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Emory Upton

August 2, 2019 - 3:27pm

(File photo.)

Led by the Joint Veterans Council of Genesee County, local veterans will host a rededication ceremony Saturday morning marking the centennial of the city's gateway monument at the junction of routes 5 and 63 that pays tribute to the Union Army's Emory Upton, the military service of men and women of Genesee County, and its war dead.

It starts at 10:30 a.m. and everyone is welcome.

Commonly referred to as the Upton Monument, for the statue of the colonel of the Fourth Regiment of Artillery, Army Brevit Major General Upton, it is officially known as The Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The actual marker at the base of the bald-eagle-topped pillar is engraved: In Memory of The Soldiers, Sailors and Marines of Genesee County.

Doug Doktor, chairman of the Joint Veterans Council, said that James Neider, of the Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post 332 in Batavia, will provide a brief historical overview of Upton, one of the nation's foremost military strategists of the 19th century. Then Elijah Monroe, of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln Camp 6 in Rochester, will speak on that organization's instrumental role in fundraising and getting the monument constructed.

There will also be a rifle salute.

The dedication held a hundred years ago took place on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 1919.

According to City of Batavia Historian Larry Barnes, there was a morning footrace from Le Roy to Batavia, followed by the dedication ceremony at which a relation of the Upton family, Col. Upton, served as the keynote speaker. The special occasion was capped off by a grand display of fireworks at the old Genesee County Fairgrounds, where Tops Friendly Market is now on West Main Street.

Proposals for the monument were bandied about as early as the 1870s. But getting it funded and built was not a given. Its price tag of about $15,000 was considered steep. Funds were sought from the county, the city and fundraising campaigns were launched by Batavia City School District Superintendent John Kennedy and Sarah Upton Edwards, sister of Emory Upton.

In 1907, city voters nixed spending $5,000 as their share of the monument's cost. It was not until World War I that action was taken that would finally pave the way for the planned monument to become reality.

In 1917, city fathers managed to get the city's funding share approved by a bit of political maneuvering -- slipping language for the monument expense into a sewer and water appropriations bill.

The architect chosen to design the monument was C. A. Worden, a local company responsible for many monuments at Gettysburg.

Once built, there was controversy as to whether the statue of Emory Upton was based on the actual likeness of the man himself. And the question, some local historians say, has never been wholly resolved.

To read more about Emory Upton from an 1885 biography, click here.

Also, previously: 

(Editor's Note: Publisher Howard Owens had planned to complete a video of the history of the monument in time for tomorrow's rededication. That is no longer possible, but he does hope to finish it very soon.)

June 27, 2019 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emory Upton, batavia, news, David Bellavia, history.

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At the Pentagon yesterday, walking down the hall toward the auditorium where the ceremony was held to induct David Bellavia into the Hall of Heroes, I noticed several Civil War displays, so I immediately started looking for anything related to Gen. Emory Upton. I spotted this small placard.

As I was trying to line up a shot, a Pentagon official walked up behind me and said, "Sir, photography is not authorized in this area of the Pentagon." I said, "But this is Emery Upton -- he's from our hometown; there's a big monument to him ..." the official said, "OK, hurry up."

Batavia is now permanently represented in the Pentagon by Upton, Charles F. Rand, and David Bellavia.

January 24, 2019 - 11:32am
posted by Holland Land Office in Holland Land Office Museum, Emory Upton.
Event Date and Time: 
February 27, 2019 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Holland Land Office Museum's Board of Director's President Don Burkel will be speaking on "The Angel and The Warrior." The love story of Emory Upton and Emily Martin Upton, their long courtship and their short marriage. If you enjoy love stories with a bit of military history thrown in, this is definitely something you don't want to miss. The program will begin at 7pm and is $3 per person and $2 for museum members.
January 24, 2018 - 2:23pm
Event Date and Time: 
February 17, 2018 - 10:00am
The Holland Land Office Museum and the Genesee Community College's History Club are proud to present a free panel discussion with Dr. David Fitzpatrick and other local historians. Dr. Fitzpatrick is the author of a newly published work on Batavia's own Emory Upton, entitled "Emory Upton: Misunderstood Reformer." The panel will discuss the life and career of Emory Upton and his importance to the Civil War and American Military History. The panel discussion is free to the public and will take place at 10am on Saturday, February 17th.
January 24, 2018 - 2:06pm
posted by Holland Land Office in Emory Upton, civil war, Holland Land Office Museum, local history.
Event Date and Time: 
February 16, 2018 - 7:00pm
The Holland Land Office is proud to present "An Evening with Dr. David Fitzpatrick." Fitzpatrick is the author of a newly published book on Batavia's own Emory Upton. He is also a professor of history at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich. and he is the leading authority on Emory Upton's Career. The book, entitiled "Emory Upton: Misunderstood Reformer," seeks to revise the current view of General Upton and his importance in American military history. A meet and greet with Dr.
January 11, 2018 - 2:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emory Upton, batavia, news, weather, GCC, hlom.

A storm coming into the area tomorrow that promises high winds and a foot or more of snow has convinced organizers to reschedule a trip to Batavia that had been planned for this Friday and Satruday for author David Fitzpatrick. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., and was going to talk about his 2017 book "Emory Upton: Misunderstood Reformer." 

Fitzpatrick's presentation at the Holland Land Office Museum is rescheduled to 7 p.m., March 2. He will also participate in a panel discussion the following day at Genesee Community College. More details on the GCC discussion will be announced later.

Many people had reserved a seat for Fitzpatrick's talk at HLOM, said director Ryan Duffy. The room tomorrow night would have been at near capacity. 

Previously: New book corrects the record on Emory Upton's attitude toward the military and the Republic

December 27, 2017 - 11:15am
posted by Holland Land Office in Holland Land Office Museum, Emory Upton, local history, civil war.
Event Date and Time: 
January 12, 2018 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
NOTE this event has been rescheduled: Fitzpatrick's presentation at the Holland Land Office Museum is rescheduled to 7 p.m., February 16th.  He will also participate in a panel discussion the following day at GCC. More details on the discussion will be announced later.   The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to present "An Evening with Dr. David Fitzpatrick." Fitzpatrick is the author of a newly published work on Batavia's own Emory Upton. He is also professor of History at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the leading authority on Emory Upton's career.
December 27, 2017 - 11:11am
Event Date and Time: 
January 13, 2018 - 10:00am to 12:00pm
NOTE: This event has been rescheduled: Fitzpatrick's presentation at the Holland Land Office Museum is rescheduled to 7 p.m., February 16th.  He will also participate in a panel discussion the following day at GCC. More details on the discussion will be announced later.
December 16, 2017 - 3:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, batavia, Emory Upton, GCC, hlom, history, civil war.

The Holland Land Office Museum will host a presentation and book signing by David Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., author of "Emory Upton Misunderstood Reformer," at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12. The museum is located at 131 W. Main St., Batavia.

Admission is $5 per person, which helps support the HLOM Speaker Series. RSVP by Jan. 10th due to limited seating.

Fitzpatrick is facility resident and professor of History at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he was also a history instructor.

He has authored several military journal articles and published essays. His current work is one of the definitive texts on the life of Upton and his post-war contributions to reforming the Army.

In addition, a panel discussion with Fitzpatrick and local historians, will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13th, at the new Student Success Center, Room G200, Genesee Community College, 1 College Road, Batavia.

Discussion will focus on the various aspects of General Upton’s character and life. Free to the public. Hosted by the Holland Land Office Museum and GGC History Club.

For more information about the programs or purchasing his book contact:

Holland Land Office Museum at 585-343-4727 or [email protected]

October 1, 2017 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emory Upton, history, batavia, news, notify.

34951981upton.jpgAt the intersection of Main and Ellicott stands a monument to Gen. Emory Upton, Batavia's most revered military figure, and for good reason, says history professor and now Upton biographer David J. Fitzpatrick.

Upton distinguished himself during the Civil War in battles at Salem Church, Spotsylvania, Opequon Creek, and in other engagements.

"He was one of the outstanding regimental commanders of the war," said Fitzpatrick, who teaches at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich. "He had a tremendous tactical success at Spotsylvania."

The fact that Upton is still discussed among military leaders and those interested in military history, though, has more to do with his ideas and what he scribbled on paper than what he accomplished on the battlefield.

Some of what Upton wrote has led to more than 50 years of the Army officer being misunderstood and misrepresented, though, according to Fitzpatrick.

In the mid-20th century, Upton gained a reputation as a Prussian-inspired militarist with little respect for democracy. That assertion doesn't fit the documents in the historical record, Fitzpatrick contends and he makes that case in his new book: "Emory Upton: Misunderstood Reformer" (University of Oklahoma Press).

"Upton is an important figure in U.S. military history," Fitzpatrick said. "He's a figure a lot of people don't know about."

While you might expect a book steeped in military policy and battlefield strategy to be dull and dry, Fitzpatrick has written a story that is fascinating and at times even a real page-turner. Upton was a man both of action and ideas dealing with some of the most important considerations that would shape history after his death in 1881.

Batavia's Civil War hero was born to a farming family in Genesee County Aug. 27, 1839. A devout Methodist and a fervent abolitionist, Upton attended the era's most famous integrated college, Oberlin, before being accepted into West Point, graduating eighth in his class in May 1861 (The only blemish on his West Point career was a fight with a Southern cadet who made remarks behind his back, hinting that Upton had sexual relations with a black girl at Oberlin. Upton took offense and when the cadet wouldn't explain himself, Upton challenged him to a duel that became a fight in a West Point dorm.)

After the war, Upton was sent on an 18-month tour of Europe and Asia to study the military tactics of countries on those continents, especially Germany. When he returned he wrote "The Armies of Europe and Asia," "A New System of Infantry Tactics" and "Tactics for Non-Military Bodies" (aimed at civilian associations, police and fire departments); and more than 20 years after his death, his unfinished work, and most important book, "The Military Policy of the United States," was released by the War Department.

There were aspects of the military position in Germany that Upton admired and these served as a basis of Upton's recommended reforms to the U.S. military. This led to charges among critics that Upton and his like-minded reformers were trying to foist Prussian militarism on the United States.

These charges were amplified with the publication of a book in 1960 by Russell Weigley, "The American Way of War," which traced the intellectual development of military strategy and policy, and Stephen Ambrose, with "Upton and the Army," in 1964.

To Fitzpatrick, the real offense to Upton's legacy was the book by Ambrose. Weigley can be forgiven for getting Upton wrong, Fitzpatrick said, because he wasn't writing a biography, but Ambrose's biography began as his dissertation (and was published verbatim in book form). 

"Ambrose was doing a biography but didn't dive into the sources he should have," Fitzpatrick said. "I think Ambrose read Weigley and just decided to echo Weigley."

Fitzpatrick poured through the letters of Upton, among other documents, with help from Sue Conklin, who at that time was Genesee County's historian, and the Holland Land Office Museum (Fitzpatrick was provided a CD of images of all the Upton letters in the HLOM's collection).

And going through Upton's letters isn't an easy task.

When arranging a visit to the County's history department, Fitzpatrick told Conklin his topic and Conklin told him, "Have you seen his handwriting?"

"No," Fitzpatrick admitted.

"You might want to consider another topic," was her droll response.

Fitzpatrick doggedly stuck with Upton's letters, however, which provided insight overlooked by Ambrose into Upton's thinking on military planning and civilian government.

Upton believed the Union could have ended the Civil War before the close of 1862 (it wouldn't end until 1865) if the military had been led by more competent officers, had been better equipped, staffed with more men, and Gen. George McClellan hadn't been hampered by interference from civilian bureaucrats, notably Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

Even though Upton had been critical of McClellan during the war, his animosity toward Stanton was even deeper.

"He starts to twist history to make Stanton into the bad guy and McClellan a genius," Fitzpatrick said. "He wrote (in a letter) that he was having a hard time with 'the McClellan question,' as he calls it. It is really causing me trouble, he said. I hear him saying that he's having a hard time making the facts fit the story. Stanton was a meddling failure, not that it was McClellan himself who caused his failures."

The focus on Stanton, however, Fitzpatrick concludes, isn't because Upton is against civilian leadership of the military, but rather a concern that a war secretary with too much power could potentially use that position subvert the country's republican form of government.

Upton's reform ideas included mandatory retirement at age 62 for officers, rotation of officers between artillery and infantry, promotion on merit rather than seniority, and more training for officers.

While Upton was distrustful of democracy -- like Alexander Hamilton, fearing mob rule -- he saw the role of the military as protecting the nation's republican style of government. 

He took note of the dictatorial powers assumed by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln -- "arbitrary arrests, summary executions without trial, forced impressment of provisions, and other dangerous precedents" for Washington; and in Lincoln's case, the suspension of habeas corpus, arbitrary arrests, and the seizure of the railroads, along with "opening the treasury to irresponsible citizens" -- and concluded with a query. If that is what happens when good men without a genuine dictatorial impulse are president, what would happen if a true authoritarian took office and there was a war?

Upton wrote, "Let us not stultify ourselves by talking of the danger of an army, but rather reflect that the lack of one may at any time, in the space of two years, bring upon us even graver disasters than Long Island or Brandywine, or the two Bull Runs ... Our danger lies not in having a regular army but in the want of one."

In other words, Upton concluded a professional military, vowed to protect and defend the Constitution, as a safeguard against civilians, especially the president, grabbing dictatorial power.

Upton was one of several reformers, Fitzpatrick said, who saw the need for a more highly trained military and professional officer corps heading into the 20th century but in Upton's lifetime, most of Upton's reforms were thwarted by politics. For the North, another insurrection seemed impossible and there was no apparent external threat to U.S. sovereignty, so reform didn't seem like a pressing need. The South was distrustful of the Army in general following Reconstruction.

The lack of external threats prior to 1860 is also one reason Fitzpatrick thinks Upton's idea that the war could have lasted less than two years with better preparation is unrealistic.

While it's interesting to contemplate how history might be different if the Civil War had come to an end before 1863 -- no Jim Crow South, as one potential outcome -- it would have required the Union to have in place a large, well-trained and equipped Army by 1860 and Congress would never have approved the expenditure.

"The only reason to have a large, well-trained Army prior to 1860 was to repress the South and Congress would never have done it, so it's kind of a moot question," Fitzpatrick said. "You never could have ended the war in 1862 because you would never have gotten the Army you needed."

By 1881, Upton began suffering from debilitating headaches. He was transferred to the Presidio in San Francisco but managed to delay assuming the command for three months while he sought treatment in New York. A doctor diagnosed a sinus problem and provided an electric treatment, which brought no relief. Upton probably suffered from a brain tumor. He transferred to San Francisco but the headaches grew worse. On March 15, 1881, he wrote his last words. A two-sentence letter to the adjutant general to tender his resignation. He then apparently took his own life with a revolver.

He was proceeded in death by his wife, Emily, and they are buried together in Auburn.

At the time of his death, "Military Policy of the United States" was incomplete and unpublished. The manuscript passed to a friend and slowly it circulated among the Army's officers, gaining a reputation for its insightful look at military policy and strategy. In 1904, the War Department published the book minus three chapters.

One of the chapters dealt with Roman military history and when Fitzpatrick first came across it, he thought it rather odd. It was placed between two unrelated chapters, which was also odd.

Years later while continuing his research, Fitzpatrick recognized Upton probably wrote the chapter quickly in a period of inspiration and that it contained a lesson relevant the political situation of the time.  

While Upton admired President Ulysses S. Grant as a general, he was appalled by the corruption in his administration.

The Roman Republic possesses an interest, civil as well as military. "Forewarned is forearmed." Free people like the Romans admire heroism and love to reward military achievement.

No monarch in Europe has to day [sic] the power of an American President. With the consent of the Senate, from the Chief Justice down, he has the gift of more than 90,000 civil offices, any one of which save the judiciary, he can vacate and fill at pleasure.

Ever since the acceptance of the pernicious maxim "To the victor belong the spoils," these offices, like so much gold have been distributed by the senators and representatives to the men who have been, or maybe, most loyal to themselves or the party. 

With the people thus accustomed to executive corruption let us imagine, as under the Roman System, our President, in uniform, booted and spurred, galloping from the White House to the camp, his military retinue swelled by senators and representatives, fawning for favor and scrambling for spoils, how long it be asked would our liberties survive ... 

To historian, from example of Rome, might not fix the exact duration of the Republic, but he could make at least one prophesy of speedy fullfllment: At the first [meeting] held at headquarters the means would be discussed of prolonging the term of the President, if not the more startling propositon to declare him President for life.

"Upton wasn't writing about Rome," Fitzpatrick said. "It was about Ulysses Grant. He was writing at a time when Grant, running for a third term in 1880, was being seriously discussed. He had come to a different opinion of Grant. He had seen all the scandals of Grant's administration, and while he admired Grant as a general, the scandals appalled him.

"He's not talking about an imaginary president climbing on a horse. He's talking about Grant. If Upton was really a militarist interested in a military government, that wouldn't have bothered him at all."

June 8, 2017 - 8:58am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in news, batavia, Genesee County History Department, Emory Upton.

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At the end of May, the Genesee County History Department received a collection of $10,000 worth of Emory Upton documents from a donor from Georgia.

Michael Eula, Ph.D., the county historian, said the donation is a type that is usually received by large university libraries.

“We have a number of his papers here already,” Eula said. “These are all originals.”

Salvatore Cilella, of Atlanta, donated the documents.

The collection consist of 28 documents dating between 1862 and 1892. These include special orders, military passes and letters to friends and family.

Also included is a Western Union telegram from 1864. Upton wrote to his brother, Parley, about the wound he suffered at the Battle of Winchester.

Eula said there is no plan for the Upton documents to be put on display at this time.

“This is the sort of thing that UB would get,” Eula said. “I am proud to say that we have it here.”

Eula said Upton is one of Genesee County’s most famous people.

According to a history compiled by Eula, Upton was born on Aug. 27, 1839 on a farm near what is now in Batavia. He was the 10th child born to Electra and Daniel Upton.

Upton attended Oberlin College, transferring to the U.S. Military Academy, graduating shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1861.

Being in his mid-20s, Upton rose to the rank of Major General by the end of the war.

“He had displayed his bravery and leadership skills at such noteworthy Civil War battles as Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg,” Eula wrote.

In 1868, Emily Martin married Upton in Auburn. She died from tuberculosis a little more than two years later in 1870.

After the Civil War, Upton became an educator and policy maker through his tenure as Commandant of Cadets at West Point and through his research and writing.

Upton published “A New System of Infantry Tactics” in 1867. His other famous work, “The Military Policy of the United States,” was published in 1904. It analyzed American military practices and examined the nation’s military history.

“Upton was more than a West Point graduate and a Civil War hero,” Eula wrote. “He was more than an accomplished scholar who met a sad end. He was instead a clear product of his historical moment.”

In 1881, Upton committed suicide while serving as the Commanding Officer of the 4th U.S. Artillery at the Presidio in San Francisco.

“Why had he taken his own life?” Eula wrote. “For some, it was believed that he never fully came to term with Emily’s passing. For others, it was the result of severe headaches which had become so overwhelming that the only recourse was this ultimate physical escape.”

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September 15, 2016 - 12:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, Emory Upton, news, Announcements.

Michael J. Eula, Ph.D., Genesee County historian, will be giving a talk entitled "Emory Upton and the Formation of Modern America" at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21st.

It will take place at the Le Roy United Methodist Church, 10 Trigon Park, in Le Roy. It is sponsored by the Genesee Valley Civil War Roundtable.

June 3, 2016 - 5:44pm

A grant to pay for a historic marker for the boyhood home of Civil War-era Major General Emory Upton was approved, and the news was relayed to the Human Service Committee when it met Tuesday at County Building #2.

The Syracuse-based William G. Pomeroy Foundation agreed to provide $1,000 for a standard historical marker, mounting pole and shipping costs. Since 2006, the foundation's Historic Roadside Marker Grant Program has funded more than 282 markers in 46 New York counties.

The home at 9244 Upton Road in the Town of Batavia was built in 1823 by Emory's parents, Daniel and Electa Upton. The date has not been set, but there will be an unveiling ceremony/dedication after the marker is installed, attended by veterans groups, according to County Historian Michael Eula.

He has overseen the installation of three other markers during his tenure; there is a total of 19 in the county so far, one of which is in storage (for Rolling Hills Asylum in East Bethany).

The historian went on to outline what's happening in his department.

"I'm excited and optimistic about this department," he told the committee.

An average of eight visitors a month spend time in the History Department. Requests for information are up 2 percent; the only resulting uptick in revenue comes from copying fees. 

But the reputation of the Genesee County History Department is widening, Eula said, garnering attention outside the region, even outside the state.

The one area of concern that keeps the historian up at night, in fact that gives him nightmares, is the very real prospect of running out of shelf space for documents and records.

"Worst-case scenario is three years of shelving left," Eula said, "best case, four maybe five years."

He is tasked with storing documents from the Probation Department, the District Attorney's Office, the Public Defender's Office, and more.

But he has no idea in any given year how many documents will need to be archived.

It is only with the aid of a part-time microfilm clerk that he is "able to stay afloat."

"The more backup we have, the better I sleep at night," Eula said.

To that end, he applied for a grant last year to pay for more clerk hours to transfer documents onto microfilm. It was declined.

"I have to resubmit it," Eula said. "There is a learning curve on my part."

The specialized language of grant writing for record management is something he's still finessing, he admitted, noting that it is more challenging -- nuanced differently -- than that required for purely historical matters.

If he succeeds in getting grant money for more clerking assistance, he said he would like to retain the person now doing the job and already familiar with the department. Besides, he worries about confidentiality.

"Bringing in an outsider, a third party, raises confidentiality issues," Eula said.

After the meeting, Eula gave the Human Service Committee a tour of the History Department and County Building #2. With fans blowing and walls stripped of baseboards in many places, there was residual evidence of the flooding with occurred on a bitterly cold winter night when a frozen pipe burst and water damaged the building. It would have been much worse, but an employee happened to stop by over the weekend and caught the flooding early. 

A contractor is working to paint and retile and make other repairs and the county's insurer is paying for it.

May 10, 2016 - 6:00am
posted by Billie Owens in hlom, Emory Upton, batavia, news, history.

May 10th, 1864, Spotsylvania Court House: The Day A Man From Genesee County Made History

by Don Burkel (president, Holland Land Office Museum)

“I will carry those works” were the words spoken on May 10th, 1864 by a 24-year-old West Point graduate from West Batavia. He was about to become the third youngest Union Brigadier General during the War of the Rebellion.

Colonel Emory Upton, whose Second Brigade in the First Division, Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac, demonstrated great tactical skill at the Battle of Rappahannock Station in November, 1863, was selected to lead twelve hand picked regiments of the Sixth Corps to break the lines of Confederate General Doles’ Georgia brigade, known as Doles’ Salient.

It had been decided that a column formation, made up of four rows of three regiments, 4,500 troops, rather than the old linear form, would have greater success in penetrating Doles lines. At 6:10 p.m., young Upton leading on horseback, advanced his troops double quick over 150 yards of open field, and without firing a shot advanced over the Rebel rifle pits.

His veteran troops held the enemy’s works for little over one hour awaiting support from General Mott’s division, which never came. As dusk approached, and without any reserves, Confederate General Ewell’s corps repulsed Upton’s forces. Without support Emory had no choice but to order the withdrawal of his regiments. His casualties amounted to 1,000 dead and wounded. The young Colonel, was slightly wounded, and deeply upset about the lack of support did capture several colors, a battery and 1,200 prisoners.

Captain Kidder, whose 121st New York Volunteers (Upton’s Regulars) participated in the attack said, “the men from the Green Mountain State think that there never was such a splendid man and officer as Colonel Upton.” Grant was also impressed by this young officer’s success, and ordered General Hancock’s Second Corps, of 20,000, to follow up with the same strategy on May 12th to assault the apex of the Mule Shoe, known as the Bloody Angle.

There was no relief for Upton as his Second Brigade regiments were called upon to assist Hancocks’ troops by advancing to fill a gap in the heavy fighting at the Bloody Angle. Due to Emory’s bravery and tactical skill, General Grant recommended that Upton receive his promotion to Brigadier General because of his meritorious and gallant service at Spotsylvania Courthouse.

The dedicated and ambitious Emory Upton was promoted to Major General of Volunteers after commanding a cavalry division in 1865. He earned a reputation for his leadership and tactical skills at the battles of Rappahannock Station, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Winchester, Selma and Columbus.

General Upton’s well-known book of tactics, military policy and ideas of reform would eventually change the structure and the efficiency of the army. We should honor this noble soldier from West Batavia for having changed the course of warfare. His place in history is duly noted in fields of Spotsylvania, Va., on May 10th.

Be sure to visit the Holland Land Office Museum and view the Upton collection.

April 5, 2016 - 4:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in history, Emory Upton, news.

(File photo of the Upton house on Upton Road from Landmark Society of Genesee County.) 

There ought to be a historical marker on the site of the boyhood home of swashbuckling Civil War-era Major General Emory Upton.

That's what Genesee County Historian Michael Eula thinks, and it's why he asked members of the Human Service Committee on Monday for permission to apply for grant funds to pay for a marker at 9244 Upton Road in the Town of Batavia. Members unanimously agreed to grant permission.

Eula plans to apply for the Historic Roadside Marker Grant Program offered by The William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which since 2006 has funded more than 282 markers in 46 New York counties. If awarded, the grant will provide $1,000 for a standard historical marker, mounting pole and shipping costs.

The Upton Road house which features stunning, leaded windows of stained glass and beleved crystal, was built in 1823 by Emory's parents, Daniel and Electa Upton. His sister, Sarah Upton Edwards, updated the house in 1890 to the shingle style it is now. (In 2011, the Landmark Society of Genesee County presented current owners Joan Bird and William Steininger with awards for Interior Renovation and Stained Glass Window Restoration.)

Emory was Daniel and Electa's 10th child, their sixth son. After growing up on the farm, he studied at Oberlin College under famed evangelist Charles Finney and was then admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1856. (He had his face slashed there in a sword fight in cadet barracks, said to have begun over offensive remarks made about his relationship with African-American girls at Oberlin College.)

His patinated likeness in full regalia looms large at the monument on the city's westside where Main Street and Ellicott Street join. But there's actually little heft to his biographical record, according to Eula, who told the committee that outside of a thin and rather superficial biography written by Stephen E. Ambrose, "Upton and the Army," little has been written about the man himself.

His brilliant and impactful career as an influential Army reformer, war tactician, military strategist and policy maker is well documented in compendiums, magazine articles, and through his own authorship.

This includes a book called "The Life and Letters of Emory Upton," which includes the meticulously deciphered and transcribed letters that Emory wrote during his worldwide travels to Persia, Turkey, India, China and Russia where he feasted opulently with royalty, how else, and met with great leaders at the behest in 1875 of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Both the book of letters and the Ambrose book are out of stock currently at the Holland Land Office Museum, but they were reordered a week or so ago and should be back on the shelves soon.

If the Pomeroy Foundation approves the grant, there would be a ceremony featuring veterans groups at the dedication ceremony, Eula said.

With all the documentation about Upton available in Genesee County, and given the lack of a meaty tome about his life, will a book be forthcoming? That's the question Committee Chair Rochelle Stein asked Eula.

"I don't want to promise something I can't deliver," Eula replied, not altogether convincingly. He did acknowledge talking about the prospect with other local historians, and it's clear he deems the subject worthy of the effort.

See more about Emory Upton here.

January 12, 2009 - 3:31pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in history, Holland Land Office Museum, Emory Upton.

Most folks around here ought to know the name Emory Upton compatriot of General Sherman, traveler of the world and military documenter and tactician. His patinated likeness stands tall at the monument on the city's west side where Main Street and Ellicott Street join.

Now, Upton has earned himself yet another memorial: a rank of fifth in the Holland Land Office Museum's countdown of The Twenty-Five Things That Made Genesee County Famous.

Museum Director Pat Weissend tells us: 

In 1875, Upton received orders from General William T. Sherman to leave West Point and go on a world tour to observe and study all the great armies of Asia and Europe. Upton and his group headed west by train to San Francisco, got on a boat and headed to Japan. After observing the Japanese army, they went to China, India, Persia, Turkey, Russia and finally ended up in Western Europe.  Upon his return stateside, he published the book The Armies of Asia and Europe.

Recently, The Batavian sat down with Weissend and County Clerk Don Reed at Main Street Coffee as they worked at transcribing a selection of Upton's letters. (Those letters will be edited and published once the transciption is complete.)

For more on Upton, visit the Holland Land Office Museum online.

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