Richard Mather Bayles.

History of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time online

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fight the battles of their country. At a meeting held in Demp-
sey' shall, Factory ville, September 2, 1861, for the purpose of
organizing a company of young men of the island, James Bo-
dine made a patriotic address, and at its close about fifty young
men signed the roll. A station was opened during that month,
in a large carpenter's shop that had been previously owned by
James OK Burger. Unusual inducements were offered to re-
cruits to join a company which was to be transferred to Colonel
Tompkins' regiment (Second New York state militia) already at
the seat of war. Forty-two of these recruits, belonging to Com-
pany A, left Port Richmond on the 23d to join the regiment at
Poolsville, Md. Recruiting was now said to be more lively than



HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 281

it had been before. The following are the names of those of
this company who were from the island : Peter Pero (corpo-
ral), Lewis D. Johnson (corporal), John E. Johnson, Joseph B.
Johnson, John J. Simonson, James H. Munson, Daniel Mallett,
Eugene Daily, Henry D. Spong (corporal), Alexander Fitz Sim-
mons, Edward M. Sharrott, Jeremiah Leary, Charles Steers,
Thomas J. Gushing, George F. Burbank, James H. Simonson,
Jacob T. Selzer, Cornelius Degraff, William D. Maskell, Charles
H. King, William Eccles, Joseph K. Plant, Henry Sharp, Jos-
eph B. Barnes, Joseph L. Thompson, James Post, Isaac Lock-
man, C. P. B. Slaight, Jr., Henry Mercereau, Cornelius Mar-
tineau, Jacob Lockman, James B. Burbank, Simon V. N.
Decker, Albert Mason, Matthins B. Stewart, James B. Halli-
day, Albion Noble, John Reynolds, Abraham Turner, Francis
M. Tarsney, William H. Fullagar, Arthur Haughian, George
Conner, Thomas Conner, Joseph Simonson, Henry T. Paulson,
Henry Decker, Samuel Warrender, John W. Tynan, James
Simonson, Thomas Flanelly, Frigero Gassq, John R. Green.

The Seventy-third, under Colonel Tompkins, composed of the
citizen soldiers of Staten Island, was by a resolution of its of-
ficers at a meeting held at Tompkins' Lyceum, June 9th, 1862,
offered to the government for three years or the war. It was
expected that it would be attached to Spinola's brigade.

In accordance with the direction of the governor, the super-
visors, in July, appointed men to meet with others to form a
committee for this senatorial district to superintend the raising
of troops for the army. The men appointed from Richmond
county were Col. Nathan Barrett, Richard Christopher, William
II. Vanderbilt, J. Bechtel, William Corry, Henry L. Norris and
Edward Banker.

During July a number of Staten Island men enlisted in the
Seventy-ninth (Highlanders), which was already in the field.
The raising of recruits, however, proceeded slowly, and the
authorities seemed backward about taking earnest hold of the
matter of raising troops. It seemed necessary that some means
should be taken to arouse the public mind to the importance
of action. Accordingly, one of the largest and most enthusi-
astic war meetings ever gathered in the county was held
at Port Richmond on the evening of August llth. Its object
was to encourage enlistments to fill the calls for six hundred
thousand men which had recently been made by the president.



282 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.

The quota of Richmond county under these calls amounted to
seven hundred and eighty-four men. The meeting assembled
at the steamboat wharf, near Oriental hall, where more than
fifteen hundred people were present.

Resolutions were passed, heartily approving of the call for
troops, declaring it to be the imperative duty of men enjoying
the protection and benefits of the government to do all in their
power to sustain it ; declaring for the perfect union of the states
and the maintenance of the authority of the government at
whatever cost ; calling for immediate, prompt, constant and
energetic action until the cause for such action should cease ;
branding as enemies all who should refuse to speak or act when
occasion required for the preservation of the country, and fi-
nally that "we have come here to-night to act, and that we will,
without delay, contribute liberally of our means to forward en-
listments and carry out the great measures now being instituted
for the earnest and vigorous prosecution of the war, well as-
sured that the greater the sacrifices we now make the more
speedily we shall see our country rejoicing in the blessings of
peace, and the whole constellation of stars in our political
heaven restored to their accustomed brilliancy and beauty, never
again to be dimmed nor obscured."

Hon. Erastus Brooks then made an eloquent and stirring ad-
dress, during the delivery of which he was frequently inter
rupted by applause. A bounty of lift}' dollars each was offered
to volunteers, and the chairman was appointed to receive sub-
scriptions to a fund for that purpose. The list was headed by
a subscription of five hundred dollars, and several others of one
hundred dollars each, and enlistments and subscriptions flowed
in. Other meetings were held in other parts of the county and
efforts made to meet the demands of the hour, but the results
were not sufficiently rapid to prevent apprehensions that a draft
might be resorted to.

The possibilities of a draft in the future developed a peculiar
feature in the eagerness with which some endeavored to evade
those possibilities. Like the invited guests of a certain great
supper of old, they began to make excuses. Men who had
never thought of complaining of any ailment now assumed,
with the best possible grace, the role of invalids, or found, often
by hard stretches of truth, perhaps, that some good reason ex-
isted to relieve them of military duty. One has the bronchitis,



HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 283

another an affection of the jaw, another finds his eyesight very
poor and bought spectacles after the order fora draft was made,
another has one leg shorter than the other, another is 4 ' thick
of hearing," another has a sick wife, another gets ont of
breath very soon, and many others are over forty-five years old
or hold some office that exempts them.

Mass meetings were held in the different towns in August, for
the purpose of encouraging enlistments and raising subscrip-
tions from which to pay a bounty of $50 to volunteers and to
furnish aid to take care of their dependent families during their
absence. Such a meeting for Northfield was held at Elm Park
on the 16th, at which some two thousand persons were present,
and resolutions were passed expressing the same sentiments as
those of the previous meeting and calling on the supervisors to
raise by taxation on the towns of the county ten thousand dol-
lars to be appropriated to the relief of the families of volunteers.
Voluntary subscriptions for the same purpose were also received.
In New Brighton a similar meeting was held on the 18th, at
which over three thousand dollars was subscribed for a relief
and bounty fund for the town, and a committee appointed to at-
tend to dispensing it and collecting more. Another meeting of
the people of Castleton was held on the 21st, at Factoryville.
Speeches, resolutions, subscriptions and enthusiasm flowed
freely on these occasions. This relief fund, which had been
established in 1861, had already received and dispensed above
five thousand dollars, and at this time had more than one hun-
dred families dependent on it. The citizens of Middletown
held a meeting on the 2<)th, at which resolutions were passed
expressive of a full determination to sustain the government in
carrying on the war and calling on the supervisors of the county
to appropriate twenty thousand dollars to be distributed to the
families of volunteers who had or should enlist from this county.
One of these resolutions is in the following language :

"Resolved, That much as Ave may differ as to questions of
policy in minor matters, we are one in the conviction that it is
our individual duty to stand by the government of our fathers,
and to swear eternal hostility to treason and its abettors whether
at home or abroad." The meeting adjourned in a full blaze of
enthusiasm, and several enlisted at once.

A meeting at Southfield was held on the 21st, at which some
two thousand persons were present. Patriotic resolutions, ex-



284 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.

pressive of full sympathy with the war, were passed, among
which were the following :

"That the people of the town of Southfield are heart and soul
devoted to the national cause at the present vital crisis, and that
they will make any sacrifice to preserve our national existence,
which is now menaced by a band of lawless traitors."

"That while differences of opinion exist among us on politi-
cal questions, we are satisfied that this is no time to agitate
them when the life of the nation hangs trembling in the bal-
ance, and foreign despots look on exultingly, expecting and
hoping to see the failure of democratic institutions thoroughly
demonstrated by this war."

" That we now call upon the supervisor of this town to co-
operate with the other supervisors of this County in appropri-
ating a sum of $20,000 as a bounty for volunteers, and for the
support of their wives and children, trusting to the legislature
to legalize the act."

Westfield was not behind her sister towns in answering the
country's call. Two meetings were held, and the enthusiasm
generated was sufficient to excite the resolution to raise a com-
pany of seventy-five men, which should be officered from the
town.

The supervisors of Richmond county met on the 27th of
August and resolved to issue the bonds of the county to the
amount of twenty thousand dollars, the proceeds of which
should be used for the payment of extra bounties and relief for
tin- families of volunteers. Though this action was at the time
contrary to law, yet it was deemed expedient in view of the ex-
treme circumstances, and the loud call for it which the popular
meetings in the different towns had made on the board. It was
presumed that the legislature would sanction it. which was
done when that body met in the following winter.

Enlistments were now very brisk, the war spirit having, by
the enthusiastic speeches and action of the people, become
thoroughly aroused. A new company mostly from the town of
Castleton was formed, with Louis Schaffner, captain ; Orville
D. Jewett, first lieutenant, and Clarence Barrett, second
lieutenant. Recruiting offices were opened at Dempsey's hotel,
Factoryville, and at the white lead works of John Jewett &
Sons at Port Richmond. An extra bounty of fifty dollars each
was paid volunteers. John C. Green of Castleton, gave one



HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 285

thousand dollars toward paying these bounties. Barracks were
erected for the use of this company on the corner of Broadway
and Church street, in Port Richmond. It was decided to attach
the company to the regiment of Colonel Minthorne Tompkins.

A meeting of the citizens of the county was held at Clifton
park, August 30th, amid the flaunting of banners, the strains
of stirring music, and the cheers of the multitude. Enthusias-
tic speeches were made by Judge H. B. Metcalfe, who presided,
George William Curtis, General Busteed, Honorable Eras t us
Brooks, and others. The following resolutions were passed :

" Whereas, The County of Richmond has not been hitherto,
and will not be hereafter behind any county in the State in loy-
alty ; that her sons are fighting in regiments in almost every
division of the national army, and that among the men who
still remain at home there are scores who will be proud to face
the foe for the sake of the Union. Therefore,

"Resolved, That we will relieve the Government from the
necessity of making a draft in this County by providing volun-
teers to fill our quotas under both calls.

" Resolved, That it is the duty of every man to support the
Government by every means in his power, by his voice, his ex-
ample, his money and his good right arm.

" Resolved, That the schemes of the unscrupulous traitors
who have dared to raise their fratricidal hands against their
brethren are deserving the most extreme punishment, and that
the Government is justified in adopting any and all measures
known to civilized warfare to suppress this infernal and wicked
rebellion at any and every cost.

" Resolved, That the action of the Supervisors of the County
in appropriating the sum of 20,000 for the relief of the fami-
lies of volunteers meets with our hearty approval, and we here-
by endorse the same, and call upon the next Legislature to
legalize the said acts of the Supervisors.

" Resolved, That the local Committees thoroughly canvass
each Town and procure all the subscriptions they can in aid of
the enlistment, and the support of the families of volunteers."

The governor at this time had appointed two citizens in each
town, who, with the aid of the supervisor and assessors, were
charged with the duty of enrolling all persons liable to mili-
tary duty, which they proceeded to do.

The war cominittee of the First senatorial district was held



286 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.

at Jamaica, on Thursday, the 4th of September, for the purpose
of aiding in the organization of a regiment of volunteers and to
equalize the quotas of the several counties of the district and
apportion any deficiencies in those counties among the towns
that compose them. In this committee Richmond county was
represented by Hon. Smith Ely, William Correy, Nathan Bar-
rett, William H. Vanderbilt and Henry Lee Norris, the latter
of whom was one of the secretaries of the meeting. Among
other business done it was resolved to recognize and adopt the
regiment being formed by Colonel Minthorne Tompkins as the
regiment of the district, and the committee pledged itself to
spare no effort to fill up the regiment as rapidly as possible, and
to organize it so as to make it most efficient in the field and a
credit to the district as well as the country.

Recruiting stations for this i-egiment were opened in all parts
of the island. It was said that the officers at these rendezvous
wore smiling countenances and made encouraging reports of the
progress of the work. Fears of a draft were imminent, and this
stimulated some to volunteer and others to contribute to the
fund for extra bounties and relief for the families of volunteers.
Up to the 6th of September there remained three hundred and
ten of the quota of the county to be made up, but little more
than half of the quota under the two last calls being filled.

About this time several deserters were captured on the island
and returned to their regiments. The freedom of speech and of
the press were shown to be capable of abuse, to the injury of the
common interest. At this time it seemed important to guard
against such abuses. Occasionally a man was arrested and con-
fined in Fort Lafayette for disloyal expressions, but they were
not held in such confinement for any considerable length of
time.

A large number of Staten Island men about this time, Sep-
tember, 1862, enlisted in Spinola's brigade, which was encamped
at East New York. As the months wore along recruits came
in so that by the middle of the month fears of an immediate
draft subsided, the quotas being nearly full. Southfield had ex-
ceeded hers, and Westfield and Northfield had filled theirs.
The volunteer fund of Castleton was receiving liberal contribu-
tions. Of those which up to September llth amounted to $100
or more the following is a list : Barrett, Nephews & Co., $300;
Wm. S. Pendleton, $300; John S. Westervelt, $300; Daniel G.



HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 287

Bacon, 300; Crab tree & Wilkinson, 200; Francis G. Shaw,
$300; Lucius Tuckerman, $100; Edward F. Davison, $100;
Bodine Brothers, $100; George C. Ward, $300; John Martin,
Jr., 8150; J. Freeman Tyson, $100; Cornelius Du Bois, $100;
New York Dyeing and Printing Co., $500; Thomas M. Rian-
hard, $100; John C. Green, $1,000; Ernest Fielder, $100; John
M. Pendleton, $100; Edward Bement, $200; C. C. Taber, $300;
Mrs. William Bard, $200.

Under the famous internal revenue act, which went into effect
about this time, the following persons were appointed assistant
collectors for the towns of this county, which composed col-
lection districts,each numbered as indicated: Westfield, No. 16,
William A. Brown; Castleton, No. 17, Robert Rakestraw;
Middletown, No. 18, Henry Mendell; Northtield, No. 19, Daniel
Zeluff; Southfield, No. 20, John B. Jacobson.

By the latter part of October the material of the island had
become so much exhausted by recruiting that the regiment
which was intended to represent Staten Island, and be under
command of Colonel Minthorne Tompkins, filled up slowly.
The prospect of filling it soon became so faint, and the need of
men in the field was so urgent that an order was issued by'In-
spector-General Van Vechten to consolidate three of its com-
panies with the One hundred and Fifty-sixth which had left
Kingston, Ulster county, with seven hundred men, and was
then in the barracks in NewYork city hall park. Accordingly,
on the 13th and 14th of November, the companies of Captains
Schaffner, Shelton and Vaughn were transferred to that regi-
ment. This gave rise to great dissatisfaction, and great excite-
ment prevailed, amounting almost to a riot. In the midst of
the tumult one man was stabbed in the back with a bayonet.
The remaining island companies of Tompkins 1 regiment became
disordered and took to the woods and hills, leaving the camp
at Factoryville almost deserted, being occupied by only about
forty officers and men. While in this condition, on Monday
morning, the 17th, the barracks took fire and were nearly de-
stroyed. The fire was supposed to be the work of an incendiary.
The Richmond county regiment, which numbered (with a com-
pany of one hundred men from Flushing which was expected
to join it), six hundred and fifty men, was now broken up.
The remaining companies were transferred to the One hundred
and Fifty-seventh, then encamped at East New York. Of these,



288 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.

two companies, under Captains Mark Cox and William Hilde-
brandt, were mainly composed of Staten Island men. Colonel
Tompkins was offered a position as lieutenant-colonel in the
One hundred and Fifty-eighth, but declined. His adjutant was
retained and his senior captain was made major of the One
hundred and Fifty-sixth.

In this sluggish condition of the work of recruiting the pros-
pect of a draft again began to rise. The day was appointed for
the drawing to take place, and Judge H. B. Metcalfe was ap-
pointed commissioner for superintending it, and William G.
Eadie examining surgeon. These officials sat daily at the sur-
rogate's office, at Richmond, from October 22d till the day be-
fore the draft was to take place, to hear any claims of persons
liable to military duty for exemption. But the efforts which
were made here, by enthusiastic public meetings and other means,
were sufficient to push forward the work so that no draft was
required in Richmond county. At a meeting of the senatorial
district committee at Jamaica on the 6th of November, the
county was able to show the following encouraging report:

Towns. Quota. Enlisted.

Middletown 193 211

Castleton 209 241

Northfield . , 150 127

Southfield 113 123

Westfiedd 123 94

County 788 796

List of men recruited on Staten Island by Charles G. Smith,
First Lieutenant Company B, One Hundred and Thirty-second
regiment, up to November 19, 1862.

From Southfield: William Church, Edward Henkel, Bryan
Carney, Edward Jaspart, Peter Schmidt. From Middletown:
Caspar Elmer, William Elmer, James Foley, Patrick Gorman,
Smith W. Higgins, Robert Huston, William L. Ludlum, George
Lambert, Conrad Liebacher, Edward B. Murray, Thos. McKee,
Charles Ockhert, Bernard Schmit, Theodore Simonson, Fred-
erick W. Taxter, Addison White, John Williams.

The following list was recruited at Port Richmond, by David
Stothers, first lieutenant, afterward captain of Company K,
the same regiment.

Northfield: Charles H. Jones, Jacob V. P. Long, Cornelius



HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 289

Jones, sergeants; Charles J. Elms, Freeman W. Jones, corpo-
rals; Charles Applebee, Wm. G. E. Decker, John R. Patter-
son, Joseph Emery, William Durrua, George W. Smith, James
W. Houseman, John H. Leonard. Qastleton: James Ma-
honey, David McConnell, George Turner. Soutlifield: Gilbert
H. Randolph.

The above were honorably discharged at the disbandment of
the regiment. The following were discharged previously:

Hiram C. Decker, John A. Taylor, Hyacinth Burke, Michael
Valliere, Andrew P. Van Pelt, John B. Corsen, and Garrett E.
Van Pelt, Northfield; William C. Dunn, Southfield, and Joseph
H. Caine, Castleton, for disability; Richard C. Johnson, Nich-
olas Cubberly, Vreeland Johnson, Bedell Jones, John Brinly,
and Peter S. Brinly, Nor Infield, transferred to the navy; Henry
Valliere, Northfield, to be Hospital Steward; Henry B. Tibbetts,
Northfield, to U. S. Signal Corps; Charles E. Smith, Castleton,
to Ninety-ninth regiment N. Y. V.; Jacob Bowman, Northfield,
killed at Bachelor's Creek, N. C. ; Edward V. Ford, sergeant,
Northfield; Benjamin B. Kinsey, sergeant, Northfield; Abram
B. Houseman, Castleton; George Davis, Northfield; James
Wilson, Castleton, and Aaron Beatty, died in Andersonville
prison; Jacob R. Decker, and William W. Stilwell, Northfield;
Isaac B. Lewis, and James G. Woglom, Westfield, died of
disease contracted in service, and James Shaunessy, Castleton,
deserted.

We have the following particulars in regard to the Staten
Island men who were in company B, of Tompkin's regiment,
which after the consolidation with the One Hundred and Fifty-
sixth became company K, of that regiment. Captain Shelton
resigned at Long Island, on account of sickness. The officers
then became James J. Hoyt, of Castleton, captain; Magnus
Bouscher, first lieutenant, and Edward Openshaw, second
lieutenant. The first and second served through the war, the
third till June, 1864. First Sergeant Charles Westren, of Mid
dletown, was promoted to be a captain, and remained, being
now a captain in the regular army. William Seaton, of Cas-
tleton, sergeant, was promoted to the rank of a captain. John
J. Farrell, of Castleton, sergeant, returned from a rebel prison
at the close of the war, having been taken at Cedar Creek. John
Peterson, private, became a first sergeant. Isaac Fullagar, Cas-
tleton, corporal, served through the war; Evan Riley, Castle-
19



290 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.

ton, served through the war; Michael Cotter, Castleton, dis
charged for physical disability; William Gill, Castleton, and
Cornelius Sullivan, drummer, served through the war, were
members of this company.

Early in January, 1863, the supervisors passed a resolution,
authorizing an additional loan of twenty thousand dollars on
the bonds of the county, for the payment of bounties and re-
lief, trusting to the action of the legislature to sanction the
same. The bill legalizing this action, as well as that previously
had in raising money for war purposes passed the legislature
February 21, 1863. Most of the towns drew upon this fund.
The town of Southfield was the only one in the county that did
not, but filled its quota under the calls of July, 1862. and paid
its bounties entirely by voluntary contributions. These contri-
butions in that town amounted to seven thousand four hundred
and sixty-two dollars. Bounties were paid to one hundred and
twenty-two recruits, amounting to seven thousand three hundred
and twenty dollars, and the balance was used for other pur-
poses. In Northfield eighty-eight recruits received fifty dollars
each, and ten dollars each additional was paid for recruiting
them, making five thousand one hundred and thirty dollars
paid in that town for filling these calls. In Westfield five
thousand one hundred and forty dollars was expended for the
same purpose. Meanwhile, the energies of the benevolent were
constant in contributing to the relief and support of the fami-
lies of those who had gone to the scenes of war, and to works
of love and tender regard in the preparation of articles of ne-
cessity, comfort and luxury for the soldiers in the army and in
the hospitals.

That some fear of opposition to the proposed draft of 1863,
and to the plans of the government, was entertained thus early
is shown by the following newspaper paragraph, printed in
April, though what grounds there were, or to what extent they
were manifest, does not appear. The opposition was not, how-
ever, of sufficient magnitude to bring about any serious results:



Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 28 of 72)