The 14th New Jersey Infantry¹ regiment was organized at Camp Vredenburg, New Jersey, during the summer of 1862. They would be mustered into Federal service on August 26, 1862. They were commanded by US Colonel William S. Truex, through the battles at Petersburg. They would arrive in Baltimore, Maryland on September 2, 1862, and be assigned to the defenses there. The 14th would be assigned to the Third Separate Brigade of the VIII Corps of the Middle Department. They would be assigned to protect the railroad bridges, and other key infrastructure, of the upper Potomac, through June 1863. The regiment would be sent, with William French’s Division of VIII Corps to pursue CS General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, in his retreat from Gettysburg.
Assigned to the First Brigade, Third Division of the III Corps, in July 1863, the 14th New Jersey would participate in several key engagements in northern Virginia, including the Bristoe and Mine Run Campaigns. In March 1864, they would be assigned to First Brigade (US Brigadier General William H. Morris), Third Division (US Brigadier General James B. Ricketts) of the VI Corps (US Major General John Sedgwick). They would participate in US Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign including the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna and Cold Harbor. With the VI Corps, they would participate in the early actions around Petersburg, including the battle at Jerusalem Plank Road.
Rickett’s Third Division would be detached, from the Army of the Potomac, on July 6, to the Washington D.C. defenses. This move was precipitated by CS Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s 1864 Shenandoah Campaign, which had crossed the Potomac and threatened Washington D.C.
On July 9, 1864, the 14th New Jersey would provide its most valuable service. With Rickett’s Division attached to the command of US Major General Lew Wallace, they would fight the battle of Monocacy. Facing significantly larger numbers, the Federal forces would hold Early’s Army of the Valley, in check, along the Monocacy River, during the day of July 9. The 14th New Jersey would engage in a fighting retreat, towards the defenses of Washington, DC. While viewed as a Confederate victory, it was an operational success for Lew Wallace’s Federals, keeping Early away from the Washington defenses long enough for additional VI Corps reinforcements to arrive. During the fighting, at Monocacy, the 14th New Jersey would suffer 140 casualties, for a casualty rate of 40%.
The 14th New Jersey would be involved with the pursuit of Jubal Early’s Valley Army when Early retired to the Shenandoah Valley. With the entire VI Corps now taking part, the pursuit would be slow and ponderous. Grant, desiring to have Early’s army destroyed, detached CS Major General Phil Sheridan to the Shenandoah Valley, to command the Middle District. Sheridan would waste little time, attacking Early at Winchester, in the Battle of the Opequon. While this battle, also called Third Winchester, was not very well managed by Sheridan, it would be a Federal victory that would ignite patriotism in the north, and in combination with US Major General William T. Sherman’s capture of Atlanta, would ensure Lincoln’s re-election in November 1864.
Sheridan would continue to ravage Early’s army, with a significant victory at Fisher’s Hill, that would push Early to the passes of the Shenandoah Mountains. Commencing a campaign, of destruction, in the valley, Sheridan, along with the 14th New Jersey would burn the majority of the lower Shenandoah Valley.
Needing reinforcements, Early would receive a fresh division, and an additional cavalry brigade, from the defenses of Petersburg. With his reinforced army, Early would go on the offensive on October 19, attacking the Federal forces north of Strasburg, Virginia, near Cedar Creek. Caught off guard, with Sheridan not present, the Confederates would push the VIII and XIX Corps back into Wright’s VI Corps. Sheridan on his way back, from Winchester, would arrive in time to organize a brutal counterattack, decimating Early’s army, once and for all. The Shenandoah Valley was, for the remainder of the war, a Federal stronghold.
In December 1864, the 14th New Jersey Infantry would return, with the VI Corps, to Petersburg. They would stay with the Army of the Potomac, through Lee’s surrender, of the Army of Northern Virginia, at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Their last formal duty would be to participate in the Grand Review of the Armies, in Washington D.C., on June 8. They would be mustered out of Federal service on June 18, 1865 near Washington, D.C. The 14th New Jersey would suffer 257 casualties during the Civil War.