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The 136th New York Volunteers,
The Ironclads


A brief outline of the regiment

Colonel James Wood, Jr., received authority on 8 August 1862 to recruit this regiment. It was organized at Portage, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years on 25 and 26 September 1862.

The companies were recruited principally: A at Portage Station; B at North Danville, Burns, Ossian and Springwater; C at Livonia, Geneseo, Groveland, Leicester and Springwater; D at Warsaw, Castile, Eagle, Gainesville, Genesee Falls, Orangeville and Pike; E at Lima, Allen, Covington, Middlebury and Warsaw; F at Mount Morris; G at Geneseo, Avon and York; H at Portage, Bennington, China, Java, Perry, Orangeville, Sheldon and Wethersfield; I at Conesus, Sparta, Springwater, Nunda, North Dansville and Portage; and K at Cuba, Friendship, West, Clarksville, Bolivar and New Hudson.

The regiment left the State for Washington City on 3 October 1862, and was initially attached to the 1st Brigade, 3d Division, 11th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac. In November, 1862, the regiment was moved to the 2d Brigade, 2d Division, of the 11th Corps.

The 11th Corps and 12th Corps were transferred from the Army of the Potomac and the Eastern Theater to the Army of the Cumberland in the Western Theater in October, 1863. This was in response to the defeat of General Rosecrans at Chickamagua. These two army corps were disbanded in April, 1864, and their members were placed into the newly reorgnized 20th Corps. (The old 20th Corps was disbanded after Chickamagua and its members placed into the 4th Corps.) The 136th was placed into the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 20th Corps, Army of the Cumberland until mustered from service on 12 or 13 June 1865 near Washington City. Those men not mustered out were transferred to the 60th NYSV.

During its entire service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 40 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 2 officers, 34 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 1 officer, 91 enlisted men; total, 3 officers, 165 enlisted men; aggregate, 168; of whom 3 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.

Being a regiment of the 11th Corps, the men were much maligned for the debacles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Labeled, the "Flying Dutchmen" and "Howard's Cowards," the 11th Corps became scapegoats for the losses at Chancellorsville and the first day's fighting at Gettysburg. This poor reputation was unfair to the entire 11th Corps and especially to the 136th NYSV.

The 11th Corps and the 136th NYSV at Chancellorsville

No single army corps could have withstood the power behind Stonewall Jackson's flank attack at Chancellorsville. The 11th Corps, the smallest corps in the Army of the Potomac, was vastly outnumbered by Jackson's troops. Jackson's troops comprised a battle line two miles long. They attacked in an easterly direction and struck the 11th Corps which was primarily facing southward. Had O.O. Howard's entire corps been facing to the west, Jackson's Corps would have significantly overlapped both flanks of the 11th Corps. Only superior position like that held by Longstreet at Fredericksburg or by Toombs at the Burnside Bridge would have kept Jackson's troops at bay. The gentle sloops of the Chancellorsville plain with its thick, second growth woods to the west was not a superior position for any corps to hold.

On the day following Jackson's successful attack, the 11th Corps was reformed and placed in a safe area where no attack was likely to occur. None did.

The 136th was not present during Jackson's attack. General von Steinwehr's division had been assigned as the reserve for the 11th Corps and had been placed to the left of the 11th Corps line (Jackson would later strike the right of the line). As Jackson was making his flank march, General Dan Sickles and his 3d Corps attacked the tail of Jackson's column. In so doing, he requested additional troops. The call went to von Steinwehr who reluctantly loaned his second brigade with the 136th to General Sickles. The 136th's brigade, under the command of General Francis "Billy" Barlow, remained a mile south of Hazel Grove until retrieved at 9:00 p.m. The 136th did not return to the 11th Corps until dawn the next day. Despite not being involved with the fight on the right, the 136th wrongfully shouldered the blame which accrued to the 11th Corps.

For more information, read, Negligence on the Right: The Eleventh Corps at Chancellorsville by Donald C. Pfanz.

The 11th Corps and the 136th NYSV at Gettysburg

On the first day's battle, the 11th Corps formed the right of forces at Gettysburg while the 1st Corps formed the left. The two corps were formed at right angles to each other with the 11th Corps north of Gettysburg and facing generally north. The 1st Corps had formed west of town on Seminary Ridge and facing generally west. A significant gap existed at the apex where the two corps should have been joined. Further, Confederate artillery dominated the apex. Cannon on Oak Knoll from General Rodes Division of Ewell's Corps could enfilade either Union corps. Eventually, Rodes' Confederates would exploit the superiority of his position. That's where the controversy begins.

Soldiers from the 1st Corps stated that the left of the 11th Corps broke and ran into Gettysburg when Rodes advanced. With their right uncovered, the 1st Corps was rolled up from its exposed right.

Soldiers from the left of the 11th Corps stated just the opposite. Soldiers from the right of the 1st Corps broke and ran into Gettysburg before the 11th Corps retreated into town.

Confederate recollections should be more reliable because Rebels had no bias against either corps. Unfortunately, their recollections are equally unreliable. Some said the 11th Corps broke first. Others said it was the 1st Corps. D. Scott Hartwig, a park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park, casts some light on the controversy:

"Much of the corps' defeat can be explained by its position. There was simply too much ground for Schurz's four reduced brigades [of his 3d Division] to adequately defend. Schurz had also to confront Rodes on Oak Hill and Early to the northeast, which meant facing in two different directions and exposing everyone to a cross and enfilading fire. Also, because the corps was so spread out to cover the ground the two divisions were unable to render timely support to one an other allowing Doles and Gordon alone to beat three full brigades in detail and crush a regiment from a fourth brigade. Does Barlow [of the 1st Division] deserve censure for pushing his line so far forward and losing connection with the 3rd Division? It would appear so but there is not sufficient evidence to form a reasonable opinion.
"A second factor in the corps' defeat was Howard's delay in forwarding Coster's Brigade [of the 2d Division]. If this brigade had been sent up when Schurz requested it, it might have slowed Early's attack and enabled the 1st and 3rd Divisions to get off the field without the excessive loss of prisoners they suffered.
 
"Lastly, the corps had had the misfortune to encounter crack Confederate troops who were superbly and aggressively led. Gordon's and Doles's regiments were simply not to be denied. Early too had handled his division with consumate skill, feeding his brigades into the battle at precisely the right time and point.
"Despite its defeat, the rank and file of the l1th Corps had fought with courage and frequently with tenacity. Many were the men and officers who distinguished them selves in the fight. Men such as Francis Irsch, who would later earn the Medal of Honor for his gallantry that day, Hubert Dilger, Bayard Wilkeson, Adelbert Ames, Reuben Ruch, and many others had shone brightly. But theirs had been a hopeless mission from the start, and even the stoutest courage could not have staved off the defeat that ultimately enveloped them."

From: Hartwig, D. Scott , "THE 11th ARMY CORPS ON JULY 1, 1863," Gettysburg Magazine, vol. 1, issue 2 (1 Jan 1990).

Generals Buford, Reynolds and Howard fought the first day's battle with the intent of holding the Confederates outside of Gettysburg so that the remainder of the Army of the Potomac could deploy on the fishhook line formed by Culp's Hill, Cemetery Hill, and Cemetery Ridge. To that end, the first day's battle was successful. The high ground was held and was the foundation for the ultimate Union victory after three days of battle.

And what of the 136th New York? The regiment and the entire 2d Brigade remained at Cemetary Hill during the first day's battle. The 136th spent the day waiting in the cemetery. The troops of von Steinwehr's 2d Division were the reserve force which also had the duty to hold Cemetary Hill as the rallying point for the Army of the Potomac. Late in the day, Colonel Orland Smith deployed some of his 2d Brigade along the Taneytown Road and along that part of the Emitsburg Road northwest of the hill. That night, portions of the brigade were pulled back to the cemetery. They spent a moonlit night among the tombstones.

In the two remaining days of the battle, the 136th was engaged solely in skirmishing. A spring and some fencerails to their front was a focal point of contention. The units deployed in that area sparred on the skirmish lines with much pushing and shoving by one side then the other. The regiment was the left regiment of the 11th Corps and connected with the 2d Corps at Ziegler's Grove. The 136th rested under the muzzles of the artillery pieces on the high ground at the cemetary in their rear. This was a perilous area when Union shells vurst prematurely or passed close above their heads or when Confederate rounds intended for the Union batteries might strike. The 136th kept three or more companies forward of the main line at all times and sustained heavy losses for fighting of this sort.

Colonel Orland Smith remarked that his brigade was engaged for three days and exposed to enemy fire not only from the front but also from sharpshooters in town. He remarked that his main line, though posted behind a stone wall, was constantly annoyed by sharpshooters. 2d Division commander, von Steinwehr in his official report wrote only that Smith's men were attacked several times and succeeded in repelling these attacks. "Skirmishing, in short, was a dirty business, too commonplace to receive attention when compared with the grander movements on the field. In many ways, it was a harbinger of wars to come." Pfanz, Harry W., Gettysburg: Culp's Hill and Cemetary Hill, p. 151-52.

ENGAGEMENTS OF THE REGIMENT

The regiment participated in the following movements and engagements:

Moved to Fairfax Station, Va., October 10, 1862; thence to Fairfax Court House, and duty there till November 1. Movement to Warrenton, thence to Germantown, Va., November 1-20. March to Fredericksburg December 10-15. At Falmouth, Va., till April 27, 1863. "Mud March" January 20-24. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5. Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3. Pursuit of Lee July 5-24. Camp at Bristoe Station August 1 to September 24. Movement to Bridgeport, Ala., September 24-October 3. March along line of Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad to Lookout Valley, Tenn., October 25-28. Reopening Tennessee River October 26-29. Battle of Wauhatchie, Tenn., October 28-29. Ringgold-Chattanooga Campaign November 23-27. Orchard Knob November 23. Tunnel Hill November 24-25. Mission Ridge November 25. March to relief of Knoxville, Tenn., November 28-December 17. Duty in Lookout Valley till May, 1864. Atlanta (Ga.) Campaign May 1 to September 8. Demonstration on Rocky Faced Ridge May 8-11. Buzzard's Roost Gap May 8-9. Battle of Resaca May 14-15. Near Cassville May 19. Advance on Dallas May 22-25. New Hope Church May 25. Battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 26-June 5. Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-July 2. Pine Hill June 11-14. Lost Mountain June 15-17. Gilgal or Golgotha Church June 15. Muddy Creek June 17. Noyes' Creek June 19. Kolb's Farm June 22. Assault on Kenesaw June 27. Ruff's Station, Smyrna Camp Ground, July 4. Chattahoochie River July 6-17. Peach Tree Creek July 11-20. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. Operations at Chattahoochie River Bridge August 26-September 2. Occupation of Atlanta September 2-November 15. March to the Sea November 15-December 10. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Lawtonville, S.C., February 2. Skirmish of Goldsboro Road, near Fayetteville, N. C., March 14. Averysboro March 16. Battle of Bentonville March 19-21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24. Advance on Raleigh April 9-13. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 30. Grand Review May 24. Mustered out June 13, 1865.

The Regimental Officers were:

One member of the regiment, Dennis Buckley of Company G, received the Medal of Honor. He earned his citation for galantry at Peach Tree Creek, Ga., on 20 July 1864 when he captured the colors of the 31st Mississippi. He entered service at Avon, N.Y., and he was born in Canada. The citation was issued on 7 April 1865.

For more information about the 136th or reencting in Washington, contact: Mark (Silas) Tackitt.

Snail Mail to:

Law Offices of Mark B. Tackitt

P.O. Box 46330
Seattle, Washington 98146-0330

Civil War Links

More information about 136th NYSV

Complete list of information in the Official Records about the 136th NYSV

Partial list of information in the Official Records about the 136th NYSV

The 136th NYSV Descendant's page

Union Regimental Information from Dyer's Compendium

Directory of Union Regimental Histories (Confederate Histories also linked from this page)

New York Regimental Histories

New York Regiments Online

The 134th NYSV Page - 11th Corps, 2d Division

The 154th NYSV Page - 11th Corps, 2d Division

 

44th Tennessee Consolidated Infantry - my reenacting unit

theWashington Civil War Association

 

 

Another History Related Link

The Tackett Family Page

This page hosted by Major Silas Metcalf (retired)

The Moon and Star background gif is a representation of the two brigade flags under which the 136th served. The "half moon" or cresent flag is for the Second Brigade, Second Division, Eleventh Corps. This flag was used while the regiment was assigned to the Army of the Potomac and to the Army of the Cumberland. The "star" flag is for the Third Brigade, Third Division, Twentieth Corps, Army of the Cumberland. This flag differs from that used by the original Twentieth Corps in that the brigade flags for the original corps were equilateral triangles with six foot sides. The brigade flags for the reactivated corps were 4'9" x 6' x 6'. This size flag is the standard size flag for most brigade flags.

Last update: 2 July 2001at 2115 hrs