marching up the Peninsula, McClellan hoped the Army of the Potomac would meet less resistance than it would if it marched through Northern Virginia. The famed battle between the Merrimack (aka the Virginia) and the Monitor, although it did not destroy the Confederate ironclad, did neutralize it enough to make the huge transport operation possible.

 
NON-BATTLE Reconnaissance to Big Bethel, 27 March 1862.
Before all of the Army of the Potomac had arrived and amassed on the Virginia Peninsula, Porter's Division marched nine miles from Fortress Monroe to a settlement on the Big Bethel Creek where the Confederates were reported to have set up fortifications. Expecting stubborn resistance, the Union force discovered the Confederate troops had already abandoned their position. Five earthen breastworks and the village of Big Bethel were captured without a blow. A small party of rebels, observed on the other side of the creek, took flight. The right flank of the Second Brigade [not sure if this included the 62d] pursued the retreating Confederates briefly but were unable to catch them. To have turned the Rebel forces so easily, however, created a spirit of optimism among the Union force, even as it proved that McClelland's knowledge of the Confederate position and defensive strategy were slight. This was the beginning of the march to Yorktown, but instead of the first action in a rapid movement, further advance was halted until the full Army of the Potomac had arrived back at Fortress Monroe.
NON-BATTLE Howard's Mills, near Cockletown, 4 April 1862.
Orders were received at Porter's Headquarters on 2 April to advance. At 3 a.m. the next day, the soldiers were awakened and given the order to break camp. Shortly after 5 a.m. the regiments took their place in lines in their brigades and moved out and Big Bethel Creek was crossed. At Howard's Mill, near Cockletown, there was a skirmish in which fewer than a hundred on either side was killed or wounded. Morell's brigade took the road to the right, and the first soldier from the 62d was killed in action, Adam W. Musser.
NON-BATTLEReconnaissance to Warwick Road 5 April 1862.
Union forces discovered what were believed to be strong fortifications behind the Warwick River as it stretched across the peninsula. Warwick Road proved McClellan could be easily fooled and would exercise poor command. The map he was using failed to depict Warwick River flowing across the peninsula to form a natural barrier to his army's advance. McClellan was fooled into thinking that the opposing force matched his own and that a siege of Yorktown would be a better strategy than a continued advance.
BATTLE The Siege at Yorktown, from 5 April to 4 May, 1862.
The siege lasted a full month. The effect was to lose the initiative, kill the keen spirit of fight, and allow Richmond to be fortified. Picks and shovels were in more constant use than rifles and muskets. At the site of Cornwallis' surrender to Washington to end the Revolutionary War, the Union army eventually did take the day. At the end of the siege, four companies of 62d were part of the small force that took possession of Yorktown. Colonel Black took great pride in his role in the conquest of Yorktown, but there was almost no fight. The Confederates had successfully outmaneuvered the Union commanders and the night before the Union army moved in abandoned the fortifications and left the city unobserved. map MORE
BATTLE Battle at Hanover Court House, on 27 May 1862.
The regiment's first major battle. Porter's Fifth Corps was sent to Hanover Court House to defeat a threat from the north as the rest of the army readied to move against Richmond. Initially Porter's forces easily commanded the day, driving outnumbered Rebel troops into retreat. However, by pursuing the retreating Confederate force, Porter exposed the rear of the Union army to another segment of the Confederate army. Martindale's Brigade suffered severe casualties before Porter learned of the engagement and dispatched the 9th Massachusetts and 62d Pennsylvania regiments back to the fight in the rear and broke the Confederate line sending the Secess into retreat. In their first combat situation, the 62d fought well and came as close as they ever would again in being the pivotal force in deciding a battle. MORE
BATTLEBattle at Mechanicsville, also known as Beaver Dam Creek, on 26 June 1862.
Present, but held in reserve. MORE
BATTLE Battle at Gaines Mill, also known as Chickahominy and First Cold Harbor, on 27 June 1862.
A black day for the 62d in several ways. The regiment suffered more casualties here than anywhere other than Gettysburg and lost two commanders: Colonel Black was killed leading a charge early in the battle; Lieutenant-Colonel Sweitzer was wounded and captured. Never again would the regiment have so many (75) captured as in this battle. Because of the high number of missing or captured, Gaines Mill has the distinction of being the battle in which the 62d suffered its most casualties (total of killed, wounded, missing & captured). map MORE
BATTLE Battle at Turkey Bridge, on 30 June 1862.
Largely an artillery battle. Porter's troops, having marched all night, were already in place on Malvern Hill north of and overlooking Turkey Bridge that morning. Around 4 pm, Morell's division, including the 62d, holding the extreme left near the James River, were fired upon by confederate artillery, before Union guns from both Malvern Hill and gunboats on the James River drove the Confederates into retreat.

BATTLE Battle at Malvern Hill, on 1 and 2 July 1862; last of the Seven Days' Battles.
One of the 62d's finest hours. Placed in the center of the action, they were steadfast and successful in repelling the best of General Lee's regiments. map MORE
Campaign in Northern Virginia
BATTLE Second Battle at Bull Run, also known as Second Manassas, on 29 and 30 August 1862.
The 62d was present, but, quite controversially, for most of the battle, its division was not actively present. map MORE
Campaign in Maryland
BATTLE Battle at Antietam, also known as Sharpsburg, on 17 September 1862.
Held in reserve in the center of the line. According to the Pennsylvania Antietam Battlefield Memorial Commission, the 62d were sent into action as part of Griffin's brigade to support some batteries, but while en route were halted by General McClellan personally, and except for some artillery fire, were not engaged. map MORE
BATTLE Engagement at Shepherdstown Ford, 19 September 1862.
The 62d saw more action in the maneuvers following Antietam than it did during the battle.
BATTLE Boteler's Ford, 19-20 September 1862.
Early on the morning of the 20th, the 4th Michigan and 62nd Pennsylvania crossed the river and secured three guns, including one 12-pounder of English manufacture, 400 rifles marked "London, '62," and several caissons, returning to the Maryland side by 8 AM.
BATTLEReconnaissance to Smithfield, 16-17 October 1862.
Action taken in support of a cavalry maneuver to determine whereabouts of the Confederate army.
 
Campaign on the Rappahannock
BATTLEBattle at Fredericksburg, from 13 to 16 December 1862.
One of the 62d's most horrific battle experiences. Pinned down on an open field for thirty-two consecutive hours before an impenetrable wall. map MORE
BATTLE The Mud March, 20-24 January 1863. MORE
BATTLEBattle at Chancellorsville from 30 April 1863 to 3 May 1863.
The 62d was in the clash that actually started the battle, and it was the last regiment of the Fifth Corps to cross the river in the aftermath of the battle, but, held in reserve in a defensive position above the town of Chancellorsville, it saw little action after the first day. map MORE
 
Gettysburg Campaign
Following Chancellorsville, the army withdrew to the north bank of the Rappahannock. After the decision was made to march the Army of the Potomac northward, the 4th Michigan, 14th New York, 9th Massachusetts, 62d Pennsylvania, composing Second Brigade, served as rear guard at the United States Ford as the army moved in the night. As they marched north, they revisited some of the old river crossings, battlefields, and encampments from previous years. The 2nd battalion camped at Stoneman's Switch for more than a week, when it was ordered to Kelley's Ford, for guard duty, where it remained until the 13th of June, 1863.
BATTLEEngagement at Kelly's Ford, on 11 June 1863.
While encamped at Kelly's Ford, the 62d was attacked by guerrillas, and two
Continued March through Virginia.
The Fifth Corps stayed east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the 15th through 17th bivouacked near the old Bull Run battlefields. There was a severe water shortage and intense heat causing sun stroke, other maladies, and, as reported in another regiment, a good deal of grumbling, especially about General Hooker. A heavy rainstorm on the night of 19th ended a six-week drought, but brought different challenges.
BATTLEEngagements at Middleburg and Upperville, Virginia, on 19, 21, and 22 June 1863.
An engagement on the way to Gettysburg in which the 62d fought in support of a cavalry brigade. MORE
BATTLEBattle at Gettysburg on 2 July 1863.
The 62d fought on the second day in the area around the Wheatfield. The regiment lost more soldiers in this battle than in any other. After several days of almost continuous marching, the Fifth Corps arrived on the battlefield in the morning, but didn't enter the fight until after 4 p. m. The volunteers of the 62d advanced across the Wheatfield; held their position successfully; were ordered to fall back; withdrew in good order across the Wheatfield; were ordered to advance across the Wheatfield with another division; they advanced across the Wheatfield; they were surrounded; in brutal hand-to-hand fighting and with many casualties, they fought their way to safety across the Wheatfield for the last time to a position near the base of Little Round Top. map1 map2 MORE Roster of the 62d from the Pennsylvania Memorial
BATTLEPursuit of Lee, 5-24 July 1863.
 
Bristoe and Mine Run Campaigns
Following the frustratingly futile pursuit of the the Army of Northern Virginia, the 62d, with the rest of the Fifth Corps, settled in for duty along the Rappahannock until October.
BATTLEBattle at Bristoe Station, 14 October.
While the Fifth Corps was fording the Broad Run near Manassas Junction, Confederates attacked, but were diverted by a counter attack by the Second Corps. After crossing the river the Fifth Corps quickly moved further north, its commanding general apparently unaware a battle to his rear was raging. By the time the Fifth Corps turned around, the Second Corps had already driven off the Confederate forces. The 62d Pennsylvania did little more than march and wait during this battle. map
BATTLEEngagement at Rappahannock Station on 7 November 1863
The engagement at Rappahannock Station was basically the successful crossing of the Rappahannock by the Fifth and Sixth Corps in the face of the enemy. The 62d Pennsylvania was held in reserve and suffered no casualties.
BATTLEBattle at Mine Run, Virginia on 27 November 1863
The Battle at Mine Run was an aborted attempt by Meade to attack the right flank before winter ended the campaign. There was no major attack, but before the troops were withdrawn, seven soldiers of the 62d were wounded.
Duty at Bealeton Station until May 1864.
 
Overland Campaign
BATTLEBattle in The Wilderness, on 5 through 8 May 1864.
The Wilderness was the first battle fought after U. S. Grant was elevated to command all the armies of the United States.
In what was certainly the worst landscape for a battle, thick woods and underbrush, cut only by narrow roads, the 62d was involved in the conflict on the opening day of the battle and in advances made on two other days. Little was gained. The 62d was more fortunate than many other regiments in the Fifth Corps, although more than 50 of its volunteers were wounded, many of those fatally wounded. map MORE
BATTLEBattle at Spottsylvania Court House, on 8 to 15 May 1864
For the Fifth Corps the battle centered on Laurel Hill, several miles from Spottsylvania Court House. It began with an exhausting all night march. For the next several days orders were repeated to move against the enemy regardless of the consequences, even after it was proven that charges against the large, well entrenched Confederate force would be suicidal. The 62d Pennsylvania were most savagely engaged on the 8th and the 12th. The 62d suffered its third highest number of casualties in this eight days' battle and lost its commander Lieutenant-Colonel James C. Hull on 12 May. MORE
BATTLEBattle at North Anna River, on 23 and 25 May 1864
Having crossed the North Anna at Jericho Ford in the afternoon, Griffin's Division of the Fifth Corps were settling in the night, when their evening meal preparations were interrupted by a surprise attack. Although surprised and trapped between the river and the enemy, the division were able to repulse the attack. For a "minor skirmish" the battle at North Anna was costly for the 62d. map MORE
BATTLEEngagements at Pamunkey Creek and Totopotomoy Creek, on 28, 29, 30 May 1864
The Fifth Corp crossed the Pamunkey Creek at Dabney's Ferry, crossing on a pontoon bridge, on the 28th, marched three miles on the 29th, encountering rebel pickets. A line of battle was formed, but no encounter with the enemy ensued. On the 30th, the brigade started out on the road to Shady Grove Church. The 22d Massachusetts and 4th Michigan were sent out as skirmishers. They encountered the rebels and drove them into a clearing, only to discover they had fallen into a trap. They now faced two lines of breastworks at right angles, so they were caught in a cross-fire. These regiments were able to hold on and then drive the rebels back. The 62d Pennsylvania and 32d Massachusetts then joined the line of battle to relieve them. The 62d suffered no casualties in this engagement until the morning of the 30th. Griffith's Division was ordered to drive some skirmishers from the Union front. Determined resistance intensified the combat, and Sweitzer's Brigade was ordered to advance against the Confederate line of defense. After brisk fighting, the Confederates were repulsed, but the 62d suffered heavy casualties. MORE
BATTLEBattle at Cold Harbor, on 3 June 1864
Fortunately the 62d was not part of hopeless and deadly 8-minute charge that saw the most deaths in the shortest period of time in the entire war. Unfortunately, it was involved in some heavy fighting near Bethesda Church, where the First Division of the Fifth Army Corp held the extreme right of a thin Union Army line. It was so far removed from the main conflict at Cold Harbor, that the action there is sometimes listed as a separate battle. Cold Harbor was the only battle that U. S. Grant's said he regretted. He said "Cold Harbor is, I think, the only battle I ever fought that I would not fight over again under the circumstances." MORE
 
Petersburg Campaign
BATTLEAssault on Petersburg, on 18 June 1864
On the last day of the four day battle to take possession of Petersburg, the regiment arrived on the battle scene around noon and was hotly engaged near a railroad cut for the unfinished Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad. The enemy was driven back to its well fortifiedbreastworks , but the overall assault failed to break through the Confederate defensive position, convincing Grant to lay siege against the city.
BATTLEBattle at Jerusalem Plank Road, on 21 June 1864
The regiment last saw action before Petersburg, Virginia, as the siege was just beginning. Descriptions of the battle are reminiscent of the trench warfare of World War I. After the regiment participated in a skirmish on the 21st on the Jerusalem Plank Road, the 62d saw no more active combat.
BATTLESiege of Petersburg, 22 June until 3 July [to 25 March 1865 for the rest of the Union army]
Continued as part of siege of Petersburg, mostly in picket duty, in the withering heat, with temperatures reaching 105 degrees. On 2 July, Colonel Sweitzer stepped down from his brigade command. On 3 July, the regiment left the front and headed for home. The soldiers arrived in Pittsburgh on 13 July 1864, and were officially mustered out.

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This page authored and maintained by John R. Henderson (jhenderson@icyousee.org), Lodi, NY.
Last modified: 20 December 2013.
The Sixty Second Pennsylvania Monument, pictured at the top of the page, was dedicated at Gettysburg on 11 September 1889. The image was printed in the book, Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, Ceremonies at the Dedication of the Monuments, published in 1904.
URL: http://www.icyousee.org/pa62d/battles.html