62d Pennsylvania Volunteers

Regimental History:

Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville

62d Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg

Campaign on the Rappahannock


The 62d Pennsylvania's place in the organization of Army of the Potomac at the time of the battle of Fredericksburg, Va., 11-15 December 1862:

The 62d Pennsylvania's place in the organization of Army of the Potomac at the time of the battle at Chancellorsville, 30 April to 3 May 1863:

Regimental History

BATTLEBattle at Fredericksburg, Virginia on 13 to 16 December 1862.
The Battle at Fredericksburg may have been the greatest fiasco the Army of the Potomac suffered. Historian William Swindon described it as the Army of the Potomac as "dashing itself to pieces, in high but impotent valor." Among the most valorious was the Second Brigade, of which commanding general Burnside praised: "No troops ever behaved better in this world." The Second Brigade was ordered to march to Fredericksburg, bringing three days provisions and no other incumbrance. They starting on the morning of 11 December and arrived at Phillips House opposite Fredericksburg. They remained there waiting orders. The next morning they were ordered to move to railroad station. They remained there waiting orders. The Fifth Corps, as it did in many battles, comprised part of the Union reserve. However, at Fredericksburg, the reserve force was soon put into action.

On the third day orders were given early in the morning to be ready at a moments warning to cross the river. Then sometime after one o'clock the Second Brigade was ordered to cross a pontoon bridge over the Rappahannock. Before all of the brigade had crossed, it was ordered to return. The 62d Pennsylvania remained on the lower pontoon bridge for a considerable time, exposed to considerable cannonade. Finally the Second Brigade was ordered again to advance across the bridge to Fredericksburg. Exposed to enemy fire the whole way, the brigade marched up the street to a brickyard, passed through the town, reached the suburbs, turned right, and crossed a railroad track. It was moving along a canal bank "when suddenly the line on the right seemed to have given away," (Sweitzer) and the brigade was thrown into confusion. Order was restored and an advance ordered by the front up a plain. The plain was an undulating field offering no other protection than the crests of its knolls. At the end of perhaps a 1000 yards was the Confederate stronghold, a stone wall in front of Marye's Heights that concealed the Confederate infantry. To the right was Telegraph Road, and beyond the road was a battery providing infilading fire. First the First Brigade advanced. Then the Second Brigade advanced. Under heavy fire, and having cast knapsacks and overcoats aside, it reached within 30 to 40 feet of the stone wall. The fire was so galling that they were compelled to drop to the ground where they were or fall back behind crest of a knoll. Then the Third Brigade advanced in support, but it could offer little and met the same fate. With ammunition exhausted, the soldiers lay flat to the ground in mud and water, the living interspersed with the dead. And there they remained for two days. Their orders were not to fire or bring on an engagement, but to keep down and screen themselves as much as possible. Enemy sharpshooters were vigilant, and during the daylight to raise one's head was almost certain death. During the night of the 13th, they were resupplied with ammunition and told to sleep on the ground they held. On 14th firing from the stone wall was less frequent, but no less vigilant, and they stayed pinned down until dark. Finally that night, a Sunday night, around 10 pm, they were able to fall back under the cover of darkness. They retired to the streets of Fredericksburg that night. They remained there until 5 am on 14 December, when they recrossed river by the uppoer pontoon bridge and returned to their former bivouac long enough to have breakfast, and then returned to their Winter Camp.

Mud March, 20-24 January 1863.
Five weeks after the disaster at Fredricksburg, Burnside ordered an advance in yet another attempt to capture Richmond. Although campaigns rarely occurred in the winter, the weather had been unusually dry and balmy, so Burnside believed "The auspicious moment seems to have arrived to strike a great and mortal blow to the rebellion, and to gain that decisive victory which is due to the country." Burnside's plan was to move the army to Banks' Ford, cross the Rappahannock, and make a surprise attack on the Army of Northern Virginia's left flank. On the morning of 20 January, soldiers broke camp, and the Fifth Corps moved out at about 2 p. m., and marched about five miles before bivouacing in a wooded area. A storm moved in before nightfall (which was early since this was January). What started out as a light drizzle, became a steady rain. The next morning, the march was resumed. The rain continued relentlessly, and would not stop for four days. Rain, steam, and fog obscured travel. Winds were howling. Water lay in pools. The mixture of clay and sand that made up the roads became soft and sticky until their bottoms dropped out. In an ocean of mud, the roads were rivers of deep mire. The wagon trains, artillery, and pontoon carriages had had major problems in the peninsular campaign, but they had never sunk as deep as they did now. Hundreds of men and triple teams of mules and horses were used in a vain attempt first to pull the vehicles forward and then to move them anywhere at all. Meanwhile, infantry units marched forward avoiding the roads. Regiments in the Fifth Army traversed mud, swamp, and bog, and gained seven miles, at best. By the 22d of January, the whole army had stalled. Supply wagons were either sunk or upset. Some the artillery was almost completely submerged. Dozens of horses and mules were dead of exhaustion. The Confederates were no longer surprised. And the rain continued to fall. Famously, one Confederate created a signboard proclaiming "Burnside Stuck in the Mud." Confederates plowed the areas around their side of the fords to assure the production of mud. Burnside abandoned the campaign and ordered his soldiers back to camp, but it was no easier to move backward than forward. Supplies and rations were running out. The mud-marchers, hungry and often shoeless, were dispirited. Then someone ordered a ration of one gill of whiskey per soldier, and that ration must have gotten through. I don't know whether or not the 62d Pennsylvanians were involved, but four regiments of the First Division of the Fifth Corps broke out into a huge fist-fight. Soldiers spent the next two days cutting timbor to build corduroy roads upon the rivers of mud. The rain finally stopped on the 24th, and the Mud March ended with the army back in its Winter Camp. The Union Army was demoralized. Desertions occurred at a record pace, and Burnside forced Lincoln's hand. Instead of repromanding Burnside's subordinate generals, Lincoln relieved Burnside of command. Fighting Joe Hooker had assumed command of the Army of the Potomac on 25 January.

March to Chancellorsville
After delays caused in large part by the April rains and swollen rivers, the plans for the next campaign against Richmond and the Confederate army were begun. Attempting a similar plan as Burnside's in the ill-fated Mud March, Hooker ordered the Army of the Potomac to cross the Rappahannock and make a surprise attack on the left flank of the Army of Northern Virginia. As part of the movement with the Fifth Corps, the Second Brigade was withdrawn from picket duty near its camp at Stoneman's Switch near Fredericksburg on 27 April. Following a grand review by General Hooker, it marched to Hartwood Church. On 28 April it reached Kelly's Ford. On the 29th it crossed the Rappahannock and the Rapidan and bivouaked at Ely's Ford. On the forenoon of 30 April it arrived in Chancellorsville.

BATTLEBattle at Chancellorsville on 30 April 1863 and on 3 May 1863.
Having broken up winter quarters on 27 April, the Federal army advanced to the heights above Fredericksburg, where it could see the Confederate army well entrenched. The Federal army, now commanded by General Hooker, made an initially bold move to cut around the Confederate army and bring it out by crossing the Rappahannock to the west. On 30 April, as the army then advanced through the Wilderness back toward Fredericksburg on the Orange Turnpike, the army reached a position near Chancellorsville. At the front of the army was the First Division of the Fifth Army, and leading the leading brigade was the 62d Pennsylvania. When it reached the Chancellor farmhouse, it became the first Union force to see action at Chancellorsville, exchanging skirmish fire with Confederate forces. Meade wished to advance, but Hooker ordered his army to halt at Chancellorsville until additional troops arrived. The Fifth Army, in a defensive position above Chancellorsville, once again, comprised the Union reserve, so after the first day, the 62d Pennsylvania saw no further action. However, the 62d was the last regiment of the Fifth Corps to cross the Rappahannock River when the Union army withdrew from the front.

Return of Casualties, Battle at Fredericksburg, Va., December 11-15, 1862.

Officers Killed


Enlisted Killed


Officers Wounded


Enlisted Wounded


Officers Captured or Missing


Enlisted Captured or Missing




Return of Casualties, Battle at Chancellorsville

I have been unable to locate a return of casualties for the battle at Chancellorsville.

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This page maintained by: John R. Henderson (jhenderson@ithaca.edu), Lodi, NY.
Last modified: 11 April 2018.
Written and maintained by John R. Henderson
URL: http://www.icyousee/pa62d/fredericksburg.html