Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sharpshooter Diarists

Who were the diarists whose work forms the underpinning of what really happened to the First Battalion New York Sharpshooters?

Private John Farnham was the son of Dr. Charles Farnham of Clarkson, New York. Clarkson is just a bit north of Brockport, New York. John's mother was Lucy, his sister's name was Cordelia, and his brother's were Alonzo, Harvey, and Edward according to the 1860 U. S. Census. We have drawn on John's complete 1863 diary for details of the formation of the battalion and experiences of the unit in Suffolk, Virginia.

Private James Delamater Stearns was the son of Amory Stearns and lived near Jamestown, New York in the far western part of the state. His mother was Maria Delamater. After the war, James served for nine years as the police chief of Jamestown. James' full 1864 diary gives us an excellent picture of the actions of the battalion during the Wilderness campaign, Cold Harbor, and the siege of Petersburg.

Private George Lawrence was one of several sons in the large family of Alonzo Lawrence of the town of Ellington, also in the western portion of New York. George's 1863 and 1864 diary extracts provide much information on the group's actions during the Mine Run period, as well as the Wilderness and Petersburg campaigns. George's penciled overlay in the diary during 1865 allow us to glimpse the horrors of life as a Civil War prisoner.