Thomas Brush was born in England about 1610 and crossed over the ocean to the American colonies in the 1640's. By 1650 he had settled in Southold, Long Island, New York where he owned property in the heart of the village. He moved to Huntington, L.I., N.Y. in 1658 and lived there for the rest of his life. Thomas was a leader of the Huntington community and served as an overseer. The residents of Huntington selected him as the town constable and as such he started a tradition of Brush family military service. As constable Thomas was responsible for nominating officers for the town military company and saw that it was supplied with arms, ammunition and gunpowder. Thomas married Rebecca Conklin while living in Southold and they had five children, four boys and one girl. Thomas died in Huntington in 1670. Richard Brush, the younger brother of Thomas, also was born in England and came across the Atlantic to settle in the new world. He first lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts but moved to Huntington in 1658 to join his brother. Richard married Joanne Sammis in Huntington in 1668. They had seven children, five boys and two girls. Richard died in Huntington in 1714. By the time of the American Civil War the descendants of Thomas and Richard Brush lived not only on Long Island and along the Hudson River in New York but also in New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Some Brushes had moved West to Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Thirty-seven descendants of Thomas and Richard Brush saw service in the Union Army and Navy.The Brush participants ranked from Brigadier General Daniel Harmon Brush of Illinois down through one colonel, one major, three captains, four lieutenants, one naval officer, one chaplain, two corporals to the twenty-three Brushes who were ranked as privates.Their periods of service vary from the nine month tour of George A. Brush of Commack, N.Y. to the service of Daniel Harmon Brush from May 28, 1861 to April 9, 1865.
Three of the Brushes served as surgeons during the war, George R. Brush of Commack N.Y., Henry M. Brush of New York City and Edwin R. Brush of Cambridge, Vermont.
George W. Brush of West Hills, Huntington, N.Y. was awarded the Congessional Medal of Honor for saving the lives of several hundred members of the 34th Regiment USCT, an all black Union Army regiment that had been made up of former slaves from South Carolina. One Brush, Jesse Brush of Huntington, served as the chaplain of the 158th Infantry Regiment of the New York Volunteers. He was the brother of Medal of Honor receipient George W. Brush. Four Brush brothers from the same family in Vergennes, Vermont all saw service during the war. They were Edgar, Elkanah, Samuel and George Brush. A father and his two sons also saw service. They were Oliver B. Brush of Damascus, Pennsylvania and his sons Franklin and Eliphalet. Two Brushes were killed in battle, Private Samuel F. Brush at the Battle of James River and Captain Francis A. Brush who was killed at the Battle of Pleasant Hill. Private Van Rensselear Brush died of wounds recieved at the Battle of Gettysburg.
There were Brush participants at the Battles of Antietam, Asheppo River, Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Charleston, Fair Oaks, Fort Donelson, Fort Pulaski, Fort Sumter, Fort Wagner, Fredricksburg, Gettysberg, Graham, HIlton Head Island, James Island, James River, Malvern Hill, New Bern, Pleasant Hill, Pocotaglio, Port Royal Ferry, Shiloh, and Vicksburg.
The following is a roster of the members of the Brush Family who served during the Civil War. It contains their name, place of birth, date of birth and the unit in which they served:
Brig. Gen. Daniel H. Brush Vergennes, Vermont 1813 18th Regiment of Illinois Infantry Colonel Henry L. Brush Vergennes, Vermont 1809 53rd Regiment of Illinois Infantry Major Henry L. Brush New York, New York 1836 4th New YorFieldArtillery Captain Edwin R. Brush Cambridge, Vermont 1836 2nd Regiment Vermont Volunteers Captain Francis A. Brush Southwest, New York 1838 27th Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry Captain George W. Brush Huntington, New York 1842 34th Infantry Regiment U.S.C.T. Lieut. Charles H. Brush Cambridge, Vermont 1839 1st Regiment of Vermont Heavy Artillery Lieut. John S. Brush Huntington, New York 1836 New York Regiment of VolunteerInfantry Lieut. Josephus W. Brush Fairfax, Vermont 1821 25th Regiment of Iowa Infantry
Lieut. Moses E. Brush New York, New York 1827 N.Y. Regiment of Volunteer Infantry
Naval Officer George R. Brush Commack, New York 1836 U. S. Frigate Potomac
Chaplain Jesse Brush Huntington, N.Y. 1830 158th Inf. Regiment Brooklyn Volunteers
Corporal George A. Brush Fairfield, Connecticut 1818 56th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers
Corporal Theodore Brush Weston, Connecticut 1836 17th Regiment of Connecticut Infantry
Private Albert G. Brush Oakland, Pennsylvania 1846 203rd Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers
Private Azel Brush Fairfax, Vermont 1841 1st Regiment of Vermont Infantry
Private Burrell Brush Fairfax, Vermont 1840 16th Regiment of Missouri Calvary
Private Charles E. Brush Brooklyn, New York 1832 NY Regiments of Volunteers
Private Charles H. Brush South Salem, New York 1838 NY Regiment of Volunteers
Private Edgar Brush Vergennes, Vermont 1846 18th Regiment Of Illinois Infantry
Private Edgar J. Brush Oakland , Pennsylvania 1846 Regt. of Pennslyvania Infantry Volunteers
Private Eliphalet W. Brush Damascus, Pennslyvania 1845 Pennslyvania Regiment Union Army
Private Elkanah Brush Vergennes, Vermont 1840 18th Regiment of Illinois Infantry
Private Fernando E. Brush Oakland, Pennslyvania 1842 Regt. of Pennslyvania Volunteers
Private Franklin L. Brush Damascus, Pennslyvania 1847 56th Regiment of N.Y. Volunteers
Private George Brush Vergennes, Vermont 1844 18th Regiment of Illinois Infantry
Private George W. Brush Cambridge, Vermont 1841 1st Regiment of Vermont Cavalry
Private James R. Brush Brooklyn, New York 1840 New York Regiment of Volunteers
Private John Brush Huntington, New York 1824 19th Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers
Private John T. Brush Clintonville, New York 1845 1st New York Regiment of Artillery
Private William H. Brush Pultney, New York 1846 New York Regiment of Volunteers
Private Oliver B. Brush Damascus, Pennsylvania 1823 N.Y. Regiment of Volunteers
Private Samuel Brush Vergennes, Vermont 1842 18th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers
Private Samuel F. Brush Ontario, Canada 1819 12th Regiment of Iowa Volunteers
Private Theodore Brush Huntington, New York 1841 12th Regiment of N.Y. Volunteers
Pvt. Van Rensselear Brush Huntington, New York 1841 102nd Regiment of N.Y. Volunteers
Private William C. Brush Arcadia, New York 1832 9th N.Y.Regiment of Artillery
Brigadier General Daniel Harmon Brush (1813 - 1890) 18th Regiment of Illinois Infantry
Daniel H. Brush was born in Vergennes, Vermont on April 25, 1813, the oldest son of Elkanah and Lucretia Brush. Daniel's father had been born in Huntington, Long Island, New York in 1762 and had moved to Vermont. When Daniel was seven the family moved by two-horse wagon to Illinois.
When the Civil War began Daniel organized a company of men who were mustered into the 18th Illinois Infantry regiment with Daniel as their captain. On February 11th of 1862 the 18th was with Ulysses S. Grant in his advance upon Fort Donelson. They occupied the right side of the Union lines. Through February and March the 18th was a number of times involved in fierce battles. Twice, because of missing or wounded superiors Captain Brush became the acting commander of the 18th. Daniel himself was twice wounded during the battle, in the hand and the thigh.
The 18th was next with the Army of the Tennessee and took part in the Battle of Shiloh. Daniel was again wounded in battle and was promoted to major.
By November of 1862 Daniel was a lieutenant colonel and had been given command of the 18th Regiment. Through December and into January of 1863 the regiment engaged rebel forces a number of times and marched over one hundred and twenty miles in snow, rain and mud.
From May 30th to July 3rd of 1863 the 18th was at the Battle of Vicksburg. On May 25, 1863 Daniel was promoted to full colonel.
In recognition of his service during the war Daniel was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on March 13, 1865.
Daniel, who had survived several wounds during the Civil War, was killed in an accident. He was supervising the clearing of a field for the building of a school when he was killed by a falling tree. He died on February 10, 1890 and is buried in the Carbondale Cemetery in Illinois. The school was named the Brush School in his honor and was not closed until the 1970's. Daniel had been the founder of the town of Carbondale in 1852.
Captain George W. Brush (1842 - 1927) 34th U.S.C.T . Regiment of Infantry
George W. Brush was born on October 4, 1842 in Huntington, N. Y. on the family farm in West Hills. The farmhouse still stands today just south of Jericho Turnpike a few hundred yards from Jayne's Hill, the highest point on Long Island. George was the ninth child of John and Elizabeth Brush.
In 1861, at the age of eighteen, George enlisted in the 48th Regiment of N.Y. Volunteers and fought with them in South Carolina at Port Royal Ferry, Hilton Head Island and Pocotaglio. He was also at the capture of Fort Pulaski in Georgia. When the opportunity arose George volunteered for training to become an officer of black troops. George was assigned as a second lieutenant with the 34th Infantry Regiment in the Department of the South. The unit was composed mainly of freed slaves fron South Carolina. He fought with this unit at James Island, Fort Wagner and Charleston.
On May 24, 1864, at the age of twenty-one, George, took part in the engagement that led to his being awarded the Medal Of Honor. The 34th was sailing up the Asheppo River in South Carolina on the steamer " Boston" in preparation for attacking a key river bridge. The "Boston", carrying over black 400 troopers, became grounded on a sand bar and soon came under heavy fire from Confederate batteries on the river bank. On his own initiative, George led four troopers to the only small boat available and began rowing twenty-five soldiers at a time to the safety of the opposite river bank. Under intense fire from the Confederate shore batteries George and his troopers made numerous trips back and forth, rescuing several hundred of the Union soldiers. A minister, the Reverend Moore, who was chaplain to the 34th, started an immediate campaign to nominate George for the Medal of Honor.
In awarding the medal to George, who was by then a captain, the War Department states in his citation " this officer displayed conspicuous gallantry by voluntarily commanding a boat crew that went to the rescue of a large number of Union soldiers and with great gallantry succeeded in carrying them to shore, being exposed during the entire time to heavy fire from a rebel battery".
After the war ended George attended L.I. College Medical School and became Dr. Brush in 1876. He practiced medicine in Brooklyn, N.Y. for several decades. Dr. Brush also became poitically active and in 1894 was elected to the New York State Senate and was chairman of the Public Health Committee. During his term in the Senate he introduced sixty-eight bills that were passed into law. Included in these was a bill which led to the establishment of the N.Y. State Sanatorium at Saranac Lake.
George died in Brooklyn in 1927 and is buried in the Huntington Rural Cemetery. Nearby is the grave of his brother Jesse, who served as the chaplain of the 158th Regiment of the N.Y. Volunteers in the Civil War.
Private Van Rensselar Brush (1841 - 1863) 102nd New York Regiment of Volunteers
Van Rensselear was born in Huntington, New York on May 9, 1841. He was the oldest of the seven children of Isaac and Deborah Brush. His father was a farmer and he was born on the family farm just west of Cold Spring Harbor.
On August 30, 1862 he enlisted in Company C of the 102nd New York Regiment of Volunteers. He fought with the 102nd at Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
At Gettsyburg, on July 3, 1863, the 102nd was occupying the ridge line on Culp's Hill on Cemetery Ridge on the right flank of the Union lines. They were serving in the 3rd Brigade of Brig. Gen. George S. Greene in the 2nd Division. At 11:00 a.m. the 14th and 15th Regiments of Louisiana of the Confederate Army attacked the 102nd and Greene's Brigade in an attempt to turn the Union right flank. The battle lasted into the evening and was among the most fierce at Gettysburg. The forest on Culp's Hill was cut to pieces and would remain desolate for almost fifty years. A tree was later found with over two hundred musket balls embedded in it. Over 1,085 Union soldiers were killed or wounded. Among the wounded was Van Rensselear Brush. His wounds would linger on for months and eventually cause his death on October 22, 1863. His body was returned to Huntington and he is buried in the Old Huntington Burial ground on a hill above the town's Civil War Memorial.
Beyer, W.F. and Keydel, O.F., " Deeds of Valor: How America's Civil War Heroes Won the Congessional Medal of Honor, Stamford, CT, Longmeadow Press, 1994.
Brush, Marie Annette Bowers, Brush -" Bowers Genealogy", Brooklyn, N.Y., 1904.
Mann, Conklin, Thomas and Richard Brush of Huntington ,L.I., N.Y., "The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Record, Volumes LXVI and LXVII", 1935 - 1936.
"18th Illinois Infantry Regiment History, Adjutant General's Report", The Illinois USGenWeb Project, 1997.
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