45th Infantry, United States Colored Troops

HISTORY

There were 212 men mustered into the service of the United States, to the credit of the State of West Virginia, and assigned to the 45th Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops.
[Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of West Virginia for the year ending December 31, 1865]

This regiment was formed from troops accredited to Pennsylvania, and assembled at Camp William Penn, during the summer of 1864.  Early in July, and when only four companies were full, the enemy under General Early, advanced into Maryland, and approaching Washington, assumed a threatening attitude.  These four companies were, accordingly, hurried away to the Capital, under command of Captain Wilhelm Von Bechtold, and were assigned to a provisional brigade, commanded by General Casey, in charge of the defenses of the city.  By him they were placed on garrison duty at Arlington Heights, where they remained until the middle of March, 1865.  They were on duty in the city on the occasion of the second inauguration of President Lincoln, the only colored troops in the procession.

In the meantime, the remaining six companies were organized at Camp William Penn, and a regimental organization was effected with the following field officers: Ulysses Doubleday, Colonel; Edward Thorn, Lieutenant Colonel; James T. Bates, Major.  On the 20th of September, these companies, under command of Major Bates, proceeded to City Point, where they were assigned to duty in the Tenth Corps, commanded by General Birney, then occupying a position in front of Petersburg.  Soon after the arrival of the command, the Tenth Corps was sent to the north side of the James River, with which it took part in the engagements of the 29th and 30th of September, and the 1st of October, at Fort Harrison.  On the 8th, it was placed in the Second Brigade, commanded by Colonel Doubleday, of the Third Division commanded by General William Birney.  On the 13th, it participated in the action at Darbytown Road, and on the 27th at Charles City Cross Roads.  It was soon afterwards placed in winter quarters, and until the opening of the spring campaign, was engaged in fatigue and picket duty, in front of Fort Harrison.

Upon the formation of the Twenty-Fifth Corps, it was assigned to the Second Brigade, of the Second Division, and on the 11th of March, Colonel Doubleday was promoted to Brigadier General.  The four companies which had been on duty in the defenses of Washington, were, on the 14th of March, 1865, united with the other companies at the front.  On the 26th, the corps was reviewed by President Lincoln and General Grant, and on the following day crossed the James, for active duty with the Army of the Potomac.  With the forces of that army, the regiment participated in the fighting at Hatcher’s Run, and in that before Petersburg, on 30th, and 1st and 2nd of April, losing in the engagements, one killed and eleven wounded, and entering Petersburg with the victorious forces on the 3rd.  With the corps, it joined in the pursuit of the Rebel Army, passing through Burkesville, and Farmville, to Appomattox Court House, where it was present at the capitulation on the 9th.

In May, it was sent with General Weitzel’s forces to Texas, and was stationed at Edinburg, on the Mexican frontier.  On the 8th of September, it was ordered to Brownsville, where it was mustered out of service on the 4th of November, and returning to Philadelphia, was paid and discharged at Camp Cadwalader, on the 13th of December.

[Source: History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, by Samuel P. Bates]

SERVICE

Organized at Philadelphia, Pa., June 13 to August 19, 1864. Moved to Washington, D.C. (4 Cos.), July, 1864. Attached to Provisional Brigade, Casey’s Division, 22nd Corps, and garrison duty at Arlington Heights, Va., till March, 1865. Rejoined Regiment at Chaffin’s Farm, Va., March 14, 1865. Six Companies moved to City Point, Va., September 20, 1864. Attached to 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Corps, Army of the James, to December, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 25th Corps, and Dept. of Texas, to November, 1865.

SERVICE.–Demonstration on north side of the James River and battle of Chaffin’s Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30, 1864. Fort Harrison September 29. Darbytown Road October 18. Battle of Fair Oaks October 27-28. In trenches before Richmond till March, 1865. Moved to Hatcher’s Run March 27-28. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Hatcher’s Run March 29-31. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Duty at Petersburg and City Point till May. Moved to Texas May and June. Duty at Edinburg on Mexican Frontier till September 8, and at Brownsville, Texas, till November. Mustered out November 4, 1865.

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

LOSSES

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bates, Samuel P.; History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot, 1993. Vol. 10, pp. 1106-24.

Sauers, Richard A.; Advance the Colors!: Pennsylvania Civil War Battle Flags. Vol. 1. Hbg, PA: Capitol Preservation Comm, 1987.  See p. 56 for a brief unit history with emphasis on the regimental flags.

Taylor, Frank H.; Philadelphia in the Civil War. Phila: By the City, l9l3. E527.97P54T39.  See p. 194 for a brief history of the unit.