Patrick DeLacey was born on November 25, 1835 near Carbondale, Pennsylvania. Not much is known about DeLacey’s early life and education. DeLacey would enlist in Company A, 143d Pennsylvania Infantry on August 26, 1862.(i) His rank upon enlistment was sergeant. The 143d would organize at Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and officially muster into Federal service on October 18, 1862.(ii)
The 143d Pennsylvania Infantry would be in garrison duty around Washington City. They would be assigned there from November 7, 1862 through January 17, 1863. In January 1863 the 143d would be assigned to US Colonel Roy Stone’s Second Brigade, US Major General Abner Doubleday’s Third Division of US Major General John F. Reynolds’s I Corps. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Reynolds’s I Corps would be involved in the Federal defense of the Rappahannock River crossing at U.S. Ford. Holding the far right flank of the defensive line, the I Corps would be instrumental in allowing US Major General Joe Hooker’s Army of the Potomac to safely retreat across the Rappahannock River, ending the primary fighting at Chancellorsville.
On July 1, 1863, during the first day’s fighting at Gettysburg, DeLacey and the 143d Pennsylvania would be posted along the Chambersburg Pike, during the initial Confederate assaults along McPherson’s Ridge. They stayed in this advanced position throughout the fighting on McPherson’s Ridge, and would be the last Federal regiment to pull back through the streets of Gettysburg. CSA Lieutenant General A.P. Hill recalled their fighting retreat stating they, “fought for some time with much obstinacy,” and he would never forget their color-bearer, “turning round every now and then to shake his fist at the advancing rebels.”(iii) They would suffer 253 casualties of the 465 soldiers brought to Gettysburg – a casualty rate of 54.4%.(iv) After their beating on July 1, the 143d Pennsylvania, and most of the I Corps, would remain in reserve near Cemetery and Culp’s Hills. DeLacey, and the I Corps, would be involved in the pursuit of CSA General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, from July 5–24, 1863. After the Gettysburg Campaign, the 143d Pennsylvania Infantry would be assigned various garrison duties, until the spring campaign season of 1864.
Prior to US Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, the 143d Pennsylvania would be reassigned to Roy Stone’s Third Brigade, US Brigadier General James S. Wadsworth’s Fourth Division of US Major General Gouverneur K. Warren’s V Corps. At the opening battle of the Overland Campaign, the Battle of the Wilderness, Sergeant Patrick DeLacey would provide his most gallant service to the United States. On the second day of the battle, May 6, Stone’s brigade was posted west of Brock Road on the Orange Plank Road. Warren’s V Corps was engaged in a hot battle against CSA Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s 1st Corps.(v) During the fighting at this important crossroads, DeLacey ran ahead of the Federal lines, shooting a Confederate color-bearer, before returning to his own lines. His gallantry rallied much of his brigade, and division, allowing for a successful holding action while awaiting additional reinforcements.
DeLacey would remain in the 143d Pennsylvania Infantry through the remainder of the Civil War, fighting at Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna River, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and the Weldon Railroad. The 143d Pennsylvania would be ordered to Hart’s Island, New York, in February 1865, to guard the prison camp there. During his service, Patrick DeLacey would be promoted to full Sergeant Major on October 6, 1864 and Second Lieutenant on May 24, 1865. For his actions at the Wilderness, DeLacey was awarded the Medal of Honor, on April 24, 1894. His citation read:
Running ahead of the line, under a concentrated fire, he shot the color bearer of a Confederate regiment on the works, thus contributing to the success of the attack.(vi)
After the Civil War, Lieutenant Patrick DeLacey would run for Superior Judge in Pennsylvania. He would die in Scranton, Pennsylvania on April 27, 1915. He was 84. He was buried at Saint Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, Pennsylvania. DeLacey is a true American HERO.
(i) Ancestry.com was used to research this article. Click here for additional information.
(ii) The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System was used to research this article.
(iii) Trudeau, Noah Andre, Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, published by Harper Collins in 2002, Pg. 233.
(iv) Trudeau, Noah Andre, Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, published by Harper Collins in 2002, Pg. 567.
(v) Rhea, Gordon C., The Battle of the Wilderness: May 5–6, 1864, published by Louisiana State University Press in 1994, Pg. 296.
(vi) R.J. (Bob) Pfoft, Editor, United States of America’s Medal of Honor Recipients, Fifth Edition, Pg. 849.