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The regiment was relatively inactive until McClellan's Peninsula campaign during May and June of 1862. The culmination of McClellan's inept efforts, required him to extricate his army from a Confederate entrapment. One avenue of escape was across the Chickihominy River now swollen by several days of rain. Existing bridges had been swept away. 

Orders came down from headquarters to have two bridges rebuilt. Col. Cross's regiment was selected to build one of them. So at dawn on May 28, the Fifth stacked arms, took up axes and began. They labored throughout the entire day felling trees and dragging them throughout the swamp, that was, in places, three feet deep. 

On the morning of the 29th they were joined by a contingent from the 64th N.Y. As a final step they lashed timbers together by grapevines that flourished in the area.  This detail was to prove important.

The main section of the span was 40 yards long but included approaches making the total length one eighth of a mile. It was completed in two days by more than 1000 men working at Cross's direction. Soon after completion, it began to rain again, eventually washing away all bridges except for the "Grapevine Bridge".

It was thus the only bridge available to a major portion of the army to effect a safe withdrawal.  The "Grapevine Bridge" is often called  Sumner's lower bridge in some Civil War books and is often incorrectly attributed to the army engineers.

The first major engagement for the Fifth was the battle of Fair Oaks, June 1, 1862. Losses were 30 killed, 170 wounded, including Colonel Cross,

 

them that it was not cruel." In the tradition of soldiers to create their own amusement Livermore admits, "When I was among the first squad, I used to lie after "taps" and tell wondrous stories to amuse my comrades, and then finish by announcing the fabrication."    
 

In September of 1862, Lee initiated his Maryland invasion which resulted in the battle of Antietam on September 17th. Here, the Fifth was involved in the heavy fighting of "the sunken road" or "bloody lane". In the words of Livermore, "On looking about me I found that we were in an old sunken road and that the bed of it lay from one to three feet below the surface of the crest along which it ran. In this road there lay so many dead rebels that there formed a line which one might have walked on as far as I could see, many of whom had been killed by the most horrible wounds of shot and shell and they lay just as they had been killed apparently amid the blood which was soaking the earth.
It was on this ghastly flooring that we kneeled for the last struggle... As the Rebel advance became apparent we plied the line with musketry with all our power and with no doubt with terrible effect but they still advanced. A color bearer came forward within fifteen yards of our line and with the utmost desperation waved the flag in front of him. Our men fairly roared "shoot the man with the flag!" and he went down in the twinkling and the flag was not raised in sight again.

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who was struck in the
thigh by a Minie ball and in the left side of the face by three buckshot. In all, seven balls struck his person
 or clothing. 

Additional engagements at Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill, completed their involvement in the Peninsula Campaign. Following the Peninsular disaster, McClellan settled the army into camp at Falmouth. Some interesting, if not mundane, aspects of soldier life were recorded by Thomas L. Livermore who was then 1st Sgt. of Co. K. "Some of the men would keep dirty until I obviated it by details to scrub dirty faces with soap and sand, and once taking three men down to the brooks in front of the camp and requiring them to strip and go in, doing the same myself to show