|Famous Units of the Civil War.|
Certain fighting groups on both sides distinguished themselves from others during the various conflicts. The 20th Maine became famous at Gettysburg, the 54th Massachusetts at Fort Wagner and certainly, the Irish Brigade and the Zouave units for many battles during the war. |
The following are merely a few of the many famous units of the Civil War:
| The 20th Maine |
The 20th Maine began its existance on August 20, 1862, with Adelbert Ames as its commander. It becem most famous during the Battle of Gettysburg, when the unit repelled Confederate troops on Little Round Top. At that time, it was commanded by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. Chamberlain left the unit later in 1863, when he was promoted to General.
| The 54th Massachusetts |
The 54th Massachusetts was created in March, 1863 by Robert Gould Shaw. As one of the first black units utilized, its performance would be considered an important indication of the possibilities surrounding the use of African Americans in combat. Among the recruits were two sons of famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. The black soldiers proved themselves in battle many times, but were still paid less than white soldiers. The first black soldier to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor was William Carney.
| The Irish Brigade |
The Irish Brigade was actually created before the Civil War. It was created using Irish immigrants from New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts by Thomas Francis Meagher. Their nickname was the 'Sons of Erin' and their motto was 'Faugh A Ballaugh' or 'Clear the Way'. The Irish Brigade were known as fearless fighters and lost many men during the war. In fact, by 1863, they had lost 2,700 of 3,000 men. They lost another 300 out of 600 during the Battle of Gettysburg.
| The Pennsylvania Bucktails |
The 13th Pennsylvania Reserves were created in 1861 using lumbermen from the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. They had an unusual 'wildcat yell' and were known for their wild ways and disorderly conduct. They became known as the 'Bucktails' because of their tradition of wearing deer tails on their hats. They were superior marksmen and skirmishers. Some of these men served as President Lincoln's bodyguards until his assassination.
| Berdan's Sharpshooters |
Hiram Berdan, the top rifle shot in the country at the time, was commissioned a Colonel in command of the 1st Regiment of U.S. Sharpshooters on November 30, 1861. He recruited the best marksmen from all over the country to serve as snipers. Every recruit had to be able to shoot ten bullets into a five inch target from 200 yards away. Each man received a Sharps target rifle and a forest green uniform for camouflage purposes. There were 2,570 sharpshooters during the war, 1,008 of whom were killed.
| Corcoran Legion |
The 'Corcoran Legion' was made up of four New York regiments recruited by General Michael Corcoran. This group was made up of mostly Irish immigrants. In the beginning, the group was assigned to the Washington, D.C. area and saw no action. In late 1863, Corcoran was killed in a riding accident and was replaced by General Robert Tyler. In 1864, the unit was part of Grant's drive to Richmond and took a large number of casualties. During the Battle of Cold Harbor, almost the entire group was destroyed.
| The 1st Delaware |
The 1st Delaware first saw action at the Battle of Antietam, where almost 300 of its 650 men were killed. The unit was almost completely wiped out during the Battle of Fredericksburg during a suicidal charge. During the Battle of Gettysburg, they helped to stop Pickett's Charge Its commander, General Thomas Smyth was the last Northern General to be killed in the war.
| The 23rd Ohio |
The 23rd Ohio is best known for being the unit which contained future Presidents of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley.
| The IX Corps |
The IX Corps was created on July 22, 1862 and commanded by General Ambrose Burnside. It has the distinction of having travelled further (seven states) and having lost more of its high ranking officers than any other Northern unit.
| The 2nd Wisconsin (The Iron Brigade) |
The Iron Brigade was made up of soldiers from Wisconsin. They were nicknamed the Iron Brigade, because they 'stood like iron' in the face of their enemies. This unit lost 80 percent of its men at Gettysburg.
| The 1st Minnesota |
The 1st Minnesota is known for its charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. The men crossed over 200 yards of open ground and charged the Southerners in spite of the dire situation. Almost 200 of the 300 men were killed or wounded, but managed to hold off the Confederates.
| The Army of the Tennessee |
The Army of the Tennessee was created using mostly western soldiers on October 16, 1862. Its first commander was General Ulysses S. Grant, then General William T. Sherman, General James B. McPherson and finally General Oliver O. Howard. They saw almost no fighting with Confederate troops, but waged total war on the Southern civilian population. This army had the best comabat record of the war, never losing a major battle.
| Zouave |
Colonel Elmer Ellsworth brought the concept or Zouave Troops to the United States, from Europe. They were known for their colorful uniforms and fierce fighting style. Ellsworth was the first person killed in the war, but almost 250 other Zouave units were formed on both sides. One of the most famous Zouave units was the 5th New York, led by Colonel Hiram Duryea.
| The Orphan Brigade |
The 1st Kentucky Brigade was created in 1861 as a Confederate unit. As Kentucky remained in the Union, the soliers were forced to leave Kentucky, creating the nickname 'The Orphan Brigade.' President Lincoln's brother-in-law, Ben H. Helm was one of the brigade's generals. Former U.S. Vice President John C. Breckinridge was one of its division commanders. They were known as some of the best fighters in the Southern Army. By the end of the war, 3,500 of 4,000 men had been lost.
| The 26th North Carolina |
Created on August 27, 1861, the 26th North Carolina spent the first year of the war in North Carolina doing nothing. In 1862, they became part of General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and fought at Gettysburg in 1863. 600 of 800 men were killed on the first day at Gettysburg and only 90 survived Pickett's Charge. Almost 1,900 of 2,000 men were killed by the end of the war, an astounding 88 percent loss.
| The 6th Louisiana Tigers |
The other name for the Tigers was 'The Wharf Rats' as most of the men came from the docks of New Orleans. They were famous for their colorful uniforms, fearlessness, hard fighting, drunkenness, thievery and desertion. In fact, almost 20 percent of the men left as deserters. They were disbanded in 1863.
| Gregg's Brigade |
This Confederate brigade was formed in 1862, serving alongside A.P. Hill and Stonewall Jackson. They lost almost 1,000 of 2,500 men in the Seven Days' Battles and lost 600 men during the Second Battle of Bull Run. General Maxcy Gregg and his men ran out of ammunition that day and they were forced to hold their position in hand to hand combat. Gregg's Brigade saved Lee's army at Harper's Ferry, but Gregg himself was killed at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
| Washington Artillery |
Created in 1838, during the Mexican War, the Washington Artillery joined the Confederate Army in 1861. It was made up of mostly wealthy and prominent men from New Orleans. After the First Battle of Mannassas, they joined the Army of Northern Virginia with Robert E. Lee and distinguished itself at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
| The 9th Virginia |
The 9th Virginia was also known as Armistead's Brigade. It was created on June 3, 1861. The reputation of the group was damaged after a retreat during the Battle of Seven Pines, but they regained a positive light during Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, where 200 out of 300 were killed including General Armistead.
| The 4th Texas |
This group of hispanic soldiers was associated with General John B. Hood and fought at Gaines Mill, Second Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and the Wilderness. They were almost completely wiped out at Antietam.
| The 15th Alabama |
Created in 1861 and commanded by Colonel William C. Oates, this unit fought with Stonewall Jackson and General Longstreet at many of the major battles. They lost almost 350 of 644 men at Gettysburg. Oates later became friends with Joshua Chamberlain, whom he fought against at Gettysburg.
| The 27th Virginia |
This group was also known as the 'Stonewall Brigade' as their commander was General Stonewall Jackson until his death. The unit was wiped out at the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864.
| The Signal Corps |
One of the most important groups in the war for both sides, actually did very little fighting. In 1858, Dr. Albert James Myer of New York devised a system of signalling men from long distances. In 1860, Major Myer became the first signal officer in the U.S. Army. His assistant, Edward P. Alexander later resigned to join the Confederate Army and took his knowledge of signalling to their side. Eventually the Union had a Signal Corps of 3,000 men and the Confederates had about 1,500 men. Using a set of flags, they could send information about troop movements from as far as 24 miles away in about ten to thirty minutes.