Honoring the fallen – part 2

From Arkwright and Ashville to Villenova and Westfield, every Chautauqua County town suffered tragic losses of their husbands, fathers, and brothers during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Sadly, many of these deaths occurred exactly 150 years ago today on June 1, 1864. During a battle of several days known as “Cold Harbor” in Virginia, the Federal Army suffered over 12,000 casualties, with the third day of June 3 exceptionally harsh when 7000 men fell in just half an hour. What were the circumstances and who were these men?

“The Butcher” was the man, for the good and bad of it, who was in great measure responsible for the casualties sustained. Future President Ulysses S. Grant earned this nickname in the North because more than 50,000 men from the Federal Army fell in the months of May and early June in what is known as the Overland Campaign. As described in last week’s column, “Honoring the fallen,” Grant was given command of the Federal Army by Abraham Lincoln. The overall strategy was to relentlessly pursue Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy, and despite heavy losses of men in the Federal Army, reduce the size of Lee’s army which would force an eventual surrender.

Ranking among the bloodiest of the war, the Overland Campaign was part of three different engagements. As related last week, many Chautauqua County men died in the first two engagements, “Wilderness” and “Spotsylvania.”

The battle at Cold Harbor, Va., just 10 miles from the Confederacy’s capital Richmond, took place during the latter part of the campaign. Grant ordered attacks against Confederate lines that were well fortified and protected by miles of deep hand-dug trenches. According to civilwar.org/battlefields, which is part of an organization called The Civil War Trust and dedicated to preserving battlefields, there were over 4000 casualties on the first day, June 1.

Due to a delay of reinforcements, Grant postponed the second assault to June 3, giving Lee the added advantage of more preparation time.

“A maze and labyrinth of works within works” is how one Northern journalist described Lee’s fortifications.

According to the article “10 Facts about Cold Harbor,” the orders for a full-scale assault caused men to attach name tags to their uniforms so that they could be identified when they fell on the battlefield.

The scene that followed can only be imagined as men “went down like rows of blocks, with lines mixing into pushing, shoving, crowds as tens of thousands men tried to stay alive in the open fields in front of the seething Southern breastworks.”

Grant did not request a formal truce to gather the dead in the area between the two sides until June 7. The aftermath has been described as the dead covering acres of ground.

One Federal soldier said, “I saw no living man lying in this ground. The wounded must have suffered horribly before death relieved them, lying exposed to the blazing southern sun and eaten alive by beetles at night.”

Some of these Southern trench lines can still be seen today. Both the crude name tags and trench warfare foreshadowed tactics of World War I.

Men from Chautauqua County who lost their lives in the Battle of Cold Harbor are listed by town. Most deaths occurred on June 1 in the 112th NY.

Busti: Thomas Binns Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY) and Irvin Bradley Wounded at Cold Harbor; died June 12, 1864 (112th NY).

Carroll: Samuel Staples Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Chautauqua: Nathan Edmunds Wounded through hips and killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); John Freeman Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); John Galloway Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); Addison Green Wounded in leg June 1, 1864; died July 20 (112th NY) and Nelson Wallace Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Cherry Creek: Avery Gould Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY) and John T’Cudver Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY)

Clymer: Homer Austin Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Dunkirk: Henry Baldwin Wounded in hip June 1, 1864; died June 18 (112th NY); Fredrick Bartman Wounded in bowels June 1, 1864; died June 3 (112th NY); James Cahall Wounded in hip June 1, 1864; died June 25 (112th NY); Edward Gifford Wounded June 11, 1864; died June 12 (9th NY Cavalry); William Pease Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY) and Gilman Shirley Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Ellery: Algernon Hasard Wounded June 1, 1864; leg amputated; died June 7 (112th NY) and Hamilton Lenox Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Ellicott: Marvin Arthur Wounded June 1, 1864, died June 16 (112th NY); Horace Barber Wounded June 1, 1864; died June 8 (112th NY); Woodly Booty Wounded in hip June 1, 1864; died June 13 (112th NY); Judson Geer Wounded in ankle June 1, 1864; died August 19 (112th NY) and Sylvester Hart Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Ellington: Squire Shaw Wounded through breast June 1, 1864; died June 3 (112th NY).

Forestville: Henry Hull Killed with wound to chest June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Fredonia/Pomfret: Frederick Pierce Wounded in head and arm June 1, 1864; died June 7 (112th NY) and John Post Wounded June 1, 1864; leg amputated; died June 21 (112th NY).

French Creek: Philip Mark Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Harmony: Stillman Brooks Killed June 1, 1864 (112th); Martin Eddy Wounded June 1, 1864; leg amputated; died June 6 (112th NY); Benjamin Hurlbut Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); James Kean Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); Isaac Miracle Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY) and Almond Ploss Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Jamestown: Charles Baker Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); James Knapp Wounded June 1, 1864; died July 3 (112th NY) and John Palmiter Wounded June 1, 1864; died August 1 (112th NY).

Kiantone: Ezekiel King Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Mayville: Chester Hannum Wounded June 1, 1864; died June 2 (112th NY) and William Keyes Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Mina: James Doig Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY) and Henry Findley Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Perry: John Palmeter Wounded June 1, 1864; died June 20 (112th NY).

Portland: William Laine Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Ripley: John Eddy Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Sherman: Fred Ruhling Wounded June 1, 1864; leg amputated; died June 18 (112th NY).

Silver Creek/Hanover: Theodore Burr Wounded June 1, 1864; leg amputated; died June 23 (112th NY); David Crowell Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); Edwin Goodwin Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); Munroe Potter Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); Lewis Scofield Wounded through thigh June 1, 1864; died July 2 (112th NY) and Loren White Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Stockton: Noble Doty Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY) and Dewitt Tew Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Villenova: Allen Simeon Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY); Joseph Barna Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY) and Gurdon Pierce Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

Westfield: Nell Dayton Killed June 11, 1864 (9th NY Cavalry); Jeremiah Drake Wounded June 1, 1864; died June 2 (112th NY); John Stowell Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY) and John T’Winkle- Killed June 1, 1864 (112th NY).

In his memoirs written just before his death in 1885, Grant related that Cold Harbor, particularly the failed assault of June 3, was one that he wished he had never ordered. Of note however is that the Federal Army continued to Petersburg in a nine-month siege, allowing Federal victories in other battles elsewhere which ultimately led to the capture of Richmond and surrender.

In the next coming weeks we can think about the 70th anniversary of D-Day and more Americans who died in a time of war. A more comprehensive list of men and woman will be out soon in the third edition of the book called, “No One Forgets.” With primary authors George Burns and Richard Titus, it will cover the Civil War through Vietnam. Make it a good week and remember all those in your family who have served our country.

Mary Burns Deas writes weekly for the OBSERVER. Comments on this article may be sent to lifestyles@observertoday.com