Colonel Clinton Beckwith and the 121st NY Vols.

and other

Beckwith Family Information

Source: "History of 121st New York Infantry" written by Isaac O. Best in 1921

The 121st Infantry was organized in Herkimer and Otsego Counties. There were three Herkimer men listed in this infantry giving their address as Herkimer:

W. H. Jones, 407 Ballinger Street - Company A
Col. Clinton Beckwith, 108 Mary Street, Herkimer - Company B
James B. Schaffner, 213 Mohawk Street, Herkimer - Company C

The above book lists this information:
Mustered in August 23, 1862
Casualties: Killed and mortally wounded 275; Wounded: Officers 27, Men 596
Died with disease: Officers 4, Men 117
Discharged for wounds, disease etc.: - Officers 37, Men 283
Transferred to other commands: Officers 12, Men 262

Mustered out 6/25/1865
Officers 25, Men 283

The 121st N.Y. Infantry has a Regimental Monument on a northern slope of Little Round Top, at the Battlefield of Gettysburg, with names inscribed in memory of all the brave men who served with the 121st.

The following is an exerpt by Col. Beckwith from his war experiences as listed in the above book with wording and punctuation the same as in the book. (Pages 9-12)

"We, in our inexperience, clung to our knapsacks, blankets, overcoats, rubber-blankets, and all the trinkets and 'whatnots' we had brought from home and these made such heavy loads that they wore many a poor chap out; and by nightfall he was many miles in the rear, hurrying to catch up as best he could, generally with poor success. The weather was very warm, and the dirt roads, cut deep with the artillery, ammunition, supply and baggage trains, were shoe deep with powdered clay, and dust of a dark red color, and it would completely envelop a column of troops marching on each side of the roads, which were occupied by the cavalry and artillery portion of the army, because the infantry could go anywhere. So, loaded too heavily, and unused to the work, the men would pluckily keep up until overcome by heat, or choked with thirst, smothered by dust, discouraged and exhausted, they would throw themselves down, and many a fine fellow perished in this way."

"In those days our ranks were full, our uniforms bright, our faces clean and untanned. We had, and wore, the sweetness of home. War, its suffering misery, wounds, sickness and horrors were uncared for, because untouched."

"These were the days when the endurance of our men was tested to the limit. We had no tents and had to secure shelter nights such as the country afforded, a night camp in the woods being the best; a rail shed with brush or straw roof when procurable, next; then again rolled up in our overcoats and rubber blankets, with our knapsacks for a pillow, we could get a good night's rest. Two days out from Camp Lincoln, the regiment overtook the corps and took its place in the Second Brigade. According to Col. Beckwith the reception it received was not altogether pleasant. He says, "Another source of annoyance and hardship was the constant shouting and ridicule we received from the old regiments. We were called 'Paid Hirelings,' 'Two Hundred Dollar Men,' 'Sons of Mars'; told we would get soft bread farther on if we did not like hardtack; asked if we liked army life, and a lot of stuff too foolish to speak of; but to us it was excessively annoying. Our men were an estraordinary body of troops and felt keenly this ridicule, but they bore it patiently, except now and then some hot blood would hit out and resent the insult. Such outbreaks were quickly quieted."

"Soon, however, a sincere friendship sprang up between the 121st and the 5th Maine, which deepened and ripened as the months went by and was continued for years after the war closed by the visits of delegates from each regiment to the annual reunions of the other."

"This attachment cannot better be described than it was by Lieut. Philip R. Woodcock at one of these reunions. He said, "Comrades, it is with sincere pleasure I arise to respond to this toast, 'The 5th Maine.' However poorly I may do it I shall always feel that I have been honored by my comrades in selecting me for this pleasant duty."

"There has been a close fraternal feeling, amounting to a strong tie, existing between the 5th Maine and the 121st New York since we were brigaded together in September, 1862. It was cemented in the mingled blood of the two regiments as we went side by side, usually on the front line, as we passed through the successive campaigns of the war. The history of one is the history of the other, except that the 5th Maine commenced several months earlier, making a grand beginning, while the 121st continued on helping make history for the brigade, with an equally grand ending; both returning to private life with the highest achievements of honor, which was most pathetically shown by the thinned ranks of both returned regiments."

"This strong affection-and I may go farther and as Major Strout expressed it to-day--love, has continued increasing as the years go on, and is even stronger to-day than ever, made so by the presence of the representatives with us to-day. It seems to me a great privilege to exchange greetings with them after over forty years since our separation. Our ranks are still more depleted and we can not muster in numbers by fifty per cent what we could on our return."

"We are growing old. Time is showing its mark, and our bodies are getting more or less infirm, and year by year, with increasing rapidity, our comrades are dropping out and can not answer the roll call at our annual meetings. Sad as this fact is, there is an amazing amount of vigor and vitality left in us yet, and our patriotism runs as high as ever."

"We are glad to learn and hear something of our comrades of the 5th Maine to-day. Their representative assures us that we are not forgotten. Conditions with them are about the same as with us. At their annual reunions they speak of us, as we do of them to-night. How well we remember the old days, and how pleasant to recall the many thrilling incidents which connected us so closely! With our two regiments on the front line facing the enemy, led by gallant Colonels Upton and Edwards, we had that feeling that the Japs must have had when facing the Russians in the present Eastern war, 'that we can whip everything before us,' and we generally did it, too."

The following information was contained in the "Hatch Papers" at the Herkimer County Historical Society concerning another notable Beckwith:

Hon. Abijah Beckwith was a man of unquestioned integrity and a power for good in the town and county. A bronze marker on his grave at Cedarville proclaims him a soldier of 1812.

He was county clerk in 1826, Member of Assembly in 1817, 1823 and 1847 and State Senator in 1835. Perhaps their earliest ancestors in this county were Lawrence and Apolone Herter who came with the Palatines. Their eldest son Captain Henry Harter and his wife Katherine Piper saw their home just west of Herkimer with its entire contents destroyed by the French and Indians in the early morning hours of November 12, 1757. They were made prisoners, separated and taken to Canada, where he being an officer was compelled to run the gauntlet with most painful results, as they had robbed him of his clothes and his only raiment was a decoration of bells. They were detained in Canada about 12 months where they shared the fate of hundreds of other refugees - an allowance of a pound each of beef and bread per day for all over 16 years of age and a half allowance for the younger ones. He was Captain of his company at the Battle of Oriskany and was a member of the Committee of Safety. His son Philip also their ancestor, served through the war as a private in his father's company.

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Created: 7/1/00
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