INSCRIBED WARTIME 18th CORPS 2nd DIVISION STAFF CORPS BADGE OF MAJOR HENRY NOYES, 148th NY, AND A.A. INSPECTOR GENERAL, WIA COLD HARBOR

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This inscribed corps badge dates between June and October 1864, between the introduction of the badge and the owner’s posting to divisional staff, and his promotion to colonel of the 38th USCT in late September. The badge of the 18th Army Corps, a cross with foliate sides, was devised in May 1864 and officially adopted in a circular of June 7, 1864. The circular specified several specific variations, including for divisional commanders and their staff members, who would wear a cross of the appropriate divisional color with a triangle in the center. (The corps commander and staff wore one with two triangles. Neither should be mistaken for a composite badge representing the 18th and 4th Corps.) As is correct for commander and staff of the second division. The white cross is bordered in blue.

A facsimile of the designs, clearly showing this badge, was forwarded on June 11 to the QM General by Gen. W.F. Smith, commanding the 18th Corps. A note on a copy of the June 7 circular in the QM General’s files also indicates Tiffany and Company had all the instructions and patterns for the badges, but division commanders could send to other makers as well. The corps was officially discontinued December 3, 1864, giving a window for production of the badges of five months, but five months of intense service.

The badge is nicely engraved on the reverse in script: “Major Henry T. Noyes / 148 N.Y.V./ A.A.I.G.” (Acting Assistant Inspector General.) Henry Taylor Noyes (8/1/1838 - 10/15/1903) was a native of Yates County, NY, and a student at Columbia Law when he enlisted at age 24 on 8/22/62 and was commissioned first lieutenant and adjutant of the 148th New York Vols, which mustered into U.S. service 9/14/62. The regiment spent its early service in the 7th Corps in the Department of Virginia, largely on garrison duty at Suffolk, Norfolk and Yorktown. Noyes is mentioned briefly at the time in the official records for having ventured the opinion to someone that Suffolk would be evacuated, to the annoyance of General Peck when the rumor spread. He seems to have gotten over that minor misstep, however, and was promoted to major 12/15/63 with rank from 10/26/63.

The regiment began to see serious action in May 1864, when it was made part of the 18th Army Corps in preparation for Grant’s coordinated Union offensives against Richmond and Petersburg, fighting at Swift Creek, Proctor’s Creek, Drewry’s Bluff and Bermuda Hundred as part of Butler’s Army of the James, losing 78 in killed wounded and missing. The corps was then ordered to reinforce the Army of the Potomac and suffered heavily at Cold Harbor, losing 36 officers and enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and another 86 who were wounded and recovered, including Major Noyes.

Most sources are not specific about when Noyes went on staff duty, but the abstract of Noyes’s NY muster rolls say his staff duty, “as Insp. Gen. 2d. Div. 18th A.C…,” was subsequent to his wounding, though leaving it unclear if he first returned to duty with the regiment. In either case, he was certainly in close proximity to it, since it was part of Martindale’s 2nd Division. The division returned briefly to Bermuda Hundred after Cold Harbor and then took part in the first assault on Petersburg in mid-June, followed by the continual trench warfare and occasional larger attacks against Richmond and Petersburg.

Perhaps because of his performance on Martindale’s staff, Noyes came to the notice of General Butler, who promoted him to colonel on 9/24/64 and gave him command of the 38th USCT, Draper’s Brigade, Third Division, “pending approval by President Lincoln.” His commission was officially dated to September 1, but some records indicate he joined the regiment September 28, the day before it went into battle at Chaffin’s Farm (part of the fighting around Fort Harrison,) but do not make clear if he was in the battle. In any case, the campaign had taken a toll on his health and suffering from malaria, diarrhea, remittent fever, and jaundice (in different diagnoses,) he was given a twenty day sick leave on October 13, that was extended to November 15 and then to early December, when he tendered his resignation and was discharged for disability to date 12/10/64.

He went west soon after the war, engaging in the lumber trade in Michigan and California. He returned east to marry in 1869 and in 1870 he became part owner and manager of the National Yeast Company in Seneca Falls, NY, and later president of the German-American Button Company in Rochester. He was commissioned Lt. Colonel of the 49th Regiment NGSNY in 1879, and brevetted Colonel soon after, and from 1895 to 1898 served as Commissary General of Subsistence for the state, with the rank of Brigadier General. He was a member of the G.A.R. and MOLLUS. He died in 1903 in Rochester, leaving his wife and five children.

The badge shows some wear that accords with use in the field. There are scratches to the white enamel and two chips. The pin and fastener are in place on the reverse, as is the ribbon bar. The engraving is fully legible. The ribbon is a correct tri-color ribbon, but is crudely sewn and likely a recent replacement for display by a collector. See Phillips, Civil War Corps Badges for details on the badge. We also show a photo of Martindale and staff in summer 1864, though we do not know if Noyes is among them.  [sr]

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