Description of "Regular Army and Regiments"
Now that you have been hopefully enlightened to the early history of the 12th. Regiment, let us examine some other issues prior to visiting some of the Civil War history. This lead in to the Civil War attempts to help the reader understand the transformation from a volunteer to regular army which began to occur at the beginning of the war.
Whey were the Regular Regiments so hated? First the Regulars were the Regular Army that as a whole were viewed during times of peace as an unnecessary cost, a tax burden. This country like the United Kingdom and the other Northern European countries that relied on their sea power as their first line of defense, have always looked with disdain on large standing armies. Instead they chose to rely on a militia system for their armies. For those descendents of ours that immigrated from countries that had large standing armies, like France and Prussia, the army represented the oppressive power of the nobility. Fleeing this was one main reason they came to America. Another reason the Regular Regiments might have been disliked was because of the state's bounty systems the Regulars had to recruit from mainly the new immigrants to this country. Emigrants were not thought very highly of, even back then. Some of the primary reasons the Regulars were disliked were 1.) The Regulars represented authority and discipline to an Army composed of highly individualistic "summer patriots" and politicians. 2.) The Regulars as professional soldiers must have developed an attitude towards these nonprofessionals, these Volunteers and Politicians, that were controlling the Army and the effects thereof. I wonder if the war would have taken so long or had such great losses if it had been directed and fought by the Professionals from the beginning. Certainly there were enough mistakes in the war made by those trained in the art of war, that the country did not need amateurs and politicians adding to them.
What about the respect for the Regulars? Whether they liked the Regulars or disliked the Regulars, the Volunteer Army always respected the professionalism of the Regulars. One of the greatest honors or achievements of an Officer then, was to get his rank in the Volunteer Army always respected the professionalism of the Regulars. One of the greatest honors or achievement of an Officer then, was to get his rank in the Volunteer Army converted to that of the Regular Army. General Custer, at the time of his death was a Breveted major General of Volunteers, but only a Lt. Colonel in the Regular Army. The Regular Regiments represented a deadly power of a professional fighting force that knew their business. The Volunteer Army knew this, and so did the enemy!
For those students of Regular history it is plain that the Regiments of Regulars were misused time an again during the course of the Civil War. The one episode that comes to mind was at Antietam. Lee's Army was being beaten badly, and before Jackson had moved up from Harper's Ferry into position, the Regular Regiments were in ready position for an assault on Lee's Army that would have surely destroyed what was left of that Army. This possibly ending the war at a much earlier date. General Porter, Commander of the Fifth Corps, then talked General McClellan out of the assault using the logic that if the Regular Regiments were destroyed the volunteer Army would fall apart and run away. This logic may have been true, but a "Golden Opportunity" was lost to end the war. By ending the war earlier countless lives would have been saved of individuals whose potential was forever lost to this country and the world. We shall never know of what we have lost and what might have been. Both Professional Army and Volunteer Army Officers held the belief of General Porter at this time, and it may have been true. Certainly all you have to do is read about the Army's early operations in the war.
It is true also that the Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers of the Regular Regiments were responsible for the majority of the training of the Volunteer Army until they reached a certain level of skill. It was even said that some Volunteer Regiments, "were as good as Regular Regiments." This of course did not happen over night. Maybe these Regular Drillmasters held to endear the Regulars to the Volunteers! It is also true that until the Volunteers were trained to an acceptable level the Regulars did hold the Army together.
I hope this brief history of the 12th. Regiment has enlightened you as to the caliber of men that made up this regiment. Most were nameless to history, but this country owes them a great deal. The silent unsung heroes that saw a job to be done, and did it without any fanfare. Men that were willing to endure untold sufferings for the "food of the whole" to preserve a dream called the "United Sates of America."
The Regulars have long been considered the professionals by those familiar with military matters. These professionals were often the best trained, lowest paid, and longest serving men in our nations' armed services. A look at their battle honors reveals that the regulars have been in the forefront of the action since the beginning of our country. Volunteer regiments have always been our most numerous soldiers, due to the American hesitancy for large standing armies, but were only in service for the duration of the conflict in which they were raised, leaving the Regulars to continue in the service when the crisis had passed. The American soldier, Regular or Volunteer, has always been among the world's best fighting men, and there cannot be a distinction drawn as to which was the most heroic, for the whole of our nation's history, there has always been the Regular Soldier.
Regulars were those men who were enlisted in the service of the United States. These men were not Militia, or National Guards. Their term of enlistment was generally five years, regardless of whether or not the country was at war. The pay in the early 1860s was low, approximately $13.00 per month for a private soldier, and the discipline harsh. In addition, food was sparse and often of poor quality. The living conditions were crude in comparison to the twentieth century. Why, then, would a man elect to serve under such Spartan conditions? Some simply answered the call to serve the flag. For others, it was a way to escape failure, debt or prison. Questions regarding a man's motives were not asked.
For whatever reason come they did, some as young as ten years old. Others as old as they could get by with. All bore the title Regulars with pride. From the reorganization of the new army after the war of 1812 until 1855, there were only seven regiments of Regular Infantry. These were augmented in time of war by Militia units called up, as various crises required. Three Regular Infantry regiments were created 1855 and when war was inevitable in the spring of 1861, seven more were added.
Of the approximately 16,000 men in the Regular Army in December of 1860, just under 1 000 were attached to the Department of the East. The remainder were in the west attempting to keep the peace between the native tribes and the approaching settlers. With the outbreak of the War of The Rebellion in April of 1861 most of the old Regulars were recalled to duty in the east. The second Infantry came from the Department of the West-Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota. The Fourth Infantry came back after ten years of duty in the Pacific Northwest, arriving in Washington City on November 28th. The government was so alarmed that the capital was within easy reach of a bold Confederate stroke, it moved its Regulars east as fast as they could be extricated from their assignments.
To expedite matters, President Lincoln, by his proclamation of May 3, 1861, authorized the raising of nine more regiments of infantry with an approved strength of three battalions of eight companies. Coincidental to this was the patriotic fervor to raise state regiments making it impossible to locate sufficient manpower for more than two weak battalions per Regular regiment.
The first ten regiments, colloquially labeled the "Old Army," would still consist of single battalions of ten companies each. They would experience their own difficulties by the loss of so many officers to the Southern cause. Approximately 30 percent of all Regular Army officers would resign their commissions in the coming months: resulting command shuffle would continue to the close of the war. This transmigration came at a time when effective leadership was most needed. It further protracted the task of consolidating the commands while - much to the Army's credit - only twenty-six enlisted men became documented deserters to the Confederacy out of 15,000 on duty in 1861.
The Regular Army was intended in this crisis to act first as a role model, then to provide a cadre of officers for the burgeoning volunteer army. In both respects it was partially successful although its field contribution must be considered negligible. This can be attributed to two factors. First, the Army's size in 1861 was immediately recognizable as unequal to the task and could not be taken into serious account against the forces of half the nation. Second, being a war of sections with emphasis placed on state sovereignty, the political roots from which grew the larger volunteer army lent a repressive air to the principles that maintained a standing, professional army. The universal attitude of the volunteers was to organize, mobilize and get the job done quickly. They saw no need to be strict or stuffy about it in the Regular sense and resented any attempt to do so.
Furthermore, the immediate rewards of bounties and promotions common to volunteers made recruiting for the Regular service next to hopeless. Such inducements were either poor or nonexistent in that service. Discipline was notoriously rigid in the regular regiments and a junior officer might wait years for a captaincy or majority that could be easily had with a state regiment. For the first time in 1861, the Army established a commission for the specific purpose of raising worthy noncommissioned officers from the ranks as Regular officers. This would go a long way toward replacing those lost to the South. In the face of this action, the states continued to siphon off many an experienced officer from the Regular establishment, compounding the problem beyond all recourse. The deficiencies of the Army's own system of maintenance became painfully apparent, not to be corrected for years. The most damaging result of these conditions was the alarming rate of desertion - over 24 percent - compared to an average 6 percent in the volunteer service. The losses can be attributed to a host of reasons not the least of which was the iron discipline of the Regulars, but most of those enlisting responded favorably to the Army code, however rigid, and went on to set an enviable standard for the volunteers throughout the war.
On the credit side of the ledger, Regular troops were far superior in discipline, training, reliability and morale by simple merit of their professional status. Men accustomed to disciplined fighting and the monotonous Army life could maintain unit integrity under far greater stress. The influx of a large number of foreign recruits, primarily Irish and German, gave the regiments a certain confidence inherent with a fresh start and the distinct feeling of pride through association. In a broader sense, the Army was the great leveler of mankind. While foreign recruits were martialed into separate ethnic organizations among the volunteers, They were more readily absorbed and "Americanized" by the Regulars. A considerable number of them were also veterans of European armies, adding a level of expertise that made our own army's standard of discipline appear mild.
In the final analysis, the Regulars were expected to do as they had always done: form the nucleus of defense and spearhead of offense. If events left them behind where publicity was concerned, the quiet efficient execution of duty always put them at the front. The record bears this out.
Quoted verbatim from:
Sykes' Regular Infantry Division,1861-1864
A History of Regular United States Infantry Operations in the Civil War's Eastern Theater
By Timothy J, Reese
McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers 1990
THE TWELFTH REGIMENT OF INFANTRY.
BY LIEUT. CHARLES W. ABBOT, JR., ADJUTANT 12TH U. S. INFANTRY.
The present regiment was organized by direction of the President in a proclamation dated May 4, 1861. An act of Congress of July both of the same year confirmed the organization. It was to consist of three battalions of eight companies each. The first regimental return shows that the field officers were appointed June 18th, and company officers August 23d; although the actual date of commission of all the former, and many of the latter was May 14th.
The first colonel was William B. Franklin, who was promoted from captain of Topographical Engineers. He never joined, having been appointed brigadier-general of volunteers May 17th. He was promoted to major-general July 4, 1862, and resigned his commission as colonel March 15, 1866. Daniel Butterfield of New York was the first lieutenant-colonel. He never joined, having been made brigadier-general of volunteers to date September 7th, and major-general November 29, 1862. He was promoted to colonel 5th Infantry July 1, 1863. The majors were Henry B. Clitz, Richard S. Smith, and Luther B. Bruen. Major Clitz was promoted from captain 3d Infantry. Major Smith had been 1st lieutenant 4th Artillery, resigning in 1856. Major Bruen had had no previous service.
The organization was commenced in August, Major Clitz in charge of recruiting, headquarters at Fort Hamilton, New York Harbor. The company officers were ordered on recruiting service to various places as soon as they joined. The first adjutant was Bernard P. Mimmack who was appointed 2d lieutenant from sergeant-major to date September 20th. First Lieutenant Walter S. Franklin, a brother of the colonel, was appointed quartermaster on September 30th. On October 20th the fist battalion was organized, and the return of that month shows an aggregate of 520, the companies averaging each about 60 men. Each company had a small nucleus of old soldiers who had served one or more enlistments. The officers were as a rule young men from twenty to twenty-five, most of them perfectly green in the profession of arms. A school was established, and the strictest discipline enforced. There was much enthusiasm, and rapid progress was made.
Fort Hamilton during the latter part of 1861 and through the whole of 1862 was the principal depot for prisoners of state who were confined in Fort Lafayette, which was included in the post. Colonel Martin Burke, a character of the old army, was commanding officer, and many amusing incidents occurred, in connection with the care and safe-keeping of his distinguished captives, which served to while away the tedium of constant drills and recitations through the long winter. There was much anxiety lest the war should be over before the regiment had a chance to show its prowess, and when spring brought marching orders to join the Army of the Potomac there was much enthusiasm and rejoicing. The first order directed a move to Perryville only, but it was changed en route.
On March 5th the 1st battalion, 739 strong, left New York, and reached Washington the next day. The Long Bridge was crossed on the 10th, and a bivouac made on the sacred soil of Virginia. Went into camp on 11th near Alexandria. Embarked on transport Georgia, 26th, for Fortress Monroe, arriving on 28th, and going into camp at Hampton. The first enemy was encountered on this voyage. He was small in size, but in point of numbers and persistency proved himself a terror.
About April 5th the battalion was at Yorktown, where the regular brigade under Brigadier-General George Sykes, the senior major of the 14th Infantry, was formed. It consisted of the 2d, 3d, 4th, 6th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th and 17th, and the 5th New York, the latter being Zouaves commanded by Colonel Gouverneur K. Warren, who was then captain of Topographical Engineers. General Sykes immediately began the work of perfecting his command in drill and discipline. How well he succeeded is attested by its splendid record throughout all the trying campaigns of the Army of the Potomac. It was always in condition for immediate service. Transportation and supplies were on hand. As a result extra work was often required of it.
In the fall of 1864 it had become so depleted in numbers, owing to hard service and the difficulty of obtaining recruits for the regulars, when volunteers received such high bounties, that it was withdrawn from the field. The war history of the 1st battalion 12th Infantry, indeed of the 2d also, is inseparable from that of "Sykes's Regulars," for the 2d joined the 1st in September, 1862. They remained together until so reduced in numbers that the 2d was merged into the 1st. Wherever that splendid command was engaged the 12th Infantry did its full share. The brigade organization having been effected the regulars took part in the investment of Yorktown. Building corduroy roads by day, and digging by night, kept their hands fully employed. It was generally understood that they would form the advance in the assault, so their minds were filled as well by the cheerful prospect before them. Yorktown was evacuated by the Confederates on May 8th. A slow pursuit was made up the peninsula to the banks of the Chickahominy.
The numerical designation " Twelfth" has been borne by four regiments of infantry in the regular service of the United States. The first was organized July 16, 1798, under an act of same date, and disbanded June 15, 1800. The second and third were raised temporarily during hostilities, the former in 1812, its personnel being chiefly from Virginia, the latter during the Mexican War. Both performed well the duty for which intended, and upon the cessation of hostilities were disbanded.
There was much sickness, owing to malarial influences and a lack of knowledge on the part of both officers and men concerning the proper way to take care of themselves and prepare their food. About the middle of May the 10th New York was added to General Sykes' command, and it became a division, consisting of three brigades. The 1st, under Lieutenant-Colonel Robert C. Buchanan, 4th Infantry, was made up of the 3d and 4th, 1st Battalion 12th, and part of the 14th. The 2d, under Lieutenant-Colonel Chapman, consisted of all the other regular regiments or parts thereof before mentioned. The 3d was composed of the volunteer regiments under Colonel Warren. The division formed part of the 5th Provisional Corps under Major-General Fitz John Porter. The battles of Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, and Seven Pines were listened to from afar.
On June 26th at Mechanicsville the regulars acted as a support. It was a day of great anxiety. The feeling was strong that a crisis was imminent. That night they slept on their arms. On the 27th at Gaines' Mills was experienced the first touch of real war. In the early morning preparations for an important movement were made all around. Everything that could not be readily carried on the wagons, or on the persons of the men was burned. Sutler's stores that were high priced the day before, were given away. In the action the division lost heavily. The 12th Infantry went into battle 470 strong. Its total loss was 212, of which 54 were killed, 102 wounded, and 56 missing. Lieutenant Charles F. Van Duzer was killed, the first casualty among the officers. Lieutenants Stacey and Coster were included in the wounded. The most serious loss was that of Major Clitz and Captain Stanhope missing. The former was reported killed, and a corporal of engineers gave full particulars of his death and burial, claiming to have put a board at the head of the grave. Although severely shot through both legs Major Clitz survived, but was captured and sent to Libby Prison. He was exchanged, and on July 18th was reported on parole. He never rejoined, and thus closed the active career, during the war, of the first virtual commander of the regiment. To him whom the brigade commander called the "gallant and dashing Clitz" was due, more than to any one else, the high standard of efficiency which was displayed by the regiment in this its first battle. General Sykes in his report writes concerning a position taken by the 12th and 14th, "while holding it they were attacked in overwhelming numbers, the 12th decimated, and Major Clitz severely, if not fatally wounded. Around his fate, still shrouded in mystery, hangs the painful apprehension that a career so noble, so soldierly, so brave has terminated on that field, whose honor he so gallantly upheld." The first clause of those thrilling words seems prophetic. In 1887, when the regiment was en route via the lakes from the Department of the East to Dakota, General Clitz, then retired and living in Detroit, visited and expressed the greatest interest in his old command. In October 1888 he disappeared, his "career so noble, so soldierly, so brave," ended, and his fate is "still shrouded in mystery."
From May 28th to 30th, the retreat to the James was continued. At Turkey Bend the regiment supported batteries. At Malvern Hill the whole division was engaged with unbroken success. The losses were slight, and many prisoners were taken. The 1st Brigade, with a portion of Averell's cavalry, the whole under General Averell, was formed into a rear guard on the morning of the 2d. So skilfully [sic] was this force handled that its object was fully carried out, almost without loss, and Harrison's Landing reached in safety, Here the division remained until about the middle of August.
In a marvellously short time the morale of the army, which had suffered much during the seven days' fighting, was restored, and the gain in experience fully compensated for the losses in numbers. During the retreat the regiment lost all its records. This experience seems to have been the rule throughout all the active service in the field, for the retained returns, etc., now in the regimental archives, are all copies made from the originals on file in the Adjutant-General's office, when the regiment was stationed in Washington after the war was over. In August Regimental Headquarters was transferred from the 1st Battalion to Fort Hamilton. A move from Harrison's Landing to Newport News was commenced on the 14th, the latter being reached on the 18th. Embarked, 20th, on steamer Hero, and arrived at Acquia Creek [i.e.. Aquia Creek], 21st. Marched same day to vicinity of Fredericksburg, Left, 23d, and reached Manassas Junction, 29th. The second battle of Bull Run was fought on the 30th. Position was taken in the forenoon, and held for two hours under artillery fire. Then a movement to the right was made, and the battalion was posted on the outskirts of a wood, where it was also exposed to artillery fire. When ordered to retire from this position a march to the rear was made in line of battle by battalion. This was accomplished in perfect order. Assistance being then required on the left the battalion with the 14th was sent in that direction. Here a very severe and unequal engagement was maintained for nearly an hour, when, being almost out of ammunition and greatly outnumbered, it became necessary to retire. This last movement was after sunset, and it was dark before the battalion left the field. An officer present on this day writes concerning the support given by the regulars, that they stood like a stone wall, while the rest of the army was in full retreat. No other troops could have been led to the hill where they were ordered, amid the confusion that then reigned. On reaching the top, firing was done by regiment and file with great execution. When they finally left the field, after heavy loss, they retired as steadily as though on parade. The retreat ended at Centreville, but the work of the regulars was not over. Many of the troops were so demoralized that when placed on picket duty they would stampede as soon as posted. Others refused utterly, thus entailing extra duty upon the faithful.
Early the next morning the defeated army moved towards Washington and thirty-three miles were accomplished. General McClellan met the troops near Chain Bridge, and was greeted with prolonged cheers. His reassignment to command soon after, was received with great enthusiasm. Reorganization was rapidly effected, and the morale of the army restored. In this fight the battalion was commanded by Captain Matthew M. Blunt, and lost 5 killed, including Captain J. G. Read, 32 wounded, and 5 missing. September 5th the 2d Battalion, consisting of Companies A, B, C, D, E and G joined the 1st, and became part of the 1st Brigade. Their movements up to this time were as follows: Early in 1862 recruiting was going on under the superintendence of Major Bruen at Fort Hamilton. On May 20th Companies A, B, E and G were organized, and left on the 24th for Washington, but their destination was changed en route to Harper's Ferry, which was reached on the 26th. Here they were joined to four companies of the 8th Infantry, forming a provisional battalion, under Captain Thomas G. Pitcher of the latter.
The month of June was spent in movements about Winchester and Middletown. On July 5th, with Banks' Corps, a march was commenced from Middletown to Springville. On the third day the brigade to which the battalion belonged (Cooper's) was lost in the mountains, and wandered about from 2 A. M. until 9 P. M., when but fifty men out of four hundred were present with the colors, many having been overcome by heat and exhaustion. The records were either lost or destroyed. From Springville a move was made to the vicinity of Warrington [i.e., Warrenton], where the battalion did picket duty. Left Warrington on August 2d, and reached Culpeper, 6th. On the 9th at Cedar Mountain the 2d Battalion received its baptism of fire. It was deployed as skirmishers "to cover the front of the division, to advance continuously, discover the enemy's position, and annoy him as much as possible." General Prince, the brigade commander, while in captivity at Richmond, wrote the following concerning the manner in which this duty was performed. "Their part, I have occasion to know, excited the admiration of the enemy, who inquired if they were not regulars, as they had never seen such skirmishing. They were out during the whole battle, and penetrated even to the enemy's position, and annoyed him so as to turn the attention of his guns away from more distant firing with shot and shell, and caused him to waste canister upon the ground of the skirmishers." The loss of the whole battalion was 8 killed, 37 wounded, including 6 officers, among whom was Captain Pitcher; and 1 officer, 14 men missing; in all 60, showing that the praise of the brigade commander was dearly bought.
After this battle a gradual movement was made in the direction of Manassas, which was reached on the 22d. There Company D joined, 26th. On September 1st Company C arrived and the battalion was ordered on picket near Bull Run. Fell back, 2d, towards Fairfax, and were near General Kearney in his action at Chantilly, but were not ordered into the fight. Retreated with Banks' Corps to Alexandria, crossing the Potomac and camping near Tenallytown, Maryland, 4th. On 5th, recrossed the river, and as before stated, joined the 1st Battalion. Captain Thomas M. Anderson succeeded Captain Pitcher when the latter was wounded at Cedar Mountain, and was in command when the battalions joined. Company F was organized on the 10th, and performed garrison duty at Fort Hamilton. Camp at Tenallytown was broken on the 9th, and the battalions, commanded respectively by Captains Blunt and Anderson, advanced through Rockville to Frederick, thence to Middletown, where bivouac was made on the 14th. Crossed South Mountain, 15th, to Porterstown, forming part of the advance. There was some harmless artillery fire in the evening. During the first part of the 16th the enemy's artillery was somewhat annoying. At 5 P. M. the 1st Battalion was ordered to relieve the 4th Infantry in guarding the Antietam Creek bridge. This position was held until about noon of the 17th, when a force of cavalry and horse artillery was crossed. This drew a heavy fire from the enemy's artillery. The fire of sharpshooters being annoying to Tidball's battery, a skirmish line was thrown out under Captain Frederick Winthrop, which soon drove them back. Shortly after the battalion was advanced in support of the battery. About 7 P. M. orders were received to join the brigade. The loss was 1 killed, and 3 wounded. The 2d Battalion was held in reserve during the entire action, and suffered no loss. General Alfred Pleasanton, commanding the cavalry division, spoke in high terms of the services rendered by the regular battalions in supporting his horse artillery. Camp was made near Sharpsburg, 23d. For the rest of the month and during October, guard duty was performed at the fords crossing the Potomac. Left Sharpsburg, 30th, for Harper's Ferry. During November a move was made by slow degrees to the vicinity of Falmouth, which was reached on the 22d. The only incident worthy of mention was a review by General McClellan on the 10th, preparatory to his relinquishing command of the army.
Remained in camp near Falmouth until December 11th, when a move was made nearer the town, and on the afternoon of the 13th the river was crossed, and position in reserve taken on the outskirts of Fredericksburg. From this time until the morning of the 16th the battalions occupied various positions in and about the city. All day long on the 14th they lay under a galling fire, unable to return it, a most trying test of discipline and courage. On the 15th they built barricades, and dug rifle pits. The next day they formed part of the rear guard, covering the crossing of the army. The skirmishers of the 1st Battalion, together with those of the 3d Infantry, all under Captain Winthrop, brought up the extreme rear, and were the last to cross. The total loss in both battalions was 13. Returned to old camp 17th, and remained during the rest of the month, and until January 19, 1863, when camp was broken. The next five days were spent on the "mud march," Burnside's unfortunate and fruitless attempt to cross the Rappahannock River, and advance, to retrieve the disaster at Fredericksburg. Again the old camp was sought, and preparations made to spend the rest of the winter. Regimental Headquarters joined February 13th.
On March 9th, pursuant to orders from the War Department, Companies E, F and H, 1st, and B, E and G, 2d Battalion, were broken up, and the men distributed among the other organizations. There were left in the 1st Battalion Companies A, B, C, D and G; aggregate present and absent 480, Captain Blunt commanding. The 2d consisted of Companies A, C and D in the field, F and H at Fort Hamilton; aggregate, 524, Captain Anderson in command. The two companies at Hamilton aggregated 185, leaving eight, about 820 strong, in the field. There were actually present, however, only about 600 officers and men, so large was the list of absentees, sick or on detached service. Major Smith commanded the regiment. Lieutenant Mimmack was still adjutant. The position of quartermaster was filled April 9th by the appointment of 1st Lieutenant Robert L. Burnett, Lieutenant Franklin having resigned the same on February 9th. The time during this winter camp was spent both profitably and pleasantly. Picket duty, guard and fatigue, interspersed with drills, recitations and paper work, were done carefully and diligently, for Colonel Buchanan was somewhat of a martinet, and had very decided ideas of what regulars should be. On the other hand there was much jovial good fellowship, and the opportunities to become well acquainted were improved to the utmost.
The active campaigning of the year commenced in the latter part of April. General Hooker was in command of the army, and General Romeyn B. Ayres had relieved Colonel Buchanan as brigade commander. The operations about Chancellorsville lasted ten days, from April 27th to May 6th. There were many wearisome and harassing marches, taxing the energies of the troops to the utmost. The regulars had but little chance, although willing and eager to fight.
On May first there was an encounter on the Fredericksburg Pike. The regiment was in line of battle on one side of the road. Skirmishers from the 2d Brigade were in advance. The enemy, when met, was driven about a mile. On the 3d some good work was done in covering the 11th Corps. On the evening preceding the retreat a division picket was formed of officers and men, specially selected, without regard to roster, for the purpose of covering the retiring troops. A captain of the regiment was placed in command. An eye witness wrote as follows: "The woods were on fire throughout the length of the picket line, and when night fell, soon after the sentinels were posted, the burning branches and falling limbs made the scene almost appalling; at intervals the enemy would approach our line and fire at random; nobody was hurt, but a more agreeable way of passing the night can easily be imagined. Before dawn the picket was quietly withdrawn, and followed the remainder of the army across the river." The regiment lost 23 men during these operations. Camp near Falmouth was resumed, and retained about a month, when the regiment moved to Banks' Ford, and did picket duty until June 14th.
The march to Gettysburg was made via Manassas, Aldie Gap, Monocacy, Frederick and Union Mills, which was reached on the 30th. July 1st, left Union Mills and passed through Hanover, Pa., to the vicinity of Gettysburg. About five P. M., 2d, the division went into action, and remained under fire for nearly three hours. The battalions were engaged a good part of the time in changing positions, all of which was done in perfect order, although suffering heavy loss. General Ayres commends the gallantry of the division on that occasion, stating that although the casualties were terrible (fifty per cent.) no one thought of retiring until the order was given. The position taken on the evening of the 2d, was held until the morning of the 4th, when the brigade made a reconnaissance. Company B, Captain Winthrop, was sent skirmishing, and performed this duty in such a manner as to win the praise of the brigade commander. The entire loss in these operations was 92, one officer, Lieut. Silas A. Miller, being killed, and four wounded. Captain Thomas S. Dunn was in command. Major Smith having resigned, May 30th, Major Dickinson Woodruff succeeded him in the 2d Battalion, but did not join until October 5th, when he assumed charge of the regimental recruiting. Lieut.-Col. Butterfield was promoted colonel 5th Infantry on July 1st, and was succeeded by Lieut.-Col. Christopher C. Augur. Col. Augur had been appointed brigadier-general of volunteers in 1861, and major-general the next year, and his service during the entire war was with the volunteers. July 5th the pursuit of Lee began. The march was through Emmittsburg, over South Mountain and Antietam Creek to Williamsport. Here four days, 11th to 14th, were spent in manoeuvring, when the enemy escaped across the Potomac. He was followed on the 17th, and the advance was continued nearly every day until on the last of the month camp was made at Beverly Ford, Va. During this month the companies at headquarters, F and H, 2d Battalion, saw their first actual service, being engaged from 13th to 20th in suppressing the draft riots in New York City. General Wool reports that on the 16th, Company F, Captain Putnam, was ordered to Gramercy Park to support some cavalry. Upon arriving there the mob opened fire, whereupon the adjacent buildings were entered, and the rioters killed, arrested or driven out. They were pursued in all directions and dispersed. After this spirited action they did not again assemble.
From Beverly Ford the battalions moved to Bealton Station, thence to Alexandria, where they were embarked August 16th, on transport Planet for New York, to which place the brigade was sent to prevent a recurrence of the draft troubles. Arrived 19th, and camped at Tompkins Square, remaining until September 17th, doing guard duty at the provost-marshal's office, Police headquarters. Major Bruen was relieved as superintendent of the regimental recruiting service, and assumed command August 23d. Sailed September 19th, on transport Battie, for Alexandria, arriving on 21st. Took cars to Culpeper next day, and remained in camp there until October 10th. Companies F and H, 2d Battalion, sailed from New York on steamer Atlantic, 18th, escorting deserters and conscripts to Alexandria. Left there for Culpeper and joined regiment on 22d. From this time until late in December the battalions marched back and forth with the corps along the line of the Alexandria and Orange railroad during all the operations which resulted in actions at Bristow and Rappahannock stations, and Mine Run. In the former, October 14th, they supported the 2d, and at Rappahannock Station, November 14th, the 6th Corps, losing on that occasion four men missing. At Mine Run, November 27th, they were in line of battle under artillery fire, and one officer and six men were missing. On December 27th camp was made at Kettle Run, and the end of the year found them guarding the railroad. In the meantime Company H, 1st Battalion, was reorganized, and remained in garrison at Fort Hamilton. Major Clitz was promoted lieutenant-colonel 4th Infantry, November 4th. Major Henry E. Maynadier succeeded him, but did not join, being on detached service as a member of the Hospital Inspection Board of Michigan. Lieut. Burnett resigned as quartermaster on November 19th, and was succeeded by 1st Lieut. Evan Miles.
The monotony of the winter camp was enlivened by numerous small affairs with guerrillas, whose constant aim was to cripple the railroad by burning bridges or tearing up the tracks. Major Bruen was brigade commander until early in spring, and Captains Stanhope and Alexander J. Dallas commanded the regiment at different times. Camp was broken on April 30th, the band having left on 26th to join Company H, 1st, at Fort Hamilton. The total number present was about 450, officers and men, Major Bruen commanding. The regiment was in the 1st Brigade (Ayres'), 1st Division (Grif-fin's), 5th Corps (Warren's). The forward movement was through Bealton Station, across the Rappahannock and Rapidan, thence along the Orange and Alexandria turnpike, until the morning of May 5th, when the skirmishers of Ewell's Corps were engaged near the old Wilderness tavern. About noon an advance was made in line of battle, the regiment being in the front on the extreme right, through a dense undergrowth in a forest of large trees, until the enemy's main line was sighted, when fire was opened. As the 6th Corps was supposed to be on the right within supporting distance, the presence of troops in that direction excited no remark until it was discovered that a division of the enemy, Johnson's of Ewell's Corps, had completely enveloped that flank. Retreat was made in confusion, only one company, C, 2d Battalion, Captain C. L. King, preserving good order, but all were soon rallied. The enemy made no further advance that day. The official loss, killed, wounded and missing, was 110, but it is believed to have been greater. Lieutenant Jean P. Wagner was mortally wounded, and Captain Henry C. Morgan lost a leg. On the 6th, log breastworks were thrown up, and some skirmishers advanced, who engaged those of the enemy. On the 7th, in company with the 2d and 14th Infantry, a reconnaissance was made. The enemy's main line was discovered in an entrenched position. Earthworks were thrown up in front, and skirmishers sent forward. An advance by the enemy necessitated an extension of the works on the flanks, but when night came the whole force was withdrawn, and at midnight a strong position taken near a battery. The next day it was found that the army had moved towards Spottsylvania, whereupon an advance was made in that direction, and that evening the brigade went out on picket.
The next three days were spent behind breastworks, more or less under fire. On the 12th, the division moved forward to attack the enemy's works. When 200 yards distant, the troops on both flanks gave way, leaving the regiment in a small wood, which it held for two hours under heavy fire, when it was withdrawn to the main line. The loss was not very great owing to the protection afforded by the trees. The next day was spent in moving from place to place, acting as a support, rejoining the brigade and marching with it to Spottsylvania Court House in the evening. The brigade was ordered on the 14th to make a charge and retake a hill from which a brigade of the 6th Corps had been driven. This was done successfully through a dense wood, the line being maintained in remarkable order. On the 15th the regiment went out by companies on the division skirmish line, and was under a hot fire, causing much loss. Rejoined the brigade, 16th, and began building log breastworks, under a heavy cannonade by which Major Bruen was mortally wounded. Captain Winthrop, who had been acting as inspector-general of the brigade, then took command. The next four days were spent behind the breastworks, most of the time under fire. The losses from the 8th to 20th were 65 killed, wounded and missing. Crossed the Po River on the 21st, and advanced towards the North Anna, which was forded about 3 P. M., 23d. Later in the afternoon a vigorous attack was made by Hill's Corps. The regiment at the beginning was in the second line, but as the loss began to be heavy, Captain Winthrop asked to be allowed to move forward, which was permitted, and a very rapid fire opened. In half an hour Hill was repulsed with severe loss. The next day was spent in burying the enemy's dead and breaking up the Virginia Central railroad. 25th, moved down the river and skirmished with Hill's Corps, remaining in this position until evening of the 26th, when a crossing was made, followed by an all-night march in a heavy rain.
This march was continued south over the Pamunky and Tolopotomoy, with frequent skirmishing, until the 31st, when Bethesda Church was reached, and the division threw up two lines of entrenchments, the regiment being posted in the first. There was more or less skirmishing that day and June 1st. The losses from May 22d to this time were 15 killed, wounded, and missing. On June 2d the regiment occupied the extreme right of the corps which, with the 9th, was ordered to proceed to the left. The 9th Corps moved away, thus leaving the right uncovered, whereupon the enemy attacked with his skirmishers, followed by long lines of battle, extending far beyond the exposed flank. There was some firing when the regiment was faced about and moved to the rear, with the intention of occupying the second line. By the time that line was reached the enemy was close behind in overwhelming numbers. The next three-quarters of a mile was passed over at a remarkable rate, until a clearing was reached, and a rally made, when the enemy was repulsed. The next forenoon the corps acted as support of an attack by the 2d, 6th, and 10th Corps, and in the afternoon the brigade repulsed a forward movement of the enemy, north of the Mechanicsville road. Position in the trenches was occupied the next three days. 6th, Company H, 1st, about 80 strong, joined from Fort Hamilton, having left there May 10th, and been detained at Belle Plains. The losses since the 1st were 53 killed, wounded and missing. 7th, moved to a fortified position at Sumner's Bridge on the Chickahominy, and remained until the 11th, when a movement began towards Petersburg. The Chickahominy and James were crossed, and on the 18th, near Jerusalem plank road, the regiment was engaged in an attack on General Beauregard's lines in front of the city. A mile was advanced in the face of heavy cannonading, and entrenchments thrown up, which were occupied until the 28th under constant fire from artillery and sharpshooters.
Major Bruen died at Washington on the 21st, from the wound received at Laurel Hill. The end of the month saw the regiment in camp before Petersburg, where it remained until July 30th, when the corps was ordered out to assist the 9th in the attack after the mine explosion. This being a failure, the camp was resumed, and retained until August 18th. On August 6th, Companies A, C, D, F and H, 2d Battalion, were disbanded and the men transferred to the 1st, in which Companies E and F were reorganized. On the 18th the regiment, Captain Stanhope in command, moved with the division to Globe Tavern near the Weldon railroad, and assisted in repulsing Heth's Division of Hill's Corps. The next morning the enemy attacked, broke through and almost enveloped the right, capturing a large part of the division, and causing severe loss in killed and wounded. Captain S. S. Newberry was among the killed. That afternoon the ground lost in the morning was retaken, reinforcements having been received from the 9th Corps. 20th, were withdrawn to a strong position with artillery, and the next day repulsed an attack. The regiment had 48 men present, Lieutenant Miles being the senior officer. This position was held until September 30th. A movement about two miles to the left on the Squirrel Level road then took place, camp was made, and retained until October 1st, when there was a spirited engagement in which the enemy was repulsed, and 1st Lieutenant T. D. Urmston killed. 2d, camped at Poplar Grove Church, and remained until the 27th, when a reconnaissance was made. Returned to camp next day. On November 2d left for City Point, and embarked 3d for Fort Monroe, thence to New York, via Norfolk, arriving 6th.
Thus ended the active service of the regiment during the war. The statistics of losses during that period show that of all the regular regiments the 12th stands fourth in the total of deaths including killed, died of wounds, disease, or in prison. The number that died in prison, 77, exceeds that in any other regular regiment, and indeed is one of the largest in the entire army. The greatest loss in any one battle was at Gaines' Mills, the first important engagement. In the number of killed the regiment stands three in that action, and in killed, wounded, and missing, six. It is believed, however, that it was smaller in point of numbers than any regiment whose loss was greater, all the others being volunteers.
On arriving at New York, regimental and 2d Battalion headquarters were established at Fort Hamilton, Major Woodruff commanding. 1st Battalion took cars for Elmira, N. Y., arriving there November 7th. The duty to be performed at Elmira was guarding prisoners of war. The battalion numbered about 230 officers and men, and was commanded by Major Maynadier. Lieutenant Mimmack resigned as regimental adjutant on January 30, 1865 and 1st Lieutenant James E. Putnam was appointed in his stead. Lieutenant Miles resigned the position of regimental quartermaster February 5th and was succeeded by 1st Lieutenant Emerson H. Discum. Major Maynadier left Elmira on detached service in January, and from that time on, several of the captains were successively in command.
The battalion was gradually increased by the arrival of recruits, and in July, numbered 400, when orders came for a transfer to Camp Winder, near Richmond, Va. In September a change was made to Camp Winthrop. The reorganization of the 2d Battalion commenced the same month at Fort Hamilton. Lieutenant Discum was relieved as R. Q. M. October 14th, by 1st Lieutenant Edgar C. Bowen. As soon as the companies of the 2d Battalion were filled, they were sent to join the 1st, and the end of 1865 saw the 2d at Winthrop, fully reorganized, numbering over 500, Captain Anderson in command. The 1st was smaller. Five companies were at Winthrop under Captain Richard C. Parker, two at Yorktown, and one at Fort Magruder. A beginning had been made of the 3d Battalion at headquarters, and two companies had a few men to account for.
In January 1866, the companies of the 1st at Winthrop were sent to Fort Monroe, where they were joined by those at Yorktown. Thence battalion headquarters and Companies B and D went to Williamsburg, C to Camp Hamilton, and H to Norfolk. The latter was joined by F from Camp Magruder. The 1st Battalion remained in this vicinity until August, when all the companies were collected at Camp Augur, Washington.