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120th Infantry Regiment
Civil War
Ulster Regiment; Washington Guards

History

Mustered in: August 22, 1862
Mustered out: June 3, 1865 - *see note

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.
Colonel George H. Sharpe received authority, July 14, 1862, to recruit this regiment in the counties of Greene and Ulster; it was organized at Kingston, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years August 22, 1862. The men of the 71st and 72d Infantry, not mustered out with their regiments, joined this by transfer in July, August and October, 1864. The men of this regiment not to be mustered out with it were transferred to the 73d Infantry June 1, 1865.
The companies, were recruited principally: A at Kingston, Hurley, Olive, Wawarsing and Marlborough; B at Kingston and Shandaken; C at Kingston, Marbletown, Rochester, Rosendale and Gardiner; D at Coxsackie, Ashland, Prattsville, New Baltimore and Kingston; E at Ellenville, Denning, Wawarsing and Kingston; F at Catskill, Jewett,. Lexington, Hunter, Shandaken and Kingston; G at Saugerties, Lloyd and Kingston; H at Rondout; I at Kingston; and K at Cairo, Ashland, Durham, Greenville and Windham.
The regiment left the State August 24, 1862; served in Whipple's Brigade, defenses of Washington, from August, 1862; in 2d Brigade, 2d Division, 3d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from September 6, 1862; in 2d Brigade, 4th Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from March, 1864; in 4th Brigade, 3d Division, 2d Corps, from May 13, 1864; in the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 2d Corps, from July, 1864; and it was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Lieut. Col. Abram L. Lockwood, June 3, 1865, near Washington, D.C.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 10 officers, 87 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 1 officer, 54 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 3 officers, 181 enlisted men; total, 14 officers, 322 enlisted men; aggregate, 336; of whom 69 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.

The following is taken from The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II.
One Hundred and Twentieth Infantry.—Col., George H. Sharpe; Lieut.-Cols., Cornelius D. Westbrook, John R. Tappan, Abram L. Lockwood; Majs., John R. Tappan, Abram L. Lockwood, Walter F. Scott. The 120th, known as the Ulster regiment or Washington Guards, was recruited in the counties of Greene and Ulster and rendezvoused at Kingston, where it was mustered into the U. S. service on Aug. 22, 1862, for three years. In July, Aug. and Oct., 1864, its ranks were augmented by the transfer of the veterans and recruits of the 71 st and 72nd N. Y. The regiment left the state, 900 strong, Aug. 24, 1862, and proceeded to Washington, where it encamped near the Chain bridge. Early in September it was attached to the famous Excelsior brigade, (Sickles') 2nd division, 3d corps, and was under fire for the first time at Fredericksburg. Says Col. Fox in his account of the three hundred fighting regiments, among which he includes the 120th: "The regiment was actively engaged at Chancellorsville—then in Berry's division— exhibiting a commendable steadiness and efficiency. Its loss in that battle was 4 killed, 49 wounded and 13 missing. At Gettysburg— in Humphrey's division—it became involved in the disaster of the second day's battle, but like the rest of the 3d corps, it fell back in good order to the second line, fighting as it went. Its casualties in this battle aggregated 30 killed, 154 wounded and 19 missing; total, 203. Eight officers were killed and 9 wounded in that battle. The 3d corps having been merged into the 2nd the I20th was placed in Brewster's brigade of Mott's division, and from that time fought under the 2nd corps flags, the men, however, retaining their old 3d corps badge. Mott's division having been discontinued, the Excelsior brigade was placed in Birney's (3d) division, becoming the 4th brigade. Gen. Mott succeeded eventually to the command of this division, and Col. McAllister to that of the brigade. At the Wilderness the regiment lost 5 killed, 48 wounded and 8 missing; at the battle on the Boydton road, 8 killed, 30 wounded, and 21 missing; at Hatcher's run, 6 killed, 32 wounded, 46 missing." During the Virginia campaigns of 1863, subsequent to Gettysburg, the regiment lost 140 killed, wounded and missing, and it also lost heavily in the trenches before Petersburg, its casualties amounting to 51 killed, wounded and missing. During the final campaign, ending with the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, its losses aggregated 52 killed, wounded and missing. Few finer examples of bravery and discipline occurred during the war than when the l20th rallied three several times around its colors on the 2nd day's battle of Gettysburg. The regiment was actively engaged in 17 important battles, among them Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Totopotomy, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Strawberry Plains, Poplar Spring Church, Boydton plank road, Hatcher's run and White Oak road. It was also present at Fredericksburg, Wapping heights, Kelly's ford, Po river, Deep Bottom, Sailor's creek, Farmville and Appomattox. It was mustered out near Washington, D. C, under Lieut.-Col. Lockwood, June 3, 1865. The total enrollment of the regiment during service was 1,626, of whom 51 died in Confederate prisons; 11 officers and 140 men were killed and mortally wounded; 3 officers and 179 men died of disease and other causes.

Battles and Casualties Table from Phisterer

Civil War Newspaper Clippings

Monument at Gettysburg

Unit Roster

Further Reading
This is meant to be a comprehensive list. If, however, you know of a resource that is not listed below, please send an email to int-historians@ng.army.mil with the name of the resource and where it is located. This can include photographs, letters, articles and other non-book materials. Also, if you have any materials in your possession that you would like to donate, the museum is always looking for items specific to New York's military heritage. Thank you.

Ayres, Alfred N. Civil War letters,1861-1865.
Letters from Ayres and his brother, Chauncey L. Ayres, to their family in Harmony, N.Y., especially their father, Joseph Ayres, and brother, Sereno Ayres, while serving with 72nd and 120th New York Infantry regiments and 9th New York Cavalry Regiment in the Virginia campaigns during the Civil War.
31 items.
Located at Rutgers University Libraries.

"The colors of the One hundred and twentieth." Olde Ulster VII (1911) 149-51.

Coutant, Charles T. "General Sharpe and Lee's surrender." Olde Ulster VIII (1912) 257-79.

Cranston, George W. HaerleColl
(Letters from enlisted man of 120th NY, George Tate)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

"The departure of the One hundred and twentieth." Olde Ulster VII (1911) 193- 206.

Duganne, A. J. H. The fighting Quakers : a true story of the war for our union. Farmville, Va.: Farmville Print, 1995.

Eggleston, Clark M. A funeral discourse in memory of Capt. Ayers C. Baker (120th reg. N.Y.S.V. late of Greenville NY) killed at the battle of Gettysburg, July 2d, 1863, preached by Rev. C. M. Eggleston, at Greenville, July 26, 1863. Coxsackie: F. C. Dedrick, printer, [1863].

Emmett, Daniel Decatur and Muzzy, A. W.   Dixie Unionized :respectfully dedicated to Cassius M. Clay's Washington Guards. New York: Firth, Pond & Co., 1861.
1 score ([5] p.) ; 36 cm. In: Keffer Collection of Sheet Music.

Fiftieth anniversary of the muster into service of the One hundred and twentieth regiment,N.Y. V. in the War for the Union, celebrated at Kingston, New York, August 22nd, 1912. [Kingston, Freeman pub. co., 1912].

Foote Family. 120th New York Infantry, Cos. K and M. Papers (1859-1864).
31 items.
Papers consist largely of receipts for goods and services purchased by Foote and Grant, a business that was situated in Catskill, New York. Also includes two Civil War letters written by two soldiers, John Williams and Bartholomew Mulligan, both of whom served in the 120th New York Infantry Regiment.
Located at the New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Getchell, Thomas V. and Marilyn L. Getchell. Orrin's Story : Patriotism and Love of Country. The Union Now and Forever. T & M Getchell an Imprint of Telemachus Press, 2012.
For more information please see: http://www.orrinsstory.com/Home.aspx

Hopkins, Henry H. Letters, 1862-1865.
14 items.
Civil War letters of Hopkins while serving in the U.S. Army stationed at Alexandria, Va., and after his appointment as chaplain of the 120th Regiment of New York Volunteers, to Mary Ames and Winona C. Ames. Discusses conversion of Fairfax Seminary into a convalescent camp, the surrender of Harpers Ferry, the New York draft riots, the battle of Cold Harbor, the siege of Petersburg, family matters, and the building of a chapel.
Located at Duke University.

Jones, Lucius. In the War of the rebellion from 1861 to 1865. [Fredonia, NY]: 1913.

Jones, Electus W. and Macomber, James G. Papers,1860-1863.
Civil War letters of Jones and of James G. Macomber, a member of the 154th New York Infantry, describing army life in camps and forts around Washington, D.C.; the army's farewell to General George B. McClellan, 1862; the battle of Fredericksburg; the "Mud March," 1863; and Vicksburg, Miss., after its surrender.
18 items.
Located at Duke University.

Lyons, Jacob. Diary,1862-1865.
Civil War diary of Lyons, a New York City cigar maker and English immigrant, who served in Virginia with the 71st New York Regiment, 1862- 1863, and the 120th New York Regiment, 1864-1865. Entries from 1862 and 1863 are sketchy; those from 1864 and 1865 are more detailed, describing camping, marching, picketing, skirmishes, battles, and casualties. Of the three volumes, two are somewhat differing versions of entries for 1862 and 1863.
3 v.
Located at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Military register Company E, 120th regiment New York volunteers. Washington, DC: Geo. M. Lankton [1865?].

Plank, Will. Banners and bugles; a record of Ulster County, New York and the mid-Hudson region in the Civil War. Marlborough, NY: Centennial Press, 1972.

Sharpe, George Henry. "General Sharpe at the unveiling." Olde Ulster VIII (1912) 321-31.

Sharpe, George Henry. Lieut. Colonel J. Rudolph Tappan, addresses delivered at the Music hall, Kingston, at the seventh annual meeting of the 120th regimental union, by General George H. Sharpe and General Theodore B. Gates. Kingston: Daily Freeman print, house, 1875.

Sketch of regiment's service at Gettysburg. BrakeColl
(Undated written sketch)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Sutch, Gerald E. The Civil War : the town of Prattsville and the neighboring Greene, Delaware & Schoharie County area. Cornwallville, NY: Hope Farm Press, 1986.

Tate, George. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(Enlisted man's letters, Aug 14, 1863-Mar 28, 1865)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Tate, George. Papers of George Tate, 1854-1908.
Diaries, military records, correspondence, and photographs documenting Tate's life, especially his Civil War career. The three Civil War diaries cover the campaigns of 1862-1865 in Virginia and Maryland, and discuss war news and rumors, including the news of Lincoln's assassination, and everyday life in camp. Tate's service in Texas is also recounted in two letters to Elnora L. Guest (1903). Also included a copy of pre-war diary made "for presentation and reference," documenting Tate's life in Fredonia in 1854-1860, including accounts of Fredonia Academy. The military records include Tate's commission, discharge papers, muster rolls, pension certificates, etc. Also included are photographs of officers and soldiers of the 72nd New York Regiment, a scrapbook of newspaper clippings of lists of the Union casualties, and two photographs of Tate taken in the early 1900s. Additionally there are two bound volumes: Henry Le Fevre Brown's "History of the Third Regiment Excelsior Brigade 72d New York Volunteer Infantry 1861-1865" (Jamestown, N.Y. :Journal printing Co.], 1902) and a copy of the The English version of the polyglott Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments; : with the marginal readings ... Stereotyped by L. Johnson (Philadelphia: Thomas, Cowperthwait, & Co., 1844), with an inscription indicating that Tate acquired it in Brazos Santiago, Tex. 28 pieces. 1 box.
Located at the The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

Van Santvoord, Cornelius. The One hundred and twentieth regiment, New York state volunteers, a narrative of its services in the War for the Union, by C. Van Santvoord, Chaplain. Roundout: Press of the Kingston Freeman, 1894.
Available online at: http://persi.heritagequestonline.com.dbgateway.nysed.gov/hqoweb/library/do/books/search/publications

Wilber, Eseck G. Civil War letters, 1862-1864.
.5 linear ft.
Located at Rice University.

Wilber, E.G. MurraySmithColl
(Enlisted man's letter, Jul 10, 1863)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Zabriskie, Francis Nicoll. The post of duty, a funeral discourse in memory of Capt. Lansing Hollister ( 120 regt. N.Y.S. vol., ) killed at the battle of Gettysburg, July 2d, 1863, by Rev. F. N. Zabriskie. Coxsackie: F. C. Dedrick, printer [1863].

 

Items in the museum collection are in bold.

 

*Contributed by Peter G. Tsouras:
I noticed in your website on the 120th New York that you stated the regiment was mustered out on 3 June 1865. I have correspondence from Maj. Gen. Sharpe's military personnel files, obtained from NARA, that states that the regiment was not mustered out until after it returned to Kingston on 9 June (Sharpe was the official commander of the regiment, although he had been detailed to be the intelligence officer for the Hooker, Meade, and then Grant, for the rest of the war).
In fact, there is an outraged telegram on 10 June from Sharpe to Maj. Gen. Dix, commanding the Divison of East, in NYC, explaining how the Muster Officer for NY refused to muster the unit out or pay them because the regiment had failed to turn in their weapons at Hart's Island (NYC, I presume) on their way thru the city and thus were in violation of General Orders 94. Sharpe stated that the weapns were being turned into an ordance officer as he wrote the telegram.
Dix wrote to the Muster Officer to pay them if you can, but that officer, one Lt. Col. Dodge, was a pompous, puffed up, self-important bureaucrat and replied that he had no knowledge that the weapons were being turned in, and the regiment would have to return to his jurisdiction in NYC and turn in their weapons, at no charge to the U.S., before he would authorize their final pay and mustering out and that he had sent a full report to the War Department. There, unfortunately, the story is left hanging. Knowing Sharpe's connections, I can only presume that the officious Dodge was put in his place, and the unit mustered out rather quickly because there was no mention of the indcident in the regimental history by Van Santvoord.

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: April 1, 2013
URL: http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/120thInf/120thInfMain.htm

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