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72nd Infantry Regiment
Civil War
Third Regiment, Excelsior, or Sickles', Brigade


Mustered in: July 24, 1861
Mustered out: June 19 to October 31, 1864

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.
This regiment, raised under special authority from the War Department, granted to Gen. D. E. Sickles, May 18, 1861, was organized, under Col. Nelson Taylor, at Camp Scott, Staten Island, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years in June, July, August, October and November, 1861. One company of the 68th Militia (Dunkirk) formed part of this regiment. Pursuant to the order of the Secretary of War, dated December 5, 1861, it received its State numerical designation December 11, 1861. Company L was transferred to Companies A, I and K February 25, 1862. The men not entitled to be mustered out with the regiment were formed into a detachment which, from June 20, 1864, served with the 120th Infantry, to which the remaining men were, in November, 1864, finally transferred.
The companies were recruited principally: A and K in New York city; B at Jamestown; C in Vermont; D and E at Dunkirk; F at Newark, N. J.; G at Westfield; H at Dunkirk and New York city, and I at Delhi. Company L was recruited principally in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delhi, Sinclairsville and Plattsburg.
The regiment, except Companies H and L, which joined October 25, 1861, left the State July 24, 1861; served at and near Washington, D. C, in a provisional brigade, from July, 1861; in Sickles' Brigade, Hooker's Division, Army of the Potomac, from October 15, 1861; in same, 2d, Brigade, 2d Division, 3d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from March, 1862 in 2d Brigade, 4th Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from April, 1864; in 4th Brigade 3D Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from May 13, 1864; the companies remaining attached to the 120th N. Y. Volunteers, in the 3d Brigade, 3d Division 2d Corps Army of the Potomac, from July, 1864. Companies A, B, D, E, F, I and K, under command of Lieut Col. John Leonard, were honorably discharged and mustered out June 19 and 20, 1864, before Petersburg, Va.; Companies G, C and H, remaining, were mustered out July 2 and 20 and October 31, 1864, respectively.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 7 officers, 111 enlisted men of wounds received in action, 5 officers, 51 enlisted men; of disease .and other causes, 1 officer, 95 enlisted men; total, 13 officers, 257 enlisted men; aggregate, 270; of whom 10 enlisted men 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.
Seventy-second Infantry.—Cols., Nelson Taylor, William O. Stevens, John S. Austin; Lieut.-Cols., Israel Moses, John S. Austin, John Leonard; Majs., William O. Stevens, John Leonard, Casper K. Abell. The 72nd, the 3d regiment of the Excelsior brigade, was composed mainly of members from New York city and Chau-tauqua county, and was mustered into the U. S. service at Camp Scott, Staten island, from June to Oct., 1861, for three years. It left there on July 24, 1861, for Washington, where it was joined by two of its companies late in October. After serving for a few months in the vicinity of Washington the regiment was assigned to Sickles' Excelsior brigade, Hooker's division, served along the Potomac in Maryland, near Stafford Court House, Va., and proceeded to the Peninsula in April, 1862, with the 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 3d corps. It suffered its first severe loss at Williamsburg, where the Excelsior brigade bore the heaviest burden of the battle, the loss of the 72nd being 195 killed, wounded or missing, 77 of whom were killed or mortally wounded. At Fair Oaks and in the Seven Days' battles the regiment was active and was then withdrawn from the Peninsula to join in the campaign under Gen. Pope in Virginia, during which it lost 37 men. It was withdrawn with the brigade to the vicinity of Washington for much needed rest and reinforcement, and remained there through the Maryland campaign, leaving for Falmouth in November. It participated in the battle of Fredericksburg; went into winter quarters at Falmouth; broke camp late in April, 1863, for the Chancellorsville movement; took a prominent part in that battle, Col. Stevens and 4 other officers being killed, the total loss of the regiment being 101. At Gettysburg the regiment, which had by this time become noted for its fighting qualities, occupied an advanced position on the Emmitsburg road, which was valiantly defended by the brigade, although finally forced to yield it. The loss of the 72nd: here was 114, and the ranks, which later fought at Kelly's ford, Bristoe Station and in the Mine Run campaign, were sadly thinned. The winter camp was established at Brandy Station and in April, 1864, the regiment was assigned to the 2nd brigade, 4th division, 2nd corps, with which it served in the Wilderness campaign until May 13, when it was transferred to the 4th brigade, 3d division. It was active in the campaign until June 19, when seven companies were mustered out before Petersburg. The remaining three com-panies were mustered out July 2 and 20 and Oct. 31, 1864, the veterans and recruits being transferred to the 120th N. Y. infantry. During its term of service the regiment lost 184 by death from wounds and 96 by death from other causes. It is ranked by Col. Fox as one of the "three hundred fighting regiments."

Battles and Casualties Table from Phisterer

Civil War Newspaper Clippings

Monument at Gettysburg

72nd NYVI National Color 72nd Regiment NY Volunteer Infantry National Color

Muster Roll

Unit Roster

Further Reading
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 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.

Barram, Rick. "Scoundrel." America’s Civil War. 31:6 (January 2019), pages 38-45.
The notorious Daniel Sickles created the Excelsior Brigade with commendable intentions. It remained trouble-plagued as long as he was in command.

Barram, Rick. "Too Good to be True." America’s Civil War. 31:1 (March 2018), pages 42 - ?.
At Manassas Gap, Va., during the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg, it looked like George Meade again had Robert E. Lee at his mercy. He couldn't capitalize.

America’s Civil War, Too Good To Be True, In a Virginia Mountain pass after Gettysburg, Meade had Lee’s army in the crosshairs, only to let him get away  by Rick Barram (Excelsior Brigade’s action at Wapping Heights, also known as Manassas Gap, July 23, 1863)

Barram, Rick. The 72nd New York Infantry in the Civil War : A History and Roster. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2014.
Available for purchase here:

Brown, Henri Le Fevre. History of the Third regiment, Excelsior brigade, 72d New York volunteer infantry, 1861-1865, compiled by Henri Le Fevre Brown, Sergeant Company B. [Jamestown Journal print, co.], 1902.

Cranston, George W. HaerleColl
(Enlisted man's letters from friend, George Tate)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Cross, Ambrose. HCWRTColl
(Lt Henry Stewart's reminiscences of Cross at Stafford Court House, Apr 4, 1862)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Eastman, William R. "The army Chaplain of 1863." MOLLUS-NY IV 338-50.
You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this.

Ford, H.C. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(Enlisted man's letter, Mar 12, 1862
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Getchell, Thomas V. and Marilyn L. Getchell. Orrin's Story : Patriotism and Love of Country. The Union Now and Forever. T & M Getchell an Imprint of Telemachus Press, 2012.
For more information please see:

Gould, Charles W. "The Battleground of Virtue." Civil War Times Illustrated 40:5 (Oct 2001): pp. 26, 68, 71, 74, 76 & 79.

Harris, Robert F., 1944. Dear sister: the Civil War letters of the Brothers Gould. Westport, Conn. Praeger, 1998.

Houghton, Charles A. HoughtonColl
(Enlisted man's letters, Oct 2, 1862-Jun 5, 1865)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Jones, Lucius. In the War of the rebellion from 1861 to 1865. [Fredonia, NY: 1913].

McKinstry, Arthur. The Letters of Pvt. Arthur McKinstry.
Available online at Mississippi State.
Thank you to Rick Barram for suggesting this site.

Miller, J. Michael. "The Battles of Bristoe Station." Blue & Gray magazine  XXLI:2 (2009).
Thank you to H. T. Schafer for pointing out this resource.

New York. Infantry. 72d Regiment. Report of Annual Reunion, 1879-1901.
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

New York (State). Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg, Chattanooga and Antietam. In memoriam, Alexander Stewart Webb, 1835-1911. Albany: J.B. Lyon company, printers, 1916.

Norton, Levi W. CWTIColl
(Enlisted man's letter, Oct 22, 1861)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Ostre, Peter. Civil War Letters of Peter Ostrye.
(Enlisted man's letters, Oct 30, 1862-Jun 1, 1864)

Parker, David B. A Chautauqua boy in '61 and afterward, reminiscences by David B. Parker, Second Lieutenant, Seventy-second New York. Introduction by Albert Bushnell Hart. Boston: Small, Maynard and co., [1912].
Available online at:

Ryberg, Donald K. Chautauqua County regiments and soldiers in the Civil War, 1861-1865. Westfield, N.Y. Chautauqua County Historical Society, 1986.

Street, Owen. The young patriot, a memorial of James Hall. Boston, Massachusetts: Sabbath School Society [1862].

Tate, George. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(Enlisted man's letters, Aug 14, 1863-Mar 28, 1865)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Taylor, Nelson. Letter.
Located at the Manansas Nationa Battlefield Library.
Thank you to H. T. Schafer for pointing out this resource.

Tocin, Kerry R. "To Hell and Back: Companies D, E, and H." : 72nd New York Volunteers Dunkirk, New York (1861-1864)." Niagara Frontier. 21 (Winter 1974) 80-95.


Items in the museum collection are in bold.

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: June 27, 2019

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