The 96th Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War


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About the Book

The 96th Pennsylvania Volunteers infantry regiment was formed in 1861—its ranks filled by nearly 1,200 Irish and German immigrants from Schuylkill County responding to Lincoln’s call for troops. The men saw action for three years with the Army of the Potomac’s VI Corps, participating in engagements at Gaines’ Mill, Crampton’s Gap, Salem Church and Spotsylvania. Drawing on letters, diaries, memoirs and other accounts, this comprehensive history documents their combat service from the point of view of the rank-and-file soldier, along with their views on the war, slavery, emancipation and politics.

About the Author(s)

David A. Ward has served as the assistant library director at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut for the past thirty years. He founded the Connecticut Civil War Round Table and later owned and operated the popular battlefield excursion company Civil War Tours. He also served as a historical consultant to Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis in the making of the feature film Lincoln.

Bibliographic Details

David A. Ward

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 343
Bibliographic Info: 73 photos, 6 maps, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6851-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3011-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Edwin C. Bearss 1
Introduction 3
I. “Attention: young, sober, active men” 7
II. “We always respond with three cheers” 22
III. “My God! The ­ninety-sixth has never been under fire!” 38
IV. “The enemy … fought like devils” 60
V. “Now, Pennsylvanians, do your duty” 84
VI. “Colonel, your ­coal-heavers did well!” 109
VII. “Our soldiers are very much discouraged” 128
VIII. “Try and gobble some of them” 151
IX. “The Sixth Corps has come!” 176
X. “O how I do wish that them Irish drunkerts would get drafted” 192
XI. “The skirmishers were sent out ahead” 212
XII. “Forward, double quick! Charge!” 227
XIII. “O God, what a sight” 245
XIV. “There was hope in the air” 260
Appendix: Roster and Muster Roll Sources 279
Chapter Notes 281
Bibliography 318
Index 328

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Impressive recounting of the 96th Pennsylvania’s battlefield exploits”—Civil War Monitor
  • “A comprehensive history that definitively documents their combat service from the point of view of the rank-and-file soldier, along with their views on the war, slavery, emancipation and politics. A unique and impressively informative contribution to the ground library of American Civil War histories, ‘Connecticut Civil War Round Table is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections.”—The Civil War Shelf
  • “A well written and thoroughly researched regimental history…a valuable addition to the scholarly coverage of the lives and experiences of Union combat soldiers during America’s costliest war. In a crisp, well-organized fashion”—H-Net Reviews
  • “David Ward’s The 96th Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War is a fine history of the Infantry. A regiment in the Army of the Potomac’s Sixth Corps, the 96th Pennsylvania served with distinction in the campaigns in the East. Ward’s book has all the elements of a model regimental history from its moving narrative to its research in many unpublished manuscripts and newspapers. The book is filled with accounts by its members and all the intrigues that plagued volunteer units. It is a most welcome work.”— Jeffry D. Wert, author of The Sword of Lincoln: The Army of the Potomac
  • “A History of the Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers is one of the best Civil War regimental histories to be published in years. In a style reminiscent of Bruce Catton, author David Ward utilizes hundreds of first hand soldiers accounts to weave a narrative that puts the reader in the picture from the units genesis in the coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania through its baptism of fire at Gaines Mill and the bloodbaths of Crampton’s Gap and the Overland Campaign. Ward utilizes the ‘new history,’ blending both military and social history to tell the complete story the men of the 96th”—Ted Alexander, Historian (retired), Antietam National Battlefield, author of The Battle of Antietam: The Bloodiest Day
  • “The 96th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment was one of the great combat units of the Civil War. Yet, amazingly, this hard-hitting outfit has enjoyed no regimental history–until now. This book fills that gap. It covers the 96th Pennsylvania in the chaos of battle, on the march and in camp. Generous quotations from officers’ and soldiers’ letters, diaries, and memoirs, which were uncovered through prodigious research in dozens of manuscript repositories, give the narrative a human touch. The 96th Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War belongs in every Civil War library.”—Richard J. Sommers, author of Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg