COL. SILAS TITUS 122nd NY Vol. Onondaga Regiment
(b. 1811 - d. 1899)
This is a bio of my G.G.G. Grandfather: Col. Silas Titus, a prominent resident of Onondoga County in the mid to late 1800's.
Silas was born on May 30th, 1811 in Wolcott, Wayne County, New York. His father Stephen and mother Sarah died when he was only three years old. His uncle Platt Titus wrapped him in a blanket and carried him on horseback to his farm in Cato, Cayuga County New York.
Silas decided not to become a farmer like his uncle and was hired as a clerk in 1827 at the general store of W. S. Inghams. The same year he was commissioned as Deputy Post Master of Cato, NY. He worked at the store until 1832 when he moved to Detroit, Michigan to look for a job with $50 in
his pocket. That year he voted for Andrew Jackson for President. Silas was successful finding work and in 1833 he went into business for himself.
In 1835 he took a stage coach to New York City going through Buffalo and Albany. While in Albany he saw the first railroad in New York running from Schenectady to Albany. The new technology impressed Silas so much that when he returned to Detroit he organized a town meeting that approved building a railroad from Detroit to Ypsilanti. This was the first 30 mile continuous stretch of railroad in the United States!
In 1837 he married Eliza McCarthy, daughter of Thomas and Percy McCarthy (Percy's maiden name was Soule and is reportedly a direct descendant of passengers of the Mayflower).
He returned to New York in 1840 and settled in Salina outside of Syracuse. He went into business with Dennis McCarthy operating a general store for ten years. In 1850 he was appointed by the Supervisors of Onondaga County to the position of Superintendent of the Penitentiary. He held that
position for seven years when he decided to go into the lumber business with Dennis McCarthy. The 1860 Federal Census lists Silas Titus' occupation as a Lumber Merchant. He stayed in the lumber business until 1861 when the Civil War began.
CIVIL WAR SERVICE
In the first few weeks of the Civil War, Silas(7) enlisted in Syracuse as a member of the 12th New York regiment and went to the front. The 12th was the first New York regiment raised and equipped after President Lincoln first called for state troops. The regiment rushed to Washington to prepare to advance on the confederacy. At 4 o'clock the morning following the 12th NY's arrival in Washington, President Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward drove out to the camp in a carriage. The President personally thanked the officers of the 12th New York saying "I'm glad to see you here boys". He then shook the hand of every solider in the regiment.
The regiment moved out of the Washington camp to Albany, Virginia until July 1861 when it advanced on the enemy at the first battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia. The 12th New York took light casualties in the battle including the first man killed of the Army of the Potomac in the war.
After the battle the regiment retreated back to Washington with the rest of the Union army to regroup. Soon after Bull Run, Silas was made Adjutant of General Duncan Peck's staff and held that position untill the battle of Seven Pines in June 1862.
In July of 1862 he took a leave of absence due to poor health and went home to Syracuse. While he was home recovering he was chosen to be Colonel of the new 122nd NY Volunteer regiment that was being raised at the time. The following are articles clipped from the local newspaper during the summer of 1862:
7/16/62 "SERENADE TO CAPT. TITUS - A large number of the personal friends of Capt. Silas Titus "irrespective of party", called at his residence on Burnet street last evening, accompanied by Dresser's Brass Band, and complimented with a hearty welcome home. Capt. Titus responded in a neat little speech, briefly referring to the recent stirring events on the Peninsula, the bravery and
heroic bearing of our gallant army under the most trying circumstances, and to the high military qualities of the General commanding, as also to those of our townsmen Gens. Peck and Slocum. His remarks were heartily applauded. The Band played "Home, Sweet Home" and other familiar airs.
Capt. Titus threw open his house to friends, and they received from him a warm personal greeting."
7/18/62 "COLONEL TITUS - The Military Committee of the Twenty second Senatorial District, at their meeting last evening, unanimously recommended Silas Titus, of this city, to Governor Morgan for the position of Colonel of the new regiment being raised in this county under the late call for
additional troops. We think this selection will give very general satisfaction. Capt. Titus has been with the army from the commencement of the war, and for the past ten months has occupied a position on the staff of Gen. John. J. Peck. He has greatly distinguished himself by activity, energy and daring, and his gallant service in the field at Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Fair Oaks and White Oak Swamp
have been brought before Government by his superiors in command, and are duly recognized. His name will increase the enthusiasm which is already swelling in our midst, and we think we can safely predict that, should the recommendation of the committee be sanctioned by the Governor, within a
very brief period the third regiment from Onondaga will be fully prepared and equipped for the field."
8/9/62 "COL TITUS - The commandant of the Syracuse military depot has been confined to his house for several days, by illness doubtless produced by over work and excitement. He has, however, continued the discharge of the general duties of his office, and will probably resume active outdoor duties on Monday."
8/16/62 "COLONEL OF THE NEW REGIMENT - There is an impression prevalent that the Colonelcy of the Third Onondaga regiment is not filled definitely. We understand that the matter has been settled,- the Senatorial Military Committee having recommended the appointment of Col. Silas
Titus, and the Governor having approved the selection. It is perhaps a question whether, under the Secretary of War's recent order, that "no officer now in the field will, under any circumstances be detailed to accept a new command," he is not shut out from accepting the position,- he holding and
appointment on Gen. Peck's staff."
8/18/62 "COL. TITUS - The commandant of the new Onondaga regiment is slowly recovering from his recent illness. He rode out yesterday, and this morning met with the Military Committee. He hopes to be at Camp Andrews tomorrow."
Col. Titus and the new 122nd NY Vol. regiment arrived at the front just in time for the battle of Antietem. They were positioned on the far left flank of the enemy and were fortunate not to have been directly engaged in what was one of the most deadliest battles of the war.
Three months after Antietem, on December 13th, the 122nd found themselves supporting the Pennsylvania Reserves in the assault on Fredricksburg Heights. They spent four hours under artillery fire with only four men wounded at the end of the day. The following is a clipping from a local
Syracuse newspaper after Fredricksburg:
"NARROW ESCAPE OF COL. TITUS - From correspondence of the New York Herald, dated "Below Fredericksburg, 7th inst.," we learn that Col. Silas Titus. of the 122nd, had a very narrow
escape on the afternoon of that day. The picket firing the day be fore had been almost continuous, but on the 7th the rebels slackened up a little, and only when mounted officers rode out to reconnoiter did they manifest their sharp-shooting proclivities. Col. Titus galloped to the front, to see how matters stood, when an entire volley of English lead was fired at him, but though the balls came
uncomfortably near him, he escaped unhurt."
In the summer of 1863, the 122nd NY was a part of First Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Corps. The night of July 1, the 6th corps raced double time all night up the Baltimore Pike towards the sounds of distant artillery fire. As the regiment crossed the Pennsylvania - Maryland line, the regimental flag unfurled to the breeze and the drum corps played "Yankee Doodle". Everyone was aware of the
importance of the imminent battle on Northern soil. At about 4 o'clock the corps reached the Gettysburg battlefield where they were held in reserve for the night to allow the tired troops some much needed sleep.
They were engaged in the Battle of Gettysburg on the Morning of July 3rd on the north side of the battlefield in the area of Cemetery Hill and Culps Hill. In the afternoon of the 3rd the 122nd NY was held in reserve behind the Union right during Pickett's charge. The following is a report describing the 122nd NY in the battle, written by Brigadier-General Alexander Shaler, commander of the First
Brigade, Third Division, sixth Corps:
HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., THIRD DIV., SIXTH CORPS.
"MAJOR: I have the honor to hand you the following report of the movements and operations of the several regiments of this brigade while under command of Brigadier-General Geary, during the action of the morning of July 3:
At 9 a.m. the One hundred and twenty-second New York Volunteers, Col. Silas Titus commanding, was directed to relieve the One hundred and eleventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, then occupying a position in the front line. Finding the breastworks had been hastily vacated by that regiment, they were immediately reoccupied by the One hundred and twenty-second, and held by them, under
severe fire of the enemy, until relieved by the Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers at 11.30 a.m.
At 9.20 a.m. the Twenty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieut. Col. John F. Glenn commanding, was placed in position as support to, and 150 yards in rear of, the front line. After about three hours, five companies were, by direction of General Geary, reported to the lieutenant-colonel commanding a regiment of the Second Division, Twelfth Corps.
These companies, being deployed in rear of the works, were, under a galling fire of musketry, advanced into them. Owing to the heavy fire immediately opened by the enemy, the design of feeling them with skirmishes was found impracticable. Skirmishes were advanced, however, about 15
paces, but were shortly afterward withdrawn.
At 11 a.m. the Sixty-seventh New York Volunteers, Col. Nelson Cross commanding, marched into the woods and forward to the breastworks, from which the enemy were then fleeing. They succeeded in capturing about 20 prisoners.
At 11.15 o'clock the Sixty-fifth New York Volunteers, Col. Joseph E. Hamblin commanding, occupied a position as support to the Twenty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, of this brigade.
At 11.30 a.m. the Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, Col. I. C. Basset commanding, advanced to the front line, relieving the One hundred and twenty second New York, and occupying the position until relieved by a portion of General Geary's command at about 3 p. m. At this hour the
brigade was reformed under my command.
I annex a list of killed, wounded, and missing during the engagements.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Alexander Shaler, Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade"
Shortly after Gettysburg Silas was ordered to serve as Provost Marshal of the General Court Marshal in Trenton, New Jersey.
5/6/64 "COLONEL TITUS A PROVOST MARSHAL - The Baldwinville Gazette states that it is informed that Col. Titus of the 122d regiment, has been detailed as Assistant Provost General for the State of New Jersey, and is located at Trenton."
9/5/64 "THE VOICE OF A WAR DEMOCRAT - Col Silas Titus of the 122d, made a rousing speech at the war meeting yesterday afternoon. He made a plain talk to the Peace Democrats, who
in his eyes, as in those of all true soldiers, were loathsome objects of pity. The Colonel proclaimed that he had always been a Democrat, is now a Democrat and always will be a Democrat, and that Abraham Lincoln was as good a Democrat as there is in the land, and so good a one that he (Col. T.) as a Democrat could give him his most hearty and cordial support.
After serving one year as a member of the court martial he resigned and returned to Syracuse. He was very active in the organization of the city of Syracuse and served as Alderman for two years and Supervisor in 1865. In the battle of Fort McGruder a rebel flag was captured and was kept by Col.
Titus for several years after the war. Col. Titus' son Silas W. took the flag back to Virginia and presented it to "those entitled to receive it".
In the late 1890's, he lived with his son Silas W. in Brooklyn. In 1899 there was a fire in his son's home (caused by Col. Titus smoking on the couch) and Col Titus was dragged to safety by his daughter-in-law. He died two weeks later on October 4, 1899.
1. Obituary of Col Silas Titus, Syracuse newspaper
2. Pioneer Irish of Onondaga, 1911, Theresa Bannan
3. Local newspaper articles
4. Civil War archived documents
Photos of Col. Silas TITUS at http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyononda/FAMILY/titus/titus.html