The Steuben Rifles

7th New York Infantry "The Steuben Rifles"

The 7th New York Infantry was organizined in New York City by Colonel John Bendix. The regiment was overwhelmingly composed of foreign born troops, and the most predominant of these groups were the Germans.

Baron von Steuben of the American Revolution

The regiment was known as the Steuben Rifles. Of course, it was named in honor of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Von Steuben, the Prussian officer who taught the Continental Army how to drill at their camp at Valley Forge during the American Revolution. The Cross of the Order of Fidelity was used on the flag on the 7th NY because it was a medal that Baron von Steuben had highly cherished. He was shown wearing it in many of his portraits.

Organization and Affiliations:
  • Organized at New York City and mustered in April 23, 1861.
  • Left State for Newport News, Va., May 24, 1861.
  • Attached to Newport News, Va., Dept. of Virginia, to May, 1862.
  • 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to May, 1863.
  • Occupation of Newport News, Va., May 27, and duty there till March, 1862.
    • Action at Big Bethel, Va., June 10, 1861.
    • Baker Lee's Farm, Newport News, July 12.
    • Battle between Monitor and Merrimac in Hampton Roads March 8-9, 1862.
  • Joined Army of the Potomac on the Virginia Peninsula May, 1862.
  • Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1.
    • About Fair Oaks June 26-29.
    • Peach Orchard and Savage Station June 29.
    • White Oak Swamp and Glendale June 30.
    • Malvern Hill July 1.
  • At Harrison's Landing till August 16.
  • Movement to Fortress Monroe, thence to Centreville August 16-30.
  • Maryland Campaign September 6-22.
    • Battle of South Mountain September 14.
    • Antietam September 16-17.
  • Moved to Harper's Ferry, W. Va., September 22, and duty there till October 30.
    • Reconnoissance to Charlestown October 16-17.
  • Advance up Loudoun Valley and movement to Falmouth October 30-November 17.
  • Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15.
  • "Mud March" January 20-24, 1863.
  • At Falmouth till April 27.
  • Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
    • Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5.
  • Mustered out May 8, 1863, expiration of term. Three years' men attached to 52nd New York Infantry to July 22, 1864, then assigned to 7th Veteran Infantry.
Regimental losses during service:
  • 14 Officers and 88 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded.
  • 1 Officer and 46 Enlisted men by disease.
  • Total 149.

Note: There were three infantry regiments from New York that bore the numeral 7. The "7th Regiment Infantry" was the mainly German organization known as the "Steuben Rifles" which is covered on this page. The "7th Regiment Veteran Infantry" was a later incarnation of the original organization, which was attached to the 52nd New York (the German Rangers) and which, later still, operated as an independent body. The "7th Regiment State Militia Infantry" was an unrelated organization.

Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (Des Moines, Iowa: The Dyer Publishing Company, 1908).
Lonn, Ella. Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1951).