Volunteer Organization of the State and New York State Militia / New York National Guard

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.

Volunteer Regiments

THE Legislature by act approved April 16, 1861, authorized the organization of thirty-eight regiments of volunteer militia for a service of two years. These organizations were eventually all accepted by the United States government, although objections were raised, first that men were wanted for three months only and later that men were wanted for three years. Under the act mentioned above it was proposed to form these regiments into four divisions and nine brigades; this plan had to be abandoned as the War Department declined to recognize general officers not appointed by the President. The officers of these thirty-eight regiments were, under the Militia Laws of the State, elected by the officers and enlisted men and then appointed by the Governor, until an act of Congress conferred the absolute power of appointment of officers of volunteer organizations in the service of the United States upon the Governor of the State which furnished them.

The three years, one year and nine months' organizations were furnished later under the authority of the War Department.

Under General Orders of the War Department, issued in fall of 1863 and spring of 1864, men in the service, who had served two years, were permitted to re-enlist for three years or the war, and were denominated Veteran Volunteers. Organizations, of whose members 50 per cent, re-enlisted in this manner, were designated Veteran Volunteer regiments or batteries, and are here indicated by the designation "Veteran," in parentheses, after their State designation. The men received furloughs for thirty days, and the organization usually went in a body on this furlough, leaving those not re-enlisting or who were not entitled to do so in the field attached to other bodies of troops.

In May, 1865, orders were issued for the muster out of organizations, requiring, however, the men whose term of service would expire after October 1st to be transferred to other regiments not then to be mustered out but of whom the men whose service would expire before October 1st were ordered to be mustered out; this caused a great many transfers, and even reorganizations of regiments. The order was not always carried out, and later on ceased to be of effect.

New York State Militia / New York National Guard

The armed and uniformed portion of the militia of the State was, at the breaking out of the war, known as the "Militia" An act of the Legislature, approved April 23, 1862, changed this designation to "National Guard," which is still the designation of the armed, uniformed and organized military force of the State.

The United States, as shown elsewhere, called for the services of this force or of part of it, for short periods in 1861, 1862, 1863 and 1864.

Besides the regular organizations furnished under these calls, the organized Militia of the State, at large, furnished also a large number of officers and enlisted men to the military forces of the United States, and several organizations intact as regiments of volunteers. The number of men furnished as officers alone exceeded 2,300, not including those who went with their regiments.


See also Of New York State Militia Units in 1861