Francis Asbury Murphy

Second Lieutenant, Company B

Francis Asbury Murphy was born on August 1, 1837 and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant of Company B on June 20, 1861. Lieutenant Murphy served the 67th NYV through the early part of the war and was taken prisoner at Savage Station on June 29, 1862 while in hospital. Sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Lieutenant Murphy and some of his fellow captives managed to escape and make their way through the Virginian countryside and eventually to safety through Federal lines. Lieutenant Murphy continued to serve as Second Lieutenant in the First Long Island until his disability caused by exposure during the Peninsular Campaign forced him to tender his resignation on September 25, 1862 (and accepted October 18, 1862).

Francis Murphy married Carrie Ward and had three sons. After Carrie died in 1872, Francis married a second time, to Josephine Silva, with whom he had two children, Cora Bell Murphy and Ralph Olena Murphy (grandfather of Jim Murphy).

Jim Murphy, Great-grandson of Lt. Murphy, generously donated a copy of his ancestor's diary to the 'New' 67th New York and what follows is a short summary of the Lieutenant's writings as transcribed by our Company Historian, Bob Hutton

To download a full copy (2.58 MB in size) of the Lieutenant's Diary simply click here

The Diary of Lieutenant Francis Asbury Murphy gives us some wonderful insight into the first year of the 67th NY and the Peninsula Campaign. Transcribed by his Great grandson Jim Murphy, the diary documents the departure of the regiment for Washington, the camps they were stationed at, the embarkation for Fortress Monroe as well as the opening engagements of the Campaign and the 67ths' roll in the fight.

He opens his Diary notations with the regiment departing for the "seat of war", Washington from Fort Schuyler stopping at Fort Hamilton shipping out on a steamer for Amboy, a storm cuts the sea trip short and they go by rail south going through Baltimore 'under arms' but being treated to lunch by the Ladies Of Baltimore. He recounts the first camp in the Capital he calls 'davis' , then moved out to camps Meridian Hill, and Temple on to Queens Farm ,then a camp he calls 'Palmer' finally to camp Proctor.

The Peninsula Campaign opens with the 67th NY leaving Camp Proctor on March the 25th at 9AM for Alexandria where they embark on the 'Daniel Webster' for Virginia describing the 1st casualty as an accidental fall in the hold of the ship in which a soldier was killed. From this point he begins to describe what he saw and experienced during McClellan's Campaign up the Peninsula . Lt Murphy relates that on many days he is 'sick' in letters home to his wife, Carrie. They are being given three crackers a day and fresh meat, by fresh he states 'without salt'. He reports to the surgeon who sends him to the hospital. After a few weeks he rejoins his regiment and participates in the siege and battle of Yorktown, where he describes 'throwing his company out as skirmishers', picketing, and bantering with the Rebs across the river. He also begins to detail the casualties while walking over the battleground and the burial details after Williamsburg is abandoned by the Confederates. From this point he speaks of little known towns and skirmishes on the army's crawl towards Richmond, giving us minute details of daily soldiering during that campaign such as 'Got up early, Hodgson and I went to Mill Dam, took a bath' and things of this nature.

Next comes a firsthand description of the 67ths involvement in the battle of Fair Oaks May 30th,31st 1862 firing volleys into the rebel attackers, killing fifteen, taking prisoners , artillery firing on our camp resulting in some fatalities. He describes his company as 'cold, wet stiff and hungry after fighting all day'. He himself has been slightly wounded twice. In the diary he draws maps of the positions of Union and Confederate forces in his proximity which are included in the copy his descendant Jim has sent us. Lt Murphy goes on to speak of burial details, seeing Union and Confederates "heeped together". He states the losses in the regiment as 196 wounded, missing, and killed.

During the next month they are facing the Rebels on the Chickahominy River, picket duty, receiving mail and back pay and other details of daily life. He writes poetry expressing what he sees and feels and sends it to his wife. Then he quickly describes the chaos of the opening Confederate attacks of the Seven Days’ battles. He reports ‘sick’ to Savage Station and is caught between the lines with the thousands of sick and wounded there as McClellan abandons them to the Rebels in his retreat to the James. He is taken prisoner and as an officer is sent to Libby Prison and interrogated by General Winder. He relates that a Major General 'Reynolds' is also a prisoner.

For the next month, he is a prisoner in Richmond's Libby Prison with other Union officers , he gives us details into the daily life experienced there such as food , 'lice hunting', walking around the room for exercise , prayer meetings, etc. Meanwhile, he has also 'got acquainted from the window' with a Mary Boltz, a unionist 18 yr old whose family lives nearby. The guards somehow escort him to her house and let him stay 5 minutes and chat. He mentions how hundreds of sick and wounded enlisted men are being paroled and 'Sent North' in exchange for their Rebel counterparts. Between Mary Boltz and lieutenant Murphy an escape plot is hatched and successfully undertaken. It sounds as if they disguised themselves as confederates or possibly civilians and they managed to remove some boards and slip past two sleeping armed guards and disappear into the streets of Richmond. From the 29th of July till the 5th of August they are on the run through the Virginia countryside with forged passes through the lines and help from some of the slaves in the area. One comical note, at some point the endeavor to use the passes to get through the lines, presumably to go towards the Union army, the examining guard says the papers are no good and why would they be trying to get into the confederate lines rather than through them. Apparently they had been turned around. The alarm is sounded but lt Murphy and several of the officers who escaped with him succeed in evading capture. Many more details are related in the Diary than described here, and eventually on August 5th 1862 they are 'captured' by the Yankees and have made it to freedom.

The diary ends with several pages detailing his re-union with his regiment, a two week furlough, reuniting with his wife, a list of prices of staple items in Richmond, a trip to Harrisburg, his subsequent illness and resignation due to disabilities suffered during the Peninsula Campaign accepted by General McClellan Oct 18th 1862.

Mr. Jim Murphy has also included period photos of Libby Prison, Descriptions and dates of actions on the Peninsula as well as some more information as found in the OR's and included in the presentation. The family is also in possession of an original key to a door at Libby Prison.

Some exciting insight to our unit and the early war from one of our own.

The members of the 67th New York Historical Association express their gratitude to Mr. Murphy for giving us this important contribution to the remembrance of the men of the Regiment.