LAST UPDATED March 23, 2013
YOU CAN READ THE PREFACE AND CHAPTERS 2,3,5,6,7,9,10, 11, 12,13,16,17,19,26,31,33,40,42,43 AND 45 BY CLICKING ON THEM IN THE BOX ON THE LEFT.
Ed Rutan and Brian Dawe have been Civil War buffs since their high school days together nearly fifty years ago. Ed is the great-great grandson of James C. Rutan, Company A, 179th New Volunteers.
The purpose of this website is to support writing a regimental history of the 179th New York Volunteers. Much of the website is still “under construction,” particularly with respect to maps and photos. Comments may be provided on the blog. 179thnyvolunteers.blogspot.com
A barebones “pamphlet” sized history of the regiment was published in 1900 –- History of the 179th Regiment N.Y.S.V. : Rebellion of 1861-65, E.D. Norton, Printer, Ithaca, New York, but the soldiers of the 179th deserve much more than that. The objective of this project is to take a different approach to regimental history.
This project is different from the traditional regimental history in two ways.
First, the scope of the project is much broader. The “military” part of the history is not limited to just the battles – it will also cover in detail the experiences of the soldiers of the 179th relating to recruiting, desertion, prisoners of war, medical care and transportation and supply logistics. “Social,” “cultural,” and “political” history will include discussion of the role of religion in the lives of the soldiers of the 179th, the “good death,” support from the home front, the pension system, and the 1864 election. These subjects are presented in short subject matter chapters mixed in with the overall chronological flow.
This project is also different from the traditional regimental history in its intent to fully utilize electronic information capabilities. Electronic capabilities will advance the project in three ways:
- Increased Visual Capability. Maps, photos, and other visual aids are critical to a fuller understanding of the battles and other aspects of the soldiers’ experiences. A website can provide a much richer array of “user friendly” visual materials than the traditional printed page.
Good maps are essential to military history. See, for example, the placeholder maps for the June 17, 1864 assault in Chapter 11.
The universe of contemporary sketches and photographs directly related to the experience of the 179th New York Volunteers is much larger than might at first appear. The “special artists” who covered the war for publications such as Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper were both prolific and seemingly ubiquitous. For example, the soldiers of the Ninth Corps' Second Division (including the 179th New York) were assembled on October 14, 1864 to witness the execution of a deserter from the 2nd Maryland. Company D's John Andrews described the scene in detail in his War Journal. Joseph Becker from Frank Leslie's Newspaper was also present to sketch it. The 179th New York boarded the John Brooks at Alexandria on May 30, 1864 to head to the front. A photographer took a photo of the Quartermaster's Wharf at Alexandria in 1864 with the John Brooks tied up in the center.
The place where the 179th crossed the James River on the march to Petersburg is shown in a contemporary map, a contemporary sketch and a contemporary photo.
- Pre-Publication Vetting. A detailed outline of the chapters of the proposed regimental history is provided here. Your comments on the outline are welcome and may be provided on the Blog. Similarly, individual chapters will be posted for comment when drafting has reached an advanced stage. Again, the Blog is available for comments.
Advanced drafts of the following chapters are currently posted for comment.
Preface: Why Should the Reader Be Interested in the 179th New York Volunteers — And This Book?
Chapter 2: Citizen Soldiers and the Civil War Draft and Bounty System [added 4/10/12]
Chapter 3: The Home Towns [added 4/10/12]
Chapter 5: Camp Life at the Elmira Military Depot [added JANUARY 1, 2013]]
Chapter 6: Grant Given Command
Chapter 7: The 179th New York Volunteers Moves to the Front [UPDATED MARCH 23, 2013]
Chapter 9: Overview of the Petersburg Campaign — and the 179th's Service
Chapter 10: The Things They Carried [Added 4/10/12]
Chapter 11: On to Petersburg — and the 179th's First Battle
Chapter 12: A Fallen Officer Returns Home: The Loyal Soldier [added 4/15/12]
Chapter 13: The Siege of Petersburg Begins
Chapter 16: The Soldiers' Vices: Demon Whiskey, Tobacco, Drugs and Prostitutes [added 4/15/12]
Chapter 17: Deserter or Prisoner of War?
Chapter 19: The Court Martial of A Citizen Soldier
Chapter 26: Prisoners of War [added 8/11/2012; revisions and new material 10/27/2012]
Chapter 31: Picket Duty: Friendly and Not So Friendly Encounters with the Johnnies [added FEBRUARY 10,2013]
Chapter 33: The 1864 Election and Allegations of Voter Fraud in the 179th [added 4/30/12]
Chapter 40: Fort Steadman
Chapter 42: Pursuing the Army of Northern Virginia [ADDED JANUARY 13, 2013]
Chapter 43: Basking in the Glory of Victory – The Grand Review And Coming Home [Updated 3/18/12 and 9/8/12)
Chapter 45: The Grand Army of the Republic and the 179th New York Volunteers Association [Updated
- Participation By Private Collectors. Public collections, such as the National Archives, libraries and historical societies, have been – and will continue to be – searched for materials relating to the 179th New York Volunteers. However, there undoubtedly are many diaries, letters and other contemporary source materials in private collections not known or accessible to the general public. By making this project available to a wide audience through the Internet, private collectors hopefully will become aware of the project and will be able to see the value that their materials could add to the regimental history and will be encouraged to provide copies. The more soldiers whose voices are heard, the richer the history will be.
The target date for “publication” of the completed regimental history is February 2014 – the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the raising of the 179th New York Volunteers.