The Civil War -- The Response of Buffalo and Erie County -- The Spanish-American War
The gathering clouds of war, building up over the country for sixteen years, burst forth with the first shot fired at Fort Sumter. Abraham Lincoln's wish to avoid a civil war was not fulfilled. The Buffalo newspapers of April 15, 1861 described the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter. The commotion which followed this report was unbelievable. On the same evening an assembly met to create an organization of minutemen for immediate deployment in the field. Well before the appointed time the great hall of the Court Building was filled to capacity. There wasn't enough room. The meeting was adjourned and they attempted to meet in "Kremlin Hall" but that wasn't big enough. Finally it took place out on the street in front of the "American House". Enthusiasm did not wane with each delay but rather grew daily. General Scroggs called a meeting on April 18th for the induction of men into the Army. A portion of the inductees organized themselves into the First Volunteer Company of Erie County with William H. Drew as their Captain. The military regiment already in existence did not lack enthusiasm either and after the call of the governor, Colonel Chauncey Abbott assembled his troops, 250 men from the 67th Regiment. Many of these men were German. The 74th and 65th Military Regiments established recruiting bureaus.
The first four companies left the city on May 3rd, traveling to Elmira. Six more companies, recruited by the 74th Regiment, followed on May 11th. The 21st New York Volunteer Regiment, the first regiment from Erie County, was also formed and placed under the command of Colonel William F. Rogers. In July 1861 a new regiment, the 49th New Yorker Infantry Regiment, was formed with recruits from Erie and Chautauqua Counties. A significant portion of these men were German. The First Battery of the First New Yorker Artillery formed in August and in September it was placed under the command of Captain Michael Wiedrich. In October the First Battery went into battle. In February 1862 sufficient recruits were assembled to deploy the 100th New Yorker Infantry Regiment. After back-to-back defeats in the Peninsula Campaign the President requested 300,000 more men. Erie County did its fair share to answer the call of duty. Within a short time the 116th Regiment was formed and on September 5th it marched to the front. The regiment had the following German officers: Adjutant John V. Weber, Sergeant J. L. Claghorn, Lieutenant Thomas Notter, Captain John M. Sizer, and Captain W. Wuerz.
There were 900 men and 31 officers total from Erie County. The Regiment took part in most of the battles and was deemed the best regiment of the 19th Corps. Six companies of the 187th Infantry were formed in September 1864. It was composed mostly of Germans who remained in the service of the United States for the 2-year duration.
The following year, 1865, brought an end to the horrible war of brother against brother. The men of Buffalo returned to peaceful activity. In just about every branch of the army, except that recruited from the West, Buffalo's sons were represented. Thousands of them had offered their blood on the altar of the fatherland for the benefit of their country and their humanity. Just as those born in this country, immigrants freely and heroically sacrificed themselves for the Stars and Stripes; they fought, they struggled, they suffered. For all the heros who sacrificed their lives for this land in the war, for those who went to the battlefields, the Soldier's Monument at Lafayette Square stands in tribute.
When President William McKinley wanted volunteers for the Spanish American War, he found Buffalo's enthusiasm second to none. The patriotism, which made soldiers of our fathers thirty years ago, burned anew in their sons. Scarcely had the ink dried on the proclamation when the soldiers of Buffalo stood ready to bear the flag and march against the enemy.
At Fort Porter, where the 13th US Regiment was garrisoned, there were many exercises and preparation for war. Their departure at the outbreak of the war with the regiment's march through Buffalo to the railway stations will be remembered, as will their glorious victories on the battlefield and their comraderie. Their enthusiasm bonded them to Buffalo, leading them to be called "Our Regiment" by the rest of the city.
Caption under picture reads The 65th Regimental Armory
In April 1898 with the outbreak of hostilities, the 13th Regiment was ordered to Tampa, Florida where it formed part of the 3rd Brigade along with the 9th and 24th Regiments. This brigade, including the 13th Regiment, was in the front line of the various skirmishes preceeding the difficult campaign of Santiago in the first week of July. On July 3rd the 13th Regiment earned its laurel wreath at the memorable battle at San Juan. Casualties were heavy and almost all officers were killed or wounded. They camped near Santiago until they received orders to return home on September 1st. Scarcely had the regiment returned to the garrison that they were ordered to go to Manila in order to put down an uprising in the Philippenes. The role which Buffalo played in the Spanish-American War earned it as high an honor as that bestowed upon those involved in the American Revolution. Buffalo's fame is inscribed in the pages of Clio's history.
Caption under picture at upper left reads The 74th Regimental Armory
Caption under picture at bottom reads The McKinley Memorial
Map of Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier