8th New York Infantry Regiment's Civil War Historical Sketch

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

EIGHTH REGIMENT INFANTRY, N. Y. S. V. - The Eighth Regiment of infantry, N,Y. S. V. or " First German Rifles," was organized by Col. Lewis blenker, in the city of New York, in April, 1861. It was mustered into the service of the United States April 26d, 1861, by Capt. S. B. Hayman of the 7th U. S. infantry, and into the service of the State on the 13th of May by Maj. R. Taylor. It left the State on the 27th of May for Washington, armed with U.S. percussion muskets, model of 1842 calibre 69. The expenditure by the State on behalf of the regi-ment up to the 15th of August, 1861, exclusive of subsistence and quarters, was $22,177.43, and by the Union Defense Committee of New York $32,169.69.

The regiment encamped at Miller's farm, near Washington, and -while at that point was recruited up to 1,040. On the 10th of July it moved into Virginia as a part of the 2d brigade (C. L. Lewis Blenker) 4th division (Col. Miles) of Gen. McDowell's army. On the 16th it advance to Centreville, and during the engagement at Bull Run was in the reserve division under col Miles. When the retreat of the army commenced the regimetnwas thrown for-ward to check the enemy, and repulsed an attack by their cavalry. The firmness of our reserve on this occasion was assigned by Gen. Johnson as his reason for not following up the retreat of our army, and this fact is claimed as especially complimentary to the eighth as it was the only regiment of the reserve that was exposed. *See report of Col. Blenker, documents, p. 33 vol. ii, Military Record.

The regiment assisted in covering the retreat to Washington, and was one of the few regiments that entered that city in perfect order. A few days after, it returned to Virginia, and was encamped at Rouch's mills and Hunter's chapel until March 10th, 1862, and was engaged in drilling and on outpost duty. During this period, and afterwards, it formed part of Gen. Blenker's division, Gen. Stahel's brigade. On the 10th of March the regiment advanced with the army under Gen. McClellan towards Manassas, as a part of Gen. Sumner's corps. On the 28th of March Gen Blenker's division was detached and joined an independent division, and marched by way of Warrenton, Salem, Paris and Snickersville Gap, to Winchester, where it arrived on the 19th of April. This movement was accompanied by many inconveniences and priva-¬tions, the regiment being without tents and supplied with only SUCH PROVISIONS AS COULD BE OBTAINED ON THE MARCH. FROM WIN-chester the regiment, and the division of which it was a part, moved on the first of May to join Gen. Fremont at Petersburgh, marching by way of Romney and Burlington. After joining Gen. Fremont the regiment was advanced to Franklin, where it remained until the 31st of May, when the entire command moved by forced marches towards the Shenandoah valley to intercept Gen. Jackson. This march was by the way of Moorfield. At Strasburgh our forces came in contact with Gen. Jackson's com¬mand. The latter retreated, and our forces, under light skirmishes, followed by the way of Woodstock and Harrisonburgh, until they arrived at Cross-Keys, where, on the 8th of June, a battle ensued.

In this engagement the eighth formed part of the left wing, and was ordered to advance. Companies A and K were thrown out as skirmishers, and soon came in contact with the enemy skirmishers, who were repulsed, and retired to a piece of wood-land close by. The regiment was then ordered to advance. Before reaching the woods it was to cross an open price of ground of about four hundred yards, and three fences. The advance was made in fine style; two fences were passed and the third approached under severe fire ; more than half of the regiment had already fallen ; no support whatever was afforded, and the regiment was compelled to retreat. Out of five hundred and fifty men who entered this engagement two hundred and sixty were killed our wounded. The next day the army advanced to Port Republic, but soon after returned by way of Harrisonburgh and Mount Jackson to Middletown. Here Gen. Fremont and Gen. Blenker left the army (June 26th).

From the 26th of June the regiment formed part of Gen. Sigel's army corps, the first army corps of Gen. Pope's army of Virginia and was in Gen. Stahel's brigade and Gen. Schenck's division. In this command it advanced towards the Rapidan ; was present in the engagement at Sulphur Springs, and took an active part in the second battle of Bull Run. During the early part of the latter engagement it occupied the left wing of Sigel's army corps, and lost heavily both days. On the retreat of the army it covered, with the other regiments of its corps, the movement in good order.

After the Pope campaign the regiment had several encamp¬ments—Falls Church, Upton Hill, Hall's Hill, Centreville, Gaines¬ville, Aldie and Chantilly—joined several reconnoitering parties without meeting an enemy, and was lastly ordered up to assist in the attack on Fredericksburgh, but arrived too late to participate in that engagement. It then took camp at Stafford Court House, where it remained until the 19th of January, 1863, when it was moved to Potomac creek bridge, camp near Brooks' Station. It was mustered out of service April 23d, 1861, [sic] and returned to the State.

The statistics of this regiment have not been furnished.