Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rochester's 54th Regiment in Elmira, NY POW Camp

The following is extracted from "The Elmira prison camp: a history of the military prison at Elmira, N.Y," by Clayton Wood Holmes. It is the first instance in Holmes' history of the camp that he mentions the 54th Regiment from Rochester. The 54th left Rochester toward the end of July 1864 and would be there until November of that year as guards.

THE second month of the prison camp's existence opens with a list of about 4500 prisoners, enough to comfortably fill the barracks. During the month 5195 prisoners arrive and the prison is congested. The entire camp not occupied with buildings is covered with tents. The prisoners poured in so rapidly that it was utterly impossible to keep pace with the rapidly increasing demands made in every direction. While hospital buildings were being rushed as fast as possible, the enfeebled prisoners became sick so fast that adequate care could not be given, much as every one desired to do it. A calm and reasonable consideration of the facts gives the best answer to the unreasonable charges made on all sides, by the South, that the effort was not made to properly care for the prisoners.

The following official communication explains conditions at the beginning of August:

Headquarters Draft Rendezvous,

Elmiraa, N. Y., Aug. 3, 1864. Brig.-Gen. L. Thomas,

Adj.-Gen. U. S. A., Washington, D. C. General : Since my last report I have the honor to state that 5000 prisoners of war have arrived at this depot and are quartered in barracks and tents at Barracks No. 3. All recruits, substitutes, and drafted men have been transferred to Barracks No. 1 excepting deserters, who are confined in the guard-house. The latter will be transferred as soon as the guard-house is completed at Barracks No. 1. The 54th Regiment N. Y. Militia, numbering about 350, arrived here on the 27th of July to serve as guard over prisoners of war. This regiment, with the six companies of the 16th V. R. C. [from Allegany Co., NY], furnish about 700 men for guard duty at the prisoners' camp. At Barracks No. 1 there are 200 colored drafted men and substitutes, organized into two companies, armed and equipped, doing guard duty there. Thirty of these are detailed daily as a patrol guard inside the enclosure at prisoners' camp. I have just received notice from Major-General Dix that two more regiments of militia from New York City will be ordered here for duty, and it is probable that they will arrive here to-night or to-morrow.

Owing to the number of troops to arrive here suddenly it became necessary to direct the quartermaster to lease some ground next to the prisoners' camp for an encampment, which I respectfully request may be approved. The new hospital is completed and occupied. The general condition of the post is excellent.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. Eastman,

Lt.-Col. U. S. A., Commanding Post.

The continued arrival of prisoners swelled the number so greatly that Colonel Eastman began to get nervous because the guard was so small. He made a telegraphic appeal for reinforcements. Two batteries of artillery, A and B of the 1st Battalion, Light Artillery, N. Y. N. G., arrived on August 3d from Rochester, 66 men and four guns. The 77th and 98th regiments State Militia also arrived. Plate No. 12 shows the artillery camp on the right, and the 54th N. Y. Militia on left. This camp was on the south side of Water Street, west of the enclosure. On the 16th of August, the force guarding prisoners consisted of the 28th [Brooklyn], 54th [Rochester], 56th [Brooklyn], 58th [Livingston County], 77th [New York City], 98th [Erie County], 99th [New York City], and 102d [New York City]regiments of N. Y. Militia, Batteries A and B, 1st Battalion N. Y. Light Artillery [Rochester's Union Grays], and six companies of the 16th V. R. C.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Interim Cruise

It has been almost two months since our last cruise and almost three months until our next cruise.  The next one is a three week cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam, NL.  We have decided that five months between cruises is too long so we have booked a one week cruise in the Caribbean.  Our daughter booked a cruise during her kids' Spring Break so we decided we'll take our Spring Break and go along.  So we're off a week from Sunday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Wood - Role Model?

All of the news channels keep reminding us that Tiger Wood will be apologizing at 11:00 AM for his terrible actions.  I ask, "Who the hell cares?"  Apparently some folks do but I ask, "Why?"   A number of people were asked their opinion on the apology and why it was important.  An interesting one I heard was, "It's important because Tiger is a role model for our young."  Huh!  Let me remind you, the man makes a living by hitting a little ball by a stick.  Let me repeat - the man makes a living by hitting a little ball with a stick!

UPDATE: I was just clicking through the channels and find that right now Tiger Woods was giving his apology.  This was not just on the cable news and tabloid channels but it was also on ABC, CBS and NBC.  Just another example that I am absolutely correct when I say that 'we are a nation of morons!'

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Spotlight Obituaries?

I was born and grew up in Rochester, NY so I still follow what's happening in Rochester even though I have lived in Florida for the last 40 years.  Probably every other day I read the on-line version of the Democrat & Chronicle and one of the first section I read is the "Irish Sports Page" (a/k/a the obituaries).  I think I got that from my mother who always read the obits first.  But, I digress.

When one goes to the D&C obituaries, the left most column is titled Spotlight and following are some of the obits for that day.  Why are these obits spotlighted?  Are these written better than others?  Are the pictures better than others?  I'm lost. Can somone help me out?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Blizzard of 1966 (or Maybe 1967)

The current blizzards plaguing the middle Atlantic and northeast states remind me of a big storm in New York State that I lived through.  I thought it was the big storm of 1966 that happened in January of that year but it must have been in 1967 or 1968.  At the time I was living in Rochester and in December 1965 I had gone to work for IBM.

I was attending a class at the IBM Education Center in Endicott, NY but was home in Rochester for the weekend.  On Sunday it started to snow so I started the drive to Endicott early in the afternoon.  Because of the snow I thought I would take the NY Thruway to Syracuse and then go south on Interstate 81 to Binghamton.  (Endicott is just west of Binghamton on Route 17.)  Unfortunately, the snow storm got worse and the Thruway was closed so I had to find another route to Endicott.  I got off the Thruway pretty close to Waterloo and headed south on Route 96.  On Route 96 it just got worse as I went south.

When I got as far as the Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, I had been driving for probably four or five hours.  It was terrible and I could not see very far ahead of me on the road. Passing the Army Depot I spotted a car off the side of the road in a ditch and noticed it was a family with kids in it.  I stopped to help them and they said that they wanted to go back to the last town.  They got in my car, I attempted to turn around ended stuck in a ditch on the other side of the road.  Just great! The family I tried to help got a ride from another motorist going back north.  I stayed in the ditch with the headlights and heater on.

It seemed an eternity that I was in that ditch but it was probably only an hour or an hour and a half.  A road-grader plowing the road came by, pulled me out of the ditch and told me to follow him on to Ovid, a town about 25 miles north of Ithaca.  I tried to follow but the snow was filling in between myself and the road-grader.  He stopped and suggested that I park my car on the side of the road and I could ride in the cab with him to Ovid.  He told me not to worry about my car because they knew it was there and nobody would hit it.  (Yeah, right!)

I rode in the cab of the road-grader to a gas station in Ovid where I and a number of other folks stayed for Sunday and Monday night.  On Tuesday the stranded motorists, myself included, were able to sleep at the homes of a number of local families.  On Wednesday my car was towed into the gas station and the  engine was steam cleaned of all the snow.  In addition to the snow, the driver side of the car had been caved in by (what else) a road-grader!  Another car that had been abandoned was worse off than mine.  That car was pushed down a hill. I was still able to drive the car so I proceeded south to Endicott. 

That was the saga of that snow blizzard.  To this day I can still remember how uncomfortable it was trying to sleep between two folding chairs in the gas station in Ovid.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Rochester's 19th Ward: When Was it Created?

In an earlier post, Rochester, NY's 19th Ward, I described that area of Rochester and how its boundary differs from that of the current Community Association.  Since then I have asked myself, when was the ward established? Searching the City Directories give us a fairly good idea when that happened.

Between 1891 and 1892, the city took portions of two other wards, the 8th and 15th, and created the 19th Ward.  It took that portion of the 8th Ward from Genesee Street east to the middle of the Genesee River and that portion of the 15th Ward from Genesee Street west to the Erie Canal  to create the 19th.  The 19th Ward and these boundaries lasted until about 1967 when the city wards as political entities no longer existed.

As an aside, that area west of Genesee Street that was part of the 15th Ward was previously a part of the Town of Gates.  It was annexed into the city in 1874 and at that time the City Charter was amended to reflect the new city boundaries.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Nana and Alexa

Originally uploaded by pjeagan2001
Yesterday we went down to Fisher Island to see Julie, Bill and the kids. We hadn't seen Alexa (and Will) since before we went on our Christmas vacation/cruise. Boy, is she getting big.