Historical Sketch from New York at Gettysburg - 12th New York Infantry Regiment
Taken from Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg (New York at Gettysburg) by the New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon Company, 1902.
Due credit has never been given to the New York City, regiments which went to the front in 1861 during the first week of the war. The country saw and applauded the thrilling display of patriotism and willingness to face the perils of the field, but took little note of the sacrifice of personal interests and business prospects incurred by the marvelous promptness with which these men responded to the first alarm of war. History has accorded ample recognition to the glorious deeds of the volunteer regiments in the Great Rebellion; let it also point out plainly the noble record and valuable services of the militia organizations.
The Twelfth New York Militia will always hold a conspicuous place in the history of the war on account of the promptness with which it moved to the front and the efficient aid which it rendered at the outbreak of hostilities, those trying, anxious days which formed so critical a period in the Great Rebellion.
Organized in 1847, the regiment has had a long as well as an honorable record. Its rolls bear the names of many who have attained national prominence, men of both civic and military renown. It never failed to respond to the call of duty, and in the Mexican War it was represented by the First New York Volunteers, in which a large portion of the officers and men were furnished by the Twelfth. At the time of the Astor Place Riots in New York, May 10, 1849, the regiment was called out and rendered honorable service. At that time it was commanded by Col. Henry G. Stebbins and Lieut. Col. John Jacob Astor.
The colonelcy was held by various incumbents until December 7, 1859, when Col. Daniel Butterfield succeeded to the command. Under his direction the regiment attained such a high state of efficiency that, on the occasion of the parade of the division, October 11, 1860, in honor of the Prince of Wales, a most notable event at that time, Major General Sandford detailed the Twelfth to receive the Prince and act as his escort.
When the war clouds first began to lower in 1861, a meeting of the officers was called, on February 22d, at which they requested Colonel Butterfield to offer the services of the regiment to assist in maintaining order at the inauguration of President Lincoln; but the tender was declined by General Scott with thanks.* At a subsequent meeting held April 5, 1861, before Sumter was attacked, the services of the regiment were again tendered, " for the expedition for the relief of Fort Sumter," and again declined.
When the first gun was fired, Colonel Butterfield renewed his offer, but received a response that the regiment was not strong enough in numbers. He answered promptly that he would bring one thousand men to the front on twenty-four hours' notice. The regiment was accepted, and Butterfield, who was then in Washington, telegraphed in cipher to Lieutenant Colonel Ward to open a recruiting office immediately and make the necessary preparations to march. In twelve hours the regiment was recruited to a thousand men and made ready for a start. In the meantime Colonel Ward raised $10,000 in subscriptions from friends in Wall street for the further equipment of the command.
On Sunday, April 21st, the regiment paraded in Union Square, where it received its colors from the hands of a former commander, Col. John S. Cocks, and then with Butterfield at its head, marched down Broadway amid the tumultuous cheering of the thousands who in dense crowds lined the route to the wharf.
For this and some other interesting statements the author is indebted to an address delivered by Gen. William G. Ward, April 21, 1893, and a historical sketch by Col. John Ward,
One of the companies, as was customary in the militia organizations of that day, was designated as an artillery company, and was equipped with two " prairie " howitzers. Another company served as an " engineer corps," leaving eight companies of infantry.
Embarking on the steamer Baltic, the regiment sailed for Fort Monroe, where, on their, arrival, they could plainly see the smoke of the conflagration at the Norfolk Navy Yard, a reminder that grim visaged war was abroad in the land. Thence the steamer proceeded to Annapolis, where, after two days of tedious a locomotive was found which had been disabled by rebel sympathizers and thrown off the track. After a thorough search the missing parts were found. Some skilful machinists in the regiment, under the direction of Private Schutte, put the engine in order, cleaned and oiled its parts, and in four hours had it on the track with the fire lighted. It was then sent back to Annapolis, from where it returned with a train of provisions and the howitzers of Company I.
The regiment arrived at Washington on Sunday evening, April 28th. After a brief stay in temporary quarters with the usual discomforts, suitable barracks were erected at" Camp Anderson," in Franklin Square, under the supervision of Captain Fowler, an experienced builder. On May 2d, the men were mustered into the United States service for a term of three months by Maj. Irvin McDowell, U. S. A. — afterward Major General McDowell and commander of the Union army in Virginia.
The stay at Camp Anderson was improved by a thorough course of daily drill — squad, company, and regimental — under the competent direction of Colonel Butterfield, whose watchful eye took in every detail and noted every error. He was assisted by some West Point cadets of the class just graduated, who instructed the different companies and drilled the officers in skirmishing. The band and drum corps attained commendable proficiency. The evening dress parades attracted daily a large throng of spectators, while the general appearance, drill and discipline of the regiment elicited hearty praise from the regular officers on duty in Washington.
The movement into Virginia across the Potomac and over the famous Long Bridge occurred on the night of May 24th. The Twelfth New York had made such a good impression by its superior drill and general efficiency that it was honored by General Mansfield with an assignment to the head of the column, and was the first regiment to enter Virginia, the first to receive a challenge from the enemy's pickets, which were encountered as soon as the bridge was crossed.
After a stay of ten days at Roach's Mills, a place about six miles from Washing, the Twelfth returned to the city and reoccupied Camp Anderson. Having been ordered to join General Patterson's army at Martinsburg, W. Va., the regiment left Washington on July 7th, and moving by rail through Baltimore, Harrisburg, and Hagerstown, marched to Williamsport, Md., where it forded the Potomac on the 9th and pushed on to Martinsburg. Here it was brigaded with the Fifth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-eighth regiments of New York Militia, with Colonel Butterfield as acting brigadier, leaving Lieutenant Colonel Ward in command of the Twelfth.
During the ensuing three weeks of the campaign the regiment was actively engaged in field service connected with the movements of General Patterson's forces. In the course of its marches and reconnoissances, it occupied important positions at Bunker's Hill, Charlestown, Harper's Ferry, and Loudoun Heights. It did picket duty in the face of the enemy, and participated in a foraging expedition into the enemy's territory. The regiment in the course of the campaign was present at several skirmishes, but without sustaining any loss.
The term of service for which the Twelfth enlisted expired on July 16th; but Colonel Butterfield tendered its services until August 2d, an offer which was promptly and gladly accepted by the War Department. On its return to New York the regiment was greeted with an enthusiastic reception that plainly showed the favor with which it was regarded by the populace. The march up Broadway was through vast crowds that at times impeded its progress, but who cheered long and loud at the sight of the sun-browned ranks that swept by with even step and perfect alignment.
But the services of the Twelfth New York were not to end here. It was destined to serve in other campaigns, while a portion of it, in a different command, but under the same regimental number, was to fight on historic fields, and fill many a soldier's grave.
Colonel Butterfield's valuable services were recognized at the War Department by a commission as lieutenant colonel in the regular army, and a promotion to the rank of brigadier general, after which his connection with the regiment ceased, and Lieut. Col. William G. Ward succeeded to the command.
Upon the muster out of the Twelfth, Henry A. Weeks, who at one time was a lieutenant colonel of the regiment, received authority to reorganize it for a term of three years' enlistment. The old regiment, however, maintained its existence, although the new one thus organized was recruited largely from its ranks. Captains Boyle, Huson, Ryder, Cromie, and Fowler, and Lieutenant Hoagland each raised companies from the old Twelfth for this new organization, which was also called the Twelfth Militia to distinguish it from the Twelfth New York Volunteers, an Onondaga County regiment that was already in the field.
Colonel Weeks raised eight companies, which were mustered into the United States service for three years. In January, 1862, Company A was transferred to the One hundred and second New York Volunteers; and the seven remaining companies were consolidated into five, B, C, D, E, and F. Company G was merged into Company B, and K into E. This battalion of five companies, under command of Colonel Weeks, left the State, February 5, 1862, and on the 8th was consolidated with the five company battalion of the Twelfth New York Volunteers, thereby completing the organization of that regiment. The five companies from the Twelfth Militia preserved their company organizations, and each retained its company letter. Colonel Weeks was placed in command of the regiment thus organized, but the designation of the Twelfth Volunteers was adopted to distinguish it from the old Twelfth Militia, which still preserved its organization and subsequently served two more terms of enlistment at the front. From this time on the record of these five companies was identical with that of the Twelfth New York Volunteers, a history of which appears farther on in the pages of this sketch. The regiment was assigned to Butterfield's Brigade, and thus the men were again to follow the fortunes of their former commander.
But the war was not over. The patriotic services of the old Twelfth Militia did not end with its first enlistment.* On May 27, 1862, the regiment having reorganized and recruited, was ordered to the front, and left New York on June 6th, with Col. William G. Ward in command. At this time it contained nine companies, numbering 750 officers and men. It was stationed first at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, where some time was spent in drill and guard duty.
Leaving Company A on duty at the fort, the regiment moved to Harper's Ferry, where it joined Colonel Miles' command, then a part of the Eighth Corps. This corps was under the command of Gen. John E. Wool, with headquarters at Baltimore. By daily, unremitting drill and faithful instruction, the Twelfth soon established a reputation for efficiency second to none in the garrison. When its term of enlistment expired, the men were asked to remain for the defence of that important post during the Antietam campaign, and they gallantly volunteered their services for the exigency. With Lee's invasion of Maryland, Harper's Ferry was surrounded and besieged by Stonewall
Neither did it end with the War of the Rebellion. The Twelfth served in the Spanish war of 1898.
Jackson's forces. Colonel Ward was assigned to the command of the brigade, leaving Lieutenant Colonel Satterless in charge of the regiment. In the fighting that ensued during the siege, the Twelfth was stationed on Camp Hill in support of a battery. Two howitzers were gallantly served by a detachment under-Captain Acorn of Company I. During the prolonged, heavy shelling of the place the men evinced a gallantry and steadiness under fire which elicited praise from all who observed their conduct. When the capitulation occurred the Twelfth was included in the surrender, and 30 officers and 530 men marched out as prisoners of war. The regiment having been paroled was mustered out at New York, October 12, 1862, and declared exchanged on January 12, 1863.
In the Gettysburg campaign, when the news came that Lee's Army was marching through Pennsylvania, the Twelfth was again called upon to respond to the emergency. On June 18, 1863, it was ordered to Harrisburg, and, under the command of Colonel Ward, left the city on the 2oth with ten companies, 820 strong.
On arriving at the front the regiment was assigned to Yates's Brigade, Dana's Division, Couch's Corps, a command made up entirely of emergency troops. Brigaded with the Twelfth were the Fifth, Thirteenth, and Forty-seventh New York Militia. In Lee's retreat from Gettysburg the Twelfth was in the column which pressed closely on the rear of the defeated Confederates. After marching to Chambersburg and Greencastle the news of the draft riots in New York was received and the regiment was recalled hurriedly to the city, where it rendered valuable and timely assistance during those perilous days. On July 20, 1863, it was mustered out, and re-entered the State service. Its campaigns in that war were over.
During the many years of peace which have since elapsed the Twelfth has preserved its organization and its efficiency. Whenever, in time of riot and disorder, the safety of the community has required its services it has always responded promptly. The past record of the regiment is a long and honorable one. May the future add to its laurels!
TWELFTH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS.
The first call of President Lincoln for troops, in April, 1861, met with a ready response from the patriotic young men of Onondaga County, who hastened to enroll themselves for the defence of the National Government and the flag. The Fifty-first Militia, an Onondaga County regiment, immediately tendered its services to Governor Morgan for three months, but the governor, under the Act of April 16, 1861, was not authorized to accept militia, and so the men proceeded to organize a regiment of volunteers.
Seven companies were recruited immediately in Onondaga County, six of which were raised in Syracuse. The regiment was completed by the addition of three companies which came from Canastota, Batavia and Homer. The ten companies were accepted by the State Military Board for a term of two years, after which they were ordered to Elmira, N. Y., where they arrived May 2d. Comfortable quarters were assigned them in barracks, which had formerly been used as a barrel factory. On May 8th, the organization was designated by the State authorities as the Twelfth New York Volunteers, and on the 13th it was mustered into the service of the United States for three months by Capt. W. L. Elliott, U. S. A.
Two days after the arrival at Elmira an irregular election was held at which Ezra L. Walrath was chosen colonel, James L. Graham, lieutenant colonel, and John Lewis major. This choice of officers was subsequently approved by the State officials and commissions were issued accordingly. At this time the total strength of the regiment was 785 officers and men.
The Twelfth left Elmira, May 29th, and proceeding by the Northern Central Railroad, through Williamsport, Harrisburg, and Baltimore, arrived at Washington the next .day. It marched to East Capitol Hill, where it erected quarters which received the name of Camp Onondaga. The ensuing six weeks were spent in drill, instruction, guard duty, and in preparation for the active campaign which all knew must soon commence. The men were armed with the old-fashioned United States percussion muskets, model of 1842, calibre 69, and wore a gray uniform.
Having been assigned to Richardson's Brigade, of Tyler's Division, the regiment marched, July 10th, to Chain Bridge. Leaving Vienna on the 17th, the brigade started on the march which culminated in the memorable battle of Bull Run. On the 18th it was engaged in the preliminary action at Blackburn's Ford, an affair which was confined to the troops of Richardson's Brigade.
During the course of the engagement the Twelfth New York was ordered to advance through a piece of woods and drive out the enemy. In executing this movement it suddenly encountered a severe fire of musketry and artillery from the Confederate troops which were posted in a concealed and advantageous position. The most of the Twelfth was driven back by this fire and retreated some distance in confusion; but, two of the companies, A and I, remained on the line and gallantly maintained the unequal contest. In this, the first battle of the Army of the Potomac, the Twelfth New York sustained a loss of thirty-four in killed, wounded, and missing. Three days later the battle of Bull Run was fought, but in this engagement the regiment supported a battery and was not actively engaged.
The thirty-eight infantry regiments first organized in New York were all mustered into the United States service for two years, except the Twelfth which was sworn in for three months only, the same as the militia regiments. In August, 1861, at the expiration of the three months, many of the soldiers insisted upon their discharge. But the regiment when organized had enlisted in the service of the State of New York for two years, and so the governor issued a special order (No. 321, August 2, 1861) by which the men were held at the front for the remainder of that term. This arrangement created much discontent among the men.
Colonel Walrath resigned September 26, 1861. Lieutenant Colonel Graham had already resigned in June. In October, Major Lewis was killed by a fall from his horse. The regiment, which never had been recruited to the maximum required by army regulations, had decreased rapidly in numbers through sickness and discharges granted for disabilities. On February 3, 1862, it was consolidated into a battalion of five companies,— A, C, H, I, and K. Lieut. Col. Robert M. Richardson, a gallant and capable officer who succeeded. Graham, was placed in command of the battalion. Maj. Henry A. Barnum who succeeded Major Lewis on the death of that officer, retained his position.
On February 8th the battalion of five companies recruited from the old Twelfth Militia, under command of Col. Henry A. Weeks, was added, and the Twelfth New York Volunteers became once more a ten company organization and with full ranks. It now had an aggregate strength of 1,040. Colonel Weeks was placed in command.
During the winter of 1861-62, the Twelfth was stationed in the vicinity of Washington, where it occupied Forts Ramsay, Tillinghast, Craig, and Buffalo. On March 13, 1862, it was assigned to Butterfield's Brigade, Porter's Division, Heintzelman's (Third) Corps, and many of the men, who had served in the Twelfth Militia, found themselves again following the fortunes of their former commander.
On the 22d the regiment embarked at Alexandria for the Peninsular campaign. Landing at Fort Monroe the next day, it marched to Yorktown where it participated in the siege operations around that place. On the evacuation the brigade embarked on transports and sailed up the York River to West Point where the troops landed and remained a few days. Then came the march through mud and rain to the White House, on the Pamunkey River, a movement long remembered for its toil and discomfort.
On May 18th (1861), the Fifth Corps was formed by taking Porter's Division away from the Third Corps, and uniting with it Sykes's Division of regular troops. The Twelfth New York thus became a part of the Fifth Corps in which it remained during the rest of its service. Butterfield's Brigade, now the Third Brigade of Morell's (First) Division, was composed of the following regiments:
I2th New York, Col. Henry A. Weeks.
I7th New York, Col. Henry S. Lansing.
44th New York, Col. Stephen W. Stryker.
16th Michigan, Col. T. B. W. Stockton.
83d Pennsylvania, Col. John W. McLane.
Colonel Butterfield was a strict disciplinarian, and, at times, the men were disposed to grumble over the thoroughness with which he enforced the rules and regulations. At the same time they admired and respected their brigadier as was plainly evinced by the good-natured way in which they sang their accompaniment of [“Dan. Dan. Dan. Butterfield, Butterfield.”] when his bugler sounded the peculiar call of the Third Brigade. Sometimes the call interfered with their wishes or comfort, and then the sturdy fellows would change the letter n in Dan's name to an m, and sing it accordingly.
The army moved nearer Richmond, and on May 26th Porter's Corps rested on the Chickahominy near Gaines's Mill. Here Porter was ordered on an expedition to cut the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad, and disperse the Confederate troops concentrated at Hanover Court House under command of General Branch. In the course of this movement Morell's Division fought a bloody battle on May 27th, in which Butterfield's Brigade was prominently engaged.
Maj. Thomas E. Morris in his interesting article, " From Hanover to Malvern Hill,"gives an account of the fight near Hanover Court House, and in the course of his narrative says:
"General Morell, commanding the First Division, comprising the brigades of Martindale, Griffin, and Butterfield, was to move from New Bridge and attack the enemy in front, while General Warren from Old Church, moving by the Hanover Road, was to strike his flank and rear. Late on the evening of the 26th, after tattoo, regimental orders were received to march with three days' cooked rations, forming on the color line the following morning at 3 o'clock. The rain falling in torrents made cooking almost impossible; so, when the men fell in, their haversacks were but scantily filled. Promptly at 3 a. m., on the 27th, the lines were formed in full marching order, standing hour after hour in cold downpouring rain, awaiting the tardy movements of the First Brigade. At 7 a. m., leaving tents standing and camp in order, under proper guard, the division moved out. The roads were nearly impassable from the heavy rains, but the men toiled on through drenching torrents, water, and mud. At 10 o'clock the rain ceased, the sun breaking through the clouds with intense heat. Soaked blankets, overcoats, and shelter-tents were cast off to lighten the load and make marching more endurable. Numbers overcome by heat and fatigue dropped by the wayside utterly exhausted. At noon the distant booming of the cannon told that General Emory was engaged. As the Third Brigade approached the junction of the Ashland with the New Bridge Road, the increased roar and crashing of shells among the trees announced that we were in the presence of the enemy. The wounded of our advance were being carried back to the field hospital, a mile from the junction. The Third Brigade, with the exception of the Forty-fourth New York, which, with a portion of Martindale's command, had been left to guard the rear, was immediately ordered forward to attack the lines of battle in Kinney's Field.
" General Butterfield moved the brigade across the road to the woods, halted them, threw off blankets, knapsacks and shelter-tents, advanced through the woods 400 yards and beyond a fence at its farther border, in full view of the enemy, again halted, and carefully formed for attack in two lines, the Eighty-third Pennsylvania and Seventeenth New York in first line, the Sixteenth Michigan and Twelfth New York in close column by division in second. This formation and advance with fixed bayonets was almost an exact repetition of our field drills on Hall's Hill in the fall of '61. It flashed across the minds of many of us instantly,— here we are with the real thing. The bugle call, " Forward," was sounded by General Butterfield in person, and, in perfect order, ranks dressed with all the precision of dress parade or review, the right and left general and color guides taking direction, in exact time, with cadenced step, the lines advanced. The enemy's fire opened at short range, plunging shell and canister in the close ranks. Silently, and in accordance with the orders and directions personally given by General Butterfield, without firing a shot in return, the lines moved grandly on, with no check or falter, the perfect formation never for a moment broken, with eyes directed to the front, every step in exact time, flags flying, the sunshine flashing from thousands of glittering bayonets, and with all the ' pomp and circumstance of war,' the glorious line swept fearlessly on.
"It was a grand and glorious spectacle of war that will never, never be forgotten by any soldier that participated. With his black moustache seeming to be larger and more fierce than ever, his rosy cheeks, his erect and martial figure, our young general looked the very picture of delight and eagerness, as with his sword he pointed at the glistening line of bayonets and the flash of the enemy's cannon in front, and commanded with his clear, strong, firm voice, heard above the roar of the enemy's fire, ' Steady, men; forward.' Over the stiffening forms of the dead skirmishers, lying with pale, upturned faces; on, passing wheat-stacks, down one slope and up another without a pause, to where the enemy's lines of battle and the battery stood in the uncut wheat beyond, their guns glistening in the sun; but without waiting to receive the mighty blow, the enemy abandoned his artillery and falling back, was now in full retreat. Our brigade then halted to secure prisoners and guns, the first and only artillery captured in the field and under fire by the Army of the Potomac in the Peninsular campaign,— a glorious trophy and reminiscence for Butterfield's Brigade. Again, pressing forward, no halt was made in the pursuit until Hanover Station was reached."
The battle, however, was not over, and the men had scarcely time to rest when the brigade was ordered to the assistance of Martindale's command which was being hard pressed by an attack from the rear. Butterfield's troops gallantly re-entered the fight and contributed materially to the victory which followed. In this second period of the battle the Forty-fourth New York, which was assisting Martindale's Brigade, suffered a severe loss. The Twelfth, under command of Colonel Weeks, conducted itself with steadiness and gallantry during the entire action; but, owing to its position it did not encounter any severe fire, and hence sustained but few casualties.
General Butterfield won his spurs in this battle in a double sense. The field officers of his brigade, in testimony of their appreciation of the courage and generalship displayed by him at Hanover Court House, presented him with a pair of gold spurs, Lieut. Col. Strong Vincent, of the Eighty-third, making the presentation speech.
The day following the battle was spent in gathering the fruits of the victory and burying the dead, after which the division returned to its camp at Games' Mill. The ensuing month was passed in drill and picket duty, and then the movement of the army to the James River commenced.
At the battle of Gaines's Mill, June 27th, the Twelfth New York, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Richardson was hotly engaged, and acquitted itself with honor, receiving high commendation in the official reports. For three long hours the brigade withstood firmly the repeated attacks of superior numbers, retiring only when nearly surrounded by the enemy. The regiment carried 538 officers and men into action, of which number it lost II killed, 66 wounded (including the mortally wounded), and 54 missing; total, 131. Many •of those reported missing were killed, as was subsequently ascertained. Among the killed were Lieutenants Henry C. Birton and Edward M. Fisher. The latter was an aide on the brigade staff, and received the fatal shot while he was in the act of delivering an order to the colonel of the Eighty-third.
General Butterfield, in his official report for Gaines's Mill, makes honorable mention of Lieutenant Colonel Richardson and Major Barnum. In his regimental report Richardson says: " The whole battle and all the movements of our regiment were under the immediate supervision of the general, whose soldierly, confident bearing as he rode along our lines gave encouragement and spirit to my entire command. The officers behaved handsomely and were constantly encouraging their men to a vigorous fight. The gallantry of Major Barnum gave life and spirit to all. Captains Randall and Hoagland, though sick in camp, hearing the firing, joined the regiment and did good service in the engagement and retreat. Captains Wood, Huson, and Fowler, Lieutenants Estes, Behan, Auer, and Smith acted bravely. There were many instances of real bravery exhibited by the non-commissioned officers and privates, but I cannot mention them by name now, but will do so when appointments are to be made. Allow me here to mention with approbation the conduct of Quartermaster Sergeant Hilton, who, after riding up and down, the ranks encouraging the men, dismounted, took a musket, went into the ranks, and did good service as a soldier."
For his heroic and able services in this battle, General Butterfield was awarded a Medal of Honor by the War Department.
Four days later, on July 1st, the regiment participated with the brigade in the battle of Malvern Hill. In this action it numbered 407, all told, and was still under command of Lieutenant Colonel Richardson. Marching to a point on the left where some heavy fighting had occurred, the Twelfth relieved the Fourth Michigan, and then, at 6 in the evening, made a gallant charge up a steep slope, from whose summit it drove the enemy back into his rifle pits at •short musket-range beyond, the Michigan men cheering them on and, with some of their number, joining in the. charge. The regiment held this position, continuing its fire about an hour, and then, darkness coming on, it was withdrawn. In this famous battle the regiment lost 11 killed, 55 wounded, and 4 missing; total, 70.
Lieutenant Colonel Richardson who commanded it so ably and gallantly in this fighting, says in the course Of his official report: "On the summit of the hill the gallant and lamented Barnum fell, mortally wounded, while cheering on our men to victory. The color bearers of the enemy fell four times during the engagement from our fire, and at one time he displayed the American colors. Our officers and men exhibited great coolness and courage during the fight. Captains Wood, Fowler, Root, Hoagland, and Huson rendered important service, and seemed to redouble their efforts after the fall of the major, who was the life of all. Captain Fowler aided me very much in encouraging the men, continually passing along the lines from right to left. Captain Root was wounded during the action. Lieutenants Ludden, Stanton, Behan, Clark, Bates, Smith, and May behaved handsomely, and were constantly at their posts. Blackburn's Ford had fixed a stain upon the reputation of the regiment, and every one was determined to wipe it out. The same general that censured there, commended here."
Major Barnum's wounds were not fatal as supposed at the time. He was reported as dead, and many sincere regrets were expressed in the official reports and elsewhere at what was deemed an irreparable loss. But he survived to fight again and win high honor on other fields.
The Army of the Potomac remained in camp at Harrison's Landing, on the James River, during the ensuing six weeks, in which the regiment had an opportunity to rest and recuperate. On August 14th the withdrawal of the army from the Peninsular commenced. Marching through Williamsburg and Yorktown, the brigade reached Newport News on the 19th, where the troops embarked for Aquia Creek. From there they moved by rail to Fredericksburg and thence to Manassas Junction, arriving there on the 28th. A general engagement had already commenced in that vicinity between the armies of Pope and Jackson, and on the 29th Morell's Division went into position on the left flank of the Union forces.
Leaving its place of bivouac at daybreak of Saturday, August 3Oth, without supper the previous evening or breakfast that morning, the regiment marched seven miles to the old battlefield of Bull Run, where one year before it had fought in the first battle of the war, and where before night it was to pass through a still more terrible and bloody ordeal. The division marched on the battle-ground at Manassas early in the morning, and, passing to the front of Sigel's Corps, deployed its lines. General Butterfield being temporarily in command of the division, Colonel Weeks, who had returned to the regiment, assumed charge of the brigade, as the senior and ranking officer present.
During the forenoon the regiment was under a severe artillery fire, but with little injury as the men lay in a sheltered place. In the afternoon, about 5 o'clock, the brigade advanced through a piece of woods and went into action, where it maintained various positions until forced to retire on account of the withdrawal of the supporting troops on its flanks. In this fighting the Twelfth encountered a severe fire from the enemy's infantry which were protected by a ridge while it was occupying an exposed position in an open field. At the close of the battle the brigade fell back to Centreville, where it covered the retreat of Pope's army to Washington. In this engagement the regiment lost 143 in killed, wounded and missing, out of 16 officers and 336 men present for duty that morning. Colonel Weeks was among the wounded. He was shot through both legs, and received also a severe concussion from the explosion of a shell. He was carried from the field, and Colonel Rice", of the Forty-fourth, succeeded him in command of the brigade.
Captain Root, of Company K, who commanded the regiment, was wounded early in the action, whereupon his duties devolved on Captain Huson, who led it fearlessly during the battle. In his official report the latter praises Captain Fowler who was wounded, but refused to leave the field, and commends, as " examples of bravery and coolness," Adjutant Watson, Lieutenants Oliver, Estes, Bates, Behan, Auer, and Smith, and Color Bearer Fairnie.
After a few days of much needed rest the regiment started, September 8th, with McClellan's army on the march through Maryland to the battlefield of Antietam. In that engagement the Fifth Corps was held in reserve and was not actively engaged. In the pursuit of Lee's defeated army the regiment participated in the skirmish at Shepherdstown Ford, on the 19th, where it sustained some loss.
The Fifth Corps accompanied the Army of the Potomac on its marches and subsequent movements through Virginia to the occupation of Falmouth Heights on the Rappahannock River. The corps was now commanded by General Butterfield, the division by General Griffin, and the brigade by Colonel Stockton, of the Sixteenth Michigan. The brigade had in the meantime been increased by the accession of the Twentieth Maine, a fine regiment under command of Col. Adelbert Ames, an officer who in later campaigns became one of the renowned generals of the war.
On the afternoon of December 13, 1862, the Twelfth New York, under Lieutenant Colonel Richardson, crossed the river with its brigade over the lower pontoon bridge and marching into Fredericksburg formed line of battle in rear of the town. Just before sunset the brigade bugler sounded the advance, and the line moved forward, up the slopes, a distance of half a mile or more, under a heavy fire of bursting shell and musketry, taking the position as ordered. Darkness soon followed, but the brigade held the position during the night and the following day. On the 15th the army recrossed the river and the troops returned to their camps.
In this battle the Twelfth, though small in numbers, behaved with commendable spirit and helped sustain the gallant reputation of the old brigade. They suffered a severe loss in the death of Capt. William D. Hoagland, who was killed in this battle. He had served with conspicuous ability from the commencement of the war, having been a member of the old Twelfth Militia. During the severe shelling on the 13th he was lying down with the reserves, but raising his head to give some instructions to his men a bullet struck him under the eye inflicting a mortal wound. His last words were, " How beautiful the sun goes down." He was buried on the field, but his body was exhumed a few days after and sent to his relatives in New York.
Throughout the winter of 1862-63 the Twelfth was encamped with the rest of the brigade at Stoneman's Switch, near Falmouth, Va., engaged in an uneventful round of camp and picket duty. Lieutenant Colonel Richardson resigned February 6, 1863. On his return he engaged in the work of raising the Fifteenth New York Cavalry, a regiment in which he served as colonel during the rest of the war.
The Twelfth had now become so reduced by disease, wounds, and death, that it numbered only 317 present for duty, with 268 absent. On May 1, 1863, the five companies, containing the two-year men of the original Onondaga regiment, left the field, their term of enlistment having expired, and returned to Syracuse, where they were greeted with an enthusiastic and flattering reception.
Of the five remaining companies left at the front, one (" E") had been detailed as provost guard at corps headquarters, its commanding officer, Capt. Henry W. Ryder, being provost marshal of the corps. The four other companies, under Captain Huson, marched away to Chancellorsville with the Fifth Corps, which was now commanded by Gen. George G. Meade, Butterfield having been designated as chief of staff of the Army of the Potomac.
The brigade left its camps near Falmouth on the morning of April 27th. Crossing the Rappahannock on pontoons at Kelly's Ford and wading the Rapidan at Ely's Ford it arrived at Chancellorsville about 11 o'clock on the forenoon of the 30th. The four companies of the Twelfth Battalion were sent to the United States Ford, on the Rappahannock, to disperse a small force of Confederates on picket there, and open communication with the opposite side of the river. This service having been performed the battalion returned to Chancellorsville the next day. The Third Brigade occupied various positions during the battle which ensued, rendering effective assistance, but without becoming seriously engaged, and on the 6th acted as rear guard of the army in its retreat. Marching through rain and mud the tired and defeated columns recrossed the Rappahannock at the United States Ford, and returned to their camps.
The five companies of the Twelfth, owing to their reduced numbers, were now consolidated into two, D and E. Captain Huson was mustered out May 17, 1863, at the expiration of his term of service, and Captain Ryder succeeded to the command of the two companies, which were assigned to duty as a provost guard at Fifth Corps headquarters.
These two companies were present at the battle of Gettysburg, where they rendered meritorious services in their line of duty. Though they sustained no loss during the battle, they were exposed to the enemy's fire in the course of their movements much more than some commands that appear in the report of losses.
And yet, the Twelfth New York was well represented in the casualty lists, for there were three generals on that field who had previously served in the old Twelfth, each of whom was wounded,— Generals Sickles, Butterfield, and Barlow; and on Culp's Hill the gallant Barnum, formerly major of the Twelfth Volunteers, was doing some grand fighting as colonel of the One hundred and forty-ninth New York. The Twelfth New York was at Gettysburg in more capacities than one; and in the brilliant, soldierly qualities displayed by these famous officers, one naturally recurs to their early service in the training school of the old Twelfth Militia.
The battalion was held in such high favor at corps headquarters that it was retained on that duty during the rest of its service. Its efficiency was further recognized by the promotion of Captain Ryder to the rank of major. The two companies participated in the Wilderness campaign under General Grant, and were present at the battles of Spotsylvania, North Anna, Totopotomoy, Bethesda Church, and Cold Harbor.
On June 2, 1864, the battalion was transferred to the Fifth New York Veteran Volunteers, after which its history is merged in the record of that command. Major Ryder was promoted to the lieutenant colonelcy of the Fifth with rank from date of transfer. The officers and men of the Twelfth Battalion served with the Fifth New York until the close of the war and shared in the honors of Appomattox. Capt. William S. Woods, who commanded one of the companies in the headquarters battalion, fell at the battle of the Weldon-Railroad, a hotly contested fight, in which he was killed by a bayonet thrust.
The Fifth New York was mustered out August 21, 1865, and the little remnant of the Twelfth, part of whom had fought from Buir Run to Appomattox,, returned to their homes to enjoy the honors due their long and eventful service. The battlestained colors which had waved amid the smoke of so many historic fields were furled, and the veterans laid aside their arms confident that history would accord an honored place to the name of the Twelfth New York.