THE IRON HEARTED REGIMENT
FORMATION OF THE REGIMENT.
The 115th Regiment, New York State volunteers, was recruited principally in
the counties of Saratoga, Montgomery, Fulton, and Hamilton, during the months
of July and August, 1862; and while organizing, were quartered at Camp Fonda,
a short distance from the village of Fonda, Montgomery County. Such was the
patriotism then prevailing in the district, that in forty days from the time
the first enlistment was made, the ranks were full and the regiment ready to
take the field.
The officers and men were mostly young, of a superior class, and came from
every profession and trade. They threw down the scythe, the cradle, and the
rake, left the workshop, the store, the school, and the sacred desk, to battle
for the liberties of our beloved land. The day of large bounties had not dawned.
The most of those who enlisted did so from motives of the purest patriotism.
All left the comforts and the endearments of home, and severed almost every
valued earthly tie, for the purpose of protecting the starry flag.
The ladies of the district presented the regiment with two costly flags. The
officers and men silently vowed their determination to protect those flags,
and promised never to allow their glory to be polluted with the touch of traitors.
They fulfilled those solemn declarations.
OFF FOR THE WAR.
On the 29th day of August, 1862, the 115th Regiment, New York State volunteers,
broke camp at Fonda and left for the seat of war.
On the morning of departure, the ladies presented to the brave soldiers boys
untold numbers of beautiful bouquets; and from every window in town white handkerchiefs
waved, while the streets were alive with people who came to bid us farewell.
We left in a train of first-class passenger cars, at 11 o'clock A.M., reaching
Albany at 2 o'clock P.M., where we partook of dinner at the Delavan House.
At Amsterdam, the friends of the regiment filled all the space around the
depot, blocked up the track, and when the cars moved off deafening cheers went
up from the crowded mass of people.
We crossed the ferry at Albany to Greenbush, where all hands were packed aboard
of emigrant cars, and hurried with lightning speed through the beautiful valley
of the Hudson.
New York City was gained at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 30th, and the
regiment immediately marched to the Park Barracks, and bunked upon the floor
until daylight. We considered it rather a hard bed.
FROM NEW YORK TO PHILADELPHIA.
On Saturday, August 30th, at 7 o'clock regiment embarked on a transport for
Amboy, New Jersey.
It was our first experience on such a boat and almost all of the men lay on
deck to enjoy the cool bracing, sea air. Four hours brought us safely to Amboy,
and there we took rickety emigrant cars for Philadelphia, a distance of eighty-nine
miles from New York.
Sunday, August 31.---We marched into the Quaker City at daylight, the Cayadutta
Cornet Band playing the "Star Spangled Banner." A halt was made at
the Soldiers' Retreat where a free breakfast was waiting for the regiment.
All ate heartily of the abundance furnished, and in conclusion gave cheers
OFF FOR BALTIMORE.
At Philadelphia we were loaded on freight cars, and started for Baltimore, one
hundred and fifteen miles distant. The day was delightful, and all nature seemed
wreathed in her sweetest smiles.
At nearly every house in Delaware which we passed, the people would run out,
and display the stars and stripes.
At Wilmington the whole population turned out to greet us, and to bid us "God
speed." We reached Baltimore, the monumental city, at 4 o'clock, P.M.,
and were agreeably surprised to find her covered with flags.
The regiment paraded through the principal streets, and received a general
12,000 new troops passed through the city during the day; nearly all of them
from New York.
At night we took freight cars on the Baltimore and Ohio R.R., and were all
night going forty miles.
Bands of guerrillas were hovering around, and threatened to throw the train
from the track.
Monday, September 1, 1862.---This morning we reached Sandy Hook, Maryland, and
were immediately armed and equipped for service.
A few rebel scouts were observed sneaking around Point of Rocks, probably
watching our movements.
In the afternoon the regiment was divided up, and ordered to guard the Baltimore
and Ohio R.R.
Companies G and H went to Summit Bridge, two companies to Peckham's Bridge,
and the remaining six companies took up quarters in the city of Charlestown.
Our detachment reached Summit Point, at midnight, and relieved two companies
of the 27th New York.
Tuesday, September 2.---We threw out a picket for the first time. All of us
began to feel very hungry. The planters pretended to be Union men, but refused
to sell us anything because they said we were d--d Yankees. At last some colored
people were found, who contracted to bake 100 hot cakes for the men. They baked
them in pots and on griddles. Lieutenant Barlow spread on the butter, and I
carried them out to the men, waiting at the door of the hut.
At midnight the Union troops abandoned Winchester, and blew up the forts.
We were 8 miles away, but felt the earth vibrate, and saw the lurid flames and
thick black smoke curling through the air. It was a grand and impressive sight.
At 12 o'clock our cavalry (the bloody 8th N.Y.) dashed down the road with
a clatter that made the hair on our heads stand. Being roused up from a deep
sleep, and rather green withal, we thought that the legions of Jeff. Davis were
close at hand.
"Fall in company H!" thundered the commanding officer. We managed
to get into line in the course of time; but the worst of it all was, that we
had to remain there until 9 o'clock the next morning.
The rebels did not come, and we thanked our stars that they did not, for we
had but three rounds of ammunition each, and there was no supply nearer than
the city of Charlestown.
THE SHENANDOAH GUERRILLAS.
The beautiful and rich valley of the Shenandoah used to swarm with a class of
men, who were good Union farmers in the day-time, and bloody guerrillas at night.
They would prowl over the country, murdering lone Union pickets, destroying
the property of loyal citizens, and killing defenseless people without mercy.
They were loyal when surrounded by northern bayonets, but would stab you to
the heart at every opportunity.
Some of their deeds would horrify the hardest heart, and chill the warmest
blood. Yet they were done in the name of the Confederate States of America!
ON THE MARCH. A PURE REBEL CITY.
Early on the morning of September 3d, 3,000 of our troops reached Summit Point,
from Winchester. They were black with dust and smoke, and looked like old veterans
in earnest. We received orders to fall back to Harper's Ferry, and at 10 o'clock
A.M., the column moved off at a rapid rate.
At two o'clock P.M., the city of Charlestown was reached, and we immediately
marched to the Court House yard, where a lunch of bread, pork, and hot coffee
We looked with a great deal of interest at the building where John Brown was
tried and condemned to death. We found Charlestown to be a regular hot-bed of
secession. The people had their houses all closed, to show their detestation
of the Yankees.
Not a person was to be seen in the street, although crowds of women and children
swarmed at every window. They were as silent as the grave; and as the Union
troops marched proudly and steadily though the streets, and the bands of music
played national pieces, their countenances bore a sad look. All their fathers,
sons, and brothers were in the rebel army.
At sundown we halted at Bolivar heights, near Harper's Ferry, and passed the
night on the cold ground, with only the starry canopy of Heaven for a covering.
The 126th Regiment, New York Volunteers, presented us with warm coffee for
the whole regiment, and had the kindness to deal it out to the men besides.
Never was a more needful and acceptable gift received.
On the 4th day of September, we pitched tents for the first time; and, of course,
made rather awkward work of it.
The 39th New York and 9th Vermont were camped on the right of us.
SEARCHING REBEL HOUSES.
There was a house situated on a hill, a short distance from our camp, where
on several occasions rockets were thrown up and signal lights exhibited, so
that the rebels could see them.
Valuable information was, I doubt not, conveyed to the rebel generals in that
On Friday, September 5th, Company H was ordered to proceed to the house, and
search it for a quantity of arms supposed to have been concealed there. The
company proceeded to a point near by, when Lieutenant B-----selected 25 men
to perform the work, and left the remainder as a reserve, to act, in case we
encountered superior numbers of the enemy.
Shortly before reaching the house, several men dressed in gray were observed
skulking around; but by the time we reached the place they were nowhere to be
Arriving in front of the door the squad was halted, and the lieutenant addressed
the lady of the mansion who was standing in the front yard, as follows:
"Madam, I see you have your doors locked. I have an order to search your
house, and the order must be obeyed. Give me the keys, and you will save us
the trouble of breaking open the doors. My men shall not harm you, or to touch
as much as an apple without your permission."
Seeing that there was no alternative she handed over the keys, and after placing
sentinels a short distance off to prevent surprise, the work of search began.
Bureaus, beds and drawers, were thoroughly searched, but no arms found.
At last, we came across a low door in the upper story; and upon opening it,
found a long dark passage, reaching the whole length of the house.
Being satisfied that there were no Rebs inside, we proceeded to explore; and
soon got hold of something, and upon bringing it out to daylight found it to
be and U.S. wall tent; marked "2d Cal. Vols."
Soon another of the same kind came to view. Three fancy Virginia rifles, nicely
hidden away, were also discovered and taken possession of. A quantity of bayonets
and bayonet scabbards, large numbers of shirts, drawers, and pants, with Uncle
Sam's mark on, together with two thousand pounds of bacon, were hauled out of
the darkness. The barn was also thoroughly searched and the boys ran their bayonets
full length into the hay, by way of feeling for secreted rebels.
Several barrels of cider stood in an orchard close by the house, and the men
were awful thirsty, but were afraid to drink, for fear that the cider had been
poisoned. Seeing a young darkey, one of the boys asked him if that cider was
poisoned? "No Sah," promptly answered Sambo. "Well, then drink
some," continued the soldier, handing him a cup full of it.
The colored individual soon drained it to the dregs, and handed back the empty
cup with a "thank you, sah."
Being satisfied with the experiment, the whole party drank heartily.
Before we left, several ladies had congregated on the spot, and some of them
turned up their noses and threw back their heads, to show their disgust to "blue
coats;" and one of the fair rebels called us such names as, "mean
Yankees," "cut throats," "mud-sills," &c. We listened
very attentively, but preserved our peace, and soon left them "alone in
their glory" and anger.
A day or two afterward, several of our pickets were murdered on their posts,
and the inmates of that house were the guilty parties.
The Union troops riddled it so completely with bullets, that every pane of
glass was smashed, and every clapboard pierced with holes.
Other companies of the regiment searched other houses, at the same time.
THE FIRST MAN SHOT IN THE REGIMENT.
John Hubbard, of Company A, was the first man shot in the regiment, by the enemy.
He was on picket, when a guerrilla stole up to him and fired, the ball passing
through the leg, causing amputation.
It was a cowardly shot, only worthy of a traitor.
A BUSY SUNDAY.
On Sunday, September 7, the 60th Ohio and the 115th, chopped down twenty acres
of trees to prevent the rebel cavalry from dashing in upon us.
Chaplain Clemens preached to us in the afternoon, and in the evening, a large
prayer meeting was held in the open air.
On the 8th of September, Company H, and a detachment of other troops, accompanied
by a large number of wagons, marched several miles to a splendid plantation
owned by a Colonel Washington, an officer in the rebel army. They confiscated
three hundred tons of Hay in the name of Uncle Sam.
The day was burning hot; not a breath of air was stirring, and thick clouds
of dust settled over the marching column, so that all of us suffered considerably,
and some to the extent of sun-stroke. However, we made out to live through it.
A rebel spy was captured on the road, and of course, he pretended to be a
good Union man, and claimed to be a member of an Ohio regiment. But that did
not save him from being delivered over to the provost marshal.
THE REBELS ADVANCE UPON US IN FORCE.
On Friday, September 12th, the rebels appeared near Maryland Heights in large
force. Companies A, E, and K, of our regiment, were sent to the Heights to aid
in checking the advance of A.P. Hill's rebel corps.
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New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military
March 19, 2006