Union City Yankees at Fredericksburg
Just like any small town cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery in Union City, Pennsylvania, has its share of Civil War veterans. Although it doesn't, Evergreen should have a section labeled "Fredericksburg Casualties," because so many soldiers from the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry who fell in front of the stone wall at Fredericksburg rest here. In fact, the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry which is referred to in accounts of Fredericksburg as the "Pennsylvania Regiment" was nearly decimated at Fredericksburg. Only a fragment of it remained when the battled was over.
The 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was recruited in Erie, Warren, Crawford, and Mercer Counties in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Families from such Erie County towns as Waterford, Wattsburg, Union City and Corry, had stone walls running across their farms and fields similar to the one at Fredericksburg, but some of their sons would never again see the stone walls of home.
Company D of the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, is represented in Evergreen Cemetery by First Lieutenant John H. Hubbard. He was wounded at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862 and he died of his wounds at Falmouth, Virginia in December 1862. Second Lieutenant Charles H. Riblet was killed at Fredericksburg on December 15, 1862 of wounds received at Fredericksburg and Private Henry Whitney died on January 11, 1863, of wounds received at Fredericksburg. Privates Henry Shoemaker, Calvin Pier, Frank G. Lewis, and Russell L. Bliss were killed at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862.
Many members of Company E, 145 PVI, lie in Evergreen Cemetery. Second Lieutenant Charles S. Carroll's family were among the first settlers in Erie County and so were the ancestors of Corporal Frederick W. Barnes, Sgt. Frank Sherwood, Private David D. King, Private George W. Sherwood and First Sergeant Simeon Putnam. They died together at Fredericksburg on December 13 and they sleep together in Evergreen.
Privates Josiah Churchill, Nathan Dine, Edward Darrow, Christopher Hess, Cyrus Hatch, Riley Hoyt, james Wellman, Albert Woodin and John Lasure all died at Fredericksburg and most rest in Evergreen.
Private Norman W. Bartlett of Company E, 145th, was wounded at Fredericksburg and son were Private Melville Clark, Private John Mitchell and Private Frank B. Harris. Private Harris suffered a gunshot wound in the head and left shoulder. When he died in 1925, his comrades from the Grand Army of the Republic laid him to rest with military honors in Evergreen.Private Melville Clark is also in Evergreen. Private Harvey Lyons suffered a gunshot wound in his left ankle at Fredericksburg.
The Evergreen Cemetery contingent of Fredericksburg soldiers had gone through much. After the battle of Antietam in September 1862, the 145th went into camp on Boliver Heights, just above Harper's Ferry. Eventually it was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division of the Second Corps and assigned to picket and guard duty and severe drill. The men that the 145th soldiered with were veterans, with a year's experience in discipline and campaigning. They learned much in a short time. Towards the close of October 1862, the 145th moved with the army down the Loudon Valley to Warrenton. The regiment halted briefly and then marched toward Falmouth, Virginia. General Ambrose Burnside now commanded the Army and busily prepared to engage the Confederates.
The morning of December 1, 1862, dawned clear and crisp along the Rappahannock. The entire Union Army stirred early and battle readiness bristled in the air and rippled through both armies. On the afternoon of December 12, 1862, the 145th crossed on the upper pontoon bridge and formed in line upon a street running parallel with the river. It remained there until nightfall.
On the morning of December 13, 1862, the 145th moved back from the river two or three streets, its right resting near the courthouse. At the courthouse it came under heavy artillery fire, and an incessant fusilade from sharp shooters concealed from view. About noon the First Division marched up the streets and out upon the plain between the town and battery-covered hills that encircled it beyond. General Robert E. Lee had positioned his artillery batteries wisely. The guns swept the open ground west of the city with deadly efficiency. The 145th moved with the resolve of veterans over the deep ditch and smooth plain towards the stone wall at the foot of Marye's Heights. Its ranks were shattered and torn by the fire from the concealed infantry crouched in a sunken road and behind a stone wall.
The enemy infantry was made up of Confederate soldiers from Georgia and North Carolina. Wave after wave of Union soldiers left the cover of Fredericksburg, crossed a canal ditch hidden in a small valley, and moved west toward Marye's Heights. They had to cross four hundred yards of open space. if the Yankees managed to evade the artillery they encountered a sheet of flame from the infantry 150 yards away, behind the stone wall. Men moved into the storm of lead, screaming and hunching their shoulders as if they were encountering a violent wind.
General Lee poured reinforcements into the sunken road. His riflemen stood six ranks deep in some portions of the line. General Burnside ordered brigade after brigade, fifteen in all, to challenge the Confederates. The attacks began at noon and continued until dark. When the shooting had stopped, not one Union soldier had touched the stone wall.
The men of the 145th charged the wall. Their names make up a drum roll call for Union City. Simon Putnam, Charles Carroll, and the remainder of the Evergreen Civil War veterans. The 145th stayed in position until night fall and until the fighting ceased. Then the division was relieved and returned to town.
One of the witnesses to the battle said, "Of the five thousand men Hancock led into action, more than 2,000 fell in that charges and it was found that the bravest of these had thrown up their hands and lay dead within two and twenty paces of the stone wall."
On the night of December 15, 1862, the Union Army recrossed the river. On the following morning the fragment remaining of the 145th occupied its old quarters on Stafford Heights. On the morning before the battle, 556 men had reported for duty. A portion of two companies were upon the skirmish lines when the rest of the regiment moved for the field and consequently did not accompany it. Of those who crossed the river, less than 500 in number; 226 nearly one half, were either killed or wounded.
Captains Wood, Mason, and Brown and Lieutenants Clary, Brown, Carroll, Vincent, Riblet and Hubbard and nine commissioned officers were either killed or mortally wounded. Colonel Brown received tow severe wounds one of which was supposed to be mortal but from which he recovered.
The Fredericksburg boys in Evergreen Cemetery slumber on until the guns boom and the bugles ring out again and General Burnside orders another fateful charge.