70th Infantry Regiment

Nickname: First Regiment Excelsior Brigade; First Regiment Sickles' Brigade

Mustered in: June 20,1861
Mustered out: July 7, 1864

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

General Daniel E. Sickles, as temporary Colonel, recruited this regiment under special authority from the War Department; it was organized at Camp Scott, Staten Island, and there mustered in the United States service for three years June 20-22, 1861, except Company G, which was mustered in at Washington, D. C, October 8, 1861. Pursuant to the orders of the Secretary of War, dated December 5, 1861, it received, December 11, 1861, its State numerical designation. The three years' men of the 2d Infantry joined it May 19, 1863. The men not entitled to be mustered out with the regiment were, June 22, 1864, transferred to the 86th Infantry.
The companies were recruited principally: A in part, B, D and G in New York City; C at Paw Paw Mich.; E — Friend's Rifles —at Pittsburgh, Pa.; F at Port Jervis, Orange county; H at Boston, Mass.; A in part, and I at Paterson, N. J., and K at Newark, N. J.
The regiment, except Company G, left the State July 23, 1861; served at and near Washington, D. C, from July, 1861; in Sickles' Brigade, Hooker's Division, Army of the Potomac, from October 15, 1861; in same, 3d, Brigade, and 2d Division, 3d Corps, Army of the Potomac from March, 1862; in 2d Brigade, 4th Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from April, 1864; in 4th Brigade, 3d Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from May 13, 1864; and it was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Col. J. Egbert Farnum, July 7, 1864, to date July 1, 1864, at New York City.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 9 officers, 137 enlisted men of wounds received in action, 1 officer, 35 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 1 officer 69 enlisted men; total, 11 officers, 241 enlisted men; aggregate, 252, of whom 9 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.

The following is taken from The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II. 

Seventieth Infantry.—Cols., Daniel E. Sickles, William Dwight, Jr., J. Egbert Farnum; Lieut.-Cols., William Dwight, Jr., J. Egbert Farnum, Thomas Holt, Daniel Mahan; Majs., J. Egbert Farnum, Thomas Holt, Daniel Mahan, William H. Hugo. The 70th, the 1st regiment of the Excelsior brigade, was composed of companies from New York city, Port Jervis, Paw Paw, Mich., Pittsburgh, Pa., Boston, Mass., Patterson and Newark, N. J., and was mustered into the U. S. service at Camp Scott, Staten island, June 20, 1861, for a three years' term. It left for Washington on July 23; was quartered in the city for a.short time and then assigned to Sickles' brigade, Hooker's division, on guard duty at the forts along the Maryland side of the Potomac. Co. G joined the regiment in October, being mustered in at Washington on Oct. 8. In the disposition of troops preparatory to the advance on the Peninsula. Sickles' brigade became the 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 3d corps, and reached Yorktown in April. In the battle of Williamsburg, the first battle of consequence in which the 70th took part it met with the heaviest loss of its service. Out of 700 engaged the loss was 330 killed, wounded or missing. At Fair Oaks and in the Seven Days' battles the regiment was active and embarked at Yorktown, Aug. 20, for Alexandria, whence it moved at once to the support of Gen. Pope at Manassas. In a sharp encounter at Bristoe Station, the 70th lost 5 men and at the second Bull Run 23. The regiment returned to Washington and was stationed in that vicinity until November, when it moved to Falmouth. It was present at the battle of Fredericksburg, returning immediately afterward to its camp at Falmouth, which became its winter quarters. It was next in the field at Chancellorsyille, and at Gettysburg lost 113, killed or wounded, and 4 missing. In the southward movement, the brigade met the enemy in a brisk engagement at Wapping heights, fought at Kelly's ford, participated in the Mine Run campaign, and spent the winter at Brandy Station. In the reorganization of the corps, the regiment was assigned in April, 1864, to the 2nd brigade, 4th division, 2nd corps, and on May 13, to the 4th brigade, 3d division, 2nd corps. It shared in the memorable cam-paign under Gen. Grant until July I, 1864, when it was mustered out at the close of its term of service, the veterans and recruits being transferred to the 86th N. Y. infantry. Although not in service as long as the preceding New York regiments, the 70th won its right to be known as one of the "three hundred fighting regiments" by many an instance of gallantry and the loss of 182 by death from wounds out of a total enrollment of 1,226. It also lost 70 by death from disease, etc.

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Other Resources

This is meant to be a comprehensive list. If, however, you know of a resource that is not listed below, please send an email to ng.ny.nyarng.list.historians@mail.mil with the name of the resource and where it is located. This can include photographs, letters, articles and other non-book materials. Also, if you have any materials in your possession that you would like to donate, the museum is always looking for items specific to New York's military heritage. Thank you.

A brief memento to Captain Henry Brooks O'Reilly of the First excelsior regiment, who fell in the battle of Williamsburg, the first battle of the Army of the Potomac on its march from Yorktown to Richmond, May 5, 1862. [Rochester: 1862].

Botsford, William R. BrakeColl
(Excerpt of Lt's letter written to family of Sgt who was KIA, Jul 6, 1863) 
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Butler, Charles. Charles Butler correspondence, 1862-1864.
Description: 13 items.
Abstract: Letters written from friends serving in the Civil War, including Joseph Bardwell, Horace Charles, and Charles J. Pierce, all of Battery I, 1st Illinois Artillery; Heman D. Parrish of Co. C, 70th New York Infantry; Hiram Saxton of Co. H, 9th Michigan Infantry; Milo C. Webb of Co. D, 11th Illinois Infantry; and Edson Woodman of Co. H, 13th Michigan Infantry
Located at the University of Michigan, Bentley Hist. Library.

Coyne, John N. The battle of Williamsburg, Va. May 5, 1862. [New York: Press of T. A. Wright, 1896].

Coyne, John N. "The 70th N.Y. The first regiment of Sickles’ gallant Excelsior brigade." National tribune. April 21, 1892, p. 4. [Address given April 4, 1892, Newark, NJ]

Derema, Nelson. LeighColl Bk 34: 83 
(Enlisted man's letter, May 20, 1862)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Dignam, Patrick. PowersColl 
(Enlisted man's letter, Sep 5, 1862)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Dwight Family. Papers, 1815-1942, bulk: 1847-1885.
Description: 76 boxes, 1 v., and 2 oversize containers.
Abstract: Family correspondence of William and Elizabeth A. Dwight and their children--William Jr., Wilder, Daniel A., Howard, Charles, and Chapman Dwight--and a long series of letters from Elizabeth to her step-mother Ruth H. White. Family letters detail life in Salem and Springfield, Mass., business, travel, and schooling of the Dwight children at Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard College, Kingley's Military School, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. There are a large number of Civil War letters of Wilder (2nd Mass. Infantry), William, Jr. (70th New York Infantry and U.S. Dept. of the Gulf stationed at New Orleans), Charles (70th New York Infantry), and Howard Dwight (24th Mass. Infantry and 1st U.S. Western Cavalry), including an account of the Battle of Antietam. In addition, there are business papers and an account book of William Dwight Sr., kept while serving as treasurer of the Laconia and Pepperrell Cotton Mills in Biddeford, Maine, as treasurer of the Saco Water Power Company, and also as President of the White Water Valley Railroad in Ohio.
General Info: Unpublished guide in the library
Located at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Hosmer, William H.C. Excelsior battle-song
Description: Broadside. 27 x 21 cm
Notes: Printed in three columns divided by single lines
Located at the New York Historical Society, New York, NY, Brown University, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Hulbert, Rosanna Covey. Rosanna Covey Hulbert papers, 1861-1865.
Description: 1 microfilm reel (part) : master negative. 1 microfilm reel (part) : print master. 1 microfilm reel (part) : positive.
Abstract: Letters written to Rosanna Covey by her husband and by her brothers Alfonzo (Company K, 13th Michigan Infantry), Hiram and Jordin Covey (both of Company C, 70th New York Infantry); and her cousins Eleazer (Company A, 11th Michigan Infantry) and Israel Covey (Company B, 44th Illinois Infantry); also letters from John Slover (Company B, 17th Michigan Infantry). The letters describe camp life, battles, and other military activities. One letter by Hiram Covey describes the First Battle of Bull Run.
Notes: Includes transcripts./ Donor:4567/ Formerly part of Ness, Nina L. Nina L. Ness collection, 1793-1900./ Originals available./ Bio/History: Resident of Waverly Township, Van Buren County, Mich.; married to Nathan Hulbert who served in Company C, 70th New York Infantry, during the Civil War.
Located at the University of Michigan, Bentley Hist. Library.

Peterson, A.G. "Battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1862." Confederate Veteran magazine, Volume 20 (1911). 271-272.
Thank you to Mike Andrus for identifying this resource.

Shover, Charlotte Rosenquist. Augustus Temme in the Civil War : With the 70th and 86th New York Volunteers Infantry. New York State and the Civil War. Rosemount, MN: [the author], printed by InstantPublisher.com, 2011.

Shover, Charlotte Rosenquist, Samuel W Croft, Will C Wiley and Craig MacIntosh. The Civil War letters of Samuel W. Croft & William C. Wiley : 70th New York Volunteers Infantry Company E, 1861-1863 : soldiers from Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Rosemount, Minnesota : Charlotte Rosenquist Shover, 2019.

Sutherland, Bruce. "Pittsburg volunteers with Sickles' Excelsior brigade." Western Pennsylvania historical magazine XLV (1962) 47-68, 342-62.

Van Ostran, Clare E. Diary, 1864.
Description: 1 folder
Abstract: Diary, Jan. 1-Aug. 16, 1864, describes camp life near Roandy Station (Va.), his duties and meals, the enlistment of new men, drunkeness and gambling among the soldiers, the weather, and fighting battles in Wilderness (Va.). Miscellaneous financial accounts continue through Dec. 1864.
Notes: Bio/History: Van Ostran, from Hartford Center (Van Buren County, Mich.), was a Corporal in Company C, 70th New York Volunteers, or the 1st Regiment Excelsior Brigade, 2nd Div., 3rd Corps, Army of the Potomac. He was mustered in July 1864. (This information is from the front of the diary. Nothing further is known about him. He is not listed in the Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Index, probably because he served in a New York unit.).
Located at Clarke Historical Library (Central Michigan University) Civil War collection of personal papers.

Wiley, Bell Irvin. "The soldier's life, North and South, letters home tell adventures of two foes." Life. February 3, 1961. 64-77.


Items in the museum collection are in bold.