<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> The 161st Voluntary Infantry Unit

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161st Voluntary Infantry Unit


This is a very brief overview of the 161st NY.

The regiment was recruited from a legislative or state senatorial district that included Broome Co. There were men from Tioga, Chemung, Steuben, and Allegany as well as Broome Co, and men from Tioga and Bradford Co, PA, were credited to towns all over the district.The 161st didn't fight in any of the famous eastern battles, but along the Mississippi River at places that are now mostly forgotten. The regiment was organized in 1862, officers went to recruit companies from different towns. Replacements in 1863 and 1864 were recruited wherever they could be found, but enlistments in 1862 were mostly as follows:

Urbana, Pulteney, Prattsburgh, Wheeler
Elmira, Watkins, Reading, Dix, Tyrone, Benton, Hector
Hornelsville, Hector, Binghamton, Catharine, Colesville
Bath, Howard
Corning, Elmira, Binghamton, Watkins, Reynoldsville
Woodhull, Jasper, Greenwood, Troupsburg
Cohoctorn, Avoca
Norwich, Columbus, Guilford, North Norwich, New Berlin, Cazenovia
(There was no Company J in regiments in the Civil War.)
Outline history of 161st N. Y. Vol. Inf. Regt., from the New York State Adjutant General's Report1862
Aug-Sept Recruited
Nov Typhoid epidemic with many deaths at Elmira
Nov-Dec Many desertions at Elmira and New York City
Dec Travelled to Louisiana

April Attack on Port Hudson with many casualties
Battle at Donaldsonville with many casualties
Many deaths from illness at New Iberia
Autumn Attack on Sabine Pass with many captured
Dec-Mar New recruits
Mar-May Red River Campaign

Apr Battle of Sabine Cross Roads, many wounded and captured
Summer Many deaths from "chronic diarrhea" at Morganza
Sept New recruits

Jan Steamboat accident with drownings and injuries
Mar-Apr Mobile Campaign
June Travelled to Florida
Sept Many men mustered out
Nov Remaining men mustered out

Pete Schilling told me he is willing to act as a contact for information on the 161st. He has been kind enough to supply me with most of the information on this page about the 161st.Rich MacAlpine has also told me he is willing to act as a contact for information on the 161st. He has a copy of John W. Merwin's Roster and Monograph for the 161st and can easily look up names and provide other information about the regiment.Additional information on the 161st can also be found in the following references:
(these works are available many places and in particular Carlisle Barracks)Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. Vol. 2. Dayton, OH: Morningside, 1979. Ref.
See p. 1465 (1 photocopied page) for a concise summary of the regiment's service.Jones, William E. The Military History of the One Hundred & Sixty-first New York Volunteers, Infantry, From August 15th, 1862, to October l7th, l865. Bath, NY: Hull & Barnes, 1865. 64 p. (31 photocopied pages). E523.5.l6lst.J65.New York (State). AGO. Annual Report...for the Year 1904. No. 40. Albany, NY: Brandow, 1905. pp. 743-902. E523.2N6no40. (Alphabetical roster of the regiment).Phisterer, Frederick, comp. New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865. Vol. 5. Albany, NY: Weed and Parsons, 1890. E523P582v5.
See pp. 3879-89 (11 photocopied pages) for a brief history of the regiment and a roster of officers.

Carlisle Barracks also has 31 photographs of people in this unit, along with a letter written by John F. Philip on May 3, 1863.




Outline summarized from ANNUAL REPORT FOR THE YEAR 1904, New York Adjutant General's Office. No. 40. 1905, Albany, NY, Brandow. pp. 743-902.


Aug-Sept   RecruitedNov Typhoid epidemic with many deaths at elmiraNov-Dec Many desertions at Elmira and New York City

Dec Travelled to Louisiana


Spring Attack on Port Hudson with many casualties Battle at Donaldsonville with many casualties Many deaths from illness at New IberiaAutumn Attack on Sabine Pass with many captured


Dec-Mar   New recruitsMar-May Red River Campaign


Apr   Battle of Sabine Cross Roads, many wounded and capturedSummer   Many deaths from "chronic diarrhea" at Morganza

Sept   New recruits


Jan   Steamboat accident with drownings and injuries
Mar-Apr   Mobile Campaign
Travelled to Florida
Sept   Many men mustered out
Nov   Remaining men mustered out
After they were mustered in, they spent about six weeks at Elmira where many men died of typhoid and other diseases. Some men deserted. One tried to commit suicide. On November 17, 1862, they went by rail from Elmira to New York City, where they camped for three days at Park Barracks in Manhattan, then at Union Course (or Fashion Course), a trotting course on Long Island. On December 1st they were ordered to join General Nathaniel Banks's expedition. They embarked in the steamer Northern Light on December 4th and sailed to Louisiana.They reached New Orleans on December 14 and took Baton Rouge on the 17th. By the 21st they were camped at Baton Rouge.Until marching north to besiege Port Hudson they were based in camps at Baton Rouge. Two histories of the regiment mention actions in March and May. Here is the list from Merwin, John W.ROSTER AND MONOGRAPH: 161ST REGT N.Y.S. VOLUNTEER INFANTRY. 1902, Elmira, NY."Demonstration on Port Hudson, La., Mar. 14th, 15th, in favor of the passage of the Confederate batteries by Farragut's fleet."Action on Clinton's Plank Road, March 15th."Expedition to Winters plantation, opening Communications withFarragut's Fleet, Mar. 19th-26th."Support cavalry reconnaisance from Baton Rouge, May 13th."Battle of Plains Store, La., May 21st."Siege and capture of Port Hudson, May 23d to July 9th."The regiment counted the Battle of Plains Store as their first

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Reprinted in 1979, Dayton, OH, Morningside Press. Volume 3. Also published on "The Civil War CD-ROM v. 1.5" by Guild Press of Indiana, Inc., 1996, Carmel, IN.


Organized at Elmira, N.Y., August to October, 1862. Left State for New Orleans, La., December 4, 1862. Attached to Grover's Division, Dept. of the Gulf, to January, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 19th Army Corps, Dept. of the Gulf, to August, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 19th Army Corps, to June, 1864. Bailey's Engineer Brigade, Dept. of the Gulf, to August, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 19th Army Corps, Dept. of the Gulf, August, 1864. Guppey's Brigade, United States Forces, Mobile Bay, to December, 1864. United States Forces, mouth of White River, Military Division West Mississippi, to February, 1865. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Reserve Corps, Military Division West Mississippi, to February, 1865. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 13th Army Corps (New), Military Division West Mississippi, to May, 1865. District of West Florida, Dept. of Florida, to July, 1865. Sub-District of Key West, District of Middle Florida, Dept. of Florida, to November, 1865.SERVICE.--Occupation of Baton Rouge, La., December 17, 1862, and duty there till March, 1863. Operations against Port Hudson March 7-27. At Baton Rouge till May. Reconnoissance from Baton Rouge May 13. Advance on Port Hudson May 14-24. Action at Plain's Store May 21. Siege of Port Hudson May 24- July 9. Assaults on Port Hudson May 27 and June 14. Surrender of Port Hudson July 9. Kock's Plantation, Donaldsonville, July 12-13, At Baton Rouge till September 2, Sabine Pass Expedition September 4-11. Sabine Pass, Texas, September 8. Moved from Algiers to Brashear City September 16, thence to Berwick and Camp Bisland September 26. Western Louisiana Campaign October 3-November 30. At New Iberia till January 7, 1864. Moved to Franklin January 7 and duty there till March. Red River Campaign March 10-May 22. Advance from Franklin to Alexandria March 14-26. Battle of Sabine Cross Roads April 8. Pleasant Hill April 9. Monett's Crossing, Cane River, April 23. At Alexandria April 26-May 13. Construction of dam at Alexandria April 30-May 10. Retreat to Morganza May 13-20. Mansura May 16. At Morganza till July. [The regiment was at Vicksburg in July and at White River, Ark., in August.] Expedition to Mobile Bay August 18-September 2. Moved to Morganza September 2 and duty there till November 1. Operations near Morganza September 16-25. Expedition from Morganza to Bayou Sara October 3-6. Bayou Sara October 4. Moved to mouth of White River, Ark., November 1, and duty there till February, 1865. [They left White River for Kenner, La., near New Orleans, on January 8.] Campaign against Mobile and its Defences March and April. Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely March 26-April 8. Assault and capture of Fort Blakely April 9. Occupation of Mobile April 12. Duty at and near Mobile till May. Ordered to Barrancas, Fla. Expedition from Barrancas to Appalachicola, Fla., May 31-June 6. Duty in District of West Florida and in Sub-District of Key West, District of Middle Florida, till November. Mustered out November 12, 1865."Regiment lost during service 1 Officer and 55 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 250 Enlisted men by disease. Total 306.
The New York State Adjutant General’s Office published an annual report which summarized the service of each man who werved in the 161st New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment. It says this abount William Brooks:"BROOKS, WILLIAM R. – Age, 40 years. Enlisted September 2, 1862 at Hornellsville, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. E, October 25, 2862; died, July 5, 1864, at Baton Rouge, La."

NOTE: Company E was from all across the district, men from Hornellsville in Steuben Co, Hedtor in Schuyler Co, and Binghamton in Broome Co. Typhoid was a common cause of death. The Union Army and the 161st lost many more soldiers to disease than to battle.


The 161st Regiment was organized at Elmira, New York, with companies recruited primarily in south central New York, and mustered in for three years on 27 October 1862. They left the State on 4 December 1862 for the Department of the Gulf.The regiment served primarily in the 19th Corps from December 1862 to December 1864; and the 13th Corps from February 1865 to June 1865. It served in engagements in Louisiana and Alabama: Clinton Plank Road, the Siege of Port Hudson, Bayou La Fourche, Vermillion Bayou, the Red River campaign, Spanish Fort and Mobile.There had been a number of side shows in 1864, and the net result of all of them had been to detract from the general effectiveness of the Union war effort. In Louisiana, General Nathaniel Banks was trying to move into Texas, partly for the sake of cotton and partly because of Napoleon III's Mexican adventure. Bank's Red River campaign was coming to grief.On the evening of 8 April 1864, following the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads, and with less than 13,000 men Banks formed a double line; the first, of the 19th Corps (W.H. Emory), along a thickly wooded slope, half a mile west of Pleasant Hill; the second, of A.J. Smith's command (16th Corps). At noon, on the 9th, Confederate General Richard Taylor's advance appeared and began skirmishing. About 5 PM three Confederate divisions charged out of the woods upon the left flank of the Union line.Benedict's Brigade fell back to the lines of the 16th Corps. Taylor seeing the stubborn resistance of the center of the Union line, called up Camille Polignac's division. General William T. Shaw's brigade of A.J. Smith's command was in trouble. Shaw called up General William Dwight, commanding the lst Brigade of Emory's division, for help. Dwight refused to move up, saying that he had received no orders other than to hold his position. At last, seeing that the brigade was on the verge of being surrounded A.J. Smith sent word to Shaw to pull back.Seeing enemy troops swarming past his rear, Dwight moved two of his regiments to the south side of the Mansfield road. The 161st moved to the left flank of the lst Brigade. They were now astride the Mansfield road and covering the left of Tappan's division (Confederate General Gause's Brigade).After a short and sharp exchange of fire. Smith's (16th Corps) and part of Emory's (19th Corps) men made a charge and pushed back the Confederate line. All the reserves were now thrown into action, and the Confederates were routed, driven from the field and pursued until dark.

The regiment mustered out at Tallahassee, Florida, on 12 November 1865 with an aggregate loss of 306.