Wednesday, December 12, 2012

71st Pennsylvania (1st california Regiment)

The second regiment from the Philadelphia Brigade are the 71st Pennsylvania (1st california Regiment)

Minis are Perry plastic except for the Skirmishers that are from Foundry.

Flags from Flags of War.

Here are som pictures and a short regimental history.

The regiment was organized in August 1861 by Oregon Senator Edward D. Baker, composed of 15 companies instead of the standard 10. Although raised from residents of Philadelphia, it was initially designated the 1st California in deference to Baker's wishes. After his death at the Battle of Balls Bluff in November 1861, it was renamed the 71st Pennsylvania. It was paired with the 69th, 72nd, and 106th Pennsylvania regiments to form the famous Philadelphia Brigade.

The 71st was assigned to the II Corps in time to participate in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. During the Seven Days Battles, it made several charges, losing many officers and men. After reaching Harrison's Landing, companies L, M, N, P, and R were merged into the first ten companies. The regiment, along with rest of the Army of the Potomac, was transferred to northern Virginia. Here the 71st fought at the battles of Second Bull Run and Chantilly. It helped cover Pope's retreat. At the Battle of Antietam that September, the regiment lost one third of its strength. It again suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, the 71st was positioned at the famous Angle on Cemetery Ridge. On July 2, it helped defeat the attack by Brig. Gen. Ambrose Wright's brigade. On July 3, it was briefly sent to Culp's Hill but was returned to Cemetery Ridge. Half of the regiment was placed along the advanced wall with the 69th Pennsylvania to its left, while the other half was 50 yards to its right-rear. During Pickett's Charge, the left portion of the regiment was forced back from the wall and nearly routed. Brig. Gen. Alexander S. Webb managed to rally the regiment near the 72nd and 106th Pennsylvania, but was unable to convince any of the three units to counterattack at first. Finally after several minutes, they pushed the Confederates out of the Angle. The 71st lost 98 officers and men during the attack, including nine out of fifteen officers.

The 71st served through the Overland Campaign, losing heavily in both men and officers. At the Battle of the Wilderness, Lt. Col. Charles Kochersperger was wounded and five colorbearers were shot down, and at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Capt. Mitchell Smith was killed.

The regiment's last battle as a unit was at Cold Harbor. Afterwards, those entitled to discharge (a total of 53) were mustered out in Philadelphia on July 2, 1864. The remainder of the regiment was merged into the 69th Pennsylvania. Out of a total of 1,665 men who served in the regiment during the war, only 153 returned uninjured.


  1. Interesting piece of info and wonderful looking figures Michael!

  2. Nice background info and nice looking unit too!


  3. Another superb unit, makes me want to game ACW.

  4. Damn, that's a hell of a war record.

  5. I did a scenario featuring this regiment at Lewinsville, Va – September 25th, 1861. Baker was definitely a character. His troops seemed to do a bit better after his demise.

  6. A very long time ago, I was an ACW nut. Your painting and historical back stories are a siren song calling me back to ACW.

    Who knew reading your blog could be dangerous?