A Soldier’s Grave

by Fred Ray on May 20, 2008 · 1 comment

While poking around the web the other day I came across the grave of Sergeant Rice C. Bull of the 123rd New York, which has a nice bio.

Born to a farming family in Wahington county in upstate New York, he enlisted as a Private in Company D, 123rd New York Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. He fought and was seriously wounded in his first major battle at Chancellorsville, Virginia oin May 1863. Eventually he recovered, rejoined his unit and went on to be promoted to Sergeant. After the fighting in the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, the 123rd New York was transferred from the XII Corps, Army of the Potomac, to the newly formed XX Corps in the Army of the Cumberland under General George Thomas. Sergeant Rice and the 123rd New York went on to fight in the campaign for Atlanta, General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” and on into the Carolinas.

Bull’s oft-quoted memoir, Soldiering, is considered a classic troop’s-eye view of the war. He was an perceptive man who wrote truthfully of what he saw. After the war Bull went on to a career as a railroad treasurer, dying in 1930 at the age of 88. There is more on the 123rd New York, including some recently discovered photos, here.

Looking a bit further I found his papers at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, including the draft of his recollections, which was edited and published by K. Jack Bauer in 1977; his diary; and some of his letters. I always like to look at the original documents because I find that editors often edit out the very things I’d most like to know about. There are also often other things as well, particularly if it is a unit history. For instance, while at Duke recently I went through the voluminous papers of W. A. Smith, who wrote a history of his company the Anson Guards of the 14th North Carolina. As I had hoped there was a lot of the material that he had collected for the book, including a couple of unpublished memoirs.

I hope to get by there if I’m ever up in the Albany area.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bob farrell November 27, 2008 at 8:09 pm

If you are interested in reading Bulls papers/letters I will forward transcriptions to you. I have researched the 123rd for 20 years and have compiled a great deal on the regiment.
I will be happy to share what I have

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