April 12, 2011
Soldiers leave Civil War legacy
War’s 150th anniversary highlights the 1,500 from area who served
It was nearly a week after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, marked 150 years ago today, that Cortland County mobilized for war.
Out of a county population of 26,000 at the time, 4,427 enrolled to fight, according to Homer resident Edmund Raus Jr.’s Civil War book “Banners South.”
On April 20, 1861, a meeting held in the Cortland County Courthouse was a pivotal moment for the county, Raus said.
The attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, marked the beginning of hostilities. Sumter’s fall on April 13 and President Abraham Lincoln’s call for war, led to general support for military action.
Rause said the meeting rallied everyone in Cortland, regardless of party affiliation, to support the war effort.
“Before, they didn’t take the threat of war seriously, they thought it was going to be a fight that would not last that long ... but the meeting brought everyone together,” Raus said.
The county enrolled about one fifth of its population to the armed services, with about 1,500 eventually serving.
The county lost just over 300 soldiers to battlefield deaths or illness and had about 300 more soldiers wounded during service.
Cortland County residents served in the 12th, 23rd, 76th, 157th and 185th regiments.
Leading the 76th regiment was Dryden native Major Andrew Jackson Grover. Among those serving under him was then-22-year-old Pitcher native Pvt. William Jarvis Crozier.
Crozier survived the war, but not before enduring seven months in a Confederate prison after they captured him during a battle in 1864 at Wilderness, Va.
Two years before that, he had been wounded in a battle at Andersonville, Va., and spent five months recovering in a Union hospital.
Pvt. William Crozier was attached to the first group of Union troops that saw action on the first day of Gettysburg.
Studying the Civil War became a 40-year passion of Pvt. William Crozier’s descendant, 62-year-old Cortlandville resident Richard Crozier.
“Boys from Cortland had been in service two years, so they were pretty seasoned by then,” Richard Crozier said. “Before (Gettysburg), most of the victories were Confederate because the North was not prepared for war.”
Cortland County lost 115 to battle deaths and 190 from illness related to their service during the Civil War.
Total Union wartime casualties were 140,414, compared to 72,524 for the Confederacy.
On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, Cortland lost 30 men and 90 more were wounded with another 35 captured at Gettysburg, according to Raus.
Among those killed in the battle’s opening day was Grover, a minister who left his calling in his 30s to enter the armed services.
The body of Grover was later retrieved by a Cortland newspaper editor of the time, C.P. Cole, who recounted the mission in The Gazette & Banner in July 1863.
According to Cole’s account, Grover was killed after his horse was shot out from under him. Shot in the leg, arm and chest, Grover died on the field after telling his fellow soldiers not to carry him any further.
Cole described the search for Grover’s body on the battlefield in Gettysburg, the carnage of the war’s aftermath and the circumstances surrounding Grover’s death as recounted by fellow soldiers in a hospital he visited.
Those who see photographs of Richard Crozier often mistake him for Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The resemblance, he says, is an amusing coincidence, but he often portrays Lee in lectures and events.
Richard Crozier said the Civil War’s legacy can be easily measured after 150 years: it brought a unity to the United States, which the country had not seen since its creation.
“Before the war, it was the United States ‘are’ and after it was the United States ‘is,’” Crozier said. “The North fought to preserve the country, but the South said ‘we formed the country and we can leave it.’”
Crozier said he is proud of his family’s Civil War legacy.
County Historian Jeremy Boylan and County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin are trying to get funding to add the names of 12 Civil War veteran’s from Lapeer onto the monument in Courthouse Park.
Boylan said the names of the Lapeer veterans were omitted from the plaque when the monument was dedicated.
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