Colonel Richard Petit Roberts
July 2, 1863 the 140th Pa., a regiment of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Div., 2nd Corps, advanced through the Wheatfield and advanced to the crest of the Stoney Hill led by 43 year old Colonel R. P. Roberts. A 1st Lieutenant of the 140th Pa., W. A. Shallenberger, provides a description of the final actions of Colonel Roberts. "Steadily and rapidly we filed to the right and at length reached the crest of the hill, faced the foe, loaded and fired at will and closed ranks, torn open by savage volleys of musketry and screaming shells. Looking toward the peach orchard we saw our right exposed and the enemy threatening our flank and rear. Change front by the right flank was the order. Colonel Roberts sprang to the front of the right company, to lead in person, when he fell with a bullet through his heart. He was in command of the Brigade when he gave up his life that the Nation might live. General Zook had previously fallen and Roberts, the senior Colonel was his successor. Tenderly, loving hands carried the body a few rods to the rear and the battle maintained its integrity. Men fall. The ranks close. Officers cease to command and intelligent volunteer soldiery fight equally well without specific orders at a time and place like that. For a short time the body of our beloved Colonel lay between the armies. When recovered the fine uniform he wore, and the elegant sword and belt presented to him by the citizens of Beaver, were missing."
Richard P. Roberts was born in June of 1820 to the grandchildren of an American Revolutionary War soldier and an Indian fighter. He was raised on his parents farm near Frankford Springs, Pa. His education began at an academy located in Frankfort Springs and continued until, in 1848, he was admitted to the bar. He held various positions in public service leading to his eventual election as District Attorney for the county of Beaver, Pennsylvania.
In 1851, Richard married Miss Caroline Henry, sister of Thomas Henry, the future Captain of Company F. of the 140th Pa. (eventually promoted to Major) during the Gettysburg campaign. Three children were born to Richard by Caroline during their marriage. Tragically, by the summer of 1862, Richard had lost his wife and two of their three children. His sole surviving child, Emma, lived to eventually become named "Daughter of the Regiment" by the veterans of the 140th Pennsylvania.
Richard Roberts, responding to President Lincoln's call for volunteers, raised not one but three companies of volunteers. In a public square of Beaver the 3 companies were mustered into service August 21, 1862. The 140th Pa., initially assigned to Gen. Wool in Baltimore, was detailed to guard the Northern Central Railroad. Company and Battalion drill were stress by Colonel Roberts as the unit performed its guard duty assignment for 3 months.
Col. Roberts and the 140th Pa. were assigned, December 20, 1862, to S. K. Zook's 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division of the 2nd Corps at Falmouth. The first engagement for Col. Roberts was to be at Chancellorsville. After the Chancellorsville campaign Colonel Roberts left the regiment on sick leave, suffering from a low malarial fever. Upon hearing of Lee's move north, Roberts, although still not completely well, left Washington and caught up with his regiment on the 30th of June. He had been in the service of his country for only 10 months when he was killed leading his men on July 2.
Final respects were given as he was laid to rest July 17, 1863. He is buried in a cemetery in
Stewart, Robert History of the One hundred and fortieth regiment, Pennsylvania
Volunteers, Philadelphia, 1912
Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 2 volumes, Harrisburg, 1904
Information gathered and written by Bradley Eide
I am constantly searching for additional information; specifically diaries, letters, CDV's or any additional information on the 140th, General Zook and the other regiments in his brigade. Please email me for questions, comments etc. Sam_Zook@msn,com