Honey Hill, revisited

Such a sweet name, but a place that came to signify hell on earth for hundreds of men who clashed there on November 30, 1864 just inland from the coast of South Carolina. The 144th Regiment from Delaware County was there. In the thick of it was Co. G, largely made up of Middletown volunteers. At the end of the day, Co. G casualties included James Craft, Daniel Myers and James Elliott who were killed, and Silas Blish, Anthony Brown, Sidney Dury, Joseph Fuller, D. W. Gavett, William Hubbell, Albert Hulstead, James Myers, Dewitt Philips and James Weighly among the wounded.

A tamer version of this battle was reenacted at the Delaware County Historical Association in Delhi July 26, when the newly established 144th NY Regiment of living history portrayers, along with several other units, ‘fought’ a line of Confederate reenactors in an attempt to take control of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad in support of Gen. William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea. Fog, bad maps and stubborn southern fighters spelled defeat for the Union forces back in 1864. The outcome was the same in 2014.

Cheers to Capt. Brian Cornell, who has organized this band of 144th reenactors to pay tribute to Delaware County’s role in the Civil War. The group will travel to South Carolina in November to participate in another reenactment of Honey Hill at its 150th anniversary. To learn moreL info@144thnewyork.com, or visit www.144thnewyork.com.

Among the reenactors who came to Delhi were four members of the Skinner family who live at Ridgeland, SC, near what used to be known as Honey Hill. Two of them camped on the Union side for the reenactment; two on the Confederate side, reflecting the split among their ancestors who fought on opposite sides during the war.

Also participating were several men representing the 54th Masasachusetts, a regiment of black men who fought beside the 144th at Honey Hill and were later massacred at Fort Wagner, the battle brought to life in the movie “Glory.”

The 144th was raised in September of 1862. Its casualties at Honey Hill two years later were 108, including Lieut. James W. Mack, the only commissioned officer of the 144th killed in action. Total Union casualties that day were 89 men killed, 629 wounded, and 28 missing. The Confederates, under Col. Charles Colcock, sustained much lighter losses: eight killed and 39 wounded.

Fighting at Deveaux Neck, SC on Dec. 9, 1864 left 37 men of the 144th killed, wounded and missing. In February of 1865, 44 men of the regiment were killed, wounded or declared missing at James Island. The regiment was mustered out June 25, 1865.

Middletown lost 13 men of Co. G to wounds or sickness during the course of the war: Capt. William H. Stone, James A. Baker, Aaron Close, James Craft, Cornelius Delameter, James C. Elliott, Daniel W. Gavette, Jacob Haner, Daniel Henderson, Jerome Morse, Daniel Myers, John F. Smith and James Y. Thompson.