Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Secondt Nigh Yorck" by Colonel E.L. Cole (1906)

Poems written in faux-dialect were once relatively common. The poem below seems done affectionately, though certainly open to criticism. The rest of the article is very informative and will be transcribed hopefully soon; likewise I'll try to link the findagrave memorials for as many men as can be found on that website.

        Troy is distinguished as having raised the first regiment of volunteers that answered the call of President Lincoln to suppress armed secession. By an error in recording at Albany [O, Albany...!] a regiment raised later received the name of the First, and the soldiers deserving that title became known as the Second New York. Their valor and fidelity matched the promptness of their patriotic enlistment. There were 1,380 men on the roll of the Second New York during the war. How battle and exposure and the thinning process of time have reduced these ranks is shown by the fact that last night, in celebrating the forty-fifth anniversary, only about forty survivors could be assembled. But these, with their guests, made up a happy company that sat down to a banquet in the restaurant of the Young Men's Christian Association.

        The Survivors.

        The following were the survivors who were present:

        Company A—William Gault, Springfield, Mass; Lieut. George A. Hitchcock, Charles Balantine, James W. Green, John R. Horan [(1840-1914) St. Mary's Cemetery], P. McNamara, Thomas E. Himes [(1840-1915) Oakwood Cemetery].

        Company B—Col. William A. Olmstead, Capt. Joseph J. Hagen, Harry Murray, Fred A. Boltwood, Thomas Doyle, David M[olyneux] Ranken [(1843-1926) Oakwood Cemetery]), Utica, N.Y., and John B. Davis.

        Company C—Lieut. Robert B. Dickie, Dalton, Mass, and Philip McDonough, Albany.

        Company D—Capt. John Maguire [(1840-1913) St. Joseph's Cemetery], Lieut. Daniel D. Maguire [(1842-1909) St. Joseph's Cemetery], James Shanley, Martin O. Iler [New Mount Ida Cemetery], John B. Shattuck.

        Company E—None.

        Company F—Sergeant John McGahan [(d. 1924) St. Peter's Cemetery], Sergeant Adam Bancroft, Color Corporal William Moore and Arthur W. Bradley.

        Company H—William H. McFeeters [(1838-1910) New Mount Ida Cemetery], Capt. J[oseph] G. McNutt [(1833-1914) Oakwood Cemetery], Charles A. Seymour, Michael McGraw.

        Company I—Sanford Vanderzee.

        Company K—Sergeant Charles F. Fahl (1844-1926) St. Mary's Cemetery?], Fred Epling, Schenectady; Lieut. August Kolbe [(1830-1907) New Mount Ida Cemetery?], John Miller, Benjamin F. Simonds, drummer.

The Guests.

        The guests of the regiment were Rev. Dr. Edgar A. Enos of St. Paul's Church, Hon. William Kemp, the first Paymaster of the regiment, and his son-in-law, Reuben R. Lyon of Bath, Steuben County; Samuel Foster, Edward Eckardt, William P. Armitage, son of Capt. John W. Armitage of Company A; Charles Hagen, son of Capt. J.J. Hagen and a representative of the Sons of Veterans; Charles Kehn and James H. Potts.

        The staff officers present were Col. Timothy Quinn and Dr. R.B. Bontescou.

        Letters of regret were read from Thomas H. Sanders of Company F, of Columbus, Neb.; E.H. Webster, Hospital Steward, of Rutland, Vt.; William E. Walton of Company H, Westfield, Mass.; Col. Arthur Mac Arthur of Troy, Lieut. Henry Marcotte of Company G from St. Augustine, Fla., and Mayor Elias P. Mann.

The Retrospect.

        Dr. R.B. Bontecou of the Regimental Association, which was organized April 22, 1886, presided, and has as his competent Adjutant the Secretary of the Association, Arthur W. Bradley, who submitted the following facts:

        Forty-five years ago to-day the old Second New York Volunteer Infantry left our city with a proud and gallant tread. Then we were all in the bloom of youth and vigor of manhood. God and our country know how well we discharged our duties. While our regiment was not called upon to suffer the terrible shocks and trials of carnage and bloodshed of wars, which so many regiments in our armies endured from 1861 to 1865, still we had offered ourselves on our country's altar for any sacrifice we might be asked to endure. It was our good fortune many times to be exempt from the severe losses and hardships borne by other regiments, due to our being held in reserve as the result of our fine military discipline attained through the efforts of efficient officers during the thirteen months of our encampment at Newport News and Fortress Monroe, where we were prepared and educated for the hardships that followed up the Peninsula, reinforcing McClellan's army at Fair Oaks, Va. After that terrible battle they placed us in the very forefront of the line, and you all remember how the New Jersey boys asked us when we came up "What brigade is that?" but we can say they were not ashamed of the old Second New York Volunteers after better acquaintance, for we were ever ready for everything that came along.

It is my intention to-night to saw only a very few words, calling attention to the rapid disappearance of the boys since our return home in 1863, and especially since the organization of this association, since which time it had been my privilege to act as one of your officers. And may I say to-night that our earthly tents are indeed being rapidly folded, and our weapons of war are rusting in the halcyon days of peace; but he is none the less the good citizen who recalls for personal gratification and as guides to present duty the days of the bivouac and the charge, whose happy issue has made such an hour as this reunion possible. A happy hour this, my comrades, is the interchange of greetings, the renewal of friendships, the new fidelity to the Union, evoked by the backward glances at the struggles which have made it what it is, the resolution always to be true as we were then true, to the government we have helped to perpetuate. And in these annual reunions that we enjoy so much, of the friendships and fellowships, of the old days of the sixties, how we recall those comrades who have been mustered out of the service here for the life beyond. And to-day, "tenting again on the old camp ground" we are thinking of those days gone by, of the brace ones dead, and their dear ones crowned with a grief that will not die. And as these forty odd years have rolled around since the war ended, each and every year has added names of our comrades to the roll of the dead, not falling now on the field of battle nor dying in the camp or hospital, but passing away from the scenes of earth, in the quiet, peaceful home, among kindred and with their loving care.

        Surely a sad reflection mars all of our reunions, the thought that so many of the boys who were with us in the long marches, by the cheerful campfires and in the desperate assaults upon the enemy, cannot be with us here to-night; they would come as freely at the call of friendship as they went from homes of comfort at the call of duty, but the cause for which they fought is sanctified in their deaths. We revere their memories, the vacant places in our ranks are more suggestive than the presence of the living; there are pages in our country's history which tell none too forcibly their achievements. It might be well for us at this time to look backward over the list of names of our comrades who have answered their last roll-fall since the organization of our association in 1886, and at the sam time remember the many blessings and privileges we have been permitted to enjoy.

        Commencing almost immediately after our first reunion we come to the name of Willard F. Goodspeed of Company E, Capt. Michael Cassidy of Company D, Andrew Haumeister of Company K, Edward Egan, Company E; Anthony Schwartz, Company K; Nicholas Myers, James Sullivan, Thomas Sullivan and Michael Looby, of Company D, all dying in 1887; John Hessy, Company B, died in 1888; Amos Briggs of Company G died in 1889; John Hollis of Company H died in 1890; Assistant Surgeon N.H. Camp, James Martin of Company H, Godfried Warmt, Company K; David Johnson, Company H; George W. Thompson, John F. Wolf of Doring's Band in 1891; Lieut. John Fairchild of Company F, 1892; John A. Dodge, Company F; William Kendall, Company E; Capt. Joseph Egolf, Christian Laubmeyer, William T. Derrell, John H. Pierce, Leolin Rogers, Major Charles H. Otis, Donald Rogers and W.H. O'Brien, all in 1893; Adolph Staude, Henry Yeggle, John H. Preston and Albert W. Roberts in 1894; Gen. Joseph B. Carr, our beloved Colonel; John A. Thompson, Company A; Major George W. Willson, Jacob Harris, Felix Curran, Andrew Hennessy and Nathan Edwards in 1895; in 1896, James Utter of Company G, Max Stegmeyer of Company K; in 1897, Arthur Curran, John Wells, Company F; Andrew Forrest, Company D; James Atkins and Nicholas Hickey, of Company G; Surgeon Major LeRoy McLean, George H. Cole, Company H; Lewis R. Morris of Company E and Z. Van Ness of Company F, in 1898, Capt. Henry Harrison, Daniel Bounds and Hiram Andrews. In 1899 Eugene Hoffman, Company G, and William Kennedy and James Vanderzee, also our first Chaplain, Rev. Valentine Lewis. In 1900, Bandmaster Charles Doring, George Chippendale, Frank Doring and Andrew Weidmeyer, also members of the old band. In 1901, George Vier of Doring's Band, H.A. Evarts, George K. Felt, John Buson and Lieut. James Merrill. In 1902, Matthew McMahon and John Combs, of Company D; Theodore Forcey, Thomas Halsey, Peter Nolde and Col. Sidney W. Park. In 1903, Fred P. Fonda, Patrick and Thomas Gaynor and James Doyle. In 1904, Robert Brown, Peter Liker, Lieut. William G. Morris and John H. Miller. In 1905, William W. Bounds, Lee Churchill and Fred Newton, and so far this year William H. Boughton, Company H, and Major George H. Otis, who died March 24, 1906.

        And there are also many simple mounds in our beautiful Oakwood and the unknown graves that billow the southern fields, inclosing the clay of our heroes, to whom chilling circumstances forbade distinction.

        Comrades, their memory is in our keeping, indelibly engraved upon the tablets of our hearts, and to-night as we look around at our little band gathered here, we almost wonder how many of us will be permitted to assemble at our annual roll-call May 18, 1907, and if our Grand Commander should call us, we trust we will be ever ready to respond, Here!

The Exercises.

        The military calls were given by Bugler Charles Kehn and Drummer Benjamin F. Simonds, whom all Troy knew as "Benny" Simonds, the boy drummer of the Second. Rev. Dr. Enos invoked the divine blessing, and after the edibles had been served by Manager Sanford of the restaurant and his corps of assistants there was an informal series of addresses. Much interest centred in the presence of Col. William A. Olmstead, and his remarks, which abounded in reminiscence and congratulations, were listened to with the deepest attention. Hon. Samuel Foster spoke eloquently of the strife which seems to be the necessary introduction to great accomplishments, and praised the spirit with which the Union volunteers went forth. Dr. Enos gave some interesting recollections and expressed the wish that he might meet the soldiers again and that their ranks might be unbroken until their next annual gathering. James H. Potts congratulated the Second Regiment on being the pioneer, and therefore having the distinction and all the romantic interest which attach to those who are first in the field. Members of the regiment who recalled incidents of their campaigns and expressed their fraternity included Comrade David M. Ranken, formerly of Troy, and who came from Utica to attend the reunion; Lieutenant Dickie of Dalton, Mass; Capt. J.G. McNutt and Capt. John Maguire.

        William P. Armitage, son of the Captain of Company A, spoke in behalf of his father, who is a resident of Dayton, Ohio, and who could not attend the reunion. Mr. Armitage referred to the pride which the descendants of the veteran soldiers feel in their valor, and of the remembrance of their good deeds as a precious heritage bequeathed to succeeding generations. Charles Hagen also expressed his pleasure at being invited to meet with the Second Regiment and read, as representing Col E.L. Cole of New York and formerly of this city, the following poem by Colonel Cole, which was written for the occasion.

The Poem.


Hans Breithaupt comes to reunion of the Second New York Volunteer Infantry May 18, 1906.

Hello, you vas here; bei golly dis vas fine,

Feur und forty year, I see you dis last dime,

Hoch Gottsdunder, I remember vell der dime,

It vas die last dot dis oldt regiment vas in line,

Bei dis day dat ve come back bei der vars,

Bringing mit us old clothes, our guns und our scars,

Und now, mein lieber friend, just vonce dis day,

Let her rip out vonce, you vill, you say?

        Now, all togedder, Whegh! Whegh!! Whegh!!!"

        Secondt Nigh Yorck vas here to-day.

Pottstausend it vas most like some dream,

Dat five and forty years have past peen,

Since dat day dat ve marched through dis town,

Und py des vars have start to go down.

You vas remember all der poys dat day,

Mit der swords und bayonets, und all der band play,

Und der "milish," und der women, und der cheers,

Bei golly! now dink of it, five and forty years,

Aber I feel joost so young I do bei dat day.

        So vonce more, Whegh! Whegh!! Whegh!!!"

        Secondt Nigh Yorck vas here to-day.

You haf peen married? you? you vas a poy,

Der youngest dat go mit der Secondt from Troy,

Yah, married! So, so, und vas gross fater,

Vell, vell, der dime gone like running of vater;

Und now I dink, yah, I vas dinking some dis day,

Dot's few dot now left of dem vent away,

Lieber Gott, how thin der ranks would surely pe.

Bei der regiment form py der oldt gompany,

        Hoop her up vonce for dem gone away

        Whegh!!! Whegh!!! Whegh!!!

        Secondt Nigh Yorck vas here to-day.

Sure, vhen I see here all dese oldt men,

Gray headed, baldt, der most of dem peen,

I van dinkin' I vas grown oldter den I dink,

Dat makes me solemn like, und some lager beer drink.

Aber dis vos no dime for thought like dot;

But a good sholly dime, whoop her up hot,

Von tear for her dead, den broosh it away,

Der goot soldier he lives only in der to-day.

If dose dat are gone vere here mit us to-day

        Heigh! vat a chorus denn ve could say,

        Mit dat oldt cry, Whegh! Whegh!!

        Secondt Nigh Yorck vas here to-day.

It vas hardt work bei my farm I get free,

Boot dis day I moost all der oldt comrades see.

No matter der plow stand still in der landt,

No matter der seed stop sowing by handt;

Dis von day dis year, I vas come py der men

Dot mit us in der oldt Second hadt peen,

Und dalk over der days of Fair Oaks und Malvern Hill,

Brisbow, Bull Run and der old Chancellorville.

Heigh! vhen I dink of dose patties, dink of each day,

        I must me should right out, dis vay,

        Dot oldt pattle cry, Whegh! Whegh!!

        Secondt Nigh Yorck vas here to-day.

Vell, I drinks zwei lager beer mit you now,

Aber nicht zu mooch, I must minder my frau

She say, "Hans, pe careful by dot lager beer,

Dat somedimes maken sie acteen queer."

Vell, goot health to all dem poys dot ve know

Vhen der oldt Secondt down to der var did go;

Here's handshake for der living, tears for der deadt,

Goot wishes for you, under der vife dot you wed.

Und vhen der eighdeenth come again round dis bay,

May every von of us peen here to say,

        And hooper her up in der oldten way,

        Dot Secondt's cry, Whegh! Whegh!!

        Secondt Nigh Yorck vas here to-day.

        After the speechmaking there was an informal reunion in which personal greetings were exchanged by the members of the gallant Second.

        The rooms were decorated with pictures of the regiment and with the regimental battle flags, two of which were brought by Dr. Bontecou from Fortress Monroe.

        Lieutenant Dickie of Dalton carried a cane which was made from the Merimac, the destruction of which vessel by the famous little Monitor was witnessed by the members of the Second, who were encamped on the shore while the sea battle was in progress. The cane bears dents which were undoubtedly made by the projectiles thrown by the Monitor.

A Distinguished Soldier.

        Col. William A. Olmstead is one of the most distinguished fighters of the great company of brave and honored men that Troy sent to the front. His first military lessons were gained at school at Ballston Spa under the principalship of Deodatus Babcock, whose son, George Babcock, was the military instructor of the boys in drills. Coming to Troy, Mr. Olmstead became a member of the Troy Citizens' Corps and was elected Corporal of that company, which position he held at the time of the breaking out of the war. He was also an officer of The New York Central Railroad Company, having charge of the work at Green Island. He was looked to immediately by patriotic citizens of Troy as a valuable man to enter the service of the Union, and this harmonized with his own views. It was difficult for him in that time of busy transportation to get release from his service with the railroad company, but this was finally accomplished through the company's officials at Albany, and a committee of twenty-five Trojans, including such citizens as Rev. Father Havermans, Hannibal Green, John M. Francis, John B. Gale and E. Thompson Gale, waited on Mr. Olmstead and expressed their desire that he should be one of the city's representatives in the field. He took the Captaincy of Company B. Captain Olmstead was the youngest officer in the regiment. By bravery he was gradually promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and while serving the regiment as that officer he was transferred by the Brigadier General to the Colonelcy of a Pennsylvania regument. When the Second returned home Colonel Olmstead remained at the front, and when he was mustered out he was a Brigadier General. After service for some time in the Regular Army General Olmstead returned to civil life, became a physical and subsequently a clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church, and is now the pastor of an important parish in New York city. Colonel Olmstead has just presented to the Troy Citizens' Corps, of which he was once Corporal, two large photographs, one of full size, taken on his return from the Army. These representations of one of Troy's bravest soldiers will decorate the walls of the Corps quarters at the Armory.

Generations have come and gone since the Second Regiment marched to the front on May 18, 1861, but it was remarked several times last night that many of the surviving veterans were still far from being old men, and in their strength of body and clearness of mind they challenged comparison with many of a younger generation whose knowledge of the greatest war of history is gained only from the printed page and from the reminiscences of such veterans as those who with most patriotic promptitude sprang at once to the defense of their imperiled country.

"The First to Answer; The Patriots Who Were First to Respond From New York State to President Lincoln's Call For Volunteers—A Regiment's Forty-fifth Anniversary—The Reunion of Survivors—Colonel Olmstead Present." Troy Times. May 19, 1906: 11 cols 1-3.

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