Posted tagged ‘Antietam’

Hero Highlight – George H. Washburn, Co. D, 108th New York Infantry by guest author Brian Burkhart

October 12, 2012

George H. Washburn courtesy of Brian Burkhart

Introduction by Vicki Masters Profitt, Illuminated History

I first met Brian Burkhart nearly three years ago, when he approached me at a presentation I gave about Perinton’s Civil War soldiers.  After speaking with Brian for just a few minutes, his enthusiasm for researching the soldiers of Rochester’s 108th New York Infantry was evident.  Since then, Brian has been a wonderful source of information about the boys of the 108th.  I’m pleased to publish this Hero Highlight of George H. Washburn by Brian Burkhart.

George H. Washburn was born October 29, 1843, the only son of Charles and Ruth A. Washburn.  He was raised in what was then called Corn Hill, Third Ward, in the City of Rochester, New York.  Young Washburn entered old Public School Number Three, situated on what was then called Clay Street, now Tremont Street, where his first teacher was Miss Sarah Frost.  In 1852, during the great cholera epidemic, his father died after a short illness, leaving a widow and two children; his younger sister, Dora (later to be Mrs. Franklin E. Purdy), and George.  Shortly afterwards, he attempted to reduce the burdens of his widowed mother and support of the family.  His grandmother, Mrs. Hannah Tozer, was living with the family.  He applied for a situation as check boy in the old dry goods establishment of Timothy Chapman, at 12 State Street.  George went to work at seventy-five cents per week, and remained there until August 1862.

He was 19 years old when he enlisted in the 108th Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry at Rochester, Monroe County, New York, to serve three years.  Actually, Washburn’s first experience in military service was not with the 108th, but with the “Zouave Cadets”, composed of young lads from Public School No. 3.  On August 11, 1862 he mustered in as a Private in Company ‘D’.  He was with the regiment when it left Rochester for the seat of war on August 19, 1862.  He was wounded in action on May 3, 1863 during the Battle of Chancellorsville and was transferred to Company ‘B’, 20th Regiment of the Veteran Reserve Corps (no date).  He was discharged June 19, 1865 at Washington, D.C.

From Washburn’s Regimental History: “At the battle of Antietam on September 17th, the first battle the regiment was engaged in and suffered so terribly, one of his tent mates and Sunday school teacher previous to enlistment, Joseph S. Delevau, was badly wounded in the groin, and with the assistance of Sergeant John H. Jennings, another tent mate, they carried their wounded companion off the field and laid him in a place of safety, returned to the regiment and remained during the battle.  He was with the regiment on the march to Bolivar Heights, near Harper’s Ferry, and while there was assigned to duty as one of the guard on the Balloon Corps.  When the regiment moved on to Fredericksburg, the guard followed in the rear and joined the regiment at or near Snicker’s Gap, and when the regiment went into winter quarters at Falmouth, Virginia, did picket and guard duty; was in the battle of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.  He was wounded during the Battle of Chancellorsville and was sent to Findley Hospital in Washington, D.C. where he remained for a long time, sick with the typhoid fever (at the time of enlistment was five feet three inches, and weighed 112 pounds).  After his recovery he was detailed at headquarters by Dr. TV. A. Bradley, surgeon in charge, and shortly afterwards ordered to report to Brigadier-General J.H. Martindale’s headquarters, corner 19th and I Streets, who at that time was Military Governor of the District of Columbia.  When General Martindale rejoined his brigade, Washburn was assigned to Major Breck’s Bureau in the War Department, Adjutant-General’s Office, and later on transferred to headquarters 22d Army Corps Department at Washington, commanded by Major-General C.C. Augur, at the corner of 15£ Street and Pennsylvania Ave., and remained there till mustered out June 19th, 18G5.  After receiving his discharge, he made application for a situation in the Treasury Department, and being backed up by strong testimonials from General Augur, Colonel J.H. Taylor, chief of staff, and many of the staff officers at headquarters, received an appointment as first class clerk by Hon. Hugh McCullough, Secretary, and assigned to duty in the Internal Revenue Bureau, remaining there till 1868, when he returned to Rochester, New York, and entered the dry goods business again, remained a short time and then entered the clothing business; continued till the fall of 1889, when he received an appointment as clerk in the Blue Line and Canada Southern Line office, Powers Block, where he is at the present time in charge of the mileage desk.

He was married November 24th, 1869, in the City of Rochester to Miss Lillian De Ette Inman, only daughter of Isaac L. Inman (formerly of his company), and has one son, Percy L. Washburn, twenty-two years of age, and 2d Lieutenant of C.A. Glidden Camp No. 6, Sons of Veterans.”

“Comrade Washburn is a member of Genesee Falls Lodge, No. 507, F. A. M.; Flower City Lodge, No, 555, I.O.O.F.; Lallah Rook Grotta, No. 3, Order of Veiled Prophets; Golden Rale Chapter, No. 59, Order Eastern Star; Grace Rebecca Lodge, No. 54, I.O.O.F.  Assistant Adjutant-General, National Staff, Union Veterans’ Union; Assistant Adjutant-General, Department New York, Union Veterans’ Union (for the past four years); Past Inspector-General, National Staff, Union Veterans’ Union.  Past Aide on Department Staff, G.A.R.; Past Adjutant, E. G. Marshall Post 397, G.A.R.; Past Adjutant, G. B. Force Command, No, 13, Union Veterans’ Union; Adjutant, W.T. Sherman Command, No. 2, Union Veterans’ Union; Secretary, 108th Regiment, New York Veteran Association, for the past twelve years.”

“Comrade Washburn, through his endeavors, was the means of gathering together the survivors of the old regiment for a social reunion, and in 1879 they held their first reunion at Newport House, Irondequoit Bay, and at that time he commenced to gather together items relative to the regiment, and through the assistance of many of the members of the organization he has been able to place before the survivors and their many friends this souvenir, trusting that what errors have been made, that they will be cheerfully overlooked by the many admirers and friends of the Old 108th Regiment, New York Volunteers.”

George Washburn died January 27, 1905 at age 61 and was buried in the Buffalo Cemetery Lot at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester.  There is more on George Washburn in the green Scrapbook by William Farley Peck located in Rundel Library in the Oversize Book section of the Local History Department]; George is the author of A Complete Military History & Record of the 108th Regiment N.Y. Vols. from l862 to l894.

A note from Vicki Masters Profitt:

George H. Washburn is one of my heroes.  He was a man who took the initiative to gather information from his former comrades of the 108th New York Infantry because he saw the historical value in their war-time memories.  Thanks to George’s efforts, we have an entire volume of memoirs pertaining to the 108th.  This was no small feat.  The scope of the project is mindboggling, and even more so when one keeps in mind that George Washburn did not live in the time of the internet and social media.  The entire book was painstakingly created  through his meticulous efforts to contact the men with whom he had served through the use of letters and advertisements.  George asked the former soldiers to send autobiographies and photos of themselves.  Over 200 sketches, 48 obituaries and the addresses of over 360 men grace this book.  Yes, George H. Washburn is definitely my hero.

Hero Highlight – Chester Hutchinson, Co. B, 108th NY Infantry

April 3, 2012

“Our marching and countermarching brought us on the 17th of September in front of Lee’s army.  We halted, piled up our haversacks, loaded our guns, and were ready for action…Our position was a hot one, and the air was alive with bullets, shells, shot and canister.”  Civil War veteran Chester Hutchinson’s recollection of being severely wounded at the battle of Antietam nearly thirty two years earlier.

Chester Hutchinson, the fifth of seven children born to Lewis and Betsey Palmer Hutchinson, was born in Penfield, New York, on July 12, 1841.  The Hutchinson family soon moved to Perinton, where Chester’s maternal grandparents, Ira & Sarah Beilby Palmer, were among the earliest settlers of the town.  Lewis Hutchinson supported his large family as a farm laborer and it was expected that Chester would also work the farm.  After the death of his mother in 1849, Chester moved to Pittsford, where he continued his schooling and raised vegetables to be sold in the markets in Rochester.  Ten years later, Chester moved to Fairport and apprenticed in the sash and blind trade run by his uncles, Seymour and John G. Palmer.

After three years at the sash and blind factory, the Civil War beckoned and Chester enlisted in Co. B, 108th NY Infantry on August 4, 1862.  He arrived in Washington, D.C. on a cattle car with other members of his regiment.  Rules were lax at the beginning of the war, and soldiers could sleep where they wished as long as they were present at roll call.  Years after the war, Chester recalled spending his first night in Washington, D.C. sleeping on the east stone steps of the White House.  Soon, Chester would have more to concern him than finding a good spot in which to catch some shuteye. 

One month after enlistment, the men of the 108th NY Infantry received a trial by fire.  On September 17, 1862, the regiment was led into battle at Sharpsburg, Maryland, on what would become the bloodiest single day of fighting of the entire war.  Over 23,000 Union and Confederate casualties occurred at this battle, which the Northerners called Antietam.  Chester Hutchinson was one such casualty.  The gunshot hit his right breast, “the ball glancing along the bone, coming out about four inches from where it entered and stopping” against his right arm.  It took Chester over one year to recover from this wound.  He was successful in his effort to return to his regiment in early 1864; however, Chester was once again quickly engaged in a fight for his life.  This time, it was at the battle of the Wilderness.

Struck in the left breast by a minie ball which passed through his lung, the doctor who dressed Chester’s wound after the battle of the Wilderness pronounced it fatal.  Death would come to Chester Hutchinson, but not in May, 1864.  After lying in pain for three weeks, Chester was transferred to Fredericksburg, Maryland, where he was located by Sergeant Chilson of Company B, 108th NY Infantry.  By the fall of 1864, Chester was sent to City Hospital in Rochester to recuperate, and he remained there until his regiment arrived home and he received his discharge. 

After the war, Chester Hutchinson wed Mary Grover.  For several years, the Hutchinsons made their home in West Bay City, Michigan, where Chester was employed at the Crump Manufacturing Company planing mill and box factory.  After Mary’s death in 1886, Chester and his four children returned home to New York, where they lived for many years at 6 Prospect Street in the village of Fairport.

Hattie Down Wiley became Chester’s second wife on January 1, 1891.  As the widow of another Fairport Civil War soldier, James B. Wiley of the 111th NY Infantry, Hattie brought six children to the marriage.  Chester and Hattie had one son together, Lynn, who died in 1896 at age two.  Hattie and Chester brought up their combined eleven children together and were married for over forty years.

In his later years, Chester was very active in the community.  As a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) E.A. Slocum Post #211, an organization dedicated to aiding veterans of the Civil War, Chester served in various leadership positions throughout the years.  E.A. Slocum Post #211 was disbanded in 1937 due to the death of its last member, Horace Waddell.  Chester traveled each year to attend reunions of the 108th NY Infantry and, in 1899, he won first place in the reunion shooting contest.  He was also employed as a watchman at a bank, worked at the Dobbin & Moore Lumber Company, was very active in the Baptist Church, and was appointed as a tax collector.

In the 1920s, as the ranks of the Civil War soldiers were diminished by death, Chester Hutchinson became a prominent face in the news.  No fewer than two poems were written about him, which celebrated the milestones of Chester’s 80th and 85th birthdays.   The 85th birthday poem was written by Pittsford resident and elocutionist Franc Fassett Pugsley, a daughter of Chester’s comrade from the 108th NY Infantry, Jonathan J. Fassett.   Mrs. Pugsley managed to fit into her lengthy poem information about Chester’s birth, early life, war experiences and wounds, marriages and children before bestowing this wish upon Chester, “May the sun turn the evening skies to gold and love brighten all the way.” 

The death of Chester Hutchinson occurred on April 19, 1932 at age 90.  Not bad for a man who, 68 years earlier, had been told he wouldn’t survive his wounds.  Chester was buried at Greenvale Cemetery in Fairport beside his son, Lynn, and stepsons Mark & Frank Wiley.  Hattie, his wife of 41 years, joined him in 1940.  A newspaper article written one month after his death stated that, “Chester Hutchinson joined his comrades on the march into eternity, carrying with him the reverence and respect of the people in the community, a patriot and a loyal citizen.” 

This article was originally published in the Perinton Historical Society “Historigram”, Vol. XLIV, No. 7, April 2012.  Learn more about the Perinton Historical Society by visiting their website, www.PerintonHistoricalSociety.org.

A Wicked Affair: The Story of Clum & White, Part 1

July 8, 2011

Even as a boy he had been trouble.  As a man, the bad reputation followed him still, and it was well deserved.  Edward F. Clum had gotten into scrapes with the law in more than one state, but this time he couldn’t escape.  There was a hangman’s noose with his name on it.

Ed Clum was born in Germantown, New York in July 1844. His father, Ferdinand, was a well-to-do farmer who was highly regarded in the little community of Walworth, New York, where Ed grew to adulthood.  Yet Ed was a wild child whose temper could not be curbed.  His parents despaired of him, and had hoped Ed’s older brother, Chauncey, would be a good role model.  Then the war came and Chauncey went off with the 33rd New York Infantry to fight.  It took him two weeks to die, two agonizing weeks of pain from the wound he received at Antietam.  Chauncey couldn’t help Ed now.

Ed most probably knew John Jay White even before they enlisted in Co. B, 9th New York Heavy Artillery together.  After all, they lived just two miles apart in Walworth.  Ed and Jay even enlisted in the 9th on the same day – December 7, 1863.  To all who knew them, they were an odd pair.  Ed was coarse, and would have been forgettable had it not been for his bad temper.  Jay was more refined, more intellectual, and had a charm that belied his inner demons.  Who would have suspected that this singular friendship would lead to murder?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of A Wicked Affair!

History Through the Eyes of a Five Year Old

April 4, 2011

“Do you like being a historian?” asked a five-year old at the local elementary school.  “It’s the best job ever!” I replied with a smile. 

After being asked to speak to the Kindergarten class at a local elementary school about my profession, I became nervous.  How does one explain the job of an historian in language that a young child could understand?  I couldn’t tell them about Charles Tillotson being wounded in the head during his first battle, Antietam, or how Charles lingered three days before succumbing to the inevitable conclusion of his life.  I didn’t want to frighten the children by telling them how sharpshooter Nathan Cook and his brother, William, died within weeks of each other, killed by disease.  When I told them I researched soldiers, would they ask difficult questions that I wouldn’t want to answer for fear of overwhelming them?

“Hello, boys and girls.  I’m here to tell you about my job.  I am an historian.  Can you say historian?  When you say historian, do you hear another word in there?  HISTORY-an.”  I told them my job was to research people and places and tell their stories so the history would be kept alive forever, and that I especially loved researching the history where we lived. 

We talked about James Chamberlin, who was a trooper with the 3rd New York Cavalry.  Did they know the cavalry was composed of the soldiers who got to ride horses?  The Chamberlin Rubber Co. was started after the war by James Chamberlin, who saw many soldiers become sick after being in the wet and cold.  What would the Chamberlin Rubber Co. have made to keep the soldiers dry?  Raincoats!

Kingsley Brownell was a trooper with the 21st New York Cavalry.  He rode a horse, too.  Kingsley was so strong he could lift a bucket full of water over his head.  They were quite impressed with Kingsley’s accomplishment.

“Who goes to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream?  If you look down the street when you are at Ben & Jerry’s, you can see the Wiltsie Building.”  After showing them a postcard of the Wiltsie Building, I produced a photo of George B. Wiltsie and his comrades.

John Buckley Bacon was called Buckley by his family.  He came here after the Civil War and started a family.  His son, Howard, was a soldier in two wars – World War I and World War II!  “Someday I’m going to be a soldier, and I’ll be in World War I,” said a determined little boy.  Another boy, not to be outdone, stated “My Grandpa was in the Civil War!”

“Who puts gasoline in their cars?”  The children were very excited to see the Vacuum Oil Co. truck, and I told them about Matthew Ewing the inventor and how years later his Vacuum Oil Company became Exxon Mobil.  “My mom works at Shell Oil,” volunteered one little person.  “Hey, that truck is a bank!  I have a bank,” another child piped up.  Then I showed them my 1911 Rochester G.A.R. Encampment souvenir medal, and we talked about it being 100 years old.  “My mom was born in 1972 and she’s still alive.”  I couldn’t help but snicker at that, as did the teacher.

At the end, I held up a painting of the Erie Canal done by my friend, talented artist Rusty Likly.  The kids immediately recognized the landscape, and a discussion ensued about the other buildings they knew along the canal.  The questions came fast and furious.  “Do you use your computer a lot to learn about history?”  “Do you work with someone else?” 

Not once did a child ask if anyone got killed, or ask any other difficult questions.  They were simply excited to hear about our local history and hometown heroes.  My favorite question, however, was asked by a young boy who had been relatively quiet during the entire session.  “Do you like being a historian?”  “It’s the best job ever!” I replied with a smile.

Hero Highlight – Ezra A. Patterson, Co. C, 108th NY Volunteer Infantry

October 26, 2009

Antietam.  What came to be known as the bloodiest day of battle in American history also happened to be the first engagement in which the 108th New York Volunteer Infantry participated.  This was to be the only battle for Ezra A. Patterson of Pittsford, New York, for Ezra did not survive to fight another day.

Ezra A. Patterson, Co. C, 108th NY Volunteer Infantry

Ezra A. Patterson, Co. C, 108th NY Volunteer Infantry

Ezra A. Patterson was born in July, 1841 to Aaron B. and Jane Ann Hecox Patterson.  While Aaron farmed their land in Pittsford, Jane Ann cared for Ezra and his brother, Mortimer, who was born in 1847.  A daughter, Alice, would be born in 1852.  However, Jane Ann did not live long enough to see her children to adulthood.  She died in 1853 at age 35 and was laid to rest at the Pioneer Burying Ground in Pittsford.  After Jane’s death, Aaron Patterson married her sister, Harriet Hecox.

By 1860, Ezra could be found in Marion, New York working for Marvin Rich as a merchant’s clerk.  Once the War Between the States began, Ezra wasn’t content to work in an office while others went off to fight.  He enlisted in Co. C of the 108th New York Volunteer Infantry on July 21, 1862, and was mustered in on August 18th.  Ezra A. Patterson had just celebrated his 21st birthday.  At 5′ 7 1/2″ tall, Ezra was of average stature for those times.  However, he must have been a striking figure with his light complexion, black hair and grey eyes.

Quickly promoted to First Sergeant, Ezra and the 108th traveled first to New York, then on to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Virginia before arriving in Maryland.  They had only mustered in one month earlier.  How much training had they received in the 30 days prior to the bloody battle of Antietam?  They were about to get a trial by fire. 

On the morning of September 17, 1862, the men of the 108th were awakened at 4:00 and told to get breakfast and be prepared to march.  The battle commenced and, at some point, Ezra was wounded in action.  He would have been carried to the field hospital much like his comrade, Franklin R. Garlock, who was shot in the head and the hand.  After over a week at the field hospital, a train of ambulances transported the wounded to Washington.  Ezra was among those in the ambulances. 

Carver Hospital in Washington D.C. was to be Ezra’s last stop.  It was at Carver that Ezra began to recover from his wounds.  In fact, he was well enough to receive a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability on October 14th and be discharged.  His comrade, Franklin Garlock, gave a first-hand account of what happened next in George H. Washburn’s A Complete Military History and Record of the 108th Regiment N.Y. Vols.:  “Here our comrade Patterson formerly of Pittsford, N.Y., was also discharged and was to go home with me, but who was detained, by reason of his papers not arriving from the war-office in time.  He was apparently doing well when I left the hospital, but soon a fatal hemorrhage set in, which resulted in his death, soon after.  He never got home alive.”

Had Aaron Patterson been aware that his son was given his discharge and was coming home?  If so, it must have been a terrible blow to the Patterson family when subsequent word reached them of Ezra’s death on October 26th.  Mortimer, Ezra’s young brother, would be the next Patterson to join the war effort.  He enlisted in June, 1863 in Co. F of the 14th Heavy Artillery.  The official paperwork lists his age at enlistment as 18, but Mortimer was discharged just one month later for “being under 18 years of age”.  In actuality, Mortimer was just 16. 

After 1863, Mortimer disappears from the records.  I am still looking for clues as to his whereabouts.  Aaron Patterson couldn’t bear to live in Pittsford after having lost his son, Ezra.  By 1870, Aaron, Harriet and Alice had moved to Marshalltown, Iowa.   Aaron died in 1878.  Ezra’s aunt/stepmother, Harriet, passed on in 1907.  Alice, Ezra’s only sister, lived to age 83 before dying unmarried in 1935.  They are buried at Riverside Cemetery in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Despite his disfiguring wounds which caused him to lose his eye and a finger, Ezra’s friend from the 108th, Franklin R. Garlock, recovered from his wounds sufficiently enough to attend medical school.  He practiced medicine at Lyndonville, NY before moving to Racine, WI.

Ezra’s body was returned to Pittsford and he was buried at the Pioneer Burying Ground beside his mother, Jane Ann Hecox Patterson.

Mount Hope Cemetery Civil War Tour

August 1, 2009
Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY

Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY

It was an unusually beautiful day today in Rochester, New York.  Warm weather prevailed as puffy white clouds filled the skies – a perfect day for a cemetery tour.  How fortunate that Mount Hope was holding their annual Civil War tour this afternoon!

Local historian and columnist Bob Marcotte led the tour, assisted by Friends of Mount Hope president Marilyn Nolte.  We began the tour with Major George B. Force of the 108th, who fell at Antietam.  You’ll recall that two of the Ambrose boys, Robert and Edward, were with the 108th.  Next was Frank A. Badger of the 140th.  Frank was missing and presumed dead after the battle of the Wilderness.  His body was never recovered, but there is a stone in his memory.  One of my Pittsford boys, Matthias L. Lord, was Assistant Surgeon of the 140th.  I wonder if Matthias knew Frank Badger?  We eventually visited seven Civil War soldiers, some of whom died in action.  Others, like Albert Hotchkiss of the 8th NY Cavalry, died at Andersonville Prison.  Several of my Pittsford soldiers were with the 8th Cav.  They will be discussed in upcoming posts.

After the tour the group, about 40 strong, headed back to the cool confines of the gatehouse for some refreshments.  Bob graciously signed his book, Where They Fell, for the interested tour-goers.  As always, it was a pleasure hearing Bob speak.  He is so knowledgeable about Rochester’s Civil War soldiers.

If you haven’t been on a tour at Mount Hope, I’d highly recommend the experience.  There is a lot of walking and many hills, but there are so many beautiful and unique monuments to see.  If you are interested in historical figures, you can find those residing at Mount Hope as well.  Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Western Union founder Hiram Sibley and architect Fletcher Steele are among the many notables whose earthly remains were laid to rest at Mount Hope.


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