The 151st Pennsylvania Infantry was recruited from six different counties in the autumn of 1862. Many of the enlistees were educators who had laid down their grade books and left their classrooms to defend their families, students, and country. For that, they earned the nickname “The Schoolteacher’s Regiment.” Their orders carried them to DC and Virginia, where Confederates were disrupting the Union encampments with guerilla strikes. Soon after, they were reassigned to the Army of the Potomac and fought their first real battle at Chancellorsville, in Virginia.
A month away from discharge, the regiment moved on to Gettysburg, where Lieutenant Colonel George McFarland took temporary command. For the battle, they joined up with the Union defense of Seminary Ridge and McPherson’s Ridge on the left flank. The Confederate offensive was powerful, forcing one company to retreat and the rest to hide in the lee of a barricade. Gunsmoke completely obscured the soldiers’ vision, it was so thick on the field, but they maintained their defense.
McFarland was stooping down to see under the smoke and try to gain an advantage over the rebels, when a Confederate bullet pierced both of his legs. A heroic Private nearly died carrying him to the hospital—one of his brass buttons was severed by a bullet! The Lt. Col. was saved, while the rest of the regiment reformed and returned to battle on Cemetery Hill. In total, the Schoolteacher’s Regiment suffered 337 casualties of the 467 men present at Gettysburg. Their memorial stands at the intersection of Meredith and South Reynolds Avenues.
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