Dutchess Civil War Corner

Hosted by Mike Peets, Chairman, 150th New York State Volunteer Infantry Regiment Historical Association

Introduction here. Could lay out topic areas…

Older soldiers in the ranks

We have all heard about young fellows joining the army underage. The 150th New York State Infantry has at least one of those because William While was only 15 when he enlisted.

What most people don’t know is that many older men enlisted.  The age of enlistment for the rank and file of the army (non officers) was from 18 – 45. I knew that the 150th had some men that were over the age limit but until now did not have a feel for how many.

I went through the roster and found that 136 men in the 150th were listed as being in their 40’s. That is about 10% of the regiment. I then compared the age on the roster to as many as I could with the age on their tomb stones.  To date we have found 610 of the men’s final resting places.  I would guess that I was able to compare about half of the 136 men’s age on the roster to their tomb stone.

Here is what I found. Of the 136 four were really (47 or 48) and eleven were between (50 – 57) and one was 68 and another 70. That means that nearly 13% of the men in the rank and file were over age.

Rhinebeck Gazette: September 23, 1862

Rhinebeck has furnished two volunteers for the Dutchess County Regiment who are over sixty years of age, Viz., Wm. B. Doyle and Elisha Holdridge.  They both served in the war of 1812.  Mr. Holdridge was a drum-major at that time and we understand, now holds the same office.

Elisha Holdridge was 70 and William Doyle was 68.

It makes you wonder why did these men volunteer to fight in a war, they were not eligible to be drafted. They also knew it was not going to be a short war and they were mustered in after the Battle of Antietam, which would end up having the single bloodiest day of the war.

So was it Patriotism, the bounty or other reasons, we will never know. 

Mike Peets

Chairman 150th New York State Volunteer Infantry Regiment Historical Association.