August 16, 2012

150 years ago, heading off to war

Though the Civil War started in 1861, massive enlistment drives grew in 1862. Many Tompkins County residents spent that summer listening for news and deciding whether to join the army. George Goodrich wrote:

Chapter XVIII.

The War of the Rebellion.

...It will be difficult for succeeding generations to realize with what anxiety and interest the investment and capture of Fort Sumpter and the subsequent progress of the war were watched by the people of Dryden in common with the inhabitants of all of the states of the North. No railroads or telegraph then served to deliver the war news within the town of Dryden. The only mail which was then received was brought by the daily stages from Ithaca and Cortland, meeting at Dryden village at noon. The New York daily papers of the morning would in this way reach Dryden the next day at noon, when the first news was obtained, unless, as was frequently the case, a messenger was dispatched by private contributors to Cortland, the nearest railroad and telegraph station in those times, to bring back the latest news late in the evening. Those who remember how anxiously the tidings of war were watched for, will call to mind with what feelings of disappointment the frequent stereotyped response was received, "All quiet on the Potomac."


The early campaigns of the Union forces in Virginia were not successful. Such disasters as the battle of Bull Run served to convince the people of the North that greater efforts had to be made. War meetings were held in all parts of the county, attended with bands of music and patriotic speakers. At these meetings liberal contributions were made for the aid of the families of such as should go to the front. A senatorial war committee was appointed, of which our late townsman, Jeremiah W. Dwight, was the member from this county, and a local town committee was selected, consisting of Luther Griswold, Smith Robertson, Charles Givens, Thomas J. McElheny, and W. W. Snyder.

In the summer of 1862 the 109th regiment was organized, Company F. being largely made up of Dryden volunteers. It was mustered into Service August 28, 1862, but was kept on guard duty for the first year and more. Its first fight was in the terrible battle of the Wilderness when more than one hundred of its men were left upon the field of battle. Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor and the battles before Petersburg followed in quick succession, in all of which this regiment made a gallant record, but suffered severely, so that when they came to be mustered out of the service in June, 1865, there were only two hundred and fifty men left of the twelve hundred which first went into the Wilderness.

In October, 1862, the 143d regiment, of which one company was made up mostly of Dryden men under Capt. Harrison Marvin, was mustered into service. Although this regiment did not see such severe service it had an honorable record and its roll of honor bore the following inscriptions: Nansemond, Wanhatchie, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Resaca, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain, Culpepper Farm, Peach Tree Ridge, Atlanta and Savannah.

Goodrich, George B. The Centennial History of the Town of Dryden, 1797-1897. Dryden: Dryden Herald Steam Printing House, 1898. Reprinted 1993 by the Dryden Historical Society. Pages 52-55.

(The Dryden Historical Society, which sells this book, may be reached at 607-844-9209.)

Posted by simon at August 16, 2012 8:59 AM in
Note on photos