1862-1865 New York Infantry. 123d Regiment.

Report of the monument committee of the One hundred and twenty-third regiment New York Infantry Volunteers. 1st Brig., 1st Div., 20th Corps online

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Online Library1862-1865 New York Infantry. 123d RegimentReport of the monument committee of the One hundred and twenty-third regiment New York Infantry Volunteers. 1st Brig., 1st Div., 20th Corps → online text (page 2 of 3)
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THE msGRiPTinw.

The work of your Committee seemed well under way when tliey
had reached the point where a contract could I)e made for the Monu-
ment. AVhen the design, after months of anxious, diligent, and
most careful search and investigation, and th(> making of almost in-
numiuMlili' sketches, drawings and i)lans, witii all the (;hanging and



14
roarrangin!-; that was loiind necessary', was at length finished, and
really put into form; when, alter a most extended correspondence,
and reaching ever)' known survivor of the Regiment, the investiga-
tion of every plan and map of the hattle within reach, and the read-
ing of every book or article that could he procured throwing light
upon the subject; after repeated consultations witli all with whom
we came in contact, and after a patient consideration of all the facts
that had thus been gathered; and after mature deliberation and
thorough sifting, together with j-our Chairman's personal kuowledge
applied to this subject, a provisional draft of what seemed to be an
appropriate inscription was at length evolved, and it was presented
to the Committee. By tiiem it was accepted as ju'rliaps the nearest
approach to the complete story that at that time could be reached.

Accordingly, on May 18, 1888, this inscription together with the
design of the Monument, was personally presented to the New Yoric
Commissioners. It was accepted by them without change, and your
Committee very highly complimented by Gen. Graham, as having
presented one of the finest designs, and having put the inscriptions
into the best shape of any that had come into his hands.

Having reached this stage of success and approval, your Committee
was ready to sit down and cnjoj- the fruits of weary months of toil,
and rejoice over their victories, and c[uite able to appreciate their
now nearly-ended struggles. We w'cre allowed to repose in this fan-
cied immunity for three full weeks, when the jtostman left at the
door a well-filled envelope bearing the official stamp of the New
York Commissioners, and directed in the well-known hand of Maj.
Cooncy. Opening the letter your Chairman read: "My Dear Mr.
Cary, Here comes up the old storj' again. Wont you kindly give it
your attention at once. You will have to make your fight with
( 'omrade Vanderslice, who is technical. * * h: * *

Believe me sincerely, lam, Geo. W. Cooney, Secretary." Reading
the inclosures, your Chairman said to himself :— "What more can be
done, that has not already been done?" Your Chairman had had a
contest Avith the New York Commissioners in their ofiice in New-
York and at Gettysburg; had a slight set to Avith ]\Iaj. Iloltzworlh,
the guide of the battlefield; had already been in conflict with Col.
Bachelder and secured two concessions from him. First, that the
123(1 New York was in the first line on the 2nd of July; Second, that
the 12;M New York actually built the breastworks in their front ; then
had crossed swords with Col. Wooster of the 20lli Cotiu.! Now who



can this now o;iant be, who is iiaiufd Col. Vaiidcrslicc, tiio Icchnical ?

A perusal of the letters showed conclusively thai the old fight was
indeed on again, and that this time it was a death grapple. That
now a man was confronting your Committee, who intended to dis-
pute every point, every word, and every sylalilc of tiial inscription.
And if we secured what we desired from him, it would only he
because he was convinced that we were right and had tiie truth with
us.

Col. Vanderslice took exceptions to, or made denials of si.\ points
in our inscription, as follows:

1. That we were mistaken in saying that it was al)out i>. m., July
2nd, when we returned from the left.

2. Denied that we made a charge at about 11 a. m., July od.

3. l)enied that we retook the works at that time.

4. Denied the fact of a skirmish on the afternoon of July ;}(1.

5. Denied the fact of a night attack July 3(1.

6. Denied the fact that our skirmishers advanced further than any
other Union troops on the afternoon of July 8(1.

But more. Col. Vanderslice based all these denials on the official
reports of Col. McDougall, commanding the Brigade; Lt. ( ol. Rogers,
in command of the Regiment, and Col. Wooster of the 20th Conn.,
both as to what they did say, and what they oiiiiited to say.

This was the situation June 12th. Our design was accepted by the
New York Commissioners. The contract was already let. The
money was nearly raised. The day was set for the dedication, and
that only two and a half months away. Then, when your Committee
was pressed on all sides for the text of the inscriptions which was
to be cast in tablets of bronze, this contest about the wording and
subject matter of the inscriptions themselves, wis re-opened again.
And to all appearances your Committee stood on the threshold of
what bid fair to be a long and bitter fight in reference to the state-
ments to ])e placed upon our Monument, as to what the 123d New
York really did at Gettysburg. But then, there were two good points
about this affair after all, for your Committee knew that the facts
were with ns; and that this was the last fight. In fact we had
reached the last ditch !

In the meantime the correspondence was continued. I'oint after
point of the minor differences was disposed of, and in every case
without disparagement to our claims. A statement was forwarded
over the signature of five commissioned officers, and touching the



romainini; itonis in disputo. This iiuule a strong slmwing find was ol'
grt'at valuo. But after all, those were only counter-irritants to the
ollicial rei>()rts wiiicli had I'cuiaincd unciialleniicd for a ([uartcr of a
century. Tiic statements of your Committee were facts of lustory
that had never before been hrouglit to light. Tiiey put a new i)liase
on some military opci-atioiis on Culp's Hill. 'I'hey ran counter to
some otHcial reports. Therefore it was no wonder that they were
immediately challenged, and that ('ol. Vandcrslice, the guardian of
t]>e reputation of all our forces nn that licM, protested against our
claims as he did.

So the struggle went on, and even memhers of your Commit tec did
not see how this tide could be stemmed, bu.l feared tliat \vc were
doomed to be worsted in this light. Your Chairman resolved tiiat if
it laj' in the power of mortal, even this victory s-hould be ours. l\'r-
sonally, he had conu' to the conclusion that he would never yield tin-
point of allowing our inscription to state less than from the be-
ginning had l)een claimed, if we had to wait until tiu' crack of do(un.

How co\d(l we recede from the statements that we had mailc, and
that we knew were true? That woidd have been cowardly, as well
a.s pusilanimous! It would have put upon us all a taint, from which
we never could have freed oui"selves. And it would have involved our
dead comrades as well as us who survive.

Thus niatters stood Juh'' 31st, thirty-live da3's lieforc t he dedicat ion I
Col. Vandcrslice was insistant, and your Committee was persistent.
Something more must be done. Your Chairman at mice wrote to
Maj. Gray and Capt. Baker to nu-ct him in Philadelphia, August 7th,
ami have a j)ersonal interview with Col. Vandcrslice, at his olhce
No. 10 North Seventh St. But both replied, regretting inability to
be present, but they desird the tablets made as we had arranged the
inscription, and then tight it out afterward if uec(l l)c. Then, too.
The Smith C.raniti- Co. were jiersistcntly calling for the inscriptions
in order to cdinplete their work in season to comply with tlie
contract.

Your (Miairman, seeing that another eifort must be made, ami that
I iicre were no reserves to call upon, since all these had been alreadv
in action, concluded that he was the forloiii liojic, ami ])rcparc(l jiim-
seU" accordingly. (Jripsack in haiul, he took the 11 c. m. train in
Boston, August 7th, and reached l'liiladcli)hia at l(l::i(» the next
morning, and m.ade his waj' to tin- ollicc of Col. \'au(b'islicc. He
fdund him a jdeasanl-faeed, nu'diuni sized man, somewhat stout.



17

wearini; ii (lark luustache, iiiid ii JViinsylvaniiiii. He hail conic in
from Ills country lionic 28 miles out, to mccl the ("ommillcc. 'I'lii'
opciiinu,' of the nc^xttiations was a little slow and a hit formal, Iml like
.■my two soldiers, we soon ^ot down to husiness. ^Ve had not pro-
ceeded tar before he be<;an to t(dl me some thinj^s about the dillicul-
ties of his work as the Superintendent of Leijends of the Battlc/icld
Association, and related instances of mistakes in location that had
already been made, and to all these tliinj^s he had a most williiii;
listener. Then the conversation turned to our own immediate work,
lie then referred to a letter received from Gen. Koj;-crs, and the fact
that the General had no recollection of makinir the report that is
said to bear his name was referred to.

The next point was concerninii- the report of Col. ^McDonna!!. This
was a more difficult task, since your Chairman must be true to the
dead as well as just to the living, so the matter was i>ut in this form:
Col. McDougall was a man who dearly loved his Kei;-iment, but was
like some fathers who are diffident about speaking in praise of their
own children, but can always see the good (pialities in those of other
people. And doui)tless, having received the verbal rejiort of the
30th Conn, first, that they had driven the enemy out of the works,
he made his report as he did, never having had a report from Capt.
A. II. Tanner who was in command of the Kegiment in the charge,
and so far as known, never having asked any of his own officers as
to the facts in the case, or informing them as to the nature of his
report.

Then the report of Gen. Rogers, the article in the National Tribune
by Gen. Howard, the combined statement of our five commissioned
officers, together with the explanations of j'our Chairman, so com-
pletely convinced Col. Vanderslice, that he set aside these reports
and nothing more was heard of them.

One point only remained, that concerning the report of ( 'ol. Woos-
ter of the 20th Conn. Here your (Chairman gave the Colonel a word-
picture of the scenes of our charge, and took him over every foot of
the ground from the time we formed our line, till we had recaptured
our works, and the Division, with that of Gen. Geary on our left,
had swept forward and occupied the works that we had left on flu;
afternoon of the previous day. In this picture there was shown our
formation on the ridge, just back of the little stream, with bayonets
fixed; the speech of Col. McDougall; the advance; the passing the
20tli Conn. ; the rush over the stone-wall; the firing; the dash into



18
the brea si works; the csoapini; enemy ; tlic preparation of 1 lie works
lor defence; and the sweeping forward of the Corps lo occupy what
they liad fought seven liours to secure!

Tlien, the Cohmel hooked your Chairman in the face and said:
"Well, what about the 30th?" Your Chairman gave him substan-
tiallv this reply : It is not for me or my Regiment to write their
history, but will ask you a question or two. Wliat do you thinl; of
a regiment claiming to have captured a line of works, when not a
man of them was found in or near said works ? What do you think
of a regiment in need of a few cartridges, going back to the reserve
ammunition train, a half mile in the rear of the line, and have to be
recalled by the commanding othcer of the l)rigade, when a sciuad of
men could have brought all the ammunition necessary? What do
3'ou think of a regiment that after claiming to have occupied the
works for which we had been fighting all the forenoon, would desire
to be relieved, when, as they claim, they were already in the works,
and not call on all the line to advance and occupy lohat they tlitmselves
had iron? The Colonel made no reply to these ciueries, and we went
on with the work. In the conversation your Chairman had dis-
covered that the 28th Penn. on our left, had advanced to Roelc
Creek, and the 13th N. J. on the right claimed to have crossed it,
therefore he withdrew that portion of our inscription which claimed
that our skirmishers had advanced farther than any other Union
Iroojts on that part of tlie line. The Colonel said it iniglit be modi-
lied, but it seemed best to withdraw it altogether. Then a vcii>al
change or two more, and our work was comjiletcd, to the entire sat-
isfaction apparently of us ])oth. Then we fell to chatting and I'or
ten minutes had just such a breezy time as twfi old soldiers who had
pleasantly comi)leted a diflicult negotiation, l)ut liad come to thor-
oughly respect each other, might be expected to have.

Your Chairman must not lose this opportunity to give you, my old
comrades, his impressions of Col. John M. Vanderslice. In iliis
paper he has been called "technical," not however in rej)ioac]i, or in
a slighting manner, but only because it is true, and j\Iaj. Cooney had
first applied it. Col. Vanderslice is the first and the only man wlio
has gone to the bottom of tills matter of our claims in the inseri])-
tion on our Monument. And he is one of the best Iriends we liave
ever had. lie is the only man who has ever sifted the evidence so
ii^i to be able to come to a discriminating and carelully digested con-
clusion. Your C-hairman regards him as a persoii.il i'riend, and as ,i



I '.I

gcntlcnian, wlio in tlic order ol' I'rovidfiice t^avc us rosulls Ihfil a less
painstaking man could not have rendered, and a man whom it was a
pleasure to meet.

Biddinti; good-bye to tlie Colonel your C'liairman was soon in New
York, and had only time to send a couple of telegrams, one to 3Iaj.
Gray and the oilier to Capt. Baker, announcing the battle over and
tlie victory won, and tlien take tie l)oat Cor liome.

The contractors were at once inl'ormed as to the amended inscrip-
tions, and all attention turned to the few remaining items that made
u]) the l)alance of your Comniittec^s, work.

THE nEniGRTinw.

\Vhen all these struggles had one by one been jiassed, and each had
been crowned a victory, then was time to take breath and apply our-
selves to the two items that yet remained to be accomplished, the
securing pledges for a small balance to complete our financial exhil)it,
and the dedication of our Monument.

An excursion was arranged and, thanks to all who had it in
charge, it was carried out to a successful conclusion. Leaving
Albany in the afternoon of Sept. 3d, 1888, Gettysburg was reached
at 10 o'clock the next morning. Carriages at once took us to the
liouse of Capt. Long, and after an early dinner, started for a drive
over the scenes of the first day's battle. This took us from Barlow's
Knoll to Reynolds Grove, then to the Springs Hotel, through the
town to the National Cemetery, thence to East Cemetery Hill. Here
Capt. Long, the Battlefield Guide, gave our company a fine descrip-
tion of this part of the field, and the tide of battle that swirled
about this knoll. Then taking our carriages we passed Stevens
Knoll, and along the line of our entrenchments on ('nip's Hill to
our Monument. Many of us will never forget the thrill of delight,
astonishment and pleasure that welled up in our hearts as we stood
on that familiar ground, and l)chcld for the iirsi time that stately,
chaste and beautiful memorial. Its unique design, its unity of effect,
its contrast of color with the background of boulders and the leafy
forest, its fiuiet self-assertion of dignity, as well as tlie rugged
strength of the pedestal, combined 1o make an impression lasting as
its granite and bronze.

The dedicatory services Avere simple, and consisted of a brief state-
ment by your Chairman of the service of our Regiment during the
battle; prayer by Chaplain Gordon; an address by Col. S. W. Russell,
and remarks bv the Chaplain, thr transfer of the :\ronun;cnt In the



20
Battlefield Association, and a graceful response by Col. Buehler,
Vice-President of the Association, and the Benediction.

Tlie bronz.e tablets bearing the more extended inscriptions had not
been set in the base, because of a lack of time resulting from our
long struggle over the text, but were put in place a few days sub-
sequently.

The monument itself was declared by all to be far beyond expec-
tation, and more than satisfactory. It was looked upon as being as
line as the best on the field; and of course this was gratifying to
your Committee.

After visiting Spangler's Spring, crossing the swale to examine
the monuments of the 3d Brigade, the party returned to town. The
eveniu'i- was made enjoyable by the illustrated lecture of our Guide
at the Opera House.

The next morning a drive over the Battletield included in the
second and third days light, was taken under the direction of Capt.
Lon"-. Starting out on the Emmitsburg road, past the Peach Orchard,
Wheatfield, Devil's Den, the Valley of Death, Round Top, Little
Round Top, and along the line of battle to the Death Angle, then to
Meade's Headquarters, Ziegler's Grove, and home over the Tancy-
town road.

In the afternoon the party drove out again, spending the time
near Culp's Hill and the scenes about our Monument.

But who can fittingly portray the thoughts and the emotions that
filled our hearts as we gathered there again, with more than a
(juarter of a century between us and the scenes of those July days
of confiict and heroic struggle ! With other years yet added, in the
Campaign of Atlanta, the March to the Sea, and the Campaign of the
Carolinas! Then the peaceful years of civil life! The effort to se-
cure a fitting memorial for our Regiment and our dead Comrades!
And then to stand before that beautiful, and artistic, and appropriate
Monument, completed and dedicated by fitting service, and the
presence of long separated Comrades, brothers in arms, brothers in
suffering, brothers in sympathy, and brothers in the love of country
and liberty! It was almost the fitting conclusion to a well-rounded
out life! It was indeed the privilege of a lifetime!

How we forgot all the cfPort to secure the Memorial! Ilcnv gladly
your Chairman lost sight of the struggle of the years! Tlie d:iys of
work, of scheming, planning, tlie effort to right the unintentional
wrongs committed against our Comrades, to bring the simple truth



21
into view, as to what the 123cl New York diil; to (•I.-ar up liic fo.irs
that had obscured our record; to reverse what had been considered
as history, and to write history as it occurred, and events as tiioy
happened! Wliat were tlie 10,000 miles of travel by day and t)y
night, required to secure it all! We now stood before the result of
all this gladly-rendered service and rejoiced in its completion!

GDKGLUSinN.

And now in concluding this report, already far too long, allow
your Committee to express their thanks, and their appreciation of
the services of all who have aided in this noble enterprise, whether
by money or by cheerful, hopeful words of encouragement. We
thank you all.

And now Comrades, having performed the duty committed to us,
and with all financial obligations met, your Committee ask to be
discharged. For the Committee,

Oct. 14, 1890. SETH C. GARY, Chairman.



LETTER OF CHAIRMAN

DF



eiti CCtStllltlH?^



TD THE —

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

DF

WASHINGTON COUNTY.

To thf Honornble Board of Superrisora of WasMnf/ton County. Neic

York:

Gentlemen.— It will be remembered that at your session held at
Greenwich, Nov. 1887, you appointed a Committee to erect a Monu-
ment for the 123d New York Infantry, at Gettysburg, Pa. The
names of that Committee were :

Adjt. Setii C. Cauy, Maiden, Mass.

C/APT. Geo. W. IBakeii, Salem.

Maj. Henuy Gray, Green ivicli.

Edward L. Coy, Esquire, West IIel)roii.

Hon. Edward Dodd, Argyle.

Col. S. W. llussELL, .Salem.

Lieut. Robert Cruiksiiank. Salem.

Lieut. Donald Reid, Argyie.

WiLMiAM Lawton, Es(;rnti;, Cambridge.

Judge .losKi'ii Pottki;. Wliitehall.



The saiil Committee now desire to l:iy ])efore 3'oiir Ilononiblc ])od}'
their final report.

Your Committee \v:is organized In- tlie election of Adjt. Setli C.
Cary. Chairman ; Lieut. Donahl Reid, Secretary, and Maj. Henry
(.Tray, Treasurer.

After mature deliberation and securing the opinion of those well
c|ualified, it was determined to erect a Monument to cost not less
than four thousand dollars $4,000). Of this amount the State gen-
erously gave us one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500), thus
leaving with your Committee the work of raising tlic sum of two
thoi'.sand five hundred dollars ($2,500) by subscription. And to this
was to be added suflicient to meet all tlie actual expenses of the
Committee.

Arrangements were at once made for a tliorough canvass of tlie
County for sabscription, th;; resill of which will be reported by OL:r
Treasurer.

The next work was to secure an appropriate design with proper
inscriptions, let tlie contract to honest and reliable parties, and when
completed to dedicate the same.

In the prosecution of this, your Committee has met twice at Green-
wich, twice at Salem, twice at Argyle, and once each at Sandy Hill
and Saratoga, and at each meeting the Chairman has been present.
In addition to this, the Cliairman has, in his official capacity, twice
visited New York city, to confer with the New York Commissioners
on Getlj-sburg Monuments; has been to Westerly, R. I. twice, the
first time to inspect the clay model for the figure of the Monument,
and the second time with CJapt. Geo. W. Baker to ins])ccl the plaster
cast of the same; further, he has visited Philadelphia to confer with
Col. J. ISl. Vanderslice, Secretary of the Committee on Legends and
Inseri|)tions of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, in
reference to the inscriptions to be placed upon our Monument; three
times he has visited the battlefield at Gettysburg; and has been in
Boston manj- times on business connected with the ?tIoni;ment.

Besides this, the work of the Chairman has been somewhat onerous
• in writing letters, circulars and reports for the press of the County,
to stir up the old-time enthusiasm, and to make our scheme a success
financially, as well as an expression of devotion to our Comrades and
to lil)erty. Also a very wide correspondence Avilh the members of
the Regiment, scattered far and near, as to their recollections of our
service at Gettysburg, in order to form a liasis on which to ]irepare



3

an appropriate inscription, and one that would represent to the ag(^
to come the services performed hy "tin- Wasliin<,'ton County Ilegi-
ment" at Gettysburg. To this must be added a very extended corre-
spondence Avith the New Yorlc Commissioners, through their Secre-
tary, Maj. Geo. W. Cooney; with the Gettysburg Battlefield Associa-
tion, through Cols. John B. Bachclder and J. M. Vanderslice, the
Superintendent and Secretary of tiieir Committee on Legends and
Inscriptions, together with Hon. John M. Krauth, Secretary of the
Association. And in all, the cordial support of the members of the
Coniniiltee has been constant and steadfast.

But further. All this, extended as it is, is only a small portion of
the work accomiilished by your Committee. When this work Avas
begun, there was not in existence a map or a scries of maps, a report
or a series ef leports, which gave tlie facts, or a connected statement
of fact, from which an impartial historian could by any vo^^'bility,
have made a clear and luminous sketch of our service at Gettysburg.
And it was amid such mist and darkness that your Committee began
its labors, and began to see the magnitude of the work on their
hands, and to make up their minds to a long struggle and possible
defeat, in this matter of a truthful inscription to be placed upon our
Monument. And yet it was their purpose never to j'ield what they
knew to be true, and to fight this matter till the last resource was
exhausted. And this condition of affairs existed up to the Tth of
Auuusi, 1888, four weeks before the time set for the dedication!

Nor was this a.ll. Tliere was a furtlier complication arising out of
the claims of another regiment, the record of which is on their mon-
ument only a few feet from our own.

It has been a long, and at times a painful work, to unravel this
tangled skein of unintentional mistakes, blunders and carelessness,
and bring out of it all, clear and sharply defined, the homely yet
beautiful truth, and embody it in simple and perspicuous language,
and at length put it in enduring bronze Avhere all the world can read
the story. It has been largely a labor of love, for only love would
have been willing to have plodded through these mazes, or had


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Online Library1862-1865 New York Infantry. 123d RegimentReport of the monument committee of the One hundred and twenty-third regiment New York Infantry Volunteers. 1st Brig., 1st Div., 20th Corps → online text (page 2 of 3)