One-tank trips: Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Most small towns in the North have an old Civil War statue or monument in the town square or some other prominent place. These were mostly installed and dedicated in the late 19th century to honor local veterans, and were a source of pride and public sentiment. In many places, Memorial Day ceremonies were focused on the Civil War memorials.
One such monument sits in the center of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a charming little town nestled in east-central Pennsylvania in Bucks County. It was one of the very first Civil War memorials erected after the war, a trend soon copied by almost every other town of significance.
With about 8,000 residents, Doylestown has retained that small town America feel despite the passage of more than 350 years since the town was founded in 1745. The downtown, unlike so many other small towns, remains vibrant and alive, with few empty storefronts. There are a number of interesting shops and boutiques, as well as several restaurants. It’s one town that it is still safe, and interesting, to stroll along the sidewalks.
Doylestown is known for being the home of author James A. Michener, architect and archaeologist Henry Chapman Mercer, lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein II, nobel-prize winning author Pearl S. Buck, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and pop-rock star Pink.
Doylestown boasts a lively Civil War Round Table which meets each month in the Town Hall, and there are numerous other connections with the war, including the statue.
One of the more noted Civil War regiments raised in Bucks County and Doylestown was the 104th Pennsylvania, the “Ringgold Regiment.”
Here is the text of the plaque:
104th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers Infantry
The “Ringgold Regiment”
Completed in 1868 this monument was one of the first Civil War memorials in the nation.
In August 1861, W.W.H. Davis, a prominent Doylestown citizen, was authorized to raise a regiment to serve three years in the war. Camp Lacey was established on the outskirts of Doylestown to train and equip the volunteers. In November, the regiment of 1,049 men departed by train for Washington D.C., to become part of the Army of the Potomac.
In the Spring of 1862, the 104th embarked with the army for the Peninsular Campaign. In their first major battle, Fair Oaks-Seven Pines, they received the brunt of a Confederate attack, suffering heavy losses. During this action, Color Sgt. Hiram Pursell, despite suffering several wounds, gallantly rescued the regimental flags. For his act of bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. This event inspired William Trego’s painting, “The Rescue of the Colors”.
In late 1862, the 104th was transferred further south serving in several campaigns including the siege of Charleston, S.C., and the attack on Fort Wagner. The battery for the famous “Swamp Angel” cannon used in the bombardment of Charleston was constructed by the regiment.
In 1864 after three years service, many 104th veterans reenlisted. The regiment was then sent to the Shenandoah Valley, where two companies were engaged in the Battle of Cedar Creek. Following that the 104th was sent to participate in the siege of Petersburg, VA. When Richmond fell in April 1865, the 104th occupied Petersburg.
The regiment was mustered out of the service on August 25, 1865.
Killed in Action 46
Missing in Action 3
Taken Prisoner 62
Died in Service 104
Bucks County Civil War Round Table – 1997
An inscription on the monument’s base reads:
To the memory of
the Officers and Men
One Hundred and Fourth
who fell in the late war
“Their good swords rust,
and their steeds are dust,
but their souls are with the saints we trust.”
Photos taken by Scott Mingus in March 2011 during a visit to Doylestown to speak at the Bucks County CWRT meeting.