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July 9, 2013

Museum brings Civil War soldiers to life

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Its fiercest battle was at Drewy’s Bluff. 

The 118th manned the trenches around Richmond during the winter of 1864-65, and it was the first unit to enter the abandoned Confederate capital that spring. Over the course of its existence, 99 soldiers of the regiment were killed in action, 238 were wounded, 188 died of disease or other causes and 142 were reported missing.

SECOND BULL RUN

Another unit documented in “Human Face” was the 5th NY Cavalry’s Company H, of Crown Point, in which 106 men enlisted with 108 horses. 

The 5th faced Stonewall Jackson in Virginia, scouted along Blue Ridge and fought in the Second Bull Run and Chantilly, among many other skirmishes.  

Later, as part of the 3rd Division, they took part in the Gettysburg campaign and in the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor, as well as other battles. Before the men were mustered out in 1965, they fought in 119 skirmishes and 52 battles. 

The entire regiment, with about 2,100 troops, lost 103 in action, saw 18 killed by accident, another 258 wounded, 536 captured, 114 who died in prisons, 94 who succumbed to disease and 18 who were missing in action. 

Of a total 167 horses, only seven survived.

‘THEY HAVE SHOT ME’

Vibrant and heartrending words from the past come to life in “Human Face.”

“Oh my God, they have shot me,” soldier Oakley Smith exclaimed in a letter.

“What could have possessed me?” wondered John Hammond.

Faith played an important part in the lives of soldiers, among them James Estus.

“(It is) thanks to the kind providence of God that I am still alive,” he wrote. 

Juliette Baker of Minerva penned letters to many friends fighting in the Civil War, including Albert Shattuck of the 5th NY, who requested a photo of her in a reply. 

Shattuck was wounded and captured in 1862, exchanged, captured again and died in Richmond in 1864.

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