12th West Virginia Infantry

HISTORY

The Twelfth West Virginia Infantry was organized August, 1862, with John B. Klunk, colonel; Robert S. Northcott, lieutenant-colonel; and Francis P. Peirpoint, major. Its early service was performed in West Virginia in scouting, guard duty, etc. In January, 1863, we find the regiment at Winchester, in the Middle Department, Eighth Army Corps, General Milroy’s division. In March, it is a part of Col. Geo. Hay’s brigade, still at Winchester. May 11, it is at Clarksburg in General Roberts’ command. June 1, at Grafton; again at Winchester, June 13 to 15, participating in Milroy’s disastrous defense of that place, when the regiment lost two officers and six enlisted men killed, one officer and 35 wounded. In this engagement Lieut. James R. Durham, of Co. E, while gallantly leading his company in the fight was severely wounded in the right arm and hand.

On June 30, it was at Bloody Run, in Col. L. B. Pierce’s brigade; July 14, at Hagerstown, in Col. A. T. McReynold’s brigade; August 31, at Martinsburg, in General Kelley’s department; September 1, 1863, Colonel Klunk resigned. December 10, at Charlestown, in command of Major Curtis; December 31, in General Sullivan’s division, Col. Geo. B. Well’s brigade; January 26, 1864, Major Curtis promoted to colonel and in command of the regiment at Harper’s Ferry. At New Creek, February 1, opposed to Early’s and Rosser’s advance upon that place. April 1, at Cumberland, in Colonel Thoburn’s brigade, Sigel’s department; April 15, at Webster and Beverly. May 15, at New Market, in the Shenandoah Valley, in the battle between Sigel and Breckinridge, two killed and fifteen wounded. July 18, at Snicker’s Ferry, in Colonel Thoburn’s brigade. July 24 and 25, at Kernstown in General Crook’s command, Div.-Col. Wm. G. Ely’s brigade, two killed, 19 wounded. September 19, at battle of Opequon, Lieutenant-Colonel Northcott commanding brigade. October 19, at battle of Cedar Creek, under General Sheridan, Colonel Curtis commanding brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Northcott commanding regiment. In March, 1865, several West Virginia regiments were transferred to the Army of the Potomac, and were incorporated in the 24th Army Corps. The 12th Regiment was assigned to the 3d Brigade of that corps, under command of Col. William B. Curtis, of the 12th, as brigade commander.

While the brigade was in camp at New Market, Va., eight miles below Richmond, it received orders on the 27th of March to proceed at once to the left of our lines on Hatcher’s Rum, to co-operate in a general movement against the enemy. The advance troops struck the enemy’s lines at the angle where their works began to retire, and crossed Hatcher’s Run, silencing two forts, carrying one of them and the line of works between them by assault. The assault on the 2d of April, upon Forts Whitworth and Gregg, and two or three smaller works, were performed under the immediate observation of General Grant, who in his official report makes mention of the troops engaged. The Third Brigade (Colonel Curtis) captured Fort Whitworth and one or two smaller works, taking a large number of prisoners, whilst the 12th West Virginia Regiment, operating in this brigade, aided in taking Fort Gregg, and distinguished itself for gallantry in the desperate hand-to-hand conflict which the attack on that fort involved. The colors of the 12th West Virginia were the first planted on the works. The gallant color-bearer, Private J. R. Logsdon, of Co. C, was shot dead upon planting the colors there. Several other of the regiment were killed inside the fort, among whom were the gallant Lieut. Joseph Caldwell, of Co. C; Lieut. Josiah M. Curtis, Corporal Andrew Apple, and Private Joseph McCausland, of this regiment; each won from the Government a mark of distinction for their gallantry in this desperate conflict. Maj.-Gen’l John Gibbon, commanding the corps, presented to the regiment a golden eagle for their flagstaff, with the following inscription neatly engraved upon it, viz.: “Presented by Maj.-Gen’l John Gibbon to the 12th W. Va. Volunteer Infantry, for Gallant Conduct in the Assault upon Fort Gregg, April 2, 1865.”

The regiment was mustered out of the service at Burksville, Va., June 16, 1865. The regiment lost during the war, killed and died of wounds, three officers and 56 men; died of disease, 131 men. Total 190.

[Source: Loyal West Virginia 1861-1865, by Theodore Lang]

SERVICE

Organized at Wheeling, W. Va., August 30, 1862. Attached to Railroad District, 8th Army Corps, Middle Dept., to January, 1863. Milroy’s Command, Winchester, Va., 8th Army Corps, to February, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 8th Army Corps, to June, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of the Susquehanna, to July, 1863. McReynolds’ Command, Martinsburg, W. Va., to December, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, West Virginia, to January, 1864. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, West Virginia, to April. 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, West Virginia, to December, 1864. 2nd Brigade, Independent Division, 24th Army Corps, Army of the James, to June, 1865.

SERVICE.–At Buckhannon October, 1862. Wardensville October 16. Moved to Winchester, Va., January, 1863, and duty there till May. At Beverly May. Battle of Winchester June 13-15. Retreat to Harper’s Ferry June 15-17. At Bloody Run, Pa., June 30. At Martinsburg, W. Va., July 14-December 10, 1863. Wells’ demonstration up the Shenandoah Valley December 10-25. At Harper’s Ferry till February 1, 1864. At New Creek till April. At Cumberland, Md., Webster and Beverly April. Sigel’s Expedition from Martinsburg to New Market, Va., April 30-May 16. Rude’s Hill May 14. Battle of New Market May 15. Advance to Staunton May 24-June 6. Piedmont, Mt. Crawford, June 5. Occupation of Staunton June 6. Hunter’s Expedition to Lynchburg June 10-July 1. Near Lynchburg June 14. Diamond Hill June 17. Lynchburg June 17-18. Retreat to Charleston, W. Va., June 18-July 1. Moved to Shenandoah Volley July 12-15. Snicker’s Ferry July 17-18. Battle of Kernstown-Winchester July 23-24. Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign August 6-November 28. Cedar Creek August 12. Strasburg August 15. Berryville September 3. Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19 (guarding 54 trains). Fisher’s Hill September 22 (guarding trains). Duty at Winchester and in the Shenandoah Valley till December. Moved to Washington, D.C., thence to Bermuda Hundred, Va., December 19-23. Duty in trenches before Richmond till March, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Moved to front of Petersburg March 28-29. Hatcher’s Run March 30-31 and April 1. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Rice’s Station April 6. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. March to Lynchburg, Va., April 12-15, thence to Farmville and Burkesville Junction April 15-19, and to Richmond April 22-25. Duty near Richmond till June. Mustered out June 16, 1865.

[Source: Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer]

LOSSES

Regiment lost during service 3 Officers and 56 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 131 Enlisted men by disease. Total 190.

[Source: Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Duncan, Richard R., ed.; “The Leg That Broke Loose: Recollections of the Battle of New Market.” [Neil Alexander, Asst Surg] CW Times Illus 19 (Jan 1981): pp. 43-45.

Fox, John; Confederate Alamo: Bloodbath at Petersburg’s Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865. Angle Valley Press, 2010. 329 pages.

Hewitt, Williams; History of the 12th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry. Charleston, West Virginia: 35th Star Publishing, 2011. 282 pages.

Neil, Alexander; Alexander Neil and the Last Shenandoah Valley Campaign: Letters of an Army Surgeon to his Family, 1864. [Ed by Richard R. Duncan] Shippensburg, PA: White Mane, 1996. 140 p.

12th West Virginia Infantry web site [Linda Cunningham Fluharty]