The 97th NY Volunteer Infantry

History of the Third Oneida,
or 97th New York Regiment of Volunteer Infantry

From "History of Herkimer County, New York" by F. W. Beers & Co., New York. 1879

The formation of the 97th was commenced on the 16th day of October 1861. This regiment was composed almost exclusively of men raised in the counties of Oneida and Herkimer. Of the regiments chiefly raised in Oneida county it was the third. It therefore bore the name of the "Third Oneida". It was also known as the "Conkling Rifles".

Colonel Wheelock was the original commander of the regiment, and contributed freely from his private means to form it. He was captured during one of the earliest engagements of the regiment, and he made a daring escape. Disease subsequently fastened upon him, and he died at Washington on the 21st of January, 1865; his remains were brought home and buried with full military honors in the Booneville cemetery. Before his death he was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general.

The 97th was mustered into the military service at Booneville on the 19th of February, 1862, by Captain William R. Pease, then mustering and disbursing officer for central New York, with head quarters in Utica. On the 12th day of March the regiment left Boonville, 928 men strong; field and staff officers as follows:

Colonel, Charles Wheelock, breveted brigadier-general for gallantry on the Weldon railroad on the 19th of August, 1864
Lieutenant-Colonel, J. P. Spofford, of Brockett's Bridge, Herkimer county; promoted colonel, February 18th, 1865
Major, Charles Northup
Adjutant, Charles Buck
Quartermaster, Joel T. Comstock
Surgeon, N. D. Ferguson
Assistant Surgeon, Aaron Cornish
Chaplain, James V. Ferguson

The 97th was under fire for the first time at Cedar Mountain, Va., on the 9th of August, 1862. It participated in all the subsequent battles of Pope's campaign, as well as all the succeeding battles of the Army of the Potomac until the close of the war.

The regiment was in Duryea's brigade and Rickett's division of the 1st corps at the battle of Antietam, where it suffered more severely than in any other battle. Here more than one half of the regiment were killed and wounded in less than an hour after the engagement commenced; yet it is said men never displayed more coolness and determination. Not a man was captured, and when relieved, though under a galling fire, they retired in good order.

At Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and all subsequent battles - more than twenty in number - the 97th sustained the reputation it had gloriously acquired at hard-fought Antietam. At Gettysburg the loss of the regiment was great, particularly in officers - eleven of whom (out of twenty-four) were killed or wounded. The regiment went into this battle with only two hundred and thirty-six rifles; and after being engaged several hours and losing heavily it made a successful charge upon the 20th North Carolina regiment, capturing 382 men and their colors. Colonel Spofford (then lieutenant-colonel) led this charge, and in it nearly one half of his hat was carried away by a piece of shell. His horse was shot in the head, and Colonel Spofford subsequently taken prisoner, and he was afterwards nearly a year and a half in Southern prisons.

On the 7th of June, 1864, the 83d New York volunteers (9th militia) were consolidated with the 97th. Prior to this consolidation the 26th New York had been joined by the 83d, and the 97th therefore received the remnants of two regiments when the consolidation took place.

The first flag of the 97th was a beautiful one, presented by the ladies of Boonville; its war-worn remnants rest in the place provided at the State Capitol.

The second, and most costly banner, was presented by Hon. Roscoe Conkling. It bears honorable scars received at Gettysburg and other battles. It was found to be too heavy to be borne in active campaigning, and another was obtained from Governor Seymour. This was carried through the campaign of 1864, and besides being perfectly riddled with bullets, it was twice disabled by having its staff broken by rebel lead.

On requisition in the spring of 1864 two more flags were drawn, and carried during the spring campaign. Of the color bearers two were killed and three wounded, as follows:

Sergeant James Brown, killed July 1st, 1863, at Gettysburg
Sergeant Sylvester Riley, killed May 5th, 1864, at the battle of the Wilderness
Sergeant John King, wounded severely May 18th, near Spottsylvania Court-house
John D. Conlon, wounded May 5th, 1864, near Spottsylvania Court-house
Joseph Curtis, wounded February 6th, 1865

Of the original officers only three returned with the regiment, viz., Colonel J. P. Spofford, Lieutenant-Colonel Rouse P. Eggleston, and Captain Isaac Hall.

The commissioned officers who were killed, or died of wounds received in action, were:

Captain Richard Jones, August 30th, 1862
First Lieutenant Dwight S. Faville, August 30th, 1862
Second Lieutenant Louis Dallarini, September 17th, 1862
First Lieutenant Rush P. Cady, July 1st, 1863
Second Lieutenant James H. Stiles, July 1st, 1863
Second Lieutenant William J. Morrin, July 1st, 1863
First Lieutenant Frank T. Brennan, May 6th, 1864
Second Lieutenant William G. Dresher, May 6th, 1864
Second Lieutenant John Koch, June 3d, 1863
Second Lieutenant Henry P. Fitzpatrick, August 4th, 1864
Captain William B. Judd, February 6th, 1864

Thirty-two commissioned officers and 836 enlisted men were wounded. The total number of commissioned officers ever belonging to the regiment was 94.

Of the enlisted men in the regiment there were killed and mortally wounded, 203; died of disease,122; discharged, 690; transferred, 534; mustered out - present - 322; mustered out - absent - 205; total, 2,081. There were twenty-two hundred names on the muster roll of the regiment during its service; - when mustered out there were just 250 officers and 322 men left. Company D mustered out but 26 men.

The following is a list of battles in which the regiment was engaged:

Cedar Mountain
Rappahannock Station
Thoroughfare Gap
Second Bull Run
South Mountain
First Fredericksburg
Second Fredericksburg
Mine Run
Raccoon Ford
Laurel Hill
Spottsylvania Courthouse
North Anna River
Bethesda Church
White Oak Swamp
Weldon Railroad
Hicks Ford
Hatchers Run
Quaker Road
White Oak Road
Five Forks
Appomattox Courthouse

Other Articles on this Site:

Rosters of Herkimer County Men in Companies D, E, F, G, H and I: Officers and Enlisted Men

Letter from George H. Bloodough, Company G, written to his brother nine days after the battle at Cedar Mountain

Pvt. Zachariah Fellows, Company G, 97th NY Vols.

Affidavit of Archibald B. Snow on service of James Kenna

Obituary & Diary of Jerome E. Bliss, 97th New York Volunteers, Dolgeville, Montgomery County

Obituary and Photos of Imogene C. Bliss, Widow, Dolgeville, Montgomery County

Further information about this infantry regiment is in:

  • Dyer, Frederick H. A, Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, Vol. 2. Dayton, OH: Morningside, 1979, p. 1443
  • Hall, Isaac. History of the Ninety-seventh Regiment, New York Volunteers ("Conkling Rifles") in the War for the Union. Utica, NY: L.C. Childs, 1890
  • New York State. Adjutant General's Office. Annual Report for the Year 1902, No. 32. Albany, NY: Lyon, 1903, pp. 737-1017; alphabetical roster of enlisted men
  • Phisterer, Frederick, comp. New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865. Vol. 4. Albany, NY: Weed and Parsons, 1890, pp. 3111-27
  • Phisterer, Frederick, New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Vol. 4 Albany, NY: Weed and Parsons, 1890, pp. 3111 - 27; history and roster of officers
  • Roback, Henry. The Veteran Volunteers of Herkimer and Otsego Counties in the War of the Rebellion; Being a History of the 152d N.Y.V. With Scenes, Incidents, Etc., Which Occurred in the Ranks, of the 34th N.Y., 97th N.Y., 121st N.Y., 2d N.Y. Heavy Artillery, and lst and 2d N.Y. Mounted Rifles; Utica, NY: L.C. Childs, 1888. 196 p.

new 2/8/06   From the Watertown Daily Times, 21 Oct 1909. Contributed by Lisa Slaski. All spellings as in the original article.

Forty-third Annual Reunion is Held
at Boonville

Boonville, Oct. 21 - the 43rd annual reunion of the 97th Regiment New York Volunteers was held in Boonville yesterday afternoon and evening. The meeting was held at G. A. R. ___ and there was a good attendance. The roll call showed the following present:

Company A - E. H. Pryor, Julius Guillaume, W. F. Davis, D. M. Greene, George Sherman, Martin Clark, Henry Davis.

Company B - Chester Goldthrite, Jacob Casbaker, Philip Lunstren, Frank Faville

Company D - James E. Allum, Milo Cottrell, Henry Metz, Horace Doxtater

Company E - John E. Pritchard, Fred M. Young, John M. Flansburg, J. L. Arnold, Husted Green, William Cheetham, Theodore C. Ramonda

Company F - Jerome E. Bliss, Harvey S. Valentine

Company G - Francis Murphy, Henry C. Cook

Company I - Arch B. Snow

Company K - W. S. Sprague, David O'Brian

The usual routine business was transacted and Utica was selected as the place for the next annual reunion. It was voted to put the picture of Francis Murphpy on the badge for next year. Officers were elected as follows: President, Husted Green; vice-president, John V. Flansburg; treasurer, D. M. Greene; secretary A. B. Snow; executive committee, D. M. Green, Henry Davis, and Henry Metz.

The list of the memers who have died during the past year is very large. Their names are: John Darley, Company F; Michael Conley, Company G; Leonard Cummings, Company B; Joseph Rugamer, Company H; James H. Smith, Company K; John Redmon, Company E; John H. Meriman, Company D; E. E. Sawyer, Company A; James Gunning, Company C; Ambrose H. Miller, Company A; John Slade, Company D; Geno C. Carpenter, Company A; John Kirchen, Company D; Henry Johnson, Company H; Henry Linstrew, Company B; Abram Hood, Company C.

Soon after the close of the business meeting the regiment crossed the hall to the banquet room, where a bountiful spread was served under the direction of the ladies of the Women's Relief Corps. Tables were set for about 150 people, and the wives and sweethearts of the soldiers boys, the members of the corps and their husbands and a few invited guests disposed of the banquet. When the feast was over a session of speechmaking was enjoyed and a general good visit indulged in. The reunion was altogether a very enjoyable affair, and it is the hope of the many friends of the soldiers that they may live to enjoy many more of the same.

Back to Herkimer/Montgomery Counties Military Page

Back to Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NYGenWeb

Back to New York State GenWeb

Last Updated: 1/3/2005
Copyright © 1996 - 2005 Martha S. Magill/ William McKerrow
All Rights Reserved.
This site is a county site of the USGenWeb Project!