HISTORY OF THE EIGHTY-FIRST
disastrous battle of Bull Run opened the eyes of the north, and it was
clearly seen that probably a prolonged war was begun. Under
authority of acts of May 3rd, July 22nd and July 25, 1861, 500,000 volunteers
had been called for terms varying from six months to three years, under
which calls New York State sent about 31,000 for two years about 90,000
for three years. The call of May and July let to the adoption of
second measures for raising a second regiment in Oswego county. On
the 29th of August 1861, a meeting was held in Doolittle Hall, over which
E.B. Talcott presided. William Duer was the principal speaker, and the
immediate raising of another regiment was determined upon. The work of
recruiting began at once and was pushed rapidly forward. On the 14th
of September Co. A, Captain Raulston, was mustered in at Fort Ontario and
seven others followed on the 17th, of which A, B, C, and D companies
were from Oswego city. Co. I, from Gilbertsville; Co F, from Fulton; Co
G from Syracuse; and Co H. from Hannibal. The ninth company was mustered
in October 1, from the town of Oswego. In January 1862, the tenth company
was furnished from the town of Hastings. But, the regiment was not yet
filled, and owing to some internal disagreements recruiting proceed slowly.
On the 20th of January 1862, the regiment under command of Colonel Rose,
a West Point graduate, was sent to Albany, where it received about 350
men from Oneida County. This fill the ranks. As finally arranged
the filed and staff officers were as follows:
Edwin Rose; Lieutenant colonel, Jacob J. DeForest; Major, John McAmbely;
Surgeon, William H. Rice; Assistant Surgeon, Carrington Macfalane; Adjutant,
Edward A. Cooke; Quartermaster, Roger A.Francis; Chaplain, David McFarland;
Sergeant Major, James L. Belden; Commissary Sergeant, H.H. Green Quartermaster,
Sergeant, John F. Young; Hospital Steward, C.S. Hart; Drum Major W.S. Winters.
Co. A:- Captain, William
C Raulston; First Lieutenant, Hamilton Littlefield Jr.: Second Lieutenant,
Elias A. Fish.
Co. B:- Captain, Augustus
G. Bennett; First Lieutenant, Hugh Anderson; Second Lieutenant, Martin
Co. C:- Captain, Franklin
Hannahs; First Lieutenant, Orin J. Fitch; Second Lieutenant, Seth J. Steves.
Co. D:- Captain, L.C. Adkins;
First Lieutenant, Orin J. Fitch; Second Lieutenant, R.D.S. Tyler
Co. E:- Captain, Lyman
M. Kingnan; First Lieutenant, W.C. Newberry; Second Lieutenant D.G. Harris
T. Dwigh; First Lieutenant, Edward S. Cooke; Second Lieutenant, D.C. Rix.
Co. G:- Captain, Henry
C. Thompson; First Lieutenant, Henry H. Hamilton; Second Lieutenant, H.W.
Co.H:- Captain, John
B. Ralston; First Lieutenant, John W. Oliver: Second Lieutenant:
Co. I:- Captain
D B White; First Lieutenant, Willard W. Ballard; Second Lieutenant;
J. Dorman Steele; First Lieutenant, George W. Berriman; Second Lieutenant;
the 21st of February the regiment was ordered to New York City, whence
they proceeded on they proceed on the 5th of March to Washington, DC. There
the men remained in camp twenty days, and on the 28th of March, marched
to Alexandria Va., whence they embarked for Fortress Monroe, arriving on
the 1st of April. From this date until May 31st the regiment was on the
march or in camp, acting as reserve at the battle of Williamsburg
Va., and reaching Seven Pines on the 28th, where they remained until the
bloody engagement of the 31st was fought. In this battle the 81st
was assigned to the left of Casey’s Division, unsupported in an open field.
The regiment here underwent its baptism of fire and stood the ordeal heroically.
De Forest was shot in the breast; Major McAmbley and Captain Kingman ,
with many privates, were killed and left on the field. The regiment passed
to the command of Capt. William C. Raulston. Darkness ended the battle
and the menslept on their arms. The next day was spent in burying the dead,
and on the 2nd of June McClellan issued an address to the army, to inspire
the troops with courage for the decisive battle which he said was at hand.
The 81st marched to White Oak Swamp; went into camp and remained until
the 28th; where they were joined by Colonel Rose, who had been absent a
month on account of sickness. On the morning of the 30th a weary
march was made to Malvern Hill. July 1st the regiment was assigned to the
reserve corps and on the following day started for Harrison’s Landing.
On the 8th they encamped near the James River, remaining thirty-nine days,
and while here Colonel Rose resigned and the command devolved upon Major
Raulston. On the 16th of August the regiment started the march that
took them in the ensuing few days to Yorktown, Va., where they went
into camp and remained until the last of December. On the 29th of December
they left Yorktown, Va. For North Carolina, and the following three months
were passed mostly in camp at Caroline City and St. Helena Island, NC.
On that vicinity a month more was spent in rapid changes of position, bring
then to Morehead City, NC. On the 2nd of May 1863.
this time Major D.B. White, with CO’s B, D, and G, was ordered
to Fort Macon to perform garrison
duty. Captain Ballard, with CO’s E, K, and I was assigned to the provost
guard at Beaufort, NC. and the remaining four, CO’s A,L,F, and H,
remained at Morehead City, NC., as headquarters, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Raulston. Several important raids were made from this point during the
next few months.
the 18th of October the regiment embarked for Newport News, Va., where
they encamped on the same ground occupied by them in April 1862. They remained
here a month and then went to Northwest Landing about twenty-five miles
from Norfolk, Va.
1st, 1864, the men who had less than one year to serve were given the opportunity
to enlist for three years and take a furlough of thirty days. On
the 23rd of February more than two-thirds of the entire regiment had re-enlisted,
and they started for home, reaching New York on the 29th of February. In
Syracuse the veterans were met by a delegation, were breakfasted, and at
four o’clock reached Oswego, NY. Marching to
Doolittle Hall, they were received
and banqueted by the ladies of the city
and given a royal welcome by all.
81st, again left for the front on the 12th of April 1864, and arrived at
Yorktown, Va., on the 18th. Here they were assigned to the First Brigade,
First Division, Eighteenth Corps of the Army of the James. May 4th they
proceeded to Bermuda Hundred, whence they march six miles from the landing
and began the construction of fortifications. On the 9th, while deployed
as skirmishers, they net the troops of Beauregard and drove them from the
field. During the following month the regiment was almost uninterruptedly
engaged in skirmishes and minor battles. At Drury’s Bluff, on the 16th
of May 1864, the regiment occupied an important position, and twice repulsed
the enemy’s charges. On the 1st of June, after having joined the Army of
the Potomac, the 81st went into the bloody battle of Cold Harbor, Va. On
this sanguinary field on the 2nd, the regiment lost over seventy in killed
and wounded. Among the killed were Captains Ballard and Martin, and Lieut.
J.W. Burke, of Co.K, five other captains were wounded.
the end of the twelve days in which the regiment was engaged at and near
Cold Harbor, Va. Two thirds failed to answer at roll call, and
an order for provisional consolidation into four companies was issued.
But, instead of the expected respite, they were marched to Petersburg,
Va. and on the 15th drove the enemy from his first line of works, and participated
in the brilliant and successful charge of the Eighteenth Corps. On the
16th the regiment supported an assaulting column, and on the 26th received
a charge from the enemy, which they bravely with stood and almost annihilated
2nd they marched to Appomattox River, where they remained until the 26th,
when they returned to Bermuda Hundred. In the succeeding battle of Fort
Harrison, the 81st was the first to plant its flag on the enemy’s works,
and nine officers and many privates were killed or wounded. Captain Rix,
Lieutenants Tuttle and Nethway were killed, and Lieutenants Dobear and
Porter were mortally wounded. During the two days of the fighting the regiment
lost one hundred in killed and wounded. The regiment next participated
in the engagement near Seven Pines on the 29th of August, and thence later
returned to Chapin’s Farm.
the 5th of November the regiment was ordered to New York where it remained
during the presidential election, returning to camp near Richmond, Va.
When the Confederate capital fell the 81st was first infantry regiment
to enter the city. The regiment was mustered out August 1, 1865.
recognition of its gallant services the 81st was presented with a stand
of colors by the War Department, bearing the inscriptions; Yorktown, Seven
Pines, Savage Station, Malvern Hill, Winton, Violet Station, Kingsland
Creek, Drury’s Bluff, May 13,15,16; Cold Harbor, June 1,2,3; Petersburg,
June 15,16 and 24, and July 9 and 30; Fort Harrison (Chapin’s Farm), September
29 and 30; fair Oaks (2nd), October 27, 1864.
is a list of the engagements, sieges, skirmishes and raids in which the
81st took part:
of Yorktown, May 3,1862
on Trenton July 4, 1863
on Winton July 28-30, 1863
Ridge May 11,1862
on Violet St. May 9, 1864
Station May 22,1862
Creek May 13, 1864
Bluff May 16, 1864
Pines May 31,1862
Harbor June 1-12,
June 24, 1862
June 15, 1864
City Cross Rd. June 25,1862
Farm Sept. 29, 1864
Cross Roads June 25, 1862
Oaks (2) Oct. 27, 1864
Hill July 1,
Va. April 3rd,1865
of Charleston April 7-10, 1863
The original rifles issued to the 81st Vol. Reg. were Muskets, Caliber
58. The muskets were change to Springfield Rifles in 1862 and then
exchange to Austrian Rifles (which were poor, inferior and unacceptable).
These Rifles were exchanged for Enfield Rifle.
Mallet, a First Lieutenant at the time, was seriously wounded at Cold Harbor,
Reference: Landmark of Oswego
County, New York
Edited by: John C. Churchill LLD
Assisted by: H. Perry Smith and Standley Child
Book Location: Fulton, New York Library