146th New York Infantry Regiment's Civil War Historical Sketch
By Gen. James G. Grindlay
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.
The One hundred and forty-sixth Regiment was organized in Rome under the direction of the senatorial committee of the Nineteenth District. It was mustered into service October 10, 1862. It has frequently been designated the " Fifth Oneida," but its original synonym was " Halleck Infantry," in honor of Maj. Gen. Henry Wager Halleck, who was a native of Oneida County. The familiar title of " Garrard Tigers," by which the officers and men were wont to speak of themselves, was a compliment to the stern discipline and soldierly enthusiasm of Col. Kenner Garrard, a graduate of West Point, who had accepted the command of the One hundred and forty-sixth at the suggestion of General Halleck. Colonel Garrard had been nearly fifteen years in the United States service.
The regiment left for the seat of war on October 11th, and went into camp at Arlington Heights, Va. During the month that the regiment remained there it was subjected to the most severe drill. Leaving Camp Seward, November 9th, it joined the Army of the Potomac at Warrenton the day after McClellan was relieved of command. The regiment was assigned to the Third Brigade, Sykes' Division, Fifth Corps, the latter then under the command of General Meade. In the latter part of November it went into camp near Falmouth, Va., and remained there until December 11th, when it broke camp and was engaged with the army at the battle of Fredericksburg. On the 15th the One hundred and forty-sixth recrossed the river to its old camp. It was the last regiment over at the lower bridge. It was at the battle of Chancellorsville, May 1-3, 1863, under Hooker, and in the first day's fight suffered heavily; but the men acquitted themselves with honor. May 21, 1863, the regiment was sent on guard to Richards' Ford on the Rappahannock River.
On June 10th the start was made for Gettysburg. During that battle the One hundred ,and forty-sixth was in the brigade commanded by Brigadier General Weed. Here also it was that the One hundred and forty-sixth, with the One hundred and fortieth New York, and Ninety-first and One hundred and fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Regiments, at a severe loss of officers and men, charged up and obtained possession of " Little Round Top," the key to the position, and held it during the entire engagement. They were among the first troops to occupy " Round Top Ridge," which they did on the afternoon of the 2d of July. The brigade went up on the double-quick. Hood's Division of Longstreet's Corps were just climbing the hill when we reached the top and in a hand-to-hand encounter drove them back. It was then that General Weed, Colonel O'Rorke of the One hundred and fortieth New York, and Captain Hazlett, commanding the famous " Battery D," Fifth United States Artillery, were killed. The charge of Crawford's men was in the Valley, on the right of our position, and it was handsomely made. I would not detract from it in the least, but I claim that the brave deed of Weed's and Vincent's Brigades should have whatever of glory is attached to '" Round Top." General Lee says, in his official report, that it was the real point of controversy. Warren said it was the key of the battlefield, and he put us there. Finally, General Meade and all his staff generals came to the position occupied by this brigade to view the battlefield. The losses of the Third Division (Crawford's) at Gettysburg in killed, wounded and missing were 249; the losses of the Second Division (Ayres'), regulars and volunteers, were 1,028.
What a scene was Round Top! There was the high bluff covered with rocky crags, among and on which our brave zouaves were disposed in every possible position. On the central rock was the signal flag, telling the story of the battle. And there was Warren — the master mind it seemed of the field,— with his neck patched up from the wounds received on that spot. There was Hazlett and Weed, dying; and Sykes and Garrard as cool as if witnessing a review, while the rifled guns of Hazlett were within fifteen yards of the same place and firing directly over their heads at the enemy's lines; and then if the group of Meade and his generals were added, it would make an excellent position to locate an historic picture of the battle. In consequence of the death of General Weed and Colonel O'Rorke, the command devolved upon Colonel Garrard, and for his gallant conduct on that occasion he was commissioned brigadier general. Colonel Jenkins then took command of the regiment.
The One hundred and forty-sixth shared the fortunes of the Army of the Potomac until the spring of 1864, when General Grant assumed command of the army, and the First and Fifth Corps were consolidated. The One hundred and forty-sixth was then in the Fifth Corps, First Brigade, Second Division., General Ayres commanding the division. April 29th the army broke camp, and on May 4th came within one mile of the Wilderness battlefield.
On the succeeding day the One hundred and forty-sixth went into the fray, and suffered almost total annihilation; numbering at the commencement some 600 muskets, they lost nearly 400 in killed, wounded and prisoners. Col. David T. Jenkins, of Vernon, then commanding the regiment — than whom. 3 braver or more meritorious officer never lived — was killed. He was accounted one of the best engineers in the Army of the Potomac, although not a West Point graduate. On that day also fell that gifted, courageous young officer, Lieut.Col.Henry Hastings Curran. The command of the regiment devolved upon James G. Grindlay, who led it until the close of the war. From this time until the end, the One hundred and forty-sixth bore a conspicuous part in all the operations of the Army of the Potomac. In the final movement of the campaign of Grant, when Sheridan took the advance on the extreme left of Dinwiddie Court House, he came upon the enemy a few miles beyond, at Five Forks. Warren's Corps was at once sent to his relief. The One hundred and forty-sixth led the advance, and marched all night. They had been fighting all day, and the corps had suffered a loss of 1,800 in killed and wounded. Yet with Warren for a leader, and without an hour's rest, they marched along and reported to Sheridan next morning.
Thus reinforced an advance was made, and the enemy found strongly in-trenched at Five Forks. Warren was directed to move with his whole corps to the enemy's left flank, while the cavalry attacked in front. With his usual skill and promptitude he advanced on the strong position in three lines of battle, and sweeping steadily down carried everything before him. The One hundred and forty-sixth was in the first line, of battle, and pursued the enemy until darkness overtook them. It captured two battle flags, for which Medals of Honor were given, and the brigade captured seven flags and many prisoners. The writer can testify to the fact that Warren, with his staff, was at the front directing the movements, and was still there at dusk, his men shouting the victory, when he received an order relieving him of command, an act of gross injustice done him just when he deserved the highest praise equal to if not higher than to any of his compeers. Every man of the Fifth Corps believes it to have been such; and the imputations of one man, though a successful and great general, are wiped out by the verdict of thousands. A sudden act of injustice may be pardoned. Persisting in it, constitutes its chief criminality. At the close of the war General Warren was only thirty-five years old, and by those best qualified to judge, he was considered one of the best, if not the best, tacticians in the army.
Warren's fame is secure in the hearts of his soldiers. The army and the nation have a common interest in the record and the life of such a soldier.
In 1863 the One hundred and forty-sixth adopted the Zouave uniform. It numbered in all, from first to last, 1,568 men, receiving additions from the old Fifth New York (Duryea Zouaves), the Seventeenth New York, the D'Epeneuil Zouaves, and the Forty-fourth New York (" Ellsworth Avengers "), receiving at each time a body of splendid soldiers. The regiment was thrice complimented in general orders for distinguished gallantry: first at Laurel Hill, Va., where, as two lines of battle in front broke, it stood firm and repelled the attack, losing severely; second, at Cold Harbor, where Mahone's Division burst on its lines, the brigade to which the One hundred and forty-sixth belonged checking their career, and thus saving the position, the regiment losing in this encounter 2 officers and 69 enlisted men; third, at Hatcher's Run, where it held its ground at great odds until its ammunition was entirely gone, when it was withdrawn a short distance, its cartridge boxes replenished, and the line again advanced.
The One hundred and forty-sixth lost 2 field officers and 5 line officers killed in battle; 2 officers by death from disease; 5 by resignation on account of wounds, and 1 by transfer; 16 of its officers and 525 of its enlisted men were wounded in battle; 162 of its enlisted men were killed in battle; 105 died of disease; 550 were discharged for wounds and disability; 324 were transferred; and 327 were mustered out of service at the close of the war. One hundred and fifty-six commissions were issued to the regiment, and 11 enlisted men were promoted into other regiments as commissioned officers.
Three stands of colors were possessed by the regiment. A banner given by the State was carried through several battles and afterwards deposited at Albany. Two United States colors, that gave good evidence of the service they have seen, were carried by the regiment, and at the close of the war turned over to the War Department.
The regiment was engaged in the following battles, which by order of the War Department they were entitled to inscribe upon their flag: 1, Fredericks-; 2, Chancellorsville; 3, Gettysburg; 4, Rappahannock Station; 5, Bristoe Station; 6, Mine Run; 7, Williamsport; 8, Wapping Heights; 9, Wilderness; 10, Spotsylvania Court House; 11, Laurel Hill; 12, North Anna; 13, Totopoto-moy; 14, Cold Harbor; 15, Petersburg; 16, Weldon Railroad; 17, Chappell House; 18, Hatcher's Run; 19, Poplar Springs Church; 20, Hicksford; 21, White Oak Road; 22, Five Forks; 23, Appomattox. The high opinion entertained for the regiment at headquarters is evident in the following letter written by General Ayres: "H'd Qrs., 3d Div., Pro. Corps, July 15, 1865. Gen. James G. Grindlay and Officers and Men of the 146th Regt. N. Y. Vols.: As our official relations are about to terminate, I take the occasion to express my deep regret therefore, though rejoicing in its cause.
During the time that your regiment has served in my command, and the many battles it has participated in, I have ever felt entire confidence in its discipline and gallantry. I have never called upon it, save to see the duty assigned, nobly performed. I believe there is not a more distinguished regiment than yours. Gallantly have you borne those torn and tattered banners. Defiantly have you shaken them in the very jaws of death, and triumphantly waved them on fields of victory. Well assured that in your reception on returning home, will be evinced the deep gratitude of an admiring people, and with my best wishes for your welfare and happiness, I remain, Sincerely and truly your friend, R. B. AYRES, Bvt. Major General." Medals of Honor were given by Congress to: James G. Grindlay, " for conspicuous bravery while commanding the brigade at the battle of Five Forks, Va., April 1, 1865." Thomas I. Murphy, sergeant Company G, and Priv. David Edwards, Company H, for the capture of battle flags. The regiment was mustered out of service at Washington, D. C., July 16, 1865, and its long and arduous service brought to an honorable close.