Bucktail Regiment Famous in Civil War
This information was received
from the Potter County Library
From the book entitle Historical Sketches of Potter County
When the war of the Rebellion began, the echo of the guns at
Sumter had only just ceased and the call to arms for the defense of the Union was
resounded over hill and dale of Potter County. The patriotic riflemen, who had been
nurtured and trained as farmers and lumbermen, began to answer the call.
These men hastily mustered, went on foot and by spells on rafts toward Harrisburg. This mode of travel was slow but at the time was the best attainable. However, on reaching the State Capital, they were officially turned back by being told that the quota for Pennsylvania was filled. Some came home and joined the army later while others found their chance for service elsewhere. It was hardly possible at the time to enumerate those who went, for all during the war men and boys were enlisted in Pennsylvania regiments and those from the northern border went into New York State regiments.
The first recruiting in Potter County was accomplished by Colonel Thomas Kane who, within a week's time, enlisted 100 volunteers. Kane's recruits were first organized as the "McKean County Rifles" but just before the group departed for Harrisburg one of the members spied a deer hide hanging outside a butcher shop. He cut off the tail and stuck it in his hat.
The sight of the buck's tail on the cap sparked the idea in the mind of Col. Kane to christen his outfit "The Bucktails." Thus the bucktails became the symbol of one of the most noted regiments to serve the Union. One Potter County boy wrote home for a supply of bucktails which he sold to his buddies for a quarter apiece.
The 46th Pennsylvania Volunteers had two of its companies from Potter County. The 53rd had one company and the 149th had two more companies. Two New York regiments attracted many Potter County volunteers. These were the 64th and the 85th Infantry. The battle flags of these regiments are mute witnesses of the valor of our soldiers.
The 46th Regiment was formed in April 1861, responding to the Governor's call to defend the Capital. Companies G and H were recruited within Potter County and assembled at Camp Curtin to be mustered into service during September 1861. This regiment saw action throughout the war, first being used to pursue Stonewall Jackson, later at Gettysburg and with Sherman in Georgia.
Later in 1861, Company G of the 53rd Regiment was formed and became a part of McClellan's Army suffering heavy casualties at Fair Oaks, Gaines' Mills and Malvern Hill. They also fought at Antietam Creek, Frederickburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and were near the front when the Confederacy surrendered.
The 149th or New Bucktails was recruited in this district and reached the front just in time to participate in the Chancellorsville Campaign in April of 1863. They were also very effective at Gettysburg where losses were so heavy that the fall and winter were used to recruit replacements who entered the Wilderness Campaign in May 1854. From then until December 1864 when the regiment was detached to guard the prison camp at Elmira, N.Y., they were engaged in many battles and skirmishes.
Company D, 85th New York Infantry attracted a lager number of recruits from Potter County than any other New York regiment. Most of the Company was captured at Plymouth, N.C., April 16, 1864, and were sent to Andersonville Prison where nearly all died.
Potter County men and boys were also represented in other Pennsylvania and New York regiments. The total number to serve in the Civil War from Potter County is not Known but it has been estimated that one-seventh of the entire population served the Union forces. The Civil War monument on the Court House lawn lists the names of 318 soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice. Only two townships are not represented on the monument.
During the Spanish American War in 1898 the county again sent its boys to war. This time, because of the shortness and nature of the war, the number was not as great but soldiers from this County were among the first to march ashore in Cuba.
World War I and World War II both took practically every able bodied man into the armed forces. During the Second World War, men from Potter fought in every theatre of operation suffering many casualties. The Korean and Viet Nam conflicts both took boys from our midst, some never to return to their homes.
For obvious reasons, Potter County did not participate in the Revolution or the War of 1812, but some veterans of these wars and their descendents settled here and developed our forests, farmlands and villages for our later generations. These later generations have not been hesitant to perform their duty when the nation has issued a call to soldiers in times of national danger.
"THE AMERICAN'S CREED"
I believe in the United Stated of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the government; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, quality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my county to love it, to support its constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
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