Chapter 19 - History of Wyoming County

CHAPTER XIX.

HISTORY OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTH NEW YORK INFANTRY.

IN the autumn of 1861 a regiment was recruited, with its rendezvous at Geneseo, Livingston county, N. Y., under Colonel John Rorbach. In this regiment Wyoming county was represented by the following named men:

Ezra Billings, Earl L. Gitchell, Charles Hall. James L. Quackenbush, Hiram L. Wing, Charles Wing, Castile; James William Dow, Alvin Jeffers, Wilson Wolcott, Covington: William Aiken, Andrew Andrus, Daniel Catten, Gilbert Grey, George W. Helmer, Ira Parker, Joseph L. Phillips, Seymour Phillips, Gilbert G. Prey, Austin N. Richardson,  James Richardson, Sydney Richardson, Eugene Sparks, John W. Tabor. Levi Van Acker, Nelson J. Wing, Stephen L. Wing, Eagle; L. Brainard, George Flint, Nelson Hicks, John McGure, Gainesville; Charles Berber, William Thomas, George Thomas, Java; John Westbrook. George Westbrook, Orson Wolcott, Perry; George S. Adams, Ortillus Beardesley, Edwin E. Barnes. Lyman Bunnell, Henry O. Beancon, Derrick J. Bush, Frank S. Bates, Ceylon Clarke, Yobet Cain, Rensselaer Dunning, Emery N. Emery, James Farrell, Jasher M. Griggs, Orange C. Gardner, Norval Halstead, Newton Rent, Daniel Russel, Judson A. Rose, Wiley Streeter, Beriah Sparks, Cyrenus Streeter. Henry Spencer , Oliver G. Smith, Sherman Streeter, Cooler H. Thomas, Horace Thomas. David Uter, William Willis, Isaac Whiting, Abram Whiting. Hall Whiting, Pike; and Algeroy Aiken and Sullivan Gibson, Warsaw.

It was first called the Wadsworth Guards, in honor of General James Wadsworth, of Geneseo. On the 26th of February, 1862, it was ordered to Albany, N. Y., to prepare for the field. On its arrival at Albany the ten companies of which it was composed - some of which were mere skeletons - were consolidated into seven; and a skeleton regiment then recruiting at Troy was consolidated into three companies and added to it, making a full regiment, which was numbered the 104th. The lieutenant-colonelcy of the regiment was accorded to the last three companies.

The regimental officers and captains originally were: colonel, John Rorbach; lieutenant-colonel, R. Wells Kenyon; major, L. C. Skinner; adjutant, F. T. Vance; quartermaster, Henry V. Colt; Company A, Captain Tuthill; Company B, Captain Day; Company C, Captain Wing; Company D, Captain Simpson; Company L. Captain Latimer; Company F, Captain Prey; Company G, Captain Gault; Company H, Captain Sellick; Company I, Captain McCaffry.

About the middle of March the regiment was ordered to Washington, D. G, and encamped on Kalorama Hill, just without the city, where it was attached to General Duryea's brigade, General Pickett's division, and soon after ordered to Cloud's Mills, Va., about six miles from Alexandria; thence to Catlett's Station, farther up the valley. From there it was ordered to Thoroughfare Gap, in the Bull Run Mountains, to support General Geary. After doing picket duty and scouting a day or two, General Geary's forces were ordered to Manassas, thence to Waterloo and thence to Slaughter Mountain, to support General Banks. There the regiment was first brought under fire. With the rest of the troops it fell back on Bull Run at the time of the second battle there. On the retreat to Centreville it was engaged in the fight at Chantilly, where General Kearney was killed. With the rest of the Army of the Potomac it took up its march, after guarding the capital a few days, to intercept the confederate forces on their march toward Pennsylvania. They were engaged in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, which were fought in September, 1862. After these they remained in camp till the latter part of October, when they resumed march, crossed the river at Berlin, passed through Virginia to Fredericksburg, and took part in the battle at that place on the 12th and 13th of December. They remained and held the ground a few days after the battle, then recrossed the river and went into winter quarters at Belle Plain. During the month of January, 1863, they took a part in General Burnside's celebrated mud campaign, from which they returned and remained in their quarters till the spring campaign opened with a simultaneous attack on Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

The 104th, with its division, marched to the river just below Fredericksburg, with the intention of crossing, but they were ordered to Chancellorsville, where the main army had been two days engaged, crossed the river and pushed on to the front. There they advanced on the road leading to Ely's Ford, where the 104th, with a company of skirmishers in front, advanced by moonlight a mile in front of the Union line, threw out a picket and awaited orders. They were soon ordered back, to the lines, where they threw up breastworks. The next day they were sent forward to nearly the same position they occupied in the night. Here they remained during the day, and at about sunset had a brisk skirmish with the enemy, whom they repulsed.

The next march of the regiment was to Thoroughfare Gap to prevent the enemy from coming through. He was found in possession of the Gap and an unsuccessful attempt was made to dislodge him. This was the northward movement of the confederate forces for the invasion of Pennsylvania, and soon afterward they were encountered at Gettysburg, where the 104th, with its corps, met and engaged the advance at Sumner's Hill, half a mile west from the town, on the 1st day of July, 1863. In this day's action, which lasted till 5 P. M., the regiment lost in killed and wounded just one-half the number of men it contained in the morning. Seven color bearers were killed. As often as one fell another grasped the flag and kept it floating. Colonel Prey commanded the brigade in this action, he being the senior officer present. During the fighting of the next two days the division to which the 104th belonged was kept marching from point to point to strengthen weak places in the Union lines. At the close of the second day they were marched at double quick to save the cannon of the second corps, all the artillery horses of which were lost. The enemy was driven back and the pieces brought off the field at about dark.

The next march of the 104th was in pursuit of General Lee and his forces to Williamsport, on the upper Potomac, where he was allowed to cross without giving him battle.

The 104th filled the remainder of the season with marches from point to point and an occasional skirmish. They had but one engagement - that at Mine Run. They went into winter quarters at Mitchell's Station, on the Rapidan river, and spent the winter doing picket duty along the river near that point.

On the 4th of May, 1864, they struck tents for the summer campaign, crossed the river at Wilderness Run, and engaged on the 5th in the battle of the Wilderness. They fought all day near Wilderness Run while the rest of the army was crossing at the different fords below. It is unnecessary to detail the several days' fighting which followed, in which the 104th was more or less engaged. They soon afterward crossed the James below Petersburg and had brisk fighting for a few days at that city, with more or less fighting and skirmishing during the month of June. In July the brigade to which the 104th was attached was occupied in building a fort and doing picket duty. This fort was known as Fort Warren, and was situated on the Jerusalem plank road, a short distance from Petersburg. There they remained till the 18th of August, when the 5th corps, to which they belonged, made a detour of six or eight miles and struck the Weldon railroad about three miles from Petersburg, at what was called the Yellow Tavern. Brisk fights occurred on that afternoon and the afternoon of the 19th, and by some mismanagement on the part of the division general, Crawford, nearly the whole division was captured. The 104th was ordered from the line in the midst of the engagement to fill a gap between the 5th and nth corps, and while moving in a by road in the woods to the designated point, it was surrounded by a brigade of the enemy and captured. It was not liberated till the general exchange of prisoners, February 21st, 1865. After that it took part in the battles at and around Appomattox during the concluding campaign in the spring of 1865.

The regiment participated in the grand review at Washington, and was mustered out at Elmira, July 17th, 1865. From the records in the office of the adjutant-general the following list of the field and staff officers of this regiment is taken:

Colonels. - John Rorbach, Lewis C. Skinner, Gilbert G. Prey, John R. Strang.

Lieutenant-Colonels. - R. Wells Kenyon, Lewis C. Skinner, Gilbert G. Prey, H. G. Tuttle, John R. Strang. H. A. Wiley.

Majors. - Lewis C. Skinner, Gilbert G. Prey, John R. Strang, Henry V. Colt, Henry A. Wiley, William C. Wilson.

Adjutants. - Frederick T. Vance, George L. Synder, John R. Jarvis.

Quartermasters. - Henry V. Colt, Seneca Warner, jr.

Surgeons. - Enos G. Chace, Charles H. Richmond.

Assistant Surgeons. - George S. Rugg, Douglas S. Langdon, Charles H. Richmond.

Chaplains. - Daniel Russel, Alford C. Roe, Ferdinand De W. Ward.

BATTLES.

Cedar Mountain, 2nd Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Block House, Tolopotomy, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Hatcher's Run, Rappahannock Station, Thoroughfare Gap.

SOURCE:  History of Wyoming County, N.Y., with Illustrations, Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Some Pioneers and Prominent Residents; F. W. Beers & Co.; 1880