In compiling a History of the 121st Regiment of New York Volunteers, the writer feels handicapped by two facts: He is not an original member of the regiment, but was transferred from the 16th N. Y. in the spring of 1863; and after his transfer, he did not serve in the regiment, having previously been detailed for clerical duty in the office of the Adjutant General of the Brigade. Consequently he never had that close personal relation with the members of the regiment that would give to his writing the intimate character of a fellow soldier.

On the other hand, however, his position gave him the advantage of a close observer; for all the orders from the higher authorities and all the reports of the brigade and regimental commanders passed under his hand, and he was able to estimate more fully the character of the services rendered, and the estimation in which those services were held by the superior officers.

The several sources from which this history is compiled are: the records of the regiment, the reports of regimental and brigade commanders, the diaries of several members of the regiment, and several books already published covering the same events. Of these the diary of Colonel Clinton Beckwith, notes by Lieut. J. H. Smith, the chapters in the History of Otsego County, prepared by Colonel J. W. Cronkite, the letters of Chaplain John R. Adams and the diary of Lieutenant Woodcock have been especially useful. Col. Beckwith's diary is as it professes to be, the “story of his own [-001] army experiences, and of his comrades and of the regiment from the enlisted man's viewpoint.” That he has given permission to quote ad libitum from it is very gratifying to the compiler, as it will certainly be also to the readers of the history. Col. Cronkite's history of the regiment in the History of Otsego County is a condensed sketch of the most important facts connected with the services and exploits of the regiment; but as it may be be protected by copyright the facts and not the words, are freely used.

The compiler bespeaks for his work the same kindly regard that has been shown him by the Regimental Association, in welcoming him to its membership, and honoring him with this privilege of writing its history.

The task assigned to Lieut. Jas. H. Smith of collecting photographs of the officers of the regiment, and of having half-tone reproductions made of such as could be secured, for use in this volume, he has found a very difficult undertaking. It will be remembered by our surviving comrades that photography during our service was just emerging from the daguerreotype, and the tintype, into photographic prints on paper, and that practically all photos made in those days were of the “Carte de Visete” size (2 1/8 x3 5/8 inches). Hence the necessity for the diminished size of most of our illustrations.

It was found to be impossible to secure any considerable number of photos of the line officers (captains and lieutenants) hence we concluded to omit all such, and confine our efforts to securing for illustrations only those who served as commanders of our Corps, Division, Brigade and Regiment, and the regimental field officers, and some of the latter we are also obliged to omit, as we were unsuccessful in every effort to secure the [-002] necessary photos. We wish, however, to thank all those who by loaning to us such photographs as they have, have thereby made our illustrations as complete as we could have hoped for at the present day.

The red cross which appears on the cover of this book was adopted in 1863 as the emblem of the 1st Division of the 6th Army Corps. It therefore antedates by many years the Red Cross Society, as well as its use as a hospital emblem. [-003]

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Otsego (New York, United States) (2)
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James H. Smith (2)
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