The Otsego Republican.
Gettysburg.AURORA, Neb., Feb. 20, 1894.
The experience of a single regiment in such a battle as Gettysburg would hardly make a tale worth reading. It was a death grapple between two mighty armies. 70, 000 men on either side and in deadly earnest. Five times, like bull dogs, each grasped the others throat and regardless of muscles torn or flowing blood did their level best for mastery.
A general idea of the the three days' fighting will be given by one who saw and heard at the time what he tells. June 30, 1863, found the rebel army in the vicinity of Chambersburg, Carlise and York in Pennsylvania, northwardly from Gettysburg. The Union Army were at Emmittsburg, Taneytown, Littlestown, Manchester, Union and Hanover in a southwardly direction from Gettysburg. No one could tell when or where they would come together, but every soldier knew full well that when the meeting came the ground on which they trod would be baptized in blood.
About noon Gen. Buford, commanding a division of Union cavalry, entered the village of Gettysburg. He was gladly welcomed for a rebel brigade had already taken a large amount of supplies from them and another visitation was hourly expected from the same source.
Information from his scouts told Buford that he was in close proximity to a heavy force of rebels. He only had about 4,000 men and must quickly decide upon his plan of action. Looking over the ground he formed a line of battle from Willoughby's run to the Mummasburg road, about a mile north of the village. This is the move that located the Battlefield at Gettysburg. History may give Reynolds, Howard, Hancock or Meade the credit, but Brig. Gen, John Buford, commanding the 1st division of the cavalry corps, is the man who did the work and made the battlefield where it was fought. Of course he at once reported to Gen. Reynolds what he had done and that he expected to be attacked at the early morn. At nine o'clock, July 1st, he was attacked by Hill's whole corps - one third of the rebel army. At ten o'clock the leading division of Reynolds' corps reached the battlefield, the line of which Buford had held alone till then. Gen. Reynolds upon reaching the battlefield was soon picked off by a rebel sharpshooter and one of his brigades, which said as they took their position, "we have come to stay," and stay they did, but they staid in death and met their fate on Seminary Ridge.
Gen. Howard, with the 11th corps reached the field at one o'clock and things looked better, but another rebel corps under Ewell reached the battle-ground an hour later and our apparent success was turned into a disastrous route; the rebels had won the first day's fight and the Union troops were rallied south of Gettysburg on Cemetery Ridge, with Buford's cavalry deployed on the plain west of Gettysburg in front of the ridge. Remember there are two ridges spoken of; Seminary Ridge, north of Gettysburg, where Reynolds was killed, and Cemetery Ridge, South of the town, where the broken lines of Reynold's and Howard's corps reformed after the disastrous fight on Seminary Ridge.
Couriers were sent to Gen. Meade, commander of the Army, at Taneytown, its soon as the battle opened. He at once ordered a concentration of all the corps at Gettysburg and sent Gen. Hancock of the 2d corps, to assume command until he should arrive in person. Hancock reached
the field about four o'clock and recognizing that the decisive battle must be fought right there selected the new line of defence. By that time Sickles' (3d) Sykes' (5th) Slocumb's (12th) and Hancock's (2d) corps were on the ground and rapidly given their positions.
July the 2d came. Gen. Lee had won a great victory the day before. He had driven the Union Army over a mile and killed one of their best generals and captured many prisoners.
Today he would turn their left and make short work of the Union Army. Longstreet's corps was the one selected to perform the duty. We struck Sickles in Sherfy's peach orchard on the Emmittsburg road; Sykes with his corps advances to help Sickles, but Longstreet cleans out the peach orchard, the wheat field, crosses Plum Creek and does not acknowledge defeat until he meets the old 6th corps on Little Round Top, who have just reached the battlefield.
Now this is putting a great deal of work in a few words. In the last ten lines thousands were killed and wounded.
Gen. Sickles has been criticised for placing his line of battle on the Emmittsburg road at Sherfy's home. I say he was right, and had his line run to the Round Tops on that day Gettysburg would have been a rebel victory. And this is the reason why: Longstreet's rebel corps would have overwhelmed Sickle's command that day at any point the attack had been made. His corps was one-third of the rebel army. They only had three corps, Longstreet's, Hill's, and Ewell's.
Had Sickles been driven from Little Round Top as he was from the peach orchard - of which there is no question had Longstreet attacked him there - Gettysburg would have been lost, for the assistance of the 6th corps at that hour was not a possibility.
Well, the second day's fight is over and the rebels call it a victory as they have driven the Union Army from their first position; although they did not gain the point they aimed at.
Five times I said the armies grappled. This fight was scarcely over when Elwell's corps, who were awaiting results with eager expectancy attacked Slocumb, who then was in command at Culp's Hill, on the extreme right. They carried his outer lines on Culp's Hill and the night rested with a partial rebel victory. A little episode may well be related here. Years before the owner of Culp's Hill had a son, who like many wayward youths wandered at an early age from the paternal roof. Years passed and when the war commenced between North and South, the boy was in southern lands. He enlisted in a company of State Militia not realizing what the end would be. The war came, his company joined the rebel army. At Gettysburg they led a charge on the Union works and at Culp's Hill the son received his death wound fighting against his father's home.
A tale is sometimes told of the old man Culp, which I will give for the benefit of the comrades who helped do the work in those hot days of blood and carnage. It is said he had a son also in the Union Army, who was killed in this same battle. The boys were buried side by side and a single shaft erected for both, on the one side an affectionate inscription for the blue, and on the other a similar inscription for the gray and then the following words: "Which one was right? God only knows."
An old farmer passing by noticed the words, pondered over them a few moments and then earnestly exclaimed: "That's a pretty question to ask the Lord." "Any d--d fool could answer that." Every old soldier will say the farmer's head was level, for to us there is but one answer to the question.
This leaves us exactly in point of time where our last article did, on the evening of July 2d. And such a night may God forbid that I should ever witness again. Between Little Round Top and the Emmittsburg road was the peach orchard and the wheat field, where the desperate fighting had been going on during the afternoon between Longstreet's rebel corps and the third and fifth corps of the Union Army. Thousands of dead, wounded and dying were scattered over the ground, more thickly where the combat raged the deepest. Young men were they, who had cast aside golden opportunities that would bring success in the battle of life; left behind opportunities for education and advancement that would bring wealth and distinction in civil life and swore before high heaven to maintain the Union of States or die in the attempt. All night long details were hard at work carrying the mangled forms from the battlefield to the field hospital, located about a mile in our rear. The rebels also worked hard all night filling the farm houses and barns in the rear of their army with wounded soldiers.
Two days had the fighting been in progress. Three times had the armies come together, and the Union forces had been driven each time and only saved from defeat the last day by the arrival of another corps in the nick of time. The third day will be decisive, an account of which operations will be given in our next.DELEVAN BATES.
The Otsego Republican.
Gettysburg - No 2.AURORA, Neb., March 15, 1894.
July 3d, 1863, was the decisive day at Gettysburg. The ball opened at early dawn. A part of the sixth corps had been sent to Culp's Hill to assist in retaking the works that had been captured by the rebels the evening before. It was a pretty good job to undertake before breakfast, but they did it well, and before ten o'clock the Union lines on the right were all reestablished. A good commencement for the day's work. The fighting was the same death grapple that marked every encounter of the three days' fight, and for many years the dead trees, killed as were the boys in blue and gray by the successive volleys of leaden hail, showed where the battle raged.
The 121st N. Y. Vols. were on Little Round Top, their right resting on the cross road running from the Taneytown road over to the Emmetsburg road. A part of the 6th corps was held as a reserve to be taken to any point on the field where reinforcements might be needed. There was no time during the whole battle when we fought as a corps. The day we arrived the 3d and 5th corps needed us had on Little Round Top. The next morning the 12th corps needed assistance to help retake the lost line of battle and the 6th corps sent regiments enough to make a success of the attempt. The 121st N. Y. did not take part in any of the heavy fighting at the battle of Gettysburg, not because they did not want to, but because the opportunity was not given them. - Troops occupy the position assigned them in the line of defense or attack, and the movements of the enemy and the contingencies of the battle determine a the amount of fighting each regiment may have to do. As we were situated there, this tale will be of what was seen in place of what was done by us. The whole day long was a living panorama of events that I would almost give the balance of my life to see once more. At early morn the desperate fighting at Culp's Hill. To the left and front of us was the Devil's Den filled with rebel sharp shooters. General Weed, Col. Vincent and Lieut. Hazlett had been killed the day before at or near the same point. The writer of this article was only saved by the timely warning of a comrade who had noticed the deadly range of the sharpshooters' rifles at the point where he had stepped for a moment to get a better view of the rebel forces north of the wheat field.
About seven o'clock two companies of Berdan's Sharpshooters (Union) deployed in front of us to drive the rebel marksmen from their rocky stronghold. For about two hours we had a free entertainment equal to Buffalo Bill's best endeavors in the Wild West Show. Berdan's men understood their business. There was no unnecessary exposure to the enemy's bullets. It was from a tree to a rock, then to friendly stump or perhaps flat on the ground. A steady advance toward where the rebels were concealed. Ha! there is a blue curl of smoke from a protecting craig in the gulch. One of our boys is wounded. A little more care must be taken; those fellows are not firing for fun. Others fire from the den, and our boys reply although as yet with but faint hopes of obtaining a victim. Another shot from where the first one came. A close call for the Lieutenant this time. That sharpshooter must be dislodged. A half a dozen flankers are sent farther to the left in the wood. The line of skirmishers amuse themselves in firing without advancing very rapidly for a few moments when two reports are heard from the flankers. They have uncovered the rebel's hiding place, and after the battle his body is found in the rocks, containing two bullets, either of which would have killed him. Our line advances faster now; the flankers are uncovering others in the den, and soon the last one has gone and this place of danger is cleared. The sharpshooters are withdrawn, but a line of pickets are thrown out to prevent the return of the rebels.
The rebel sharpshooters are no longer occupying the Devil's Den, and one can stand in safety on the huge rock where Gen. Weed was killed. The lines of the two armies can be plainly seen except where hidden by the patches of timber.
About noon Colonel Upton was viewing the outlook with a field glass. Ernestly did his eyes go forward and back from the Sherfy House to the village of Gettysburg several times. When his conclusions were reached he remarked: "There will be hot work this afternoon. They are massing all their artillery on yonder ridge and forming a charging column just beyond." Apparently our center is the point that will receive this assault. Gen. Meade anticipated the move and is preparing to meet it as best he can. While the rebels have one hundred and fifty cannon in position Meade can only place eighty where they can be used to good advantage, but his orders were not to open fire until the point was discovered at which the rebels turned their hottest fire, and then concentrate everything on the batteries that were doing the greatest execution.
At one o'clock the cannonade began. - Words cannot describe the scene. The line of the rebel cannon was about two miles in length. The 121st N. Y. lay opposite the right of this line. The fire was concentrated on the center of the Union lines about a mile from our position. The living reality was there in all its dread grandeur, spread before us like the cyclorama of the battle in Chicago is on the canvass. General Gibbon's division of the second corps is to receive the charge, and where they are stationed for two long hours the air is filled with deadly missiles; the men are lying flat on the ground sheltering themselves from shot and shell as best they can. The batteries at that point are almost annihilated, and the firing is so severe that it would be murder to send in new ones. Lieut. Cushing runs his last gun down to the stone wall where the infantry are, and with this slight shelter works his best till death takes him away. Three o'clock comes the fire ceases on the rebel side and from the woods north of the Emmetsburg road a line of skirmishers advance followed by the rebel lines of battle under Gen. Wilcox, Pickett and Pettigrew. They moved in perfect order as though going on review; they cross the road and with banners unfurled, alignment true and steps so proud that foes as well as friends could not help but admire the advance. Little did they realize what the end would be.
When the cannonading ceased and the infantry advance began several of our batteries from the reserve were hastened to the front line and opened fire with no apparent effect on the charging column. Gen. Stannard's Vermont brigade were to the left of Gibbons' troops and stationed in a copse of wood a little in advance of the main line. These regiments opened an oblique fire that staggered the rebels a little and changed their direction slightly. Then Gibbons' division opened fire and the infantry fighting began in earnest. There were about eighteen thousand men in the charge. The impetus of such a body of men would force an entrance anywhere if they only hang together. The heart of the rebel army, Pickett's Virginians, have the center and like a lance head of tempered steel they pierce the Union lines regardless of the deadly volleys that decimate their ranks again and again.
The rebel General Armistead with about four hundred of his men break the Union lines at the point where Cushing had his cannon. Here, and now is hot work for a few moments. No orders are needed. Every man realizes the situation and a grand rush is made to retake the captured line. A half a dozen regiments from Hall's, Harrow's and Webb's brigades, all mixed together, are in a hand to hand fight with Armistead's followers.
When Lieut. Cushing fell, a rebel lieutenant jumped upon the cannon and cheering his men on with an exultant cry of victory, fell pierced with a dozen bullets. Bob Tyler, a grandson of ex-President John Tyler, was shot as he planted a stand of rebel colors inside the Union lines. He was a favorite in his regiment and when the lines were forming for the charge, Gen. Armistead, riding along the front said to him: "Bob, do you see that stone wall over yonder?"
"Yes, general," was the reply.
"Well, Bob. I want you to plant your colors (he was the flag bearer) on that wall."
"I'll do it, general, or die," was the plucky answer, and he did both.
Pickett's Virginians fought like tigers, but their valor was met by others who could fight equally as well, and who in the final straggle out-numbered them four to one. There could be but one result, those inside the Union lines surrendered, while those in the rear sought safety one by one in flight. Such a demoralized mass of fugitives, perhaps, never before or since left a battle field.
The rebels on the right and left of Pickett's troops did not render the assistance that was expected. A whole brigade of Pettigrew's men threw down their arms and came in our lines as prisoners when the firing became the most severe, while Wilcox did not appear to be very anxious to cross bayonets with the Yankees at all, accepting a sharp artillery fire until he was a hundred yards perhaps from the woods where Stannard's Vermonters were, and then he retired to the place form whence he came beyond the Emmetsburg road.
Thus ended Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, which will go down to history as one of the most desperate ever made. Three-fourths of his division were counted among the killed, wounded and captured, and about one-half of the Union troops actively engaged in the affair were killed or wounded. The disastrous result took the vim out of Gen. Lee, and that night he began his withdrawal.
The State of Pennsylvania has memorialized the event by a magnificient painting in the State House at Harrisburg, which cost twenty thousand dollars. Well may that State be proud of the picture for there is Gens. Meade, Hancock and Gibbons, the Army, Corps and Division Commanders, all Pennsylvanians; while the Philadelphia brigade, under Gen. Webb, is giving and taking the hardest blows of the battle. Cycloramas and panoramas all take the hand to hand fight at the stone wall as the leading feature of the scene portrayed.
While in Chicago at the World's Fair I visited the one on exhibit in that city and incidentally remarking that I was at the battle and saw the charge made, the fighting at the wall and the retreat of the survivors, all who were present gathered around and insisted that I should tell the tale in place of the lecturer who was in attendance for the purpose of explaining the picture.
But although Pennsylvania stood at the front in this charge, taking the battle as a whole the Empire State here as elsewhere proudly takes the lead. More regiments in the battle than any other State, a larger list of killed and wounded and more monuments at the places where the battle raged the fiercest, except at the one point where the brave Virginians broke through our line of defence. And the surviving veterans of the New York Volunteers who participated in that battle are proud of their native State, as she has helped each regiment and each battery to build a monument upon the field marking the place on which they fought, and has also given to each survivor a beautiful medal assuring them that they are not yet forgotten.DELEVAN BATES.
The Otsego Republican.
New Baltimore. - Death of a Deserter.- Gen. H. W. Slocum.AURORA, Neb., April 30, 1894
The next morning after Captain Cronkhite drove in the rebel skirmishers near Funkstown, a general advance was made by the Union army, but the enemy had left during the night. Our corps went as far as Williamsport, arriving there in time to see the rear guard of Lee's army cross the Potomac River. Early in the morning we retraced our footsteps and reached Boonsboro, a distance of eighteen miles, before noon. This is pretty fair marching for an army corps of fifteen thousand men. Three miles an hour - this is just about the gait we took in June when on the way to meet the enemy in Pennsylvania. Our division crossed the river at Berlin and moved very slowly southward. We could occasionally hear the three-inch rifled guns of the cavalry as they met the rear of the rebel army. The fields on either side of the roads were filled with the vines of the running blackberry: the fruit was ripe and in abundance. It must have been about August 1st when our brigade went in camp near New Baltimore where we remained about six weeks, and memories of this delightful encampment will never be forgotten. It was enjoyable weather all the time. We brushed up a little in camp duties and company drill, while Mosby's guerrillas were just plenty enough in the vicinity to make picket duty interesting. It was here that the raid was made on Gen. Bartlett's headquarters, an account of which was given in a previous article. The drum corps under old "Tappoo," as the old drum major was called, resumed the daily calls which had been omitted on the Gettysburg campaign. I can yet hear the soul stirring strains of "The White Cockade," "The Irish Washerwoman," "St. Patrick's Day in the Morning" and "Yankee Doodle," which were always given at reveille as the daylight began to appear in the distant east. The 121st had an excellent drum corps. They had a very choice selection of tunes, and every beat was on exact time. When Col. Upton took command of the regiment at Bakersville, Md., the music was a little shaky. The step of the soldier is with the beat of the drum, and just so many steps must be made to the minute. Upton looked after every little detail, and after officers' drill in the morning old "Tappoo" had to march with him to get the exact time and then he must drill the drum corps until not a variation could be distinguished between the time of the beats. "Upton's Regulars" was a name that was well deserved, for his impress could be seen in the arms, the dress, the movements, the general appearance on parade and in every detail of camp and campaign life.
On Friday, September 14th, a sad event occurred. Thomas Jenell, a private of the 5th Maine, had deserted May 3d near Salem Church in the face of the enemy. This is one of the greatest offences that a soldier call be guilty of. It is more aggravated when in face of the enemy than at any other time, and the penalty is death. He was recaptured, tried by court martial and the sentence was: "To be shot with musketry between the hours of twelve and four in the afternoon of Sept. 14th, in the presence of the whole division." The troops were formed on three sides of a square. The prisoner seated in a wagon, on his coffin, with a little book in his hand, with the regimental chaplin on one side and the officer of the guard seated on his other side, rode around the three side of the square, with the guards marching at the sides of the wagon. Each brigade band played a funeral dirge as the procession passed their front. As he passed us he appeared to have a slight swaying motion in time with the music, and an occasional moan was heard, and yet he was quite calm for such an occasion. The vacant side of the square was reached, the coffin taken from the wagon and placed in position, the deserter seated upon the coffin with his hands tied behind him, the chaplain uttered a short prayer, the eyes of the prisoner were bandaged, the firing party had taken the proper position, the chaplain stepped aside, the officer gave the command: "Ready! aim! fire!" The body dropped instantly backward, the surgeon examined it and pronounced it dead. The bugle sounded, the troops marched past the corpse and back to camp, having received an object lesson on army discipline that was never forgotten. We afterward heard that this man was an Englishman who had deserted from the British army and having escaped to this country, enlisted in the 5th Maine, and rather than go into a battle had tried the same trick of desertion, but unfortunately for him with the above results.
The 121st Vols. were not all angels, and during the winter of 1862 there were several desertions from our camp, a slight disaffection arising on account of a long delay in receiving our pay and a rumor obtaining credence that we had never been regularly mustered in. One man from Co. I was sent to the Rip Raps to work out his term of enlistment without pay, which I believe was the severest sentence that was given in the regiment. This man was also an Englishman had no idea of what he was fighting for, and was of no real value to the company. The Rip Raps was a fortification that was being built in the James River between Fortress Monroe and Norfolk. About ten years ago I received a communication from a pension agent asking for an affidavit to assist in getting a pension for this deserter. While my memory is pretty good and words of commendation are cheerfully given to a worthy applicant, in this instance conscience was hardly elastic enough to grant the request.
About the middle of September we crossed the Rappahannock River and went southward as far as Cedar Mountain. - Gen. Lee had sent one corps over in Tennessee, and Gen. Meade improved the opportunity by taking up the offensive, but no fighting occurred. Then came a transfer to the West of the 11th and 12th corps of Meade's army, and Gen. Lee tried the same plan that Stonewall Jackson worked so well on Gen. Pope the year before, viz: To make a flank movement and get between our army and Washington.
October 12th Gen. Sedgewick with the whole 6th corps, made a reconnoisance in force near Brandy Station to uncover the rebel movement. It was the finest military display I ever saw. Regiments, brigades, and batteries all in line of battle and ready for business, moving across the plain with alignment perfect and colors proudly floating in the front. Of course if we had got into a battle the formation would have been changed very sudden to conform to the lay of the ground and the movements of the enemy. That night we started toward Washington and no time was lost until Centerville was reached where Gen. Meade decided to risk a battle, if one was to be fought. In case of defeat the fortifications of Washington were immediately in our rear where we could try it once more. But Gen. Lee only came as far as the old Bull Run battlefield, then began falling back, and the army of the Potomac followed them slowly as far as Warrentown, where we went into camp again for a time.
As a conclusion to this article just a few words will be given as a memorial to our first Division Commander. In the death of General Slocum the 121st N. Y. Vols. lost another of the famous officers under whom they fought during the great rebellion. When we joined the Army of the Potomac in September, 1862, our regiment was made a part of Bartlett's brigade, Slocum's division, Franklin's corps. The first time I saw him was on Sunday, September 14th, as he was forming his division for the assault of Crampton's Gap in the South Mountain in Maryland. His old regiment, the 27th N. Y., formed the skirmish line while the three brigades, Bartlett's, Tarbet's and Newton's, were the column of attack. Oh my! but didn't they go through that cornfield and up the mountain side, carrying everything before them in splendid shape? It was so in all his battles. Gen. Slocum made no blunders on the field of action. From our division he went to command the 12th army corps, then the 20th corps, and in Sherman's campaign to the sea he was given the Army of Georgia, consisting of the 14th and 20th corps. The battle of Bentonville, in North Carolina, was his fight and a complete victory.
When the war was ended he was appointed Colonel of an infantry regiment, but declined accepting the same, preferring to pass the remainder of his days in civil life. As a civilian the same careful attention to details and the same intelligent action was manifested that characterized his army life. In New York City and Brooklyn, where the ablest financiers of the world are found, he proved himself their equal, and long before death claimed him as a victim, his name stood among those who were called millionaires. As a soldier, as a civilian and as a statesman he was a success, and the "Onesters" are proud of the fact that in their first battle he was the Commander that led them to victory.DELEVAN BATES.
The Otsego Republican.
Worcester's Quota In the 121st N.Y. Volunteers.AURORA, Neb., Feb. 10, 1895.
Several years ago the ladies of Worcester were very much interested in a monument which they contemplated erecting in the beautiful cemetery which is located a short distance from the village. Perhaps some day a history may be written of the boys in blue who enlisted from this town, and the following memoranda may be of value in locating the regiment in which they served:
The first call for troops to serve in the civil war was in April, 1861; another call was made in May of the same year. These two calls were rapidly filled with volunteers gathered up regardless of county or township lines, but when on July 2d, 1862, a call came for 300,000 troops to be put into the field at the earliest possible date, each Senatorial District in New York State was asked for a full regiment, and each township was notified of the quota that it should furnish. The town of Worcester was expected to send twenty-five recruits and a meeting was called at the Baptist Church to devise ways and means to obtain the quota asked for. I do not remember the date of the meeting, but I do remember that John Cook was one of the leading spirits. He was a man of but few words, but all had confidence in what he said, and when, with measured words and slow he explained the condition of the country and what the town was called upon to do, everyone present realized that his talk was true and said, "yes, we must furnish the men called for."
My name headed the list of volunteers, enlistment papers were given me and the next morning I started out to canvass the township, not waiting for those who were willing to enlist to come to me. The town authorities as an incentive, offered a bounty of twenty-five dollars to every volunteer. The following is, I think, a correct list of those who were credited to the town of Worcester that served in the 121st N.Y. Vols:
Griggs, Wm P.
Goodrich, Henry J.
Wescott, Cyrus J.
Wilsey, John P.
Cole, Wm. H.
Cole, John T.
Powers, Eli H.
Powers, Samuel D.
Young, Treat D. - 25.
August 16th we said "good bye" to the beautiful valley of the Schenevus and to the friends who had gathered in the little village of Worcester to see us depart.
The camp where the regiment congregated was near the village of Mohawk, Herkimer County. Several full companies were there when we arrived, tents had been pitched, quite a large dining hall erected where pretty fair victuals were liberally served three times each day, and as the weather was nice, the encampment was rather enjoyed by all.
The men were enrolled upon their arriving by Adjutant Ferguson, and officers assigned to the different companies, each company having been recruited by the who were commissioned as their officers. The boys from Worcester were consolidated with the recruits brought in from the western part of Otsego County by John S. Kidder. Kidder was made captain, I was commissioned second lieutenant, while Col. Franchot sandwiched in a relative of his as first lieutenant. It was fortunate for me that this was done, as he was killed at Cedar Creek, while the second lieutenant is yet alive. Some of the officers had a little knowledge of military tactics and commenced the drill at once, so that companies when marching to the dining hall would keep step and could form a very respectable line when on parade. I had been a sergeant in company A, riflemen, of the 39th regiment, 18th brigade, 5th division of New York State militia for a time and understood the facings and alignments fairly well. The older people in the county will doubtless remember the 39th with Col. John D. Shaul, and also Major Gen. S. S. Burnside commanding the division who was present at the annual encampment, which was always held at Cherry Valley.
The uniforms came while at Camp Schuyler, and such a time as was had in getting suits that fitted the men was never seen on any other occasion in our term of service. After the new clothes were received, the boys who had been in the habit of visiting Mohawk and Herkimer without leave, had to be a little more careful, and this was a good thing, for memories of some of those stolen visits remained with them for long time. We had no guns nor cartridge boxes to carry while there, so knew but little of what we had to come to at a later date.
August 23d a United States officer appeared on the scene - Lieutenant Cansten I believe his name was. He examined closely the rolls in the adjutant's office, the regiment was formed in line, each right hand was lifted toward heaven and each one swore that he would "bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America, serve honestly and faithfully against all enemies, obey the President of the U.S. and all the officers appointed over them." This completed our muster in as U. S. Soldiers, and we were ready for business as soon as arms should be given us.
Just to refresh the memories of the "Onesters" I will give a list of the first officers:Col. Richard Franchot.
Lieut. Col., Charles H. Clark.
Major, Egbert Olcott.
Adjutant, Alonzo Ferguson.
Quartermaster, Albert Story.
Surgeon, William Bassett.
Chaplain, J. R. Sage
Nelson O. Wendell.
Clinton A. Moon.
John D. Fish.
John S. Kidder.
Sackett M. Olin.
Byron F. Park.
Henry C. Keith.
James D. Clyde.
Thomas S. Arnold.
U. F. Doubleday.
Delos M. Kenyon.
I. D. V. P. Duow.
Andrew E. Mather.
Geo. W. Davis.
Frank G. Bolles.
Geo. A. May.
Chas. T. Ferguson.
Chas. E. Storing.
Harrison Van Horne.
August 30th we took the cars for Albany, then a boat for New York, where we remained over night, and on September 3d reached Washington, were sent out to Fort Lincoln for a day or two, furnished with Enfield rifles and 40 rounds of ammunition, and all the anticipations of a pleasant picnic about Washington for a time vanished on the next Sunday as we joined the old Army of the Potomac on their way to drive the rebels from Maryland. From that day the "Onesters" were to the front until the close of the war.
Perhaps the best standard by which the regiments have been tested is the number killed on the battlefield. This is a test that the 121st N.Y. Vols are willing to accept. Two hundred and twenty-six is the number that gave their lives in actual combat and when we know that on an average for every one killed there are four wounded it can be easily figured that had not it been for new men added to the regiment, not one would have been unscathed of those who originally enlisted in the command. Out of 2,000 regiments in the service only eighteen had a higher death rating on the field of action than the "Onesters."
Of the boys from Worcester, six were killed, two died of exposure and four others were wounded.
In conclusion I will say just a few words to the ladies of Worcester who have done such noble work toward the soldiers monument:
"You'll not forget the boys in blue.
Who died our nation's life to save;
In conflicts always tried and true,
In death each fills a hero's grave."
And if their names cannot be inscribed upon the marble column please have engraved upon some appropriate tablet, that future generations may know who gave their lives in the great conflict, the following list:
Bushnell, Darling, Fannin, Griggs, Lamont, Powers, Rockefeller, Waterman. They did more than all the rest whose names appeared in Worcester's first quota; the oath that they so willingly gave to maintain the nation's honor was sealed with their life's blood. Those should be added who died in other commands, and as a roll of honor each name should be read on every Memorial Day.DELEVAN BATES.
© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by John G. Saint, Ted & Carole Miller