Last month Yates County, NY, in the Civil War published two interesting letters from soldiers in the 50th New York Engineers. I found a couple articles about the 50th from Seneca County newspapers 150 years ago this month. Penn Yan and Seneca Falls are about 20 miles apart as the Canada goose flies.
From a Seneca County, New York newspaper February 6, 1862:
The 50th Regiment
The Penn Yan Democrat has the following in relation to the 50th, Col. Stuart’s Regiment: This excellent regiment is in fine and flourishing condition, and is well clothed, well treated. We do not believe there is another regiment in the service which comprises more sturdy and athletic men, of good character and intelligence. Nearly ninety members of the regiment belong to this county. This kind of service is very desirable for those who can do anything which comes under the head of military engineering, and the pay is larger than any other department. The regiment has been newly clothed “all around,” and furnished with Austrian rifles. We are glad to learn that the efforts of Col. Robbins in recruiting for the regiment in this locality continues to be successful. Fifteen additional recruits will be forwarded to the camp at Washington this week.”
In another Seneca County article from February 1862 the editors copy a report from a New York City newspaper. The 50th demonstrated its skill in building pontoon bridges:
Col. Stuart’s Engineer Regiment
A Washington correspondent of a New York paper says two companies of pontooners belonging to Col. Stuart’s fine Regiment of Engineers, gave a lively and novel exhibition of pontooon drill, to a large and select party of ladies and gentlemen, Tuesday last.
A road-way, three hundred feet in length of sufficient strength to support the weight of the heaviest loads that accompany a well-appointed army – and to resist the action of currents – was thrown across the Anacostic in less than 39 minutes, and completely dismantled in 23. It was a splendid sight to see the batteaux rowed into place and anchored, the balks or stringers laid across, and the chessies or plank, and side rails covering all – thus making a complete and secure bridge for the passage of infantry, cavalry, artillery, &c.
The 50th New York Engineer Regiment was recruited throughout the state. Seneca Falls was one of the towns that supplied recruits for Company K. This link also says: “Great assistance was rendered by the 50th in laying the bridges before the battle of Fredericksburg, when they were under continuous fire from the enemy’s sharpshooters.”