3rd New York Infantry Regiment's Civil War Historical Sketch

From The 3rd Annual Report Of The Bureau Of Military Statistics

The Third regiment infantry, N. Y. S. V., or " First Albany regiment," was organized at Albany. It was composed of companies recruited and accepted as follows, viz:
Co. Where recruited. By whom recruited. Date of acceptance.
A Williamsburgh, L. I. Capt. Abel Smith, jr........... Order. 13, April 20, 1861.
B. Ncwburgh, N. Y. ----- Capt. S. W. Fullerton, jr....... Order 15, April 20, 1861.
C. Albany, N. Y.......... Capt. Elbridge G. Floyd....... Order 14, April 20, 1861. 
D. Syracuse, N. Y..... Capt. John G. Butler.......... Order 69, April 21, 1861.
B. Albany, N. Y..... Capt. Justus W. Blanchard..... Order 41, April 20, 1861.
F. do .......... Capt. Henry S. Hulbert ....... Order 98, April 22, 1661.
G. do ......... Capt. J. H. Ten Eyek jr....... Order 148, April 23, 1861.
H. Owego, N.Y........... Capt. Isaac S. Catlin........... Order 158, April 24,1861.
I. Albany, N. Y.......... Capt. Edward S. Jenny......... Order l79, April 27, 1861.
K. Havana, N. Y......... Capt. John E. Mulford......... Order 232, April 25, 1861.
On the 24th of April, Capts. Smith, Fullerton, Floyd, Blanchard Hulbert, Ten Eyck and Butler were directed to meet and elect field officers, and on the 25th the election of Frederick Townsend as colonel, and Samuel M. Alford as lieutenant colonel, was confirmed. These proceedings, however, were set aside. At a meeting of the State Military Board, held May 7th, it was, on motion of the Treasurer, "Resolved, That the ten companies commanded by the following captains, to wit S. W. Fullerton, jr,, Abel Smith, jr., E, G. Floyd, John G. Butler, Justus W. Blanchard, Henry S. Hulbert, Isaac S. Catlin, Jacob H. Ten Eyck, jr., E. S. Jenny and John E. Mulford, be and they are hereby accepted and organized into a regiment, to be designated as regiment No. 3, and that the officers of said companies be authorized to hold an election to elect the field officers for said regiment." Under this resolution the election was held by Brig. Gen. Rath-bone on the 8th, at which Frederick Townsend was elected colonel, S. M, Alford, lieutenant colonel, and George B. Bayard, major. The State Board confirmed the selections made, with date from the 8th. On the 14th of May the regiment was mustered into the service of the United States by Capt. Frank Wheaton, U. S. A., and on the 16th (Special Orders No. 192) Col. Townsend was directed "to proceed with his regiment to New York May 18, and report for duty to Gen. Dix. Arms and equipments to be issued upon their arrival at New York."
The regiment left Albany for New York on the 18th May, and arrived in that city on the 19th, and took quarters in the Park barracks. It was armed with 720 muskets, pattern of 1842, caliber 69 (May 27), which were changed (May 29) for Enfield rifle caliber 57. Equipments were also furnished, and (May 28-30) 100 common and 24 wall tents issued to it by the State. On the 31st of May it left New York for Fortress Monroe. The expenditures by the State in behalf of the regiment up to August 15th, exclusive of subsistence and quarters, was $55,624.81.
The regiment reached Fortress Monroe on the 3d of June. On the 9th it was ordered to move in support of the 5th regiment in an attack on Little Bethel. The 1st, 2d and 7th regiments were also ordered to join in this movement While the 3d was en route it passed in the vicinity of the 7th, and the latter mistaking it for a force of the enemy opened with artillery and musketry upon Col. Townsend's column. The fire was irregularly returned by the 3d, and fearing that it had fallen into an ambuscade, it immediately retreated to an eminence near by. The true state of facts having been ascertained, the regiments effected a junction and resumed the line of march. Little Bethel was found to have been evacuated by the enemy, and the command moved forward to Big Bethel, where, after a short engagement, a retreat was ordered. In this movement the 3d lost two men killed and twenty-seven wounded.
The following is Colonel Townsend's report of the participation of the regiment in this affair, viz :
HEADQUARTERS, CAMP HAMILTON, June 12, 1861. To Major R. A, PEIRCE, Brigade Inspector, etc.:
Sir—I have, the honor to report, for the information of Brigadier General Pierce, that on Sunday evening, June 9th, I received orders from him to have my command in readiness, with one day's rations, (Quartermaster Chase supplied three days' rations) to move that night to form a part of a column composed of two regiments from Newport News, Colonel Duryee's and my own, intended to make a reconnoissance in force towards Yorktown. In obedience to these orders, with the concerted sign of a white badge upon our left arm (at midnight), I marched my regiment to Hampton, where the general met the command and accompanied it.
On approaching a defile through a thick wood, about five or six miles from Hampton, a heavy and well sustained fire of canister and small arms was opened upon the regiment while it was marching in a narrow road, upon the flank, in route step, and wholly unsuspicious of any enemy, inasmuch as we were ordered to reinforce Colonel Duryee, who had preceded us by some two hours, and who had been ordered to throw out, as he marched, an advance guard two miles from his regiment, and a sustaining force half way between the advance and the regiment ; therefore, had Colonel Duryee been obliged to retreat upon us before we reached his locality, we should have heard distant firing, or some of his regiment would have been seen retreating.
The force which fired upon us was subsequently ascertained to be only the regiment of Colonel Bendix, though a portion of the Vermont and 4th Massachusetts regiments were with it, having come down with two six-pounder field pieces from Newport News to join the column. These regiments took up a masked position in the woods at the commencement of the defile. The result of the fire upon us was two mortally wounded (one since dead, three dangerously, and four officers and twenty privates slightly, making a total of twenty-nine. At the commencement of the fire the General, captain Chamberlain, his aid-de-camp, and two mounted howitzers, were about two hundred and fifty paces in advance of the regiment. The fire was opened upon them first by a discharge of small arms, and immediately followed by a rapidly returned volley upon my regiment and the field-pieces. My men then generally discharged their pieces, and jumped from the right to the left side of the road, and recommenced loading and firing. In a few minutes the regiment was reformed in the midst of this heavy fire, and by the General's directions retired in a thoroughly military manner, and in order to withdraw his supposed enemy from his position. On ascertaining that the enemy were our friends, and on our providing for the wounded, we joined Colonel Duryee and Colonel Bendix. The former having returned and proceeded on the reconnoissance to Big Bethel.
Some seven or more miles on we found the enemy in force, well fortified with a battery of said to be of twenty guns in position, some of them rifled cannon. The information in reference to the guns in position at the Bethel battery was given to me on the ground by Colonel Duryee, who informed me that he received it from reconnoitering officer whom he had sent to the front to ascertain the position of things. On arriving at this point, in order to feel the enemy, battle was immediately given by the orders of the General. We were ordered to take up a position in a field about eight hundred paces from the battery. I was then directed by the General to advance to a position in a road at right angles to the main road leading to the battery and about two hundred paces from it on the left of Colonel Duryee. I was then directed to send out skirmishers to ascertain the strength of the enemy's right for which purpose I detailed captains John G. Butler and Edward S. Jenny, with their companies, to cross the field immediately in front of the right of the battery, and so to skirmish as to draw the enemy's fire, which they gallantly performed. The enemy's fire was delivered vigorously almost immediately upon these companies.
Entering the field and crossing it myself, and considering that there might the a possibility of our capturing the battery, I moved the regiment up to the point where our skirmishers were engaged, a movement which the regiment performed in line of battle, as if on parade, in the face of a severe fire of artillery and small arms, and in a manner entirely to my satisfaction. By the time the regiment had arrived at its position, it became evident that the right portion of the battery had been strongly reinforced by men from the enemy's left, and that an effort to take the battery there was useless; besides, a company of my regiment had been separated from the regiment by a thickly hedged ditch, and as the regiment moved forward towards the skirmishers, this company marched in the ad-joining field in line with the regiment.
This was not known to me until after the engagement. I sup-posed that when, the regiment approached, that it was the entire regiment; consequently, upon seeing among the breaks in the hedge the glistening of bayonets in the adjoining field, I immediately concluded that the enemy were outflanking us, and conceived it to be my duty to retire and repel that advance. I resumed, therefore, my original position on the left of Colonel Duryee. Shortly after, all the forces were directed to retire, the design of the reconnoissance having been accomplished. I am not of course, speaking of the movements of other corps, excepting as immediately connected with my regiment, and it were especially gratuitous, inasmuch as their General was upon the field and directed the movements of the various commands in person. FREDERICK TOWNSEND, Colonel Third Regiment.
The regiment returned to Fortress Monroe, and from thence (July 30th) to Baltimore, where it remained in camp at Fort McHenry, until April 1st, 1862, when it was sent to Fort Federal Hill. From Federal Hill it was transferred to Suffolk, Va., where it remained until September 12th. It then returned to Fortress Monroe, where it performed guard duty until the expiration of its term of service.
The regiment lost eleven by death and fifty-five by desertions; one captain and sixteen subalterns were promoted; two captains and two subalterns dismissed ; forty-six were discharged for disability ; twenty-two by order of the Secretary of War, and two by court martial. On leaving the service it received the following complimentary order.

"Headquarters, Dept. of Virginia, 7th Army Corps,
Fortress Monroe, Va., May 12, 1863
To the Third New York Volunteers: The Major General commanding cannot withhold the expression of his deep regret that the term of service for which a large number of the men of the Third New York Volunteers enlisted, is about to expire, and that he is compelled to part with them.
In discipline, good conduct, and a faithful discharge of their duties, under all the circumstances in which they have been placed, he ventures to say that they are not surpassed by any other regiment in the service.
Through the care, vigilance and fidelity of their officers and their able commander, and through their own just sense of all their obligations, under the military laws by which they have been governed, they have earned a most enviable reputation.
To those who have re-entered the service, with an unshaken determination to uphold the cause of their country against its faithless enemies, he tenders his sincere thanks ; and if those who are about to return to their families and friends for a while, should rejoin their comrades whom they leave behind, they will receive as warm a welcome as that which awaits them at home,
Major-General Commanding Official : Wilson Barstow, Aid-de-Camp."

The regiment took the field with 796 officers and men. During its period of service it received 162 recruits, who, with about two hundred re-enlisted men, and the re-enlisted men and recruits of the 9th regiment N. Y. V., who were consolidated with it, remained in the field and continued its organization under Col. Alford, who bad been promoted to the command of the regiment on the resignation of Col. Townsend (July 2d, 1861.) It commenced its service, as a veteran command with about 800 men, and subsequently received 700 conscripts and about 200 recruits, as well as a number of men by the consolidation with it of the 112th New York Vols.
The re-organized regiment was sent to Folly Island, where it participated in the siege of Fort Wagner and Charleston. In April, 1864 it visited Gloucester Point and West Point, and made a reconnoissance to within a few miles of King William Court House. It then moved up the James river, under Gen. Butler, as a part of the first brigade (Col. S. M. Alford), second division (Brig. Gen. J. H. Turner), tenth corps (Maj. Gen. Q. A. Gilmore.) It was actively engaged and suffered severely in the advance made by Gen. Butler, May 12th, 14th and 16th, and lost fifty wounded, five killed, and seven missing, out of about two hundred and eighty-five engaged. About the 31st of May it was temporarily assigned to the third brigade, third division, eighteenth army corps, and moved to Coal Harbor where it remained until the 12th of June, when it returned to Bermuda Hundred. On the 15th it started for Petersburgh, and reached a point within about two miles of the city, where it encountered the enemy, charged his works, captured 230 men of Wise's brigade, the battle-flag of the 26th Virginia, and some nine or ten pieces of artillery. It fell back on the 12th and resumed its old position in the tenth corps. It was subsequently in action at Bermuda Hundred, in front of Petersburgh, Petersburgh Mine, Fort Gilmer, Chapin's Farm, Darbytown Road, first and second Fort Fisher, and Wilmington, N. C. At Fort Fisher, the State color which it carried was the first regimental color which was hoisted on the enemy's works. It was mustered out of service in August, 1865.

Taken from New York (State). Bureau of Military Statistics. 3rd Annual Report of the Bureau of Military Statistics. Albany: The Bureau, 1866, 64-69.