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Delta Artillery Company and the Civil War Campaigns of its Member

Rome Sentinel January 1913

As was recently announced in the Sentinel, the prize of $25 in gold offered by Alexander C. Soper of Lakewood, N.J., formerly of Rome, for the best essay written by a member of the junior or the senior class of the Rome Free Academy on the subject of the Delta Artillery and the Civil War Campaigns of Its Members, was awarded to Ellsworth E. Mack, son of Elmer E. Mack, 114 Huntington street, one of five contestants. It is an interesting historical production and is given in full as follows.

In the four dark years of our American Civil Warren example of true heroism was shown alike by the Yankees of the north and the Confederates of the south, who passed through the murderous din and carnage of the battlefield, staggered onward half starved and bleeding on long, forced marches, or (in the case of the northern troops) wasted away in the slime, filth and animal brutality of Andersonville and Libby. And all this self-sacrifice for the sake of home and county, and for the cause they believed to be just.

There is one kind of heroism, however, which is not recognized when viewed by a quick, superficial glance, but only by deep study and analysis, and that is the heroism of our state militia. True, they do not risk their lives upon the battlefield nor endure the untold hardships of a campaign, unless ordered to the front by the state government in time of war, but think of the protection which is given you and me, our fathers and mothers, out little brothers and sisters, out cities and our homes with all their sacred ties so dear, by the very presence in our community of these men of the state militia. When the smoldering sparks of anarchy burst into consuming flame, when dissatisfied labor breeds dangerous riots, or when situations of any character arise, which local authorities can not cope with, then the militia is called upon to quell the rising tumult, and like the Minute Men of Revolutionary days, they are found ready for the duty which lies before them, and they perform that duty as true Americans should

About 1840 there were three regiments of New York state militia in Oneida county. One of the most important companies of these three regiments was popularly known as the Delta Artillery Company, most of its members living in or near the little village of Delta. This company was first organized September 15, 1833, with approximately fifty-five members, and was officially known as Rome Company, 8th Regiment, New York State Militia. A six pound iron field piece was the pride of the whole company and the envy of all the other companies in the county.

Every July fourth the Eighth Regiment went into camp for, as it was then called, General Training, in Rome for about one week. At this time Rome Company fired a salute on the national holiday, drilled in all forms of military tactics and maneuvers, and were critically inspected by an inspector of New York state militia. This period of general training was a gala day for the country folk who gathered from miles around as though coming to a county fair.

Among the men of this company was a youth who had enlisted with his parents consent at the age of eighteen. He was a young man of splendid physique, excellent morals, and a firmly fixed love for his home, his country and his God. Was it any wonder, then, that Daniel Smith Jr. was promoted in 1848 to the deserved position of first lieutenant, and one year later to the captaincy of his company? Beloved y his men and all who knew him, always standing firmly for what he believed to be right, he received the silent tribute of his men in being elected their captain for twenty-five successive years, always acquitting himself with great credit.

The state militia was reorganized in 1852 under the new state laws governing militia and the Eighth Regiment was renames the 46th. The custom of naming companies after localities or prominent officials was now dropped and the designation of companies by letter was adopted, hence the popularly called Delta Artillery Company received the official appellation of Company R, 46th. Regiment. At this time, also, the state of New York granted Co. R a six pound and a nine pound fieldpiece, which were thereafter kept, when not in use, in a little building in Delta, called the armory. The old six pound iron gun, which had done service faithfully for so many years, was now succeeded by these two more modern guns.

This company also had just cause to pride itself on having a well organized band of about twelve pieces, which had been a part of the company nearly as long as the company itself had been a part of the regiment. Because of the excellence of their band and the possession of their two cannon, the militiamen of Co. R were in frequent demand to appear in parade or drill or to fire a salute at public celebrations. It was during one of public appearances in Rome in 1858 at the time of the laying of the Atlantic cable, that Guardsman Bates was painfully injured by the premature explosion of a cannon, and in 1861, at the Independence day celebration, William Williams lost a hand from the same cause. But in spite of accidents and reverses, the company held well together throughout its service, and although there were never over sixty-five men in the company at any one time, approximately four hundred served in the thirty odd years that Company R was in existence.

In 1862, the second year of the civil war, another reorganization of New York state militia took place, and Company R of the 46th Regiment was officially known henceforth as Company F, 101st. Regiment, National Guard, State of New York. Although uniformed as artillery, the men met upon the parade ground every two weeks and drilled as infantry, and were called infantry with battery attached. They were held under strict discipline, were carefully and thoroughly drilled, and were strengthened in all ways, as was all the militia, to meet any local need which might suddenly arise during those days of civil strife.

Just such a need did arise in July 1863, when the famous draft riots broke out in New York City in all their fury, accompanied by terrible deeds of violence. The imperative call for state militia went forth to many cities, with the result that the Delta Artillery, with other companies, promptly and nobly responded, for they were ready for just such an emergency. However, upon reaching Fonda, the Rome companies received orders to return to Rome as the condition in New York had been met and overcome. Throughout the rebellion the militia stood in readiness for any emergency, but the Rome companies were not called upon for work of any importance. On June 5, 1868, under General State Orders No. 14, the 101st. Regiment, including of course Co. F, disbanded after a very creditable term of service, and all arms and state property were sent to Albany.

At the outbreak of the war, state militia were not required to go to the front unless ordered by the state officials, and that was seldom done. If a militiaman, however, was so filled with the desire to serve his country at the front that he wanted to join the regular army, he could do this by resigning his position as a national guardsman and offering himself to Uncle Sam as a volunteer. A great many, it is said, followed this course, but data seems to be so scarce concerning individual enlistments of this nature that it is exceedingly difficult to trace through the war the records of many of the men, except those going to the front with their entire company of militia.

Quite a number - perhaps two score - of the men in the Delta Artillery resigned their position at the outbreak of the nation's struggle and others followed their example soon after. One of the separate companies of the Third New York Artillery was made up mainly of men of the Delta Artillery, and the little village of Delta had good reason to feel proud of her sons, for they gave a most excellent account of themselves in the four year struggle. Lorenzo Barber, who had been with his company since its organization in 1835, and who had attained an enviable fame as an expert rifleman, enlisted as chaplain in Col. Berdan's famous company of sharp-shooters, and with his new comrades performed an important part in many battles including the three day crisis at Gettysburg. Nathan H. Walworth, a lieutenant in the Delta Company, resigned his office there to become a private in the 42nd. Illinois Volunteers. His company becoming part of the Army of the Cumberland, passed through practically all the battles in which that army was engaged, including Mission Ridge and Chickamauga, the most stubbornly contest battle of the war. Henry S. Harrington, who enlisted in a Wisconsin regiment, and Orithel Gillette, who served as a private in a New York regiment, lost their lives in battle, while James Winchell, who was one of the first to go to the front, gave an arm in his country's service. David B. Davis, who lived to be the last survivor of the original Rome Company R, cast his lot with John Brown of C---watomie and took part in the famous raid on Harper's Ferry. Later, he went to the war with a company of New York volunteers and participated in several battles. Other data can be gathered concerning the Delta Artillery Company, but can not be proved absolutely authentic.

In the Delta Artillery Company we find striking examples of true heroism and patriotism. These men, under their able captain, Daniel Smith, were an ever-present, ever-ready protection to public and private institutions in time of national peace, and when civil war threatened to rend the union asunder some chose to remain at their post of duty as state militiamen, while eothers, considering that their place in their country' defence was at the front, bade farewell to their homes and loved ones and offered their lives to the cause of justice and humanity. Their self-sacrificing love, their heroic deeds, forever recorded on the pages of history, illumine those pages far beyond the descriptive power of historians prose or poets verse, and mankind will forever be uplifted and strengthened by their examples of undying love and noble patriotism.

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This page created Febraury 25, 2007
Kathleen L. Last and Virginia Ackerman
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