23rd PA at Mine Run
In late November 1863, Meade attempted to steal a march through the Wilderness and strike the right flank of the Confederate army south of the Rapidan River.
The 23rd PA ,along with the Sixth Corps made thier way through North Central Virginia. After the Gettysburg Campaign and the chasing and skirmishing with Lee's Army, they moved causiously into Virginia. Moving in and around the areas of Centerville, Kelly's Ford, Culpepper and Brandy Station, the 23rd PA found themselves on November 27th at Mine Run, Virginia. They crossed the Rapidan River at Germania Ford which was a half a mile from The Rapidan River. On the 28th they moved to Robinson's Ford and moved to support the First and Second Divisions of the Sixth Corps, charging the enemy at Chancellorsville Pike and driving them back to thier works at Mine Run.
The 23rd Pennsylvania was massed on the edge of a large field with the Sixth Corps at 8 A.M. on the 28th of November. They stayed put until one o clock when they moved, following the Second division, with the first Division being in advance. About one mile southwest of Robinson’s Tavern, they were halted. The march resumed at 4:10 P.M., and they took position on the East Side of Mine Run at Sundown. Pickett’s were thrown out and the Regiment Bivouacked for the night.
On Sunday, November 29th 1863, the Twenty Third Pennsylvania was ordered to the support of Gregg's Calvary.
At 12:30 A.M., The 23rd Pennsylvania received orders from Headquarters of The Sixth Corps to move with their division at 2 A.M., and report to General Warren on The Plank Road. The order was to push through the thick wood in the front to be the signal for the advance for the rest of the line. As the movement began, skirmishers from the second corps were withdrawn from the front without any notice being given.
On Monday the 23rd was assigned to the extreme left of the line with orders to prepare for a charge of the enemys works. The Charge was never made, as General Warren, then Chief of Staff, reported that the works could not be taken. While lying there the 23rd Regiment seen what they had thought to have been several ambulances, but as they drew near, they realized it was rather a masked Battery, when suddenly, they threw off their tarpaulin covers . Three members of the 23rd PA were wounded during that attack.
At 10.45 a.m., December 1, received orders to hold my command in readiness to move at a moment's notice. The division marched at 6 p.m., but was delayed nearly three hours waiting for the passage of the trains and artillery. I crossed the Rapidan with my command at Culpeper Ford at 3.30 a.m., December 2, and halted about 1 mile from the river.
At noon on the 1st, I was ordered to send a strong brigade to report to General Gregg at the old Wilderness Tavern, at the intersection of the turnpike and Germanna plank road. The Third Brigade, Colonel Smith commanding, was detailed for that purpose.
Lying exposed to the cold and without fires on the night of December 1st 1863, the whole Army fell back, the 23rd regiment passing through Chancellorsville, the Gold Mines, and crossing Germania Ford, finally reaching its old camp at Brandy Station which they had been encamped at before the Gettysburg Campaign. A few days later, Col. Ely resigned on account of sickness and wounds and was replaced by Lt. Col. John F. Glenn.
Colonel Smith reported as directed, and rejoined the division on the afternoon of the 2d.
My command moved from its bivouac near Culpeper Ford at 2 p. m., December 2, halted again at 4.30 p.m., resumed the march at 1 a.m., December 3, and reached its present position near Brandy Station at 6 a.m.
In conclusion, I would say that it affords me great pleasure to make honorable mention of the following officers who came under
Johnny Kelly of the 23rd PA, while laying at Brandy Station, said that Harry Barnholt of Company F, got a canteen of Commissary and in order that the boys could not steal it, sat upon it, while he was playing a game of poker. Every time he would take one in the pot he would raide up and take one for good luck. Finally during one time when he got up one of the 23rd men replaced his canteen with one filled with water. Harry who was feeling good because of his win in the game, pulled the canteen up to take a drink and when he found out it was water it broke him and the game up.
“Life of the 23rd Pennsylvania “Birney’s Zouaves” ,William J. Wray 1904, 1999,2004
Research and Studies of Frank P. Marrone Jr.