36th New York Infantry Regiment's Civil War Historical Sketch

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


The Thirty-sixth Regiment Infantry, N. Y. S. V., or "Washington Volunteers," was organized at Union Hall, corner of Sixteenth street and Eighth avenue. It was composed of companies recruited and accepted as follows :
Company A—Buffalo, Capt. Eliha J. Faxon; accepted May 13th; mustered June 17th, 1861.
Company B—Newburgh, N. Y., Capt. James A. Raney ; mustered in June 17th, 1861. This company was accepted under Capt. Horace R. Howlett, May 16th. After obtaining a few recruits, Capt. Howlett turned over the company to Capt. Raney, who recruited sixty-seven men in Newburgh.
Company C—New York, Capt. Wm. H. Bennett ; accepted May 15th: mustered June 17th.
Company D—New York, Capt J. Townsend Daniel ; accepted May 13th ; mustered in June 17th.
Company E—New York, accepted under Capt. Wm. R. McDonald, May 18th; mustered under Capt. E. M. Quackenbos, July 4th.
Company F—New York, Capt. Gustavus Dupins; accepted May 13th ; mustered June 19th.
Company G—New York, Capt. Israel G. Atwood; accepted May 11th ; mustered July 4th. A company under Captain Robert T. Donaldson was accepted, May 25th, but its organization was not completed and it was disbanded, (Special Orders 276), and Capt. Atwood's company took its place.
Company H—New York, accepted under Capt. Samuel Wad-dell, May 16th. Captain Waddell died in June, and the company was mustered under Capt John Mason, June 29th.
Company I—New York, Capt. Walter Darwent ; accepted May 14th; mustered July 4th.
Company K—New York, accepted under Capt. Thos. J. Lord, May 10th ; Captain Lord was elected Lieutenant-Colonel, and the company was mustered under Capt. Jas. J. Walsh, June 24th.

At a meeting of the State Military Board, May 24th, it was, on motion of the Lieutenant-Governor, "Resolved, That the companies commanded by the following Captains, viz: Lord, Dar-went, Daniel, McDonald, Bennett, Dupins, Howlett, Waddell, Donaldson and Faxon, he organized into a regiment, to be numbered No. 36, and an election for field-officers ordered to be held therein.'' Under this resolution an election was held, and the following field officers elected, viz : Charles H. Innes, Colonel; Thomas J. Lord Lieutenant-Colonel; and Nathaniel Finch, Major ; and their election was confirmed June 11th, (Special Orders 263), and Colonel Innes was directed to report to Brigadier-General Yates, and to hold his regiment in readiness for immediate muster into the service of the United States.* (*The following facts in reference to the officers of the regiment are interesting. Colonel Innes served during the war with Mexico, and was the first to plant the flag of the United States on the walls of Chepultepec. Lieuatenant-Colonel Lord served in the British army. Captain Walsh was a Crimean officer, who served with distinction in the Turkish and Indiana wars. Captain Raney served in the war with Mexico. Captain Daniel was for several years in the British army. Captain Darwent was an officer in the British army, Lieutenant Piggot served in the Crimean, Indian and Chinese wars. Lieutenant Armstrong was one of the "Light Brigade" in the charge of the "six hundred" at Balaklava. Lieutenant Finch served in the war with Mexico, and Lieutenants Chappell and Miles served in the British army.)

From New York city, the regiment moved to Camp Reed, on Riker's Island, where its final muster was held on the 4th of July, with date from June 111th. Here it was supplied, (July 10th), with U. S. percussion muskets, model 1842, (subsequently exchanged for Austrian rifles, calibre 54), and uniforms. Tents were issued to it in Washington, (July 15th). To assist in recruiting the regiment, a considerable expenditure was made by its officers, and some aid extended by the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Memorial, the Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Stephens, the Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Johns, New York, and by individuals. The expenditure by the Union Defense Committee, on account of the regiment, was $4,483.77 ; and by the State, $40,881.60, exclusive of subsistence and quarters. National and States colors were presented to the regiment by the ladies of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Memorial, St. Stephens and St. Johns, of New York.

The regiment left Riker's Island on the 12th of July for Washington, via Amboy, Philadelphia and Baltimore, and arrived at its destination on the 14th. On the 21st it encamped on Meridian Hill, and moved from thence (August 6th) to Brightwood, five miles north of Washington on the Rockville road. It was immediately employed in the construction of fortfications. At Fort Massachusetts it put the first spade in the ground, furnished a lieutenant, a sergeant, and both engineers, to lay out and superintend the work, and mounted its guns, yet another State took the honor of its name. Nor was this the only disadvantage under which it was placed. It was associated entirely with the regiments of other States, and not only isolated from the troops of its own State, but from many of the channels through which the movements of other regiments were made familiar to the public. These disadvantages, however, had some compensations. In the division to which it was attached were regiments from five different States, and a generous rivalry soon sprung up in regard to drill and discipline. The contest was decided on the 13th of January, 1862, when the Thirty-sixth was selected to represent the division in an exhibition drill which was witnesed by many members of Congress and others.

The brigade, division and corps assignments of the regiment were as follows, viz: July 15th, 1861, General Couch's brigade; September 14th, General Couch's brigade, General Buell's division. General Keyes succeeded General Buell on the 9th of November. April 20th, 1862. General Devin's brigade (First), Gen. Couch's division (First), General Keyes' corps (Fourth). Septem-ber 25th; 1862, General Devin's brigade was transferred to the Sixth corps, in which it was the Second brigade of the Third division. The Sixth corps was commanded by General Franklin and by General Sedgwick, and the Third division by General Newton. The regiments composing the brigade, viz: Thirty-sixth New York, Second Rhode Island, and Seventh and Tenth Massachusetts, were not changed during the service of the Thirty-sixth. The Thirty-seventh Massachusetts was added to the brigade in October, 1862. On the 11th of March, 1862, General Keyes' division took up its line of March for Prospect Hill; and reached its destination in the evening—distance 15 miles. On the 14th it returned to Chain Bridge, where it remained under arms until 8 1/2 P. M., when it com-menced to rain heavily. The regiments were then ordered to camp, five miles distant, and found their way thither as best they could in the storm and darkness. On the 25th it started for Fortress Monroe, but not having transportation, returned to camp. On the 26th it moved again and embarked; arrived at Fortress Monroe on the 28th, about 5 P. M.; disembarked and marched about five miles to Salt Creek, a few miles from Newport News. On the 2d of April it moved to Young Mills, and occupied the quarters vacated by the enemy. On the 6th of April it arrived at Warwick Court House; Smith's division in advance, followed by Couch's ; General Casey's remaining at Young's mills. On the 13th General Smith attacked the enemy's works, with the Vermont troops, at Lee's Mills, and was driven back with some loss. General Couch was ordered to his support, advanced to the front, and encamped about one mile from the enemy's works. On the 25th of April Devin's brigade was posted as follows; Seventh and Tenth Massachusetts at Warwick Court House; Thirty-sixth New York and Second Rhode Island at Young's Mills, to force the enemy across the Warwick river. While here the regiment was occasionally under fire from the enemy's gunboat Teazer, and occasionally ex-changed shots with the enemy's pickets.

After the evacuation of Yorktown the division moved to Williamsburg, where the Seventh and Tenth Massachusetts were engaged; the Thirty-sixth New York and Second Rhode Island not arriving until three days after the battle.* (* " General Devins. with his brigade, hurried forward. The Second Rhode Island and Seventh Massachusetts were rushed to support General Peck at a trying period of the fight, and were faithful to their trust. The Tenth Massachusetts was sent to the right to support General Hancock, and did good service. The general eommanding deeply regrets the absence at Warwick of the Thirty-sixth New York " —General Couch's General Order No. 37.) These regiments joined their brigade and division at Ross' Church, where Keyes' corps was massed. On the 18th of May the corps moved forward, to the Chickahominy, where the Thirty-sixth was the first New York regiment and the second in the army to cross at Bottom's Bridge, on the 21st, after a short skirrmsh with the enemy. Couch's division led the advance from this point to Savage station, where it arrived on the 28th, when Casey's division took the advance.

On the 31st of May Casey's division was attacked at Seven Pines, and gave way. The weight of the engagement then fell Upon Couch's division, whose center gave way. .The Thirty-sixth was in rifle-pits, and by the movements of the troops was thrown between the contending armies, and suffered a loss of thirty-six in killed and wounded. In this engagement if behaved with great credit. It finally fell back with a loss of all its camp equipage. ** (** " Brigadier General Devins, who had held the center of Couch's division, had made repeated and gallant efforts to regain portions of the ground lost in front, but each time was driven back, and finally withdrew behind the rifle pits near Seven Pines." --General McClellan's Report.

" A portion of the Thirty-sixth New York, Colonel Innes, a portion of the Fifty-fifth New York and the First Long Island, Colonel Adams, together with fragments of other regiments of Couch's division, still contended on the right of this line."— General Keyes') The battle was renewed by General Heintzelman on the 1st of June, and the enemy driven back.

The regiment rested here until the 25th of June, when it moved with the brigade to relieve General Hooker's brigade, on picket duty at Seven Pines. The movement was not made until dark. Soon after taking position the regiments composing the brigade became confused, fired into each other, and then fell back. In this affair the Thirty-sixth lost ten in killed and wounded, On the 27th, the Thirty-sixth New York and Tenth Massachasetts were sent to the right at Gaines' Mill, and were engaged with the enemy,— the Thirty-sixth losing one man. The Thirty-sixth returned to Savage's Station. On the 28th, continued the retreat to White Oak swamp, where it helped to drive the enemy's cavalry, and reached Charles City Cross Roads on the 30th. On the 1st of July it reached Malvern hill, and was first assigned to the support of the First New York battery. It subsequently became actively engaged; united in a charge on the enemy; drove them back and captured the colors of the Fourteenth North Carolina and sixty-five prisoners. In this engagement the regiment was under command of Major Rangy. The colors were captured by private Francis O'Farrell, of Company B. The regiment fought until dark and slept on the field.* (* " July 1st, they (Tenth Massachusetts) were engaged in the battle of Malvern Hill, and, in connection with the Thirty-sixth New York regiment, in the same brigade, almost annihilated an entire brigade of the enemy, consisting partly or entirely of North Carolina troops." —Report of Adjt. Gen. of Mass. " At six o'clock the enemy suddenly opened upon Couch and Porter with the whole strength of his artillery, and at once began pushing forward his columns of attack to carry the hill. Brigade after brigade, formed under cover of the woods, started at a run to cross the open space and charge our batteries, but the heavy fire of our guns, with the cool and steady volleys of our infantry, in every case went them reeling back to shelter, and covered the ground with their dead and wounded. In several instances our infantry withheld their fire until the attacking column, which rushed through the storm of canister and shell from our artillery, had reached within a few yards of our lines. They then poured in a single volley, and dashed forward, with the bayonet, capturing prisoners and colors, and driving the routed columns in confusion from the field. — McClellan's Report.)

The regiment left Harrison's Landing on the 10th of August; reached Yorktown on the 29th, and embarked for Alexandria, where it arrived on the 30th. Part of the regiment was here detached, and hurried forward to Chantilly, where it engaged in the battle of September 1st. It then fell back to Chain bridge, covering the retreat, and from thence marched into Maryland. After a fruitless effort to relieve General Miles, at Harper's Ferry, General Couch's division joined its corps (the Sixth) at Pleasant Valley, on the 16th of September. From thence it moved to Antietam; arrived on the field of battle on the morning of the 18th, and was placed in position.** (** Of the reinforcements, Couch's division, marching with commendable rapidity, came up into position at a late hour in the morning." —McClellan's Report.) The battle, however, was not renewed.

The Regiment moved from Antietam with its division, and crossed the Potomac at Berlin on the 3d of November. It reached White Oak church on the 2d of December, where it camped until the 11th, when it crossed the Rappahannock at sundown; with its brigade (at that time increased by the addition of the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts, a new regiment), as a part of the Left Grand division,* (* "The Second Rhode Island, being advanced as skirmishers, were followed by the Tenth Massachusetts and Thirty-sixtth New York, on one bridge, and the Thirty-Seventh and Seventh Massachusetts on the other. These five regiments composing the brigade of Gen. Devins Report of Adjt. Gen. of Mass., 1863, p. 683.) and held the south bank of the river until daylight on the morning of the 12th, when other forces were sent across and took the front line. On the 13th it was with its bri-gade on the extreme left, and exposed to a heavy shell fire. On the 14th it was in reserve, and, on the 15th, covered the retreat of the army, and was the last regiment to re-cross the river —company B having been detailed to pick up stragglers. During this movement it had one killed and two wounded. It then went into camp near Falmouth; where it remained until the 20th of January, when it moved in General Burnside's second advance, and shared in the miseries of the " mud march.'' It returned to camp on the 23d, and remained during the winter.

On the 28th of April, the regiment moved with its division in the Chancellorville campaign, and crossed the Rappahannock with Sedgwick's corps (Sixth) about 3 A. M., on the 2d of May. On the 3d it was detached from its brigade and made a part of the charging column on Marye's Heights. About 11 A. M., stripped of knapsacks and all incumbrances, it dashed forward in the assault, won the position at the point of the bayonet and captured the battery of the famous Washington artillery of New Orleans. D. W.Judd ** (** New York Times, May 13, 1863.) writes of this action as follows:
" At a consultation of the generals, very early in the morning (Sunday), the plan adopted was for General Devins' brigade (consisting of the Second Rhode Island, Seventh, Tenth and Thirty-seventh Massachusetts and Thirty-sixth New York) to storm the works on the right * * The plan was afterwards so changed as to give the flying division the lead, together with the Seventh Massachusetts and Thirty-sixth New York. * * * The signal being given, the Seventh Massachusetts arid Thirty-sixth New York moved forward simultaneously with the Flying division, up the Gordonsville road, and deployed along the stone wall, charged the batteries to the right, capturing two guns, the Thirty-sixth New York reaching them first.

Special Orders No. 239 (1863), War Department, referring to Capt. J. Townsend Daniel, says: * * * " And led the right company of the Thirty-sixth New York Infantry (which Regiment was the first to plant its colors on the heights) at the storming of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, and was the same day at the battle of Salem Heights."

The regiment was conspicuous in the operations of the 4th, involving the retreat of the Sixth corps, and, finally crossed at Banks' ford ahout dark. It then returned to its old camp, and remained until the subsequent reconnoissance in force across the Rappahannock, crossing the river on the 10th of June, at a point one mile below Fredericksburg. It returned on the l3th; marched to Stafford Court-House on the 14th; to Dumfries on the 15th; to near Fairfax Station on the 16th; to near Fairfax Court-House; to Centreville on the 24th; to Brainesville on the 26th; crossed the Potomac at Edward's ferry, and bivouacked two miles from the river near Poolsville, Maryland — eighty-four miles in seven days.

The campaign, which terminated at Gettysburg, opened with this march. The term of service of the regiment, however, was more than filled, and it was ordered home. It was mustered out of service on the 15th of July, 1863.


The statistics of the regiment are imperfect, its books and papers having been destroyed at Westminster, Maryland, June 30th, 1802, by order of Brig. Gen. Torbet, to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy. Its strength at quarterly intervals was as follows:

  Officers. Enlisted men.
July 1, 1861 38 754
October 1, 1861 38 671
January 1,1862 35 688
April 1, 1862 36 671
July 1, 1862 36 657
October 1, 1862 30 590
January 1,1863 32 552
April 1, 1863 34 494
July 1, 1863 32 338

A return, dated February 26, 1863, gives the following as the statistics of the year 1862, viz:

Strength, January 1st 722
Recruits received during the year 51
Killed in battle 18
Died from wounds and other causes 26


Battles of the year, viz:

1862—Lee's Mills, April 16; Yorktown siege; Bottom's Bridge, May 17; Fair Oaks, May 31; Tavern Hill, June 25; Gaines' Hill, June 27; Chickahominy, June 28; White Oak Swamp, June 30; Malvern Hill, July 1; Chantilly, September 1; Fredericksburg, December 13.

1863—Chancellorsville campaign, at Marye's and Salem Heights.