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  • Writer's pictureBeth Stenstrom

Captain Horatio Bell

Horatio Bell

Rank: Captain, Company G, 15Oth Pennsylvania Volunteers

Descendants: John W B & John H B

Captain Horatio Bell was commander of Company G of the 150th Pennsylvania Volunteers. The regiment was assigned to Stone’s Brigade in Wadsworth’s Division, Union V Corps, Chapter XIX of the regimental history contains an account of the regiment at the Wilderness, that includes the following:

• Served as skirmishers for the Division’s attack south of the Orange Turnpike, May 5. Made contact at 11:00 a.m.. The Iron Brigade passed through the 150th during the attack.

• Participated in Wadsworth’s and Hancock’s attack at 5:30 a.m., May 6. Crossed Orange Place road and proceeded west advancing about one mile.

• Driven back with the rest of the Union Army by Longstreet’s advance during the day.

• Participated in driving the Confederates out of the Brock Road defenses at 4:00 p.m., May 6.

The regimental history provides the following account of Horatio Bell’s death, which occurred at the Brock Road defenses late in the afternoon of May 6:

“The division fell back to the Brock (or “mud”) road at its intersection with the plank road, where a line of defences had been thrown up the previous evening. This fortified position as held tenaciously until the middle of the afternoon, when Longstreet’s troops, by a heavy attack, succeeded in effecting a lodgment in a part of the works. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Osborne, division inspector, had got together the remnants of Colonel Roy Stones’ brigade, with the brigade and the several regimental colors still safe, and leading them into the woods a few yards from Plank Road, reformed their line and instructed them to refresh themselves with coffee and such other supplies as their haversacks contained. Colonel Hoffman, of the 56th Pennsylvania, reformed Rice’s Brigade of Wadsworth’s Division near the same spot. Colonel Stone had been disabled on the evening of the fifth by a fall from his horse, compelling him to retire, and at Osborne’s suggestion, Lieutenant Colonel Irvin of the 149th Pennsylvania assumed command of his brigade. About four o’clock, soon after Longstreet had won a portion of the fortified line .near the intersection of the two roads, General Hancock, accompanied by one of his aides, Captain Wilson, came riding through the woods, and, finding Irvin’s and Hoffman’s men in good shape, called out sharply, “What troops are those?” Receiving a prompt response, he said, “just what I want,” and immediately gave orders to the two brigades to charge and retake the lost works. Instantly the lines were formed and, advancing swiftly, rushed upon the intrenchments, which after a brief but bloody encounter, were freed from the clutch of the enemy, who was pursued far beyond into the woods.”

“Among those who lost their lives in the brilliant and successful charge was Captain Horatio Bell, of Company G, who was one of the first to mount the works and with the rifle which was his constant companion in the field gave proofs of superior marksmanship. Though comparatively devoid of education, and as little versed in the niceties of the tactics as in the processes of the higher mathematics, he possessed a great natural ability, was accomplished in woodcraft, and with an absolute devotion to the cause of the Union united a degree of physical courage that was equal to any test.

He died lamented not only by his own company, but by the entire regiment and by many outside of the command, who recognized his zeal, his valor and his rugged honesty.”

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