A Brief Respite

mssEC_16_200 - let execution be respited.jpg

Caldwell  Washn June 4th 630 P.M. 1862
For Appian Let execution of sentence
of Daily Margraff and Harrington be
respited till further order from me
they remaining in close custody mean
while Bethune Rosetta Hot dusty awful

This telegraph has been published elsewhere (Bethune in this case stands in for Lincoln), but it’s hard to find further information about what happened to these deserters. The men were members of the 146th New York Volunteers, and complaints were made in New York that recruiters enlisted men for 3 year periods when they thought they were committing to 6 or 8 months. This reprieve from Lincoln, coming a day before their scheduled execution, may be the product of a letter that Alfred J. Bloor sent to Charles Sumner on behalf of Margraff’s father.

Just a reminder that Decoding the Civil War is also on Instagram, where we are sharing highlights from the Huntington collections, such as this photograph of deserters about to be shot.

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One response to “A Brief Respite”

  1. Suzanne Antippas says :

    Please check the date of this telegram, there were three soldiers named Daly or Dailey, Harrington and Margraf in the 146th NY Inf. but none were enlisted in the service before August, 1862 and none were in the 146th NY Inf before May 4, 1863. The date of the pardon must be a very cramped 63 rather than a 62. Don’t you have ways to check this in context?

    According to the roster of Civil War soldiers included in the Reports of the New York State Adjutant General — these are not always accurate, but usually are accurate or at least helpful — here are the brief listings of their service, but no desertion, court marshal or pension is mentioned:

    Enos Daly a/k/a Enos Dailey was mustered into the 5th New York Infantry at age 34 on Aug. 4, 1862 to serve a term of three years. He was transferred May 4 1863 to the 146th NY Infantry.


    John H Harrington age 21 enlisted August 11, 1862 at New York City and was mustered in as private the next day August 12 1862 in the 5th NY Inf. On May 4, 1863, he was transferred to the 146th NY Inf.


    Philip Margraff age 22 enlisted August 7 1862 at New York City and was mustered in the same day to the 5th NY Inf. to serve 3 years. He was tranferred May 4, 1863 to the 146th NY Inf.


    In the 146th NY Inf their state roster records are:

    Enos Daly, transferred to the 146th NY Inf unassigned May 4, 1863. No further record.


    John H Harrington was assigned to Co I, 146th NY Inf and was captured in action May 5, 1864 at the Wilderness VA; he was paroled (released on conditions from imprisonment) no date and was mustered out June 3m 1865 near Alexandria VA.


    Philip Margraf was unassigned at the 146th NY Inf. and was mustered out July 1, 1865 at Fort Delaware, DE.


    These men’s service records for both the 5th NY and the 146th NY Inf. should be available in the National Archives in Washington DC and they could be expected to reflect the desertions, court martials and pardons, referenced by notations on the file jackets holding their records. In addition, John H Harrington and Philip W Margraf’s widow both successfully applied for Civil War pensions and those records could explain the situation as well and are likely available at the NARA in Washington DC. I’m their frequently and will check fo them on my next visit.

    My only observation at this point is that these three men were all recruited in New York City and were mustered in to their regiment almost immediately after enlistment..

    The New York State roster cards for the men on fold3 have the following descriptions:

    Daly, Enos also “Dailey”: Born in NY City, age 34, Carpenter, hazel eyes, dark hair, dark complexion, 5’6″

    John H Harrington: Born in Morrisania NY, age 21, hat maker, blue eyes, light hair, fair complexion 5’6″

    Margraf, Philip: born in New York City, age 22, mechanic, blue eyes, light hair, light complexion, 5’6″

    Do you have the text of the letter written on behalf of his father? or a reference to it? Censuses indicate that he was born to German immigrants.

    Enos Dailey/Daly is hard to track in the census because there are many listings for Dailey, Daley, Daly and other spelling variants of his first name in censuses for men in that age range. By assuming that his enlistment age as reported by the Adj Genl was incorrect, I’ve found a New Yorker born in Ireland whose name is spelled variously Anos, Eneas, Eaneis, Eneus and Enos and Daley, Daly, Daily and Dailey born around 1835 in Ireland, as was his wife Ellen. HOWEVER, the NY State military service card on fold3 for Enos Daly states that he was born in New York City and is a carpenter, so I don’t believe this was the same person.

    The fact that Margraf and Harrington were discharged in 1865 indicates that they were not executed and we know that at least Harrington was returned to service as he was captured by the CSA in 1864 in combat. Margraf might have remained with the regiment but been given duties that did not require assignment to a specific Company.

    The fact that Enos Dailey/Daly has no further record that I have yet found is troubling and you wonder if he might have been executed despite the pardon. But there is a list of all soldiers executed in the Union Army for desertion or other crimes, and Daly/Dailey is not on that list. http://genealogytrails.com/ohio/athens/civil_war_soldiers_executed.htm
    I have seen omissions and errors in the New York Adj. Genl rosters before and wonder if this is one. The only solution will be to see if he has a Civil War Compiled Service Record on file in the National Archives in Washington DC.

    The dates recorded in the NY roster indicate that it is possible the men deserted or were delayed in the transition between he 5th NY Inf and the 146th NY Inf. or immediately thereafter. When soldiers were sent from one regiment to another or discharged from a general hospital under orders to return to their regiments, an opportunity to desert without attracting immediate attention was presented. All three men appear to have completed 9 months of service with the 5th NY Inf before the incident occurred.

    The Pension records and the Civil War Service records for these men will perhaps reveal the whole story.

    Lincoln was known for his compassionate pardons issued to young soldiers convicted of desertion or sleeping on duty, to the displeasure of some of his generals.


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