The Second United States Infantry Company C
When the Civil War broke out, the 2nd Infantry Regiment, formed in 1815, was scattered throughout the Department of the West. Co C was one of the first of its companies to come east and fought at 1st
Bull Run. The Regiment was placed in the 2nd Brig, 2nd Div, when the V Corps was created early in 1862. The Regiment fought in every major engagement of the Army of the Potomac, as well as the New York City draft riots, until June 1864. At that time, the entire Regiment, reduced by the casualties that told the story of its steadfastness and courage, was consolidated into a single company, C, of less than a hundred men, which then sustained 30% casualties at Cold Harbor. It served the rest of the war as Provost Guard for 2nd Div, V Corps, as prison guards at Elmira, NY, and, after recruiting back up to strength, as occupation forces in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, on which duty it remained until 1877 before returning to the west.
In October 1980, a group of long-time reenactors led by Timothy “Scotty” Reece, later author of Sykes’ Regular Division 1861-1865, dissatisfied with the caliber and quality of most of the then existing Union Civil War reenactment units, met and established Co. C, 2nd US Infantry with Lt. Reece as our first company officer. The Regular Army was chosen as a model of excellence in drill, deportment, and discipline.
The unit, according to its Charter, would be run as a “benevolent dictatorship” to avoid the political pitfalls that plagued most other units at the time as a result of periodic elections of NCOs and officers. All decisions about the direction of the company would be made by the Officer and NCO cadre, members were free to leave with no ill feelings, and there would be no restrictions on the members about dual membership in other Civil War units or in groups from other periods of history. We have since established an NCO test to determine the best candidates for NCO positions when they come available, those positions are to be filled through appointment by the Officer and NCO cadre of the company, with the consensus of rest of the company. Those who successfully pass the NCO test are presented with an NCO warrant.
Also established at the very beginning was the mindset of excellence in drill and discipline, clean and serviceable uniforms (both field and full dress), and polished brass, leathers, and weapons. The result of this mindset is that the unit tends to attract current and former military members, as well as men from other paramilitary groups such as police and fire fighters. Since its establishment, the company has developed a very strong Living History presence, which also attracts historians and educators to our ranks. First Sergeant Steve Hanson is the last surviving charter member of the company.
In 1988, during the 125th Gettysburg battle reenactment, a number of British reenactors served with our company and, impressed by our zeal and dedication, returned to England and established a Co. C, 2nd US Infantry over there. Also serving with us at that event, as junior lieutenant, was Maj. Steve Bowman, then commander of the modern 2nd Bn, 2nd Infantry, who had come from Seattle where the Regiment was stationed to be with us. He brought the Regimental baton made from a piece of flagpole captured at Chapultapec, Mexico in 1847, which has been carried by the senior NCO of the Regiment ever since, and was carried by our First Sergeant, Cliff Sophia, during the battle reenactment.
During the 125th Gettysburg National Park Service event, the National Regiment (NR) assigned an officer, Will Hutchison, to our company, Scotty having earlier resigned for personal reasons. We got along so well together that we asked “Hutch” to join us as our company officer. He accepted, and has been our officer ever since, in addition to his duties as Adjutant of the NR.
In 1990, we joined Day’s Brigade, a group of units also portraying the Regular Army, and who had mindsets similar to ours. In a reorganization in 1994, Day’s Brigade became Sykes’ Regulars, Inc. (Co. C, 2nd and Co. H, 4th US). Ever since, Sykes’ Regulars has operated as a single unit in the field, and our two companies are consistently placed together as a single NR company. In June 1994, the combined Regular company of the NR was the last to win the NR’s Regimental guidon during company competitions, which included manual of arms, skirmish drill, guard mount, school of the company, and camp and personal presentation.
In addition to Regimental adjutant, Co. C, 2nd US has contributed other of its members to the NR Regimental staff: Cpl. Dave Kohls as Asst QM and Cpl. Frank Hall as backup Sergeant-Major.
“In addition, these members of the 2nd have held the position of NR Soldier of the Year: Cpl. Dave Kohls for 1993, Cpl. Frank Hall for 1996 and Cpl.Jim Wassel for 2002 . Company C, 2nd US is a member of Sykes’ Regulars, Inc., a charter member of the National Regiment, and is recognized by the National Park Service for excellence in Living History.