US GenWeb

This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Adjutant John H. Russell
From Rev. A. A. Fare, late Chaplain of Eighteenth N. Y. Regiment.

Adjutant John H. Russell was the son of Mr. William and Mrs. Catharine A. Russell, and was born in the city of Albany, on the 21st day of July, 1836. His name is remembered by hundreds here, who lamented his early death while they honored him for his love for his country, and his devotion to her cause, in the time of her great peril. On the breaking out of the rebellion, in 1861, he was one of the first to offer his services to the government, and was ready to leave home and friends, if he could do something towards rolling back the dark cloud that hung over the land, and threatened us with the loss of all our cherished institutions.

When the Eighteenth Regiment of N. Y. State Volunteers was organized, on the 14th day of May, 1861, he was unanimously elected the Adjutant of the regiment; and on the 17th of the same month, was mustered into the service of the United States. By applying himself to the work, he soon became an accomplished officer. He was, in many respects, a model Adjutant. Being a good scholar and a very fine penman, and withal very particular that every thing should be just right, he succeeded in securing the commendation of officers high in command.

Adjutant Russell was rather retiring in his manners, and had but few intimate friends; yet, such was his general conduct, that he commanded the respect of all.

He had never made a public profession of religion, yet he was a firm believer in the doctrines of Christianity. He used oftento speak of his mother as a woman of deep piety, and he believes she was at rest in a better world.

In the month of April, 1862, we were ordered to the Peninsula to join Gen. McClellan. Soon after we arrived there, Mr. Russell began to feel the effects of that climate, in impairing his health. And for some weeks before his leaving the field, he was much of the time really unlit for duty. Yet he was unwilling to give up and be called a sick man, and, under these unfavorable circumstances, he continued to do his duty. As I was, at that time, occupying the same tent with him, I know how much he suffered.

The battle of Gaines' Mills was fought on the 27th day of June, 1862. Our regiment, with others, was formed in line of battle about twelve o'clock, noon, and soon after we were ordered to cross the Chickahominy, with the expectation of going into the fight, which had already commenced. We crossed the river, according to orders, and were soon in sioht of the contendins forces. At about five p. m. we were ordered into the battle, at double quick. Adjutant Russell was at his post, and without flinching did his duty. But he was not permitted to remain long with his comrades. He was wounded in the ankle by a Minnie ball, yet it was probably a spent shot, as it did not break the ankle. He was ordered to the rear, when the surgeon extracted the ball, and thought the wound was so slight that he would soon be at his post again. That night, about twelve o'clock, the regiment was ordered back to our camp, and, as we were returning, we overtook Mr. Russell, as he was being carried back to his tent. He was very cheerful, and thought he would soon be in active service again. I took care of him for the rest of the night, and he was very comfortable. The next morning, as we were expecting another battle, the Adjutant, with other wounded and sick men, were sent to Savage's Station, where they might be more secure, and receive proper attention. On Sabbath morning, June 29, we commenced our retrogade movement, and when we arrived at Savage's Station all the sick and wounded that could be moved were put into ambulances and sent over to the James river. Mr. Russell was of course one of the number. After putting him into the ambulance with Capt. Montgomery, of Gen. Newton's staff, I saw no more of bim until the next Tuesday. Then I found him at Carter's Landing, on the James river; and this proved to be our last meeting. At this time he was in good spirits, though very much fatigued, having remained in the amlnilance for two days, and the most of that time they had been on the move. From this place he was taken to Harrison's Landing, where he was put on board one of the transports and sent to the north. He thought if he could get home, where proper attention could be secured, he would soon be well again. But, when he arrived at Philadelphia, he was so much exhausted that he could go no further. He was taken to the house of Capt. Montgomery, his fellow sufferer, where everything was done for him that human kindness could suggest. But his system had become so much debilitated by disease that he did not rally, but continued to fail, till the 28th day of July, 1862, he passed away from earth—just one month and one day from the time that he received his wound. Thus lived and died John H. Russell, Adjutant Eighteenth N. Y. Vols.

Send comments or suggestions to:
Debby Masterson

Go Back to Albany County Biographies
Go Back to Home Page