Sergeant William Magee, Civil War Veteran

Male 1821 - 1903  (82 years)

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  • Name William Magee 
    Prefix Sergeant 
    Suffix Civil War Veteran 
    Born 21 Feb 1821  Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 21 Mar 1903  Horseheads, Chemung, New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Lockwood Cemetery, Lockwood, Chemung Co., NY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I438  32 Generations
    Last Modified 18 Jul 2013 

    Father William Magee,   b. Abt 1795, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Mother Catherine Deuel,   b. Abt 1795, Prob Dutchess County New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Feb 1861  (Age ~ 66 years) 
    Married 16 Jan 1820 
    Family ID F464  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Sarah Elizabeth Lung,   b. 30 Jan 1825, Rush, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Oct 1879, Montrose, Susquehanna, PA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 54 years) 
     1. Bertha Lavinia Magee,   b. 15 Jun 1847, Montrose, Susquehanna, PA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Aug 1931, Maine, Broome co., NY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years)
    Last Modified 31 Mar 2021 
    Family ID F18  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 

    • At Gettysburg he served under -
      III CORPS (Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles / Maj. Gen. David B. Birney)
      First Division (Maj. Gen. David B. Birney / Brig. Gen. J.H. Hobart Ward)
      1st Brigade (Brig. Gen. Charles K. Graham)
      Pennsylvania Enlisted H Co. 141st Inf PA Vol

      Rank In: Sergeant
      Rank Out: Sergeant

      National Archives Microfilm Box, Roll, and Record:
      000554, 0074, 00001428

      Fought for the Union

      Tthe 141st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, had tried to stem the Confederate tide that threatened to invade all of Pennsylvania. As the soldiers stood their ground in the Peach Orchard, the regiments all around them melted away in the face of the overwhelming Confederate onslaught. The brave soldiers of the 141st stood their ground, shouting "Pennsylvania !!!" and waited to meet their foe. Less than 215 of them faced thousands of determined Rebel soldiers. The first unified Confederate volley dropped 28 of the Pennsylvania men. But the men stood and fired their rifles until it became obvious that they were outnumbered. Their commanding officer, Col. Henry Madill, was asked "shouldn't we get out of this"? His reply was "I have no orders to get out of this"! They only left the field when they were utterly defeated.

      The final toll:

      Out of the approximately 210 men and officers who took the field that afternoon, only 50 left the field unscathed.

      Several historical books describe the battles and activities of the 141st: The History of the Hundred Forty First Regiment, David Craft, 1885; The History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, Samuel P. Bates, and Personal Reminiscences of the War by J.D. Bloodgood, Late Sergeant, Co. 1, Hunt and Eaton, New York, 1893. There is also an interesting unpublished account of Sergeant McCabe's memories of his nine months in the 141st Regiment. Colonel Henry J. Madill kept a diary during his tenure during the war. All five are on file at the Archives Library, Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

      An excerpt from the introductory text, History of the One hundred forty first regiment. Pennsylvania volunteers. 1862-1865. By David Craft. Published by the author. Towanda, Pa., Reporter-journal printing company, 1885.

      The 141st Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, whose history is given in this volume, was in many respects a remarkable Regiment. Recruited from the rural districts of its respective counties, composed mainly of young men, farmers and the sons of farmers, mechanics and those attending the different institutions of learning in their respective counties, of fair education, and many of them of a good deal more than ordinary intelligence. They were all men and boys of good character, and exemplary habits, and most of them left, comfortable and happy homes to give their service, and their lives if need be, to their country in its hour of peril. They were true patriots, they loved their country and its institutions.

      Their attention was directed to the fact that their services were needed, by the proclamation of the President calling to arms the patriots of the land to resist the attempted overthrow of their government. Their patriotism was aroused by the patriotic and strong addresses made by the gentlemen who visited the different parts of the counties from which the Regiment was raised, many of whom afterwards became officers of the companies forming the Regiment. As an inducement to go with them, they promised that they would stand by their men until the end. How well most of them kept their promise the record will tell.

      The men and officers composing the Regiment had little or no experience in military affairs. They did not even have the benefit of a militia-man's experience. After completing their Regimental organization at Harrisburg, they were hurried to Washington, which place they reached amid the thundering of the artillery of Lee's victorious army, and among a people trembling in fear, believing that on the morrow Lee's victorious army, and among a people trembling at the doors of the Capitol. The Regiment was immediately ordered across the Potomac and put into the defences of Washington. Poorly armed and equipped, and without any particular knowledge how to use the poor and worthless arms in their possession, they were expected to face the coming of, as was supposed, the veterans of the victorious army of Lee.

      I found the Regiment in the fore part of September, at the "Chain Bridge," where it had been sent from Arlington after the battle of Bull Run. I thought the Regiment was composed of the finest body of men I had ever seen, in most part young, vigorous and hardy, just the men to endure the privation and hardships of the campaigns which were to follow. After the defeat of Lee at Sharpsburg, and he had turned back, abandoning his effort to take the Capital, it was determined to retain the Third Corps and place it in the defence of Washington. This Corps having suffered very much at the battle of Bull Run, its reorganization was determined open.

      When I returned to the Regiment and assumed command, on the 17th of September, 1862, I found it associated in brigade with the veterans of a part of the old Kearney Division -- the heroes of the Peninsular campaign. At the time I thought it unfair for the Regiment to be associated with these old veterans, fearing that they were green troops would be forgotten, and more expected of them than they would be able to perform. Up to the time of their brigade associations, the Regiment had never been drilled. After that time, the Company officers, under the direction of an officer appointed for that purpose by the Brigade Officer, commenced to drill their companies, and acquaint themselves with the tactics necessary to be understood and applied.

      What little time could be spared from outpost and picket duty, was devoted by the officers in instructing themselves and the men in their commands in the drill and maneuvers necessary to be understood by them in order that they might be able to be handled and moved on the field when necessary. The time for this preparation was short; the Regiment was soon called to march on that wild goose chase to Poolesville, in Maryland, in order to prevent Stewart from crossing with his cavalry the Potomac near that place. This was one of the hardest marches the Regiment ever made, and was the cause of the breaking down of more men than any other march during their service. The first campaign of the Regiment closed by the fording of the Potomac and marching through Virginia to the banks of the Rappahannock, where they went into winter quarters near Fredericksburg.

      At the time of the battle of Fredericksburg the Regiment had had the advantage of a few battalion drills, in which some of the simpler movements of the line were taught them, selecting those that would be used, if at all, on the battlefield, and when the order cam to march, I had the satisfaction of knowing that the Regiment knew what a line of battle was, and that they knew how to form it from the march.

      It was known by the Regiment when the order to march came, that it was the purpose of Gen. Burnside to cross the river and occupy Fredericksburg if possible: that of course implied some fighting, for the enemy were strongly intrenched and had come to stay.

      The Third Corps, to which the Regiment belonged, was in reserve, and was the last body of troops to cross the river. On their march they were halted in a field that overlooked the town. At this time Sumner with his corps was engaged with the enemy in his efforts to carry the heights and occupy the town. His several efforts were repulsed with fearful slaughter. The Third Corps witnessed these unsuccessful assaults of their comrades of the Second Corps to carry the works of the enemy. What effect was this scene having upon the minds of the troops witnessing it, and especially upon the minds of this new Regiment, who for the first time in their lives witnessed a scene like this, and they so soon to be subjected to the same fiery ordeal? Fortunately, the thoughts and reflections of men and officers were soon directed to the appearance of an aid, accompanied by an orderly, riding at full speed across the field in the direction of the corps commander's flag. This officer was an aid of Gen. Meade, coming for assistance. The "Reserves," under their noble leader, made that grand charge, not an hour since, driving the enemy from their line at the railroad, back into the woods, and up the slope through the woods, and back upon the second line, and being unsupported, was being forced back again by the enemy, who had been strongly reinforced. The Corps was immediately put in motion, and the river soon reached and crossed, and the march over the flat ground between it and the road made.

      At this point the enemy opened fire on the head of the column from a battery on the high ground in the woods, nearly in front of the line of march, and as the troops reached this point on their line of march, covered by the guns of the enemy, they entered a severe shower of shot and shell, which were shrieking and bursting in the air, over the heads and on the flanks, and among the brave men who were struggling to reach the road, in order to give succor to the retiring heroes. The Regiment which is the subject of this sketch came last, and though the road was very heavy, caused by the rain of the day before and the marching of the troops who had previously passed over it, they kept well closed upon the men of the column, and passed through the shower of shot and shell that greeted them, without faltering, and passed on to the road where they met the retiring troops, the Reserves. Upon this point the enemy had concentrated all their guns in our front, and were doing fearful execution with solid shot and shell, and yet this green Regiment, upon its first battlefield, without faltering, passed through the vortex of fire, and formed their lines of battle on the right by filing into line as coolly and as quietly as if they had been the veterans of a hundred battles.

      Their coolness and courage and the ready manner in which they obeyed every command given them surprised me, and challenged the admiration of the Corps, Division and Brigade Commanders who were watching the formation of the lines. They had earned their place among the heroes of Peninsula with whom they were brigaded, and were entitled to wear the Army badge. No question as to whether they could be relied upon in an emergency in the future was ever again raised. They had established confidence in the minds of their old regiments with whom they were associated, and received the commendation of their superior officers, for their courage and daring under the discouraging circumstances by which they were surrounded. In all the battles in which they were afterward engaged they showed the same cool, daring, courageous and patriotic spirit that characterized them in their first engagement.

      To show the estimation in which they were held by the officers of the Corps, I need now but mention the fact that they were selected by the Division and Corps commanders in the celebrated "mud march" of Gen. Burnside, to cross the river alone, carry the opposite heights at the point of the bayonet, and hold the crest of the hill in order that the army might cross to the opposite side, for the purpose of attacking Fredericksburg in the rear. Fortunately for them, the heavy rainstorm setting in that night frustrated the movement.

      They had earned a reputation for courage and daring that promised no good, in one sense, for the future, as the sequel shows. In the many severely fought battles that followed, they were often put into the imminent deadly breach, and expected to do what older and stronger regiments failed to do. Through the thirty-three battles in which they fought they never became demoralized, or willingly turned their back upon their foe.

      I said this was in many respects a remarkable Regiment. I doubt if you can find many regiments in the service of which it could be said, they never disappointed the hopes, expectations or commands of their officers on the battlefield, which can be said of this, and their record sustains the assertion.

      The colors which were received from the hands of Gov. Curtin, before they crossed the Potomac into Virginia, in the fall of 1862, were kept and guarded by them with zealous care, and as they at that time promised him, they would guard them with their lives, and at the close of the contest turn them over to the State Department unsullied by dishonor, they nobly kept this and they hang to-day in the flag-room, at the State Capitol, tattered and torn by the storms of many a battlefield. I believe that no other regiment suffered so much in its color-guard as did this one. Twice it was entirely annihilated -- at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg -- not a single man escaping, and every one of the comrades coming to their assistance, were either killed or wounded.

      Whatever ideas may have been entertained in the beginning that the War of the Rebellion would be of small proportions and of short duration, they were most thoroughly dissipated by the battle of Bull Run and by McClellan's Peninsular campaign in the spring and summer of 1892. The South had exhibited such an unexpectedly enthusiastic, united and truly martial spirit, such an abundance of means and skill in using them, as to convince thoughtful men all over the country that the time was not far distant when the resources of the loyal States in money and men must be heavily drawn upon if the war was prosecuted to a favorable termination.

      In anticipation of demands which might soon be made, little companies of men in various neighborhoods -- in Bradford county, at least -- were accustomed to meet on Saturday afternoons during the summer, practice some of the more simple evolutions of military drill, learn to keep step with the music of the fife and drum, and catch something of the spirit which animated their neighbors and kinsmen in the field.

      In consequence of the great losses suffered by the army of McClellan and the expiration of the short term of service for which many had enlisted, the President, at the suggestion of the Governors of the loyal States, who pledged him their cooperation and support, on the second of July, 1862, issued his proclamation calling for three hundred thousand men, to be enlisted to serve for three years or during the war.

      To devise measures for filling the quota assigned to Bradford county, which was something more than a thousand men, a meeting was held at Towanda, July 19th presided over by Hon. Ulysses Mercur, and addressed by a number of the prominent citizens of the county. Resolutions were passed looking to he speedy enlistment of recruits, and it was suggested that companies be raised in the several neighborhoods, which should be joined in a regiment to be known as the Bradford County Regiment, and officered by Bradford county men.

      The advantages of this arrangement were obvious. Among them it was mentioned that the men coming from one locality would be much more liable to aid one another in the necessities of camp; and field; that the relations between officers and men would be to the advantage of each and there would be a closer bond of sympathy between the men in the field and those at home.

      At Terrytown a number of the young men had been in the habit of meeting occasionally to talk over the war news and engage in military drill. Early in August a public meeting was held in the church, at which Guy H. Watkins, Esq., of Towanda, was the principal speaker. The sincerity of his purpose, and the deep, almost pathetic, earnestness of his address made a profound impression upon his audience. Among other things he said he had thought this whole matter over carefully, and had determined that for himself it was his duty to go to his country's aid in this hour of her peril; that at the most a man could die but once, and he would prefer to die on the battlefield than to think he had shrunk from danger in the hour of his country's need; that he had often thought how, when this war was over and he should be telling his children of its occurrence, he would feel should they ask him "Were you there?" and he should be compelled to answer, "No." He was going to be able to say "Yes, I was there and I tried to do my duty."

      On the 4th of August a meeting was held in Wyalusing, addressed by Hon. George Landon and others, at which about fifty men were enrolled and nearly two hundred dollars were subscribed as a local bounty. Enlistments were pushed rapidly forward. On Saturday, August 9, it was announced that the company was enrolled, and the Wednesday following was ready to start for Harrisburg. The men were from the southeastern part of the country -- Wyalusing, Herrick, Tuscarora, Terry and Wilmot townships. In addition to the small local bounty, each man of the company was presented with a Bible, and a well filled needle-book, as a useful memento of the dear ones at home.

      Major Battles of the 141st Regiment
      Battle of Fredericksburg -- December 12-15, 1862

      Battle of Chancellorsville -- May 1-3, 1863

      Gettysburg Campaign -- June 11-July 24, 1863

      Battle of Gettysburg -- July 1-3, 1863

      Bristoe Campaign -- October 9-22, 1863

      Battle of Kelly's Ford -- November 7-8, 1863

      Mine Run Campaign -- November 26-December 2, 1863

      Battle of Po River -- May 1, 1864

      Rapidan Campaign -- May 4-June 12, 1864

      Battle of The Wilderness -- May 5-7, 1864

      Battle of Spottsylvania Court House -- May 11-20, 1864

      Battle of North Anna River -- May 23-26, 1864

      Battle of Cold Harbor -- May 31-June 12, 1864

      Siege of Petersburg -- June 16, 1864-April 2, 1865

      Before Petersburg -- June 16-18, 1864

      Battles of Weldon Railroad -- August, October, December, 1864

      Battle of Deep Bottom -- July 27-29, 1864

      Battle of Strawberry Plains -- August 14-18, 1864

      Appomattox Campaign -- March 28-April 9, 1865

      Battle of High Bridge -- April 7, 1865

      Appomattox Court House Surrender -- April 9, 1865