155th New York Volunteer Infantry
Reenactment Regiment, Inc.
S-4748 Hunters Creek Road
East Aurora, NY 14052-9510

History of the 155th NY Vols
by Kevin O'Beirne

The 155th New York Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865

The 155th NYVI was recruited in the City of Buffalo and surrounding towns in late Summer, 1862 and was comprised almost entirely of Irish immigrants.

Recruited by prominent Buffalo lawyer, politician and Irish immigrant John McMahon, the regiment was part of an all-Irish brigade known as Corcoran's Irish Legion commanded by Brigadier General Michael Corcoran. Other Irish regiments in the Corcoran Legion included the 164th NY Zouaves, 170th NY, 182nd NY/69th NY National Guard and, for a time, the 175th NY.

The 155th NY, known as the Buffalo Irish Regiment was presented with a green silk flag by the citizens of Buffalo. On one side was the harp of Erin surrounded by a wreath of shamrocks and scrolls reading Corcoran Guards and We Strike for the Union and the Constitution while on the the reverse side of the flag were the twin seals of New York State and the Federal government.

The 155th NY left Buffalo on October 10, 1862 and joined the rest of the Legion at Camp Scott, Staten Island, NY. In November, 1862 the Corcoran Legion was reorganized and most of the Buffalo men assigned to the 155th NY were transferred to another unit in the brigade, the 164th NYSV. Only Companies I and K of the 155th remained as all- Buffalo companies. Seven companies were from New York City and Brooklyn and one company was from Binghamton, NY. In the 164th NY companies B, C and D were from Buffalo and vicinity while the rest of the unit was rounded out with New York City men.

The 155th retained the green flag presented in Buffalo while the men of the reorganized 164th marched under a standard blue regimental banner. The 155th wore ordinary blue sack coats and frock coats while the 164th NY received Hawkins' Zouave-style uniforms in February,1863.

In late December, 1862 the 155th NY, with approximately 820 men arrived at the Union base at Suffolk Virginia, near Norfolk, for six months duty.

Suffolk was a comparative backwater of the Civil War and during the period of January through April 1863, the 155th was engaged in many long reconnaisance marches, one battle (battle of the Deserted House) and incessant fatigue and picket duty.

In April, 1863 Confederate General James Longstreet's Corps laid siege to Suffolk and the 155th was actively engaged during this time, taking part in the battle on the Edenton Road on April 15 as well as the larger battle that occured there on April 24. During the three week seige the regiment was primarily involved in picket duty, sniping and manning trenches. The 155th and the Corcoran Legion were the last Federal units to be withdrawn from Suffolk, in early July, 1863. While the battle of Gettysburg was in progress, the Corcoran Legion was destroying the last of the Federal stores in and around the Suffolk area.

In mid-July 1863, the 155th NY was moved to northern Virginia for guard duty along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad where the regiment was fought for ten months, fending off Confederate cavalry raids including attacks by Mosby's Rangers.

A notable engagement during this period occurred on December 17, 1863 when Confederate General Thomas Rosser's entire cavalry brigade of about 1000 men attacked a railroad bridge guarded by the 70 or so men of Company I. After a sharp fight in a thunderstorm in the dark, the Rebels withdrew leaving the bridge and railroad intact despite of the fact that Company I was outnumbered by better than ten to one. During the fight the Confederates captured and burned the camp of Company I leaving the men to spend several days in December without adequate clothing and shelter.

Colonel James P. McMahon
Captain, 69th NY Co. K (Irish Brigade)
Lt. Col., 155th NYSV
Colonel, 164th NYSV
Killed June 3, 1864, Cold Harbor VA

In May, 1864 the 400 men of the 155th NY joined Major General Winfield Scott Hancock's II Corps of the Army of the Potomac midway through the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse.

The regiment, along with the rest of the Corcoran Legion and the 8th NY Heavy Artillery, (a unit recruited in Niagara, Orleans and Genesee Counties in Western New York now serving as infantry), was assigned to Gibbon's 2nd Division, first as the 4th Brigade and later as the 2nd Brigade. The 155th NY suffered heavy casualties at Spotsylvania.

Fighting along the North Anna River, they arrived at Cold Harbor in early June with barely 300 men in the ranks. The unit saw heavy action during the Union assault of June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor and lost 164 men in a mere 25 minutes. Much of the rest of the Corcoran Legion suffered similar losses. The brigade as a whole lost over 900 men in the assault...more than any other brigade at Cold Harbor.

Following the battle of Cold Harbor the Army of the Potomac moved south of Richmond and besieged the Confederates at Petersburg. The 155th NY took part in the massive Federal assaults on Petersburg on June 16 through 18, 1864. On June 16 the regiment again suffered 50% casualties, being reduced to about 75 men in this action. Company I accounted for a third of the regiment's casualities, losing 20 men out of 30 engaged.

The unit remained at Petersburg for almost 10 months and took part in the following battles:

Jerusalem Plank Road
First Deep Bottom
Second Deep Bottom
Ream's Station
Boydton Plank Road
Second Hatcher's Run

After the disastrous battle at Ream's Station, the regiment's strength was reduced to 35 men and 3 officers. Men who recovered from previous battle wounds and those paroled from Confederate prison camps eventually increased the number to around 135 by the Appomattox Campaign of March, 1865.

John Byrne
Captain, 155th NY Co. I
Major, 155th NY
Lt. Col., 155th NY
Wounded, Spotsylvania CH
Captured, Reams's Station
Commanded Regiment at Appomattox CH

The regiment assisted in taking the advanced Confederate rifle pits on March 25, 1865 in the aftermath of the battle of Fort Stedman and participated in the successful Federal attack on Petersburg on April 2 and in the ensuing Appomattox Campaign. The 155th's last combat action occured at Cumberland Church - just north of Farmville, VA on April 7.

The 155th NY was present for the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, then marched in President Johnson's Grand Review of the Federal Armies on May 23. They were mustered out of the service in mid July.

Upon their arrival in New York City, the men of the 155th and the rest of the Legion were feted in a parade held by Irish-American citizens of the city, after which they were paid off and discharged, returning to their homes and families.

In three years of conflict the 155th NY suffered a total of 189 deaths and roughly 280 wounded, captured or missing.

Their overall casualty rate was about 60%.

Battles and Campaigns of the 155th New York


  • Blackwater Expedition January 8 to 10, 1863
  • Battle of Deserted House January 30, 1863
  • Siege of Suffolk, VA April, 1863
    Reconnaisance on the Edenton Road April 15, 1863
    Battle on the Edenton Road April 24, 1863
    Pursuit of Longstreet to the Blackwater May 3 to 4, 1863
  • Expedition to the Blackwater June 12 to 18, 1863
  • Second Peninsula Campaign June 24 to July 7, 1863
  • Orange and Alexandria Railroad July, 1863 to May, 1864
    Actions at Sangster's Station December 15 and 17, 1863
  • Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse May 17 to 21, 1864
    Second Assault on the Mule Shoe May 18, 1864
  • Battle of the North Anna May 23 to 26, 1864
  • Battles along the Pamunkey and Totopotomoy May 26 to 31, 1864
  • Battle of Cold Harbor June 2 to 12, 1864
    Second Assault June 3, 1864
  • Battles before Petersburg June 16 to 18, 1864
  • Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road June 22 and 23, 1864
  • Battle of First Deep Bottom July 27 and 28, 1864
  • Battle of Second Deep Bottom August 14 to 18, 1864
  • Battle of Ream's Station August 25, 1864
  • Battle of Boydton Plank Road October 27 and 28, 1864
  • Siege of Petersburg 1864 and 1865
  • Battle of Second Hatcher's Run February 5 to 7, 1865
  • Actions at Watkin's House March 25, 1865
  • Appomattox Campaign April, 1865
    Second Battle of Petersburg April 2, 1865
    Battle at Farmville and High Bridge April 7, 1865
    Appomattox Courthouse April 9, 1865
The author, Kevin O'Beirne, 155th NY Volunteer Infantry Reenactment Regiment, in a 1999 tintype by wet-plate collodian photographer John Coffer.

155th New York Volunteers
Captain David Bertuca
S-4748 Hunters Creek Road
East Aurora, NY 14052-9510


Last modified: 22 January 2013
PURL: http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~dbertuca/155/155thNYHistory.html

The 155th New York Volunteer Reenactment Regiment, Incorporated is a not-for-profit, Educational Association of the State of New York. Donations and contributions are tax-deductible.