FANTASTIC 12TH/25TH CORPS BADGE IDENTIFIED TO WILLIAM PEARL, 102ND NEW YORK INFANTRY

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Item Code: 748-06

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This silver ID disc in the shape of a 12/25th Corps badge is in very fine condition; the face is engraved, “Lieut. Wm. H. Pearl / 102d / N. Y. V. V.” The badge is connected at the points of the star to a circular piece of twisted silver wire. Pin device still present on reverse.

William H. Pearl enlisted on 9/13/61 at New York City as a Sergeant. On 10/19/1861 he mustered into Co. A, 102nd New York Infantry. Promoted to 1st Sergeant, and to 1st Lieutenant on 2/23/63.  Listed as absent in April 1862 to be a witness in a murder trial in New York. Detailed to recruiting duty from June 30th through October 31, 1862; rejoined the regiment on 11/17/62. On 3/2/63 he is listed as “Absent on detached service by order of Gen. Hooker”, but on 3/16/63’s morning report, he is listed as “Absent without leave”. Reported for duty on 3/25/63, reported under arrest. No further information is given in way of explanation. Listed as present in April 1863 and detailed to command of Company B; his resignation was accepted on 5/25/63 due to “domestic troubles….the cruelties of a stepfather toward a mother and four young sisters render my presence at home absolutely necessary.” Pearl re-enlisted on 1/5/64 at Brooklyn, NY, initially in Co. A, 16th New York Heavy Artillery. He was promoted by appointment to 1st Lt. and transferred to his old company, Co. A of the 102nd New York Infantry to fill the vacancy still left open by his own resignation. He was subsequently discharged on 5/8/64 at Rocky Face Ridge, GA. Following the war Pearl became a minstrel performer using the stage name of “Billy Rice”. He died on 3/1/1902 in Hot Springs, AK.

The following was found online:

BILLY RICE (William H. Pearl) Minstrelsy knew no greater favorite than this once well-known comedian, who made his professional debut in Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1865, at Poole and Donnelly's Theatre, appearing in black-face, and assuming the name by which he was always identified. He continued in the variety business mostly until 1869, when he joined Newcomb's Minstrels.

In 1874 he was with Emerson's Minstrels in San Francisco and on tour, remaining several months. January 29, 1877, Rice and Hooley's Minstrels opened in New York; later he rejoined Emerson, and the following year he became a member of Haverly's Minstrels, with whom he continued several seasons. In 1882 Rice and Hooley's Minstrels again was formed, terminating as Billy Rice's Minstrels the following January, when he opened with Thatcher, Primrose and West's Minstrels, and remained with them until 1887, when Sweatnam. Rice and Fagan's Minstrels were organized. Rice and Sheppard's Minstrels in 1888, and subsequently with Cleveland's Minstrels; Primrose and West's and a return to Haverly's Minstrels in 1898 practically completed the minstrel career of the great end man and stump-speaker. Mr. Rice married Blanche Carman, an actress, April 8, 1871, in Chicago. Billy Rice was born in Marion, N. Y., December 12, 1844; he died in Hot Springs, Arkansas, March 1, 1902.

The last photo above is a page from the book An authentic history of the Benevolent and protective order of Elks by Charles Edward Ellis.

This 102nd New York, known as the Van Buren light infantry, was principally recruited at New York city, and was formed by the consolidation of the Von Beck rifles under Col. R. H. Shannon, and part of the McClellan infantry under Col. S. Levy, with Col. Van Buren's command. The organization was completed later by the addition of two companies from the 78th Cameron Highlanders and Co. A, 12th militia, and was mustered into the U. S. service from Nov., 1861, to April, 1862.  In July, 1864, its ranks were filled by the transfer of the officers and men of the 78th N. Y. infantry. On the expiration of its term of service the original members (except veterans) were mustered out, and the regiment, composed of veterans and recruits continued in service.  Early in June, 1865, it received by transfer the remaining men of the 119th, 154th, 137th, 149th, 134th, and 184th N. Y. Vols.

During Pearl’s term of service with the regiment, it left the state on March 10, 1862, followed by Cos. I and K on April 7. Assigned to the 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 2nd corps, Army of Virginia, it fought its first severe engagement at Cedar Mountain, where its loss was 115 killed, wounded and missing. The regiment then moved with its corps to the support of Pope, fought at the second battle of Bull Run, and went into position at Chantilly, but was not engaged.  In the same brigade and division, 12th corps, it was actively engaged at Antietam, losing 37 killed, wounded and missing, and was then successively engaged in the minor actions at Lovettsville, Ripon, Hillsboro, Winchester, Wolf Run shoal, and Fairfax Station, going into winter quarters at Stafford Court House. At the battle of Chancellorsville the 102nd, which fought in Geary's division of the 12th corps lost 90 killed, wounded and missing. The regiment also saw action at Gettysburg, in the Chattanooga campaign, the Atlanta campaign, and Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Accompanied by military records from the National Archives.

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