Sunday, September 10, 2017

The 150th Pennsylvania

The colors of the 150th, on display at the state capitol

The year is 1862. The War of the Southern Rebellion has flooded field after field with blood and the dead. Though volunteers had already been sent from western Pennsylvania, being largely absorbed into the Erie Regiment, they were not the last. President Lincoln had, in May of the previous year, called for additional volunteers to be mustered and organized by their various state governments. One such regiment was the 150th Pennsylvania. The regiment itself was made up of men from across Pennsylvania, but companies C, H, I, and K all hailed from Crawford County. Their commanding officer, Henry S. Huidekoper was also from Crawford County. Though new, this regiment would serve with distinction in some of the most difficult battles of the last years of the war.

General Roy Stone

Both the 150th and the 149th were organized by General Roy Stone. General Stone had already successfully raised and led the famous 13th Pennsylvania Reserve Regiment, otherwise known as the ‘Bucktails’. This name would stick with his new muster, gaining the name the ‘Bucktail Brigade’. The 150th, and the 149th would be joined together in the Second Brigade for most of the war.

Company K

Company K had a special post in that they served as the guard to President Lincoln throughout the war. He enjoyed their company, and even requested that the company remain at this post throughout the war. While Company K defended the president, the rest of the regiment was sent away from manning defenses at Washington to the Pennsylvania Campaign, though they only participated in the last battle of the campaign, Gettysburg.

The 150th Pennsylvania volunteers at 4 P. M., July 1st, 1863, resisting the combined attack of scales's brigade (Hill's Corps), from the west, and Daniel's brigade (Ewell's Corps), from the north.

The Battle of Gettysburg

The first day of the Battle of Gettysburg was a day of valor, loss, and heroism of every kind. The Bucktail Brigade had never seen a true battle before Gettysburg, and even so they matched even the most veteran brigades with their incredible ability and courage. As the afternoon fell on Gettysburg, the Union line had been pushed back, but it was not broken. This is in no small part due to the actions of the Bucktail Brigade and how they steadfastly held the McPherson Farm. The brigade commanders had refused to retreat until the order was given from higher up, and so had held firm under sustained Confederate assault for hours. The brigade defeated several Confederate units so badly that they routed from the field. They even managed to recapture the fallen colors of their sister regiment the 149th Pennsylvania. Even retreat was not free from their heroics, as after finally being ordered to retreat, the regiment saved an artillery battery from being captured and allowed them time to escape.  But as the morning turned to afternoon, the regiment began to pay the price for valor.

Courage did not spare the soldiers of the 150th. Of the 400 men, 43 had been killed, 138 wounded, and 69 captured. Of 17 officers, 12 had been killed, and four captured. Of the two officers remaining, one had been wounded, and thus could not command. Only one officer remained. Even Lieut-Col Huidekoper had been severy wounded, losing an arm due to cannon fire. In addition, the retreat gave the enemy the opportunity to capture the 150th’s colors. The flag of the 150th would be presented to Jefferson Davis and later be returned to Pennsylvania after end of the war.

The Remainder of the War

After Gettysburg, the regiment was a shade of its former self. Over half the regiment’s men were lost in just one day of battle. Their sacrifice had been worth it, as the victory at Gettysburg signaled the beginning of the end for the rebellious South. The 150th would suffer defeats and enjoy victories as the capitulation of the South drew closer and closer. Still, the heroic and harrowing history of the 150th was as colorful as any old regiment, nearly being destroyed after charging through a burning forest, capturing multiple enemy colors and 500 Rebel troops in the last few months of war. Their service to the United States was short, but this country would be remiss if we do not remember such a courageous group of young men that did so much for the preservation of the Union. The regiment was mustered out in June of 1865, though the guards assigned as guards to the president would not be mustered out until after the president’s assassination.


1885. History of Crawford County Pennsylvania. Chicago: Warner, Beers, & Co.

Bates, Samuel, P. History of Pennsylvania volunteers. 1870. 1861-5; prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature. B. Singerly, State Printer.

About the Author

Kyle Dilts is a rising senior at Allegheny College. He is majoring in history and environmental science, and is also a member of the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. Kyle is a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, and has always been fascinated by the history of western Pennsylvania. He is currently an intern at the Crawford County Historical Society where he helps manage the organization’s social media. He hopes that this experience will further his education on the history of western Pennsylvania, and that he will prove to be an asset to the Historical Society.

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