Col. Lewis D. Warner
(1822 - 1898)
Col. Lewis D. Warner, oldest son of Dennis Warner, was born in the home on the Allegany in 1822
(Westons Mills). He was early accustomed to labor and deprivations, and when old enough was
bound out as an apprentice to learn the tanning and currying business, in which he endured so hard a
life of service that even now he regrets he did not run away. At the close of his apprenticeship, and
at the age of twenty-one, he received a decent set of clothes, his first pair of boots, and $6 in cash.
In the fall of 1845, he returned to Portville, where he has since resided. He was several years in the
employ of Smith Parish and made an annual trip down the river. About 1854, he began business as a
carpenter and joiner, which trade, with rafting, he carried on until 1862. In December, 1857, he
married Miss Mary M. Cossett, of Pompey, N. Y., and their surviving children (as of 1893) are three
sons and a daughter, all married.
His patriotism then impelled him to serve his country as a soldier. Accordingly, he recruited a
company and went to the seat of war as captain of Co. C, 154th N. Y. Vols. This regiment was
organized in Jamestown, N. Y., and transferred to Virginia in October of that year. “From that time
until the first of May,” Colonel Warner says, “we did a large amount of marching and counter-
marching, but were in no engagement. May 2nd, at Chancellorsville, we were a part of the Eleventh
Corps, the record of which is well understood by readers of war history. The most unfortunate thing
about the 154th was that we had not learned to run when we ought to have done so. The regimental
loss on that day was over 200 in killed and wounded. Our next engagement was at Gettysburg,
where the losses were heavy. The remainder of the summer, we were with the Army of the
Potomac. The following autumn, the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were transferred to the west. Our
first work was relieving the army shut up in Chattanooga. We took an active part in the battles of
Chattanooga and Mission Ridge and then marched to the relief of Knoxville. Returning to Lookout
Valley, we remained in winter quarters until the commencement of the Atlanta campaign of 1864, and
participated in nearly all the battles and skirmishes incident to that campaign, which closed with the
occupation of Atlanta. In the organization of the march to Savannah, our corps (the Twentieth)
formed a part of the left wing of the army. In that and the march northeast through the Carolinas and
until the close of the war, we were ever present for duty. After Johnston’s surrender we started
home, marching all the way to Washington, where we were mustered out and sent home, arriving
there about the 1st of July, 1865.”
Colonel Warner was commissioned captain in August, 1862; major in May, 1863; lieutenant-colonel in
September, 1864; and colonel in January, 1865. With the exception of two short periods, when the
regiment was in winter quarters, he was with his command continuously during its term of service;
except sixteen months, during which he held the rank of major, he was in the command of and
responsible for the regiment, and was never accused of cowardice. He was always ready and present
to lead his command, never flinched from any duty, and a truer, braver, soldier never drew a sword,
and it is the unanimous testimony of his comrades that he never knew fear.
Since his return, he has followed his trade with the exception of a six years’ clerkship in the office of
Weston, Mersereau & Co. and a year and a half in the county clerk’s office. He has also had political
honors. He has served as supervisor of Portville ten terms, has filled the office of justice of the peace
nearly twenty years, and has been inspector of elections about fifteen years. Colonel Warner is
modest and extremely unassuming, a true patriot devoted to his country, is one of Portville’s most
honored citizens, and a leading representative war hero of Cattaraugus County. In July, 1863, at the
unveiling of the statue erected by the State of New York at Gettysburg to the memory of the New
York soldiers who participated in the battle, Colonel Warner was marshal of the Second Division,
Eleventh Army Corps.
(From the Lyman, Horton & Co's (Limited) Historical Gazetteer and Biographical Memorial of
Cattaraugus County, N. Y., ed. by Wm. Adams, 1893, pp. 1019-1020)
More details about Col. Warner:
- Lewis Dennis Warner was born on June 26, 1822, to Dennis and Clarissa Andrews Warner.
- His father died when he was only four years old. By the age of ten, he began an apprenticeship in
tanning in Phelps, N. Y., Ontario County, the home of his father's family.
- He married Mary M. Cossett on December 31, 1857, in her hometown of Pompey in Onandaga
County, N. Y. Mary Cossett was born on April 11, 1831. Of French descent, her family left France
for America during the Revolution of 1789.
- Their children were Clarence L., born December 6, 1858, Charles H., born January 24, 1862, both
born before the war, then Ralph C., born March 14, 1866, and Bertha A., born May 8, 1868.
- Lewis Warner was 40 when he first enlisted in the Union army.
- Besides the positions listed above, Col. Warner was a charter member of the Portville Library
Association, trustee of the Portville Union School, and a Master of the Masonic Lodge. He was a
member of the Republican party and an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Portville.
- Col. Warner held several positions in the Grand Army of the Republic, including three terms of
commander. Begun in 1879, Portville’s H. W. Wessel Post No. 85 was the oldest continuous G. A.
R. post in Cattaraugus County. A Sons of Veterans group was also formed in Portville. Affiliated
with Post 85, they named it “L. D. Warner Camp, No. 23” in his honor.
- Col. Warner lived out the rest of his days at his home in Portville, at the corner of Brooklyn and
South Main Streets, where the Sugar Creek Gas Station is today.
- He died on November 18, 1898, of heart disease.
- He was laid to rest in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Portville, N. Y. Unassuming in death as in life,
his gravestone simply reads “Lewis D. Warner 1822 – 1898" and "Mary M. Warner 1831 – 1903.”
See photographs below.
- In 2001, a stone was placed at the foot of his grave to commemorate his years of service and his
dedication to his country.
- Civil War enthusiasts will appreciate the annual 154th Reunion. This year's reunion will be held in
Ellicottville, N. Y., on July 12, 2008, in connection with the Cattaraugus County Bicentennial
|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
(The following is an obituary that appeared in the
newspaper after his funeral service on February 20,
Touching Tributes Paid to the Memory of Col. L.
The funeral of Col. Warner was held in the
Presbyterian church at Portville yesterday afternoon at
2:30 o’clock, Rev. S. J. Clark officiating. Mr. Clark,
among other appropriate remarks, said that Col.
Warner was a man who, when he saw his duty to his
God and fellow men, was always ready to perform
that duty no matter how much personal effort and self
sacrifice it required. Mr. Warner was one of the few
men of whom too much could not be said in his praise
by one whose duty required him to officiate at the last
service which could be rendered the deceased.
years of his life and in which his influence for good will be felt for many years. The floral offerings
were many and beautiful. The bearers were Wm. Holden, E. M. Bedford, H. J. Crandall, F. E. Tyler,
J. H. Fairchild and A. McDougald.
In the evening, a memorial service was held in the church where Mr. Warner had spent many happy
hours and of which he was an active member. The friends and neighbors of the deceased, including
the Grand Army Post of Portville and 30 members of Bayard Post No. 222 of Olean, filled the church
to overflowing. This service was entirely informal and void of any ostentation, which was fitting, as
Mr. Warner was a modest, unassuming man and one whose noble deeds were done without display.
At this service, his pastor, Mr. Clark, officiated, assisted by the Rev. Reed, pastor of the M. E. church
of Portville. Capt. Wm. Holden, in a few well-chosen words, spoke of Col. Warner’s enviable military
record and of his association with him as a member of the G. A. R. Although it was not Mr. Holden’s
fortune to serve during the rebellion in the same regiment with the deceased, he was familiar with the
history of his bravery and had learned, from those who served with him, of the many kinds of acts and
of his ever ready willingness to assist those under his command when fatigue and sickness was their
Supervisor W. B. Mersereau next spoke of Mr. Warner as a public servant and of the interest he
always took in public affairs. Among other important offices to which he always brought honor, was
the supervisor of his town. He was given this office ten consecutive terms, an honor which Portville
has never conferred upon any other person. Mr. Mersereau stated that it was not only years that made
history but deeds and the history of Mr. Warner’s public service is full of good deeds. As a public
officer, he was always upright and ever worked for the best interests of those whom he served. Hon.
W. E. Wheeler next spoke of Mr. Warner as one whom he had known, honored and respected from
early boyhood. In connection with Mr. Wheeler’s remarks, he read portions of letters written by Col.
Warner when he was at the front fighting to maintain his country’s honor and for the preservation of
the flag. These letters were written to the late Wm. F. Wheeler and to Mrs. Wheeler, who were warm
friends of the deceased. It is hard to realize that the letters, so scholarly, could have been written by
one who in early life had so few educational advantages.
These communications portrayed the man as he was known by his associates, ever modest, true and
faithful to his God, his country and mankind. During his services as a soldier, he always gave the
credit of his success to others and took no share of it to himself. Mr. Clark, as these interesting
services were about being brought to a close, briefly, yet eloquently, presented a few lessons from this
noble man’s life, which all could well remember and profit by.