While researching the 62d NY, it is not unusual to find a variety of occupations among the personnel; carpenters, butchers, barbers, ministers, architects, farmers, silversmiths, blacksmiths and so on. But every once in a while you may run across a rare individual among the enlistees with the occupation listed as “soldier”. European immigration to New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore did much to refill the Union ranks after Antietam, Shiloh, Gettysburg and other high casualty battles during the Great Rebellion. Their reward was a swift granting of citizenship of the United States after the War.
Those who declared themselves as soldiers upon enrolment were usually veterans of the various revolutions that swept through Europe between the 1830s and 1870s. One such individual was John B. Bellote. John was born in Sardinia in 1835, 1836, or 1837 (dates vary between various official records). There were also several variations to the spelling of his name (ranging from George Ballotti, John Bellotti or John B. Bellote). There is evidence that John fought in the wars for the unification of Italy as a sailor in the King of Sardinia’s Navy. However, no proof was found on which side he fought. He immigrated to New York City in 1855. Both of John’s parents are listed by post war American Censuses as being born in either Germany or Italy. The geopolitical turmoil that existed along the northern border of Italy and the shared border with the Austrian-Hungarian Empire shifted control of the region between the various military and political factions which would continue until the 1870s. Thus National origin of birth would change decade by decade, depending which nation controlled a particular area and at what particular time.
Enlisting on May 6th , 1861 in New York City, John B. Bellotte, at the age of 24, was mustered into Co. B., of Anderson Zouaves. He was described as being 5’3’’ tall, dark eyes and dark haired with a dark complexion. On June 30th , 1861 he was transferred to Co. I as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on August 31st, 1861 and was again promoted to Captain on April 4th, 1862. He was discharged from the 62d on June 23rd, 1862. No reason was given.
On July 10th, 1863, in Albany ,New York ( under the name of George Ballotti ) the former officer with the 62nd was mustered into Co. C of the 55th New York State Volunteers as a 1st Lieutenant. His enlistment record recognized his previous service in the 62d. At the beginning of the Great Rebellion, the 62d was brigaded with the 55th New York (Garde De Lafayette) as well as the 102d Pennsylvania and the 6th New Jersey, at Saltersville, New Jersey. He was discharged from the 55th New York on January 17th, 1863 and on July 10th, 1863 enlisted in the 17th New York Volunteer Infantry in Albany, New York as an Adjutant to the Union Sharpshooters . Enlistment records for the 62d, the 55th and the 17th, confirmed that John (George) did honourable service in all three regiments. The reasons for three enlistments in three separate regiments within a three year period was not found. No official discharge from service was found.
(Note: “George” was used in all official documents after his transfer to the 55th New York. For clarity “John” is used in this article, except where the name “George” is referred to in official documents. – Ed.)
Although no official discharge papers were found, the fact that John Bellotti would later receive a pension would provide an indication that he indeed had an honourable discharge. On the Pension Form, a Martha Bellotti was listed as widow. Martha Bellotti was born in Germany in July, 1842 and immigrated to New York in 1863. Also in 1863, John and Martha married and eventually would have six children; George (1865-), Dominick (1866-), Augustus (1868-), Lucy (1872), Charles (1876-) and Frank (1881-). John would file for naturalisation on October 15, 1868 and the family would live in Amsterdam City, New York for the rest of the 19th Century. John would work as a cutter, cutting material for an article of clothing from a pattern and eventually would become a full tailor. His son apprenticed as a cutter following in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately for the family, daughter Lucy, as reported in the New York Times, committed suicide on February 4, 1892. A Federal Census had Lucy being at home and next to her name was printed (bds). The researcher has not been able to find its meaning. It may be extremely obvious to others, but not to this researcher and any assistance in translating this abbreviation would be greatly appreciated.
On January 9th, 1901, the Boston Transcript announced the death of “George B. Bellotti”, but lists his rank as Colonel. No information was found whether this was an honorary title, possibly within the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), or a self-given title he used after the War. The date of death also matches the date that Martha filed for a widow’s pension. Between 1909 and 1913, son George died and Martha was living with her son, Frank, who was employed as a painter. On November 27th, 1915, Martha died with her estate settled by her son Frank and filed with the Wills and Probate Records of Amsterdam, New York. No records could be found regarding the location of John or Martha’s internment.
Research article by Joe Basso