140th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment

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140th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Active September 13, 1862 to June 3, 1865
Country United States
Allegiance Union
Type Infantry
Nickname(s) 'Rochester Racehorses'

Battle of Fredericksburg
Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of the Wilderness
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
Battle of Totopotomoy
Battle of Cold Harbor
Siege of Petersburg
Battle of Weldon Railroad
Battle of Hatcher's Run

Appomattox Campaign
Colonel Patrick H. O'Rorke  

The 140th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment was a volunteer infantry regiment that was created on September 13, 1862 for the Union Army during the American Civil War.


On August 8, 1862 Captain Hiram Smith received authority to form the infantry regiment.[1] The 140th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment was organized in Rochester, New York and mustered in for three years service on September 13, 1862.[1]

During the American Civil War a Union Army regiment ideally comprised 10 infantry companies. Each company was ideally composed of 100 men for a full regimental strength of 1000 men. The 10 companies of the 140th New York Volunteer Regiment were primarily recruited from Rochester, New York and the surrounding towns and villages of Monroe County, New York.[2]

Company recruitment was primarily from the following locations:[1]

The 140th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment organized and drilled at Camp Fitz-John Porter on the western bank of the Genesee River in Rochester, NY. This was the same camp where the 108th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and Mack's 18th New York Independent Artillery Battery formed.[3]

Command of the 140th New York Regiment was appointed to Colonel Patrick H. O'Rorke, who had graduated head of the 1861 class at the United States Military Academy, West Point.[1][4] Additional initial command included Lieutenant Colonel Louis Ernst and Major Isaiah Force.[4]

Detailed Service[edit]

The 140th New York left Rochester on September 19, 1862 en route to Washington DC. The regiment first served in the Provisional Brigade, Casey's Division in the defensive fortifications around Washington, DC.[1]

The 140th was transferred to the XII Corps, 2nd Division, 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Potomac by October 1862.[4]

In November the regiment was reassigned to the V Corps, 2nd Division, 3rd Brigade of the Army of the Potomac.[2] From then on the 140th would remain with the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac and see action in, or be present in reserve at most of the major campaigns and engagements in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War until cessation of hostilities.[2]

The 140th New York first saw combat between December 12–15, 1862 at the Battle of Fredericksburg. After Fredericksburg, the regiment camped through December at Falmouth, VA.

The regiment participated the following year in the Chancellorsville Campaign (April 27-May 6, 1863) seeing limited action at the Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1–5).[1][2] Losses at Chancellorsville were 21 total casualties (killed, wounded, missing or captured).[2]

In June,1863 the three years men of the 13th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment were transferred to the 140th.[1][2]

The regiment participated in Gettysburg Campaign of June 11-July 24, and would engage in its first heavy action of the war during the Battle of Gettysburgon July 2, 1863. General Gouverneur K. Warren was putting together a desperate improvised defense of Little Round Top, which was protecting the Union Army's left flank. General Warren intercepted the 140th New York as it marched on the north slope of Little Round Top en route to support Sickle's III Corps.[4] General Warren requested the 140th New York assist reinforcing Vincent's 16th Michigan Volunteer Infantry which was under heavy fire on the hill.[2] O'Rorke and his men obliged. Led by Colonel Patrick "Paddy" O'Rorke, sword drawn and shouting, “Down this way, boys!” the men formed a line. O’Rorke shouted, “Here they are men, commence firing!”. The 140th New York charged over the hill pushing back the 4th Texas Infantry and 5th Texas Infantry Regiments of the Texas Brigade.[2] Although the 140th New York was successful in assisting the defense of the Hill, it cost the regiment 133 total casualties.[2] Colonel O'Rorke was among the dead.[2][5]

"Describing this gallant, fighting regiment, Col. Fox says: "Col. O'Rorke was killed at Gettysburg while leading his men into action on Little Round Top, where their prompt action aided largely in seizing that important position."[2]

Following Gettysburg the 140th was present at Bristoe Station Campaign, Rappahannock Station, and the Mine Run campaign to close out 1863, but were held in reserve or not involved in major action.[4]

In the winter camp at Beverly Ford 1863-64, the regiment was outfitted as Zouaves.[6] These flamboyant uniforms were patterned after elite French army units which had earned military glory in the 1850s, and they were "awarded" to the 140th in recognition of the regiment's seamless record.

In March 1864 the 140th New York was transferred to V Corps, 1st Division, 4th Brigade, Army of the Potomac.[1][4] An additional transfer followed in April 1864 when the regiment joined the 5th Corps, 1st Division, 1st Brigade of the Army of the Potomac.[4]

In March 1864 General Grant assumed command of all Federal forces and began the Overland Campaign, a relentless push through Virginia toward the Confederacy's capitol of Richmond, VA that summer. The 140th New York participated in the Campaign from the Rapidan to the James Rivers. The course of this campaign included action in some of the most bloody and devastating battles of American Civil War including The Battle of The Wilderness, Battle of Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor.[2] In the 39 days between May 5 and June 2 the 140th would incur 384 total dead, wounded, missing or captured.[7]

The heaviest losses the 140th New York would incur in a single battle were incurred during severe fighting in The Battle of the Wilderness between May 5–7, 1864. 529 soldiers of the 140th New York led the opening of the battle with a charge across Saunders Field, and were among the first Union troops to engage the Confederacy in battle.The 140th took unsupported flank fire for over 30 minutes and sustained 255 total casualties.[7] Estimates of exact losses are 50 enlisted men, and 3 officers killed in action or died of wounds sustained during battle. A further 98 enlisted and 3 officers injured, and 101 total personnel were missing or captured.[7] Captain Willard Abbott was among the wounded.

“The regiment melted away like snow. Men disappeared as if the earth had swallowed them.”

-Captain Porter Farley 140th New York Infantry"

Just three days later (May 8, 1864) the 140th was involved in heavy combat during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, participating in battle at Piney Branch Church, and Laurel Hill. The regiment suffered 60 additional casualties in total during the Battles of Spotsylvania Court House.[4][7] Among the dead were Colonel George Ryan and Major Milo L. Starks, killed in battle at Laurel Hill[2]

Actions in May 1864 included the reserve duty at the Assault on the Salient, Battle of North Anna River, and light action at the Battle of Totopotomoy, where Captain William Grantsyne was injured.

Heavy action continued in The Battle of Cold Harbor (Bethesda Church), where the 140th New York sustained an additional 60 total casualties.[4]

In June, 1864 the 140th New York was transferred to V Corps, 2nd Division, 1st Brigade[1][2] during the Siege of Petersburg. The regiment participated in first assault during the siege of Petersburg sustaining 22 total casualties, including Captain Benjamin Harmon among the wounded.

Throughout the summer and fall of 1864 the 140th New York Regiment participated in Battle of Weldon Railroad and Poplar Spring Church, where Lt. Colonel Otis was injured.[2]

Reinforcements arrived in October, 1864 as members of the 44th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, not mustered out with or assigned to other regiments were transferred into the 140th New York.[1][2]

January 25 saw many officer promotions to fill the leadership ranks. Lieutenant Colonel Grantsyne was promoted to colonel, Major Clark to lieutenant colonel and Captain Willard Abbott to major.[4]

Throughout 1865 the 140th New York was present or active in The Battle of Hatcher's Run, and participated in the Appomattox Campaign to close out the war.[2]

May 1–12 the 140th New York marched to Washington DC, and participated in the Grand Review of May 23, 1865.

On June 3, 1865 the 140th Regiment was mustered out near Alexandria, VA under the command of Colonel W.S. Grantsyne, and Lieutenant Colonel W. James Clark.[2] The men not to be mustered out with the regiment were transferred to the 5th New York Veteran Infantry.[1] Only 245 of its original members answered to its final muster.


Total war time enrollment for the 140th Regiment was 1707 men. Available records vary but indicate that 736 men were casualties (killed, injured, missing or captured) due directly to combat.[7] Among them 132 enlisted and 8 officers dead in action or of wounds sustained in action, 304 enlisted and 13 officers injured, and 275 enlisted and 7 officers missing or captured.[7] Disease claimed an additional 168 enlisted and 2 officers.[2] An estimated 77 men died as Confederate prisoners of war, many at Andersonville Prison.[2]


Name Highest Rank From To Result Notes
Patrick O'Rorke Colonel 9/13/1862 7/2/1863   KIA Gettysburg
George Ryan Colonel 7/17/1863 5/8/1864   KIA Spotsylvania Court House (Laurel Hill) Mustered in with rank 7/17/1863
William S. Grantsyne Colonel 1/25/1865 6/3/1865 Wounded at Topotomoy May 1864

Promoted from Captain Company H to Lt. Colonel on 11/15/1864 with rank as of 8/8/1864

Promoted to Colonel 1/25/1865

Colonel of 140th New York during Grand Review and unmuster of 140th New York on 6/3/1865

Louis Ernst Lt. Colonel 9/13/1862 8/15/1863 Discharged Lt. Colonel at formation 9/1862
Isaiah F. Force Lt. Colonel 8/15/1863 11/6/1863 Discharged due to disability Major at formation 9/13/1862

Promoted to Lt. Colonel 8/15/1863 but not mustered

Elswell S. Otis Lt. Colonel 11/6/1863 Fall - 1864 Discharged due to injury Promoted from Captain Company D to Lt. Colonel with rank on 11/23/1863 as of 11/6/1863

Wounded at Poplar Springs Church Sept-Oct 1864

W James Clark Lt. Colonel 1/25/1865 Promoted from Captain Company C to Major 9/22/1864

Promoted to Lt. Colonel 1/25/1865

Milo S. Starks Major 8/15/1863 5/8/1864   KIA Spotsylvania Court House (Laurel Hill) Promoted from Captain Company A to Major with rank 11/17/1863 as of 8/15/1863
Willard Abbott Major 1/25/1865 6/3/1865 Wounded at The Battle of the Wilderness May 1864

Promoted from Captain to Major 1/25/1865

Notable Members[edit]

Sgt. Robert F. Shipley won the Medal of Honor


  • Monument to 140th New York Infantry at Little Round Top at Gettysburg, PA
  • Monument to the 140th New York Infantry at Wilderness Battlefield Exhibit, VA


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Phisterer, Frederick (1912). New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company – via https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/140thInf/140thInfMain.htm. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Records of the Regiments in the Union Army - Cyclopedia of Battles - Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers. (1908). The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States, 1861-1865. II. Federal Pub. Co. – via https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/140thInf/140thInfMain.htm. 
  3. ^ Levy, George; Tynan, Paul (2004). Rosenberg-Naparsteck, Ruth, ed. "Campgrounds of the Civil War" (PDF). Rochester History. LXVI (3). 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Civil War in the East". 140th New York Infantry Regiment Timeline. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  5. ^ http://www.gdg.org/Research/Authored%20Items/benn2.html
  6. ^ page 30 American Civil War Zouaves, Robin Smith ISBN 1-85532-571-3
  7. ^ a b c d e f Phisterer, Frederick (1912). "140th Regiment Battles and Casualties Civil War New York". New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center. Retrieved 22 August 2016.