Notes from "History of the 124th Regiment NYSV"
by Charles H. Weygant

Red Diamond Edition, 1995

The following highlights and quotes are presented in recognition of the fact that few copies of this rare book are available. Reading the entire text as written by an eyewitness to the events offers far greater appreciation of the war than these few notes can, and is very much recommended. The "primary document" portions below are the indented sections in quotes, which are directly from the account written by the commanding officer.

The "Warwick Boys", as Company D of the 124th was known, served with the Army of the Potomac. This was the major Federal army in the field and in the words of Charles LaRocca, they "forged a reputation in fire and blood." This was no supply regiment or one kicking its heels in an undisputed area, but one that saw service in many of the fiercest battles of the war: At Fredricksburg; Chancellorsville, where 2/5 of the regiment was killed or wounded; Gettysburg; the Battle of the Wilderness; and Spottsylvania Courthouse.

Recruiting "The Warwick Boys"

The Civil War had already lasted a year, and for many in the North much effort, money, and human life had been sacrificed to very little effect. The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was apparently failing in its mission of bringing the South back into the Union and complying with the abolition of slavery. Belief in the cause of the war had waned to barely a flicker, and supporters of the South's claims were heard ever louder. Then on July 1, 1862 President Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers to sign up for "the long haul"-- three years of service to help advance the cause abolition, and to protect the North, which was now in danger of invasion from the exuberant Confederacy. A committee to raise volunteers was formed in Orange County, including John Cowdrey and Thomas Welling of Warwick. The main recruiters for Warwick were James W. Benedict and Daniel Sayer.

At first it was very difficult to find volunteers from the dispirited residents. Men were reluctant to make a commitment for three years: who would provide for their families when they were gone, and how would the pay due to the soldiers make its way back home where it would be needed? Then local activists began raising money to support needy families of those who should volunteer, and the North began to rally as the very real threat to the south made an impact. By August 23rd, the regiment was fully enlisted and organized under Captain A. Van Horne Ellis. Most of the volunteers from Warwick were organized into Company D, "The Warwick Boys", and mustered at Goshen on August 16th, 1862.

Joining the Army of the Potomac

On Thursday, August 26th, the ladies of Orange County presented the colors (flag) they had sewn to the regiment. A great crowd gathered that day at Camp Wickham in Goshen to bid farewell to the recruits, and stuff their knapsacks with extra provisions and keepsakes. After a brief wait, the regiment departed on Sept. 6-- still without arms, which had just arrived for them in New York.

After an arduous journey of hot marches with too much weight, finding troop train connections, and sleeping on city streets, the regiment reached Washington and for the first few nights camped on Capitol Hill, among the granite blocks that were waiting to become the Capitol's north wing. (p. 34). At Washington they assisted in guarding the capitol. The troops were as yet so 'green' that they did not recognize the bugle call for "Strike Tents" when it came, and several fights erupted when more seasoned soldiers began pulling down the regimental tents. After a brief time they were ordered to join the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan, to replace troops lost at Harper's Ferry and Antietam.

The troops had their first sight of what had been a battleground in October, less than a month after the battle:

It was a miserable, wet fall and winter in the South that year, and the troops had been sent without adequate food and shelter:


The first time the Orange Blossoms came under fire was at Fredericksburg:

That ill-fated offensive, which Gen. Burnside pursued for many days, ended in disaster as artillery and troops mired in mud at the river. Confusion reigned as the troops eventually pulled back, having lost 13,000 men. A group of four men of Co. A. were not informed of the withdrawal, and were left at their post and trapped:

The continued cold, wet, and lack of shelter of that action took its toll, and at its conclusion half of the 850 of the 124th needed a doctor's care. Nearly 100 were put on the sick list, many of which never returned to duty. Later on, members of the regiment attributed their survival to the inferior arms they carried-- heavy, old-fashioned rifles ("blunderbusses") which had resulted in their not being called to a charge. (p. 80)

The account notes that on January 29th, five months after enlisting, the army paymaster visited for the first time and gave the troops one and a half months of the pay due them. After Gen. Burnside was removed from command and replaced by Major-Gen. Joseph Hooker on Jan. 26th, immediate improvements to their situation were made: they withdrew from the riverside mud, went to higher ground, and made winter quarters of log cabins. After waiting the rest of the winter out in relative comfort, on April 8 President Lincoln visited to inspect the Army of the Potomac. Of all the troops assembled that day-- 40 regiments of infantry plus mules and supply personnel-- there were only three regiments that Lincoln commented on as being especially pleasing to him. The 124th was one of them.


With the spring of 1863 came renewed offensive efforts. The next major action for the 124th came at Chancellorsville:

Several times during that battle the regimental flag of the Orange Blossoms was the last to be seen at the fore, rallying and holding, with Confederate troops in front and on either side, until they were forced to fall back. At dusk the battle for the Union under Hooker was nearly done, as the 124th passed another sleepless night as pickets for the fresh troops resting in the woods at their rear. Monday night they were permitted to sleep for a few hours. During the last parts of this conflict, the "Warwick Boys" had become so used to the battlefield that whether one lived or died seemed of no consequence:


The conflict was far from over at the end of Chancellorsville, and the 124th found themselves on a forced march to Gettysburg, arriving on the eve of that great battle of July 1, 1863. By this time in the war of the over 850 Orange Blossoms which set out with fanfare from Goshen, only about 240 remained in the regiment. (p. 172). The second day of the battle found them on a hill, facing down upon the enemy:

A short time later, the 124th pulled back to the woods to rest and new reinforcements arrived to take up their position and continue the conflict. Finally, after a loss of nearly 40,000 Union and Confederate soldiers, the report came in that the North had won.

As Lee retreated, The Warwick Boys and their regiment were among those who followed his army back to Rappahannock, encountering skirmishes along the way.

New Recruits and Later Battles

By mid July, a group from the 124th had been sent north to recruit new soldiers, as the ranks had been decimated by prior battles. Among the recruiters was G. Bertholf of Company D. The recruiters understandably had difficulty in finding volunteers, and most were never able to return to active duty with the regiment (p. 215) Eventually a number recruits were found to fill in some of the spaces left by fallen and wounded comrades. Eventually some replacements would be found to better fill the ranks. By now the 124th was a veteran force, known for its bravery, resourcefulness, and high casualty rate, and "The Warwick Boys" had become part of a grimly determined group of seasoned soldiers.

The regiment participated in numerous smaller battles, campaigns and skirmishes during the rest of the war. For almost two years after Gettysburg they marched, charged, froze, and hung grimly on. They fought in the Wilderness campaign, Spottsylvania Court House, and Petersburg. We hear of two officers of Company D, arriving at the field hospital where Weygant was being treated, after the battle of Spottsylvania Courthouse in May of 1864.

Upon returning from his convalescence in Newburgh in early July, a poignant scene greeted Col. Weygant:

In the last part of the war in Virginia, the Confederate army sought to hold its bastions of Petersburg and Richmond. The land before the besieged Petersburg took on a nightmarish quality as the Orange Blossoms and their fellow regiments sought safety in trenches and earthworks:

The massive confusion of the last months is made plain by the description Weygant gives of taking refuge in a wooded area when wounded:

As the year wore on and the war stretched interminably and impossibly through another winter, the Orange Blossoms received a valuable and much treasured gift:

A letter, indicating that the prime moving force behind the caps was Mrs. Dr. Jane, of the Village of Florida.
accompanied the gift

Victory and Home

Finally, the following spring, Petersburg and Richmond fell. The Warwick Boys were now part of force, which pursued the fleeing army of Gen. Lee. Their last engagement before Lee's surrender was at the Battle of Sailor's Creek on April 6, 1865. (p. 439)

The morning of April 9th brought with it word that Grant and Lee were arranging terms for the South's surrender:

The Orange Blossoms headed home triumphant, only to receive a last horrifying blow from a rebel sympathizer in the early morning hours of April 15: