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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 and spirits.
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 the world.

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.
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, Samuel McLeod.
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, William Haley.
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 Oneida County.
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 Fort Gray.
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.

[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. McClellan.
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.:
Chickahominy Swamp,
Railroad Bridge,
Jones' Ford,
White Oak Swamp,
Bottom's Bridge,
Harrison's Point,
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 in attendance.


New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: August 2, 2006

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