|Unit History Project|
34th Regiment, New York volunteer Infantry
THIRTY-FOURTH REGIMENT INFANTRY, N. Y. S. V.
At a meeting of the State Board, hold on the 23d of May, it was, on motion of the Attorney General, "Resolved, that the companies commanded by the following Captains, to wit.: Capts. Corcoran, Laflin, Brown, Sponable, Beverly, Doolittle, Baldwin, King, Oswald and Rich, be formed into a regiment, to be num¬bered No. 34, and that an order for the election of field officers therein be issued."
Special Orders 218 (May 24), ordered on election of field officers, and Special Order 241 (May 30), confirmed the election of William La Due as Colonel, James A. Suitor, Lieutenant Colonel, and Byron Laflin as Major, and directed the regiment to be im-mediately mustered into the service of the United States.
The regiment was mustered into the service of the United States by Capts. Wheaton and Sitgreaves, on the 15th of June, 1861, at the Industrial School Barracks, Albany. It was supplied with United States Remission muskets, model of 1842, calibre 69 (sub¬sequently exchanged for Enfield rifles), uniforms, &c, and caused an expenditure by the State of $44,679.81, exclusive of subsistence and quarters.
The regiment left Albany for Washington on the 3d of July, 1861, via New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, and arrived on the 5th. On the 7th it was assigned a site on Kalorama hill, where it received tents of the common A pattern and began the first lessons in camp life. On the 20th of July it was ordered into Virginia, and, preparatory to field service, exchanged (21st) its arms for Enfield rifles. The order, however, was counter¬manded. On the 28th it was ordered to Seneca mills, and arrived at Great Falls on the 29th. Here companies B, G and under command of Major Laflin, were detached for picket duty, and the remaining companies proceeded to Seneca mills, where they arrived on the 31st, and established "Camp Jackson." Picket lines were immediately established on the Potomac river and the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, and covering a district of seventeen miles. While here, the regiment was assigned to General Stone's brigade, in which it served until September, when General Stone took command of the division and General W. A, Gorman of the brigade.* (* General Stone was succeeded by General Sedgwick in January, 1862.)
On the 21st of October the regiment started for Poolsville, but while on the road received orders to march to Edward's Ferry, where it crossed the Potomac in scow boats. It was too late, however, to participate in the action at Ball's Bluff, but assisted in the removal of the wounded. It returned to the Maryland side on the 23d, and resumed its march to Poolsville, where it estab¬lished " Camp McClellan." It was here occupied in picketing the Potomac,, building block houses, drilling, &c, until the 24th of February, when it was ordered to move to Harper's Ferry. It arrived at Harpers Ferry on the 27th of February, and took up quarters in a large stone building, formerly used as a cotton fac¬tory. On the 3d of March it moved to Bolivar Heights; on the 9th to Charlestown; on the 10th to Berryville. Here it picketed the roads until the 11th, when the division moved up the Win¬chester road to meet a reported advance of the enemy. The report proved erroneous and it returned to camp at Berryville. On the 13th it again marched for Winchester to support General Shields in an attack made by the enemy, but arrived too late to participate in the engagement Here General Sedgwick received orders to report with his command to General Sumner of the Sec¬ond corps. Under this order, General Gorman's brigade, (com¬posed of the Thirty-fourth and Eighty-second New York, and First Minnesota, and Fifteenth Massachusetts), became the First brigade of the Second division of the Second corps, in which the regiment remained during its subsequent service.
The regiment returned to Berryville on the 13th of March. On the 14th it marched to "Camp Sedgwick," Charlestown ; on the 22d, crossed the river at Harper's Ferry on pontoon bridge and marched to Sandy Hook, from which it took the cars at 2 P. M., for Washington; reached Washington at 2 A. M. on the 23d; stopped at the Soldier's Rest, and from thence to quarters in a building in rear of the capitol. It left Washington at 5 P. M. on the 26th, and reached Alexandria in the morning ; embarked for the Peninsula on the 29th, on the transport Richard Willing; reached Fortress Monroe on the 31st, and landed at Hampton at 1 P. M., on the 1st of April.
The march of the Second, corps up the Peninsula commenced on the 4th; of April, when the regiment reached Big Bethel. On the 5th, it reached Winne's Mills and halted within two miles of the enemy's outposts. Here the regiment engaged in the siege of Yorktown; dug ditches, threw up intrenchments, and skirmished with the enemy. On the 11th, it advanced to a position nearer the enemy's works, and encamped about five rods from the in¬trenchments thrown up by Lafayette dining the Revolution. It was engaged in picket duties until the 16th, when it was assigned to the support of batteries, and continued in this duty almost with¬out interruption during the remainder of the siege. On the 4th of May, Sedgwick's division, took possession of the enemy's works, the Thirty-fourth being the first regiment in the enemy's works at Winne's Mills. On the 5th, the regiment marched to Yorktown, camped on the heights and occupied the tents left by the enemy. At evening it was ordered in line, and stood in the rain until 12 o'clock ; then marched about two miles in the mud and darkness, and then was ordered back to camp. At 1 P. M. on the 6th, it moved to the landing at Yorktown, and on the 7th embarked on the schooner William for West Point, where it landed at 10 P. M. On the 9th it reached Eltham, on the Pamunkey river. Here it was determined to reorganize the regiment, the companies rank¬ing by seniority. The change was announced on the 12th, when company A, and part of companies B and D, went out and stacked arms and were put under arrest. The men and most of the offi¬cers, however; soon returned to duty. On the 15th, it marched to New Kent Court House ; 18th, to near Cumberland Landing ; 21st, to Bottom's Bridge ; on the 23d, to Tyler's house, on Beaver creek ; on the 31st, to Fair Oaks battle-field, where it was sent to reinforce General Casey. As soon as it arrived on the field it formed in line of battle and led the advance in a charge that drove the enemy back. It was engaged for nearly three hours, and lost thirty-four killed and sixty-four wounded. On the 1st of June it was again engaged and lost two killed and four wounded. It remained in the vicinity of the battle-field, picketing and slashing timber, until the 27th, when it skirmished with the enemy during the entire, day. At 4 A. M. on the 28th, it moved with its corps, covering the rear, to Peach Orchard Station, where it halted and cheeked the advance of the enemy. The march was then continued to Savage's Station, where the enemy again attacked our forces, and compelled them to fall back, leaving all our sick and wounded in the enemy's hands. At night the corps resumed its march and crossed the White Oak swamp bridge at 4 A. M, on the 20th. On the 30th, at 6 A. M. it again started, Franklin's corps being assign¬ed to the rear guard. It moved to Nelson's farm, (four miles), whore Colonel Sully, who had been in command of the brigade was taken sick, and the command fell upon Colonel Suiter, of the Thirty-fourth. At 12 o'clock, the brigade returned to White Oak swamp and supported batteries for about two hours. It was then ordered to report to General Sumner, the enemy having attacked our troops at Charles City Cross Roads. On reporting, the Thirty-fourth was detached from the brigade and moved to the support of General Kearney, at Glendale. It went into the fight about 6 P. M., and was engaged for about an hour. It lost in this battle sixty-three in killed and wounded, all of whom were left in the hands of the enemy. It lay in position until 3 A. M. on the 1st of July; but General Kearney's command was withdrawn at the close of the battle. It finally left the field without alarming the enemy ; marched rapidly to Turkey Bend, and from thence to Malvern Hill. After an hour's rest it was ordered in line of bat¬tle and remained under arms until, 2 A. M. of the 2d, and lost in killed, wounded and missing, thirty-four officers and men. It arrived at Harrison's Landing at 12 M. on the 2d, entirely exhaust¬ed with its seven days marching and fighting.
On the 4th of August the Second corps made a reconnoissance to Malvern Hill, and drove the enemy towards 'Richmond. In this action the regiment lost one. killed and three wounded. It then returned to Harrison's Landing, and resumed picket and camp duties until the 15th of August, when it struck tents for the march to Newport News, where it arrived on the 21st. This was a most severe march. Many fell out and several cases of sun-stroke occurred. On the 23d, it embarked on the, ocean steamer Mississippi, in company with the First Minnesota and Fifteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, and sailed for Aquia creek. A portion of the regiment hero disembarked, but, immediately returned under orders to report at Alexandria. The regiment landed at Alexandria on the 25th, and marched to Fort Corcoran, where it went into camp without tents or shelter from the rain which fell in tor-rents, On the 26th it was ordered to the front; marched about eight miles and then returned. On the 27th, late in the afternoon, was ordered to Chain bridge; marched all night and arrived at Fort Ethan Allen about daylight. On the 30th, was ordered to the front to cover the retreat of General Pope's command; reached Centreville on the 1st of September, and immediately took posi¬tion in the rear guard. Frequent skirmishing with the enemy's advance followed for three days. On the 4th the regiment returned to Chain bridge, and immediately crossed into Maryland and encamped at Tenallytown.
A rest of two days was now granted. On the 7th, the Second corps took up its line of march; on the 8th, passed through Rock¬ville, where its transportation was reduced to arms, blankets and shelter tents; 9th to Middleburg; 10th, to Clarksburg; 12th, to Urbanna; 13th, to Frederick City, and from thence to Turner's Pass in the South mountain; arrived at, Middletown on the evening of the 11th. Here the regiment was sent out on picket duty at the entrance to Crampton Gap, On the 15th, the corps moved to Keedysville; and, on the evening of the 16th, took position one and one-half miles southwest from Keedysville, in an open field, where it bivouacked for the night, without tents or shelter, with orders to be prepared with four days' cooked rations and forty rounds of ammunition, and to leave all baggage. On the morn¬ing of the 17th, at seven, A. M., it marched for Antietam; forded the Antietam creek, and started on a double-quick for the battle¬field. Sedgwick's division went into the fight at 11, A. M., in three lines, the First brigade in the advance. The Thirty-fourth regi-ment, however, was detached, inconsequence of not receiving the order from Gen. Gorman, but soon was moved directly to the front at Bunker's church, with the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, of Crawford's brigade. At the first fire the One Hundred and Twenty seventh broke and left the field. The Thirty-fourth thus left alone, received a deadly infantry fire from front and on both flanks and artillery fire on the left. General Sedgwick soon came up and ordered the regiment to fall back. While giving this order he was wounded in the wrist and neck, too barely escaped capture. Col. Suiter retired the Thirty-fourth to the rear, closely followed by the enemy, where, he reformed them on the left of Kirby's battery and lay in support until four P. M., when it was ordered by General Gorman to rejoin its brigade, which lay about one and one-half miles to the right. In this new position it was exposed to a heavy fire of shot and shell from the enemy's artillery. During the day the regiment lost thirty-two killed, one hundred and nine wounded and nine miss-ing—total, one hundred and fifty, being nearly fifty per cent of its strength (311) when it went into action.
On the 18th, the regiment supported batteries; on the 19th, buried its dead; on the 21st, marched for Harper's Ferry; on the 22d, arrived at Sandy Hook, and, there being no bridges, forded the Potomac; on the 29th, marched to Bolivar Heights and went into camp. Here it was engaged in picket and fatigue duties until the 29th of October, when it crossed the Shenandoah and marched into the valley east of Loudon heights. On the 31st, it marched to Hillsborough; November 1st, to Woodgrove; 2d, to Snicker's gap -- General Sedgwick's (now General Howard's) corps in the advance. A short engagement ensued, and the enemy retired. On the 3d it moved to near Upperville; on the 4th it took possession of Paris and Ashby's gap. The Thirty-fourth was here sent on a reconnoissance, with a detachment of Pleasanton's cavalry, through the gap. The enemy was discovered on the west side of the river, and the regiment greeted with an artillery fire. It returned to Paris and reported its action to General McClellan, who complimented its services.
On the 5th of November Howard's division moved to the inter¬section of the Paris and Piedmont with the Upperville and Bar¬bers roads, for picket duty. On the 6th the corps advanced to Rectortown; on the 7th, towards Warrenton; on the 9th, to War¬renton, and encamped. Here General Burnside took command of the army.
Howard's division reached Falmouth on the 21st of November, and discovered the enemy in small force on the south bank of the Rappahannock, with four pieces of artillery. Pettit's battery was immediately put into position, and a few shells dispersed the ene¬my. The abandoned guns, however, could not be secured, as there were no facilities for crossing the river. The corps moved about one and a half miles to the rear of Falmouth and went into camp. Howard's division was placed in the front, and lay in that position until the 11th of December. During this period the army was organized in grand divisions. The Second corps was assigned to the right grand division under General Sumner. General Couch succeeded to the command of the corps. General Howard remained in command of the division, and General Sully was placed in command of the brigade.
On the 11th of December the Second corps broke camp and proceeded to the Lacey House, opposite Fredericksburg, where the engineer corps was constructing pontoon bridges. The enemy, from buildings on the opposite shore, kept up a constant fire upon the working party. General Sumner notified them that unless they desisted he would open fire on the city, but this notification was unheeded. General Sumner then ordered the batteries to open fire, and 176 cannon immediately poured their iron hail upon the city. At 4 P. M. thirty men of the Seventh Michigan volunteered to cross the river in boats and clear the buildings of sharp-shooters. This work they soon accomplished. General Sully's brigade, of General Howard's division, led by the Thirty-fourth, then crossed and was followed by the remainder of the division. The enemy was soon driven to his intrenchments on the heights one mile in rear of the city. The Thirty-fourth was placed in position on the west of the crossing, on the bank of the river. Companies C, I and E were sent to the west outskirts of the city for picket duty. Company G was sent to Princess Ann street for the same purpose. The remaining companies of the regiment lay on their arms until about daybreak of the 12th, when they were marched to Princess Ann street. At daybreak the enemy commenced shelling the city from the heights, our men lying down upon the sidewalks, close to the buildings, to prevent casualties. At 3 P. M. the Thirty-fourth was moved to the first street to the rear and parallel with Princess Ann street, and remained until 11 P. M. It then returned to Princess Ann street and lay upon its arms all night. On the morning of the 13th it was determined to storm the heights. This duty was assigned to the divisions commanded by Generals French and Howard. The advance was promptly made, but was driven back;, reorganized and again advanced and again driven back. The Thirty-fourth was then ordered to position at the base of the hill, its right resting near the plank road to Richmond, its left near the railroad. Here it laid down for about an hour. General Tyler then came upon the field and massed his brigade in four lines in the rear of the Thirty-fourth. The enemy at once opened fire on the position, and 33 of the Thirty-fourth regiment were killed and wounded. The regiment then moved to the right and partly in rear of the brick tannery on the plank road, arid remained until 3 A. M. of the 14th, when it was relieved by the Fourth regiment U. S. regulars. It returned to the city and took up its old position on Princess Ann street. On the 14th it was sent to picket in an open field in rear of the city, and laid down (the enemy's pickets in the same position) within 30 yards of the enemy's line. At 8 P. M. it was relieved, and again returned to Princess Ann street. On the morning of the 15th it was moved to Fauquier street; was relieved at dark and returned to Prineess Ann street. At 8 P. M. it sent out 125 men, with detach-ments from other regiments, to throw up earthworks, for the pur¬pose of holding the city. At 11 P. M. the working party was called in, and at 1 A. M., on the 16th, it evacuated the city, crossed the river, and reached its old camp at 3 P. M.
Camp and picket duties were resumed and continued, with occa¬sional reviews and inspections, until January 20th, 1863, when the regiment moved with its corps to the right, and reached Banks' ford. A severe storm of rain and snow here set in and prevented a further advance. The command then returned to its camp and remained during the winter.
Picket duty was continued until near the close of April, with occassional reviews, among which was one by President Lincoln, and one by Gen. Hooker. Preparations for a forward movement were, in the meantime, progressing. The organization by grand divisions was broken up. Gen. Howard was transferred to the Eleventh corps, and Gen. Gibbons was placed in command of the Second division. On the 16th of April, tents were turned into the Quartermaster's department, and eight days' rations prepared. The advance did not take place until the 28th, when the regiment moved to near the Lacey house, where it remained with its divi¬sion, and was but slightly engaged during the battles of Chancel-lorsville and Fredericksburg. On the 6th of May it returned to its old camping ground.
On the 9th of June the regiment took the cars for Aquia Creek, where it embarked for Washington; left Washington on the 10th; reached Albany on the 12th, and quartered in the Industrial School barracks. On the 27th it visited Little Falls where it had a public reception; returned to Albany on the 28th, and was there mus-tered out of service on the 30th.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History