Biographical Profile: Colonel Daniel Leasure, First Commander and "Father of the Roundheads" and Better Known as Col. Leasure of Leasure's Brigade (3rd Brigade), of the 1st Division of the 9th Army Corps.

Transcribed from available historical sources by Tami McConahy, 2nd great-grandniece of Corp. Thomas John Martin, Co. F.


History of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania; L.H. Everts & Co. 1877

Page 194

"Daniel Leasure, Colonel of the 100th (Roundhead) regiment, and Brevet Brigadier General, was born in Westmoreland county, on the 18th of March, 1819. His great-grandfather, Abraham Leasure, emigrated to Pennsylvania from the borders of Switzerland, near France, whither the ancestors of the family had fled after the massacre of St. Bartholomew, they being Huguenots of Nayarre. He studied medicine, and graduated at Jefferson Medical College. He was married in September, 1842, to Isabel W., eldest daughter of Samuel Hamilton, for several years a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature. He had served in the militia, and, at the opening of the rebellion, raised a company, and was made Adjutant, and also Acting Assistant Adjutant General of the brigade upon the staff General Negley. At the close of the three-months' term, he was authorized to raise a veteran regiment. Lawrence county, where he had taken up his residence, had been largely settled by the descendants of those who had followed Cromwell in the struggles of the English people for liberty, and from among them he drew recruits, appropriately designating it the "Roundhead" regiment. Colonel Leasure was the first sent to the department of the South, where his command formed part of the brigade of General Isaac I. Stevens. In the attack upon Tower Fort, near Secessionville, on the morning of the 16th of June, 1862, Colonel Leasure led the brigade, and won the commendation of General Stevens.

 

These passages are taken from

The 20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens, edited and compiled by Hon. Aaron L. Hazen, New Castle (1908).

Chapter XI

THE MEDICAL PROFESSION

Page 166

Prominent Physicians of the Past and of the Present

"Dr. Daniel Leasure graduated at Jefferson Medical College in 1846. He settled in New Castle in 1849, and practiced in the city successfully until the breaking out of the rebellion, when he organized tow military companies in the vicinity. He was shortly afterwards promoted to a colonelcy, and served with distinction during the entire war, at the close of which he was breveted brigadier-general. He then practiced a few years in this city, removing, in 1870, to Allegheny City."

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Chapter XIII

MILITARY HISTORY

Page 193

"It was in the War of the Rebellion the citizens of Lawrence County made a record which shines with the greatest of lustre. With a population far less than many of the other counties of the State, it sent from the various walks of life some 4,000 in enlisted and drafted men, of whom nearly five hundred never lived to survive the war. Others returned maimed and injured and illy prepared to take up life's battles in the business world, but proud to have rendered their country a service in the hour of its greatest need.

 

Within a few hours after the arrival of news concerning the capture of Fort Sumter by the Confederates, a company of young men was recruited in New Castle, and shortly went by canal to Pittsburg, where the Twelfth Regiment was being recruited. The New Castle men were organized into two companies, F and H, with Capt. Edward O'Brien in command of the former and Capt. Daniel Leasure in command of the latter. Leaving Pittsburg April 24, 1861, the Twelfth Regiment arrived in Harrisburg the next day, were reviewed by Governor Curtain and mustered into the United States service. They went into camp immediately at Camp Scott, near York, Pa., and were drilled for several weeks. May 19 the regiment was clothed and given accoutrements, and on May 25 was ordered to move and take possession of the Baltimore and Harrisburg Railway, from the State line to the city of Baltimore, which it did, maintaining the headquarters at Cockeysville. The regiment was mustered out of service at Harrisburg, August 5, 1861, its work having been performed without strife or bloodshed. Many of the men of Company F and Company H afterward re-entered the army, Captain Leasure going out as colonel of the famous 100th, or Roundhead Regiment, and Captain O'Brien becoming colonel of the 134th Regiment of Pennsylvania."

 

Page 194

"The One Hundredth Regiment of Pennsylvania, which is known in history as the Roundhead Regiment (so called because the territory form which it was recruited was settled by the Covenanters who had followed Cromwell), had more Lawrence County men enrolled in its ranks than any other regiment. It was recruited by Capt. Daniel Leasure, whom we have previously mentioned in connection with the Twelfth Regiment, by authority of the Secretary of War, under date of August 6, 1861. Companies B, E, F, H, I and K were recruited in Lawrence County, and on September 2, 1861, the regiment, consisting of twelve companies, proceeded to Washington and encamped at Kalorama Heights. Upon organization, Daniel Leasure was commissioned colonel of the regiment. The regiment was brigaded October 7, 1861, with the Eighth Michigan and Fiftieth Pennsylvania, with Colonel Leasure as ranking officer in command. It joined the command of Gen. W. T. Sherman, at Annapolis, destined for the coast of South Carolina. On request of Colonel Leasure to the Secretary of War, the Seventy-ninth New York was assigned to the brigade, and on October 12, 1861, Gen. Isaac I. Stevens was assigned to its command. October 19 they set sail for Fortress Monroe, thence under sealed orders for Port Royal Entrance; they arrived on November 5, and on the 7th the gunboats advanced to the attack on Forts Walker and Beauregard, driving the enemy from the works. The troops landed and took possession of the forts, and Hilton Head and Lady's Island. Fortifications were erected, and General Stevens' brigade was here stationed for one month, then proceeded further inland to the town of Beaufort. General Hunter, who had relieved General Sherman in this department, undertook the reduction of Charleston. With this object in view, on June 1, 1862, General Stevens moved with his brigade through Stony Inlet to James Island, took possession of the village of Lagareville and moved into the interior of the island. They erected forts and performed guard duty, and during their stay were under almost constant fire from the enemy's forts. June 16, they made an attack on Tower Fort, near Secessionville, which was held by a large force and commanded the approaches to Charleston by the James Island causeway. The attack was repelled with heavy losses, and the operations against Charleston were suspended. July 4 the brigade returned to Hilton Head, and on July 13 to Beaufort, thence on to Merrimac, which was on a trial trip, to Virginia, going into camp at Newport News. It participated in the second battle of Bull Run, August 29 and 30, and fought gloriously, but at an awful sacrifice of lives. On the second day they fell back before overwhelming numbers to Centreville, and on September 1 took part in the hotly contested battle at Chantilly, in which the Union Army triumphed."

 

Page 195

"The One Hundredth Regiment participated in the battle of South Mountain, September 14th, but having lost nearly all its line officers was not engaged actively at Antietam on September 17th, being held in reserve. Colonel Leasure, who had his horse shot from under him on the second day at Bull Run, and had himself been severely wounded, returned from the hospital to the front in October, and was sent by General Burnside to bring up the absentees and convalescents of the Ninth Corps, assembled in camp near Washington. About 4,000 were thus added to the strength of the corps, 200 of whom were members of the One Hundredth Pennsylvania. During the progress of the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, this regiment, with its division, was held in reserve, and on December 15th was deployed as skirmishers to cover the retreat of General Sumner's forces. In June, 1863, the Ninth Corps was ordered to the support of General Grant at Vicksburg, and was there placed to guard the fords of the Big Black River, remaining until the surrender of Pemberton, July 4th. After the fall of Vicksburg, it was Sherman's Army on the expedition against Jackson. They were then sent to East Tennessee, going by boat to Cairo, thence by rail to Cincinnati, thence to Camp Nelson, in Kentucky. Owing to the ravages of disease, due to poor water in the south, hot weather and hardships, their ranks were greatly depleted when they left Camp Nelson on September 25th, fully one-forth of the One Hundredth Regiment being left in hospitals. The regiment got into action, about Knoxville, and on January 1, 1864, notwithstanding their hardships and privations, the entire regiment, with the exception of twenty-seven, re-enlisted for a second term of three years. They returned home on veteran furlough, and on March 8th rendezvoused at Camp Copeland, near Pittsburg, with a sufficient number of recruits to raise the regiment to a strength of 977 men. It proceeded to Annapolis, where it was brigaded with the Twenty-first Massachusetts and Third Maryland, forming the Second Brigade, First Division, with Colonel Leasure in command. They participated in the battle of the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania Court House, North Anna River, Cold Harbor, a series of battles before Petersburg, in the engagement along the Weldon Railroad, Poplar Springs Church, Hatcher's Run, Fort Steadman, and the final assault upon Petersburg. The regiment was mustered out at Washington, D.C., July 24, 1865."

 

In the battle of Second Bull Run, Colonel Leasure, while leading the brigade, had his horse shot from under him, and himself received a severe wound. He recovered in time to take part in the battle of Fredericksburg, and soon after went with two divisions of the 9th corps, to which he was then attached, to Kentucky, and thence to Vicksburg, where, and at Jackson, he participated in three triumphant achievements, which opened the Mississippi, and really broke the backbone of the rebellion.

 

From Vicksburg he proceeded with his troops to East Tennessee, and was active in the operations of the Union arms in that region, and in the siege of Knoxville. At the battle of the Wilderness, on the 6th of May, where he commanded a brigade, he led in a charge which hurled the rebels from the works which they had captured from Union troops, and re-established the broken and disorganized line, receiving the thanks of General Hancock on the field.

 

At Spottsylvania Court House, Colonel Leasure was wounded. At the conclusion of his term, on the 30th of August, 1864, he was mustered out of service. He was breveted Brigadier General in April, 1865. Upon his return to civil life, he resumed the practice of his profession, first at New Castle, and subsequently at Allegheny."

 

Note by David L. Welch:

It is interesting to note that the recorded Histories of Lawrence County, PA do not mention that Col. Leasure had relocated from western Pennsylvania to Minnesota as of 1884 as evidenced by this October 20, 1884 letter of affadavit found in Col. Norman J. Maxwell's pension file from U.S. Archives! At this time Dr. Leasure was operating a medical practice in St. Paul, MN.

 

Sir,

In reply to yours of the 10th in relation to the case of Norman J. Maxwell whose application for pension #465.305 is pending, in your office they to state, that on the night of the 5th of May 1864, he was in command of his company (E) on picket duty guarding the fords of the Rappahonack and before starlight my brigade was ordered to march and that it was reported to me by the regimental surgeon that Capt. Maxwell had stepped in a hole or in some way hurt his leg or ankle and asked me what should be done with him as we were evidently about to engage the enemy. I instructed him to put him in one of the ambulances going to General Hospital at Fredericksburg. I think he was sent there. When afterwards I saw his ranking officers killed in battle V(?). Dawson (?), Joe Pentecost Lt. Col. and had a horse I think, I do not remember anything farther concerning the case that is not set forth.

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