66th 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 Sixty-sixth New York Volunteers were organized in New York City during the summer of 1861 by Col. Joseph C. Pinckney. Its first camp was at Elm Park. It was intended to be a reorganization, as volunteers, of the old Sixth New York State Militia, known as the Governor's Guard, which had already served three months under Colonel Pinckney.

By accessions from this regiment and the consolidation of several small organizations, it finally became a regiment of about 900 men.

The regiment is credited by the Adjutant General of the State with a total loss during the war of 9 officers and 88 enlisted men killed. Four officers and 120 enlisted men died of disease — total, 221 deaths. Also 272 officers and men wounded, 235 missing, making a total of 728.

A loss of 728 men is, without doubt, very nearly the total loss of the regiment during the war, from all causes, but it is not accurate as to the statement of comparative number killed, wounded and missing; also died of disease.

The regiment is credited with a loss of 1 killed, 10 wounded, and 59 missing at the battle of Chancellorsville. Many of the missing here were either killed or wounded, and left on the field. At this battle, the regiment, with others, held that portion of the line commanded by Colonel Miles. After Miles was wounded, the command devolved upon Col. O. H. Morris, and it was always thought that some of the credit of holding the line should have been given to Morris. It was a difficult position, and was held to the last moment possible. The Sixty-sixth only retreated after a Delaware regiment on its left had been captured. Many were wounded. The retreat was extremely dangerous, and the wounded were left in the hands of the enemy. Some were burnt to death, without doubt, as the woods took fire. Of the 59 missing then, it is fair to assume that many were killed or wounded. Finally, Capt. Daniel Munn, who commanded the regiment for a time after the capture of Colonel Hammell at Petersburg, in a letter to the writer, says: "You wished me to give a statement of the losses during the Wilderness campaign. I can give a statement of the losses sustained by the regiment from May 2, 1864, to December 30, inclusive. I rendered a report to army headquarters in triplicate, giving the losses by company, in killed, wounded and missing, by name, and the date of the disability. I simply give the company and their aggregate losses during the above-mentioned period.

"I omit the loss by company, but the total was 65 killed, 100 wounded and 89 missing. Most of the missing were captured on the I7th of June at Petersburg, and many of them died in prison."

Captain Munn goes on to say: "When the regiment, April 30, 1864, broke camp, it numbered 265 enlisted men and officers. Our losses were 254 enlisted men and officers, killed, wounded and missing. The regiment gained by recruits and men returned from hospital, during the above period. The morning after your capture, the regiment numbered but 70 men and officers."

It is hard to reconcile this report with that of the Adjutant General of the State, except on the supposition that the State reports were made up from first reports made by regimental adjutants, when there was an uncertainty about the fate of the missing, while Munn's report was made after more accurate information had been obtained.

As to Gettysburg, no accurate account will be attempted. The loss of 5 killed, 29 wounded, and 10 missing, was made on the second day, and is probably a fair percentage of those engaged. Capt. Elijah F. Munn was the first man killed — his death occurring just before the charge through the Wheat-field, and, while holding position on the left centre. A solid shot passed through his body. Most of the loss was met in the Wheatfield, and the road just beyond. Colonel Morris and Lieutenant Colonel Hammell were both wounded. Capt. George H. Ince was killed, and Lieutenant Banta shot through the lungs. And, here, in the woods, at about the most advanced point reached by the regiment in its charge on the enemy, the State of New York has erected a monument to the memory of the men who died there.