The 34th NY Volunteer Infantry
The Pioneer Union Regiment from Herkimer County - services and Sufferings of the 34th Infantry
From "History of Herkimer County, New York" by F. W. Beers & Co., New York. 1879
"The volunteers of the 34th regiment, as has already been shown, were the first who went from Herkimer county. Theirs was an example worthy of emulation. Although wholly unprepared for such an emergency, they left their all at a moment's warning, and put themselves in readiness to defend their country. The last three companies left Herkimer for Albany May 6th. A large concourse of people assembled at the village depot to see them off. The scenes were affecting. Judge Graves, of Herkimer, addressed them in impressive words, reminding them of the sacrifices and heroic deeds of the early inhabitants of the valley, and encouraged them to emulate their patriotism and bravery. Thus they left home.
The men were in Albany some time before the organization was perfected. The six companies that went from Herkimer county were formed into five companies, and these, with those from Essex, Clinton, Albany and Steuben, made ten in all. Company B was organized at Little Falls, Company C at Grayville, Company F and G at Herkimer, and Company K at Brockett's Bridge (Note: The name "Brockett's Bridge" was later changed to Dolgeville, which is in the Town of Manheim).
On the 25th of May the regiment was accepted, and June 15th it was mustered into service at Albany by Captains Wheaton and Sitzgraves, 786 men strong. On the afternoon of June 25th a stand of colors was presented the regiment by Horace Burch, Esq., in behalf of the ladies of Little Falls. The banner was of silk, and was highly prized by the soldiers.
July 2nd the regiment left Albany for Washington on the steamer "Western World" and two barges, going by the way of New York, and arrived in Washington late in the evening of July 5th. Colonel Ladu reported to General Mansfield, and on the 7th the regiment was assigned a site for a camp on Kalorama Heights. Tents were furnished the men; they entered at once upon their first experience of camp-life. The camp, which was on the north side of the Potomac, was christened "Camp Kalorama.".
The guns which were first issued to the regiment were considered almost worthless, and application was made to Governor Morgan, then in Washington, for more efficient arms. The application was duly considered, and on the 21st of July the men received Enfield rifles.
July 22nd Colonel Ladu came home on a recruiting expedition, and the command of the regiment devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel Suiter.
July 28th the regiment was ordered to march to Seneca Mills, Md., where it was assigned to picket duty on the Potomac and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Here it remained until October 20th, doing guard duty for seventeen miles. Its next move was to a point near Poolesville, to Camp McClellan, where it was brigaded with the 1st Minnesota, 82nd New York and 15th Massachusetts regiments, under command of Brigadier-General W. A. Gorman. The regiment remained at this point doing picket duty on the Potomac, building block-houses and drilling, until February 24th, 1862, when it was ordered to Harper's Ferry. Arriving at Harper's Ferry March 1st, it took up quarters in a large stone building, formerly used as a cotton factory. It remained here only eight days before it was ordered to Bolivar Heights, about three miles away. On the 16th the 34th moved to Charlestown, eight miles away, and pitched its tenets on the ground where John Brown was hung. During all this time Colonel Ladu was with his regiment but a small portion of the time, having been sick most of the time. Finally, in the month of March, he resigned, and Lieutenant-Colonel Suiter took command.
On the morning of March 17th, the regiment moved to Berryville, arriving there late in the evening. It bivouacked in a piece of timber land on the outskirts of the village. The weather was cold and snow was on the ground, and the men, being without tents, suffered from the exposure. Here they remained, doing picket duty on the roads leading into the place, until March 23d. On the morning of that day a courier arrived at Berryville with the report that General Shields was engaged with the enemy under Stonewall Jackson. The 34th was immediately ordered to Winchester, where it arrived about 3 P.M. the same day, too late to participate in the fight, Shields having repulsed the enemy with great slaughter.
Here the regiment was ordered to report to General Sumner, in the city of Washington, for duty with the 2nd army corps. The order was obeyed at once. Frm this time forward until April 5th the 34th was on the march, most of the time on the road to Yorktown. On the last named date it arrived in front of Yorktown, where it immediately established its lines, and was engaged until May 4th constructing earthworks, putting batteries in position, doing picket duty, etc., and skirmishing with the enemy, losing a considerable number killed and wounded. On the morning of May 4th the forces to which the 34th was attached marched into and took possession of Yorktown, the rebels having evacuated their works the night before. The same day they embarked for West Point, and on the 6th engaged in the battle at that place with slight loss. They then continued their march up the peninsula, and May 23d went into camp on the Tyler farm. The brigade to which the 34th belonged was detailed to bridge the Chickahominy river, under the direction of Colonel Sully.
The next important action in which the 34th engaged was the battle of Fair Oaks, in which the men did their duty nobly, and suffered a loss of 34 killed and 64 wounded.
The following morning they were again engaged for an hour with the enemy, losing two killed and four wounded. From this time forward until June 27th, the 2nd corps (including the 34th) was on the Fair Oaks battle ground, building breast-works, cutting timber and doing picket duty. Its close proximity to Richmond rendered constant vigilance necessary; even then it lost many men.
The 34th regiment was not in any serious engagement until it participated in the fight at Glendale, June 30th, which was a part of the "Seven Days" battle. Here it lost 13 killed and wounded. From here it went to Malvern Hill, arriving there July 1st. The regiment had but just got quietly settled when it was attacked by the rebels with great desperation. A severe engagement followed, in which the enemy were repulsed with heavy (word missing). The 34th lost in killed, wounded and missing 34 men, including Major Charles L. Brown, who was killed early in action by a shelll. By this time the regiment was nearly exhausted, having been engaged most of the time for seven days. The men spread their blankets and lay down on a field where the whole army of the Potomac was assembled, with its immense wagon and artillery trains. The following day the enemy brought a battery into position to shell the camp. A check was put on this movement by capturing the battery and several hundred prisoners. The 34th, with the other regiments of the 2nd corps, took up a position two and a half miles to the front; encamped on the bank of a creek, and until the 25th of July was engaged in doing picket duty. Here the Army of the Potomac was reviewed by the President.
On the last named date the 2nd corps made a reconnoisance, and at Malvern Hill again met the enemy. An engagement followed, in which the 34th lost one man killed and three wounded.
The troops then returned to their old encampment near Harrison's Landing, where they remained until August 15th, when they moved to Newport News, arriving there on the 21st. The march was a trying one; large numbers fell by the wayside, and many cases of sunstroke occurred. On the 22nd a general review of the 2nd corps took place. On the 23rd it was on the move again, going to Alexandria and from thence to a point near Fort Ethan Allen, where it arrived on the 28th of August, almost exhausted; when on this march the men were ordered to the front, but the order was countermanded after a needless march of eight miles. September 1st, the 34th covered the retreat of General Pope successfully. On the 5th the line of march was again taken up, to meet the invaders of Maryland. The forces including the 34th went to Frederick City, thence to South Mountain and to Antietam. They forded Antietam creek on the 17th, and although the men were worn out with continuous marching for the greater part of twelve days, they were marched on double-quick into the memorable battle of Antietam. The 2nd corps fought under Sedgwick but Colonel Suiter's regiment was detached fom the brigade and moved directly to the front, together with a new regiment of nine months men. This support was almost fatal to the 34th, for when in the thickest of the fight, the new lines broke and ran, leaving Suiter's command to take care of themselves. The rebels were about taking advantage of the situation by surrounding them when Sedgwick came to the rescue, and gave the order to fall back. As Sedgwick gave the order he was shot in the neck and wrist and badly wounded. This regiment barely escaped destruction. It then moved a mile and a half to the right, where it had another sharp engagement. In these actions it lost 32 killed, 109 wounded and 9 missing.
After burying its dead, the regiment marched to Harper's Ferry, and over the river into the Shenandoah valley, meantime doing picket duty at Bolivar Heights several days. From November 1st until the 11th, the regiment was engaged in reconnoitering. On the 11th it was reviewed for the last time by General McClellan. On the 18th it marched to Falmouth, arriving there on the 21st and taking a position with the 2nd corps about a mile and a half back of Falmouth. Here the 34th remained until December 11th, when it marched to a point opposite Frederickburg, where a corps of engineers was building a pontoon bridge. Rebel forces were concealed in a building close by, and were constantly firing upon and killing many of our men. General Sumner notified the commanding officer of the rebels that unless they ceased firing he would open upon the city with his entire batteries. No heed was given to the warning, and Sumner ordered the batteries to open fire. Simultaneously with the order, one hundred and seventy-six guns began the work of destruction. The flames that burst forth showed how terrible was the work. The enemy were routed and driven to their intrenchments one mile beyond the city. At daybreak the rebels began shelling the city from the Heights, and so vigorously did they keep it up that our forces opened fire on them and a severe engagement ensued. The commanding position of the enemy gave them advantage, and they more than held their ground. The destruction they wrought was great.
The loss in the 34th was 33 killed and wounded; nearly all the wounded subsequently died. On the morning of the 16th the order was given to evacuate the city, which was done - the enemy not having discovered the movement until it was too late to molest. Thus the 34th was again in action from the 11th until the afternoon of the 16th of December. For its movements in the battle of Fredericksburg the 2nd corps, to which the 34th belonged, was highly complimented in general orders issued to General Howard.
The regiment went into winter quarters near Falmouth, Va. January 26th, 1863; Colonel Suiter resigned his command, which resignation was accepted, and he was honorably discharged. Lieutenant-Colonel Byron Laflin succeeded him.
On the 18th of April the regiment broke camp. From this time until the expiration of its term of service on the 8th of June, 1863, it was in no serious engagement. On the 8th of June the men left for home and were escorted to the cars by the 82nd New York and the 1st Minnesota. They proceeded to Albany via Washington. Upon their arrival there an invitation was extended them by the citizens of Herkimer county to visit Little Falls before being mustered out. It was accepted, and the 27th of June fixed upon as the day. The arrangements were carried out, and the event was a joyous one. On the 30th of June the regiment was mustered out and the men returned home, sustaining a proud record. As has been stated, they went out 786 men strong; they mustered out only 400.
Last Updated: 10/1/97