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1st Delaware Regiments
By Jack Pickett

     Delaware, especially considering its small size, provided a large number of fighting men to the Union cause during the American Civil War. The best sources within the State archives indicate that there were 11,236 white soldiers, 94 sailors and marine and a total of 954 black soldiers from the First State. That makes a grand total of "12,284 Delawareans who fought for the Union" out of total state population (male and female) of about 110,000 total according to the 1860 census. This number includes all branches of service...artillery, infantry, cavalry along with the marines and sailors.

     This article will provide short descriptions of the various infantry units only. These infantry units were divided into two different categories at that time. These two were the "Volunteer Militia" and the "Wartime Organizations".

     The "Volunteer Militia" consisted of the units which were formed in whole or in large part from organizations which had existed prior to the start of the American Civil War. The State of Delaware had abandoned the previous policy of universal militia service which had been in place since 1829. The state now relied on the "Volunteer Company Act" of the year 1845 to provide state defense. This act allowed the local companies to form into complete battalions and regiments of volunteer militia. By the year 1860, Delaware had many volunteer militia companies which had been active for a number of years. It was these volunteer organizations which became the nucleus for the First and Second Delaware Volunteer Infantry Regiments, and why these two regiments were able to organize so quickly when the call came.

First Regiment Delaware Volunteers
     Under President Abraham Lincoln's first call for volunteers, 75,000 men were needed for three months service to 'put down the rebellion.' Delaware's quota of this first call for volunteers was 780 men. This was rapidly met by the formation of the First Regiment Delaware Volunteers which was mustered into Federal service on May 28, 1861. At that time it had 37 officers and 742 enlisted men under the command of "Colonel Henry Hayes Lockwood". This 90 day unit was mustered out early on August 17, 1861.

Second Regiment Delaware Volunteers
     Shortly after that first call to arms, when the more serious nature of the war began to show itself, there was a second call, this time for 300,000 three year men. The Second Regiment Delaware Volunteers - "The Crazy Delawares" - was the state's response to this call. They were mustered in on May 21, 1861 under Colonel W. H. Wharton and Lt. Col. William P. Bailey. In order to respond as rapidly as they did (and thus filling the state's second quota) four companies were recruited from nearby counties in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Companies B, D and G were from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Company C was from Elkton, Maryland. The Second Delaware mustered in with 33 officers and 805 men. The Crazy Delawares fought in all the major campaigns of the Army of the Potomac. The mustering out took place between July 1st and October 1st of 1864. This was due to the late addition of the last four companies to the regiment in October of 1861.

First Regiment Delaware Volunteers - Reorganized
     On October 17, 1861, the First Delaware was reorganized and mustered in as the state's second three year regiment. This time around the First Delaware had 37 officers and 846 men under Colonel John W. Andrews.

Third Delaware Infantry
     The Third Delaware Infantry was mustered in for three years service between February and May of 1862. The Third Delaware was under the command of Colonel Samuel H. Jenkins and consisted of 30 officers and 780 men. The entire regiment was mustered out on July 3, 1865.

Fourth Delaware Infantry
     The Fourth Delaware Infantry was under the command of Colonel A. H. Grimshaw and mustered in for three years of Federal service between June and September of 1862. This regiment was mustered out on June 3, 1865.

     These "first four regiments" all saw combat from the spring of 1862 through the end of the Civil War. They took part in all the major operations in the eastern theater of-the war. They all suffered heavy casualties at the major Battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, The Wilderness and Petersburg.

Fifth Delaware Infantry
     The Fifth Delaware Infantry was organized for only nine months service. The regiment mustered in 37 officers and 878 men during October and November of 1862. They were all mustered out in August, 1863. Their contributions included guarding railroad bridges in Maryland along with guard duty in Delaware at certain critical industries and served on Pea Patch Island as prison guards for the steadily growing number of Confederate prisoners being held at Fort Delaware.

Sixth Delaware Infantry
     The Sixth Delaware Infantry was also a nine month organization. They mustered in with 38 officers and 837 men under Colonel Edwin Wilmer during the months of October and November, 1862. They mustered out in August, 1863.

Seventh Delaware Infantry
     The Seventh Delaware Infantry was an emergency unit that was formed solely as a response to Confederate General Jubal Early's raid into Maryland in July of 1864. This was a 30 day unit of 33 officers and 945 enlisted men that was mustered out on August 12, 1864.

Eighth Delaware Infantry
     The Eighth Delaware Infantry was unusual in that it mustered in as a battalion, rather than as a full sized regiment. It was mustered in for one year's duty in October of 1864 with only 9 officers and 283 men in the ranks. The Eighth saw duty with the Army of the Potomac at the siege of Petersburg.

Ninth Delaware Infantry
     The Ninth Delaware Infantry was mustered in for 100 days service under Lt. Colonel Charles Bird in September and October of 1864. The Ninth was formed solely to act as prison guards at Fort Delaware. The Ninth had 27 officers and 684 men and was mustered out on January 23, 1865.

     There was one more Delaware regiment on the records of the Army of the Potomac. In the fall of 1864, most of the surviving members of the "First and Second Delaware Regiments" reenlisted for "...the duration of the war." The men from these two well-blooded regiments were mustered in as the "First Delaware Veteran Volunteer Infantry".


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Russ Pickett

Last update: 4/7/2007