Question of the Week: 5/4-5/10/20

We had such great response last week with the question about brigades, let’s do regiments next.

What’s your favorite Civil War regiment? Why?

38 Responses to Question of the Week: 5/4-5/10/20

  1. Because I’m biased towards the 12th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, I won’t mention them. Instead, allow me to introduce the most under-appreciated Federal fighting force, and my pick as favorite Civil War regiment: the 1st U.S. Artillery. Based at Barrancas Barracks and tasked with defence of Pensacola Harbor, the acting-commander of that unit took notice of unusual happenings end of December 1860; and with the arrival of the New Year, due to adequate foresight and preparation, the undermanned 1st U.S. Artillery wrangled U.S. Navy assistance, crossed the Bay, and occupied the strongest bastion, Fort Pickens, mere hours before Florida seceded on 10 JAN 1861 …and held Fort Pickens for the duration of the war. [The 1st U.S. Artillery is also the Federal regiment that held out at Fort Sumter as long as they could…]

  2. I am more partial to those that served from our local region. 13th, 108th and 140th NY Infantry. 1st NY Light Artillery Battery L. 8th and 22nd NY Cavalry. I have many regimental favorites in both armies. I ‘m currently reading a history of the 4th Iowa Cavalry.

  3. 1st South Carolina Volunteers. One of the first African-American regiments in a very interesting although a bit understudied theater of the war. Their exploits contributed a lot towards the establishment of the United States Colored Troops.

  4. 118th PA Infantry…nicknamed the Corn Exchange Regiment after the Philadelphia Bank that sponsored the regiment…mustered in during the summer of ’62…first fought at Sheperdstown after Antietam…got a bloody nose from Lee’s rear guard and lost about 280 of 800 men — many who drowned trying to recross the Potomac…served in the First Division (same as the 20th Maine), Fifth Corps throughout the war…one of the many hard fighting regiments in the Army of the Potomac…part of the 5th Corps formation that rec’d the surrender of the ANV on 12 April…my favorite because my Great-great Grandfather served in Company G.

  5. Three regiments have especially stood out to me in my various projects: 14th Brooklyn (14th NYSM), 100th Pennsylvania, and 1st Wisconsin.

  6. The 28th Regiment North Carolina Infantry. Lanes Brigade. Involved in all of the major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia . Major role at Spotsylvania….my favorite battle to study … most iconic , well known Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia …also my GG Grandad was a Pvt. in Company H.

  7. The 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment – i had a couple great-great uncles that served the duration of the civil war in it.

  8. The 22nd Regiment USCT. My g-g-grandfather was a captain in Co. C. His regiment was chosen to lead Lincoln’s funeral March from the White House to the Capitol.

  9. 37th Illinois led by the Black brothers from Vermilion County. One company was armed with Colt’s revolving rifles.

  10. 13th Vermont, part of the 2nd Vermont Brigade A nine month regiment that attacked the right flank of Pickett’s Charge and the brigades of Lane and Wilcox on July 3rd. The also recaptured a battery of artillery on July 2nd that had been overrun by wrights Brigade. Gettysburg was their only combat action days before they were due to be mustered out. More than a few reenlisted in the 17th Vermont raised after Gettysburg and served for the duration of the war

  11. Again, my Louisiana-bias behooves me to say that the 6th LA Infantry is my favorite. Also because it was the first regiment I seriously studied when I had thought I had an ancestor in it. Found out I didn’t, but stumbled upon a mystery concerning Company A. Hardly anyone in that regiment shows up in census records before or after the war and little is known about the soldiers who joined up with the “Union and Sabine Rifles”. Just intriguing.

  12. While I don’t have a favorite regiment, I am fascinated by the Zouave units and how they–and other units evolved over the course of the war. Also, has anyone studied how individual units reintegrated into society after the war and how they interacted with each other after the war?

    1. Your topic suggestion is excellent. I have done a few soldier studies from the 11th new York–John Wildey, Frank Brownell, etc. Units as such didn’t really reintegrate. Individuals did. The 11th NY is a bit different in that they retruned to New York (mostly) after First Bull Run. From there several things happened: the soldier did not return to the army, the soldier helped organize other regiments to honor Colonel Ellsworth, or the soldier joined up again.

  13. I’m certainly partial to two: 26th Missouri Infantry and the 1st Missouri Light Artillery. The 26th is a solid, if unspectacular, infantry regiment that served through much of the war in the Army of the Tennessee. It contained a lot of men from my part of the state. The 1st Missouri Light Artillery started out as the 3-month 1st Missouri Infantry, fighting at Wilson’s Creek, and then reorganized as a 3 year regiment that became artillery. Those batteries served all over the place.

  14. I would like to suggest a potential question for the future: During the 6 weeks of the 1864 Overland Campaign, there were over 64,000 casualties .. Over the last 6 weeks, the nation has suffered over 64,000 casualties in our fight against Covid 19. How can we use our experience and response as a society to help inform an understanding of their experience and response as a society?

    1. not thing to do with the question . and be sides what in the hell are you talking about ???

  15. I’m partial to the 47th North Carolina Infantry because I have two great-great grandfathers that served in the regiment.

  16. 23rd Ohio, the first 3-year regiment from the state. Two future presidents (Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley), at least two future lieutenant governors (Robert Kennedy, William Lyon), one Senator/Supreme Court Justice (Stanley Matthews), and two future congressmen (Kennedy again, William Rosecrans–although he’s not known for a Congressional career). Some of these gents held several different positions.

  17. The 2nd US Cavalry. I’ve always been partial to cavalry, the 2nd fought in their share of engagements. Plus I’ve always liked John Buford.

  18. The 1st Minnesota, their actions at Gettysburg showed unbelievable bravery.

  19. Colonel Elmer Ellsworth’s 11th New York “Fire Zouaves,” of course. Huzzah!

  20. The Maryland and Kentucky Regiments on both sides of the conflict…..especially hard to bear when allegiances among families and neighbors torn asunder !

  21. The 9th Georgia Cavalry Regiment, better known as Cobb’s Legion Cavalry Battalion is my favorite. One of my great-great grandfathers was in company H from Athens, GA. The Legion cavalry was very instrumental with ensuring the Confederates held Fleetwood Hill during the Battle of Brandy Station. They participated in many hard fought battles throughout the war. I’ve read several places where Wade Hampton said they were the best cavalry on either side.

  22. Any regiment I had an uncle or grandfather in… 143rd, 157th, 137th, 107th, 188th NY Infantry, 15th and 21st NY Cavalry, 50th NY Engineers, 66th Indiana Infantry… the list goes on. I love to study battles and campaigns I know an ancestor of mine actually participated in.

  23. The 8th Missouri State Militia Cavalry. Two of my 2-great grandma’s brothers were in Co. H. The regiment’s only major battles were against Price’s 1864 raid. But they fought guerrillas throughout Missouri & Arkansas from 1862-65. No other Union state militias, and few Confederate state militias, saw more combat than the Union Mo State Militia.

  24. The 45th Illinois Infantry. I am starting my research into my next project/book – a regiment that fought in the Army of Tennessee in many/most of the key battles in the western theater. Of course units that have plentiful of primary sources is also a key requirement. If anyone has

    1. When conducting research on the 45th Illinois (Washburne Lead Mine Regiment) an easy figure to overlook is Surgeon Frank Reilly. This man arrived at Pittsburg Landing in early April 1862, was just settling into Army routine, tending to cases of “camp fever” …and the Battle of Shiloh erupted Sunday morning April 6th. Surgeon Reilly immediately launched himself into action, tending to wounded men in the shelter of a swale just in rear of the regiment, when a minie ball found his leg. No longer able to perform his duties, Surgeon Reilly staggered and crawled his way to the rear, was put aboard a steamer pressed into service as Hospital Ship, and evacuated with other wounded soldiers north. And Frank Reilly’s brief time with the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry came to an end. [And another facet of Frank Reilly: he had obtained a contract with the Chicago Daily Tribune, to provide reports from the front, before departing for duty in Tennessee; and his experience at Shiloh occupies most of Page one and much of page two of the 14 April 1862 edition (available at Chronicling America).]
      Mike Maxwell

      1. Thanks Mike – I did not know that about Dr. Reilly (his time after the serving with the regiment). But I do cover his wounding at Shiloh in manuscript. Tom

      2. 45th Illinois references:
        The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged by Major David W. Reed (1909).
        SDG (Shiloh Discussion Group, online). Put “Reilly” and “45th Illinois” in Search Box.
        William R. Rowley was initially with 45th Illinois and then joined the staff of General U. S. Grant (Feb or March 1862).
        “Pinhook Expedition” [details at SDG]
        Letter of John P. Jones 45th Illinois of 24 AUG 1862 (at Library of Congress)
        Bibliography of Illinois Civil War regimental sources [see page 122 for 45th Illinois]

  25. The 20th WI which had a diverse & fascinating history. First it was recruited throughout the state in an effort to expedite its completion which actually backfired. Once it reached the war zone its initial “combat” was to fix bayonets vs friendly units to force them to cross into Arkansas. In the Trans-Mississippi theater they participated in one of the most decisive forced marches (100+ miles) in the war in December to attack during the Battle of Prarie Grove. In ’63 they were part of Grant’s force at Vicksburg & then were stationed on the Rio Grande to discourage French interests. They actually “invaded” Mexico for 24 hours. In ’65 they attacked the forts defending Mobile Bay & forced its surrender.

  26. The 38th GA Infantry, part of the Lawton-Gordon Evans Brigade. Who would dare to fail when led by these storied Confederate Generals? A few of their exploits: Broke the federal line at Gaines Mill: Fired the first shots at Antietam; Counterattacked and restored Jackson’s line at Fredericksburg; Crushed Federal right flank on the first day at Gettysburg; Counterattacked the Federal Iron Brigade on the first day at the Wilderness which stabilized the Confederate line; Marched to the gates of Washington, DC during the summer of ’64; Of 1200 strong, 105 surrendered at Appomattox. For more details, see Gary Nichols’ “Hurrah For Georgia! The history of the 38th GA Regiment. With honor to Pvt. James M Denney, Company F. February 1862 to May 1864.


  28. General Evander McIver Law was my great grandfather, who although a South Carolinian and graduate of The Citadel, was teaching in Alabama at the time of the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston. He began recruiting students and volunteers, becoming eventually the leader of the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment of Hood’s Division. There is so much to tell of his leadership and his relationships, especially with Gen. Longstreet, that I am finally beginning to research and accumulate anything that has been written about ‘the General,” as our family refers to him. Anything anyone can contribute to this pursuit, will be delightedly received. Anita Law Beaty, Atlanta

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