- The number of men in regiment uncertain -- table of losses -- list of officers and their terms of service -- transfers to 65th N. Y. Vet. Vols. -- Gettysburg monument -- Roster of surviving members -- personal mention -- transfers to U. S. C. T. -- Regimental Association -- Historical Committee
The regiment left Fort Schuyler with 30 officers and 946 enlisted men or a total of.. 976 It received by transfer: From the 16th New York, 125; from the 18th New York, 31; total .................................... 156 From the 27th New York, 3; from the 31st New York, 2; total ....................... 5 From the 32d New York, 33; from other organizations, 63; total .................... 96 Recruits, including officers and men to January 1, 1865 .............................. 169 Recruits, including conscripts and substitutes, after Lee's surrender in 1865........ 413 A total of .......................1815 A careful study of the records in hand convinces the author that an accurate list of the number belonging to the regiment cannot now be made. The lists made differ so radically, both as to names and number, that it is impossible to reconcile them. For instance, the number transferred from the 16th New York differs from 125 to 137. But General Curtis in his history of the 16th gives the names of only ninety-nine who were transferred to the 121st. Some on the other lists had been killed in previous engagements, some were among the missing in battle and some had been transferred to other organizations. The report of the Adjutant General of the United States for 1903 gives the names of 1897 enrolled. But, this includes the names of 413 who joined the  regiment at Burksville after Lee's surrender; and therefore do not really belong to the fighting record of the regiment. The only advantage of their connection with the regiment was that their presence enabled the officers who had been commissioned a year before, to be mustered into their full rank. In the published report of the 300 fighting regiments, the number enrolled in the 121st New York is given as 1426. This is twenty-four more than the above table justifies if the 413 added after Lee's surrender are not counted. But for purposes of comparison let the figure stand at the latter number (1426), as the author believes it to be approximately correct. In the following table the casualties are given in the twenty-five battles in which the regiment is given credit in the army records at Washington as being present. The list of these twenty-five battles is given on the regimental monument on the battle field of Gettysburg, and is found under the head of the “Dedication of the monument.” The following is the list as taken from the records of the regiment.
|Name of Battle||Killed||Mortally Wounded||Wounded|
Colonels: Franchot, July 19 to September 25, 1862; Upton, October 23, 1862 to July 4, 1864; Olcott, April 18 to June 25, 1865. Lieutenant Colonels: C. A. Clark, August 23, 1862 to March 24, 1863; E. Olcott, April 10, 1863 to April 19, 1865; John S. Kidder, May 22 to June 25, 1865. Majors: E. Olcott, August 23, 1862 to April 10, 1863; A. E. Mather, May 3, 1863 to February 4, 1864; H. M. Galpin, March 31 to December 21, 1864; J. W. Cronkite, December 24, 1864 to June 25, 1865. Adjutants: A. Ferguson, July 21 to August 30, 1862; T. S. Arnold, August 30 to October 19, 1862; F. W. Morse, January 5 to July 29, 1864; F. E. Lowe, December 31, 1864 to June 25, 1865. Quartermasters: Albert Story, July 21 to December  30, 1862; Theodore Sternberg, January 5, 1863 to June 25, 1865. Surgeons: Wm. Bassett, August 23 to September 30, 1862; E. S. Walker, October 22, 1862 to April 1, 1863; John O. Slocum, July 1, 1863 to June 25, 1865. Assistant Surgeons: S. P. Valentine, August 29, 1862 to January 21, 1863; D. M. Holt, September 2, 1862 to October 16, 1864; I. W. Hotaling, April 8 to August 22, 1863; J. P. Kimball, January 16, 1865 to June 24, 1865.To this list must be added the following promotions for which commissions were granted, but muster in was delayed until the close of the war. By an act of Congress after the war, all officers were remustered from the time of their commission, and these officers are fully entitled to the rank to which they were commissioned.
To the list of line officers the following named are to be added as by act of Congress:
Captains: F. W. Morse, Erastus Wheeler. First Lieutenants: John D. Gray, Charles Hamman, Wm. H. House, Edward P. Johnson and Daniel Stark. Second Lieutenants: Dennis A. Dewey, John M. Edwards, Joseph H. Heath, Edward P. Johnson, John V. N. Kent, Elias C. Mather and Charles F. Pattingill.On September 15, 1865, the following brevets were granted for distinguished conduct on different occasions: Major James W. Cronkite to be Lieutenant Colonel; Captains John S. Kidder, James W. Johnston, Daniel D. Jackson and Hiram S. VanScoy to be Majors; Lieutenants Frank E. Lowe, Morris C. Foote and Thomas J. Hassett to be Captains. On June 24, 1865, six officers and 448 enlisted men are reported as transferred to the 65th New York Veteran Volunteers. The officers were Surgeon Kimball and Captains Hassett, Tyler, Bartlett and Hall, and Lieut. Eli Oaks. Undoubtedly no event in the history of the regiment since the war has been of so much importance and interest as the erection of the monument on the battle field of Gettysburg. An account of it belongs naturally in a published history of the regiment.  In 1886 an act was passed by the Legislature of the State appointing a commission to determine the location and the movements of the eighty-two organizations from New York that participated in that battle, and the next year another act was passed appropriating $1500.00 for the erection of a monument to mark the spot each organization had occupied. The commission requested that a committee be appointed from the 121st to assist in locating the position held by the regiment. This request was sent to Colonel Cronkite who passed it to the president of the Regimental Association, and he appointed a temporary committee, consisting of Comrades John S. Kidder, James W. Cronkite, Clinton Beckwith, Douglas Campbell, Frank E. Lowe and George McClean. This committee reported at the next meeting of the association, and a permanent Gettysburg memorial committee was appointed as follows: John S. Kidder, James W. Cronkite, Clinton Beckwith, Timothy Dasey, Andrew Davidson, Elias C. Mather, Douglas Campbell, Herman I. Johnson, Frank E. Lowe, J. K. Tyler and J. M. Lovejoy. This committee met on October 7, 1887 and organized by electing as officers, President J. W. Cronkite, Treasurer J. S. Kidder, Secretary Frank E. Lowe, Corresponding Secretary J. M. Lovejoy. Executive committee, Comrades Cronkite, Kidder, Beckwith, Lovejoy, Davidson and H. I. Johnson. The work of this committee was so energetically and efficiently done in canvassing for additional funds, that the monument might be worthy of the fame of the regiment, in selecting and contracting for the monument and in locating the position it should occupy, that the day of dedication was fixed for October 10, 1889. The location is on the north west slope of Little  Round Top. The monument stands on the spot where the flag of the regiment was placed. Two granite markers fix the position of the flanks of the line, and from the location a view of nearly all the battle ground is obtained. The monument is composed of four pieces of the best Quincy granite, surmounted by the figure of a soldier seven feet in height, made of American standard bronze. The base is six feet square and the entire height is fourteen feet and three inches. On the front is the legend, “The 121st New York Infantry (Colonel Emory Upton), 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Corps, held this position from the evening of June 2d, until the close of the battle.” There are also on the front the 6th Corps cross, and the coat of arms of the State of New York. The reverse side has a life size medallion of Colonel Emory Upton in bronze. On one side a bronze panel contains the inscription, “Organized in Herkimer and Otsego Counties; Mustered in August 23, 1862; Officers 30, Men 910; Casualties, killed and mortally wounded: Officers 14, Men 212 (This total of killed and mortally wounded should be 275 as shown by preceding record); Wounded: Officers 27, Men 596; Died of Disease: Officers 4, Men 117; Discharged for wounds, disease, etc.: Officers 37, Men 283; Transferred to other commands:: Officers 12, Men 262; Mustered Out June 25, 1865, Officers 25, Men 283.” The bronze panel on the other side contains the list of the battles for which the regiment is credited in the military archives at Washington as follows: “Crampton's Pass, Fredericksburg, Mary's Heights, Salem Church, Salem Heights, Gettysburg, Rappahannock Station, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spottsylvania C. H., North Anna, Totopotomy, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Fort Stevens D. C., Summit Point, Winchester (Opequon), Fisher's Hill, New  Market, Cedar Creek, Hatcher's Run, Petersburg (Fort Fisher), Petersburg (Assault), Sailor's Creek, Appomattox C. H.” At the Dedicatory Exercises held on October 10, 1889, music was furnished by the Gettysburg band, prayer was offered and the benediction pronounced by the Rev. J. R. Dunkerly of Gettysburg. The monument was unveiled by Mrs. Maria Upton Hanford, an Oration was given by the Hon. A. M. Mills of Little Falls and an original poem was read by Prof. A. H. J. Watkins. Colonel Cronkite, who presided, read letters from Generals H. G. Wright, H. W. Slocum and Colonel Cowen, who commanded the battery frequently mentioned in the history. He also read a short speech made by General Upton when he entered Augusta, Georgia, on May 8, 1865. “Soldiers, four years ago the Governor of Georgia, at the head of an armed force, hauled down the American flag at this Arsenal. The President of the United States called the nation to arms to repossess the forts and arsenals that had been seized. After four years of sanguinary war and conflict, we execute the order of the great preserver of the Union and liberty, and to-day we again hoist the Stars and Stripes over the Arsenal at Augusta. Majestically, triumphantly, she rises.” The company that assembled at the dedication of the monument consisted of ninety-eight persons, comrades, their wives and sons. A picture of them clustered around the monument was taken. It may be well to add that the number of surviving comrades of the regiment at that date was reported to be 163, and the contributors to the monumental fund numbered 581. The cost of the monument and the two markers was $2,000.00. It is accounted one of the finest regimental monuments on the battle field of Gettysburg.  The surviving members of the regiment so far as known to the secretary at the date of this writing are:
The secretary reports thirty-nine others whose residences and condition are not known to him. The invitation given to all surviving members of the regiment to send the story of their lives since the war, so that a sketch of events that would be of interest to all might be given in the Appendix to the history, has not been responded to as fully as was hoped and expected. The author has not been acquainted with the political and economic history of the 20th Senatorial District, and so has no personal information to give of those who have risen to distinction, as private citizens. Therefore this feature of the history will be of meager interest. Sergeant Robert Chatterton responded to the request by sending a very interesting article about Robert E. Lee, and giving a fine picture of him as he appeared when a young man and an officer in the U. S. Army. An interesting letter from Mrs. Lillian Waterman Brady gives the record of her father's service, Perrin Waterman, and of his standing in the G. A. R. Post, of which he held all the offices in its gift. But the special item of interest in the story  is that he drove the ambulance in which the body of General Russell was taken from Winchester to Harper's Ferry. The wound in his hand received at Spottsylvania, disabled him from handling a gun, and he served in the Ambulance Corps to the end of the war. Colonel Solomon W. Russell was in command of the party, under orders to take the body of General Russell to his home at Salem, New York, for burial. A cavalry escort accompanied the ambulance. W. W. Young wrote from the National Soldiers' Home, Virginia, that his health is very much shattered. Since the close of the war he has been Justice of the Peace, Post Commander, President of the Regimental Association, Delegate to the National Encampment in 1901, Delegate to the State Encampment three times, five times A. D. C. on the Department Staff, is a member of the National Association of Ex-prisoners of War and has a medal of honor given by the State of New York. It will be a pleasure to the readers of this history to learn of the after-war history of Colonel Beckwith whose narrative constitutes so large a part of the compilation made by the author. Politically, Comrade Beckwith is a Democrat, and in 1894 was appointed by Governor Flower, Assistant State Engineer with the rank of Colonel, his commission being dated November 12, 1894. He was also appointed by Governor Flower, a member of the New York Monument Commission on which he has served ever since. He “has had charge of the erection of a number of monuments and has designed several, among which are General Webb's of the ‘Bloody Angle’ at Gettysburg, and General Wadsworth at Gettysburg and Generals Doubleday's and Robinson's at Gettysburg, one at Knoxville, Tennessee, one at Vicksburg, one at Antietam, Maryland and a number of monuments  at other points on the battle fields of Gettysburg, Antietam, Lookout Mountain, Chicamaugua and in the vicinity of Richmond, all of which are an honor and credit to the State of New York.” Comrade Beckwith was also a member of the National Democratic Conventions which nominated for President Grover Cleveland, W. J. Bryan and Alton B. Parker. He was a member of the State Democratic Committee for twenty-five years and when he retired he was the oldest by service of any member of it. He has been by occupation a contractor, and been engaged in some important works, as for instance, the Washington Aquaduct Tunnel and the New York Aquaduct Tunnel from Croton to shaft 12 B on the Jay Gould estate near Tarrytown, Westchester County and in many other places, where with partner, John V. Quackenbush, were engaged in the construction of the four-tracking of the N. Y. C. & H. R. R. R. and in the construction of the West Shore, or N. Y. & Buffalo R. R. and many other contracts for the State of New York and the city of Boston. In civil life he has been Supervisor, President of the village of Herkimer and recently has been busy in public works. “Now, having reached the allotted age of man and being tired, I have retired from active service, having done my share, I think. But as long as there is anything for me to do of service to my country and people, and I am able, I will undertake it.” Captain Davidson, after serving in the U. S. C. T., 30th Regiment and earning a medal of honor, became editor of the Otsego Republican and afterwards was made Commander of the Soldiers' Home at Bath, N. Y. Dennis A. Dewey in the spring of 1864 went before General Casey's board and was examined for a commission in the U. S. C. T. He passed  with the grade of “Captain of the First Class,” but when the order came to report to his regiment, the 108th U. S. C. T. in Tennessee, he was a prisoner, having been captured in the battle of the Wilderness. Being paroled and in precarious health, he made application for the commission earned and it was granted. He was commissioned as Captain by special order of the War Department, and mustered in as Captain of the 108th U. S. C. T. and immediately resigned, and was honorably discharged from that regiment. He had been previously commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the 121st, but not mustered. The act of Congress afterwards passed, declared all such commissioned men to be mustered into the service and entitled to pay from the date of their commission. The other transfers from the 121st to the colored troops were: Delevan Bates to the 30th Regiment. This regiment under the command of Colonel Bates distinguished itself at the “Battle of the Crater” in front of Petersburg and Comrade Bates was awarded a medal of honor. Some of us remember his description of that fight, given at a recent reunion of the Association. Major A. E. Mather was transferred to the 20th Regiment, U. S. C. T, as Lieutenant Colonel. He had served in the 121st as first lieutenant, captain and major. First Lieut. J. D. Gray was transferred to the 23d Regiment, U. S. C. T., as Captain. He had served in the 121st as private, sergeant, second and first lieutenant. Elias C. Mather was transferred to the 20th Regiment, U. S. C. T., as Captain. He had served in the 121st as sergeant and second lieutenant. Cleveland Campbell, Adjutant of the 152d Infantry,  was transferred as Captain to the 121st April 22, 1863 and on March 20, 1864, was transferred as Colonel to the 23d Regiment, U. S. C. T. His examination was so excellent that he was invited to sit on the board of examiners. Lieutenant James H. Smith was mustered out with the regiment at Hall's Hill and with his sons, is now located at 3541 Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, Illinois, manufacturing Victor Photographic Specialties. He, at this writing, is commander of the Loyal Legion of Illinois, also of the Geo. H. Thomas Post of the G. A. R., the largest in the state. At the last reunion of the regiment he gave a very interesting lantern slide exhibition of the National Parks of the United States, of views, many of which he had himself taken, and therefore was enabled to vividly describe. The collection and reproduction of the illustrations of this history are his work, and the author wishes to express his appreciation of the help and encouragement he has received so generously from Comrade Smith. Lieutenant Philip R. Woodcock was mustered out with the regiment at Hall's Hill and became a successful business man in Rochester. As long as he was able he was a faithful attendant at the reunions of the 121st, and it became his recognized duty on each Memorial Day to place a wreath of flowers upon the grave of General Upton, in the name and at the expense of the Association. There are no doubt many other comrades of the regiment whose records would be interesting, and would add to the completeness of the History, but the compiler does not know them personally, nor can he divine the prominent positions they have held. or the noble work they have done; but he is confident that the men who met so bravely and unflinchingly the exigencies of war, have not failed to meet the demands of peace, with like fortitude and success.  In 1876 an Association of the Veterans of the 121st New York Volunteer Infantry was organized and last year at its forty-fourth reunion at Ilion, the action was taken which assigned to the author the duty of compiling a history of the regiment, to be reported upon at the next meeting of the Association. The task has not been an easy one, nor has the time been sufficient to gather all the information that might be considered important, but the work has been intensely interesting to the writer and he hopes that it will be received with kindly tolerance by the veterans and their friends. In order to distribute the responsibility, he has requested Comrades Clinton Beckwith, C. J. Westcott and James H. Smith to act as a committee to examine and criticize the manuscript, ascertain the cost of publication and report to the association at its next meeting.