Pennsylvania Bucktails "Lumbermen With A Wildcat Yell"
Of all the unusual combat units of the Civil War, none was more colorful than the Pennsylvania Bucktails (13th Pennsylvania Reserves). In the spring of 1861, by raft, rowboat, and cattle cars, there came from the mountains of northern Pennsylvania's "Wildcat District" a group of young men who would form the nucleus of a regiment destined to become famous. The regiment was made up largely of rough, hardy lumbermen who had their own peculiar "wildcat yell." The conduct of some of its men, as well as the region many of them were from, led to the designation of "Bucktailed Wildcats." (The "Wildcat District" had been given this name not for its feline wildlife, but because its lumbermen were a loud and boisterous lot.) Because of the regiment's custom of having each man wear on his hat the tail of a deer he had shot, the 13th Pennsylvania became known as the "Bucktails."
The Bucktails were all superior marksmen, and during the first year of the war, they distinguished themselves as skirmishers and sharpshooters. In July 1862, because of this excellent record, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton directed Roy Stone, a major in the regiment, to enlist an additional brigade of Bucktails. Stone raised 20 companies of recruits by the end of August to send to Harrisburg, PA., the state capital, for official organization into the 149th and 150th Pennsylvania regiments. The new volunteers, having proudly adopted the distinctive badge of the earlier group, also called themselves the "Bucktails" or sometimes the "New Bucktails."
The Bucktails, old and new, fought in most of the major campaigns in the East. In the spring of 1862, four companies of the 13th were in the Shenendoah Valley Campaign while the rest of the unit fought in the Peninsula Campaign. The regiment was also prominent in the second day's battle at Gettysburg. The 149th and 150th participated in eastern actions, from Chancellorsville to Petersburg, with skill and courage.
Fascinating Fact: Bucktails of Company K of the 150th were assigned to the Soldier's Home (the Lincoln's "Summer White House") as bodyguards for President Lincoln, a duty they performed until the president's assassination in 1865.
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