Sixth New York Cavalry, Company F


John Carwardine. Captain. Age 34. John Carwardine was from a noble family in Essex, England. His father, The Reverend John Carwardine, was rector at Earls Colne and his uncle, Henry Holgate Carwardine, was Lord of the Manor. As the second son of a second son, he did not expect to inherit the Earldom, so he chose a military life and he had served in the British Army during the Crimean War. He came to New York in 1861 to join the Union Army, although his precise motives are not recorded. Many British soldiers came to America to fight in the Civil War, some looking for the adventure, others because they supported the antislavery cause of the North. Shortly after arriving in New York, Carwardine enrolled in the 6th New York Cavalry and was commissioned as the Captain of Company F on October 24, 1861. Popular with the men of Company F, his previous military experience was recognized and he was quickly promoted to Major. The command of Company then passed on to Captain Diodate Hannahs on November 11th. Although he did not join the Third Battalion in action on the Peninsula, his combat prowess was quickly demonstrated and he was mentioned in dispatches for a small skirmish at Loudoun Heights, Virginia on October 21/22nd 1862. It may have been in this fighting that he received his only wound, a saber cut to the leg. Five months after this action Carwardine resigned, possibly when his father became ill. In a letter to his senior officer, Carwardine writes: “It being expedient that I should visit my home in England on business of some importance, I hereby tender my resignation and respectfully request an honorable discharge from the service of the United States…” He returned to England and in 1864 married Henrietta Railton. The couple had two sons and a daughter. Carwardine eventually inherited the family estate and became Lord of the Manor. He died of throat cancer in 1889 and is buried next to his father in Earls Colne churchyard in Essex, England. As an interesting side-note, his cousin, English writer Anne Gilchrist, is known for her romantic connection to American poet Walt Whitman.

Diodate Cushman Hannahs. First Lieutenant. Age 22. Diodate Hannahs (known as “Date” to his friends) was born in Otsego County New York. After his mother died when he was four, his father moved to Brooklyn. He went to Yale University, was graduated in 1859 and shortly thereafter joined a law firm in New York City. He joined the 6th New York Cavalry in August 1861 as First Lieutenant of Company F. After John Carwardine was prompted to Major on November 11th, Date was promoted to the rank of Captain and took over command of Company F. Date’s Yale classmates celebrated his promotion by presenting him with a Cavalry saber. While preparing for departure to Fort Monroe in March 1862, one of Captain Hannahs’ fellow Yale students, Second Lieutenant Edward P. McKinney of Company G, got permission to transfer to Company F. Although not classmates at Yale, he and Hannahs had forged a strong bond. McKinney recalled, “Captain Hannahs was the dearest friend I ever had outside my immediate family. We were tent mates and constant companions, sharing whatever good things came to either. He had a fine literary taste and we spent our evenings sometimes till late reading to each other. Our souls were knit together …” Hannahs was also popular with his men. Elbert Edwards from Bridgehampton observed “Lieutenant Hannahs is to be our Capt. He is a very pleasant man and tries to do all in his power to make us comfortable and contented.” After the failure of General McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign in 1862 and the withdrawal of most of the Union forces from the Peninsula, a small force, including Company F remained near Williamsburg, under the overall command of General Keyes.

General Keyes had requested that Hannahs join his staff in Yorktown, approximately 12 miles south of Williamsburg. At dawn on the morning of Saturday September 9, a Confederate cavalry force attacked Williamsburg, scattering the Union troops there. General Keys quickly ordered Captain Hannahs to Williamsburg to restore order. Once there, a thief tried to take Hannahs horse and when he resisted, the thief pulled out his pistol and shot the Captain in the neck. The pistol’s ball entered Hannahs’ throat from above and lodged in his lungs. Lieutenant McKinney, also sent by General Keys to Williamsburg, found his friend mortally wounded and unable to speak. McKinney remained by Hannahs' side until evening, then he returned to Yorktown to report to General Keyes. After midnight, McKinney made the approximate 15 mile return trip to be with his friend. "He died in my arms about an hour after my return." The next day the saddened McKinney sought a coffin for his friend and General Keyes sent an ambulance to bring the lifeless Hannahs back to Yorktown. From there, McKinney returned to Brooklyn with Date’s body. A funeral service for Date was held on September 14th at the South Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn and he was buried with military honors at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

George Augustus Crocker. Lieutenant. Age 31. Born in Taunton, Massachusetts, George attended Brown University but was unable to graduate when his family’s iron business moved to New York before the war. On April 19, 1861, he enlisted as a “30-dayvolunteer” in the 7th Regiment, New York State Militia (also known as the “Silk Stocking Regiment”). The 7th played a vital role early in the war, securing the railroad connection between Baltimore and Washington on April 24–25. After completing his commitment in June, he immediately re-enlisted and was commissioned into the Ira Harris Cavalry as First Lieutenant. As the Ira Harris Cavalry evolved into the 5th and 6th New York Cavalry, he was assigned to Company F of the 6th New York Cavalry after Date Hannahs was promoted to Captain in September. He was noticed by Colonel Devin and was promoted to Captain of Company A in June 1862. Devin wrote of Crocker’s promotion as “… a debt owed to him by the Reg. as the officer who more than any other single one had contributed to the proper organizing and disciplining of the command.” As further recognition of the Colonel’s reliance on Crocker, he was sent on a recruiting mission to New York in July 1862. Active in the Regiment’s fighting, he was captured at Brandy Station, Virginia on October 11, 1863. Like other’s taken prisoner at that time, he was sent to the Salisbury Prison in North Carolina. He survived the horrible conditions there, was exchanged at Wilmington on March 1, 1865 and discharged two months later. Returning to the family business after the war, he was given an honorary degree from Brown and was married to Leah Reese on January 26, 1875. They had three children. He died of arteriosclerosis at his Manhattan home on October 20, 1906 and is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Robert Crozier. Lieutenant. Age 19. Robert Crozier, a native of Ireland, was 11 when he arrived in New York from Liverpool on August 19, 1854 aboard the Ed Stanley with his mother, brother George and two younger sisters. He enlisted on October 24, 1861 in the 6th New York Cavalry with the rank of Second Lieutenant and assigned to Company F. Robert was at the Vanderbilt Landing Ferry Dock to greet the East End recruits when they arrived in November 1861. Although the Lieutenant was the same age as the young men, Alonzo Foster observed that Crozier was “exceedingly boyish in appearance”. Despite his youthful appearance, Robert Crozier proved to be a capable leader. Colonel Devin remarked, “I think highly of him as an industrious, brave and reliable young officer”, and was promoted to First Lieutenant on June 27, 1862. In May 1863, the 6th New York Cavalry was ordered to assist a Union force (including the 127th New York Infantry) in an advance to West Point, Virginia, an important river landing at the head of the York River. After arriving at West Point on May 7th, the cavalry started towards White House where it ran into an ambush. As the New Yorkers charged the Rebels hiding behind a tree-line, Lieutenant Crozier’s horse was shot from under him and he was killed when his horse fall upon him. Originally buried near West Point on May 16,1863, his body was moved by his family to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery in September 1908, where he remains.

Enlisted Men

Milton Bennett. Age 20. Milton Bennett was from the Springs area of East Hampton, working as a farm laborer before the war. He enlisted in October 1861 and was assigned to Company F. His younger brother, George, enlisted in the 11th New York Cavalry in December of the same year. Some sources list Milton as being killed at Gettysburg. In fact his unit was near Williamsburg, Virginia at that time. He was still with the 6th New York Cavalry in 1864, when, during the confused fighting at Trevalian Station on June 12, Milton Bennett went missing in action. Whether he had been wounded and died alone in the woods or been captured and died as a prisoner, is unknown. Fortunately, his body was found and returned to his family. He is buried in Amagansett Cemetery. It was a shock to his friend Alonzo Foster that Milton was dead. After the war Alonzo wrote: “He had shared my blanket, my tent, and my confidence for three years, and was ever by my side in camp, on the march or in battle…”

Sylvester H. Bennett. Age 34. Sylvester H. Bennett was married, working as a farmer and sawyer in Southold when he enlisted in February 1864, assigned to Company F. It is unclear what may have prompted the brown-eyed, 5’ 8” tall Sylvester to enlist. Perhaps the new draft laws may have been a factor. A distant relative of Milton Bennett, also assigned to Company F, they may have fought together at Trevilian Station in June of 1864. Sylvester survived the war and returned to East Hampton. His first wife, Mary may have died in 1867 and Sylvester moved to Branford, Connecticut where he was working as a fisherman in 1870. In Connecticut he met his second wife, Henrietta, and Sylvester found work as an engineer at the I. S. Spencer’s Sons iron foundry in Guilford, Connecticut. He died of “old age” on January 26, 1911 and is buried in Alder Brook Cemetery in Guilford.

John Byron. Age 17. John may have been born in Germany and was working as a farmer for E. T. Halsey in Bridgehampton when he enlisted in the Army in 1861. Standing 5’ 3” tall, with brown eyes and dark hair, he was assigned to Company F. After re-enlisting with the Regiment in October 1863, he received his re-enlistment bonus of $300 on March 22, 1864. In October 1864 he was listed as sick at the Army’s massive cavalry depot, known as Camp Stoneman, located at Giesboro Point, Washington, D.C. Over 200,000 horses passed through the Giesboro depot during the war. Still listed as sick in a Philadelphia hospital, he was discharged as disabled from the Army on June 27, 1865. He died on August 27, 1867 in Bridgehampton, where he is buried.

John Devine. Age 19. John Devine (also known as Divine), possibly from West Chester, New York, was working as a laborer in Southampton before the war. Listed as 5’ 7” tall with gray eyes and a fair complexion, he enlisted at Good Ground on October 15, 1861 as a private in Company F. Although he was reported missing in action at Berryville, Virginia on September 4, 1864, he had in fact been captured and was sent to Libby Prison in Richmond. While in prison, he suffered from a debilitating case of rheumatism that plagued him the rest of his life. He was released from prison at the end of the war and was in the hospital when he was mustered out of the Army on August 9, 1865. He was living as a boarder with Jebial J. and Kate Squires in 1865, but there is little record of him thereafter. He filed for disability in 1890 and he is mentioned in a Brooklyn Daily Eagle article about Good Ground veterans on May 9, 1895. A John Devine (maybe the 6th New York Cavalry veteran?), is recorded as dying on May 30, 1915 and buried in Central Islip.