History From America's Most Famous Valleys
The 115th New York Volunteer Regiment, Infantry
The 115th New York Volunteer Regiment of the Infantry was mustered into service on August 26, 1862 at Fonda. Its companies were from Saratoga, Montgomery, Fulton and Hamilton.
There were 1,040 enlisted men and 20 officers who left Fonda on August 29, 1862. They fought in many battles all over the South. They mustered out on July 6, 1865 with less than 200 of its original members. For this great loss the 115th was called the Iron Hearted Regiment.
I visit the Battle of Olustee Historic Site, when I'm in Florida. Every year there is a reenactment of the battle in February. The men who portray the members of the 115th are from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. These men are interested in all historical facts about Colonel Sammons and the 115th.
On February 19, 1864, they were at Barbers Plantation, east of Olustee. The next day they marched toward the swampy fields of Olustee, also called Ocean Pond. The 115th Regiment were called the Iron Hearted Regiment, because they lost over one half of its men in killed, wounded and missing in the Battle of Olustee. Colonel Sammons was wounded in the foot in this rebel ambush, where the 115th men fought against 15,000 rebel troops. This was a huge victory for the south. At this battle site today there stands a large monument to this victory. I asked where the monument was to the Northern Troops and was shown a small modern marker tin the potters field area. This area was in poor condition, unmowed grass, weeds, bounded by a rusting barbed wire fence.
The Regimental banner was presented to the 115th by the State of New York when they left Fonda in 1862. It was of silk with an eagle and shield in the center. The national motto was in a scroll, beneath the thirty four stars in the field above, bearing the inscription "115th Volunteer Regimental Infantry."
Each year there is a reenactment of the Battle of Olustee during the month of February. This site is about 15 miles east of Lake City Florida, and is very close to the border of Georgia. I have attended this reenactment twice, where it draws thousands of spectators. A group of men from Fort Lauderdale, Florida portray the men of the 115th. Hector Allen, Oppenheim historian, and I have provided information to these re-enactors. On one of my visits I was honored when they let me hold a replica of the 115th banner. The original banner is now at the State Capital in Albany and is tattered.
Anita A. Smith, Historian for the Town of St. Johnsville and the Village of St. Johnsville.
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