The Fifth regiment of Infantry was organized at Camp Randall, Madison, Wisconsin, and mustered into the service of the United States on July 13, 1861. The Regiment left the State on July 24, going directly to Washington, D.C.
The Fifth, assigned to General Kings Brigade, remained in camp on Meridian Hill in the suburbs of Washington. Shortly after, they transferred and permanently attached to General Hancock’s Brigade.
They remained in the defenses of Washington until March 1862. Afterwards, General George B. McClellan’s command of the Potomac army transferred to Hampton, Virginia. These forces, which included the Fifth, would take part in what is known as the Peninsular Campaign from March 17 to September 2, 1862.
During the campaign, the Fifth participated in many engagements. In late August, the regiment returned to Centerville, Virginia, to assist in the support of that part of the Union Army then under the command of General Pope. In the retreat of the Union forces which followed, and the invasion of Maryland by the confederates, known as the Maryland Campaign, the Fifth participated in the battle of Antietam.
During its whole term of service, the Fifth contributed to the Army of the Potomac of the famous Sixth Corps, and took part in the various campaigns in Virginia, including Gettysburg, The Wilderness, Petersburg, Shenandoah Valley, Richmond and Appomattox. Then, the Fifth was transferred to Louisville, KY. The regiment mustered out of the service, returned to Madison, WI, and disbanded on the July 20, 1865.
The Fifth Regiment lost 15 officers and 180 men to mortal wounds, and 2 officers and 132 men to disease. In total, they lost 329 men.
For Further Research
Search our collections for photos and artifacts from Wisconsin in the Civil War. Read about other Wisconsin Civil War regiments. For detailed regimental histories of the U.S. Civil War, consult the Frederick H. Dyer, Compendium of the War of the Rebellion: Regimental Histories.
The histories above, unless otherwise noted, are adopted from Charles E. Estabrook, ed., Records and Sketches of Military Organizations, (Madison, 1914).