previous next


Sykes's Division.

Another division remarkable for superiority in discipline and efficiency, was Sykes's Division of Regulars. The regular troops of the United States Army-serving in the Army of the Potomac were formed into one division of two brigades, under command of Major-General George Sykes, who was succeeded in 1863 by General Romeyn B. Ayres. This division included the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Fourteenth, and Seventeenth United States Infantry. The regiments were small, seldom having over eight companies to a regiment, and often only three. At Gaines's Mill, and at Gettysburg, they sustained a terrible percentage of loss. The division became so reduced in numbers that it was withdrawn from the field in 1864. The largest losses in the division occurred in the Fourteenth Infantry; but that might have been due to larger numbers. The Regular Division was, undoubtedly, the best officered of any division in the Army, the officers being selected solely with reference to their ability. In addition to those from the National Military Academy, a large number were promoted from the ranks.

Attached to the division of Regulars was an additional brigade, composed of volunteer regiments, which had demonstrated by their discipline and efficiency their fitness to be associated with the Regulars. Conspicuous among the volunteer regiments thus attached to the Regular Division was the Fifth New York, or Duryee Zouaves--General Warren's old regiment.

Hancock's Division.

But the hardest fighting and greatest loss of life occurred in the First Division of the Second Corps,--Hancock's old division — in which more men were killed and wounded than in any other division in the Union Army, east or west. Its losses aggregated 2,287 killed, 11,724 wounded,1 and 4,833 missing; total, 18,844. This division was the one which Richardson — its first commander — led on the Peninsula, and at whose head he fell at Antietam; the one which, made the bloody assault on Marye's Heights; which, under Caldwell, fought so well in the Gettysburg wheat-field; which, under Barlow, surged over the enemy's works at Spotsylvania; and which, under Miles, was in at the death in 1865. Within its ranks were the Irish Brigade, and crack regiments like the Fifth New Hampshire, the One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsylvania, and the Sixty-fourth New York. Over 14,000 men were killed or wounded in this division during the war; yet it never numbered 8,000 muskets, and often could muster only half of that. After the charge on Marye's Heights it numbered only 2,800.

Close to it, however, in point of loss stands Gibbon's (2d) Division2 of the Second Corps, and Griffin's (1st) Division3 of the Fifth Corps.

The heaviest loss sustained by any division in any one battle, occurred in Getty's (2d) Division, Sixth Corps, at the Wilderness, where that divison lost 480 killed, 2,318 wounded, and 196 missing; total, 2,994.

Gibbon's Division, at Gettysburg, lost 344 killed, 1,197 wounded, and 101 missing; total, 1,642, out of 3,773 engaged — a loss of 43.5 per cent.

1 Including the mortally wounded.

2 Formerly Sedgwick's.

3 Formerly Morell's.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1865 AD (1)
1864 AD (1)
1863 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: