25th New York Infantry Regiment's Civil War Historical Sketch

From The 3rd Annual Report Of The Bureau Of Military Statistics

The Twenty-fifth regiment infantry, N. Y. S. V., or " Kerrigan Rangers," was recruited in the city of New York, in April, 1861, under the auspices of Hon. James E. Kerrigan. The first official recognition which it received was in Special Orders No. 123, May 3d, 1861, which order was as follows: " Application having been presented by James E. Kerrigan for the organization of ten companies of volunteers in the city of New York, under the act passed April 16, 1861, Brigadier-General Spicer will detail some proper officer to inspect each of said companies and to hold an election for company-officers. The officer detailed for the inspection will cause the accompanying blank to be filled, with the name of each member of said companies, and return them to headquarters with his certificate properly attached to each." The several companies were accepted and mustered as follows:

Co. By whom recruited Order Date of acceptance Date of U. S. muster
A Capt. Michael Holly 164 May 11, 1861 June 14, 1891
B Capt. Walstein G. Smith 164 May 11, 1861 June 18, 1861
C Capt. Michael McMahon 164 May 11, 1861 June 13, 1861
D Capt. Michael Norton 164 May 11, 1861 June 14, 1891
E Capt. Alexander L. Graham 164 May 11, 1861 June 14, 1891
F Capt. Thomas J. Doremus 164 May 11, 1861 June 13, 1861
G Capt. Thomas Wallace 164 May 11, 1861 June 26, 1861
H Capt. Daniel McManus 164 May 11, 1861 June 26, 1861
I Capt. William C. Gover 164 May 11, 1861 June 26, 1861
K Capt. Thomas Kerrigan 164 May 11, 1861 June 14, 1891


The field and staff officers were mustered June 26th, and the Tim of service of the regiment dated from that time. Preliminary to this, however, the State Board on the 11th of May (Special Orders 164), accepted the regiment into the State service, numbered it, and directed General Yates, to order an election of field officers. Special Orders 212 (May 22d), confirmed the election of the following field officers, viz: James E. Kerrigan, Colonel; Edward C. Charles, Lieutenant-Colonel, and George Mountjoy, Major, and directed Colonel Kerrigan to report for duty to General Yates, and to hold his regiment in readiness to bo mustered into the service of the United States. The regiment was now moved from its headquarters in the Old Bowery Theatre to camp on Staten Island, where it was mustered into the service of the United States as already stated, and where it received its arms, uniforms and equipments.

The organization of. the regiment was assisted by contributions from its officers and by private citizens. The expenditures by the Union Defense Committee on account of the regiment, amounted to $3,782.94. The expenditure by the State was $34,731.07, exclusive of subsistence and charters, up to August 15, 1861.

The regiment left the State on the 3d of July, for Washington via Harrisburg and, Baltimore, and arrived at its destination on the 5th. It remained encamped in and around Washington until the 21st of July, and then crossed into Virginia at Alexandria. During the remainder of the summer and autumn it was stationed at Alexandria, Arlington Mills, Shuter's Hill, Munson's Hill, and other temporary camps in the vicinity of Alexandria, and was successively in the brigades of McCunn, Keyes and Wadsworth. In October it was assigned to General Martindale's brigade, and encamped in the vicinity of Hall's Hill, Va.

Besides the ordinary duties, of camp, the regiment was actively employed in outpost duty, and its instruction and discipline was almost wholly neglected. No little demoralization ensued, and at one time the disbandment of the regiment was contemplated by the authorities. When it came under Gen. Martindale, a very general re-organization was effected. Major Charles A. Johnson, of the Seventeenth N. Y., was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel and assigned to the command of the Twenty-fifth, and being afterwards appointed Colonel, retained that position during the residue of its term of service. Several officers were likewise transferred to the regiment from the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Forty-fourth New York. A vigorous and rigid system of discipline and instruction was adopted, and when the regiment moved with its division to the Peninsula, it was a model of efficiency and subordination.

Under the organization of the army in March, 1862, the regiment was placed in Martindale's (1st) brigade, Porter's (1st) division, Heintzelman's (3d) corps, and moved with that command in the Peninsula campaign. In May, this arrangement was changed. The First brigade (Gen. Martindale's) became a part of Gen. Morrell's division (1st) of Gen. Porter's corps (5th)—an organization that was continued during the term of service of the regiment, under different commanders.

The regiment shared in the hardships and perils of Yorktown, and was in the extreme advance in the action of the 5th of April. In the brilliant affair, of Hanover Court House (May 27th), it took a prominent part. The march preceding the fight was long and painful. Starting at 3 o'clock A. M., the troops trudged through rain and mud for sixteen miles. The men of the Twenty-fifth, however, had been prepared by drill for service of this character, and it arrived on the ground of the future battle a long distance in advance of the other infantry regiments, and even passed the cavalry skirmishers. It filed from the New Bridge road into the Richmond and Hanover pike, a little before noon. Four of its companies were here deployed as skirmishers on the left, and two on the right, and the remaining four held in reserve, The skirmishers on the left, after passing a slight strip of woods, came upon a large field of wheat, nearly breast high, in which the skirmishers of the enemy wore concealed. The skirmishers of the enemy were speedily driven back towards the main body, which was soon discovered to be three regiments in front. The rally was sounded and the Twenty-fifth succeeded in gaining the house, orchard and out houses of Dr. Kenny. The two companies of skirmishers on the left, however, mistook the bugle-note and fell back and were captured, they having run into the enemy. The position taken by the regiment was held until the artillery arrived, by the aid of which the enemy were forced to retire. This skirmish lasted about an hour. The regiment lost here four officers killed, three wounded and two taken prisoners, and a large number of enlisted men in killed and wounded.

The second position occupied by the regiment, on this occasion, was at the intersection of the woods already mentioned in com-pany with the Second Maine, of Martindale's brigade, and the Forty-fourth New York of Butterfield's brigade, in anticipation of an attack upon our rear. The regiment had not reached the point when the attack began, but rapidly took position between the regiments named. It was soon ordered to relieve the Second Maine, to do which it moved by the right flank about one hundred and fifty yards. The Second Maine moved to the right rear and took position in a ditch running partly along and partly at right angles with the Richmond pike, The enemy (the 25th N. C.) until now concealed behind a high sod fence running along the edge of the woods, on the west side of the pike, just below its intersection with the New Bridge road, and only seventy yards distant, opened a fire from the right oblique which cut down half the regiment in less than twenty minutes. The position soon became critical. The Forty-fourth was fully occupied with a superior force in its front; the Second Maine so situated as to be only partially effective; the ammunition of all nearly exhausted— that of the section of artillery in support entirely so; the enemy's artillery just opening in front, and the regiment exposed to a fire from front and right oblique, which promised its speedy annihila-tion. But no man flinched— all seemed aware of the immense advantage which would be secured by the enemy if the position was vacated. The regiment, however, fell back to more sheltered ground, and from behind every stump and bush and undulation of ground, its men took close aim at the puffs of smoke constantly breaking from the green of the shrubs which surmounted the enemy's natural breastworks. At this critical moment the remainder of the corps, attracted by the heavy fire in rear, returned and quickly put an end to the contest. The regiment which had been so long engaged, were too much exhausted to join the pursuit of the flying foe. In this last affair the Colonel of the regiment was

severely wounded ; three line officers were wounded and fifteen men were killed, and a proportionate number wounded. Out of twenty-four officers and three hundred and twenty-five men, four officers were killed, six wounded and one captured, and twenty-seven men were killed, seventy-five wounded, and sixty-six cap tured, many of the latter wounded.

The regiment slept upon the field of battle. On the 28th, the dead were buried, and on the 29th the regiment returned to camp on the Gaines' farm. On the 26th of Juno, it was engaged in skirmishing with Jackson's advance. On the 27th it took an honorable part in the hard fought battle of Gaines' Mills, being posted in the first line at the bottom of a deep ravine, along which ran a little brook. It was one of the last regiments to yield its ground. The enemy were twice repulsed from its immediate front with great loss, and it was not until after a hard fight at close quarters, with greatly superior numbers, with the enemy getting in rear, that its position was given up. Its loss in this battle was six killed and seventeen wounded.

The regiment crossed the Chickahominy at two o'clock, A. M., on the 28th, and continued the march towards the James river, passing Savage's station and bivouacking for the night on the south side of White Oak swamp. In the action at Turkey Bend, (30th), it was not actively engaged, being in reserve with its brigade. At Malvern Hill, (July 1st), however, it added to the reputation it Had already won. After lying for two hours under a terrific artillery fire, it was marched to the front, and remained on the field until one o'clock A. M., of the 2d; when the march was resumed. In this action it had one killed and seventeen wounded.

The repose of the regiment at Harrison's Landing was not marked by any incident of special importance. On the 15th of August, it moved with its corps towards Newport News, via. Williamsburgh and Yorktown; arrived on the 19th ; left Newport News on the 20th for Aquia creek; left Falmouth on the 21st by railroad, and then continued the march up the Rappahannock, via Richard's, Barnell's and Kelley's Fords, Bealton, Warrenton Junction and Manassas, arriving on the battle field of Bull Run on the morning of August 30th. In the engagement that followed, it was mostly deployed as skirmishers, and was under fire for about three hours before the battle actually begun. It was then ordered to cover an interval in the line of battle, occasioned by the failure of some, brigade on the right to come up at the moment appointed. It was not much exposed, however, as it was stationed in thick woods. Its loss was six wounded, or about one fifth of the number which it had engaged. The regiment fell back to Centreville on the night of the 30th, and there remained under arms two days, much of the time in a drenching rain. On the second of September, it marched at five A. M., and reached Chain Bridge, via Fairfax, Vienna and Lewinsville, and on the 3d returned to its old winter camp, on Hall's Hill. On the 6th, it marched to Fort Ward, and camped until the 12th, when it set out on the Maryland campaign. It marched through Washington, via Silver Spring, Little Spring, Clarksville, Pratt Town and Urbanna, and reached Frederick on the night of the 14th of September; on the 15th it marched to Middletown, and on the 16th to Keedysville; formed in line of battle and opened the fight. In the battle of the 17th, at Antietam, it was in the reserve, and lost only two men.

On the 18th of September, and morning of the 10th, the regiment picketed the ground of Burnside's position of the 17th. On the 19th, it marched to Sharpsburg, being, with the Thirteenth New York, the first troops to enter that town, from which the cavalry of the enemy's rear guard immediately retired. Pushing on to Shepardstown Ford, the regiment bivouacked for the night, and on the 20th, crossed the Potomac river at that point, not expecting to meet any opposition ; a reconnoissance of the evening before having met none of the enemy. It had not advanced over a mile after crossing, however, when it became apparent that the enemy were approaching in strong force, which made a retrograde movement necessary. The advance of the enemy was sudden and unexpected. The regiment retired across the river in good order, however, and with the loss of only ; one man. It then returned to Sharpsburg, where it remained until the latter part of October, doing out-post duty in the interval.

On the 30th of October, the regiment broke camp, and crossed into Virginia on the 1st of November. On the 2d it marched to Snicker's Gap, and camped for three days. From thence it moved south, via. Middletown, Va., White Plains and New Baltimore, and reached Warrenton on the night of the 10th. It remained here until November 17th, when it marched to Hartwood church, via. Warrenton Junction ; remained at Hartwood church three days, and then rnarched to near Potomac creek and camped on the Fredericksburg railroad.

On the 2d of Dec. the regiment went on a reconnoissance to Hart-wood church which was the only incident of importance until Dec. 10th, when it broke camp and moved slowly down towards the Rappahannock, and bivouacked. On the 11th, it moved down to the railroad in front of the " Phillips' House," and there lay in camp until day-break of the 13th, when it got under arms for the battle of Fredericksburg. At two P. M., it crossed the river and went into action under the crest of Marye's Heights, directly opposite the railroad depot. It advanced across the plateau that lies between the crest and the town in company with the rest of its brigade, and carried the ground from which several brigades in succession had been driven, and held it under the enemy's fire for thirty hours. At midnight of the 14th, it was withdrawn from this advanced position and retired to the town. On the 16th, it crossed the river and returned to its camp on the railroad, having sustained a loss during the movement of two killed and thirty-two wounded.

The winter of 1862-3, was spent in winter quarters, with the exception of the movement known as the "mud march." In the spring campaign it moved with its brigade in the battle of Chan-cellorsville. On the 20th of June it left camp for New York.

Says a correspondent: " They have served their time well and faithfully, and go away carrying the respect and admiration of all the regiments of the corps. They go back with about two hun-dred arid fifty men, having lost while in the service, seventy-eight filled; and two hundred and eleven wounded. Three staff officers have been killed, and every one wounded. In every fight in which the corps has been engaged they have taken an active and a gallant part.

" Previous to moving to-day,( 19th), the First division formed in columns by battalion, face to the front, to give the regiment a parting salute. The general made a feeling and eloquent speech. He complimented officers and men for the faithful manner in which in the past two years they had discharged their duties as soldiers, and that their record was unsurpassed by any in the service." The regiment was mustered out in the city of New York, on the 26th of June, 1863.