Washington County, NY in the Civil War

The Return of the 123rd Regiment NYVI

A Sesquicentennial Memorial Event

For the year 2015

Civil War Monument, Greeniwch NY

The 123rd Regiment Civil War Commemorative Committee sponsored by the town of Salem, NY is planning a series of events for 2015 to commemorate the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the return of the 123rd Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry to Salem and the rest of Washington County on July 1, 1865. The 123rd Regiment NYVI, organized in Salem, was known as the Washington County regiment, and volunteers from the towns were organized into 10 companies.

On April 12, 1861, when the rebel guns fired on Fort Sumter, Salem men and others from southern Washington County were quick to enlist in the Twenty-second Infantry, fighting at the second battle of Bull Run and other early battles. Col. Solomon Russell of Salem mustered the Second Cavalry in Salem on September 7, 1861. When this cavalry company was retired unexpectedly in 1862, its members reenlisted with other regiments. Col. Solomon Russell then joined his nephew Lt. David Allen Russell, a West Point graduate, to serve with General Phillip Sheridan in the 6th Corps.

The 123rd Regiment NYVI came into being in 1862, when President Lincoln, called for more recruits. Salem and the rest of Washington County responded, and by September 5, a group of prominent citizens had recruited a county regiment with Salem’s Col. Archibald McDougall as its head. The 123rd Regiment was house in barracks at Salem’s Camp Washington on the Vail Street village grounds until boarding the train at the site of Delaware and Hudson Railroad depot on September 5. The 950 man strong Regiment, as it boarded the special troop train for Washington about 10 o’clock in the evening, was cheered on by thousands of well-wishers..

The regiment was made up of volunteers from the towns of Greenwich, Co. A; Kingsbury, Co. B; Whitehall, Co. C; Fort Ann, Putnam and Dresden, Co. D; Hartford and Hebron, Co. E; Argyle, Co. F; White Creek and Jackson, Co. G; Salem, Co. H; Cambridge and Easton, Co. I; Granville and Hampton, Co. K.

The 123rd Regiment NYVI was first assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Corps, Army of the Potomac and later to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Corps, Army of the Cumberland. The engagements in which the 123rd Regiment took part as listed on the 123rd Regiment monument at Gettysburg are Chancellorsville, Kulp’s Farm, Gettysburg, Chattahoochie River, Rasaca, Dallas, Atlanta, New Hope Church, Monthieth’s Swamp, Lost Mountain, Cassville, Kennesaw Mountain, Savanna, Pine Hill, Peach Tree Creek, Bentonsville, Averysborough, Moccasin Swamp, and Raleigh. For its action in the southern campaign with General Tecumsah Sherman, the Regiment was named “Sherman’s Pets.”

The 123rd Regiment returned home with a loss of two officers and 40 enlisted men killed in action; of wounds received in action, four officers and 28 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 95 enlisted men; totaling 169: six officers and 163 enlisted men.

In 1869, a large Standing Soldier Civil War statue, sculpted by Martin Milmore, was dedicated in memory of all volunteers who fought in the Civil War. The statue, found in Salem’s Evergreen Cemetery, memorializes the Civil War veterans, including the bodies of Col. Alexander McDougall, Regiment Commander who on June 23, 1864 died from wounds at Dallas, and Breveted General David Allen Russell, 6th Corps, who died on September 19, 1864 in action at Winchester

Source: Salem Book by Harriet Williams, 1896
Salem Press September 9, 1862

Prepared by William A. Cormier
Salem town/village historian