Nicholas Sotter (Satter, Sotter’s)

Co. G, 74th P.V.I.


He was born on January 17, 1840 in Allegany County, Pennsylvania. He was employed as a carpenter prior to enlisting for three years on September 10, 1861 after the disastrous Battle of Bull Run. His enlistment papers describe him as twenty-one years of age, five foot / ten inches tall, with a light complexion, gray eyes and black hair. He initially enlisted with Company G, 35th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was moved via Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. where he mustered in as a private in Company G, 74th Pennsylvania Infantry and, was attached to Blenker’s Brigade, Division of the Potomac. He trained and assumed duty in the Washington defenses. In March, 1862 he was attached to Bohlen’s 3rd  Brigade, Blenker’s Division, 2nd Army of the Potomac. In April, he was attached to the Department of the Mountains and traveled to Petersburg, W. VA., Shenandoah Operations


He served with Freemont, the “Pathfinder”, in the early battles in West Virginia and at Cross Keys during Jackson’s Valley Campaign. In June, he joined the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of Virginia. In this capacity, he served with Pope in his northern Virginia operations at Freeman’s Ford and Hazel Run. After arriving too late for the action at Groveton, he participated in the attack on the rebel left under Jackson while under the command of Schurz.  He participated in the disastrous attack on the infamous railroad cut where Union forces were repulsed with heavy casualties. After the loss at Bull Run, he retreated to Centerville under Pope. He was promoted to Corporal in September of that year as part of the 11th Corps reorganization. He was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division and served in the Washington defenses until November when they moved to the Fredericksburg area via Centerville. He participated in the infamous January 1863 “Mud March” and camped just east of Stafford Court House where they spent a very difficult winter.


General Howard assumed command of the 11th Corps after a series of command changes and began the flanking maneuver to Chancellorsville via Kelly’s Ford. Jackson’s counter flank maneuver hit the 74th late in the evening of  May 2nd and struck the 74th on three sides. The regiment made an excellent stand under the conditions and enabled portions of the 11th Corps to redeploy in a north-south line at the Wilderness Church. On May 3rd, the 74th was placed in reserve at the rear. On May 3rd, he was promoted to sergeant due to his prior performance.


In July, he joined with the rest of 11th Corps in meeting Lee’s forces north of Gettysburg where they had only enough strength to form a skirmish line, which held until overwhelmed on three sides. He withdrew with the regiment to Cemetery Ridge where they underwent a night attack by Early’s Division.


He joined the badly depleted regiment in the move to the Charleston, South Carolina area as part of the 1st Brigade, Gordon’s Division, 10th Corps, Department of the South. He participated in the attacks on Secessionville and Wagner.


In August, 1864, he was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, Derussy’s Division, 22 Corps, Department of Washington where he served in Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy.


He mustered out on September 29th at Harpers Ferry as a sergeant and returned to the Pittsburgh area. His records indicate that he was not wounded during his service. After the war, he married Catherine Good and fathered seven children. He died on December 4, 1917 in the Pittsburgh area.


After the war, he was a member of the Grand Army of the Potomac. One of his favorite stories involved the long distances that they marched and how they did so both day and night. To acquire the necessary sleep, they marched three abreast. The one in the middle slept and marched while those on either side provided the necessary guidance and stride.


Biography by Bert Sobers