To The Editor:
May 3, 1863 (150 years ago), was a red-letter day in the history of the 16th New York Volunteer Infantry RGT, recruited in Ogdensburg, DePeyster, Canton, Potsdam, Gouverneur, Malone and Chazy.
The members of the 16th had enlisted in the spring of 1862 for two years of service. No one had thought the war would last longer.
Now in May of 1863, the original 800 had been reduced to 400 (by 50 percent). The 400 survivors faced a personal decision. Survivors of disease, battle wounds and many a hardship, the 16th was eligible to go home in just a few days with all that meant to them.
Fighting Joe Hooker had suffered a humiliating and disastrous defeat at Chancellorsville and fled back to the Rappahannock River.
How incredibly he called on two corps including Slocums and the 16th NY VI 20,000 men to rescue his army of 100,000 men by making a diversion and attacking the victorious and much larger confederates at the rear.
With home and safety only days away, the 16th was asked to attack at Fredericksburg and advance on Salem Church, Va.
Incredibly, the men of the 16th marched into an inferno of death and wounds and suffered brutal losses of 154 men out of the 410 present. Thirty-six would never go home to Northern New York and another 161 were crippled by wounds and captured on May 3, 1863.
Only eight days later, May 11, 1863, the few survivors were honorably discharged. Glory to their memory. May their service and sacrifice be remembered.