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          23rd Pennsylvania

A Historical Timeline of the

23rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment "Birney's Zouaves"

The 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteers, "Birney's Zouaves" lost 5 officers and 110 enlisted men, killed or mortally wounded and 3 officers and 70 enlisted men to disease. A total of 188. The 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteers, "Birney's Zouaves" are memorialized by a monument at Gettysburg .


Timeline of the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment (3 Month Volunteers)

April 12, 1861

Men in The city of Philadelphia receive news posted on bulletin boards throughout the city that The Confederate State of South Carolina fired upon Fort Sumter officially starting the American Civil War. Over the next few days, thousands of men would scramble to begin to form regiments as President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion. Men who would become the 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteers, Three Month Regiment began their thoughts of enlistment. These men would be amongst the first to enlist to preserve the Union of the United States.

April 13, 1861

Col. Charles P. Dare and Lt. Col. David Bell Birney, meet at Birney's Philadelphia Law Office to discuss the recruiting of a Regiment of volunteers. They draft a letter to be wired to Harrisburg, to Gov. Curtain,which would answer the call for 75,000 Volunteers that President Lincoln would ask for tomorrow. As War fever begins to spread across the city and Nation, Birney and Dare take full advantage of the situation by acting swiftly wile emotions run high.

April 15, 1861

Birney sees Lincolns call for 75,000 troops on bulletin board in city and begins recruitment.

April 16, 1861

Birney and Dare meet at Birney's Law Office and select Officers for the 23rd PA.

April 17, 1861

After Birney and Dare hear back from Harrisburg via telegram, they choose a location for recruitment and men who will be officers of the new regiment.

April 18 - 21, 1861

Men are Recruited in Philadelphia at the Arsenal, with many members coming from the 1st Pennsylvania Militia. After only three days recruitment the regiment was full and ready for service. In the meantime Birney quarters and feeds The New Regiment at his own expense until te volunteers can be Officially mustered in to US service.

April 21 1861

Mustered in for three months service as the 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, under Colonel Charles P. Dare, Lieutenant Colonel David Birney, and Major George C. Spear. Encamped at Camp Union in Philadelphia.


Moved to Perryville and duty by detachments along Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, with four companies at Perryville, two at Havre-de-Grace, two at Elkton, one at Bush river, and one at Gunpowder river. The Elkton post was commanded by Major W. T. Sherman, whose battery was under Colonel Dare's orders.

April 22, 1861

Established "Camp Dare", also known as "Camp Reilly" on The north bank of the Susquaanna River in Havre De Grace. Pvt. Amos Hansell writes a letter home explaining life in the early days camp.

May 28, 1861

Relieved by the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry and moved by rail to Chambersburg , Pa. Attached to Geo. H. Thomas' Brigade, 1st Division, Patterson's Army

June 6, 1861 1861

March to Greensburg

June 15, 1861

Crossed Potomac and advanced on Martinsburg Road

June 16-24, 1861

At Williamsport

June 25, 1861,

At Downsville

July 2, 1861

Recrossed the Potomac, and engaged the enemy at Falling Waters

July 3, 1861

Occupation of Martinsburg

July 15, 1861

Advance on Bunker Hill

July 17, 1861

Moved to Charlestown, then to Harper's Ferry.

July 29, 1861

Returned to Philadelphia

July 31, 1861

Mustered out

Timeline of the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment (3 Year Volunteers)

August, 1861

Three years regiment recruited. Colonel Dare was forced to resign due to illness, and died some time later.

August 31, 1861

Organized at Philadelphia for three years service under Colonel David Birney, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Wilhelm and Major George Spear. Fifteen companies were formed, accompanied by two vivandieres and a band of 36 musicians.

September 1861

Ordered to Washington, D.C. Attached to Buell's (Couch's) Division, Army of the Potomac and duty in the Defenses of Washington.

September 7, 1861

Arrives at "Camp Sprague" Washington, D.C. for the Defenses of Washington.

September 8, 1861

Transferred to Camp Graham , four miles north of Washington on the "Queen's Farm".

December 1861

One officer and fifty men die of Typhoid Fever in camp.

February 10, 1862

Ordered to Washington, D.C. Attached to Buell's (Couch's) Division, Army of the Potomac and duty in the Defenses of Washington.

February 20, 1862

Regiment is moved to the "Camp Clark" on better ground near Bladensburg, MD.

March 1862

Attached to 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac

March 3, 1862

Ordered Leave Camp Clark and Leave Tents behind.

March 11,1862

Major Spear resigned to become lieutenant colonel of the 61st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment

March 10-15, 1862

Advance on Manassas, Va.

March 26, 1862

Marched to Alexandria and embarked on steamer Vanderbilt for the Virginia Peninsula

April 4, 1862

Warwick River

The 23rd lost one man, the regiment's first casualty.

April 5-May 4 1862

Siege of Yorktown

May 5, 1862

Battle of Williamsburg

The regiment was in reserve but lost five men wounded to artillery fire.

May 20-23, 1862

Operations about Bottom's Bridge

May 23, 1862

Reconnaissance toward Richmond

May 31-June 1, 1862

Battle of Fair Oaks

The regiment lost 7 officers and 136 men in heavy fighting, including three color bearers; Lieutenant Colonel John Ely was severely wounded and Colonel Neill had his horse shot under him.

June 30, 1862

White Oak Swamp and Charles City Cross Roads

At White Oak Swamp the regiment lost 14 casualties, having been split into two wings, one under Colonel Neill and the other under Captain John F. Glenn.


The next day the regiment lost 2 killed and 30 wounded after spending thirteen hours under fire on the skirmish line.

July 1, 1862

Battle of Malvern Hill

July 1862

At Harrison's Landing; attached to 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps.

July 20, 1862

Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm resigned

August 5-7, 1862

Reconnaissance to Malvern Hill under the command of Major Glenn, as Colonel Neill was in temporary command of a brigade.

August 16-30, 1862

Movement to Alexandria via steamer City of Richmond (which towed a transport moving the 61st Pennsylvania) then a forced march to Chantilly

September 1, 1862


The regiment suffered five casualties.

September 1862

Maryland Campaign. Attached to 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac

September 2,1862

The regiment rested at Alexander for a few hours, then crossed the Chain Bridge to Washington and left town on the Harpers Ferry Road.

September 11-24, 1862

Guard Potomac from White's Ford to Nolan's Ferry during battles of South Mountain and Antietam as part of an independent brigade under the command of Colonel Thomas H. Neill.

September 15, 1862

White's Ford. Company "B" captured at Nolin's Ford by Colonel White's Command. A party of 24 men of the regiment and nine men from the 2nd Rhode Island Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Garsed of Company B were captured when they crossed to the Virginia side of the Potomac to attempt to bring in arms supposedly secreted in a barn.

September 22, 1862

Lt. Colonel Ely returns from recovering from his Fair Oaks wound, and the regiment receives a new stand of colors,a gift of the ladies of Philadelphia.

September 24, 1862

Moved to Downsville and picket duty on the Potomac

October 1862

Attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps

November 1-19, 1862

Movement to Falmouth, Va.

December 12-15, 1862

Battle of 1st Fredericksburg

The regiment was under the command of Major Glenn, as Colonel Neill had been recently promoted to brigadier general. The regiment was massed for the final charge but it was cancelled, and only suffered two casualties.


Lieutenant Colonel Ely returned from a temporary absence to resume command, and was commissioned colonel to date from the 13th. Major John F. Glenn was promoted to lieutenant colonel.

January 20-24, 1863

"Mud March"


At Falmouth

April 27-May 61863

Chancellorsville Campaign.

April 29-May 21863

Operations at Franklin's Crossing. the brigade carried pontoon boats for the crossing two miles on their backs to prevent the noise of their wheels from being heard by the Confederates.

May 31863

Battle of 2nd Fredericksburg

One wing of the regiment deployed under Lieutenant Colonel Glenn in a successful feint to feel Confederate positions on Marye's Heights, losing 16 men. In the charge that followed the 23rd was intended to be in reserve, but it spontaneously joined the charge and took the place of another regiment which broke. The 23rd carried the Confederate works, losing 6 killed and 27 wounded.

May 3-41863

Salem Heights and Banks' Ford

The regiment sustained light losses supporting Maxhammer's Battery and in the withdrawal back across the river. Total casualties for the entire campaign were 71 killed and wounded and two captured.

June 6-131863

Operations about Deep Run Ravine

June 16 1863

The regiment marched 18 miles in extreme heat, the division losing 22 men to sunstroke, six of whom died.

June 30 1863

The regiment reaches Westminster via Poolesville and New Market

July 1 1863

Orders were received at 8 in the evening to join the fighting at Gettysburg, and the corps set off at once, cheering and singing, arriving at the field at 2 p.m. on the 2nd after a march of over 30 miles without halt or rest.

July 2-41863

Battle of Gettysburg

The regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John F. Glenn, and brought 538 men to the field.


From the monument: "About 9 p.m.of July 1, (the regiment) marched from Manchester thirty-seven miles reaching the field about 2 p.m. on July 2. Coming into position about 5 p.m. with Shaler's Brigade, near Little Round Top on morning of July 3. Ordered to Culp's Hill, where it remained until ordered to support of left centre. Started in pursuit of Lee July 5."


"The Regiment was placed in reserve in rear of this position at 9:30 a.m. of the 3rd, and subsequently five companies advanced into the breast-works. During the heavy cannonade it moved with the brigade to support the 'left center'."


"Loss in the action- two officers and twenty-nine enlisted men killed and wounded."


Captain John B. Fassett of Company F earned the Medal of Honor on July 2 when, acting as an aide, he voluntarily led a regiment to the relief of a battery and recaptured its guns from the enemy.

July 5 1863

The regiment was detailed for picket duty at Fairfield, capturing 83 prisoners.

July 9 1863

The regiment support the cavalry on the skirmish line.

July 10-11 1863

Engaged with Confederates near Funkstown .

July 19 1863

Crossed the Potomac at Berlin after being supplied with clothing.

July 20-21 1863

Proceeded to Warrenton via Manassas Gap

August 15 1863

Ordered to the mouth of the north fork of the Rappahannock on picket duty

August 17 1863

Returned to Warrenton, where the regiment was reinforced by 146 drafted men.

September 2 1863

Colonel Ely rejoined the regiment and resumed command.

October 9-22 1863

Bristoe Campaign

November 7-8 1863

Advance to line of the Rappahannock

November 7 1863

Rappahannock Station (Reserve)

November 26-December 2 1863

Mine Run Campaign

The regiment lost 1 killed and 7 wounded.

December 6 1863

Colonel Ely resigned due to his wounds and sickness. Lt. Colonel Glenn was commissioned colonel and assumed command of the regiment. Major William Wallace became lieutenant colonel, and Captain Henry Rees was promoted to major.

December 1863

The regiment received a new stand of colors bearing the names of the regiment's battles, as well as six hundred pairs of woolen gloves, the benefit of a Philadelphia ball given in the regiment's benefit. Ear warmers were also received from patriotic ladies in Bucks County.

December 30 1863

Regiment reenlisted; Veterans proceeded on furlough to Philadelphia under Colonel Glenn.

January 6 1864

Balance of regiment under Major Wallace moved via Wheeling and Sandusky to Johnson's Island , Lake Erie, Ohio (marching across the ice to the island) to guard Rebel Prisoners.

February 11 1864

Veterans rejoin from furlough and rejoin the regiment at Johnson's Island .

May 9-13 1864

Moved to Washington, D.C. then to Belle Plains; attached to 4th Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, guarding Rebel Prisoners and processing them for distribution to Federal prison camps, and escorting a five hundred wagon supply train to the front.

May 23-June 12 1864

Rapidan Campaign

May 23-26 1864

North Anna River, destroyed the line of the Virginia Central Railroad

November 26-28 1864

After a forty mile march rejoined the army on line of the Pamunkey.

May 28-31, 1864

The regiment was on the skirmish line, losing two men.

June 1 1864

Battle of

Cold Harbor

The regiment charged five hundred yards across open ground, and fought for twenty-five minutes in the Confederate works, but were forced to withdraw fifty yards, at which point they entrenched.

The 23rd suffered heavy losses in this short time: 4 officers and 71 enlisted men killed, 5 officers and 111 enlisted men wounded, and 3 men captured, including Captain Henry Marchant, Lieutenants James Johnson, John D. Boyd and James G. Williamson.

June 2 1864

Major Wallace and five other men were wounded and three men killed during the heavy sharpshooting. The regiment expanded its rifle pits and entrenchments and spent the next several days in close trench warfare.

June 16 1864

After extensive marching and counter-marching, the regiment arrived at the arm of ex-President Tyler on the James River and embarked on the steamer Cauliflower for Bermuda Hundred.

June 19 1864

Crossed the Appomattox and attempted to push into Petersburg, losing ten men.

June 22-23 1864

At Petersburg ,Ream's Station, Weldon Railroad

June 25 1864

Siege of Petersburg

July 9-11 1864

Moved to Washington, leaving the trenches and marching to City Point, where the regiment embarked on the steamer Eastern States.

July 11-12 1864

Arrived at the Arsenal Wharf in Washington and immediately marched to Fort Stevens, where it formed skirmish line in front of the works.

July 14-18 1864

Snicker's Gap Expedition; marched to Poolesville, crossed the Potomac at White's Ford, and proceeded via Leesburg to Snicker's Gap.

July 1864

Operations in Shenandoah Valley; attached to 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Corps, Army of the Shenandoah. Returned to Washington, passing again through Leesburg and crossing the Chain Bridge, but then was ordered to return to the Shenandoah, and marched via Rockville, Centreville, Knoxville and Sandy Hook, arriving in Harpers Ferry on the 29th. After a march to Halltown, the regiment returned to Frederick, Maryland.

August 7 1864

Recrossed the Potomac and marched through Halltown, Berryville and Winchester to Cedar Creek.

August 21

Charlestown. Ordered home for muster out. Veterans and Recruits transferred to 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry

September 8, 1864

Mustered out at Philadelphia.

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