As each individual of a family is distinguished from the rest by peculiar characteristics, and each family in a community differs from every other family, so nations and races are distinguishable in like manner, the regiments, brigades and corps of an army acquire peculiarities by which they can be distinguished from all others.
These peculiarities depend upon and are developed by several conditions.
The. character of the men composing the organization, the circumstances under which it was organized, the ability and efficiency of the leaders, all combine to produce an esprit de corps which is capable of indefinite variety.
In this respect the 121st was especially fortunate.
Its original members were young men of fine personal character, the companies were recruited from neighboring townships, it was officered by the men who had conducted the recruiting, and was assigned to a brigade, division, and corps that had no superiors in the army.
The Sixth Corps was commanded by Major General John Sedgwick
, the First Division by Brigadier General H. W. Slocum
, and the Second Brigade by Brigadier General J. J. Bartlett
Under these officers the brigade had acquired an efficiency and reputation that immediately affected favorably the newly assigned regiment.
They were all officers of marked military ability, who thought little of mere display, and much of soldierly efficiency, whose effort was not to make themselves conspicuous, but to make the troops under them
capable of the best service under every exigency of war.
But the officer, to whom the regiment was most indebted for the development of its brilliant individuality, was undoubtedly Colonel Emory Upton
He came to it soon after its entry into active service, a recent graduate of West Point
, with a fine reputation, attained by efficient service during the previous campaign as an artillery officer.
Eagerly efficient, strict, yet just in discipline, wise in administration, cool and fearless in danger, he was able to win and hold the respect and admiration of the men under him, and to mold them into the model fighting regiment that they became.
To the present day, every survivor of the regiment is proud to have served under the command of General Emory Upton