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Back to Water Color Sketchbook by Private Henry Berckhoff

Sketches About Marching and Fighting

The Eighth New York Volunteers, under the command of General Louis Blenker, first set up camp at East 58th Street in New York City. When the regiment "marched to the seat of war" (Washington, D.C.) in the spring of 1861, German Americans and other New Yorkers lined Broadway to cheer the soldiers. The Eighth New York made a strong impression in Washington. Unlike many understrength volunteer regiments, it had an artillery unit and medical detachment with ambulances. The soldiers also had two different uniforms: the regular blue uniform as well as a distinctive gray for parades and other ceremonious occasions.

The Eighth New York was held in reserve at the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) but assisted in covering the chaotic retreat of the Union forces on 21 July 1861. General Blenker's soldiers were then sent to aid John C. Frémont against Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. Following the Battle of Cross Keys on 8 June 1862 and General Franz Sigel's arrival in the Shenandoah, Blenker was ordered to return to Washington. The Eighth New York continued to participate in significant battles, including the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas).

The Eighth New York set up camp in a distinctive fashion. The soldiers' tents were arranged in orderly rows with lanes of fir and cedar trees separating each regiment in the division. In fact the Eighth New York's Washington, D.C., camp was reported to be a popular tourist attraction.

The Eighth New York left federal service when its term of enlistment expired in April 1863. Berckhoff then served with Company A of the Fifth New York Veteran Volunteer Infantry until the end of the war.

All of these sketches are part of the Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Marching to the Seat of War, 27 May 1861.
GLC 6106 p.1.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Piermont Morgan Library.

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General Blenker at the Close of the Battle of Bull Run, 21 July 1861.
GLC 6106 p.3.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Piermont Morgan Library.

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Attack on the Outposts near Annondale, Va., 5 December 1861.
GLC 6106 p.7.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Piermont Morgan Library.

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Gen. Blenker's Fatal Fall at Salem, 7 April 1862.
GLC 6106 p.8.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Piermont Morgan Library.

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The Battle of Cross Keyes, 8 June 1862.
GLC 6106 p.13.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Piermont Morgan Library.

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Battle on Manassas Plains, 29 August 1862.
GLC 6106 p.14.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Piermont Morgan Library.

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Cavalry Skirmish near Aldie, 28 November 1862.
GLC 6106 p.15.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Piermont Morgan Library.

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Skirmish at Haymarket, 4 November 1862.
GLC 6106 p.16.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Piermont Morgan Library.

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This site was updated on 28-Aug-14.

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