NEW YORK AT GETTYSBURG.
Dedication of Monument. 62d Regiment Infantry,
July 2. 1888.
Historical Sketch by Edward Browne
The part taken by the Sixty-second Regiment in the great and memorable
Battle of Gettysburg is briefly as follows:
The regiment was attached to the Third Division of the Sixth Army Corps. It reached the actual scene of action on the
battlefield about 2 o'clock in the afternoon of the 2d of July, 1863, after a forced march of thirty-two miles. We were moved
from one position to another between that time until 4:30 p. m., when we were directed to take position on the left of "Rocky
Hill". This was the extreme left of our line. The regiment had barely gone into position, when all of our troops in front,
except two regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserves, were driven back and up the hill, passing through our lines.
At that moment we received the order to advance to the support of the two regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserves. The
command received, the Sixty-second dashed forward with eager enthusiasm, closed up with the Pennsylvania troops, and immediately
opened fire upon the advancing enemy. After delivering several volleys, we charged the enemy's columns, broke them, drove
them in disorder down the hill, and captured two light twelve-pounder guns, which had been lost by the Fifth Corps earlier
in the day. Reaching the front of "Rocky Hill" the regiment advanced about 100 yards, and halting, remained in this position
until the morning of the 3d of July.
About 10 o'clock that morning the enemy advanced their column in reconnaissance. We promptly met the advance, and by a
well-directed fire drove it back. At 2 o'clock p.m. our line and the hills beyond were viciously shelled by the enemy, but
without any advance of their troops. At 6 o'clock we were moved forward to the left in support of a reconnaissance, under
General Crawford. Our regiment was actively engaged in this movement, and advanced to the extreme left of our line, where
we met some of the enemy's troops, which we drove for half a mile or more, capturing many prisoners. We remained in our advanced
position until 9 o'clock on the morning of the Fourth of July, when we were ordered to support a reconnaissance made to the
front by General Sykes. This was accomplished without loss, and we occupied the position thus gained for the rest of the day.
Col. David J. Nevin, of our regiment, who commanded the brigade to which the Sixty-second was attached, in his report
of the action of his brigade, says: "The extraordinary endurance evinced by my command and their daring bravery at the turning
point of the battle deserve larger mention than the limit of the report will allow. Never did troops advance upon the enemies
of their country with more cheerfulness and spirit".
The bronze tablet on the monument (to the Regiment at Gettysburg) is illustrative of the moment when, the Sixty-second
New York drove the advancing columns of the enemy down "Little Round Top" and captured the two twelve-pounder guns of the
Fifth Corps above mentioned.
The Sixty-second Regiment was organized and mustered into the service of the United States at the City of New York on
the 30th day of June, 1861, under Col. J. Lafayette Riker, who continued in its command until the afternoon of the 3Oth day
of May, 1862, when he was killed while gallantly leading his regiment in a successful charge to resist the advance of the
enemy at Fair Oaks Station, Va. The regiment was 1,000 strong when it reached the seat of war. After the death of Colonel
Riker, it was commanded by Col. David J. Nevin, and subsequently, by Col. Theodore B. Hamilton*, a son of the late surgeon
general of the army. The term of its original enlistment was three years, but just before the close of the three years' term
nearly all the survivors of the regiment re-enlisted to serve during the war.
The Sixty-second was attached to the Army of the Potomac, and participated in every campaign of that army. It was always
in active field service, from the organization of the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan, until the surrender of
Lee at Appomattox.
After the corps formation of the Army of the Potomac it was first attached to the Fourth Corps, under General Keyes, and
subsequently to the Sixth Corps, under the lamented General Sedgwick. It participated in the following battles during the
period of its service, viz.: The Siege of Yorktown, Lee's Mills, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Fair Oaks, Oak Grove, Savage Station,
White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, South Mountain, Antietam, First and Second Battles of Fredericksburg, Marye's
Heights, Salem Church, Banks' Ford, Gettysburg, Funkstown, Rappahannock Station, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold
Harbor, Monocacy, Fort Stevens, Strasburg, Winchester, Charlestown, Opequon, Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek, Siege and Fall of
Petersburg, Sailor's Creek and Appomattox. Its greatest losses in action occurred at Marye's Heights, The Wilderness, and
During the term of service of the regiment it lost in killed in battle and by death from wounds received in the line of
duty, as near as I can gather the facts, 272 men. That number is exclusive of those who were disabled by wounds, which was
very large. I cannot get an approximate figure.
Lack of space limits this sketch to statements of the most general character relative to the service of the regiment during
the war. Reference may be made, however, to two reports from which I make short extracts. These extracts will demonstrate
to future generations that the Sixty-second Regiment New York Volunteers faithfully and fearlessly performed its whole duty
in the great crisis of the Nation's existence.
The following is from Brig. Gen. Frank Wheaton, commanding brigade, in his report of the Second Battle of Fredericksburg,
in which he says: "Just before daybreak we reached the enemy's works upon the Heights of Fredericksburg, and were ordered
by General Newton to feel them and learn something of the nature of their defences, force, number of guns, etc. I selected
the Sixty-second New York, Lieut. Col. T. B. Hamilton commanding, and forming them in line just below the crest, marched up
to draw the enemy's fire. Before the regiment was 200 yards from the brigade line, it was opened upon by a heavy musketry
fire, and apparently five pieces of artillery from the Rebel works and rifle pits. The Sixty-second New York and One hundred
and second Pennsylvania were compelled to fall back a few yards to a line where the slopes afforded them protection from the
enemy's fire, and in about as many seconds lost in killed and wounded 64 officers and men. Their conduct is worthy of special
praise and notice. The Sixty-second lost its color sergeant, its commander was wounded, and 30 musket balls pierced its flag.
"During the Battle of Salem Heights, the Ninety-eighth Pennsylvania and the Sixty-second New York were necessarily left
on the south side of the main road, where they performed gallant service under the officer in charge of that portion of the
line. They lost heavily, and held their position to the last."
General Wheaton, in closing his report of that battle, said: "It was impossible for the gallant little band, forty-five
in number, of the Sixty-second New York Volunteers, under Lieutenants Morris and Stewart, to escape capture. Their fire as
skirmishers on the advancing enemy delayed his movements and necessitated a more careful reconnaissance which took time, and
in my opinion the time thus gained, saved the right of the Second Division and my own brigade from capture."
Col. David J. Nevin, who took command of the regiment after the death of Colonel Riker, at the Battle of Fair Oaks, Va.,
in his report of the service of the regiment in that battle, and the manner in which they received and delivered their fire,
concluded his reference as follows: "My men behaved bravely, and while they act so nobly, I have no fear for the cause in
which they are engaged."
Like commendations of the service of this regiment in other battles of the war could be quoted, but enough has been presented
here to satisfy the citizens of our great State that the men who composed the Sixty-second Regiment New York Volunteers rendered
gallant service to the Empire State and deserved well the monument erected in their honor.
The "Congressional Medal of Honor" was won and awarded to the following members of the regiment for special gallantry
upon the battlefield: Edward Browne, James Evans, and Charles E. Morse. Many acts of greater gallantry by members of the Sixty-second
might be pointed to at periods of great emergency and danger, which were probably unnoticed at the time by those who had the
power to invoke our superior officers to give them deserved recognition.