Report Of The Operations - 57th New York Infantry Regiment
Of The 57th N.Y. Infantry,
Col. Samuel K. Zook For The Year Ending
Transcribed By Nathan Thompson
Head Quarters 57th Regt N.Y. Infantry
1st Division 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac
December 31st 1862.
To the Adjutant General S.N.Y.,
In accordance with
instructions received from Gov. Morgan requesting a record of the movements of the N.Y. Regiments for 1862, I have the honor to submit the following report of the 57th N.Y. Infantry.
With great respect,
I am, General,
Your most obedient servant,
James S. Brits
Capt Comg 57th Rgt NY Infy
Report of the Operations of the 57th N.Y. Infantry,
Col. Samuel K. Zook for the year ending December, 1862
The 57th N.Y. Infantry was organized in the City of New York Oct 19th 1861, and left for Washington Nov. 12th 1861, remaining there until Nov. 28th 1861, when under orders from the War Department it marched into Va and went into Camp of Instruction known as Camp California where it was Brigadid [sic] under the command of Brig Gen’l French USA forming part of the Division commanded by Brig Gen’l Sumner USA.
Drill and instruction in Infantry tactics twice each day was immediately instituted and constantly kept-up until the commencement of the Spring Campaign.
March 10th 1862, marched from Camp to Manassas Junction then in possession of the enemy, and occupied it on the 13th the enemy evacuations upon our advance. On the 13th March the first reconnaissance of the season was ordered from Manassas, and the 57th N.Y. selected from French’s Brigade to form the Infantry force. Brig. Gen’l Stoneman, Chief of Calvary commanded the reconnaissance.
This command reconnoited the country in advance about fifteen miles encountering the enemy’s pickets and skirmishers near Cedar Run, driving them back with loss of forty killed and wounded. Our loss was none. Having accomplished all that was desired, the command returned the day following to Manassas Junction. In this affair the conduct of this Regiment elicited general admiration for the discipline and courage displayed in presence of the enemy, and from General Stoneman the Colonel received a written communication expressing his thanks for the valuable services of the Regiment, and the very handsome manner in which it performed each and all of its duties.
On the 25th March, the Army moved to Warrenton Junction, and on the 1st April the Campaign ended, and the troops composing the Army of the Potomac returned to Alexandria there to embark for the Peninsula. During this short campaign which lasted twenty four days, both officers and men were without either tents or baggage, compelled to sleep in the open air, and without a change of clothing.
The Regiment embarked on steam transports for Fortress Monroe on the 4th day of April, and disembarked at Ships Point, York River, on the 7th day of April. For ten days the Regiment was constantly on fatigue duty building roads and bridges; amongst the latter, the one forming Chusman’s Landing dock after the completion of which it took part in the siege of Yorktown, up to the time of its evacuation by the enemy.
In following up the retreating enemy nothing of importance occurred until June the 1st 1862 when the engagement known as the Battle of Fair Oaks was fought. In this action the Regiment took a very prominent part, sustaining itself against four of the enemys lines without support, and finally drove them back in great disorder with heavy loss.
The loss in the Regiment during this action was great, but it gained imperishable honors. In the official report of Gen’l French, commanding the Brigade, he says the 57th N.Y. Regiment aided so materially as to change the fortune of the day in our favor.
After the engagement of June 1st, the duty imposed upon the troops was of the most severe nature; constantly required to be ready for action, the men were compelled to sleep with their accrutiments [sic] on, and turn out at 3 o’clock every morning, thus exposing them to the dangerous miasma so prevalent in those regions and from which the Regiment suffered severely.
In the action at Gains Hill, on the 27th of June, the Regiment, with the Brigade, and the Brigade of Gen’l Meagher, aided materially in covering the retreat of Gen’l Porter’s command across the Chickahomony river. In this and the engagement that followed during the change of base of the Army to the James River, known as the seven days fighting, the Divison of which French’s Brigade formed a part, constituted the rear guard of the Army, and was successfully engaged at Peach Orchard and Savage Station on the 29th of June – two short but decisive battles in which the enemy was repulsed with much loss. The loss of the 57th was comparatively small, owing to its precision of fire in action and the handsome manner by its commander, Col S. K. Zook. On the night of the 29th, the Brigade silently withdrew crossing White Oak Swamp about four o’clock on the morning of the 30th and immediately took position again to protect the withdrawal of the wagon train. Here the 57th sustained one of the most terrific canonadings of the War. The enemy came up about 9 o’clock, and finding the bridge destroyed, opened with twenty four guns of heavy caliber, throwing their shot and shell with great precision and fatal effect.
Having successfully repulsed all efforts of the enemy to cross at this point, during the day, after dark the Brigade rapidly marched towards the James River, a distance of sixteen miles, reaching the point known as Turkey Bend at four o’clock on the morning of the 1st of July without interruption from the enemy. The troops remained n this position for four hours, at the expiration of which time line was formed and the Brigade, under the command of Colonel Zook, marched for Malvern Hill, there taking position in line of battle with the other troops of Sumner’s Corps. In the engagement which took place this day, the Regiment did not take a very active part, consequently the loss was not great.
On the 2nd of July, 1862, the Army fell back to Harrison’s Landing, on the James River, and remained there until the 11th of August. When it was decided to evacuate the Peninsula, Gen’l Sumner’s Corps again protected the retro gate movement until its safe arrival at Yorktown.
From here the Corps marched to Newport News and embarked on steam transports for Alexandria. Immediately upon the arrival of the Corps at that place, orders were received to march rapidly to Centreville, to support the troops of General Pope, then and there engaged with the enemy. The march was made in eight hours, but it being decided by Gen’l Pope not to risk another engagement with the enemy at this place, the Corps fell back, the same night, to Fairfax Court House, and on the day following to Alexandria.
Early the next morning the column was again in motion, crossed the Chain Bridge , and marched into Maryland.
On the 13th of September, at the Battle of South Mountain, the Regiment was present and formed part of the advance guard in following the retreating enemy to Sharpsburgh [sic].
At the Battle of Antietam, September 17th, the 57th and 11th N.Y. made one of the most brilliant charges of the War, driving the enemy, with fearful loss, at all points, the 57th capturing the colors of the 11th Alabama Vols. And more prisoners than it had men. In this engagement the Regiment suffered heavily losing one third of its officers and men among the former the brave Lieut. Colonel P.J. Parisen who was instantly killed while gallantly leading the charge. After this action the Corps marched to Harpers Ferry.
From this nothing further occurred, except a slight skirmish with the enemy near Charles town, until the opening of the Fall Campaign of 18/12.
In the advance from Harpers Ferry, Oct 29th through London County, Va., the enemy were encountered at Snickers Gap Nov 2nd, about 200 strong, with two howitzers in position. The Brigade of Col. Zook was at once deployed, and with assistance of the Brigade of General Caldwell, drove the enemy back without loss on either side.
From this point the Corps marched, by way of Warrenton, to Fredricksburg arriving on the 17th of Nov. Here the enemy were discovered posted on the opposite side of the river with four rifle guns. The celebrated N.Y. Battery, commanded by Capt. Pettit, supported by our Brigade, drove the enemy from their guns in the short space of ten minutes. The town and heights immediately in rear of Falmouth were occupied by Zook’s Brigade.
The morning of the 11th of December the 57th N.Y. was detailed to assist the Engineer Corps in constructing the pontoon bridge across the Rappahannock in front of Fredericksburg. In this difficult and dangerous duty, the Regiment lost five officers and thirty enlisted men, killed and wounded.
In the attack and entering of the heights in rear of Fredericksburg, on the 13th, the Brigade formed the second line of attack and again nobly sustained its former reputation. The 57th Regt’s loss was heavy both of officers and men, but it fully sustained its reputation as the fighting Regiment of the old Brigade.
This action closed the record of the campaign of the Army of the Potomac for the year of 1862. But few of the gallant soldiers that one year ago that represented the 57th Regiment remain to relate the proud history of this Regiment, the reports showing one hundred and eighty nine officers and men present for duty.
Head Qrs 57th N.Y.V
Falmouth, Va Jan 9th ‘63
Record of the year
18/62 of the campaign
of the 57th NY Infantry