Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 42, Part III

By Holice and Debbie

Wildey says that after the dispersion of the "Black Horse Cavalry," the Zouaves were elated with their victory, and thinking the battle was over, some of them began picking up trophies from the field to send to their friends at the North.. But they were suddenly called into the ranks again up the approach of a fresh force of the enemy. It proved to be General Joe Johnston's command, just arrived by rail from Winchester, where General Patterson had been vainly sent to detain him. These fresh troops resumed the battle and turned the tide of victory. Our men were now thoroughly exhausted with long marching, excessively hot weather, and sever fighting. Their canteens were empty, and rations wasted or consumed; for they had not yet acquired the foresight of veterans in carefully husbanding supplies of food and water. All were suffering from thirst. Besides these great disadvantages the moral effect upon young soldiers in discovering that their hard fought victory was not a victory at all, but only the prelude to another might encounter, could not fail to be disastrous. Considerable confusion ensured upon the renewed onset of the Confederates, but Wildey avers that, so far as the Zouaves were concerned, there was no breaking of ranks, as reported at the time. The regiment or what was left of it after losing two hundred and eighty men in killed, wounded and prisoners, retired in good order, maintaining its company formation, firing and retreating slowly. The Zouaves, in fact, formed the rear guard of the whole Union Army in its retrograde movement as far as Centreville, where they slept that night, retiring the following day to Fairfax Court-house.

Shortly after this battle Captain Wildey was ordered to New York, on recruiting service. While so engaged, he was nominated for coroner on the Union ticker, and elected. This closed his army career. He served as coroner for six years.

NOAH LANE FARNHAM, eldest son of George W. and Caroline (Thompson) Farnham, was born at new Haven, Connecticut, on the first day of March, 1829. When he was about two years old his parents removed to the City of New York. When about eight years of age he was sent back to New Haven to one of its best schools, now the celebrated Collegiate and Commercial Institute of that city. After spending three years at that institution, he was sent to the Episcopal Academy at Cheshire, Connecticut, then, as now, one of the best church schools in the country. At the age of fourteen, he was taken from there and placed in the then well-known dry goods commission house of Clapp, Kent & Beckley, of New York.

At the age of eighteen he joined the City guards, a well-known and popular military organization of the time. Shortly after the celebrated Astor Place riot took place, and his company, having been called upon to take part in suppressing it, he participated with them in the duties and dangers of the hour. The alternation of drill and festivities which characterized the "crack" companies of the day did not suit his restless and energetic spirit, so that as soon as he came of age he joined Empire Engine Company No. 42, in which he served for about two years, when he resigned and joined Mutual Hook and Ladder No. 1, located in the same house now occupied by the company of the same number in the present department. His merit soon promoted him to the command of the company, from which position he was afterwards elected to be one of the assistant engineers of the department, serving as such under Chiefs Carson and Howard. While in the hook and ladder company he was associated with ex-Mayor Wickham, Andrew C, Schenck, (killed at the Jennings fire), and others who did concurrent duty in the Seventh Regiment, and his military tastes reasserting themselves towards the close of his term of service in the department, he was elected a member of the second company of the Seventh Regiment. From the ranks he was promoted in rapid succession, and from that office to those of second and first lieutenant in rapid succession.

At the breaking out of the rebellion he held the last named position, under Captain (now Colonel) Emmons Clark. On the memorable nineteenth of April, 1861, he marched down Broadway for the last time, in command of a platoon of his company, arm-in-arm with colonel Ellsworth, whom he was so soon, by the fatal fortunes of war, to succeed. The history of the Seventh's campaign is familiar to he world, and need not be repeated here, but it may b noted that Lieutenant Farnham commanded the first detail of skilled skirmishers which was ever displayed in the war of the rebellion. While in amp with his regiment in Washington, his commission as lieutenant-colonel of the Fire Zouaves was sent him from Albany, which he immediately accepted, and bide farewell to his comrades of the Seventh, reporting without delay to Colonel Ellsworth. Immediately upon the tragic death of that gallant officer Colonel Farnham assumed command. The history of those trying hours is told elsewhere in this book. Some weeks after his promotion he was prostrated with typhoid fever, and had hardly passed the crisis of the disease when the advance, which resulted in the Bull Run disaster, was ordered. Weak, ill, and physically unfit, he insisted on accompanying his regiment, and against the remonstrance's of his surgeons and officers, was lifted on his horse, and led his men into the battle, where he received his death wound. He was taken to the Washington Infirmary, where he lingered under faithful treatment until the fourteenth day of August, 1861, when he died peacefully and without a struggle. His brothers, who were present at his deathbed, caused the remains to be taken to his father's house in New York City. Funeral services were held on Saturday, the seventeenth, at Christ church on Fifth Avenue. The remains were taken to New Haven, which was a city of mourning on that day, with stores closed and buildings draped. A long procession of the military, local Fire Department and delegations from the Seventh Regiment and Fire Department of New York, followed the remains to the grave in the family plot in the Old Grove Street Cemetery, where the committal services were read by the rector of the Trinity Church, the church of his fathers.

Colonel Farnham was a man of great force and energy of character. Descended from a long line of New England ancestors, fighters in all the wars from the colonial Indian battles on through the French War and wars of the Revolution and of 1812, he inherited an abiding love of country, and of liberty for every man of whatever race or color. He was the soul of honor, pure in heart and life, unselfish to a fault, and in all respects a model for the young men of America to admire and imitate.

COLONEL CHARLES MCKNIGHT LEOSER was born in Reading, Pa., in 1839, and graduated at West Point in May, 1861. He was at once commissioned in the Second United States Cavalry and was ordered to drill the First Fire Zouaves (Eleventh New York Volunteers) in July. On the death of Colonel Noah L. Farnham he was chosen to serve in his stead. He remained in command of the regiment until April 18, 1862, when he resigned and rejoined his own regiment, with which he remained until the end of the war. Colonel Leoser's record with his own command was an exceedingly brilliant one, he having taken part in over forty engagements. Among them may be mentioned those at Spottsylvania Court-house, Hanover Court-house, Fair Oaks, White Oaks Swamp, and Cold Harbor. He was with Sheridan in his raid to Haxall's Landing, and was present at Beaver Dam, Yellow Tavern, and Hawes Shop, his command having had nineteen distinct encounters with the enemy in seventeen days. At Trevillian Station, June 11, 1864, Colonel Leoser was wounded and captured. He remained a prisoner about three months, and so did not take part with his regiment in the battle of Gettysburg. He resigned from the army in October, 1865, since which time he has been engaged in business in this city.

He is now president of the Wine and Spirit Traders' Society, fire vice-president of the American Institute, and a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Colonel Leoser is an ideal cavalry soldier, bold, dashing, and as fearless as a lion. Of all the contests in which he engaged during the war he is of opinion that his experience at Bull Run brought him into closest quarters with death, the Zouaves having been for some time on that disastrous day exposed to a cross fire, and that the officers escaped alive is considered little less than a miracle. Whoever is responsible for the untoward result of that engagement, it is certainly neither the Fire Zouaves nor their gallant colonel.

LIEUTENANT DANIEL DIVVER, of Company G, Eleventh New York Volunteers (First Fire Zouaves), was born in Ireland in 1839, came to this country when he was a child, and resided in the Fourth Ward with his parents. He attended the public schools and learned his trade of tanner in the "Swamp," where he was well-known and popular. At the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion he was, and had been for two years previously, an active member of Eagle Engine Company No. 13, his record as a fireman being unexcelled. When Colonel Ellsworth called for recruits from our Old Volunteer Fire Department, Lieutenant Divver was among the first to subscribe to the roll of membership of Company G, in which command he was unanimously elected second lieutenant.

In camp, before the regiment crossed the Potomac to take Alexandria, he became endeared to all his comrades by his genial disposition and his untiring efforts for the comfort of the rank and file. With his fellow-officers he was a great favorite.

On the march to the battlefield of Bull Run he divested himself of all superfluous garments, entering the field with his gallant comrades in his short sleeves, and they rolled above the elbows, sword in hand, and, with the familiar yell of the old engine company, "Get down, Old Hague!" he rushed forward to his death. When the excitement of the charge (the Rebels being driven back into the woods) was over, Lieutenant Divver was found on the field, his lifeblood ebbing away from over a dozen fatal wounds. He was carried off by some of his faithful comrades and was taken into a wheelwright shop by Paul Chappell and others by direction of Surgeon Gray of the regiment, where he expired almost immediately. The Rebels, being reinforced, made another sally, and all those in and around the wheelwright ship who were able to do so, were off to resist the charge. Those who were left behind were eventually taken prisoners. Lieutenant Divver's body was never recovered, though many efforts were made by his family. He met the death of a gallant soldier at the head of his men, and lies in an unmarked grave with his fallen comrades. Lieutenant Daniel Divver was the brother of Alderman Patrick Divver.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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