Part 2: Two Veterans of the Civil War/A Long Walk Home


1st Photo:  Leonard Hunt

2nd Photo: Philo Markham

Philo Markham a member of the 154th New York, prisoner of war has been sent to a parole camp in Annapolis, Maryland. After his arrival on August 21, 1863 Philo meets other members of the 154th. Among them he locates his friend, Leonard Hunt from Perrysburg, NY.

Figuring that they were of no use to the army until they were exchanged, Markham and Hunt left camp without permission three days later on what soldiers call a "French furloug.: In today's militry, they would be classified A.W.O.L., or absent without official leave and subject to arrest as deserters. Leaving Annapolis on Monday, August 24, 1863, the pair walked cross-country through Maryland to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They followed along the banks of the Susquehanna River to Williamsport, then up the river to the Allegheny Mountains of New York State. They completed their journey on foot through Olean and Little Valley to new Albion, where they caught a buggy ride to Dayton, NY with a man named Chapman from Versailles. Philo Markham and Leonard Hunt reached home on Saturday afternoon, September 5, 1863 after 11 days on the road.

Amazingly, the men had walked the entire distance, more than 300 miles, except for a half-day canal boat ride up the Susquehanna, and the buggy ride with Chapman. They had no money and had to beg for food, careful to avoid villages and officials who might have them arrested and taken back to camp for dessertion. The unofficial leave lasted but a month, when Markham, having regained his health, received workd of his exchange on October 2, 1863. Leaving shortly by rail for Annapolis, he bid farewell to Julia and his family and reported for duty at Camp Parole two days later.

The war was not over yet for Philo Markham. The 154th New York would soon be on the move again, this time to the western front. On November 1, 1863 they boarded a train for Indianapolis, then turned south through Nashville to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they were engaged in the Battle of Lookout Mountain, the "Battle Above the Clouds."  Following a three-week expedition to reinforce General Burnside at Knoxville, they returned to Lookout Valley where they went into winter camp at the end of 1863.

In April 1864 the Union army was re-organized and the 11th and 12th Corps, Army of the Potomac, were consolidated into a new 20th Corps, Army of the Cumberland, commanded by General Hooker. The 154th New York broke camp on May 4, 1864 and joined General William Tecumseh Shermans's campaign through Georgia. Four days later they met the enemy near Dalton, Georgia, charging up a precipitous mountain called Rocky Face Ridge, at Dug Gap. The ascent was formidable. The men had to scale a mountain that towered 800 feet above the valley floor. The stony ground was uneven and covered with heavy underbrush. Fences further obstructed their movements.

Subjected to heavy fire from Rebels at the summit and with their climb made even more difficult by rocks being rolled down the mountainside at them, the 154th New York continued their advance. They reached a stone ledge near the crest and rested for a brief time before making their final charge. The men were ordered to fix bayonets and charged up the cliff through a hail of coulders and bullets. numerous flag bearers were shot down. When Sergeant George Bishop of Olean was instantly killed by a shot through the heas as he planted the flag on the crest, Philo Markham charged up the ridge and repanted it. Ironically, Bishops younger brother, Lewis was killed the same way at Gettysburg. Suddenly Markham felt intense pain as his right forearm was shattered by a bullet.

Taken by ambulance to Ringgold, Georgia, where he was placed on a rail car for Chatanooga, Markham found himself in General Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 12, 1864, just four days after the battle. With hius righ arm amputated he was sent to Jeffersonville, Indiana, where he recuperated until the end of October. On November 2, 1864 he was discharged from the service at Louisville, kentucky, and returned home. he was brevetted first lieutenant for his bravery at Rocky Face Ridge.

In the spring of 1868 he sold the farm at Markhams and built a house and barn on a parcel of land In Dayton. That September their daughter, Ida Caroline,m was born. Philo made a living as a merchant and agent for a sewing machine company. He and Julia, moved by the plight of ex-slaves, adopted a girl named Mamie May, who was born in Pennsylvania to black Canadian parents. She became an accomplished music teacher, married Dan Gross, a plumber in Gowanda, and resided there for many years. Philo and Julia lived in Dayton until 1910, when they sold their place and moved to Orchard Park to live with Ida and her husband, Dr. Burton Jolls, a well-known physician. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Dayton on pril 17, 1912, and observed their 70th anniversary two months before Philo's death in 1932 at the age of 94. Julia died on Election Day in 1940. They are buried in the Markhams Cemetery on Rt. 62.

Leonard Hunt served the remainder of the war with the 154th New York, which included the battles around Atlanta and Sherman's famous "March to the Sea." He was mustered out at Elmira in September 1865. Leonard and Philo remained lifelong friends, and became brothers-in-law when Leonard married Perthena Markham, Philo's sister. The Hunts settled in Gowanda area and raised a family. leonard died in 1923 and is buried in the Pine Hill Cemetery.

Information from Phil Palen found in a Gowanda News article dated Saturday, November 9, 2013 


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