96th Regiment Infantry
New York Volunteers
Civil War Newspaper Clippings
The friends of Rev. N. Wardner late chaplain of the 96 Regt. N. Y. Vol., will
be pleased to learn that he has returned once more to the field of his former
labor. His health failing he was obliged to resign his position and return
North. He left the 96 Regiment stationed at Plymouth N. C., in good health
A portion of them are encamped near the village and the balance are 1 1/2 miles
out at work on a fort. Mr. Wardner brings home with him a little slave girl
about 3 years of age whose mother escaped with her child from her owner, who
is a rebel, and brought the child inside of our lines. This littler girl is
as white as most of the children we see in our streets, is very pretty and
intelligent. In ordinary times at the south, her market value would be about
$500, and in 10 years she would be worth $2500 to 3000. Her mother freely gave
her consent that Mr. Wardner should take her North, and to use her own words
she said, "she would rather have her took Norf than Souf.
Mr. Wardner with that activity and benevolence which characterize him, found
time in adition to his other duties to have two sabbath schools each Sunday,
and a day school during week, with pupils of all ages running from
5 years to 80. His scholars are mostly contrabands. In his efforts to do good
he was ably seconded by the Col. and other officers of the 96 Regt.
The church in which he preached in Plymouth belonged to the M. E. Society.
Their former Pastor is now a Lieutenant in the rebel army. Mr. Wardner returns
to us with his abolition feelings very much intensified and should he regain
his health he will probably return to the army.
The following letter to the Academy scholars, from Mr. CHAS. HEATH, who recently
left this village and enlisted in the 96th Regiment N. Y. V., has been handed
us for publication. He is a brother of the Rev. W. J. HEATH, and was an assistant
teacher in the Academy at the time of his enlistment:
SCHENECTADY, April 12, '64.
I have thought many times of your kindness to me at our parting and it is to
show that I have not forgotten you that I am writing this letter. I should
like to write to each of you, and tell you how much I shall prize your parting
gift; but as I can not do that I thought I might write to all at once. Well,
here I am at Schenectady, clad in the uniform of a volunteer, which, though
it is not broadcloth, answers just as well to keep out the wet and cold. But
before I speak of things here, I will tell you about the ride from Glens Falls
to this place.
Early on Monday morning Mr. Potter, as he had promised, came and woke me from
my pleasant dreams, but he was hardly soon enough, for, almost before I could
open my eyes, "Babe" was on hand. You all know "Babe," and
you perhaps know that he dislikes nothing more than to be kept waiting, and
when he is kept waiting it generally makes him cross. But though I hurried
as fast as I could, and did my very best to be ready in time, it was of no
use, and I had to keep him waiting, as much as a minute at least, and so "Babe" was
cross. In my hurry I had forgotten to shake hands and say good bye to Mr. Little,
and when I turned back for that purpose, do you believe, "Babe" was
so heartless as to object. But we started at last and after riding nearly two
hours, arrived at Fort Edward where we took the cars for Ballston Spa. Here
we had breakfast, and after waiting about an hour started for Schenectady.
On the cars were two deserters, or bounty jumpers as they are called. These
men enlist, and then, as soon as they have secured the bounty, desert. Some
of them succeed in doing this three or four limes before they are caught. I
need not say they are great rogues, and are heartily hated by the volunteers.
If their meanness only effected themselves, it would not be so bad but they
are becoming so numerous that the volunteers are guarded like prisoners. They
cannot go out without a guard, and it is almost impossible to get a furlough.
Thus those who are honest have to suffer on account of these dastardly rascals.
As soon as we arrived at Schenectady we were taken to the office of the Provost
Marshal to be mustered into the service, after which we were uniformed and
taken to dinner. It will not take long to describe the dinner, as the courses
were not very numerous. I think I can remember everything we had. Let me see,
first, the meat. I think they said it was beef, though I should hardly have
recognized it. Second, potatoes, and then bread. So that we had beef, potatoes,
and bread; for dessert we had bread, potatoes and beef. As for the dinner service:
it was not china, neither did they have silver folks. Uncle Sam seems to think
his nephews are still in their infancy, so he supplies them with plates made
of tin. For supper we had the same bill of fare as at dinner, except that in
the place of beef we had molasses. You must remember that butter is 50 cents
a pound, and besides it has a tendency to make folks billious, so our good
uncle, or perhaps I should say his servants, wisely keep butter out of our
sight. And now I suppose you would like to know what sort of accommodations
we have at the barrack's. Well the place we occupy now is the second story
of an old wagon-shop—the room is quite large and is well ventilated,
nearly all of the windows being without glass. You know fresh air is very necessary
for health, so that it is good to have an abundant supply. And now for the
furniture. Well, there is a stove, two carpenter's benches and a stool. But
where are the beds, washstands, &c., I thing I hear you say. Oh! soldiers
don't need such things, you know. They would be apt to make them effeminate.
So when bed time comes, we roll ourselves in our blankets, and with our knapsacks
for pillows, sleep on the "soft side of a plank." Those who are used
to it say it is just as good as feather beds. So it is not so bad after all.
To-morrow we start for Plattsburgh, from which place you shall hear from me
again if I can find time. And now, scholars. I must say good bye, as it has
grown dark can scarcely see.
From your friend,
The Battle Flags.
The following is a list of the regiments, the battle-flags of which were presented
to the Legislature on Wednesday evening: 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th,
18th, 24th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 32d, 34th, 37th, 38th, 59th, 61st, 64th,
75th, 76th, 77th, 80th, 91st, 96th, 97th, 104th, 130th, 146th, and 177th
regiments New York volunteers; 3d regiment artillery; 7th and 11th batteries
New York volunteers.
Governor Seymour, on receiving the trophies, said that by a wise and patriotic
liberality the state provided a fitting resting-place for the battle-flags
so gloriously carried through this war by the volunteers of this state. Every
one feels proud over the deeds of those brave men, who have come up to the
rescue of their country from every county, town and hamlet in the commonwealth--actions
already filled with honorable history. In this war New York has shown her ancient
fidelity to the flag--a flag first displayed on the very ground on which we
now stand. New York has furnished one-fifth of all the men sent forth to crush
the rebellion. She is second to no state in her patriotism in her zeal to prove
the blessings which have descended to us from the fathers of the Revolution.
But no eloquence can do so much honor to New York as these torn and faded emblems.
Their very rags become lips to the patriot and utter an eloquence to the heart
such as no other language could convey. They tell us of the blood and carnage
of the battlefield; of the brave men who have died in sustaining them. Let
us pray that all this blood has not been shed in vain. May Almighty God so
guide the destinies of our country that even the present dreadful contest may
lead to the lasting welfare and happiness of the republic. In midst of the
darkness and uncertainty which surrounds us--a darkness and uncertainty which
must lead to the sacrifice of more lives and more blood—I receive on
behalf of the state those battle-flags, the proudest monuments of patriotism
of her citizens in this crisis of their common country; I receive them with
a firm reliance that Heaven will so shape the results of the bloodiest revolution
known to the world, that we shall be able to say that what has been purchased
at so terrible a price has added to the lasting happiness of our country and
Compliment to a Niagara Soldier.
We often have occasion to refer to the glorious record our brave Niagara boys
are making for themselves while in the service of their country. No part
of our editorial duty affords us more real pleasure, and when any of our
many friends in the army imagine we neglect then or show partiality we ask
them to attribute it to any other cause than a desire to do them injustice.
We remember to have predicted, over two years ago, of the then Capt N W Day—our
friend "Nick"—of the 96th N. Y. V., that higher military
honors would be won by him. And he has risen to be the Colonel of the 131st
N. Y. V., and late intelligence from Gen. Bank's department—not derived
from Col. Day—gives us to understand that still further promotion is
in near prospect. We expect ere long to salute him as Brig. Gen. The good
reports we have heard of Col. Day are fully corroborated by the following
extract from special orders of Gen Franklin which we take pleasure in copying:—
Headquarters 19th Army Corps and
U. S. Forces Western Louisiana,
Franklin, La., March 15th 1864
Special Order No. 74
The Major General Commanding publicly expresses thanks to Colonel Nicholas
Day 131st New York Volunteers Commanding at Brashear and to Captain A. M. Bradshaw
A. Q. M. Post Quarter Master at the same place for the alacrity and untiring
energy and zeal they have displayed in the discharge of their important duties
at that Post during the period that it has been under his Command.
By order of Major General Franklin.
[Signed.] WICHAM HOFFMAN.
Asst. Adjt. General.
From the 96TH.--The following is a list of the losses in this regiment, on
the 3rd inst. furnished by Chaplain Wardner. The regiment lost in all, ninety-four
in killed, wounded and missing.
Maj. Pierce commanded the regiment, in gallant style. His friends will rejoice
to learn that he passed the terrible ordeal safely.
Co. A.—Wounded--Peter Gonyea.
Co. B.—Killed—Capt. John Hallock, 2d Lieut. S. B. Little.
Wounded—1st Sergt. John Quinn, Peter McVale, Albert Wescott, Thos. Ward,
Co C.--Killed--1at Lieut. Joseph South.
Wounded—1st Sergt. Thos. Egan, Corp. A. Turnbul, Corp. William Densmore,
Stillman Spaulding, Peter Neddo, Peter Delarm, Thos. Corbitt, Robert B. Tyler,
Co. E—Wounded—1st Sergt. Wm. Murphy.
Co. F — Killed—1st Lieut. Paul Vigeau, Dumas Martin.
Wounded--Capt. James Cray, Ord. Sergt. Moses Lapoint, Corp; F. A. Walker, Corporal
A. Tulip, John Talman, Benor Potry, Lewis Grasset.
Co. H —Killed—B. F. Vanloon.
Wounded—Charles Clay, Edward Murphy
Co. I.—Wounded—Lieut J. G. Johnson (since died), J. Bascom, Jonas
Rock, Henry Hogan, Stillman Galutia.
Co. K.--Killed—Robert E....., John Stewart.
Wounded--1st Lieut. John Matthews, Sergts George Davis, George Smith, Charles
Davison, Charles Miller.
Whitehouse, May 30,1862.
The Captured Arms--The Body of Major Kelly--How He Met his Death--A Reported
Capture of rebel Prisoners, &c.
The muskets captured in the affair in front of our lines by the forces under
General Porter a few days ago, arrived at this point this morning. They were
of the Springfield smooth bore pattern, of the fabric of 1832-3. Among them
were a few altered to rifle muskets. The ammunition used by the rebels in these
arms were the ordinary spherical balls and buck shot, three of the latter with
one half ounce ball being in one charge.
The body of Major John E. Kelly, of the Ninety sixth New York Volunteers, who
was killed in a skirmish on our left wing yesterday, arrived here to-day in
charge of Captain Sweeny of that regiment. The body was embalmed at this place
by Dr. Thomas Holmes, of Williamsburg, N. Y. It was subsequently placed in
a neat rosewood coffin, and will be forwarded to-morrow via Fortress Monroe
to Plattsburg, N. Y., the late residence of the deceased. The deceased leaves
a wife and one child to mourn his loss.
The circumstances under which Major Kelly met his death are these:—He
was brigade officer of the day. The night previous to his death he visited
the line of pickets and made such dispositions of his men as he thought would
insure the safety of the camp against any attempts of the enemy. He then took
up his quarters at a house immediately in the rear of his command, where he
remained until the following morning. At daybreak he went forward again to
visit his pickets, and while with them, the enemy lying in ambush fired upon
our troops. A considerable force of the enemy then appeared, and our outlying
pickets being numerically small, they were driven in towards the camp. Our
force numbered at this time not more than sixty-five men the rebel force about
three hundred. Of our force, a portion of them scattered in the woods, but
about fifty-five of them stood their ground, and fired three seemingly effective
volleys at the enemy; they then were fighting their way in retreat very skilfully.
Major Kelly then ordered the reserve picket guard forward, at the same time
adding, by way of stratagem, "Forward, Ninety-sixth, forward, 103d"--meaning
the New York Ninety-sixth and the Pennsylvania 103d—although his whole
command, when massed was less than one hundred men. The stratagem worked well,
our men delivering their fire against the enemy with good effect. Just as the
affair was closing, the horse of the Major was wounded ...
The 96th New York Volunteers were organized at Plattsburgh, N. Y., under Colonel
Fairman. They participated in the siege of Yorktown, under Lieutenant Colonel
Gray; and on May 5th, 1862, were engaged in the battle of Williamsburg; May
21, had a skirmish at Chickahominy river, near the railroad bridge, and were
in the advance from Bottom's bridge towards Richmond; May 29th, Major J. E.
Kelley was killed while fighting bravely, he being in command; May 31st, were
in the battle of Fair Oaks; June 30th, were engaged at White Oak Swamp and
all the skirmishes thereafter; December 14, were in the battle of Kignston,
N. C; December 16, were in the battle of Whitehall, N. C., and December 17,
were in the battle of Goldsboro, N. C.. Col. E. M. Cullen is in command of
the regiment at present.
Honors to and Departure of Gen. Leslie's Brigade.
The veteran regiment of this brigade, viz,. The Eighty-first, Ninety-sixth
and Ninety-eighth Regiments, New York State troops, Wednesday left their
barracks at the Park, and escorted by the Eighth and Thirty-seventh Militia
Regiments, were reviewed at the City Hall by the Mayor and Common Council;
they then marched up Broadway, and at the Fifth-avenue Hotel were reviewed
by Maj. Gen. BURNSIDE; from there they marched to the arsenal, corner Thirty-fifth-street
and Seventh-avenue, where a collation was prepared for them, and after partaking
of it, they were escorted to the Hudson River Railroad depot, and took the
cars for Albany. The Eighty-first Regiment was raised in Oswego and Oneida
counties, and is composed of a fine set of men. They were with Gen. MCCLELLAN
all through the Peninsular campaign, and were afterward with Gen. Foster's
Charleston expedition, at which time their Colonel (DE FORREST) was in command
of the brigade and won honors for his and their bravery. Since that time
they have been in North Carolina doing outpost duty in the Dismal Swamps,
fifteen miles from any other troops, and where their pickets were nightly
fired upon by the enemy. Their original colors were so torn and service-worn
as to be useless, and were sent to the State Department at Albany, where
they now are. A second set was presented them by the Messrs. INGERSOLL, of
The Ninety-sixth Regiment was organized at Plattsburgh, under command of COL.
JAMES M. FAIRMAN; the rank and file were principally enlisted in the northeastern
section of the State, through the exertions of the late Col. CHARLES O. GRAY,
of Warrensburgh, Warren County; they were also through the Peninsular campaign,
the greater portion of the time under command of Lieut.-Col. Charles O. Gray.
At the siege of Yorktown, at Williamsburgh, and in innumerable skirmishes along
the line of the Chickahominy, under their gallant and favorite commander, the
Ninety-sixth was distinguished fir its dash, endurance and bravery On the 29th
of May, in one of the then common picket skirmishes, its Major, John E. Kelly,
was killed. At Fair Oaks it was one of the first regiments to engage the enemy,
and the last to leave the field. At Suffolk, Lieut.-Col. Gray was promoted
to the colonelcy of the regiment, and in honor of the occasion, he presented
to his command a beautiful stand of colors. When Gen. Foster organized his
expedition to Goldsboro, the Ninety-sixth was with him, and at the battle of
Kinston, the gallant Colonel, CHARLES O. GRAY, while leading a charge, was
killed at the head of his regiment. The regiment built and finished the fort
at Plymouth, N. C, which, in honor of their services, and in memory of their
late Colonel, was, by order of the General Commanding the Department, called
The Ninety-eighth Regiment were also with Gen. McClellan through the Peninsular
campaign, and their decimated ranks show how well they performed their duty.
They entered the field commanded by Col. DUTTON, a brave and excellent officer.
He was taken with typhus fever at Fair Oaks, and died. He was succeeded by
Col. DURKER, who resigned while the regiment was at St. Helena Island. The
command then devolved upon its present commander, Lieut.-Col. WEAD, who has
fully proved himself a gallant officer, and who is dearly loved by his men.
The regiment, after going through almost all the battles of the Army of the
Potomac, were assigned to duty at Pungo Bridge, Va., and here they remained
until they came on to New-York.
MEMOIR OF COL. GRAY.
[The following interesting though brief sketch of the life and death of Col.
Charles Osborn Gray of the 96th Regiment of N. Y. S. Vol. is from the first
annual report of the Bureau of Military Statistics made to the Legislature
in January past. His many friends in the State will find in it a fitting
testimonial to his virtues and his valor in his country's cause.]
Charles Osborn Gray, Colonel 96th Regiment, N. Y. S. V., was born at
Warrensburgh, county of Warren, New York, on the 24th day of March, 1839. Enjoying
unlimited educational advantages, his youthful days were
but a routine of scholastic duties. In his 14th year, he was placed under
the instruction of Colonel Kinsley, near West Point. The regulations
and exercises of the school were strictly military, and being located in the
immediate vicinity of the West Point Academy, the students were favored with
the privilege of seeing the practical instructions there taught. Thus the early
habits and military bearing contracted whilst under the instruction of Col.
Kinsley, were retained and fostered by Col. Gray in after years.
In 1857, he entered the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, became a
member of the Troy Citizens' Corps, and was selected by the professors and
students as captain of the Institute cadets. He graduated with the class of
1861, and received his diploma as civil engineer.
Deferring a trip to Europe, for which he had made arrangements, he decided
to enter the service of his country, for which he was so well qualified by
his previous habits and education, and, with others of his immediate acquaintance,
was active and influencial in successfully raising the 96th regiment, N. Y.
V., which was quartered at Plattsburgh barracks. The regiment was organized
and received marching orders about the 1st of
March, 1862, and Col. Gray, although quite young, "being in his 23d year," after
a strict examination, was commissioned its lieutenant colonel.
The appearance of the regiment, on its march through the cities of Albany
and New York, under the command of its lieutenant colonel, gave evidence
that it had been disciplined by no ignorant mind, and trained by no unskilful
hands. Arriving at the seat of war it was immediately brigaded, and attached
to the division under Gen. Casey, in the army of the peninsula, and at once
embarked for its destination. On the arrival of the regiment at Fortress Monroe,
the command devolved on Lieut. Col. Gray, by reason of the disability of the
Colonel. It was first stationed at Young's Farm, where it was frequently harassed
by the rebel gunboat Teazer; and, subsequently, was in the siege of Yorktown.
In the battle at Williamsburgh, however, the regiment was called, for the first
time, to struggle in the realities of war; and
it was in this battle that Lieut. Col. Gray gave evidence of ability to command,
and established himself in the full confidence of the regiment.—
Covering the battery of Major Robinson of the regular army, while being shelled
from Fort Magruder, he displayed the coolness and resolution so essential in
a commanding officer, and for which he received the verbal compliments of Gen.
The 96th was in the advance during the arduous march on the peninsula, with
the rear of the retreating enemy in front, and who were driven across the railroad
bridge near Richmond.—It was then placed in the advanced picket guard
of Casey's division, four and a half miles from Richmond, where it was engaged
in frequent skirmishes with the enemy, in one of which Major Kelly was killed,
and was subsequently in action at Seven Pines and at Fair Oaks. After the battle
at Fair Oaks, Lieut. Col. Gray, borne down by the long and arduous march on
the peninsula, and suffering with typhoid fever, was carried from the field
and sent to the State Hospital at New Haven, Conn.; but, while only partially
recovered, he rejoined his regiment at Harrison's Landing, and on the final
retreat, led the advance to Williamsburgh, marching his regiment thirty-two
miles in eleven hours. By order of Major Gen. Peck, the following battles were
inscribed upon the banner of the regiment, viz.:
White Oak Swamp,
Charles City Cross Roads.
After the withdrawal of the army from the peninsula, the 96th regiment was
attached to Wessel's Brigade, Peck's Division. It was stationed at Suffolk,
Va., and was occupied in frequent reconnoissances in vicinity of the Blackwater.
While stationed here, Lieut. Col. Gray made himself especially useful as a
topograghical engineer, in which branch of engineering he was quite proficient.
Lieut. Col. Gray was promoted and commissioned colonel of the regiment on the
25th day of September, 1862. He was then in his 24th year, and was probably
the youngest colonel in the service. On the 5th of December, following, the
regiment left Suffolk to join an expedition under Gen. Foster at Newbern, N.
C., and on this expedition Col. Gray was killed (Dec.
14), while gallantly and splendidly leading his regiment to a successful charge
upon the enemy at the bridge over the Neuse river at Kinston.—
Referring to that battle, the chaplain of the regiment writes:
On the morning of the 14th, the sun rose broad and bright over that field,
so soon to be the scene of deadly strife. At half past seven we were on the
advance, our young and gallant colonel, mounted on his favorite black charger,
leading the way; and never did he appear more calm and self-possessed, or give
his commands with easier dignity and grace than on that memorable morning.
All had faith in his courage and ability, and followed him with a confident
step. Never did a colonel possess more fully the respect and affection of his
men; his word was law, and his commands needed but to be heard to be obeyed.
Moving forward some distance, while occasional rifle shots in the advance gave
earnest of approaching battle, the order came for the regiment to halt. Having
done so, we here received the first cannon shot.
It tore up the ground but a few feet from our colonel, baptizing him for the
conflict in dust, while he remained undisturbed as if nothing had happened.
Our artillery now opened from a field on our left, the rifle shots became more
frequent, until volley answered volley, and battery replied to battery. The
fight had commenced. Receiving orders to advance, we moved a short distance
on the direct road, and formed in line of battle on the extreme right. On our
left, for a distance of half a mile along the line, was heard a continuous
roar of artillery and rattle of small arms.
Col. Gray rode along the line of the regiment, his evident coolness imparting
courage to his men. Occasional firing of skirmishers, but slightly advanced,
gave evidence that the enemy were before us. The colonel dismounted, (pursuant
to an order from the commander of the department,) and ordered his regiment
forward. We had advanced but a short distance when we came upon the enemy at
the edge of the woods, and. After a sharp engagement succeeded in totally routing
them and driving them across an open field in the direction of the bridge.
Our regiment was ordered to feel its way cautiously along the edge of the woods
at the right of open field, to a road leading from bridge directly down the
river. Col. Gray led the advance, and on reaching the road we marched within
some three hundred yards of the bridge. It was then filled with the enemy passing
over, and a large body on this side were waiting their opportunity to cross.
At the same time their forces in the earthworks on the other side kept up a
most terrific fire on our
troops. This bridge was now their last hope, and they were prepared to defend
it with desperation.
At this moment, Colonel Gray, seeing the situation, ordered a 'charge,' with
a voice that inspired new courage, and he, leading the way, musket in hand,
the regiment charged with irresistable impetuosity, though exposed to a galling
fire from the opposite bank. They reached the bridge, cutting off five hundred
of the enemy, who surrendered. Our gallant colonel, the color-hearer, and two
other officers, were first upon the bridge, and planted the regimental colors
upon it amidst a most severe fire by the enemy. At this moment of victory,
the colonel was struck in the left breast by a ball from the enemy; turned
instantly, walked a few steps and fell into the arms of some of his officers,
who assisted him, with sad heart, to the rear. He lived two hours, then closed
his eyes on the scenes of battle, but not without the assurance that his own
intrepid bearing had contributed largely to the brilliant success that crowned
the day. Brave officers and men, whose hearts were as steel in the presence
of the foe, wept as though their 'hearts were waters, and their eyes a fountain
of tears.'—In his fall, his country has to lament the loss of one of
her most talented, brave, and self-sacrificing officers."
With Col. Gray, war was a reality. In his last letter to his parents, dated
Dec. 5, 1862, he wrote: "I leave to-day for North Carolina, expecting
active and arduous service. If the fortunes of war favor me, I shall hope to
have leave to visit you before spring. If I should fall, remember me kindly,
as having endeavored, faithfully to discharge my duty to my country." He
did fall, nobly and honorably, and his country will remember him.
The remains of Col. Gray were conveyed from Kinston to Newbern, under escort,
and were received at the latter place with more than usual attention. A lady,
writing from Newbern, under date of December 17th, says: "All officers
of any distinction remaining in Newbern, came as mourners and pall-bearers,
together with five companies of infantry—all that could be spared from
guard. It was a solemn sight when the procession passed with all that remained
of the young hero, wrapped in his country's flag, borne by the loving hands
of perfect strangers. The ceremony on the boat was very touching, the soldiers
all in a line to receive body. The chaplain of the regiment, who accompanied
the remains, made a short address, thanking those in command, and all was over." The
funeral at Warrensburgh was conducted according to the ancient rites of the
Masonic order, of which the deceased was a member; and notwithstanding the
unfavorable weather, a large concourse of people from the adjoining towns was
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New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
August 2, 2006