The Fenton History Center's annual Civil War encampment weekend of Sept. 22-23 will recognize and commemorate our local boot camp, Camp Brown. A wreath of remembrance will be placed on Saturday at 9 a.m. The camp's marker is located at the corner of Brown and Prospect streets in Jamestown.
Last year a ceremony to recognize the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War was held at the same place. This year re-enactors from the 9th Cavalry NY Volunteers and the 155th Infantry NY Volunteers will lead the ceremony.
HOW CAMP BROWN CAME TO BE
Re-enactors from the 9th Cavalry and 155th Infantry will be camping at the Fenton History Center this weekend. The public is invited to come to the Saturday morning commemoration of Camp Brown and the encampment.
In the summer of 1862 President Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers from the governors of the Union States. New York was ordered by the War Department to raise 28 new regiments. On July 7, 1862, New York Gov. Edwin D. Morgan asked the men of the state to form units in the field as soon as possible using the already established senatorial districts as the guidelines. Answering the call, the people of Western New York set to work to meet the challenge. Chautauqua County was called upon for 1,000 men. New York state offered a $50 dollar bounty to any volunteer who answered the call. This $50 was in addition to a $100 bounty offered by the Federal Government.
The work of recruiting a regiment from Chautauqua County was met with vigor. War meetings were held throughout the county. A military committee of the most energetic and respected men was appointed, and it was resolved to raise one new regiment in the district. The Hon. Augustus F. Allen of Jamestown, the committee chairman, was designated colonel and Commandant of the District Military Depot.
The committee members were from Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. They were George W. Patterson, John G. Hinckley, Milton Smith, John F. Phelps, Charles Kennedy, H.C. Young, J.P. Darling, Addison G. Rice (named first Colonel of the 154th New York), D.E. Sill and J.C. Devereaux.
Jamestown was designated as the place where the new regiment was to be formed. Chautauqua County would contribute six companies and neighboring Cattaraugus County four. Every man who could influence others was set to work. In some cases a subscription was offered to those who volunteered: $10 paid to some, in other cases, several thousand dollars raised and paid out. At the meetings, watches, diamond rings and pictures were sold and contributed to the funds. In many villages businesses were closed early, and the men and women attended war meetings.
On Aug. 14, 1862, the military committee was determined to raise two new regiments, one from each county. New York state announced in early September that the state bounty of $50 dollars would cease on Sept. 6. Men, who had been delaying volunteering or were not sure of the call, became aware of the impending draft and loss of the state bounty. Many felt three years was too long, but found themselves facing a draft, and all felt the volunteer regiments would be treated much better than regular Army drafted regiments.
The regiments were raised by early September. The Chautauqua Regiment was raised, plus two full companies assigned to the Cattaraugus Regiment, the 154th NY, plus an extra company of sharpshooters, designated the 7th Company, New York State Sharpshooters. The Military Committee led by Col. Augustus Allen, had to appoint a colonel for the regiment because Col. Allen was not physically able and could not leave his business. The Jamestown Journal in an article in August 1862 stated, "We have raised a splendid Regiment, and now let us have men worthy to command them. And of all curses do keep out political favorites and party hacks."
They decided to review names of men with military experience, and the names of Maj. William Stevens of Dunkirk, Maj. Patrick Jones of Ellicottville, and Capt. Jeremiah Drake of Westfield were the list of men the committee reviewed. It was resolved the 112th Regiment would be led by Maj. William Stevens from Dunkirk of the 72nd NY. He declined, feeling he belonged to the regiment with which he was already linked. Having failed to secure Maj. Stevens, and Maj. Patrick Jones of the 37th NY from Cattaraugus County, and soon to be colonel of the 154th NY, all eyes were now fixed on Capt. Jeremiah Drake of the 49th NY, a former Baptist minister, who served the ministry in Panama for four years and Westfield for three years. At the committee meeting of Aug.14, he was elected colonel.
Soon after resigning his commission in the 49th, he returned to the county to assume command of the 112th. Col. Drake did not reach the regiment until Sept. 2. As early September wore on, the regiment was formed, and it was barracked at the Agricultural Fair Grounds about 1 mile South of Jamestown. The camp was called Camp Brown, in honor of Col. James M. Brown of the 100th NY. James M. Brown was a former Jamestown attorney who raised a company in Jamestown after President Lincoln's first call for men in May of 1861. This was Co. B in the 72nd NY (the famed Excelsior Brigade) where he was a captain. Later in November 1861 he was commissioned a colonel in the 100th NY and led them into their first fight at Fair Oaks, Va., on May 31, 1862. He was killed leading his men into that battle, and his body was never recovered from the field.
Camp Brown was on the property of a fallen young soldier, Sgt. James Hall of the 72nd NY, who fell at Malvern Hill. Some 2,100 men of the 112th, and 154th New York Regiments, and the 7th Co. NYSS were in camp in hopes to drill the men into fighting units. But orders came to the 112th Regiment and 7th NY Sharpshooters to be forwarded to Washington immediately. So on Sept. 11, it was mustered as a regiment, and on the 112th marched to the depot of the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad for the trip south. As the men were organized to leave Jamestown from Camp Brown, a large crowd assembled, and the men sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."
As they marched to the railroad for the trip south, they sang "John Brown's Body" as a marching song to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." After the speeches and eloquent remarks, the men pledged to never desert their colors. They embarked the railcars, and amid the sobs and tears of mothers, wives, children and friends, the 112th New York Volunteer Infantry went to war.
Source: "History of the 112th NYV" from www.112thnyvi.com and Joel Babcock
COMMUNITY INVITED TO MEET RE-ENACTORS
Following the ceremony at 10 a.m., the re-enactors will open the encampment in Fenton Park at the Fenton History Center. They will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday to explain their equipment and uniforms with drilling and shooting demonstrations on the hour beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The re-enactors will also talk about life in camp at 2 p.m.
The event is free to the public.