of the 62nd
by Edward Browne
Taken from Final Report on
the Battlefield of Gettysburg (New York at Gettysburg) by the New York
Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga. Albany,
NY: J.B. Lyon Company, 1902.
The part taken by the Sixty-second Regiment in the great
and memorable Battle of Gettysburg is briefly as follows:
The regiment was attached to the Third Division of the Sixth Army Corps. It
reached the actual scene of action on the battlefield about 2 o'clock in the
afternoon of the 2d of July, 1863, after a forced march of thirty-two miles.
We were moved from one position to another between that time until 4:30 p. m.,
when we were directed to take position on the left of "Rocky Hill." This was the extreme left of our line. The regiment had barely gone into position,
when all of our troops in front, except two regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserves,
were driven back and up the hill, passing through our lines.
At that moment we received the order to advance to the support of the two
regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserves. The command received, the Sixty-second
dashed forward with eager enthusiasm, closed up with the Pennsylvania troops,
and immediately opened fire upon the advancing enemy. After delivering several
volleys, we charged the enemy's columns, broke them, drove them in disorder
down the hill, and captured two light twelve-pounder guns, which had been lost
by the Fifth Corps earlier in the day. Reaching the front of "Rocky Hill" the regiment advanced about 100 yards, and halting, remained in this position
until the morning of the 3d of July.
About 10 o'clock that morning the enemy advanced their column
in reconnaissance. We promptly met the advance, and by a well-directed fire
drove it back. At 2 o'clock p. m. our line and the hills beyond were viciously
shelled by the enemy, but without any advance of their troops. At 6 o'clock
we were moved forward to the left in support of a reconnaissance., under General
Crawford. Our regiment was actively engaged in this movement, and advanced to
the extreme left of our line, where we met some of the enemy's troops, which
we drove for half a mile or more, capturing many prisoners. We remained in our
advanced position until 9 o'clock on the morning of the Fourth of July, when
we were ordered to support a reconnaissance. made to the front by General Sykes.
This was accomplished without loss, and we occupied the position thus gained
for the rest of the day.
Col. David J. Nevin, of our regiment, who commanded the brigade to which the
Sixty-second was attached, in his report of the action of his brigade, says: "The extraordinary endurance evinced by my command and their daring bravery
at the turning point of the battle deserve larger mention than the limit of
the report will allow. Never did troops advance upon the enemies of their country
with more cheerfulness and spirit."
The bronze tablet on the monument is illustrative of the moment when, the
Sixty-second New York drove the advancing columns of the enemy down "Little
Round Top" and captured the two twelve-pounder guns of the Fifth Corps
The Sixty-second Regiment was organized and mustered into
the service of the United States at the City of New York on the 30TH day of
June, 1861, under Col. J. Lafayette Riker, who continued in its command until
the afternoon of the 3Oth day of May, 1862, when he was killed while gallantly
leading his regiment in a successful charge to resist the advance of the enemy
at Fair Oaks Station, Va. The regiment was 1,000 strong when it reached the
seat of war. After the death of Colonel Riker, it was commanded by Col. David
J. Nevin, and subsequently, by Col. Theodore B. Hamilton, a son of the late
surgeon general of the army. The term of its original enlistment was three years,
but just before the close of the three years' term nearly all the survivors
of the regiment re-enlisted to serve during the war.
The Sixty-second was attached to the Army of the Potomac,
and participated in every campaign of that army. It was always in active field
service, from the organization of the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan,
until the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.
After the corps formation of the Army of the Potomac it was
first attached to the Fourth Corps, under General Keyes, and subsequently to
the Sixth Corps, under the lamented General Sedgwick. It participated in the
following battles during the period of its service, viz.: The Siege of Yorktown,
Lee's Mills, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Fair Oaks, Oak Grove, Savage Station,
White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, South Mountain, Antietam, First
and Second Battles of Fredericksburg, Marye's Heights, Salem Church, Banks'
Ford, Gettysburg, Funkstown, Rappahannock Station, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania,
Cold Harbor, Monocacy, Fort Stevens, Strasburg, Winchester, Charlestown, Opequon,
Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek, Siege and Fall of Petersburg, Sailor's Creek and
Appomattox. Its greatest losses in action occurred at Marye's Heights, The Wilderness,
and before Petersburg.
During the term of service of the regiment it lost in killed
in battle and by death from wounds received in the line of duty, as near as
I can gather the facts, 272 men. That number is exclusive of those who were
disabled by wounds, which was very large. I cannot get an approximate figure.
Lack of space limits this sketch to statements of the most
general character relative to the service of the regiment during the war. Reference
may be made, however, to two reports from which I make short extracts. These
extracts will demonstrate to future generations that the Sixty-second Regiment
New York Volunteers faithfully and fearlessly performed its whole duty in the
great crisis of the Nation's existence.
The following is from Brig. Gen. Frank Wheaton, commanding brigade, in his
report of the Second Battle of Fredericksburg, in which he says: "Just
before daybreak we reached the enemy's works upon the Heights of Fredericksburg,
and were ordered by General Newton to feel them and learn something of the nature
of their defences, force, number of guns, etc. I selected the Sixty-second New
York, Lieut. Col. T. B. Hamilton commanding, and forming them in line just below
the crest, marched up to draw the enemy's fire. Before the regiment was 200
yards from the brigade line, it was opened upon by a heavy musketry fire, and
apparently five pieces of artillery from the Rebel works and rifle pits. The
Sixty-second New York and One hundred and second Pennsylvania were compelled
to fall back a few yards to a line where the slopes afforded them protection
from the enemy's fire, and in about as many seconds lost in killed and wounded
64 officers and men. Their conduct is worthy of special praise and notice. The
Sixty-second lost its color sergeant, its commander was wounded, and 30 musket
balls pierced its flag."
"During the Battle of Salem Heights, the Ninety-eighth
Pennsylvania and the Sixty-second New York were necessarily left on the south
side of the main road, where they performed gallant service under the officer
in charge of that portion of the line. They lost heavily, and held their position
to the last."
General Wheaton, in closing his report of that battle, said: "It was impossible
for the gallant little band — forty-five in number — of the Sixty-second
New York Volunteers, under Lieutenants Morris and Stewart, to escape capture.
Their fire as skirmishers on the advancing enemy delayed his movements and necessitated
a more careful reconnaissance. which took time, and in my opinion the time thus
gained, saved the right of the Second Division and my own brigade from capture."
Col. David J. Nevin, who took command of the regiment after the death of Colonel
Riker, at the Battle of Fair Oaks, Va., in his report of the service of the
regiment in that battle, and the manner in which they received and delivered
their fire, concluded his reference as follows: "My men behaved bravely,
and while they act so nobly, I have no fear for the cause in which they are
Like commendations of the service of this regiment in other battles of the
war could be quoted, but enough has been presented here to satisfy the citizens
of our great State that the men who composed the Sixty-second Regiment New York
Volunteers rendered gallant service to the Empire State and deserved well the
monument erected in their honor.
The "Congressional Medal of Honor" was won and awarded to the following
members of the regiment for special gallantry upon the battlefield: Edward Browne,
James Evans, and Charles E. Morse. Many acts of greater gallantry by members
of the Sixty-second might be pointed to at periods of great emergency and danger,
which were probably unnoticed at the time by those who had the power to invoke
our superior officers to give them deserved recognition.
Back to 62nd Regiment During
the Civil War
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
March 27, 2006