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The Civil War rolled in and young men went off to war. Not so young men went off to war too. My great-great-great-grandfather, Zachariah Deyo Oakley, decided that he couldn’t miss the action and signed up for the war. September 7, 1864 Zachariah was 56 years old. He told the recruiter that he was 44. The story told is that Zachariah joined because his youngest son, George, joined. He left behind a wife and 15 year old daughter at home.


Company A, 90th Infantry Regiment New York was ordered to Virginia early in September and joined the Army of the Shenandoah while it was conducting the campaign against General Early.


The 90th fought at Opequon, Virginia, driving General Early back, 54,440 forces were engaged with 8,630 total casualties. It was a Union victory. Following General Early’s retreat, the 90th moved on to Fisher’s hill. The Union army pushed forward and General Early retreated to Rockfish Gap. General Early surprised the Union army at Cedar creek at dawn, October 19, 1864, the surprise was short lived when Major Sheridan arrived and rallied the troops.  Losses for the 90th were 73 killed, wounded and missing in the Cedar creek engagement. The original members of the regiment that didn’t reenlist were mustered out during Dec. 1864, and the regiment was consolidated into a battalion of six companies.


The regiment served in the 1st brigade of Dwight’s division at Washington from April to June, 1865. By June of 1865, Zachariah was discharged.


Zachariah would live another 12 years working as a lumberman in Portville, New York. I wonder what his wife, of 30 years in 1864, thought about his going off to war.


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