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Elmira Prison Camp OnLine Library –

Submitted Information - Union Index - Union Officer Listing
Major Henry V. Colt

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By all accounts, a fair and honest man in his dealings with the Confederate prisoners, Major Henry V. Colt of the 104th N.Y. Volunteers, served as the direct camp commander under Col. Seth Eastman and Col. Benjamin Tracy. Colt was a short portly man who enjoyed his cigars and wore a distinguished beard that also matched his jolly disposition. His brother was the famous Samuel Colt, inventor of the revolving breech pistol, the submarine battery (used in harbor defense) and the submarine cable. It was said by Anthony Keiley (a member of one of the first three groups into the prison) that Major Colt was a "gentleman, fair and fat, of not quite forty, five and a half feet high, with a florid complexion...a very prepossessing appearance and manner, a jaunty way of cocking his hat on the side of his head, and a chronic attack of smoking cigars, which he invariably holds in his mouth at about the angle at which mortars are fired."

Major Colt personally met the first group of prisoners who arrived at Elmira on July 6, 1864. This group numbered 399. (Four hundred had left Point Lookout, MD, but one died en route.)

While serving in the prison, Colt presided over the case of Washington Traweek who was accused of trying to tunnel out of the prison. After spending three weeks in the prison jail, Traweek demanded to take his case before Colt. Colt ordered that Traweek be placed in the sweatbox until he told him who was involved in the tunneling plan. Traweek refused and was eventually released from the jail and allowed to return to his companions. With a few days, Traweek had completed his daring escape from Elmira. His escape attempt is documented here.

Prior to serving as Elmira camp commander, Major Colt has served with the 104th N.Y. Volunteers (also known as the Wadsworth Guards). He is listed on one roll of the regiment as "Quartermaster Henry Colt." The 104th NY Infantry was recruited largely from counties in western New York: Nunda (Company A), Spginwater (Company B), Centreville (Company C), Geneseo (Company D), Groveland (Company E), Rochester (Company F), Fowlerville (Company G), Troy (Companies H and I), and Cohoes (Company K). They were mustered out on July 17, 1865. The NY 104th lost during service 5 Officers and 81 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 145 Enlisted men by disease. Total 233. Service is listed below.

SERVICE.--Duty in the Defenses of Washington, D.C., until May, 1862. Expedition to Front Royal, Va., to intercept Jackson, May 28-June 1. Picket duty on the Shenandoah and at Front Royal until June 10. Duty at Catlett's Station, Warrenton and Waterloo, Va., until August. Battle of Cedar Creek August 9. Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2. Fords of the Rappahannock August 21-23. Thoroughfare Gap August 28. Groveton August 29. Bull Run August 30. Chantilly September 1. Maryland Campaign September 6-22. Battles of South Mountain September 14; Antietam September 16-17. Duty near Sharpsburg until October 30. Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 30-November 19. Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15. At Falmouth and Belle Plains until April 27, 1863. "Mud March" January 20-24. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Operations at Fitzhugh's Crossing April 29-May 2. Battle of Chancellorsville May 2-5. Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3. Pursuit of Lee July 5-24. Duty on line of the Rappahannock and Rapidan until October. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7, 1864. Campaign from the Rapidan to the James May 3-June 15. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Laurel Hill May 8; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. Jericho Ford May 23. On line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Bethesda Church June 1-3. White Oak Swamp June 13. Before Petersburg June 16-18. Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864 (Reserve). Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Reconnaissance toward Dinwiddie Court House September 15. Warren's Raid on Weldon Railroad December 7-12. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Lewis Farm, near Gravelly Run, March 29. White Oak Road March 31. Five Forks April 1. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Moved to Washington, D.C., May 1-12. Grand Review May 23. Duty at Washington until July. Mustered out July 17, 1865.

Major Colt was eventually succeeded in his post by Lt. Col. Stephen Moore.