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12th New Jersey Infantry

Regimental History
Twelfth Infantry. — Cols., Robert C. Johnson, J. Howard Willetts, John Willian ; Lieut-Cols., Thomas H. Davis, Richard S. Thompson; Majs., John T. Hill, Henry F. Chew, Edward M. Dubois. This regiment was raised under the second call of the president for 300,000 men, Robert C. Johnson, of Salem, formerly major of the 4th regiment (3 months' men), being commissioned as colonel early in July, 1862. Woodbury, Gloucester county, was selected as the rendezvous, and on July 25 the first detachment of troops, about 950 men, was mustered into the U. S. service. Many of the officers had already seen service in other regiments, but comparatively few of the men were familiar with military duties or requirements, though all entered cheerfully upon the work of preparing for the duties before them. On Sent. 7 the regiment left the state for Washington, but at Baltimore was diverted from its course by Gen. Wool, commanding that district, who ordered it to proceed to Elicott City, the county seat of Howard county, Md., 15 miles from Baltimore on the line of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. At Chancellorsville, on May 3, 1863, the regiment received its first taste of actual warfare. It behaved with great gallantry, though the loss was severe, amounting to 179 in killed, wounded and missing. Although under arms during the two succeeding days and nights, it was not again engaged, and on the night of the 5th it recrossed the Rappahannock and proceeded to its old camp, having in its first battle lost over one-tenth of its men. Soon after reaching the field at Gettysburg on July 2, Co. I was sent out on the skirmish line, but the combat not yet being opened, only two or three casualties were sustained. In the afternoon a house and barn standing about 200 yards west of the Emmitsburg road and nearly equidistant from either army having been occupied as a cover by the Confederate sharpshooters, Cos. B, H, E and G were sent out to dislodge them, which they did, capturing 6 commissioned officers and 80 men, but with considerable loss, Capt. Horsfall of Co. E, a brave officer, being killed, and Lieut. Eastwick wounded. During the fearful infantry contest of the following day the regiment was actively engaged, but only lost 5 or 6 men killed and 1 officer and 30 men wounded. On Oct. 14, when near Auburn mills, some 2 miles east of Warrenton, the Confederate cavalry made an attack upon the corps of which the regiment was a part, evidently hoping to capture its train, but they were repulsed with loss and the corps continued its retreat toward Centerville, the point which Lee was straining every nerve to reach in advance of the Union troops. In the engagement at Bristoe Station, which lasted for 3 or 4 hours, several men of the 12th were wounded, Lieut. Lowe, of Co. G, being among the number. In the skirmishes at Mine Run the regiment did not sustain any casualties, although under fire on several occasions. In the affair at Morton's ford, some 10 men of the regiment were wounded, but only 1 fatally. At the battle of the Wilderness, although not engaged as a whole, the regiment suffered considerably, Lieut. John M. Fogg, of Co. H, being killed, while Lieut. Frank M. Riley, of Co. K, and several others were wounded. Two days later the regiment lost heavily, Lieut.-Col. Davis and Capts. Chew and Potter being among the wounded. In the magnificent assault at Spottsylvania, which resulted in the capture of over 3,000 prisoners and some 30 guns, the 12th again suffered severely, Lieut.-Col. Davis being instantly killed while bravely leading the regiment; Capt. H. M. Brooks and Lieut. E. P. Phipps were severely wounded and were obliged to quit the service in consequence. In the assault at Cold Harbor the loss of the regiment was severe, Capt. McCoomb, commanding the regiment, being mortally wounded by the explosion of a shell, which also killed or wounded several privates. Up to June 16 the total loss of the regiment in this memorable campaign had been some 250 killed, wounded or missing — a large proportion of the wounded being officers. From this time forward the regiment was in position at various points on the line, and in July it participated in the movement and affair at Strawberry Plains and Deep Bottom, on the north side of the James. Thence, by a forced march, it returned to the Petersburg front, arriving in time to support the assault at the explosion of the mine, July 30, though not actually engaged. It participated in the second movement to Deep Bottom, charging the enemy's picket line under Capts. Chew and Acton, and upon returning marched to the extreme left flank of the Army of the Potomac, whence it was marched to Reams' station, on the Weldon railroad, where the 1st division of the corps had preceded it. In the severe action at the latter place Lieut.-Col. Thompson, commanding the regiment, was severely wounded and Lieuts. Rich and Stratton were killed. After the action at Reams' station the regiment was in various positions along the Petersburg front, Fort Hell on the Jerusalem plank road, Fort Morton, and at other points, until late in October, when it moved out and participated in the action known as the battle of the Boydton road, where it lost 4 killed and 9 wounded — including Capt. T. O. Slater. In the winter of 1864-65 it took part in the various actions at Hatcher's run, where in one instance it charged across the run, waist deep, and took the enemy's works, upon which its color-bearer, Ellwood Griscom, was the first to plant the national colors. It was present in the movements of the army preceding the main assault on the Petersburg defenses ; took part in the assault, under the command of Maj. Chew, and aided in the various actions during Lee's retreat until his surrender. It returned, via Richmond, to Bailey's crossroads, in front of Washington, where in June, 1865, the old battalion of the regiment was mustered out of service, and in July the remainder of the regiment. Its total strength was 1,899, and it lost, by resignation 14, by discharge 171, by promotion 56, by transfer 206, by death 261, by desertion 216, by dismissal 3, not accounted for 29, mustered out, 943.

Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 3

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