A History of the 14th Regiment N.Y.S.M. Infantry

THE PRE-WAR YEARS

On July 5, 1847 various companies of independent militia from Kings county were consolidated with the tiny 265th regiment, New York State Militia due to an Act of Legislature which reorganized the New York militia system. The 265th NYSM was a small unit of the New York line and could trace its lineage to the War of 1812. The new regiment was given the designation, 14th regiment, New York State Militia Infantry. The World Almanac credits the Fourteenth as being one of the oldest military organizations in the United States because of its direct lineage through separate companies, to the militia companies of the Dutch burghers of New Amsterdam.

In 1860, the regiment adopted the Chasseur-a-Pied uniform. This was most likely a result of the visit of Elmer Ellsworth's Zouave Cadets to New York. The uniform consisted of a triple breasted dark blue jacket with false red vest, Chasseur sleeve insignia, red trefoil shoulder knots and fifty-six tiny brass ball buttons. Additionally, a red and blue Chasseur pattern cap, red trousers, and white cotton leggings completed the uniform. Special arrangements were made with the United States government which allowed the regiment to be continually supplied with its distinctive uniform throughout the Civil War.

 

THE CIVIL WAR

With the advent of the Civil War in April, 1861, the 14th regiment saw its first war service in guarding the Brooklyn Navy Yard. By mid-April of that year, the "Brooklyn Chasseurs" were ready to leave New York for Washington D.C. Colonel Alfred Wood advised the Honorable Edwin Morgan Governor of New York that the regiment was prepared to march and had accepted a three year federal enlistment. However, the governor would not issue orders for the regiment to leave New York. While encamped at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn , Colonel Wood and Congressman Moses O'Dell went to see President Lincoln to secure orders for the regiment to march to Washington. President Lincoln lost no time in issuing those orders to the 14th Brooklyn. When Governor Morgan learned that the regiment was preparing to march, he telegraphed Colonel Wood and inquired "by what authority" did he move his regiment, Colonel Wood coolly replied, "By the authority of the President of the United States."

The regiment marched out of Fort Greene Park on May 18th, 1861 with colors flying and to the musical strains of "The Girl I Left Behind Me";. They proceeded to Fulton Street to catch the ferry to Jersey City, then by train to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and finally arriving in Washington, D.C.


"The Girl I Left Behind Me"
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The regiment was in bivouac in Washington, D.C.for approximately sixty days when the order was received to march towards Manassas Junction, Virginia.

The regiments first combat was at Manassas (also known as the Battle of First Bull Run ) where the Brooklyn Chasseurs supported Burnside's attack on Henry House Hill. As the battle progressed, the 14th was ordered to form on the right of Griffin's and Rickett's batteries, now engaged at Henry House Hill. In one of the assaults on the hill regimental color bearer, Sergeant Frank Head, was killed. As comrades stopped to aid him, his last words were "Never mind me, boys, save the colors". In the melee of see-saw combat on this part of the field, the 14th made three separate assaults on this hill. Colonel Wood was seriously wounded and command fell upon the able Lieutenant-Colonel, Edward "Ned" Fowler near the end of the battle. The regiment finally left the field with the rest of the Union troops, with one member later writing that the 14th "kept perfect formation and marched off the field in good order." Colonel Wood was eventually captured when the ambulance he was placed in was trapped at Cub Run. The casualty list reported that 33 officers and men were killed or or mortally wounded, 64 wounded, and 30 men captured.

On an interesting note, Colonel Wood was exchanged shortly thereafter for a Confederate officer being held as a Union prisoner - Colonel George S.Patton of the 18th Virginia Infantry Regiment.  Colonel Patton's future grandson would be General George S. Patton of World War II fame!

In a few weeks following the battle State authorities changed the regiment's official designation to the 84th New York Volunteers. The men complained to General McDowell who stated:

" You were mustered by me into the service of the United States as a
part of the militia of the State of New York known as the Fourteenth.
You have been baptized by fire under that number and as such shall be
recognized by the United States government and by no other number".

Thus the 14th "Brooklyn" retained their beloved "14" for the remainder of the war and was very cautious and deliberate to never utilize the designation "84" in any capacity whatsoever.

Shortly afterwards, the regiment adopted the title "Baptized By Fire" as the regimental motto.

The regiment remained in service after First Bull Run and during it's course of service (primarily with the First Division, First Corps, Army of the Potomac) fought in the battles of:

GROVETON, SECOND BULL RUN, SOUTH MOUNTAIN, ANTIETAM. FREDERICKSBURG, CHANCELLORSVILLE, GETTYSBURG, MINE RUN, WILDERNESS and SPOTTSYLVANIA.

The 14th NYSM was mustered out of Federal service at the end of it's term of enlistment in June of 1864. During its length of service the regiment lost over 200 men in combat and from disease.

 

POST CIVIL WAR THRU WORLD WAR I

After the Civil War, the 14th remained an active unit in the New York State Militia now called the National Guard of the State of New York. On April 27th, 1898 the regiment was federalized and activated for service in the Spanish-American War but did not see actual combat. During this federalization the 14th remained in bivouac at Camp Chickmauga on the old Civil War battlefield at Chickamauga, Georgia.   Following this brief period of Federal service, the 14th was released from active duty and returned to Brooklyn.

The regiment saw it's next period of Federal service when they were activated for federal duty on July 19th, 1916 for Mexican Border Service. The 14th would spend time in the American Southwest with other federalized National Guard units and regular units of the United States Army in it's campaign against the Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa. The 14th was stationed at Mission, Texas for the duration of this federal tour.

After President Wilson's Declaration of War against Germany the 14th Regiment was again federalized and called back to active duty on July 15th 1917. Interestingly, the 14th Regiment was split up - sending 350 NCOs and privates to the 165th Infantry Regiment (the old famous 69th New York Infantry) and shortly thereafter, 1,400 officers and men to the 106th U.S. Infantry (formerly the 23rd U.S. Infantry). The remnants of the 14th remained stateside and was redesignated the 2nd Pioneer Infantry Regiment. They eventually recruited back to strength (3,700 officers and men) shipped overseas in 1918 and saw duty with the occupation forces until 1919. However, the transferred officers and men from the old 14th served valiantly with the 106th Infantry and fought heroically as part of the 27th Division, AEF.

When the regiment originally left the armory for Federal service in 1917, a Depot Battalion was immediately organized which became the nucleus of the post war 14th Infantry, N.G.N.Y. The new 14th Regiment would spend the next two decades in routine New York State service.

 

WORLD WAR II AND TODAY

On September 16th, 1940, the status of the regiment radically changed. The War Department officially redesignated the 14th Infantry Regiment, N.Y.N.G as the 187th Field Artillery (155mm Howitzer,) N.Y.N.G. Here again, several companies were separated from the main command to serve as focus points for the formation of new artillery and tank destroyer units. On February 3rd, 1941 the 187th was formally inducted into Federal service and performed duty in the European Theater of Operations during World War II . In February, 1943, the 187th was split into two commands, the new organization being the 955th Field Artillery Battalion. These two organizations would serve U.S. forces in Europe until the end of the war.

Following World War II these units reverted back to National Guard status and returned to the Brooklyn armory where both battalions headquartered together. They retained their designations as the 187th and 955th Field Artillery Battalions until the early 1990's.

In 1992, the 955th was officially deactivated and the 187th was reorganized and redesignated as the 187th Signal Battalion, New York Army National Guard.

The spirit of the 14th Regiment New York State Militia and all its lineage organizations presently continues in the 14th Regiment, New York State Guard organization and the 187th Signal Battalion, New York Army National Guard.

Read C. V. Tevis and D. R Marquis' 1911 The History Of The Fighting Fourteenth ON LINE! This is the history that was published in 1911 in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the muster of the regiment into the United States service, May 23, 1861.

Advance on PAGE 3 for REPRODUCTION UNIFORM INFO.