The 44th NY Volunteer Infantry
A Picked Regiment in Which Herkimer County Men Served the Union - The Noble Record of "Ellsworth's Avengers"
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119 years later!
From "History of Herkimer County, New York" by F.W. Beers & Co., New York. 1879
The forty-fourth regiment of infantry - "People's Elsworth Regiment," or "Ellsworth Avengers" - was organized at Albany early in the autumn of 1861, under the auspices of the "Ellsworth Association for the State of New York." This association was formed in Albany on May 25th, the day succeeding the assassination of the gallant man it sought to honor. Its object was to raise a State memorial regiment, composed of men unmarried, able-bodied and not under five feet eight inches in height, not over thirty years of age, of military experience and good moral character. Its original plan was to secure, through committees, in every town and ward in the State one soldier representative and the means by dollar subscriptions to arm and equip him. Subsequently the $100 subscription required for each representative was reduced to $20, and more than one enlistment was allowed to various towns and wards. In response to the call Albany and Erie counties furnished two companies, Herkimer county nearly one, and almost every other county furnished some men.
These men well fulfilled the requirements fixed. The average age of rank and file was twenty-two years; average height five feet ten and one half inches, and more than four hundred averaged six feet. Perhaps no regiment that entered the service was composed of men of higher character, intelligence, temperance and morality. They were chosen as representative men, and they bore themselves as representative men.
Reporting individually at Albany, they were by the committee of the association divided into companies and captains elected. In September, 1862, companies C and E were consolidated with other companies, and two companies of recruits from Albany took their places.
The field and staff officers (nominated by the executive committee) were:
- Colonel, Stephen W. Stryker Flash! Resigned July 4, 1862
- Lieutenant -colonel, James C. Rice Flash! Promoted to Brigadier General August 17, 1863
- Major, James McKown Flash! Resigned January 2, 1862
- Surgeon, William Frothingham Flash! Dismissed November 26, 1862
- Assistant-surgeon, Charles L. Bissell
- Chaplain, Loomis H. Pease
- Adjutant, Edward B. Knox
- Quartermaster, Frederick R. Mundy
The field officers were men of experience, of purpose, and of ardent sympathy with the spirit and objects of the organization. The colonel had been associated with the lamented Ellsworth, his friend in the "Chicago Cadets," and in the organization, drill and services of the "Fire Zouaves," being adjutant of that regiment at the time of the fall of its commander. Shreiber's band of twenty pieces, of Albany, accompanied the regiment, which was mustered into the service September 24th, 1861. It was organized and numbered under State special orders, October 16th, 1861, and uniformed in Zouave costume through the association. Seven hundred and ninety United States percussion muskets, model 1842, calibre 69, were first issued to it by the State; but subsequently, at New York, in lieu of these one hundred rifled Minie muskets, calibre 58, and one hundred and sixty percussion, smooth, calibre 69. Wall tents for officers, and wedge tents for men, with camp equipage, were furnished at Washington by the War Department.
Mrs. Hon. Erastus Corning, of Albany, presented at the departure a beautiful national flag, and in exchange for this, when battle-scarred and worn, another in January, 1863.
The regiment was reviewed in the presence of several thousand spectators by Governor Morgan and staff October 7th, and by the association's executive committee October 19th. On the 21st of October the regiment left Albany, 1,061 men strong, amid cheers and plaudits as it moved from the Industrial School barracks to the steamboat landing. By way of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore it proceeded to Washington, arriving there on the 26th. It was assigned first to the 3rd brigade, Butterfield's 1st division (Fitz John Porter). In subsequent service the 44th formed a part of the 3rd brigade (Rice), 1st division (Griffin), 5th corps (Porter, Sykes and Warren).
It went into camp at Hall's Hill, Virginia, October 28th, 1861. In November it participated in the grand review near Bailey's Cross Roads of more than 70,000 troops by President Lincoln and General McClellan.
During the winter of 1861-2 the regiment did picket duty along the Leesburg turnpike. On February 14th, 1862, it joined a reconnoisance to Vienna, and returned March 10th. The regiment broke camp, took the lead of the Army of the Potomac, and made a forced march in an advance of a body of 5,000 cavalry to Centerville. The next day it returned to the brigade at Fairfax; on the 21st sailed with the division from Alexandria to Fortress Monroe, and thence, April 1st, marched to Yorktown. After the occupation of that town in May, this regiment garrisoned Fort Magruder till the 19th. It next bore a prominent part in the action at Hanover Court-house on the 27th of May, in which it lost over 30 killed and 400 wounded. The regimental flag was pierced by over forty balls. Torn and tattered, four times it was shot down, but willing and patriotic hands quickly raised it, and it proudly and defiantly waved in the face of the enemy until he turned his back in defeat.
During the month of June the regiment did picket duty along the Chickhominy until the 27th, when it engaged in the battle of Gaines Mills, in which it lost many killed and wounded. The 44th was engaged in the subsequent action at Turkey Bend, but suffered no loss. July 1st it was in the battle of Malvern Hill, and lost 11 killed, 84 wounded and 4 missing. A leading journal, referring to General Rice's confidence in the bayonet, cites an exploit of this regiment in that action: - "As an instance of what discipline and courage can do, in a charge of the 44th at Malvern Hill, General (then Colonel) Rice halted his men four times under the fire of the enemy and as carefully 'aligned' them as though they had been on dress parade. He charged a brigade of rebels, took their colors and more prisoners than he brought men of his own alive out of the charge."
Colonel Stryker having resigned his commission on the day preceding the battle of Malvern Hill, Lieutenant-Colonel Rice succeeded on the 14th of July to the colonelcy. In August the regiment held the front line and near the centre at the battle of Groveton or second Bull Run. It came out of the fight only 87 muskets strong. At Antietam it was in reserve, though at times under fire, and was actively engaged at Shepardston Ford. On October 21st two new companies of recruits from Albany arrived and were assigned to the places of Companies C and E, consolidated with other companies.
Before consolidation, Company C had 18 men only, and Company E 2 men, transferred to other regiments with commissions. The new Company E, under Captain Rodney G. Kimball, was largely composed of members and graduates of the State Normal School.
A letter from a member of the regiment at this time reveals its condition; of "the 44th, to which we are connected, and which one year ago last Wednesday left Albany 1,040 strong, to-day, when drawn up in company front, the largest company did not cover our center, and the remaining companies decreased in a fearful ratio, one number only nine men."
Early in November the regiment left Antietam and went to Stoneman's Switch, near Falmouth. On the 13th of December, with its division, it crossed the river to Fredericksburg, passed through the town, moved directly up in line of battle under a destructive fire to the front, secured a comparatively sheltered position, and held it till 10 o'clock P.M. of the 14th. Two days after it recrossed the river, it was engaged in outpost duty till January 15th, 1863. It then advanced with the Army of the Potomac to the Rappahannock, but the expedition failed on account of the condition of the weather and roads, and it returned to Stoneman's.
April 27th it crossed the river at Kelley's Ford, and on the 29th the Rapidan an Ely's Ford, and on the 30th led the advance of the army to Chancellorsville. Here the loss of the 44th was light, but the slaughter to the enemy was fearful. This battle was fought on May 2nd, with Jackson's entire force. After participating in this memorable fight the regiment returned to its old camp at Stoneman's Switch.
June 21st the 44th supported Pleasanton's cavalry in the fight at Middleburg, driving Stuart from his position. In the battle of Gettysburg, July 2nd, with its brigade it took the extreme left of the line, itself taking position on a rocky knoll, and fought Hood's entire division. In this battle the regiment lost 111 killed and wounded. In November this regiment took part in the actions at Rappahannock Station and Mine Run. In May, 1864, the 44th moved with the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan, and participated in the various engagements of the Wilderness. In the first conflict it lost 60 killed and wounded. In these several engagements the regiment was under fire eleven successive days, with a loss of more than half its effective force. In subsequent engagements of May and June, at North Anna, Bethesda Church, and before Petersburg, the 44th maintained its hard-earned reputation. Its last service was in the seizure and holding of the Weldon railroad in August, 1864. It was mustered out September 24th, 1864, and arrived at Albany on the 29th. It left the State 1,061 strong, and received during its period of service about 700 recruits. In August, 1864, it had only 484 men.
Herkimer county had the following men in the Ellsworth regiment:
(Updated information follows men's names)
- *L. M. Baldwin, Frankfort: Also as Leroy E., Age 27, Private, Company C
- *Gilbert T. Broadway, Cedarville: Age 20, Private, Company B
- *David Davis, Warren: Also as David DAVESS, Age 25, Private, Company D
- *G. C. Delong, Little Falls: GUY C., Age 22, Private, Company B
- Sylvester Delong, Danube: see next entry
- * S. V. Delong, Danube: Age 22, Private, Company B; it is believed S.V. and SYLVESTER DELONG are the same person
- *Edward S. Easterbrook, Herkimer: Age 23, First Sergeant, Company C
- *Parly Eaton, Herkimer: Age 19, 8th Corporal, Company C
- *Henry M. Galpin, Little Falls: Age 26, 3rd Sergeant, Company B, promoted from the ranks on September 20, 1861
- *William H. Goodrich, Warren: Age 20, Private, Company C
- *John J. Hardenburg(h), Little Falls: Age 22, Private, Company B
- *D. Harrington, Danube: Delevan W. Age 24, Private, Company C
- *B. E. Harrison, Stark: BENJAMIN E., Age 30, Private, Company D
- *William W. Haver, Schuyler: Age 20, Corporal, Company D
- *Henry Howell, German Flatts: Also as Henry C. Howlett, Age ? Private, Company C, appointed Quartermaster-Sergeant Sept. 5, 1861
- *William J. Johns(t)on, Columbia: Age 20, Private, Company C
- *L. S. Jones, Winfield: LUKE S., Age 22, Private, Company B
- *Henry Keller, Manheim: Age 20, Private, Company D
- *Frank E. Little, Herkimer: Age 22, Private, Company C
- Henry Page, Little Falls
- *Eugene Partridge, German Flatts: Age 20, Private, Company C
- J. W. Pinney, Ilion
- * J. B. Satterlee, Salisbury: Also as JEROME B. SATTERLY, Age 23, Private, Company B
- *Peter Shafer, Little Falls: Age 22, Private, Company B
- *Abram H. Smith, Little Falls: Age 19, Private, Company B
- J. Southwick, Stark
- *E. R. Stoddard, Little Falls: ELEAZOR R., Age 23, Private, Company B
- *John Strait, German Flatts: Age 26, Private, Company C
- *Benjamin N. Thomas, Herkimer: Age 19, Private, Company C, later Lieutenant of Company K, died at Gettysburg ( July 1,2,3, 1863)
- *N.O. Wendell, Winfield: NELSON O., Age 29, Private, Company C
These were a few others, whose names could not be ascertained by the writer, as they joined the regiment after it left the State.
Ellsworth's Avengers -addendum- 1998
From Frederick Phisterer, compiler, "New York in the War of the Rebellion", 1861-1865. Albany, NY: Weed and Parsons, 1890 List of Engagements of the 44th NY Vol Infantry
After the Forty-Fourth mustered out (on October 11, 1864 not September 24) the veterans and recruits were transferred to the 140th and 146th New York Volunteers. The muster rolls for the 146th regiment show no men of Herkimer County of those listed in F.W. Beers history. Muster Roll for the 140th is not readily available to compare. Being "Three Year Men", they may have chosen to return home, those few who still lived. The Men of Herkimer served with companies "B"- Captain Lucius S. Larrabee's Company (he also died at Gettysburg), "C"- commanded by Captain William H. Revere Jr., and Company "D"- Captain Freeman Connor's group.
Yorktown, Hanover Court House, Gaines' Mill, Malvern Hill, Groveton, Anteitam, Sheperdstown Ford, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, MiddleBurg, Gettysburg, Jones' Cross Roads, Rappahannock Station, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Spring Church
Total enrollment for the history of the 44th was 1,585 Soldiers. Of those 1,585, men 643 were killed or wounded and 182 were killed or died from wounds. 147 died in prison. 79 were missing or captured. And of 313 officers and men in the Battle of Gettysburg, 111 were killed or wounded in that battle. The spirit of this regiment is echoed in the reported last words of General James C. Rice, formerly a Colonel of the Forty-Fourth New York:
"Tell the Forty-Fourth I am done fighting. Turn me over and let me die with my face to the
Further information about this regiment is in:
- Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, Vol. 2. Dayton,
OH: Morningside, 1979, p. 1420
- Nash, Eugene A. A History of the Forty-fourth New York Infantry in the Civil
War, 1861-1865. Dayton, OH: Morningside, 1988. 484 pp. Reprint of 1910 edition
- New York State. Adjutant General's Office. Annual Report for the Year 1900, No. 24. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon, 1901. pp. 1-246; alphabetical roster of enlisted men
- O'Brien, Kevin. "'Stubborn Bravery': The Forgotton 44th New York at Little
Round Top." Gettysburg Magazine, Vol. 15: pp. 31-44
- Phisterer, Frederick, New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Vol. 3. Albany, NY: Weed and Parsons, 1890, pp. 2289-2305; history and roster of officers
Who was Ellsworth? Colonel Elmer Ellsworth had raised a unit of "Fire Zouaves" from New York City firemen. (Zouaves derived their name from French North African troups, noted for their bravery and colorful uniforms.) In the first few days of the war Ellsworth's Zouaves were sent from Washington to sieze Alexandria, Virginia. When they arrived no rebels were in sight. However, Col. Ellsworth happened to notice the Confederate "Stars and Bars" waving over a hotel roof. The colonel took it upon himself to go up and tear the flag down! On his way downstairs an employee of the Marshall Hotel killed him with a shotgun. This man, in turn, was promptly killed by one of Ellsworth's men, a Corporal Brownell. In this unlikely place Colonel Ellsworth was the first officer killed in the Civil War. Colonel Stephen W. Stryker, in command of the 44th NY Volunteers, had been a long-time friend and colleague of Colonel Ellsworth. Ellsworth himself had also been a close friend of President Lincoln.
This article about the avengers of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth was contributed by Bill McKerrow, our Newport/Norway Sections editor, and typed by Paul Horvat, one of our resident Van Allen Family authorities and contributors. Paul also typed our Town of Manheim 1869 Directory.
The 1998 additions were compiled by Robert Lorick. The information was gleaned from the original muster roll of the former New York State Adjutant General's Office (1864) and Frederick Phisterer's "New York in the War of the Rebellion".
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