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The Mystery of General Harry Haskell

The Medal That Started This Search

When my grandmother Betty Christy Phelps passed away, I received among her belongings a Civil War medal engraved with the name of "Harry L. Haskell". The significance of this medal, shown below, and who Harry is in our family history was a mystery. In 1999, I began to look into how and why Harry's medal came into the possession of my grandmother. I may have found part of the answer.

Harry L. Haskell was born in Maine and joined the 125th New York Volunteers in 1862. The 125th was raised primarily in Troy and Renesslear County, New York. Harry enjoyed a long and distinguished military career after the Civil War.

Harry's medal appears to be an United States Union Army Civil War medal, trefoil (three-leaf clover) shaped, brass, hanging from a red, white and blue ribbon. The Trefoil shape indicated the Second Army Corp.

Apparently these kinds of badges were not awarded by the Army or individual units, but commonly sold by the civilian sutlers, or suppliers, that often accompanied the units during and after the war.

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Medal Front
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Medal Obverse
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Sgt. Vincent M. Jockimo, who was a member of the 125th N.Y. Volunteers reenactment group, reports the following:

On the front, "The navy blue color with two vertical [bars] on the left side and two lines on the right side, bordered in silver or brass color...are Captain's bars to state his rank. Below that [in the ribbon] are the red, white and blue of our flag... The red clover represents the 1st Division 2nd Corp. The blue clover represents the 3rd Division 2nd Corp."

Vincent also reports, "The regimental history book [reports] that he was a member of Company A of the 125th N.Y. This company was enlisted at Hoosic[k] Falls, NY, Petersburg and Lansingburg, in July and August of 1862. It left Troy with 3 officers and 108 enlisted men" (page 316).

The regimental history also reports, "Original Non Commissioned Staff. Harry L. Haskell Sergeant Major. The regiment had 1,200 men in all the companies together" (page 315). "Harry L. Haskell was 22 yrs of age when he enlisted on August 26 and was permoted [sic] to Sgt. Major and than to 2nd Lieutenant" (page 319).

"Battle of Bristoe, October 14th 1863, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Corp. 'Seizing the railroad cut.' The skirmishers were sent out at the rebels. The rebel gunners were fleeing when Lieutenant Harry L. Haskell with others are hurrying the pieces [artillery]to our lines. Advancing and seizing 'The Rebel Battery' " (page 158).

"Permotion [sic] to Capt. Harry L Haskell. Discharged" (page 33).

The obverse of the medal contains an inscription:

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"Capt. Harry Haskell
Adjt. 125th NY Vols.
Gettysburgh
July 2&3, 1863
Bristoe Station
Oct. 14th, 1863
Wilderness and Spottsylvania
May 5th to 12th, 1864"
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Capt. Harry Haskell, Engineer, 145th New York Volunteers, Troy, New York on October 8, 1889, at Albany, New York. Image courtesy of Jim McGraw. Larger image.

The dates refer to Civil War battles, all of which the 125th New York Volunteers fought in.

So that's all we had to start with: his name and a few dates. From this, with considerable help of many other kind and generous individuals, we have developed a short biography of General Haskell and been able to trace the locations where he lived, and, possibly, how the medal came into my family.


Contributors

For information on Civil War Captain and later Brigadier General Henry Haskell, we are indebted to Jim McGraw, who contributed a very fine portrait, and Win Haskell of Germany, who sent us a number of documents telling us quite a lot about the Private, later Brigadier General, Haskell. Sgt. Vincent M. Jockimo, a member of the 125th N.Y. Volunteers reenactment group, told us about the badge itself and its meaning, and sent us portions of the regimental history. Stephen Schmidt send us Harry's enlistment record. And Jody Roberts sent us some info about Harry from the Sons of the American Revolution. Information on Harry's marriage, later military service, and his wife's family members is courtesy of Virginia Mylius.