Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An Adventuring Spirit

Union General Augustus Wade Dwight was killed March 26th 1865 in the attack on Fort Steadman.

Augustus Wade Dwight was born in Halifax, Vermont February 22nd 1827, the first child born to Morris and Minerva (Bryant) Dwight.  The family moved in 1829 so his father could practice medicine in Cummington, Massachusetts, then to Poughkeepsie, New York in 1839 and finally in 1840 to LaFayette, New York.  Dwight started at Yale College in 1851, but a lack of funds caused him leave by the second semester.  He went west to California, caught up in the gold rush.  While in California he studied for the law.  His adventuring spirit found him on a ship to Hawaii, then onto China, and finally back to the United States having circumnavigated the globe.  By 1859 Dwight had settle in Onondaga County, New York and had been admitted to the bar.

In 1862 when Lincoln called for more troops, Dwight volunteered.  He was made the Captain of Company E of the 122nd New York Infantry July 1862.  By August of 1862 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel under Colonel Silas Titus.  The regiment’s and Dwight’s first engagement was at the Battle of Antietam, where they were held in reserve.  The first heavy fighting came at the Battle of Gettysburg on Culp’s Hill.  Dwight sent reports of the war to the “Syracuse Journal” a local newspaper, as well as writing letters to relatives of men killed in action.  He was wounded the first time September 19th 1864 at the Battle of Opequon in the right thigh, then at the Battle of Cedar Creek a ball shattered his right wrist, and he was sent home to recover.  He rejoined his regiment in February 1865 in front of Petersburg, replacing Titus in command of the regiment.

In the early morning hours of March 26th 1865 the Confederates launched an attack on Fort Stedman, initially capturing the Union Fort.  The Union troops would retake the Fort, and in the afternoon Dwight’s regiment was ordered to take some Confederate trenches that had been weakened by the attack.  As the men moved forward, Dwight was hit in the head by artillery fire and killed instantly.  His body was returned home and is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York.

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