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Buffalo and 155th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Excerpts from
"From Another Conflict," by
Tom Ernst
Pub. in The Buffalo News on Sept. 25, 2002

In October 1862, more than 400 Buffalo men, most of them Irish, heeded President Abraham Lincoln's call for additional volunteers during the Civil War and crowded into Fort Porter near the present day Peace Bridge to become the basis of the 155th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

By Aug. 29, 1864, Sgt. George Tipping was to write to his wife: "Well, Catherine, almost all of us are either killed or taken to Richmond (Va.) as prisoners of war. The Johnny rebs came on us and gave us a sound whipping as ever we got during the summer." Later, he added, "I am all right so far, Thank God. I think God is very good to me - better than I deserve. I conclude by sending my love and respect to all."

On Oct 27, as part of a Union advance on General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, Tipping was one of 19 men killed in action, according to a history of the regiment.

The 155th - marching under a green banner emblazoned with the Harp of Erin - journeyed to Staten Island where it was consolidated with other units so that ultimately the regiment contained only two companies from Buffalo; another two companies became part of the 164th New York.

The 155th moved south into Virginia where, on Jan. 30, 1863, it saw its first action in what was to become known as the Battle of Deserted House near Suffolk, Va. Months of mind-numbing monotony mixed with hardships caused by weather and disease were to follow.

In the spring of 1864, it became part of the Army of the Potomac and at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse suffered about 60 casualties. More engagements resulted in further losses and the assault on Cold Harbor, Va., cost the 155th more than 160 men. Tipping was to refer to the frontal assault as "murder, not war."

During the attack on Petersburg in June 1864, the 155th was riddled with casualties at the rate of 50 percent, or about 80 men, and was soon down to a mere 75 men. By July 1864, only 41 remained of the 820 who had arrived at Suffolk in December of 1862, according to the history.

The 155th participated in 16 battles or campaigns and was present on April 9, 1865, for the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

On July 15, 1865, the 155th New York Volunteers were officially mustered out of service.

[Ed. Note; On October 5, 2002, a bronze and stone monument to the 155th was dedicated in the Heroes' Walk section near the Vietnam memorial in the Buffalo Naval and Military Park.]

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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