Welcome to my blog about the 65th NY Volunteers, also known as the 1st U.S. Chasseurs. I am launching this blog to go along with my recently published “No Flinching From Fire: The 65th New York Volunteers in the Civil War,” the first history of the regiment, which fought with both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the Shenandoah during the Civil War. The book is available at Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/No-Flinching-Fire-Volunteer-Infantry/dp/1794636617/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2ZO38WKY1263H&keywords=no+flinching+from+fire+book&qid=1572563625&sprefix=no+flinching+%2Caps%2C375&sr=8-2
Before our recent visit to Arlington, Rachel and I were lucky enough to get a private tour of the Blenheim House in Fairfax, Virginia, where many Union soldiers had marked their names or drawn grafitti art on the walls as they passed through. Private Joseph Welte, a member of the 65th NY Volunteers, was among those men, and Rachel and I got the special chance to see his signature from the spring of 1862 on a wall in a back room there. Welte was killed on May 6, 1864, at the Battle of the Wilderness. This unique Civil War site was well worth our venturing out to Fairfax to see it.
Any visit to Arlington National Cemetery is bound to cause the visitor to ponder and appreciate the dedication of so many thousands of people willing to risk their lives for their country and serve. For those choosing to walk the grounds in search of particular graves, the long uphill walk and the sheer size of the cemetery can be daunting. However, when my daughter Rachel and I recently came in search of six members of the 65th NY Volunteer Infantry, we benefitted from an unseasonably mild and sunny day, as well as the fact that the section and numbering system of the national cemeteries makes a search much easier than in a private cemetery, even given the enormity of the place.
Able to pass through the security at the entrance with my half-dozen flags, we set out uphill. Knowing Private Reuben Miller was far from the other five graves, we set off to find his grave first. After a long walk among Section 27’s graves, we finally found him in a somewhat separate section of graves which were likley among Arlington’s earlier ones.
The final grave to find in Arlington was the most important to me, as his letters held by the New York Historical Society had been a great source for me as I wrote about the early years of the 65th NY Volunteers for my book, No Flinching From Fire: the 65th New York Volunteers in the Civil War. A researcher and writer becomes attached to his sources in a unique way, and having read many letters by Tailof I felt like, to a degree at least, that I knew him. Among other things, I knew he didn’t care much for Major Alexander Shaler, 2nd in command of the regiment who went on to command it and eventually became its brigade commander before being captured at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864. Tailof thought Shaler was a hardass, but he kissed up to him as his orderly sergeant, hoping to secure a commission as an officer. He must have kissed up enough, as he ended up as a captain within the 65th and a major of a veteran regiment after three years with the Chasseurs.
The long drive home on the New Jersey Turnpike happened to go nearby a grave we had in our spreadsheet, 65th NY Surgeon John B. Petherbridge. The fact that he served for three long years with the Chasseurs, and that the graveyard where he lay was small made a visit to find him an added part of our trip. The bad traffic on a Friday meant we arrived in Crosswicks, New Jersey after dark, and Rachel and I searched the small graveyard with our phone flashlights. Rachel looked closely at the photograph of the stone which we had from Findagrave.com, and she saw a large stone behind it which would make it easier to find Petherbridge’s relatively small stone. Sure enough, I spied the large stone nearby first, then was able to find our man despite the darkness. The stone decribed Petherbridge as “A Patriot, a Christian.” We honored him with a flag and thanked him for his service for the men of the regiment anf for his country, then got back on the road home.
All in all it was a good trip this time, and though we had skipped a visit to honor the two Chasseurs Rachel had found online at Alexandria National Cemetery, being too tired from our five miles of walking at Arlington, we made up for it by stopping in New Jersey to honor the man who served three years with the regiment as a surgeon. With Chasseur graves found online in City Point, Culpeper, and Hampton National Cemeteries along with Alexandria, it seems likely that we will be back in Virginia again some day.
While most people are familiar with Arlington National Cemetery, our nation’s “Most Hallowed Ground,” and thousands of visitors tour the grounds on tour buses or on foot, the lovely grounds of the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery and the Loudon Park National Cemetery, in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, respectively, see few visitors. On a recent visit there, my daughter Rachel and I shared the Loudon Park cemetery with only a lone worker blowing leaves off the ground; at the Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home cemetery we were the only two people on the grounds. The beautiful array of wreathes on many of the graves, however, was a testament to the recent efforts of the Wreathes Across America volunteers. These volunteer efforts were admired by many at Arlington this past week, but in the other two cemeteries only Rachel and I witnessed them, at least on the day a few days after Christmas, when we visited.
Rachel’s efforts at finding soldiers of the 65th NY Volunteer Infantry, aka the 1st United States Chasseurs, had revealed a number of Chasseur gravesites in the three cemeteries, and we set out last week to find them and honor them by planting flags there. The sheer number of graves in Baltimore and D.C. was evidence of the Civil War’s cost not only in battlefield casualties, but in the ravages of disease taking a toll in soldier hospitals.
Private Peter Kohl mustered in at New York City at the age of 44, to serve three years, and mustered in as private in Company B in late August 1861; his advanced age may have worked against him as a soldier, as he died in a hospital in Annapolis, Maryland on January 5, 1862. Veteran Private Dominic McCall transferred into Company E of the 65th along with the rest of the 67th NY on September 1, 1864; he was wounded in action on October 19, 1864, at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia. He died of his wounds, likely in a Baltimore area hospital, on October 26, 1864. Another victim of Cedar Creek, a battle where 90 Chasseurs were killed, wounded, or missing, was Private Michael Kelley, another transfer from the 67th NY. Kelley, of Co. D, was wounded in action there and died of his wounds on November 1, 1864, at Jarvis Hospital in Baltimore. Private William H. Andrews transferred to Co. H of the 65th on June 30, 1863, just before the Battle of Gettysburg; Andrews died of fever on November 11, 1864, at Patterson Park Hospital, Baltimore. Rachel and I were glad to pay tribute to these four veterans of the 65th NY on a beautiful winter day. The beautiful tribute to Maryland’s unknown Civil War dead was moving and worthy of a photgraph as well.
After our visit in Baltimore, Rachel and I moved on to the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. We had seen it before at a distance when we visited President Lincoln’s Cottage nearby. This time we had eight Chasseurs to honor, and we revisited Lincoln’s Cottage on the Soldiers’ Home grounds, where Lincoln resided for over a quarter of his Presidency, in the summer months to escape the heat and humidity of Washington.
Since Lincoln’s Cottage is near the cemetery and a fascinating, beautiful, and and underappreciated spot in D.C., we took a tour before ending our day at our hotel in Bethesda. The next day our plan was to visit the historic Blenheim House in Fairfax, Virginia, where Chasseur soldier Joseph Welte left his signature in grafitti in the pring of 1862, and then visit 6 Chasseur graves in Arlington National Cemetery. That day’s pictures and description will follow this post.
Having found about twenty members of the 65th NY Volunteers from the Providence area, my daughter Rachel and I recently spent a few days in the area looking for their grave sites and placing flags there. Companies B, E, F, and H of the regiment were partially recruited in Rhode Island, and soldier correspondents “Sergeant Drill” and “Veteran” both wrote numerous letters to Providence newpapers which were great sources for No Flinching From Fire. Rachel is great at both finding these Chasseur graves through her online research, and locating them at the cemeteries themselves. She is also great company, and we arranged for a nice AirBnB stay on Federal Hill, within walking distance of the fine Italian restaurants there. Then one night in Jamestown, near Newport, staying with my old friend and former principal Scott and his wife Pam. General Isaac Stevens, who commanded part of the Chasseurs when they played a part in an early foray and skirmish at Lewinsville, Virginia in September 1861, and who was killed while rallying his division at the Battle of Chantilly in August 1862, and General Gouverneur Warren, who was never directly affiliated with or commanding over the 65th NY, but as Chief Engineer and then the 5th Corps commander of the Army of the Potomac was a noteworthy historic figure, are each buried in Newport’s Island Cemetery.
On our drive up from our home in Mamaroneck, New York, we planned on trying to locate and honor four Chasseur graves with flags. We managed to find all of them, even William Latham, who is buried in a small, wooded family graveyard off of the road and hard to see. Findagrave.com had GPS coordinates for the site, and these made it much easier to find.
Our second day had an ambitious agenda: we visited six graveyards in Providence, Pawtucket, and East Providence, with the hope of finding ten or eleven grave sites and placing flags there. It was hot, but at least all of the graveyards were not too far from our base on Federal Hill. We began the day at the North Burial Ground, then to the Swan Point Cemetery, where one member of the regiment was buried, along with Army of the Potomac commander and later Rhode Island governor General Ambrose Burnside. From there, it was off to the Pawtucket area to the Saint Francis cemetery. Then we visited the Walnut Hill cemetery, and the Mohassic cemetery, both also in or near Pawtucket. Finally, we were off to East Providence to circle back towards Federal Hill. We would struggle to even find the Newman Cemetery, and we could not for the life of us find Thomas Congdon’s grave in the Springvale Cemetery, even though we had a very good picture from Findagrave and figured given our expertise and experience that we would find Congdon relatively easily.
As it turned out, we would have to return to Springvale and Newman cemeteries on our third day, before heading southward to Cranston and Warwick on our way to Jamestown. Still, the pictures below reveal we had a productive second day and managed to find a and honor a large number of Chasseurs.
Our last day of the trip started with a return to East Providence to once more try to find Thomas Congdon’s grave. Once again we struggled to find it, and I was finally ready to give up. Just before leaving, however, Rachel managed to find the grave, right where we had expected it to be, and where we thought we had already looked. Given how relatively easy our searches had gone on this trip, Congdon’s grave might have been some sort of karma or payback. But we were glad we found him and left a flag at his grave. Then having located the nearby Newman Cemetery, we found Hiram Bucklin’s grave quickly in a family plot that stood out in the large and old cemetery.
We could not find the small grave of Arthur Gardiner after driving around the Oakland Cemetery. Nor did we have any intention of wandering around on foot, given the overgrown state of the graveyard. Gardiner was the only grave we didn’t find on this trip. The google rating for this cemetery was 1.0, which we were curious about until we arrived. Piles of garbage lay about, and even though the cemetery is still open for internments, the neglect and decay of the cemetery is simply appalling. Some folks were there seemingly working to clear out the areas around their relatives’ graves. I left this place shaken. These people deserve better.
At the end of a long three days of looking for and honoring graves, and all the driving in between, it was good to get a bonus of finding Commodore Oliver Perry’s grave at the Island Cemetery in Newport. Then a restful visit to old friends in Jamestown, and back home. One could argue these trips are more than a little crazy, but it seems to me that finding and honoring members of the 65th NY Volunteers, who fought for their country, some giving their lives for their country, is a worthy pursuit. These men deserve the little bit of recognition that Rachel and I give them. Placing a flag, thanking them for their service, and connecting with members of the regiment I have spent so much time researching and studying, strikes me as honorable and purposeful . And doing it with my daughter Rachel makes it even more special.
It made sense for me to go to Gettysburg first. Having secured an opportunity to return to Tiffin, Ohio, the place where Company K of the 65th NY Volunteers was largely raised, and where several of the men of the regiment are buried, a way to break up the drive out to Ohio was needed. This time I was honored to do a talk about my book, No Flinching From Fire: The 65th NY Volunteers in the Civil War, at the Seneca County Museum, whose director, Theresa Sullivan, was doing yeoman work in restoring a place which had declined in previous years. Theresa had found Chasseur graves for me, even charting them on a cemetery map she sent to me, and she greeted me with her father at the Greenlawn Cemetery in Tiffin when I traveled there last year. Having purchased two copies of the book last year, she graciously invited me to return, this time to talk about the book for an audience at the museum. It was an offer I happily accepted, eager to get back to doing book talks after the long Pandemic layoff.
But driving to Tiffin, as I had learned last summer, is a long trip. So I broke up the trip even more than last year, staying one day in Gettysburg, a place I generally visit annually with my AP US History class but had missed for a Pandemic-induced two year hiatus. My plan was to stay right in town at the Brickhouse B & B, centrally located but also a short jog from East Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill. For the day’s visit I chose to tour parts of the battlefield which are not on the class tour I have done for nineteen years. So, a stop at the observation tower at Oak Ridge, a trip out to Barlow’s Knoll, a key spot from the first day of the battle but a place I had never visited, and a pause on East Cemetery Hill near the statue of 12th Corps commander David Slocum were in order for the day. A stop at the impressive New York state monument to its generals not honored elsewhere on the field was new for me. This is a place on Cemetery Ridge I had driven by countless times on the bus without noting its significance. I looked for and found the names of Generals Alexander Shaler and Joseph Hamblin, the Chasseurs’ brigade and regimental commanders, respectively. An evening walk behind Cemetery Ridge revealed a fantastic view of the monument to General Winfield Scott Hancock, a hero of the battle, along with the iconic gatehouse to the cemetery.
Of course a visit to the 65th NY regimental monument on Culp’s Hill, where my great-great grandfather Corporal Timothy Carroll had fought, was also in order. But this time I took the time to walk along the Union line to the right flank of the Chasseurs’ monument, and to admire the monuments to some of the other regiments on General Alexander Shaler’s 6th Corp brigade.
As I hoped on this trip to locate and honor with flags the graves of nineteen members of the 65th NY Volunteers, along with the grave of General Henry Terry, their division commander from the fall of 1863 until the Spring of 1864, I decided of course to pay a visit to another part of the Gettysburg battlefield which I normally visit with my classes, the national cemetery. Two Chasseurs are buried there, each already honored with flags as I visited on July 5th.
On the trip’s second day I began with a morning run up Culp’s Hill from my B & B in Gettysburg, the Brickhouse. Situated right in the middle of town, and yet only a minute’s jog to the battlefield on a quiet back road which headed up East Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill, the Brickhouse Inn was a perfect place for me. The fact that they served a slice of shoo fly pie AFTER the apple pancakes and bacon only added to its allure. It was a good thing I ran up Culp’s Hill past the 65th NY monument before breakfast!
Then it was time to get off to my night’s destination, a lovely AirBnB stay in Somerset, Ohio, where I had stayed on the last night in Ohio of last year’s trip there in search of Chasseur graves. The trip went smoothly, and I arrived in time to relax a bit, walk out to dinner at the Clay Haus, where I had eaten last year, and enjoy a nice repast of saurbraten.
Day Three of this trip would take me to the Tiffin environs. A chance to revisit the nice AirBnB log ranch north of Upper Sandusky where I had stayed last year, was a treat, and the fact that the Seneca County museum comped my two day stay was also appreciated. And staying in one place for two nights was also welcome after the long drive from Mamaroneck, NY to Upper Sandusky was completed. My plan was to rest up there the night before my book talk. But my daughter had found two new graves of Chasseurs since last year’s trip out which were on the way, one just down the road from the beautiful AirBnB house in Somerset where I stayed, in Lancaster, Ohio. The fact that this was also the site of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s childhood home made a stop in Lancaster doubly welcome. The home had been closed to tours last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, so I welcomed this second chance to get there.
I found Sergeant Standish O’Grady’s grave within ten minutes upon arrival at the Forest Rose Cemetery in Lancaster. Already bedecked with a flag, I added mine to thank O’Grady for his service. Then it was on to Sherman’s home. Probably my favorite item in the house was the set of chairs from Ulysses S. Grant’s home which was featured in the home, but the house as a whole was well worth the one hour tour. Then it was back on the road, with a stop in Kenton, Ohio’s Grove Cemetery, where the cemetery map made it very easy to find Private Elhanan Conant’s grave site.
Finally it was time to finish the day’s drive and make it to my unique AirBnB stay on the Hereford ranch north of Upper Sandusky. Some rainstorms made for a tricky drive on rural roads on the way to the ranch, but I soon recognized the entrance, pulled in, and I was glad to be back, and at the end of the day’s drive.
The next day, day #4 of the trip, was book talk day, and the lack of internet access at the ranch meant I traveled into the Seneca County museum to get some work done after finding two of the three Chasseur graves I was seeking; the third, Private Charles Lambertson in Tiffin’s Greenlawn Cemetery, proved elusive. Private James Shetenhelm’s grave in Green Springs I found quickly, with the aid of the grave location in Green Springs Cemeery, if not a photograph on Findagrave.com. I did also revisit two graves in Tiffin’s Egbert cemetery. Private Charley Crockett’s grave was a meaningful one for me. Killed at The Wilderness, his letters from early in the war were among my first sources as I began work on the book over ten years ago. Crockett’s grave was well bedecked with flags, so I spared him another, having left one there last summer, but Private Jackson Michael’s grave, which I had happened upon last summer when I stopped to look for Crockett’s grave, was without any flag so I left one there for him, even though it was my second visit and I had left a flag there last year which had since been removed. Lt. Colonel Leroy Crockett’s grave, in the beautiful little Lowell School Cemetery outside of Tiffin, was an easy find as I knew the cemetery from last year’s trip. Crockett, whose letters home were a nice source for me for 1861’s events, transferred to the 72nd Ohio and was promoted to Major and eventually Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment. He died of disease outside Vickburg in 1863.
The book talk went well; the audience of about 30 people were warm and welcoming, and I managed to sign and sell several books as well. After a dinner out in Tiffin with the Seneca County Museum director Theresa Sullivan and her husband, I headed back to the ranch in Upper Sandusky for the night.
The fifth day of the trip started with a stop in Findlay, Ohio, to find the grave of Musician Jacob Gassman. He served two and a half years before mustering out in September 1864. Though the Maple Grove Cemetery was huge, I was armed with the plot of the grave, and a friendly and helpful worker there steered me towards the correct area. After walking a bit I found it, and planted the flag. Then it was on to Winameg, in rural Ohio west of Toledo. With my phone GPS not picking up a signal, I was glad I had written down directions. I still had to stop at a garage sale, where I bought a children’s book about Gettysburg for 25 cents in payment to the girl who gave me directions to the cemetery. Those directions were not quite right though, so it took another stop at a house where a husband and wife out in their yard working steered me to the beautiful little Aetna Cemetery in Winameg. “Oh is that what it is called?,” smiled the man as he gave me excellent direction with his wife’s help. I found Hummel quickly, placed a flag, and moved on back to Federal Route 20 west, heading towards Indiana.
A turn northward brought me, finally, into Michigan. The small roadside South Allen Cemetery in Allen, Michigan was where I found, with the help of my daughter Rachel who I reached by phone, the grave of Private Edgar Sparks, who served three years in the war. Rachel also helped me by phone as my service was limited in Kalamazoo. Looking at the picture on Findagrave.com of Private George Way’s stone, and searching for hints in the photograph’s background, Rachel helped me as I walked through the huge Riverside Cemetery after parking the car in an older section of the cemetery. With no grave site listed, I had to use Rachel’s keen eye for background detail, along with my own sense of where the early 20th century era graves were located. It was with great pleasure that I found the grave, a satisfaction which Rachel and I understand, especially when locating a veteran of the 65th NY in a very large cemetery with not much to go on as to its location.
With plenty of time left to try and locate Homer Stryker Field, where the Kalamazoo Growlers baseball team played in a college summer league, and where I had arranged to meet my old friend and college roommate Paul to watch a game, I left Riverside Cemetery and headed to the ballpark. Paul and I enjoyed the game from behind the plate in the grandstand, along with a buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs, and delicious local micro-brews. The quality of the pitching in the game we saw was just horrendous, but it is always nice to see a minor league ball game. After the game we headed up to Paul’s house outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I would stay two nights.
Day Six of the trip included a search, which Paul graciously agreed to not only join but drive us on, for four more Chasseurs buried in the area. We headed out first to Monterey Center, to the small and beautiful Poplar Hill Cemetery. Paul knew the area well, as it was on one of his cycling routes. He was impressed with how quickly we found Private Zopher Cornell’s grave site. Cornell, originally of the 67th NY, transferred into the 65th Ny with the rest of his regiment on September 1, 1864, and served out the war with the 65th. Then it was off to Orangeville, where we found Private Jason Collison of Company I in the Oakhill Cemetery. Again, it was a short search aided by a Findagrave.com photograph. Collison joined the war late in Auburn, NY in March 1865, and served a few months until the end of the war. Grand Rapids is where the Oakhill Cemetery is located, another Michigan cemetery named for the trees adorning the cemetery hill. I had a good picture of Lewis G. Dudley’s grave, and after a bit of driving around the large cemetery, I found Dudley’s grave, honored it with a flag, and had Paul take a picture of me there.
We were a relatively easy three for three today, in term of successful searches, and as we headed to Muskegon for our last grave of the day we were confident. Oakwood (again, the trees!) Cemetery was very large, however, and though the map in the cemetery had an explanation of how to translate the three numbers used to describe each grave site location, it took Paul, a math professor, to finally locate the area of Private Newell Brow’s grave after a long fruitless search around the entire cemetery by both of us. Ironically I had likely walked right by his grave over an hour earlier. But we finally found him, left a flag, and left Paul a bit more impressed with the potential for difficulty in this activity. Still, we had found our four graves for the day, and now we were off for Indian food at a Grand Rapids microbrewery. No complaints.
The trip’s Day #7, which began my drive eastward towards home, was the day of the Michigan mosquitoes. A rainy day had seemingly brought them out in force, and every single grave stop would include a battle with the pests as I walked around trying to locate the Chasseur grave sites. The day would start with me going in the wrong direction after mishearing Paul’s quite adequate directions, but once I got my bearings I was off to Lake Odessa, Michigan, for the first of five graves slated for the day’s search. Though I had two fine photographs of Hummel’s distinctive grave, and the Lakeside Cemetery was not that big, the mosquitoes swarmed around me a I left my car, a few forcing their way into it as I quickly retreated back to the car to try to find the grave by driving. With no luck in this endeavor, I realized Hummel was likely one of the stones in the back of the cemetery, where I would have to walk to find him. Meaning no disrespect, I grabbed a flag and proceeded to run along the back row of graves, where, indeed Private Hummel lay. Saying a quick thank you for his service and planting my flag in front of the stone, I swatted mosquitoes as I jogged back to the car, closed the door behind me, and killed the second mosquito today which had entered that sanctum.
After a very quick stop for lunch, I was off to Bath, near Lansing, Michigan, to visit a grave which had special meaning for me. Sergeant William Sleight, buried at the aptly and correctly named Pleasant Hill Cemetery, had written a brief memoir of his time in the war which was one of the best sources I used. His account of his serious wounding at 2nd Fredericksburg is gripping, and though he had recovered and then received a commission as an officer in an African American regiment, his time spent in the 65th NY, recorded in the memoir I had read and used in my book, gave me a special connection to him. Pleasant Hill’s older section was small, and the mosquitoes were not quite as bad, and I found Sleight’s small stone fairly quickly. Thanking him for his service and his memoir, planting a flag by his stone, I next headed South for Mason, where the grave of Private Frank Anson awaited me. Though Anson had only served from late March 1865 until war’s end in July 1865, I had at least an excellent photograph with some key landmarks in the background. I spotted his Maple Grove Cemetery grave fairly easily after a drive around the main road of the cemetery, but once again, upon exiting the car to plant my flag at his grave, the mosquitoes were menacing and plentiful. Needless to say, my stop before Anson’s grave was brief, but his grave now has two flags honoring it, not just the one that was there.
The next leg of the drive took me to the Detroit environs. Though Brigadier General Henry Terry was never a part of the 65th NY regiment, he did command their division during the underrated Battle of Rappahannock Station in November of 1863, and also commanded the division in the winter and early spring of 1864, when the Chasseurs’ division was sent to Johnson’s Island off Sandusky, Ohio, to guard a prison for Confederate officers. So, knowing I would not necessarily be in the Detroit area anytime soon, I made a point of visiting the Clinton Grove Cemetery to the northwest of Detroit. Again, my phone signal failed me so I could not look up the photograph of General Terry’s grave, but another call to Rachel helped to guide me, and also made me feel as if she was sharing in this search like she has done so many times before. Her directions from looking at the photograph’s background helped bring me to Terry’s grave within minutes. I left the car to plant the flag; again, mosquitoes swarmed. I was expecting this by now, but I did not linger too long, especially since it had already been a long day, I had one more grave to find today, and I had my AirBnB reserved in Toledo, Ohio for the night, so I had to get that far.
I had worried in planning the trip that this long day would be punctuated by bad traffic in the Detroit area; I was pleasantly surprised to find the traffic moved well as I drove through the fringes of the city towards Belleville. The latter was a small place; the grave of Maynard Babcock was in the most isolated area of the day, down a dirt road. Luckily my GPS actually worked here, and late in the day I pulled up to the Martinsville Cemetery, where Babcock, a late enlistee in the regiment, lay. Though the gate looked closed, a friendly woman across the road told me when I got out of the car and looked at it that it was open. It needed only a lifting of the gate bolt to get into the small cemetery; moments later the inevitable mosquitoes appeared. Again, I had a good photograph whose chain link fence in the background I now saw. Grabbing a flag, and jogging along the inside of the fence perimeter, I found Babcock’s grave in an overgrown corner, planted the flag, and retreated from the mosquito onslaught as quickly as I could. Happy to be back in the car, happier to have found all five graves I sought for today, I drove back up the dirt road, and, led by the working GPS, made my way towards Toledo as the rain picked up again.
Day #8 of the trip was a straight shot towards home. I had booked another AirBnB in Clarion, Pennsylvania, merely to break up the trip, but the initial plan at least did not have me searching for any graves or historic sites. It was time to go home. However, Theresa Sullivan, the Seneca County Museum Director, had already made the effort to find the grave of Private Charles Lambertson in Tiffin’s Greenlawn Cemetery, after I told her my own search for him the day of my book talk had been fruitless. She sent me a picture, along with a description of where his grave was located, and since Tiffin was on the way back from Toledo, with less than an hour expended to get out there and then back on track towards home, I took the exit south at Fremont from the interstate and took the by now familiar route 53 south back to Tiffin. Arriving at the Greenlawn Cemetery, my fourth time there in the last year or so, I parked my car, and headed up the hill near the back gate, where Theresa had told me that she found the grave and planted a flag there. After about a ten minute search, there was Lambertson’s grave, which was badly covered with lichens such that it was hard to make out his name, and it was a small nondescript gray stone as well. But there was Theresa’s flag. I planted my own, making this small gray stone as decorated as it had likely been in many years, thanked Private Lambertson for his service, and headed back to the car, happy that I had made it back to Greenlawn Cemetery one more time, as it had been the place where I had started this crazy idea of visiting the Ohio soldiers of the 65th NY, and it had led to this great connection to Tiffin and its lovely Seneca County Museum.
Now it was the long drive home in earnest. I had picked out an AirBnB in Clarion, Pennsylvania jut to break up the trip home, and it worked out well. The place was a nice room in a house with its own separate entrance, and it was walking distance into town. The latter fact was my favorite feature, given how much time I had been spending in the car all week. Clarion was a nice college town, featuring a most impressive courthouse and an imposing civil war monument directly across the street from it. I had a delicious steak dinner with a nice pilsner beer at the Clarion River Brewing Company. It was the best meal of the whole trip. I walked home and got to bed to rest up for the last leg of the trip. The drive home from Clarion to Mamaroneck was happily uneventful and with light traffic.
And at the end of the trip, I had visited a total of 159 graves of members of the regiment. Rachel has found over 300 graves around the country, so the quest will continue. With a few new ones discovered in Arlington National Cemetery of late, as well as in the Baltimore National Cemetery, it seems clear a trip back to Maryland and D.C. awaits. I hope this time Rachel will join me again. And seventeen Rhode Island graves which she found also need honoring with flags. It is a kooky activity, I readily admit, but placing flags at the graves of men who fought alongside my great-great grandfather Lt. Timothy Carroll helps connect with me to the regiment. And since some of their letters helped me in writing No Flinching From Fire, like those of Private Lafayette Burns and Sergeant William Sleight, I can make a connection to the physical presence of these men who went through so much. So I will keep doing these trips.
They had a few things in common. Though they ranged in age from their 20s to their 40s, the men from the Sodus area who enlisted in the 65th NY Volunteer regiment, joining Companies I or K, all joined in Auburn in mid-March 1865. Hence, they all served at the very end of the war. Whether they made it for the April 2nd, 1865 Breakthrough at Petersburg, or only for the regiment’s last battle, at Saylers Creek on April 6th, 1865, none of the men served in the regiment for more than four months. So they shared a short service together. Whether they were induced to enlist by a local or state bounty, or both, needs to be researched. However, what is clear from visiting their grave sites in Wayne and Cayuga Counties is that the men took pride in their service with the 65th. Many of their gravestones reference the 65th NY Volunteers.
In a four day period of early April 2020, my daughter Rachel and I managed to visit sixteen cemeteries in the beautiful area around Sodus, locating eighteen members of the regiment. Rachel’s research cross referencing the regimental roster with Findagrave.com, had located these soldiers. Having now taken several previous trips together in search of 65th NY soldier graves, Rachel and I have gotten very good at not only locating on line the sites of the men’s graves, but also at finding the graves themselves once inside the cemeteries. Though in this case we couldn’t find two of the men we looked for, to find eighteen of them and place flags at the grave to honor them, was fulfilling. Moreover, we enjoyed the beauty and history of these rural cemeteries, as well as driving through this scenic county filled with apple orchards and scenic views of Lake Ontario. The deep blue color of the lake, even when a stiff Canadian wind blew up huge whitecaps and made wearing several layers a requirement for our work, was breathtaking for one like me who had rarely seen it.
Day one of our journey north featured snow squalls on the highway from Cortland to Syracuse, and we visited the two cemeteries in Wollcott, New York while it snowed sideways amidst a stiff wind. We managed to find four of the five graves we sought, with Private George Johnson remaining elusive, even though we found a number of Johnson graves in the Glenside cemetery. Disturbingly, we also found many stones had been tipped over, vandalized in the previous summer by unknown persons, who damaged 65 graves, including the grave of one 65th NY veteran, Private William Brockway.
Day two of the trip started out encouragingly clear and blue, though still cold and windy. This was our busy day, with nine graves on our list, in eight cemeteries. Though all were in Wayne County and not so far from each other, we had a lot of driving to do along the lovely rural roads. All but one cemetery were small, and though a couple of the graves had no pictures on Findagrave.com, we wanted to try to find them given that the searches in these relatively small cemeteries might bear fruit even without a photo. And the peaceful, tranquil beauty of these places made it worth the trip even if we didn’t find our soldiers.
Day three of this trip was easier, and we took our time getting going, Rachel sleeping in and me reading the biography of William Seward I was working on. With only four graveyards to visit today, three of whose graves had photos on Findagrave, we had perhaps half the work to do as we did yesterday. All of today’s graves were east of Sodus Bay, and knowing that Chimney Bluffs State Park was nearby and featured scenic lake views, we put that on our day’s itinerary as well. Our first grave of the day, Private Jabez Carter, had no picture, but Rachel has figured out that sometimes one can find a photograph of a spouse or other relative, and sure enough in this case his wife Elizabeth Carter’s grave had a picture. Moreover, the Livingston Cemetery was tiny, located in one of the most rural settings of all we visited on this trip, and even if our search for Jabez’ grave proved fruitless, it needn’t take long. After a few minutes we found Elizabeth Carter’s stone, and happily as we rubbed off lichens from the stone we found Jabez’ name on it as well. A good start to our day. And the other three graves, located at three other nearby cemeteries, were each easily found. Most of the Wayne County veterans’ graves feature Grand Army of the Republic flag holders. These distinctive metal GAR stars help one to navigate through a cemetery and home in on veteran graves as one searches. They also are ready-made to hold the flags we brought to honor the members of the 65th NY regiment.
As it was nearing the end of the day, and we had been busy this afternoon and were a bit tired from our hike, we decided to head back to our cottage in Sodus Bay and get dinner rather than visit our last grave, at Palmyra Cemetery, today. We made plans to visit Private Loami Ford’s grave on our way home the next day. The Palmyra Cemetery was by far the biggest of all those we visited on this trip, but happily the picture of Ford’s grave on Findagrave.com had a reddish fence and a gray building in the background which we hoped would help us find it. Wanting to take one more drive along the shore of Lake Ontario amidst the seemingly endless orchards, and feeling emboldened by our luck in finding graves with no photos to help us, I decided we would visit Pultneyville on our way out, and visit the large Lakeview Cemetery to try and locate Private John DuBurck’s grave before we went to Palmyra. The day was warmer and sunny, and indeed the view of the lake from the cemetery was stunning. Seeing that much of the cemetery featured recent graves, we homed in on the center sections, where the old graves were, and Rachel and I fanned out in opposite directions. After perhaps twenty minutes of wandering, seeing that many of the graves had been worn down to the point that any names on these stones were illegible or gone, I was ready to leave and head to Palmyra and then home. Rachel approached as I neared the last row of graves I hadn’t seen yet, and as Rachel joined me, she saw the next grave was Private DuBurk’s! It was one of the most satisfying finds of the trip, and a beautiful stone to boot, with a GAR flagholder ready to do its job. Abutting an apple orchard, and overlooking the lake, DuBurck’s grave was in a lovely place. A short drive south featured a stop at a farm stand with incredible tomatoes and strawberries for sale on the honor system, where one just leaves payment in a slot at the stand. Upon finding and entering the Palmyra Cemetery, we saw the red fence and gray building immediately, which was a good thing as the cemetery was vast, and finding Loami Ford’s small stone with no location could have been a significant challenge.
One last impulsive stop in Palmyra at the Moroni Monument, a gold statue on a high hill denoting the contact supposedly made between Moroni, a messenger from God, and a young Joseph Smith which began the founding of Mormonism, and we were on our long drive home. It was a fulfilling trip, and we enjoyed the lovely small town of Sodus Bay as well. And by honoring eighteen more 65th NY soldiers we were continuing the attachment we had made to the regiment, which started many years ago when I began my research which culminated in the regimental history I finally wrote, No Flinching From Fire: The 65th New York Volunteers in the Civil War. Having visited the bloody places where they fought in the Civil War, our current trips to visit and honor the men’s grave sites continue to bring satisfaction and connection to me. And I hope all these trips will be lifetime memories for Rachel, even if unusual ones.
I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season, even if the Pandemic has put a damper on travels and family visits. With some time off from work this week, I have been tweaking a chapter of what I have been calling “Book #2.” The working title is “Following the Chasseurs: My Life with the 65th NY Volunteers.” Part of the need for tweaking is that a nice gentleman who is completing a book on The Battle of Fair Oaks shared some of his work with me, as well as a letter from 65th Captain William Halsted, of Company D, about his experience of the fighting. The letter, part of the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection, is currently for sale by Heritage Auctions for $1500. It also contains a hand drawn map of Fair Oaks. Though the price is far too rich for me, the letter has been partly transcribed, and it is an excellent source on the battle and especially the role of Company D of the 1st U.S. Chasseurs. Part of my first chapter concerns the trip I took up the Peninsula in 2012, in researching for “No Flinching From Fire,” and a visit to the Fair Oaks and Seven Pines area, now mostly lost to development. Adding in some excerpts from the letter will definitely enliven the description of the battle. So I am working on that project this week. Here is a brief excerpt, along with a map of Fair Oaks which Confederate General Gustavus Smith drew after the war, and a photo I took of Capt. Halsted’s grave a few weeks ago. Thanks to Vic Vignola for alerting me to both the map and the letter.
“On our march a musket ball knocked a small splinter against my nose. Soon after a shell burst a few feet over my head on a tree & showered leaves & wood over me & my Co… Our Regt. was immediately ordered into line on the edge of a wood. We had just taken our position when a terrific fire was opened upon us. Someone knocked me head foremost in the mud to my elbows. We loaded & laid low… I lost in killed & wounded more than 1/5 of my Co. Our Regt. lost in killed & wounded 32 [31 in fact, 9 killed and 22 wounded]. My men have covered themselves with glory. Not a man flinched in the field…. We held our post for nearly two hours under a terrific fire. Not a cartridge was wasted. We went to work with 60 cartridges & my Co. averaged 40 left at night. They picked their men… One of my boys took the colors from the woods last night. It is white with blue stripes across with stars in them. The S. C. Hampton Legion fought us… Not one of our officers are hurt. Capt. Higgenbotham’s Co. and mine took the worst of the fight. Lt. Ellis was hit in the breast by a spent ball, but not hurt. Lt. Cozzens had the ring of his watch shot away & a five cent piece doubled up in his pocket. Too much praise cannot be given our boys. They did admirably.”
I particularly like Halsted’s reference to Capt. Higgenbotham, who would later command the regiment and be killed leading it at the Battle of Cedar Creek on Oct. 19, 1864, as well as the claim that “not a man flinched in the field,” which of course reminds me of the title of my history of the regiment, “No Flinching From Fire.”
With the work on my regimental history of the 65th New York volunteers completed, but for fixing some typos and updating a few small things for a 2nd edition of No Flinching From Fire, it seems clear that a continuing connection to the men of the 65th NY is going to be my lot. At least until I start the research for the General John Cochrane biography in earnest (I think not until my retirement starts), it seems that searching out the resting places of the 1st U.S. Chasseurs will be a continuing quest. I do feel strongly that placing flags in honor of these veterans of the worst conflagration in American History, our own Civil War, is a cause worth pursuing. But I also admit the detective work in finding their graves, both in researching online and in driving to and tramping through many beautiful and sometimes largely forgotten cemeteries, is fun for me. And having written a book about their exploits and travails, I feel a connection to them. Most especially, the fact that my daughter Rachel seems, at least for now, to take as much pleasure in this research and in the travels to find these men’s resting places as I do, makes me think we will keep it up.
The trip we took on a Sunday afternoon to Rockland County, just across the Hudson River from us in Westchester, was another surprisingly fruitful one. Rachel’s own research with the 65th NY regimental roster and on Findagrave.com has located over 120 Chasseur graves around the country to this point, and two epic trips to upstate New York in recent months have allowed us to visit many of them. Whether we get to see the several graves in Michigan is open to question. But Rockland County is local for us, and the fact that Private Edward Weiant’s grave at Mount Repose cemetery in Haverstraw is right next to Saint Peter’s cemetery, where my grandfather Captain Michael Barry is buried along with my grandmother Loretta Barry, made a trip there even more desirable. Rachel had never visited the graves of her great-grandparents, and I had not been there since childhood.
We had a photo of Private Weiant’s grave in Mount Repose cemetery for a Findagrave volunteer. But no gravesite was noted, and it was clear from my perusal of Google maps that the cemetery was vast. I thought this grave would certainly take time to find. However, there were hints in the graves and marks in the background of the photo. We drove and walked for about ten to fifteen minutes around Mount Repose. Leave it to Rachel to find the large and notable obelisk with the unique shape at its top which was in the Findagrave photo background. And what I thought was a drainage ditch in the photo may well have been the roadbed of the very cemetery path we were on. We figured we had located the correct general area; after that it was a mere minute or two before we had Private Weiant’s grave located. Weiant served from January to August 1863, and thus likely fought at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, two of the battles where the 65th were at key spots and took casualties.
After our surprisingly easy locating of Private Weiant, we headed north for a few minutes to Stony Point. Scene of a successful Revolutionary War battle against the British; it was the gravesite of 65th New York soldier Corporal Leonard Brooks we were after. Brooks, who had enlisted in July 1861, when the Chasseurs were first organized, served until November 1862, when he died in a hospital in Washington, D.C. Buried in the beautiful Mount Rest church cemetery, surrounded by woods and steep hills, his resting place was a scenic one. We parked next to the First United Methodist Church, abutting the cemetery, and, using our Findagrave photograph, managed to locate Brooks’ gravesite in a minute or two. Having forgotten my phone in the car, I walked back up the hill to grab it so I could get a photo. As I got back to the car, Rachel called me and gestured in a by now familiar wave down to where she was. In Arlington National Cemetery, upon discovering Division commander General Frank Wheaton’s grave, she had waved me over in the same way. I knew it was a good thing. Sure enough, she had discovered the grave of Private James Leet, who had served three years with the Chasseurs from August 1861 to September 1864. This was an unforeseen bonus of the trip.
We had found our two Chasseur graves, along with my grandfather Michael Barry’s, and here was an unforeseen bonus. And it was a beautiful, sunny, cool early fall day. The Mount Rest cemetery crawled up the hillside into the woods, with some few graves actually now within the woods along the cemetery’s fringe. With several more Civil War veterans’ graves visible around the cemetery, marked by Grand Army of the Republic flagholders holding American flags, and with the afternoon still young despite us already finding all the gravesites we had come for plus one, Rachel and I decided to walk around the lovely cemetery to see what else we would find. After finding several civil war veterans’ graves, and walking up to the edges of the cemetery where it abutted the woods, Rachel and I made our way back down on our way back to the car. With experience we knew that any veterans’ graves marked with flags were worth checking out. Heading down the hill and almost done, having scouted out graves of veterans of the 95th New York, the 6th Artillery, and a few other New York regiments, Rachel spied another decorated small grave near the woods.
Sure enough, Rachel had found another Chasseur grave! A veteran of the entire service of the Chasseurs, and a musician to boot, Albert Rose achieved “Principal Musician” and veteran status by the time he mustered out. Between our last trip upstate and this brief trip to Rockland County, Rachel was en fuego. I was so glad we decided to do this trip, and that we both sought to walk the rest of the lovely Mount Rest cemetery, as finding not two but four Chasseur graves on this beautiful fall afternoon made the trip well worth it. I am very happy Rachel came along with me again; she has a gift. And she had given me yet another one too.
My daughter Rachel is something. She spent 4 days traveling with me over the Memorial Day weekend this year, while socially distancing, to find the gravesites of 65th NY soldiers who are listed on a database made by the NY State Military History Museum as being buried across the state. Finding the graves, we would plant a flag there to honor them. It was a long trip with a lot of driving, taking us from Bath to Redfield, NY, with a lot of places in between.
Upon returning home, Rachel devoted herself to doing her own research to find more graves, Knowing that Findagrave.com has a huge database of gravesites all over the world, most of them with photographs, and having already spent time combing through the regimental roster as part of her research in support of my first book, Rachel decided to cross reference 65th NY soldiers with Findagrave, developing systems to narrow down the search so that she was able to make a definite match between a Findagrave post and a 65th NY soldier’s resting place. To date, she has found over 120 graves. My encouragement of paying her for her work has incentivized it, but she truly enjoys the search, and is so smart that she has become highly successful at it.
As a result, we now have a list of 20 or so soldiers buried in NY state. A few are local for us, so a visit to the beautiful Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, for example, is easily made. But enough are upstate that we made plans at the end of this weird summer of 2020 to follow where her research led and repeat the process of a trip to visit the gravesites again, plant flags, take photographs, and honor the courage and sacrifice of these men who helped save their country. It was up to me to look though the spreadsheet she had created and figure out an itinerary for another trip. With time constraints, we had three nights. So some graves would have to be saved for future trips. However, with a big circle around the Southern Tier, Western New York, and the western Finger Lakes region, we had the means to visit over a dozen graves, or so I thought.
I enjoy the preparation process for our trips, both finding AIrBnB places to stay, and charting the routes between cemeteries. Having done it back in May, I knew that many of upstate New York’s rural roads are quite scenic, but that after days of driving and searching, one does get tired. So, I went into the planning for this second trip with two assumptions: 1. After a longish drive to get up there, we would try to limit how many hours we would be on the road for the middle of the trip, to make each day a little less exhausting and leave us something left for a long drive home with a few stops on the fourth day. 2. We would only visit gravesites which had photos on Findagrave.com. It is so much easier to look for graves, especially when we do not have a plot site, when one has a photograph as a reference while one is scouring the cemeteries for the Chasseur’s burial site. The Memorial Day weekend we found six graves over our first two days, but on day three we only found one of two graves we searched for, and even that second grave was so worn down that we only found it because we had a plot listed for it. And we searched the first one for over an hour before giving up and realizing that 65th NY soldier John Beine’s stone had either been buried or destroyed. The drive to find the second grave was a long one, and a frustrating search at the wrong cemetery before figuring that out and finding the worn out grave of William H. Corey at the second graveyard near the end of a long day was trying. We would try to make an easier trip this time, with shorter drives to cemeteries with graves which Findagrave.com volunteers had already photographed.
For our first day’s goal, we would drive back to the Bath National Cemetery, sight of a Soldier’s Home and a current Veteran’s Administration hospital. We had made that our first stop back in May, when we found two graves of Chasseurs there who were on the NY State Military History Museum list. This time, we were seeking the graves of three or perhaps four Chasseurs buried there who Rachel had found in her research. We knew the drive, knew how beautiful the cemetery was, and knew that it was a great cemetery in that not only were the sections and rows of graves well marked and organized, but that most of the stones there had the soldier’s unit on the gravestone. It was special to find a grave which said 65th New York right on the stone, as this removed any doubt that this man was a member of the regiment which I had studied so long and wrote about in No Flinching From Fire.
The drive up to Bath was uneventful but for a little spotty rain, and this had cleared up by the time we revisited the cemetery, driving through the now familiar campus of the Bath Soldiers’ Home. It had become a sunny and warm day with big cumulus clouds occasionally covering the sun and giving us some relief as we searched for the graves. We managed to find the four graves we came to see with little difficulty, and determined that one of the soldiers may or may not have served with the 65th NY; as there remained doubt, we chose to not decorate that grave.
The author’s daughter Rachel, searching for Chasseur graves with flags ready to plant there (photo by author)
Pvt. Andrew Rising enlisted in March 1865 at Lockport to serve one year, and thus likely saw action in the Petersburg and Appomattox campaigns before war’s end. He deserted in July 1865, only days before the regiment was mustered out of service. (photo by author)
Cpl. Leon Doerr joined the regiment at the end of March 1865 and mustered out in July 1865 (photo by author)
Pvt. Michael Manahan mustered in as a 1st class musician in January 1862, and mustered out with the rest of the band in March 1862 (photo by author)
Having found the graves we had come to see, Rachel, who enjoys searching in the graveyards for Chasseur graves as much as she enjoys finding them through her online research, proposed that we search the cemetery for other Chasseur graves by sweeping through the rows of civil war graves looking for any stones which denoted the 65th or 67th NY, the latter regiment having consolidated into the 65th on September 1, 1864. We still had some time left in the afternoon before we needed to head to our first night’s AirBnB stay in Alfred, New York. So, I agreed to walk under the strong sun and scan the rows, despite the large numbers of graves we walked through. Within minutes, we found more 65th New York graves, until by the end of the day we had found no less than thirteen of them. It was clear, knowing our plans for the next three days, that we would need more flags! We left Bath with a tremendous sense of accomplishment, having found eleven Chasseur graves there in addition to the two graves which we revisited and honored with new flags, the flags we had left in May having been removed. It was an auspicious start to the trip.
Pvt. Thomas Teer transferred into the 65th Ny on Spet. 1, 1864 and served out the war with the Chasseurs (photo by author)
Pvt. Theron Lapham enlisted in Yonkers and served the entire war (photo by author)
Private Phillips served three years in the regiment (photo by author)
The grave of Private Charles Kiessell (photo by author)
Pvt. Richard M. Franklin transferred into the 65th NY from the 67th NY on Sept. 1, 1864 and served out the war (photo by author)
Pvt. John Baker enlisted in February 1864 and was wounded at Spotsylvania on May 15, 1864 (photo by author)
Private James Kelly was a transfer from the 67th who was wounded in action at 3rd Winchester of September 19, 1864 (photo by author)
Pvt. James Callahan served the entire war (photo by author)
Sgt. Hugh McClusky transferred in with the 67th NY and served out the war with the Chasseurs (photo by author)
Rachel and I knew that we had less driving to do today since we had made it upstate, but with six stops before we arrived at the end of the day in Newfane, New York, northeast of Buffalo. I knew Newfane as the home of a strong high school cross country program whose boys had finished one point behind the team I coach in Irvington in the fall of 2018 at the New York state championship meet. We planned on getting chicken wings for dinner since we were close to Buffalo, the birthplace of “Buffalo” chicken wings. But we had work to do first. We headed west from Alfred to our first stop in the Southern Tier of New York, the Fairlawn Cemetery in Scio. We looked at the photograph we saw, figured out together where the blue house in the background was, and found Private Edward Canfield’s grave quickly. Canfield was a transfer from the 67th NY who died of disease on February 3, 1865, at the Haddington U.S. General Hospital in Philadelphia. As it says on his gravestone, he was “a brave soldier and true patriot.”
Edward Canfield (photo by Rachel Barry)
The drive west and north to Sugartown took us over a mountain in the Allegheny Range once we got off of Interstate 86 and ended at a cemetery that had no parking or auto access on a busy rural road, but we got over the mountain road then parked roadside with the hazard lights on as I hoped it would not take too long to find Private Clark Bowen’s grave in the small cemetery. His grave was near the road, and we did not linger long as we placed the flag and took a picture and moved on to a safer place to leave the car.
Private Bowen enlisted in March 1865 into Company K (photo by author)
We safely got on the road, hoping to avoid precarious parking spots and steep mountain roads on our way to the East Otto Cemetery to find Private Abraham Woodruff’s grave. Woodruff was a late-war transfer from the 121st New York Volunteers who only served a few weeks in the 65th. The East Otto cemetery was not on Google Maps, but over time I have figured out that small rural towns often have their cemeteries on a hill, so we moved uphill through town and, sure enough, found the cemetery on the right of the road. We found Woodruff’s grave quickly, left a flag and took our picture. Then, it was back on the road. The three little rural cemeteries were lovely, but not too hard to search and find and honor our Chasseur veterans. Now we were on to Buffalo’s huge Forest Lawn Cemetery to find Private Abram Verplank’s gravesite.
Pvt. Abraham Woodruff (photo by author)
Rachel is a great partner on these road trips, not only working the navigation, but humoring me as I continually guess how many minutes we have, according to Google maps, until we arrive at our next destination. Getting into Buffalo went smoothly, and as we drove around the perimeter of the Forest Lawn Cemetery searching for the main gate we could see its vastness. Comprising 269 acres, it is a beautiful nineteenth century cemetery of the rural cemetery era, with huge trees and a lovely landscape. We had the section of Abram Verplank’s gravesite on Findagrave.com, but we definitely were happy to get a map from the friendly gatekeeper when we asked him where Section K was in the cemetery. A small section on a little hill, Section K was not too hard to search, but the worn down and nondescript status of Verplank’s gravestone made it just a little tricky. Rachel found the grave, as she has spotted most of the graves on this trip so far, and we planted our flag and took the picture. With some time remaining in the afternoon and only two more stops left before we finished our planned itinerary, Rachel looked over the cemetery website to see if the cemetery contained any graves of people we felt it important to visit, and we found two.
1st Lt. Abram Verplank served two years with the regiment. (photo by author)
President Millard Fillore’s grave was in the next section, so close we need not get in the car despite how big the cemetery is. As we had visited his home in May during our first trip upstate, I thought it was appropriate to visit him in his last resting place as well. Fillmore’s grave was simple and well maintained, the American flag there helping us to spot it quickly. Protected by an iron fence, the gravesite revealed the importance of its occupant, even though no one would pick Fillmore as a particularly important President, and his political career was marred by his 1856 Presidential run for the nativist American Party.
President Millard Fillmore’s grave, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York (photo by author)
Before leaving, there was a grave in the cemetery’s Birchwood mausoleum, which Rachel knew was a must-visit. Representative Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American Congresswoman and a 1972 candidate for President, rests there. We stopped by and took a picture of the site before heading out. Chisholm was an inspiration for American women, black and white, and for any Americans who look for social and political progress.
The grave of the Honorable Shirley Chisholm (photo by author)
Since we were nearby anyway, in plotting the itinerary for this trip, Rachel and I had agreed a trip to Niagara Falls was in order. So we were headed there next. Driving along the Niagara River north and over the two very steep bridges which linked Grand Island to the mainland was scenic, and I was excited that Rachel would be seeing the Falls for the first time. We were turned away at the full lot in the park but easily found parking a few blocks away. Walking past some of the beautiful but now boarded up art deco buildings like the Niagara Hotel, one could see that the city was struggling, but on this nice summer day there was a decent crowd eating outdoors at restaurants despite the Pandemic. The walk along the section of the river called “Hell’s Half-Acre” was awesome, and reaching the edge, and the Falls themselves, was still impactful even for one who had been there years before. Nature’s power is of course readily evident in Niagara Falls, and I was glad we got a glimpse of Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side as well, even though a crossing into Canada was not possible under current circumstances.
Rachel at Niagara Falls (photo by author)
After a walk back to the car it was on to our last cemetery of the day, in Lockport, New York. We were tempted by the smells from the Indian food stand as we walked to the car, but we had decided last night that since we were in the Buffalo area we would be having chicken wings for dinner, and we stuck to our guns. The drive out of the city of Niagara Falls took us through an old industrial area, but gradually the development gave way to another nice rural road. Lockport itself, centered on the Erie Canal, was a surprisingly vibrant and nice town with a great old housing stock which was well maintained. The Cold Springs Cemetery in Lockport was large, but we had a section number and a photo and we managed after about five to seven minutes to find the last Chasseur grave of the day, that of Private Oliver Stafford. Stafford was another late-war recruit, signing up in February 1865 and mustering out in July 1865.
Private Oliver Stafford’s grave on a sunny summer day (photo by author)
After a long but highly successful day, it was a short drive due north to Newfane, where our AirBnB apartment awaited. Newfane was a smaller place than Lockport, but our place was located right in the middle of town, and we managed to find a nearby restaurant from which we could order out buffalo wings, which were delicious. I walked a few blocks to pick them up, having had enough car time for the day and wanting to stretch my legs. We enjoyed a simple dinner in our cosy and very clean apartment, delighted at how smoothly our day had gone. We had found another five Chasseur graves today, making the two-day total eighteen. And we had also seen graves of a President and a towering figure of the late 20th century in Representative Shirley Chisholm. And Niagara Falls was an awesome place and I hoped a lifetime memory for Rachel. I was tired, but highly satisfied. Tomorrow would bring another drive, this time to Lake Ontario, then eastward and southward into the Finger Lakes country, where we would be staying in a room on a farm.
A quick drive north from Newfane the next morning took us to Lake Ontario, an impressive sight. We drove along the lake for a time, then we lost sight of the lake. When we pulled onto the firm grass next to the tiny Sawyer Cemetery just outside Somerset, New York, surrounded by fields of corn, we were perhaps cocky to think how easy it would be to find Private Johnson Aldrich’s grave. We had a photograph of the grave from Findagrave.com, and the cemetery was easily the smallest we had been in. It was another lovely day. But something was not right. We could not find the grave, even despite the clear picture. It simply was not there. We scoured the little cemetery, going over it twice. We both looked into the nearby rows of corn, wondering if the fields had been allowed to grow over a part of the cemetery. We looked under the two or three evergreen trees in the cemetery in case one had grown over the grave since the Findagrave.com photograph had been taken. I had to convince Rachel that there was clearly a mistake and we had to give up looking. Perhaps after our two days of smooth sailing we were due for a challenge. Findagrave.com was not always perfect; mistakes do occur. We got back in the car and headed into Somerset. A few miles up the road, the Somerset Cemetery beckoned. I wondered if in fact Private Aldrich’s grave could be there, so we pulled in. It was a larger cemetery than the Sawyer Cemetery, but not large. As we drove around the loop within the cemetery, Rachel spotted it. Aldrich had enlisted in early March 1865, and served through the end of the war. We were pleased that our streak continued, and that we had figured out the puzzle ourselves. I made sure later that day after we arrived at our third AirBnB to update the Findagrave site for Aldrich to help others who may follow.
Rachel at the graveside of Private Johnson Aldrich, in Somerset, New York (photo by author)
Millville, New York was our next destination. The Millville Cemetery was one of those small church cemeteries on a rural road which is beautiful, peaceful, and quiet. We found Private William Hunt’s grave from the car, walked to it and took our photo after planting our flag. We had brought up twenty-one flags, and we were now down to our last one. We were so pleased with our success in this venture to this point!
Private Hunt joined the 65th NY in February 1865 and served until the end of the war. (photo by author)
A quick stop in Batavia netted us ten new flags at the Home Depot. Made in America, they were right near the entrance and of course Rachel spotted them immediately. We were now well supplied for the remainder of the trip, and it was off to the Batavia Cemetery. Private Damon Yates had only transferred into the 65th NY from the 121st New York in late June 1865, just before war’s end, but he did have the 65th NY appellation on his gravestone, small as it was. Rachel was in favor of finding the grave physically, having found it on line. I was skeptical when we drove into the rather large Batavia Cemetery, especially given the small, humble, and commonly designed stone at Yates’ grave. But leave it to Rachel, she found him within five minutes while I was taking a phone call from an old friend.
The humble grave of Private Damon Yates (photo by author)
The drive out of Batavia was easy; our next stop was the lovely little village of East Bloomfield. We drove through Avon on the way–we had stopped to honor two graves there on our Memorial Day weekend trip a few months before. Upon arrival, the East Bloomfield Cemetery was larger than one might expect for a small town. We drove the now familiar inverted U-shaped roadway which went through the cemetery, searching for the simple but classic grey square stone which marked the grave of Private Asahel Totman. I was pleased to spot it myself, right next to the roadway. Though not a competition, Rachel had found each of the graves thus far today, and I wanted to make sure I could pull my weight. Besides, Totman had easily my favorite name of any of the Chasseurs of the trip.
Private Totman enlisted in September, 1864 and served until the end of the war. (photo by author)
East Bloomfield’s village green was right near the cemetery, and its Civil War memorial was most impressive. We took a photo before leaving town, with me wondering how often people of the village paused and considered how lucky they were to have such a spectacular memorial in the center of their village to their veterans of the Civil War. Marked with the names of battles in which the local men had fought, along with their names and units, it was a fitting tribute to their sacrifice.
The impressive Civil War Memorial in East Bloomfield, New York (photo by author)
From East Bloomfield, we were off to Naples. Now entering the Finger Lakes region, we were now starting towards home. But more gravesites beckoned first, and we knew we could make it to two more sites before arriving at our farm in Bradford if we were willing to push it a bit. Given that we still had plenty of light, and that the several stops today had broken up the driving, and knowing that tomorrow was a long trip home with a few key stops and taking on one more grave today would make tomorrow’s driving a little shorter, we embraced the idea of making two more stops today before calling it a day.
The drive to Naples was gorgeous. The rolling hills of the Finger Lake country, with wineries noted on signs along the way, is yet another scenic part of New York state. If these trips upstate have taught us anything, it is that we are lucky to live in a truly beautiful state. Arriving in the surprisingly large Rose Ridge cemetery, armed with no grave site and a closeup picture that did not help us to identify the stone very much, Rachel and I knew that this was our most challenging grave to find of the day. And the fact that it was late afternoon and the biting bugs were out did not make it any easier. We did a thorough search of the cemetery, separating so we could cover more ground. Of course, Rachel found the grave.
Though Lt. Edwin Yaw transferred into the 65th NY from the 67th NY on Sept. 1, 1864, he was already a prisoner of war, having been captured on May 6, 1864 at the Battle of the Wilderness, and remained so until March of 1865, when he was paroled and then discharged. So he was technically a member of the 65th, but he likely never served with the regiment. This did not make the bug bites feel any better, but we knew we were being thorough at least and were not (knowingly, at least) leaving any Chassseurs behind. We took our photographs and headed back to the car. It was getting late, but we figured we could squeeze in one more grave before the end of the day. We were ambitious on this trip. If we found and honored a sixth grave today, that would make 24 graves in three days, an impressive feat.
The author at the grave of Lt. Edwin Yaw in Naples (photo by Rachel Barry)
The Dundee cemetery was on the way to our AirBnB stay on a farm overlooking Lake Ladoga in Bradford. So I messaged our host that we would be arriving late, around 7 PM, and we headed through upstate New York wine country to Dundee. After a drive of almost an hour, which included a stop at a Mennonite farm stand with an abundant array of delicious fruits and vegetables where I am sure we were the customers of the day after we bought enough to resupply our family upon our return home. We searched the surprisingly large Dundee Cemetery and Rachel found our last gravesite of the day in only ten minutes or so. Sgt. Benjamin Slack transferred into the 65th with the rest of the 67th NY on Sept. 1, 1864, and served until war’s end. His small gravestone was much like many in the cemetery, so I was impressed with how easily Rachel found it. We are both getting good at this.
Sgt. Benjamin Slack’s grave needs some restoration (photo by author)
While the room at the “quaint farm” advertised on AirBnB turned out to be a room in a mobile home, the farm itself was in a beautiful location overlooking Lamoka Lake. Raising sheep, ducks, turkeys, cattle, and pigs while holding two full-time jobs, Anastasia and her husband impressed me with how hard it is to make ends meet in parts of our country these days. That said, while she worked as an operator at a nearby Salt Mine on the overnight shift, Anastasia said she slept five hours a night and took a short nap most days and that was all she needed, and that she and her husband were glad not to be dairy farmers, as they had more income options selling meat than they would on a dairy farm, were less regulated than dairy farmers, and they were less tied to the farm. When I asked her what the farm raised, and she said they had just acquired a few piglets to go with the other animals, she described them as “bacon bits.” No romance there. I had a scenic run in the morning before breakfast, and enjoyed the coffee she made for me and the scrambled duck eggs with salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning. Rachel and I had never eaten duck eggs; they have more protein than chicken eggs, Anastasia told me. They were good.
It was a three hour drive to our first gravesite on our way home on this fourth and final day of our trip. With a total of about seven hours to drive this day, we had a shorter list of graves to visit than the other days. However, we also had the key visit of the day, and maybe of the trip—a farm in Fort Plain, next door to the Palatine Church, a lovely limestone structure built by German Palatines in 1770. The farm happened to be the birthplace of General John Cochrane, the first commander of the 65th New York Volunteers. One day I hope to write his biography. The Cochran farm was built by John Cochrane’s grandfather, who was a doctor in the Continental Army. Somewhere along the line the “e” was added to the family name. The website I found indicated that the Cochran farm currently produced goat cheese, but it had not been updated since 2015, and I had no responses to my two queries on the site. So our plan was to simply drive onto the farm and ask permission to take some pictures of the farmhouse. I thought we might buy some goat cheese and put it on ice for the trip home to smooth over things. With a Chasseur lieutenant buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, where Cochrane himself is buried, along with President Chester Arthur, I thought we might stop there since it was on our way home, if we were not totally burned out by then.
A three hour drive north and east began with a scenic route along Keuka Lake north. After a stop for gas in Penn Yan and some more driving, we were back on the New York State Thruway, heading east. Dolgeville was our first stop. The town was a little worn, but the cemetery was lovely. Rachel found the grave within a minute or so of us parking on the roadway within the cemetery.
John Carnwright enlisted for three years in New York city, was promoted to sergeant, June 1, 1863; the same day as the author’s great great grandfather Timothy Carroll was promoted to corporal; he re-enlisted as a veteran, December 26, 1863, with Cpl. Carroll. He was wounded in action on October 19, 1864, at Cedar Creek, Va. and he mustered out with his company on July 17, 1865. (photo by author)
St. Johnsville is very close to Dolgeville, so it was a short drive to the Prospect View Cemetery. Located adjacent to a local school, the medium-sized cemetery was where Private Jerome Countryman is buried. Countryman served a year until discharged for illness and died shortly thereafter. His gravestone is the most interesting of all we saw during this trip, but it took a while to find. As usual, Rachel reasoned it out by looking not only at the picture of his grave on Findagrave.com, but looking at his parents’ grave picture and then studying the background. This did the trick, and Rachel located a grave I had walked by earlier as Countryman’s.
Pvt. Jerome Countryman (photo by author)
The next trip, of less than ten minutes, was the first stop not related to a gravesite that we had visited since Niagara Falls. For me it was the key site of the trip. It was the Cochran Farm in Fort Plain, New York, neighborning the 1770 Palatine Church. Site of General John Cochrane’s birth, it was a treat to visit, especially thinking about the planned biography of him I hope to write some day. Knowing from a study of google maps and an article from the 1920s by the local historical society which I found online, I knew the land was basically adjacent to the site of the Palatine Church. This historic, lovely, and unique limestone structure was worth a visit as well.
The church was, to my surprise, open to visitors, so after taking a few pictures Rachel and I went in and enjoyed the artifacts on display there, as well as a recording of the history of the church which was automatically playing. The church had been spared being burned down during a Revolutionary War British raid due to the loyalist status of the landowner and parish member who had donated the land for it. Donating 50 cents myself for a postcard for my classroom, we headed out to the Cochran farm just down the road.
Palatine Church (photo by author)
Cochran Farm (photo by author)
I was excited to be going to see Cochrane’s birthplace, and I was confident that, having tried twice to reach the farm through its website, that I could explain my research trip to the owners and be able to take a few pictures.
We pulled up the driveway, past a house on the left, then up to the main house, Though a cat watched us from the driveway, and cars were parked there, when we rang the bell there was no answer. So, I took a few pictures of the site, pleased that I had found it online and physically, and Rachel and I got back in the car and headed out, having not met anyone at the Cochran Farm. The farm was founded by Gen. John Cochrane’s grandfather, who had been a respected physician in General George Washington’s Continental Army, and the house is still impressive.
Though it had been a lot of driving, and this was our fourth day of the trip, both Rachel and I were up for just one more stop, at the Albany Rural Cemetery, in Menands just north of the city, where Lieutenant Warren Hedden is buried, as well as General Cochrane. I had visited the cemetery twice to find Cochrane’s grave, as well as visit President Chester Arthur’s. It was not adding too much to the trip, maybe 30-40 minutes, to make the trip. With the start of work looming tomorrow, I was stretching the summer as long as I could.
Lieutenant Hedden’s grave was in a small section near the entrance to the large cemetery, and armed with a paper map which I picked up outside the cemetery office, I was sure given our prowess and experience we would find it quickly. It didn’t work out that way. Since Section Four was a narrow strip near the entrance, and we had a photo of the grave, it seemed to us given our experience the last three days, we would have a simple and quick time of it. As it turned out the hilly and grassy area was trickier than the map showed in terms of walking, with steep sides and high grass throughout. Having walked with Rachel across the entire section, we walked back through our steps and still found no sign of the grave. Several stones were similar to Lieutenant Hedden’s stone. We checked the entire section and looked closely at all such graves, but came up empty. We were baffled, but as Rachel walked the top end of the section, I walked back down along its edge, on the road, trying to figure out what we missed. There it was, just below the edge of the small plateau on top of the hill, isolated along the road on the steep hillside. I was glad to do my part to locate a grave, with Rachel searching the other end of the short section. We planted our flag and took pictures. Hedden entered the regiment a private in June 1861 at the very beginning; he left in September 1864 a First Lieutenant.
Lt. Warren Hedden’s gravesite in the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands (photo by author)
The author at Lt. Hedden’s gravesite (photo by Rachel Barry)
Only one stop remained. I could not miss paying a visit and honoring General Cochrane’s grave, and not only did we have the gravesite location on Findagrave.com, but I had found it twice already most recently last year on the way to a family stay at the Bunker Hill Inn in Salem, New York, a favorite B & B which we have frequented over many summers. That was a rainy day, unlike today, and Rachel took a picture of General Chester Arthur’s gravesite. I had the map and a strong memory of last year’s visit, so we made it to the roadway down which General Cochrane lay. The gate was closed, however, but it was a short walk to the grave site to leave a flag and consider how much we had accomplished in four short days. Though three graves on this trip were re-visits, like the one we were making to Cochrane’s grave, we had managed to find and honor the graves of 28 members of the regiment. Plus, we had seen graves of two Presidents and one Congresswoman, with a peak on the way out today at President Chester Arthur’s grave.
General John Cochrane (photo by author)
The grave of President Chester Arthur (photo by Rachel Barry)
As we left the cemetery, and drove along the Hudson River on I-787 south towards home, we passed nearby the impressive New York State Capital building. As always, I was reflective in this spot, thinking about the trip I had taken years ago to the New York State Archives in the early stages of my 65th New York research. I looked then at commissary records and a speech of General Cochrane. I also thought about my one year residency in Albany back in 1992-1993. It was long ago, and where I proposed to my wife, and much had happened since. We drove south onto the Thruway, and I told Rachel we would be home by 9 PM. I suggested we needed some celebratory music on the way home given how well the trip had gone. She suggested Badfinger’s Greatest Hits. End of story. Power pop perfection. We had another smooth trip home. It had been a more productive and fun trip than I had even hoped.
Recently I found among my pile of papers a short narrative from the Longwood High School website with some letter excerpts from a 65th NY soldier which evidently I printed off the internet in 2002 and then forgot about for eighteen years. The narrative came from a collection of brief vignettes on local veterans apparently written by Middle Island, New York’s Longwood High School students in the late 20th century or early 21st century. The letter excerpts in the piece related a wonderful anecdote which involved President Lincoln. In letters to his sisters, Alexander Monsell, who mustered into the regiment on August 24, 1861, told of having “… to briton my butons and plate for to drill everything has to be clean here…” Monsell also wrote about a review of the troops at Camp Middleton by President Lincoln. According to his sister Jerusha, who related the story to local historian Thomas Bayles, Lincoln shook hands with all the troops. “When Lincoln came to Alexander, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall, he asked him how tall he was. When Alexander replied, President Lincoln said that was his own height and that he always liked a tall boy.” In another letter to his sister, Alexander expressed how the Chasseurs felt in the fall of 1861 about the war. “We are all waiting for to fight. I suppose that you might think that strange, but that is what we are all wishing for.” Unfortunately Alexander never got the chance to fight, as he died at Camp Cochran hospital on December 7, 1861. Finding his grave in the lovely Yaphank Cemetery in August 2020, with the help of the information on Findagrave.com, my daughter Rachel and I placed a flag there in his honor, then took a few photos.
My daughter Rachel has been using the regimental roster and Findagrave.com to locate almost 100 more 65th NY soldier graves around the country. While it will necessitate another trip north to the Western part of New York state to visit up to 20 graves she has located, today I traveled to nearby New Rochelle, NY to find Sgt. Warren Dodge’s grave. Then, to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx to find Private Elijah Phillips. Though I didn’t have a photo of Dodge’s gravesite, I did have a location on Findagrave, and the map at the entrance to the Beechwoods cemetery told me where Section 8 was. It didn’t take long to find him, and happily the recent damage from Tropical Storm Isaias, which included a large tree branch down over nearby graves, has spared Dodge’s stone. Sgt. Dodge transferred into Co. D of the 65th with the rest of the 67th NY on Sept. 1, 1864, and he served with the Chasseurs until his discharge on June 23, 1865. I laid a flag at his grave, adding to the one already there, and then headed back to the car on a very hot afternoon.
I posted 2 photos of Dodge’s grave for his Findagrave.com page, then drove another 15 minutes or so down to the Bronx to the beautiful Woodlawn Cemetery to find Elijah Phillips’ grave. Marked by a GAR flagholder which is gorgeous in its own right, I found Phillips’ grave in the Fern section of the cemetery, near the lake. Though I walked almost the whole section before I found him, I had parked my car perhaps 100 feet from his grave site so might have done better to look along the roadway first. 🙂 Private Phillips enlisted in January 1864 and served until he was discharged in July 1865.
Though compared to my recent trips to multiple graveyards in Ohio and in upstate New York, this trip today was easy, it was no less rewarding to get a chance to honor two more members of the 65th New York Volunteer infantry. The fact that they are close to my home, if recently discovered, makes me all the more glad to visit and honor them for their contributions to saving their country during the Civil War.