MILITARY HISTORY ( continued)
THE SEVENTY-SIXTH REGIMENT
The 76th Regiment, N.Y.S.V., was organized during 1861 and 1862, and the companies composing it were raised chiefly in the counties of Tompkins, Cortland and Otsego.
The following were the field and staff officers: Colonel, N.W. Green; Lieutenant-Colonel, John D. Shaul; Major, Charles E. Livingstone; Adjutant, Herman F. Robinson; Surgeon, J.C. Nelson; Assistant, George W. Metcalf; Chaplain, H. Stone Richardson; Quartermaster, A.P. Smith; Quartermaster-Sergeant, A.J. Jarvis; Commissary-Sergeant, William Storrs.
Jan.16,1862,--the regiment then at Albany,-- orders were received to be ready to march on the following day. On the afternoon of the 17th they marched to the capital, where a beautiful stand of colors were presented to the regiment by S.R. Campbell, Esq., in behalf of his mother, Mrs. Samuel Campbell, of New York Mills.
The Albany Evening Journal of that day, speaking of the 76th, said,” This regiment is composed of as fine-appearing and intelligent body of men as have been gathered together since the breaking out of the Rebellion.”
The regiment left Albany at seven o’clock, and at noon next day arrived at New York. They were quartered at City-Hall barracks until January 21, when they were taken to Riker’s Island, up the East River, from the Battery. While here they received their first pay from the Government, and it is stated that probably $40,000 was sent home at this time.
The regiment proceeded from this place to Washington via Philadelphia and Baltimore. It remained two days at the “Soldier’s Retreat,” when they were ordered into camp at Meridian Hill. While here the first death occurred-- that of William B. Potter, of Company A. He died Feb. 19,1862.
February 14 the regiment moved from Meridian Hill, and occupied Forts De Russey, Massachusetts, Totten, and Slemmer, with headquarters at Fort Totten.
Judge A. P. Smith, of Cortland, the historian of the 76th says,---
“ A serious difficulty had arisen in the regiment, and it was considered by the military authorities to be in an unfit condition to take the field. The officers, with few exceptions, had preferred charges against Colonel Green, and those charges were being investigated by a military commission then convened at Washington. This placed Lieutenant-Colonel Shaul in command of the regiment. After a somewhat protracted hearing, Colonel Green was ordered to Washington, and thence to his home in Cortland, N.Y., where he was afterwards, by order of the Secretary of War, dismissed from the service. The controversy growing out of the trial of Colonel Green for a time nearly paralyzed the regiment and destroyed its usefulness.”
“March 20 the headquarters of the regiment were established as Brightwood, Fort Massachusetts. Here they remained until May 1, when orders were received to move to Fredericksburg, where they went into camp.
“July 2 Colonel William P. Wainwright, having been assigned to the 76th , assumed command and immediately instituted a thorough system of discipline. He was considered by many to be unusually and unnecessarily severe in regimental drill, but the battles in which they subsequently participated , when they saw other and poorer drilled regiments waver and break, while the 76th remained firm, openly thanked the officer who had forced them to a drill so beneficial.
“ The 73rd at this time was in the Second Brigade, under command of the Intrepid General Doubleday, First Division, Major-General Rufus King, and First Army corps.
Aug.9, the regiment was ordered to Chancellorsville to reinforce Banks, who was hotly engaged with Stonewall Jackson. At six o’clock they reached Ely’s Ford, where a halt was made until early on the following morning when the march was continued. Towards night orders were received for a forced march, and on the soldiers rushed. But as morning dawned came the intelligence that the battle of Cedar Mountain had been fought, and Jackson was falling back.
“On the 21st of August the 76th first came first came under fire, being shelled by the enemy’s batteries, but lost no men. The regiment soon after marched to Warrenton, which the enemy evacuated upon their approach. Here they halted for a few hours, and then took up the line of march for Sulphur Springs. They participated in the battle of Warrenton Springs, but none of the regiment were killed, and but few wounded.
“ The following morning came the order to right-about-face, and off went the column through Warrenton. As the army moved on towards Washington evidences multiplied that a crisis was imminent.
“ After passing Gainesville a mile or two, as the brigade, and more particularly that part formed by the 76th, was moving over a level tract of half a mile in extent, with a wood in their front and a hill at their left, they were nearly paralyzed for a moment by a terrible discharge of artillery from the hill on the left, and so near that the flash from the guns dazzled their eyes.
“Not the most interesting feature of the position was the fact that this was a rebel battery which had not until that moment was discovered. Self-preservation is the first law of nature, of heroes as well as cowards; and the first impulse at this sudden introduction to the minions of Jefferson Davis was to obey the injunction, `every man for himself.’ Some dropped down, others rushed forward upon those in advance, while others still were inclined to turn back. Never was the example of a cool and courageous man more opportunely set than by Colonel Wainwright at this critical juncture. Riding at the head of his regiment he instantly turned his horse and coolly riding back toward the rear of the column, between it and the batteries as well by his easy and unconcerned manner as by his words allayed the excitement and brought every man to his place. He shouted, `Oh, my boys, don’t run! Think a moment how it would sound, “ The 76th ran!”
“ The words of the gallant colonel acted like magic upon the demoralized regiment; the column became steady , and although the shot and shell fell thicker and faster and with more destructive aim, the men pressed on until the wood was reached.
“ Upon entering the wood an officer shouted, `Come on! Come on! Quick! Quick!” And on the regiment rushed, while the bullets and shells were whistling and screaming, carrying death and destruction in their train. It was the work of but a few moments, and they had passed the woods and rushed into an open field beyond where the contest was raging in all its fury, and the gallant members of the celebrated `Iron Brigade’ were being slaughtered in a manner terrible to behold. The 76th arrived just in time to save the intrepid brigade from total annihilation, as the enemy were preparing to charge with an overwhelming force, when the 76th, together with the 56th Pennsylvania, formed in line, and the anticipated onslaught was averted. Night put an end to an important battle, in which a small force, in its first experience , stood up coolly and bravely against the flower of the rebel army. The 76th lost 10 killed, 72 wounded and 18 missing.”
“At one o’clock on the following marching orders were received, and the 76th proceeded to Manassas Junction, ten miles distant, where after a halt of a few hours, the march was resumed to Bull Run, which they had hardly reached when they were ordered in line and to advance on a double-quick to the brow of a hill to check the advancing enemy. On the gallant regiment dashed . They passed General McDowell, who shouted,--
“What regiment is that?”
“The 76th New York! ’ was the reply.
“`Hurrah for the 76th New York! Give it to them, boys! Give it to them! They are on the run! Push `em like h--l!’
“ An answering cheer rose to their lips as on they rushed.. The 76th was in the thickest of the fight during the day, but at night were driven back by a victorious foe. The retreat or repulse of the Union forces at the close of the day’s carnage was terrible. No member of the 76th who participated in the retreat will soon forget the confusion of that night: Union and Confederate were mingled together in one wild mass. On the following day, August 30
the fighting and retreating continued. In this battle the 76th lost , in killed and wounded, 9 officers and 89 men, with 1 officer and 48 men missing.
Sept. 2,1862, found the regiment within the defenses at Washington , where it was hoped it might remain sufficiently long to be recruited. It had been under fire in five different battles, and with nearly 1000 with which it left New York it now numbered only about 225, and of the 30 line officers only 6 remained.
General Lee having abandoned the attempt to capture Washington from the south commenced a flank movement into Maryland, and September 6 the 76th received marching orders, and on the 14ththey passed through Frederick City.
The Union forces came upon Lee at the mountains where was fought the memorable battle known as South Mountain. Judge Smith says, “ The 76th was probably never engaged in a more severe and deadly fight than at South Mountain. During the whole battle the range was so short, and both sides fired with such precision that the volleys told with awful effect. Colonel Wainwright coolly rode along the line and directed the men to fire low, and never was powder and ball rammed into guns with greater energy or discharged rapidity or more damaging effect,”
The 76th received many compliments for its soldierly bearing during this severe contest. No regiment in the field stood higher in soldierly qualities, or was commanded by a more brave or efficient officer than Colonel Wainwright.
The victorious army followed the retreating foe, and finally was fought the decisive battle of Antietam. Although the 76th participated in this battle, they were not under infantry fire.
The regiment was next engaged in the battle of Fredericksburg, where 11 were killed and wounded. It went into this battle with only 112.
The 76th moved with Burnside on his celebrated “mud march.” Judge Smith speaking of this says, ”If it rained on the south side of the Rappahannock as upon the north, the facetious rebel was not without good reason for writing the sign and placing it in sight of our troops,
“BURNSIDE STUCK IN THE MUD!”
The advance was abandoned , and the enemy slowly waded back to camp.
The regiment was next in the battle of Chancellorsville, and May 13 finds it in camp at Falmouth dwindled to a mere skeleton of its former self.
June 12 marching orders were received, and the regiment moved towards Warrenton ,, finally reaching Gettysburg.
On the eve of this battle the 76th was mustered for pay by Major Grover, but it being late before it was completed , and one company being on picket duty, the certificates of muster were not signed that night by that officer; indeed they were never signed by him, for before another sun had set Major Grover with nearly one-third of the noble men who answered to their names at this muster , were mustered into that great army from the roll-call of which none will be absent.
“Comrades, at roll-call when I shall be sought,
Say I fought till I fell, and fell where I fought,
Wounded and faint.
“ Oh, That last charge!
Right through that dread lead-storm of shrapnel and shell,
Through without faltering, clear through with a yell,
Right in their midst in the turmoil and gloom,
Like heroes they dashed at the mandate of doom!
“Oh, that last charge!
“ They are mustered out!
Oh, God of our fathers, our freedom prolong,
And tread down rebellion, oppression, and wrong!
Oh, land of earth’s hopes, on the blood-reddened sod,
They died for the nation, the Union, and God!
They are mustered out.”
The battle of Gettysburg was one of the most terrible battles ever fought, and in the heat of the strife was the 76th, with the lamented Grover in command. He was killed in the first day’s battle.
The regiment suffered severely in this conflict, and added fresh laurels to those already won on many a hard-contested field. From the battle of Gettysburg until January,1864, the history of the 76th is a record of long and weary marches and countermarches, through broiling suns and dusty roads; then sleet and rains, with muddy wadings; then severe frosts and chilling night marches.
The regiment went into winter quarters at Culpepper, and on the 6thof the following February broke camp and marched to Raccoon Ford, on the Rapidan, where a sharp engagement took place.
The 76th participated in the memorable battle of the Wilderness and soon after at Spotsylvania , where they received many encomiums of praise for their conduct on this field. Next came the battle of Weldon Railroad, and the last in which the regiment was engaged was Hatcher’s Run.
December 31,1864 the term of enlistment had expired, but a large number having re-enlisted , two companies yet remained, under the command of W.E. Evans. This remnant of the gallant 76th was consolidated with the 147th Regiment and subsequently participated in the battles of Second Hatcher’s Run and Five Forks, and was mustered out in December,1864.
The following battles in which this regiment participated are reported by the adjutant-general: Rappahannock Station, Warrenton, Gainesville, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Upperville, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run.
The following is a list of the killed and missing, and also of those who died of disease or wounds in the two companies from Tompkins County, viz:
Moses P. Marsh, Sept. 26,1862
Henry A. Snow, June 15,1864
Henry Knettles, in 1864
Chas. Howard, killed at Wilderness, May 6,1864
Daniel Bradley, killed at Gettysburg ,July 1,1863
Henry S. Fulkerson, killed at Gainesville, Aug. 28,1862
Tappan Howell, died of wounds, Sept. 28,1862
Hannibal Howell, killed at Gettysburg, July 1,1863
Chas. R. Harvey, July,1862
Daniel McGregor, died from wounds received at Gainesville.
Wm. D. Norton, in December, 1861
Stiles Peck, died in Andersonville
Geo. W. Stout died of wounds, in 1863
Geo. R. Thompson, killed at Gainesville, Aug. 28,1862
Wm. A. Wood, died of wounds
John A. White, August , 1862
Henry D. Weaver, killed at Gettysburg, July 1,1863
Lawrence M. Banker, killed at Gainesville, Aug.28,1862
Orrin H. Ellis, in 1862
Wm. H. Barton, died of wounds, Feb. 18,1863
Daniel Dunbar, April, 1862
Thos. H. Hoffman
Benj. F. Holden, killed at Gettysburg, July1,1863
Jas. Johnson, killed at Spottsylvania, May 12,1864
T.T. Jones, Oct. 2,1862
John Lindsey, June 27,1862
Henry McFall, killed at Fredericksburg, Dec. 13,1862
Franklin Miller, killed at Bull Run, Aug.29,1862
David Mattison, died in Andersonville
Adolphus Morse, died at Fort Jefferson
Hiram Morse, died at Andersonville
Wesley Norwood, died at home
William H. Persons, killed on the gunboat” Mound City.”
Abner B. Randall, died in Andersonville , Sept.20,1864
Eugene Sheldon, March, 1862
Geo. F. Weiler, killed at Fredericksburg, Dec.13,1862
Francis Wood, killed at Fredericksburg Dec.13,1862
Elon G. Warren, died in Andersonville.