Lt. Martin Edgcomb
EDGCOMB, MARTIN.-Age, 25 years. Enrolled, October 1, 1861, at Cortland, to serve three years; mustered in as sergeant, Co. A, October 4, 1861; returned to ranks, January 9, 1863; promoted corporal, prior to October, 1863; sergeant, November 4, 1863; re-enlisted as a veteran, January 5, 1864; transferred to Co. I, October 11, 1864; to Co. D, December 1, 1864; mustered in as second lieutenant, Co. B, to date July 8, 1864; transferred to Co. D, One Hundred and Forty-seventh Infantry, January 28, 1865.
Commissioned second lieutenant, October 31, 1864, with rank from July 8, 1864, vice E. Evens promoted; first lieutenant, not mustered, November 30, 1864, with rank from November 9, 1864, vice E. B. Cochrane discharged.
According to "JFP" (John F. Potter?) writing in the "Cortland Gazette and Banner", January 9, 1862,
"Several of the boys are now at the Hospital sick. Among these who have been the worst, are Martin Edgcomb and Stephen N. Stone, from Cortland, two of Company A's men. We are all anxiously hoping for their speedy recovery. The former has had the diphtheria, the latter inflammation of the lungs, but both are now doing well."
Albany City Hospital
January 25, 1862
Dear Sister Sarah,
It perplexes me when I think that you must have felt ere this that you was neglected & forgotten. I should have written before but have not been in a corresponding mood, as I have been ill, which you have undoubtedly heard. I was brought to the hospital on Christmas—four weeks ago today. So you see I had a ride on Christmas as well as good many others. I little expected to spend my holydays in such a way. I have to trust the next holydays will find peace restored & the poor volunteer enjoying again the comforts of home & friends.
I have had most excellent care, otherwise my case would have been hopeless. For example I will speak of one nurse—a second Florence Nightingale. Her name is Mary Cary. She is about 30 years old. Her parents are Quakers, wealthy and respectable.
She has volunteered her services gratis in the hospital every since last June, tending to the sick day & night, weekdays and Sundays. She has given all the soldiers who have been at the hospital each a hood & bed quilt, who were destitute.
She buys all the paper & envelopes used by the boys & pays their postage where they have no money. About every day she brings from home some desserts for the sick which are not furnished by the hospital. Well, well, I’ve written enough on this point.
Our Reg. left here last Friday for N.Y. Were quartered in the “park barracks” but have since removed to Reckards Island (Riker’s Island—MB) a few miles from the city. I understand they are to get their pay tomorrow. They will remain there a few days, & then go South.
The “stand of colors” were presented to the Reg. by Mrs. Samuel Campbell on the day of their departure from here. They were richer & more costly than any colors of any Reg. in N.Y. State.
Not being quite able to go with the Reg. I remained with nine other boys in our Co. who were unable to go. Four of them went the other day.
I shall go with the remainder in a few days. I shall be glad to get out of here & be with the boys. I intended to get a furlough & go to see Mother, Julius & Clarke, but the Commander in Chief has forbidden all furloughs except in extreme cases. So I shall have to give it up & go to “Dixie.” I was very sorry & disappointed that I could not come & see you as I intended before I left Cortland, but we were kept so close to camp that it was an impossibility.
The delay of the Reg. in Albany was on acc’t of the trial of the Col. & McNett & the consolidation with three Co’s from Cherry Valley. The Col. is reinstated & McNett & Co are transferred to the 93 Reg. You must give my love to Gilbert & tell him to write to me. If you reply to this immediately Direct as follows: Albany City Hospital Co. A, 76. Reg. N.Y. Vol. care of Mr. Joseph Cary.
Give my regards to Uncle Gilbert & Aunt Polly & to Isaac Honeyude(?) & family.
I would be glad to see all of you I think of you often.
Isacc & Ev sent me a box containing a bed quilt & pies & cakes etc. They were very acceptable & came handy three times a day. Ever believe and as your aff. but unworthy brother,
- Letter contributed by Ed Raus, transcribed by Mike Brown
At the battle of Brawner's Farm, Edgcomb captured a Confederate prisoner, according to Uberto Burnham's account of the battle. He died August 3, 1920 and is buried at Cortland Rural Cemetery
(From the April 7, 1918 Syracuse Herald—contributed by CWRT member Ed Raus)
Cortland, April 6—As the few surviving veterans of the Civil War observe the young men of Cortland and vicinity take their leave of home and friends and march away to military camp, the first stop on their trip “over there” in the fight for liberty and democracy, their minds drift back to the early days of the Rebellion when they as young men went forth to do or die, if need be, that the nation might live inseparable. In the throng which watched the last delegation of thirty-three men leave this city last Thursday for Camp Dix was Martin Edgcomb, now in his eighty-third year, and as the boys marched and the band played a martial air he expressed the wish that he was young again and could go with the boys on their patriotic mission.
Martin Edgcomb was 22 years old when Fort Sumter was fired upon by the soldiers of the South land. He enlisted in Company A, Seventy-sixth Regiment, NYV. The company was commanded by Capt. Andrew J. Grover in whose memory the local GAR post was named. The company left Cortland on December 18th, 1861, and went to Albany, where it was stationed until the following February when it moved on to Washington and there was quartered for some time in the forts on Meridian Hill. Mr. Edgcomb gained the successive ranks of First Sergeant, Second Lieutenant and First Lieutenant.
First Man Lost
In recounting incidents of the war which came under his observation, Mr. Edgcomb referred to the battle at Gainesville. The first man Co. A lost in that battle was Harrison Owen in whose memory the Virgil GAR post was named. “I stood behind Owen when he fell,” said Mr. Edgcomb. “He was hit in the breast. He was carried to the rear, accompanied by Captain Grover. As Lieutenant Williams, in command of our company, sprang to the front, he received a bullet in his breast and fell against me. He was carried from the field and died three days later.”
That night, on the battlefield, Sergeant Edgcomb was delegated with others to search for their injured comrades. Wandering alone through the brush, he heard footsteps approaching, then as the form of a man appeared out of the darkness, a voice inquired “Wheer are all the boys of the Eighteenth Georgia?” “I was unarmed and as it later developed, so was the Johnny,” said Mr. Edgcomb in telling the story. “I made him think I was also a Johnny, and I offered to show him the way. When we had reached a point near our lines, I squared off and said, ‘you are my prisoner’, and he went with me. Again I went out to search for the wounded, and again I found another Johnny who was lost from the Nineteenth Louisiana regiment. This one had a gun which he was carrying trail arms. He did not know he was my prisoner until I suddenly snatched his gun and pressed the muzzle to his breast. Little did I think that a few hours later I would be a prisoner in the hands of Confederate soldiers.
“The following night we were on retreat, yet fighting desperately. The Rebels made a flanking movement and approached our regiment from a small thicket. We could see through the darkness that they wore broad brim hats and we supposed they were western troops. The command came to cease firing as we were killing our own men. Too late we found out that they were ‘Rebs’. The retreat as a rout. I fell to the ground and tried to give the appearance of a dead man. One line passed over me, but in the next a soldier kicked me as he stumbled over me and I rolled over. I was yanked to my feet and my gun was taken and I was sent to the rear in company with another prisoner who proved to be Daniel C. Durkee now residing in Preble.”
Mr. Edgcomb then related taking the oath not to again take up arms against the Southern Confederacy, the trip to the parole camp at Camp Chase, near Columbus, Ohio, and of his later enlistment and service. On the march with the paroled soldiers from Gainesville to Harpers Ferry. Mr. Edgcomb was taken ill and left by the roadside with three of his companions. Unable to travel, he persuaded his three companions to go on, which they did. For five days he crawled and staggered over the forty miles of highway, through a hostile country where the residents jeered and insulted him and refused him much needed refreshment. He relates of two horsemen who held him up and threatened to shoot him and to hang him from a tree. A storm came up while the horsemen were evidently in search of a rope, and as he observed them taking shelter from the storm he made his escape, and, ragged, weak and footsore he finally reached the Union lines and was sent to the parole camp.
CWRT member Ed Raus, who contributed this article, notes: “The account is interesting but a bit confusing. The 18th Georgia was fighting with the 76th on the 29th of August, 1862. The 19th La. was fighting in the west. The Brawner fight of the 28th and Doubleday's fight on the 29th are often jumbled in the accounts. Most accounts have Grover and Owen casualties on the 28th (Brawner) and I have no reason to think that they were not. It is possible that Edgcomb is confusing the two fights. Martin was captured on the 29th. “
Martin Edgcomb died in 1920, and is buried in Cortland Rural Cemetery.
Patricia Hutchings notes: "I am sending you photos of my husband, Gordon Hutchings', great grandfather, Martin Edgcomb of Cortland New York for your website and/or files. Martin's daughter, Jennie Grace Edgcomb, was Gordon's grandmother on his mother's side of the family. Martin was born in Jun 1836 and died 3 Aug 1920 at the age of 84."
left - Edgcomb family plot marker, Cortland Rural Cemetery; Mike Brown photo May 2010
Return to 76th Roster (E)
Return to Letters from the 76th NY
Return to 76th NYSV Homepage
- Last Updated August 6, 2011