From the Wilderness to Appomattox
The Fifteenth New York Heavy Artillery in the Civil War
The Kent State University Press
An in-depth look at of a vitally important but little-known heavy artillery regiment of the Civil War
In early 1864, many heavy artillery regiments in the Civil War were garrisoning the Washington defenses, including the Fifteenth New York. At the same time, newly minted Union general in chief Ulysses S. Grant sought to replenish the ranks of the Army of the Potomac, and the Fifteenth became one of the first outfits dispatched to Major General George Meade at Brandy Station.
Composed of predominantly German immigrants, members of the Fifteenth not only endured the nativist sentiments held by many in the army, but as “heavies” normally stationed to the rear, they were also derided as “band box soldiers.” The men were still struggling to adjust to their new roles as infantrymen when they experienced combat for the first time at the Wilderness. Despite lacking infantry training and adequate equipment, they persisted. From the Wilderness to Appomattox describes how the Fifteenth continued to hone their skills and distinguish themselves throughout the Overland, Petersburg, and Appomattox Campaigns, eventually witnessing the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s vaunted Army of Northern Virginia.
Drawing on a wealth of previously unmined primary sources, Edward A. Altemos pays tribute to the Fifteenth, other heavy artillery regiments, and the thousands of immigrants who contributed to the Union army’s victory.
Edward A. “Andy” Altemos is a former federal government employee and consultant specializing in domestic and international transport matters. A retired US Coast Guard officer, he is a past president of the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia.