Unit History – 71st New York State Militia

29 06 2022

Col., Abram S. Vosburgh; Lieut.- Col., Henry P. Martin; Maj., George A. Buckingham. This regiment, also known as the American Guard and Vosburgh Chasseurs, was a New York city organization and was one of the eleven uniformed militia regiments sent to the relief of Washington upon the outbreak of the war. It left the state on April 21, 1861, 950 strong, reached the capital on the 27th; and was mustered into the U. S. service on May 3, for a term of three months. It was first quartered in the inauguration ball room, whence it was ordered to barracks in the navy yard. Co. I, armed with 2 howitzers, was originally Co. L, 19th militia, “Parmenter’s Riflemen” from Newburg, and joined the 71st soon after its arrival in Washington. On May 20, Col. Vosburgh succumbed to disease and the command devolved upon Lieut.-Col. Martin, who was commissioned colonel on June 15, Charles H. Smith becoming lieutenant-colonel at the same time. The regiment participated in the occupation of Alexandria, Va., May 24, and first came under fire in the attack on the batteries at Acquia creek. It took part in the attack on Matthias point and rendered excellent service at the first battle of Bull Run, where it served in the 2nd brigade (Burnside’s), 2nd division (Hunter’s), Army of Northeastern Virginia, being among the last to leave the field and retiring in good order. It lost 10 enlisted men killed, 3 officers and 37 men wounded, 1 officer and 11 men captured, a total loss of 62. Speaking of the service of the 71st, Col. Burnside reported: “I beg again to mention the bravery and steadiness manifested by Col. Martin and his entire regiment, both in the field and during the retreat.” The regiment was mustered out on July 30, 1861, at New York city. On May 28, 1862, the regiment was again mustered into the U. S. service for three months and left the state the same day, 820 strong. It was commanded by Col. Martin, with Charles H. Smith as lieutenant-colonel. Assigned to Sturgis’ brigade it served in the defenses of Washington, and was mustered out in New York city on Sept. 2. A considerable number of the regiment at once reënlisted in the 124th infantry then being recruited. On June 17, 1863, the regiment entered the U. S. service for the third time, leaving the state for Harrisburg, Pa., for 30 days’ service. Its field officers were Col., Benjamin L. Trafford; Lieut.- Col., William J. Coles; Maj., David C. Muschutt. It was assigned to the 1st brigade, 1st division, Department of the Susquehanna, and saw a good deal of hard service during the short campaign, being almost constantly on the march. It participated in skirmishes at Kingston and near Harrisburg, and on its return to the state was on active duty during the draft riots in New York city in July. It was mustered out of service, July 22, 1863. The losses of the regiment during service in 1861 were 11 enlisted men killed in action; 1 enlisted man and 1 officer died of wounds; 1 officer and 4 enlisted men died of disease, a total of 18.

From The Union Army, Vol. 2, pp. 245-246


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