Edward P. Chapin
|Gen. Edward Payson Chapin|
Edward Payson Chapin was born August 16, 1831 in Waterloo, NY,
studied law in Ballston Spa, and was a well known attorney in Buffalo, NY when
the war broke out. He was also a
member of the city’s first semi-pro baseball club, the Niagaras.[i]
On August 30, 1861 he was commissioned Captain of Company A, 44th New
York Volunteer Infantry (NYVI).
44th NYVI, also known as Ellsworth’s Avengers, was raised by Colonel Stephen
W. Stryker (formerly 1st Lieutenant of Co. B, 11th NYVI)[ii],
under the auspices of the Ellsworth Association to memorialize that gallant
officer by forming a regiment of one man from each town in New York State.
Eventually the regiment was composed of two companies from Albany and Erie
Counties, one from Herkimer County, and a large number of men from across the
State. Mustered into service
during August and September of 1861, the 44th NYVI departed New
York on October 21, 1861 with 1,061 men, and was assigned to 3rd
Brigade, 1st Division, Army of the Potomac at Washington D.C.
Chapin was promoted Major of the 44th on January 2, 1862.
The regiment first “saw the elephant” on May 27, 1862 at Hanover Court
House, Virginia with a loss of 86 killed, wounded and missing, including Major
Chapin who was severely wounded.[iii]
Major Chapin was commended for his conduct with the 44th
NYVI during the battle at Hanover Court House in the report of Brigadier
General John H. Martindale, commanding.[iv]
He was promoted Lt. Colonel of the 44th NYVI on May 2, 1862
while at home in Buffalo recovering from his wound.[v]
During his furlough in Buffalo, Chapin was approached by a committee of
prominent citizens to raise an Erie County infantry regiment in answer to Gov.
Morgan’s call for men.[vi]
July 14, 1862, Colonel Chapin received authority to recruit the 116th
NYVI in Erie County and mustered into service at Buffalo between August 20 and
September 5, 1862. Chapin was
commissioned Colonel September 5, 1862, and on that date nine companies left
New York (Company K joined later) and served in the 8th Corps, Middle
Department, at Baltimore, MD from September 7, 1862 until ordered south
November 2, 1862. The 116th
sailed for the Gulf, and arrived at Ship Island, MS on December 14, 1862 and
moved to New Orleans, LA before the New Year.[vii] .
Chapin took command of the 1st Brigade of General Augur’s 1st
Division, 19th Corps of General Bank’s Department of the Gulf on
February 9, 1863. Chapin’s Brigade first saw action on May 21, 1863 at Plain
Store, LA, along with Colonel Dudley’s Brigade. Plain Store was a small
Southern cross-roads location, with two or three houses, but of strategic
value, being situated at the intersection of the road running east from Port
Hudson with the main road from Baton Rouge.
The cross-roads were located four miles from Port Hudson, the only
Confederate stronghold south of Vicksburg.
After the daylong battle of attacks and counterattacks ended with two
charges by the 116th, utterly routing the Confederates, General
Augur publicly congratulated Colonel Chapin, declaring that he was mainly
indebted to the valor of the 116th NYVI for the victory.
General Augur stated "They have most gallantly driven Miles'
Legion, who claim never to have been driven before."[viii]
Banks arrived two days after the battle of Plain Stores and began preparations
to attack Port Hudson, LA. An
article in Harper’s Weekly regarding the initial assault on Port Hudson
reported that Chapin’s Brigade consisted of the 48th
Massachusetts (commanded by Lt. Colonel O’Brien), 49th
Massachusetts (commanded by Colonel Bartlett), 116th New York
(commanded by Major Love), and the 21st Maine (commanded by Colonel
Johnson) supported by two regiments of Colonel Dudley’s Brigade; the 2nd
Louisiana (commanded by Colonel Paine), and the 50th Massachusetts
(commanded by Colonel Messer). After
several hours of heavy Federal cannonading upon the Confederate works, at 3 pm
on May 27, 1863, General Augur’s men advanced from the woods across an open
area of about a mile in length obstructed by fascines, abattis, and
underbrush. Colonel Chapin’s
Brigade rushed forward under heavy grape, shell, and canister fire from the
Confederate artillery during which Colonel Chapin, wounded in the knee early
in the contest, received a mortal wound from a Minié ball in the head within
a few yards of the Rebel breastworks.
After two hours of severe fighting, General Augur recognized the
impossibility of taking the works, and withdrew his men back to the woods.
Union casualties during this assault were 64 killed and 316 wounded,
including Lt. Colonel O’Brien killed, and Colonel Bartlett, whom was wounded
twice, in the ankle and wrist while on horseback (he had lost a leg earlier in
the war at Yorktown, VA, during the Peninsula Campaign).[ix]
Colonel Chapin was brought north and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in his birthplace of Waterloo, New York. Abraham Lincoln is said to have sent Edward’s mourning father Ephraim (a Presbyterian reverend in Waterloo, NY) Chapin’s posthumous commission as Brigadier General, U.S.V. to date May 27, 1863, the day he was killed in action at Port Hudson, LA.[x] Chapin Parkway in Buffalo, NY is named in his honor, as was GAR Post No. 2 in Buffalo.
standing view - US Army Military History Institute,
Carlisle Barracks, (RG98S-CWP59.55).
view - www.generalsandbrevets.com/brevets.htm
Hunt, Roger D. Colonels in Blue: Union Army Colonels of the Civil War -
New York. Schiffer Military History, Atglen, PA. 2003.
The Union Army A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States
1861-65 - Records of the Regiments in the Union Army - Cyclopedia of
Battles - Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers. Volume 2. Madison:
Federal Publishing, 1908.
United States War Department. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation
of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1884.
New York State. Annual
Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York for the Year 1901.
Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon, 1902..
History of Erie County, New York. Crisfield Johnson, Matthews and
Warren, Buffalo, NY, 1876.
Phisterer, Frederick, New York in the War of the Rebellion,
1861‑1865. Albany, NY: Weed
and Parsons, 1890.
History of Erie County, 1876.
Harper’s Weekly, June 27, 1863, Pg. 411.
[x] History of Erie County, 1876.
|David Lay was born and raised in Seneca Falls, NY, and has been interested in Civil War history since seeing reenactors of the 148th NYVI as a Cub Scout. He is a professional geologist working for an environmental consulting firm in Syracuse, NY. David has been a Civil War reenactor for the last eight years with the 1st New York Engineers. He is a member of David G. Caywood Camp #146 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) C. H. Huntley Camp #114 in Ovid, New York. David descends from Charles H. Lay, Private/Farrier in Company I, 75th NYVI, who was wounded May 27, 1863 during the assault on Port Hudson, and re-enlisted in Company B of the Veteran Battalion. David is currently assembling information to prepare a website honoring the 75th New York.|