October 9, 1910 Scranton Truth
UNVEILING MONUMENT TO FIGHTING REGIMENT
Valorous Deeds of the 143rd Are Recited on Field Where it Performed Them.
WAS A LOCAL REGIMENT
Capt. P. DeLacy and D. S. Beemer Honored By Office In Regimental Association
The members of the One Hundred and Forty-third regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, many of whom live in this city, have returned from their annual reunion on the famous Gettysburg battlefield. Under command of their president, Captain P. DeLacy, of this city, the veterans assembled at the monument erected to their bravery on the field of the first day’s fighting of the three days’ battle at Gettysburg. They reviewed the work of the regiment during the war, and many of the men traced out on the historic field the positions their companies had and held on that memorable day.
Before the reunion of the One Hundred and Forty-third regiment was opened by Captain DeLacy the veterans took part in the dedication of the memorial erected by the state to those who had taken part in the three days’ fighting at Gettysburg. The One Hundred and Forty-third regiment has its own monument on the field, but the day was so warm and the sun so high that this monument, being in an exposed position, it was decided to hold the reunion in a grove 300 yards distant and at the foot of the monument erected to General Reynolds, who was shot and instantly killed just as the battle opened at 10 o’clock on the morning of July 1, 1863.
Captain DeLacy’s Address
Captain DeLacy in calling the meeting to order made a few well chosen remarks complimenting the members on the almost complete attendance of those who have survived. He introduced Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain, who at one time commanded the brigade of which the One Hundred and Forty-third regiment was attached. Captain DeLacy told an incident in the career of General Chamberlain. While in command at the assault on Petersburg he was desperately wounded and at one time his wounds were thought to be mortal. Lying on what he supposed was his death cot in a field hospital that night, he was handed an order from General U. S. Grant which promoted him from colonel of the Twentieth Maine infantry to brigadier general, one of the only two such promotions made on the battlefield during the war.
General Chamberlain was unable to write but he directed that a verbal reply be carried to General Grant, expressing his thanks for the promotion but saying that it came too late. He command however, and was again promoted to the rank of major general and was in command of a division. When General Lee surrendered at Appomatox he was appointed to receive the surrender of Lee’s Army and superintend its parole.
General Chamberlain is now in his eighty-third year, but his step is as light and quick and his eye as bright and clear as when he was forty. Since the close of the war he has served four terms as governor of the state of Maine and has spent many years as president of a college in that state. The Federal government is going to erect a monument at Gettysburg and name one of the avenues leading to it after General Chamberlain.
The Story of the Battle
To Attorney P. H. Campbell, of Wilkes-Barre, member of the One Hundred and Seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, was assigned by Captain DeLacy the honor of making the principal address at the reunion of the men of the One Hufndred and Forty-third regiment. Mr. Campbell reviewed the incidents of the battle, the preliminaries to the great conflict, gave comparisons and figures on the strength of the contending armies and told in detail the work of the men of the One Hundred and Forty-third regiment on that day. His address was as follows:
On that fateful day the First corps came onto the field in the following order: First division in the lead, the Third division (your division) following the first. Coming up the Emmitsburg road (Hot Pike, as it is sometimes called) with you came to the famous Codori House when following the track of the First division you crossed through the field skirting the then small town of Gettysburg (a name then to you unknown) coming out in the rear of the Lutheran Theological Seminary and in plain view the battle then waging between Archer’s and Davis’s brigades of Hieth’s (Heth’s) division and your First division. There was a gap between Meredith’s brigade and Cutler’s brigade, into which Stone’s brigade (your own) was pushed. Coming through the meadow land between where you now stand and the seminary, you passed.
The Opening Guns
General Doubleday, then in command of the corps, who in addressing you in a few words said: “Now boys of Pennsylvania (Stone’s brigade being composed entirely of Pennsylvania regiments, the One Hundred and Forty-third, One Hundred and Forty-ninth and One Hundred and Fiftieth regiments). Boys you are on your native soil. We expect all to do their duty.” Some one of the One Hundred and Forty-third, whose name is unknown to fame, responded: “If you call us boys, general, where do you get your men. We have come to stay.”
Little did he know when he uttered these words that he said words that came too true. Many in that line came to stay. Before the sun went down that night many lay on the field cold, stark in death. As the moon rose that night it shone upon faces white with the death cramp upon their upturned faces. To those, they had come to stay. They are there yet.
The brigade went into position near the McPherson barn. Company A, Captain Conyngham, afterwards a major, a company of the One Hundred and Forty-third, and one of the One Hundred and Fiftieth were sent out as skirmishers with fixed bayonets. Not stopping to load they dashed forward, drove the enemy back across Willoughby’s Run and for nearly two hours held them there.
An incident worth mentioning happened in this movement. William Bennett of Plains, Luzerne County, who in the forward charge was struck on the forehead by a Minnie ball, was knocked senseless and was thought to be mortally hurt. He was picked up by a member of Company A, Hubbard Naugle, who threw Bennett on his shoulder and carried him back to the McPherson Barn and quickly returned to the ranks of his company. Bennett returned after the war to his home and lived there for many years.
Position of the Regiment
Stone’s brigade went into position first, facing west, the One Hundred and Fiftieth on the Left and One Hundred and Forty-third on its right, and the One Hundred and Forty-ninth on the extreme right. This was about 11 am. They held this position until about 1:30 pm, when Rode’s division of Ewell’s corps came in from the north and the First made their appearance on Oak Hill, which you can see in plain sight.
From this point they opened on your line with six batteries, completely infiltrating your line and causing the brigade to change front from west to north. This change also changed the position of the One Hundred and Forty-third. The new position made the One Hundred and Fiftieth still face west, while the One Hundred and Forty-third faced north along and on the south of the Chambersburg Pike, the One Hundred and Forty-ninth on its left.
In this position it stood, and repulsed repeated charges from the front, and at times was forced to change front to the rear to repel attacks coming from that direction.
The Color Bearer’s Death
It was during this time almost (and in some cases hand to hand) a fight between the One Hundred and Forty-third and two regiments of Daniels’ Rebel brigade that the lamented death of the brave and intrepid color bearer of the One Hundred and Forty-third occurred. As he stood shaking his fist with one hand while in the other he held your flag, he was shot to death, it is said, by order of General Hill, who considered him a special menace to the advance of his men.
Captain Conyngham, having his attention at the moment elsewhere, did not see the colors go down. He was called upon by a sergeant of his company, who said: “Captain, the colors are down. Rally on the colors.”
This call was instantly responded to and willing hands soon had them flaunting in the face of the oncoming foe.
Fighting their way back over the field, now lying before you, they reached the seminary, where the last stand was made.
From 11 am you fought upon this ground until 4 pm. Your brigade, with five others, stood face to face and fought to a finish twelve brigades of the enemy. It was 8,500 of the First corps against 20,000 of the enemy, two corps against one, not behind breastworks, but in an open field fight. Your regiment went into the fight with 465 men. You had 162 killed and wounded, with ninety-one missing, a total loss of 253. The corps lost 5,760. The rebels gave their loss as 6,697.
A Page in History
You come together with thinned ranks but undiminished spirit to feed anew the undying flames upon the altar of patriotism. I should not have said your ranks are thinned, for the place of each fallen comrade is filled with a loving memory.
And who can ever forget the faces which never had a chance to grow old and elsewhere gained the prize of immortal youth.
For them there is no shadow of struggle or poverty, no trouble of gray hairs or failing strength, no care of the present nor fear of the future. The unfading light of morning is forever in their eyes, the blessing of a grateful nation hallows their names.
We salute them with loving tears from which the bitterness is gone. We hear their young voices in the clear notes of the bugle and murmur of the fluttering flags.
Our answering hearts cry, “Hail and farewell, young comrades till we meet again.”
Comrades, when the Grand Master of the art of warfare had carried his army to the foot of the Pyramids and was surrounded by an active, vigilant foe, desiring to animate his troops to renewed deeds of valor in the impending battle, he turned to them and pointing to the Pyramids, exclaimed: “Soldiers, forty centuries are looking down upon you!”
Comrades, no voice calls upon you today for renewed deeds of valor. Your work is done, your arms are stacked and your battle flag, rent and torn so oft by shot and shell, is furled.
Ten times forty centuries will not obliterate from the pages of the world’s history the deeds of valor which you and your comrades of the Army of the Potomac performed on the many battlefields whose names cluster around that of Gettysburg.
She Baked the Bread
When Mr. Campbell had finished his address an aged woman appeared on the field and said to Captain DeLacy: “I am the woman who baked bread all night on June 30 for the Union cavalry who camped that night on the McPherson farm.” The little woman did not get away until the “boys” had given her three cheers and elected her to honorary membership in the 1343r Regiment Association.
Captain R. P. Crockett made an address in which he related his experience while in charge of thirty sharpshooters in the battle on July 1. Major E. W. Pearce, of the 107th Pennsylvania, who took part in the engagement on another part of the field also made a brief address. A vote of thanks was extended to Captain DeLacy for the part he had taken in making the reunion a success, and in his closing remarks Captain DeLacy extended his thanks to General Chamberlain and the other speakers, as well as to all the members of the association for attending the reunion.
All the officers of the association were reelected as follows: President, Captain P. DeLacy; Vice-President, Captain R. P. Crockett; Second Vice-President, Charles H. Campbell; Third Vice-President Asa Warner; Treasurer, D. S. Beener; Secretary, J. H. Campbell; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. Catherine Roach (Roche), of this city, the daughter of Captain DeLacy.
The reunion was brought to a close by a song service, led by D. S. Beemer and Major E. W. Pearce.