Greene County Civil War Veterans

Brigadier General George Sylvestor Nichols (1820-1916)

2021 marks the 160th anniversary of the outbreak of the American Civil War. During the Sesquicentennial, (150th) we spent much space in this column remembering Greene County’s support of the war. Today, I would like to remember again some of the soldiers from the war.

Brigadier General George S. Nichols from Athens. When the war broke out between the North and South in 1861, Nichols volunteered. On November 23, 1861, he was given an appointment as a Major in the Ninth New York Cavalry organized in Chautauqua County and left Albany on the same day for the national capital. He was quickly promoted through the ranks and by June 1864 was a full Colonel. On March 13, 1865 “for gallant and meritorious services in all the cavalry engagements under General Sheridan,” he was brevetted Brigadier-general of United States Volunteers. He was mustered out with the regiment at Buffalo, N. Y., on July 17, 1865.

Some of the more notable battles General Nichols was engaged in include: Yorktown, Second Battle of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Culpepper, and the Battle of the Wilderness. According to “Beers,” Nichols took part in more than 60 engagements during the war, and at Culpepper one quarter of his regiment was destroyed. It was a miracle he survived the entire war. In fact, his superior at the Battle of the Wilderness and Trevillian Station, Colonel Sackett, was killed and Nichols took command.

Sergeant Monroe Truesdell from Lexington. Truesdell was with General Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley after having survived a bayonet wound through his left leg and buckshot wound in his right side. At the battle of Winchester he was shot through the right lung and shoulder and was sent to the hospital. When he returned to his unit he was promoted to commissary sergeant for his service in Winchester. Later when the Fourth New York Cavalry was combined with the Ninth Cavalry, Truesdell was rendered a supernumerary or a non-regular member of the unit’s staff. This did not satisfy him and he was offered a commission as lieutenant on scout duty on the frontier. He turned the commission down preferring to remain with his old outfit. When Robert E. Lee surrendered, he helped parole prisoners and was discharged in on April 30, 1865 in Winchester, Virginia.

Truesdell told the “Utica Saturday Globe” on April 27,1907 that he “…carried the first dispatch from Warren to Grant when the latter took command of the Army of the Potomac at Culpepper, Va. and General Cesnola once told him that he was the swiftest bearer of messages he had ever known.”

Private Milo Jones from Jewett. The following is from a letter to his father of Jones’ account of his wounding at the Battle of Gettysburg: “I was wounded in the thigh. The enemy was driving in when I fell and that left me between two fires until the rebel masses passed me. I would have been a prisoner if they had held their ground, but they were soon driven from the field.”

“As soon as they left I hobbled as fast as I could (but) could not get far. As soon as the excitement left me, I could get no further. I had not lane long before Ambrose Baldwin came along. He went and got their Doctor who dressed my wound. He then got an ambulance and sent me to the hospital where I stayed one day and then was sent to our corps hospital.” (Author’s note: Captain Ambrose Noble Baldwin was with the 20th NYS Militia and was killed the following day at Gettysburg. Even though they, Jones and Baldwin, were in different regiments they were both from Jewett and apparently knew each other based on the rest of Milo’s letter.)

There are many more stories that can be shared of the bravery of Greene County residents in the Civil War. I may reach back for a few more in the months that follow in 2021.

To reach columnist David Dorpfeld, e-mail gchistorian@gmail.com.

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