Unit History – 2nd Rhode Island Infantry

23 06 2022

Cols., John S. Slocum, Frank Wheaton, Nelson Viall, Horatio Rogers, Jr., Samuel B. M. Read, Elisha H. Rhodes; Lieut. Cols., Frank Wheaton, William H. P. Steere, Nelson Viall, Nathan Goff, Jr., Samuel B. M. Read, Henry C. Jenckes, Elisha H. Rhodes; Majs., Sullivan Ballou, Nelson Viall, Nathan Goff, Jr. Thorndike C. Jameson, Henry C. Jenckes, Stephen H. Brown, Henry H. Young. The 2nd infantry was organized at Providence and was composed of one company from Bristol, one from East Greenwich, one from South Kingston, three from Providence and a battery of light artillery from Providence. It was mustered into the U. S. service at Providence June 5 and 6, 1861, for three years. The command, over 800 strong, went into camp at the Dexter training grounds until June 19, when it embarked for the front. Landing at Elizabeth, N. J., the troops proceeded by rail to Baltimore and on the 22nd arrived at Camp Sprague, Washington, where they were warmly greeted by their comrades of the 1st. The 2nd was assigned to the 2nd brigade (Col. Burnside), 2nd division (Col. Hunter), and moved toward Manassas on July 16. In the battle which followed on the 21st the 2nd fired the opening volley and early showed its fighting qualities. Its loss in this engagement was 98 killed, wounded and missing, among the mortally wounded being Col. Slocum and Maj. Ballou. On the return to Washington Camp Sprague was occupied until Aug. 6, when the regiment moved to Brightwood and in the general reorganization of the army was brigaded with the 7th and 10th Mass. and 36th N. Y., under Gen. Couch in Buell’s division, whose command was later taken by Gen. Keyes. Camp Brightwood was left on March 26, 1862, at which time the brigade, commanded by Col. Charles Devens, Jr., moved into Virginia for the Peninsular campaign. The regiment shared in the wearisome marches on the Peninsula, a number of sharp skirmishes, and was closely engaged at Malvern hill, after which it encamped at Harrison’s Landing until the middle of August, when it moved to Yorktown. The troops suffered much from sickness during this campaign. On Aug. 31 the 2nd moved to Alexandria and the next day to Chantilly, where it was assigned to Robinson’s brigade, Birney’s division, 3d corps. During the Maryland campaign it was ordered from place to place in support of the army and finally was attached to the 6th corps, which became its permanent assignment. At Fredericksburg the regiment was in action and occupied winter quarters at Falmouth until late in April, 1863, when it participated in the Chancellorsville campaign. At Marye’s heights, in the victorious dash of May 3, the regiment distinguished itself under Col. Rogers and lost 7 killed, 68 wounded and 5 missing, receiving complimentary notice for gallantry in action. On June 6, it left camp at Falmouth and was present at Gettysburg, but was held in reserve. In the pursuit which followed and the movements of the Army of the Potomac during the autumn, the regiment participated and went into winter quarters at Brandy Station, Dec. 3, 1863, where it remained until May 4, 1864, when it broke camp for the Wilderness campaign, in which the entire regiment was active until June 11, when the original members not reënlisted were mustered out, the recruits and veterans making up the reorganized regiment, which, under command of Col. Rhodes, remained with the 6th corps. In the fall and winter five new companies were added to the regiment, which shared in the operations before Petersburg; was active at Winchester, Sept. 19, remaining there until Dec. 1; was engaged at Hatcher’s run, in Dec., 1864, and Feb., 1865; was in action at Forts Fisher and Stedman, and in the final assault on April 2. The regiment joined in the pursuit of Lee’s army and was engaged at Sailor’s creek, where it lost 49 men in killed and wounded. Guard duty followed at Burkesville, Danville and Wells’ station until May 16, when faces were turned homeward. After participation in the grand review at Washington, the 2nd was stationed at Hall’s hill, Va., and there mustered out on July 13, 1865, having earned by long and effective service the warm welcome awaiting it at Providence. The total loss of the regiment was 9 officers and 111 men killed or died of wounds, and 76 deaths from accident or disease, in all 196. The regiment is mentioned by Col. Fox as one of the “three hundred fighting regiments.”

From The Union Army, Vol. 1, pp. 244-246


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