Things I have learned on the way to Atlanta – the 154th New York at Dug Gap, May 8, 1864




The 154th New York surged forward, leaving the 27th Pennsylvanians behind. “As [we] neared the summit,” Major L. D. Warner recorded, “the firing from above became more fatal, and the 27th Pa. halted and utterly refused to advance.” Similarly, the 73rd Pennsylvania on the 154th’s left, though they “did some better, . . . could not be induced to advance to the foot of the ledge of rocks. The 154th, although losing men at every moment, advanced steadily to the foot of the glacis,” just short of the crest. Gathering themselves for a final push, the New Yorkers made for the summit, only to discover that “the failure of the 27th” to join in “exposed [us] to a deadly fire . . . from the right flank.” Warner and his fellow New Yorkers crested opposite the Confederate 2nd Kentucky Cavalry’s left, planting their colors, at least for a time.[1]

“When within easy firing distance,” recollected Rebel Pvt. Austin Peay in Company A of the 2nd Kentucky, “our line opened fire, and the crest blazed in sheeted flame.” Highly visible amid the rocks, the 154th’s colors became the vortex of a maelstrom of death. Corp. Lewis Bishop, carrying the national flag, was shot in the head, killed instantly. Sgt. Augustus Shippey snatched that flag, only to immediately fall dead as well. “Corp. T. E. Aldrich . . . then sprang forward and replanted the colors, standing unmoved among the whistling messengers of death for some moments. . . . [A] rebel sharpshooter brought him down . . . he died without a groan. Private Orzo C. Greeley—a distant relative of Horace Greeley, [editor] of the [New York] Tribune—then seized the colors, planting them firmly, holding the staff in his right hand. He occupied his position for a few moments and fell dead at his post.” Next, Corp. Philo A. Markham replanted the staff, when his “right arm was shattered” by a round. Finally, Sgt. Ambrose F. Arnold “seized the flag and waved it in defiance . . . until ordered away.” Unable to hold their gains, the 154th tumbled back down to the cover of the boulder-strewn lower slope. Corporal Markham’s arm was amputated later that evening.[2]


[1] “Letter from Major Warner,” 154th New York regimental file, NYSMM.

[2] Austin Peay, “The Battle of Dug Gap, GA.” Confederate Veteran, vol. 29, no. 5 (May, 1921), 182; “Letter from Major Warner,” 154th New York regimental file, NYSMM; Philo A. Markham biography, Markham Family Letters, Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA. Hereafter AHEC. Corporal Lewis Bishop had been carrying the national colors at Gettysburg as well, where he was wounded, and that flag captured on July 1 when the XI Corps was overrun.

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