FAMOUS DIVISIONS AND BRIGADES.
The greatest loss of life in any one brigade during the war occurred in the Vermont Brigade of the Second (Getty's) Division, Sixth Corps. The regiments composing this organization, and their losses were :-
2nd Vermont Infantry 224 3rd Vermont Infantry 206 4th Vermont Infantry 162 5th Vermont Infantry 213 6th Vermont Infantry 203 11th Vermont (1st H. Art'y) 164 Total (during the war) 1,172
Its hardest fighting occurred at the Wilderness, May, 5-6, 1864, in which action it lost 195 killed, 1,017 wounded, and 57 missing; total, 1,269. Within a week it lost at the two actions of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, 266 killed, 1,299 wounded, and 80 missing; a total of 1,645, out of the 2,800 effective men with which it crossed the Rapidan, and a loss of 58 per cent. This loss fell on the first five regiments, as the Eleventh did not join the brigade until May 15, 1864. The brigade also distinguished itself by valuable services rendered in the minor actions of Banks's Ford, Va., and Funkstown, Md.
It acquired a distinctive reputation, not only by its gallantry, but by reason of its being composed entirely of troops from one state. State brigades were rare in the Union Armies, the policy of the Government being to assign regiments from different states to the same brigade. Carroll's Brigade (Second Corps) contained, at one time, regiments from seven different states. In the Confederate Army an opposite policy prevailed, and, so far as possible, regiments from the same states were grouped in brigades. Another thing which enabled the Vermont Brigade to win its prominent place in history was its continuous, unbroken organization. It was formed at the beginning of the war with five regiments which served together through the entire war. When their term of enlistment expired, in 1864, they re-enlisted, and thus preserved the existence of the brigade. The only change in the organization was the addition of the Eleventh Regiment (1st Vt. H. Art'y) which joined in May, 1864, it having served previously in the forts about Washington. This feature of a continuous organization is an important one in view of the fact that it was the only one, out of two hundred or more brigades, which served through the war without being broken up, or reorganized. The same five regiments of the old Vermont Brigade which picketed the Potomac in 1861, marched together at the Grand Review in 1865. It was commanded successively by General Wm. F. Smith, formerly of the Third Vermont; General W. T. Brooks; Col. Henry Whiting, Second Vermont; and General Lewis A. Grant, formerly of the Fifth Vermont. At one time the Twenty-sixth New Jersey, a nine months regiment,was attached to the brigade for a few months, but it was a temporary arrangement only. The "old" Brigade should not be confounded with the Vermont Brigade (Stannard's) which was so prominently engaged at Gettysburg. This latter organization was in the First Corps, and was composed of nine months troops, Gettysburg being its only battle.
This Page last updated 01/26/02
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