John Taylor Cuddy (Their Own Words)

John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., "John Taylor Cuddy," Their Own Words,
John Taylor Cuddy was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on October 17, 1844. He was one of five surviving sons of John and Agnes Cuddy. The Cuddy family owned and operated a distillery in the town. John Taylor also had a sister, Maggie, and two brothers who died as young children. His schooling was limited since he worked in the family business. In the late spring of 1861, like tens of thousands of his fellow Pennsylvanians, he was caught up in the excitement of the Civil War and President Lincoln's call for volunteers. Carlisle and its surrounding area quickly brought together four companies of volunteers during April 1861. One of these, the Carlisle Fencibles under Captain Robert Henderson, took into its ranks the young Cuddy, who added a year to his age to avoid possible complications with his enlistment. This unit subsequently became Company A, 36th Regiment, 7th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, and John Taylor Cuddy was mustered into this regiment as a private on June 5, 1861.

The 36th, after training at Camp Wayne near Philadelphia, joined the defense of Washington and spent some relatively quiet months before being engaged at Gaine's Mill in June 1862. Before that summer was out, the regiment had also fought and suffered heavily at the Battle of Antietam. Further bloody action continued at Fredericksburg that December. Ironically, the now battle-trained Pennsylvanians of the 36th missed the 1863 Confederate invasion of their home state. The regiment saw limited action, in fact, until the spring of the following year when it marched south to participate in the Battle of the Wilderness. During the confusion of the first and second day of the battle, the 36th suffered disaster when it was cut off and forced to surrender all its 272 officers and men. Those who surrendered included the thirty-three survivors of Company A, most of whom were one month away from ending their three year enlistment.

Cuddy was among those who were entrained and then marched to the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Sixty-seven men of the 36th perished in the horrendous conditions of the open camp. John Cuddy survived Andersonville, but when he and others in his company were transferred to another equally harsh camp in Florence, South Carolina, his shattered health gave way to the ravages of five months in captivity. He died in Florence on September 29, 1864, eighteen days before his twentieth birthday.
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