| When the Civil War erupted in April
of 1861, the War Department of the United States issued General Order
No.15 on May 4, 1861, authorizing the organization of state regiments
to be mustered into service in
the fight against the secessionist
states. In his order, President Lincoln asked for thirty-nine infantry
units, and one unit of cavalry
to be formed from the twenty-one Union
states, of which New Jersey was to supply three units of infantry,
one cavalry regiment, and two artillery
batteries: a total of 4,491 officers and enlisted men. The patriotism
of the New Jersey men was evident, as hundreds of would-be volunteers,
being turned away, enlisted in the militias of Pennsylvania, and New York.
The original term of enlistment was for three months, and in July of 1861 Congress gave the President power to raise additional troops as the situation warranted. By the years end, New Jersey would supply seven more regiments (all infantry), adding to the Union Ranks an additional 6,552 men. However, by early 1862 the position of the contenders had changed with the Army of the Potomac falling back after suffering many devastating losses, and the Army of Northern Virginia turning to offense.
The now delusive dream of a short war had passed, and the return of peace seemed more and more remote. As as result, President Lincoln issued a call in July of 1862, for an additional 300,000 volunteers to be mustered into the service of the United States. New Jersey, being given a quota of five regiments, was quick to answer the call, having already started recruiting as early as May in anticipation of Lincoln's call, and were able to fully officer and equip all five regiments; 4,862 men by September 4, 1862. This along with two artillery batteries and one cavalry regiment would bring the total number of New Jerseyians serving to 15,905 by the end of 1862. New Jersey would eventually supply thirty-one regiments (including cavalry) totaling 25,257 men, of which 23,116 who would serve in the Army of the Potomac. New Jerseyians served with distinction, fighting in almost every major battle in the Eastern theatre of war from Bull Run, to Antietam, to Gettysburg, and Lee's surrender at Appomattox.