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Lewis County, New York
in the Civil War

The following is taken from Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Military Statistics of the State of New York, Albany: [The Bureau], (C. Wendell), 1866.

The citizens of Lewis county felt a lively interest in the progress of events, which led to the fall of Sumter, but did not organize for action. On the 22d of April, the following call was published, over the signatures of sixty-nine prominent citizens, representing both parties, and residing in nearly every town:

" CITIZENS OF LEWIS COUNTY: Our beloved Country is infested with armed and organized bands of traitors. Our forts have been seized, the treasury robbed, and loyal citizens killed in defending the flag of our Union ! The Federal Capital is in danger. The President of the United States, and the Governor of the State of New York, call the citizen soldiery to the rescue ! Meet with us at the TOWN HALL, in LOWVILLE, on SATURDAY, at one o'clock, P. M., to adopt measures for responding to those calls, and thereby testify in a substantial manner, to our Love of Country—our devotion to Civil Liberty."

This call was circulated by hand bill and in both county papers. On the same date (April 22), Horace R. Lahe, of Lowville, issued a call for volunteers by hand bill, and his efforts resulted in the formation of the company subsequently known as Company I, Fourteenth New York volunteers. Captain Lahe went out and returned as the Captain of this company.

At about this time, Mr. Wm. N. Angle, Copenhagen, succeeded in forming the company afterwards company B, Thirty-fifth New York volunteers. Spirited meetings were held in Copenhagen, to promote this enterprise, which interested the towns of Denmark, Pinckney and Harrisburg.

The first of these meetings at Copenhagen was held on the evening of April 26th, at the Baptist Church, and was very enthusiastic. Thirty-five volunteers had, at its close, enrolled their names in Captain Angle's company, including those who had previously enlisted, and liberal subscriptions were pledged. It was estimated that these would amount to $3,000. The county meeting was held pursuant to notice on the 27th of April, and was well attended. Ziba Knox, Esq., was called to preside, find the proceedings were opened by a prayer. After short addresses made by several citizens, the following resolutions were adopted :

Resolved, It is the sense of this meeting that the Federal Government should be sustained and defended as the common household of every American.

Resolved, It is the duty of the Government to keep open every communication to the National Capital at every cost, except the surrender of the Government itself.

Resolved, That the business of this meeting be carried out by two committees.

I. A general committee of three each, from Lowville, Martins-burg, Turin, Watson, New Bremen, Greig, West Turin and Ley-den, to solicit subscriptions and funds ; 1st, to pay the expenses of volunteers, between enrollment and mustering; 2d, to pay the expenses to muster into the service of this State or the United States; 3d, to relieve the families of such volunteers during the term of their enlistment.

II. An Executive committee of six, to secure such funds and assess such subscriptions pro rata, and to pay out the same.

The minimum allowance to a family of a volunteer was fixed at tea dollars a month, and the sum of $1,410 was subscribed upon the spot.

The executive committee appointed at this meeting, consisted of Dewit C. West, Elaida S. Merrill, Rutson Rea, Diodate Pease, Edwin S. Cadwell and James H. Sheldon.

At a subsequent meeting of this committee, Mr. West was ap¬pointed chairman ; James L. Leonard, treasurer, and Diodate Pease, secretary. They continued their existence through the first year of the war, and about forty percent, of the subscriptions were called in and paid over to families, or otherwise spent in the recruiting service.

Village and neighborhood meetings were held throughout the county, at which liberty poles were raised, and subscriptions taken for the encouragement of volunteers and the relief of families.

At a period dating from about the 29th of April, the Hon. Henry E. Turner, then County Judge, announced his intention of raising a company of Flying Artillery, of one hundred men. This measure was abandoned, but with his aid, Mr. Charles E. Mink, engineer on the steamer "L. R. Lyon" began enlistments which resulted in part, in the formation of company H, First N. Y. Artil¬lery, of which Mr. Turner became Lieutenant-Colonel. Colonel Guilford D. Bailey, of this regiment, who fell at Fair Oaks, was a native of Lewis county, which doubtless gave prestige to this effort.

Captain Angle's company left for Elmira on the 9th of May, and Captain Lahe's for Albany at about the same time. While remaining in the county, such of the volunteers as had left home were liberally supported by the citizens.

In June, a company roll was opened by Philip W. Smith, at Low¬ville, and several volunteers were enlisted for a company at first intended for the Anderson Zouave's, but finally merged in com¬pany B, Fifty-ninth N. Y. Volunteers. To promote this enterprise, a public meeting was held on the 22d of June, at the Town Hall in Lowville, and a committee was appointed, consisting of F. B. Hough, S. Sylvester, C. G. Riggs, Edwin Woolworth and Thomas Baker, representing the town of Lowville and all south on the central tier of towns, who were authorized to call future meetings to promote enlistments, and raise means for supporting families. This measure was thought necessary, because the avails of the for¬mer meeting were applicable only to Captain Lahe's company.

This meeting was addressed by the Hon. Caleb Lyon, of Lyons-dale, Rev. Mr. Ball, Rev. S. H. Taft, Prof. Bennett, Rev. Mr. Ferris, Rev. W. H. Lockwood and others, and committees were appointed in the southern towns to raise subscriptions for Mr. Smith's company. Under this effort subsequent local meetings were held, and considerable sums raised.

The Rev. Jerome B. Taft, who had begun with Smith, subse¬quently started, an independent company, of which the greater part were enlisted out of the county. It became company E, Fifty-ninth N. Y. Volunteers.

Mr. Newton Hall, of Leyden, began in June to enlist men for a cavalry company, and succeeded in forming what was afterwards known as company G. Third N. Y. Cavalry. He entered as Cap¬tain, and was promoted to Major in the last year of the war. His men were chiefly from the towns of Leyden and Greig.

In addition to these, a few men entered the Sixteenth regiment from the northern border of the county, and several, Captain Mil¬ler's company, (Co. F, Fourteenth N. Y. V.) from the southern towns. Enlistments were also made in the vicinity of Constable-ville, by Lieutenant Bell, who joined the Fifty-seventh New York Volunteers. A small party from Lowville and Denmark, who had proposed to join company H, First New York Artillery, after leaving for the rendezvous at Elmira, joined the Nineteenth New York Volunteers.

The 4th of July was celebrated in Lowville in 1861, with un¬usual interest, and the occasion was improved by soliciting aid in behalf of the organizations then forming. Dr. F. B. Hough acted as President, and the oration by the Rev. J. W. Armstrong was widely published in pamphlet form. Orations by J. D. Hamilton and Cyrus W. Pratt, delivered the, same day in Greig, were also published.

With the exception of the companies raised by Captains Angle and Lahe, none had left the county at the date of the first battle of Bull Run.


See also The Communites of New York in the Civil War



New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: September 17, 2007

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