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Chapter 1: the organization of the 121st New York Volunteers

  • 20th Senatorial District
  • -- State and County Committees appointed by Governor -- townships in which companies were raised -- camp Schuyler -- muster of regiment

When on July 2, 1862, President Lincoln issued the call for 300,000 men, the war for the Union had reached such proportions, and the military situation was so critical, that the patriotic enthusiasm that had characterized the organization of the volunteer army in 1861 no longer availed to procure the troops necessary to fill the quota required from the State, and a systematic and earnest effort was necessary. This effort developed in two directions: first, to fill up the older regiments with recruits; and second, to organize new regiments, one in each Senatorial District. Under the latter plan the 121st was recruited in the 20th Senatorial District comprising the two counties of Herkimer and Otsego. To supervise the organization of the regiment, Governor Morgan appointed the Hon. Richard Franchot, and also a committee from the two counties which should appoint County Committees to prosecute the work in the several townships. The Senatorial Committee consisted of the following named persons: R. Ethridge, Wm. Gates, Ezra Graves, Amos H. Prescott, L. L. Lowell, H. H. Pomeroy, Thomas Richardson and Volney Owen, County Judge.

It has not been possible to find the names of the County Committees, but under their direction patriotic meetings were held in the several townships, and recruiting officers appointed for the separate companies. [2]

Headquarters were established at Herkimer, and the enlistment was pushed so energetically that by the middle of August a full regiment was assured, and the recruiting officers were ordered to report at headquarters with their men.

The townships from which the several companies were recruited were as follows:

Company A. Manheim, Little Falls, Salisbury and Dunbar.

Company B. Winfield, Plainfield, Litchfield, German Flats, Columbia and Stark.

Company C. Fairfield, Russia, Herkimer and Newport.

Company D. Frankfort, Warren, Manheim, Schuyler, Columbia and Salisbury.

Company E. Middlefield, Milford, Cherry Valley, Hartwick, Springfield, Otego and Roseboom.

Company F. Edminston, Exeter, Unadilla, Otego and Maryland.

Company G. Cherry Valley, Roseboom, Decatur, Middlefield, Westford, Worcester and Herkimer.

Company H. Little Falls, Richfield, Salisbury and Otego.

Company I. Milford, Laurens, Morris, Worcester, Pittsfield, Hartwick and German Flats.

Company K. Laurens, New Lisbon, Oneonta, Burlington, Otego, Butternuts, Pittsfield and Plainfield.

A camp for the regiment was selected across the Mohawk River from Herkimer on German Flats, and named Camp Schuyler.

The contract for this camp-site reads as follows:

Headquarters Camp Schuyler, August 29, 1862.
This agreement, made this 25th day of July, A. D. 1862, between Albert Story, on behalf of the State of New York, as Quartermaster, and Henry J. [3] Schuyler, witnesseth that the said Schuyler has leased for the season certain grounds, being a portion of his farm in the township of German Flats, for the purpose of allowing the same to be used as a military camp.

The State has the authority and power to have as much land as is necessary and as they desire to occupy, and to put such fixtures on the ground as may be necessary; and they are to pay for the said land at the rate of $10.00 per acre. The State is to fix the fences that may be necessarily removed, and put them back as they were, or pay for the same being done. The State has the right to remove the fixtures after this lease has expired.

H. J. Schuyler. Albert Story, Quartermaster 121st N. Y.
In presence of Amos H. Prescott.

There is nothing on record about the physical characteristics or structural features of this camp to suggest beauty or interest, and the stay of the 121st in it was so short after their muster in, that nothing worth remembering by the men seems to have occurred there.

By a partial agreement among themselves the company offices were to be apportioned according to the number each had enlisted; and this agreement was so closely adhered to, that there was little dissatisfaction when the order of the Governor was received, completing the organization of the Regiment. [4]

Special order no. 463

General Headquarters, State of New York, Adjutant General's Office, Albany, August 21, 1862.
The several companies of volunteers enlisted in the 20th Senatorial District of this State, in conformity with General Order No. 52 from this department, having been duly organized, said companies are hereby formed into a regiment, to be known and designated as the 121st Regiment of New York State Volunteers.

The following persons are hereby appointed field staff and company officers, and will be commissioned when the complete muster rolls of the regiment thus organized shall have been filed in the office of the Adjutant General of the State.

Colonel: Richard Franchot; Lieut. Colonel: C. H. Clark; Major: Egbert Olcott; Surgeon: Wm. Bassett; 1st Assistant Surgeon: N. S. B. Valentine; 2d Assistant Surgeon: David M. Holt; Chaplain: J. R. Sage; Adjutant: Alonzo Ferguson; Quartermaster: Albert Story.

Company A. Captain, H. M. Galpin; 1st Lieut., Jonathan Burrill; 2d Lieut., George W. Davis.

Company B. Captain, Irvin Holcomb; 1st Lieut., H. C. Keith; 2d Lieut., George A. May.

Company C. Captain, C. A. Moon; 1st. Lieut., Thomas S. Arnold; 2d Lieut., Angus Cameron.

Company D. Captain, John D. Fish; 1st Lieut., D. M. Kenyon; 2d Lieut., Charles E. Staring.

Company E. Captain, Douglas Campbell; 1st Lieut., Theodore Sternburg; 2d Lieut., Harrison Van Horn.

Company F. Captain, Nelson 0. Wendell; 1st Lieut., Byron T. Peck; 2d Lieut., Frank G. Bolles. [5]

Company G. Captain, Edwin Park; 1st Lieut., Charles T. Ferguson; 2d Lieut., J. D. Clyde.

Company H. Captain, John Ramsey; 1st Lieut., W. F. Doubleday; 2d Lieut., Marcus R. Casler.

Company I. Captain, John S. Kidder; 1st Lieut., John D. P. Douw; 2d Lieut., Delavan Bates.

Company K. Captain, Sacket M. Olin; 1st Lieut., Andrew E. Mather.

By order of the Commander in Chief (Signed) Jno. Hillhouse, Adjutant General.

The regiment was mustered into service under the above named officers, and for a week occupied Camp Schuyler, numbering 30 officers and 946 enlisted men. Besides these there had been enlisted 117 men who on August 20th were discharged by the Surgeon's certificate for disability.

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