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[70]

Third Corps.


The Third Corps included in its organization the famous Kearny Division; also, Hooker's Division, the Excelsior Brigade, the Second Jersey Brigade, and other well known commands. Its brilliant record is closely interwoven with the history of the Virginia campaigns of 1862 63, in which it fought during two eventful years.

It was organized March 13, 1862, with Generals Hooker, Hamilton and Fitz John Porter as its three division commanders, and General S. P. Heintzelman in command of the corps. It was immediately ordered to the Peninsula, Hamilton's Division embarking on the 17th, and leading the advance of the Army of the Potomac on that memorable campaign. During the siege of Yorktown the corps was at its maximum, the morning reports of April 30th showing an aggregate of 39,710, with 64 pieces of light artillery, and 34,633 reported as “present for duty.” But this aggregate was maintained but for a short time, as Porter's Division was taken away soon after to form part of the newly organized Fifth Corps. Hamilton was relieved on April 30th, and General Philip Kearny took his place, Hamilton going to the Army of the Mississippi, where he was assigned to a division command.

Upon the evacuation of Yorktown, the Third Corps led the pursuit of the retreating enemy, attacking him, May 5th, at Williamsburg, with Hooker's and Kearny's Divisions. This battle was fought almost entirely by the Third Corps; of the 2,239 casualties on that field, 2,002 occurred within its ranks; and three-fourths of them in Hooker's Division, the brunt of the battle having fallen on tlhe Excelsior Brigade and Jersey Brigade, both in Hooker's command. Porter's Division was not engaged, having been left at Yorktown; on May 18th it was permanently detached, leaving only two divisions, Hooker's and Kearny's in the corps, and reducing its aggregate strength to 23,331 present and absent, with 34 pieces of field artillery. The two divisions numbered about 17,00 effectives, out of the 18,205 reported as “present for duty.”

At Fair Oaks, its next battle, it lost 209 killed, 945 wounded and 91 missing, principally in Jameson's and Berry's Brigades of Kearny's Division. Five fresh regiments joined in June, increasing its report of June 20th to 27,474 “present and absent,” of whom 18,428 were reported “present for duty, equipped;” this included eight batteries of light artillery, of 40 guns. After deducting the large number of non-combatants and detailed men which are included in the “present for duty,” the corps probably numbered at this time about 17,000 effectives, available in case of action.

The corps made the opening fight in the Seven Days Battle, at Oak Grove, June 25th, fighting again at Glendale on the 30th, and at Malvern Hill on July 1st; its losses in these engagements aggregated 158 killed, 1,021 wounded, and 794 missing; total, 1,973. The heaviest loss occurred in Robinson's Brigade of Kearny's Division; the First New York, Berry's Brigade, also encountered a hot fire at Glendale.

Upon the withdrawal from the front of Richmond, the Third Corps accompanied the Army of the Potomac to Manassas, where it was sent to reenforce Pope. The corps left Harrison's Bar on August 14th, and marching to Yorktown embarked on the 20th for Alexandria. It arrived at Warrenton Junction on the 26th, and on the following day the Excelsior Brigade had a sharp fight at Bristoe Station. On the 29th, the corps was engaged at Groveton, Grover's Brigade, of Hooker's Division, having a desperate fight at the railroad embankment, in which the use of bayonets and clubbed muskets was officially reported. On tlhe 1st of

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