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THE STORY OF AMOS HUMISTON

From an early History of the Town of Portville NY
Submitted By Mary Bryant

Amos Humiston, a thirty year old harness maker living in the Town of Portville, NY enlisted at Portville on July 26, 1862 as a private in the 154th NYS Vols. Co. C

Amos must have worried about leaving his wife Phylinda and his 3 small children, Franklin, Alice and Fred. He discussed this with his minister, The Rev. Isaac Ogden of the Presbyterian Church. Rev. Ogden promised him that his family would be cared for while he was away.

Amos became a corporal and then on Sept.24, 1862 he was promoted to Orderly Sergeant.

In less than a year after he inlisted, early in the evening of July 1, 1863, while he was returning to his outfit on Cemetery Hill in Gettysburg, he was shot and killed by a confederate sniper. He fell in the middle of the road in front of a house belonging to Miss Jeannie Wade.

It is recorded that two soldiers from Olean, NY , were taken prisoner on July 2, 1863 in Gettsburg. One could presume that Sgt. Humiston was killed on the retreat of the Federal Army through the town of Gettysburg thar afternoon.

When his body was carried behind the lines, he had no identification on him to tell who he was or which regiment he he had belonged to. The only thing found on him was an ambrotype of three children, clasped tightly in his hand.

Amos was buried as an unknown soldier in a lot belonging to Judge Russell not far from where he had been shot. His remains were later moved to the National Cemetery and buried in grave # 14, row B of the New York Section.

Dr.J. Francis Bournes of Philadelphia had copies made of the photo and had them circulated in an effort to find the family of the dead soldier. It was through this that the family of the dead soldier was finally found in Portville. 

Dr. Bourne came to Portville on Saturday, January 2, 1864 to present the ambrotype to the family. When he made the presentation he was accompanied by the Rev. J.H. Vincent, a Methodist Bishop, the Presbyterian pastor Rev. Ogden and A.J.Worden, an elder of the church.

Phylinda Humiston and the children had been anxiously waiting for his visit. When Dr. Bourne gave the widow the blood stained picture, Her hands were shaking, but she retained her composure to accept it. 

Dr. Bournes then spoke about Amos Humiston and the circumstances regarding his death. He brought with him copies of the ambrotype to sell for the benefit of the widow and children. He said that he hoped to turn the incident into a national charity to benefit the orphans of the civil war.
 

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