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121st Infantry Regiment
Civil War
Otsego and Herkimer Regiment

History

Mustered in: August 13, 1862
Mustered out: June 25, 1865

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.
Colonel Richard Franchot received authority, July 19, 1862, to recruit this regiment in the counties of Herkimer and Otsego. It was organized at Herkimer, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years August 13, 1862. The three years' men of the 18th Infantry were transferred to it May 10th, those of the 27th, 31st, 16th and 32d Infantry May 215, 26, 30 and 25, 1863, respectively. The men not to be discharged with the regiment were, June 25, 1865, transferred to the 65th Infantry.
The companies were recruited principally: A at Manheim, Little Falls, Salisbury and Danube; B at Winfield, Plainfield, Litchfield, German Flats, Columbia and Stark; C at Fairfield, Russia, Herkimer and Newport; D at Frankfort, Warren, Manheim, Schuyler, Columbia and Salisbury; E at Middlefield, Milford, Cherry Valley, Hartwick, Springfield, Otego and Roseboom; F at Edmeston, Exeter, Unadilla, Otego and Maryland; G at Cherry Valley, Roseboom, Decatur, Middlefield, Westford, Worcester and Herkimer; H at Little Falls, Richfield, Salisbury and Otego; I at Milford, Laurens, Morris, Worcester, Pittsfield, Hartwick and German Flats; and K at Laurens, New Lisbon, Oneonta, Burlington, Otego, Butternuts, Pittsfield and Plainfield.
The regiment left the State September 2, 1862; it served in the 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Corps, from September 9, 1862, and it was mustered out and honorably discharged, under Col. Egbert Olcott, June 25, 1865, at Hall's Hill, Va.; having, during its service, lost by death, killed in action, 10 officers, 171 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 5 officers, 42 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 4 officers, 114 enlisted men; total, 19 officers, 327 enlisted men; aggregate, 346; of whom 20 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 Twenty-first Infantry.—Cols., Richard Fran-chot, Emory Upton, Egbert Olcott; Lieut.-Cols., Charles H. Clark, Egbert Olcott, Henry M. Galpin, James W. Cronkhite, John S. Kidder; Majs., Egbert Olcott, Andrew E. Mather, Henry M. Gal-pin, James W. Cronkhite, John S. Kidder. This regiment, recruited in the counties of Otsego and Herkimer, rendezvoused at Her-kimer and was there mustered into the U. S. service for three years on Aug. 23, 1862, and in May, 1863, the three years men of the 18th, 27th, 31st, 16th and 32nd N. Y. infantry were transferred to it. The regiment left the state Sept. 2, 1862, and was immedj-ately assigned to the 2nd (Bartlett's) brigade, 1st (Brooks') division, 6th corps, with which command it continued during its entire term of service. It joined McClellan's army in Maryland and was present but not active at the battle of Crampton's gap. The 6th corps was only partially engaged at the battle of Fredericksburg, though the 121st lost a few killed and wounded by the artillery fire to which it was exposed. The regiment fought with great gallantry and was exposed to a deadly musketry fire at Salem Church, Va., where it lost 48 killed, 173 wounded and 55 missing, out of 453 officially reported as present. All except 23 of those reported missing were killed, and the loss was the greatest sustained by any regiment in the battle. Col. Franchot resigned in Sept., 1862, and under his successor Col. Upton, an unusually efficient officer, •the excellent material of the regiment was molded into a finely disciplined organization. Col. Upton was promoted to Bvt. brigadier-general in Oct., 1864, and achieved an enviable reputation in the war. The regiment was in reserve at Gettysburg and was not again engaged with loss until the 6th corps returned to Virginia, when it lost 25 killed and wounded- at the battle of Rappahannock Station in Nov., 1863. It was not heavily engaged during the Mine Run campaign, at the close of which it went into winter quarters at Brandy Station. In May, 1864, the regiment moved on the bloody campaign of Gen. Grant, crossing the Rapidan on the 5th, and plunging into the sanguinary struggle of the Wilderness, where it lost 73 in killed, wounded and missing. In the battle of Spottsylvania Col. Upton commanded and led in person an assaulting column of twelve picked regiments belonging to the 6th corps, the 121st being placed in the advance, an honor which cost it dear. The losses of the regiment at Spottsylvania amounted to 19 Killed, 106 wounded. In the magnificent charge of Upton's storming party, the strong works of the enemy were carried after a hand-to-hand struggle. Said Gen. Upton in a private letter: Bayonet wounds and sabre cuts are very rare. But at Spottsylvania there were plenty of bayonet wounds, and no picture could give too exalted an idea of the gallantry of the 121st N. Y., 5th Me., and 96th Pa., as they led the assaulting column of twelve picked regiments over the formidable intrenchments which con-'rpnted them." The regiment was successively engaged at North Anna, Totopotomy, Cold Harbor, the first assaults on Petersburg, and the Weldon railroad. When Early menaced Washington in July, the veterans of the 6th corps were ordered there to confront him, and the 121st was engaged at Fort Stevens with a loss of 26 in killed, wounded and missing. It followed with the corps in pursuit of Early through Maryland, into Virginia, and up the Shenan-loah Valley, fighting at Charlestown, the Opequan, Fisher's hill, and Cedar creek, its loss in the last named battle amounting to 10 killed, 42 wounded and 5 missing. The 1st division was command-:d by Gen. Wright at the Wilderness; by Gen. Russell at the Ope-juan; and by Gen. Wheaton at Cedar creek. In Dec., 1864, the regiment returned to the Petersburg trenches and established win-:er quarters near the Weldon railroad. It took a prominent part in the final assault on the fortifications of Petersburg, April 2, 1865, and in the hot pursuit of Lee's army, during which it lost 34 killed and wounded, and fought its last battle at Sailor's creek. The egiment captured 4 flags at Rappahannock Station and 2 at Sail-or's creek. It was mustered out at Hall's hill, Va., under Col. Ol-cott, June 25, 1865. It took part in 25 great battles, and gloriously earned its title as an efficient and dashing fighting regiment. Its total enrollment during service was 1,897, of whom 14 officers and 212 enlisted men were killed and mortally wounded; 4 officers and 17 enlisted men, died of disease and other causes. Its total of 126 killed is 11.9 per cent. of its membership, and its total of 839 killed and wounded was one of the largest sustained by any regiment.

Battles and Casualties Table from Phisterer

Monument at Gettysburg

Historical Sketch

Civil War Newspaper Clippings
This is also available in PDF format. These are large files; however, they are exact images of the pages.
      Pages 1 - 11
      Pages 12 - 22
      Pages 23 - 33
      Pages 34 - 44

121st  Batle Flag 121st Infantry National Color

121st Infantry Guidon 121st Infantry Guidons

 

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 ng.ny.nyarng.list.historians@mail.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.

Adams, John Ripley. Memorial and letters of Rev. John R. Adams, Chaplain of the Fifth Maine and the One hundred and twenty-first New York regiments during the War of the rebellion, serving from the beginning to its close. [Cambridge: University press] 1890.

Bates, Delavan. Delavan Bates Letters, 1860-1865 : 121st New York Volunteer Infantry. Obtained from http://www.soldierstudies.org/

Best, Isaac O. History of the 121st New York state infantry. Chicago: [W. S. Conkey co.], 1921. Reprinted 1996.
Available online at: http://www.archive.org/details/historyof121stne00best

Burrell, Jonathan. Letters, 1862-1864.
Letters to his brother and sister, containing mostly news about the 121st Regiment, whose soldiers came from Little Falls, NY (Herkimer Co.) and vicinity. There are also some personal comments on the action he observed at Fredericksburg (1862) and Chancellorsville, Virginia (1863). 6 items.
Located at the New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Cilella, Salvatore G., Jr. The 121st New York state infantry regiment, 1862-1865. S.l. : s.n.,1972.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the State University of New York College at Oneonta at its Cooperstown Graduate Program in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, 1972. 3, ix, 212 l. ; 29 cm.

Cilella, Salvatore G., Jr. Upton's Regulars: The 121st New York Infantry in the Civil War. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2009.

Cronkite, James w. Report of the Gettysburg monument committee of the 121st New York volunteers, supplemented with names of the contributors, and a brief sketch of the Regiment. [Cooperstown: Press of the Ostego Republican, 1889].

De Young, Mary Wallitt. Drummer boy : Henry Hilton Wood and the Civil War. S.l. s.n. 1990.

Fish, John D. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(Capt's letters, Nov 12 & 22, 1863; Letter by Capt Cleveland Campbell of 121st NY, Nov 20, 1863).
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Greiner, James M. Subdued by the Sword: A Line Officer in the 121st New York Volunteers. Albany, NY: State University Press, 2003.

Hartwell, John F. L. To my beloved wife and boy at home: the letters and diaries of Orderly Sergeant John F.L. Hartwell. Madison, NJ : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,1997. 411 p.

Hall, Henry Seymour. With the Sixth corps at Gettysburg, a paper prepared and read before the Kansas commandery of the Military order of the loyal legion of the United States, Thursday, November 5, 1896. Lawrence: Journal press, 1896.

Holt, Daniel M. "In Captivity." Civil War Times Illustrated (Aug 1979): pp. 34-39.

Holt, Daniel M. A surgeon's Civil War the letters and diary of Daniel M. Holt, M.D. Kent, Ohio : Kent State University Press,1994. xvi, 304 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.

Krutz, David P. Distant Drums: Herkimer County in the War of the Rebellion, Utica: North Country Books, 1997.
Thank you to Steve Glazer for pointing out this resource.

Letters from Federal soldiers stationed in Virginia, to friends at home,1861-1864.
Letters discuss life in camp; weather; news of home; scouting across the Potomac for rebels ahd horses; the fight for Roanoke Island,1862; religious meetings and illnesses in camp; marches preliminary to the Peninsular Campaign; deserters from the 121st New York swimming across the Potomac; touring sites in Washington, D.C.; and admiration for General McClellan. One of Ambrose Huntley's letters contains a sketch of the fortifications around Washington, D.C. There is also a letter on patriotic stationery from Quaker merchant Daniel Holloway to George Gilbert, 1864 June 16, on the price of wool per pound. Correspondents include E. Davis, Ambrose A. Huntley and James W. Huntley of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, William E. Kewin, James Henry Reese, and Monroe Thayer of the 10th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers.
20 items.
Located at the University of Virginia.

Mather, Andrew E. and Mather, A. Dan. Letters, 1862-1865, to his brother.
Typescript of letter describing battle at Rappahannock; letter from New Orleans (1865) urging his brother to come south to join him in running a plantation. 8 pieces.
Located at Dartmouth College.

Michie, Peter Smith. The life and letters of Emory Upton, Colonel of the Fourth regiment of artillery, by Peter S. Michie. With an introduction by James Harrison Wilson. New York: Appleton and co., 1885.

Military Collection - Civil War, 1861-1910(ca.), 1861-1865 (bulk).
Numerous commissions, discharges, a few photographs, and pension papers. There are rosters, orders, returns, and other papers for companies of the 14th, 43rd, 81st, 89th, 115th, and 121st Infantry Regiments, N.Y. Volunteers; letters, orders, rolls, returns of Capt. Harvey R. Gardner, Co. F, 148th Volunteers, 1862-64; book of memoirs, letters, and clippings concerning Civil War service of Major Nicholas J. DeGraff, 115th N.Y. Volunteers; enlistment roll, Co. K, 37th Artillery Regiment, 1863-69; and a photograph album of high officers at Camp Nelson, Va., Army of the Potomac. Letters of Samuel D. French, 121st Volunteers and U.S. Army Signal Corps; Daniel Davis, William H. Lewis, John J. McDonald, and George Maret, 44th Volunteers; John Cook, 51st Volunteers; John Tidd, 109th Volunteers; Gilbert Parshall, 42nd Illinois Volunteers; and Lemi Crary, 86th New York Volunteers. Also several scrapbooks of Civil War covers, and a letter book of Gen. Samuel S. Burnside, both incoming and outgoing, 5th Division, New York National
Guard, showing strong Democratic sympathies; a lecture by Myron Adams on involvement of the U.S.S. Perry in the Battle of Mobile Bay, 1864; and ms. poem.
1.5 cubic ft.
Located at the New York State Historical Association, Library, Cooperstown, New York 13326.

Military Collection - Civil War Diaries, 1861-1865.
17 items (ca.)
Reproduction note: Original, photocopies, and transcripts.
Abstract: Diaries of Corp. Newell Burch, 154th New York Volunteers (battles of Fredericksburg and Gettysburg); James G. Derrickson, 66th Volunteers (imprisoned at Andersonville and elsewhere); Capt. George Harrison, 62nd Volunteers; Orin W. Monroe, 185th Volunteers; Dean A. Pierce, 121st Volunteers; Joel W. Rogers, 64th Volunteers; Sgt. George Smith, 93rd Volunteers; Edward Wales, 121st Volunteers; Daniel M. Holt, Ass't Surgeon, 121st Volunteers (also letters); John L. Hoster, 148th Volunteers (also company roll book); F. Wunderlen, 33rd Volunteers; and John Wright, 2nd Volunteers.
Located at the New York State Historical Association, Library, Cooperstown, New York 13326

Morgan, Hance. Diary,1862,1865.
Typewritten transcript of a diary, 1862-1865, which describes his service in Co. A, 1st Infantry New York Battery or the New York Volunteers, 6th Army Corps; Fredericksburg (Md.); review by Hooker (4/1863); transferral to the 121st Regiment; deserters being shot; Spotsylvania (1864); the Smithsonian Institut being burned (1/24/1865); taking Rebel prisoners (4/1965), visiting the soldiers cemetery at Lee's farm (Arlington National Cemetery) (6/1865); being mustered out of service from the 149th Regiment (6/1865). Notes of a family friend of Morgan's grandson describing Morgan's life are also included. 1 folder.
Located at the Clarke Historical Library.

Morgan, Hance. CWTIColl
(Enlisted man's diary, Sep 5, 1862-Jun 23, 1865)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Morse, Francis W. Personal experiences in the war of the great rebellion, from December, 1862, to July, 1865, by F. W. Morse, Major. Albany: [Munsell, printer] 1866.

Remmel, William. and Bender, Robert Patrick. Like grass before the scythe :the life and death of Sgt. William Remmel, 121st New York Infantry. Tuscaloosa : University of Alabama Press, 2007. xiv, 177 p. : ports. ; 24 cm.

Remmel, William. William Remmel papers :letters and papers, 1862-1924 (bulk 1862-1864).
The papers include thirteen letters concerning attempts on the part of William Remmel's family to ascertain his fate after the war; seven letters and documents describe his family's efforts to obtain his back pay; six letters and documents pertain to his mother's attempts to be awarded a pension as the dependent mother of a Civil War casualty; six items relate to William Remmel's days as a student at Fairfield academy; and ten miscellaneous letters and documents include such items as the songs sung at his funeral, a memorial poster of his regiment, and one letter from his brother Caleb Leopold Remmel to his parents.
205 items.
Located at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Rice, Adam Clarke. The letters and writings of the late Lieut. Adam Clarke Rice, of the 121st regiment, N.Y. volunteers. Compiled and prepared by his brother, C. E. Rice. Little Falls: Journal & Courier press, 1864.

Roback, Henry. The veteran volunteers of Herkimer and Otsego counties in the war of the rebellion; being a history of the 152d N.Y.V. With scenes, incidents, etc., which occurred in the ranks, of the 34th N.Y., 97th N.Y., 121st N.Y., 2d N.Y. heavy artillery, and 1st and 2d N.Y. mounted rifles; also the active part performed by the boys in blue who were associated with the 152d N.Y.V. in Gen. Hancock's Second army corps during Grant's campaign, from the Wilderness to the surrender of Gen. Lee at Appomattox Court House, Va Utica. N.Y: Press of L.C. Childs & Son, 1888.
Available online at: http://persi.heritagequestonline.com.dbgateway.nysed.gov/hqoweb/library/do/books/search/publications

Smith, Ingraham P. The Ingraham P. Smith collection,1861-1865.
47 items (815 cubic in.). Collection consists of 45 letters on 51 sheets of paper. Also 2 medical documents from Army hospitals. Most of the letters were written to his mother, Mary Ann Watson. A few of the letters were written to his sister, Mary E. Smith. One letter was not written by Ingraham P. Smith, it may have been written by one of his brothers.
Located at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Tanner, Mertson S. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(Enlisted man's letter, Dec 27, 1862).
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Tyler, J. K. To the 121st. N.Y. ("Onesters"):and the FIfth Maine. 2nd Brigade, 6th Corps. Worcester, N.Y.: s.n.,1800’s?
Broadside. 31 x 16 cm.
Located at the New York Historical Society, New York, NY and Brown University.

United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 121st. Association. Roster of the 121st New York Volunteer Association, 1862 - 1898 : containing a list of the Association Officers, Treasurer's Report and Report of Reunion, Roll of Honor, List of Survivors, Etc. Cooperstown, NY: Otsego Republican Book and Job Printing House, 1898.

Upton, Emory. HCWRTColl
(GEN's letter, Dec 23, 1862).
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Walker, Henry B. Henry B. Walker Letters: An inventory of his correspondence at Syracuse University.
The Henry B. Walker Letters (January 1863 - March 1864) consist of 43 outgoing letters from Union soldier Henry B. Walker. Though addressed and sent to members of his family, they were apparently intended for general circulation among his friends at home. The letters primarily contain descriptions of his life in the army camp, at the hospital after he was wounded, and during the maneuvers of the army around the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers. The letters include descriptions of tents, food, marches, illnesses, the excitement of battle and the tedium of camp life, as well as friendships, religious services, and political and military opinions.
The bulk of the letters originate from the following Virginia locations: White Oak Church, Falmouth, Potomac Creek Bridge Station, Balford Heights, New Baltimore, Warrenton, Culpepper, Cedar Mountain, Mitchell Station, Rappahannock Station, and Welford's Ford. There are three letters from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. (while Walker was in hospital). The last three letters are written from Elmdale, New York after he arrived home, and are accompanied by transcripts.
More information is at: library.syr.edu/digital/guides/w/walker_hb.htm
Resource submitted by Patrick Fultz.

Wilson, Robert P. Robert P. Wilson Civil War commission, 1863 April 10.
Commission appointing Robert P. Wilson major of the 121st Regiment of Infantry, New York State Volunteers. 1 item ; 38 x 28 cm. (0.1 linear ft.).
Located at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society Library.

Wilson, John S. "Captain Fish and the 121st New York Volunteers at Rappahannock Station, Virginia." Military Collector and Historian (Fall 1996): pp. 114-20.

Wood, Henry Hilton. Experiences During the Civil War by Henry Hilton Wood, uncle of Ida Manning.
Chapters 4 - 7 are online. The complete book is available in the Research Center.
Copy of typed transcript.

Woodcock, Philip R. NW Corner CWRT Coll
(Lieut's diary, Jan 1-Jun 7, 1865).
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Wynne, Michael. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(List of stores, May 2, 1864)
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

 

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: April 23, 2012
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