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Appomattox Court House ___________________________
* Gray sections are missing and need authors.
The Life and Death of the Tenth New Jersey Infantry
The Life and Death of the Tenth New Jersey Infantry
by Kyle Morrissey

The Tenth New Jersey Infantry was organized under the provisions of an act of congress approved July 22 1861, and by authority issued by the war department. It was directed to private residents of the state of New Jersey, and not in any way under the control or supervision of the state authorities. When the organization of the regiment was completed in Oct 1st it proceeded to Camp Beverly N.J. Then from there went to Washington DC on Dec 26th 1861 with 35 officers, 883 non commissioned officers and privates, a total of 918 men. After they marched to Camp Clay on the Bladensburg turnpike a mile from Washington DC, they were reorganized and designated the Tenth New Jersey Infantry. The men were issued Enfield rifles then later on in the war; in the early part of 1864 they were issued Springfield rifles.

For all of 1862 they were on provost duty around and about Washington DC. Then in the spring of 1863 they received marching orders. Before they went out on the field every man received a printed roster of the unit that commemorated the regiment, because the commanders knew that many of the boys from the Tenth New Jersey were not coming back.

This keepsake was given to Private Martin Miller my Great Great Grandfather who served in the Tenth New Jersey Infantry, and he carried this for the whole war, even when he was in POW camp.

Their first taste of black powder was on May 12th 1863 a skirmish near Carrsville Virginia their losses were 3 men wounded. Then on May17th they left Carsville accompanied by 169th and 170th New York regiments. The three units were marching towards "Deserted House". On there way there the Colonel of the 170th fell off his horse in a drunken stupor. Then some one yelled "guerillas" and all hell broke loose; smoke filled the air, once the firing stop 1 man from the Tenth lay dead, and 1 man was killed and a few men were wounded from the 170th.

Once again they were on provost duty. In the following winter they spent it in the mining regions of Pennsylvania hunting draft dodgers. Many men reenlisted thinking that they would be sitting out the war. Once they founded out that you would be sent to the front many men did desert. Although the regiment was weakened by the expired enlistments and desertions, additional recruits kept the Tenth strength to 600 men.

In February 1864 the Tenth New Jersey Infantry joined the First Jersey Brigade 6 Corp in the army of the Potomac. That spring they marched with the army on the field. The regiment participated in the battle of the Wilderness. The Tenth arrived on the field in the afternoon of May 6th. The Jersey Brigade was soon ordered to go on the field of battle. The Tenth and the Third New Jersey units were temporary attached to Brigadier General David A Russell's brigade. On the evening of May 6th the 6th corp flack was attacked. The Tenth was in the thick of it all. The regiment was in position when retreating Yankees were running through their ranks, and confusion was soon appurtenant. Colonel Ryerson ordered the boys to lay down so he could get a grasp of the situation. As bullets were whizzing around the boys from the Tenth, they were more then willing to oblige. As soon as the Colonel rose to his nieces he was struck in the head by a minie ball. The mortally wounded Colonel was taken to a near by cabin by a hand full of officers. They were soon captured and the Colonel died in a POW camp a few days later. The battle was still raging, when confederate General Gordon attack the union line. As the two New Jersey units were fighting for there lives the Tenth for a short time was cut off from the Third New Jersey. And the attacking rebels took advantage of his brake through. The Tenth almost lost one full company just in prisoners, yet the rebels were beaten back but the cost was not cheap. The Tenth suffered 37 killed and wounded and 80 captured. The men who were captured would by recaptured on May 12th by union General Sheridan's cavalry.

At Spotsylvania the Tenth and the Second New Jersey were detached from the Jersey Brigade and did not take part on the assault on the Bloody Angle on May 12th. They were attach to Brigadier General Emory Upton's Brigade, and held a hilltop position on Myers Farm. A rebel attack forced the union forces to fall back, yet the two New Jersey units suffered heavily. They also sew action around Galt House and again suffered heavy casualties. In the growing darkness Lt Colonel Tay was captured along with a number of his men. When they rejoined the Jersey Brigade and left Spotsylvania they left behind 149 comrades killed wounded and captured. The men who were captured at Spotsylvania would be recaptured along with the men who were captured at the Wilderness.

At North Anna River the regiment had some skirmishing across the river the losses were 5 men wounded. Then at Hanover Court House the regiment saw 1 killed and a few wounded.

At the battle of Cold Harbor on June 1st the regiment was ordered to form in support of the fifteenth New Jersey as they advanced, yet both New Jersey units moved up too far, and their left flak was open for the rebel's deadly firer. The Tenth started to dig in as fast as they could with anything they could find, cups, plates and bayonets. They dug until their fingers and hands bled, but they held their ground. Once the Fifteenth fell back beside the Tenth on its right flak the Fifteenth also started to dig in. On the first day of fighting at Cold Harbor they suffered 65 killed and wounded. On June 2nd there was only skirmishing along the lines. Although it seemed rebel sharpshooters were busy on that day. At the days end the regiment saw 1 killed and 1 captured. The June 3rd saw heavy fighting at 8 AM. Almost the whole army of the Potomac advanced. The Tenth New Jersey was the only unit from the Jersey Brigade to participate in this assault. The regiment charged under shot and shell. Men fell in groups as if on command. As they charged they left their killed and wounded comrades behind. They advanced up to 20 yards from the rebel earth works, yet like every regiment they could take so much and were forced back. They saw 70 killed and wounded. Even after the fighting stopped they still took more losses. Since they still were in their trenches for about one more week and the rebel sharpshooter were still out and about, before the regiment left Cold Harbor another 3 soldiers were killed. Out of 184 casualties the First Jersey Brigade suffered at Cold Harbor 137 casualties were from the Tenth alone. After the battle when they were burying the rotting body from the hot sun a man was searching around the corpse, and found a blood socked diary and the last entry was "died on June 3ed".

For a short time the regiment along with the whole army was ordered back to Washington DC for the defense from General Early's army. The regiment was in Fort Stevens when Early's army attacked and was repulsed. The regiment saw 1 killed in the action. Then on July 18th the Tenth was at Snicker's Ford loosing 1 man killed and a few wounded. Then at Harpers Ferry they again lost a few more men.

At Winchester Virginia near Strasburg on August 17th 1864 about 4:00 am there was a sharp fight that the regiment was involved in with the enemy. The Tenth New Jersey along with the First Jersey Brigade was the rear guard and was ordered to hold two vital roads leading to the town of Strasburg. The Tenth New Jersey was ordered to hold the Front royal road, and the Fiftieth New Jersey was to hold Martinsburg pike. The Fourth New Jersey was put in the center to be as reserve. Since all three units were short on men they were spaced 20 yards apart, so their situation was not good to the start. The enemy sent up skirmishers and the Tenth put on a sharp fight and drove the enemy back. At 6:00 am a large part of Early's army came up the road. After a hard but short fight the Union forces were forced to withdraw, but the Tenth did not pall back far enough; once Lt Colonel Tay realized his error it was too late. The regiment for the most part was surrounded and 150 men were taken prisoners a long with 6 men killed and a number of wounded. Among the prisoners was my Great Great Grand Father, Martin Miller who was also wounded in the leg. Only 80 men were able to escape. Even Lt Colonel Tay was once again captured along with 6 other officers 4 captains and 2 Lieutenant. The union forces reformed the line with the help of artillery and forced the enemy back. They held their position until 9:00 am until they were ordered to fallback to Summit point. The Jersey Brigade started out before this engagement with 900 souls. When the Brigade marched a way from the field of battle at Strasburg; they only had about 700 men and officers. Major Alexander Hart from the 5th Louisiana Infantry said in his diary "Captured an Lt Colonel, and some dirty non-coms. Officers and men find that we have been engaged with the 6th Army Corp" (small element of the 6th Corp).

In early September Major Lambert Boeman was assigned to be acting colonel of the Tenth, since their Colonel was killed and the Lt Colonel was captured. The Major was commanding a regiment that was a fragment of its self, yet the regiment did well at the Third Winchester and at Fisher Hill. At Fisher Hill their skirmisher was one of the first one to reach the rebel line. The company size regiment lost 18 casualties in total.

On Oct 19th at the battle of Cedar Creek the regiment was ordered to be in the line of battle as the sound of musketry and cannons was ripe in the air. The Tenth who were in the center the Fifteenth were on their left and the Fourth was on the right. Shortly after they formed the line of battle the enemy attacked. As the lead ripped through the air the troops on the left who were supporting a battery were giving way. Just then Major Boeman was shot and killed from his horse. After a bit of fighting the Tenth and the other regiments were ordered to withdraw, and hold their position on a crest 300 yards from the rear. The little regiment suffered 45 casualties. Now the regiment is almost non-existent.

After the battle of Cedar Creek what was left of the Tenth had duty in the Shenandoah Valley until November then they proceed to Petersburg for their winter quarters. When they crossed the Rapidan River in May of 1864 they had 600 men; now they only about 30 men fit for duty. But while they were at Petersburg they were heavily reinforced by men who were paroled from POW camps, men who are returning from the hospitals, recruits, draftees, and substitutes. After the regiment was reinforced it took part in the fall of Petersburg on April 2 1865. In the Fall of Petersburg the regiment along with the brigade tried to assault the confederate earth works, but was slowed to a stop when the firer from the rebel position became heavy, but with help from the 37th Massachusetts Infantry with there Spencer's rifles they took the position. The Tenth took 3 killed and a number of wounded. The total casualties for the whole Jersey Brigade were 75 killed and wounded.

The Tenth spend most of the Appomattox campaign guarding supplies wagon. My Great Great Grand Father Martin Miller who was paroled from Libby Prison, VA on Feb 24, 1865 was with the Tenth on its final campaign. After the Appomattox campaign the regiment march to the North Carolina border near Danville on April 23ed, and had duty there until March 18th. Then started for home with 450 men strong in early June, and started to muster out at Hall Hills Virginia in July 1865. The regiment served 4 loyal years with the US Army.

"Through much fatigue and many dangers past,
the war worn soldier's braved his way at last"
Joseph Plumb Martin
 

Sources

American Civil War Research Database.
The Civil War Archives Regimental Index
Bloody Angle by John Cannan
Cold Harbor by Gordon C. Rhea

- - -

Copyright © 2005 Kyle Morrissey.

Written by Kyle Morrissey  If you have questions or comments on this article, please contact Kyle Morrissey at: elykm33@sbcglobal.net.

About the author:
I am currently living in Connecticut, but I am going to school in New York State at Kildonan School. I am currently collecting civil war memorabilia, and I am searching for Tenth New Jersey memorabilia. Many years later the one battle that kept with Martin was the battle of Cold Harbor. Every once and while he said "that Cold Harbor now that was a battle" Martin Miller died in 1909.

Published online: 07/24/2005.
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