Way Back When
(The Spirit is pleased to share with our readers vignettes of life in the 19th century as originally reported in past issues of the newspapers. These reproduced stories include their original headlines and spelling.)
(April 22, 1896)
FIRST TO ENTER…
The 206 Regiment Enjoys
The Philadelphia Inquirer is republishing its war correspondence, and a recent issue of that paper contained a dispatch from Richmond, Va., dated April 17, 1865, from which it appears that the 206th Regiment, largely recruited in Jefferson and Indiana counties, was the first body of union soldiers to enter the rebel capital.
The dispatch says:
"It is a circumstance beyond cavil or dispute that to Pennsylvania belongs the honor of having the first column of troops to enter the rebel capital, and the immediate credit is due to the 206th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Col. H. J. Brady. The stars and stripes were seen waving in triumph by the astonished denizens of this place for the first time in four years in the hands of the 206th, and their battle flag was the first one seen in the streets of Richmond, after its evacuation. The 206th led Ripley's brigade of the Third division, 24th Army Corps, to which they are temporarily attached, during the march on the city, and were only preceded in the town itself by a small skirmishing party.
As soon as the Two-hundred and sixth reached Capitol Hill, they were at one dispatched to guard and hold the roads leading to the city from the north. Two companies were sent to the Mechanicsville road, three companies to the Meta bridge road, one company to the Broad street road and one company was detached to occupy the forts captured and to guard the prisoners taken.
When Colonel Brady reached the Military Institute, a very large new brick building, originally intended for a poor house, and situated near what is called the "Old Fields," northeast of the city, he was informed by some citizens that an attempt would be made to fire it. A guard was at once dispatched to secure it, and its destruction at the hands of the very people who reared the stately pile was thus prevented.
The regiment was mustered out at Pittsburg in July, 1865. In his farewell order, General Daudy, in command of the brigade, said, "Under your gallant commander, Colonel Hugh J. Brady, you were the first to enter Richmond and to display in the capital of traitors, the stars and stripes of your own country. Carry home with you and bequeath it to your children, the red heart, the badge of the First Division. It is the symbol of deeds that will live when this present and many succeeding generations have passed away."
Many veterans of the old 206th are still living in this community, who will remember when that gallant regiment marched into Richmond. They were brave and vigorous youths then. They are now descending the sunny slope towards life's autumn, but are still honored and respected citizens.