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Friday, December 19, 2014

The 16th New York at the Battle of Eltham, Part III

 Excerpted from,
-From Bull Run To Chancellorsville,The Story of the Sixteenth New York Infantry together with Personal Reminiscences By Newton Martin Curtis, LL.D. Brevet Major-General U. S. Vols.
G.P. Putnams Sons, New York & London

From Major Seaver's letter to The Malone Palladium: —
"May 7, 1862.
"Company F, Captain John C. Gilmore, and Company G, Captain N. M. Curtis, of the Sixteenth were engaged to-day. For a time they were nearly surrounded, but fought their way through great odds. Captain Curtis, while urging on his men, was struck by a ball in his left breast, directly over his heart. The ball struck a rib, glanced around and came out of his back. Twice he rallied his men after the shot, and, by his presence of mind and bravery, doubtless saved many a valuable life. Captain Gilmore was in nearly as bad a condition and barely escaped. . . . Many of the dead and wounded left on the field were stripped of portions of their clothing, their pockets rifled of valuables, and, in one case, the most horrid barbarities perpetrated on the person, as that of Mummery, whose throat was cut and body thrown into a marsh. Our men behaved well, and are all eager for an opportunity to avenge the death of their comrades."

Captain John C. Gilmore's report not having been found the following letter is inserted.
"Washington, D.C., May 31, 1904.
"Dear General Curtis: —
"As I now recall the action of May 7th, 1862, at West Point, Virginia, my company held the left of the line and was deployed as skirmishers with a small part of it in support or reserve. On my right was your company, formed in the same way as mine, and, at the time of starting, was under the command of Lieutenant S. C. Vedder of your company. I am not at this time sure whether we were advancing or had halted, when the fight commenced with the enemy in much stronger force than ours. While my company was holding them in check in my immediate front, they, by a strong force, drove the left of Vedder's line back, advanced beyond the right of my line, turned to the right, and opened on my line a flank and reverse fire. I turned my line to face the enemy, about the same time you advanced with your company, having joined it from another part of the field, and drove the enemy from my left. In making this movement you received a severe wound in your left breast, but kept the field until we were ordered to retire, which order was given as soon as the artillery was put into position to open fire. Your prompt action in coming to my aid saved, without doubt, my company from greater loss than it sustained, which was three killed and five wounded.

"Corporal James Cook of my company was severely wounded in the early part of the engagement and fell into the hands of the enemy. Later in the day we recovered the bodies of our killed and brought off the wounded, except Barnhart and Kelley of my company, who were carried to Richmond.

"After the regiment went into camp on the nth of May, General McClellan rode to our regimental headquarters, and requested Colonel Rowland to send for the captains of the two companies engaged at West Point, that he might thank them in person for their good conduct in the engagement. When informed that Captain Gilmore was on picket, and Captain Curtis on a hospital boat in the York River, he asked Colonel Howland to convey to them his thanks and commendations. On returning to the camp the next morning, Colonel Howland gave me General McClellan's message, and informed me that he had communicated the same to you by mail.

"Yours cordially

"John C. Gilmore,

"Brigadier-General U. S. A., Ret."

Major Joel J. Seaver

Captain John C. Gillmore

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