The story of our family...for my sons

Thursday, January 17, 2013

James Ira Stewart at Gettysberg?

My great grandfather, James Ira Stewart fought in the Civil War and was collecting a Union pension when he died. The really big question is, was he a Californian, or a New Yorker fighting in a California regiment (A5 Calif. Inf. is on the pension application). There are many questions to be answered, but if he fought with regiment, which turned into the 106th at Gettysburg, what amazing action did he see?

Few Californians are aware that the final day of battle at Gettysburg, often called the "high-water mark" of the American Civil War, was partly decided by four California Regiments. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th California Regiments, then decimated by prior battles and reconstituted as the 71st, 69th, 72nd and 106th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments, were assigned to defend the center of the Union line at a bent section of fence called "the bloody angle" and a copse of trees, that were the focus of Confederate Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett's disastrous attack on July 3, 1863.

The idea for these California regiments was that of Col. Edward Baker, an early California Republican and Oregon's first U.S. Senator. Col. Baker believed that units named to represent California would serve to cement California's loyalty to the Union. However, in one the California Brigade's first engagements, Col. Baker was killed and the unit was thereafter absorbed within regiments of the Philadelphia Brigade. At Gettysburg, the remnants of Bakers California regiments were almost entirely manned by Pennsylvanians, though despite the state's small population, nearly 17,000 Californians enlisted to fight and California ended up having more volunteers per capita in the Union Army than any other state, according to the California State Military Department.

So, where does great grandfather Stewart fit into all this? My job is to find out. Listed below are the "actions" that the 106th was involved in during and after Gettysburg:

June 11-July 24 Gettysburg Campaign
June 21 and 25 Haymarket
July 1-3 Battle of Gettysburg

The regiment was commanded at Gettysburg by Lieutenant Colonel William L. Curry. It brought 335 men to the field, losing 9 killed, 54 wounded and 1 missing.

From the monument on Emmitsburg Road by the Codori farmhouse:

July 2d. Morning. Companies A & B on skirmish line. Co. B. by order of Gen. Meade, advanced and uncovered enemy's position on Seminary Ridge.

Afternoon. Co. B advanced to Bliss House. Held by 16th Miss. where it was repulsed losing 1 officer, 11 men.

Later. In connection with 4 companies of 12th N.J. again advanced and captured the Bliss House & number of prisoners.

From the monument by the Copse of Trees:

"Position of the Regiment July 2, 1863. In the evening the Regiment assisted in repulsing a charge of the enemy on this line and made a counter charge to the Emmitsburg road in which 3 guns of Battery B, 1st Rhode Island were recovered and at the Codori House captured 250 prisoners."

"The evening of July 2nd the Regiment moved to East Cemetery Hill to reinforce the 11th Corps and remained there as indicated by monument. During the 3rd, companies A and B continued here an assisted in repulsing the final assault of the enemy on the afternoon of the 3rd."

July 5-24 Pursuit of Lee
September 13-15 Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan
October 9-22 Bristoe Campaign
November 7-8 Advance to line of the Rappahannock
November 26-December 2 Mine Run Campaign
November 27 Payne's Farm
February 6-7 Demonstration on the Rapidan
May 4-June 12 Rapidan Campaign
May 5-7 Battles of the Wilderness
May 8 Laurel Hill
May 8-12 Spottsylvania
May 10 Po River
May 12-21 Spottsylvania Court House
May 12 Assault on the Salient
May 23-26 North Anna River
May 26-28 On line of the Pamunkey
May 28-31 Totopotomoy
June 1-12 Cold Harbor
June 16-18 Before Petersburg; Siege of Petersburg begins. Attached to 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps
June 22-23 Jerusalem Plank Road
July 27-29 Demonstration on north side of the James at Deep Bottom
July 27-28 Deep Bottom
July 30 Mine Explosion, Petersburg
August 18-20 Demonstration on north side of the James at Deep Bottom
August 14-18 Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom
August 25 Ream's Station
October 27-28 Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run
February 5-7 Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run
March 25 Watkins' House, Petersburg
March 28-April 9 Appomattox Campaign
March 29 Vaughan Road, near Hatcher's Run
March 31 Crow's House
April 2 Fall of Petersburg
April 6 Sailor's Creek
April 7 High Bridge and Farmville
April 9 Appomattox Court House. Surrender of Lee and his army.
May 2 At Burkesville
May 2-12 March to Washington
May 23 Grand Review
June 30 Mustered out

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