No Gentlemen Soldiers Needed; Col. Stuart Praised

By Rich MacAlpine

As Gleaned from the Yates County Chronicle, January 16, 1862

Weitzel Henderson of Jerusalem, a member of the Company A of the 50th Engineers, wrote a letter to the Chronicle: “We have not (as reported by the Penn Yan Democrat) received our Sharps rifles although new uniforms are on hand and have been distributed accordingly. But as for Sharps Rifles or ‘carbines’ or any other weapon more effective than the Harper’s Ferry muskets, they exist only in the hazy visions of the future! Moreover, Mr. Editor – If you have any more men in Yates County who think of enlisting with the idea of serving as gentlemen soldiers, or acting as Colonel’s clerk, or perchance as private secretaries to Gen. McClellan, just hint to them  that they better remain where their anxious mamas can lead them by their apron strings and with paternal eye watch their interests. Our cause demands men who are willing to know the worst and can school their souls to meet it; men whose hearts are fired – whose arms are nerved to hunt the Hydra of the Rebellion in his native jungles. These are the men that the times require. Those designing to become gentlemen soldiers better remain at home; the alcoves of some literary institution is a more appropriate sphere.”

Col. C.B. Stuart, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

John McFarland of Branchport, also a member of the 50th Engineers, was sent home due for illness and also wrote a letter to the Chronicle about the state of his regiment: “The Regiment is commanded by Col. Charles Stuart of Geneva and is in good condition and spoken of highly by all who have had the privilege of visiting it. The Reg’t is camped on the left bank of the Potomac, near the navy yard in Washington. The site is a beautiful one and the camp is tastefully decorated with cedar trees brought from the Maryland shore. Gen. McClellan says it is the nicest camp on the whole line of the Potomac. Most of the soldiers are enjoying good health and seem determined on putting down this Rebellion and thus save our country. Especially is this the case in Company A under Captain Ford and Lieut. Robbins who are known to many readers of the Chronicle. They are good officers and do what they can to make the boys happy. Our fare is good. I wish you could see this Company march out to their meals. They are a healthy, robust set of fellows; have enough eat, drink, and wear and what more can a soldier expect? The Reg’t has never been in an engagement but are eagerly looking forward to a time when they can convince the dupes of Jeff Davis & Co. that the ‘mud-sills’ of the North possess some chivalry.”

Editor’s Note. Our Yates soldiers knew how to write!  Let us be thankful that they weren’t confined to “tweets.”  For more on the 50th Engineers, visit the excellent Blue Gray Review.

About Ray

Ray Copson worked for many years at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress before coming to Yates County in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York State. He chairs the Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee of the Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society.
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