Id’d 56th New York Infantry Commissary Sergeant’s Chest and Contents



Id’d 56th New York Infantry Commissary Sergeant’s Chest and Contents – This Civil War period chest and contents, recently surfaced at a small, estate auction, in the Midwest; it is constructed of white pine, thick, tongue-in-groove boards, held in place by period cut nails. The chest was utilized by Commissary Sergeant William Henry Dill Blake of the 56th New York Infantry. The top or lid of the chest is fastened to the body of the chest, via heavy, butt hinges, both stamped with the hinge maker’s name; the lock hasp, attached to the lid via two clinched, cut nails, is hand forged. Painted, in several places, is the identity of the regiment and Commissary Sergeant Blake; the chest is painted on the exterior, with the regimental identity, as well as the word “COMMISSARY”; on the left exterior end is painted the date – “June 13th 18….” On the interior, written along one side of the chest, in red ink, is Sergeant Blake’s name and regiment; painted in black, on the back interior side, the interior of the chest lid and on the side of the small interior compartment is Blake’s name and regiment. On both exterior ends of the chest, beneath the handles, are numerous additional, painted military designations. Inside the chest, which remains in excellent condition, when auctioned, were the following items: a Civil War period, folding, carpet-seated, camp chair, with the manufacturer’s name woven into the underside of the seat and retaining most of its original, oxblood paint; a bootjack, constructed of painted white pine and cut nails; a hand carved, vine wood cane, with a burled palm grip area. All of these latter items are also in very good condition. Sergeant Blake enlisted into Company C of the 56th NY, in late December of 1863 and remained in the regiment until the end of the war. During Blake’s tenure in the regiment, the 56th was stationed on Folly and James Islands and at Beaufort, in South Carolina. During the summer of 1864, the regiment was engaged in combat at Honeyhill, losing 50 men; the regiment was active at Coosawhatchie and Boyd’s point, in December of 1864 and shared in the operations at Deveaux Neck, S. C., suffering significantly more men. The 56th ultimately lost, during its term of service, 64 soldiers from wounds and 216 from other causes.

Measurements: Width – 37.5”; Height – 24.25”; Depth – 22”

William H. D. Blake

Residence was not listed;

Enlisted on 12/31/1863 at Montgomery, NY as a Private.

On 12/31/1863 he mustered into “C” Co. NY 56th Infantry

He was Mustered Out on 10/17/1865 at Charleston, SC


* Corpl 9/10/1864

* Comm Sergt 11/22/1864

(Three Years)

Fifty-sixth Infantry.-Cols., Charles H. Van Wyck, Rockwell Tyler;

Lieut.-Cols., James Jordan, Frederic Decker, John J. Wheeler,

Rockwell Tyler, Eliphas Smith; Majs., Jacob Sharpe, John J.

Wheeler, Rockwell Tyler, Eliphas Smith, James Dubois.

The 56th regiment was organized at Newburgh and was composed of

eleven companies, two light batteries and two cavalry troops.

The batteries later became the 7th and 8th independent batteries

and the cavalry part of the 1st mounted rifles.  Co. L was the

5th company of N. Y. sharpshooters.

The men were mainly from Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties and

were mustered into the U. S. service at Newburgh, Oct. 28, 1861,

for three years.  The regiment left for Washington on Nov. 7,

1861, was there assigned to the 1st brigade, Casey’s division,

and served in the vicinity of Washington until March, 1862.

In the opening of the spring campaign, the regiment, as part of

the 1st brigade, 2nd division, 4th corps, participated in the

siege of Yorktown and was present without loss at Williamsburg,

Savage Station and Bottom’s bridge.  At Fair Oaks the loss of the

command was heavy-66 killed and wounded and 5 missing.

In June the brigade, in Peck’s division of the 4th corps, was

present during the Seven Days’ battles but not closely engaged,

and after the battle of Malvern hill was withdrawn to Yorktown.

In December the brigade under Naglee was assigned to the 18th

corps and reached South Carolina early in Jan., 1862.

The regiment served about Charleston, was active in the siege of

Fort Wagner in July, 1863, and the subsequent operations in the

vicinity.  It was assigned to the 1st brigade, 3d division, 18th

corps, in March, 1863, and transferred to the 10th corps in


While with the 18th corps it was stationed on Folly island and at

Beaufort.  In the summer of 1864, the regiment was stationed at

James island; lost 50 men in an engagement at Honeyhill; was

active at Coosawhatchie and Boyd’s point in December, and shared

in the operations at Deveaux neck, S. C., during the same month

with considerable loss.

The original members not reenlisted were mustered out at the

expiration of the term of enlistment and the regiment remained in

the Department of the South, serving in the coast division during

the winter of 1864-65 and at Charleston from March, 1865 to Oct.

17, 1865, when it was mustered out.  The regiment lost during its

term of service 64 by death from wounds and 216 from other


56th NY Infantry
( 3-years )

Organized: Newburgh, NY on 10/28/61
Mustered Out: 10/17/65 at Charleston, SC
Officers Killed or Mortally Wounded: 1
Officers Died of Disease, Accidents, etc.: 3
Enlisted Men Killed or Mortally Wounded: 63
Enlisted Men Died of Disease, Accidents, etc.: 213
(Source: Fox, Regimental Losses)


From To Brigade Division Corps Army Comment
Dec ’61 Mar ’62 1 Casey’s Army of Potomac New Organization
Mar ’62 Jun ’62 1 3 4 Army of Potomac
Jun ’62 Dec ’62 1 2 4 Army of Potomac
Dec ’62 Jan ’63 Naglee’s Department of North Carolina
Jan ’63 Feb ’63 2 3 18 Department of North Carolina
Jan ’63 Apr ’63 2 2 18 Det Department of the South
Apr ’63 Jul ’63 Stevenson’s US Forces, Seabrook Is. Department of the South
Jul ’63 Jul ’63 2 1 10 Department of the South
Jul ’63 Aug ’63 Davis’ US Forces, Folly Island Department of the South
Aug ’63 Apr ’64 US Forces, Beaufort 10 Department of the South
Apr ’64 Aug ’64 Dist of Beaufort Department of the South
Aug ’64 Oct ’64 Morris Island Northern Dist Department of the South
Oct ’64 Nov ’64 1st Separate Department of the South
Nov ’64 Dec ’64 1 Coast Department of the South
Feb ’65 Mar ’65 1st Separate Department of the South

56th New York Infantry Regiment

56th New York Infantry Regiment
10th Legion
Active October 15, 1861 – October 17, 1865
Country United States
Allegiance Union
Branch Infantry
Engagements Siege of Yorktown
Battle of Williamsburg
Battle of Seven Pines
Seven Days Battles
Battle of Gaines’s Mill
Battle of Bottom’s Bridge
Battle of White Oak Swamp
Battle of Malvern Hill
Second Battle of Charleston Harbor
Battle of Honey Hill
Battle of Tulifinny
Battle of Deveaux’s Neck
Battle of Coosawhatchie
Battle of Dingle’s Mills

The 56th New York Infantry Regiment, also known as 10th Legion, was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War.


The 56th New York Infantry was organized at NewburghNew York October 15, 1861 and mustered in October 28, 1861 under the command of Colonel Charles Henry Van Wyck. The regiment initially consisted of eleven companies of infantry, two light batteries, and two troops of cavalry, the whole being known as the “10th Legion”. The light batteries became the 7th and 8th Independent New York Batteries, and the two troops of cavalry were assigned to the 1st New York Mounted Rifles. The eleventh company of infantry became known as 5th Company, New York Sharpshooters.

The regiment was attached to 1st Brigade, Casey’s Division, Army of the Potomac, to March 1862. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, IV Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June 1862. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, IV Corps, to December 1862. Naglee’s Brigade, Department of North Carolina, to January 1863. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, XVIII Corps, Department of North Carolina, January 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, XVIII Corps, Department of the South, to April 1863. Stephenson’s Brigade, Seabrook Island, South Carolina, X Corps, Department of the South, to July 1863. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Morris Island, South Carolina, X Corps, July 1863. Davis’ Brigade, Folly Island, South Carolina, X Corps, to August 1863. Saxton’s Division, District of Beaufort, South Carolina, X Corps, to April 1864. District of Beaufort, South Carolina, Northern District, Department of the South, to November 1864. 1st Brigade, Coast Division, Department of the South, to January 1865. 1st Separate Brigade, Morris Island, South Carolina, Department of the South, to March 1865. 4th Separate Brigade, Department of the South, to July 1865. 2nd Sub-District, District of Western South Carolina, to September 1865.

The 56th New York Infantry mustered out October 17, 1865 at Charleston, South Carolina.

Detailed service

Left New York for Washington, D.C., November 7, 1861. Duty in the defenses of Washington, D.C., until March 1862. Advance on Manassas, Va., March 10–15. Moved to Newport News, Va., March 28. Siege of Yorktown April 5-May 4. Battle of Williamsburg May 5. Operations about Bottom’s Bridge May 20–23. Battle of Seven Pines May 31-June 1. Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1. Battle of Gaines’s Mill June 27. Bottom’s Bridge June 28–29. White Oak Swamp June 30. Malvern Hill July 1. At Harrison’s Landing until August 16. Moved to Fort Monroe, Va., August 16–22, then to Yorktown, Va. Duty there and at Gloucester Point until December 26. Action at Lee’s Mills September 16. Reconnaissance to Gloucester and Matthews Counties December 11–15. Moved to Morehead City, N.C., December 26-January 1, 1863; then to Port Royal, S.C., January 28–31. At St. Helena Island, S.C., until March 27, and at Seabrook Island until July 6. Expedition to James Island July 9–16. Grimball’s Landing, Secessionville, July 16. Siege of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, S.C., and operations against Fort Sumter and Charleston until August. Duty in District of Beaufort, S.C., until September 1864. Expedition to James Island, S.C., June 30-July 10, 1864. James Island July 4. John’s Island July 9. Duty on Morris and Folly Islands, S.C., until November. Hatch’s Expedition up Broad River November 28–30. Battle of Honey Hill November 30. Demonstration on Charleston and Savannah Railroad December 6–9. Deveaux’s Neck December 6. Coosawhatchie December 9. Ordered to Morris Island January 18, 1865, and duty there until March 25. Potter’s Expedition to Camden, S.C., April 5–25. Dingle’s Mills April 9. Statesburg April 15. Occupation of Camden April 17. Boykin’s Mills April 18. Denkin’s Mills and Beech Creek, near Statesburg, April 19. Duty in Northern and Western Districts of South Carolina until September.


The regiment lost a total of 280 men during service; 1 officer and 63 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 3 officers and 213 enlisted men died of disease.


  • Colonel Charles Henry Van Wyck
  • Colonel Rockwell Tyler
NAME: William H D Blake
BIRTH DATE: 17 Jan 1843
BIRTH PLACE: Montgomery, New York
FATHER: William Blake
MOTHER: Elizabeth Jackson
ENLISTMENT LOCATION: Montgomery, Orange, New York
REGIMENT: 56th Infantry
RANK: 2nd Lieutenant
RACE: White

William H. D. Blake

Name: William H. D. Blake
Enlistment Date: 31 Dec 1863
Enlistment Place: Montgomery, New York
Enlistment Rank: Private
Muster Date: 31 Dec 1863
Muster Place: New York
Muster Company: C
Muster Regiment: 56th Infantry
Muster Regiment Type: Infantry
Muster Information: Enlisted
Rank Change Date: 10 Sep 1864
Rank Change Rank: Corpl
Muster Out Date: 17 Oct 1865
Muster Out Place: Charleston, South Carolina
Muster Out Information: Mustered Out
Side of War: Union
Survived War?: Yes
Additional Notes 2: Rank Change 2 Date: 22 Nov 1864; Rank Change 2 Rank: Comm Sergeant;

A condensed history of the 56th Regiment, New York Veteran Volunteer Infantry : which was part of the organization known as the “Tenth Legion” in the Civil War, 1861-1865

by Joel C. Fisk and William H. D. Blake



Bethesda, Maryland : University Publications of America, c1992

A condensed history of the 56th Regiment, New York Veteran Volunteer Infantry, which was part of the organization known as the “Tenth Legion” in the Civil War, 1861-1865, together with a register or roster of all the members of the regiment, and the war record of each member as recorded in the Adjutant General’s Office at Albany, New York


Fisk, Joel CBlake, William H. D

Publication date



United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 56th (1861-1865)United States. Army New York Infantry Regiment, 56th (1861-1965)United States — History Civil War, 1861-1865 Regimental histories


[Newburgh, N.Y., Newburgh journal printing house and book bindery

56th Infantry Regiment

Nickname: Tenth Legion; Orange And Sullivan Regiment.

Mustered in: October 28,1861
Mustered out: October 17, 1865

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.
This regiment, recruited by Col. Charles H. Van Wyck, received its numerical designation and was organized October 15, 1861, at Newburgh, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years October 28, 1861. It consisted of eleven companies, and with it were also recruited two light batteries and two troops of cavalry, the whole being known as the 10th Legion. The light batteries became the 7th and 8th Independent Batteries, and the two troops of cavalry were assigned to the 1st Mounted Rifles. The eleventh company, L, of the regiment was also known as the 5th Company, New York Sharpshooters, and 10th Legion Sharpshooter’s. On the expiration of the term of its service, the men entitled thereto were discharged, and the regiment retained in service. The companies were recruited principally: A, B, C, D and E at Newburgh; F at Liberty; G at Ellenville; Hand L at Callicoon Depot; I and K at Monticello; and the men came from the counties of Orange, Sullivan and Ulster.
The regiment left the State November 7, 1861; served in the 1st Brigade, Casey’s Division, Army of the Potomac, from November, 1861; in Naglee’s, 1st Brigade, same, 2d, Division, 4th Corps, Army of the Potomac, from March 13, 1862; same brigade, Peck’s Division, same corps, from June, 1862; at Yorktown, Va., from August, 1862; in Naglee’s Brigade, 18th Corps, from December, 1862; in 2d, Howell’s, Brigade, 3d, Ferry’s, Division, 18th Corps, in South Carolina, from January 11, 1863; in the 1st Brigade, same division and corps, from March, 1863; at Folly Island, S. C., from July, 1863; at Beaufort, S. C, from August, 1863; transferred to the 10th Corps in October, 1863; in Saxton’s Division of that corps, from January, 1864; in the District of Beaufort, Department of the Gulf, from June, 1864; at Morris Island, S. C., in September, 1864; in the 1st, Fatter’s, Brigade, Coast Division, Hatch, Department of the South, from November, 1864; at Charleston, S. C., from March, 1865; and it was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Colonel Van Wyck, October 17, 1865, at Charleston, S. C.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 1 officer, 40 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 23 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 3 officers, 213 enlisted men; total, 4 officers, 276 enlisted men; aggregate, 280; of whom 2 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.