William Halsey
Recounted Civil War 
Experiences

 It appears that at least one addition local man went to war on behalf of the Union, Edmund A. Cartwright. He appears only in the History of Suffolk County and his name is not on the War Memorial.
    At the age of 87, William M. Halsey, who after the war made his living farming and as janitor for the school for 18 years, related his experiences which are on record at the Shelter Island Historical Society.
    žIn the spring or early summer of the year of 1862, President Lincoln issued an order for three hundred thousand men. On the 25th day of August, I enlisted, and on the 1st of September of that year, I was mustered into the service to serve three years of the war in Company K, 127th Regiment, New York Infantry. 
    žDuring the winter of 1862 and 1863, we were employed in Virginia making fortifications, being drilled and doing picket duty in front of Washington, DC. 
    žWhen the Spring campaign opened, our regiment with several others attached to our brigade, were sent to Suffolk, Virginia in April. We soon has an army there of 50,000. The confederate general Longstreet had a large force along the Nansemond River. While there we had a battle with him, the result was he retreated and went across the Blackwater River. 
    žFrom there we were sent up the Peninsula and remained there for some time, until Lee had moved his army north and the Battle of Gettysburg was going on. Then we were ordered to Washington and joined MeadŪs army.  žAfter that campaign, our regiment with others was sent to South Carolina on the islands around Charleston. Our duty there was picket duty nights, much of the time on the rivers in boats. 
    žGeneral Foster commanding in front of Charleston had gathered up a force of 5,000 men. He sent out General J. P. Hatch to seize the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. His guide had missed his way and did not reach the railroad. The next morning, November 30th, we were sent out on the skirmish line, forced the enemy back. At 11 a.m. The battle was on and lasted all day. When we reached Honey Hill we found a strong force entrenched. We had 3,000 engaged in the battle and lost 746 killed and wounded. Three men next to me were killed from one charge of Cannister. When night came on, the firing ceased and we gathered up the wounded; the dead    were left on the field. We fell back about a mile, and stopped there for the night.
    žSeveral days later, General Foster sent two brigades across the Goosewhatchee to Devaux Neck under General Potter. There we ran into some Georgia troops, and [they] were soon dispersed, having their dead and battle flag in our hands.
    žTwo days later we made an attack on them. We had lost quite a number of our company and this morning we started out with 40 men. Our company and I were on the left of the line and a part of the time they had a raking fire on us and our loss was severe. 
    žAfter the battle that night, at roll call, there were only seven left to answer to their names. All the rest were either killed or wounded. I was wounded and several balls went through my clothing.
    žSoon after this, General Sherman came up the coast from Savannah and we kept along the railroad with our little army, when Sherman struck out to the interior part of the state. When we arrived in Charleston which was the first part of March our regiment was detailed to do provost duty and remained there until we were ordered home to be mustered out of service.Ó
    Halsey was a volunteer in the 127th Army Infantry. A greater number of men from Suffolk County enlisted in the 127th than in any other regiment. Several companies in the 127th were almost entirely made up of men from Southold, the Hamptons, and Huntington.
    The Historical Society recently came into possession of letters from Dr. Jonathan Havens Case, a military doctor stationed at Carver Hospital in Washington, DC, to his parents in Peconic from early 1862 to early 1864. Most of the letters begin with a report on his brother Wick whose life was similar to HalseyŪs in the winter of 1862-63.