Fourteenth Infantry Regiment: Notes about "Officers, Names, Deeds"
Early History of the 14th Infantry Regiment
Notes about "Officers, Names and Deeds"
by Sgt. Robert H. Wilson Jr., USA (Ret)
The early history of the 14th Infantry, in all its transformations, spans the full timeline of an independent America, from America's initial struggle to free itself from Great Britainís dominion to our own dominion over former Spanish colonies during the end of the 19th century. The stories and statistics in the pages listed below provide a window through which the reader may see more clearly into that history.
"Necessity is the mother of invention". In 1999, several alumni of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry began a labor of love, a website to commemorate and remember the Battalionís efforts and sacrifices in Vietnam. Slowly, former Dragons were found, pictures and other memorabilia were collected and turned into computer files. An existing website, for the 1/14th 4th Division alumni, was enlarged to take in those who had served under the 25th Division, and this became the well from which sprang this document.
The Internet has changed the way man lives, and it has enabled the way the 14th Infantry is to be remembered. Books that stood upon library shelves have been turned into files that could be downloaded and studied for reference. In particular, the US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, brought its Military History Institute on-line. The documents that MHI made available to the researcher gave new life to the early history of the 14th Infantry.
The narrative and details in the officerís biographies were made possible by the use of "Heitmanís Historical Register" of 1903. The document is one of many that MHI has in its electronic library. Heitmanís allows the reader to know the name and deeds of each officer of the Army from about 1776 to 1900. Extracting these names and deeds from those whom served with the 14th Infantry during that time tells their story. It is a story worth telling.
The reader is free to read into the data any summations he wishes. The author made use of literary license only to provide brevity; otherwise the project would have become cumbersome. Not all 14th Infantry names and deeds were extracted. It is hoped that those biographies that were extracted will paint a full canvas of what transpired during this time in the 14thís history and tell the stories for those names that are not present.
Most of the terms used in the biographies are known to all military men, or can be guessed at. The first and second item after the officerís name is his place of birth and where he enlisted. If it says "Army" instead of a state or place, it means that the officer was enlisted before he was an officer. Examples of abbreviations: "Gal" is short for gallantry, and "mer" is short for meritorious. "Bvt" is the abbreviation for Brevet, an honorary rank given in place of pay for meritorious service.
Translating the following example: Joseph Alton Sladen was born in England and enlisted in Massachusetts. He was a private and then a corporal serving with the 33rd Massachusetts Infantry starting 6-Aug-1862. He became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 14th U.S. Infantry on 25-Nov-1864. He was breveted to 1st Lieutenant of the Volunteers on 13-Mar-1865 for gallantry and meritorious conduct during the Atlanta and Carolina campaigns. He was mustered out, honorably, on 26-Mar-1866 (at the end of the Civil War). Deciding to continue a career in the military, the next day, on 27-Mar-1866 he became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 17th Infantry, and transferred to the 26th Infantry on 21-Sep-1866. He became a 1st Lieutenant on 17-Jul-1867. He was unassigned on 19-May-1869, and assigned to the 14th U.S. Infantry on 15-Dec-1870. He was "rgm" (unknown, perhaps regiment) from 25-Jul-1887 to 15-Jun-1888. He became a Captain on 15-Jun-1888 and retired on 8-Apr-1889 after 25 years in service. Additional notes show he was brevited to 1st Lieutenant, and then to Captain on 2-Mar-1867, for gallantry and meritorious service in the battle of Jonesboro, Georgia. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on 19-Jul-1895 for distinguished gallantry in the battle of Resaca, Georgia on 14-May-1864 while serving as a private with Alpha Co, 33rd Massachusetts Infantry, when he voluntarily engaged in the action at a critical juncture and by the coolness and courage of his example, inspired the panic-stricken troops to repel the fierce assaults of the enemy.
Sladen, Joseph Alton England. Mass. Pvt and corpl A 33 Mass inf 6 aug 1862; 2 lt 14 Us inf 25 nov 1864; 1 lt 24 oct 1865; bvt 1 lt vols 13 mar 1865 for gal and mer con dur the Atlanta and Carolina campns; hon must out 26 mar 1866; 2 lt 17 inf 27 mar 1866; tr to 26 inf 21 sep 1866; 1 lt 17 jul 1867; unassd 19 may 1869; assd to 14 inf 15 dec 1870; rqm 25 jul 1887 to 15 jun 1888; capt 15 jun 1888; retd 8 apr 1889; bvt 1 lt and capt 2 mar 1867 for gal and mer ser in the battle of Jonesboro Ga; awarded medal of honor 19 jul 1895 for dist gal in the battle of Resaca Ga 14 may 1864 while pvt A 33 mass inf in voluntarily engaging in the action at a critical juncture and by the coolness and courage of his example inspiring the panic-stricken troops to repel the fierce assaults of the enemy.
The author has some general comments to make about his observations in reading this material. First, he does not believe that anyone can read the records of service in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War without noticing the non-combat casualties. The evidence is quite clear that many more officers lost their lives from "unknown" causes (presumably disease and exposure), than from combat. Because the author, on these non-combatant losses, exercised intentional omission, it was necessary to comment on them in this introduction.
Significant enough to mention here are two other types of fatalities that are worth mentioning. "Accidentally Killed" and "drowning" were both rather common occurrences. Accidentally killed is presumably a euphemism for accidentally shot, although for the rider (all officers rode), it may have meant being thrown from oneís horse and subsequently dying from the event. Drowning was a very common type of service-connected fatality, common enough to be mentioned as the cause in the official records.
The 14th had its share of scoundrels. There was one individual who had served as an officer in the Civil War, resigned, enlisted in the 14th in late 1865 and deserted in January of 1866. There were a number of officers who were cashiered - court-martialed - for whatever reasons. All in all, the 14th was a very typical infantry unit during its different periods of service at this time.
In all fairness to current unit biographies, no other author has attempted to cast the shadow of the US Infantry Regimentís histories back to the Continental Army Infantry Regiments. They may well have a good reason for doing so, but the connection is obvious between Continental Army Regiments and later U.S. Army Regiments. Revisionism is not the authorís purpose, but the literary license used in this case is to show the conclusive link between the Continental Army and the United States Army.
The best reading history of the 14th may be the one presented in the 72nd Organization Day Program of 1933. This version supplements and expands that will-written history to include more names and deeds. Where the two differ, the author defers to the program as it had a greater number of reference resources. That being said, it is hoped that the "early history" will amplify the sounds of past battles and events through the names and deeds of the men who fought them.
Finally, the subject of Army "lineage and honors" must be discussed. Military historians are quick to point out that technically, none of the different renditions of the 14th Infantry are connected in any way but name. The present 4th US Infantry traces it's roots to the 14th US Infantry at the end of the War of 1812. The 23rd and 32nd US Infantries trace themselves to the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 14th U.S. Infantry Regiment in 1866. The author's position is that all 14th Infantrymen are bonded through blood, borne by sacrifice for, and duty to, the 14th Infantry, no matter the war. This is the only lineage that honor requires.
Fourteenth Infantry Regiment: Notes about Officers, Names and Deeds
Copyright © 2013 14th Infantry Regiment Association
Last modified: January 19, 2013