V Corps (ACW)

V Corps (ACW)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= V Corps

caption= V Corps badge
dates= 1862–1865
country= United States
branch= United States Army
command_structure=Army of the Potomac
battles=Peninsula Campaign Second Battle of Bull Run Battle of Antietam Battle of Fredericksburg Battle of Gettysburg Battle of Bristoe Station Battle of the Wilderness Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse Battle of Cold Harbor Siege of Petersburg Battle of Five Forks
notable_commanders= Fitz John Porter George G. Meade George Sykes Gouverneur K. Warren Charles Griffin
identification_symbol_label= 1st Division
identification_symbol_2_label=2nd Division
identification_symbol_3_label=3rd Division
The V Corps (Fifth Corps) was a unit of the Union Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War.


The corps was first organized briefly under Nathaniel P. Banks, but then permanently on May 18, 1862, designated as the "V Corps Provisional". (Banks' original command opposed Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign and ultimately became XII Corps.) It was formed within the Army of the Potomac, which was engaged in the Peninsula Campaign to seize Richmond. It was created by merging Major General Fitz John Porter's 3rd Division of the III Corps with Major General George Sykes's division of U.S. Regular troops, formerly in the Reserve.

Porter became corps commander and his 1st Division was assigned to Brig. Gen. George W. Morell. On July 22, 1862, "provisional" was dropped from the name as the U.S. War Department confirmed it as the V Corps, Army of the Potomac.

The V Corps fought in several battles throughout the Peninsula Campaign, including Hanover Court House, Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, Glendale, and Malvern Hill. The corps' losses in the Seven Days Battles were 995 killed, 3,805 wounded, and 2,801 captured or missing, totaling 7,601, or half the entire loss of the army. Of these casualties, 6,837 occurred at Gaines' Mill; the remainder at Mechanicsville, Glendale, and Malvern Hill. The corps was temporarily enlarged on June 14 by George A. McCall's division of Pennsylvania Reserves, which included future stars John F. Reynolds and George G. Meade. The corps fought stoutly at Gaines' Mill in particular, where Porter commanded the Union forces that included only the V Corps and Henry W. Slocum's 1st Division of the VI Corps against nearly the entire Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Following the failure of the Peninsula Campaign, the Pennsylvania Reserves were reassigned to Irvin McDowell's I Corps (III Corps at the Second Battle of Bull Run). The V Corps was reassigned to Major General John Pope's Army of Virginia, along with the III and IX Corps of George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac.

The V Corps saw action at the Second Battle of Bull Run, fighting on the left wing of the Union army. Losses of the small corps were 331 killed, 1,362 wounded, and 456 missing; a total of 2,151, out of about 6,500 engaged. Two brigades, of six, were not engaged. One brigade, composed of two regiments under Gouverneur K. Warren, made a futile stand against the Confederate attack on the Union left flank.

The corps saw minimal action at the Battle of Antietam. The 1st Division was held in reserve in the relative center of the Union line, but Sykes's 2nd Division was drawn out during the battle. It was after Antietam that a new 3rd Division was added under Andrew A. Humphreys, composed mostly of nine-month recruits from Pennsylvania.

In the Army of the Potomac's restructuring under newly appointed Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, the V Corps was placed with the III Corps in the Center "Grand Division" under the command of Joseph Hooker. Major General Daniel Butterfield replaced Porter to command the V Corps at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and Generals Charles Griffin, Sykes, and Humphreys the three divisions. Losses were 206 killed, 1,669 wounded, and 300 missing; total, 2,175.


When Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac in the spring, he did away with the "grand divisions" and made Butterfield his chief of staff. Major General George G. Meade, formerly commanding the 3rd Division of the I Corps, took charge of the V Corps. It was at this time that each corps was designated a symbol; the V Corps used a "cross pattée", the straight-edged variant of the Maltese Cross.

The V Corps was not significantly engaged at Chancellorsville, but soon after the entire 3rd Division had their enlistments expire and went home. Another division under Brigadier General Samuel W. Crawford, made up of two Pennsylvania Reserve brigades, promptly joined while Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia invaded the North.

George Sykes took command of the V Corps on June 28, 1863, as George Meade was promoted to command of the Army of the Potomac. The corps arrived at the eastern end of the Gettysburg battlefield on July 2. They earned distinction from fighting in the Wheatfield, but were most famous for the actions of Colonel Strong Vincent's 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. The brigade quickly marched to cover Little Round Top, a nearly bare hill at the left end of the Union line. Against ferocious attacks from the Confederate First Corps of James Longstreet, Vincent's brigade held the hill and saved the Union army from being flanked. The scene is depicted in the novel "The Killer Angels" (1974) by Michael Shaara and the movie "Gettysburg" (1993), based on the novel, focusing on the 20th Maine regiment at the extreme left, under the command of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

The V Corps saw the deaths of two of their generals at Gettysburg: Brigadier Generals Stephen H. Weed and Strong Vincent (who was quickly promoted not long before his death for his heroic efforts on Little Round Top). The Corps saw little action in the autumn campaigns of 1863. At the Battle of Bristoe Station (October 14, 1863) V Corps was fired on by troops of A. P. Hill. This distracted Hill from the arrival of II Corps. This allowed Gouverneur K. Warren, commanding II Corps, to seize a favorable position and inflict a defeat on Hill's corps.


In March, 1864, with Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant now in command of all Union armies, the V Corps was restructured, along with the entire army. The 1st and 2nd Divisions were consolidated into one 1st Division, under General Griffin. Crawford's 3rd Division of Pennsylvanians remained unchanged, although it was due to be mustered out of the service in a few weeks. The I Corps was fused into the V as the 2nd and 4th Divisions, under Generals John C. Robinson and James S. Wadsworth respectively. The new commander of the V Corps was Major General Gouverneur K. Warren.

By the time of the Battle of the Wilderness, the corps included over 25,000 men; following the end of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in May, 1864, over 10,000 had become casualties. General Wadsworth was killed at the Wilderness, and Robinson was severely wounded (losing a leg) at Spotsylvania. His division was broken down and dispersed temporarilly among the others of the V Corps. Wadsworth's Division went under General Lysander Cutler, commander of the Iron Brigade.

The V Corps saw hard fighting at Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg in June. Many of its men were captured in the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad on August 19, 1864. Cutler's division was broken up after these battles. At that point the three remaining divisions were commanded by generals Griffin, Ayres, and Crawford; they would remain until the end of the war. Griffin's division eventually contained most of the remaining regiments of the old V Corps, plus newly organized units. Ayres had new regiments and a few veteran units, including a brigade of Maryland troops. The remainder of the old I Corps served under Crawford. These divisions participated in the Battle of Peebles' Farm (September 30, 1864).


By March 31, 1865, the V Corps was down to 17,000 men and would lose 2,000 more by the time Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House. After the Battle of Five Forks, with the war's end literally days away, General Warren was relieved of command by Major General Philip Sheridan, displeased by his supposed lack of aggressive pursuit of the enemy. (Warren spent the remainder of his life seeking rehabilitation of his reputation.) Warren was replaced by Griffin, who led the corps in the pursuit of Lee's army. It arrived at Appomatox Courthouse in time to support Sheridan's cavalry against any attempted breakout by the Confederate forces. The corps was officially disbanded on June 28, 1865.

Command history


*Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J.: "Civil War High Commands", Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3
*Fox, William F.: "Regimental Losses in the American Civil War", Albany Publishing, 1889 ( [http://www.civilwarhome.com/foxspref.htm online text] )

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