History of the Regiment
The 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was raised in Erie, PA in September of 1862. As the third regiment raised from this area, Hiram L. Brown (Colonel), David B. McCreary (Lt. Colonel), and John Patton (Major), were appointed commanding officers of the regiment.
Four colors were received by the 145th Pennsylvania, by a local presentation. Company F (recruited in Warren County), received a silk flag from the ladies of Tidioute on August 16th. The Conneautville Soldiers' Aid Society presented a "beautiful flag" to Company H (recruited in Crawford County) on September 3. A national color war presented to Company A on September 11.
Within two weeks, 9 out of 10 companies of the 145th Pennsylvania left Erie (company K was delayed until September 15th), without arms and equipment, and proceeded to Chambersburg (from Harrisburg) where camp was set up for 2 days. Here, the men were supplied with Harpers Ferry muskets. They were also presented a regimental color on September 30th while the command lay in camp near Harper's Ferry. The flag was made by the ladies of Erie, and was presented by Lieutenant Colonel McCreary on behalf of the absent donors.
Shortly after, the 145th Pennsylvania then moved under orders of General John P Reynolds towards Hagerstown, MD. By the 17th of September, the regiment moved approximately 10 miles outside of Antietam, where they could hear the sounds of cannon fire from the ongoing battle. By noon on the same day, the regiment had arrived at the extreme right of the Union line (which at this time was engaged with General "Stonewall" Jackson's Corps). Placed in a gap that existed in the Union line, the 145th held the tow-path and the road which runs under the high bluff skirting from the Potomac River. The position was held until the morning of the 19th, when it was discovered that the enemy had escaped. As other regiments pursued the retreating Confederate forces, the 145th Pennsylvania was left to care for the dead and wounded on Antietam battlefield. Within 4 days, many men of the 145th fell ill to the stench and sickness that plagued the battlefield. Between two and three hundred men were disqualified for duty.
Soon after, the regiment set camp in Bolivar Heights (just above Harper's Ferry). Here, they temporarily attached themselves to the Irish Brigade, then assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, Second Corps. The regiment was then assigned to picket and guard duty and extensive drill.
By the end of October, the regiment moved with the rest of the army towards Falmouth, Virginia, where General Burnside (now in command of the army), made every possible effort to engage the enemy. On December 11th, the entire army was placed at the Rappahannock awaiting the battle of Fredericksburg. The 145th Pennsylvania crossed on he upper pontoon bridge, where on the afternoon of December 12th, formed in line upon a street that ran parallel with the river.
On the following morning, December 13th, 1862, the regiment moved back 2 to 3 streets near the Courthouse where it came under heavy artillery fire and numerous sharpshooters that were concealed from view. Around noon, the 145th moved with the rest of the First Division towards the ditch and stone wall at the foot of Mayre's Heights. Here, 8 of the 10 companies of the regiment engaged the Confederate forces. The Division remained here until after nightfall. When the firing ceased, it was relieved and returned to town.
On the night of December 15th, the army re-crossed the river and the remaining men of the 145th Pennsylvania took possession of the remaining quarters on Strafford Heights. Of less than five hundred men from the 145th that crossed the river on December 13th, two hundred and twenty six men were either killed or wounded. Despite the losses, General Caldwell remarked: "The regiments, however, all behaved with the greatest gallantry and fought with steadiness, except the 145th Pennsylvania, which broke and fell back, its colonel being severely wounded."
The flag presented to the regiment by Colonel McCreary at Harper's Ferry suffered severe damage during the battle of Fredericksburg. Thirteen bullets and a large piece of railroad iron pierced the silken banner. Another piece of shell broke the staff and a bullet clipped off part of a wing on the eagle shaped finial. The regiment, considering this flag too damaged to carry, sent it back to Erie.
When the army finally moved in the spring of 1863, the regiment was finally ready to redeem itself, although misfortune would again occur. On May 1, 1863, the battle of Chancellorsville began. The Second Corps was immediately thrown forward on the road leading to Fredericksburg, with the First Division forming the advance line. The regiment spent the night putting up breastworks in the dense woods of Chancellorsville.
By the 3rd of May, a detail of around 150 men from the 145th Pennsylvania were ordered to relieve a skirmish line in the breastworks that had been previously built. During engagements, this detail failed to receive orders to withdraw with the rest of the army towards the river. Lieutenant Colonel McCreary, 5 line officers, and 116 men were captured. The unit's bravery was again questioned.
Upon return of the army from Chancellorsville, the regiment remained quietly in camp for nearly six weeks, picketing the line of the river. When it was discovered that the Confederate army was withdrawing from the Rappahannock, the Union army pursued, meeting again in Gettysburg, PA. Then Second Corps reached the fields of Gettysburg on the morning of July 2nd, 1863. The brigade, now led by Colonel Brooke, set forth into the Wheat Field, where the battle was now raging fiercely. The brigade was led forward, silencing a battery that was wreaking destruction on the Union troops.
The 145th Pennsylvania held the extreme right of the brigade while the Confederate forces attempted to flank the right of the line. The regiment suffered severely for their brave fight. Of nearly two hundred that were engaged from the 145th, nearly 80 including many officers were killed, lost, or wounded (1st Lieut. Horatio F. Lewis, Company D, was mortally wounded in this engagement)
In pursuit of the Confederate forces, the 145th, along with the rest of the army, entered into Virigina. The regiment, in late summer of 1863, finally received its first group of drafted soldiers. With their arrival, desertion became common, and disciplinary problems began to increase. Shortly after, the regiment was engaged in Auburn Hill, the Bristoe Station campaign (October 1863), and Mine Run (November-December 1863). Winter camp was then established near Germannia Ford.
During this winter campaign of 1863-1864, recruiting detachments were sent back to Pennsylvania with hopes of drawing additional men to the ranks of the 145th Pennsylvania. By spring of 1864, the regiment numbered over 700. By the first days in May of 1864, the 145th had become engaged at Spotsylvania Courthouse, where it met Confederate forces beyond the Brock Road. Company H was sent out on the 5th of May to form junction with the outposts. For nearly two days, it stood at its post without food or water. By then, the company had been accidentally discovered after it had been previously thought captured. The company was then relieved.
Shortly after, the army moved towards Richmond, Virginia, where Colonel Brown was placed in temporary command of the Third Brigade. Major Charles Lynch (previously Capt. of Company D before promotion to Major and Colonel), assumed command of the 145th Pennsylvania (Lt. Colonel McCreary was on detached service at this time).
Upon reaching the Po River, General Hancock led the Second Corps against the enemy. By order of General Meade, Hancock then attempted to withdraw the troops from this position. Confederate forces, seeing this opportunity, immediately attacked. The primary force of the attack was received by Brooke's and Brown's Brigades. In the engagement, the woods in the rear of these two brigades caught fire from Confederate artillery shells. In withdrawing, many of one of the companies of the 145th Pennsylvania was caught in the flames, without possibility of rescue.
By June, the Second Corps was pushing forward to Cold Harbor, here, charging close to enemy entrenchments. The ground gained was held, and a line of fortifications was set in place. Enemy lines were so close that stones could be thrown across opposing lines.
On June 16, 1864, at Petersburg, Virginia, Lieutenant Colonel McCreary and 111 other officers and men from the regiment were captured. These captured men were hurried to Andersonville, and the officers to Macon, and were afterwards held at Charleston, Savannah, and Columbia, being kept in confinement until March, 1865. The rest of the regiment spent a long summer of 1864 in trench warfare around Petersburg. All of the field officers were captured or killed by autumn of 1864, and the command of the regiment was in the hands of company grade officers.
During the remainder of the summer of 1864, the handful of men that was left was at the post of duty in the trenches, while under almost constant enemy fire. The 145th engaged in the battles of Ream's Station and Deep Bottom. It spent the fall and winter in the trenches, engaged in picket and fatigue duty. By January of 1865, only 156 officers and men remained in the ranks of the 145th Pennsylvania.
By spring of 1865, the Second Corps was moving and engaged in the battle of Five Forks. Afterwards, the Corps was detached and sent to aid General Sheridan, where the Corps rendered efficient service. After the surrender of General Lee of the Confederate Army, the 145th Pennsylvania moved with the rest of the Corps to Alexandria, Virginia, where it set up camp, and participated in the grand review of the armies on May 23 and 24th, 1865.
On May 31, 1865, the regiment was mustered out of federal service. On June 5, the remaining members of the regiment was welcomed home to Erie, Pennsylvania. After speeches by local politicians, the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry held its last parade and was dismissed for the final time.
The flag carried in Fredericksburg that was sent back to Erie is now housed (with its staff and eagle finial) at the Blasco Memorial Library in Erie, PA.