Commission of Charles A. Foss, Killed at Gettysburg - 72nd New York Infantry, 3rd Excelsior Brigade. Lieutenant Foss received this rank one month prior to his death. He died of wounds on 7/7/1863 at Gettysburg, PA. This framed military commission of Charles A. Foss is in excellent condition. Frame measures 11 3/4" x 14 5/8". This army commission is typical of those official forms given to enlisted soldiers who gained promotion during the war years and is an excellent piece of identified to own.
Charles A. Foss:
Residence was not listed; 22 years old.
Enlisted on 5/23/1861 at Din, NY as a Corporal.
On 6/20/1861 he mustered into "D" Co. NY 72nd Infantry
He died of wounds on 7/7/1863 at Gettysburg, PA
He was listed as:
* Wounded 7/2/1863 Gettysburg, PA (Severely wounded in leg, amputated, died as a result of wounds 7/7/1863)
* Sergt 6/25/1861
* 2nd Lieut 5/5/1863 (As of Co. C)
Intra Regimental Company Transfers:
* 5/5/1863 from company D to company C
Buried: Gettysburg National Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA
Gravesite: A-84, NY plot
NEW YORK SEVENTY-SECOND INFANTRY (Three Years)
Seventy-second Infantry.-Cols., Nelson Taylor, William O. Stevens, John S. Austin; Lieut.-Cols., Israel Moses, John S. Austin, John Leonard; Majs., William O. Stevens, John Leonard, Casper K. Abell.
The 72nd, the 3d regiment of the Excelsior brigade, was composed mainly of members from New York city and Chautanqua county and was mustered into the U. S. service at Camp Scott, Staten island, from June to Oct., 1861, for three years. It left there on July 24, 1861, for Washington, where it was joined by two of its companies late in October.
After serving for a few months in the vicinity of Washington the regiment was assigned to Sickles' Excelsior brigade, Hooker's division, served along the Potomac in Maryland, near Stafford Court House, Va., and proceeded to the Peninsula in April, 1862, with the 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 3d corps.
It suffered its first severe loss at Williamsburg where the Excelsior brigade bore the heaviest burden of the battle, the loss of the 72nd being 195 killed, wounded or missing, 77 of whom were killed or mortally wounded. At Fair Oaks and in the Seven Days' battles the regiment was active and was then withdrawn from the Peninsula to join in the campaign under Gen. Pope in Virginia, during which it lost 37 men.
It was withdrawn with the brigade to the vicinity of Washington for much needed rest and reinforcement, and remained there through the Maryland campaign, leaving for Falmouth in November.
It participated in the battle of Fredericksburg; went into winter quarters at Falmouth; broke camp late in April, 1863, for the Chancellorsville movement; took a prominent part in that battle, Col. Stevens and 4 other officers being killed, the total loss of the regiment being 101.
At Gettysburg, the regiment, which had by this time become noted for its fighting qualities, occupied an advanced position on the Emmitsburg road, which was valiantly defended by the brigade, although finally forced to yield it. The loss of the 72nd here was 114, and the ranks, which later fought at Kelly's ford, Bristoe Station and in the Mine Run campaign, were sadly thinned.
The winter camp was established at Brandy Station and in April 1864, the regiment was assigned to the 2nd brigade, 4th division, 2nd corps, with which it served in the Wilderness campaign until May 13, when it was transferred to the 4th brigade, 3d division.
It was active in the campaign until June 19, when seven companies were mustered out before Petersburg. The remaining three companies were mustered out July 2 and 20 and Oct. 31, 1864, the veterans and recruits being transferred to the 120th N. Y. infantry. During its term of service the regiment lost 184 by death from wounds and 96 by death from other causes. It is ranked by Col. Fox as one of the "three hundred fighting regiments."
NEW YORK SEVENTY-SECOND REGIMENT OF INFANTRY. Third Regiment Excelsior or Sickles' Brigade.
This regiment, raised under special authority from the War Department, granted to Gen. D. E. Sickles, May 18, 1861, was organized, under Col. Nelson Taylor, at Camp Scott, Staten Island, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years in June, July, August, October and November, 1861. One company of the 68th Militia (Dunkirk) formed part of this regiment. Pursuant to the order of the Secretary of War, dated December 5, 1861, it received its State numerical designation December 11, 1861. Company L was transferred to Companies A, I and K February 25,1862. The men not entitled to be mustered out with the regiment were formed into a detachment which, from June 20, 1864, served with the 120th Infantry, to which the remaining men were, in November, 1864, finally transferred.
The companies were recruited principally: A and K in New York city; B at Jamestown; C in Vermont; D and E at Dunkirk; F at Newark, N. J.; G at Westfield; H at Dunkirk and New York city, and I at Delhi. Company L was recruited principally in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delhi, Sinclairsville and Plattsburg.
The regiment, except Companies H and L, which joined October 25, 1861, left the State July 24, 1861; served at and near Washington, D. C., in a provisional brigade, from July, 1861; in Sickles, Brigade, Hooker's Division, Army of the Potomac, from October 15, 1861; in same, 2d, Brigade, 2d Division, 3d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from March, 1862; in 2d Brigade, 4th Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from April, 1864; in 4th Brigade, 3d Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from May 13, 1864; the companies remaining attached to the 120th N. Y. Volunteers, in the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from July, 1864. Companies A, B, D, E, F, I and K, under command of Lieut.-Col. John Leonard, were honorably discharged and mustered out June 19 and 20, 1864, before Petersburg, Va.; Companies G, C and H, remaining, were mustered out July 2 and 20 and October 31, 1864, respectively.
2nd Bull Run, VA after action report: No. 78.
Reports of Capt. Harman J. Bliss, Seventy-second New York Infantry, of operations near Kettle Run and battles of Groveton and Bull Run.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD REGIMENT, Camp in the Field, near Manassas Junction, August 28, 1862. In pursuance to orders received from brigade headquarters at 10 o'clock p.m. August 26, 1862, directing me to "proceed at once with my command to Manassas, to ascertain what occurred, rejoin the telegraph wires, and protect the railroad there till further orders," I immediately moved to Warrenton Junction, where I was disappointed in finding no transportation ready. Col. R. C. H. Smith, aide-de-camp to Gen. Pope, ordered me to proceed by the wagon road, but subsequently transportation was obtained. I moved my command from Warrenton Junction at 2 a.m. the 27th of August to Catlett's Station, per order of Col. Smith. I called upon Col. Pierce to approve an order for a small detachment of cavalry from Kettle Run. Col. Pierce informed me that some of his command were at the run. I subsequently felt the want of a few cavalrymen very much.
I moved with all the dispatch possible to within half a mile of Bristoe. I moved the last mile with a company thrown forward as skirmishers and flankers. I found an intercepted train burning and the telegraph destroyed. Discovering the enemy still in possession of the station, I ordered the regiment into line, advanced skirmishers, and went to the front myself to observe the position they had chosen, their strength,& c. My own observation, confirmed by skirmishers, soon satisfied me that they were in force. It was just before daylight, but the reflection from the burning cars enabled me from my position to see all their movements. I distinctly heard the commands as they rapidly formed their lines. I saw one column file to the left, and had no doubt their purpose was to flank us and cut off my train at Kettle Run Bridge. I saw a body of cavalry move on the right of the road for the same purpose. I called Adjutant Hinman to my position to confirm my opinion and to profit by his judgment. I realized my responsibility and the want of experience. My pride urged me to accept the honor of leading the gallant Third into battle, but my judgment rebelled against this desire--to use the accident of my temporary command to lead the regiment on the field--and I reluctantly gave the order to embark again. I moved back to Kettle Run, where I established pickets at all commanding positions to watch and report the movements of the enemy. I instructed the telegraph operator attached to my command to try and open communication with Warrenton Junction. I handed him the following dispatch:
Col. T. C. H. SMITH, Aide-de-Camp to Gen. Pope:
Have proceeded to near Bristoe Station. Find a train of cars burning and telegraph wires broken, and enemy in very heavy force. Do not deem it prudent to go on without further orders. Have conductor of burned train with me, who reports there being a large force of the enemy. Have returned to this side of Kettle Run Bridge.
I ordered three companies into position at the bridge, with instructions to hold it at all hazards, keeping the balance of my command in reserve 300 yards below the bridge. I personally examined the bridge with reference to holding it. I found it had no natural advantages for defense; in fact, they were all against us. The rebel skirmishers were rapidly advancing on both sides of the road, followed by a large force, all in plain view. I had seen the cavalry on the right and the infantry movement on our left for three-quarters of an hour. All the reply the telegraph operator could get to his call was "Wait a little." I could not consent to the useless sacrifice of my brave 300 men. I ordered the three companies at the bridge to move back, which they did in perfect order, under the fire of the enemy's skirmishers. I waited for the stragglers and the last of two companies of the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania, there on picket. Three of the men were so closely followed that they were taken prisoners.
I had only ordered the engineer to move back, when the enemy unmasked a field piece they had brought down near the bridge on the track, covered by a column of troops. The first two shots ricochetted within 20 or 30 yards from the engine. I joined the brigade at 5 a. m. with the whole of my command and reported.
I submit that I did the best my judgment seemed to require--I confess at great sacrifice to my pride. I trust subsequent events satisfy you that I did all duty required. The regiment behaved in its usual praiseworthy manner, and I enjoyed the full co-operation of all the officers. I must speak especially of the valuable assistance rendered me by Adjt. HK. C. Hinman.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
H. J. BLISS, Capt., Commanding Regiment.
Col. NELSON TAYLOR, Commanding Second Brigade, Hooker's Division.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD REGIMENT, Camp near Spring Hill, September 6, 1862.
I have the honor to report that the Third Excelsior, of your brigade, under my command, on the 29th of August, took the position assigned on the right of the brigade line, and advanced into the timber, where a portion of our forces were already engaged with the enemy. My instructions were to halt behind the line engaged, and when their ammunition was exhausted take their place. I advanced skirmishers covering my whole front to this line and dressed my regiment accurately on the brigade line. Our position was hardly taken when the line of troops in our front, belonging to regiments never before under fire, gave way under a dashing attempt of the enemy to turn the left of our line. Gradually the left gave way, struggling hand-to-hand for life and their colors, until the line was broken up to the left of my command, rendered almost powerless by the influence and presence of the disorganized troops breaking through my line and preventing my firing until the enemy were actually in our ranks in overpowering numbers. We fell back 300 yards to the edge of the timber, and again formed line and advanced skirmishers forward to the line we had just left. The enemy had also fallen back, and seemed unwilling to improve his temporary advantage. By order I again withdrew my skirmishers, and subsequently took position for the night with the brigade.
In my command 7 were missing and 11 wounded. Among the wounded is Lieut. Clark. I have further to report that on the 30th my command was engaged, under your orders, in supporting different batteries and in taking different positions, preparatory to engaging the enemy. We were at no time actually engaged, but were almost constantly under fire from shot and shell. None in my command were injured. The same officers are deserving of mention as in my report of August 27, except Lieut. Howard, who was absent.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
H. J. BLISS, Capt., Commanding Regiment.
Col. NELSON TAYLOR, Commanding Second Brigade, Hooker's Division.
Chancellorsville, VA after battle report: No. 144.
Report of Maj. John Leonard, Seventy-second New York Infantry.
CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA., May 8, 1863. MAJ.: In compliance with circular from headquarters Excelsior Brigade, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the regiment now under my command during the recent operations: On April 28, in pursuance of orders, my command was marched to a point near the river, 3 or 4 miles below Fredericksburg, where it halted for the night and bivouacked in the woods.
The following morning, in compliance with instructions, the command was moved about 1 mile to the right, where it halted and remained until the next day, when, in compliance with orders received rom the brigadier-general commanding the brigade, the regiment was moved to the immediate vicinity of the United States Ford, where it encamped for the night.
Next day (May 2), at about 11 a. m., the brigade of which my regiment constitutes a part crossed the pontoon bridge at the United States Ford, and marched to the support of the right of the army, which was then heavily engaged at or near Chancellorsville, where we remained united arms until the evening on the 2d.
We were then ordered to proceed up the Fredericksburg and Gordonsville Plank road, to take a position in rear of the Eleventh Army Corps, which had been repulsed and broken, for the purpose of checking the enemy at that point. We then marched with the brigade about a mile up the road, and formed in line of battle on the right of it and nearly at right angles with it. Company D, commanded by Capt. C. K. Abell, was deployed to the front as skirmishers, and we remained prepared for any emergency during the night. I might here mention that during the night the regiment was occupied in throwing up a breastwork, which was completed at daylight.
At about 6 a. m. on the 3d instant, the enemy opened a rapid and severe fire upon us and drove our pickets in. After heavy skirmishing for some time, the enemy advanced in force, and a severe engagement ensued, which lasted for upward of three-quarters of an hour, when, owing to the left of the brigade being flanked and the enemy advancing upon the left flank of the troops under my command with a heavy force, the regiment was ordered to change front, to repel them. The movement was attempted, but the rapid advance of so large a force of the enemy on our flank and front rendered it impossible to execute it.
The regiment was then ordered to fall back, which was done in good order by breaking by companies successively to the rear, keeping us a galling fire upon the enemy. It was during this brief but severe engagement that our brave colonel, William O. Stevens, whole gallantly directing our movement, fell, dangerously, if not mortally, wounded. In consequence of the nearness of the enemy and the severity of the engagement, it was impossible to carry him from the field. After the fall of our noble colonel, the enemy, rendered bold by their momentary success, advanced more rapidly on our flank and front, and attempted to capture our colors, but the steadfast devotion and bravery of my regiment repealed their attempt, and, although the conflict was hand to hand, and their force far superior in numbers to our own, the colors of the regiment were borne in safety from the field.
The regiment went into this action with 29 commissioned officer and 411 enlisted men. The loss sustained in killed, wounded, and missing was 12 commissioned officers and 92 enlisted men, making an aggregate of 104, or about one-fourth of the entire command. In the afternoon of the same day, my command was placed in support of the batteries in front, and there remained until the evening of the 5th, when, in accordance with orders received to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice, we formed line, and about 3 a. m. took up our march, and recrossed the pontoon bridge and returned to our former camp, where we arrived at about 5 p.m. of the same day.
I cannot close this brief report without calling your attention to the bravery manifested by all the officers and men under my command, and especially to the coolness and bravery of Adjt. James A. Smith (whose gallant bearing in former engagements has been mentioned), who by his brave and gallant conduct in cheering on the men and directing their fire in our most trying moments, deserves the highest reward which can be given to a brave and fearless soldier. Also Lieut. Patrick Anderson, whose conduct in the action added still greater weight to the encomiums already passed upon him. I would also call your attention to the noble conduct of Sergt. Richard W. Clark, of Company H, whose coolness and bravery elicited the warmest admiration of all his comrades.
I have attempted in the foregoing brief and barren statement to do justice to the brave men whose former record is so well know that comment is unnecessary. While I cannot but fell proud of the gallant bearing of the men now under my command, I cannot but join my sympathies with those of the entire command in mourning the loss of our brave and noble colonel, whose character as a soldier and a gentleman is in sullied, and whose many virtues endeared him to the hearts of all.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN LEONARD, Maj., Cmdg. Third Regiment, Excelsior Brigade.
Maj. J. P. FINKELMEIER, Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Excelsior Brigade.
Gettysburg after battle report: Report of Col. John S. Austin, Seventy-second New York Infantry.
Hdqrs. Third Regt., Excelsior Brigade, Camp near Beverly Ford, Va., August 15, 1863. Maj.: In compliance with circular from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this regiment during the recent movements from June 28 to July 26: We left Middletown June 28, passing through Frederick to Walkersville, where we encamped for the night. On the 29th, we marched through Woodsborough and Middleburg to Taneytown. Left Taneytown on the morning of the 30th; marched through Bridgeport, and bivouacked for the night about 3 miles from the town.
July 1, we marched to Emmitsburg, and encamped about 2 p. m. Broke camp at 4 p. m., and marched to Gettysburg, arriving there at 2 a. m. We were ordered to the front about 10 a. m. of the 2d, when our regiment was placed in reserve of the Second Brigade, Second Division. At 2 p. m. we were ordered to advance across an open field in line of battle, the left of our regiment, which formed the extreme left of the brigade, resting on a cross-road, the line running parallel with the main road and in rear of the peach orchard. We remained in line of battle about two hours, under a most terrific fire of shot and shell, when we were pressed so hard on the left flank that we were obliged to fall back. This we did in as good order as the circumstances would permit.
At this time, I was wounded in the arm and side, and a few minutes after had my horse killed. I was now obliged to give up the command to Lieut.-Col. Leonard, who fought the regiment after I left. He and the rest of the officers were indefatigable in their exertions to rally the men, who were still hard pressed and obliged to fall slowly back to the crest of the hill from which the brigade started in the morning, where they rallied, and, charging across the field, retook their guns and one battle-flag belonging to the Eighth Florida Regt., together with a large number of prisoners, all of which they brought from the field. It was now dark, and the remnants of the regiment were collected together, and bivouacked for the night in an orchard near the Gettysburg road.
The next morning the regiment was marched back to the rear, for the purpose of obtaining ammunition and rations for the men.
At 2 p. m. they were again moved to the front, to support a battery, where the regiment remained until 7 p. m., when it returned to the position that they occupied in the morning.
On the morning of the 5th, they were again moved forward, and took up a position in the second line of battle. In about two hours the regiment was marched back into a field and encamped. On the morning of the 6th, it was found that the enemy had retreated, and we were at once ordered to march. We did not move over half a mile, and then returned to the same camp.
It would be doing an act of injustice to the brave men of the Third if I did not speak more at length in regard to their conduct on that memorable and ever-to-be-remembered July 2. It would also seem like an injustice to speak of one as having done better or performed his duty more nobly than another; still, I cannot pass by in silence the manner in which Lieut.-Col. Leonard and Maj. Abell performed their duties upon that occasion; also Capt. Bailey and Lieut. William McConnell. Among the men it is hard to particularize, but I think that our color corporal, Edwin H. Tarry, deserves particular mention. He was ever to the front, and carried the flag through that storm of shot and shell with credit to the regiment and honor to himself.
Our loss was very severe. We took 22 officers and 283 men into the fight, and had 8 officers wounded, 1 of whom has since died, 7 men killed, 86 wounded, and 15 missing. On the 7th, the regiment marched to Mechanicstown, and encamped for the night.
Left camp on the morning of the 8th, at 6 a. m., and marched about 1 mile beyond Frederick, where it bivouacked for the night at 10 p. m.
On the 9th, it marched to Middletown, where it received rations for the first time in two days, and encamped for the night on the battle-field of South Mountain.
Moved at 9 o'clock on the morning of the 10th, crossed the Antietam Creek, and halted on the old battle-field of Antietam. Moved again at 10 p. m., recrossed Antietam Creek, and marched until 2 o'clock in the morning.
Broke camp the 11th, at 6 a. m., and marched 2 miles. Remained in the same position until 4 p.m.; then moved across the Antietam Creek, and encamped for the night.
On the 12th, moved about 1 mile, and encamped in a piece of woods, and remained until the morning of the 14th; then again moved forward, and occupied the position that the enemy held the day before near Williamsport.
As the enemy had succeeded in crossing the Potomac, retraced line of march of the day before, passed through Sharpsburg, and encamped about 2 miles beyond the town.
On the 16th, moved to within about 2 miles of Harper's Ferry, and encamped at the foot of Maryland Heights. The next day crossed the river, and encamped in Virginia. On the 18th, 19th, and 20th, on the march, arriving at Upperville, where they remained for two days.
On the 22d, moved to Manassas Gap, and halted for the night at Piedmont Station, and on the morning of the 23d moved up the Gap to where our troops were skirmishing with the enemy. The enemy had taken up their position across the Gap, and all the efforts of the skirmishers to dislodge them proved unavailing. At this time the Excelsior Brigade, of which my regiment forms a part, was ordered to charge the heights and drive the enemy from their position.
With a yell that would have done credit to a band of demons, our boys sprang to their feet and rushed upon the foe. The first and second heights were carried in the face of a severe fire, when the enemy opened from the opposite hill with a four-gun battery, and the men, who were now completely exhausted, were ordered to hold the position, of which they had so gallantly taken possession.
The next morning at daylight it was discovered that the enemy had retreated. Moved forward to Front Royal, and remained about two hours, and then marched back through the Gap, and encamped for the night 6 miles beyond.
It would not be doing justice to the regiment for me to pass by this point without making some mention of the manner in which both officers and men performed their duty on that occasion; neither would it be proper for me to make any invidious distinction among men who have proved themselves soldiers in every sense of the word on many a hard-fought battle-field, for all did their duty nobly. Each seemed to vie with the other in his attempt to reach the enemy, thus making it a fight not only for victory but for personal honor. Owing to the uneven nature of the ground, our loss was comparatively small.
Eight men were wounded, 1 of whom has since died from the effect of the wound. On the 25th, marched through Salem, and bivouacked for the night 5 miles beyond. The next day marched to Warrenton, encamping about 2 miles from the town, on the road to Sulphur Springs.
I have attempted in the foregoing brief and barren sketch to do justice to the brave officers and men who form the Third Excelsior, although I know I have but partially succeeded, and I cannot close without extending my heartfelt sympathy to the friends of those who have been called upon to mourn the loss of kind friends and brave soldiers.
The above is respectfully submitted. I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN S. AUSTIN, Col., Comdg. Third Excelsior.
Maj. J. P. Finkelmeier, Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Excelsior (Second) Brigade.
Inventory Number: DOC 080