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79th Infantry Regiment
Civil War
Seventy-ninth Militia; Highlanders; Cameron Rifle Highlanders; Highland Guard; Bannockburn Battalion

History

Mustered in: May 29, 1861
Mustered out: July 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.
The 79th Regiment Militia, failing to be ordered to the front for three months, organized, under authority from the War Department, as volunteers at New York city, where, commanded by Lieut-Col. Samuel MeKenzie Elliott, it was mustered in the service of the United States for three years May 29, 1861. The men were recruited principally in New York city; the regiment was turned over to the State in September, 1861, and received its numerical designation December 11, 1861. In January, 1864, members of the 51st Infantry, and of the 45th, 50th and 100th Pa. Volunteers, were attached to the regiment, serving with it about two months. May 4, 1864, Col. Samuel McK. Elliott received authority to recruit a regiment, the Cameron Highlanders; this authority was modified to recruit for this regiment. May 13, 1864, the men not entitled to be mustered out were formed into two companies, A and B; those entitled to be mustered out at the expiration of the term of service of the regiment proceeded to New York city and were there discharged, under Lieut.-Col. John More, May 31, 1864. In November, 1864, the men enlisted by Colonel Elliott joined the companies in the field as Companies C and D; in January, 1865, another company, E, joined, and in March, 1865, Company F was organized in the field from recruits received.
The regiment left the State June 2, 1861; served at and near Washington, D. C, where Col. J. C. Cameron joined it, from June, 1861; in 3d Brigade, 1st Division, Army N. E. Virginia, from July, 1861; in Stevens' Brigade, Smith's Division, Army of Potomac, from October, 1861; in 2d Brigade, T. W. Sherman's Expeditionary Corps, from October 21, 1861; in 2d Brigade, 2d Division, Department South, from June, 1862; in 3d Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Corps, from July, 1862; in 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Corps, from September, 1862; in the 3d Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Corps, from, June, 1863; in the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Corps, from July, 1863; in 2d Brigade, 3d Division, 9th Corps, from March, 1864; Companies A and B with 18th Corps, Army of the James, from May, 1864; in 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Corps, Army of Potomac, from September 10, 1864; as Provost Guard, 9th Corps, from October 7, 1864; and it was honorably discharged and mustered out, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Henry G. Heffron, July 14, 1865, near Alexandria, Va.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 2 officers, 83 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 1 officer, 30 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, I officer, 82 enlisted men; total, 4 officers, 195 enlisted men; aggregate 199; of whom 11 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy; and it, or portions of it.

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-ninth Infantry.—Cols., J. C. Cameron, Isaac I. Stevens, Addison Farnsworth, David Morrison; Lieut-Cols., David Morrison. John Morse, Henry G. Heffron; Majs., Francis L. Hagadorn, William St. George Elliott, John More, William Simpson, Andrew D. Baird. This regiment, called the Highlanders, was the original 79th militia and was composed mainly of Scotchmen. It was mustered into the service of the United States at New York city, for a three years' term, May 29, 1861, and left for Washington on June 2. It was stationed in the vicinity of Washington until the movement of the army to Manassas, when it was assigned to the 3d brigade, 1st division, Army of Northeastern Virginia and participated in the battle of Bull Run. This, the first battle of the regiment, was a severe initiation, for the command lost 198 in killed, wounded and missing, Col. Cameron being mortally wounded. During September the regiment was posted near Lewinsville, Va., where it several times encountered the enemy and was engaged in a sharp skirmish at Bailey's cross-roads. On Oct. 21, the 79th was attached to the 2nd brigade of Sherman's expeditionary corps, with which it embarked for Hilton Head, S. C., and served in that vicinity until June, 1862. It shared in the gallant attack of Stevens' division, at Secessionville, losing no out of 474 engaged. In July, the troops returned to Virginia and shared in Gen. Pope's campaign, with the 3d brigade, 1st division, 9th corps, losing 105 killed, wounded or missing during the engagements near Manassas. At Chantilly, Gen. Stevens, former colonel of the 79th, was killed. The regiment was active at South mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, but was not closely engaged in the last named battle. It shared the discomforts of Burnside's "Mud March," returned to camp at Fal-mouth, and moved west with the 9th corps, to join Gen. Grant's forces before Vicksburg. The regiment took part in the siege and in the pursuit to Jackson. It then fought at Blue Springs, at Campbell's station, Tenn., and aided in the defense of Knoxville. The men bore uncomplainingly the hardships of the return of the 9th corps across the mountains to Virginia and in May, Cos. A and B were transferred to the 18th corps. The regiment shared the opening battles of the Wilderness campaign and was mustered out at the expiration of its term of enlistment, May 31, 1864. The veterans and recruits served as provost guard at corps headquarters and were reinforced in the autumn of 1864 by the addition of several companies of new recruits. This battalion served before Petersburg until the fall of the city and was mustered out at Alexandria, Va., July 14, 1865. The total enrollment of the regiment was 1,385, exclusive of the battalion organized in 1864, and it lost during service 116 by death from wounds and 83 from other causes. Its record is one of unfailing heroism and devotion to the cause for which it fought and it is ranked by Col. Fox among the "three hundred fighting regiments."

Battles and Casualties Table from Phisterer

Civil War Newspaper Clippings

79th Battle Flag 79th Markers

79th National Color 79th National Color

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 int-historians@ng.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.

Armour, Robert. "The attack upon and defense of Fort Sanders, Knoxville, Tenn., November 29, 1863, prepared by Captain Robert Armour. 1898." 18 p. MOLLUS-DC no 30.

Baird, Andrew. Papers, 1860-1913.
Description: 500 items.
Abstract: Nearly all the papers concern the wartime activities of the 79th Regiment, including muster rolls, orders, and supply lists. There are a few letters and legal documents from the postwar era.
Located at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn, NY.

Beard, William Arley. History of the 79th New York Cameron Highlanders, 1859-1876 : with a treatise on the uniform and equipment. Strawberry Plains, TN : Strawberry Plains Press, 1996.

Bilby, Joseph G. "Blue Bonnets over the border." Military Images. Jul/Aug 1984. 5-15.

Cameron family. The Cameron family papers, 1854-1894.
Description: 8 boxes.
Abstract: Contains the following types of materials: correspondence, clippings, election tally sheets. Contains information pertaining to the following wars: Revolutionary War, Mexican War, War of 1812, Civil War, Indian Wars. Contains information pertaining to the following military unit: 79th New York Infantry Regiment (Highlanders). General description of the collection: The Cameron family papers include newspaper clippings about life and times of prominent Pennsylvanian Simon Cameron and son Don. Items relate to political careers, service as secretary of war, 1861-1862 and 1876-1877. Clippings cover contemporary events during Civil War, Reconstruction period, and Indian Wars. Particular interests include the Sioux Campaigns of 1876. Some material relate to Civil War service of James Cameron, colonel, 79th New York Infantry Regiment, who was killed at First Battle of Bull Run. Included are clippings relating to Revoultionary War, War of 1812, the Miami War, Mexican War, and Civil War, election tally sheets, correspondence of Don Cameron, 1884-1886, 1889, and 1891; undated letter from Abraham Lincoln to Simon Cameron.
Note(s): Bio/History: Simon Cameron was a United States (U.S.) secretary of war and a U.S. senator. James Cameron was a colonel in the 79th New York Infantry Regiment. J. Don Cameron was a U.S. secretary of war and a U.S. senator.
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Campbell, Alexander, James Campbell and Terry A. Johnston, Jr., ed. "Him on the One Side and Me on the Other:" The Civil War Letters of Alexancer Campbell, 79th New York Infantry Regiment, and James Campbell, 1st South Carolina Battalion. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

Davidson, James F. "The 79th New York Highlanders at the Battle of Fort Sanders, Knoxville, tennessee, November 29, 1863."

Dunn, John M. Union Soldiers. San Diego: Blackbirch Press, 2003.
Juvenile literature.

Elliott, Samuel Mackenzie. The Highland Brigade [Elliottville? N.Y.] 1861.

Gero, Anthony; Sturcke, Roger. "Valentine's Day in the 79th New York Volunteers, February 1864." Military Collector & Historian. 58:4 (Winter 2006) 197.

"Grand concert! By the 79th regt'al band Friday evening, April 18th, 1862, at 7 1/2 o'clock, at the Brick Beaufort church." Camp Kettle" print [1862] broadside, 12 1/2 x 20 1/2 cm.
Online at http://www.pbase.com/aclark79/image/64109627

Heffron, Henry G. Papers (1862-1863).
Description: 2 Items
Abstract: Contents include a letter of July 23, 1863 that provides a good description of the Battle of Jackson (Miss.) and subsequent Union Army occupation of the city. Also included is an original copy of Heffron's commission as first lieutenant, January 19, 1862.
Located at the New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Homer, Winslow. The Seventy-Ninth Regiment (Highlanders), New York State Militia.
Description: Medium: wood engraving on paper ;; sheet: 27.8 x 40.4 cm. ; image: 23.3 x 35.3 cm.
Note(s): After Winslow Homer./ Curatorial inscription notes: Signed lower right: HOMER Printed below: The Seventy-Ninth Regiment (Highlanders) New York State Militia. Printed on left: May 25, 1861.] Harper's Weekly. 329./ Title Notes: Harper's Weekly, 5/25/1861./ Amico Library: 2003; ARTstor: 2005; ARTstor 2005 (2006 rev.); CAMIO 2006.
Located at the Clark Art Institute and online at:
http://www.clarkart.edu/exhibitions/homer/ia/ts.cfm?ObjectID=133&KeywordID=1&FormName=KeywordSearch&Page=2&ViewAll=1

Kane, John. "Letter to Simon Cameron concerning the service and death of his brother, Col. James Cameron, who died at Bull Run."

Kilmer, G.L. A Highland Clan. Braw Scotsmen who battled for Union.
In War Department Library, pamphlet v. 270.

Lloyd, Mark. Combat uniforms of the Civil War. Volume one, The Federal Army. Philadelphia : Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.

Lusk, William Thompson. War letters of William Thompson Lusk. Privately printed. New York, 1911.

Mead, Richard Citus. Richard Citus Mead papers, 1863-1877.
Description: 21 items
Abstract: Civil War letters, biographical sketch, and family genealogy.
Note(s): Donor: 2977./ Bio/History: Surgeon in the 79th New York Infantry, later resident of Adrian, Michigan.
Located at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

McKnight, W. Mark. Blue Bonnets o’er the border: the 79th New York Cameron Highlanders. Shippensburg, PA : White Mane Books, c1998.

McKnight, W. Mark. Seventy-ninth Regiment, New York Highlanders : the creation of a Highland unit in the American Civil War.
Library of Congress

New York Infantry. 79th regt. (1861-1865). Constitution, by-laws, regulations and ritual of the Veteran association 79th regiment Highlanders N.Y. vols. Organized, August 16th, 1865; incorporated, February, 1867.
Located at the New York Historical Society, New York, NY.

New York. Monuments Commission. Report of the New York Monuments commission on the dedication of monument to the seventy-ninth regiment Highlanders, New York volunteers, Knoxville, Tenn., September 23, 1918. Albany: J. B. Lyons co., printers, 1911.

Severin, John Powers and Frederick Porter Todd. "79th regiment, New York state militia, 1860-61." Military collector & historian 8:1 (Spring 1956) 20.

Stevens, Hazard. Letter, 1862 Apr. 3.
Description: 1 item (6 p.)
Abstract: Letter (ALS) dated April 3, 1862, Beaufort, South Carolina, and sent by Captain and Assistant Adjutant General Hazard Stevens of the 79th New York Highlanders to a Captain Elliot at Port Royal Ferry, containing a humorous account of the taking of Fort Floyd, a fort located near Port Royal Ferry, and a sarcastic account of the spoils obtained for the United States Government. Stevens recounts the attack and capture of the fort, which had been previously abandoned by the Confederate forces upon the initial approach of the Union Army, and itemizes the "spoils" taken from the fort, ie. "1 chain six inches long," "3 sets large breast works, dirt," "3 fine live oak trees," etc.
Note(s): Bio/History: Union Army General, 79th New York Highlanders, and son of Union Army General Isaac Ingalls Stevens (1818-1862).
Located at the New York Historical Society, New York, NY.

Todd, William. The Seventy-ninth Highlanders, New York volunteers in the War of the rebellion, 1861-1865, by William Todd (of Company B). Albany, Press of Brandow, Barton & co., 1886.

79th NY Cameron Highlanders.
www.79thnycompanyb.org/history.html [link opens new window]

Wert, Jeffrey D. "A Bitter New York Regiment Clashes With Its Major General." : Mutiny in the Army." Civil War Times Illustrated. April 1985. 12-19.

 

Items in the museum collection are in bold.

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: July 5, 2012
URL: http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/79thInf/79thInfMain.htm

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