121st Regiment of New York Infantry

Descendants Association


Upton's Regulars: The 121st New York Infantry in the Civil War by Salvatore G. Cilella, Jr. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2009. 1st edition, 592p., illustrations.


From Cooperstown and its surrounding region, upstate New Yorkers responded to President Lincoln's call to service by volunteering in droves to defend an imperiled Union. Drawn from the farms and towns of Otsego and Herkimer counties, the 121st New York State Volunteer Infantry Regiment served with the VI Corps in the Army of the Potomac throughout the Civil War. In the first comprehensive history of the regiment in nearly ninety years, Salvatore Cilella chronicles the epic story of this heroic "band of brothers."

Led for much of the war by the legendary Emory Upton, the 121st deployed nearly 1,900 men into battle, participated in 25 major engagements, from Antietam to Sailor's Creek, won six Medals of Honor, took several battle flags, and led the charge at Spotsylvania. Cilella now tells their story, viewing the war through upstate New Yorkers' eyes not only to depict three grueling years of fighting but also to reveal their distinctive attitudes regarding slavery, war goals, politics, and the families they left behind. Cilella mines primary sources from more than 120 soldiers to weave a compelling narrative that traces the 121st from enlistment through the horrors of battle and back to civilian life. Their words vividly recount the experience of combat, but also rail against Washington bureaucrats and commanding generals. Many were upset with those who suggested that Emancipation was the war's primary cause, declaring their fight to be for the Union rather than freed slaves, but they also scorned any Northerners who sympathized with the Confederates.


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