CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY AND THE CIVIL WAR

"I have for the first time heard the enemy's guns and heard their shells whistle through the air." .....on the way we, "marched into an empty cornfield, built fires & prepared our supper which consisted of hardtack & coffee. I wish you could have been there to see the fires, it was one of the most beautiful sights I ever saw. Just imagine 2000 fires a burning all at once in an empty field. It was sport to see the rails fly. No one can imagine what a vast amount of property an army will destroy in so short a space of time, until they can behold it with their own eyes." After the fight, Robert says..."the sight of the wounded and dead is not a very agreeable sight." Cpl. Robert Coe, Co.H 112th NY, to his parents, Dec. 14, 1862 on the Brigades move on the Blackwater, Zuni and Franklin.

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The Union Army had fought over a year before the many Union defeats leaves the ranks of the Union Army depleted, and in the summer of 1862 President Lincoln calls for 300,000 volunteers from the Governors of the Loyal States that comprise the Union.  New York's Governor was one of the first to declare that New York would stand with and fight for the Union, and on July 7, 1862 Governor Edwin D. Morgan asked the men of the State to form units in the field at the earliest possible moment.  Answering the call, the people of western New York set to work to meet the challenge and flock to the colors for the sake of the Union.  Senatorial districts constituted the districts for recruiting the new Regiments because New York was ordered by the War Department to raise 28 new Regiments.  New York having 32 Senatorial Districts, felt the lines were already in place to accomplish this.  Now Chautauqua County was called upon for a thousand men.  New York State offered a $50 dollar bounty to any volunteer that answered the call.  This $50 was in addition to a $100 dollar bounty offered by the Federal Government.  The work of recruiting a Regiment from Chautauqua County New York was met with vigor.  War meetings were held throughout the county.  A Military Committee of the most energetic and respected men was appointed and it was resolved to raise one new regiment in the district.  The Honorable Augustus F. Allen of Jamestown, the committee chairman, was designated Colonel and Commandant of the District Military  Depot.  The committee members were; from Chautauqua Co., George W. Patterson, John G. Hinckley, Milton Smith, John F. Phelps, and Charles Kennedy. From Cattaraugus Co., H.C. Young, J.P. Darling, Addison G. Rice (named first Colonel of the 154th New York), D.E. Sill and J.C. Devereaux. Jamestown was designated as the place where the new regiment was to be formed.  Chautauqua County would contribute six companies and neighboring Cattaraugus County four.  Every man who could influence others was set to work.  In some cases a subscription was offered to those who volunteered.  Ten dollars paid to some, in other cases, several thousand dollars raised and paid out.  At the meetings, watches, diamond rings and pictures were sold and contributed to the funds.  In many villages businesses were closed early and the men and women attended war meetings.  On August 14th the Military Committee was determined to raise two new regiments, one from each county.  New York State announced in early September that the State bounty of $50 dollars would cease on September 6.  Men who had been delaying volunteering or were not sure of the call, became aware of the impending draft and loss of $50 State bounty.  Many felt 3 years was too long, but found themselves facing a draft and all felt the volunteer regiments would be treated much better than Regular Army drafted regiments so by early September the two regiments had been raised.  The Chautauqua Regiment was raised, plus two full Companies (E&F) assigned to the Cattaraugus Regiment, the 154th NY, plus an extra Company of Sharpshooters, designated the 7th Company, New York State Sharpshooters.  The Military Committee led by Colonel Augustus Allen, had to appoint a Colonel for the Regiment because Colonel Allen was not physically able, and could not leave his business.  Captain John Fellows Smith, who raised the first company for the 112th, Co. A, was not considered because he had no prior military experience, but had been before the committee as a candidate.  The POST JOURNAL in an article in August 1862 stated, "We have raised a splendid Regiment, and now let us have men worthy to command them.  And of all curses do keep out political favorites and party hacks."  They decided to review names of men with military experience, and the names of Maj. William Stevens of Dunkirk, Maj. Patrick Jones of Ellicottville, and Captain Jeremiah Drake of Westfield were the list of men the committe reviewed.  It was resolved the 112th Regiment would be led by Maj. William Stevens from Dunkirk, NY., of the 72nd NY.  He declined, feeling he belonged to the regiment with which he was already linked.  Having failed to secure Maj. Stevens, and Maj. Patrick Jones of the 37th NY from Cattaraugus County, and soon to be Colonel of the 154th NY, all eyes were now fixed on Capt. Jeremiah Drake of the 49th NY, a former Baptist minister, who served the ministry in Panama, NY for 4 years....and Westfield, NY for 3 years.  At the committee meeting of August 14th, he was elected Colonel.  Soon after resigning his commission in the 49th, he returned to the County to assume command of the 112th.  Colonel Drake did not reach the regiment until September 2nd. As early September wore on, the regiment was formed and it was barracked at the Agricultural Fair Grounds about one mile South of Jamestown.  The camp was called Camp Brown, in honor of Colonel James M. Brown of the 100th NY.  James M. Brown, formerly a Jamestown attorney who raised a company in Jamestown after President Lincoln's first call for men in May of 1861. This was Co. B in the 72nd NY (the famed Excelsior Brigade) where he was a Captain.  Later in November 1861 he was commissioned a Colonel in the 100th NY and led them into their first fight at Fair Oaks, Virginia May 31, 1862.  He was killed leading his men into that battle and his body was never recovered from the field.  The camp was on the property of a fallen young soldier Sgt. James Hall of the 72nd NY., who fell at Malvern Hill.  Some 2100 men of the 112th, and 154th New York Regiments, and the 7th Co. NYSS were in camp in hopes to drill the men into fighting units.  But orders came to the 112th Regiment and 7th NY Sharpshooters to be forwarded to Washington immediately.  So on the 11th of September, it was mustered as a Regiment, and on the 12th marched to the depot of the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad for the trip south.  As the men were organized to leave Jamestown from Camp Brown, a large crowd assembled and the men, all 2100, sang the "Star Spangled Banner", and as they marched to the railroad for the trip south, they sang "John Brown's Body" as a marching song to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic.  After the speeches and eloquent remarks, the men pledged to never desert their colors.  They embarked the railcars, and amid the sobs and tears of mothers, wives, children and friends, the 112th New York Volunteer Infantry went to war.

Colonel Jeremiah C. Drake

*JEREMIAH C. DRAKE was born in Salisbury, Herkimer Co., N. Y., April 19, 1824. His father was a lineal descendant of an ancient family of that name; his mother, a descendant of the Huguenots and the Puritans of New England. From an obituary notice of Col. Drake, prepared under the direction of the Harmony Baptist Association, the facts recited in the following brief sketch of his life have been taken: At the age of 16, he became the subject of renewing grace. In 1843, he went to Wisconsin, and resided there 5 years. During this period he held some county offices, and became engaged in a promising business. But, from a conviction of duty, he relinquished his worldly pursuits, with a view to the gospel ministry. In December, 1847, he was licensed to preach, and soon after returned to this state to pursue a thorough course of preparatory study, and graduated at the Rochester University in 1852; having carried himself through by ways
and means which poverty alone could discover. While a student at Rochester, he gathered and organized a church at Churchville, Monroe Co., and was ordained its pastor, Jan. 22, 1852. After a successful pastorate there of two years, and at Panama in this county of four years, he assumed the pastoral care of the Baptist Church of Westfield, and removed thither in the fall of 1858. In August, 1861, moved by a sense of duty, he resolved to take up arms in defense of his imperiled country. He quickly recruited a company, was commissioned its captain, and joined the 49th regiment N. Y. volunteers, under the command of Col. D. D. Bidwell. He served with this regiment
through the entire campaign of the Peninsula, in the most creditable manner, taking an honorable part in the battles of Mechanicsville, Garnett's Farm, Savage Station, and White Oak Swamp. In the fall of 1862, when the 112th regiment was raised in this county, Capt. Drake was unanimously chosen to its command, and was commissioned colonel, Sept. 2, 1862. He proved to be an active and efficient officer, and was distinguished for his courage and his bravery in conflict with the enemy. After his taking command of the regiment, he served in the war nearly two years, having, during a large portion of the time, the command of a brigade, which position he held at the battle
of Cold Harbor, in which he received a mortal wound, and was taken to the hospital. Having in a few words delivered his last message to his family, and requested that his body be sent home, he asked to be kept quiet, saying: " You will excuse me from talking, for I have but a little time to live, and I wish it all to myself." He passed the night in self-communion, enduring the keenest bodily sufferings without a murmur or complaint. Toward morning, the chaplain reciting the words of the apostle: "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," the dying Christian soldier responded, "Amen, amen." These were his last words. Thus died a good man and a genuine patriot. But, great as are the honors justly bestowed on him for the services rendered his country in a most critical juncture, far more honorable were his achievements as a " soldier of the cross," under the great Captain of Salvation, in the warfare against the kingdom of darkness. In this war, in which " the weapons are not carnal," we believe he has gained trophies, not a few, which shall adorn the immortal " crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give him in that day." He was married, Aug. 25, 1852, to Clara UTLEY, of Boonville, Oneida Co., N. Y. They had three children: Clinton Merle, Jennie Clara, and Charles Kepler.      Mrs. Drake holds the office of postmaster.

*History of Chautauqua County - Obituary for Col. J.C. Drake

 

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Westfield, NY War Meeting Poster for September 12, 1861 - Then Pastor Jeremiah C. Drake was recruiting a Company in Westfield and vicinity for the 49th New York. Rev. Drake was commissioned the Captain. 

 

When Colonel Drake was given command of a Brigade, it was known as Drake's Independent Brigade.

 

New York City Draft Riots of July 1863

 "The nation is at this time in a state of Revolution, North, South, East, and West," wrote the Washington Times during the often violent protests that occurred after Abraham Lincoln issued the March 3, 1863, Enrollment Act of Conscription. Although demonstrations took place in many Northern cities, the riots that broke out in New York City were both the most violent and the most publicized.
        With a large and powerful Democratic party operating in the city, a dramatic show of dissent had been long in the making. The state's popular governor, Democrat Horatio Seymour, openly despised Lincoln and his policies. In addition, the Enrollment Act shocked a population already tired of the two-year-old war.
        By the time the names of the first draftees were drawn in New York City on July 11, reports about the carnage of Gettysburg had been published in city papers. Lincoln's call for 300,000 more young men to fight a seemingly endless war frightened even those who supported the Union cause. Moreover, the Enrollment Act contained several exemptions, including the payment of a "commutation fee" that allowed wealthier and more influential citizens to buy their way out of service.
        Perhaps no group was more resentful of these inequities than the Irish immigrants populating the slums of northeastern cities. Poor and more than a little prejudiced against blacks-with whom they were both unfamiliar and forced to compete for the lowest-paying jobs-the Irish in New York objected to fighting on their behalf.
        On Sunday, June 12, the names of the draftees drawn the day before by the Provost Marshall were published in newspapers. Within hours, groups of irate citizens, many of them Irish immigrants, banded together across the city. Eventually numbering some 50,000 people, the mob terrorized neighborhoods on the East Side of New York for three days looting scores of stores. Blacks were the targets of most attacks on citizens; several lynchings and beatings occurred. In addition, a black church and orphanage were burned to the ground.
        All in all, the mob caused more than $1.5 million of damage. The number killed or wounded during the riot is unknown, but estimates range from two dozen to nearly 100. Eventually, Lincoln deployed combat troops from the Federal Army of the Potomac to restore order; they remained encamped around the city for several weeks. In the end, the draft raised only about 150,000 troops throughout the North, about three-quarters of them substitutes, amounting to just one-fifth of the total Union force.
Source: The Civil War Society's "Encyclopedia of the Civil War"

 

Chautauqua County men awarded the Medal of Honor in the Civil War.

 

Sgt. Henry L. Brown (Ellicott, NY) - Company B, 72nd New York Infantry - Wilderness, VA May 6, 1864.

Capt. Edwin Goodrich (Westfield, NY) - Company D, 9th New York Cavalry - near Cedar Creek, VA November 1864.

Sgt. John H. Haight (Westfield, NY) - Company G, 72nd New York Infantry - Williamsburg, VA May 5, 1862; Bristol Station, VA August 27, 1862; Manassas, VA August 29-30, 1862.

Commissary Sgt. William Houlton (Clymer, NY) - 1st West Virginia Cavalry - Sailor Creek, VA April 6, 1865.

Sgt. Thomas Horan (Dunkirk, NY) - Company E, 72nd New York Infantry - Gettysburg, PA July 2, 1863.

Sgt. Edward Putnam (Stockton, NY) - Company D, 9th New York Cavalry - Crumps Creek, VA May 27, 1864.

Cpl. Ebenezer Skellie (Mina, NY) - Company D, 112th New York Infantry - Chapins Farm, VA September 29, 1864.

Pvt. James M. Young (Ellicott/Kiantone, NY) - Company B, 72nd New York Infantry -  Wilderness, VA May 6, 1864.

Major John M. Schofield (Gerry, NY) - 1st Missouri Infantry - Wilsons Creek, MO., August 10, 1861.

 

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