Kane started recruiting in northern and central Pennsylvania, and
it is reputed to have been in Smethport, in McKean County, that the
Bucktails received their famous nickname, when a Private James Landrigan,
feeling that the uniform was too drab, saw a deer carcass hanging
up in a butchers shop and took the tail which he then fixed to his
forage cap. Kane accepted the adornment and encouraged the rest of
the regiment to wear a "Bucktail". The legend was born.
a brief time in the service of the state of Pennsylvania, the Bucktails
entered the National Service as part of General McCall's Reserves.
The Bucktail regiment was commanded by Colonel Charles Biddle, an
army regular. Kane had turned down the rank because he felt he was
too inexperienced. However, he did take the rank of Lt. Colonel.
first major action the Bucktails took part in was the battle at
Gaines Mill (June 1862), during the Peninsular Campaign. Here, in
support of a Union Battery, the Bucktails held off their enemy until
their ammunition ran out. When ordered to withdraw, Company E failed
to hear the order and were eventually captured.
the Peninsular Campaign, Colonel Kane had taken companies C,G,H
and I into the Shenandoah Valley, where they were attached to Bayards
"Flying Brigade" of cavalry.
Bucktails took part in actions at Harrisonburg, Port Republic and
2nd Bull Run (Aug 1862). During this time, Charles Biddle left the
Regiment, and Hugh McNiel was given the command. The regiment was
now armed with Sharps rifles, they were originally issued with "Harpers
Ferry" muskets, which had not pleased the men at all, having
sent "better" weapons home upon enlistment. At 2nd Bull
Run General Reynolds complimented the Bucktails on their fierce
tenacity and coolness under fire. Their next major action was at
the Battle of Antietam (Sept 1862) and during this battle that Colonel
McNiel was killed while advancing. The Bucktails were outraged and
forced a superior number of Confederates from the woods. McNeil
was succeeded by a 23 year old ,Colonel Charles F Taylor.
next major engagement for the Bucktails was at Gettysburg (July
1863). The Bucktails, now part of the 5th Corps under General McCandless,
entered the battle on the second day and fought in the "wheatfield"
and Colonel Charles F Taylor was killed.
next major action was the battle of the Wilderness (May 1864). The
Bucktails were now armed with Spencer repeating rifles and took
a fierce toll on the enemy.
Bucktails finally mustered out of service on June 13th 1864 after
a three year enlistment. Out of a total of 1165 men, 848 were killed,
wounded, captured or missing.