13th New York State National Guard during the Pennsylvania Campaign

On June 18th, 1863, the 496 men of the 13th New York State National Guard were ordered to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania during the Confederate invasion. They were commanded by Colonel John Woodward. The men were ordered to pack knapsacks and wear their grey fatigue uniform. Their grey uniform was very similar in appearance to the famous 7th New York State National Guard’s uniform. As the men marched through Brooklyn for their second campaign of the Civil War, they were hailed by its citizens. Arriving at the train depot, the men traveled in cattle cars to Philadelphia and from there to Harrisburg.

On June 20th, the 13th New York SNG arrived at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where they were mustered into U.S. military service.  By June 23rd, the 13th New York SNG began working on the defenses of FortWashington. They put down their muskets and picked up axes, shovels and picks, and began clearing the woods surrounding FortWashington to prevent them from providing shelter or cover for the approaching Confederate army. As the soldiers worked on the entrenchments of Fort Washington, they saw thousands of refugees fleeing into the city in the wake of the approaching Confederates.

As the 13th New York SNG worked on the fort, their camp was located along the crown of a high hill, which overlooked the Susquehanna River. The hill sloped toward the bank of the river. The camp of the 23rd New York State National Guard was located next to the 13th SNG, and those men cut a pad into the side of the hill to level their tents. However, Colonel Woodward recalled his regiment’s camp:  “Tents are therefore uncomfortably slanting, and the men are obliged to dig their toe-nails in deep to keep themselves from sliding out of their tents at night.”

Just as many other New York National Guard regiments serving in Pennsylvania, the 13th New York SNG was viewed as the invader rather than the defenders of the city. The negative feeling that they were unskilled and inefficient soldiers was viewed by many, however, the prompt and vigorous soldiers would prove themselves as effective men during the Pennsylvania Campaign.

On June 25th, the 13th New York SNG was ordered out to Camp Crook at Fenwick, several miles from Fort Washington for picket duty. By 8:15 pm, the men were under arms with one wool blanket, and one rubber gum blanket, and had moved out of Fort Washington. By 10:30 pm, they reached their designation. They were told that General Charles Yates was engaged and getting “pounded,” but upon arrival, the general was sleeping. When he awoke, he was surprised and had no idea of what to do with another regiment. The 13th New York SNG was ordered into the cattle cars of the train and went to sleep for the night.

The next day, the men awoke with no rations. They sent out foraging parties to the local farms in the area and brought back what little food  they could find. By 11:00 am, the men were ordered to the picket line. There, they remained all day in the woods. Upon relief, they marched back to their camp, where soldiers of the 12th New York State National Guard provided them with some rations. By 4:00 pm, Colonel Woodward was ordered back to Harrisburg for supplies for his regiment. He was given six wagons, which were loaded up with rations and supplies. Due to the lack of room, he was forced to leave the regiment’s knapsacks behind. He started out for Fenwick. Upon arrival, he found his regiment back on the picket line at the edge of a wooded area.

During the night, rain had fallen and the soldiers were soaked to the bone. Tents and shelter halves were still about a mile behind the colonel, leaving the regiment exposed to the cold rain that fell during the night.

By daylight of June 27th, Colonel Woodward began issuing shelter halves to his regiment. The men made their camp in the wooded plot as the rain fell during the day. All the run-off of the rain made the area a mud hole. Colonel Woodward recalled:   “The tents improved our condition only as would an umbrella that of a man in a bath-tub with the shower-bath turned on.” To help dry out their clothes, the 13th New York SNG built bon-fires that burned all day. By 6:00 pm, the rain slacked off to a drizzle. By night fall, worn out from the day, the men quickly fell asleep, but the conditions of the ground they slept upon was much like a swamp. Sometime during the day, the wagon containing the men’s knapsacks and overcoats had arrived from Fort Washington.

By 8:00 am of the morning of the 28th, Colonel Woodward addressed his regiment for an outstanding job. Since arriving in Pennsylvania, not one man had complained. The regiment had been in a line of battle for about forty hours resting in short doses before being ordered for another task.

As the sun shined during the late morning, Colonel Woodward scouted the area while his regiment dried their clothes. The men were wearing a mix batch of their messmates clothing due to the heavy rain that fell during the day before. Once tattoo was sounded, and after cleaning themselves up, the men went into their tents for a good night’s rest.

At 11:30 pm, the 13th New York SNG was awoken and ordered to General Yates’ headquarters. The men were ordered on detach duty for the night. One company was ordered to garrison an earthwork made of railroad ties and sandbags. Two other companies were ordered to garrison an earthenwork composed of piles of rocks on a high hill commanding a back road. By 2:00 am of the 29th, Colonel Woodward and a guide was ordered out with two companies to obstruct a side road leading through Miller’s Gap, west of Harrisburg.

The march up Blue Mountain was steep and already obstructed. The tired detachment of men under Colonel Woodward was exhausted and could no longer keep up with him. Colonel Woodward ordered his men to halt while he and the guide rode ahead. The men were unable to keep up because of three nights worth of picket duty, and another assignment given by General Yates.

After halting his men and riding ahead, with no luck on finding this road through Miller’s Gap, Colonel Woodward turned to his guide and gave him “a dose” of tongue lashing. The colonel turned around and headed back to where he left his men. Upon arrival, he found the men fast asleep in the roadway. He got them up and headed back to CampFenwick, arriving there around 6:00 am. By 7:00 am, the colonel found General Yates still sleeping in his headquarters. Colonel Woodward took personal charge and responsibility of ordering his exhausted regiment back to CampCrook, Fenwick. The men spent the rest of the day resting and were left undisturbed by General Yates.

On June 30th, there were no signs of the Confederate army near, or coming to Fenwick. All the mountain gaps located along the northern tier of South Mountain and Blue Mountain, near Harrisburg, were barricaded by blasting rocks and felling trees along the roadways. For any Confederate force moving toward Harrisburg along these roads it would be a slow and tedious process. However, sounds of cannonading at Oyster Point were heard by the soldiers of the 13th New York SNG as Confederate General Albert Jenkins and his brigade of cavalry skirmished with portions of General Ewan’s brigade of militia. This Confederate force, along with General Richard Ewell’s Corps was ordered to withdraw from this area of south-central Pennsylvania and begin moving to Gettysburg, where Confederate General Robert E. Lee wanted to concentrate his army. The next day, the Battle of Gettysburg would erupt.

As the first day’s battle at Gettysburg raged, the men of the 13th New York SNG cleaned up the camp. During the day, they held company drills and ended their day with dress parade. During the afternoon, General JEB Stuart and his cavalry were in the area of Carlisle. During the evening, the Confederates sent a dispatch to General William Smith to surrender the town. General Smith refused and the Confederate artillery opened fire. However, Stuart learned that a battle near Gettysburg had erupted earlier that day, and withdrew from Carlisle after torching the barracks.

While there was Confederate activity in the area, several portions of the New York State National Guard were detailed out. At Fenwick, Colonel Woodward received orders at 11:00 pm to break camp and march back to FortWashington. By 12:30 am on July 2nd, the 13th New York SNG began their march, and by early morning reached Fort Washington. The men broke ranks and by 6:30 am, were sound asleep using the tents of the 23rd New York SNG, who were detached to Carlisle.

As morning came on July 3rd, the 13th New York SNG awoke and cleaned up their camps. Colonel Woodward anticipated that orders would be issued by nightfall to move out. During the day, he ordered Company E to detach service in light marching orders and well armed. They were to march to the railroad and protect the workers while they made repairs to the tracks.

By 11:00 pm, orders from headquarters came. They stated that the 13th New York SNG was to prepare to move out in light marching orders. The men were to carry one blanket, haversack of available rations, and their canteens. They were to be ready to move out by 2:00 am to the railroad bound for Carlisle.

The 13th New York SNG arrived in Carlisle just after 7:00 am. About five hours later, they were ordered to move through South Mountain via Mount Holly Springs. During the day, the march was easily made toward Mount Holly Springs until a terrible rainstorm blew in from the west. Soon the rain fell in torrents. The men marched a few miles and took refuge inside of a large barn. Staying there for a few moments, orders came to move on. After marching a few miles, the men took refuge in the woods surrounding the mountain. By 10:00 pm, orders to bivouac were issued and the men were forced to sleep in the muddy road as the rain fell all night. Colonel Woodward sarcastically wrote home in a letter on July 6th, “I slept very well, never better.” The rainstorm that occurred during the night of July 4th-5th, would be a topic written in great detail by the New York State National Guard in several unit histories.

The next morning on July 5th, the march resumed around 9:00 am with no rations. The march brought them to Pine Grove Forge. There they were halted and the men wasted no time in finding food. They confiscated flour from the locality there and mixed it with water. Soon after a paste was made, they baked it on their tin plates and ate that for breakfast.

At 2:00 pm, orders were issued to move out. They would take the road leading toward Bendersville and from there to Newman’s Gap, near Cashtown Gap. After a grueling five mile march, the 13th New York SNG was ordered to halt. The men took to the woods and bivouacked there for the night. During the evening, the rain again picked up, making the conditions even worse.

By 7:00 am the next morning, the 13th New York SNG was on the march. The weather had begun to clear, and the roads began to dry out. As the men marched, more and more Confederate deserters were found and taken prisoner. Colonel Woodward even escorted a few to headquarters. For being in the wilderness, cold and wet, and without any food, the men of the 13th New York SNG were in good spirits. However, Colonel Woodward recalled feeling ill since leaving Pine Grove Forge, and took time to show his feelings toward the conditions in which he was in. He wrote, “Am now well, never felt better in my life, hungry, wet as a rat; having forded a dozen streams boots hang tight to my legs, overcoat weighs fifty pounds.”  The march continued throughout the day. By 10:00 pm, a halt was ordered and the men soon fell out. They found a plot of woods and fell asleep after an exhausting day.

On the morning of July 7th, the 13th New York SNG woke up and by 8:00 am, they began a ten mile march. After marching for five miles, they came to Newman’s Gap, situated on the Chambersburg Pike. The men were given one day’s rations consisting of hardtack. Soon a steer was butchered and the men were given a meat ration to eat as well.

By 3:00 pm, the 13thNew York began their march again, descending down SouthMountain toward Caledonia and Greenwood. Once they arrived at Greenwood, they marched due south on the Waynesboro Road to Mont Alto. There, the soldiers were ordered to camp and broke ranks. The men were exhausted.

The 13th New York SNG bivouacked in the woods near the West Branch of the Antietam Creek. By 10:00 pm, the rain began to fall in torrents. The saturated ground could not hold back the water flow and soon the banks of the Antietam Creek began to overflow. It washed out fire pits and nearly drowned several sleeping members of the 13th New York SNG. Needless to say, the night was hideous and miserable.

During the morning of July 8th, the rain continued to fall until 11:00 am. By 12:00 pm, as skies began to clear, the men began to march toward Waynesboro, where the rear of the Confederate army had passed a day before. By 7:00 pm, the 13th New York SNG had made its way into Waynesboro. Once there, they were ordered to the south to establish camp on a high hill facing toward Leitersburg, Maryland and the Mason Dixon Line. The area consisted of open fields and woods. The 13thNew York, while in battle line, was supported by a battery. As they made their camp, they were located toward the rear of their division under the command of General William Smith.  It was a pleasant place for a camp.

For the next two days, the men of the 13th New York SNG remained stationary. The quartermaster arrived with their baggage. While enjoying the down time, many of the men took time to clean themselves up while others performed camp duties or looked for food. No passes were issued to any of the men to head into Waynesboro. About two miles to their front was the Antietam Creek, and the charred remains of a wooden bridge that the rearguard of Confederate army had burned. The Confederate army was only a few miles to their front near Leitersburg, Maryland.

On July 11th, the 13th New York SNG was still encamped near Waynesboro. During the day, the men received full rations for the first time since July 3rd. Up until July 11th, the men had to “beg or buy” whatever food they could find. Colonel Woodward noted that his men were in poor condition for another march. However, in the same paragraph to a letter to his father, wrote, “Health of the regiment is not good as it was, but it is not bad.”

Orders came, and by 8:00 pm, the men began to march toward Leitersburg, fording the Antietam Creek, and marching over the Mason Dixon Line.  By 10:30 pm, a halt was made near Leitersburg. The New York State National Guard would spend the night bivouacked in a clover field.

At 4:00 am, on July 12th, the 13th New York SNG was up and on the march. They counter marched back to Leitersburg and took the road leading to Cavetown. The men were rationless. During the afternoon, the skies began to show signs of bad weather moving in, and this storm was going to be severe. As the men were marching during the day, straggling became a huge issue for Colonel Woodward. Just moments before the storm hit, he recalled marching with about seventy-five of his men. The rest were located in front and in rear of the column. Seeing an open clover field with a small brook running through, Colonel Woodward ordered a halt.

Shortly, after 2:00 pm the storm hit with intense lightning, thunder, wind, and rain. Whatever soldiers Colonel Woodward had left, quickly buttoned shelter halves together and the men pitched their tents and took refuge under them. Unfortunately, that was of little use as the rain blew into the tents from the open sides, and the men quickly wrapped their rubber gum blankets around themselves and squatted on the ground trying to keep dry.

As the storm raged, the majority of the New York State National Guardsmen of General William Smith’s Division was about a half mile ahead, just outside of Cavetown. General Smith sent couriers back to Colonel Woodward and ordered him to bring up his regiment, but his regiment was scattered all about. Located in the open field were about twenty-five men. Colonel Woodward decided to wait out the storm, or at least the worst of it before concentrating his regiment and moving onward. He later found out that some of his regiment made it to Cavetown, and were “buying or stealing food.”

By early evening the storm subsided, and many of the men of the 13th New York SNG made their way into Cavetown, although their camp was located just outside of town limits. The New Yorkers saw few secessionists, and many of the New Yorkers were “growling” about their treatment. “Darn militia are not worth anything anyhow” wrote Colonel Woodward during his experience there. In the same letter to his father, Colonel Woodward recalled: “However, it does seem hard to make as many sacrifices as we have and then, when here, to be snubbed and maltreated. The three-years’ troops who are all here have everything.” It seemed as the colonel began to force blame onto Cavetown for the malnourished troops under his command.

Upon leaving Waynesboro, another issue came into play. The men carried everything in their knapsacks strung upon their backs during these long grueling marches and counter marches. They carried a canteen and eating utensils in their haversacks with no rations in them. The lack of food began to break down discipline. During the evening as Colonel Woodward waited out the storm, he noted that the lack of camp guards allowed the men to come and go as freely as they pleased.

Colonel Woodward also penned about his brigade commander General Joseph Knipe. The colonel seems to take up issue, as did many other New Yorkers under the brigade commander’s command. Colonel Woodward even saw General Knipe strike down a teamster upon the wagon. Colonel Woodward noted that General Kinpe had some sort of grudge against the New Yorkers. He had threatened to give them hell, and Colonel Woodward, as well as other New York regimental commanders, all agreed that he had succeeded. As night came, with the ground being wet, and the soldiers cold from being wet, they began to tear down the worm fences for firewood.

By 8:00 am on July 13th, the men of the 13thNew York began their march to Boonsboro. Rain, again, fell during the day. The men halted between Boonsboro and Cavetown, and went into camp. They built fires anticipating rations being issued, but none came.

By 6:00 pm, the 13th New York SNG was ordered, along with its brigade, to march to Boonsboro. By 10:00 pm, the men halted a short distance beyond town and made their camp in an open “stony” field. As the men looked upon the area, they quickly realized that they were surrounded by the campfires of the veteran soldiers of the Army of the Potomac.

The next morning, the 13th New York SNG was issued small portions of beef and one barrel of flour. By 11:00 am, General Knipe’s brigade was on the march, heading toward Hagerstown. Soon orders came to halt the column. By early evening, Colonel Woodward heard that the Confederate army had made its escape across the Potomac River. As the evening wore on, rumors of the draft riots in New York were heard and the men began anticipating orders for a return to their home state.

Early in the morning on July 15th, all New York State National Guardsmen serving in the Army of the Potomac were ordered to march to Frederick, Maryland at once. The 13th New York SNG began marching toward SouthMountain, and crossed at Turner’s Gap into MiddletownValley. From there, they would march through Middletown, and up, and over the CatoctinMountain at Braddock’s Gap to enter Frederick in the late evening. There, they were ordered to Monocacy Junction, where they would bivouac for the night.

The next morning, the men waited on the train that would take them to Baltimore, Maryland, and then homeward bound. By the 17th of July, the men were in Baltimore and waited for the train to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By July 21st, the men were officially mustered out of U.S. military service, ending their campaign in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Resources:

Kennedy, Elijah, R. John B. Woodward, a biographical memoir, by Elijah R. Kennedy. New York: De Vinne Press, 1897.

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The 71st New York State National Guard During The Pennsylvania Campaign

On June 16th, 1863, in response to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for manpower, the 71st Regiment, New York State National Guard was assembled. The terms of enlistment were not to exceed ninety-days in what would become known as the Pennsylvania Campaign, or Gettysburg Campaign as it is often called. The soldiers of the National Guard assembled in full fatigue dress, with black belts, overcoats rolled upon their knapsacks, canteen, and one days ration in the haversack.

71st_nysngThe 71st New York S.N.G. was commanded by Colonel Benjamin L. Trafford, and wore uniforms of blue rather than gray as many of the National Guard units did. They wore a dark blue shell jacket, most likely the New York State jacket, dark blue fatigue cap, with sky-blue trousers and white belts. Their knapsacks were the hard pack militia style. While preparing to leave for Pennsylvania, there was some confusion upon what accouterments were to be worn and Colonel Trafford went to straighten the mess up. Upon his return, more than 550 soldiers were ready to depart New York bound for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

On June 17th, the 71st New York S.N.G. boarded the vessel called the Red Jacket at 10:00pm and left New York. They were en-route to Elizabethport, and by 2:00am on June 18th they boarded the train for Harrisburg. The men were packed into cattle cars, some even riding on top of the cars. They reached Harrisburg during the evening, and the 71st New York S.N.G. along with the 8th New York S.N.G. were among the first organized troops in the Harrisburg area.

Offloading the train cars, the 71st New York S.N.G. marched into Camp Curtin where they were issued rations. After receiving those rations, they loaded up on the train cars and rode across the Susquehanna River to Bridgeport. Arriving there during a major rain storm, the men slept inside the cattle cars until daylight.

By daylight on June 19th, the 71st New York S.N.G. offloaded the train and marched into Fort Washington. Colonel Trafford reported to General Darius Couch for orders. By 7:00pm, the 71st and the 8th New York S.N.G. took the train and headed to Shippensburg. General Couch ordered these men to hold in check the advancing Confederate army, stalling their movements to buy Harrisburg time for their defenses to be completed. The 71st New York S.N.G. and the rest of their brigade arrived at Shippensburg at dark, and were again ordered to remain on the train until daylight.

At daylight on June 20th, the 71st New York S.N.G. and other units were deployed covering the roads leading from Chambersburg and Scotland. Arriving, at Scotland, General Joseph F. Knipe assumed command of the brigade at 11:00pm.

officers 71stBy June 21st, the 71st New York S.N.G. had marched to Green Village, and then onward to Scotland Bridge, arriving there at 3:00pm. The 71st New York S.N.G. saw first hand the destruction of the bridge caused by the Confederate cavalry. General Knipe had orders to repair the bridge, and upon completion they were to march to Chambersburg. The 71st New York S.N.G. bivouacked at Scotland Bridge for the night.

At 8:00am on June 22nd, the 71st New York S.N.G. began marching to Chambersburg and arrived in the city at 11:00am. They were ordered to take up positions two miles south of the town on the Waynesboro Road. Rachel Cormany, a civilian of Chambersburg recalled how safe she felt when the 71st New York S.N.G. entered town. She also heard that the Confederates were about eight miles from town. Later, orders came for the right wing of the 71st New York S.N.G. to reinforce the 8th New York S.N.G. on the Greencastle Road, just south of Chambersburg.

At about 5:00pm, orders were again issued for the right wing and the 8th New York S.N.G. to push ahead another two more miles and halt where some skirmishing had occurred. The left wing of the 71st New York S.N.G. had not received any orders to move out and remained in place. Soon another set of orders came to march Knipe’s Brigade back to Scotland Bridge and board the train to head directly to Carlisle. The New Yorkers complied with the order in such haste, that many left behind their tents, extra clothing and a few weapons. The brigade had arrived at Carlisle at 2:00am, when it was realized that the left wing under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William Coles had been left behind at Chambersburg.

After seeking General Knipe’s permission, Colonel Trafford hopped a train and headed as far as Shippensburg to look for Lieutenant Colonel Coles. By 2:00am, Lieutenant Colonel Coles was encamped at the fairgrounds at Shippensburg. He had heard of the order to fall back, but by the time he received the order it was too late. Upon reaching finding the other half of his command, the men were ready to move out. However, since there were no more empty train cars headed to Carlisle, the officers pleaded with the locality for wagons and horses in order to get the men moving.

Marching along the road, and trying to move his weary men after a day’s worth of long grueling marches was taking its toll on the men. Soon the men were marching along side the railroad tracks when a train slowed down and allowed the men to board. They made it to Carlisle by 10:00pm on June 23rd and encamped at the fairgrounds. Knipe’s small brigade was again fully united.

On June 24th, the Confederate advance was still moving toward Harrisburg. The 71st New York S.N.G. was placed on the road leading into Carlisle. Colonel Trafford ordered the men to dig rifle pits and entrenchments, and prepare for the worst. Knipe’s Brigade consisted of the 8th New York S.N.G., the 71st New York S.N.G., and Miller’s Philadelphia Battery. Supporting them were 200 armed citizens who were ready to fight. As the sun set, the men slept on their arms that night.

The next morning, orders were issued for the two National Guard units to move ahead and take possession of Rocky Ridge. Miller’s Battery deployed two howitzers commanding the road, and was covered by the trees along its edges. The men remained in position throughout the day. Finally, darkness fell upon the landscape and the weary soldiers began to fall asleep. By 9:00pm, General Knipe ordered Colonel Trafford to withdraw his men from the front and begin to march toward Harrisburg. Within five minutes of the order, the columns of the 71st New York S.N.G. along with the rest of the small brigade were up and marching. The men retreated to Kingston, twelve miles south from Harrisburg.

By 1:00am, the 71st New York S.N.G. had reached the woods just outside of Kingston, and bivouacked there during the early morning hours of June 26th. A major rainstorm had occurred and during the storm, many soldiers tried to find shelter from the elements. Many of the soldiers found an old country church and took refuge there, trying to stay dry. They had no blankets as their knapsacks containing their blankets were sent ahead to Harrisburg on the train cars.

On June 27th, the 71st New York S.N.G. was in danger of being out flanked by a Confederate force. They were ordered to fall back to Oyster Point. Arriving there, they were greeted by the 11th and 23rd New York S.N.G. units, who were bivouacked there. Oyster Point is situated at the intersection of the Harrisburg and Carlisle Pike and Trindle Road, present day 30th and Market Streets in Camp Hill. At the point was a tavern named for the Oyster family. The 71st New York S.N.G. was ordered to bivouac there for the night.

On June 28th, the 71st New York S.N.G. was ordered by Colonel Trafford to advance and deploy into battle lines to meet the Confederate troops. The 8th New York and 11th New York S.N.G. were ordered to fall back to Fort Washington. As the 71st New York S.N.G. deployed, the Confederate artillery began to fire. Colonel Trafford reported to Colonel Brisbane, who commanded a brigade of Pennsylvania Militia. Colonel Trafford was ordered to send out four companies to picket under fire. The remaining six companies were ordered to fall back to the rifle pits as the Confederate artillery was shelling the woods. The 71st New York S.N.G. had one soldier wounded, and were forced to remain in position for the night.

The next morning, the Confederate artillery again shelled the 71st New York S.N.G. pickets for over an hour before the 11th New York S.N.G. relieved them. Colonel Trafford was ordered to fall back to Fort Washington. While the Confederates attacked, Confederate General Albert Jenkins and other officers from General Richard Ewell’s Corps rode to the higher hills and observed Harrisburg’s defenses. The Confederates advanced as far as 28th Street, skirmishing with some of the National Guardsmen, but soon fell back. Arriving at Fort Washington and staying the night, the men of the 71st New York S.N.G. received the best sleep it had during the last ten days.

On June 30th, the 71st New York S.N.G. was officially mustered into U.S. service with a total of 538 enlisted men and officers in the ranks. After mustering in, a new command was put together under General Knipe. His brigade received much needed reinforcements when the 8th, 23rd, 52nd, 56th, 68th, and the 71st New York S.N.G. along with Miller’s Battery were brigaded under the command of General Knipe. This brigade was assigned to General William “Baldy” Smith’s Division, Army of the Susquehanna, and attached to the Army of the Potomac.

Upon mustering in, Colonel Varian, being a senior officer, addressed the soldiers of the 7th and 8th New York S.N.G. Colonel Varian relayed congratulations from General Darius Couch on a job well done. The two New York S.N.G. regiments had accomplished everything that was asked of them since arriving in Pennsylvania. The two regiments had advanced fifty-two miles beyond Harrisburg to the south, and held the Confederate advance in check for six days. This bought time for the defenses of Harrisburg to be built or improved upon, and this also gave the farmers plenty of time to hide their livestock in the wake of the Confederate invasion in the Cumberland Valley.

Later during the day, Knipe’s brigade was ordered to begin picketing South Mountain and some of the northern passes near Carlisle. The 71st New York S.N.G. was ordered to Silver Creek, near Hampton. Arriving there, they would bivouac for the night. Soon, they heard the firing of guns and saw the flames coming from Carlisle. This was the fire started by the Confederates at the barracks.

On July 1st, the 71st New York S.N.G. was ordered with the rest of Knipe’s brigade to begin marching to the South Mountain pass called Mount Holly Gap. After a seven to eight mile march, the 71st New York S.N.G. was ordered into an open field along the banks of the Conegogeramit Creek, where they bivouacked for the night. The next day, the 71st New York S.N.G. remained under arms until it was ordered to fall back toward the Mechanicsburg, where they halted near the Rupp House and bivouacked for the night.

Reveille was sounded at 5:00am on July 3rd and within minutes the soldiers were on the march. There was no time to eat breakfast, and the 71st New York S.N.G. marched three miles to Uniontown, where the men tried to seek food. After a brief stay, they were on the march again. By 10:00am, they arrived at Kinston, where many of the soldiers quickly made breakfast. Not staying long, the 71st New York S.N.G., along with their brigade, marched toward Carlisle. By the afternoon, the sun was hot and fatigue began to set in on the tired soldiers, some suffered heat exhaustion. By 7:00pm, the brigade arrived at Carlisle and encamped around the ruins of the barracks.

P1010984At 5:00am on July 4th, the 71st New York S.N.G. and the rest of Knipe’s Brigade marched along Mount Holly road. They were ordered into South Mountain via Mount Holly Gap. By 10:00am, they marched through Papertown. Their destination was Pine Grove Forge. As they neared South Mountain, dark clouds were on the horizon and soon afterward, they ascended the western base of South Mountain. The rain came pouring in and the peaceful landscape turned into a quagmire.

The road leading through the South Mountain followed the mountain side which was on the right of the 71st New York S.N.G. The mountain stream was to their left and supplied many of the paper mills. As darkness set in, it became difficult for the soldiers to distinguish where the road was located. The mountain stream soon became almost impassable. The rain forced the mountain streams to overflow their banks, spilling the contents on the road.

The 71st New York S.N.G. marched through several areas of flooded roadways, in some areas the water was almost knee deep. They followed close behind one another to avoid being swept away by the raging current. An adjutant mounted on his horse soon became dismounted and was swept away when his horse stepped into a hole. It was reported that several of the men had lost their knapsacks and blankets and many were washed away.

P1010991Upon arriving at Pine Grove Forge, there was no shelter left in any of the barns or buildings since the various units of the Pennsylvania Militia took refuge with its own people. Many of the New Yorkers were forced to sleep outside in the rain. The commissary wagons were stalled because of several bridges being washed away. They would have to wait for the water to recede before fording the streams. Many of those bridges took forty-eight hours to rebuild. Because of the commissary wagons being unable to cross the flooded stream, rations were in short supply. Luckily, the Confederates did not hit this area during the invasion and many of the National Guardsmen were able to forage food while they bivouacked for the night.

The following day, the soldiers began to dry out. The quartermaster wagons managed to catch up to the 71st New York S.N.G. and news about the Confederate retreat and the Union victory at Gettysburg lifted their spirits. However, the commissary wagons still had not made their way to Pine Grove Forge. The soldiers of the 71st New York S.N.G. also learned why it was necessary for them to march into South Mountain. This movement was to keep the Confederate army from using the northern most South Mountain gaps for their retreat. This forced the Confederate army to use Cashtown Gap to its south and Monterey Pass along the Mason Dixon Line. The National Guardsmen marched to Bendersville and halted there for the night.

On July 6th, the soldiers of the 71st New York S.N.G. had received fresh beef which had been purchased by the quartermaster and then slaughtered. Company B of the 71st New York S.N.G. decided to save their ration of beef for dinner and fixed breakfast by other means. During the afternoon, the messmates of Company B decided to fix stew and after purchasing vegetables, they placed everything into the pot. Within minutes of being cooked, orders were issued to the men. They were to fall in and prepare to march. Within minutes, they were marching and the stew was left behind.

During their march, it began to rain and by 9:00am, the 71st New York S.N.G. arrived at Caledonia Forge. The men, exhausted, fell out and sought the driest ground for the night. The soldiers had accomplished a sixteen mile march that day.

On July 7th, the spirits of the 71st New York S.N.G. was lifted by the site of the commissary wagons. Rations were issued and the soldiers had prepared and eaten a good breakfast. By 11:00am, the 71st New York S.N.G. made their way to the Chambersburg Pike and took the road leading to Waynesboro.

Nearing Mont Alto, the soldiers were ordered to the side of the road to make room for some two to three thousand Confederate prisoners marching under guard. Colonel Trafford ordered the men to make no demonstration toward the Confederate soldiers. Upon seeing the condition of the Confederate prisoner, which was ragged, hatless and shoeless, compassion set in with the men. It was reported that as soon as the Confederates had marched past, there was not one ounce of tobacco left in the regiment. The soldiers handed it all out to the weary Confederates.

After marching eleven miles, the 71st New York S.N.G. made their way to Mont Alto. There, in a grove north of town, the 71st New York S.N.G. made their camp for the night by Antietam Creek. During the night another storm blew in and the rain fell in torrents. The pleasant little grove by the western branch of the Antietam Creek had turned into a swamp.

As morning dawned on July 8th, it was still raining pretty hard. At 7:00am, orders were issued to strike shelter halves. No time was allowed for the men to cook rations, and to those who needed rations, none were issued. However, hot coffee was issued to the National Guardsmen.

By 11:00am, the 71st New York S.N.G. began marching toward Waynesboro. By 5:00pm, Waynesboro was reached. Seeing portions of General Thomas Neill’s Brigade of the Sixth Corps, the soldiers began fraternizing with one another. Soon, orders were issued and a march of two miles ensued. The 71st New York halted in another grove that overlooked the Leitersburg Road and Greencastle Road. They were ordered to bivouac and by 7:00pm, rations were issued.

On July 9th, breakfast was served at 5:00am. By 10:00am, the men of the 71st were ordered to fall in for inspection. Afterward, the soldiers took it easy in camp as passes to Waynesboro were not issued. By 8:00pm, orders were issued to draw rations and prepare them. They were to be ready for the march the next day.

Early in the morning on July 10th, the soldiers of the 71st New York S.N.G. were ordered to fall in and prepare to move out. They, along with the 22nd New York S.N.G., were ordered to move toward Hagerstown, Maryland. They were to reconnaissance the Confederate army as they concentrated near Williamsport. Nearing Hagerstown, the two regiments of the National Guard were ordered to bivouac for the night.

On July 11th, the two regiments remained in camp until 6:00pm, when they were ordered to counter march back to Leitersburg. They found the bridge there spanning the Antietam Creek had been burned by the rear of the Confederate army. As they forded the creek, it was reported that the Confederate pickets were about a mile away from their position. They came near the Mason Dixon Line that night.

The next morning, the 71st New York S.N.G. again countermarched back to Leitersburg, struck the turnpike to Smithsburg, and marched directly onto Cavetown. Passing through Cavetown, the 71st New York S.N.G. halted just outside of town when a thunderstorm hit. During the hard rain, the men pitched their shelter halves and made camp. It was reported that a neighboring regiment, the 56th New York S.N.G., had several soldiers injured when a bolt of lightning stuck their tent. The lightning killed one soldier and wounded four others.

On July 13th, the 71st New York S.N.G. fell in at daylight in the rain. They began to march, taking the road leading to Boonsboro. They marched past the small towns of Smoketown and Mount Pleasant, where they halted two miles beyond, at 8:00pm. To make matters worse, the soldiers of the 71st New York S.N.G. had no rations issued to them since July 11th and they would have to forage for food in order to feed themselves.

Reveille was sounded at 4:30am on July 14th. Orders were issued to cook two days rations, even though many of the soldiers had none to cook. Throughout the day, cannonading was heard in the direction of Williamsport. There was some anticipation among the soldiers to meet the combat veterans of the Confederate army on the battlefield. As they marched closer toward Beaver Creek, the soldiers saw firsthand the destruction of vehicles such as wagons and caissons. They also saw several dead horses and the smell was unbearable. Toward evening, rumors were passed around that riots had broken out in New York due to the draft. That night, the 71st New York S.N.G. encamped near Beaver Creek.

On July 15th, orders were issued to march to Frederick, board the trains there, and head home in order to put down the riots. At 7:30am, the twenty-five mile march ensued. The soldiers would strike the National Road at Boonsboro, cross over South Mountain at Turner’s Gap. From there they proceeded to Middletown and crossed the Catoctin Mountain at Braddock’s Gap, and from there to Frederick city. There they marched to Monocacy Junction arriving at 8:00pm. Upon reaching that point, the exhausted men dropped to the ground and slept where they stood without setting up tents. The men had made this march without anything to eat.

The next morning, the men awoke at 5:00am and remained at Monocacy Junction until 11:00pm, when they were ordered to board the train enroute to Baltimore. They arrived at Baltimore at 7:00am on July 17th. By 8:00pm that night, they were in Philadelphia. The 71st New York S.N.G. left Philadelphia around midnight and arrived in New York by 7:30am on July 18th. They had officially been in the field for thirty days. They were officially mustered out of U.S. service on July 22nd, 1863.

Resources:
History of the 71st Regiment, N.G., N.Y., By the Veterans Association 71st Regiment, N.Y.N.G., New York City, 1919
Civil War Harrisburg, A Guide to Capital Area Sites, Incidents and Personalities, Edited Lawrence Kenner-Farley and James E. Schmick, 2000
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Union Blue and Militia Gray: The Role of the New York State Militia in the Civil War, by Gustav Person.
Photos LOC

The 8th New York State National Guard during the Pennsylvania Campaign

8th_NYSNGThe 8th Regiment New York State National Guard was part of those from New York who came in defense of Pennsylvania during the Confederate invasion that led to the Battle of Gettysburg. Arriving at Harrisburg, on June 18th, they were quickly detailed to Bridgeport, across the Susquehanna River. They were under the command of Colonel Varian, who actually commanded not only the 8th Regiment New York State National Guard, but also the 71st Regiment New York State National Guard because he was a senior officer. The two regiments, for the most part served together during the Pennsylvania Campaign.

On June 19th, Colonel Joshua M. Varian was ordered to take the 8th New York State National Guard, along with Colonel B. L. Trafford and his 71st New York State National Guard to ride in the train cars bound for Shippensburg. They left at around 7:00pm and arrived in Shippensburg at midnight. The weary soldiers were told to stay in the train cars until daylight.

8th_NYSNG (4)After offloading or detraining, they were ordered to Scotland, just outside of Chambersburg. Upon arriving there, the 8th New York State National Guard was ordered to march into Chambersburg, leaving the 71st New York State National Guard behind to guard the Scotland Bridge. By the 21st, the 8th New York State National Guard marched into Chambersburg. Rachel Cormany wrote in her dairy “The news came in that the rebels are near here, which caused great excitement again. Soon after a regiment of the N.Y. greys came so all the excitement died away.”

Chambersburg was the county seat of FranklinCounty, and hosted the Union soldiers in gray. These soldiers were part of the New York State National Guard. The soldiers of the 8th New York S.N.G. wore gray uniforms trimmed in black on collar, cuffs and shoulder epaulettes. After reading several of the regimental histories for units such as the 71st Regiment, New York State National Guard, they were well received upon entering town. There are accounts of people lining the streets with tables and placing all kinds of food upon them for the National Guardsmen. Everything was free of charge and for the taking.

The Franklin Repository and the Valley Spirit both ran articles about how these men in gray were received by the population. They were met with “perfect ovation from the citizens. Cambric and the Union colors fluttered from almost every window, and cheer after cheer rent the air.”

8th_NYSNG (3)Stars and Stripes were raised on the flagpole, and the people cheered. “You have come to protect us, and it is our duty to make you as comfortable as we can.” Soldiers were showered by flowers. “They were received with the wildest enthusiasm. Considering that they are on our border in advance of any Pennsylvania regiments, they merit, as they will receive, the lasting gratitude of every man in the border.”

Upon entering Chambersburg and halting at the Diamond, the 8th Regiment New York State National Guard was supplied with “loads of substantials and delicacies from the hands of the fair ones; to which the brave defenders responded by many a hearty cheer for the ladies and citizens of Chambersburg. They marched to the Southern end of the town and there encamped for the night, where they were joined on Monday by the Seventy-first New York and a battery (both of which also met a cordial reception).” The units of the New York State National Guard were praised and given the title “The Venerable Greys” by the locality.

But soon, the enthusiasm quickly changed according to published newspaper accounts. A war of words in the newspapers that lasted a month after the burning of Chambersburg, a year later. At this time, it was not known which unit of the New York State National Guard had misconducted itself. But sources would later reveal it was the 8th New York S.N.G.

The Valley Spirit published an article entitled “Riot” which describes how these soldiers acted. “The editors note that some of the militia from New York who came to defend FranklinCounty have been behaving badly. Their actions included an assault on Captain Doebler on the grounds that he was a coward, which extended into a general melee.”

The article describes the scene. “A disgraceful riot occur[r]ed in the diamond, which for a while threatened to be of a serious character. Some members of one of the New York regiments, getting into a discussion with Captain Doebler, who is still suffering from the wound received at Fredericksburg, called the Captain “a d–d coward.” The Captain replied by striking the fellow over the head with his cane. The “muss” then became general, and several citizens who interfered to protect the Captain in his disabled condition, were roughly handled. Some of them were chased through the streets by the infuriated crowd, armed with pistols, sabres, guns and bayonets, with cries of “shoot them!” “hang them!” “kill them!” The disgraceful scene was brought to a close by the interference of several officers; and although some blood was spilled [sic], we are happy to record the fact that no one was seriously injured.”

On June 22nd, the right wing of the 71st New York State National Guard had made its way to Chambersburg to reinforce the 8th New York S.N.G. The two units were ordered to picket the area, and if necessary, stall the advancing Confederate force in delaying action, but not to engage them in full battle. They were to buy Harrisburg time while the fortifications were being built or improved upon. They picketed the road leading to Greencastle. The 8th New York S.N.G. had skirmished with a smaller Confederate force near Greencastle, and afterward, began barricading the road by felling tree tops across it. Wooden fence rails were also thrown across the roadway. General Joseph F. Knipe, the brigade commander arrived in Chambersburg with other militia units from Pennsylvania and he made his headquarters at the FranklinHotel located on the square.

General Knipe had issued orders for the 8th and right wing of the 71st New York S.N.G. to fall back to Scotland depot to board the cars inbound to Carlisle. The citizens of Chambersburg would soon again see their town occupied by the Confederate army. This move by General Knipe, who followed orders issued by General Darius Couch, would leave bitterness in the Chambersburg locality that would last for many months to come.

Upon the Confederate invasion that would occupy Chambersburg, the war of words began in the press. Both newspapers in Chambersburg, and in New York went on to record about why the National Guardsmen left the city to fall into Confederate hands. “when the bells were rung to notify the people that the enemy were within a few hours march of Chambersburg; when we had packed and sent off a small portion of our goods, concealing some, and grimly risking the balance; when our women had calmly made up their minds to the worst and had gotten out their linen handkerchiefs for bandages; when our able bodied men had donned the blouse, shouldered the musket and had been furnished with twenty rounds of ammunition each; when some of our best men with pick and spade aided in throwing up intrenchments; when cannon were planted in our streets; when loyal Democrats and Republicans expected a battle with the enemies of our government. At such a time, we say, the New York Tribune wrote the above, in reference to citizens of a sister State, who have been twice overrun and robbed, and almost ruined by the common enemy.”

“Delaying the advance for some days. We sent off our horses under most stringent, military orders, to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy, leaving our over-ripe grain standing uncut. We freely assisted every colored man, woman and child to escape, and nearly every citizen with his family remained, though expecting rapine and violence. Two regiments of New York troops arrived at C—-g on a memorable Sunday, were welcomed by us all with open hands and hearts. The 8th N.Y. (we think it was) was drawn up on the Court House pavement, under the shade of the trees, were fed by our ladies young and old with the best we had, and were hailed socially as brave defenders. They were marched about a mile-and-a-half south of the town, and upon the approach of the enemy, were marched back again to our depot where they took the cars for Harrisburg, leaving their baggage, tents, etc., which our citizens the next day (copperheads and all) handed in and saved. We will not venture on details of their conduct while in our valley; but our daily prayer ever since has been; “give us defeat, grant us death, bestow upon us ignominy, but save us, good Lord, from the New York Militia!” The foe came; we could not resist, for all our fighting men were in the army, our quota being more than full; we did not submit, we were treated as enemies; with our lives in our hands, we furnished almost hourly valuable information to the government; we suffered, did not complain, but remained then and remain now loyal to our country. This is all true, and comes within our personal knowledge.”

8th_NYSNG (2)By 2:00am on June 23rd, the 8th New York S.N.G. would enter Carlisle. Preparations were made by the 8th New York S.N.G., along with the right wing of the 71st New York S.N.G. for the advancing Confederate force under the command of General Albert Jenkins. The next day, the Confederate cavalry force made its appearance. It was also realized that a much larger Confederate force was not far off in the distance. The men of the 8th New York S.N.G. slept under arms that night.

On the morning of June 25th, General Knipe issued orders for the National Guardsmen to move forward and take possession of a ridgeline known as Rocky Ridge. Two guns of Miller’s Battery were placed in the road, masked by trees. The 8th New York S.N.G. had positioned themselves at Walnut Bottom Road. As daylight gave way to darkness, orders were issued for the militia force of New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians to withdraw and retreat toward Kingston, twelve miles from Harrisburg.

At 1:00am on the 26th, the troops arrived and encamped in the woods near Kingston during a rainstorm. Many of the men were without blankets and other items as they were sent back on the train. On June 27th, General Knipe’s Brigade moved closer to Harrisburg at Oyster Point. Here they found the regiments of the 11th and 23rd New York State National Guard. They bivouacked at Oyster Point until the next morning.

On June 28th, battle lines were drawn. The 8th New York S.N.G. along with the 11th New York S.N.G. were ordered to FortWashington. Confederate artillery opened and began to shell the area. The Battle of Sporting Hill had begun. The next day, General Jenkins skirmished at Oyster Point. He held the area for a little while, then withdrew his force, and began to head toward Gettysburg.

On June 30th, General Joseph Knipe’s Brigade was reorganized. He would have in his brigade the 8th, 23rd, 52nd, 56th, 68th, and the 71st New York State National Guard Regiments, along with Miller’s Pennsylvania Battery. They were assigned to the Department of the Susquehanna under the command of General William Smith, and attached to the Army of the Potomac.

On July 1st, the 8th New York S.N.G., along with its brigade was ordered to march to Mount Holly Gap, located east of Carlisle in the SouthMountain range. Moving only eight miles to Conegogeramit Creek, it halted for the night. Cannonading was heard during the night, and the orange glow was seen as the barracks in Carlisle were burned.  

On July 2nd, the 8th New York S.N.G. moved back about two miles and encamped there for the night near the area where Confederate General Albert Jenkins had his headquarters during the advancement to Harrisburg. The next morning, the 8th New York S.N.G. moved toward Carlisle, halting at Uniontown and moving on to Kingston. Arriving there at 10:00am, the weather was very warm and many men suffered from the heat of the July sun. By 7:00pm that evening, Knipe’s Brigade had made it to Carlisle.

8th_NYSNG (1)On July 4th, the brigade began its march to Mount Holly Gap. They passed through the small town of Papertown at 10:00am and proceeded to Pine Grove Forge. Soon the landscape and beauty of SouthMountain turned into a quagmire. A severe storm had rolled in and sheets of rain fell during the late afternoon and all night. The mountain streams and roadways began to flood. All commissary wagons were halted, as they could not move across the flooded bridges. Arriving at Pine Grove Forge, the men tried to seek shelter from the storm. Their attitudes soon became demoralized by the rain.

The next day, the 8th New York S.N.G., along with its brigade marched to Bendersville, where they encamped for the night. On July 6th, they marched to Newman’s Gap, where the brigade was ordered to turn west, and then south toward the Mason Dixon Line.

On July 7th, the 8th New York S.N.G. marched to Mont Alto, where they encamped for the night. The ground had become a swamp due to the recent rains that seemed to fall everyday since July 4th. At 5:00pm on July 8th, they marched into Waynesboro, where the rear of the Confederate army had passed the day before, and were greeted by the locality. General Thomas Neill and his brigade had followed the rear of the retreating Confederate army though MontereyPass, and were in Waynesboro when the New York State National Guard marched in.  

Upon reaching Waynesboro, the New Yorkers were ordered about two and a half miles south of town, where they halted for the night. Pickets were thrown out covering all the roads leading to Greencastle, Hagerstown and MontereyPass. The New York S.N.G. remained near Waynesboro for two days.

On July 10th, the New Yorkers prepared to move out, ford the Antietam Creek, and march toward Leitersburg, Maryland, where they would operate for several days. By July 12th, they moved onward to Cavetown, Maryland. The next morning, striking tents, they moved out, marching toward Boonsboro, Maryland. On July 14th, the New Yorkers moved to Beaver Creek, where they encamped for the night.

On July 15th, the 8th New York S.N.G. and the rest of the New York National Guardsmen were ordered back to New York due to the riots that had broken out. They marched onward to Boonsboro, crossing SouthMountain at Turner’s Gap, crossing the CatoctinMountain at Braddock’s Gap, and made their way to the Monocacy Junction. From there, they would board the train and begin their journey to New York. This ended their service in Maryland and in Pennsylvania.

In 1864, the people of Chambersburg were still outraged from their treatment by the 8th New York S.N.G. One citizen even made it sound as if the Confederate force that occupied Chambersburg were the liberators of the town from those soldiers of the New York State National Guard. It was reported in the Franklin Repository in July of 1864 that the people of Chambersburg “Chastises New York newspaper editors–particularly Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune–for their “heartless” attitude toward the suffering of Chambersburg residents.” The article continues, “There is no excuse for a journal like the Tribune giving publicity to a falsehood so palpable and shameless as the above. Its editors know something of the people of Southern Pennsylvania, and its many readers in this section should have been a protection against such wanton defamation. No New York soldier ever gave the Tribune or any one else such a report of the people of Pennsylvania; but possibly some of the many thieves and skulkers who accompanied the New York regiments, may have attempted to shield their own notorious crimes by the systematic vituperation of our citizens. The press of Southern Pennsylvania has been unwilling to give the true history of the march of the New York militia, because there were doubtless reputable and brave men among them who would have suffered thereby; but we submit to the Tribune that it is time for the wholesale slanders of cowardly shoulder-hitters and wharf-rats, who straggled and plundered habitually, to find some meaner channel for endorsement and publicity.”

“It seems rather a pity that the Rebel spoilers of Maryland were not tempted to extend the sphere of their operations so as to embrace the more intensely Coppperhead districts of southern Pennsylvania. Had they gone thither and been charged for every mouthful they ate or drank (water included) as our boys were last Summer, they must have been thoroughly cured of all taste for invasion for the rest of their mortal lives.–New York Tribune.”

A month after the Burning of Chambersburg, the paper ran an article about what happened to the town, and even took time to once again bring up the matters of the previous summer. “This statement we should deem sufficient to put to rest the slanders so industriously circulated by the New York press–trumped up as an excuse for withholding their mite for our relief–because, as they allege, we failed to defend our town against a band of 200 guer[r]illas! This is a sharp dodge on the part of the New York gold speculators, and they, no doubt, felicitate themselves over it as a very clever ruse whereby they were enabled to retain a little money in their pockets! Save us, now and hereafter, from New York sympathy!–but above all things else save us from the New York Militia! Come Jenkins! Come Moseby! Come M’Causland! but against another visitation of the New York Militia, Good Lord, defend us!”

In an editorial to the Valley Spirit in August of 1864, local Chambersburg resident W.I. Cook took the time, after his thoughts on the Burning of Chambersburg to include the actions of those New York State National Guardsmen of the 8th Regiment. “Now a few words about “the gallant young men of New York” who as you allege came to our defense, and the statements of yourself and the Tribune, have only provoked an allusion to them. New York has sent many, and gallant soldiers to the field. We honor them. But the very worst specimens she has sent anywhere were here last summer. They came as if prepared for a picnic, with all the delicacies of the season in their haversacks and on their supply trains. Our people hailed them with the warmest welcome and furnished them with the best they had without cost. Everything was done under the circumstances, that a population could do to evidence appreciation of their coming and to render them comfortable. Now one [sic] of the first grand achiev[e]ments of these “gallant young men of New York” was to drag the fire apparatus of the of the [sic] town through its streets at full speed yelling like a pack of hounds. In their presence was known more profanity, more blackguardism, more theft, more drunkenness than was ever inflicted upon a community by professed Union soldiers since this war commenced. On an evening they disappeared from their camp more suddenly than base fabric of a vision, leaving all their camp equipage, individual property, sardines Scotch ale by the gross, and dainties in every variety. These “gallant young men from New York” heard of the approach of the Rebs and they skedaddled without inquiring their number of getting even a sight of the visage of one of them. The people of our town blessed the day of their deliverance and made it one of thanksgiving for they were rid of the New York troops. Jenkins came in and his command pillaged and plundered. We expected this from him. New York troops stole secretly. Jenkins’ did not, New York troops tore down property in the most ruthless manner. Jenkins’ did not. New York troops outraged women. Jenkins’ did not. When men come here for our defence we expect to find their professions truthful, not on the other hand to make us the victims of riot and blackguardism. You say the New York troops had “no very pleasing stories to tell” of this valley. No wonder if they told the truth about themselves, their statements would be too indecent for other care than those of the scoundrel and the blackguard.”

Resources:

NewspaperArchivesValley of the Shadow
  • Franklin Repository, 1863-07-08
  • Valley Spirit, 1863-07-08
  • Valley Spirit, 1863-07-15
  • Franklin Repository, 1864-07-13
  • Franklin Repository, 1864-07-20
  • Valley Spirit, 1864-08-31
  • Franklin Repository, 1863-07-08
History of the 71st Regiment, N.G., N.Y., By the Veterans Association 71st Regiment, N.Y.N.G., New York City, 1919
Photos: LOC Archives