Recruiting The Regiment: New York Regimental Posters

How did they sell the idea of going to war to fighting and possibly die? Here’s a look at some recruiting posters from the New York Historical Society. (You can click on the images to view them larger.)

For the 87th New York Infantry:

This unit recruited in Brooklyn, New York and mustered into service on November 20, 1861. The volunteers had enlisted for three years and marched off to war commanded by Colonel Stephen A. Dodge. They did fight under McClellan in the III Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula Campaign. Their other prominent engagements included the Second Bull Run Campaign and the Battle of Chantilly. The regiment dissolved on September 6, 1862, combining with the 40th New York Infantry and the 173rd New York Infantry. During its brief time as a unit, only 49 men were lost, though others who had enlisted but fought with their new units were killed or wounded in other engagements.

For Goodwin’s New York Militia Battery:

Goodwin’s New York Militia Battery formed quickly during the summer invasion of 1863 (Gettysburg Campaign) and just as quickly disbanded in August 1863.

The quote bubbles in the poster read: Citizen on the left: “We will come. We know our country’s need, and will respond to her call…” Soldier on the right: “Americans! Your country calls. Your cherished institutions and your Noble Flag are threatened by rebels and traitors…”

For the 36th New York Infantry:

This appears to be a recruitment post to send new volunteers to the regiments. The smaller text beneath the colonel’s name reads:

The 36th New York Infantry mustered in on June 14, 1861 with a two years’ enlistment period, so this recruiting to re-fill the units ranks probably took place in the late autumn of 1862. The regiment lost nearly 200 men during the Peninsula Campaign, their heaviest losses at Malvern Hill. The unit—likely with their new recruits—fought at Fredericksburg, took part in the Mud March, and battled at Marye’s Heights and Salem Church during the Chancellorsville Campaign. Sent back to New York City to muster out, the regiment actually stayed in service longer to help put down the Draft Riots and their final casualties occurred during that homefront violence.

For the 139th New York Regiment:

Colonel Anthony Cook recruited the 139th New York Regiment during the summer of 1862, mustering the unit into service on September 9, 1862, for three years of service. According to a newspaper account: “The regiment goes out over eight hundred strong, and commanded by good and efficient officers. It has been principally raised in Brooklyn, and composed of a respectable and muscular body of men…. About one hundred and fifty stragglers were left behind, for whom the police are on a sharp lookout.”

The regiments most notable actions were in 1864 at the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and Cold Harbor, and Fort Harrison. It was the third regiment to enter Richmond in April 1865.


New York Historical Society Online Archives, Civil War Posters, 1861-1865:

New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center:


7 Responses to Recruiting The Regiment: New York Regimental Posters

  1. Please rename this very good series “Recruiting Union Regiments”. Apparently Southern regiments were not recruited.

    1. The series has covered a couple of CS units, from Missouri and Louisiana. Stay tuned, we’re also not done.

  2. Great stuff, Sarah. The 87th New York incorporated elements of the 13th New York State Militia.

  3. The NY-Historical Society, NY State Military Museum and the NY Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library all have great archives of recruiting materials. More soldiers were raised in New York than any other state, so more recruiting for more regiments was done here.

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