112th New York Flag
we were..."within forty paces of the abbatis of the fort when a whirlwind of rifle fire seemed to rush across our front. The line disappeared as though an earthquake had swallowed it. The fatal hissing increased in volume a hundred fold. Perfectly bewildered, those who remained standing, halted. The ground was covered with our slain, and we had come this far with fixed bayonets and without firing a shot. Everyone recoiled and (General) Foster, who was still with us, ordered a retreat. The rebels stood in crowds upon their parapet of the fort, shouting at us in derision." Sgt. Edward King Wightman, 3rd NY in a letter to his family October 4, 1864 The 112th NY and 3rd NY were the first lines of their portion of the front, side by side, for the attack on Ft.'s Harrison and Gilmer September 29, 1864.
photos courtesy of the Fenton History Center
COLORS OF THE 112th REGIMENT, N. Y. S. V.
Regimental Banner, blue silk; almost entirely destroyed;
staff broken and top gone; originally painted with arms of
the State of New York and motto, and number of Regiment.
This Flag was presented to the Regiment at Suffolk, Va.,
in the name of the ladies of Chautauqua county, and was
carried by the Regiment until the fall of 1864, when, having
become badly damaged at the fight at Ft. Gilmer September 29; it was returned to its donors.
The flag is on display at the Fenton History Center, 67 Washington St., Jamestown, NY 14701 They can be reached at: http://www.fentonhistorycenter.org
I would like to thank the Director Joni Blackman and Librarian/Archivist Karen Livsey, and staff of the Fenton History Center for their contributions to this website.
I have copies of The History of the 112th Regt., N.Y.S.V. by Hyde available, please see the contact page for ordering information.
Medal of Honor Ebenezer Skellie
Civil War Medal of Honor photo by David Aeberli
Corporal Ebenezer Skellie was promoted to the Color Guard in the summer of 1864, and on September 29, 1864 the Regiment was heavily engaged at Fort Gilmor(Gilmer). In the History of the Regiment, Chaplin Hyde states “Suddenly volleys of grape and canister came tearing through the trees, from a field battery planted on elevated ground in front. Maj. Ludwick was ordered to charge the battery, and as the men moved forward, the enemy rapidly limbered up and fled. At this time the Major received a severe contusion of the arm, from grape shot, which caused intense pain, but refused to retire. About two hours after they were ordered to advance and storm Ft. Gilmor, a redoubt in front. Not a man or officer who participated in the charge had any idea the work could be carried; but General Foster commanding the Division had received an order from General Birney to charge within ten minutes from the receipt of the order. Major Ludwick, on receiving the order, drew his sword with his left hand, his right being entirely disabled, and on foot with his men, went forward. On passing out of the wood, they had a fourth of a mile to pass over before reaching the fort. The intervening ground was broken, two ravines were to be crossed, and there was a slashing timber two-thirds of the distance, then an open corn field in front of the fort. The line of earth works from this Fort on either side, extended in such form that when the corn field was reached, the men were exposed to an enfilading fire. Gallantly they pressed on, and were met by a murderous fire as they toiled through the slashing. Here West(Pvt. Charles W. West), of Company A, was struck in the body by a cannon ball, which cut him completely in two. In this fearful place, Major Ludwick received another bullet in his already wounded arm, completely shattering the elbow, and was borne from the field. The color guard were severely cut up.”
In the assaults on Ft. Gilmor, Ebenezer Skellie was wounded in the leg causing immediate amputation, and two more gunshot wounds in the terrible struggle on Fort Gilmor. He was taken to a field hospital, and later transferred to Central Park Hospital, New York City. Ebenezer was mentioned by General Butler with commendation for Gallantry, and recommended for promotion to Lieutenant at close of service.
The President of the United States
in the name of
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
Rank and Organization: Corporal, Company D, 112th New York Infantry. Place and Date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered Service At: Mina, N.Y. Birth: Mina, N.Y. Date Of Issue: 6 April 1865.
Took the colors of his regiment, the color bearer having fallen, and carried them through the first charge; also, in the second charge, after all the color guards had been killed or wounded he carried the colors up to the enemy's works, where he fell wounded.
The following letter written by Chaplin Hyde is an account of the fight at Ft. Gilmer on September 29, 1864. Published in the Jamestown Journal October 14, 1864.
Letter from Chaplin Hyde of the 112th. Camp near Chapin's Bluff Sept. 30th, 1864
The sudden transitions to which we are subject in military life are proverbial. And our experience of the last week will illustrate it. We had supposed that our position in the entrenchments near Petersburg was fixed until the return of our Brigade and Regimental commanders. But on Saturday Col. Dagget, of the 117th N.Y.V. in temporary command of our Brigade, received orders to be ready as soon as dark to move his brigade to the rear of Gen. Birney's Head Quarters, about a mile and a half in rear of the fortifications. We soon learned that the whole Corps in military parlance was to be "retired from the front" and made ready for a move. There came the many rumors as to the nature of the approaching move, all of which were wide to the actual one. We were going to South Carolina or North Carolina or the Shenandoah Valley. The north side of the James was indeed mentioned, but only as improbable. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, curiosity was eager, speculations rife, but uncertainty everywhere. Even Division Head Quarters were in the same blissful state of ignorance with the rest of the crowd. On Tuesday there were twenty men at work at Corps Head Quarters making them comfortable for a winter sojourn. Wednesday morning, orders came to be ready with two days rations to move at three o'clock P.M. At that time Dame Rumor was almost certain that we were going to Wilmington or Newbern. At three, the various divisions of the Corps were moving in their order with their immense trains following. The progress was very slow and tedious and as we passed down the road leading to City Point or Bermuda Hundred, we were quite sure it was to the transports from one or the other place. It was dark before we reached the pontoon bridge across the Appomatox. After crossing the bridge, we began to think we might be moving toward Deep Bottom, still hope predominated that we were going out of Virginia away from the vicinity of the sanguinary battle fields of the army of the Potomac. Soon however we came to the forks of the road where we must turn if at all to go to Bermuda Landing. Instead of turning we passed into a gloomy piece of woods a road leading to Deep Bottom. This settled the matter of our destination. The 10th and 18th Corps were to make a demonstration toward Richmond. The march was very tedious. The train of the first division was in front of us and it was after two o'clock in the morning before we reached our place of rendezvous on the North side of the James. We had just thrown ourselves down on the grass for a rest when an orderly came to notify us that the men must prepare their breakfast and be ready to move at 4 o'clock. In spite of the warning that there was no time for sleep, the men and officers were soon sound asleep and got at least an hours repose before they were roused to prepare to march. At four o'clock, the whole command was on the move. It was a magnificent spectacle as the three divisions moved out from the side hill of our night's bivouac on different roads leading to the front. After our division had reached its position, we saw the 3rd U.S. Colored troops deployed as skirmishers and moving cautiously toward a piece of woods about a half a mile in advance. Soon firing became lively. With a yell, the colored boys rushed forward. They were lost to sight, the firing was rapid and we heard the cheers, they had carried the first line of the enemy's works but in doing it near one hundred of them bit the dust. After this line was carried the whole command moved rapidly forward four miles, where the Rebs had fallen back behind formidable works. We were now six miles from the city of Richmond. In front of these works, both the 18th and 10th Corps were formed, the left of the 18th resting near the river and the 10th on the right. Our brigade is the first in the second division of the 10th Army Corps and when the column was formed for a charge the 112th and 3d N.Y.(Please read an excerpt from the 3rd NY following this article) were in the first lines of our portion of the front and there were two other lines behind us. The boys, when the order to charge was given, did not waver until they had swept over the enemy's works and had them in their possession. So well and so quickly was this accomplished that we had but comparatively few casualties. Maj. Ludwick, who commanded the regiment had his arm grazed by a piece of shell, but he bound it with one handkerchief and slung it with another and though suffering intense pain directed all the movements of the regiment refusing after the charge was over to go to the rear. There was another and formidable earthworks, however, which must be taken or the line already gained would be untenable. With this in our possession, Lee would be obliged to call off a large part of his forces from Petersburg or lose Richmond. Twice the attempt was made to carry this work and the 112th was in the leading line of one of these charges. Nothing could surpass the desperate gallantry of their charge. They forced their way through sheets of fire and a storm of lead and iron, but it was in vain, when they had reached the parapet there were too few left to pass over it. Had there been equally desperate men in following lines perhaps the line might have been carried at that hour. But we were compelled to fall back. Our loss has been very severe and the hair breadth escape almost miraculous. When the charge was made the wound on Maj. Ludwick's right arm was intensely painful, but drawing his sword with his left hand, he waved the boys on, and in the charge was struck in the same arm with a bullet. The bone of the arm about the elbow was so badly shattered that amputation became necessary. The work was done at Surgeon Washburn's office with great skill, by Surgeon Clark of the 39th Ill., one of the most accomplished operators in the army. Lieut Kimberly, acting adjutant, than whom there is no one luckier, had nearly reached the fort when he was struck upon the shoulder a glancing blow from a shell, which knocked him over and stunned him. When he came to his senses, he saw the force was falling back and immediatly began to crawl or drag himself along the ground. It was a cornfield and he was sheltered somewhat by the winrows. In this position, he threw up his left foot, which was then struck by a reb bullet. After he was hit he crawled a forth of a mile until he came out where he could be borne away. A most careful examination was made by several surgeons and it was ascertained that the bone was so crushed that his foot could not be saved. His limb was also most skilfully amputated by the same surgeon who had operated upon the Major. Corporal Skellie of Co. D was operated on by the same skilful hand. The color guard suffered very severely. Sergt. Ellis fell from sunstroke and every one of the guard was either killed or wounded. As the colors fell from one hand, another was extended to grasp them. Sergt. Frank Brazee caught the state colors after they had repeatedly fallen from the hands of the wounded and planted them upon them enemy's works. The tattered flag pierced by bullets and its staff broken is being prepared to send to Jamestown. Glorious old flag, it has traversed the length of our sea coast from New York to Florida, and the men who have fought beneath its folds have been true to their banner in every contest. After the failure to carry the earthwork, our forces fell back a half mile to the position before carried which at this time writing they still hold. What the next move is to be, you will know before this letter is published, from the city paper. The sorrow of the boys at Maj. Ludwick's calamity, was intense. As he lay upon the table they would come along suffering many of them from their own wounds and with unfeigned sorrow exclaim "Ah! I'd rather lose my own arm than have that man lose his!" At present the regiment is under the command of Capt. A. Dunham who will in the future, as he ever has in the past, prove himself equal to any position he is called to fill. And while the writer feels deep sadness as he thinks of so many of the bravest and best who have fallen or maimed for life by wounds yet cannot help reflecting with honest pride, upon their courage and patriotism, which led them to give even life to save their country from ruin. The 112th has in this conflict as ever before covered herself with honorable fame. I would like to state instances of individual bravery but my sheet is full. Some of those wounded at Coal Harbor as the list will show are more seriously wounded now. Truely & c. H.
The Attack on Ft. Harrison and Ft. Gilmer
29 September 1864
written by Edward King Wightman, Sergt Major 3rd N.Y.V.I. October 4, 1864
When everything was ready, the 3rd Regiment, posted between the 117th and the 112th New York, was formed to number ten files (twenty men). Gen. Foster, who was dismounted and lead [sic] the command in person, gave the command, and the long line moved steadily to the front, over the protecting banks of the road through the thin belt of pines that covered the space between it and the first ravine. Johnny’s shells began at once to drop among us, right and left.
With a trifling loss, we reached the first ravine and descended its steep slope, over fallen trees and through thickset underbrush. We crossed the marshy ground below and slowly toiled up the opposite ascent. A burst of artillery from the right and front met us as we kept on over the level ground beyond. At the double quick we plunged into the second ravine, the battery on the right now infiltrating the line, and shot and shell ploughing through the ranks as we leaped and stumbled onward. Here a shell burst among our legs, there amongst a crowd of heads. Cheers and cries of agony and horror strangely mingled. Still the line toiled on, panting but resolute, up the second ascent and, hurrying over the level land, slid, rolled, and tumbled into the third ravine, the din and fury of the enemy’s fire increasing every moment and disasters multiplying at every step. Death fairly reveled in that third ravine. Shells hissed and exploded in our ears incessantly, and crushed heads and mangled bodies thickly strewed our pathway.
Again we struggled through fallen trees and tangled brush, sinking knee deep in mud and water. A man walking on the same log with me had both legs carried away by a single shot, and groaned awfully as he fell. We drowned his cries by hoarsely shouting, “forward.”
The top of the ravine was reached, and for a moment we paused to recover breath and gather strength for the last grand effort. Hundreds of men had already fallen, exhausted, by the way. Of the 3rd Regiment, only two sergeants, one private, the color bearer, and myself remained grouped around the colors. All the others had been killed, wounded, or lost in the ranks of the other regiments.
Suddenly the order, “Forward,” rang out in clear tones from our leader. The answering cheer from thousands of brazen throats seemed to shake the earth. A moment more and we were running through the cornfield under the [most] murderous, pitiless storm of musketry, shrapnel, and grape and cannister [sic] that I ever conceived of. The ripping, howling, and screaming of the missles [sic], mingled with the shouts of the attacking party, the yells of the rebels, the groans of the wounded, were horrible beyond description. The leaves of corn, cut by the flying shot, floated before our eyes continually and fell to the earth in showers. Many a poor fellow besides me was struck the second time before he reached the ground with his first wound.
We had passed a little log house and were within forty paces of the abbatis of the fort when a whirlwind of rifle fire seemed to rush across our front. The line disappeared as though an earthquake had swallowed it. The fatal hissing increased in volume a hundred fold. Perfectly bewildered, those who remained standing, halted. The ground was covered with our slain, and we had come this far with fixed bayonets and without firing a shot. Everyone recoiled and Foster, who was still with us, ordered a retreat.
The rebels stood in crowds upon their parapet of the fort, shouting at us in derision. I tried to bring down one of them, but my rifle missed fire. I never was so angry in my life. As I turned, a heavy piece of shell flattened my canteen, nearly knocking me off my legs but doing no other injury. The canteen saved my left hip joint. Tired and riled as I was, I would not have double quicked a step to save a thousand lives.
On looking around for our colors, I thought I recognized them and their bearer twenty paces ahead and, satisfied that they were safe, did not hasten to overtake them. Nothing now remained to be done but to get off the wounded. I found two of our wounded sergeants, one shot through the body and unable to walk. While getting him into a blanket, Rogers came up and together we lugged him from the field, the rebs pegging away at us till the last. On reaching the road from which we started, we found Knowles, who like Rogers and myself is unharmed, the Captain, lieutenant, and one or two others, and then for the first time learned that the colors were missing and had probably been captured. That has stuck in my crop ever since.
(An excerpt from the book "From Antietam to Fort Fisher" The Civil War Letters of Edward King Wightman, 1862-1865, Edited by Edward G. Longacre)
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