Abram V. Race was born on February 2, 1838 in Belfast, Allegheny county, New York. He worked as farmer on the family farm until the outbreak of the Civil War.
On June 22, 1861, he enlisted into Company I, 42nd New York Infantry on Long Island. He was transferred to Company K the same day. The regiment fought well but lost heavily at Ball’s Bluff before the end of the year, losing 133 killed, wounded and missing. It served during the Peninsula campaign the next spring, losing over fifty men at Glendale during the Seven Days’ battles. At Antietam the regiment was heavily blooded again, losing 181 killed, wounded and missing out of 345 engaged. Most of these were lost during the charge under Gen. Sedgwick.
After the battle of Antietam, Abram transferred to Company K, 6th U.S. Cavalry. He was enlisted by Lieutenant Albert Coats at Knoxville, Maryland. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’6 ½” tall, with blue eyes, brown hair, and a dark complexion. He apparently didn’t inform his former company of his intentions, as the records of the 42nd NY show him as deserting the regiment on November 5, 1862 at Warrenton, VA.
Abram served well through the winter and during the regiment’s 1863 campaigns. He was one of the few not to be wounded or captured during the fighting at Brandy Station and Fairfield. He completed his original enlistment period on April 24, 1864 at the Camp of the 6th Cavalry near Brandy Station, Virginia. Perhaps tired of Cavalry Corps headquarters escort duty, he chose not re-enlist in the regiment and returned home to New York. Over the summer he undoubtedly read in the local papers of the heavy cavalry fighting in the Overland Campaign and during Sheridan’s raids.
On September 19, 1864, he enlisted into the 1st New York Dragoons at Belfast, NY for one year. He was mustered in Company K as a private on October 1st. Ironically, he was headed right back to the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He arrived in time for the battle of Cedar Creek on October 19th. He remained with them through the end of the war, mustering out with his regiment at Cloud’s Mill, Virginia on June 30, 1865.
After the war, Abram moved to Michigan, where he married Ann Sissens in 1866. They lived in Kent county, near Grand Rapids, and had five children. He worked as a laborer in Algoma, and they later rented a ten acre farm. In 1890 he filed for an invalid pension, complaining of rheumatism, piles, loss of hearing and sight.
In 1900, Abram is listed a single boarder with a family in Wheatland, Michigan. The following year he married Hanna Widdifield Bryant in Grand Rapids on April 15, 1901. He was 63, and she was 70. On April 18, 1908, he married Harriet McGee in Wheatland, Hillsdale county, Michigan. His age is listed as 71 and hers as 64.
Abram was admitted to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Bath, New York on April 27, 1916. He died there on November 24, 1916, and is buried at Bath National Cemetery, Steuben county, New York.