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Civil War Signing Bonus
1863-1865 | New York
Milton enlisted in Company B, 8th New York Heavy Artillery at Bethany NY on December 29, 1863, probably at the urging of his brother-in-law Joel B. Baker, an officer in the regiment who was recruiting replacement troops. He received a signing bonus of $450 plus $227 to be paid in installments for three years service. The bonus must have been welcomed by his wife and two children who remained behind. Milton's Company was stationed at various forts in the Baltimore area until May 1864, when they were oved to Spottsylvani. The regiment was ordered to make a nighttime charge across a mie of open ground at Cold Harbor on June 3rd, which resulted in the death of over 200 men killed, 250 wounded and 28 taken prisioner. Colonel Peter Porter, who led the charge, was killed. Cpt. Joel Baker, the surviving senior officer, reported that he watched his entire company melt away around him until only he and one other wounded soldier were left. After the fatal charge the regiment was referred to as the "Bloddy Eighth." It has not been reliably determined if Milton was present at Cold Harbor or absent due to sickness. Disease was as much as a problem as enemy fire for the Eighth. As muster rolls were only completed every two months, participation is hard to verify. MIlton was presnet in Septmeber and October 1864 when the regiment was involved in the seige of Petersburg ad under constant fire. In his pension application, Milton said he was at the Battle of Reams Station, where the Ninth Virginia Cavalry was able to capture the regimental flag. Many men were captured and sent to Salisbury Prison in North Carolina. Milton escapted that fate. By December Major Baker reported to teh Adjutant General that two thirds of the regiment was absent sick and wounded with aquite a nuber to be mustered out as unfit for duty. Milton was present for duty in May 1865 as the regiment participated in the Appomattox area. Milton was transferred to the Tenth NS INfantry when Company B mustered out on June 5. He was mustered out in West Virginia and walked home carrying his Springfield muzzle loading rifle and another weapon. Milton purchased a threshing machine and offered his service to neighboring farmers. He was proud of his speed for hand threshing and enjoyed entering threshing contests, which he usually won. Milton received a veterans pension later in life and participated in the regimental annual reunions. He died in 1915.
Milton was a grandson of Coenrod Lafler, who fought at the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse with the New Jersey Militia during the Revolutionary War. His great grandson, Jerry Lafler, proudly carried his Springfield rifle during civil war reenactment encampments.