Choosing a Regiment: the Army of the Potomac


Jul 2, 2017
In addition to my ideas for Confederate soldier novels, I've also been looking into the possibility of doing something with the Armies of the Potomac and the Cumberland. I want to include most of the major battles, and I've found eight regiments that have caught my interest:

20th Indiana: As a III Corps unit, this regiment missed Antietam, which is a pity, but it was present for most of the others.

20th Massachusetts: In reading about the Harvard Regiment, I've just started to like them.

24th New York: This regiment's origin in Oswego is helpful for the background I had intended for my main character (mine/factory/shipping business). They mustered out in 1863, but their three years-men transferred to the 76th New York and continued to serve.

61st New York: I don't know of any published histories or memoirs of this regiment, but it was present for many battles.

84th New York (14th Brooklyn): The Red-Legged Devils are always popular, and for good reason - Lincoln seems to have had a fondness for them. They mustered out after Spotsylvania, which is a shame, as I did want to include Petersburg.

I had also looked at the 21st New York and the 80th New York, but the 21st mustered out in 1863 with no three-years men, and the 80th served as a Provost Guard unit after 1863, missing the Overland and Petersburg campaigns, so neither were ideal.

11th Pennsylvania: While Sallie Ann Jarrett is obviously a good reason to pick, the 11th was present at many battles, frequently at the center of heavy action. The lack of a regimental history is somewhat annoying, however.

40th Pennsylvania (11th Pennsylvania Reserves): The regiment "worth its weight in gold" has a published history, along with the books on the Reserves as a whole, which is greatly helpful. Like the rest of the Reserves they mustered out after Spotsylvania.

42nd Pennsylvania (13th Pennsylvania Reserves): Osmund Thomson's history of the Bucktails is old, but still valuable. The Bucktails require little explanation of their actions, of course.


Jul 19, 2021
Absolutely have a thing for the 61st New York. The regiment has almost zero histories, rosters, or regimental publications. Yet, it is some of the most established and war torn of any regiment. It saw some gruesome battles through the war. It is probably my favorite regiment of the whole Union Army.


May 6, 2021
One possibility would be the 49th New York out of Western New York. They were involved in most of the major battles in the east from Lewinsville, Va. (1861) to Appomattox Courthouse, Va. (1865). Most notable engagements would have to be Marye’s Heights during the Chancellorsville campaign, Battle of the Wilderness, Upton’s charge at Spotsylvania and the Petersburg Campaign.