Editor’s Note: This article was provided by John Hennessy and transcribed by Jackie Martin.
ARMY CORRESPONDENCE—INTERESTING LETTER From the 122d N. Y.
HEADQUARTERS 122d N. Y. V.
FOUR MILES SOUTH OF PETERSBURG, VA
July 9th 1864
EDITOR SANDUSKY REGISTER:—
DEAR SIR: The interest so kindly manifested in our regiment by your people, and your city of golden and glorious memories to us, induces me to drop you a little scribble as to our whereabouts and condition.
Our departure from your place, our reunion with our corps, and participating in the bloody campaign from the Rapidan to this point, is tolerably familiar to you and need hardly be repeated in detail.
We have suffered terribly, as has our whole division and corps. Of twenty-four officers who were combatants, nineteen have been killed, wounded or taken prisoners, though three of our wounded officers did not leave the regiment; and Mr. Tracy, who was wounded and taken prisoner in the wilderness, has escaped and returned to us, as has also Mr. Clark, who went home wounded.
We have lost two hundred and forty of the rank and file, killed, wounded and taken prisoners—the prisoners being almost entirely confined to the fight and repulse of our right in the Wilderness, May 6th.
Lieutenants Hoyt and Wooster were instantly killed, and Lieutenant Wilson has since died of wounds, while Capt.’s Dwight and Platt, and Lieutenant Poole are still absent from severe wounds, though not dangerously hurt. Captains Walpole and Gere are prisoners in Lynchburg; while the tall form of our General, Shaler, is supposed to be anxiously looking out of a small window at Charleston, to see if any signs can be discovered of the fleet opening fire, and coolly remarking that he “guesses our shells won’t hurt HIM.”
As is always the case, many of our bravest and best are gone. We number one hundred and sixty-seven muskets, and the shortened line and loss of familiar faces make our parades suggestive of sad memories through the bloody and honorable past.
A military dispensation has fallen upon us lately that has not been received with any pleasure, though of course cheerfully acquiesced in. It has been thought expedient to break up all the Fourth Brigades in the various divisions in the army, and hence ours has been broken up, and we, the oldest brigade in the Army of the Potomac, have gone asunder. The 65th N. Y., and the remnant of the 67th N. Y., whose time as a regiment has expired, have gone to the 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Corps. The 23d and 82d Pennsylvania volunteers, have gone to the 3d Brigade, 1st Division, and the 122d N. Y. has gone to the 3d Brigade, 2d Division, 6th Corps. So that from the blue of the Third, we went to the red of the First, and now wear the white cross of the Second division.
This breaking up of our old associations is by no means pleasant. We had, as it were, grown together, and the ENTENTE CORDIALE of our brigade was always hearty and warm. The capacities and peculiarities of each other were pretty well understood, and harmony was the very pleasant result.—Now of course these must be re-learned and re-formed, but I much doubt if they ever are, to the degree that characterized the old brigade. Col. Hamlin goes back to the command of his regiment. Capt. Ford goes to his regiment. Capt. Rowen is A. A. G. of the Second Brigade, 1st Division. Capt. Truesdale is assistant Inspector General of the Third Brigade, and Lieut. Johnson is Assistant Provost Marshal of the First Division.
The Headquarter’s property was divided up as re[?], on something like the “grab-bag” plan, though the mammoth flag was unanimously donated to Mrs. Gen. Shaler.—A set of tactics fell to my share, and a grand conclave of the officers was held at the dissolution of our old organization. But little was said or done, and no hilarity prevailed, but the demise of the brigade was dipped in a tub of claret punch, in the following terms, unanimously accepted as her obituary:
“The old, original First Brigade; she has died, but her works cannot follow.”
I hope you will not regard me as tiresome if I assure you of the deep and grateful place your goodly and hospitable city has in our memories.
Your kindness and hospitalities to us as strangers endeared us to you, and nerved us to our work; and to this day I am uncertain, if a free choice were given and facilities made equal, whether many of the regiment would proceed direct to Sandusky or to Syracuse. As one of our brigade sang impromptu, during our return—
“Those who cherish beauty
Will love thy maids divine;
And those who love themselves
Will drink thy native wine;
And veterans round their fires by night,
Fond tales of thee will tell;
Oh, scene of rare, short-lived delight,
Sandusky, fare thee well.”
The author, brave Capt. Cooper, has gone—was instantly killed while gallantly fighting in the Wilderness; but his sentiment remains, fresh, deep and sincere. We hope and trust to see you and your city again bye and bye.
Very truly yours. D.1
- “Interesting Letter from the 122nd N.Y.” Sandusky (NY) Register. July 19, 1864, p. ? col. ? ↩