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|204th Regt (5th HA) History|
This regiment was principally recruited in the county of Allegheny, though considerable numbers were from the counties of Lawrence, Beaver, Cambria, Westmoreland, Armstrong, and Greene. Recruiting was commenced in August, 1864, the men rendezvousing at Camp Reynolds, near Pittsburg, where, on the 10th of September, an organization was effected by the selection of the following field officers: George S. Gallupe, formerly Major in the Eighth Reserve Regiment, Colonel; Joseph Browne, formerly Major of the One Hundred and Second Pennsylvania Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel; Michael Baer, Howard Morton, and George M. Irwin, Majors. Soon after its organization, it was ordered to Washington, and upon its arrival, was assigned to duty in the forts north of the Capitol. On the 28th, the regiment was sent out to cover the construction trains engaged in opening the Manassas Gap Railroad, and was posted by battalion along the line, the government purposing to make it the line of supply for Sheridan's army, then in the Shenandoah Valley.
The First Battalion, under command of Major Morton, which was in rear of the other two, while at Salem, was suddenly attacked at noon of the 8th of October, by a superior force of Moseby's command, consisting of cavalry and artillery. Line of battle was formed, and details from the several companies were thrown out as skirmishers, but the enemy showing superior strength and opening with artillery, it was deemed prudent not to give battle, and the battalion began slowly to retire towards Rectortown, where the other battalions, under Lieutenant Colonel Browne, were stationed. Moseby followed closely, and in the progress of the movement, succeeded in cutting off and capturing Lieutenants Hay and Miltenberger, and twenty men of the skirmish company. On the 10th, Moseby took position on a hill, overlooking the ground which the regiment occupied at Rectortown, and opened a hot fire with his artillery, hoping thereby to prepare the way for a successful charge, and the capture of the trains and engines employed in re-constructing the road. The trains, however, being shielded by cuts of the road-bed, sustained no damage, and only three or four men in the regiment were killed and wounded. When this fire had been kept up about two hours, an advance on Moseby's front was made by one battalion, while a detachment of sharp-shooters was sent by a detour, to approach secretly and pick off the gunners. Discovering the movement, Moseby withdrew, and took position on an eminence three miles away. On the following day, the regiment was ordered to return with the trains to White Plains. The enemy at once gave chase, and having destroyed the track in several places, made preparations for vigorous work. Leaving the First Battalion at Rectortown, and placing the Second in front, and the Third in rear of the train, with skirmishers thrown out, the command moved forward. Two miles out, a bridge was found destroyed, compelling the train to stop at a point where it could be easily raked by the enemy, from a hill six hundred yards to the right and rear, which he designed to occupy; but the skirmishers of the regiment reached a position commanding it first, and when his advance appeared, poured in so hot a fire from their Sharp's rifles, that it compelled him to retire, and to move over to the head of a ravine down which he had intended to point his artillery. The troups in charge of the trains were, however, advised of this in time to save them from exposure. Skirmishing was kept up while the road was being repaired, but by skillful dispositions, the enemy was prevented from gaining any advantage. Near Salem, the road was again found broken, but a battalion of the Two Hundred and Second had, in the meantime, come up and taken position on an eminence commanding the road, and held the enemy in check, who was thereby prevented from gaining any favorable position for his artillery. On the following day, Moseby retired with his artillery to the mountain, and the Second and Third battalions moved back to Rectortown. A few days later, these battalions, under Lieutenant Colonel Browne, proceeded to Piedmont, to which point the railroad had been completed. A favorite pastime with Moseby had been to waylay trains, and throw them from the track when under full headway. As a means of protection, a number of prominent rebel citizens living along the line, were placed upon the trains, and for several weeks were kept riding up and down the road. This precaution had the desired effect, and the trains made their trips without molestation. A few weeks after arriving at Piedmont, two companies of this regiment, with a squadron of the Thirteenth New York Cavalry, moved by night into the mountains and succeeded in capturing Moseby's artillery, four pieces and caissons, and several prisoners, and brought them safely into camp at daylight. One of the guns, a twelve-pounder, had been presented to Moseby by General Early.
Shortly after the battle of Cedar Creek, the regiment returned to the forts north of Washington, tearing up and bringing away, in conjunction with other troops, the material of the road, as it came. In this position it remained but a few days, when it was again ordered to Virginia, and was posted for the winter as follows: The First Battalion, under Major Baer, at Prospect Hill, on the pike leading from Chain Bridge to Leesburg; the Second Battalion, under Major Irwin, at Vienna, on the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad, and here was established the headquarters of the regiment; the Third Battalion, under Captain Kent, subsequently Major Hope, who had succeeded Major Morton, at Fairfax Court House. The regiment was engaged during the winter, in building immense stockades and block-houses, and the usual drill and picket duty. Expeditions were also sent out in the spring of 1865, to the Bull Run battle ground, where burying parties were for some time employed in interring the dead of the Second Bull Run battle, whose bodies had laid uncared for since the date of the battle. Nearly two thousand were buried, and monuments were erected over their graves. In June, the regiment was ordered to Pittsburg where it was received with imposing demonstrations, and where on the 30th, it was mustered out of service.
|Source: Bates, Samuel P., History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5 (Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer. 1871)|