LIEUT. CHARLES W. ABBOT, JR., ADJUTANT 12TH U.S. INFANTRY
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.
The present regiment was organized by direction of the President in a proclamation dated May 4, 1861. An act of Congress of July 29th 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 I5, 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 I, 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 I856. Major Bruen had had no previous service.
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 Washington the next day, The Long Bridge was crossed on the 10th, a bivouac made on the sacred soil of Virginia. Went into camp on the 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 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' Regulars," for the 2d joined the 1st 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. There was much sickness, owing to malarial influences and 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 the morning of the 2d. So skillfully 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 latter being reached on the 14th. Embarked, 20th, on steamer arrived at Acquia Creek, 21st. Marched same day to vicinitv 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 very dark before the battalion left the field. An officer present on this 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, where the battalion did picket duty. Left Warrington 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 6o, 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 only about 6oo officers and men, so large was the list of absentees 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 1st 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 throuah Emmitsburg, over South Mountain and Antietam Creek to Williamsport. Here four days, 11th to 14th, were spent in maneuvering, 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. 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, the rioters killed, arrested or driven out. They were pursued in all directions and dispersed. After this spirited action they did not assemble again.
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 Rappahanock Station, November 14th, the 6th Corps, losing on that occasion four men missing. At Mine Run, November 27th, they were in line of artillery fire, and one officer and six men were missing. On December27th 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 (Griffin'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 8o strong, joined from Fort Hamilton, having left there May10th, 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 anyone 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.
In 1892, the Headquarters and Company E of the 12th Infantry took part in the dedicatory exercises of the World's Fair in Chicago. While there, a gentleman seeing the regimental colors, introduced himself to the adjutant as an ex-sergeant, who had served in the regiment during the '64 campaign and told many interesting reminiscences. Finally he produced a small package, which he carefully undid, showing a much defaced gilt star and saying "You may look at, but not touch that. It is one of the two last stars remaining on the battle flag. In front of Petersburg another sergeant and myself cut them off, and each took one. I think everything of it." This incident indicates a lesson of devotion to the principles of duty of which the flag is emblematic, that may well be taken to heart by all who now, or may hereafter, serve under the colors of the 12th Infantry. They will have the proud consciousness of the fact that the regiment has done its duty in the past. It only remains for them to sustain that reputation in the future.
The following names and dates appear upon a battle flag now at regimental headquarters.
Siege of Yorktown, April, 1862
Gaines' Mills, June 27
Malvern Hill, July 12
Cedar Mountain, August 9
Bristoe, August 27
Bull Run 2d, August 29 and 30
Chantilly, September 1st
South Mountain, September 14
Antietam, September 17
Fredericksburg, December 13
Fredericksburg, April 30, 1863
Chancellorsville, May 1 to 5
Gettysburg, July 2 and 3
Bristoe Station, October 14
Rappahannock Station, November 7
Mine Run, November 27
Wilderness, May 5, 1864
Spottsylvania, May 8 to 19
North Anna River, May 23
Tolopotomy Creek, May 30
Bethesda Church, June 1 and 5
Cold Harbor, June 2 and 3
Petersburg, June 18 to 30
Weldon Railroad, August 1
Peeble's Farm, September 30
Chapel House, October 1
This flag was purchased by subscription of the officers of the regiment after its return from the field. It was kept at regimental headquarters and used for several years, until it became worn and torn, when it was put away, and so remained until shortly after Colonel Townsend joined in 1886. It was then sent to the Quartermaster-General's office and restored, by having the eagle and scroll, which are very heavily and beautifully embroidered transferred to a new field, upon which the battle names and dates were worked. It is a very beautiful object, and one highly cherished in the regiment. It is not known that another such flag exists in the service, except the battered relics now stored at the War Department.
Last Updated on 3/29/04
12th US Home | News | Members | Civilians | Musicians | Events | Recruiting | Forum | Links | Classifieds | Erie Canal Village | Gods & Generals | Reenactment Guides | History | Accounts | Recommended Reading | Song Book