Choosing a Regiment: the Army of the Potomac

OldReliable1862

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
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.
 

WScott

Private
Joined
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.
 

Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
A regiment you may find sort considering is the 73rd. New York. Composed of many members of the New York City volunteer Fire Dept., (It did not become paid until 1865 I believe), and belonging to Sickles Excelsior Brigade it served throughout the entire war. 18 of its officers were killed outright and 4 died of wounds received if I remember correctly, that being the fourth highest number in the army. Of course it missed Antietam, being in the 3rd. Corps. Quite a fascinating regiment and one that doesn't get much attention today. I believe you'll find it participates in almost all the battles of the Army of the Potomac except Antietam.

John
 

OldReliable1862

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
Also from Caldwell's brigade, there's the 81st Pennsylvania.

The benefit of a regiment recruited in a coastal area is that it's a bit more likely you can have a family member in the navy. Of course, there were plenty of naval officers from Ohio and Indiana, I had noticed more from coastal states.
 

frontrank2

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Oct 10, 2012
Location
Mt. Jackson, Va
Perhaps the 19th Indiana. They were in the field from Second Bull Run until Appomattox, during 1864 they were combined with the 20th Indiana.

2992.jpg
 

OldReliable1862

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
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.
I did find this - Charles Fuller's Personal Recollections of the War of 1861. He was wounded in 1863 and returned home, so he missed the latter half of the war, but it has several funny anecdotes.
 

OldReliable1862

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
I've pared down my list:

19th Indiana
20th Massachusetts
61st New York
84th New York
11th Pennsylvania
81st Pennsylvania
6th Wisconsin

We now have seven regiments, spread across five brigades. My choice of AotP regiment could affect which AotC regiment I pick. Opting for the 6th Wisconsin would make it more likely for me to go with the 15th or 24th Wisconsin (even if it would mean missing out on Shiloh), whereas the 19th Indiana might make me go with the 9th or 36th Indiana. If my character is in the 41st Ohio, coming from a wealthy family in Cleveland, it might be plausible for him to attend Harvard, and meet the 20th Massachusetts character.
 

OldReliable1862

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
Should I add the 8th Ohio? I wasn't especially keen on them at first (they weren't with McClellan on the Peninsula, nor were they at Second Bull Run), but they recruited from the same region as several of the Ohio units I'm looking at for the AotC.
 

Andy Cardinal

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Location
Ohio
I really like them especially for their role at Antietam and their overlooked impact at Gettysburg. Although not with McClellan on the Peninsula, they did fight during Stonewall's Shenandoah Campaign
 

JeffFromSyracuse

Corporal
Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Location
Philly Suburbs
Sorry to see I saw this thread after you took the 24th NY off the list. I'm Oswego County born and raised - the regiment was quasi-re-raised as a cavalry unit in late 1863. They fought with the IX Corps late in the Overland Campaign as infantry before they got horses.

Also, I've looked it up - their transfers to the 76th NY mustered out in late 1864. Which is a shame, because the non-3 year men from the 76th were absorbed by the Oswego County-raised 147th NY in January 1865.
 

Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
Apologies if it's already been mentioned, in a quick glanced I didn't see it. If he was in the 20th. Massachusetts he could interact with future Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

John
 
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