The 117th New York Infantry in the Civil War

A History and Roster


In stock

About the Book

“Not known to the historic pen, or platform orator,” wrote a soldier in the 117th New York Volunteer Infantry, “but the private led in the horror of the fight.”
Drawing on firsthand accounts, this history of the regiment narrates the monotony and privation of camp life, the exhaustion of long marches and the terror of combat from the perspective of the regular soldier. The operations of the 117th are fully detailed, including actions in the 1863 Suffolk Campaign, the siege of Charleston, the sieges of Petersburg and Richmond, and the conquest of Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

About the Author(s)

James S. Pula is a professor emeritus of history at Purdue University Northwest. The author of numerous books, his work has been recognized with honorary membership in the Iron Brigade Society, three Oskar Halecki Prizes, the Gambrinus Prize in History, the U.S. Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award, and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, among others.

Bibliographic Details

James S. Pula
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 344
Bibliographic Info: 90 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index.
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8986-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4824-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. The National Crisis: July–August 1862 3
2. The Defense of Washington: September 1862–April 1863 22
3. Operations on the Virginia Peninsula: April–July 1863 40
4. Into the “Cradle of Secession”: July 1863–April 1864 57
5. The Bermuda Hundred Campaign: April–May 1864 73
6. Cold Harbor and Petersburg Heights: May–June 1864 89
7. The Siege of Petersburg: June–September 1864 105
8. Chaffin’s Farm and the Darbytown Road: September–December 1864 130
9. First Fort Fisher: December 1864 150
10. Second Fort Fisher: January 1865 166
11. Through the Carolinas: January 1865–April 1865 190
12. Homeward Bound: April 1865–July 1865 205
Epilogue: “Let Us Keep Alive the Memories” 212
Appendix A: Brevet Promotions 229
Appendix B: Campaigns and Engagements 230
Appendix C: Casualties in the 117th New York 231
Appendix D: 117th New York Roster 232
Chapter Notes 313
Bibliography 327
Index 333

Book Reviews & Awards

• “James Pula has written one of the most enthralling, scrupulously-researched, and important Union regimental histories of the last two decades. He recreates the service of the 117th New York in sparkling detail, explaining that their service was at once typical and unusual, allowing the words of the soldiers to speak for themselves. This book is both good history and a crackling good story.”—Christian B. Keller, professor of history, U.S. Army War College

• “James Pula has skillfully woven the diaries and letters of the men from the 117th New York into a comprehensive narrative of the regiment which spearheaded the final assault on Fort Fisher, North Carolina. I thoroughly enjoyed it and believe this work fills a void in the history of the forgotten places in the war.”—John Michael Priest, author of Antietam: The Soldiers’ Battle and “Stand to It and Give Them Hell”: Gettysburg as the Soldiers Experienced it From Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top, July 2, 1863

• “A magnificent new book from first-rank Civil War historian Jim Pula. Never have I encountered a better portrayal of the life and character of the common soldier in camp and in battle than in this fine-grained portrait of the 117th New York Volunteer Infantry. Not least, this painstakingly researched and handsomely written book delivers valuable insight into oft-neglected campaigns, from the contest for the eastern theater’s barrier islands and coast, to the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.  A great pleasure to read and a splendid resource that enriches our understanding, I cannot see how any regimental history could better portray the reality of the resilient, devoted Union soldier than the book in your hand.”—Ralph Peters, author of Cain at Gettysburg and Judgment at Appomattox