50th Engineer Regiment

Nickname: Stuart's Engineers; Independent Engineers; Sappers, Miners And Pontoniers

Mustered in by companies as the 50th Regiment of Infantry: August 26 to September 20, 1861
Designated 50th Regiment of Engineers: October 22, 1861.
Mustered out by companies: June 13 - 14, 1865.

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.
Colonel C. B. Stuart received, July 26, 1861, authority to recruit a regiment of infantry, which he organized at Elmira, and which was- designated September 20, 1861, the 50th Regiment of Infantry. The companies were mustered in the service of the United States for three years at Elmira, A and D September 18; B August 16, C and F September 17; E August 29; G and H September 16; I August 26, and K September 30, 1861. October 22, 1861, the regiment was converted into and designated the Fiftieth, Regiment of Engineers. Two new companies, L and M, mustered in the United States service for three years in December, 1863, and January and February, 1864, joined the regiment in December, 1863, and February, 1864, respectively. Quite a number of men enlisted for this regiment in 1864 were assigned to the 15th N. Y. Volunteer Engineers. At the expiration of its term of service the men entitled thereto were discharged and the regiment continued in service.
The companies were recruited principally: A at Addison, Bath, Lodi, Painted Post and Savona; B at Auburn, Elmira, Geneva, Syracuse, Waterloo, and Honesdale, Fa.; C at Chemung, Elmira, Rome and Union; D at Elmira, Fulton, Geneva, Ogdensburgh, Oswego, Syracuse and Watkins; E at Buffalo, Elmira, Maine, Niagara Falls, North Hector, Penn Yan and Rome; F at Geneva, Elmira, Oswego, Potsdam and Union, and at Scranton, Honesdale, Mt. Pleasant and Moscow, Pa.; G at Caroline, Elmira, Greece, Hornellsville, Maine and Millport; H at Elmira, Maine, Malone, Ogdensburgh, Potsdam, Watkins, and at Williamsport, Pa.; I at Elmira, Geneva, Owego and Union, and at Hancock and Scran-ton, Pa.; K at Elmira, Ovid, Savona, Seneca Falls and Union; L at Rochester, Buffalo, Canandaigua, Elmira and Phelps; and M at Albany, Buffalo, Canandaigua, Elmira and Owego.
The regiment left the State September 20, 1861, and served as infantry at Washington, D. C., from September 22, 1861; in the 3d Brigade, Fitz-John Porter's Division, from September 30, 1861; as engineers at Alexandria, Va., receiving instructions in engineering duties, from October 22, 1861; in the Volunteer Brigade of Engineers, Army of the Potomac, from March, 1862. A detachment also served for a time in 1863, in the 8th Corps, Middle Department, and Company I, with General Sheridan from February, 1865, to Appo-mattox Court House, Va. Commanded by Col. William H. Pettes, the regiment was honorably discharged and mustered out at Fort Berry, Va., June 13 and 14, 1865.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 1 officer, 9 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 7 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 1 officer, 213 enlisted men; total, 2 officers, 229 enlisted men; aggregate, 231; of whom I enlisted man 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.
Fiftieth Infantry.—Cols., Charles B. Stuart, William H. Pettesj Lieut-Cols., William H. Pettes, Ira Spaulding; Majs., Frederick E. Embrick, Ira Spaulding. George W. Ford, Orrin E. Hine. Wesley Brainard, William W. Folwell, Edmund O. Beers, James H. McDonald. The 50th, known as Stuart's regiment, and later as the 50th engineers, was organized at Elmira, of companies from the middle and western parts of the state, which were mustered into the U. S. service Sept. 18, 1861, for a three years' term. It left the state 850 strong, Sept. 21, for Washington; was ordered to Hall's
New York Regiments 87
hill, Va., and assigned to the 3d brigade of Gen. Porter's division. On Oct. 22, the regiment was converted by special orders from the war department into a regiment of engineers and ordered to Washington, where instruction was received by the men in their new duties. In March, 1862, with the volunteer engineers' brigade, Army of the Potomac, the 50th moved to Yorktown and worked faithfully in digging trenches, constructing bridges and earthworks, etc., until the evacuation of that city. At White House the command was divided into several detachments, which were engaged in escort duty and bridge building until reunited at Dispatch Station on June 1, when the regiment was employed in providing for the passage of the troops over the Chickahominy. It accompanied the army through the Seven Days' battles to Harrison's landing, where it was again separated, one detachment being sent to Hampton, Va. When the regimental headquarters was transferred to Hampton in August, a detachment was left behind at Harrison's landing, but on Sept. 3 the regiment was reunited at Washington. Four companies were detached on Sept 12 and ordered to Harper's Ferry, where they were engaged in constructing pontoons and later returned in charge of two of the pontoons to Washington, leaving a part of the detachment behind. Another detachment was sent to the vicinity of Fredericksburg with these boats, and the headquarters of the regiment were transferred to Acquia creek, leaving one company at Washington. Great assistance was rendered by the 50th in laying the bridges before the battle of Fredericksburg, when they were under continuous fire from the enemy's sharpshooters. Until July 17, 1862, the 50th was enrolled on the state records as an infantry regiment, but an act of Congress of that date accepted it as a regiment of the volunteer engineer corps, of the same rank as the regular army engineer corps. After passing the winter in the neighborhood of Fredericksburg, the regiment joined in the Chancellorsville campaign, where it aided effectively in conveying the army across the river and was highly praised by Gen. Benham. At Deep run in June the 50th suffered the loss of 11 in killed, wounded and missing, while engaged in laying a bridge. Cos. A, C, F, G, H and K remained in the field during the summer of 1863 and the others were stationed in Washington. In Dec., 1863, about three fourths of the regiment reenlisted and received their veteran furlough. At the opening of the Wilderness campaign in May, 1864, the 50th was again divided, one detachment assigned to the 2nd, one to the 6th, and one to the 5th corps, one company remaining in Washington. In the winter of 1863-64 two new companies were added to the regiment and the ranks filled with new recruits. During the operations of the Army of the Potomac in May and June, 1864, the main work of the regiment was that of laying bridges at various points, notably one 2,010 feet long, across the James. At Petersburg the regiment was in demand at all points for work of construction and repair on the fortifications, and it also assisted in destroying railroads. During its long service the men became very proficient in engineering and through its steadiness under fire is said to have lost during the last year of its service no bridge material of any kind. The original members not reenlisted were mustered out at New York in Sept., 1864, and after participation in the grand review at Washington, the veteran organization was there mustered out on June 13-14, 1865. The loss of the regiment by death from wounds was 17 and by death from disease and other causes 214.

NYSMM Online Resources

Unit Roster

Civil War Newspaper Clippings
This is also available in PDF format. These are large files; however, they are exact images of the pages.

Pages 1 - 10
Pages 11 - 20
Pages 21 - 31

Monument at Gettysburg

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.

Baum, A. Clark. Letters, 1863-1864.
Abstract: Letters sent to his wife from various army camps in Virginia. He discussed taking care of wounded soldiers, activities of the 50th Engineers, the battle at Cold Harbor, and other skirmishes near Petersburg.
Located at the New York State Library.

Brainerd, Wesley and Ed Malles. Bridge building in wartime : Colonel Wesley Brainerd's memoir of the 50th New York Volunteer Engineers. University of Tennessee Press, 1997.

Brainerd. Wesley. "The pontoniers at Fredericksburg." Battles and Leaders III pp 121-3.

Bruso (aka Vruso), Octave. Diary.
Thanks to Tom Bauerle for transcribing and donating this.
This is a large file and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open it.

Clapp, Channing ca; Lawrence, Amos Adams; Corp Author: United, States; Army; Engineer Brigade, Volunteer; Band. Civil War Papers, 1861-1865.
Abstract: Civil War papers of the U.S. Engineer Brigade Band commanded by Captain Channing Clapp, Assistant Adjutant General. Monthly returns, muster rolls, pay rolls, quartermaster's stores, list of musicians transferred from the New York 50th Volunteer Engineer Regiment. Also some items pertaining to Company C, 1st Mass. Cavalry, commanded by Clapp prior to his promotion to the Adjutant General's staff. Includes two letters of Amos A. Lawrence to Clapp.
Located at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Clifford, Nicholas. Cold Labor: Lewis Wilcox and the 50th NY Engineers at Fredericksburg. 2017. 6 pages.

Folwell, William Watts. Civil War Diary.
Located at the University of Minnesota Libraries, University Archives.
Accessible online at: http://umedia.lib.umn.edu/node/697406?mode=basic 
Thank you to Dr. Marjorie Wall Bingham for pointing out this resource.

Johnson, Crisfield. History of Oswego County, New York: With illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & co, 1877, 1991.

Oellig, Charles; Bullock, Samuel A.; Bushman, Albert C.; Collard, James; Gridley, A. L.; Mick, Solomon; Nye, George H.; Rhodes, Silas R.; Wint, Louis H.; Crone, C. M.; Nissley, Howard; Swab, Percy. The Charles Oellig collection, 1848-1930
Abstract: Contains a collection of photocopied letters from the following U.S. soldiers: Samuel A. Bullock, Co. H., 34th Illinois Volunteer Infantry (1864); Albert C. Bushman, Co. I, 129th New York Volunteer Infantry (1862); a Union soldier's letter from Camp Hamilton, Va. (1861?); James Collard, Co. A., 38th Pa. Volunteer Infantry (1861); A.L. Gridley, Co. H., 50th New York Volunteer Engineers (1864); Solomon Mick, Co. K., 7th Pa. Cavalry (1861, 1864-65), plus a marriage certificate (1848); George H. Nye, Co. K., 10th Maine Volunteer Infantry (1862).
Silas R. Rhodes, Co. F., 141st New York Volunteer Infantry (1864); Louis H. Wint, 2nd Pa. Heavy Artillery Battery (1862); "Raymond", Pa. Infantry Regiment 15th (1898); C.M. Crone, Co. F., 316 Infantry (1918); Howard Nissley, Co. K., 146th Infantry (1918); Percy Swab, 316th Infantry Band (1917-1919).
Other documents include: issue of DAILY DUTIES OF THE 179TH REGIMENT P.M." (n.d.); declaration for the organization of a company to be part of the Pa. National Guard (1873); programs of the Military Athletic League of Philadelphia (1912-1916); World War I maps and documents on the military career of Lt. Joseph Fornance and Base Section 2, S.O.S., A.E.F. France (1912-1929); special orders from the 28th Division, A.E.F. including registers of members (1918); some purchase agreements for land in Lebanon County, Pa. for Indiantown Gap Association.
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Owen, Thomas James; Floyd, Dale E. Corp Author United States; Army; Corps of, Engineers; Historical, Division. "Dear friends at home--." : the letters and diary of Thomas James Owen, Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineer Regiment, during the Civil War. Washington, D.C.: Historical Division Office of Administrative Services Office of the Chief of Engineers For sale by the Supt. of Docs. U.S. G.P.O, 1985.

Rapson, William. Papers, 1854-1912.
Abstract: Two Civil War diaries, correspondence, printed documents, transcripts of the diaries and correspondence, and a family history.

Rhodes, Halsey A. Diary, 1863.
Abstract: Diary kept while Rhodes was a member of Company H, New York Volunteers, 50th Engineers Regiment.
Located at Syracuse University.

Royce, Asa M. Papers, 1831-1905.
Description: 0.1 c.f. (1 folder)
Abstract: Miscellaneous papers, 1831-1905, of Asa M. Royce, former president of Platteville Normal School (1916-1942), Platteville, Wisconsin, and of various members of his family. The collection includes letters congratulating him on his appointment to a teaching position at Platteville in 1905; letters, 1836-1841, from his aunt Amelia Royce Bradley, a missionary in Bangkok, Thailand; letters from his uncle William Chrysler concerning his service with the 50th New York Volunteers during the Civil War; and miscellaneous legal papers of Samuel Campbell of Dane County, Wisconsin
General Info: Presented by Asa M. Royce, Platteville, Wisconsin, 1956
At:Wisconsin Historical Society Archives

Spaulding, Ira. Letters, 1862-1863.
Abstract: These letters contain discussions of his principal activity of maintainging railroads and building and constructing bridges for the movement of troops and supplies for the Union Army at various battlelines in Virginia. He was not directly involved in combat since most of his work was done behind the battlelines. He did, however, come close enough to describe the action at Fredericksburg (1862).
Located at the New York State Library.

Vandermark, Hiram. Letters, 1861-1865.
Abstract: Consists of letters to, from, and about Vandermark, discussing his illness, the construction of pontoon bridges, various battles in Virginia, and his illness.
Located at Auburn University.

Vandemark, Hiram T. Letters, 1864.
3 leaves and 12 pages.
Letters, 6 June, 29 July, and 1 August 1864, of Hiram T. Vandemark, corporal, 50th New York Volunteer Engineers. Letters are addressed to his parents and siblings, and were written while his unit was stationed near Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and City Point. Topics covered include troop movements and activities, battles fought, and casualties. Also included in this collection is a pension certificate, 27 February 1914, issued to Vandemark, showing the pension rates to which he was entitled and the dates they were received?
Accession 36986. Located at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia.
Thank you to Ed Worman for pointing out this resource.

Van De Mark, family. Van De Mark family papers, 1862-1942, 1862-1908 (bulk).
Abstract: Photocopy volume of typed transcripts of Civil War letters of Hiram Van De Mark; photographs of family members including Hiram, James E., Valentine, Benjamin, Justis, Isiah, Helen, Phebe, Rachel, and James Van De Mark; Hiram's Civil War military service records; photographs of pontoon bridges and camp scenes; and excerpts from histories of the 50th New York Engineer Regiment. Volume compiled by Gertrude Phinney Conant. Also, microfilm of VAN DEMARK OR VAN DERMARK ANCESTRY, 1942, compiled by John W. Van Demark, Walter B. Van Dermark, Bovey Kate Koon, Loretta M. Hauser, and Clarence E. Hauser.
Located at Cornell University.

Williams, Sam E. Roster of 50th and 15th Regiments New York State Volunteer Engineers, Army of the Potomac. Rochester, NY: 1894.

Witmer, family; Witmer, Tobias; Witmer, Christian F.; Dodge, Anna E. Witmer. Papers, 1851-1913.
Abstract: Diaries of Tobias, Christian F. and Anna E. Witmer, 1851-1913, including Civil War diaries of Tobias and Christian F., 1861-1865. Also includes a family history written by Christian F. and a scrapbook kept while he was teaching in Kansas before the Civil War.
Located at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

Wolcott, Walter. The military history of Yates County, N.Y. : comprising a record of the services rendered by citizens of this county in the army and navy, from the foundation of the government to the present time. Penn Yan, N.Y. Express Book and Job Print. House, 1895.

Wood, Ulra. Papers, 1864-1913.
Description: 0.4 linear ft. (1 archives box)
Abstract: Diaries kept by Ulra Wood a Rochester, New York native who served as a drummer with Companies F and C of the 50th New York Volunteers during the Civil War and who settled in Black Earth, Wis. after the war. There are two handwritten diaries (1864 and 1865) with transcriptions. The diaries contain notes on his daily activities while in military service. Wood provides an account of fighting near Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, military marches, and the battle preparations. Living near the front lines, he writes about camp life, artillery fire, weather conditions, being married while on leave, writing letters home, learning of Lee's surrender, learning of Lincoln's death, and the war's end. A diary from 1886 gives insight to Wood's life in Wisconsin and includes some financial notes. Also found is a Grand Army of the Republic transfer certificate allowing Wood to join Post #56 and letter from the New York Adjutant General validating Wood's service. There are photocopies of a telegram notifying Wood of his mother's death, obituary for his son's death, and a note written by Wood.
Notes: 3-1-2./ Previously known as TR0744, TR0630, V1997.28, and A97.48.
At: Wisconsin Vet Mus Res Ctr


Items the museum owns are in bold.