John Torboss Underhill

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John Torboss Underhill
John Torboss Underhill.jpg
Portrait of John Torboss Underhill
Born (1842-08-17)August 17, 1842
New York City
Died May 26, 1924(1924-05-26) (aged 81)
Brooklyn, New York
Place of burial Underhill Burying Ground
Service/branch United States Union Army
Rank Union army col rank insignia.jpg Colonel
Battles/wars American Civil War

Col. John Torboss Underhill was an American politician in Westchester County, New York. He had distinguished himself in service during the Civil War, and following the war was elected Colonel of the 27th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1873. He served as president of the Rifle Association of Mount Vernon, and president of the Underhill Society of America. While president of the Underhill Society, he was instrumental in efforts to place a memorial to honor his colonial forebear Captain John Underhill at his burial site in the Underhill Burying Ground.


Underhill was born August 17, 1842, in New York City, the son of Lancaster Underhill (1805-1872) and Effie Maria Torboss (1814-1896). He served three enlistments during the Civil War. Two of these enlistments were with the 37th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company I.[1] After serving three enlistments in the Civil War he was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel. Following the war he commanded the 27th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment.[2]

John T. Underhill was elected Colonel of the 27th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1873. The paraded at Morrisania in a line formed by Brig. Gen. Ryder. Upon his appointment it was written: "Col. Underhill then took command, and it is to be hoped will soon be enabled to put the regiment in something like working order."[3]

The regiment assembled at Morrisania for fall inspection by Brig. Gen. Blauvelt's Chief of Staff, Col. Jackson. The muster of 320 muskets was commanded by Col. John T. Underhill.[4]

While in encampment at Martha's Vineyard in July 1878, so much criticism was made about behavior of the regiment in camp, that Col. John T. Underhill responded publicly. In defense of his men, Col. Underhill said: "The men behaved liked gentlemen, as every islander is ready to testify, and the constant saluting of officers by them was almost tiresome."[5]

Documents from the State Senate of New York in 1881 show an unpaid claim of John Boylan for uniforms provided to the 27th Regiment New York Army National Guard while Underhill was commanding it in 1877 and 1878.[6]

During his professional life Underhill held various political offices in Westchester County while remaining active in several Masonic chapters. In 1874 he was elected President of the Rifle Association of Mount Vernon.[7] Underhill married Anna Maria Wood of New York City in 1866, and after her death in 1876, married his second wife, Lydia Emma Thompson of Great Falls, New Hampshire.

Joining the Underhill Society of America in 1895, he became its third President ten years later and held the office until his death. At the fourteenth annual meeting of the Underhill Society of America where he presided, he "presented the report of the Monument Committee, which has charge of the project for a monument to Capt. John Underhill."[8]

Underhill was personally responsible for making the invitation to invite Theodore Roosevelt to the dedication of a monument to honor Captain John Underhill at the Underhill Burying Ground in Lattingtown, New York. The dedication took place on July 11, 1908.[9]

Underhill died in Brooklyn on May 16, 1924. He is buried in the Underhill Burying Ground on Long Island.


  1. ^ "Certificate of Union Service". National Park Service. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "John Torboss Underhill Papers". Underhill Society of America. 3 September 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "City and Suburban News". The New York Times. 26 October 1877. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  4. ^ "Military Gossip". The New York Times. 2 November 1873. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Twenty-Seventh's Encampment". The New York Times. 12 August 1878. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Documents of the Senate of the State of New York, Volume 2. New York (State). Legislature. Senate. 1 January 1882. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Westchester County". The New York Times. 13 December 1874. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Underhill Society Meets". The New York Times. 13 May 1906. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Roosevelt Attacks Socialist Ideal". The New York Times. 12 July 1908. Retrieved 24 December 2011.