NORWICH – A new Civil War historical novel depicting the travels, battles and suffering of the New York 114th Volunteer Infantry Regiment formed in 1862, has just been published. The book named, “Toss of a Coin” describes life in the nine companies of the regiment made from towns in central New York and assembled in Norwich for basic training. The N.Y. 114th became one of the most decorated and decimated Union regiments of the American Civil War. Traveling from Norwich to Baltimore, Md. for further training they were later deployed to Louisiana in the fall of 1862 where they stayed for a year and a half and fought in several severe battles, losing many members to wounds and disease. In the summer of 1864 the remaining members of the regiment were transferred to Washington to become part of the Army of the Shenandoah led by General Sherman. As part of that army they participated in the Battle of Third Winchester where they received heavy losses and later were decorated for holding their ground against withering Confederate fire and stopping the Rebel advance. A month later they were in the thick of it again at Cedar Creek in a rout-turned-victory lead by General Custer’s Cavalry and General Sherman himself.
The book is centered around Private Arnold Fuller and eighteen actual letters he sent home while he was part of company E formed in Greene. The story is written as though Pvt. Fuller was telling the details today. It is a close-to-fact account of the tedium and terror that was the life of a foot-soldier in that brutal war. Every member of the regiment mentioned in the book has been researched to keep the details and casualties as accurate as possible. Many of those men still have relatives in Chenango County today.
The author, Alan Sprague, was born in Norwich and is a graduate of Norwich High School; the son of Bill and Marge Sprague. The inspiration for “Toss of a Coin” came from the author’s Grandfather, Harold Fuller Sr. who showed him some of the letters and told the story of the two brothers flipping a coin to see which one would go and which one would stay and keep the farm going for the rest of the family. In addition to the eighteen letters, the book also contains forty-five photographs relevant to the story line. The author has donated copies of the book to the Guernsey Memorial Library and the Chenango County Historical Society in Norwich and the Moore Memorial Library in Greene. “Toss of a Coin” is available through Amazon and can be ordered by any bookstore. A Kindle version should be available in November.