Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

Centennial History of Delaware County, New York : 1797-1897
edited by David Murray, LL.D.

Transcribed by Tamara Sanford


A PERIOD of trial through which Delaware county had to pass was the war of 1861-5, which was fought, for the preservation of the Union.* The sentiment of the county was thoroughly stirred in reference to this war, and troops were contributed far in excess of the average for the whole State. It is unnecessary to explain here the causes of this bloody war. It is, enough to state that the spirit of the North was unanimously enlisted in behalf of the government at Washington. We shall only enumerate the several bodies of troops which from time to time left the county to join the armies of the Nation in their effort to put down the rebellion. * For the facts collected in this chapter concerning the Delaware county troops in the Civil War I gratefully acknowledge my obligations to the History of Delaware County, 1880. The fullness and particularity with which the circumstances are stated are worthy of all praise).

1. The first body to leave the county was Company I of the 71st regiment. This company left Delhi June 4, 1861, under the command of Robert T. Johnson as captain. Their movement to the front was a continuous ovation. At first, they moved to Camp Scott on Staten Island, where they were attached to the Excelsior Brigade (Sickles Brigade) as Company I of the Third Regiment. From this point they were transferred to a point near Washington where they were on picket duty during the winter. In the spring of 1862 they were attached to the Army of the Potomac, and from that time were engaged in many battles, viz: Seven Pines, Peach Orchard, Glen Dale, Malvern Hills, Bristow Station, Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. No wonder that they were much cut up, and when after their volunteered service of three years they were discharged in August, 1861, but few of the original company returned to the county. The commander of this company, Captain Johnson was promoted to the rank of Major in the 144th regiment of N. Y. Volunteers, and though he was wounded, yet he still lives in honor of Delaware county's first contribution to the war. This company had at various times during its term of service a roster of twenty-one officers and eighty-three men.

2. The second organized body of Delaware county troops was a company which was raised in Colchester in May, 1861, by Captain William H. Elwood and Elbridge G. Radeker, who personally sustained the preliminary expense of the organization. As the body was not large enough to constitute a full company it was consolidated with a similar company from Cattaraugus county, and assigned to the 71st N. Y. Volunteers. They too experienced much, bloody fighting under General Hooker. They were engaged in the following battles: Stafford Court House, Siege of Yorktown, Fair Oaks, Savage Station, Charles City Cross Roads, Malvern Hills, Bristow Station, Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wapping Hills, Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. They served the full time of their enlistment, viz., three years, and were discharged in the spring of 1864. The portion of the company from Delaware county numbered thirteen officers and fifty-four privates.

3. As a third contribution Delaware county sent a company of cavalry, denominated in the war records as Company E of the 3rd N. Y. Cavalry. Fifty-five men were enlisted at Delhi and detachments were added at Walton and Hancock, so that the company numbered about one hundred men when it rendezvoused at Elmira in August 1861. They were taken to the neighborhood of Washington and there subjected to the rigors of a winters training. They formed a part of Major Mix's battalion, and were with Burnside in his campaign in North Carolina in 1862 and 1863. From this they were recalled to the neighborhood of Richmond, but again were sent back to North Carolina. They saw an immense amount of service, having been in thirty-five engagements. Their captain was Ferris Jacobs, jr., of Delhi, who in 1863 was promoted to Major, in 1864 to Lieutenant-Colonel, in 1865 to Brigadier General, with which rank he was mustered out at the close of the war. The company carried on its rolls living and dead thirty-one, officers and one hundred and fifty-three privates.

4. The Ellsworth regiment wag recruited from various localities throughout the State. Delaware county furnished a very considerable number, who were among the very best of this superb regiment. It was organized at Albany in the summer of 1861, under the military designation of the 44th N. Y. Volunteers. When to the front in October 1861, it numbered 1,061 men. It started for a time the regiment was employed upon picket duty; but in time it had its full share of fighting. In 1862 it was engaged in the Second Bull Run, being almost annihilated in this bloody battle. It bore its part in other engagements as followed: Hanover Court House, Gaines' Mill, Turkey Bend, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Shepardston Ford, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Middleburg, Gettysburg, Spottsylvania Court House, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Petersburg and Weldon Railroad. It was mustered out after the three years' term of service for which it had volunteered. Only fourteen officers and 160 privates returned to Albany, where they were welcomed home by Governor Seymour. All the rest including their gallant Colonel Rice were left on Southern battlefields.

5. The next contribution to be mentioned is the 8th N. Y. Independent Battery. It was organized at Newburg, October 1861, the enlistment being for three years, Most of the men, but not all, were from Delaware county. The captain was Butler Fitch a Delaware county man. On its roster including of course promotions and reenlistments, were sixty-four officers and 102 privates and thirty-two recruits and reenlistments.

6. The 51st N. Y. Volunteers was formed by the consolidation of the Shepard Rifles (so called from Colonel Elliot F. Shepard), the Scott Rifles and the Union Rifles. They wese organized as one regiment at New York in October 1861, and set out for the front under the command of Colonel Ferrero numbering 850 men. They were placed in the brigade of General Reno, and went through the trying campaign of General Burnside in North Carolina. The following battles among others they shared in: Slaughter Mountain, Rappahannock Station, Warren Station, Manassas, Chantilly, Frederick City, South Mountain, Sharpsburg, Antietam, Banks' Ford, Vicksburg, Jackson, Blue Spring, Campbell Station, Knoxville, and Grant's Campaign against Richmond and Petersburg. The career of the regiment may in brief be stated as extending from Roanoake Island in 1862 to the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.

7. Company I of the 89th Infantry N. Y. Volunteers was originally mostly from Delaware county. It was raised in Delhi by Captain Theophilus L. England and First Lieutenant Robert P. Cormack. The company numbered eighty-two enlisted men. The remaining companies were mostly enlisted in the counties of central New York, and the regiment was organized at Elmira under Harrison F. Fairchild as colonel. Like many others of the Delaware county troops the 89th were called to participate in Burnside's North Carolina campaign. They shared in the following battles: Roanoke Island, Camden, South Mills, Newbern, South Mountain, Antietam (where out of 500 men engaged 200 were lost), Fredericksburg, Charleston, Fort Wagner, and Fort Gregg. Under General "Baldy" Smith they were a part of the Army of the Potomac. They were present at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered in April 1865. In all they were engaged in twenty-three battles. When they were mustered in 1861 they numbered 980 men and when they finished and returned home there were only 225 left.

8. The 101st N. Y. Volunteers was made up by combining two skeleton regiments, one raised in Delaware county and the other raised in Onondaga county. The consolidated regiment was sent to the Army of the Potomac where it was so reduced by the casualties of war that it was consolidated with the 37th N. Y. Volunteers, taking the latter designation. After the terrible battle of Chancellorsville it was necessary again to consolidate the 37th with the 40th N. Y. Volunteers under the latter name. It was at last mustered out at the end of the war in July 1865. It had participated in the following battles: Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, Seven Days' Retreat, Malvern Hill, Gainesville, Second Bull Run, Frederick, Md., Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Manassas Gap, Brandy Station, Rapidan, Culpepper, Kelly's Ford, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Ream's Station, Petersburg and Appomattox. Of the troops furnished by Delaware county in this consolidated and re-consolidated regiment, there were of officers forty-one, and of privates 232.

9. The most complete organization which Delaware county furnished to the war was the 144th regiment N. Y. Volunteers. It was raised in the summer of 1862 when President Lincoln called for 300,000 more men to put down the rebellion. The utmost enthusiasm prevailed. Meetings were held everywhere throughout the county. Within twenty days from the time of the first movements the regiment was ready to be mustered in. It was moved at once to Washington in order to aid in the defense of the Capitol, and at the same time to be trained and disciplined into a hardy body of soldiers. In April 1860, they were moved to Suffolk in Virginia which General Longstreet was then besieging. From there they were moved to West Point in Virginia. In July 1863, they were ordered to the Army of the Potomac; but in August they were sent to South Carolina where they were present at the bombardment of Charleston and Sumter. In February 1864, they were sent to Florida. Then later in the year they were employed in cooperating with General Sherman in his great march through the centre of the Confederacy. They were not engaged in as much or as severe fighting as some of the other bodies of troops from Delaware county. But they were present at a most important period of the war, and when it came to an end in the spring of 1865, they were still an active and intrepid body of troops. They were mustered out of the service in July 1865. The flags which had been given to them at Delhi when they left, they brought back with them when they returned. They were torn and shot through, and stained with blood; and worn with wind and rain. But they were precious relies of their campaigns and now are treasured with other mementos of the war in the capitol at Albany.

We close the account of the services of this regiment by some statistics of the organization:

The following were the Colonels from the beginning to the end of its service:
Robert S. Hughston, David E. Gregory, William J. Slidell, James Lewis.

Lieutenant Colonels: David E. Gregory, James Lewis, Calvin A.Rice.

Majors: Robert T. Johnson, Calvin A. Rice, William Plaskett.

Adjutants: Marshall Shaw, Charles C. Siver, George R. Cannon.

Quarter-Masters: James H. Wright, Samuel Gordon, jr., Spencer S. Gregory.

Surgeon: John R. Leal.

Chaplains: Alexander H. Fullerton, David Torrey.

There were also the following numbers of other commissioner officers, and of privates in the several companies:

Captains . .... 22 First Lieutenants .... 33 SecondLieutenants .... 38

Company A .... 135 Company F .... 139 COmpany B .... 150 Company G .... 133 Company C .... 134 Company H .... 145 Company D .... 145 Company I .... 144 Company E .... 151 Company K .... 128

Total Field officers, Commissioned officers and Privates, 1,516.

Besides the above martial organizations which were contributed by Delaware county to the Civil war, there were many volunteers who joined regiments or companies which were raised in neighboring localities. Thus there were enlistments carried on along the Susquehanna river, and not a few of the boys from Delaware county were gathered into these centres. It is impossible to give the credit which is due for these patriotic contributions. But it may be affirmed without hesitation that no part of the State responded with more readiness and enthusiasm to the calls of the nation than Delaware county. For the sacrifices both in men and money which were made for the preservation of the unity of the country, the citizens of this generation may be justly proud of the patriotism of the past generation.

Index to Centennial History of Delaware County

Welcome Page of the Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site
a service of the Delaware County Historical Association located at 46549 State Highway 10, Delhi, NY 13753

Online since 1996 - created and managed by Joyce Riedinger