Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins, and Schuyler Counties in the Rebellion of 1861-65
The lightning had scarcely flashed the intelligence to the expectant North that Major Anderson and his gallant band had surrendered prisoners of war, and that Sumter was in possession of the Southern Confederacy, ere the patriotic sons of Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga, and Tompkins were rallying to the support of their imperiled country; and, in the first outburst of Northern patriotism, under the President’s call for 75,000 men, the 23d Regiment, New York State Volunteers, was organized at Elmira, and on the 6th day of July, 1861, was mustered into the United States service. This was the first regiment from the 27th Congressional District.
The regiment was officered as follows: Colonel, Henry C. Hoffman; Lieutenant-Colonel, Nirom M. Crane; Major, William M. Gregg; Adjutant, William W. Hays; Quartermaster, Myron H. Maudeville; Surgeon, Seymour Churchill; Assistant Surgeon, William A. Madill; Chaplain, Ezra F. Crane; Sergeant-Major, Archibald N. Devoe; Quartermaster-Sergeant, Hiram Smith; Drum-Major, Miles Terrill; Fife-Major, Julius C. Smead.
Captain, Theodore Schlick; First Lieutenant, Cornelius F. Mowers; Second Lieutenant, George E. Biles.
Captain, Marshall M. Loydon; First Lieutenant, Lemuel K. Bradley; Second Lieutenant, William Cole.
Captain, Samuel Barstow; First Lieutenant, Moses M. Van Beuschoten; Second Lieutenant, Charles O.
Captain, Luzern Todd; First Lieutenant, Newton T. Colby; Second Lieutenant, William H. Jones.
Captain, George H. Powers; First Lieutenant, John H. Pierce; Second Lieutenant, Hugh J. Baldwin.
Captain, William W. Dingledey; First Lieutenant, Melville C. Wilkinson; Second Lieutenant, Samuel N. Benedict.
Captain, Frank B. Doty; First Lieutenant, Ira Cone; Second Lieutenant, John Prentiss.
Captain, M. C. Clark; First Lieutenant, A. D. Waters; Second Lieutenant, B. B. Andrews.
Captain, James D. Chapman; First Lieutenant, A. O. Durland; Second Lieutenant, Samuel W. Cass.
Captain, Nathaniel B. Fowler; First Lieutenant, Florence Sullivan; Second Lieutenant, Rodney W. Steele.
The regiment left Elmira, and upon arriving in Washington encamped on Meridian Hill, two miles north of the city. July 17 it was reviewed by President Lincoln and Secretary Seward, and a fine stand of colors presented by the patriotic ladies of Elmira. The beautiful banner was presented by General A. S. Diven, and received by Colonel Hoffman, who responded in a brief address, thanking them for the beautiful testimonial of their kindness and confidence.
On the 21st of July, from the camp of the 23d could be distinctly heard the ominous booming of cannon from the disastrous battle-field of Bull Run. During the day rumors came floating into the city that the Union arms were victorious, but night brought the disheartening truth that the great army was falling back upon Washington, and that the terrible battle of Bull Run had been fought and lost.
July 23 the regiment crossed the Potomac into Virginia and encamped at Fort Runyon. On the 5th of August they moved to Arlington Heights, and on the 7th established a picket line from the road at Hunter’s Chapel to the house of a Mr. Pearl, near Ball’s Cross-Roads. While in camp at Arlington, the 23d was brigaded with the 21st and 35th New York Volunteers, under command of General James S. Wadsworth. The regiment remained here until September 28, nothing of any importance happening to relieve the monotony of camp-life.
September 28 a general advance of the army was ordered, and it moved to Upton’s Hill only to find the place evacuated, and what from a distance seemed to be formidable cannon proved to be stove-pipe mounted on wheels. On Upton’s Hill, at a locality named by the men of the 23d Upton’s Dale, the regiment went into winter quarters. The three months, December, January, and February that the regiment remained in this pleasant camp were passed in drills, reviews, and picket.
Nothing occurred to break the ceaseless monotony of camp-life. "All quiet on the Potomac!" was the sentence flashed along the wires day after day, until it became a stereotyped head-line for the press, read in Northern homes till patience ceased to be a virtue, and the people clamored for a move of the Army of the Potomac.
At length, on the 10th of March, orders were given for an advance, the grand, well-disciplined legion moved, and the nation breathed freer. As the army moved forward the 23d shared in the general chagrin in finding that the formidable host of the enemy had folded their tents and silently stole away, leaving their pursuers in possession of the banks of earthworks, over which protruded the ominous-looking "Quaker-guns" of Manassas.
On the 14th of March the command of the brigade was transferred from General Wadsworth to Colonel Rogers, of the 21st.
March 15 the regiment started for Alexandria for the purpose of shipping on transports. The roads at this time were in an almost impassable condition, in consequence of the heavy rains that had recently fallen, and after struggling one day in the mud the regiment returned to its old camp. Here they remained two days, and moving one mile farther on, encamped at Bailey’s Cross-Roads. They remained in this camp until April 4, during which time General Patrick took command of the brigade. From here the 23d proceeded to Fairfax, and from thence to Manassas and on to Bristoe. April 19 finds the regiment bivouacked at the foot of Fredericksburg Heights, from which point the city was subsequently bombarded.
The enemy evacuated the city on the 1st of May, and on the 7th instant, General Patrick, having been appointed military governor of the city, detailed the 23d as guard and patrol; this regiment raised for the first time the Union banner in this rebel town. The 23d remained here about two weeks, when a general advance was made, and after a series of fatiguing marches it returned to Fredericksburg, reaching Elk Run June 9.
On the 27th of June the regiment encamped at "Camp Rufus King," on the Belle Plain road, about three miles from the Rappahannock River. This camp was located on lands owned by the wealthy planter King in the earlier days of the Old Dominion. While encamped on this beautiful spot two interesting ceremonies took place, that of the presentation of a sword to Colonel Hoffman by the non-commissioned officers of his command, and one to Lieutenant-Colonel Crane by the privates of the regiment. A few days later a handsome sword was presented to Major William M. Gregg by the officers of the line.
July 24 the regiment started on a reconnaissance towards Gordonsville, which, without entering into particulars, may be justly regarded as the most extraordinary reconnaissance during the campaign.
On the 10th of August marching orders were received and regiment moved towards Culpepper, and on the 16th arrived at the foot of Cedar Mountain, and remained two days on the battle-field.
August 18 the wagon-trains were sent to the rear, and the regiment received orders to march at a moment’s notice. They proceeded to Rappahannock Station, and were actively engaged in that battle, fought August 21 and 22.
A member of the regiment, speaking of this conflict, says, "We moved up the river opposite the first ford north of the station and encamped for the night. During the night the enemy crossed with a force of artillery and cavalry, and took position in a corn-field and wood near the ford. The fight was opened about eight o’clock A. M. by General Patrick’s brigade. The enemy opened his battery from the corn-field, but was soon driven from this position by Reynolds’ battery, and Battery B, 4th United States. As the sun was sinking down the horizon we advanced to the river under a raking fire of artillery and musketry and took position near the bank of the river, but owing to our small force we were compelled to retire. The 23d fall back over a rise of ground raked by the enemy’s artillery, column en masse, and in perfect order, while the shells burst fearfully above and around it."
Lieutenant-Colonel Crane in his official report of this battle says, "This was the first time that my regiment had been under fire of artillery. I was highly pleased with the conduct of the men. They were cool and prompt to obey orders. Both men and officers behaved like veterans; not a man flinched from his duty."
On the morning of the 23d the battle opened with heavy artillery, and lasted several hours. During the forenoon of this day the regiment started for Warrenton, and finally, having come within one mile of the town, bivouacked on the Sulphur Springs road.
The regiment participated in the battle of White Sulphur Springs, a spirited and lively contest.
Next came the march to Gainesville, one of the most severe marches of the campaign, in consequence of the oppressive heat and scarcity of water. When within six miles of the town the regiment halted for breakfast. After the scanty meal had been taken and all the extra ammunition destroyed the command pressed on, and during the afternoon the advance division was fixed upon, but it was not until the sun began to sink below the western horizon that the first shot was fired at the battle of Gainesville. The attack was opened by General Gibbon’s brigade, supported by General Doubleday, General Patrick’s brigade holding the left. In this engagement the 23d, although on the field, was not entirely engaged. The battle lasted but one hour and ten minutes, during which time Gibbon’s brigade lost 800 men. General Patrick’s brigade, to which the 23d was attached, held the field until the wounded were cared for, and at three o’clock A.M. started for Manassas Plains, which place was reached during the afternoon, the men almost exhausted from want of sleep, food, and water.
The regiment had scarcely stacked their arms for rest when Sykes’ brigade of regulars passed en route to the Bull Run battle-field, when General Patrick rode rapidly up and cried out, "Prepare to march!"
The brigade was soon in line, when General Patrick addressed them in the following words; "My men, we return to the battle-ground of last night. You fight in good company. You follow the regulars. They’re my old companions-in-arms. You fight well; I’ve no fault to find. Keep well closed up and prompt to obey orders. Colonel Rogers, lead off by the right flank." The regiment participated in the battle in the afternoon. On the following morning opened what has gone down to history as the "second battle of Bull Run," one of the deadliest contests of the Rebellion. From the numbers of the enemy and their close proximity, it required no prophetic eye to see that a fierce battle was imminent.
The 23d, then numbering only 225 men in line, went into this battle with Colonel Crane in command.
The following description of the battle is taken from Colonel Crane’s official report:
"This morning (August 30), after giving time to get coffee, the brigade changed positions two or three times to different parts of the field. No enemy in force was discovered, notwithstanding our batteries kept throwing shell into the woods to draw them out or bring forth a response, but all continued silent.
"About two P.M. our division was placed under command of Fitz John Porter, and with his corps ordered to advance. It was the prevailing opinion that the enemy had retired, having been defeated on the previous day. We advanced, King’s division having the right and forming four lines of battle. My regiment was the third line of the division. (General Hatch was now in command, General King having been relieved for the affair at Gainesville, on the 28th.) We now moved forward to a thick wood. Here the skirmishers commenced firing, and soon the advanced lines opened with terrific volleys of musketry. We pushed on. Soon the bullets flew around us as thick as hail. Now commenced in earnest the final battle of Bull Run. The enemy’s artillery opened upon us with shot and shell, and this, with their musketry, made a storm of their fire. Our artillery, in the rear of the woods, could give us no support.
"Thus the battle raged for about one and one-half hours, until our front lines were broken and the dead and wounded lay in heaps. The enemy lay behind a railway embankment, and so well protected that our men charged in vain upon them, sometimes upon the ditch, and fought hand to hand. Sykes’ brigade of regulars on our left was forced back, our two front lines were decimated and broken, and our (Patrick’s) brigade badly cut to pieces. Colonel Pratt, of the 20th New York State Militia, was killed and the regiment scattered and demoralized. The 21st was used up, and the left wing of the 35th decimated. These had all left the field and fallen back.
"I had heard no order to retire, and remained in the woods some little time, my regiment being almost alone. I finally gave the order to retire (right of companies to the rear), and did so in as perfect order as on battalion drill. In this action I lost a number of men and officers wounded, but only a few killed. Providence has thus far seemed to favor us.
"On emerging from the woods I met General Patrick, and saw at once that the battle was going against us, as the enemy had turned our left, and the fighting was terrific of musketry and artillery on that part of the field. Our brigade was got together (what was left), and we took a position in rear of a battery, and the men ordered to lie down.
"We lay in this position about half an hour, then were ordered towards the rear and left. As we moved over the field the enemy continued to throw shot and shell at us, but fortunately none of my regiment were hurt. As we came out upon the pike, General McDowell rode up, his horse all covered with foam and dust, and he himself looking nearly exhausted with fatigue and excitement, and ordered us towards Centreville. We continued the march, and soon learned that the army were on the retreat to Washington.
"We arrived at Centreville about ten P.M., worn out and exhausted. We lay down upon the ground so completely tired that we did not mind the rain that commenced, but slept soundly till morning and wet to the skin."
The following day was one of the deepest dejection to the Army of the Potomac. The army was on full retreat, surging back upon Washington, followed by the victorious arms of the Confederacy within thirty miles of the capital, and confidence in the generals gone.
Colonel Crane farther on in his report says, "It was about nine A.M. when we received the news that General McClellan was again in command of the Army of the Potomac. The effect was wonderful and thrilling. For miles along the lines of that battle-shattered and disheartened army cheer upon cheer rent the air, and the sound swelled and rolled along like a wave. Officers sprang into their saddles with a bound, soldiers grasped their muskets with eagerness and sprang to their places in the ranks, and, at the order forward, all moved as if invigorated with renewed life. We all felt that we were again a host, and could and would save our capital and country."
The regiment marched on towards Fairfax, where it remained overnight, and on the following morning proceeded on in the direction of Centreville, finally meeting the balance of the brigade, and countermarched.
"About this time," says Colonel Crane, " we learned that the enemy were about to make an attack at a point near Chantilly. Our brigade was moved in that direction, and the 35th, 21st, and 23d were placed in the old rebel rifle-pit to protect the right of our line of battle. About sundown the enemy attacked our left, and the battle lasted until about nine p.m. The firing of musketry and artillery was incessant, and this with the terrific thunder and lightning rendered the scene grand and terrific. The enemy was repulsed with considerable loss. We remained here until the following afternoon, when we were ordered to march to Upton’s Hill. We set out immediately, and reached that place about midnight."
Thus ended the disastrous campaign closing with the second battle of Bull Run.
The23d remained at Upton’s Hill four days, and then commenced the march into Maryland; and Sept. 14 finds them in the battle of South Mountain. In this engagement both officers and men behaved splendidly, and received many encomiums of praise from their superior officers for their bravery and coolness. The regiment next participated in the battle of Antietam. In speaking of this battle, Colonel Hoffman, in his official report, says, "The officers and men of my command who went into the action behaved most admirably, never deranging their alignment during the surgings backward and forward of the lines, obeying with promptitude every order, and all the time remaining firm, steady, and never moving until they had received the full order. Their conduct was all that I could wish. We had one field, one staff, thirteen line officers, and 223 enlisted men. Our casualties were four killed and thirty-five wounded."
After various marches and skirmishes as well as changes of command and camps, Nov. 25 finds the regiment in camp near Brooks’ Station.
Here the 23d remained until Dec. 9, when it broke camp and moved forward. It went into the battle of Fredericksburg, and, by its courage, perseverance, and soldierly bearing, added fresh laurels to those already won on many a hard-contested field.
We append Colonel Hoffman’s official report of this battle:
‘ HEADQUARTERS 23D N.Y. VOLS., PRATT’S POINT, VA.,
"Jan. 2, 1863
"LIEUTENANT H.P. TAYLOR, Lieutenant and Acting Adjutant-General 3d Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Army Corps.
"Sir, - In pursuance of orders, I have the honor to report the part taken by my command in the late action at Fredericksburg, Dec. 12, 13, 14, and 15, to be as follows:
"On the morning of the 11th of December we moved with the brigade from our bivouac near White Oak Church, on the Belle Plain Road, with the intention, as I supposed, of crossing the Rappahannock. We marched but one and a half miles when we were halted, and remained all that day and night, owing to the difficulty and delay in laying the bridges.
"That night (11th) the bridges were completed, and at early dawn we moved down to the northern bank of the river, at a point about one and a half miles below Fredericksburg, and near the lower bridges, where we remained while the rest of General Franklin’s left grand division were crossing. The morning was very foggy until about noon, and we did not cross until about two P.M., we being about the last. Soon after the crossing was effected (which was without interruption) we were massed, with other troops of the 1st Division, near the residence of Mr. Burnard, when the enemy for the first time opened upon us from a battery located on the hill opposite, the first shot striking and bursting in the ground in the flank of my regiment, wounding one man.
"They threw about twelve or fifteen shot and shell with remarkably good range while in this position, which resulted in but trifling damage, owing to the fuses in their shell being cut either too short or too long.
"We soon moved, with the rest of the brigade and division, to a point directly in front of said Burnard’s house, and deployed our line and stacked arms.
"General Smith’s corps (6th) was deployed on our right, his line running parallel to the river, and fronting southwardly and from the river. The lines of our corps (1st), after the deployment, fronted easterly and down the river, the line running perpendicular to the river, the left resting upon it, and the right joining the left of General Smith’s line, and forming a right angle thereto. In this position we lay behind our stacked arms all night.
"The morning of the 13th was also foggy, but the fog lifted early, and skirmishing commenced along the line, which grew into a general engagement with artillery and small arms.
"We were moved in close-massed columns down the river under a heavy artillery fire from the enemy’s batteries, some one and a half miles, when the enemy was found in our front, well posted in pine woods, and protected by natural rifle-pits.
"They were soon dislodged by our artillery, when we advanced with the rest of the division to within about one mile of Massaponis Creek. This position we held all day, amid a most terrible artillery fired. Towards evening the enemy concentrated a very hot artillery fire upon us, with the evident intention of turning our flank.
"The position was maintained, however, although the brigade on our left, the commander of which misunderstood the order, fell back with his command, skirmishers and all, just before dark, whereas his order directed that he should withdrew his brigade a short distance as soon as the darkness would cover his movement from the view of the enemy, but to leave his skirmishers as they were as pickets. This movement being observed by the for, and supposing they had accomplished their design, and that we were falling back, they advanced their line so far that their batteries were within thirty of forty rods of our pickets, and poured a perfect shower of grape promiscuously over the plain, until about one hour after dark.
"They finally became convinced of their error, ceased firing, withdrew their lines, and all was quiet until morning, except an occasional shot between pickets.
"On the 14th and 15th we held the same position without interruption, except an occasional round from their artillery and sharp-picket firing, which was kept up most of the time, day and night, with great briskness.
"The picket lines were so close to our advanced position that many of their shots did execution in our ranks.
"On the night of the 15th we were withdrawn to the north side of the Rappahannock about midnight, leaving two companies (G and B) on the picket lines not informed (except their commanding officers) that we had retired.
"Companies G and B were placed on picket at dusk on the evening of the 15th, and by some misunderstanding or inadvertence on the part of the officer left in charge of the picket, were not informed to retire at the proper time and with the rest of the line, and remained about one hour after the rest had left, and at daylight they fell slowly back, keeping their deployment and stirring up many stragglers and sick, who had sought refuge and resting-place around the hospital buildings, barns, stacks, river-bank, etc., and finally were the last to cross the bridge, it being taken up immediately behind them.
"The steadiness and coolness of the officers and men of my command, with very few exceptions, were highly commendable throughout, especially those of Companies A and F, who were on picket during the night of the 13th, and Company I on the 14th, and Company D on the night of 14th and during the day of the 15th.
"Of the cool and deliberate bravery exhibited by the officers of the two companies G and B, under the peculiarly perilous circumstances in which they found themselves, I cannot in justice speak but in terms of especial commendation.
"In the action we had engaged one field officer, one acting staff officer (adjutant), fourteen line officers, and nine (9) companies, embracing 276 enlisted men.
"Company C was detached. We took three (3) prisoners. We had three (3) stragglers.
"H.C. Hoffman, Colonel Commanding."
On the 17th the 23d moved down near the bank of the river, and went into camp, where it remained until the 20th, when it received marching orders, and proceeded to Belle Plain and went into winter quarters. This march closed the active campaign that commenced at Fairfax Court House, March 10, and ended at Belle Plain, Dec. 20.
The regiment remained in camp here during the winter and spring of 1863. April 20 the army moved, and the 23d was assigned to the defenses of Aquia, and was there in the fortifications during the battle of Chancellorsville. A member of the regiment says, "At the sound of booming cannon and the blaze of battle, which could be distinctly heard and seen, the spirit of the 23d was aroused, and many longed to go and help their noble comrades fight out the battle which all were sanguine must result in a great victory to our arms."
The term of enlistmen of the 23d having now expired, arrangements were made for the homeward trip, and on the 11th of May the battle-scarred regiment left the sacred soil of old Virginia, and on the evening of the 13th came within view of the "welcome spires and green shade-trees of Elmira." A sad accident occurred while en route near Marysville. Captain Clark, of Company H, was instantly killed while in the act of climbing on the rear car just as the train was passing under a bridge. His head struck the bridge, and he was knocked off the car, his body falling on the rocks by the side of the track. When found, a few moments after, life was extinct.
Upon the arrival of the regiment in Elmira it formed in line in front of the Delevan House, and an address of welcome was delivered by Mayor Spaulding, which was briefly responded to by Colonel Hoffman, after which they marched to the old barracks of the 23d, where a bounteous repast was prepared by the ladies of Elmira.
In the language of the Elmira Advertiser, "It was a magnificent reception and worthy the patriotic people of Elmira, and gladdened the hearts of the men to honor whom the demonstration was made; but it gladdened far more when they were allowed to throw off their knapsacks and war-gear and go home to their won firesides, to their fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, and sweethearts. Wednesday, the 13th of May, will be ever green in the memory of the soldiers of the 23d and their friends."
It was indeed, a fitting reception of the battle-scarred regiment of the Southern Tier, the first from the 27th Congressional district.
The following is a list of the killed and missing, and also of those who died from wounds of disease in the 23d:
Jeremiah V. Bogart, killed in second battle of Bull Run, Aug. 30, 1862.
Eli Decker, died of fever, Dec. 3, 1861.
David Farron, killed at Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
William March, killed at Fredericksburg, Va., May 25, 1862.
John M. Mowers, died of fever, Dec. 31, 1861.
Herkimer Shults, died of fever, Dec. 18, 1861.
S. Williams, killed at Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
Christopher Brennan, died at Falmouth, July 4, 1862.
Henry Brown, killed at Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
Thomas Carroll, killed at Ball’s Cross-Roads, Aug. 17, 1861
Charles W. Tice, died Aug. 5, 1862, of wounds received at Antietam.
Alexander J. Jaynes, died Dec. 15, 1861.
Harlow Arms, died March 24, 1863.
David J. Perene, supposed to have been killed at Rappahannock Station, Aug. 21, 1862.
Jerome Gorton, supposed to have been killed at Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
Henry E. Gilbert, died Dec. 1, 1862.
George C. Ames, died Oct. 7, 1862, of wounds received at Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
Richard B. Hurd, killed at Fredericksburg. Dec 13, 1862.
Thomas Van Horn, died Dec. 21, 1861.
Israel Marquart, died Nov. 18, 1861.
James Pease, died Aug. 16, 1861.
Edmund Campbell, died in November, 1862, of wounds received at Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
William Decker, died Dec. 16, 1861.
Elias Dodge, died in January, 1863.
Hamilton Squires, died Dec. 4, 1861.
Henry C. Cooper, died Dec. 4, 1861.
F. B. Tiffany, died Dec 12, 1861.
A. M. Taylor, died Dec. 29, 1861.
Samuel W. Kelly, died Jan. 15, 1863, of wounds received at Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862.
J. F. Bosworth, died Sept. 29, 1861.
J. W. Parmatin, died Oct. 2, 1862, of wounds received at Antietam.
R. W. Steele, died Dec. 7, 1861.
L. L. Bacon, died Sept. 6, 1861.
J. W. Burke, died of consumption after his discharge, Oct. 1, 1861.
A. D. Griffen, died in February, 1862.
J. E. B. Maxson, died Feb. 17, 1862, of wounds received from accidental discharge of a pistol.
James Simmons, killed at Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862.
Olin L. Bennett, killed at Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
Uriah F. Faurer, died at Fredericksburg, Aug. 7. 1862.
Charles Hathaway, died from wounds received at Antietam.
C. P. Smith, died Aug. 26, 1861.
S. F. McGee, died Feb. 18, 1862.
Charles McOmber, killed at Fredericksburg, Dec. 12, 1862.
William D. Monagle, drowned in the Rappahannock, May 10, 1862.