The Schroeder Books
of the 146th Regiment
York State Volunteers
Mary Genevie Green Brainard
No Northern state provided more men for the Union war effort than New York. In the early autumn of 1862, with the Federal armies hard-pressed by a determined foe, and ranks depleted by battle and disease, the Empire State answered the call for volunteers. The “Fifth Oneida” Regiment—the 146th New York Volunteer Infantry—was conceived with a sense of patriotic obligation. War was a grim business—casualty lists from the recent bloodbath at Antietam attested to that. With the unfamiliar heft of knapsack and musket, the blue clad men of the 146th departed for the front as so many thousands had before them. They were fortunate to learn the profession of arms under the stern tutelage of a veteran West Pointer, Colonel Kenner Garrard. He expected his volunteers to live up to the standards of the “Old Army,” and the men from Oneida were proud to call themselves “Garrard’s Tigers.
These fledgling soldiers had much to prove. Their determination to acquit themselves with honor was given added impetus by their regiment’s assignment to General Sykes’ Division of the Army of the Potomac, a division largely comprised of U.S. Regulars. Colonel Garrard’s 146th was attached to the division’s lone volunteer brigade led by Colonel Gouverneur Warren—joining the 5th and 140th New York. The 5th, or Duryée's Zouaves, considered one of the army’s finest regiments, were garbed in the exotic red and blue uniform of the French Zouaves. As the two-year term of service for the 5th expired in May 1863, more than 300 three-year recruits were transferred into the 146th. In the first week of June 1863, “Garrard’s Tigers” received Zouave attire, and for the remainder of the war, fought and died wearing a light blue, yellow-trimmed Zouave uniform based on that worn by the French “Turcos.”
The 146th New York took part in the defense of Gettysburg's Little Round Top—their dress made them conspicuous on that strategic, boulder-strewn summit. In January 1864, both the 140th New York and 155th Pennsylvania were also issued distinctive variations of the Zouave uniform—thus with the 146th, formed the Fifth Corps’ Zouave Brigade. Later reinforced by the 5th New York Veteran Zouaves, the colorful brigade endured the trials and tribulations of the Army of the Potomac to the bitter end at Appomattox.
With the regimental pride and expectations of battlefield glory
that the Zouave uniform evoked, there came a price to be paid in blood.
For the 146th and rest of the Zouave Brigade, that grim reckoning came on
May 5, 1864, at the Battle of the Wilderness.
No survivor could ever forget the fury and desperation of their doomed
charge across Saunders Field, one of the few open parcels of ground amidst the
scrub and underbrush of that hellish battlefield. The 146th was particularly hard hit; their loss of 312
men—65 of them fatally injured—was the second highest toll of any Federal
regiment in the battle. Their dead
included Colonel David T. Jenkins and Major Henry H. Curran—their bodies
consumed in the holocaust of flame. The
subsequent engagements at Spotsylvania, North Anna and Cold Harbor; the Siege of
Petersburg with its series of fights for control of the Weldon Railroad, and the
final climactic battles at White Oak Road and Five Forks, claimed the lives of
53 more men of the 146th, with many others crippled by wounds or illness.
“Garrard’s Tigers” passed through their ordeal with dignity and
honor—often thwarted, but ultimately victorious.
This book is a heartfelt tribute to the deeds and valor of the 146th.
New Material and Preface by Patrick A. Schroeder. Foreword by Brian C. Pohanka. The book is 768 pages with 155 new photographs and biographical sketches. Over 200 photos. The book is hardcover with a colorful dust jacket. $49.95. ISBN # 1-889246-08-5.
of the 146th Regiment
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