United States Regiments & Batteries > New York > Infantry

“Shepard Rifles”

The 51st New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment lost 9 officers and 193 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 2 officers and 174 enlisted men to disease during the Civil War. It is honored by a monument at Antietam.

July 27 –
October 23
Organized at New York City from a variety of organizations, including six companies of the Shepard Rifles, two companies of the Scott Rifles and two companies of the Union Rifles. Colonel Edward Ferrero was placed in command, with Robert B. Potter as lieutenant colonel and Charles W. LeGendre as major.
October 29 Left State for Annapolis, Md. and duty there.
January 6-February 7 Burnside’s Expedition to Hatteras Inlet and Roanoke, Island, N. C. Attached to Reno’s 2nd Brigade, Burnside’s North Carolina Expeditionary Corps
February 8
Battle of Roanoke Island

The regiment lost 3 enlisted men killed, 11 wounded, and 9 missing

February-March Duty at Roanoke Island
March 11-13 Movement to New Berne, N. C.
March 14
Battle of New Berne

Lieutenant George D. Allen and 14 enlisted men were killed, Captain David R. Johnson and 17 enlisted men mortally wounded and Lieutenant Colonel Potter, Major Le Gendre, Lieutenants Abraham McKeee and Francis Tryon and 37 enlisted men wounded. It was the greatest loss of any regiment in the battle.

March 15 The regimental chaplain, Orlando N. Benton, died of disease.
April Attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Dept. of North Carolina
April 17-19 Expedition to Elizabeth City
April-July Duty at New Berne
July 6-9 Moved to Newport News, Va. and attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac
August 2-4 To Fredericksburg
August 12-15 March to relief of Pope
August 16-
September 2
Pope’s Campaign in Northern Virginia

The regiment lost 89 casualties in the campaign. Colonel Ferrero commanded the brigade during the campaign as senior colonel.

August 21 Kelly’s Ford
August 23-24 Sulphur Springs
August 27-29 Plains of Manassas
August 29
Battle of Groveton
August 29-30
Second Battle of Bull Run

The regiment lost 23 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 49 enlisted men wounded, and 17 men missing or captured.

September 1 Chantilly
September 6-22 Maryland Campaign.
September 10 Colonel Ferrero was appointed Brigadier General, and Lt. Colonel Potter was promoted to colonel.
September 12 Battle of Frederick City
September 14
Battle of South Mountain

Second Lieutenant Charles Springweller and 3 enlisted men were killed and 12 enlisted men wounded.

September 16-17
Battle of Antietam

The 51st New York was commanded by Colonel Robert Potter. The regiment gained fame by storming Burnside’s Bridge in a charge with the 51st Pennsylvania.

From the monument:

In compliance with orders received from General Burnside on the morning of September 17, the 51st New York and the 51st Pennsylvania were selected to carry this bridge at all hazards.

The 51st New York, with the 51st Pennsylvania on its right, formed on the ridge in the rear of this position, moved forward at double quick, and at One P.M. carried the bridge at the point of the Bayonet. The passage was obstinately disputed.

Casualties: 1 officer* and 18 men killed, 4 officers** and 64 men wounded, Total 87.

*First Lieutenant Andrew L. Fowler
**including Lieutenants William T. Ackerson, William Berryman and Clifford Coddington

From the War Department marker for Ferrero’s Brigade at Burnside’s Bridge:

On the morning of the 17th Ferrero’s Brigade was in position about a half mile northeast of this point on the Rohrback Farm. About 9 A.M. it moved to the left and, after several changes of position, was ordered to carry the bridge. The 51st Pennsylvania and the 51st New York were formed under cover of the hill overlooking this point; skirmishers were thrown forward to the stone fence above the bridge and behind fences and trees along the stream below it; and, under cover of the fire from the Federal Artillery, the two Regiments charged down the hill, carried the bridge and formed, under cover of the bluff, in the road beyond it. The 35th Massachusetts, closely supported by the 21st Massachusetts, followed and ascended the bluff on the right where, later in the day, it was joined by the remainder of the Brigade and led the advance to the Otto farm lane, where it became severely engaged and lost heavily in killed and wounded.

Late at night the Brigade was relieved by Welsh’s Brigade of Willcox’s Division and fell back to the banks of the Antietam.

From the War Department marker for Ferrero’s Brigade on Branch Avenue:

After Ferrero’s Brigade carried the stone bridge it formed under cover of the high ground north of it. Nagle’s Brigade formed on its left. Willcox’s, Scammon’s and Rodman’s Divisions formed in advance of them and moved on Sharpsburg. On the repulse and retirement of the three Divisions, Ferrero and Nagle advanced to check Confederate pursuit. The left and center of Ferrero’s Brigade halted under cover of the crest of the ridge beyond the ravine, the right (35th Massachusetts) continued its advance to Otto’s lane, 270 yards distant, and engaged the Confederates posted on this line behind the stone walls right and left of it and in the 40 acre cornfield south. The engagement continued into the night, Ferrero’s Brigade suffering much loss, the principal part of which fell to the 35th Massachusetts, which had 214 officers and men killed and wounded.

September 19 – October 26 At Pleasant Valley
September 22 Colonel Ferrero promoted to brigadier general. Major Le Gendre promoted to lieutenant colonel
October 27-November 17 March to Falmouth, Va.
November 11 Jefferson
November 13 Sulphur Springs
November 15 Warrenton
November 20 Captain Charlton R. Mitchell of Company H promoted to major
December 12-15
Battle of Fredericksburg

The regiment lost 18 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and Captains George Whitman and John Stuart, Lieutenants Frank Butler and William Schoonmaker and 50 enlisted men wounded.

January 20-24 “Mud March”
February 19 Moved to Newport News, Va.
March 14 Colonel Potter was promoted to brigadier general, Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. LeGendre to colonel, Major Charlton Mitchell to lieutenant colonel and Captain John Wright of Company A to major
March 26-April 1 To Covington and Paris, Kentucky, attached to Army of the Ohio.
March 29 Colonel Robert Potter was promoted to brigadier general
April 3 Moved to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky
May 6-7 To Lancaster
May 23 To Crab Orchard
June 3-17 Movement to Vicksburg, Miss., attached to Army of the Tennessee
June 17-July 4 Siege of Vicksburg
July 5-10 Advance on Jackson, Miss.
July 10-17
Siege of Jackson

The regiment lost 1 man wounded

July 19-22 Destruction of railroad at Madison Station
July At Milldale
August 6-20 Moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, then to Nicholasville, Ky. and attached to the Army of the Ohio for Provost duty in District of Kentucky, Dept. of the Ohio
September Attached to District of North Central Kentucky, 1st Division, 23rd Army Corps, Army of the Ohio
December A majority of the regiment re-enlisted.
February Attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps
March-April Veterans on furlough
April Moved to Annapolis, Md., and rejoined corps attached to 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac
May 3-June 15 Campaign from the Rapidan to the James
May 5-7
Battle of the Wilderness

Captain Daniel Jenkins and 26 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded, Colonel LeGendre, 1 other officer and 45 enlisted men were wounded, and 5 men were captured or missing.

May 8-21
Spottsylvania Court House

The regiment lost 16 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and, 27 enlisted men wounded in the campaign

May 10 Po River
May 12 Ny River
May 22 Assault on the Salient
May 23-26
North Anna River

Attached to Engineers, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps. The regiment lost 1 man mortally wounded

May 26-28 On line of the Pamunkey
May 28-31 Totopotomoy
June 1-12
Cold Harbor

The regiment lost 4 enlisted men killed, 8 wounded and 5 missing or captured

June 1-3 Bethesda Church
June 16-18
First Assault on Petersburg

The regiment lost 6 enlisted men wounded, 1 mortally

June 16
Siege of Petersburg Begins

The regiment lost 1 officer and 8 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 27 enlisted men were wounded in the siege exclusive of battles

July 2 Attached to 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps
July 30
Mine Explosion, Petersburg

Captain Samuel H. Sims and 11 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded, 19 men were wounded and 2 men were captured in hand to hand fighting

August 13 First Lieutenant Charles H. Bunker was killed on picket duty
August 18-21 Weldon Railroad
September 29-October 2
Poplar Grove Church, Peeble’s Farm

First Lieutenant Frank Butler and 24 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded, 2 enlisted men were wounded and Major John Wright, Captain George Whitman, Lieutenants William Caldwell, James Carberry, William Hoyme, Samuel Pooley, Palin Sims and Frederick Waldron and 309 enlisted men were captured when the regiment was surrounded.

October 6 – 24 Colonel LeGendre, Lt. Colonel Charlton and other non-veterans discharged near Poplar Grove
October 27-28 Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher’s Run
December 9 Gilbert H. McKibbin was promoted to colonel but was not mustered and declined the promotion.
February Major Wright, Captain Whitman, Lieutenants Caldwell, Carberry, Hoyme, Pooley exchanged and returned to regiment. Major Wright was promoted to lieutenant colonel
March 25
Fort Stedman, Petersburg
March 28-April 9 Appomattox Campaign
April 2 Assault on Petersburg
April 3-9 Pursuit of Lee to Farmville
April 20-28 Moved to Petersburg, then to City Point and Washington, D.C.
April 20 Lieutenant Colonel Wright was promoted to colonel. Captain Thomas B. Marsh of Company I was promoted to lieutenant colonel
April 29 Captain Whitman promoted to major
May 23 Grand Review
June-July Duty at Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Va. Veterans and recruits from the 109th New York transferred in.
July 25 Mustered out at Alexandria under Colonel John Wright, Lieutenant Colonel Marsh and Captain Whitman