George Hares and the
52nd PA Regiment

History of the 52nd Pennsylvania Regiment taken from,
History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa.,
W.W. Munsell & Co., New York, 1880.

The Civil War service record of George Hares is found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The file indicates that less than a year after becoming a citizen, George enlisted in Company I of the 52nd PA Volunteer Infantry, one of two Civil War regiments raised at the start of the war with men primarily from Luzerne County. George enlisted in Scranton on August 22, 1861, and was mustered into service in Pottsville on September 23 of that year for a full three year term. Over the course of the next three years, the 52nd PA took part in many memorable battles, and would earn the nickname "the Fightin' Luzerne," for its fierce brand of combat. George's war record indicates that he served his entire enlistment, was present at all company roll calls, and was honorably discharged on November 5th, 1864, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by reason of the expiration of his term of service.

This compact version of the history of the 52nd PA, is taken from the book, History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa., W.W. Munsell & Co., New York, 1880, and covers the regiment's movements and battles during the term of George Hares' enlistment (1861-1864). During the war the 52nd gained a reputation for its fierce fighting, earning the nickname "the Fightin' Luzerne. The 52nd PA did not take part in the major battles that have come to define the Civil War, but rather was reserved primarily for duty in the South Carolina campaign.

The regiment participated in the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, the failed attack on Charleston, and the South Carolina coastal islands campaign of 1863. The regiment remained in South Carolina during 1864, and took part in the final capture of Charleston in 1865, during which the flag of the 52nd was flown over the ruined Fort Sumter. The regiment then joined General Sherman's army marching north, and was present at the final surrender of Confederate General Johnson. Afterwards, the regiment returned to Harrisburg, where is was mustered out on July 12, 1865.


A call was issued by the President in July, 1861, for sixteen regiments, and under this call authority was granted by Governor Curtain, August 1st, 1861, to John C. Dodge, Jr., to recruit this regiment.

John C. Dodge, Jr., of Lycoming county was appointed colonel; Henry M. Hoyt, of Luzerne county (now governor of the State), lieutenant colonel; and John B. Conyngham, also of Luzerne county, major. The rendezvous of the regiment was at Camp Curtain, near Harrisburg.

November 8th, 1861, the regiment proceeded to Washington. It remained there, engaged in drill and camp duty, till the 28th day of March, 1862, when it was ordered to take the field. During this time it furnished ten volunteers for gunboat service at the West, most of whom were subsequently killed by an explosion.

On taking the field it was assigned to the 1st brigade, 3rd division and 4th corps. It marched to Alexandria, and thence went by transports to Newport News, where it debarked; and soon afterwards it encamped near Yorktown, where the siege was in progress. As the regiment marched to take possession of the deserted works on the 4th of May a torpedo exploded under Company F, killing one man and wounding six others.

Below: fortifications at Yorktown during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862.

From Yorktown it moved forward with its brigade to Williamsburg, where it arrived just in time to support Hancock in his gallant charge, which resulted in driving the enemy from the field. The regiment arrived with its brigade at the Chickahominy on the 20th of May. On the 24th it went on a reconnaissance toward Richmond, which lasted four days, and in the course of which a lively engagement occurred. In this reconnaissance a company of sharpshooters which had been selected from the regiment did excellent service.

The regiment was engaged in the battle of Fair Oaks, which occurred on the 31st of May, and out of 249 lost 125 killed or wounded and four prisoners. Among the wounded officers were Captain Davis, Lennard and Chamberlain, and Lieutenants Weidensaul and Carskaden.

Below: the union army ar Fair Oaks, Virginia, shortly after the Battle of Fair Oaks, June 1862.

While the battle at Gaines's Mill was in progress, the 52nd, with other regiments of the brigade, was guarding the bridge across the Chickahominy; the men were often standing waist-deep in the water of the swamp, and this duty continued during several consecutive days. Soon afterward the regiment retired with the army to Harrison's Landing, and on the 20th of August to Yorktown, where circumstances detained the brigade to which it was attached while a large part of the army went to the support of General Pope. While occupying the fortifications at Yorktown the men were drilled in heavy artillery tactics.

In December the 52nd, with other troops, went to Beaufort, and thence in the latter part of January, 1863, to Port Royal S.C. From there in April 1863, it went on a transport up the North Edisto, to co-operate in an attack on the city of Charleston. The attack failed, and the regiment, after drifting among the Sea islands some days and passing an uncomfortable night at sea, landed at Beaufort. On the 11th of July it moved to Folly island, and on the 9th went up the Stono river with another regiment to make a diversion in favor of the attack on Morris island. It landed at James island at midnight, and in the morning attacked and drove in the pickets and cavalry of the enemy. The rebel force on the island was reinforced, and on the 16th an attack was made by the enemy. On the night of the 17th the island was evacuated, and the 52nd returned to Folly island. The regiment participated in the siege of Fort Wagner during the perilous forty or fifty days that it lasted; when preparations were made for the final assault. It was formed ready to pass the fort and attack Fort Gregg, when intelligence was received that the works and the island were evacuated. During the operations against the fort the regiment suffered severely, but no exact record of its casualties can be given.

In December many of the men in the regiment re-enlisted, and were granted a veteran furlough. When they returned the regiment was recruited to the maximum and newly armed and equipped. It remained at Hilton Head till the 20th of May 1864, during which time it made occasional expeditions among the Sea islands.

On the morning of the 4th of July the duty of surprising and taking Fort Johnson in the badly planned attempt on the rebel works at Charleston harbor was assigned to the 52nd. Accordingly, just at daybreak, one hundred and twenty-five men, under the command of Colonel Hoyt, landed, took a two-gun battery, rushed forward, scaled the parapet of the fort and entered the works. Failing to receive the support they expected, they were overpowered by superior numbers and made prisoners. Seven of the assaulting party were killed and sixteen wounded. Of the balance who were made prisoners, upwards of fifty died at Andersonville and Columbia, and the officers, after a period of confinement at Macon, were transferred to Charleston and placed under the fire of Union batteries on Morris island. During the summer and autumn of 1864 the balance of the regiment was on Morris island, where the men did duty as heavy artillery.

During the winter of 1864-65 they were engaged in picketing the harbor in boats; a duty that was anything but enviable by reason of the exposures and hardships which it involved. February 18th, 1865, a boat crew under the command of Major Hennesy rowed across the harbor and landed near Fort Sumter. All was silent, and as the party cautiously entered the ruins they were not challenged. The fort was deserted, and they unfurled over it the flag of the 52nd regiment. The party at once proceeded to the city, which they entered before the last of the rebel soldiers had evacuated it.

Captain R.W. Bannahan of Tunkhannock, and Lieutenant T.M. Burr of Meshoppen, were of this party. The former was left in command of the party and garrisoned the fort.

The regiment joined the army of General Sherman as it marched north after crossing Georgia, and was with him when the rebel General Johnson surrendered. A week later it returned to Harrisburg, where on the 12th of July, 1865, it was mustered out of service.

The 52nd was composed of men who entered the service for three years. Those who remained in the regiment to the close of the war were mustered out July 12, 1865, except members of Company A, who were mustered out three days later. Companies A, H and I were recruited in Luzerne county, the first at Wilkes-Barre; Company B in Wyoming county; Company F in Luzerne and Bradford, and Company K in Luzerne and Schuylkill.

George Hares Civil War discharge certificate
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Text and photographs copyright 2003 by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved