Last updated: June 18, 2015
From the Peninsula to Maryland: Sherrill's role in the summer of 1862
Eliakim Sherrill was the third choice for the command of the 126th New York Volunteer Infantry when it was formed. He had only lived in Geneva, NY for two years, having moved there from Brooklyn, and was more interested in his tannery and in politics, but he was still considered a good candidate for a leadership role.
Sherrill and his "green" troops arrived at Harpers Ferry, Virginia on August 25, 1862 where, a little over two weeks later, they would face the determined assault of a veteran Confederate Army. On September 13, 1862, while engaged against Confederate General Lafayette McLaws' seasoned troops, the raw 126th New York began to withdraw. Sherrill and some of his officers, however, were not willing to give up and tried to rally their men, distributing cartridges and lending general inspiration.
As a result of these actions Sherrill was shot in the jaw and had to be taken to the rear to be tended. The Harpers Ferry garrison was forced to surrender two days later and Sherrill's men were paroled and sent to Camp Douglas in Illinois. Sherrill himself was placed on leave for two months to recuperate from his injury which kept him from returning to the regiment though he did join his men for short periods of time between times of rest at home. Sherrill was able to return to command in time to lead the 126th again in their next engagement, facing the same Confederate troops, at Gettysburg. He was shot there on July 3, 1863 and died the following day.