Chenango in the Civil War: The Hole in the Bible – Part II

Editor’s Note: In conjunction with the Chenango County Civil War Commemoration Project Team, The Evening Sun will present a monthly series chronicling items of local interest during the war between the states, compiled and written by a number of local history enthusiasts.

By Rose Wellman

Sherburne Historian

This is the story of a Civil War soldier from Sherburne, who was killed at the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19th, 1864. It is similar to others who were killed in the war, but the circumstances which occurred after his death make it a one-of-a-kind story. The soldier was Sergeant William Wesley Wakeley, son of Samuel and Phidelia Wakeley, born in Hamilton on November 15, 1837. He was a mechanic before he enlisted on August 2, 1862 in Co F, 114th NYV. He was called by either of his given names William or Wesley

Years later his great, great- nephew, Kip Yerton, became interested in the story of his Civil War relative and began research for a book. Sadly, Kip passed away before he finished the story. I found out who had Kip’s papers and I asked for a copy. I have edited it in length and context for this article; otherwise these are Kip’s own words.


It was thought by members of the Grand Army that the bullet that passed through the bible caused William’s death. I will not know what happened until I find Pickney Brown’s name on the Confederate list of soldiers and know if, indeed, he was at the Battle of Cedar Creek as many of the North Carolina troops were; or was he on the burial detail?


It is believed that the bible was either given or sent to William by a woman living in his hometown of Sherburne, New York. Her name was Elisa R. Hatch, daughter of Joel Hatch, Jr., who wrote the History of Sherburne and they were neighbors to the Bassett’s. Could this have been his girlfriend? He was not married at the age of 26. The bible states his name and regiment, the 114th Company F, N.Y.V.

Lieut. Col. Rexford and Homer G. Newton, both of Sherburne, were stationed nearby with the 131st NYV and they occasionally rode over to visit the boys in the 114th. Newton was an Assistant Surgeon during the Civil War. Newton often visited with Wesley in particular.

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