1861 - 1865.

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Chapter II


THE Fifty-Seventh New York Volunteer Infantry was formed by the union of several organizations which had been recruited in different parts of New York state, under special authority from the war department at Washington, D. C. Five of these separately recruited bodies made up the final composition of the new regiment. Much the largest of these was known as “The National Guard Rifles” or as “Zook’s Voltigeurs.” It was recruited under the direction of Samuel K. Zook, who already was a Colonel of State Militia and had served as military governor of Annapolis. It constituted companies A, B, C, D and E and was, as to number, nearly half the entire regiment. The second organization was called “The Clinton Rifles.” It was recruited under J. A. Page, and formed companies, F, G and H. The third was named “The United States Voltigeurs,” was enlisted under Albert C. Ramsey, and composed companies I and K. The fourth bore the designation of “Manhattan Rifles” and was recruited by Geo. W. Vanderbilt. These men seem to have been divided between companies A and E of Colonel Zook’s detachment, as was also the fifth organization called “The Washington Zouaves,” gathered by James H. Romain.

Concerning the parts of the state in which these men were enlisted, it may be said, in general, that companies A, D, E, F and G, were gathered principally in New York city; that company B came mostly from about Utica; company C, from Kings and Lewis counties; and companies H, I, and K, from Duchess county. As has already been intimated, however, the places here mentioned are but general designations. The fact is that nearly every section of New York state was represented by some person in the regiment, indeed other states besides New York are represented, and in some instances quite largely.

Upon enlisting, the volunteers were mustered in as state troops, after the medical examiner had reported favorably and the conditions as to age, etc. had been met, then came the muster into the United States service. The latter progressed as the various squads were ready for it, the time ranging between August 12th and November 12th, 1861. The numerical designation of the regiment was not received until October 19th, at which time also S. K. Zook, was officially appointed as its Colonel.

The first regimental colors were presented by a committee headed by Chester A. Arthur, afterwards President of the United States, and were a gift from the Chamber of Commerce of New York City. The cOmmittee came down to camp and made the formal presentation to Colonel Zook in the presence of the regiment with all due form and ceremony.

The recruiting of the regiment was done directly by those who were working for positions as officers in the several companies. For example, the man who was to be captain always promised and usually gave the highest positions in the company to those who raised the largest number of men, if lieutenants, sergeants and corporals, they recruited men in order to secure their several offices. The one hundred dollars bounty promised to those who would serve two years was the Only money inducement offered by the government or state. Some little inducement may have been individually given, as in the important case of a man in Company D, who received the enormous inducement of two dollars and a pair of canvas shoes.

The rendezvous of the regiment while recruiting was at New Dorp, Staten Island. Thither the squads wended their way, taking the boat at the Battery and crossing New York Bay. Here in rudely constructed barracks the men were housed and fed a frightful change from the comforts and luxuries of home. This, however, mattered nothing, as even these sheds were known to be, for comfort and protection, far beyond what was soon to come in the open field of warfare. Then the novelty of the situation was entertaining, for
it took more and longer than this experience to wear away the new-born enthusiasm that had been beating within patriotic breasts. Soldier’s life had thus far been all romance, a gala day, with flags flying, crowds cheering and women smiling. Save, perhaps, the heart-ache in moments of separation, all had been bustle and cheer. New comrades were comparing notes, showing pictures of mother, or wife, or sweetheart, telling of home and business and friends left behind, talking of positions promised them in their companies, lieutenantcies, sergeantcies, etc., which turned out later to be like the morning cloud and the early dew that soon vanish away.

People were constantly coming down from the city visiting Camp Lafayette, watching the drilling, talking with friends, giving little presents of useful things for a soldier, or mementoes, or things to eat not on the bill of fare at the barracks. When off duty the boys would stroll around, get passes to the city, sing “John Brown’s body” and other songs now on every one’s lips.

Day by day, however, duties became more fre4uent and laborious, drilling seemed to take all a man’s time, discipline began to be exercised and order began to work itself out of confusion. The boys had so many different kinds and colors of uniforms that when in line they together looked like a crazy quilt. Awkward squads were numerous. “Shoulder arms!” said the drillmaster. “Oi will,” said the recruit, as he laboriously hoisted his musket on top of his right shoulder. “Stand erect!” is the next command, whereupon every man swells out his abdomen to its fullest tension. “Mark time, march!” “Hip!”” hip!” “hip!” Long legs and short legs, little feet and big feet; will they ever, ever step together? The hardest man in the regiment to be taught was a short young Irishman who knew it all and whose movements were like those of a jack-in-a-box. He had evidently often gone through the manual of arms with a broom stick before an admiring audience in his back alley.

The officers and sergeants of the regiment are given in the first muster roll, as follows, the year in each case being 1861.
Colonel—Samuel K. Zook, aged 40, enrolled October 19th.
Lieut. -Colonel—John A. Page, 28, July 1st.
Major—Philip J. Parisen, 37, September 27th.

Adjutant—Alex. P. Fiske, aged 27, enrolled October 21st.
Quartermaster—Jas. McKibbon, 23, September 24th.
Surgeon—G. H. Leach, 39, November 2d.
Assistant Surgeon—Robt. V. McKim, 21 September 27th.
Chaplain—Abraham Platt, 56, October 29th.

Captain—A. B. Chapman, aged 26, enrolled August 20th.
First Lieutenant—Henry H. Mott, 31, September 9th.
Second Lieutenant—Francis Covert, 28, August 20th.
First Sergeant—John S. Paden, 23, August 20th.
Second Sergeant—Henry H. Cooper, 25, August 20th.
Third Sergeant —H. M. Brewster, 21, August 18th.
Fourth Sergeant—Ernest Bauer, 24, August 20th.
Corporals, 8; Musicians, 2. Total, 86.
Captain—N. G. Throop,aged 26,enrolled September 20th.
First Lieutenant—Jas. C. Bronson, 24, September 12th.
Second Lieutenant—George W. Brown, 30, September 15th.
First Sergeant—George Mitchell, 18, September 20th.
Second Sergeant---Chas. Savage, 30, October 15th.
Third Sergeant—Edmund R. Haistead.
Fourth Sergeant—Wm. S. Stockwell, 22, September 20th.
Corporals, 8. Total, 92.

Captain—B. F. Gott, aged 21, enrolled October 16th.
First Lieutenant—John H. Bell, aged 23, September 28th.
Second Lieutenant—None.
First Sergeant—Melville Kelsey, 29, October 6th.
Second Sergeant—Wallace Gott, 19, September 19th.
Third Sergeant—G. Frederick, 19, September 23th.
Fourth Sergeant—S. R. Snyder, 24, October 25th.
Fifth Sergeant—S. G. Evans, 19, October 1st.
Corporals, 5; Drummer, 1. Total, 43.

Captain—J. W. Britt, aged 23, enrolled September 13th.
First Lieutenant—Luther E. Hale, 22, September 13th.
Second Lieutenant—John T. Webber, 28, September 13th.
First Sergeant—O. F. Middleton, 22, September 13th.
Second Sergeant—J. W. White, 19, September 13th.
Third Sergeant-—Jas. R. Skinner, 20, September 13th.
Fourth Sergeant—John McConnell, 19, September 13th.
Fifth Sergeant—E. Starkweather, 21, September 13th.
Corporals, 6; Musicians, 2; Wagoner, 1. Total, 73.
Captain—J. E. Erickson, aged 43, enrolled September 21st.
First Lieutenant—None.
Second Lieutenant—Josiah M. Favill, 21, September 21st.
First Sergeant—John Erickson, 20, September 2 1st.
Second Sergeant—John Clark, 24, September 21st.
Third Sergeant—H. Stuart, 30, September 12th.
Fourth Sergeant — Peter Matthews, 22, September 12th.
Fifth Sergeant —Chas. Risley, 40, September 12th. Corporals, 4; Musicians, 2. Total, 44.

Captain—Charles McKay, aged 38, enrolled July 1st.
First Lieutenant—None.
Second Lientenant—Wm. Reid, 24, July 22nd.
First Sergeant—-Augustus M. Wright, 25, July 24th.
Second Sergeant—H. P. Doyle, 38, August 6th.
Third Sergeant—John Hogan, 23, August 6th.
Corporals, 4; Musicians, 1; Wagoner 1. Total, 86

Captain —Wm. A. Kirk, aged 44, enrolled July 1, 1861.
First Lieutenant — None.
Second Lieutenant—Geo. W. Jones, 21, August 15th.
First Sergeant—Paul M. Pou, September 15th, 1861.
Second Sergeant—Geo. L. Burton, 28, July 22nd.
Third Sergeant— Chas. E. Loomis, 22, September 10th. Corporals, 8; Musician, 1. Total, 82.

COMPANY " H. “—AS ON FEB. 1, 1862.
Captain—Wesley Homer, Jr., enrolled September 9th.
First Lieutenant—John S. Warner, October 19th.
Second Lieutenant—Henry H. Higbee, October 20th.
First Sergeant—Edw. W. Busby., September 16th.
Second Sergeant —Thomas B. Sherman, September 17th
Third Sergeant—William H. Nichols, September 16th.
Fourth Sergeant—Joseph F. Tower, September 17th.
Fifth Sergeant —Charles Martyn, September 9th. Corporals, 6; Wagoner, 1. Total, 50.

Captain—T. Saunders, aged 25, enrolled August 14th.
First Lieutenant—J. C. Paine, 22, August 14th.
Second Lieutenant—H. H. Folger, 21, August 14th.
First Sergeant —W. E. Hall, 21, August 14th.
Second Sergeant—W. F. Parkerton, 24, August 14th.
Third Sergeant—E. L. Palmer, 21, August 14th.
Fourth Sergeant—W. H. Morse, 20, August 14th.
Fifth Sergeant—John Niles, 38, August 14th. Corporals, 8; Musicians, 2; Wagoner, 1. Total, 96.

Captain —A. J. LaVallie, aged 24, enrolted August 1st.
First Lieutenant—Chas. B. Curtis, 33, August 28th.
Second Lieutenant— Chas. H. H. Broom, 23, August 1st.
First Sergeant-—L. Sheridan, 23, August 13th.
Second Sergeant—Chas. Monson, 24, August 7th.
Third Sergeant --Martin V. B. Brower, 25, August 29th.
Fourth Sergeant—T. P. Pierce, 25, August 19th.
Fifth Sergeant—T. C. White, 33, July 25.
Corporals, 8; Musicians, 2; Wagoner, 1. Total, 99.

The total number of Officers 37
The total number of Sergeants 42
The grand total of all is 757

We had been in Camp Lafayette two months or more when orders came to pack knapsacks and be ready to move at a moment’s notice. It was on Tuesday afternoon, November 12th, 1861, that we made our first march as a regiment, a distance of about three miles from camp to the landing, where we embarked on the steamer KillVon-Kull. A multitude friends had come down from the city and there were many sad and tearful good byes, notwithstanding the heroic attempts at laughter and good cheer. As the steamer left the wharf about 10 o’clock at night, the white handkerchiefs began to flutter and not until we were beyond individual recognition did they cease. The clear moonlight made the night almost as bright as day. Now, for the first time the face of the Fifty-Seventh was set away from home and towards the seat of war. Just a little now it began to seem that we were soldiers.

Having steamed southerly around Staten Island to the New Jersey shore, we disembarked at Ambby, boarded a train of the Camden and Aniboy railway and about midnight began to move toward Philadelphia, which place we reached at day dawn. This first night out had been one of great beauty. The air was full of balm and the moon kept bright until the greater brilliancy of the sun put out its light. Everybody was full of good spirits, and as few wanted to sleep those who would could not for the fun that was going on. The ladies of Philadelphia were up early and had breakfast ready by the time we had crossed the river. Of course all were hungry and ate voraciously, while the mirth and laughter were equal to a first class picnic.

From the dining hail we marched to the railroad depot, and by four in the afternoon were in Baltimore, where supper was served. Before daylight the next morning, Thursday, November 14th, 1861, the train pulled into the city of Washington. At seveft o’clock the regiment fell into line, and marched about a mile and a half in a north-easterly direction from the Capitol on the Bladensburg road, and went into camp near the toll-gate. This was Camp Wilder. The ground was wet and in places muddy from previous rains, a not very inviting bed for the first night out. To make matters worse there were but three tents to a company, and as darkness came on it began to rain and grow cold. This night was like the last in one respect, it was sleepless; but the cause was misery rather than fun. Now began that development of the law of self-preservation which so distinguished the veteran soldier and made him so superior to the untried recruit. The boys began to shift for themselves. One of them found a large box, partly filled with knapsacks, and taking off the cover he crawled inside, replaced the cover, burrowed out a comfortable place and slept for two nights as snug as a bug in a rug. Then a movement to higher ground deprived him of his accommodation at “Hotel de Box,” as it was called, but a better supply of tents furnished comfortable quarters for all.

As soon as everything got into running order at Camp Wilder, the discipline began to be of a true military kind. Hitherto things had been rather free and easy. Now army regulations began to be read at dress parade, and general orders were issued regulating the conduct of troops. The hours of the day were divided, each having its duty, regular attendance to which was strictly enforced. Drills were frequent, and occupied from six to eight hours each day. Sun rise roll calls began, general duty was abundant and fatigue details constant. A man could not leave camp without a pass and must return at the hour appointed thereon. Offences were punished with extra duty and fines The private soldier received from the Government as remuneration for his services, eleven dollars a month in money, a certain amount of rations, and clothing of good, quality, though not of the finest broadcloth. Later the pay was raised to thirteen dollars per month. If he did not use all his allowance of clothing he drew its value in money. If he overdrew his allowance it was taken from his pay. We had considerable bread and fresh meat while at Washington, and the pork and “junk” was good for their kind: but with these we were not yet on very good terms.

Sergeant Cash tells the following goose story which occurred at Camp Wilder. It came suddenly into the minds of some of Company D boys that roast goose would be a desirable change from the monotony of hard tack and
pork, a thought suggested by a straying flock of geese then in sight. When the flock went home that night one was missing. The loss, however, was not suspected by the owner even when a soldier brought it to her door, picked and dressed, and asked if she could cook it. She cooked it without charge, expressing a willingness to help the soldiers all she could. When, however, goose after goose disappeared from her flock the woman became fully aware that she had been roasting her own geese for the soldiers and complaint was made at headquarters. A search among the tents for goose feathers was abundantly successful, and several of the boys were •reported for extra duty; among them Cash, O’Brien, Carroll and FarraIl. Of the first goose Captain J. W. Britt had a leg, a wing and some dressing, he having appeared suddenly at the tent where the fated goose was being devoured. If he ever had any suspicions as to the orthodoxy of that meal they were never divulged. No more invitations, however, were issued to goose dinners. V

While at Camp Wilder the boys got permission to go bathing in the Branch, but the water was so cold that many of them suffered with chills and bowel troubles several days thereafter. Leave of absence was now and then granted to visit the city and was improved by sight seeing about the Capitol and public buildings. The dome of the Capitol was yet unfinished and the mammoth sections of the Goddess of Liberty were lying around, head in one place, shoulders in another, and feet in still another, as though entirely unrelated. Pennsylvania Avenue, unpaved and dusty as a country road, was lined with dwellings and stores, many of which could be called shanties. Washington was essentially a southern city, without enterprise and improvements—a by-word and a reproach among the Nations.

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