Company C, 140th Pennsylvania Infantry
Following Union reverses in the Seven Days’ Battles, Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania issued a proclamation on July 21st 1862 for the enlistment of an additional 21 volunteer infantry regiments in addition to those already in service. Amongst these regiments would be the 140th Pennsylvania.
The men of Company C were recruited throughout Washington County, Penn. Instrumental in the recruiting was David Acheson, the man who would later become the company’s captain. At the start of the war Acheson was a student at Washington College. Coming from a strong Unionist family he was motivated to serve and enlisted immediately in 1861 in response to the call for three month volunteers. After his three month enlistment expired he returned to his studies for a short time before being motivated to begin recruiting in response to Governor Curtin’s proclamation. Acheson would prove to a determined recruiter and journeyed across the entire county seeking men to enlist. This effort would help to recruit five companies of infantry for the war effort. He would subsequently be elected as captain of Company C.
The men were sent to Camp Distribution near Pittsburg. They were examined by a surgeon of the army. After being sworn in they measured for uniforms and given ready made trousers but not all had properly fitting attire and were forced to either trade with someone else or buy or alter at their own expense. In September they were sent to Camp Curtin in Harrisburg. There the men are given the rest of the uniforms and equipment. The five companies are merged with other companies to form the 140th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
On September 9th the regiment is sent to Parkton, Maryland to guard the North Central Railway during the time of Lee’s first invasion of the North. At the end of the Antietam Campaign and the Confederate withdrawal out of Maryland the regiment was free to get to work on the long process of becoming professional soldiers with a daily routine of drill, building, and guard duty. Religious services, mostly led by the officers were conducted every morning in the company streets.
In December the 140th was finally sent to the front. They arrived to join the Union Army of the Potomac after the disaster at Fredricksburg. They were assigned to General Zook’s brigade in the 2nd Corps along with the 52nd, 57th, and 66th New York regiments. At this point the regiment numbered 970 and after the battle of Fredricksburg numbered nearly as much as the rest of the brigade put together. As they entered their camp they were “joshed” by the Irish brigade as they passed by for their Vicennes rifles and referred as “walking artillery.” However, soon new Springfields would be supplied to the company.
With the coming of the Spring of 1863 the 140th was on the move. They crossed the Rappahannock along with 60,000 men of the Army of the Potomac and arrived at a wooden crossroads near Chancellorsville. It was around this time that Corps badges were distributed to the men. The men of the 140th received the red trefoil (clover) representing the 1st division of the 2nd corps.
On May 3rd the regiment received its first real test under fire. They came under fire from 30 Confederate cannons with Confederate infantry moving in on them. It was here that several of the men rescued two artillery pieces of the 5th Maine artillery.
After Chancellorsville the 140th would join the Union Army in pursuing Lee during his second invasion of the North. The 140th would arrive at the Gettysburg in time for the second day of battle. At the time the regiment had a strength of 589 men. The regiment and the rest of Zook’s brigade were hurried to the Wheatfield where the 3rd Corps was in a precarious situation. This was the heaviest fighting the 140th would experience during the war. In addition to the death of Colonel Roberts, Company C would see the death of Captain Acheson.
2LT Robert L. Burr, INF
Unit Senior NCO:
CPL David Cooper