Posted tagged ‘22nd NY Cavalry’

Hero Highlight: Byron Talman, 22nd NY Cavalry by Guest Author Anne van Leeuwen

September 30, 2013

Introduction by Vicki Masters Profitt, Illuminated History:

Last spring, I came into contact with Jon Tallman, a descendant of the Perinton, New York, Talman family.  I asked Jon if he would be interested in writing a Hero Highlight about Byron Talman for Illuminated History.  Jon declined because he felt the story should be told by a direct descendant.  Jon gave me contact information for Anne van Leeuwen, Byron’s great-great-granddaughter.  Anne is descended from Byron through his daughter, Ida Mae Talman.  Anne graciously accepted the offer to write a Hero Highlight about her ancestor.  Here, in Anne’s words, is

BYRON’S STORY

While this article is about Perinton’s Byron Talman (1838-1909) and the capture of Confederate raider Harry Gilmor, it is largely about the 22nd NY Cavalry, sometimes called “the Rochester Cavalry.”

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

The 22nd NY Cavalry existed during the last eighteen months of the Civil War, when fighting closed on the Confederate capital in Virginia.  Much of this time, the 22nd NY Cavalry regiment was assigned to the 3rd Division of the Cavalry Corps.  The 3rd was commanded by Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, who had established his reputation at Gettysburg.  The Cavalry Corps was under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Alfred T. N. Torbet who reported to Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan.  Sheridan’s battle experiences included Stones River, Chattanooga, and Chickamauga.

The 22nd participated in two great campaigns — the Overland Campaign and the (Shenandoah) Valley Campaign. During the Overland Campaign, Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps was attached to Grant’s Army of the Potomac as it progressed southward toward the Confederate capital, fighting battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor.  When battle lines became entrenched at Richmond and Petersburg, Grant made Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps into the autonomous Army of the Shenandoah.  Their mission was to halt Confederate military operations in western Virginia and to eliminate the threat of attack on Washington.  The Valley Campaign fought battles at Opequon (Winchester), Cedar Creek, and Waynesboro.  All of these battles, from the Wilderness to Waynesboro, are considered major battles, critical to the war’s outcome.  The 22nd fought them all within a six month period and suffered high casualties.

The legacy of the 22nd and the Cavalry Corps is significant.  When the war began, the Union Army had no effective cavalry.  In contrast, the Confederacy had the illustrious cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart.  By the end of the campaigns, Stuart had been removed and the reputations of Generals Sheridan, and Custer were established. In his farewell address to the division, Custer said, “In the past six months, although confronted by superior numbers,… you have never lost a gun, never lost a color, and have never been defeated.”

At Perinton in October 1863, Talman was among the first to enlist in Company A of the 22nd NY Cavalry.  As more men volunteered, Companies B through M were formed. Talman was 25, had a wife, and had already sailed the Atlantic and Mediterranean.  His father was an abolitionist who had campaigned for Lincoln in Perinton and Rochester.  Talman was a First Sergeant during the Overland Campaign.  For the Shenandoah Campaign, he was commissioned as an officer in Company H.  Later, he would command Company M and would frequently be in command of the battalion or regiment.

Talman received a gunshot wound to his left arm at Opequon (Winchester).  There are several accounts.  General Custer reported, “The enemy upon our approach delivered a well-directed volley of musketry, but before a second discharge could be given my command was in their midst, sabering right and left.” Talman’s brother, a journalist and historian, wrote, “he was shot in the left arm while leading a charge, but fought on until, faint from loss of blood, his colonel forced him to the rear.”  In his promotion to Captain and to the command of Company M, the Army record cited his “gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Winchester, Va.”  One press release stated, “the [22nd NY Cavalry] regiment captured four of the nine battle flags,” and credits Talman among others.  These flags were presented by Custer and Sheridan to Secretary of War Stanton.

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Major Harry Gilmor was a Confederate raider who destroyed railroad bridges near Washington in Maryland and West Virginia.  As the Confederacy grew desperate, Gilmor terrorized civilians and burned towns, such as Chambersburg, PA, entirely to the ground.

According to another regimental history[1] of that time, Sheridan had scouts, Union soldiers who had been selected with for their courage and fitness for this dangerous work.  They tracked Gilmor, and on 4 Feb 1865, they found him in bed, sound asleep, his revolver on a chair nearby.  Gilmor was imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Byron Talman’s role in Gilmor’s capture is unclear.  The story was not told during Talman’s life, but it is consistent with the known facts.

  • Was Talman ever a scout for Sheridan?  In the Monroe County Mail for 13 Feb 1919, Talman’s brother says, “In the Battle of the Wilderness, Byron led a squad of troopers detailed to carry dispatches between Gen. Grant and his corps commanders [who included Sheridan] and half the time was inside the Confederate lines.”  This is consistent with deployment of the regiment at the Wilderness.
  • Was Talman serving as Sheridan’s scout in February 1865?  The Army record indicates that he was present but unattached to a unit from January through March 1865.
  • Was Talman involved with Gilmor’s capture?  In the Monroe County Mail for 19 Feb 1929, Talman’s brother writes, “It was he, single-handed, who captured Major Harry Gilmor, the Confederate officer, after pursuing him three days and three nights without sleep.  It was a bit singular that the two men, both large and powerful, were almost doubles.”

This account of “single-handed” capture mocks Gilmor, who was an exceptional braggart, boasting in the newspapers and defying his pursuers.  If Talman was indeed alone when he captured Gilmor, he was certainly one of many involved in the pursuit.

After the war, Talman lived a quiet life as a farmer in the Midwest and was buried in 1909 near his grandchildren in Williams, Iowa.  Tragically, an 1896 tuberculosis epidemic had taken the lives of his grandchildren — except my grandfather Frank.


[1] The 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry, by SC Farrar, 1911.  This unit also served in the Army of the Shenandoah, and many of its soldiers were from Chambersburg, which was burned by Gilmor.

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Illuminating James Austen

February 28, 2011

Last month, I received an email from Eleanor DeHaai, a descendant of Civil War soldier James Austen.  We began

James Austen's grave at Los Angeles National Cemetery, courtesy Find A Grave contributor Shiver

 corresponding, and Eleanor shared the story of her great-grandfather James with me.

 Sam Hartwell, a descendant through James’ daughter Lavinia, tells us of James’ early life and family:

“James Austen was born in Godalming, England in 1831 and emigrated to America aboard the ship Devonshire in November 1853.  He married Julia Maria Ayer, daughter of Ira Ayer Sr. and Julia Wadsworth Ayer of Evans, New York.  Ira Ayer Sr., my great-great grandfather, also fought in the Civil War.  Ira was a colonel in the 48th New York Militia in the Patriot’s War, 1838, and a captain with Co. A, 116th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War, 1862-63.”

 James Austen’s time in the service began on September 17, 1862, when he enlisted at Buffalo, New York, in the 27th New York Light Artillery.  Sam Hartwell takes up the story here, “He was discharged from this unit on 24 November, 1862 when he re-enlisted in the newly formed 5th Regiment of United States Artillery, from which he was discharged as a Sergeant in Capt. Truman Seymour’s E Battery. The reason for his discharge was to enable him to accept his commission as a lieutenant in the 22nd New York Cavalry on 22 April 1864 (or 65), and it is this discharge that mentions his “Very Good” character.  He was discharged at the end of the war from the 22nd NY Cavalry on 1 August 1865 under Special Order No 4 issued 22 July, 1865.

 As a soldier, James probably saw no action with the 27th New York Volunteers – he transferred out of the unit before it officially mustered in to the army. The 5th United States Artillery is a distinguished unit, however, formed early in the war and with a long and distinguished history in the Civil War and beyond. E Battery sees action, specifically in the fall of 1863, which finds it working overland towards Richmond with the Army of the Potomac. It, presumably with Austen, participates in the Battle of the Wilderness in the spring of 1864. In the summer the unit is credited at the siege of Petersburg, and at the end of the war in 1865 is with Grant at Clover Hill near Appomattox when Lee surrenders.

 James left the 5th Artillery in April of either 1864 or 1865 (the dates are unclear), having earned a commission as a lieutenant in the 22nd New York Volunteer Cavalry – so he may or may not have participated in the latter campaigns of the 5th Artillery. If he joined the 22nd NY Cavalry in the spring of 1864, he finds that unit with the 4th Division of the 9th Corps, from April, 1864, then with the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, from May, 1864; unattached, Army of the Potomac, from May 8, 1864; with its brigade in June, 1864; with the Army of the Shenandoah from October, 1864, and with the Cavalry Division of the Army of West Virginia, from February, 1865. He was commended in the records as having a ‘CHARACTER: Very Good’.”

Julia Maria Ayer, wife of James Austen. Courtesy Sam Hartwell & Eleanor DeHaai

Shortly after his discharge in August of 1865, James married Julia Maria Ayer.  Their two children, James Frederick and Lavinia Austen, were born in the years 1866 and 1868.  Great-granddaughter Eleanor DeHaai says, “Julia died of consumption when their son, my grandfather Fred, was about four and little Lavinia, Sam’s ancestor, was a baby.   James was able to take care of Fred, but Lavinia, being a girl, was placed in the care of an aunt and uncle of Julia’s in St. Paul, MN.   James found work there, though we don’t know what kind of work.  I suppose he wanted to be able to see Lavinia, and for Fred and Lavinia to be close.   Fred graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota College of Law and became an attorney in St. Louis, MO.   Lavinia became a teacher and suffragette.”

 Little else is known of James’ life after the death of his wife, Julia.  The 1880 Census of Perrysburgh, New York, shows James and son, Fred, boarding at the home of Robert and Orpha Armstrong.  Unfortunately, it lists James only as “Boarder”, and does not give us his occupation.  We do know that James entered the Sawtelle Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in October of 1890.  He was discharged in 1896, but was re-admitted ten months later.  James Austen died at the Sawtelle Home on August 12, 1898, with the cause of death listed as “paralysis”.  He was laid to rest at Los Angeles National Cemetery.

 Special thanks to Eleanor DeHaai and Sam Hartwell, the great-grandchildren of James Austen, for illuminating the story of their Civil War ancestor.

Looking Back While Facing Forward

January 1, 2011

The end of the year brings reflection as we put to rest one year while looking ahead to a new beginning.  I’ll always remember 2010 as an incredible year for my Civil War soldiers project, as well as for the start of some new research projects. 

Martha Jewett & Evan Marshall visit Mary Jewett Telford's grave

In January, I met a descendant of one of my Civil War veterans.  Martha Jewett is the second great-grandniece of Civil War nurse Mary Jewett Telford.  Martha and her husband, Evan Marshall, drove to Fairport to attend my Illuminated History presentation for the Perinton Historical Society.  After Martha and Evan returned home, we spent a frantic two weeks emailing and calling each other in order to meet the deadline for Mary Jewett Telford’s nomination to the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  We will soon hear whether we were successful in our endeavor.

With February came a slight shift in my research, as I began to study the World War I soldiers of Pittsford.  February was also memorable as it was the first time I have formally interviewed a research subject.  Bill Cooper, a World War II veteran and survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, was my assignment.  Bill is a member of American Legion Rayson-Miller Post 899.  The stories he shared about his military experience and life with his wife, Margaret, were 

Bill Cooper, World War II vet

 inspiring.  I also had the opportunity to meet with Philip G. Maples for the first time.  Phil is the Director Emeritus of the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives.  Since then, I have volunteered research time to the RMMA, as well as spent time with Phil, who is himself a Civil War researcher and enthusiast.  I proudly headed to school in February to hear my daughter make her first presentation by portraying Civil War nurse Mary Jewett Telford.

March rang in another opportunity to interview a Battle of the Bulge veteran.  This time it was Ed Kinnen, also a   member of Rayson-Miller.  Ed and his wife, Ellen, graciously invited me into their home so I could talk with Ed about his World War II service.  We share a common love of genealogy, and I was happy to hear them speak of their children and grandchildren and the importance of sharing the family history with them. 

Lynda Skaddan & Jane Andersen, Telford descendants

The next few months went by in a blur as I once again collaborated with Pittsford Town Historian Audrey Johnson for our annual Pittsford Cemetery tour in May.  Theo X. Rojo, who researches the men of the 13th NY Infantry and the 22nd NY Cavalry, contacted me in May and we have spent much time emailing back and forth regarding those units and others.  June was the pinnacle of excitement.  I gave a tour at Greenvale Cemetery for the Perinton Historical Society members.  I was so pleased to meet Cheri Branca, one of my online friends and fellow Find A Grave contributor, who attended the Greenvale tour with her husband, Matt.  Jane Andersen and Lynda Skaddan, descendants of Robert Telford, made a special trip to Fairport with Lynda’s husband Ray so I could meet them at Mary Jewett Telford’s grave to discuss her life.  Mary was wed to Robert’s younger brother, Jacob Telford.  In June, I also had the opportunity to meet Norman and John Henry Miller, who are the nephews of Henry L. Miller.  Henry was killed at Belleau Wood during World War I.  Norm and John are not only veterans themselves, but they come from a long line of men who served their country, beginning with their great-grandfather, Civil War veteran Henry L. Mueller.

Throughout the rest of 2010, I gave a presentation for the American Legion Rayson-Miller Post 899 and discussed the 

John and Norm Miller at the grave of their uncle, Henry L. Miller

early history of the post and its members.  Audrey Johnson and I hosted another tour of the Pioneer Burying Ground in October, and I started a Facebook page for Illuminated History.  However, I think the biggest thrill has been meeting the veterans’ descendants and other researchers, both in person, by phone and online.  I spoke by phone with John R. Bacon, grandson of WWI & WWII Lieutenant Colonel Howard Bacon and great-grandson of Civil War vet John Buckley Bacon, after emailing back and forth for several years.  I spoke with veteran David Retchless about his military service, as well as those of his brother, father and uncle.  Tyler Emery, the current owner of the Retchless military memorabilia, and I have corresponded via email and he has graciously shared photos of the contents of the trunk he owns.  At the Pioneer Burying Ground tour, I met Gail and Marilyn, the daughters of World War I vet Raymond L. Hulbert.  I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Lloyd F. Allen’s daughters, Betty Anne and Katie, as well as his granddaughter, Elizabeth.  Dr. Allen, like his friend and neighbor Howard Bacon, had also served in both World Wars.

2010 was an extraordinary year.  Thank you for your interest in my project, and your appreciation for these veterans.  With your support, Illuminated History will continue to shine the light on these heroes for many years to come.


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