Library & Archives
United States Army. New Jersey Infantry. 14th Regiment. Company G (1862-1865)
Records, 1832 July 22 - October 25
Carla Z. Tobias
Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey
The 14th Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers was organized under a call issued by President Abraham Lincoln on July 7, 1862 for 300,000 volunteers to serve for an enlistment of three years. It was one of five three-year regiments raised by New Jersey during the summer of 1862. The ten companies of which it was composed hailed from the counties of Union, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean.
Company G was recruited in Freehold during July and August 1862 by militia Captain John V. Allstrom, who raised the Allstrom Light Guard infantry company of the 2nd Regiment, Monmouth and Ocean Brigade, New Jersey Militia during 1861. He was assisted by George W. Patterson and William W. Conover. Their recruiting campaign enrolled 98 men who were assembled at Rendezvous Number Four, better known as Camp Vredenburgh, 2.5 miles west of Freehold. For his efforts, Allstrom was commissioned captain of the company. Patterson became first lieutenant and Conover was appointed second lieutenant. Officers and men were mustered into the United States Army on August 26, 1862.
The men of Company G reflected the rural, agricultural character of Monmouth County. Fifty three of the new soldiers had given their occupation as "farmer" on their volunteer enlistment forms. Among the other occupations represented in the company were fisherman, oysterman, boatman, sailor, watchmaker, school teacher, carpenter, laborer, blacksmith, farrier, and student of law. The enlistees ranged in age from 18 to 44. Most of them had been born in the United States. Only nine men listed a foreign country as their birthplace, five of them coming from Ireland, two from England, and two from Germany. Four of the recruits deserted before the company left camp.
As detailed in Joseph G. Bilby and William C. Goble's Remember You Are Jerseymen!: A Military History of New Jersey's Troops in the Civil War, the 14th Regiment departed for the war on September 2, 1862. They were initially assigned to guard the vital Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridge over the Monocacy River, three miles east of the town of Frederick, Maryland. Two days after arriving, the approach of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia caused the 14th to be withdrawn to the vicinity of Elysville, Maryland. The Jerseymen returned to the banks of the Monocacy on September 16 to find that the Confederates had destroyed the bridge. The regiment began repair work and soon had it rebuilt. The next nine months would be spent guarding the crossing while the war raged far to the south.
With little to do in camp when off duty, soldiers frequently faced long periods of boredom. They often tried to dispel this by writing letters to family and friends, reading or sitting around the camp fire talking or singing. Alcohol, when it could be obtained, was another method for escaping tedium. Liquor was generally forbidden to enlisted men and drinking could result in trouble for soldiers discovered to be intoxicated. On October 25, 1862, Second Lieutenant Conover found Private Michael Kenney, a 33 year old Irish-born laborer, drunk at breakfast call. Conover filed a charge against him, but the verdict is unknown. What is known, according to the Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War, is that Private Kenney deserted on April 25, 1863.
Disease, which killed more Civil War soldiers than combat did, began to take it's toll on Company G. December 1862 proved to be a particularly lethal month. On December 1 Private Alonzo Emily died of measles, which also killed Private Benjamin Van Brunt on December 5. Typhoid fever took the life of Private Josiah Hires on December 11, while Private William H. Arrants succumbed to intermittent fever on December 30.
The 14th's riverside idyll came to an end following the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. They were dispatched to General William French's VIII Corps in an attempt to cut off the retreating Confederate army. The attempt failed when the rebels took another route. In late July, French's command was assigned to the III Corps, Army of the Potomac. The 14th served with that corps' Third Division.
Though they had been in the service since August 1862, the 14th had not yet participated in a battle. Their first experience of combat would come on November 27, 1863 during the Mine Run Campaign, an abortive attempt to turn Lee's flank which was cancelled just as the final assault was to begin. This flawed offensive cost Company G Privates Elliot Fields and John H. White their lives.
In March 1864, the III Corps was disbanded. The 14th was transferred to the Third Division of the VI Corps. They would serve with this unit for the rest of the war.
The VI Corps would see rough service during the May-June 1864 Overland Campaign. Private Jonathan Errickson was killed in action at Hanover Court House, Virginia on May 31. The tragic fight at Cold Harbor on June 1, which saw approximately 7000 Union soldiers fall in only 20 minutes, took the lives of Company G's Corporal Jacob D. Griffin and Privates Asher Pearce and William Reynolds. Corporal Spafford R. Jackson was captured during that same engagement.
In an attempt to draw Federal troops away from the fighting in Virginia, Confederate General Lee dispatched a corps under General Jubal Early northward down the Shenandoah Valley and into Maryland in an attempt to threaten Washington, DC. Union General Ulysses S. Grant responded by sending the VI Corps to Maryland to stop Early. The Third Division, VI Corps under Major General James Ricketts clashed with Early's troops on July 9, 1864 along the banks of the Monocacy River. The men of the 14th Regiment distinguished themselves, fighting near the same railroad bridge that they had rebuilt and guarded until the year before. Though forced to retreat, the Union troops won a strategic victory by delaying Early's advance and allowing the rest of the VI Corps to reach Washington ahead of the Confederates.
The fall of 1864 saw the 14th battling rebels in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. The September 19 engagement at Opequan saw Company G's Private John B. Cottrell killed. They made it through the October 19 Battle of Cedar Creek without suffering any deaths.
The VI Corps was transferred back to the Army of the Potomac during the winter of 1864-1865. They assisted in operations around Petersburg, Virginia and, following that city's fall, participated in the pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia that would end at Appomattox Court House with Lee's surrender on April 9, 1865.
During the course of Company G's service, 17 of it's men died due to combat or disease. Sixteen were discharged due to wounds or sickness. Two were discharged to join the regular army. Eleven men deserted. One man, Sergeant William Prickett, was discharged to accept a commission as an officer with the 25th US Colored Troops.
The survivors of the 14th Regiment were mustered out of the army near Washington, DC on June 18, 1865.
DESCRIPTION OF COLLECTION
The Company G collection consist primarily of the 183 volunteer enlistment papers of 95 of the unit's 98 original recruits. The reason for there being more enlistment forms than enlistees is that two had their forms filled out in triplicate, 84 are represented by duplicate forms, and 9 have only a single form. Each form gives the state and town in which the enlistment took place, the recruit's name, birthplace, age, occupation, date of enlistment, eye color, hair color, complexion and height. The recruit's signature is also found on the form along with those of the recruiting officer, F.W. Kerner, and the examining surgeon, whose signature is illegible on all 183 forms. Several recruits appear to have been illiterate, as their signature is not found on their form, merely the notation "his mark" with an "X" found between those two words. Missing from this collection are enlistment forms for Sergeant Albert C. Harrison, Musician Charles A. Wood and Private William H. Blower. Also missing are enlistment papers for the 9 recruits and conscripts the company received during 1864-1865.
This collection also contains a one page handwritten charge and specification filed against Private Michael Kenney for drunkenness on duty during breakfast call on October 25, 1862. Second Lieutenant Conover filed the charge.
The Company G enlistment papers are an excellent resource for those seeking information on the background of Civil War soldiers from Monmouth County. They also provide an insight into the type of men who made up the 14th Regiment. Used in conjunction with the data found in the Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War a brief account of each man's wartime service can be created. The wealth of information found on these forms, such as age, place of birth, occupation and physical description, lends itself to a detailed statistical survey. Both military and social historians will find this collection of value.
The only materials separated from this collection were a 132 page paperback book published in 1884 entitled Campaign of the Fourteenth Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers, written by former Sergeant J. Newton Terrill of Company K and an 82 page paperback book published in 1896 entitled History of the G.A.R., Engagements of the Civil War, The Easel Monument Project, written by J.W. Carnahan. (See Appendix C for disposition of this material.) All of the information on the muster roll can be found on pages 683-685 of volume I of Adjutant General William S. Stryker's Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War (Trenton, NJ: John L. Murphy, 1876.) The full text of Campaign of the Fourteenth Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers was reprinted in David G. Martin's The Monocacy Regiment: A Commemorative History of the Fourteenth New Jersey Infantry in the Civil War, 1862-1865 (Hightstown, NJ: Longstreet House, 1987.) Both the Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey In the Civil War and The Monocacy Regiment can be found in the MCHA library.
Other Civil War collections in the MCHA Archives that relate to the Company G papers are Collection 1 Peter Vredenburgh Papers, Collection 9 William Burroughs Ross Papers, Collection 33 Cowart Papers, and Collection 135, NJ Militia, Monmouth and Ocean Brigade, 2nd Regiment, Allstrom Light Guard. Bernard Olsen's Upon the Tented Field (Red Bank, NJ: Historical Projects, 1993) contains letters from Company G's Sergeant Albert C. Harrison which describe some of the company's activities. It can be found in the MCHA library. For a complete list of the MCHA's Civil War holdings, see the librarian for the guide to the MCHA Civil War collections.
PROVENANCE: Gift of Mrs. Alma Harrison, 1990
SIZE OF COLLECTION: 187 items
1. Muster roll, 1862 August 26
One item. Located in oversize box.
Standard United States Army muster roll form with handwritten entries for each of Company G's original officers and enlisted men.
2. Enlistment papers, 1862 July 22-August 15
183 items. Arranged alphabetically by enlistee's last name.
Standard United States Government Printing Office volunteer enlistment forms, of the type adopted in December 1861. Each contains the state and town in which enlistment took place, the enlistee's name, place of birth, age, occupation, date of enlistment, signature (or mark, for illiterate enlistees), signatures of enlisting officer and examining surgeon and the enlistee's eye color, hair color, complexion and height. Two enlistees are represented by triplicate copies of their enlistment forms, 84 are represented by duplicate copies, while 9 enlistees have only a single copy. No papers are found for Sergeant Albert C. Harrison, Musician Charles Wood and Private William Blower. The 9 recruits and conscripts who joined the company in 1864-1865 are not represented in this collection.
3. Charge and specification, 1862 October 25
Single page, handwritten charge and specification filed by Second Lieutenant William Conover against Private Michael Kenney. Kenney was found to be drunk at breakfast call on the date shown above.
This collection is arranged chronologically. The enlistment forms are arranged alphabetically by the enlistee's last name.
BOX # / FOLDER # / CONTENTS
1 / 1 / Enlistment forms,A-C. 35 items
1 / 2 / Enlistment forms, D-J. 51 items
1 / 3 / Enlistment forms, K-P. 34 items
1 / 4 / Enlistment forms, R-T. 37 items
1 / 5 / Enlistment forms, V-W. 27 itmes
1 / 6 / Pvt. M. Kenney charge. One item
Bilby, Joseph G. and William C. Goble. Remember You Are Jerseymen!: A Military History of New Jersey's Troops in the Civil War. Hightstown, NJ: Longstreet House, 1998.
Martin, David G. The Monocacy Regiment: A Commemorative History of the Fourteenth New Jersey Infantry, 1862-1865. Hightstown, NJ: Longstreet House, 1987.
Olsen, Bernard. Upon the Tented Field. Red Bank, NJ: Historical Projects, 1993.
Stryker, William S. Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War. Trenton, NJ: John Murphy, 1876.
This page last updated 31 July 2008.