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THE IRON HEARTED REGIMENT
Chapter IX

THOSE WHO LOST A LIMB AND LIVED.
Capt. Solomon P. Smith, Co. H, had his left arm shot off at the elbow in the battle of Deep Bottom, Va., Aug. 16th, 1864.

Peter J. Keck, Co. E, was one of the brave men who bore our flag through many battles, and yet lives to receive the thanks of his countrymen. He was born at Ephratah, Fulton Co., N.Y., on the 12th day of September, 1838, and was a farmer by occupation. At the terrible battle of Olustee he stood twenty paces in advance of the regiment for over three hours, and was one of the last men in the Union army to leave the field. His flag was pierced, his color guard of ten corporals nearly annihilated, and his person a bold mark for the enemy; yet in the midst of death he escaped with his life. When death came the thickest, and when a heart of iron might well quail, he waved the glorious old flag and thus inspired the hearts of his comrades anew. He won the unbounded respect admiration of all, and his general complemented him on the spot. He was wounded in no less than four different battles, and now carries the scars of honor upon his person. Every inch a hero, yes, a perfect giant in battle, he is among the most modest and unassuming of men; and what is better than all, he is a thorough going Christian. At Olustee he was wounded in the thumb, but refused to leave the field. At Chesterfield Heights he was wounded in the left thigh, the flag staff in his hand was cut off, and he fell saying; "Hang on to the flag, boys, hang on to the flag." At Deep Bottom he was wounded severely in the knee while striving to plant his flag in the enemy's works. During the fierce charge of Fort Fisher, he was wounded for the fourth and last time in the right breast. This noble man returned to his native county with laurels on his brow and with a fire of patriotism burning in his breast. His fellow citizens will be glad to do him homage, for he shines among the galaxy of heroes of Fulton county. The old Empire state is glad to claim him as her son, and all the people call him blessed.

Lieut. Col. N.J. Johnson took the flag at Fort Gilmer, after two color bearers had been shot, and in the most gallant manner led the regiment, receiving a painful wound in the shoulder which injured the bone.

THE FLAGS.
One of the three flags presented to the regiment in August, 1862, was torn to pieces at Fort Fisher, N.C., and the pieces were divided among some of the officers. The others were deposited at the bureau of military statistics, at the capital of the state; and those desiring to see two war-worn banners can find them there, numbered 127 and 128.

BATTLES AND SKIRMISHES.
The following is a complete list of the battles and skirmishes fought by the regiment:
1. Maryland Heights, Md., Sept. 13th, 1862.
2. Bolivar Heights, Sept. 15th, 1862.
3. West Point, Va., Jan. 8th, 1863.
4. Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 7th, 1864.
5. Camp Finnegan, Fla., Feb. 8th, 1864.
6. Baldwin, Fla., Feb. 9th, 1864.
7. Sanderson, Fla., Feb. 11th, 1864.
8. Callahan Station, Fla., Feb. 14th, 15th, and 16th, 1864.
9. Olustee, Fla., Feb. 20th, 1864.
10. Pilatka, Fla., March 10th, 1864.
11. Bermuda Hundreds, Va., May 5th, 1864.
12. Chesterfield Heights, Va., May 7th, 1864.
13. Old Church, Va., May 9th, 1864.
14. Weir bottom Church, May 12th, 1864.
15. Drury's Bluff, May 14th, 1864.
16. Proctor's Creek, Va., May 16th, 1864.
17. Coal Harbor, Va., June 1st, 1864.
18. Siege and battle of the Chickahominy.
19. Siege and battles of Petersburg, June 23rd to July 30th, 1864.
20. Battle and charge of Cemetery Hill, Va., July 30th, 1864.
21. Port Walthall Junction, Va., May 16th, 1864.
22. Battles of Deep Bottom, Va., Aug. 16th, 17th, and 18th, 1864.
23. Fort Gilmer, Sept. 29th, 1864.
24. Darbytown road, va., Oct. 27th, 1864.
25. 1st Expedition to Fort Fisher, N.C., Dec., 1864.
26. Assault and capture of Fort Fisher, Jan. 15th, 1865.
27. Explosion of the Magazine, Fort Fisher, Jan. 16th, 1865.
28. Fort Anderson, N.C., Feb. 19th, 1865.
29. Advance on Sugar Loaf batteries, N.C., Feb. 20th, 1865.
30. Wilmington, N.C., Feb. 22d, 1865.

OFFICERS OF THE 115TH,
Col. Simeon Sammons, resided near the village of Fonda, Montgomery Co., N.Y., when he entered the service. Previous to the war he had been colonel of the militia, and had held many positions of trust in his native town and county. When it was : proposed to raise the 115th regiment, the war committee immediately selected him for its colonel, and he did all in his power to recruit the regiment and to have it thoroughly organized. He was commissioned colonel by governor Morgan in August, 1862, followed the fortunes of the regiment for more than two years. He took a deep interest in the regiment, and always took care that it had its rights. The colonel was brave and gallant on the battlefield, and never turned his back to the foe. At Olustee he fought with his regiment splendidly, and his voice could be heard encouraging on themen amid the rattle of musketry and booming of cannon. He rode along the line continually, and was always in the thickest of the fight. He was wounded slightly in the hand, and received a musket ball through his foot, shattering it badly. Although bleeding profusely from his wound he kept on his horse for half an hour. For a long time his life was despaired of and amputation deemed almost necessary to save life, but under kind care and skillful treatment his foot was saved. He recovered and took command of the regiment the day before the explosion of Burnside's mine. During the charge of Cemetery Hill the color company were nearly surrounded and in great danger of being cut to pieces. The colonel came to aid in protecting the flag, when a rebel a few yards from him raised his rifle, took deliberate aim, and fired, the ball passing through the fleshy part of his legs, inflicting a severe wound. His military life is without a single blot, and he bears the reputation among all his officers and men of being a gallant soldier. During the fall of 1864 he was elected to the assembly from Montgomery Co., when he resigned his commission and was honorably discharged from the service.

"As chaplain of a regiment in the army, I found I had much to learn; and that do the best I could, it was impossible to give universal satisfaction. I am satisfied, however, that the 115th contained as noble a class of men, both officers and privates, as could be found in the service. The regiment was enlisted at a time when large bounties did not tempt the cupidity of men, and most of our men enlisted out of pure patriotism. A history of the peculiar sacrifices and sufferings of the regiment I need not write, as your proposed book will contain them, written by an abler hand.

"The old regiment is about to be mustered out of service, having accomplished that for which the men enlisted, the putting down of the great rebellion, and sustaining the government and constitution. But alas! many of those noble men who went out so full of life, courage, and patriotism, will never return. They sleep in a southern soil. Sleep in a soldier's grave, where soldiers; hands have laid them. To do justice to the dead, and many of the living of the regiment, would require an abler pen mine. Few if any regiments in the service, were better officered than ours. Col. Sammons, although he found it, as did ; the writer of this article, impossible to give universal satisfaction, was a good officer, and has left the service with honorable scars which he will carry to his grave.

"From his kindness to me, as well as the readiness he ever manifested to aid me in my work, and the great respect with which he ever treated religious service and effort in the regiment, has greatly endeared him to me, and I shall ever respect and love him.”

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: March 19, 2006
URL: http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/115thInf/115thInfIronHeartedChapter9.htm

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