Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Company K, 23rd New York Infantry Procures Thanksgiving Dinner

Late November 1861 found Company K of the 23rd New York Infantry encamped on Upton's Hill near Seven Corners. The 23rd was organized in Elmira, New York in May 1861 and was nicknamed the "Southern Tier Rifles," due to the part of  New York state from which it hailed.  The regiment arrived in Washington on July 7th and initially camped at Meridian Hill.  In August, the 23rd was assigned picket and reconnaissance duties in the areas of Falls Church and Ball's Cross Roads (Ballston).  Company K soon saw its first action during a skirmishes at Ball's Cross Roads  and on Munson's Hill in late August.  Although the Confederates pulled back in force to Centreville at the end of September, small skirmishes still were regularly occurring in the area

Just before Thanksgiving, Company K was sent on a reconnoitering expedition.  The men of Company K "skirred the country round" for miles in search of rebels to capture, but did not find any. Although their primary quarry remained elusive, these New Yorkers were "determined that their steel should taste blood."  To that end, they carried out "a number of brilliant and successful, though bloody charges, upon the farm yards and hen roosts" before returning to camp.  As a result of this engagement, "a large number of feathered rebels were captured."

Needless to say, Company K had all the fowls, including turkeys, that they needed on Thanksgiving Day.

Members of the 23rd New York Infantry pose in camp. (Library of Congress)

Company K would serve in the Defenses of Washington, D.C. until March 1862 when it took to the field.  The 123rd was mustered out of service on May 22, 1863 after having participated in a number of major battles including 2nd Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

Hughes, William E.  The Civil War Papers of Lt. Colonel Newton. Colby.
Washington National Republican, November 30, 1861


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