2nd Rhode Island Infantry

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2nd R.I. Infantry soldiers
Group of 2nd R.I. Infantry

The Second Rhode Island Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment composed of volunteers from the state of Rhode Island that served with the Union Army in the American Civil War. They, along with the 1st Rhode Island, wore a very simple uniform. The uniform composed of a dark blue jacket like shirt, tannish grey pants, and a dark blue chasseur kepi. The 2nd Rhode Island also wore havelocks in the beginning of the war, but after finding them useless they discarded them.


The regiment was organized in June 1861 in Providence. The regiment was initially assigned to the IV Corps of the Army of Northeastern Virginia (later became the Army of the Potomac) and saw its first combat action at the First Battle of Bull Run. The IV Corps later became the VI Corps of the Army of the Shenandoah, and the 2nd Rhode Island participated in several fights in the Shenandoah Valley. The regiment was mustered out of service at Providence on July 13, 1865.


The Second was Rhode Island's fighting regiment. It fired the opening volley at First Bull Run, and was in line at the final scenes of Appomattox. It arrived at Washington, June 22, 1861, and after a few weeks encampment there, marched to the field of First Bull Run. It was then in Burnside's Brigade, of Hunter's Division. Burnside opened that fight with the First Rhode Island deployed as skirmishers, and the Second advancing in line of battle. Its casualties in that engagement aggregated 98 in killed, wounded and missing; among the killed were Colonel Slocum, Major Sullivan Ballou, and two captains. During the Peninsular campaign it served in Palmer's (3d) Brigade, Couch's (1st) Division, Fourth Corps; this division was transferred in October, 1862, to the Sixth Corps as Newton's (3d) Division. The regiment, under Colonel Rogers, distinguished itself in the hard-fought battle of the Sixth Corps at Salem Heights, May 3, 1863, in which action it lost 7 killed, 68 wounded, and 6 missing. At the Wilderness, it lost 12 killed, 66 wounded, and 5 missing; and at Spotsylvania, 15 killed, 32 wounded, and 6 missing. In the final battle of the Sixth Corps—at Sailor's Creek, April 6, 1865—the regiment displayed remarkable fighting qualities, engaging the enemy in an action so close that men were bayoneted, and clubbed muskets were freely used. The original regiment was mustered out June 17, 1864, the recruits and reenlisted men left in the field were organized into a battalion of three companies, to which five new ones were subsequently added in the fall and winter of 1864-5.

Organized at Providence June, 1861. Left State for Washington, D. C., June 19. Attached to Burnside's Brigade, Hunter's Division, McDowell's Army of Northeast Virginia, to August, 1861. Couch's Brigade, Division of the Potomac, to October, 1861. Couch's Brigade, Buell's Division, Army Potomac, to March, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to September, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to October, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, to March, 1864. 4th Brigade, 2nd Division, 6th Army Corps, to July, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps, Army Potomac and Army Shenandoah, Middle Military Division, to December, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to July, 1865.

SERVICE - At Camp Sprague, Washington, D. C., till July 16, 1861. Advance on Manassas, Va., July 16–21. Battle of Bull Run July 21. At Camp Sprague and Brightwood, Defences of Washington, till March, 1862. March to Prospect Hill, Va., March 11–15. Embarked at Alexandria, Va., for the Peninsula March 26. Siege of Yorktown April 5-May 4. Battle of Williamsburg May 5. Slatersville, New Kent C. H., May 9. Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, May 31-June 1. Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1. Oak Grove near Seven Pines June 25. James River Road near Fair Oaks June 29. White Oak Swamp June 30. Malvern Hill July 1. At Harrison's Landing till August 15. Reconnaissance to Turkey Island August 5–6, and to Haxall's Landing August 8–11. Movement to Alexandria August 15-September 1, thence march into Maryland September 3–18. At Downsville September 23-October 20. Movement to Stafford C. H., Va., October 20-November 18, and to Belle Plains December 5. Battle of Fredericksburg December 12–15. "Mud March" January 20–24, 1863. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Operations about Franklin's Crossing April 29-May 2. Maryes Heights, Fredericksburg, May 3. Salem Heights May 3–4. Banks' Ford May 4. Deep Run Ravine or Franklin's Crossing June 5–13. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 2–4. Funkstown, Md., July 10–13. At Warrenton, Va., till September. Bristoe Campaign October 9–22. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7–8. Rappahannock Station November 7. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. At Brandy Station till May, 1864. Rapidan Campaign May–June. Battles of the Wilderness May 5–7; Spottsylvania May 8–12; Spottsylvania C. H. May 12–21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23–26. On line of the Pamunkey May 26–28. Totopotomoy May 28–31. Cold Harbor June 1–12. Old members left front for muster out June 11. Mustered out June 17, 1864. Before Petersburg June 17–18. Jerusalem Plank Road June 22–23. Siege of Petersburg till July 9. Moved to Washington, D. C., July 9–11. Repulse of Early's attack on Washington July 11–12. Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign August to December. Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19. Garrison duty at Winchester September 22-December 1. Moved to Petersburg, Va., December 2–6. Siege of Petersburg December, 1864, to April, 1865. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5–7, 1865. Fort Fisher, Petersburg, March 25. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3–9. Expedition to Danville April 23–27. Moved to Washington via Richmond May 20-June 7. Corps Review June 8. Mustered out July 13, 1865.


First Manassas (Bull Run), Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks (Seven Pines), Oak Grove, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Salem Heights, Gettysburg, Salem Church (Banks' Ford), Rappahannock Station, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna, Totopotomoy Creek, Cold Harbor, Siege of Petersburg, Jerusalem Plank Road, Opequon (Third Winchester), Hatcher's Run (Dabney’s Mill), Petersburg (Final Assault & Fall), Pursuit of Lee, Sailor's Creek, Appomattox Court House


  • Killed & Mortally Wounded: 9 Officers & 111 Men
  • Died of Disease: 2 Officers & 74 Men
  • Total: 196

Commanding officers[edit]

  • Colonel John S. Slocum; June 5, 1861, to July 21, 1861 (killed in action)
  • Colonel Frank Wheaton; July 21, 1861, to November 29, 1862 (promoted)
  • Colonel Nelson Viall; November 29, 1862, to January 25, 1863 (resigned)
  • Colonel Horatio Rogers; February 6, 1863, to January 14, 1864 (resigned)
  • Colonel Samuel B. M. Read; January 14, 1864, to June 17, 1864 (mustered out of service)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Elisha Hunt Rhodes; June 17, 1864, to July 13, 1865 (mustered out of service)

Notable 2nd Rhode Island members[edit]


  • Department of Rhode Island Sons of Union Veterans the Civil War: 2nd RI Infantry history
  • Regimental Losses in the American Civil War: A Treatise on the extent and Nature of the Mortuary Losses in the Union Regiments, with Full and Exhaustive Statistics Compiled From the Official Records on File in the State Military Bureaus and at Washington, Fox, William F.
  • A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, comp. and arranged from Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of the Adjutant Generals of the Several States, the Army Registers, and Other Reliable Documents and Sources, by Dyer, Frederick H., 1908
  • All for the Union: The Civil War Diary & Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Rhodes, Robert Hunt, ed.

External links[edit]