by Charles J. Larocca
Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. Pp. xii, 394.
Illus., notes., biblio., index. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 0786466979
Nicknamed “The Orange Blossoms,” the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry was recruited in Orange County, about 50 miles north of New York City, was mustered in to the Union Army in September of 1862, and served until the end of the war.
The 124th New York served with the Army of the Potomac. It was heavily engaged at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg (where, during the “Fall of the Orange Blossoms,” it lost its commander, Col. Augustus van Horne Ellis and his deputy, in one of the most heroic episodes of the battle), the Wilderness, the Battle of Cold Harbor, and Spotsylvania Court House, took part in the Siege of Petersburg in 1864-1865, and ended the war at Appomattox Courthouse. Despite arriving at the front relatively late, the 124th New York earned itself a place in “Fox’s 300,” the list Union regiments that suffered the heaviest casualties in the war.
Oddly, despite an impressive record, the 124th New York never had a proper regimental history, until now. LaRocca, a retired secondary and university history teacher who has several books in military history to his credit, has written what is the properly documented history of the regiment. He draws not only upon the wartime paperwork and records, but also private papers, letters, and diaries, official publications, newspapers, and, of course, books and articles. This wealth of source materials allows LaRocca to shift easily from the “Big Picture” to the small. So his account of marches and battles is liberally seasoned with glimpses of soldier life, profiles of individual men from Ellis down to ordinary privates, vignettes of battles, and more. The personnel roster identifies hundreds of officers and men who served in the regiment, often in some detail
Well written, with many illustrations, and a number of useful maps, The 124th New York State Volunteers in the Civil War is an excellent addition to the regimental literature of the war.