Chautauqua County Represented at Battle of Gettysburg

2013 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863). To commemorate the anniversary of what many consider the most important battle to ever take place in the Western Hemisphere, we spent July 1 through July 3 on our Facebook Page highlighting the Chautauqua County connection to the battle. Here is a recap or our postings from those three days.

JULY 1, 1863


Alpheus Hodges of Ashville, NY - 9th NY Cavalry

Alpheus Hodges of Ashville, NY – 9th NY Cavalry

(Posted on Facebook: 07/01/2013) – Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of Gettysburg – one of the greatest battles to ever be fought on American soil. Chautauqua County has several connections to Gettysburg – including the first shot fired by the Union Army.

Alpheus Hodges was a resident of Ashville, NY when he enlisted into Co. F of the 9th NY Cavalry. Cpl. Hodges, along with the rest of the 9th, was at Gettysburg on June 30 and Hodges was put in charge of an advanced picket post.

On the morning of July 1, 1863 – along with three other troopers of his company – Hodges claimed to have been fired upon by advancing Confederates. He retired to a bridge where, from behind its stone abutments, he fired several shots at the advancing enemy. This exchange of shots is believed to be the first shots fired at the Battle of Gettysburg (although there are some accounts which dispute this claim). Hodges is reported to have done “distinguished service” throughout the remainder of the battle.

To learn more about Cpl. Hodges, visit the following:


Col. William Sackett of Westfield, N.Y., 9th NY Cavalry.

Col. William Sackett of Westfield, N.Y., 9th NY Cavalry.

(Posted on Facebook: 07/01/2013) – Portrait of Col. William Sackett of Westfield, N.Y., commander of the 9th NY Cavalry, formed in Westfield in 1861.

During Gettysburg, the 9th was in the 2nd Brigade of the First Division of the union’s Cavalry Corps. The 1st Division was under the direction of Brig. Gen. John Buford. Col. T.C. Devin – who earned the nickname “Bufford’s Hard Hitter” – was in command of the second brigade.

The 9th was involved in Day 1 of the Battle of Gettysurg and part of Day 2 – but was withdrawn from the battlefield by Cavalry commander Maj. General Alfred Pleasonton on the afternoon of July 2. He sent both the 1st and 2nd Brigades to Emmitsburg, Maryland, to resupply and refit. Historians say this was an ill-advised decision that uncovered the Union left flank.

The 9th brought 395 men to the field at the Battle of Gettysburg with many from Chautauqua County. Two members of the 9th died in battle:

  • Surendus A. Godfrey (Co. G)
  • James A. Cyrus (Co. G).

Two others were wounded:

  • Frank C. Cave (Co. I)
  • W. A. Scranton (Co. F)

with Cave dying of complications from his injuries three weeks later on July 23, 1863.

Sackett would remain in command of the 9th for 11 more months. He was killed on June 11, 1864 at the Battle of Trevilian Station, Va.

For more information on the 9th NY Cavalry, visit:


Bedlam In the Brickyard by Bradley Schmehl.

Bedlam In the Brickyard by Bradley Schmehl.

(07/01/2013) -The 154th Regiment, New York Volunteers, was recruited from the counties of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus. It was organized at Jamestown where it was mustered into the United States service September 24, 1862.

The 154th was assigned to the XI Corps (Maj. Gen. Oliver Howard), and was in the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division. The division was commaned by Brig Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr and the brigade was under the command of Col. Charles R. Coster.

The 2nd Division was the last one of the XI Corps to reach Cemetery Hill on Day 1 of Gettysburg. Members of the 154th arrived there at about 4 p. m., on the double-quick, filed into the cemetery and cleaned guns, and immediately double-quicked down through the town, out on the Harrisburg Road, and formed line of battle a short distance north of Stevens Run. At this time the broken Union lines were in full retreat, and about as soon as the 154th had formed a line of battle, the enemy, under the command of Gen. Jubal Early, fell upon them, in front and on both flanks.

The 154th held its ground, receiving no order to retreat whatever and all but 15 men and 3 officers were captured. The officers were Lieut. Col. Daniel B. Allen , Capt. M. B. Cheney and Lieut. James W. Bird, of Company G.

The few remaining men of the 154th did gallant service on the 2nd day of Battle on Cemetery Hill, in support of the XI Corps’ artillery brigade in repelling the assault of the Louisiana Tigers.

The 154th brought 300 men to the field at the Battle of Gettysburg with many from Chautauqua County. Nearly 200 were captured on Day 1. Fourteen enlisted men and one officer (M.B. Cheney) were wounded and six were killed.

Those who died were:

  • Sgt. Lewis Bishop (Co. C) – Catt. County
  • Joel M. Bouton (Co. C) – Catt. County
  • Amos Humiston (Co. C) – Catt. County
  • Willliam Moore (Co. I) – Catt. County
  • Dennis Snyder (Co. D) – Catt. County
  • Sgt. Byron A. Wiggins (Co. F) – Chaut. County – Arkwright

The 154th had the dubious distinction of having the highest loss-rate (83.7 percent) of any unit in the battle.

After being reinforced by exchanged prisoners and convalescents, the 154th New York was transferred to Lookout Valley, Tenn., in October, 1863. It was engaged soon after in the battles of Wauhatchie, Missionary Ridge, and the march to Knoxville to relieve General Burnside.

For additional information on the 154th, visit:


Wednesday July 1, 1863 [Battle of Gettysburg, Day 1]
9:30 AM Ordered to saddle up as the enemy were approaching – formed a line on the right north of the town [Gettysburg] and held them until supported by the 1 AC [First Army Corps]. Gen. John F. Reynolds killed. Fighting throughout the day. One horse badly wounded.
– B.J. Coffin (Sherman, N.Y.) – Capt. Co. E, 9th NY Cavalry

[Note: Historian Shelby Foote wrote that many considered Reynnolds “not only the highest ranking but also the best general in the army.” Read more about Gen. Reynolds in the link provided]

JULY 2, 1863


An image of the 8th Florida Volunteer Infantry's flag, captured by Dunkirk native Thomas Horan at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. (Image from Wikipedia)

An image of the 8th Florida Volunteer Infantry’s flag, captured by Dunkirk native Thomas Horan at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. (Image from Wikipedia)

(07/02/2013) – The 72nd NY Volunteer Infantry regiment was raised by Gen. Daniel E. Sickles under special authority from the War Department on May 18, 1861 at Camp Scott, Staten Island. One company of the 68th Militia (Dunkirk, NY) formed part of this regiment. The 72nd NY was also known as the “Third Excelsior” and “Sickle’s Excelsior Brigade.”

During the battle of Gettysburg, the 72nd NY was part of the 2nd Brigade (commanded by Col. William R. Brewster) of the 2nd Division (Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Humprhey) of the Third Army Corps (Maj. Gen. Sickles). The 72nd NY was commanded by Col. John S. Austin and Lieut. Col. John Leonard.

During the fighting, Dunkirk Native THOMAS HORAN (Co. E) bravely led his regiment in pushing back a group of confederates from Florida. Horan himself captured the regimental flag of the 8th Florida Volunteer Infantry. For his conduct and bravery in battle, he was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Dunkirk.

The 72nd NY Infantry was engaged in fighting during the afternoon of Day 2 at Gettysburg and supported the 1st Brigade of the Third Army Crops in resisting the assault of the enemy along the left center of the line near Emmitsburg Rd.

A total of 14 men from the 72nd lost their lives as a result of the Battle, either on the field or later as a result of their wounds. Those from Chautauqua County who died included:

  • Sgt. Daniel L. Bourke (Co. E) – Dunkirk, NY
  • 2nd Lt. Charles Foss (Co. C) – Dunkirk, NY (died July 7)
  • Michael Gonnelly (Co. E) – Dunkirk, NY
  • George F. Hankin (Co. B ) – Jamestown, NY
  • John Higler (Co. H) – Dunkirk, NY
  • Thomas Holland (Co. E) – Dunkirk, NY (died July 6)
  • Eliott Homer (Co. B ) – Jamestown, NY died July 23)
  • Corp. Peter Kennish (Co. G) – Westfield, NY
  • William H. Lovell (Co. B ) – Jamestown, NY (died July 26)
  • Frederick Platte (Co. E) – Dunkirk, NY (died July 8 )
  • Frederick Schreiner (Co. E) – Dunkirk, NY (died July 4)
  • Isaac C. Strain (Co. G) – Westfield, NY

On Day 3, the 72nd NY continued to offer support along the left center of the line.

For more information on the NY 72nd Volunteer Infantry, visit:


With leveled bayonets and at maximum forward speed, 262 Minnesotans attack Gen. Wilcox's 1,600 Alabamians on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg. (Painting by Don Troiani)

With leveled bayonets and at maximum forward speed, 262 Minnesotans attack Gen. Wilcox’s 1,600 Alabamians on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg. (Painting by Don Troiani)

(07/02/2013) – William J. Colvill Jr. was born in Forestville, NY on April 5, 1830. He graduated from the Fredonia Academy, taught school and studied law at Forestville and Buffalo (where he read law in the office of Millard Fillmore). He was admitted to the Bar in 1851. He practiced law in Forestville about three years and, in 1854, migrated to Minnesota.

He opened a law office in Red Wing, MN in 1854 and in 1855 established The Red Wing Sentinel, a Democratic newspaper. When the Civil War broke out, Colvill was the first man from Goodhue County to volunteer. The local men elected him captain of Company F, 1st Minnesota Regiment.

On June 23, Colvill was promoted to colonel and commander of the 1st Minnesota. His regiment was placed in the 1st Brigade (Brig. Gen. William Harrow) of the 2nd Division (Brig. Gen. John Gibbon) of the Second Army Corps (Maj. Gen. W. S. Hancock).

On the late afternoon of July 2, 1863, Confederate General Cadmus Wilcox’s Alabama Brigade broke through the Third Army Corps. General Hancock – seeing the danger of the Union position being overrun on Cemetery Ridge – ordered Colvill and his regiment to make a suicidal charge to delay the Confederates enough to get reinforcements to the ridge.

Without hesitation, Colvill ordered the charge against a brigade of 1200 men. Of the 282 Minnesotans who made the charge, 217 were killed or wounded. Despite the heavy losses, the Minnesotans were successful in slowing the Confederates until more regiments arrived. The action by Colvill and his regiment saved the position and ultimately, the battle.

The 83.1 percent casualty rate stands to this day as the largest loss by any surviving military unit in U.S. history during a single day’s engagement.

Among the wounded was Colvill who was hit three times and severally wounded. He was shot in the shoulder and the ankle. One bullet entered the top right shoulder and tore across his back, clipping off a part of his vertebra and lodging under his left scapula. Both wounds would force Colvill to use a cane the rest of his life.

After the battle, Colvill recovered in a private home in Gettysburg. From there he was sent to a hospital in Harrisburg, PA. were he remained until February 1864. He was reunited with his regiment that month as they were being mustered out and sent home.

Read more about William Colvill:

Read more about the 1st Minnesota at Gettysburg:

A DAY IN THE LIFE [Recurring Facebook Series ft. Capt. BJ Coffin]

Thursday July 2, 1863
Squadron ordered out on reconnaissance toward Plainfield. Found the Rebs’ pickets and engaged them – returned. Marched 12 miles toward Taneytown and camped.

– B.J. Coffin (Sherman, N.Y.) – Capt. Co. E, 9th NY Cavalry

JULY 3, 1863


Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock called him, “The bravest man I ever saw.”

Alonzo Cushing

Alonzo Cushing, who spent a portion of his formative years in Fredonia, NY.

(07/03/2013) – Alonzo Hersford Cushing was born January 19, 1841 in what is now the city of Delafield, Wisconsin. At the age of six his family came to Fredonia, where his grandfather, Zattu Cushing, was the first permanent settler.

Cushing graduated from the United States Military Academy in the class of June 1861 and became active in the Civil War. In July 1863 Cushing commanded Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery at Gettysburg, and was hailed by contemporaries as heroic in his actions on the third day of the battle.

On July 3, the third day of the battle, Cushing was wounded three times. First, a shell fragment went straight through his shoulder. He was then hit by a shell fragment, which tore into his abdomen and groin. Despite being grievously wounded, Cushing continued to command his battery due to the limited amount of men left. Because he could not shout over the sounds of the battlefield, he was held aloft by his 1st Sergeant, who faithfully passed on his commands. Cushing was killed when a bullet struck his head at the height of the assault. He was 22 years old.

Following his death, Cushing was posthumously promoted to first lieutenant and his body was interred in the West Point Cemetery. His headstone bears the inscription “Faithful unto Death.”



(07/03/2013) – The sixty acre Bliss farm was just south of Gettysburg west of the Emmitsburg Road. The house and barn stood on a small ridge of high ground that ended up being between Union and Confederate lines on July 2nd and 3rd. Both sides tried to control the ground, resulting in a seesaw battle of which ended with the farm being burned by the 14th Connecticut Infantry on July 3, 1863.

William and Adeline Bliss bought their Gettysburg farm in 1857, having moved south from Chautauqua County, New York in search of warmer weather after losing three of their five children. They were in their early sixties at the time of the battle, and their two youngest daughters, Frances and Sara, were living with them.

The family fled the house on the first day of the battle, leaving “the doors open, the table set, and the beds made.” They returned to total destruction.

Bliss filed claims for $2,500 to $3,500 for damages, but never received any compensation. He sold the remnants of the farm to Nicholas Cordori in 1865 for $1,000. According to the story he said, “Let it go. I would give twenty farms for such a victory.”

The Blisses returned to New York, having lost almost everything. William died in 1888 and Adeline in 1889. They are buried in Sinclairville.


A DAY IN THE LIFE [Recurring Facebook Series ft. Capt. BJ Coffin]

Friday July 3, 1863

7 AM Left Taneytown. March 15 miles to Westminster and camped for forage and rations. Sent letter home 5 PM.
– B.J. Coffin (Sherman, N.Y.) – Capt. Co. E, 9th NY Cavalry


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