Tall and Small


There was something to be said regarding the height of upstate New Yorkers, specifically from St. Lawrence County. Before volunteers left the state in the first month of the war, people noticed men from the 16th New York Infantry (predominantly from St. Lawrence County) stood at least one inch above other regiments. So, it goes as no surprise that the tallest man in the 18th New York was also from St. Lawrence County. That towering honor stood with the six foot four Private David H. Gray of Company K, a 33-year-old school teacher from Lisbon, New York. Comrades nicknamed him as their “Big Gray baby,” and his height matched him to President Lincoln.

During the Battle of Gaines’s Mill, Corporal Thomas Kearns, Company F, made quite the target as he held the flag. He was six foot one. One bullet struck the right side of his scalp, shrapnel struck his left leg and broke his tibia, and his right thigh received three small punctures from buckshot, and his right heel was also hit. When he fell with the flag, his comrades were convinced he was killed, but somehow he defied the odds and lived (He died in 1912).

In comparison, the shortest member of the 18th New York was also the youngest, Joseph Napoleon Rockwell, of Company A. The 13-year-old was just four foot six when he joined.

The 18th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment History Website

  • Facebook Social Icon

© 2020 by Ryan A. Conklin