Chapter 25 - History of Wyoming County

CHAPTER XXV.

HISTORY OF THE "GOVERNOR'S GUARD," OR SECOND REGIMENT OF MOUNTED RIFLES.

IN the month of July, 1863, under the head of "Governor's Guard," the following announcement was made in the papers throughout western New York, and circulated through the country in the form of handbills: 'Colonel John Fisk, of Niagara, has been authorized by Governor Seymour to raise a regiment for three years' service in the U. S. Army, to be known as the 'Governor's Guard.' Any person desiring to raise a company to be attached to this regiment can procure authority by applying to Colonel John Fisk, of Suspension Bridge, or Lieutenant-Colonel Cook, or Captain William P. Warren, late of the 28th New York.

"Captain Warren will act as adjutant in forming the regiment. Headquarters at Lockport."

It was shortly afterward made known that the regiment would do mounted rifle service. Twelve companies were raised, and by February, 1864, the regiment was ready for .the field.

The regimental officers were: Colonel, John Fisk, Niagara falls; lieutenant-colonel, Jasper N. Raymond, New York; lieutenant-colonel, Joseph Wood, 2nd regular cavalry; major, William H. H. Mapea, Lockport; major, John D. Newman, Lockport; major, John H. Fralick, Little Falls; adjutant, William P. Warren, Lockport; adjutant, Franklin Rogers, Buffalo; quartermaster, Henry F. Pierce, Niagara Falls; commissary, Joseph A. Briggs, Buffalo; commissary, John M: Hill, Lockport; surgeon, Robert T. Paine, Lockport; assistant surgeon, Hugh McGregor Wilson, Lockport; assistant surgeon E. Woodworth, Allegany; chaplain, Washington Stickney.

Wyoming county was represented in this regiment by the men named below:

Frederick Churning, Charles E. Gale, Charles Grabe, Thomas Haley, Norman L. Knox, Howard Lampman, Edward Launt, Michael Martin, Timothy Moromay, Lewis Meshong, Albert Nichols, James H. Phillips, Thomas Rial, Francis Sherman, Stephen b. Sprague, William weaver. Attica; O. P. French, Bennington: Albert G. Borden, George C. Babcock, Hiram E Booth, John Fingal, Andrew Frayer, Thomas Gibbons, Nicholas Hannah, Thomas Hannah, Frank Higgins, Francis Hardin, Jonathan Johnson, John Lee, Alexander Mead, Edwin Mosier, P. McMarriman, Ezra Patterson, George P. Pierce, Castile; T. W. Copeland, Joseph M. Hewitt, Charles Perkins, Johnson C. Robinson, Francis Shannon, Covington: Abram A. Howell, Genesee Falls; Washington Whitney, Eagle: Phillip Webber, Middlebury; George B. Austin, Eugene Beamcon, C. E. Cruttenden, John Drake, Abram Ellis, M. F. Horing, George M. Spencer, John W. Kellogg, Charles Lyon, Frank W. Lilybridge, Lester McCollum, Jeremiah P. Morrison (second lieutenant), Henry Pike, William Henry, Russell Henry Runyon, La Fayette Randal, Earl F. Thomas, Charles W. Trall, martin L. Van Slyke, Henry Vosburgh, G. B. Woodworth, Benjamin Watts, Pike; Francis A Calkins, Perry; Daniel W. Peck, Marvin Preston, John Streamer, Joseph J. Streamer and Morris Warren, Warsaw.

The regiment first rendezvoused at Lockport, but the barracks were insufficient and it was ordered to Fort Porter, Buffalo, which latter barracks were made a recruiting station and camp of instruction. The 2nd remained there from December, 1863, until the March following, when three battalions being completed they were ordered to Camp Stoneman, near Giesboro Point, in the neighborhood of Washington. Here they remained till about May 1st, when they were ordered to the front to reinforce? the Army of the Potomac Instead of being furnished with the cavalry outfit for which they were sent to Camp Stoneman, or receiving instruction in cavalry, tactics, which had been promised them, they were assigned to a provisional brigade composed of dismounted cavalry and heavy artillery, commanded by Colonel Marshall, of the 14th heavy artillery, in the 9th army corps, under General Burnside.

On the day following their arrival at Camp Stoneman they participated in the, battle of Spotsylvania, suffering but little loss. Their next engagement was in the battle of North Anna, southeast of Spotsylvania. In this their loss was light.

Returning from North Anna, the regiment was placed as rear guard of the 9th corps, when it had a severe engagement at Tolopotomay creek, losing quite a number of men. The next day it was in the fight at Bethesda Church, a few miles from Tolopotomay. At this time the regiment was under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Raymond, of New York. The loss at Bethesda was quite heavy, 50 or 60 killed and wounded. Among those killed was Lieutenant Jeremiah R. Morrison, of Wyoming county.

Hardly had the smoke of this battle cleared away before the 2nd was in the memorable fight at Cold Harbor in early June, but its loss here was not heavy. Among those wounded was Lieutenant Charles W. Flagler. From Cold Harbor the regiment moved with the army of the Potomac and crossed the James river, arriving at Petersburg June 1 6th - just in time for service again. On the morning of the 17th the 2nd made a charge over the enemy's works and captured a large number of prisoners, who were sent to the rear in charge of Captain W. Fitser Williams. The regiment was engaged during the entire day, but its loss was light. On the morning of the 18th of June it again advanced on the enemy's works near the Weldon railroad, and toward evening made a gallant charge which resulted in the capture of the railroad, the end, however, suffering a terrible loss - some 200 men, killed and wounded.

From this time until July 29th, 1864, the regiment lay in the rifle pits under a constant fire; losing men day by day, and among them Lieutenant J. L. Atwood, who was killed by a sharpshooter. On the morning of July 30th the mine in front of Petersburg was exploded. A terrible struggle followed, in which the 2nd regiment was engaged under command of Major Mapes. One division was repulsed by the rebels. The division in which the 2nd fought, had been held for the o final charge, in case those already in the fight did not hold their ground. The order was finally given for them to charge, and they did it nobly, capturing two lines of the enemy's works. They held them about six hours, but as no relief came they were compelled to fall back. In this engagement the regiment lost nearly 150 men killed, wounded and prisoners.

The next battle was at Pegram's Farm, southwest of Petersburg, where Major Mapes, Captain Stebbins, Lieutenant Mansfield, Lieutenant Bush and others, in all 40 or 50, were taken prisoners. The killed and wounded numbered between 50 and 75. The next field was the battle of Hatcher's Run, in October, 1864. The loss was slight. From there the 2nd went back to Pegram's Farm where it remained until the last of November. It was then ordered to dismounted camp at City Point, where the men received their promised horses, with, orders to report to General Charles H. Smith, of the 3d brigade, 2nd cavalry division. The second day after reporting the regiment went ova raid to Stony Creek Station, where, with the rest of the division, it assisted in destroying a large amount of stores and taking many prisoners, sustaining slight loss. It then returned to camp near Fort Stevenson, in the vicinity of South Petersburg, where it remained until December, 1864. The regiment next accompanied the celebrated Warren raiders, and assisted in the destruction of the Weldon railroad, from near Petersburg to Weldon, N. C.

At this time the 2nd was divided, a detachment having been sent back to the second battle of Hatcher's Run; under command of Lieutenant Newman. In this action the 2nd lost about 40 men, among them Captain Watson and Lieutenant Tippling, of Wayne county. It went into camp again and remained until March 29th, 1865, doing picket duty and losing but few men. On this date it started with General Sheridan's corps in the final pursuit of Lee, and March 30th engaged in the battle of Dinwiddie Court-house, southeast of Petersburg.

The next day the 2nd was in the battle of Five Forks, but sustained no loss. Next at Jettysville, it lost a dozen wounded, but none killed. At Sailor's Creek it lost a few men; also at Farmville. It was next engaged at Appomattox Court-house, where Joshua Smith was killed. After doing service at Appomattox, the brigade to which this regiment belonged was detailed as an escort of General Grant from Appomattox to Burkville Junction, Va. It then returned to Petersburg, when, pending negotiations between Johnston and Sherman, it was ordered to North Carolina to reinforce Sherman. There it was learned that Johnston had surrendered, and the 2nd was ordered back to Petersburg, and from there to Buckingham county, Va., where it remained on provost duty until August, 1865.

This closed the eventful career of the regiment, and its next movement was homeward. It arrived in Buffalo August 10th, 1865, and was mustered out. It left home 1,500 strong, and during the service was reinforced by more than 300 recruits; but came back with only between 700 and 800 men. The depleted ranks, and the scars the survivors bore, told the story of their service in their country's defense. They were in the field a little more than a year, and they took part in nineteen distinct engagements, as recorded in this narrative.

SOURCE:  History of Wyoming County, N.Y., with Illustrations, Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Some Pioneers and Prominent Residents; F. W. Beers & Co.; 1860