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Jenkins, Horace

HORACE JENKINS
173rd New York Volunteers
Corporal, Company H
Yaphank


Horace Jenkins
173rd New York Volunteers
Corporal, Company H
Yaphank

Horace Jenkins grew up in Yaphank with his parents, David and Pricilla. He was one of three children. His brother, David, was a member of the 47th New York State Militia. It seemed natural for Horace to enlist, so he joined the 173rd New York Volunteers for three years on September 2, 1862. He was eighteen years old at the time, stood five feet five inches tall, and had blue eyes and dark hair.

Colonel C.B. Morton organized the 173rd regiment at Rikers Island in New York on November 10, 1862. After a brief training period, the regiment was sent to Louisiana on the transport Cumberland.

The regiment, assigned to an army commanded by General Nathaniel Banks, was stationed at Indian Village, Louisiana, for January and February of 1863. The military plan was for Banks to attack the Confederate stronghold at Port Hudson, while General Ulysses S. Grant would attack Vicksburg to the north. Capturing these two cities would open the Mississippi River to Union gunboats, essentially cutting the Confederacy in two.

Jenkins, Horace
Soldier's barracks just outside of Port Hudson.

The 173rd NY saw action for the first time at Fort Bisland. This was part of the first Bayou Teche Campaign, during which they suffered seven casualties. The regiment then focused on its main objective, Port Hudson. On May 27 and 28, the 173rd was part of a force that attacked the outer trenches held by the Confederates. The attack failed and the 173rd dug in for a siege that lasted forty-eight days. On June 14, 1863, the Union forces again tried to assault the Confederates at Port Hudson. In some of the fiercest fighting of the war, they were forced back into their rifle pits. The unburied bodies of their comrades sheltered them from enemy fire. Here they stayed for twenty days, unable to bury the dead as no truce with the Confederates could be reached.


Confederate positions after the failed Union attack of May 27th
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On July 1, 1863, Jenkins was promoted to Corporal. Seven days later, Corporal Jenkins and his regiment once again took part in the assault of Port Hudson. Word reached the Confederates that night that Vicksburg had surrendered to Grant. Realizing their situation was hopeless, the Confederates surrendered on July 9, 1863.

In the fall of 1863, the regiment participated in the second Teche Campaign and was involved in a number of actions. In January, Jenkins was detached from the regiment to guard ammunition at the town of Franklin.

Jenkins rejoined the regiment in time to take part in the Red River Campaign, designed to invade and defeat Confederate forces in Texas. The Union expedition had advanced 150 miles up the Red River when Confederate forces attacked them. On April 9, the Battle of Pleasant Hill took place. The 173rd was assigned to the left flank, which was overrun by Confederate forces. Union forces rallied and defeated the Confederates. In the meantime, however, 50 men died and 150 were captured from the 173rd. Banks, not liking his position, decided to retreat down the Red River. Confederate forces followed. On May 16, 1864, an artillery battle began with Union forces, driving the Confederates from the field. After this defeat, the Confederates no longer posed a threat.

In July, the regiment was sent to Boliver Heights in West Virginia and was attached to the Army of the Shenendoah. They served as part of the defenses at Washington until the war ended. On June 25, 1865, they embarked on the steamship Northern Light and finished the war as occupying troops in Savannah, Georgia.

Horace Jenkins was mustered out on October 18, 1865, in Savannah, Georgia.


Union assault against Port Hudson on May 27, 1863.

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