104th Pennsylvania Volunteers
ThIn August 1861, Governor Curtin authorized the raising of a regiment to serve three years in the war. Camp Lacey was established on the west side of Doylestown to train and equip the militia. In November, the regiment departed by train for Washington D.C., to join the Army of the Potomac and earn a hard fought place in the annals of the Civil War. Select from the topics below and rediscover the pride of the community; its history, achievements, and its glory.
and their steeds are dust,
but their souls are with the saints we trust."
-Epitaph to the 104th Regiment
Doylestown, the 104th Regiment, and The Civil War
Article by Marilyn Becker
In August 1861, W.W.H. Davis was given permission by the Secretary of War to recruit an infantry regiment and a six gun battery to join the war effort. Davis was a local man who had studied law in Boston and then participated in the Mexican War. His early years were spent at a military school in Vermont. His efforts to recruit were well received and in a week he had one hundred men enrolled and in ten days four hundred. The enthusiasm was high and Davis decided to make it a Bucks County regiment.
The camp, called Camp Lacy after Brigadier General John Lacy of the Revolutionary War, was located at what is now Central Bucks West High School. Called the Ringgold Regiment by Colonel Davis, the number 104 came later. Local support for the regiment was enthusiastic. People showed up at camp to watch the soldiers and on two trips the regiment made out of camp, people provided bountiful food for the soldiers. More support demonstrated itself when local ladies collected funds to obtain a flag for the regiment. On October 21st, a state flag was presented by then Governor Curtin at a ceremony on the camp parade grounds.
One thousand and forty-nine men left Doylestown to serve the union. Among them Father William Gries from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church who became the regiment’s chaplain. On the trip from Doylestown to Philadelphia, the soldiers were greeted warmly. Leaving Philadelphia, the soldiers arrived in Washington, D.C. The Ringgold Regiment served bravely, one member, Sergeant Purcell, earning the Medal of Honor by saving the colors. They saw action along the Peninsula and the East coast. Colonel Davis was a good commanding officer, taking precautions to protect his men from disease by having the men vaccinated for smallpox and looking out for those who served under his command.
General Davis set two goals for his war service: Write the history of the 104th. and after the war erect a monument in Doylestown for the deceased 104th soldiers. During the company’s “down time,” Colonel Davis kept them busy by baking bread and selling it.
At the end of the war, he had $1,600 set aside. The sum total needed was about $3,000 and in 1868, Memorial Day, the dedication was held. It was a festive time with a parade involving military groups, music, and an excursion train from Philadelphia. At the close of the ceremony, the band played, “Rally Around the Flag, Boys” and then there were cheers.
Monument Square as it was thereafter called, is a distinctive feature of the borough of Doylestown. It signifies the support of the people for the union and dignifies the sacrifices that the 104th gave to preserve the Union.
The monument was built by John Struthers, an American sculptor of the sarcophagus at Washington's Mount Vernon, at a cost of $2,560 Designed after Cleopatra's Needle, the spire was constructed of marble and granite including iron from captured confederate cannons, and was dedicated on the very first official Memorial Day in 1868.
Today, Memorial Day still provides continuing remembrance of the sacrifices of the 104th "Ringgold" Regiment during the Civil War. A granite wall and bronze plaque with special lighting has since been added. The Borough of Doylestown serves as a steward to the monument with the Bucks County Civil War Roundtable as conservators. The fact that the monument stands on county property makes its care a corporative effort.