Colonel William McCandless - Second Regiment, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, 31st PA Infantry. This image was previously sold through Heritage auction for $1,200. We have included two documents "A Special Order" and "Special Requisition" with the image that were not included with the auctioned CDV.
William McCandless, Colonel of the Second Reserve regiment, was born on the 29th of September, 1834, in the city of Philadelphia. After passing through the public schools, he was apprenticed to Richard Norris and Son, to learn the business of a machinist, where he remained for a period of five years. Impelled by the sense of its exalted nature and an aptness within for its mastery, he turned from his trade to the study of the law, and was admitted to practice in 1858. When the call for troops was made in 1861, he enlisted as a private. At the organization of the Second regiment he was chosen and commissioned Major, and subsequently was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and to Colonel. At the head of the upper road, in the battle of Beaver Dam Creek, stood McCandless. It was his first fight; but a veteran could not have behaved with greater valor.
Repeatedly did the enemy assail him, yet with steady nerve he met and hurled them back, and at last begged permission to deliver a counter-charge; but this would have hazarded too much. No less fearless was his bearing at Gaines' Mill, where he was thrown into the breach when the line of battle had given way, and in the dread encounter at Charles City Cross Roads.
At the Second Bull Run Colonel McCandless was severely wounded in the groin, after having maneuvered his regiment with rare skill throughout almost the entire battle, and fought with desperation in face of great odds. He attempted still to lead, and grasped the flag to advance; but had to be carried from the field. He was borne to a hospital in Washington, where, under skilful treatment, he rapidly recovered, and rejoined his regiment at Sharpsburg. At Fredericksburg he led in the assault on the enemy's works, where the only advantage - a gleam of sunshine in a most black and awful day - was gained, and where by his dash he captured an entire regiment of the enemy - the Nineteenth Georgia. The command of the brigade devolved upon him while on the field, and he led it in the battle of Gettysburg. In that memorable struggle on Pennsylvania soil, a victorious foe was pressing on, having overcome brigade after brigade, division after division, and portions of three corps, when McCandless formed for a charge to check and hurl him back in his triumphant course, the enemy having already come within easy rifle-range of the famous Little Round Top. The bullets were flying thick on every hand when the order to advance was given. Never was a charge more resolutely made or more successful in its results. The foe was checked and driven, and a firm line of battle established. On the following day the ground in front, which had run red with the blood of innumerable victims, was swept over, a battery captured, and prisoners, battle-flags, and small arms in abundance.
During the winter of 1863 Colonel McCandless commanded the division. He entered the Wilderness at the head of the First brigade. In obedience to orders he led it forward in that tangled field, where friend could scarcely be distinguished from foe, until he found himself surrounded and the way of retreat cut off. Fortunately he managed to elude his captors and returned to camp. At Spotsylvania Court House he was severely wounded in the hand and disabled from immediate duty, the Reserves then having but a few days longer to serve. The commission of a Brigadier-General was tendered him but he declined it, and returned to Philadelphia, where he resumed the practice of his profession. In 1865 he was elected a member of the Pennsylvania Senate, where he served with great acceptance for a period of six years. Possessed of a pleasing elocution, and ready in debate, he held a commanding influence in that body. He was nominated, in 1872, for Auditor-General of the State, but was defeated. He is at present engaged in his profession at the Philadelphia bar, where he has a large and lucrative practice.
SOURCE: MARTIAL DEEDS OF PENNSYLVANIA BY SAMUEL P. BATES; PHILADELPHIA: T. H. DAVIS & CO., 1876. Part II, Chapter IX, Pages 707-709.
Residence was not listed;
Enlisted on 5/27/1861 as a Major.
On 5/27/1861 he was commissioned into Field & Staff PA 31st Infantry
He was Mustered Out on 6/16/1864 at Philadelphia, PA
He was listed as:
* Wounded 8/30/1862 2nd Bull Run, VA
* Wounded 5/8/1864 Wilderness, VA
* Lt Colonel 10/22/1861
* Colonel 8/1/1862
* Brig-General 7/21/1864 (Declined commission)
born in Pennsylvania
Buried: Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA
Died at age 49 years
McCandless, William, brigadier-general, was born in the state of Pennsylvania and was one of the loyal citizens of that state that offered his services to the Federal government in the early days of the Civil war. He enlisted in the 31st Pa. infantry, which was also known as the 2nd Pa. reserves, and on June 21, 1861, was elected major of that organization. On July 24,with his regiment he left camp at Philadelphia and moved to Harrisburg, leaving that point at once for Baltimore and then proceeded to Harper's Ferry. On Sept. 25, the regiment was assigned to the 1st brigade of the Pennsylvania reserves, becoming the second regiment of the brigade, and at the battle of Mechanicsville it received the brunt of the attack without flinching and was highly praised by the commanding officer. On Oct. 22, Maj. McCandless was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of his regiment and with it was active at Gaines' mill and Glendale, but was in reserve at Malvern hill. He was commissioned colonel on Aug. 1, 1862, was wounded at the second battle of Bull Run, and also participated at Chantilly and the sharp engagement on the old Hagerstown road, near Frederick, MD. At the head of his regiment he was with the 1st Pa. reserves at South mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg, and at the battle of Gettysburg participated in a brilliant charge in which many prisoners and the flag of the 15th infantry was captured. He was active with his regiment at Bristoe Station and in the Mine Run campaign, and during the Wilderness movement, on May 8, 1864, he was again wounded. He remained with his regiment, however, and participated in the battles of that campaign until June 1, his last engagement being at Shady Grove Church, and on June 16, 1864, he was mustered out of the service, the term for which the regiment enlisted having expired. On July 21, 1864, he was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers, but declined the proffered honor and gave his attention to peaceful pursuits.
Pennsylvania 31th Infantry (three years)
Thirty-first Infantry. - Cols., William B. Mann William McCandless. Lieut.- Cols., Albert L. Magilton, William McCandless, George A. Woodward, Patrick McDonough; Majs., George A. Woodward, Horace Neide, Patrick McDonough, Richard Ellis. This regiment, recruited mostly in Philadelphia, was the 2nd regiment of the Pa. reserves. On July 24, 1861, it moved to Harrisburg, but left at once for Baltimore and then proceeded to Harper's Ferry. So much delay and misunderstanding occurred that when the regiment was finally mustered in on Aug. 1, a large number of the men had returned home. The remainder were mustered in on Aug 16, at Hyattstown, for three years. Cos. B, F, G and I were disbanded because their numbers did not come up to the requirements, though Capt. McDonough of Co. B afterward raised a new company and joined the regiment. At Tennallytown on Sept. 25, the regiment was assigned to the 1st brigade of the reserve corps, becoming the 2nd regiment of the brigade. At the battle of Mechanicsville the regiment received the brunt of the attack without flinching and was highly praised by the commanding officer. It was active at Gaines, mill and Glendale, but was in reserve at Malvern hill. The reserves were under fire at the second Bull Run and Chantilly, the 2nd subsequently participating in a sharp engagement on the Old Hagerstown road, near Frederick. It fought with the 1st brigade of the reserves at South mountain Antietam and Fredericksburg, after which a short period of rest followed at Washington. In March 1863, a detail of Co. F, which had been on duty with the artillery rejoined the regiment. Inaction during the campaign on their own soil was unendurable to the men, and in response to their urgent appeal the regiment was ordered to Gettysburg, attached to the 1st brigade, 3d division, 5th corps. In the battle the Bucktails, 1st, 2nd and 11th, made a brilliant charge into the enemy's lines, capturing many prisoners and he flag of the 15th Ga. The 2nd was active at Bristoe Station and in the Mine Run campaign.
In the Wilderness movement, Cos. A, D, E and H were detailed on guard duty from May 4 to 11. The regiment participated in the battles of the campaign till June 1, its last battle being fought at Shady Grove Church after the expiration of its term of enlistment, the men having elected to remain with the army until the rest of the division was relieved. At Philadelphia on June 16, 1864, the men were mustered out, the veterans and recruits being transferred to the 191st Pa. Infantry.
Inventory Number: PRVC 005