Description

    Journal of the 77th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Recorded by William A. Robinson. Ledger measuring 7.25" x 11.75", 182 pages (85 pages blank), in the hand of Captain (and later Lieutenant Colonel) William Andrew Robinson, the last commanding officer of the regiment, with pages 1 through 68 covering activities of the 77th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment from October 18, 1861 through April 24, 1865, and pages 72 through 84 covering activities from June 17, 1865 through September 4, 1865; pages 156 through 169 contain a list of casualties of the regiment from the October 1861 to April 28, 1865. Robinson's signature is on the front flyleaf of the journal.

    The journal is arranged into three columns for the date, description of activity, and for distance traveled or marched. The first entry, dated October 18, 1861, recorded that the 77th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry "left Camp Wilkins Pittsburgh Penna. On Friday Octo 18th 1861, and the same evening embarked on a Steamboat on the Monongahela river." This initial entry is followed, for the most part, by daily accounts of varying lengths of the regiment's movements and activities to April 25, 1865 and then from mid-June to early December 1865. After departing from Pittsburgh the regiment moved to Kentucky and then on to Tennessee, where it saw action at the Battle of Shiloh on April 7. The journal entry for April 6 recorded the regiment's arrival near the scene of the battle. "On Sunday, April 6th the troops had marched but two or three miles when heavy cannonading was heard in the distance. Orders were at once issued to fill cartridge boxes, and Haversacks and to march with no baggage except blankets. Marched rapidly and arrived at Savannah about midnight. Found all the houses converted into Hospitals for our wounded. Remained standing in a pelting rain until morning." On April 7, the second day of the bloody battle, this entry was recorded: "at 4 A.M. the Reg't embarked on the Steamer 'Crescent City' and soon disembarked at Pittsburgh Landing eight miles from Savannah. The boats at the landing were covered with wounded. The rain of the previous night had rendered the banks very slippery so that ascent was difficult. The knapsacks were left under guard and the Regt. moved to the scene of action, and was placed in reserve. The enemy fire was too high to do much execution. The Regt. was soon ordered to the left to guard against a flank movement by the enemy, when cavalry threatened that part of our line. The cavalry was easily repulsed, and the woods soon cleared of the enemy's skirmishers. The loss of the Reg't was very small...the Reg't returned to the Landing and bivouacked in the mud and rain."

    Entries covering May 27 through June 6, 1862 relate to the regiment's activities in the siege of Corinth. "On Tuesday May 27th 1862 the Regt advanced and bivouacked just outside the entrenchments. On the 28th there was heavy skirmishing and at night the Reg't was engaged in throwing up works. Early on the morning of Friday May 30th heavy explosions were heard in the direction of Corinth. The line at once advanced throwing out skirmishers. The rebel works were found deserted. Returned to camp next day, and on June 6th reentered Corinth and encamped near the rebel works."

    At the end of December 1862 the 77th joined the Army of the Cumberland under General Rosecrans and participated in the advance on Murfreesboro and saw action in the Battle of Stones River from December 31 to January 2, 1863. The entries beginning on December 30 describe the regiment's role in the engagement.

    December 30: "Advanced in order of battle. The enemy's skirmishers disputed the ground manfully but were gradually forced back. The Regt was on picket during the night. The camp fires of the enemy were plainly visible. The Reg't was on the left of the Division and joined on the right of [Brigadier General Jefferson C.] Davis Division. The Corps was the extreme Right of the Army and the line was very much extended. "December 31: "On Wednesday December 31st the battle of Stones river began in earnest. The Reg't was under arms at A.M. At daybreak the enemy, who had massed his troops for the attack, moved upon the attenuated line of the 20th Army Corps. The attack though gallantly met, was unresistable [sic] and many Regiments were completely routed, losing their distinctive organizations. Fortunately the Reg't was not taken by surprise but presented at all times an unbroken front to the enemy....At length a stand was made near the R.R. which checked, and repulsed the enemy. From that moment the fragments of the Corps began to re-unite. The contest became more equal and finally dwindled down to skirmishing. The Regt was on Picket at night." January 1: "The New Year dawned cold, and cheerless. A breastwork of rails was hastily constructed. The enemy's sharpshooters annoyed the troops, and his artillery essayed to shell the woods but the Batteries of the Union Army invariably silenced them. The enemy finding all further attempts on the Right futile turned his attention to other parts of the field. On the center and left of the line the firing was continuous, occasionally heavy. The weather continued wet and gloomy." January 2: "On Friday Jan 2nd the enemy made a determined assault on the center but were repulsed with great slaughter. The cannonading was very heavy and the musketry swelled into a wonderful volume of sound." January 3: "On Saturday Jan. 3rd 1863 the enemy made a final attack, and failing in his assault retreated under cover of darkness."

    In late September 1863 the 77th Pennsylvania participated in the Battle of Chickamauga. One can follow the activities of the regiment through the entries of September 19 and 20. September 19: "Marched rapidly towards the left of Gen'l [George H.] Thomas' Corps. The firing becoming more and more heavy as the Division advanced further to the left. As soon as Thomas' Corps unmasked the Division was deployed in order of battle, and at once went into action. The enemy were compelled to give way and the pursuit was kept up over half a mile. The cannonading, and musketry was very heavy. The largest trees in the forest were leveled by the canon shot. The Division unfortunately advanced too far, and when night came on there was an extensive gap in the line between [Brigadier General Richard W.] Johnson's Division -to which the 77th Regt was attacked -and the Division on the right-[Brigadier General John M.] Brannan's. Not only was the that Division a considerable distance to the right but it was far to the rear, so that a Brigade which formed on its left with orders to deploy and fill the interval did not find the right of Johnson's Division at all. The enemy appeared to be aware of, and took advantage of this error, and made a night attack in which they succeeded in not only driving back the line but inflicting great loss, especially in prisoners. All the field officers, six line officers, and seventy five enlisted men and colors of the Regt were captured. The Shattered remnant of the Regt and Division fell back as well as it could, and better than could be expected, almost to the point at which it had first became engaged." September 20: "On the morning of Sunday Sep. 20th the enemy attacked in great force and with a gallantry worthy of a better cause. They were finally met and repulsed with great slaughter. A second and third attempt on the frail breastwork failed, but the position was flanked and the line wavered, and finally broke. Even when retreating in much confusion the Union troops fought desperately, and halting on a timbered ridge, formed in some order and held the foe at bay."

    Robinson was captured soon after the Battle of Chickamauga and sent to a Confederate prison before he was released. This may explain why there are no journal entries between September 21 and October 25, 1862. In April 1864 the 77th Pennsylvania joined General Sherman's army as part of the Atlanta campaign. In May 13-15, the 77th was engaged in the inconclusive Battle of Resaca, which is recorded in the journal. May 14: "On Saturday May 14th the Corps advanced in line of battle. About 3 o'clock P.M. the enemy made a stand near Resaca a village on the Oostanaula river. The Division was on the left of the Corps and somewhat advanced. The enemy made a charge on the Brigade on the left pushing it back a short distance. Fortunately a Division of the 20th Corps came up at the moment and the enemy was repulsed with considerable loss." May 15: "On Sunday May 15th the battle was renewed and raged with great fury nearly all day. Our troops pressed the rebels closely, and threw up lines of earthworks very close to the enemy who was strongly posted on hills thickly covered with woods and underbrush." May 16: "The enemy were gone, having retreated across the river during the night of the 15th burning the bridges after them."

    In late August and early September 1864 the 77th was involved in the siege of Atlanta and the Battle of Jonesborough and saw action at Lovejoy Station. Journal entries record the activities of the regiment during these critical days. August 25: "On Thursday Aug. 25th soon after dark the troops were silently withdrawn from the works in front of Atlanta. Marched rapidly, and quietly to Utoy creek where a halt was made at 3 o'clock A.M. on the 26th." August 26: "Soon after day light the march was resumed. The heat was intense and owing to the number of trains the marching was tedious. Halted for the night at 5 o'clock P.M." August 27: "Made a rapid march to Gilead church, where the enemy was encountered and forced back after a brisk skirmish. The Regt encamped a few rods from the church." August 28: "On Sunday Aug. 28th marched through a fine agricultural region and encamped near the Rail road." August 29: "On the 29th the Regt participated in the labor of tearing up the Railroad track. This was done most effectually. The rails were heated on the crossties then bent and twisted. In the afternoon the Regt returned to the former camp." August 30: "Marched in a South Easterly direction, passing through fine fields of corn. The country was moderately level and very fertile. The enemy threatened the rear but they were in small force. Encamped in a forest and as usual built defensive works." August 31: "On Wednesday Aug 31st the troops were early in motion. The great number of troops, and transportation rendered rapid marching impossible so that although all day on the road the distance accomplished was only five miles. Encamped in the night in a beautiful country, corn and sugar cane abounded." September 1: "On Thursday Sept. 1st the corps struck the Macon R.R. and at once began the destruction of the track. In the afternoon heavy firing was heard down the road. The troops were at once in motion for the point whence the sound proceeded. The 1st Division joined on the Left of the 14th Army Corps which was hotly engaged. The 3rd Brigade advanced rapidly on the enemy, and became engaged in a woods where the underbrush was very dense. The enemy had a battery directly in front on a rising ground, but fortunately fired over the line of battle. The enemy infantry had just began constructing a line of works at this point, but did not get sufficient time to complete it. Darkness soon put an end to the conflict. Under cover of night the enemy withdrew from his works before Jonesboro and fell back towards Macon." September 2: "Followed the enemy. The houses in Jonesboro were filled with his wounded, and his dead were lying in the field unburied. Found the rebels fortified strongly at Lovejoy Station. The Division went into position about a mile to the left of the Railroad. The fighting was very brisk. The Division on the Right-[Brigadier General Thomas J.] Wood's-made a charge on the enemy supposing they were on the enemy's flank. They were repulsed with some loss." On September 2 Union troops occupied Atlanta. The 77th Pennsylvania entered the city on September 8. "On Thursday Sept. 8th the Corps marched through the City of Atlanta and encamped on the battlefield not far from where Gen'l [James B.] McPherson was killed. The old earthworks were in a good state of preservation though some of them had to be leveled down to make room for the camp."

    Later in the autumn of 1864 the 77th Pennsylvania participated in the Nashville campaign and was involved in action at the Battle of Franklin and the Battle of Nashville. The Battle of Franklin, which occurred on November 30, turned out to be a disaster for the Confederate army under General John Bell Hood. The journal entry for November 30 records the fighting. "Passed Spring Mill about daybreak. When some distance beyond the enemy's cavalry made a dash on the wagon train. The Reg't at once formed and repelled the attack without loss. About 10 o'clock A.M. arrived at Franklin. After a short rest the troops formed line of battle in front of the town. The Regt was ordered on picket, and was posted on a hill some distance in front of the line. A breastwork was thrown up by the reserve companies, and rifle pits were dug by the companies on the outskirts. About 4 o'clock P.M. the enemy attacked with great resolution and in overwhelming force. The pickets on the Right and Left fell back, but the Regt stubbornly held its position, and did not fall back until the enemy was well up on the flanks. It then fell back slowly and gave the enemy several telling vollies...and the enemy now fighting at a disadvantage were repulsed with terrible loss." The Battle of Nashville, representing one of the largest Union victories of the war, occurred weeks later on December 15-16. The fighting is described in the following journal entries. "On Thursday Dec. 15th the troops were early in motion for an attack upon the enemy lines. The Reg't was on picket, and was not relieved until near noon, when it at once marched to join the Brigade on the Hillsboro pike after which it was placed in reserve. The fighting was very brisk in front and some of the enemy's shells fell very close to the Reg't. About 4 P.M. the works in the front were taken and the whole line pushed forward rapidly. The troops became somewhat confused in the darkness, but the Brigade kept well together and bivouacked near the Granny White pike." On Friday, December 16 "preparations for a pursuit or renewal of the engagement were speedily completed, and the Brigade marched across to the Franklin pike striking it at its intersection with the first line of rebel works. Soon after the Brigade moved forward...the Reg't formed in line of battle the Reg't being on the left of the first line, and charged on the enemy. The line was somewhat broken by fences and buildings but the first line of rebel works was captured. When within two hundred yards of the second, and Main line the advance was checked by a heavy fire from both Infantry and Artillery. The Regt being within an angle of the enemy's works, was exposed to a cross fire, but so well did the men protect themselves by the timber and formation of the ground that the casualties were remarkably few. The line was withdrawn to the captured work which was soon converted into a means of defense. The enemy being hard pressed, his Left doubled back upon his Center finally gave way and fell back towards Franklin in utter rout leaving much of his artillery and a great many prisoners in the hands of our Victorious Army. The Reg't took as trophies one cannon and fifty one prisoners. The pursuit was speedily ended for that day by the darkness of night."

    Condition: The quarter leather covers are worn, chipped, with leather and paper loss, and are detached. The spine is gone and with end papers detached and chipped. Internally sound, but with many of the signatures loose and many pages loose from the individual signatures.


    More Information:

    William A. Robinson (1830-1902) was twenty-nine years old when he enlisted. His family was from the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He was captured after the Battle of Chickamauga and was a Prisoner of War in Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. After his release from Libby Prison, he was recaptured and sent to Georgia. He was mustered out of the Army in Philadelphia on January 16, 1866 and returned to Pittsburgh. 

     

    The 77th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, under the command of Colonel Frederich S. Stumbaugh (b.1817), was principally composed of men from the counties of Franklin, Cumberland, Allegheny, Lancaster, Huntingdon, Blair, Fulton and Luzerne. The 77th was mustered into the U. S. service in September and October 1861, for three years. On October 18, 1861, the regiment left the state and proceeded by transport to Louisville, Kentucky, and moved thence to Nolin creek, where it encamped for some time, and was assigned to the 5th brigade, 2nd division, Army of the Ohio. On March 2, 1862, the regiment arrived at Nashville and on April 7 it participated in the second day of the Battle of Shiloh. On May 28 the regiment was involved in the siege of Corinth, Mississippi, and after its evacuation on the 30th it slowly returned to Nashville, arriving there early in September. At the end of December 1862 it joined up with the army of the Cumberland under General William S. Rosecrans on the Murfreesboro campaign. The regiment was heavily engaged in the Battle of Stones River. The regiment participated in the Battle of Chickamauga on September 18-20, 1863. In January 1864 most of the men of the regiment reenlisted and were given their veteran furloughs.  On their return in April, the regiment moved with General William T. Sherman on his Atlanta campaign, and were engaged at Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, and in the siege of Atlanta. At the end of August, the regiment was engaged at the battle of Jonesboro and saw action at Lovejoy's Station.  The regiment was later involved in the Nashville campaign and fought rebel forces at various places, including Franklin and Nashville. The 77th was sharply engaged at Franklin on November 30, 1864 losing a large number killed and wounded. The regiment's losses were also heavy at the Battle of Nashville. After the battle it took part in the pursuit of Hood's forces as far as Huntsville, Alabama. On its return to Nashville in April 1865 the regiment was assigned to the 1st brigade, 1st division, 4th army corps, and was ordered to Texas. On December 5, 1865, it was ordered home. The regiment arrived at Philadelphia on January 16, 1866, where it was finally mustered out.



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