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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 1864- The Disosway Murder II

The best account of the killing of Lieutenant Disosway I have yet found, is in his obituary as published in the New York Times.


 LIEUT. WM. WILKINS DISOSWAY.
In the death of Lieut. DISOSWAY, which has already been announced, the army loses a prompt and efficient officer, and society is deprived of a youth of high promise. In the first year of the war, Lieut. DISOSWAY entered the service as Corporal in the First New-York Volunteer cavalry, and served under MCCLELLAN in his Peninsular campaign. He was promoted to a Sergeantcy, and in the following year procured a commission as Second Lieutenant in the First New-York Mounted Rifles. Four months later, for an act of daring valor, in a skirmish on the Blackwater, he was promoted to a First Lieutenancy; and but a few weeks since, was honored by an appointment to the post of Provost-Marshal of Williamsburgh. The circumstances leading to this appointment are so indicative of his character as to deserve mention. From a mistaken idea of his duty, he failed to make the guard observe a slight mark of respect toward the commanding officer of the post, and was, in consequence, ordered under arrest for two days; but the persistency with which he adhered to what he thought at the time was the military rule in the case, and the frankness and readiness with which he acknowledged his mistake when it was made known to him, made so deep an impression upon Col. WEST, the officer in question, that almost immediately he received from him the appointment of Provost-Marshal. At this time he was only in his 20th year.
During the brief period allotted him for the discharge of his duties in this capacity, he won the universal esteem of the people of Williamsburgh; and a striking instance of this was shown in their touching testimonials of affection and sympathy at his decease. Pillows were sent for his dying head, and wreaths of flowers to perfume his coffin.
The circumstances of his death were most painful. On the afternoon of the 13th inst., Lieut. DISOSWAY was coming out of his quarters in Williamsburgh, when a man named BOYLE, one of the Provost Guard, but who had been relieved of provost duty for drunkenness the day previous, rushed into the yard; he had run the guard at Williamsburgh, and succeeded in regaining his arms. The Marshal's horse was standing in the yard, saddled; BOYLE mounted it, using infamous language, and discharged his revolver, the ball striking the ground at the feet of the Lieutenant. Several of the guard raised their pistols to kill him, but were deterred by the deceased, who, at the same time, ordered him under arrest; then, in the face of BOYLE's repeated threats to shoot him, he walked calmly up to the horse, in moderate language expostulating with the wretch. BOYLE dismounted, but the moment the Lieutenant laid his hand on the horse's bit, he fired; the fatal ball entered the half-opened mouth of the fearless youth and passed out at the back of his neck; he fell into the arms of his faithful body-servant, saying only, "IKE, I'm shot," and died within an hour.
Lieut. DISOSWAY's orderly rushed after the murderer, who had fled, snapped four caps at him, and finally, overtaking him, knocked him down with the butt of his pistol. At the time of the murder BOYLE was slightly intoxicated. He was taken to Fort Magruder, where he had been confined before for drawing his revolver upon an officer. Lieut. DISOSWAY's talents and virtues as an officer have been alluded to, as well as the promise he gave of future usefulness in life. To the sacred grief of the stricken ones at home, no reference may be made; those only who, like them, have laid in the dust an only son and brother, may know the extent and intensity of their loss; a loss irreparable, though softened by the memory of his bravery, forbearance and stainless honor. The deceased once said to his father, (CORNELIUS R. DISOSWAY, Esq.,) "he never would be wounded in the back," and this heroic resolution he sealed with his blood.
The following proceedings took place at a meeting held by his brother officers, and were forwarded to his father's family in this City:

A meeting was held by the officers of the First regiment Mounted Rifles N.Y.S.V., in camp near Williamsburgh, Va., Oct. 13, 1863, in consequence of the death of First Lieut. William W. Disosway. A Committee was appointed to further the proceedings of the assembly, and the following resolutions were submitted, and unanimously adopted:
Whereas, It has pleased an all wise Providence to remove suddenly from our midst Lieut. W.W. Disosway; that while we deeply deplore the loss of our young comrade in arms, we remember that he died like a soldier, in the performance of his duty, therefore.
Resolved, That in the death of Lieut. W.W. DISOSWAY, our regiment has sustained in almost irreparable loss, and our country has been deprived of a variable and accomplished officer.
Resolved, That the name of deceased will ever be associated in our minds with one of sterling character, manly aspirations, and of the most brilliant promise.
Resolved, That we tender our deepest sympathies to the afflicted ones at home, who will cherish in their grief the consolation that to the last he was a worthy son, a kind brother, and a true soldier.
Resolved, That we wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days.
On behalf of the regiment.

 JAMES N. WHEELAN,
Major First regiment Mounted Rifles.

C.J. MASTEN,
Captain Co. C. First N.Y. Mounted Rifles;

D. EDWARD CRONIN,
Captain Co. C. First N.Y., Mounted Rifles;

Approved by vote of the officers.

B.F. ONDERDONK.
Colonel Commanding Mounted Rifles;

His remains were brought to this City, and buried in Greenwood Cemetery. M.
During the brief period allotted him for the discharge of his duties in this capacity, he won the universal esteem of the people of Williamsburgh; and a striking instance of this was shown in their touching testimonials of affection and sympathy at his decease. Pillows were sent for his dying head, and wreaths of flowers to perfume his coffin.



-New York Times, October 29, 1863

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