73rd Infantry Regiment

Nickname: Fire Brigade; Second Fire Zouaves; Fourth Excelsior Regiment; Fourth Regiment, Sickles' Brigade

Mustered in: July to October 1861
Mustered out: June 29, 1865

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

This regiment was organized at Camp Decker, Staten. Island, under the special authority granted by the War Department to Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, and July 25, 1861, to Col. William R. Brewster by the consolidation of men recruited by Col. James Fairman, under authority from the War Department, dated August 19, 1861, for the Fourth Excelsior Regiment, and the men recruited for the Second Fire Zouaves by Col. John Baulch, succeeded by Colonel Brewster. It received its State numerical designation December 11, 1861, in accordance with the orders of the Secretary of War of December 5, 1861. The regiment was recruited principally in New York City and of members of the fire department, and it was mustered in the service of the United States for three years at Camp Decker, between July 8 and October 8, 1861. In the fall of 1862, a new company joined the regiment and took the letter C; January 20, 1863, Company G was transferred to E, and the members of the 163d Infantry, six companies, 375 men, received by consolidation as follows: the men of Company C, 163d Regiment, went to Companies A and B, 73d Regiment, those of D to A, F and I; of F to C, D and K; of A to D and G; of B to G; of E to F and I. At the expiration of its term of service the men entitled thereto were discharged, and the remainder consolidated into seven companies, A, B, E, F, G, H and I, and retained in service. June 1, 1865, it received by transfer the enlisted men of the 120th Infantry, not mustered out with their regiment.
The regiment left the State October 8, 1861; served in Sickles' Brigade, Hooker's Division, Army of the Potomac, from October, 1861; in same, 2d, Brigade, 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; in 1st Brigade, 3d Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from July, 1864; and it was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Col. Michael W. Burns, June 29, 1865, near Washington, D. C.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 12 officers, 107 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 5 officers, 29 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 2 officers, 74 enlisted men; total, 19 officers, 260 enlisted men; aggregate, 229; of whom 15 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. 

Seventy-third Infantry.—Cols., William R. Brewster, Michael W. Burns, James Fairman; Lieut.-Cols., William McCanley, Michael W. Burns, James McKenna, Lewis Benedict, Jr.; Majs., Michael W. Burns, John P. Lawrence, Lawrence H. Thompson, John D. Moriarty. The 73d, the 4th regiment of the Excelsior brigade, was sometimes known. as the 2nd Fire Zouaves, having for its nucleus, the New York fire department. It was recruited principally in, New York city and mustered into the U. S. service at Staten island, July 8 to Oct. 8, 1861. It left New York for Washington Oct. 8; was assigned to Sickles' brigade, Hooker's division, which became-in March, 1862, the 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 3d corps of the Army of the Potomac, and served during the first winter at Good Hope, Md. It moved to the Peninsula with McClellan's army in April, 1862; participated in the siege of Yorktown and the battle of Will-iamsburg, meeting with its first severe loss in the latter engagement, where 104 of the regiment were killed, wounded or reported: missing and the troops displayed great courage and steadiness. At Fair Oaks and during the Seven Days' battles the 73d was constantly in action and was much in need of rest by the time it reached the camp at Harrison's landing. On its way from the Peninsula to join Pope's forces the brigade had a sharp engagement at Bris-toe Station, in which the regiment lost 46 killed or wounded. It was active at the second Bull Run, was then withdrawn to the defenses of Washington with the Excelsior brigade to recuperate, and left for Falmouth in November. In the autumn of 1862 a new company joined the regiment and in Jan., 1863, it received the members of the 163d N. Y. infantry into its ranks. The 73d was active at Fredericksburg; returned to its quarters at Falmouth; engaged at Chancellorsville in May, 1863, but met its greatest losses at Gettysburg on the second day of the battle, where 51 were killed, 103 wounded and 8 missing out of 324 engaged, or 50 per cent. The loss of the regiment at Gettysburg included 4 officers killed and I wounded, and during its term of service it lost 18 officers killed or mortally wounded, a loss only exceeded by four other regiments in the army. It was engaged at Wapping heights, Catlett's station, Brandy Station, at Kelly's ford and Locust Grove, and went into winter quarters at Brandy Station. During the winter of 1863-64 a sufficient number of men reenlisted to secure the continuance of the regiment in the field as a veteran organization and in April, 1864, camp was broken for the Wilderness campaign, in which the regiment served with the 2nd brigade, 4th division, 2nd corps until May 13, when it was assigned to the 4th brigade, 3d division, 2nd corps. It lost 66 in the first two days' fighting in the Wilderness, 30 at Spottsylvania, and continued in service during the battles leading up to Petersburg. At the expiration of their term of service the original members not reenlisted were mustered out and the veterans and recruits consolidated into seven companies, which served from July in the 1st brigade of the same division before Petersburg, where the regiment participated in the various engagements of the brigade, the final assault and pursuit to Appomattox. The 73d was mustered out at Washington, June 29, 1865, having received on June 1, the veterans and recruits of the 120th N. Y. infantry. The total enrollment of the regiment was 1,326, of whom 153 died from wounds and 76 died from accident, imprisonment or disease. The regiment sustained its part nobly in a brigade which became famous for its fighting qualities and well deserves its reputation as a crack fighting regiment.


73rd Regiment NY Volunteer Infantry | Guidon | Civil War

This silk swallowtail guidon, used as a marker to assist in battlefield maneuvers, conforms to the “stars and stripes” pattern described in General…


73rd Regiment NY Volunteer Infantry | National Color | Civil War

This flag carried by the 73rd New York Volunteers, or “Fourth Excelsior,” includes 34 gold-painted stars in a pattern typically found on national…

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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@army.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.

Barram, Rick. "Too Good to be True." America's Civil War. 31 :1 March 2018. 42 - 51.

Barram, Rick. "Scoundrel." America's Civil War. 31 :6 January 2019. 38-45.

Benedict, Henry Marvin. A memorial of Brevet Brigadier General Lewis Benedict, Colonel of 162d regiment N.Y.VI., who fell in battle at Pleasant Hill, La., April 9, 1864Albany: J. Munsell, 1866.

Benedict, Lewis. Papers,1858-1868.
Description: 1 box.
Abstract: The collection contains a limited amount of genealogical and historical material on the Benedict family, two scrapbooks containing military papers and some of Lewis Benedict's personal papers. The collection also contains several items of military memorabelia including colonel's epaulets, a pair of spurs, printing blocks of Benedicts tomb, and an 1856 map of Mississippi.
Note(s): Lewis Benedict was a Lieutenant Colonel of the 73rd New York volunteers and was Colonel of the 162nd New York volunteers during the U.S. Civil War. He was killed in action in 1864 during the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. He was postumously promoted to Brevet Brigadier General.
General Info: Preferred citation: Lewis Benedict Papers, 1858-1868./ Unpublished guide available in repository.
Located at the New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Brannigan, Felix. BrakeColl 
(Pvt's undated letter & account of Gettysburg, Nov 12, 1891)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Butler, Francis. To bleed for a higher cause : The Excelsior Brigade and the Civil War. 2012. 

Campbell, Eric A. "Hell in a Peach Orchard." American's Civil War. V16 N3 (July 2003) pp. 38-45.

Constitution and By-Laws of the Veteran Association 73rd Regt. N.Y. Vols. (2nd Fire Zouaves), 4th Regt. Excelsior Brigade, Organized May 3rd, 1880, Incorporated July 24, 1884. New York: S.E. Weissman, Printer, 1894.17.
Located at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA.

Davis Family. Davis family papers (collected by Mrs. E.E. Davis),
1771 and 1864-1965.
Description: 1 folder.
Abstract: Family letters and documents, collected in part by Mrs E. E. Davis; include indenture, 1771; also Civil War letters of John McIsaac of the 5th Michigan Infantry, and of New York family members, Patrick Moran and Frank Moran, an officer with the 73rd New York Regiment who wrote one letter as a prisoner of war from Libby Prison.
Located at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

De Marsan, H. The 2d. N.Y. Fire-Zouaves: Dedicated to Col. Fairman by one of the Zouaves. : Air : Joe Bowers.
Description: 1 sheet ([1] p.) : col. ill. ; 26 x 15 cm.
Note(s): Song in six stanzas written following the discharge of Col. James Fairman in Sept. 1862; first line: Come all, ye brave fellows, and listen to my song./ Lyrics only./ Text within color illustrated border (De Marsan "eagle" border. Cf. Wolf. E. Amer. song sheets, border P)./ N-YHS copy: Library Company of Philadelphia exchange copy; paper backing.

Dreese, Michael A. "A Twin Sacrifice: The Tragic Tale of Thomas and George Dennen." Blue & Gray Magazine (Summer 2007): pp. 25-27.

Ellsworth, Elmer Ephraim. Papers,[184-]-1935 (bulk 1859-1861).
Description: 9 folders (97 items)
Abstract: The collection includes a few papers relating to Ellsworth's early life: his first composition, letters of recommendation for clerical jobs, and letters to and from family and friends. The largest portion of the papers are products of his military career and include letters to and from various government officials and militia officers around the country about the Cadets and organization of other zouave units; papers relating to Cadet business, social activities, and tour; papers relating to the 73rd New York Infantry (Fire Zouaves); lists of officers and men; manuals of arms and notes and diagrams relating to military drill; lists of equipment and uniforms; illustrations of zouave uniforms; newspaper clippings about Ellsworth and the Cadets; addresses to his troops; a few letters on temperance; papers concerning the proposed national militia bureau; and a photograph of Ellsworth in uniform. There is also a quantity of material relating to his death: newspaper clippings; letters from his fiancée, Carrie M. Spafford, to his family; letters and resolutions of sympathy from individuals and military and fire companies; postcards depicting his death and related scenes; and a typescript essay, "A hero of '61", by E.E. Jones (final pages missing).
Note(s): Bio/History: Generally considered to be the first man killed in the Civil War.
Located at the Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia, PA.

Fairman, James. The 2d. N.Y. Fire-Zouaves: Dedicated to Col. Fairman by one of the Zouaves. : Air: Joe Bowers. [New York] : H. De Marsan, 1862.

Ford, David. "Daniel Edgar Sickles." On Point: The Journal of Army History. 13 :1 Summer 2007. 

Haines, Joseph L. and Sarah D. Haines. Papers, 1861-1867; (bulk 1861-1862).
Description: 6 folders
Abstract: Civil War letters (1861-1862) from Haines to his mother, Sarah D. Haines, while serving with Second Fire Zouaves, later 73rd Infantry Regiment, New York Volunteers, in Maryland and Virginia; together with documents relating to his death in a hospital in Yorktown, Va., including correspondence, compositions by Mrs. Haines, and sermon.
Note(s): Bio/History: Union soldier, of Rahway, N.J.
General Info: Preferred citation: Joseph Lufbery Haines. Civil War Letters. MC 140. Special Collections and Archives, Rutgers University Libraries./ Acquired 1983./ Occupation: Soldiers/ United States.
Located at Special Collections and Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.

Hazeltine, Herbert W.? "Two Letters from the Third Regiment." : Headquarters, 3d. Regt., Excelsior Brigade. Camp near Mattawoman Creek.." 23 October 1861.

Jones, Lucius, 1844- In the War of the rebellion from 1861 to 1865 [Fredonia, NY] 1913.

Lowry, Thomas P. 1932-  (Thomas Power) "Unceasing and Tyrannical abuse: Col. James Fairman." Curmudgeons, drunkards, and outright fools : courts-martial of Civil War Union colonels. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003, 1997. 141-143.

Moran, Captain Frank E. A thrilling history of the famous under ground tunnel of Libby prison. [New York: 1893].

Moran, Frank E. Bastiles of the Confederacy, a reply to Jefferson Davis, being a narrative of the treatment of Union prisoners in the military prisons of the South during the War of the rebellion. Baltimore: [1890].

Moshier, James. "Affinity for Controversy." : Wherever Dan Sickles went, controversy soon flared, even at Gettysburg." Military History. JUN 1990. 58 ff..

O'Hagan, Joseph F.; Lucey, William L., ed. "The Diary of Joseph F. O'Hagan, S.J., Chaplain of the Excelsior Brigade." Civil War History. December 1960. 402-409.

Orderly book, 1861-1862.
Description: 1 v. (218 p.)
Abstract: Volume, 1861 Aug.-1862 Dec., containing official copies of circulars and special and general orders addressed or pertinent to the 4th Regiment, Excelsior Brigade or 73rd New York State Volunteer Infantry; also known as the 2nd Fire Zouaves. Materials date from the period the regiment was in Maryland and Virginia.
Note(s): Microfilm copy available; see Miscellaneous Microfilm reel #53./ Bio/History: Organized at Camp Scott, Staten Island, N.Y., as 4th Regiment, Sickles' Brigade, July to October, 1861. Left State for Washington, D.C., October 8, 1861. Attached to Sickles' Brigade, Division of the Potomac, October, 1861. Sickles' Brigade, Hooker's Division, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 3rd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, 2nd Army Corps, to May, 1864. 4th Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Army Corps, to July, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Army Corps, to June, 1865.
General Info: Access: open to qualified researchers at The New-York Historical Society;/ patrons must use microfilm./ This collection is owned by The New-York Historical Society. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Library Director of The New-York Historical Society, Two West 77th Street, New York, NY 10024./ Apr. 19, 1938.

Ridgway, Frank. "From the Wilderness to Petersburg : The Diary of Surgeon Frank Ridgway" New York Historical Society Quarterly 45 (April 1961) p. 113-140.

Styple, William B. "Writing and fighting the Civil War." : soldier correspondence to the New York Sunday Mercury." New York Sunday Mercury. 2000.

Swanberg, W. A. 1907-1992.  (William Andrew), Sickles the incredible New York: Scribner, 1956.

Townsend, Frank S. Ellsworth and his fire zouaves.
Description: 1 sheet ([1] p.) : port. ; 15 x 22 cm.
Note(s): Newspaper clippings, 1905, 1908, with other relevant clippings./ Prose and poetry.
Located at the Connecticut State Library.

Tremain, Henry E. Two Days of War: A Gettysburg Narrative, and Other Excursions. Ann Arbor, MI: Univ Microfilms, 1970 reprint of 1905 ed. 513 p.

United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 73rd (1861-1865) . Constitution and By-Laws of the Veteran Association 73d Regt N.Y. Vols. (2d Fire Zouaves,) 4th Regt Excelsior Brigade. New York : S.E. Weissman, printer, 1894.
Held by The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.


Unit bibliograhy from the Army Heritage Center

Items in the museum collection are in bold.