|Unit History Project|
23rd Regiment, New York volunteer Infantry
TWENTY-THIRD REGIMENT INFANTRY N. Y. S. V.
The Twenty-third regiment infantry N. Y. S. V., or " Southern Tier regiment," was organized at Elmira on the 16th of May, 1861. It was composed of companies recruited and accepted, as fol¬lows, viz :
The regiment was accepted and numbered May 16th (Special Orders 191), and the election of the following field officers con¬firmed, viz: Henry C. Hoffman, colonel; N. M. Crane, lieutenant-colonel, and William M. Gregg, major; and on the same day (Special Orders 192) it was directed to be mustered into the ser¬vice of the United States. It was mustered into the service of the United States on the 2d of July, with date from the 16th of May, by Lieutenant William W. Averill, U. .S. A. It was armed with altered United States percussion muskets, June 25th (subse¬quently exchanged for long Enfield muskets), and furnished with tents, uniforms, camp equipage, etc. The expenditure by the State, on account of the regiment, up to the 15th of August, 1861, was $44,409.34, exclusive of subsistence and quarters.
The regiment left the State on the 5th of July for Washington, Harrisburg and Baltimore. It arrived in Washington on the 7th, and camped on Meridian Hill, two miles north of Washington. While here (July 17th) it received a stand of colors from the ladies of Elmira, presented in public ceremonies by Hon. A. S. Divea. On the 23d it crossed into Virginia and camped at Fort Runyon, Here it remained until the 5th of August, when it moved to Arlington heights and established a line of pickets form Hun¬ter's chapel to near Ball's cross-roads.
In the primary organization of the army of the Potomac (Aug. 4th ) the regiment was assigned to Gen. Hunter's brigade ; imme-diately after to General Sedgwick's, and from the latter to General Keyes'. It was not until the 15th of October that a permanent assignment was made, at which time the regiment was assigned to General Wadsworth's brigade of General McDowell's division, in which it remained until March, 1862.
The regiment remained at Arlington Heights until the 28th of September. While on a reconnoissance towards Fall's Church, on the 14th of August, it had a skirmish with the enemy, and on the 27th had quite a formidable engagement with the pickets. On the 28th of September it moved on the reconnoissance to Upton's Hill. The fortifications thrown up the enemy were found abandoned, and they were immediately occupied by our forces and a permanent camp established. Here the regiment remained during the winter of 1861-2 and was engaged in picket and fatigue duty, drilling and and doing its part in many toilsome marches, excur¬sions, foraging parties, scoutings, and reconnaissances in the direc-tion of the enemy then in its front.
On the 10th of March the regiment quitted its winter camp and marched in the advance to Centreville ; marched eighteen miles and camped two miles north of Centreville ; remained until the 15th and then returned to Upton's Hill via Alexandria, twenty-seven miles. On the 18th it moved to the vicinity of Bailey's cross roads and bivouacked.
Meanwhile the army of the Potomac had been reorganized (March 13th), the regiment becoming part of the first brigade, under General M. R. Patrick ; first division under General Rufus King, and first corps under General McDowell. General Wads-worth surrendered the command of the brigade (March 12th) to Colonel Rogers, of the Twenty-first New York, who held it until General Patrick arrived.* (*See Thirty-fifth regiment.)
On the 4th of April the regiment marched with its brigade to-wards Bristow station, and camped near Fairfax Court-house ; moved to the south side of Bull Run on the 5th, and reached Bristow station on the 6th. Here is remained until the 16th, exposed in the meantime to a severe storm of snow, sleet and rain, which continued three days; and here it lost its first man killed, viz : Joseph M. W. De Graff, who was shot while injudiciously bantering with the patrol. On the 16th it moved to Catlett's sta¬tion, and from, thence, on the 18th, to Falmouth, where it bivou¬acked on the afternoon of the 19th. The enemy that had hovered around the front on this advance here retreated across the river to Fredericksburg, and burned the bridge, shipping, cotton ware¬houses, etc. Pontoon bridges were soon thrown across and parties of infantry and cavalry visited Fredericksburg almost daily until the 2d of May, when the city was formally entered by Generals King and Patrick, accompanied by company D of the Twenty-third. On the 7th of May the regiment crossed and had the honor to raise the "stars and stripes," for the first time since 1861, over the town. General Patrick was appointed military governor of the city, and the regiment detailed for guard and patrol. Colonel Hoffman established his headquarters in a brick building near the railroad depot, and the several companies were assigned to posts above and below the town. A line of pickets was thus formed half a mile out, that completely hemmed in the city. The brigade crossed a few days after and bivouacked along the flats on Hazel Run. On the 18th a skirmish occurred on the Bowling Green road between a squadron of the enemy's cavalry and a similar force of the Harris' N. Y., and five companies of the Twenty-third were ordered, with other regiments, to the support. The Twenty-third was thrown forward as skirmishers and advanced two miles, but did not discover the enemy in force. A shot fired at Gen. Patrick by one of the enemy's sharp-shooters, missed him, but killed the horse of an orderly by his side.
On the 25th of May the arsenal in the city was blown up by some means unknown and William March, of company A, killed. In the afternoon of the same day a general advance was made— Gen. Patrick, with three regiments, taking the Telegraph road, and the Twenty-third sent up the river two miles to guard the flank. The regiment joined the brigade on the 27th, seven miles out, and reached Massaponax creek; returned on the 28th, and started on the 29th in the supposed direction of Stonewall Jackson's forces; was left at Catlett's Station for nearly a day waiting for the cars, and reached Haymarket on the 1st of June—the expedition to Front Royal having, in the meantime, failed to find the enemy and returned to Haymarket; camped in a grove on the banks of the Bull Run. ON the 6th it moved to Warrenton; on the 8th, in the direction of Falmouth, camping, at Elk Run on the 9th, and re-mining fire days; arrived at Falmouth on the 24th, and moved to "Camp Rufus King," on the road towards Belle Plain, on the 27th.
On the 24th of July the regiment moved, with other troops, on a three days' reconnoissance towards Gordonsville; passed through Fredericksburg and took the " Wilderness road;" captured a rebel mail at Verdersville post-office, and halted, on the 26th, within three miles of Orange Court House, The enemy were found to be in force at the Court House, and, the object of the reconnois¬sance being accomplished, the return march was commenced. Camp at Falmouth was reached on the 26th, after a march of eighty-one miles in two and half days. Moved camp to the bank of the river on the 28th; company F detailed to guard the railroad bridge, company K to guard the depot, and the other companies patrolling the city.
On the 9th of August preparations were made to move towards Cedar Mountain. On the evening of the 10th the regiment broke camp and moved some ten miles towards Orange Court House on the Wilderness road; moved early on the 11th, forded the Rapidan at Ely's Ford about noon and halted at 3 P. M.; arrived seven miles to Cedar Mountain on the 12th, and camped; on the 16th, moved to Cedar Mountain battle-field; on the 19th, started for Culpepper, with instructions to reach, cross and hold the river at Rappahan¬nock Station. The operations of the regiment, on the 21st and 22d, are stated in the official report of lieutenant Colonel Crane, commanding, as follows:
" HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-THIRD REGIMENT N. Y. S. V.
" On the morning of August 21st our artillery opened upon the enemy who appeared at the ford. I received orders to march my command with the brigade to the support of our batteries and prevent the enemy from crossing. I at once proceeded to the point designated, and, under orders from Gen. Patrick, took position just in rear of section of Reynold's battery formed in double column closed en masse, and protected by a natural embankment upon which the guns were placed. The cannonading at this point was terrific throughout the day. I had four men wounded, two seriously.
" I remained in this position about six hours, when it was ascer¬tained that the enemy in some force had effected a crossing at the ford. The brigade was ordered to the bank of the river to drive back the enemy and prevent the movement. I proceeded with my command to that point, and formed in double column close to the bank of the river, somewhat protected from the enemy's sharp¬shooters and artillery by a rise of ground in front.
" We remained in this position, under a severe fire, till about dusk, when General Patrick learned that the enemy were planting a battery so as to sweep the ravine in which the brigade lay. He at once gave the order to fall back to the position of the morning. I proceeded immediately to execute the order; and, to do so. I was compelled to march in double column faced to the rear of a slope of about thirty rods, when the shot and shell from the enemy's artillery were falling thick. I gave the necessary orders and moved at double quick up the slope and through a thick grove of pines, while a storm of iron rained upon us. One man was cut in two by a solid shot during this movement This was the only casualty at this point. We took the position occupied in the morning and lay in line of battle all night." I would here add, that tnis was the first time my regiment had ever been under fire of artillery. I was highly pleased with the conduct of the men. They were cool and prompt to obey orders. Both men and officers behaved like veterans—not a man flinched from his duty.
" The next morning our brigade was relieved by Gen. Double¬day, and moved back to camp about 8 A. M. While my com¬mand was leaving the field it was subjected to a severe fire from the enemy's artillery, but no one was injured.
" About 3 o'clock P. M. I was ordered to take my command and proceed to a ford, just above the point of attack, and guard the same. Upon arriving, I found a brigade of General Banks' corps doing the duty to which I had been assigned. I reported the fact to General Patrick, and was ordered back to camp." * * *
" On the morning of the 23d the bridge over the Rappahannock was burned. At 8 o'clock the regiment set out for Warrenton and arrived in the afternoon ; on the 24th, moved on the pike toward Sulphur Springs and bivouacked about one mile from Warrenton. The operations of the regiment at this point are stated by Colonel Crane, in his report, as follows: * * * *
"The next morning we proceeded to White Sulphur Springs. As the head of the column arrived in sight, the enemy opened upon us with artillery. The brigade was formed in line of battle, my command to the left of the Springs and to the left of the brigade. I was ordered to advance up a hill into and through a piece of woods and drive the enemy across the river. I threw forward two companies as skirmishers, company G Capt. Doty, and company K, Capt. Fowler, and advanced at a double quick, as I was exposed to an enfilading fire from the enemy's batteries. I crossed the field and wood, and halted my battalion under cover of the wood.
" In crossing this field, my horse, in attempting to leap a broad ditch, floundered and fell upon me, but the yielding nature of the soil saved my limbs, and I immediately remounted and pressed forward.
" The two companies of skirmishers advanced above one hun¬dred and fifty yards to the front, coming to the river, but found no rebels on our side; but their, skirmishers were just on the other side, and opened fire upon my men, who returned it vigor¬ously. Skirmishing continued for some time and decidedly to our advantage, as a number of the enemy were killed and wounded. We so annoyed the enemy that he placed two pieces 'in battery' and opened upon us. At this moment Col. G. W. Pratt reported to me that he was ordered by Gen. Patrick to my support with his regiment, the Twentieth New York State militia. The can-nonading now became so heavy, and my position was so exposed, that I received orders from Gen. Patrick to fall back about thirty rods to the left and to the shelter of a ravine. I did so, causing the bugle to sound the call. 'Skirmishers, rally on the battalion.' The roar of artillery and the crack of rifles prevented my order being heard by company G, but company K came in and joined the regiment. The enemy about this time ceased firing, and find¬ing company G still at its post and no one injured, I concluded to let them remain over night, and sent forward two companies (com¬panies E and I) to take position on the right and left of company G, to prevent any surprise or flank movement. I rode forward in person just at dusk, to see the exact situation of affairs, and found everything in order.
" On the following morning we were ordered to join the brig ade, about one and one half miles to the rear. The division was now put on the march for Warrenton, my regiment forming the rear guard.
" The regiment halted about six miles from Gainesville on the morning of the 28th, and after breakfast pushed forward to Gainesville. About the middle of the afternoon the advance was fixed upon and skirmishers were thrown out to reconnoiter; but the enemy was not discovered, and the advance was again taken up. About sunset the enemy again made his appearance near the pike and in the forest to the left. A battery was soon placed in position, and the fight became general. In this action General Patrick's brigade held the left, and the Twenty-third the extreme left, and was not actively engaged. The battle raged with great obstinacy for one hour and ten minutes, during which time eight hundred men had fallen in Gibbons' brigade, upon whom the brunt of the attack fell. Gen. Patrick's brigade was now ordered to relieve Gibbons, but it was too late to participate— the fight had ceased. The wounded were cared for, and at about 3 A. M. of the 29th, the regiment set out for Manassas Plains. It had gone forward about three miles, when Gen. McDowell met the column and turned it to the right towards Bull Run. In the engagement that soon followed, Gen. King's division held the left until night approached. The energy had been driven from the center, and this advantage it was necessary to hold. The brigades of Gen. Hatch and Gen. Doubleday had fallen back from this position, and Gen. Patrick's was ordered up. It moved at double-quick and took possession of the disputed hill. Says a correspondent: " Gen. Patrick now attempted a hazardous advance— the second hill. It was now very dark. The battery was in support. Wo had no sooner reached the brow of the opposite hill than the enemy opened upon the skirmishers from the corn-field. The Thirty-fifth were in front on the left, the Twenty-third thirty paces to the rear of the Thirty-fifth. At this moment a squadron of the Harris light cavalry charged a body of the rebels along the turnpike. Only five of that squadron went through alive, and these were taken prisoners. They now poured a sharp volley into our ranks, but with little effect. They were so near that their orders could be distinctly heard. Much to our surprise, they seemed to bo retiring from our front, while they were dis¬covered on our left flank in force along the pike, protected by a ditch. This was a critical position; the enemy, beyond a doubt, were endeavoring to ensnare us. We retired slowly toward the former position; company K was deployed as skirmishers. Here commenced a melee in the darkness. We had encountered the enemy in the ditch, and mixed up. Several of the enemy were taken prisoners. Several of our men were wounded, and com¬pany K lost three men prisoners.
" The close of the fight and the work of the day is referred to by Lieut. Col. Crane, in his report, as follows, viz:
" I learned from a report from the pickets that the rebel pickets were about thirty yards in front of mine, so near that my men could hear them talk; and now and then they would fire at us. Lieut. Sullivan came in and reported to me that his men were so nearly worn out that he could not keep them awake." The fatigues of that night were such as test human endurance. "I at once gave orders to Lieut. Hiram Smith to take part of company E and re¬lieve company K. He did so, but his men had not the prepara¬tion for a watch. Feeling that I had made all the necessary arrangements to prevent a surprise, I sat down near some prison¬ers my men had taken, and amused myself by asking questions, that I might obtain some valuable information," and thus the night passed away.
" On the morning of the 30th the regiment numbered about 225. The operations of that day, and the subsequent movements of the regiment, are stated in Colonel Crane's report, as follows:
" This morning (August 30th), after giving time to get coffee, the brigade changed positions two or three times to different parts of the field. No enemy in force was discovered, notwithstanding our batteries kept throwing shell into the woods to draw them out or bring forth a response; but all continued silent.
''About 2 P. M. our division was placed under command of Fitz John Porter, and, with his corps, ordered to advance. It was the prevailing opinion that the enemy had retired, having been defeated the previous day.
" We advanced, King's division having the right, and forming four lines of battle. My regiment was the third line of the divi¬sion. (General Hatch was now in command, General King having been relieved.) We now moved forward to a thick wood. Here the skirmishers commenced firing, and soon the advance lines opened with terrific volleys of musketry. We pushed on, soon the bullets flew around us as thick as hail. Now commenced in earnest the final battle of Bull Run. The enemy's artillery opened upon us with shot and shell, and this, with their musketry, made a storm of their fire. Our artillery, in rear of the woods, could give us no support.
" Thus the battle raged for about one and one-half hours, until our front lines were broken and the dead and wounded lay in heaps. The enemy lay behind a railroad embankment, and so well protected that our men charged in vain upon them, some¬times upon the ditch, and fought hand to hand. Sykes' brigade of regulars on our left was forced back, our two front lines were decimated and broken, and our (Patrick's) brigade badly cut to pieces. Colonel Pratt, of the Twentieth New York State Militia, was killed, and the regiment scattered and demoralized. The Twenty-first was used up, and the left wing or the Thirty-fifth decimated. These had all left the field and fallen back.
" I had heard no orders to retire, and remained in the woods some little time, my regiment being almost alone. I finally gave the order to retire, and did so in as perfect order as on battalion drill. In this action I lost a number of men and officers wounded, but only a few killed.
" On emerging from the woods I met General Patrick, and saw at once that the battle was going against us, as the enemy had turned our left, and the fighting was terrific of musketry and artillery on that part of the field. Our brigade was got together (what was left), and we took a position in rear of a battery, and the men ordered to lie down.
" We lay in this position about half an hour, then were ordered towards the rear and left. As we moved over the field the enemy continued to throw shot and shell at us; but fortunately none of my regiment were hit. As we came out upon the pike General McDowell rode up, his horse all covered with foam and dust, and he himself looking nearly exhausted with fatigue and excitement, and ordered us towards Centreville. We continued the march, and soon learned that the army were on the retreat to Washington.
" We arrived at Centreville about 10 P. M., worn out and ex¬hausted. We lay down upon the ground so completely tired that we did not mind the rain that commenced, but slept soundly till morning, and wet to the skin. * * * *
" We marched on towards Fairfax two or three miles and halted near the road. About 5 P. M. my regiment and the the Twenty-first New York were ordered to proceed to Fairfax for the purpose of guarding a wagon train to that place. We did so, and when Within about one mile of our destination the enemy attacked the the train, but only succeeded in killing one mule, and then retired satisfied that the experiment would not prove profitable. It com-menced raining, and we concluded to remain all night at Fairfax.
" The next morning we commenced our return towards Centre¬ville, and had proceeded about two and a half miles when we met the balance of the brigade and countermarched. About this time we learned that the enemy were about to make an attack at a point near Chantilly. Our brigade was moved in that direction, and the Thirty-fifth, Twenty-first and Twenty-third were placed in an old rebel rifle-pit to protect the right of our line of battle. About sundown the enemy attacked our left, and the battle lasted till about nine P. M. The firing of musketry and artillery was incessant, and this, with the terrific thunder and lightning, ren¬dered the scene grand and terrible. The enemy were repulsed with considerable loss. We remained here, until the following afternoon, when we were ordered to march for Upton's Hill. We set out immediately and reached that place about midnight.
" The regiment remained at Upton's Hill four days. While here (Sept. 4th) it was sent out with the Twenty-first to Fall's Church, to meet a reported advance of the enemy. Oh the 7th it marched with the army on the Maryland campaign, passed through Wash¬ington, Leesboro', Lisbon, Monocacy and Frederick to Middletown Valley, where it arrived on the afternoon of the 14th in time to participate in the battle of South Mountain. Its movements in this battle are stated in Col. Hoffman's official report as follows:
" HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-THIRD REGIMENT, N. Y. S. V.
" We left Frederick with the brigade about eight o'clock A. M., and proceeded on the old government turnpike through the village of Middletown to near the foot of South Mountain, where we rested, one hour for refreshments and again moved forward with the brigade to the right of the turnpike and along the foot of the mountain, under cover of a hill and out of range of the enemy's guns then in position on the top of the mountain, a distance of about half a mile. At this point we were ordered to support the Thirty-fifth regiment New York Volunteers, whose entire line, was thrown forward as skirmishers and ascended the hill, their left resting on the turnpike; and extending, to the right a full half mile. " We advanced in line of battle in close sustaining distance of the skirmishers about half way up the mountain side to a lane, where we unslung knapsacks which had become cumbersome, owing to the rough and rocky plowed fields oyer, which we had passed and the fences we had climbed.
" From this point we marched obliquely to the left until our left rested within about three hundred yards of the gorge in the mountain through which the old government turnpike passes, and advanced with the skirmishers in this position until nearly to "the top of the mountain and into the woods, where we halted and remained in position about fifteen minutes, when I moved my right wing; by your order, one-fourth of a mile to the right in support of the right wing of the line of skirmishers of the Thirty-fifth, leaving the left wing in command of Lieut.-Col. N. M. Crane.
" On arriving at the right I found Hatch's brigade, under com¬mand of Col. Phelps, advancing in line of battle immediately behind me and in supporting distance of the line of skirmishers, whereupon I immediately, and without orders, moved my right wing back to join my left, knowing that flank to be but feebly supported.
" We then advanced in line following the skirmishers in an oblique direction to the right along the slope of the mountain, over a very rocky bottom, our left all the time at from two hun¬dred to four hundred yards from the turnpike, and near the cleared field, until the main line had reached the top of the mountain, and was engaged on the right, when by your, order we moved by the right flank up the side of the gorge, to the support of the left line of Hatch's brigade, which by this time (dark) had become hotly engaged with the enemy's infantry.
" We remained in this position fifteen minutes, by which time it had become quite dark, and were then ordered by you into a position in the line of fire, which had grown very weak and was likely to give way, when we advanced to the fence and opened fire through the cornfield upon the enemy.
" After delivering our fire of about twelve rounds, the enemy's fire nearly ceased, and we were ordered to cease firings which we did. and corrected our alignment about three yards back of the fence, when we were ordered by you to move off the field with you and a portion of the Thirty-fifth, which had been assembled at that point. At this time it was very dark and everything in confusion, and upon starting from the field the enemy opened a brisk fire again. We were now ordered by an aid of General Doubleday to advance again to the fence.
" We did so; and commenced firing, but after delivering a few rounds were again ordered to cease firing, which we did and under¬took to form a line again, when a brigade came up in the darkness hooting and yelling, running over everybody, and throwing every-thing into even worse confusion than before. It finally terminated in a general mob, rendering it impossible for any line to be kept in order.
" The enemy's fire had however ceased, and after an hour and a half, when the battle had been won and all was quiet, I assorted my command from the crowd, rallied it on the colors, and wo groped our way back to the place where we had left our knapsacks on the hillside, arriving at about eleven o'clock P. M. Here we found the Thirty-fifth regiment going into camp for the night. All the men were found present at reveille the next morning except those disabled in the action.
" In this engagement the officers and men of my command be¬haved in a manner highly creditable to themselves. No straggling was discovered after starting for the battle-field. Next morning (September 15th) we rendezvoused with the brigade at the turn¬pike, and we proceeded with it toward Boonesboro.
" In this action we had but nine companies (company C being
on duty at division headquarters), consisting of three field, one
staff, and fifteen line officers, and one hundred and eighty-three
On the 15th the regiment moved to Boonesboro and Keedysville, and bivouacked one mile east of the latter place. Its movements prior to and during the battle of Antietam are stated in the following report, viz;
" HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-THIRD REGIMENT N. Y. S. V., NEAR SHARPSBURG, MD.,
" After the battle of South Mountain, near Middletown, Mary-land, fought on Sunday evening, September 14, 1862, we marched with the brigade, on the morning of the 15th of September, to a point near Keedysville, and encamped for the night.
" We proceeded next morning (September 16th) to a point near Sharpsburg, and occupied the day in changing position from one point on the field to another, until almost evening, when we were marched across the Antietam creek and took up our position amid a tremendous fire of artillery from the enemy, on the extreme right of the entire army. By this time it was dark, and we lay on our arms all night.
" At early dawn on the morning of the 17th the enemy opened a fire of artillery on us, under which we lay for about three-quar¬ters of an hour, when we were moved with the rest of the brigade to the left about half a mile, and in range of the enemy's guns, to the support, as I understood, of General Gibbon's brigade, which was at that time hotly engaged with the enemy's forces both with artillery and small arms, and advanced up in the rear of Camp¬bell's battery, and from thence moved to the right by a flank move¬ment and halted in the edge of the woods, the left of the column resting on the turnpike lending to Sharpsburg. Hero I was ordered to move with my command to the right of the line to reconnioiter and watch the movements of a largo body of the enemy who were reported to be gaining our right flank and rear, but had proceeded only a short distance when the order was countermanded and I was sent, back to join the brigade by order of General Doubleday, a regiment having been detached from another brigade to perform the duty assigned to my command.
" We then marched back by the left flank at double quick and joined our brigade just in time to advance with it to the ledge of rocks, on the right and in front of Campbell's regular battery, and opened fire on the flank column of the enemy which was advancing through the cornfield and on the battery, driving thorn back in great haste and with much slaughter.
" We, with the brigade, advanced after the fleeing rebels across the clover-field to the turnpike, and remained there a short time delivering a heavy fire into the enemy, when suddenly the dis¬covery was made that our brigade was flanked on the right by the enemy in large force, and by your direction we fell back in per¬fect order to the ledge of rocks, where we halted and stopped the advancing foe.
" Bv this time our ammunition had nearly given out, and upon reinforcements coming up we fell back a short distance behind a rise of ground stacked arms, and were preparing to make coffee, when a rebel battery, suddenly brought into position on our right; opened fire and was getting range on us. We then moved forward into the woods and, lay under a heavy tire of artillery about half an hour, when three lines of our infantry, said to be Sedgwick's division, entered the woods on our left, but were soon driven back in great disorder, making much confusion among all troops in that vicinity, but I succeeded in keeping the ranks in order and moving up to the ledge of rocks before mentioned, where it was impossi¬ble to deliver a fire without endangering our own fleeing men.
" At the same time the enemy poured a brisk fire into our right flank and rear, when we were ordered by you to retire, which was done in such perfect order as to elicit the notice and highly com-plimentary and flattering remarks of Brigadier General Howard in addressing his own flying men, whom he was nobly but vainly attempting to rally. That brave officer pointed to us as an example for the disorganized, saying as he did so: ' Men! that is the way to leave a field. The men of that regiment are acting like soldiers. Do as they do, men, and we will drive them back again in ten minutes.'
" We retired to the edge of the woods, immediately back of the point where Campbell's battery was situated, and formed with the rest of the brigade along the fence, and succeeded, with the assis¬tance of other troops, who were rallied in our rear and on our right, in presenting such a front as to intimidate the enemy from any further advance. After remaining in this position until order was again restored, we were relieved by other troops and were moved off to the rear, replenished our ammunition, and lay in sup¬port of the regular-line of batteries until night.
" There was no infantry fight on our front after we left the field. We had but eight companies in this battle, company C having been detailed some days previous for duty at division headquar-ters and being with the train, and company B being on picket duty on the right and in front of our position in the morning and on the night before.
" The officers and men of my command who went into the action behaved
most admirably, never deranging their alignment during the surgings backward
and forward of
the lines; obeying with promptitude every order, and all
time remaining firm, steady,
and never moving until they had received the full order. Their
conduct was all that I could wish. We had one field, one staff,
thirteen line officers and 223 enlisted men. Our casualties
four killed and thirty-five wounded.
During this action and after the battle of second Bull Run, the First corps was under the command of General Hooker. Gen. Hatch was wounded at South Mountain, and the command of the division devolved upon General Doubleday. General Patrick was soon after appointed Provost Marshal of the army, and General G. R. Paul succeeded to the command of the brigade.
After the battle of Antietam the regiment camped near Sharps¬burg, where it remained until the 20th of October when it removed camp to Bakersville; on the 26th moved to Berlin, via Crampton Gap; on the 30th crossed the Potomac, and moved with the army along the eastern base of the Blue Ridge, by various routes, ma-noeuvering, &c., and thence by way of Bloomfield, Rectortown and Salem to Warrenton, where it arrived oil the 6th of November; moved on the 11th to Fayertteville, near the Rappahannock; on the 17th to the neighborhood of Stafford Court House, in the "left grand division" of General Burnside's army, bivouacking at vici¬ous places in Stafford county, constructing corduroys, &c, and encamped at Brooks' station on the 23d. On the 9th of December it broke camp and moved to the vicinity of its old "camp Rufus King;" on the 10th beyond it, and bivouacked on the 11th pre¬paratory to the attack on Fredericksburg. Colonel Hoffman's official report of the movements in this attack is as follows:
HEADQIJARTERS TWENTY-THIRD REGIMENT N. Y. S. V.,
" On the morning, of the 11th of December we moved with the brigade from our bivouac near White Oak Church, on the Belle Plain road, with the intention, as I supposed, of crossing the Rappahannock. We marched but about one and a half miles when we halted and remained all that day and night, owing to the difficulty and delay in laying the bridges.
" That night (11th) the bridges were completed, and at early dawn we moved down to the northern bank of the river, at a point about one and a half miles below Fredericksburg, and near the lower bridges, where we remained while the rest of General Frank-lin's left grand division were crossing. The morning was very foggy until about noon, and we did not cross until about 2 P. M., we being about the last. Soon after the crossing was effected (which was without interruption) we were massed with other troops of the Fiist division near the residence of Mr. Burnard, when the enemy for the first time opened upon us from a battery located on the hill opposite, the first shot striking and bursting in the ground in the flank of my regiment, wounding one man.
" They threw about twelve or fifteen shot and shell with remarkably good range while in this position, which resulted in but trifling damage, owing to the fuses in their shell being cut either too short or too long.
" We soon moved with the rest of the brigade and division to a, point directly in front of said Burnard's house, and deployed our line and stacked arms.
" General Smith's corps (Sixth) was deployed on our right, his line running parallel to the river, and fronting southwardly and from the river. The lines of our corps (First), after the deployment, fronted easterly and down the river, the line running perpendicular to the river, the left resting upon it and the right joining ihe left of General Smith's line and forming a right angle thereto. In this position we lay behind our stacked arms all night.
" The morning of the 13th was also foggy, but the fog lifted early, and skirmishing commenced along the line, which grew into a general engagement with artillery and small arms.
" We were moved in close massed columns down the river, under a heavy artillery, fire from the enemy's batteries, some one and a half miles, when the enemy was found in our front well posted in pine woods and protected by natural rifle-pits.
" They were soon dislodged by our artillery, when we advanced with the rest of the division to within about one mile of Massapo¬nax creek. This position we held all day, amid a most terrible artillery fire. Towards evening the enemy concentrated a very hot artillery fire upon us, with the evident intention of turning our flank.
" The position was maintained, however, although the brigade on our left, the commander of which misunderstood the order, fell back with his command, skirmishers and all, just before dark, whereas his order directed that he should withdraw his brigade a short distance as soon as the darkness would cover his movement from the view of the enemy, but to leave his skirmishers as they were as pickets. This movement being observed by the foe, and supposing they had accomplished their design, and that we were falling back, they advanced their line so far that their batteries were within thirty or forty rods of our pickets, and poured a perfect shower of grape promiscuously over the plain until about one hour after dark. They finally became convinced of their error, ceased firing, withdrew their lines, and all was quiet until morning except an occasional shot between pickets.
" On the 14th and 15th we held the same position without interruption, except an occasional round from the artillery and sharp picket firing, which was kept up most of the time day and night with great briskness. The picket lines were so close, to our advanced position that many of their shots did execution in our rank.
" On the night of the 15th we were withdrawn to the north side of the Rappahannock about midnight, leaving two companies (G and B) on the picket lines, not informed (except their command¬ing officers) that we had retired.
" Companies G and B were placed on picket at dusk on the evening of the 15th, and by some misunderstanding or inadver-tence on the part of the officer left in charge of the picket, were not informed to retire at the proper time and with the rest of the line, and remained about one hour after the rest had left, and at daylight they slowly fell back, keeping their deployment and stir-ring up many stragglers and sick who had sought refuge and rest-ing place around the hospital building, barns, stacks, river bank, & c, and finally were the last to cross the bridge, it being taken up immediately behind them.
" The steadiness and coolness of the officers and men of my command, with very few exceptions, were highly commendable throughout, especially those of companies A and F, who were on pickcet during the night of the 13th, and company J on the 14th, and company D on the night of the 14th and during the day of the 15th. Of the cool and deliberate bravery exhibited by the officers of the two companies G and B, under the peculiarly-perilous circumstances in which they found themselves, I cannot in justice speak but in terms of especial commendation.
In the action we had engaged one field officer, one acting staff officer (adjutant),
fourteen line officers, and nine companies, embracing 276 enlisted men .Company
C was detached. We took three prisoners. We had three stragglers.
The brigade moved down near the river bank on the 17th, and commenced erecting winter quarters. On the morning of the 20th it started in the direction of the Potomac and halted at night in a wilderness near the river, having mistook the road. On the 21st it reached Belle Plain, camped and subsequently erected winter cabins.
General Wadsworth assumed command of the division about this time, and General Doubleday returned to the command of his brigade. The command of the corps had also been changed, Gen. Reynolds succeeding General Hooker. The regiment remained In its old corps until the 9th of January, when the Twenty-first, Twenty-third, Thirty-fifth and Eightieth regiments were transferred to the command of General Patrick and organized in a provisional brigade, generally known as "Patrick's Provost Brigade." It remained on duty in this branch of the service until the advance of April, under Gen. Hooker, when, with the other regiments of the brigade, it was assigned to the defenses at Aquia and along the railroad, with the injunction that they were " to be surrendered under no circumstances whatever." Its position here was as garrison for forts Nos. 1, 2 and 3, which was held until after the battle of Chancellorsville.
The regiment started homeward on the 11th of May, via U. S. mail steamer John Brooks, and from Washington via Baltimore, Harrisburgh and Williamsport to Elmira, where it arrived on the 18th and was greeted with a magnificent reception.
Number of miles marched in 1862, without including movements on battle-fields, &c, 590.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History