At the beginning of October 1864, the only equipment most Union soldiers near Petersburg, Virginia, needed was a shovel--including Gen. Edgar Gregory’s new reserve brigade, which was digging trenches around the besieged city.
Most of the brigade’s volunteer members from New York had never fired a musket upon marching into the swamps and woods southwest of Petersburg. But the dusty blue-collar workers became a force to be reckoned with as they dug and marched westward to force Gen. Robert E. Lee to extend forces away from Petersburg.
Following the brigade’s largest battle, Five Forks, the Union marched rapidly westward to keep Lee from joining Gen. Joseph Johnston. The brigade was selected to assist in the surrender at Appomattox.
Those acts alone would have solidified the brigade’s place in history, but its men also served as caretakers of the peace during their march back to Washington, D.C.--especially after the assassination of President Lincoln.
Gregory’s New York Brigade deserves to be honored as much as those who fought in the major battles of the war. Find out why in this detailed account of its well deserved place in history.