134th New York Infantry Regiment's Civil War Historical Sketch

Taken from Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg (New York at Gettysburg) by the New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon Company, 1902.

This regiment enlisted in the second year of the war under the second call for troops,— the call for " 300,000 more," — and was composed of exceptionally good material. It was recruited in the counties of Schoharie and Schenectady, which at that time composed the Fourteenth Senatorial District. The regiments that enlisted under the second call for troops were, for the most part, organized each from some senatorial district.

The One hundred and thirty-fourth was organized at Schoharie, where it was mustered into the service of the United States for three years on September 22, 1862, within six weeks after active recruiting commenced. Hon. George E. Danforth received authority from Governor Morgan, on the 19th of July, to recruit a regiment in this senatorial district, and was prominent in the work of enlistment and organization He was commissioned as colonel of the One hundred and thirty-fourth in recognition of his patriotic services, but declined the commission and was not mustered.

The regiment left the State under command of the lieutenant colonel, Joseph S. De Argreda. on the 25th, three days after it was mustered into service, and went immediately to the seat of war. Soon after its arrival at Washington it was assigned to the Eleventh Corps, and placed in the Second Brigade of the Second Division. The brigade was commanded by Col. Or-land Smith, and the division by General von Steinwehr. The Eleventh Corps at this time was under General Franz Sigel, and was encamped at Stafford Court House and vicinity.

In the meantime the vacant colonelcy was filled, October 8, 1862, by the appointment of Charles R. Coster, an officer from the Regular Army. While in winter quarters at Stafford Court House, Lieutenant Colonel De Argreda resigned, and Maj. Allan H. Jackson was promoted to fill the vacancy.

In February, 1863, the regiment left its camp near Stafford, and moved to Hope Landing, on Aquia Bay, where it again built winter quarters. The winter of 1862-63 was passed in drill and guard duty, the regiment acquiring a remarkable proficiency in these duties under the instruction of Colonel Coster. So proficient were the men in the manual of arms, that at dress parade it was no unusual occurrence to see groups of soldiers looking on who came from other camps, attracted by the reputation which the One hundred and thirty-fourth had gained for its superiority in drill. The regiment wore canvas leggings, a rare thing then, which added greatly to its distinctive appearance.

The first experience of the One hundred and thirty-fourth on the battlefield was at Chancellorsville, where it was present from the beginning of that engagement to the final retreat of the army across the Rappahannock. Gen. Francis C. Barlow commanded the Second Brigade at this time. The brigade consisted of the Thirty-third Massachusetts, Col. Adin B. Underwood; One hundred and thirty-fourth New York, Col. Charles R. Coster; One hundred and thirty-sixth New York, Col. James Wood, Jr.; Seventy-third Ohio, Col. Orland Smith.

The division (Steinwehr's) arrived at Chancellorsville on April 30, 1863, and went into position on the Plank Road, near Dowdall's Tavern, the Eleventh Corps holding the right of the army. On Saturday afternoon, May 2d, about 4 o'clock, Barlow's Brigade was ordered forward through the woods to support General Sickles, who ,was engaged with the skirmishers of Jackson's Corps. General Hooker, the commander of the Union army, made the absurd mistake of supposing that his opponents, Lee and Jackson, were retreating to Richmond and abandoning the field without a fight. So, Barlow's Brigade, with other troops, moved out to harass the rear guard of the

enemy's column which could be plainly seen moving along a road in the distance. But Jackson was not retreating. He was moving across the front of Hooker's army with 30,000 men, and, concealed by the screen of forests, was taking a circuitous route which would enable him to attack the Army of the Potomac on its right and rear, at the position held by the Eleventh Corps. Having made all his preparations Jackson commenced his attack about 5 p. m., and General Howard, the commander of the Eleventh Corps, was taken by surprise, although ample notice had been sent to him from his picket line that large bodies of the enemy were massing on his flank. The Eleventh Corps made a good fight in opposition to Jackson's attack; but, surprised, outflanked and outnumbered three to one, they were obliged to retreat. The corps did not yield its ground, however, until over 1,500 of its number had fallen, and 900 were taken prisoners, while fighting in the dense forest which covered that part of the field.

During this fighting Barlow's Brigade, with the Third Corps, was absent at the extreme front hunting for the mythical rear guard of Jackson's " retreating army." When Barlow heard the heavy firing which accompanied Jackson's attack he joined the Third Corps with his brigade in response to orders from General Birney, taking position with that corps about 9 p. m., at a place near Chancellorsville.

On Sunday, May 3d, the One hundred and thirty-fourth with the rest of the brigade rejoined their own corps, the Eleventh, and formed line behind some rifle pits on the left of the army, where they remained until the retreat of the entire army on the 6th. The loss of the regiment during the battle was slight; 3 men were wounded, and 5 were captured or missing.

Shortly after the return from Chancellorsville the One hundred and thirty-fourth was transferred to the First Brigade — Buschbeck's. This brigade contained the following regiments:
134th New York Col. Charles R. Coster.
154th New York Col. D. B. Allen.
27th Pennsylvania Lieut. Col. L. Cantador.
73d Pennsylvania Col. William Moore.

The Twenty-ninth New York also belonged to this brigade, but it was a two years' regiment and returned home in June, 1863.

On June 12, 1863, the Eleventh Corps left its camps at Brooke's Station, on the Aquia Creek Railroad, and the One hundred and thirty-fourth New York commenced its long march to Pennsylvania. It was a toilsome one, made in summer heat and dust, the roads changing at times to muddy ones under the heavy showers and rains that fell at intervals. On its way the regiment passed by Hartwood Church, Catlett's Station, Manassas Junction, Centreville, to Cow Horn Ford, on Goose Creek, Va., where it rested from June 17th to the 24th, when the corps crossed the Potomac at Edwards Ferry into Maryland. Thence the regiment marched through Jefferson, Md., Middletown, Frederick, to Emmitsburg, arriving at the latter place June 29th. The regiment was resting at Emmitsburg, Md., when, on the morning of Wednesday, July 1st, orders were received for the corps to march to Gettysburg, Penn., ten miles distant, a place that scarcely a man in the column had ever heard of before. The Eleventh Corps was soon on the road, Steinwehr's Division bringing up the rear. When about half way the news spread along the line that the First Corps was fighting at Gettysburg, and that General Reynolds was killed. The rumor received ample confirmation in the increased pace at which the troops were hurried forward. Steinwehr's Division arrived at Gettysburg about 2 o'clock, and was immediately ordered to occupy Cemetery Hill. From this commanding position the men could look over and across the town to the fields and ridges on the farther side where a fierce battle was in progress, and where, in addition to the First Corps, their comrades of the First and Third Divisions of the Eleventh were already in action.

The First Brigade, under command of Colonel Coster in the absence of General Buschbeck, was placed on the northeast part of Cemetery Hill, in support of Wiedrich's Battery. General Schurz, who was in command of the corps, sent to Steinwehr an urgent call for reinforcements, as he was hard pressed by superior numbers, and Coster was ordered to take his brigade to Schurz's assistance. The brigade fell into line and, marching down Baltimore Street, passed through the town. On entering the fields on the farther side, Coster deployed three of his regiments in line of battle not far from the houses, and placed his fourth regiment, the Seventy-third Pennsylvania, in the edge of the town near the railway station. On the left of the brigade, Heckman's Ohio Battery unlimbered its guns and opened fire.

The Eleventh Corps was already falling back rapidly with the enemy in close pursuit. The most that Coster's Brigade could do would be to cover the retreat. To do this an effort was made to check the advance of Early's Confederate Division until the regiments of the Eleventh Corps could gain the cover of the town. The One hundred and thirty-fourth, under command of the lieutenant colonel, Allan H. Jackson, held the right of the brigade. It numbered about 430, officers and men. The three regiments had been deployed but a few minutes when two full brigades — Hays' and Hoke's — of Early's Division attacked them. The unequal contest could not be long sustained; but the One hundred and thirty-fourth remained after the other regiments of the brigade had joined in the general retreat, and from its exposed position on the flank of the brigade sustained a terrible loss, more than half of its men being shot down at this place. The remnant of the regiment then made its escape, and returned to Cemetery Hill, where the retreating troops of the First and Eleventh Corps were falling into line for the purpose of holding that important position.

The regiment remained on Cemetery Hill during the two succeeding days of the battle. It participated in the repulse of the Louisiana Brigade on the evening of the 2d, and was under a severe artillery fire during the grand artillery conflict of the 3d. Its losses during the battle were 42 killed, and 151 wounded, the latter including many who had received their death wounds; also, 59 who were missing or captured. The total loss in the regiment aggregated 252. Lieuts. Henry I. Palmer and Lucius Mead were among the killed. Colonel Jackson was captured in the retreat through the town, but made his escape and rejoined the regiment on Cemetery Hill.

The regiment accompanied the Army of the Potomac in its pursuit of Lee and return to Virginia. In August it was stationed at Alexandria, Va., on detached service, but in September it rejoined the corps and proceeded by rail to Tennessee, the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps having been transferred to the Army of the Cumberland. On arriving at its destination the regiment encamped at Bridgeport, Ala. On October 28, 1863, it was present at the battle of Wauhatchie, Tenn., but not actively engaged, as Buschbeck's Brigade was held in reserve.

Colonel Coster resigned his commission, November 4, 1863, and Lieutenant Colonel Jackson, a gallant and accomplished soldier, was promoted to the vacancy. The regiment was actively engaged in the battles around Chattanooga, November 23-25, 1863. At this time it numbered only 9 officers and 175 men present in action. The winter of 1863-64 was passed in camp at Lookout Valley. Upon the organization of the Twentieth Corps — formed by the consolidation of the Eleventh and Twelfth — the regiment was assigned to Buschbeck's (Second) Brigade, of Geary's (Second) Division. This brigade included the following commands:
33d New Jersey Col. George W. Mindil.
119th New York Col. John T. Lockman.
134th New York Col. Allan H. Jackson.
154th New York Col. Patrick H. Jones.
27th Pennsylvania Lieut. Col. August Riedt
109th Pennsylvania Capt. Fred. L. Gimber.
73d Pennsylvania Maj. Charles C. Cresson.

Leaving camp on May 4, 1864, the regiment marched away southward with Sherman's army on the Atlanta campaign. On May 8th, the One hundred and thirty-fourth was prominently engaged at Mill Creek Gap, Ga., in the storming of Rocky Face Ridge. It behaved with conspicuous gallantry, the men climbing the rocky, precipitous slopes under fire, and planting their colors on the crest of the ridge. But the position was an untenable one, and the movement in this direction was abandoned. The regiment lost in this affair, 11 killed and 25 wounded. Capt. Edwin Forrest, a brave and efficient officer, was mortally wounded in the assault, and died a few days later in the hospital at Chattanooga. Among the killed was Sergt. George R. Payne of Company E; also, Corporals Walters and Frederick, all noncommissioned officers of more than ordinary merit, whose deaths were a sad loss to the regiment.

On May 15th, the regiment was engaged at the battle of Resaca, Ga., where it sustained further losses. On July 2oth, it fought at Peach Tree Creek, Ga., where 25 more of its number were killed or wounded, Colonel Jackson among the latter. It was also under fire daily during the siege of Atlanta. The city was evacuated by Hood's Army, September 2, 1864, and the regiment, marching with the brigade, entered and took possession.

The next two months were passed quietly in camp at Atlanta, the usual details of men being furnished for picket duty and foraging. On November 15th the regiment started with Sherman's army on the March to the Sea. Passing through the villages of Decatur, Stone Mountain, Social Circle, and Madison, the brigade arrived at Milledgeville, Ga., on the 22d. Thence, and still " marching through Georgia," the route lay through Sandersville, Davis-borough, and Speir's .Station to Louisville, Ga., the brigade stopping by the way at times to assist in tearing up the track of the Georgia Central Railroad. On December nth, the brigade arrived at a point on the Charleston & Savannah Railroad about three miles from Savannah, and near the river. During the siege which followed the regiment was actively engaged in moving from place to place part of the time under the fire of the enemy's artillery. The city was evacuated December 21st, and the regiment, in company with Geary's Division, entered the place. During the operations in front of Savannah the One hundred and thirty-fourth lost 17, killed and wounded. Lieuts. Charles A. Ahreets and L. O. Fox were among the killed.

Leaving Savannah January 27, 1865, Sherman's army started on its northward and homeward march through the Carolinas, arriving at Goldsborough, N. C., on March 25th. The regiment left Goldsborough April 10th, and marching to Raleigh remained in that vicinity, countermarching and foraging until the 3oth, when it started for Washington. Passing through Richmond and the old battlefields of the Army of the Potomac, the Twentieth Corps arrived at Alexandria, Va., May 19th.

The regiment participated in the Grand Review at Washington May 24th, after which it was mustered out at Bladensburg, Md., June 10, 1865, and its long and honorable record was brought to a close.