Capt. Mark Adler of the Company H 119th Volunteers Historical Association spoke to an enthralled group of history buffs at the Tuesday, showcasing both a knowledge and genuine love of the Civil War period.
The lecture, organized by the Historical Society of East Rockaway and Lynbrook, tackled a multitude of Civil War subjects, including artillery, organization, and battle strategy.
Adler, an Oceanside resident and frequent participant in some of the country’s largest Civil War reenactments, dressed in full uniform - taking on the persona of Alfred Noon, a harness maker and Northern soldier from Roslyn.
Although Noon’s rank never rose above that of a private, Adler continued to honor the historic Roslyn resident when he was named General in his reenactment company.
“I went to the cemetery in Roslyn where [Noon] was buried, and I said to him, ‘in life, you were a private, but now you have a star’,” an emotional Adler said. “I hope he’s looking down on me and thinks I’m doing a good job.”
The majority of the presentation concentrated on the history of the Company H 119th infantry. The company originated from what is presently Nassau County and was started by Roslyn attorney Benjamin Willis, according to the presentation.
Willis needed 100 men to form the company. Recruiting rallies took place in Roslyn, Hempstead, and East Rockaway (which was then called Near Rockaway). The process took 30 days, according to Adler.
By mid-Aug. 1862, the company had 1,000 men, Adler said.
Company H of the 119th infantry’s first battle came at Chancellorsville in May of 1863, according to the presentation.
“They got beat really bad,” Adler said. “Out of 800-some-odd men, they left the field with about 300.”
The company went into the famous battle of Gettysburg with those 300 men. After retreating, the group reformed with 150 men, according to Adler.
Perhaps the infantry’s finest moment came after the Battle of Atlanta. When the Georgia city surrendered, General John Lockman was sent to accept the letter of surrender. Because of this, the 119th was the first regiment to enter Atlanta, Adler said.
On June 6, 1865, the 119th was “mustered,” or relieved, of federal service, according to the presentation.
Adler spoke of two local men in the 119th, Theodore Tupper and John Ryker. Tupper hailed from East Rockaway.
“[Tupper] was captured and sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia,” Adler said. “But he escaped...he made his way home.”
Ryker came from Vally Stream. His grave has never been located, according to Adler.
After the presentation, Adler showed off a frock coat, bullets, a cartridge, and a tent, among other historical artifacts.