Civil War remembered: Warren boys fought with the 111th

Total enrollment in the 111th Pa. Volunteers was 1,850.

Comprised of men from Erie, Crawford and Warren counties, 322 of that total came from Warren County.

That included the unit’s Lieutenant Colonel – George A. Cobham.

A Civil War Remembrance Weekend is slated for August 1-3 in Warren to celebrate the legacy of the 111th and the 150th anniversary of Cobham’s death at the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

The 111th was mustered into the service in Erie with Cobham appointed Lieutenant Colonel on January 24, 1862.

Between then and the end of the war, the 111th participated in battles as far north as Gettysburg and as far south as Atlanta and with Sherman on his drive to the sea and had a total of 1,850 men serve under its colors.

And everywhere in between, fighting at Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wauhatchie, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Ringgold, Resaca, New Hope Church, Pine Knob, Kenesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, March to the Sea, Savannah and Durham Station when the Confederates surrendered.

The regiment’s first exposure to combat came at Cedar Mountain in August, 1862, which Cobham missed after contracting typhoid fever, which kept him out of action from July until October, 1862.

Samuel P. Bates, in his History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, describes their first engagement.

“The struggle here was desperate ; the fire from his artillery and from the masses of his infantry, being incessant and deadly. The fighting continued from half-past two P. M., until dark, during which time the regiment held its ground, but was finally forced back with the remnants of the line. The regiment was led in the engagement by Major Walker, and lost nineteen killed or mortally wounded, sixty-one wounded, and thirteen missing.”

The regiment would then lose about one-third of its number at the Battle of Antietam in September.

“For the gallantry exhibited in this engagement, and especially for the heroic daring displayed in the charge which cleared the enemy from the grove, where stood the little church, around which was the severest fighting,” Bates wrote. “Colonel Stainrook, the brigade commander, presented the regiment on the field, with a stand of colors. General George S. Greene, commanding the division, in a letter to (Pennsylvania) Governor Curtin, says ‘The One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment behaved gallantly at the battle of Antietam, where I was witness to its good conduct.’ It went into the fight with three hundred muskets, and lost thirty-three killed or mortally wounded, seventy-one wounded, and seven missing.

With Cobham back in the ranks by the time of Gettysburg, the regiment fought on the north end of the Union line in the Culp’s Hill area there.

The inscription on the unit’s memorial at Gettysburg tells of their contribution. “The regiment built these works in the evening of July 2. It was withdrawn with the brigade and, returning during the night, found the enemy in the works. Assisted in repulsing a charge of the enemy at daylight of the 3rd and after seven ours and a half of continuous fighting in which it participated, regained the works and held them until the close of the battle.”

While 1,850 served in the unit, the regiment “carried into action 259 officers and men” at Gettysburg, with five men killed, and 18 total wounded.

After pursuing Lee back into Virginia after Gettysburg, the 111th was then transferred to the army currently engaged at Chattanooga.

Traveling as part of the army commanded by Gen. William T. Sherman on his drive to Atlanta, arrived on the bank of Peach Tree Creek, less than 10 miles from Atlanta on Sept. 19, 1864. “This was crossed before dark, the enemy’s skirmishers being driven from the opposite bluffs-the regiment losing in the charge, one killed and three wounded,” Bates wrote. “A line of works was thrown up, but at noon of the following day, the brigade was moved forward and massed, as was understood, in rear of the First and Second Brigades. At three o’clock P. M., the enemy attacked in full force, and with singular impetuosity. The One Hundred and Eleventh was immediately thrown forward to meet him, and advancing across a ravine, and up the opposite slope, found, on arriving at the summit, its right suddenly enveloped, front, flank, and rear, by the foe, who was advancing through a gap in the line, and was now struggling fiercely for the mastery. Without support, and taken at a great disadvantage, the regiment made a heroic stand, but was finally forced back a short distance, where the line was re-formed and held. The fighting was, for the most part, hand to hand, and very severe.

The unit suffered 18 men killed.

One was Colonel Cobham.

Near the close of the struggle Colonel Cobham fell, mortally wounded, and expired on the field,” Bates wrote. “The loss was seventeen killed and twenty-seven wounded.”

Cobham was awarded a posthumous brevet promotion to the rank of brigadier general on July 19, 1864, predated to before his death.

With the war winding down headed into early 1865, the 111th started on the Carolina Campaign, moving back up through South Carolina and into North Carolina by March.

The 111th then merged but the name stuck.

“The One Hundred and Ninth, and One Hundred and Eleventh Regiments, having served side by side, since the Spring of 1862, at the request of their commanding officers, seconded by the men, were here consolidated, eight hundred and eighty-five strong, as the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment,” Bates wrote. “After the surrender of Johnston, which soon followed, the command moved to Raleigh, and thence, by way of Richmond, to Washington, where it participated in the grand review of the National armies. The regiment was here ordered to report to General Augur, commandant of the city, by whom it was assigned to duty in guarding the Old Capitol, Carroll, and other prisons,and where it remained until the 19th of July, when it was mustered out of service.”

Of the 1,850 that served the 111th throughout the course of the war, casualties totaled 691. That included 144 killed in action, 167 killed by disease, 310 wounded and 70 missing or captured, according to their monument at Gettysburg.