THE 185TH REGIMENT N.Y. VOLS.

Submitted by Kathy Crowell

Source:  Fayetteville "Weekly Recorder," March 13, 1890.

The 185th Regt. was organized in the fall of 1864.  Seven companies were raised in Onondaga County and three in Cortland County.  The regiment was mustered into service Sept. 22, 1864, and sent immediately to the front reaching City Point, Va., Sept. 30.  It was assigned to the Fifth Corps and with the 198th Penn. Vols., constituted the First Brigade of the First Division, the brigade commander being Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain, of Maine, afterwards governor of that State.  The regiment saw considerable service during the winter, taking part in the "First Hatcher's Run" campaign and the "Weldon Raid" acquitting itself with great credit.

After a few weeks in winter quarters in the reserve line in front of Petersburg, the brigade took an active and leading part in the advance on the left on the 6th and 7th of February, 1865, losing several officers and men killed and several wounded, and a few prisoners, one among the latter being Major R. P. Bush, now a member of Assembly from Chemung county.  For several weeks the brigade was posted in quarters upon ground captured in this battle, upon the bank of Hatcher's Run.  Upon the grand movement in the spring of 1865, which practically terminated the war, this brigade led the advance.  Leaving its comfortable camp early on the 29th day of March before the afternoon was half gone, a rebel brigade of four regiments was encountered, ambush in thick woods upon the Quaker Road, about ten miles southwest from Petersburg.  This was the first assault in the four days' battle which resulted in the destruction of Lee's rebel army.  After a sharp struggle of an hour, the brunt of which was borne by the First brigade, with a foe in front greatly outnumbering it, the brigade held its ground.  The 185th regiment, under the command of Colonel Sniper, went into battle with less than 600 officers and men.  During the brief time of the engagement, 30 were killed, and nearly 180 wounded, some ten of the latter mortally.  This fight is a memorable one in the history of the regiment.  Coming suddenly upon the rifle pits of the rebels, the fighting was at close quarters.  The color-bearer was twice wounded; the sergeant of the color company, in whose hands the colors were placed, was killed; and one of the color guard, who seized the colors as the sergeant fell, lost his hand; the captain of the color company, with the colors in his grasp, was also severely wounded.  The colors were then seized by the colonel, and a final charge was made.  Most of the wounds received by the men were severe, and the regiment, in the short period in which it was engaged, lost at least twenty-five per cent of its available material.  The dead were buried upon the spot.  Some were afterward removed to the Petersburg National Cemetery.  The survivors look back upon this sudden sharp "fight of the saw dust pile," as it was popularly denominated, as to a horrible dream.  The regiment stood its ground valiantly, and only fell back when ordered to re-form its line.  The men were thenceforth veterans in earnest.

At Gravelly Run upon the 31st of March, the Second and third divisions of the Corps were repulsed, and the First brigade led the advance of the First division to their relief, regaining and holding the field from which they had been driven.

After actively participating in the battle of Five Forks on the 1st of April, the First brigade took part in the pursuit of Lee, that grand race against time which terminated on the 9th of April at Appomattox court House.  Upon the latter occasion this brigade again led the advance and the white flag of the beleaguered rebel army came up in front of the 185th regiment.

the last man killed in battle in the Army of the Potomac was a lieutenant of this regiment, in command of the skirmish line, who was shot through by an unexploded shell, fired from a rebel battery while the white flag was advancing.

The surrender of Lee closed the active service of the regiment.  Returning to Washington by the way of Petersburg and Richmond, it took part in the grand review of the armies by the president; and upon the 30th day of May, 1865, it was mustered out of the service and was sent home to Syracuse, where it was finally disbanded upon the 11th day of June.

The aggregate number of officers and men mustered into this regiment was 1,002.  Of these 96 were among the dead before the regiment was mustered out; more than 200 had been wounded, and when the final discharge came, after nine months' service, but 572 were present to answer to their names.

It will thus be seen that the career of this regiment was an honorable one.  Although its term of service was short, it was an active and severe one.  When the emergency came the regiment stood its ground without flinching, and won a name in the list of new York regiments second to none.

A bill has been introduced into the Legislature providing for the erection of a suitable monument to the memory of the soldiers of the One Hundred and Eighty Fifth Regiment N. Y. Vols., upon the battlefield of Quaker Road in Virginia.  The amount of the appropriation desired is $1,500 being the same amount already granted for the erection of monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield for each regiment participating in that battle.  As the 185th did not enter the service until after the battle of Gettysburg had been fought and therefore did not have the glory of participation in that most decisive of all the battles of the war, the surviving members of the regiment feel that the scene of its chief battle, where it won itself an honorable name among the regiments from the Empire State, should be marked by a monument which shall suitably commemorate the valor of its soldiers.
 

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15 January 1999