154th 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.
The One hundred and fifty-fourth Regiment, New York Volunteers, was recruited from the counties of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus, the men enlisting for three years or during the war. It was organized at Jamestown, N. Y., where it was mustered into the United States service September 24, 1862.
Under command of Col. Patrick H. Jones it left the State September 30th, for the seat of war. Colonel Jones had already served with distinction as major of the Thirty-seventh New York, from which regiment he was promoted to the colonelcy of his new command.
On arriving at the front the One hundred and fifty-fourth was assigned to the Eleventh Corps, and was placed in Buschbeck's Brigade of von Stein-iwehr's (Second) Division.
The One hundred and fifty-fourth New York was engaged in the battle of Chancellorsville, numbering then 590 men in line of battle. It held its position at Dowdall's Tavern, where with Wiedrich's Battery it really served as headquarters guard, until after all the rest of the Eleventh Corps had retired to the woods east of them, and then retreated in good order. Many of the Seventy-third Pennsylvania retreating, fell in behind them and supported them as they lay and fought in their breastworks. Its losses in killed, wounded, and captured were so large that the regiment numbered only about 300 men when in line of battle at Gettysburg.
On the 30th of June, 50 men of the regiment, together with 50 of the Seventy-third Pennsylvania were detailed, under the command of Maj. L. D. Warner, of the One hundred and fifty-fourth New York, to make a recon-noissance out to Strykersville, and thus were not engaged in the first day's fight at Gettysburg.
The Second Division was the last one of the Eleventh Corps to reach Cemetery Hill by the Emmitsburg Pike. The One hundred and fifty-fourth New York arrived there at about 4 p. m., on the double-quick, filed into the cemetery and cleaned guns, and immediately (with the Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania and One hundred and thirty-fourth New York, only,) double-quicked down through the town, out on the Harrisburg Road, and formed line of battle where its monument now stands, a short distance north of Stevens Run. At this time the broken lines of Schurz's troops were in full retreat, and about as soon as the One hundred and fifty-fourth New York (with the Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania on its left and the One hundred and thirty-fourth New York on its right) had formed line of battle, the enemy in overwhelming numbers fell upon them, in front and on both flanks.
Again the One hundred and fifty-fourth New York held its ground, receiving no order to retreat whatever, the men firing six to nine shots apiece with their Enfield rifles. Thus nearly all possible chance to retreat was cut off, and all but 15 men and 3 officers were captured. These officers were Lieut. Col. Daniel B. Allen, then in command of the regiment, Capt. M. B. Cheney and Lieut. James W. Bird, of Company G, who escaped by running at the very last under the deadly fire of the enemy.
Capt. M. B. Cheney, on his way, came upon the National and State colors of the One hundred and thirty-fourth New York lying on the ground, mistook them for those of his own regiment,* and bore them safely off from the field through a perfect hail storm of minie balls, receiving a severe gun shot wound just as he was crossing the railroad, which wound so disabled him that he finally had to reluctantly submit to discharge from the service. Col. (Gen.) P. H. Jones was then a paroled prisoner, wounded and captured at Chancellorsville.
Lieut James W. Bird bore off the State colors of the One hundred and fifty-fourth New York.
The remnant of the regiment, including the reconnoitering party, combined with the few remaining men of the One hundred and thirty-fourth New York, did gallant service on the 2d of July on Cemetery Hill, in support of Wiedrich's Battery and in repelling the assault of the Louisiana Tigers.
After being reinforced by exchanged prisoners and convalescents, the One hundred and fifty-fourth New York was transferred to Lookout Valley, Tenn., in October, 1863. It was engaged soon after in the battles of Wauhatchie, Missionary Ridge, and the march to Knoxville to relieve General Burnside.
As a part of the Second Brigade, Second Division, Twentieth Corps, the regiment fought almost continuously throughout the Atlanta campaign, sustaining its severest loss, in proportion to numbers, on the 8th of May, 1864, in the attempt of General Geary to capture Dug Gap, on Rocky Face Ridge, near Dalton, Ga.
Increased by 90 recruits, the regiment made the March to the Sea, and served through Sherman's campaign in the Carolinas. The services and experiences of the regiment were of the most varied and interesting character, and its record one of the best.
At the battle of Peach Tree Creek, July 20, 1864, it (and the Thirty-third New Jersey) received the first onslaught of Hood's assault. At the battle of Missionary Ridge, the regiment formed the extreme left of Grant's army on Citico Creek, a perilous position, in close proximity to General Cleburne's forces that intervened between the regiment and General Sherman's column. Colonel Buschbeck, of the Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania, commanding the brigade, with all of its regiments except the One hundred and thirty-fourth and One hundred and fifty-fourth New York, joined General Sherman's forces, leaving Colonel Jones in command of the remainder; and Corp. Thomas R. Aldrich of Company B, was the extreme left of all. He was captured at Rocky Face Ridge, wounded while holding the colors. The regiment did gallant service in the battle of Missionary Ridge, Colonel Jones having been exchanged, being in command. When mustered out at Bladensburg, Md., June II, 1865, the regiment numbered only 303 men. Of its prisoners, 76 died in Confederate military prisons, (53 in Richmond, Va., and 23 in Andersonville) or immediately after parole, from the effects of their imprisonment; and 76 were killed in battle or died of wounds so received. Of these, 42 fell at Chancellorsville, and 11 at Gettysburg.
Colonel Jones was promoted brigadier general, May 9, 1865, and Lieut. Col. Lewis D. Warner was made colonel to fill the vacancy. Lieutenant Colonel Allen, who commanded the regiment at Gettysburg, resigned September 30, 1864.
*And, as it is told, a soldier of the One hundred and thirty-fourth New York, by a similar mistake, carried off the national colors of the One hundred and fifty-fourth, this soldier being wounded also. [Ed.