History of Regimental Colors - 59th New York Infantry Regiment

Of The 59th Regiment
New York State Volunteers
Deposited In The Bureau Of Military Statistics
By Lieutenant Colonel Horace P. Rugg
Transcribed By Michael Mueller

History of Regimental Colors of the 59th Regiment, New York State Volunteers, deposited in the Bureau Of Military Statistics, by Lieutenant Colonel Horace P Rugg, on the ... day of March, 1864.

These colors are; One Regimental Flag, with City of New York Coat of Arms and Device, presented by the City Authorities about the time of the organization of the Regiment, Oct 23rd, 1861; One National Color, presented by Ex-Mayor Kingsland (of New York) shortly before the Regimental organization was affected; One National Flag, and two Guidons presented by the City of N.Y. Authorities in April 1863; comprising in all five Colors.

The City Color, and National Color No.  1 (presented by ex-Mayor Kingsland) were carried in all the Battles and Skirmishes the Regiment was engaged in, up to, and including Gettysburg July 2nd and 3rd 1863. Shortly after this Battle - these Flags being in a tattered and torn condition - they were deposited in Washington, to be retained until the Regiment should return home.

The first of these engagements was a Skirmish at Malvern Hill, Va. in the [first] part of August 1862;  The Second, the Battle of Chantilly, September 1st, 1862.  Third; South Mountain September ... 1862.  Fourth, Antietam September 17, 1862; At this Battle our loss was exceedingly severe; out of twenty one officers, and three hundred and sixty enlisted men, with which we went into the engagement, the loss was, thirteen officers and two hundred and thirty Enlisted Men killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. 

It was here that the brave Lieut Col Stetson, in leading foward the right-wing of the regiment was instantly killed; Captains Charles K. Whitney, E. H. Wade, Gould J.  Jennings, Miller Moody, Abraham K. Florentine and Lieuts Stephen C. Roosa, Charles K. Smurr1, and Benjamin V. Vansteenbergh, were either killed or afterward died of wounds received.  Captain Max A. Thoman, and Lieuts James Hart Purdy and Barthoff Heitman were wounded.

Seven of the Eight Color Corporals were either killed or wounded, and the remaining one - Corporal Benjamin G. Larned of Company "C" - rescued and brought off the field, the Colors of a Pennsylvania Regiment.

The next engagement was a Skirmish at Halltown and Charleston Va Oct ... 1862; After which was Fredericksburg December 11th and 13th 1862; our Brigade composed of the 59th and 42nd New York, the 19th and 20th Mass, and 7th Michigan Regiments was the first to cross the Rappahannock, on the afternoon of the memorable 11th of December; we had hardly made a foothold in the streets of Fredericksburg before we were desperately engaged with Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade.  This engagement, being in the Streets of the Town, and being continued over an hour after dark, was, for a small affair, one of the most sharply contested fights of the War. Our loss was; Captain Edward Reynolds, and Lieutenant Hannibal Seymour killed; Lieuts James Peacock and Barthoff Heitman  wounded,  together with about forty Enlisted Men killed and wounded.

At the charge on Mayre's Heights - on the 13th, our loss was, one Enlisted Man killed, and twelve wounded.  Here a shell from the enemy exploded directly over these Colors, shattering the top of the Staff of the Regimental Flag, and tearing both almost in shreds - strange to say, neither of the Color Bearers were hit.

The other engagements in which these Flags participated are; Battle of Fredericksburg May 3rd and 4th 1863; Skirmish at Thoroughfare Gap June ... 1863; Battle of Gettysburg July 2nd and 3rd 1863, and Skirmish near Williamsport July ... 1863.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Lieut Col Max A. Thoman, and Adjutant William H. Pohlman were killed, and Lieut Charles Schneider2 was wounded.

The National Flag No. 2 (presented by the City of New York) was carried in the Skirmish at Mine Run November ... 1863 and that the Engagement at Bristow Station October 14, 1863, at both of which places our loss were slight.

The names of the Color Bearers, who have carried these Colors through all these engagements are, Sergeants James Wiley3 and Justin N. Foster.  The Guidons were only used on Dress Parades and Drills.

New York
June 4th, 1864

The above his respectfully Submitted
Horace P Rugg
Lt Col 59th NY Vols

Endnotes supplied by Michael Mueller

1 Charles K Smurr is listed as William K Smurr in the Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1900.

2 Believe Lieut Charles Schneider to be 2nd Lt Jacob Schneider as listed in Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1900.  Though not mentioned in the report as being wounded at Gettysburg, 2nd Lt Schneider was discharged for disability on August 14, 1863.

3 Sgt James Wiley received the Medal of Honor for the capture of an enemy flag at Gettyburg .  He was captured at Petersburg in June, 1864 and died in Andersonville Prison in Frebruary, 1865.

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