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131st New York Volunteer Infantry

(1st Regiment, Metropolitan Guard)

Department of the Gulf
Army of the James
Army of the Shenandoah
Department of the South

Army of the Ohio

 

Recruiting Poster For The 131st New York Infantry
(Initially Designated As The 1st Regiment of the Metropolitan Guards)

[The Collection of the New-York Historical Society]


Organizational History
Colonel Charles S. Turnbull received, July 12, 1862, authority to raise this regiment in New York City as one of the Metropolitan Brigade; it was organized in New York City, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years on September 6, 1862. [Later, on January 15, 1863, Colonel Nicholas W. Day replaced Colonel Turnbull as commanding officer of the 131st.] The companies were recruited under the auspices of the metropolitan police, in New York City; but a portion of Company K came from Smithtown.
The regimental banner of the 131st was red silk, embroidered with the coat of arms of the state of New York. "Deus Justus" was in a scroll with "1st Regt. Metropolitan Guard" and "Excelsior" on and over the escutcheon. In a scroll below were the words "As our fathers for us, 1776­1862, we for our children". The banner was presented to the regiment by the state of New York, through Horace H. Day Esq., at Annapolis, Md. The regimental banner presented by the Federal Government was a blue silk, arms and motto of the United States with "131st N.Y. Vol. Regiment Infantry" in a scroll below. Another banner presented by the city of New York was a blue silk. Upon one side of this banner appeared the arms and motto of the state and upon the other side appeared the arms of the city of New York with the inscription "131st Regiment New York Vols." By the war's end the National flag carried in battle was almost entirely destroyed, and the staff gone.
The regiment left the state September 14, to serve for a brief period in the Middle Department, 8th Corps, at Annapolis, Md., guarding paroled Union soldiers (former P.O.W.s) at Parole Camp (also named in some references as "Camp Parole") from Sept. 20, 1862 to Nov. of 1862. [From a historical perspective, it should be noted that paroled soldiers were released after signing a form that indicated they would not take up arms again until officially exchanged for a captured enemy soldier. Most Confederates simply went home to await notification that they had been exchanged; Union soldiers, much to their thorough displeasure, were sent to camps such as this one at Annapolis to await official exchange.]

Service/Engagements
1862
From Annapolis, Md., regiment ordered, on November 18, to New Orleans, La.; then on to Baton Rouge, La. in December of 1862.
1863
Duty at Baton Rouge, La. till March, 1863. Attached to Brigadier General Cuvier Grover's Division, 1st Brigade, 4th Division, 19th Army Corps., Department of the Gulf. Operations against Port Hudson­March 7-27. Moved to Donaldsonville­March 27, thence to Brashear City, La. Operations in Western Louisiana­April 9-May 14. Teche Campaign­April 11-20. Fort Bisland­April 12-13. Madam Porter's Plantation, Indian Bend­April 13. Irish Bend­April 14. Bayou Vermillion­April 17. March to Opelousas­April 19-20. Moved to New Iberia­April 25. Siege of Port Hudson­May 24-July 9. Assaults on Port Hudson­May 27 and June 14. Action at Plaquemine­June 18/Brashear City­June 23-24 (Detachments). Surrender of Port Hudson­July 9. Kock's Plantation, Bayou LaFourche­July 12-13. Vermillion Bayou­October 9. Carrion Crow (Carencro) Bayou­October 11.
1864
Duty at Thibodeaux, La. till March, 1864. Expedition from Brashear City­February 3-6, 1864 (Detachment). Attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 19th Army Corps. Banks' Red River Campaign­March 25-May 22. Alexandria­May 1. Construction of dam at Alexandria­April 30-May 10. Retreat to Mansura­May 13-20. Mansura­May 16. Duty at Morganza till July 3. Moved to New Orleans, La., thence to Fortress Monroe, Va., and to Bermuda Hundred, Va.­July 3-22. Attached for this very brief period to the 10th Corps., Army of the James. In trenches at Bermuda Hundred, Va. (outside Petersburg), till July 28. Deep Bottom, Va.­July 28-29. Moved to Washington, D.C., thence to Tennallytown­July 31-August 2. Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign­August 7-November 28. Attached to the Army of the Shenandoah, Middle Military Division, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 19th Army Corps. Battle of Winchester (Opequon)­September 19. Fisher's Hill­September 22. Battle of Cedar Creek­October 19. Duty at Kernstown and Winchester till early January, 1865.
1865
Moved to Savannah, Ga.­January 5-22, 1865, duty there with the 2nd Brigade, Grover's Division, District of Savannah, Department of the South till March. At Morehead City and Newberne, N.C. joining with Major General John M. Schofield's force, which was reconstructed by General William T. Sherman as the center of his armies, and designated as the Army of the Ohio. Attached to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps, Army of the Ohio, Department of North Carolina till the end of April. [By this time the 131st New York's own Colonel Nicholas W. Day (now Brevet Brigadier-General Day) had been designated commander of the 3rd Brigade.] At Savannah, Ga., with the Department of the South till July. Mustered out at Savannah, Ga.­July 26, 1865.
 

 

Excerpts From Actual Letters Written by Men of the 131st


Regimental Losses
During it's service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 49 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 2 officers, 33 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 3 officers, 107 enlisted men; total, 5 officers, 189 enlisted men; aggregate, 194; of whom 8 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy. Out of the 1,000 men entered into service, only 240 would be mustered out to return to the state at war's end.


Read About the 131st and the Battles of Irish Bend, La. and Third Winchester, Va.


The information for the regimental history of the 131st Regiment NYS Volunteers, was extracted from New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861-1865 compiled by Frederick Phisterer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion by Frederick H. Dyer, Reminiscences of the Late War by Captain Albert Stearns, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War edited by Robert Johnson and Clarence Buel, History of the Nineteenth Army Corps. by Richard B. Irwin, Campfire and Battlefield by Rossiter Johnson, A Volunteer"s Adventures by John William De Forest, The Civil War Source Book by Philip Katcher and The Collection of the New-York Historical Society. For five of the photos featured special thanks and credit goes to the USAMHI. Dedicated to the memory of the men of the 131st, whose service and theaters of battle, though not as well known as some of the more famous battles of their Union counterparts during the Civil War, were no less heroic in their valor.


© Research, Composition & Computer Graphics by Richard N. Ether 2001

More About The 131st New York Volunteer Infantry Web Page
 

­ LINKS ­

 
The Memoirs of Joseph Klein-Co. K, 131st NYSV
New York Civil War Regiments Online
 
The United States Civil War Center
 
Dr. Ken Jones' Union Army Regimental History Index
 
The American Civil War Homepage
 
Ronald Mosocco's Web Page On New York Infantry Regiments
 
Boyle's Civil War Page
 
New York Roster Links
 
162nd New York Infantry (3rd Rgmt., Metropolitan Guard)
 
The Civil War In Louisiana