56th Infantry Regiment

Nickname: Tenth Legion; Orange And Sullivan Regiment.

Mustered in: October 28,1861
Mustered out: October 17, 1865

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912. 

This regiment, recruited by Col. Charles H. Van Wyck, received its numerical designation and was organized October 15, 1861, at Newburgh, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years October 28, 1861. It consisted of eleven companies, and with it were also recruited two light batteries and two troops of cavalry, the whole being known as the 10th Legion. The light batteries became the 7th and 8th Independent Batteries, and the two troops of cavalry were assigned to the 1st Mounted Rifles. The eleventh company, L, of the regiment was also known as the 5th Company, New York Sharpshooters, and 10th Legion Sharpshooter's. On the expiration of the term of its service, the men entitled thereto were discharged, and the regiment retained in service. The companies were recruited principally: A, B, C, D and E at Newburgh; F at Liberty; G at Ellenville; Hand L at Callicoon Depot; I and K at Monticello; and the men came from the counties of Orange, Sullivan and Ulster.
The regiment left the State November 7, 1861; served in the 1st Brigade, Casey's Division, Army of the Potomac, from November, 1861; in Naglee's, 1st Brigade, same, 2d, Division, 4th Corps, Army of the Potomac, from March 13, 1862; same brigade, Peck's Division, same corps, from June, 1862; at Yorktown, Va., from August, 1862; in Naglee's Brigade, 18th Corps, from December, 1862; in 2d, Howell's, Brigade, 3d, Ferry's, Division, 18th Corps, in South Carolina, from January 11, 1863; in the 1st Brigade, same division and corps, from March, 1863; at Folly Island, S. C., from July, 1863; at Beaufort, S. C, from August, 1863; transferred to the 10th Corps in October, 1863; in Saxton's Division of that corps, from January, 1864; in the District of Beaufort, Department of the Gulf, from June, 1864; at Morris Island, S. C., in September, 1864; in the 1st, Fatter's, Brigade, Coast Division, Hatch, Department of the South, from November, 1864; at Charleston, S. C., from March, 1865; and it was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Colonel Van Wyck, October 17, 1865, at Charleston, S. C.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 1 officer, 40 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 23 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 3 officers, 213 enlisted men; total, 4 officers, 276 enlisted men; aggregate, 280; of whom 2 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.


The following is taken from The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II. 

Fifty-sixth Infantry.—Cols., Charles H. Van Wyck, Rockwell Tyler; Lieut.-Cols., James Jordan, Frederic Decker, John J. Wheeler, Rockwell Tyler, Eliphas Smith; Majs., Jacob Sharpe, John J. Wheeler, Rockwell Tyler, Eliphas Smith, James Dubois. The 56th regiment was organized at Newburgh and was composed of eleven companies, two light batteries and two cavalry troops. The batteries later became the 7th and 8th independent batteries and the cavalry part of the 1st mounted rifles. Co. L was the 5th company of N. Y. sharpshooters. The men were mainly from Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties and were mustered into the U. S. service at Newburgh, Oct. 28, 1861, for three years. The regiment left for Washington on Nov. 7, 1861, was there assigned to the 1st brigade, Casey's division, and served in the vicinity of Washington until March, 1862. In the opening of the spring campaign, the regiment, as part of the 1st brigade, 2nd division, 4th corps, participated in the siege of Yorktown and was present without loss at Williams-burg, Savage Station and Bottom's bridge. At Fair Oaks the loss of the command was heavy—66 killed and wounded and 5 missing. In June the brigade, in Peck's division of the 4th corps, was present during "the Seven Days' battles but not closely engaged, and after the battle of Malvern hill was withdrawn to Yorktown. In December the brigade under Naglee was assigned to the 18th corps and reached South Carolina early in Jan., 1862. The regiment served about Charleston, was active in the siege of Fort Wagner in July, 1863, and the subsequent operations in the vicinity. It was assigned to the 1st brigade. 3d division, 18th corps, in March, 1863, and transferred to the l0th corps in October. While with the 18th corps it was stationed on Folly island and at Beaufort. In the. summer of 1864, the regiment was stationed at James island; lost 50 men in an engagement at Honeyhill; was active at Coosawhatchie and Boyd's point in December, and shared in the operations at Deveaux neck, S. C., during the same month with considerable loss. The original members not reenlisted were mustered out at the expiration of the terrn of enlistment and the regiment remained in the Department of the South, serving in the coast division during the winter of 1864-65 and at Charleston from March, 1865 to Oct. 17, 1865, when it was mustered out. The regiment lost during its term of service 64 by death from wounds and 216 from other causes.


56th Regiment NY Volunteer Infantry | Guidon | Civil War

The 56th Regiment NY Volunteer Infantry is believed to have received this flag in November 1861. This guidon generally conforms to the 1858 NYS…

NYSMM Online Resources

Battles and Casualties from Phisterer (pdf)
Battles and Casualties from Phisterer (spreadsheet)

Muster Roll

Unit Roster

Newspaper Clippings

Search the Museum catalog for this unit

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Other Resources

This is meant to be a comprehensive list. If, however, you know of a resource that is not listed below, please send an email to ng.ny.nyarng.list.historians@army.mil with the name of the resource and where it is located. This can include photographs, letters, articles and other non-book materials. Also, if you have any materials in your possession that you would like to donate, the museum is always looking for items specific to New York's military heritage. Thank you.

Blake, William. Papers (1895-1896)
Description: 1 Box (.25 cu ft)
Abstract: These papers relate to the reunion of Civil War veterans of the 56th New York Volunteers (10th Legion) that was held in 1896. Included are many letters containing reminiscences of experiences and events of the war.
Located at the New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Civil War collection, 1861-1865.
Description: 3 v., ca. 135 items
Abstract: Military papers and personal letters including correspondence of James L. Christman and his wife Mrs. Harriet Christman, Montgomery County, N.Y., concerning his military service in Virginia, 1864-1865; letters from Sidney Churchill to his mother Mrs. Mary Churchill, Matteawan, N.Y., while serving in Maryland, Virginia, Savannah, and New Orleans, 1862-1865; morning reports, 1862-1865, and clothing accounts, 1863-1864, of the 56th Regiment, New York State Volunteers; record of ammunition issued from Confederate States Naval Laboratory, Richmond, Va., 1861-1865; and miscellaneous military papers, passes, discharges, and orders.
Located at Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site, Newburgh, NY.

Civil War diaries and journals, 1861-1865.
Description: 15 items.
Abstract: Chiefly diaries and journals kept by men serving in the Civil War. Writers and their regiments include an anonymous Confederate soldier from Fredericksburg, Va.; Frederick A. Bartleson (1833-1864), 100th Illinois Infantry, primarily an account of his confinement at Libby Prison, Richmond, Va.; Francis Elon Brown (d. 1869), Company H, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry; Theodore Sandford Doolittle (1836-1893), Reformed clergyman serving as delegate of U.S. Christian Commission in army camps and hospitals; George W. Flack, Company M, 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry; Dwight E. Kilbourn, Company A, 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery; Justus H. Livingston, Company K, 12th New Jersey Infantry; S.M. Palmer, serving with 1st Regiment, New York Engineers chiefly in Virginia; Joseph Van Hise Reid (1834-1916), 77th Pennsylvania Infantry; Rhoads Skinner, 56th Infantry Regiment, New York Volunteers and 1st Regiment, New York Mounted Rifles; Benjamin T. Smith (1844-1908), of Kankakee, Ill., Company C, 51st Illinois Infantry; George H. Snow (b. 1839?), Company C, 25th Connecticut Infantry; Gilbert D. Sylvester (1834-1893), Company K, 30th New Jersey Infantry; and Jacob Castner Wandling, Company B, 31st New Jersey Infantry.
Notes: In part, transcripts (typewritten), photocopies, and microfilm made from originals chiefly in private hands./ A composite collection consisting of small groups of papers or single items listed separately by the repository. Some are described in: A Guide to Manuscript Diaries and Journals in the Special Collections Department, Rutgers University / compiled by Donald A. Sinclair (1980), p. 40-45, 66.

Coddington, Ronald S., 1963. Faces of the Civil War : an album of Union soldiers and their stories. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Crossman, Norris. Norris Crossman diaries, 1862 Jan.-1866 Nov.
Description: 5 v.
Abstract: Five small pocket diaries cover the period of January 1862 to November 1866. There are frequent references to the commander of the 56th New York Regiment, Col. (later General) C.H. Van Wyck. The earliest diary (Jan. 1862-Jan. 1863) begins with brief daily entries noting weather conditions, visits with friends and family, drills, recruiting attempts, and other details. From April through August, Crossman's diary describes fighting and marches during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia and continues chronicling the regiment's encampment at Yorktown, Va., and departure for North Carolina by ship. Included at the end is a supplemental detailed entry (10 May 1862) about the Battle of Williamsburg. The diary for 1863 describes events and conditions during the regiment's encampments at Morehead City, N.C., St. Helena Island, S.C., Seabrook Island, S.C., and Beaufort, S.C.; maneuvers on the Stono Inlet and James Island; fighting on Morris Island, and attacks on Fort Wagner (Charleston, S.C.); and Crossman's duties on a court martial tribunal. The 1864 diary continues with entries concerning Crossman's law officer duties; picket duty at Pigeon Point and other locations at Beaufort, S.C.; an expedition to Johns Island, S.C., and fighting near Legareville in July; visits home to New York State; and Crossman rejoining his regiment in early December, just before a bloody engagement at DeVeaux Neck, near Coosawhatchie, S.C. Crossman's 1865 diary opens at DeVeaux Neck, where his regiment is holdinga position near a stretch of the Charleston & Savannah railroad and being shelled by a Confederate battery. Further entries concern a march from Fort Coosawatchie to Charleston, S.C.; a period of respite in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; entrenchment guard duty at Rekersville, S.C.; the raising of the Union flag at Fort Sumter on 14 April; a march to Newberry, S.C.; Crossman's dealings with freedmen and their former owners in Greenville, Union, and Spartanburg districts in South Carolina; mustering out at Charleston; and Crossman's return to New York. One diary entry notes the graves of African American Union soldiers at Honey Hill, S.C. Crossman's diary for 1866 mainly concerns his employment as an engineer at oil wells in Titusville, Pa.
Notes: Forms part of: Norris Crossman Papers, 1837-1926./ Bio/History: Born in New York ca. 1833; home in Homowack, Sullivan County, N.Y.; Sept. 1861 at the age of 28, enlisted and was mustered in as a private in Company I of the 56th Regiment of New York Volunteer Infantry; obtained the rank of first lieutenant in Oct. 1862 and rank of captain in May 1864; mustered out with his company in Oct. 1865 at Charleston, S.C.; 1866 moved to Titusville, Pa.
Preferred citation: Crossman, Norris, b. ca. 1833. Diaries, 1862-1866. 
(233.01 D) South Carolina Historical Society.

Davis, William Watts Hart. Papers, 1809-1908.
Description: 3 linear ft
Abstract: Davis arranged his papers into several volumes. His incoming correspondence, 1832-1846, 1857-1860, 1880-1882, from family and friends touches on all his activities, with many passing references to politics, although the content is primarily of personal affairs. One volume of the correspondence has been designated "autographs" and includes letters of political and military men, together with clipped signatures. Davis also compiled two volumes of "Literary Remains" containing school essays, articles, addresses, reminiscences, diary entries, queries, acknowledgements, invitations, and clippings. There are additional manuscripts of consolidated reports, returns, special and general orders of his command which included regiments of 11th Maine, 56th New York State, 52nd Pennsylvania, and 104th Pennsylvania; "History of One Hundred and Fourth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers"; other works on the Mexican War and Bucks County; more scrapbook material, invitations, cards, notes, and newspaper clippings. The Doylestown Guards minute book, 1849-1860, is also found in these papers.
Notes: Bio/History: William Watts Hart Davis was graduated from military school in Norwich, VT, in 1842, was professor at Portsmouth, VA, Military Academy, studied law, was an officer in the Mexican War, returned home to Doylestown and practiced law, was appointed to various government offices for the territory of New Mexico from 1853 to 1857, returned home where he purchased the Doylestown "Democrat," recruited the 104th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers and served through the Civil War, returned home to spend the rest of his life managing and editing the "Democrat," and speaking and writing on historical subjects.
Located at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Fisk, Joel. A condensed history of the 56th regiment New York veteran volunteer infantry, which was a part of the organization known as the "Tenth legion" in the Civil war, 1861-1865, together with a register or roster of all the members of the Regiment, and the war record of each member as recorded in the Adjutant general's office at Albany, New York. [Newburgh, Newburgh Journal print. house, 1906]. 424 p.

Fulmer, Robert W. "The Tenth Legion." Military Images. (November-December 1986) 29.

Gage, Ethel B. Orange County Community of Museums and Galleries. "Orange County in the Civil War." Official publication of the Orange County Community of Museums & Galleries. Goshen, NY: Orange County Community of Museums and Galleries, 2 :2 and 3 April and July, 1963.

Halstead, Charles B. Biographical Sketch of Lt. Isaac Beckett of the Fifty-Sixth Reg't, N.Y.S.V. (Tenth Legion). Savannah, GA: Daily Record Co., 1913.
Prepared for the Bureau of Military Statistics.
Transcribed and donated by Tom Weiss.

List of furloughs and certificates granted to Men from Oranges County, 1864-1865.
Description: 1 v.
Abstract: Lists of men from Orange County who received certificates in June 1864, and men who received furloughs in January and February 1865. The furlough list gives date of muster, regiment, date furlough expired, and date the men reported for duty. Many men were from the 56th Regiment, and one blank page is prepared for a list of men from the 56th regiment.
Located at the New York Historical Society.

Mcginnis, Amanda and Cynthia Rapp. ""Our Name is Legion!" was the proud boast of the 56th New York Volunteers."

New York Volunteers, 56th Regiment Ordnance Stores papers, 1864.
Description: 1 folder
Abstract: Quarterly return of ordnance, and ordnance stores received for Company "L."
General Info: Preferred citation: New York Volunteers, 56th Regiment Ordnance Stores Papers, #1192. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

Parsels, Daniel E. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(Enlisted man's letter, Dec 5, 1861) 
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Personal War Sketches from the Grand Army of the Republic Ward Post 191.Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1897.
Available online at: www.hrvh.org/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/eplm&CISOPTR=829&CISOSHOW=573 
Thank you to Tara Buckstad-Russo for pointing this out.

Plank, Will. Banners and Bugles: A Record of Ulster County, New York and the Mid-Hudson Region in the Civil War. Marlborough, NY: Centennial Pr, 1972.

Rhoads, Skinner. Civil War journal, 1862 (inclusive).
Description: .01 cubic ft. (1 v.)
Abstract: Civil War journal, January 1- October 8, 1862, containing very brief entries relating to expenses incurred, letters sent and received, weather, travels, hospital stays, medication taken, and visitors received.
Notes: Bio/History: Soldier, apparently of Sullivan County, New York; served in the 56th Infantry Regiment, New York Volunteers, and the 1st Regiment, New York Mounted Rifles.
General Info: Preferred citation: Rhoads Skinner. Civil War Journal. MC 139. Special Collections and Archives, Rutgers University Libraries./ Acquired 1961./ Occupation: Journals (notebooks)/ Virginia./ Soldiers/ New York/ Sullivan County.

Rose, Allan S. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(Enlisted man's letter, Jul 12, 1864) 
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Shafer, Jesse F. Letter (October 27, 1862)
Description: 1 Item
Abstract: Letter sent to Captain Decker in regards to outfitting the regiment with new tents
Located at the New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Shaw, John B. Letter, November 18, 1861.
Description: 1 p.
Abstract: Letter to Levi Laurence concerning the generalities of camp life near Washington, DC as experienced by Shaw and his friend William.
Notes: Bio/History: Shaw, from the High Falls area near Marbletown, Ulster County, New York, enlisted as a private in Company E, 56th New York Infantry, on September 20, 1861 and was discharged on September 24, 1863. He may have reenlisted.
Preferred citation: John B. Shaw Letter, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Soldiers memorial 56th regiment, Company A, New York state vols. Baltimore: J. L. Anderson, [1863]. Illustrated Broadside.

Taylor, Charles Elisha, et al. Papers of Charles Elisha Taylor, 1849-1874.
Abstract: Early family letters to Taylor include descriptions of travel down the Mississippi in 1854; New Orleans in 1857; a tornado in Tuskegee, Ala., in 1858; the University of Virginia in 1859-1860; a visit to the home of Longfellow; the death of his sister's baby; and advice on leading a godly life. Civil War letters from Taylor discuss life in camp; lack of religion among the troops; action near Winchester, Va., March 1862; Stonewall Jackson; Jeb Stuart; the Gettysburg Campaign including a drawing showing position of Stuart's cavalry; camp at Hamilton's Crossing; Christmas in the army, 1863; Fredericksburg, Va., a year after the battle; Charlottesville, Va. and the hospital there, Dr. Cabell, Dr. Broadus, and Mrs. Fife, in May 1864; and capture by Yankee spies near Staunton, Va. Civil War letters to Taylor from family and friends discuss the Richmond, Va., homefront including charitable work; church work with soldiers; troop movements; religious faith; city defenses; scarcity of food, fuel and goods; a yellow fever epidemic in North Carolina, 1862; blockade running; social events; war news and rumors; the Union occupation; reconstruction and the reaction of local blacks to the end of the war and freedom; and the occupation of Greenville, S.C. by the 56th New York. Post-war letters to Taylor discuss John Esten Cooke's tales of Jackson's Valley Campaign; Wake Forest College; the University of Virginia, and particularly S.A.E. fraternity; and Berlin in 1868. The collection also contains a diary of Taylor's service from April to November, 1861, and the diary, 1865, of his wife, Mary Hinton Prichard Taylor, describing Richmond, Va., during war and reconstruction. The diary also contains a secessionist song, 1863?, minutes of the Young Ladies Missionary Serving Circle of the Grace Street Baptist Church, Richmond, 1848-1853, and some accounts, 1854-1856. The collection also contains a narrative "A boy's story" by Robert Samuel Prichard regarding his experiences on a blockade runner. Miscellaneous items include clippings, school reports, University of Virginia essays and certificates, and an S.A.E. fraternity pin.
Only one letter seems to deal with the 56th: "Mauldin depicts a garrison of two companies from the 56th New York who "behave as well as possible for Yanks, but no one speaks to them." F. C. [Cheroniny] replies to a letter from C.E.T. (now at U.Va.) telling of the condition of Hanover at the war's end." [From the finding aid.]
Finding aid is available at:
Notes: Bio/History: Confederate soldier; University of Virginia student; Wake Forest College professor and president.
Preferred citation: Charles Elisha Taylor Papers, 1849-1874, Accession #3091,3091-a,3091-b,3091-c, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va./ Associated materials: Charles Elisha Taylor papers;/ Also located at;/ Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University./ Guide available

United States. Congress. House. Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives Historical Highlights : A near fatal attack on Representative Charles H. Van Wyck of New York. 2011.


Unit bibliograhy from the Army Heritage Center

Items in the museum collection are in bold.