Fifth Corps

Fifth Corps

Esteemed member (Brian Bennett) contributes:

Previous posts have asked:

> Which brings me back to Gettysburg: everyone always comments on the 5th > Corps, AP, as having the Regular Army troops in it, thereby giving it a > special character. But I wonder how many of the members of the Regular > regiments were truly Regulars or were they mostly post-1861 enlistees? > > And did the 5th Corps really have a special "regular flavor" (see > Pullen's 20th Maine for his assertion it did) or is that simply another > repeated Civil War platitude?

To paraphrase Bruce Catton: Among the six corps that made up the Army of the Potomac, the Fifth Corps had, in the first half of the war and perhaps throughout, the strongest sense of identity. It contained all the Regular Army troops in the Army of the Potomac. Their presence made for a strong professional flavor - there was a strict observance of military formalities and discipline tended to be severe. (A Stillness at Appomattox, p. 351.)

The Second Division contained two brigades of Regulars and one army historian would later assert his belief that it was "undoubtedly the best officered of any division in the Army, the officers being selected solely with reference to their ability." (Lt. Col. William F. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, p. 115.)

The 140th NY joined the Third Brigade, Second Division of the Fifth Corps in November 1862, the sole brigade of volunteers in that division. One of the units (the 10th N.Y.) had been recently discharged, which left only the 5th N.Y. The 140th was placed in this brigade, which was under the command of a former member of the 5th, Gouverneur K. Warren. General George Sykes, who commanded the division, reportedly called the 5th the best volunteer regiment he ever saw.

Patrick O'Rorke, the colonel of the 140th, (West Point, second class of 1861) would, that December, write a patron at home that "I think I have got the 140th into one of the best brigades, in the best Division of the Army. Here we have around us none but old troops, no bad examples of looseness and lack of discipline. I have been trying to make my men believe that there is no reason why they should not be at least equal, if not superior to the Regular troops...I think I have succeeded in getting up quite a spirit of emulation between our men and the regulars."

In November that brigade was strengthened by the addition of the 146th NY. Its commander, Col. Kenner Garrard was, like O'Rorke, a Regular Army officer and had graduated from West Point in 1851.

At Gettysburg, this brigade remained the only volunteer brigade in the Second Division of the Fifth Corps. Along with O'Rorke and Garrard as regimental commanders, Stephen Weed (another West Point grad) was the brigadier.