William J. Reichard, 128th Pennsylvania

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Andy Cardinal

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
2,517
Location
Ohio
1862_-_Pvt_William_J_Reichard.jpg

I was struck by this image when I ran across it online. It is of 20-year-old William J. Reichard of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Reichard "saw the elephant" at Antietam and survived.

The 128th Pennsylvania was a rookie regiment at Antietam. It was recruited in Berks, Bucks, and Lehigh counties and mustered into service as a nine-months regiment on August 16, 1862. A month later, they found themselves in battle as part of the 12th Corps. Colonel Samuel Croasdale was killed almost immediately as the regiment went into action in the East Woods. Overall, the Pennsylvanians lost 26 killed, 86 wounded, and 6 missing.

map_attack_seq_2 (1).gif

Reichard survived Antietam and also Chancellorsville before being mustered out in May. He was a prolific letter writer: he wrote 140 letters home during his service. The letters were later published by the Lehigh Historical Society.

Regarding Antietam, Reichard wrote:

"I cannot describe it to you the way the balls and shells whistled around us, but we drove them back. I never knew that such a continual roar of Musketry and Artillery could be fired off. If one has never been in a battle he can never rightly imagine how it is."

A few days later he wrote:

"Frank Ritter fell, dead in the commencement of the fight. Wilgh. and some others carried him out of the woods. We buried him last evening under a locust tree in the field. If his father wishes to fetch his body I think he better come with Lieut. Miller. We marked his grave with a head board with his name and ref. and residence. I tell you the balls and shell fell thick and fast. Our Col. fell in the beginning of the fight. We were ordered out and did not get together before next morning. The rebels have retreated. I was in one battle and expect to get soon in more but hope by the grace of God Almighty to get through safe again if his will."

Reichard had 10 siblings at home. In a letter to one of his brothers dated October 3, Reichard wrote:

"Allie I can hardly inform you how happy I felt in opening Tillie's letter to find one enclosed from you dear brother. It made me feel that you had not forgotten me 'away down here in Dixy.' I showed your letter to the other boys and they all praised it. ... I am glad to hear that you little boys are still so patriotic ... when you are old enough if necessary you will be fit to 'gird on the armor and be marching along' for our beloved Union. Still as long as you are so young I would advise you to stay at home and not go for drummer boy, for it ain't going to school, but I don't want you to think I complain about the soldiers' life. I only want you to know that that this life would be too hard for either you or Eddie."

@Brian Downey had posted about Reichard on his website here.
 

Andy Cardinal

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
2,517
Location
Ohio
Col. Ignatz Gresser, pictured above, also served in the 128th Pennsylvania. Gresser was born on August 15, 1835, and emigrated to the United States when he was 15. He was a cobbler before enlisting. Gresser was awarded a Medal of Honor for his heroics at Antietam. The citation reads:

"While exposed to the fire of the enemy, carried from the field a wounded comrade."

The man Gresser carried to safety was Cpl. William Henry Sowden, who later served in the U. S. Congress.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
6,924
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
I was struck by this image when I ran across it online. It is of 20-year-old William J. Reichard of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Reichard "saw the elephant" at Antietam and survived.

The 128th Pennsylvania was a rookie regiment at Antietam. It was recruited in Berks, Bucks, and Lehigh counties and mustered into service as a nine-months regiment on August 16, 1862. A month later, they found themselves in battle as part of the 12th Corps. Colonel Samuel Croasdale was killed almost immediately as the regiment went into action in the East Woods. Overall, the Pennsylvanians lost 26 killed, 86 wounded, and 6 missing.


Reichard survived Antietam and also Chancellorsville before being mustered out in May. He was a prolific letter writer: he wrote 140 letters home during his service. The letters were later published by the Lehigh Historical Society.

Regarding Antietam, Reichard wrote:

"I cannot describe it to you the way the balls and shells whistled around us, but we drove them back. I never knew that such a continual roar of Musketry and Artillery could be fired off. If one has never been in a battle he can never rightly imagine how it is."

A few days later he wrote:

"Frank Ritter fell, dead in the commencement of the fight. Wilgh. and some others carried him out of the woods. We buried him last evening under a locust tree in the field. If his father wishes to fetch his body I think he better come with Lieut. Miller. We marked his grave with a head board with his name and ref. and residence. I tell you the balls and shell fell thick and fast. Our Col. fell in the beginning of the fight. We were ordered out and did not get together before next morning. The rebels have retreated. I was in one battle and expect to get soon in more but hope by the grace of God Almighty to get through safe again if his will."

Reichard had 10 siblings at home. In a letter to one of his brothers dated October 3, Reichard wrote:

"Allie I can hardly inform you how happy I felt in opening Tillie's letter to find one enclosed from you dear brother. It made me feel that you had not forgotten me 'away down here in Dixy.' I showed your letter to the other boys and they all praised it. ... I am glad to hear that you little boys are still so patriotic ... when you are old enough if necessary you will be fit to 'gird on the armor and be marching along' for our beloved Union. Still as long as you are so young I would advise you to stay at home and not go for drummer boy, for it ain't going to school, but I don't want you to think I complain about the soldiers' life. I only want you to know that that this life would be too hard for either you or Eddie."

@Brian Downey had posted about Reichard on his website here.


Antietam after battle report:

Report of Maj. Joel B. Wanner, One hundred and twenty-eighth
Pennsylvania Infantry, of the battle of Antietam.

HDQRS. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-EIGHTH PA. VOLS.,
Camp on Maryland Heights, Md., September 23, 1862.
Col. Croasdale, in command of the One hundred and twenty-eighth
Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, having been killed, and
Lieut.-Col. Hammersly so badly wounded as not to be able to attend
to the duties, it becomes my duty as next in command to report to you the
position and part taken by the regiment in the fight on the 17th instant.

Having been ordered under arms before daylight, we were formed in column
of divisions and marched toward the scene of action about 6 o'clock, and
when in front of the enemy Gen. Mansfield commanded the colonel to
deploy his regiment, but as the regiment was new and inexperienced (having
been in existence but five weeks), and being within range of the enemy, who
were concealed in a corn field in front of us, about 60 or 70 yards distant,
thus bringing us under fire immediately, there was much confusion in
accomplishing the movement. Before they could be deployed, in fact very
soon after giving the order, Col. Crosdale was killed by a ball through
the head, and about the same time Lieut.-Col. Hammersly was
wounded in two places in the arm. I endeavored to finish the deployment,
but it being the first time the regiment had been under fire, I found it
impossible to do so in the excitement and confusion. At the suggestion of
Col. Knipe, of the Forty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, I
ordered the regiment to charge into the corn-field and dislodge the enemy,
while the regiment on our right was charging into the woods. They started
off in gallant style, cheering as they move, and penetrated the corn field,
but, in consequence of the overpowering numbers of the enemy concealed,
were compelled to fall back, which they did in tolerable order.

The Forty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Col. Knipe
commanding, were on our left and held their position. I attempted, with the
assistance of Col. Knipe and Lieut.-Col. Selfridge, of the same
regiment, to rally and form my men on their right. While thus employed we
were ordered to fall back to the woods, by order of Gen. Williams, and
another brigade advanced to relieve us.

I desire here to bear testimony to the bravery and gallantry of Col. Knipe
and Lieut.-Col. Selfridge, of the Forty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania
Volunteers, and at the same time thank them for the valuable assistance
rendered myself and the officers under me after the fall of Col. Croasdale.

I have sent in a report of the casualties.*
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

JOEL B. WANNER,
Maj., Commanding.

Col. J. F. KNIPE,
Commanding First Brigade.

Source: Official Records: Series I. Vol. 19. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 27

*****************************************************************************


Chancellorsville, VA after battle report:



No. 266.

Report of Maj. Cephus W. Dyer, One hundred and
twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry.

NEAR STAFFORD COURT-HOUSE, VA.,
May 8, 1863.
SIR: In accordance with orders just received from Gen. Knipe, I have
the honor to offer the following report:

On the morning of April 27, the One hundred and twenty-eighth
Regt. Pennsylvania Volunteers left camp, near Stafford
Court-House, Va., fully equipped, well clad, and in excellent spirits.
Two days afterward it crossed the Rappahannock, near Kelly's Ford,
and continued its march, without obstruction or difficulty of any kind,
until its arrival in the neighborhood of Chancellorsville, on the afternoon
of Thursday, April 30.

About noon on Friday, May 1, the regiment was ordered out of camp,
marched about 2 miles, and placed for one hour under a brisk
cannonading from several rebel batteries.

After returning to camp, the left wing was ordered out on picket duty
during the night.

On the following day, it was employed in throwing up strong
breastworks in front of the camp. Toward evening, the regiment was
ordered out without knapsacks, and a severe battle ensued, continuing
until late at night. Our loss in this engagement was considerable.

At daylight next morning, the battle was renewed, and our regiment
remained under fire until relieved, about 9 a. m. It then crossed the
river at the United States Ford, where the brigade was reorganized, and
ordered to the front next day. Here the men, though greatly fatigued,
were made to work on fortifications all night and a part of the next day.

On Wednesday, May 6, the regiment recrossed the river with the whole
army.

In all the engagements and extreme fatigue the men behaved bravely,
and performed all their duties without murmuring or complaint. Within
our knowledge there was not a single instance of skulking or rank
cowardice. Their conduct was highly commendable, well sustaining the
high reputation gained at Antietam.

Our total loss was severe, amounting in all to 225 officers and men.*
Among them we with deep regret report our colonel, lieutenant-colonel,
and 9 of the line officers. Most of the missing are supposed to be taken
prisoners.

The regiment returned to Stafford Court-House greatly fatigued, stripped
of clothing, with arms and accouterments, ammunition, &c., much
damaged by the inclemency of the weather, and many of them sick from
continued exposure.

C. W. DYER,
Maj. One hundred and twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Capt. A. B. JUDD,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Source: Official Records Series I. Vol. 25. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 3
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
4,159
One of the Confederate units faced by the 128th at Antietam was Ripley's Brigade, which included the 3rd North Carolina Infantry, where my avatar Lt. George W. Ward served.

Author John Michael Priest wrote about the exchange in his book Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle. See https://books.google.com/books?id=IKi9AwAAQBAJ&pg=PT153&lpg=PT153&dq=128th+Pennsylvania+Antietam+North+Carolina&source=bl&ots=k4InDpS6X8&sig=ACfU3U3Nz7ubCUHYy_4seaoDaWMuYMm4dw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjx7oeD_ZzmAhXHt1kKHeviAYcQ6AEwBXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=128th Pennsylvania Antietam North Carolina&f=false.

Lt. Ward was wounded in the battle, and it may have been the rifle fire from the 128th that did the damage. In any event, the 128th was at least partially responsible for the heavy casulaties (about 50 percent) taken by the 3rd NC on that day.
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top