The subject of this sketch was born at Gedney, Lincoln county, England, December fourth, 1827. He enlisted in the English army February fifteenth, 1846, and was discharged June eleventh, 1846. The following is a copy of his discharge from the English army:


These are to certify that 2706 Henry Cliff, private, born in the parish of Gedney, in or near the town of Long Sutton, in the county of Lincoln, was enlisted at Bury for the aforesaid corps, on the fifteenth day of February, 1846, at the age of' 17 2-12 years. That he has served in the army for under age. That he is discharged in consequence of paying the regulated sum of twenty pounds.

Dated at Bury, Lancashire June 8, 1846.

WM. H. EDEN, Lieut.-Col., Commanding Officer Horse Guards,

11th of June, 1846.

Discharge of 2706 Private Henry Cliff confirmed. W. COCHRAN, A. A. G.


He enlisted in Company F, Seventy-sixth Regiment, as a private, September eighteenth, 1861, at Dryden N. Y., but was promoted to Sergeant at the organization of the Regiment. He was promoted to First Sergeant December eighth, 1862, and to First Lieutenant July third, 1863.

At the battle of Gainesville he had a very narrow escape, a ball passing through his gun-stock, coat sleeve and cap-box.

At the battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July first, 1863, he fell in the hottest of the fight, severely wounded in the left leg. He lay upon the battle-field unable to stir, with nothing to eat or drink, for fifty-two hours, until the rebels retreated, when he was removed to a hospital and his limb amputated.

He was in the following battles:-Rappahannock Station, Warrenton Sulphur Springs, Gainesville, Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg. He was honorably discharged at Chestnut Hill Hospital, Philadelphia, November twenty-fifth, 1863.

The following certificate shows the light in which he was considered by the officers of the Regiment:


I hereby certify that Sergeant Henry Cliff late of Company F, Seventy-sixth Regiment N. Y. Volunteers, has served honestly and aithfuily in said Company until the first day of July, 1863, when be was severely wounded in the action at Gettysburg Pa., having been at his post during every march, skirmish or battle in which the Regiment has been engaged up to the first of July, above mentioned, excepting a few days after the battle of Bull Run, August thirtieth, 1862, when he was sick. He was recommended to the rank of Second Lieutenant on the eighteenth of January, 1863, by Colonel William P. Wainwright, then in command of the Regiment, and afterward by Major John E. Cook, about the first of October, 1863, for promotion to the rank of First Lieutenant.

JOHN E. COOK, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding Regiment.

This paper was presented to President Lincoln, who, in his own hand, endorsed:

I am induced to believe that Sergeant Cliff's case is a very meritorious one, and I shall be glad if such place as he seeks in the Invalid Corps can be given him. A. LINCOLN.

April 5th, 1864.

He was never mustered upon his commission, having been discharged before its receipt. He now resides at Dryden, Tompkins county, N. Y.

- From the Regimental History of the 76th New York, A. P. Smith, 1867

Postwar picture at right courtesy of Kevin Roy, who writes: 

Recently I found out that Henry Cliff was a brother to my Great-Grandfather James Cliff, who were both children of Thomas and (Sarah Audlin) Cliff. My mother Ardee Cliff was fortunate enough to have a photo Album of the Cliffs, and one was marked Henry Cliff -Dryden, NY. I have attached a photograph that you may use for your web page. 

Larger Image (55K)


The following account is from page 244 of the Regimental History:

Early in the first day's fighting, Orderly Sergeant Henry Cliff, of Company F, fell severely wounded in his left leg. Our troops were retreating, and be was left upon the field. The sun was shooting down his hottest July rays. No bush protected the brave Sergeant.

"Please carry me to the shade of that tree," said the Sergeant to a rebel, alluding to a large tree that stood near by.

"I shan't do it" replied the rebel; "get some of your d-d Yankee horde to help you. If you had been at home, where you belonged, instead of fighting for the d---d nigger, you would not have needed help!" and there, for five days the Sergeant lay with a broken limb, unable to stir, almost dying from thirst and hunger, and nearly roasting, while day after day he watched the cool shade in its slow journey around the tree, never quite reaching him, but advancing toward him and then retreating, as though tantalizing him for his loyalty. He was finally found by our men, his limb amputated, and be still lives to tell his story.

After the war, Cliff gave a deposition on the death of Pvt. Theodore Hoffman in the Battle of Gainsville.

Cliff's great-great grand daughter Brenda Collard supplied the postwar photo at the right. 

She reports that his name was really "William Henry Cliff", and he lived in Washington DC later in life. 



Return to 76th Roster (C)

Return to Letters from the 76th NY

Return to 76th NYSV Homepage

- Last Updated August 12, 2013