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History of the Twenty-first regiment; Massachusetts volunteers, in the war for the preservation of the union, 1861-1865

Date: 1882 | Identifier: E513.5 21ST .E82
History of the Twenty-first regiment; Massachusetts volunteers , in the war for the preservation of the union, 1861-1865. With statistics of the war and of Rebel prisons. By Charles F. Walcott. Boston : Houston, Mifflin and co., 1882. xiii, 502 p. front., port., maps. 23 cm. NCRare 30372015307363 inscribed on front end-paper: "Charles P. [Deane[?], August 23d, 1882 now presented to Marion Fairbanks Dani McKie [?] Sept. 14, 1917 by her father." NCRare 30372015307371 inscribed on front fly-leaf to "George Walcott ... [from] his uncle Charles the author." more...







New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street
The Riverside Press, Cambridge

Copyright, 1882, By CHARLES F. WALCOTT.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge: Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.


  • Thou hast not always been, as here to-day, so comfortably ensovereigned.
  • In other scenes than these have I observed thee, Flag,
  • Not quite so trim and whole, in folds of stainless silk;
  • But I have seen thee to tatters torn, upon thy splintered staff,
  • Or clutched to some young color-bearer's breast, with desperate hands,
  • Savagely struggled for, for life and death fought over long,
  • ’Mid cannons’ thunder-crash, and many a curse and groan and yell, and rifle volleys cracking sharp,
  • And moving masses as wild demons surging — and lives as nothing risked,
  • For thy mere remnant, grimed with dirt and smoke, and sopped in blood;
  • For sake of that, my Beauty, and that thou might'st dally as now, secure up there
  • Many a good man have I seen go under.

Walt Whitman.


At the first annual reunion of the survivors of the regiment at Worcester, February 8, 1866, I was urged by many comrades to prepare a history of its service. While a member of the regiment, from its organization until the 25th of April, 1863, I had kept a full diary, and collected the official reports of battles and casualties in action. As these would give me a start, I thought that I could find time to do the work, and at once set about its preparation. During the summer of 1866, circulars were freely distributed among the members of the regiment and families of deceased comrades, calling for facts which they deemed of interest, and the principal portion of this history was compiled and written in the years 1866 and 1867. With an intense feeling of loyalty to the glorious old regiment and of tender regard for the memory of our dead comrades, I devoted to this labor of love every hour during those years which I could spare from the demands of a laborious profession. But there were still many gaps to be filled, and the Roster was entirely wanting. I became dissatisfied with the result, and found it not very difficult to persuade myself to put my record upon the shelf, in the hope that it would at some future time be my privilege to coöperate with other comrades in producing a better monument to our heroes. As the years passed on it became more and more evident that the materials which I had accumulated must be used by me if

by any one; and finally, at the reunion of 1879, I promised an early completion and publication of the history. The revision which I had supposed would be the work of months only, has to my great regret occupied years,—more than a year of the delay being caused by the difficulty of making a roster of the regiment worth publication. I had expected to use the Roster published by the Commonwealth in 1870, in the “Record of the Massachusetts Volunteers,” but found that part of it relating to the enlisted men so frequently and wonderfully incorrect, that I have dared to take hardly anything from it without verification. In this task of correction I have examined personally all the monthly regimental returns, and indeed every roll, report, and return relating to the regiment on the files of the office of the adjutant-general, from whom and his assistants I have received all possible aid in the work. Even now I do not claim that the Roster is perfect, but the errors cannot be very numerous, and it is certainly by far the best that exists at the present time. Lest I should be understood as accusing the adjutant-general, under whose direction the record published by the State was prepared, of carelessness in so important a matter, I ought to say that most of its mistakes and omissions exist also in the muster-out rolls from which it was made up. Many of our comrades have died since their muster out of service, by reason of wounds and disease suffered or incurred while in the regiment; but in my record of casualties I have confined myself to deaths in the service.

This is the history of a fighting regiment, and I shall particularly regret any errors which may be found to exist in the record of casualties in action. It is hardly possible that there are many such errors, as in addition to the official reports, I have had full lists of casualties from the hospital records of Surgeons Cutter and Oliver, also from acting Sergeant-Major Harrison C. Cheney, for the summer campaign of 1864, and

from Captain William H. Sawyer, the last commander of the 21st battalion, for its final service, besides receiving valuable information on this subject from many others. To Captain Sawyer I am also indebted for official documents and facts of interest in connection with the latest service of the reënlisted men.

Since I ceased to be connected with the regiment, I have derived information not only from sources indicated above, but from the carefully-collated statements and diaries of several officers and men, to whom I have, as far as possible, given credit in the text or notes from time to time.

I am also indebted to Major-General John G. Parke, Chief of Engineers, for a full set of the war maps published by the government; to the late Major-General Burnside, for copies of official reports obtained from the War Department; and to the late Governor Bullock, for copies of his eloquent addresses to the regiment on its departure from the State in 1861, and return on the reënlistment furlough, in 1864.

The history of the 21st in rebel prisons, contained in the twenty-second chapter, is one of the most interesting and valuable parts of the book, consisting principally of the full prison diary of Private George A. Hitchcock, and extracts from diaries and a narration of incidents of their prison life by Sergeant-Major P. Frank Gethings, First-Sergeant Marcus M. Collis, Corporal Alvin S. Graton, and Privates Wilbur A. Potter and John E. Short.

The maps, plans, and general statements of campaigns, strength of opposing armies, losses, etc., have been carefully prepared from the best attainable sources, and may be relied upon. For opinions incidentally expressed as to commanding officers and campaigns, I am alone responsible.

In the account of the battle of Antietam, it is stated on the 201st page of the book that our brigade, after the passage of

Antietam Creek, took position in a ravine on the right of the road. This statement should be limited to the old regiments of the brigade (21st Massachusetts, 51st New York, and 51st Pennsylvania); the 35th Massachusetts, on crossing, were pushed up the hill directly in front of the bridge, and led the division in the advance against Hill's troops Iate in the afternoon.

I sincerely thank my comrades for the sacred trust which they have committed to me in the preparation of this history, as well as for the patience with which they and the families of our loved and honored dead have waited so long for its publication, and am fully conscious how meagre and inadequate it will seem to many of them.


Cambridge,June 20, 1882.



July, 1861 — January 5, 1862.

Organization of the Regiment. — Departure from Worcester. — Service in Maryland. — Preparations for the Burnside Expedition . . . . . PAGE 1


January 6 — February 5, 1862.

Departure of the Burnside Expedition. — Hatteras Inlet. — Troops and Vessels in Pamlico Sound. — Moving on Roanoke Island . . . . . 20


February 7-18, 1862.

Battle of Roanoke Island. — On the Island after the Battle . . . . . 29


February — April, 1862.

Departure from Roanoke Island. — The Battle of Newbern. — In Camp near Newbern. — Death of Miss Carrie E. Cutter . . . . . 59


April 15-22, 1862.

The Battle of Camden (or South Mills). — Union and Rebel Official Reports of the Battle . . . . . 85


April 24 — July 5, 1862.

In Camp near Newbern.—Relief of the 2d Maryland Regiment.—Last Days in North Carolina.—Lieut. Richardson's Poetical Narrative of the Service of the Regiment . . . . . 102


July 6 — August 16, 1862.

Leaving North Carolina.—Arrival at Newport News.—Newport News to Fredericksburg.—Fredericksburg to the Rapidan.—General Pope's Army of Virginia . . . . . 122


August 18 — September 1, 1862.

Pope's Retreat.—Second Battle of Manassas, and Retreat to Centreville . . . . . 131


September 1, 2, 1862.

Battle of Chantilly.—Retreat to the Defenses of Washington . . . . . 161


September 7-22, 1862.

Campaign in Maryland under McClellan.—Battle of South Mountain, and Death of General Reno.—Battle of Antietam . . . . . 184


September 23 — November 8, 1862.

Reorganization of the Army after the Battle of Antietam.—Miss Clara Barton.—Advance under McClellan; his Removal from Command . . . . . 213


November and December, 1862.

General Burnside takes Command of the Army.—On to Richmond via Fredericksburg.—In Camp opposite Fredericksburg.—Battle of Fredericksburg . . . . . 223


December 22, 1862 — August 13, 1863.

Opposite Fredericksburg after the Battle.—The “Mud Campaign.”—General Hooker in Command of the Army.—The 9th Corps Detached from the Army of the Potomac.—Anniversary of the Battle of Newbern.—Transfer of the 9th Corps to the Department of the Ohio.—Service in Kentucky. . . . . . 257


September 12 — December 27, 1863.

The Deliverance of East Tennessee.—March to Knoxville.—Battles of Blue Springs and Campbell's Station.—Siege of Knoxville.—Veteran Reënlistment of the Regiment . . . . . 272


January 6 — February 1, 1864.

Veteran Reënlistment Furlough.—March from East Tennessee to Camp Nelson, Kentucky.—Reception at Worcester . . . . . 299


March 18 — May 19, 1864.

General Grant appointed to the Command of the Armies of the United States.—Summer Campaign of 1864.—Battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania . . . . . 309


May 20 — June 18, 1864.

Movements of the Army.—Fighting on the Line of the North Anna.—Battles at Cold Harbor.—Transfer of the Army across the James River to the South of Richmond.—Assaults upon the Rebel Works in Front of Petersburg, June 16 and 17. . . . . . 325


June 19 — July 30, 1864.

The Siege of Petersburg.—General Early's Raid on Washington.—Battle of the Mine . . . . . 340


August 1, 1864 — March 24, 1865.

The Return Home of the Non-reënlisted Men of the 21st. — The Veterans in the Field take Part in the Battle on the Weldon Railroad of August 19. — Battle of Poplar Spring Church, September 30, and Death of Captain Sampson. — Consolidation of the 21st Battalion with the 36th Massachusetts Volunteers. — Battle of Hatcher's Run, October 27th. — The Last Winter of the Rebellion. — Order for a General Advance of the Armies in Virginia . . . . . 350


March 25 — April 3, 1865.

Rebel Attack on Fort Steadman. — The Grand Movement to the Rebel Right. — Fall of Richmond and Petersburg. — Retreat of Lee's Army . . . . . 367


April 4 — July 12, 1865.

The Retreat and Surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. — End of the Rebellion. — Transfer of the 21st Veterans to the 56th Massachusetts Volunteers. — Muster out of Service . . . . . 373



List of Members of the 21st Confined in Rebel Prisons. — Description of Andersonville Prison, and Statistics of Prisoners and Deaths. — Prison Narratives of Wilbur A. Potter, Marcus M. Collis, P. Frank Gethings, Alvin S. Graton, John E. Short, and George A. Hitchcock. — Responsibility for Non-exchange of Prisoners . . . . . 385

Roster and Record of the 21st Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers . . . . . 429

Recapitulation of Casualties . . . . . 490

Table of Deaths in the Union Army in the War of the Rebellion; and Estimate of Casualties in the Rebel Army . . . . . 491

Index . . . . . 493


Portrait of General RenoFrontispiece.
Field of Operation in North Carolina21
Roanoke Island and Surroundings30
Charge on the Battery at Roanoke Island45
Field of Operations in Virginia (Summer of 1862)132
Last Fight at the Second Battle of Manassas148
General McClellan's Maryland Campaign185
Portrait of General BurnsideOpposite 223
Surroundings of Knoxville273
Union and Rebel Lines at Petersburg351
Retreat of the Rebel Army from Richmond and Petersburg374
Sketch of Andersonville Prison387

Name and Date of Action.No. of muskets taken into action. Approximate.*Killed and died of wounds in the service.Otherwise wounded.Prisoners, not wounded.
Roanoke Island, Feb. 8, 18627001344
Newbern, March 14, 18626752335
Camden, April 19, 18625004111
Manassas (2d), Aug. 29 and 30, 18624257
Chantilly, Sept. 1, 1862400387626
South Mountain, Sept. 14, 18622255
Antietam, Sept. 17, 18621501035
Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 186220013521
Campaign in E. Tenn., Oct., Nov., Dec., 18632004112
Battles of Blne Springs, Oct. 10.
Campbell's Station, Nov. 16.
Siege of Knoxville, Nov. 17—Dec. 4.
Wilderness, May 6, 1864210378
Spottsylvania, May 10, 12, 18, 1864*5322
Shady Grove Road, May 31, June 1, 1864*33
Bethesda Church (Cold Harbor), June 2, 1864*132113
Petersburg, assault of June 16, 1864*22
Petersburg, assault of June 17, 1864*4252
Battle of the Mine, July 30, 1864*7143
Siege of Petersburg, June 18 to Aug. 18, 1864*314
Weldon R. R., Aug. 19, 18647534
Poplar Spring Church, Sept. 30, 18647541011



  • Oh, blow for the hero a trumpet,
  • Let him lift up his head in the morn;
  • A glory of glories is battle,
  • It is well for the world he was born.
  • Let him joy in the sound of the trumpet,
  • And sun in the world's proud smile;
  • But what had become of the hero,
  • Except for the “rank and file?”

H. H., The Rank and File.

CHAPTER I. July, 1861 — January 5, 1862.


The Agricultural Fair Grounds at Worcester were designated as the place of rendezvous, and the regiment was organized there during the months of July and August, 1861. Augustus Morse, of Leominster, a major-general in the state militia, was assigned to the command of the camp, which was named “Camp Lincoln,” in honor of ex-Governor Levi Lincoln. The most noted day in the infancy of the regiment was July 19, when our companies, A from Templeton, D from Fitchburg, and G from Ashburnham, marched into camp together; and the 21st then began to look like a success. The first report of the strength of the regiment was made July 26th, on which date seven companies were in camp, numbering, in the aggregate, 512 officers and men. On the

2d of August, the regiment suffered a loss of nearly 100 men, by the transfer of its original Company B to the 15th regiment; the loss, however, was made good within twenty-four hours by the arrival of companies from Boston and Springfield, which were soon afterwards consolidated into one company, and given the letter B. As men wishing to enlist were plenty, we had no difficulty in filling up the companies with picked men; and early in August the regiment paraded with a full front of brave, patriotic, intelligent, and muscular men.

On the 16th of August, the greater part of the men in camp were mustered into the United States service for “three years, or during the war,” by Captain Goodhue, of the 11th United States infantry; and for a few hours were called “Uncle Sam's Babies,” by some of the men who had refused to be mustered on their failing to obtain any assurance that the officers under whom they had enlisted would be commissioned and mustered as such. The hangers-back, however, soon came to terms, and were all mustered in within a day or two. General Morse was made colonel of the regiment; and the field, staff, and line officers generally were commissioned and mustered into the United States service, on the 21st of August, in the grades in which they had been acting.

As a rule, these first officers of the regiment were worthy of their commissions, but the colonel was a very unfortunate selection, in a military point of view. Though of a kindly disposition, he was of a lazy habit, entirely destitute of soldierly enthusiasm or spirit, wonderfully ignorant of military drill and manœuvres, and a wretched disciplinarian. Some of our companies (D and G particularly) had come into camp in very good drill; the officers and men generally had stuck closely to the camp, and done their best to learn what they could of a soldier's duty; and the regiment, now a month old, though sadly lacking in battalion drill, had begun to feel its strength and to be a little restive to take its stand with our brothers in the field.

Anticipating sudden orders to move, Colonel Morse, in the kindness of his heart, scattered the regiment to the winds for a couple of days, on the 19th of August, by giving furloughs to everybody who said that they wanted to bid goodby to their families.

August 21st the state paymaster arrived and paid us from the time of enlistment to our muster into the United States service.

I have not been able to find a complete record of the birth-places of the members of the regiment as it left the State. The imperfect Company Descriptive Rolls (made August 20th, under great disadvantages in some of the companies, owing to the absence of the men on furlough), in an aggregate of 829 enlisted men who appear on them, give, native born, 618; birth-place unknown to officer making the record, 67; foreign born, 144 (of whom 87 were born in Ireland, 23 in England, 23 in the British North American Provinces, 6 in Scotland, 3 in France, and 2 in Germany).

On the morning of Friday, August 23d, marching orders were issued, tents were struck, and the make-shift, crooked-barreled guns with which we had been drilling, were exchanged for guns just a trifle better, being old smooth-bore muskets, altered from flint-locks; those issued to D and G, the flank companies, as if in mockery of their powers, having been newly sighted up to 900 yards.

The ceremonies immediately preceding our departure were impressive and stirring. The regiment being formed in close column of divisions, the Rev. Merrill Richardson, of Worcester, offered up a fervent prayer; and Hon. Alexander H. Bullock, in behalf of the ladies of Worcester, presented to the regiment a beautiful silk United States regimental flag, and made us the following stirring speech: —

“Colonel Morse, Officers, and Soldiers of the Twenty-First: I have been requested by the patriotic ladies of Worcester to present from their hands these regimental colors. Summoned to the field sooner than you or we had expected, in the haste of your

departure it is only fit that I should detain you long enough to commit to your keeping this proof of the interest which the city of your first encampment cherishes in your welfare, and of the devotion of her heart of hearts to the cause which your arms defend. You will receive it with the assurance that from our firesides and domestic altars patriotism, piety, the aspirations of all that is fair, and the coöperation of all that is manly, will follow you to the field. You march amid grand and solemn events. Our government, our capital, the flag of our renown, our unity, our existence, is in peril. The fountains of the great deep are broken up; we are in civil war. But let no one suppose, therefore, that our heritage is passing away. The tides of history are not to be turned back. Though rebellion, blazing rebellion, rear its banner from the capes of Virginia, round the gulf, and midway up the valley, the people are making a life struggle for their national unity, and they can and they will preserve it. We are not to lose our national identity. We shall still continue to date from George Washington, and his achievements and his glory. We are not yet transferring the dust of two generations of free and united America to its grave, and closing the annals. The bell of time is indeed striking an epoch, but we do not believe that it is opening before us another, which is unknown and undiscernible. There is a thread of Providence, of history, of civilization, which connects the America that is past to the America that is to come. American constitutional government is a conviction, an idea, a priuciple that is imperishable, for it rests on the hearts of its people. It may for a time be obstructed, but it cannot be broken or destroyed; and from momentary disaster or dishonor it will rise with redoubled majesty for its more certain vindication. The loyalty of the Border is even now arraying itself with the North and the West for the great peril. The land of Clay and of Webster is already beginning to vibrate with the same note of defiance and preparation. The bugles of Kentucky and of Massachusetts will soon be sounded together in the field.

Mr. Commander, Men of Franklin, and Berkshire, and Hampden, and Worcester, — I invoke you to contemplate the position of the proud Commonwealth you represent. Such has been her response to the crisis which is upon us, that everywhere the unsubstantial cloud has been lifted from her name, and she has risen as by enchantment to the applause of states. The muse of history has with a new title assigned the Nineteenth of April, among the holy days of her calendar. The genius of her people reopened the highway to

the capital. The gallantry of her sons will ever be repeated at the gates of Baltimore, never again to be closed, because our dead speak trumpet-tongued to the ear and the heart of the nation. Massachusetts in her age is retreading the pathways of her youth. As it was in the beginning, so now again her men are found at every disposable post of service and danger under the government; and wherever that flag shall be unfurled there they will be found to-day and hence-forth till this war shall terminate. Look on them and behold them as they have taken their place in the procession of events. They made halt at Annapolis, proud and sullen in her desolation, awoke old Ironsides from its sleep and danger, and planted their batteries in the face of delusion and secession. They pitched their tents among the oaks of Fortress Monroe, and offered the greeting of the Star Spangled Banner to the hospitality of Virginia. They took up their abode in the chill and damp of McHenry, and welcomed Baltimore back to her nationality. They seized and held the gateway to the Ohio, and exchanged the challenge of their sentinels with the Northwest. They emerged from the blood-stained ravines of Manassas, and no wounds were found upon their backs nor any tarnish upon their arms. Such you have beheld them. And now you go forth to take the place of some of them, and to coöperate with others. Wherever you shall go in this sublime service, — to Harper's Ferry, or Baltimore, or Fortress Monroe, or Washington, on this or the other side of the upper or lower Potomac, to the drill of camp life, or where the “bloody sign of battle is hung out,” — there you will find that your brothers and ours have gone before, or are already on the ground to greet you, — there you will find your own dear old Massachusetts promising you her guardian angel care, only beseeching you in your life, and if need be in your death, to honor this historic symbol. Let these colors be now unfurled. We swear by them. In the presence of each other before men and angels, we renew our allegiance to The Flag of Our Union. Let others bestow their complacent gaze upon only half a flag with a few lost stars; we desire to breathe our last sigh under these azure folds, with not a star or a stripe erased. Let traitors do battle as they may, with the bayonet leaves of the palmetto floating over them, and in fellowship with the resonant sound of the rattle-snake it is worth all of life to you to march only under the old national ensign, and to die, if so it please Providence, amid the cadence of the national anthem. Men of the Twenty-first, the banner is yours. Reverence it in the hour of security; honor it in the clustering battle!

And it is the prayer of your friends, from whose hands the gift has come to you, that Almighty God will preserve your lives, and restore you to Massachusetts and to those you love!


Colonel Morse, on receiving the flag, responded as follows:

“Colonel Bullock and Ladies of Worcester: It is with the gravest emotions that I now thank you, one and all, for this noble gift you have this day presented. We shall ever cherish it as a token of your love for us, and ever remember you as our noblest and dearest friends. We shall ever hold up this standard as an emblem of your affection, and protect it with all the strength of our arms, and not a man of us will ever turn his back upon it. This flag which we have loved and nurtured, which has protected us on land and sea, and will ever protect us, God willing, all the days of our lives, shall be the herald of our charge upon the traitors, and be held up to inspire us to fight the battles of our country, in defence of its glorious institutions. And never shall it return to you till it floats on land and sea, in every section of our once united confederacy of States. But, ladies, it is not to me, but the officers and soldiers of the Twenty-first regiment, to whom you have presented this precious token. Again I thank you, in behalf of the men under my command, and take leave of you with the assurance that you will never hear of any of us deserting or dishonoring this flag.”

Ranks were broken for a last half hour with mothers, wives, sisters, and the other dear ones that bound our hearts to home; then the regiment was re-formed, and marched proudly through the city in column of sections to the Norwich depot. Leaving Worcester about five o'clock in the afternoon, we were received with much enthusiasm and kindness as we passed through the different towns, took the boat at Norwich, and reached Jersey City early in the morning of the 24th.

Before leaving Worcester, the men were allowed to fill their haversacks with hard bread, but as a general rule preferred to take the chance of getting something better on the road, particularly as it was understood that an ample supply of sandwiches, made by the kind ladies of Worcester, were to be carried in bulk; but a thousand big fellows with healthy appetites

will eat a good many sandwiches; and most of the regiment were quite hungry when we reached Jersey City, and still more hungry when we took the cars for Philadelphia about noon, having breakfasted on one sandwich and a cup of coffee. All along the road we were greeted with cheers, waving handkerchiefs, and frequent bouquets of flowers. At half-past eight in the evening we arrived at Philadelphia, where we were received with hearty kindness, and welcomed to a splendid supper at the Cooper Shop Saloon. The ladies and gentlemen who waited on us seemed to take real pleasure in seeing the men eat, and we all did eat without reserve. None of us will ever forget the whole-hearted generous kindness with which we were received in Philadelphia. Supper over, we returned to the cars, and remained in them at a halt for some four hours, the tediousness of the delay being however a good deal relieved by the crowds of women who surrounded the cars “bidding good-by to the soldiers;” and some of the officers (I can answer for one captain, at any rate) had their attention fully occupied in trying to diminish the amount of firewater which the men so inclined were imbibing and stowing away for future use. Two members of Company H, Privates Merriam King and Metcalf B. Marsh, who were badly hurt by a moving car, were left in hospital at Philadelphia.1 We parted from our kind friends after midnight, and reached Havre-de-Grace at about five o'clock on the morning of Sunday, the 25th. Here, the report spread through the regiment that a message had come from Baltimore that we would have to fight our way through the city, and as ball cartridges were served out to us for the first time we thought that it was probably true. We arrived in Baltimore early in the forenoon, and filed quietly from the cars into the street. Though we had not been at all alarmed at the prospect of having a chance to deal with a Baltimore mob, we, of course, were very glad to be received in a peaceful if not friendly manner. Nobody appeared to have us on their minds for either good or


ill. Colonel Morse went to report to General Dix, in command at Baltimore, for orders; and we waited hour after hour in the hot sun for his return; at last he came and informed us that we were to stay in Baltimore; the remainder of our carefully husbanded Massachusetts sandwiches were issued to the men, who were all hungry, and some of them (those who had put no hard tack in their haversacks at Worcester) even faint from want of food, having had nothing to eat since their supper in Philadelphia. Formed in a long marching square with a platoon front, having the field and staff inside (a rather absurd, though bellicose looking formation, invented I believe by Colonel Morse), we left the railroad station at half-past three in the afternoon, and with fixed bayonets and loaded guns marched through the crowded streets of the city to Patterson Park, receiving neither welcome nor insult on the way.

We found the park an unpleasant dusty place, and Colonel Morse kept marching us round and round until we were nearly ready to drop; at last he gave the welcome order to halt, and we at once set about measuring out the camp and pitching our tents; tents pitched after a fashion, the weary men lay down in the dust, and slept without waiting for supper. Our camp in Patterson Park was named Camp Lincoln, in honor of the President.

On the 26th, the colonel impressed upon the regiment the fact that we were now in the enemy's country, and the necessity of constant vigilance against attack. To make it certain in case of a night attack that we should have an understood signal for prompt turning out, he gave us the word “Boston” as an alarm cry, to be used only in a case of real necessity. As a natural result, the silence of midnight was broken by the cry “Boston;” then a gun was fired; the sentinels all yelled “Boston,” and so did the men generally as they tumbled out of their tents to form line, with the long roll beating vigorously. It was n't a scary alarm, and when the colonel found that most of the men were laughing in the ranks he sent the regiment back to quarters. The colonel suspected Captain Rogers

of starting the alarm, but could not prove it; whoever did it had reason to be proud of his success. We remained in camp in Patterson Park for three days; but the only other noteworthy occurrence that I recall there was a dress-parade one afternoon in a rain, at which the colonel commanded under an umbrella.

August 29th. The regiment having received orders to report at Annapolis by rail, we struck tents and marched to the railroad station in the afternoon. The only insulting remark that I heard as we passed through the city was, “They ’ll make d—d poor manure for our land!”

Just after leaving Baltimore, Private Frank B. Marcy, of Company F, while attempting to climb through a window to the top of the car, fell under the wheels and lost an arm. We stopped at Annapolis Junction at ten o'clock at night, and the men slept in the cars and about the station. On the morning of the 30th six companies went on to Annapolis to garrison the Naval School buildings, and four were left to occupy the Junction, picket the Annapolis and Elkridge Railroad, and pervent contraband goods from passing from Baltimore to Virginia. Captain Walker, of Company G, was in command at the Junction, as the senior officer of the four companies left there; and Colonel Morse commanded the post of Annapolis. The 21st relieved a poorly drilled Pennsylvania regiment, who were very sorry to have to go, as the officers said that whiskey was plenty, and the pretty girls and inhabitants generally had been very friendly to them; but Massachusetts men would find things very different. The camp at the Junction had a first-class alarm on the night of the 30th. As in Baltimore, it occurred about midnight: a sentinel in the woods to the south of the camp fired his gun at an imaginary man whom he “saw creeping towards him.” The men were somewhat nervous from being in a new place, and on account of the stories told them by the Pennsylvanians of the enmity of the people against Massachusetts men, and the alarm spread rapidly from one sentinel to another; all of them seemed to be firing as fast as possible in all directions, and

as the battalion fell hurriedly into line bullets were hissing about, and things had rather a serious look. Fortunately, the sentinels had only a few rounds in their boxes, and the affair was soon over. This was the last entirely causeless alarm which ever occurred in the 21st, during its term of service.

Early in September, our lieutenant-colonel, Albert C. Maggi, an Italian by birth, reported for duty with the regiment, and was assigned by Colonel Morse to the command at Annapolis Junction, and of the four companies which were kept on picket duty along the Annapolis and Elkridge Railroad and about the Junction. He was a well educated, enthusiastic soldier, and had served with honor under the great Garibaldi in South America and Europe. He at once announced his intention to make the 21st a regiment of regulars, and entered in earnest on the work: his headquarters were made a school of soldiery for the officers, and not unfrequently an enlisted man, whose gun was found dirty or whose appearance had not been soldierly at inspection or parade, might be seen marching in a circle under guard, with his knapsack more or less filled with bricks.

The lieutenant-colonel never treated Colonel Morse with even that outward show of respect which the good of the service requires that an officer inferior in rank should at least publicly show to his superior; exact in military detail, quick, outspoken, and determined, it was evident from the first that he and the colonel would not be comrades in the service long.

I have always remembered one of his letters to the colonel, which before sending he read at one of our officers’ meetings at the Junction. He was displeased at being assigned to a command of only four companies, as being below his rank; and soon after his arrival sent a letter to the colonel requesting as a matter of right that he be ordered to Annapolis, and the major sent to the Junction; this request the colonel declined to accede to, in a letter full of complimentary allusions to the lieutenant-colonel's military qualifications for the charge of so important a post as the Junction. Maggi's answer was

in substance as follows: “I have just received your paternal letter refusing my request to be ordered to Annapolis. The Bible says that language was given to man to express his thoughts, but a philosopher has said that it was given to him to lie his thoughts. In your case I think the philosopher was right, but your letter was very paternal!”

The four companies along the railroad and at the Junction were relieved by four of our other companies, and called in to Annapolis on Monday, September 16th; and, as long as the regiment remained in Maryland, the companies were detailed in turn for this duty.

September 17th, the regiment was mustered in over again on account of informality in the previous musters. At about ten o'clock in the evening of Wednesday, September 18th, a terrible affair occurred in the Academy grounds at Annapolis. A corporal of the guard, Josiah W. Hayden, of Company K, was shot through the body by a sentinel, also belonging to Company K, whom the corporal had posted a few minutes before over one of the headquarter buildings, and died next morning. As the corporal was passing the sentry's beat he was ordered to halt and give the countersign; he was but a few feet away, the moon was shining brightly, and he knew that he was recognized: halting for a moment he refused to give the countersign, telling the sentinel that being on an interior post he had no right to require it; then, as he turned to move on the fatal shot was fired. Corporal Hayden was one of the finest fellows and best loved men in the regiment, and his comrades, as they gathered rapidly about the place, would probably have killed the sentinel upon the spot if he had not been at once covered by the guard. Charges were filed, and the sentinel was brought to trial; but, owing to his extreme youth (being only in his sixteenth year), and the fact that never having been properly instructed in his duty he thought that he had a right to shoot as he did, the court acquitted him, and he soon returned to duty. He afterwards did gallant service in the regiment, and slowly and patiently won his way to the respect of men who long looked upon him with

hatred or horror. After this sad affair, the interior sentinels at Post Naval School, a place as safe as Boston Common, were not posted with loaded guns.

September 22d, Private Lyman C. Gibbs, of Company C, was killed by a locomotive, while on duty near Annapolis Junction.

On the evening of Monday, September 30th, First Lieutenant Charles K. Stoddard, commanding a picket station near Annapolis Junction, was shot through the abdomen by one of his pickets, and died at midnight. Lieutenant Stoddard was an open-hearted, genial man, and had not an enemy in the regiment. The sentinel who fired the shot, Henry C. Wester, of Company F, a Dane by birth, told the following story before the court of inquiry, which was fully confirmed by Corporal Ed. E. Monroe, who was making the rounds with Lieutenant Stoddard when he was shot: “I ordered him to halt four times before I fired; he made no answer, and did not stop; when I first halted him he was twenty or thirty feet off, the last time he was nearly at the point of my bayonet; he had on an overcoat buttoned up to the chin, and I did not know him, but thought he was a secessionist, and was afraid of my life. I fired and he fell, his coat flew open and I saw who it was. I fell down beside him and took his hand and said, ‘Why didn't you answer.’ I should not have killed him if I had known him; he was my best friend. I thought I was doing my duty and no more.”

To Assistant-Surgeon Warren, whom Lieutenant-Colonel Maggi sent at once to the spot, the lieutenant said: “Tell the colonel that I exonerate the man from all blame; give my love to all the officers of the regiment and to my folks.”

The following order was issued:—

Headquarters 21st Regt. Mass. Vols., Post Naval Academy, Annapolis,October 1, 1861.

Special Regimental Order No. 32.

The colonel commanding, having heard the statement of Private Henry C. Wester, of Company F, relative to the death of First Lieutenant Charles K. Stoddard

of Company F, and also the statement of Corporal Edward E. Monroe, said statements being corroborated by Lieutenant Stoddard before his death, and having duly considered the same, and having taken the advice of the several captains of the regiment, does, in accordance therewith, direct that said Private Henry C. Wester be exonerated from all blame, and that he be commended for having faithfully performed his duty.

By order of Colonel Morse,

Theron E. Hall, Adjutant.

Thursday, October 11th. We received our first pay from the United States, being to August 31st.

The regiment did a good deal of tiresome fatigue duty in loading stores for the Sherman Expedition, destined for a descent upon the South Carolina coast, which rendezvoused at Annapolis during the month of October, and sailed on Monday, the 21st. Most of us felt very much vexed at not forming a portion of it, particularly as we had very good reason to believe that we had originally been selected as one of the regiments for the expedition, but had had our place filled, at almost the last moment, by that very gallant regiment, the 79th New York (Highlanders). Governor Hicks, then governor of Maryland, on the request of prominent residents in the vicinity, made a personal application to General Dix, department commander, and the War Department, that we might be retained at Annapolis and the Junction on account of the exemplary conduct of the men. Besides, we were represented by our colonel and the governor as better adapted to conciliatory purposes than fighting, and also as being afflicted with the small-pox, although we had at the time but one case of that disease in the regiment. Sensible men, knowing what fighting is, are generally entirely willing to wait for orders and not beg for a chance to fight, but the 21st were becoming galled at being kept so long on a tiresome routine of duty, and much preferred taking a hand in the conciliation of the fiery State of South Carolina, to winning the golden opinions of the people of Annapolis by our pacific behavior. However, we had an assurance from Governor Andrew

that we should go on the Burnside Expedition, for which preparations were already being made.

We soon fell into disfavor with our friend Governor Hicks. One of his slaves had been seen to be passed by the guard into the Academy grounds, and the governor came in person to get him. Receiving no assistance from Captain Walker, the officer of the day, the governor complained to Colonel Morse, who at once summoned the captains to his headquarters: the colonel, after commenting severely on our base ingratitude to the governor, if we ran off one of his negroes after his kindness in saving us from the “red hot shells” of Fort Sumter, ordered the officer of the day to have the buildings searched until the fugitive was found. Captain Walker, however, met the emergency like a man; saying that he did not come South to hunt slaves, he tore off his sash, threw it on the floor, and told the colonel to detail another officer for that sort of duty. Every captain was in turn detailed for the duty, and each followed Captain Walker's example in refusing to undertake it. The angry governor said that he would go to General Dix, and if necessary to Washington, for redress, and left us, with the warm assurance that we should be sorry for that day's work. Meanwhile, the innocent cause of this pleasing little episode was hidden in a chimney of one of the buildings, and escaped as soon as it was dark, in a boat which some of the men kindly stole for him in the town. Although, first and last, we ran a good many negroes out of Maryland, we had more fun out of this case than any other.

October 24th. We heard the exaggerated first reports of the battle of Ball's Bluff, and of the fearful slaughter in our brother Worcester County regiment, the 15th Massachusetts. The rebels were reported to have killed hundreds of them with long-range rifles, while they themselves were beyond the reach of the smooth-bores carried by the 15th, and to have massacred most of the rest of them with bowie knives on the precipitous river bank, or while trying to swim the river. As we were armed with smooth-bores of the poorest description, the men began to complain bitterly because our

wealthy government did not arm us as well as the rebels. It was also rumored in the city that ten thousand rebels had crossed the Potomac and were marching on Annapolis. Fearing a rising of the rebel element, twenty rounds of ball cartridges a man were issued, and the regiment held ready throughout the night to act at a moment's notice. In the morning the alarm was found to be entirely groundless.

October 29th. The four companies on picket duty along the railroad and at Annapolis Junction were relieved by four of the companies at Annapolis. The day was lovely, and the relieving force moved gayly down the railroad with drums and fifes playing, all glad to escape from the restraints of dull old Annapolis, — except perhaps the company doomed to serve at the Junction under Colonel Maggi's rigid inspections and exact instruction, enforced by bricks in the knapsack, his favorite mode of making the men see the error of their ways in turning out with dirty guns, unpolished brasses, unbuttoned coats, or unblacked shoes.

October 31st. The 51st New York, a regiment destined to stand beside the 21st on many a bloody field, arrived by steamer.

November 3d. The 25th Massachusetts arrived by steamer from Baltimore.

November 13th. We were paid by the United States to October 31st, and received news of the capture of Beaufort and Port Royal, by the Sherman Expedition; it seemed as if the rebellion was beginning to feel the heavy weight of the Union arm.

Sunday, November 17th. Governor Andrew, and Secretaries Cameron, Seward, and Wells, visited Annapoils, and passed along the line of the 21st, with uncovered heads. The thing that pleased us most in connection with the governor's visit was his promise that we should soon be supplied with the best English Enfield rifles, which the State of Massachusetts had sent an agent abroad to purchase.

We had two Thanksgiving Days, the Massachusetts day, Thursday, November 21st, and the Maryland day, Thursday,

November 28th; and celebrated both, the Massachusetts one mainly by feasting on the contents of the numerous boxes from home, and the Maryland one mainly by welcoming Rev. George S. Ball, our new chaplain, who made an address to the men at Annapolis.

November 30th. The regiment received orders to report at Washington, but the order was countermanded before night.

December 5th. We were informed at dress-parade that Enfield rifles were on the way from Massachusetts for us, and the regiment received the news with hearty cheers.

About this time matters came to a crisis between Colonel Morse and Lieutenant-Colonel Maggi. A citizen induced Colonel Morse to give him a permit to take a large quantity of powder and shot from the Junction into lower Maryland for “sporting purposes;” but, on its arrival within his reach, the lieutenant-colonel seized it and refused to recognize the colonel's pass. Colonel Morse then obtained an order from General Dix, Department Commander, to allow the ammunition to pass beyond our lines, but the lieutenant-colonel utterly refused to honor it, and returned it with an indorsement to the effect that the order must have been issued on false representations, and that he would never be a party to furnishing the enemy with powder and shot to kill his men; whereupon Lieutenant-Colonel Maggi was promptly relieved from duty and placed in close arrest to await trial by courtmartial.

December 13th. Part of the 24th Massachusetts arrived at Annapolis, for the Burnside Expedition.

December 16th. We received the very welcome news today that we certainly were going on the Burnside Expedition, which caused the wildest enthusiasm in the regiment.

December 18th. The four companies of the 21st on picked duty were relieved by a detachment from a Pennsylvania regiment, and returned to Annapolis: the ten companies of the regiment were now together again for the first time since August 29th. Although we were proud of our long and impressive front of stalwart men and of our opportunity for active

service, many of us had very pleasant memories of our healthful country experience in Maryland, in which chickens and other luxuries had not been uncommon; and we had found many kind and attentive friends among the country people, had now and then made merry at a husking, enjoyed a negro prayer-meeting, or taken part in some other convivial or novel occasion. Take it all together, however, we heartily welcomed the new departure.

December 19th. General Burnside had a grand review of all the troops at Annapolis, — ten or twelve thousand men. The 21st, proud of being a regiment again, marched, wheeled, and drilled with remarkable steadiness and accuracy. There never was a regiment where a larger proportion of the men were more anxious to appear at their best, for it was our first review, and we were no longer to be used for “conciliatory” purposes, but were going on the Burnside Expedition.

December 20th. We were subjected to a long and tire-some inspection in the selection of the brigades of Burnside's Division, but were well repaid for our pains by the high honor done us, being the first regiment which the gallant veteran, General Jesse L. Reno, selected for his brigade (the 2d). In that selection were involved the most glorious memories of our military service, and very many pleasant associations hallowed by his death: never forgetful of the wants of his command; always setting a high example in his honest soldierly nobility of speech and action and devoted courage, we soon learned to love and respect him for the truth of his manly character no less than we confided in his military discretion; cool, cautious, and slow till the moment came to strike quick and hard, and then with his men, inspiring them with his own magnetic irresistible daring. A man without fear and without reproach! Well may we be ever proud of the fact that we were the right flank regiment of Reno's old brigade, and that he was not only content with but proud of us.

December 21st. Our Enfield rifles arrived from Massachusetts, and were at once issued to the regiment, in exchange for our venerable smooth-bores; Enfield rifles for the eight

battalion companies, and Harper's Ferry rifles with sabre bayonets for the flank companies; the latter a splendid weapon, the former of a good kind but of poor quality, hastily and carelessly made, with many badly tempered cones and weak mainsprings; and for a time, until we discovered how well they would shoot, we almost wished for our old crooked barreled smooth-bores again. We now turned our attention assiduously to drill, and January 1st had our first practice with ball cartridges, firing twenty-five rounds a man. Since it had become certain that we were destined for more active service, energetic and persistent efforts had been made in the regiment for Lieutenant-Colonel Maggi's release from arrest and restoration to his command; petitious to that end, signed by the line officers with hardly an exception, were sent to Governor Andrew, the Massachusetts Senators in Washington, and the Secretary of War. These efforts were successful; the flimsy charges against him were quashed, and the day before we were embarked for the Burnside Expedition he was returned to duty.

Company A was called on to mourn a serious loss, in the last days of our stay at Annapolis, in the death of Corporal Sereno Sawyer, who died in the regimental hospital December 31st, of typhus fever. Surgeon Cutter, in announcing his death to his father, in a letter written on that day, said of him: “He was a model of patience, quietness, and cheerfulness during his entire illness. He was a good specimen of a Christian man. The loss in Mr. Sawyer's decease is not confined to his parents, relations, and friends in the town of his birth and residence. The company of which he was a member, and the regiment to which he belonged, have experienced a serious bereavement, for in faithfulness in duty, in kindness, in truth and in honor, he was a soldier worthy of imitation.”

The only other deaths by disease since leaving Massachusetts, which I find in Dr. Cutter's journal are: of typhoid fever, private Edward L. Howe, of Company K, November 17; private James Bryson, of Company H, November 26; and private Sylvester H. Adams, of Company H, December 31:

of small-pox, Corporal Andrew M. Brock, of Company D, December 2; and Corporal William McLeon, of Company F, December 9: Private Lyman Converse, of Company H, also died of disease January 8th.

About thirty of our men, whose physical disability unfitted them for severe service, had been weeded out and discharged; and leaving scarcely an enlisted man on our rolls behind at Annapolis, the regiment was going to take the chances of war in good drill and robust and vigorous strength.

Sunday, January 5, 1862, was to be our last day in Annapolis, as orders had been issued for our embarkation for we knew not where early in the morning of the 6th; considerable liberty was therefore allowed to the men in circulating about the city, and many a canteen among the drinking ones was filled with a parting gift of vile and potent spirit.

CHAPTER II. January 6 — February 5, 1862.


January 6, 1862. The regiment formed line at nine o'clock A. M., ready to embark, and Colonel Morse bade us good-by (for he was to remain at Annapolis in command of the post), telling us if we got into a fight to stay till we “lost some men.”

As we could not be put on board ship until afternoon, ranks were broken again, and many of the men took a final ramble about Annapolis (and a final drink).

At two o'clock P. M. the whole regiment, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Maggi, went on board the large steamer “Northerner,” and entered on rather a tumultuous afternoon and evening, as somewhere from twenty to fifty men of fine fighting instincts, well developed by the glass which inebriates, made things howl to the best of their ability; but the liveliest of the boys were soon got in hand, canteens were emptied overboard, and no very serious disturbances occurred.

January 7th. The “Northerner” still lay at anchor close off the Naval School Grounds, which looked very pleasantly from our crowded decks.

During the day Colonel Morse came on board to pay us a visit; he was no longer our commander, and was not received with any special demonstrations of honor or regard; he evidently felt a little ashamed to have his regiment go without him on a service of unknown perils, carrying with them the

beautiful flag presented by the ladies of Worcester, which was plainly not destined to be either his martial cloak or shroud.

Soon after the colonel had left us, General Reno came on board and looked us over. We were much pleased to learn from him that he should go on the “Northerner” with us.



A sad affair occurred on the vessel to-day, in which a poor fellow lost an eye by the thrust of a sabre bayonet.

On the morning of January 9th, we got under way for somewhere, we hoped not far by sea, as our overloaded old vessel, with more than a thousand men on board, originally built for lake navigation, had been laid up quietly rotting for

some years before she was bought by the government for a transport.

We steamed down Chesapeake Bay during the day, but stopped at night on account of a heavy fog which did not clear up until the next day at noon, when we again got under way, and with several other vessels of our fleet came to anchor off Fortress Monroe just at sunset, close to the great frigates “Minnesota,” “Cumberland,” and “Congress.” The future victims of the “Merrimac,” majestic in beauty and strength, were no more ignorant of their future fate than was the 21st, although it was now reported that sealed orders would be given the expedition at Fort Monroe, to be opened and announced as soon as we proceeded to sea.

At about eleven o'clock on the following night (the 11th of January), the blowing of steam-whistles and every imaginable complication of arrangement of signal lanterns gave indications of a movement, and in an hour the whole expedition was under way and running out to sea. It was officially announced to us in the morning that we were bound for Hatteras Inlet, a passage into Pamlico Sound through the narrow spit of land which forms Cape Hatteras. We moved down the Virginia and North Carolina coast, rounded Cape Hatteras in a gale of wind, and late in the afternoon of Sunday, the 12th, arrived off the light-house near the Inlet. The old “Northerner” was wallowing in the heavy sea, and her course had become very erratic, one minute heading to the sea, and the next rolling in the trough. Most of the officers and men were too sea-sick to care much what happened; but General Reno went into the pilot-house himself, and, finding Captain Masson (the master of the ship) so drunk as to be entirely incapable of handling the vessel, put the mate in command of her. As the captain refused to recognize the general's authority, I had the great pleasure, as officer of the day, of arresting the miserable fellow and putting him in close confinement. Finding that it was hardly possible to run into the Inlet through the terrible surf that night, the ship was ordered back under shelter of the land; and as she

was being turned round, parted her starboard hog brace (a heavy timber frame which helps to support the weight of the boilers and engines): if the brace on the port side had gone also, the tale of the 21st would have been a short one; but the “Northerner” came round without further accident, and was run back a few miles and anchored in a sheltered position. There was no panic, as most of the men were too sea-sick to be frightened at anything, and Colonel Maggi, on being notified of the extent of the danger, distracted the attention of the inquisitive by singing the “Marseillaise” with a splendid voice, at the stern of the vessel.

During the night of the 12th and 13th, privates Otis L. Sweet, of Company A, and Joseph Lebarnes, of Company H, died of typhoid fever on the “Northerner,” and their bodies, encased in canvas, with a 32-pound shot at the feet, were buried in the sea, with simple but impressive ceremonies.

On the 13th the sea had quieted down somewhat, and early in the afternoon the “Northerner” ran into Hatteras Inlet through the narrow, crooked, and dangerous passage among the breakers, arriving at the place of rendezvous among the very first of the fleet.

We came to anchor a mile or so off forts Hatteras and Clark, which the rebels had built to command the Inlet, and which the frigate “Minnesota,” lying beyond the reach of their guns, had pounded into surrender some four months before. General Butler also won some laurels by landing troops and cutting off the retreat of the garrisons, capturing about seven hundred men. The rebels taken in these forts were carried to New York, and made to serve as a buncombe advertisement of the prowess and superiority of the North; for being a peculiarly small-sized, squalid, and sickly looking lot, they were paraded from Annapolis to New York, in charge of a guard composed of the largest and most soldierly looking men that could be picked out, to which the 21st had contributed several handsome six-footers. The forts were small, water-flooded, insignificant looking earth-works, and we felt

a little ashamed of the interest with which we had received the news of the capture of those rebel strongholds.

January 14th. Raining and blowing hard, and the vessels in the Inlet were dragging their anchors and colliding with each other. General Burnside went the rounds of the fleet, and was greeted with hearty cheers. The commodore signaled the vessels outside to come into the Inlet.

January 15th. A stormy and disastrous day. Colonel Allen of the 9th New Jersey, and his surgeon, Dr. Weller, left their transport (the “Ann E. Thompson”), which was still outside the Inlet, and came inside in a row boat, to report to General Burnside for orders; in attempting to return, the boat was swamped in the breakers, and the colonel and surgeon drowned close before our eyes.

The steam gun-boat “Zouave,” lying next the “Northerner,” drifted upon an anchor, and staving a hole in her bottom became a total loss.

January 16th. The “Northerner” dragged her anchors and ran aground; the weather stormy and thick.

January 17th, 18th, and 19th. The “Northerner” remained fast aground, and the weather continued foul and stormy. During these days the men were taken off the vessel twice to lessen her draught, in the hope of getting her out of the sand, which was banking up around her; but, as there were then no steam-tugs in the fleet, no power sufficient to move her could be obtained.

January 20th. The sun shone for the first time since we had been off Hatteras. We heard to-day of the loss of one of our transports (the “Pocahontas”), about twenty-five miles up the coast: she was loaded with horses, of which a few were saved.

January 21st. A stormy day. The “Northerner” floated off of her own accord, but immediately drifted aground again.

January 22d. Still stormy. The old “Northerner” floated again, and then drifted down upon two large schooners, getting her upper works badly stove by the jib-boom of one of them, and being roughly thumped as she settled in between

them. As we were dragging our anchors past them, and a dangerous shore was not more than fifty yards to leeward, Colonel Maggi, as a matter of necessity, had a cable from the “Northerner” made fast to one of the schooners, which, having three anchors down was holding well, and thereby saved us from going ashore. As our men were making the cable fast, an angry remonstrance was made against the act by the officer in charge of the schooner's deck, coupled with the information that it was the harbor-master's vessel, who wasn't a man who would stand such nonsense. Pretty soon his majesty, the harbor-master himself, came out of his cabin with an axe, and ran forward to cut our cable; but before he got to it he came to a realizing sense that he was covered by Colonel Maggi's pistol at short range, and that when he got within cutting distance the colonel proposed to fire; and concluded not to cut. He however did some very loud talking, alluding disrespectfully to Colonel Maggi's Italian nativity, and telling him that he had frequently seen him with a hand-organ and monkey in the streets of New York. A guard with loaded guns was posted, with orders to do all the shooting necessary to protect the cable, and it became a recognized permanent institution.

January 23d. The storm continued so bad as to cut off communication between the vessels of the fleet. It was a disheartening time; almost every vessel in the fleet of transports was nearly out of water, or aground, or both, and had her flag hoisted union down as a signal of distress. It was now generally understood that we were bound up Pamlico Sound to assault the intrenched post of Roanoke Island,—an important depot of rebel supplies, which was worth keeping if worth taking, and the benefit of the extreme original secrecy as to our destination had all been lost by our wretched and apparently never-ending delay after our destination had become manifest. There was a bar between the Inlet and the Sound called the “Swash,” which several of the transports (the “Northerner” in particular) were of too great draught to venture to try to cross except during a run of high tides and

quiet sea; so that if the expedition ever got together, it was still a matter of chance when we should move forward. Worst of all was the poor food furnished the men, which was fast becoming almost disgusting: the meat ration consisted entirely of pork, which had been boiled and put in barrels before leaving Annapolis, and had now become sour and mouldy; we were also now on a short allowance of brackish, condensed water. But inspections were frequent and rigid, the men were clean and healthy, and the officers were daily receiving valuable information as to their duties from General Reno, and instruction at the officers’ school, presided over by Colonel Maggi with never-flagging energy and enthusiasm.

January 24th. Raining and blowing hard. The heavy rain was a blessing, as we caught plenty of water in barrels. The splendid steamer “City of New York,” loaded with ammunition, arms, and tents, ran on the rocks in trying to enter the Inlet, and became a total wreck; it was sad to see the crew clinging for hours to her rigging, as the seas broke high over the vessel. But later in the day, as the sea went down, some of the light draught steamers in the fleet went to their rescue and appeared to save them all.

Latein in the afternoon, to reduce the “Northerner's” draught, the regiment was packed into a small stern-wheel steamer and a schooner, and kept there all night, while repeated but vain efforts were made to force the great steamer over the Swash—or “squash,” as Colonel Maggi called it.

January 25th. In the morning we returned to the “Northerner.” The long storm seemed at last to be really over, and we enjoyed the cessation of its discomforts and perils. In the afternoon we were all taken off the “Northerner” again, and she was drawn a little farther on to the bar.

Sunday, January 26th. A beautiful day. We left the “Northerner” again at half-past two in the morning; but efforts to move her were still fruitless. About noon, however, we were the happiest men in the fleet, for the old “Northerner” went handsomely over the Swash, amid the ringing cheers of the men and triumphant music from our band.

January 27th. The gun-boats practiced shooting, and we enjoyed the novel experience of hearing the different sounds made by the various missiles: the balls from the great smooth-bores puffed like locomotives, while the projectiles from the rifled guns whirred like partridges, and occasionally a Whitworth bolt gave a dismal shriek.

From January 28th to February 3d. We lay hopelessly and wearily at anchor; the tiresome monotony, however, being most happily relieved January 31st by the arrival of our first mail from home.

February 4th. We are to move to-morrow morning! Orders from General Burnside are read, announcing that we are about to land, and forbidding us from molesting the peaceful inhabitants, burning fences, or injuring other private property. But there is a feeling among the men, which will be apt to show itself when the time comes, that, if they happen on anything really good to eat, they ought to have it, after the vile food furnished them on the “Northerner;” and much sincere regret has been expressed during the long hard month since we left Annapolis, that the Maryland poultry was held so sacred.

Our expedition (the Coast Division of the Army of the Potomac), now about to move, commanded by Brigadier-General Ambrose E. Burnside, consisted of about ten thousand men, organized in three brigades, as follows:—

The 1st brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General John G. Foster, was composed of the 23d, 24th, 25th, 27th Massachusetts, and 10th Connecticut regiments of infantry.

The 2d brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General Jesse L. Reno, was composed of the 21st Massachusetts, 51st New York, 51st Pennsylvania, and 9th New Jersey regiments of infantry.

The 3d brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General John G. Parke, was composed of the 4th Rhode Island, 8th Connecticut, and 89th New York regiments of infantry, a battalion of the 5th Rhode Island infantry, and the 9th New York

regiment of infantry (Hawkins’ Zouaves).1 There was also an organization called the marine artillery, not attached to either of the brigades.

These troops and their baggage and supplies were transported in forty-five unarmed vessels. In addition to these was what was called the army division of the fleet, consisting of fourteen armed vessels, carrying in all forty-seven guns, under command of Commander Samuel F. Hazard; one of which vessels, the steamer “Picket,” carrying four guns, was used by General Burnside as his flag-ship.

Besides these vessels was the navy division of twenty light-draught gunboats, carrying in all fifty-five heavy guns, under the command of Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough, whose flagship was the “Philadelphia.”

Wednesday, February 5th. The fleet formed early in the morning, the gun-boats in advance, and the transports in three divisions behind them. At about nine o'clock A. M. our eighty vessels started up Pamlico Sound, and with every flag flying, moving in precise order and with well dressed lines, formed one of the grandest and most imposing spectacles of the war. Forty rounds of ball cartridges a man were now served out, the guns carefully overhauled, and the officers’ swords touched up on the grindstone. We came to anchor at five o'clock in the afternoon, just below and in plain sight of Roanoke Island, and within a few miles of the main land; and, when night set in, saw the rebel signal-fires flashing on the hills far inland.

February 6th. We lay in a thick fog all day, and neither saw, did, nor heard anything.


CHAPTER III. February 7-18, 1862.

battle of roanoke island.—on the island after the battle.

The morning of February 7th opened with fog, but became clear about eight o'clock. At nine o'clock the signal to get under way was given, and the gun-boats moved rapidly forward, followed by the transports. We soon came in sight of the rebel fleet of eight steam gun-boats, under command of Commodore Lynch, lying between our advance and a long line of obstructions, consisting of rows of driven piles and sunken vessels. The flag-ship “Philadelphia” displayed the motto, “The Country expects every man to do his duty;” and our gun-boats, dashing forward, in a few minutes were exchanging shots at long range with the rebel fleet, which was now slowly retreating towards an opening in the line of obstructions half a mile from the shore. Having run through the opening, the rebel boats halted defiantly as if hoping to lure our fleet beyond the line of obstructions, into a trap in which they would have been exposed to the concentric fire of three powerful shore batteries,—Fort Bartow, mounting ten guns; Fort Blanchard, four guns; Fort Huger, thirteen guns: Fort Bartow being situated on Port Point, three quarters of a mile on our side of the line of obstructions; Huger on Weir's Point, two and a half miles above Bartow; and Blanchard midway between Bartow and Huger. These batteries were armed with heavy guns, three of which were one hundred-pounders, rifled.

Fort Bartow, built of sand, at the water's edge, and with a back-ground of sand, might easily escape observation; and,

besides, the rebels had masked it with branches of trees. It was currently reported at the time that it had entirely escaped notice, and that our fleet was moving on the enemy without reference to it, but that one of the gun-boats fortunately sprang the rebel trap by firing a shot at that part of the shore as a feeler, and the rebels, thinking that the fort was discovered, opened fire at once from it. Now the two fleets and Fort Bartow went to work on each other in dead earnest, the transports remaining just outside the line of fire. As we watched the fort we saw the columns of sand spouting fifty feet high into the air as our shot and shell struck the battery and beach, and we hoped and looked for its speedy annihilation. I had never fully realized before that there was a real fighting rebellion against the government, but here they were defiant, with a respectable fleet and powerfully armed forts, killing and dying in their accursed delusion.



The heavy cannonading went on for two hours, apparently without any important results, and then we were much pleased to see that the barracks of Fort Bartow had been fired by our shells, and were burning fiercely; the battered fort, however, was still firing from two guns, and required

another hour's hard pounding before it was silenced. As soon as Fort Bartow ceased firing, the transports were moved as near the shore as their draught permitted. As we came up, the rebel fleet made a dash forward, and tried to reach us with their guns; but in half an hour were driven back behind the line of obstructions, with one vessel sinking and another disabled. The transports came to anchor off Ashby's Cove, two miles below Fort Bartow. The point selected for the landing was a cleared piece of ground at the foot of the cove, about a hundred acres in extent, which was bordered by thick woods and a deep swamp. As a rebel force, with two pieces of artillery, had been seen on the edge of the clearing, and had fired on a reconnoitering party shortly before, the gun-boats “Picket” and “Delaware” threw a few eighty-pound shells into the woods, as the troops were rapidly transferred to light draught steamers and boats (the 21st going upon the steamer “Patuxent”). It was nearly five o'clock when the first half dozen regiments, the 21st among them, dashed for the shore, and landed almost simultaneously in the most spirited and gallant manner, the men leaping into the water as the boats grounded, and forming line as fast as they could struggle through the deep mud of the swampy shore. Six of the howitzers of the marine artillery were now got on shore, and posted in sections, with strong supports, on the edge of the clearing and a few rods up a road which ran into the woods towards the rebel position. So far we had met with no opposition. Just at sunset Fort Bartow gave us the last shot fired from her guns, a heavy shell, which exploded harmlessly in the woods.

It was beginning to grow dark when Colonel Maggi called us to attention, and told us that the 21st had been honored by being detailed for picket duty and the support of the artillery. We at once advanced a line of skirmishers, supported by the regiment, to establish the picket line. When we had advanced about a quarter of a mile, two rebel shots were fired, and private Henry H. Howard, of Company G, fell, shot through the hips, and crippled for life,—the first man in the

regiment wounded by the enemy. We now posted a line of pickets entirely covering the division, and passed a long, wet, cold, and sleepless night, without any incident of interest.

We had jumped into deeper water than any of the other troops, for our large landing steamer grounded at a greater distance from the shore than the others, and soon were further wet by a cold rain, which lasted nearly all night; but no fires were allowed us, as we were in the immediate presence of the enemy. No officer or man in the regiment was allowed to sleep, and every half hour the supports and reserves to the pickets were formed in line and the men counted. Maggi was everywhere, and commanded a picket line that night as watchful and reliable as ever guarded an army.

As soon as morning broke, Colonel Maggi allowed us to have fires, and we made the most of them. Soon after seven o'clock, General Foster, with his brigade (the 1st), and the marine artillery (the 25th Massachusetts in the advance), passed through our lines and up the road, to attack a rebel redoubt in the centre of the island, which commanded the approaches to the rebel camps, and the rear of the shore batteries with which our fleet had been engaged the day previous. In half an hour the crash of artillery and rattle of musketry gave notice that the battle had begun. We were soon pained by the sight of wounded men carried down the road towards the place of landing, where the field hospital had been established, and it was a real relief when (about half-past eight o'clock) General Reno came, and ordered us to the front. Moving about a mile up the road, we came upon the scene of operations. A corduroy road ran through a wooded swamp, from which the trees had been cleared away for a space of a hundred yards or so on each side of the road. At the end of this vista and about half a mile off, the rebel redoubt, hidden in a line of evergreens, was now and then savagely hurling a shell or solid shot at our marine artillery, which was gallantly provoking the enemy's fire; but our artillery sounded like pop-guns, in comparison with the heavy boom of the rebel pieces. The musketry had now lulled down into

a straggling fire in the woods on each side of the road, and every few moments a bullet would hiss by like an angry bee on wings of lightning. The first man that I saw stop a bullet was Reuben Weeks, of Company A, who, without moan or cry, fell all in a heap, with a shattered leg. In a few minutes, led by General Reno in person, the 21st waded into the deep swamp on the left of the road, towards the right of the rebel battery. Our flank companies, D and G, accompanied by General Reno, Colonel Maggi, and Adjutant Stearns, now took the advance, in line of battle, and the eight battalion companies followed, marching by the flank, as a support. As we got well into the swamp, we met a regiment of the 1st brigade retiring in a somewhat broken and demoralized condition. As we cleared them, our two companies in advance at once became sharply engaged with the so far victorious rebels, and our eight companies in support gave three hearty cheers. Though the cheering probably did us some good, morally, it brought down upon us, for a time, the undivided attention of the rebel battery, and canister and shell hurtled and crashed around us, doing us, however, little injury, thanks to the shield afforded by the dense underbrush and trees. And so we stayed for a long hour, up to our knees in the tangled morass, moving forward at a snail's pace, without any opportunity to fire a shot, though under the enemy's fire, while our good and true surgeons and chaplain bore many a ghastly comrade from D and G past us to the rear; and, worse than all, now and then we got a shot from some of our own regiments, in the rear. All this time D and G were slowly and steadily driving their antagonists in upon the battery.

Our turn came at last. We had almost worked out of the woods, and the rebels had been driven in upon the battery. General Reno now went to the extreme front, and ordered the regiment up to charge. As my company moved to the front through an interval between D and G, I marked with wonder that there was nothing in their appearance to indicate their heavy loss. In D — which I mention specially, as its

loss was more severe — Captain Foster and sixteen men had fallen; but there they stood, apparently as strong as ever, every man in the firm and even line eagerly watching for rebel heads. On their left stood General Reno and Colonel Maggi, and, at the colonel's side, Adjutant Stearns, with his fresh, beautiful face lit up by the excitement of his novel experience. As Stearns was saying a word or two to me as I passed by, he fell, but in an instant was on his feet again, and tying his handkerchief around his forehead, which was now covered with blood, called out gayly, “A man never gets hit twice in the same fight — does he, captain?” Just as the last word left his mouth, cloth flew from the collar of his overcoat, and he fell again with a slight bullet wound across the back of his neck. As the fresh companies moved rapidly to the front over the open ground to within two hundred yards of the battery, they were greeted with a heavy but ill directed fire of musketry and artillery. The regiment now came rapidly into line of battle, and started for the battery with a shout of exultation as Reno gave the order to charge. The rebel garrison and reserves, firing one more volley, turned and fled before our strong unwavering line, and we poured into the battery, captured the rebel flag, and planted our State color — borne by gallant Corporal Ethan Blodgett, of Company A — on the parapet. Our color-sergeant, with our United States flag, had fallen into a deep pit full of water, and, before he could extricate himself, the United States flag of the 51st New York — three companies of which regiment entered the battery next after the 21st — floated on the parapet beside our Massachusetts flag. Then, with our two flags in plain sight upon the parapet, the fort full of our men, and the last running rebel well out of sight, the 9th New York (Hawkins’ Zouaves) came running up the narrow corduroy road by the flank, and, with a great shout of “Zou, Zou,” swarmed into the battery, for all the world as if they were capturing it. The only bayonet charge on fighting rebels at Roanoke was made by the 21st, supported by the rest of the brigade, none of which, however, was in sight except

three companies of the 51st New York; and great was our disgust when we read in the Boston papers, a month or so afterwards, that the colonel of the Zou Zous had had the effrontery to put himself on exhibition there as the hero of the bayonet charge at Roanoke Island.

The captured battery (the key to the whole rebel position) was an earth-work, thirty-five yards wide, built on an island in the swamp, directly across the road. The three fine brass guns forming its armament were mounted in embrasure, and consisted of a twenty-four-pounder howitzer, a long eighteen-pounder field-gun, and a twelve-pounder field-gun.

We hastily examined the interior and armament of the captured fort, gazing with particular interest upon the bodies of the rebel dead — Lieutenant Selden, C. S. A., Captain Coles, of the 46th Virginia, and half a dozen private soldiers, — who were lying amongst the litter of knapsacks, muskets, clothing, and equipments with which the ground was strewn; and in a few minutes the jubilant and eager Union troops were in hot pursuit of the enemy, the 21st still in the advance, moving by the road immediately behind the battery. Our Company E, deployed in our front, were soon exchanging the last shots fired in the battle. A retreating rebel regiment had turned and stood at bay across the road in the thick woods, and for a few minutes made a noisy but wild return to the deadly fire delivered by Company E; then, with a loss of three killed and five wounded, they abandoned the field, and Colonel Shaw, the commandant of the entire post, without further resistance, made unconditional surrender of all the rebel troops and defenses.

As it was now discovered that the rebels were escaping from the island in boats, the 21st hastened to the shore, with other troops, to bag our game, and, firing over several boats which were making good time for the main land, compelled them to return. As the bullets from our long range Enfield rifles struck the water beyond the boats, it was comical to see how soon every rebel in them displayed a handkerchief,

or something white, as the boats turned to come back.1 Moving on rapidly a mile or two we came to the main rebel camp, which was now in full possession of our troops, and assisted in disarming the rebels. Most of them were tall, lank fellows, with blankets and pieces of carpet instead of overcoats. The man who shot Howard, of Company G, the night before, was with them, still carrying the wounded man's Harper's Ferry rifle, and, to the honor of Howard's comrades, received no ill treatment or indignity. We found the rebels very willing to admit the fighting capacity of the Yankees, and very complimentary to the unrelenting obstinacy of the regulars in gray overcoats who would n't be driven away from their right flank.2 We felt and knew that we deserved the compliment, for Colonel Maggi's prediction that he would make the 21st a regiment of regulars had come true, and we had proved it that day. In the attack upon the battery, General Reno and the 21st had been the nerve and backbone of our army, the unflinching, steady force which had driven the enemy out of the key of his position and compelled his entire surrender.

We do not disparage the rest of the army. Other gallant regiments were on the field, and bravely met the enemy earlier in the day than we, but their attack upon the battery had ceased when our brigade took the front, and General Reno, beyond comparison as a fighting officer with any other officer upon the field, personally led the 21st in the advance; and during the rest of the fight, on our part of the field, the fire which our own troops in the rear in some cases continued to deliver was far more annoying to us than it possibly could have been to the enemy. The gallant 23d and 27th Massachusetts regiments, of the 1st brigade, who fought in the swamp on our right, drove back the rebel force which was advanced


on the enemy's left; and, when the battery was carried by our charge, had cut the line of rebel retreat towards an earth-work on the eastern shore of the island; built with the guns pointing inland, under cover of which they had made arrangements to ferry their men over to the main land, if defeated in the action; but the great distinguishing and honored feature of the victory at Roanoke Island was the bayonet charge upon the battery while its brave garrison were standing to their guns, and the glory of that no man can fairly deny to the 21st.

To return to the rebel camp. We found spacious new wooden barracks and other buildings, and plenty of commissary supplies. The wounded were at once housed in a comfortable hospital; the three thousand rebel prisoners were packed snugly away, and placed under close guard; and before night the weary 21st were taking their ease in warm and comfortable quarters, with all the rations that they wanted. It was a novel and interesting time: crowds of merry darkies, who had been brought to the island by the rebels to work on the forts, were singing, dancing, and waiting on our men, or giving graphic accounts of the rebel boastings before the fight. Our men also had a good deal of fun in unearthing, and playing with the bloody looking bowie knives (some of them two feet long), which the rebels had carried besides their muskets, and which, when they found that they must surrender, they had thrown into the wells, under the barracks, or buried in the earth.

The rebels, as the negroes told us, had cut many a fine caper with their knives before groups of awe-struck darkies, but a single fight had shown them the wisdom of the rule, that a soldier should be made to put his whole reliance upon the regular weapon of his arm of the service, and be allowed to carry no other, for while almost every rebel at Roanoke Island carried a bowie knife, we never saw them generally carried in any subsequent battle.

The number of prisoners who fell into our hands at Roanoke Island was 2,677, fifty of whom were wounded; in addition

to these prisoners, nearly if not quite an equal number of men escaped from the island in boats, or concealed themselves on it, after the battle and before we bagged them. Colonel Anderson and a large part of his regiment (59th Virginia) are known to have escaped in boats.

Colonel Henry M. Shaw, of the 8th North Carolina Volunteers, the rebel commandant,1 said, when he surrendered the rebel post and forces, “I give up my sword and surrender to you five thousand men.” The rebel organizations which took part in the fight were the 59th Virginia regiment (2d regiment Wise Legion), commanded by Colonel Frank Anderson; two battalions of the 46th Virginia regiment (1st regiment Wise Legion), one being of two companies under command of Captain O. J. Wise, the other of four companies under Major Fry; the 2d North Carolina regiment, the 8th North Carolina regiment, commanded by Colonel Shaw; a battalion of two companies of the 17th North Carolina regiment, commanded by Major Hill (the rest of the 17th having been captured in the forts at Hatteras Inlet during the previous summer); and the 31st North Carolina regiment, commanded by Colonel Jordan. All these troops were engaged in the fight at and around the battery in the swamp, except the battalion of the 17th regiment, which garrisoned Fort Bartow. A reinforcement of five hundred men of the North Carolina State Guards, under Colonel Green, landed too late to take part in the action; and, being unable to get away, as their boats had been taken by the rebels flying from the battle-field, surrendered without firing a shot. The battery in the swamp was garrisoned by three hundred men; the other troops were advanced on the flanks, and posted in reserve. The rebel loss in killed and wounded in the fight does not seem to have been officially reported, owing to their disorganized and scattered condition after the battle. The fullest list of their casualties that I have been able to obtain was published


in the “Richmond Despatch” of February 26, 1862, and contained the names of sixteen killed and thirty-nine wounded.

The total casualties in the battle on the Union side were forty-one killed and one hundred and eighty-one wounded. The total loss in our (2d) brigade was, by General Reno's official report, sixteen killed and sixty four wounded. The loss of the 21st was fifty-seven, of whom thirteen were killed on the spot, or soon died of their wounds, and forty-four otherwise wounded.


Commissioned Officers. Wounded: Captain Theodore S. Foster, commanding Company D, was struck in the leg by a bullet which broke and badly splintered the bone; and, although by unflinching determination and endurance he saved his leg from amputation, it has cost him long years of suffering, and still causes him much pain and inconvenience. First Lieutenant Frazer A. Stearns, acting adjutant, received bullet wounds across the forehead and back of the neck, neither of them serious.


Company A. Wounded: First Sergeant Fred. M. Sanderson, thumb and forefinger; privates Reuben Weeks, thigh; Chas. W. Cobleigh, arm.

Sanderson's thumb was badly split open by a musket ball. He moved to the rear holding it up and saying gayly, “First blood, boys!” Weeks's thigh was so badly shattered that he was discharged, from his consequent disability, October 18, 1862.

Company B. Killed and died of wounds: Corporal Edward McDonald; privates Joseph Hannan and Samuel Ross.

Wounded: Privates James Cane, thigh; Patrick J. Dixon, not severe; John Sheehey, in leg; John Somerville, through the chest by a canister shot.

Hannan was struck in the throat by a musket ball and

instantly killed. Ross was wounded in the upper arm and shoulder by a musket ball, and died in the army hospital on the island February 17th. McDonald, shot through the groin, was sent home on furlough and died of his wound after lingering until September 6th.

Somerville's case was for some time looked upon as hopeless. A canister shot, of more than an inch in diameter, struck him in the upper part of the chest and passed through to his back, where it hung in the skin; but a good constitution and cheerful courage brought him through successfully.

Company C. Killed and died of wounds: Corporal George W. Henry, and privates Samuel D. Sargent, Patrick Leonard, and George P. Manning.

Wounded: Privates Elixe Bulley, breast; Edward Ely, Wm. Frost, thigh; John H. Gorton, hand; Thomas Hurst, hand; Joseph Mead, leg; Louis H. Sammis, shoulder.

Henry and Sargent were instantly killed. Leonard's leg was amputated, and he died March 27th. Manning's wound was in the shoulder; he died February 16th. Bulley was badly wounded in the breast by a canister shot, and was discharged in consequence December 10th following. Frost returned to duty, only to die of typhoid fever on the “Northerner,” March 11th, while the regiment was en route to Newbern. Hurst returned to duty, and was killed at the battle of Newbern March 14th.

Company D. Killed and died of wounds: Privates Harrison W. Battles, Wm. Hodgman and George H. Mathews.

Wounded: Privates Alvarando Bigelow, Nat. C. Dean, side; John Delaney, Owen Elmer, thigh and side; Chas. E. Fay, leg; Amos N. Gleason, shoulder; Chas. T. Green, leg; Geo. H. Hardy, leg; Elias Kempton, Jr.,; James Montgomery, thigh and side; Erastus F. Wait; James D. Whitney, leg; wagoner, Addison March, face.

Battles and Hodgman died on the field. Mathews was shot through the chest, and died February 21st. Bigelow was afterwards killed at Chantilly. Green's wound left a stiff knee, on account of which he was discharged July 26th following.

Montgomery was discharged for disability resulting from his wounds, November 14th following. William Hodgman was the first man killed in battle in the regiment.

Captain Denny, in his excellent history of the 25th regiment (page 83), gives the following touching account of an interview with Mathews in the hospital: “I saw a patriot soldier dying from a wound in the breast (Mathews of the 21st Massachusetts). He was a young man of prepossessing appearance, and of more than ordinary intelligence. As the death damp stood on his brow, I took a place by his little camp bed, and taking him by the hand, expressed my sympathetic thoughts; spoke of his duty performed and of the crown that was waiting for his coming. He looked up into my face with a sweetly pleasant expression, saying, ‘I am conscious I must die, and feel happy that I can die in so noble a cause.’ ”

Company E. Wounded: Corporal Christopher A. Curtis, in the leg.

Company G. Died of wounds: Privates Chauncey Norcross and George D. Whitcomb.

Wounded: Privates Henry H. Howard, hips; Alonzo M. Littlefield, thigh; Seth H. Paine, chest.

Norcross was struck in the shoulder by a bullet, and died of the wound on the 21st of February. Whitcomb was also wounded in the shoulder by a bullet, and died of the wound April 9th.

Howard was the first man wounded in battle in the regiment. He was one of the skirmishers to establish the picket line in the evening of the 7th, soon after we landed. Moving through the dark woods, he suddenly found himself face to face with two rebels who had been concealed in the brush; the rebels fired as soon as discovered, and shooting Howard through the hip made him a cripple for life; his gun (a Harper's Ferry rifle), which the rebels, favored by the darkness, succeeded in carrying off with them, did service against us in the battle of the next day, for which, however, it had previously compensated by showing the enemy that we were armed with weapons much superior to theirs.

Company H. Wounded: Corporal Fred. Tyas, knee; private Francis Smith, wrist. Tyas received a gunshot wound in the knee, and was discharged for the resulting disability on the 12th of April following. Smith fully recovered from his wound and was afterwards killed at Cold Harbor.

Company I. Wounded: Private John H. Lake, not serious.

Company K. Died of wounds: Private Geo. S. Booth, shot through the face, and died of the wound March 26th following.

Wounded: Private Chas. H. Wilson, hand. A few others were slightly wounded and soon returned to duty.

On the 7th, soon after we left the “Northerner,” one of our men died on her who is worthy something more than a passing mention. His true name was Charles Plummer Tidd. He had been a trusted comrade of John Brown in Kansas and Virginia, and was one of the four men who evaded the thousands of armed foes who blockaded every outlet of escape from the scene of that grand historic precursor of the war at Harper's Ferry. He dropped his surname Tidd, and called himself Charles Plummer, to aid in escaping detection. Following that staunch abolitionist, Dr. Cutter, our surgeon, who was as a father to him, he brought his fierce enthusiasm for freedom into the 21st, and was made first sergeant of Company K. He was too marked a man to escape Colonel Maggi's vigilant eye, and was selected to command a band of sixty scouts, organized by the colonel while on the “Northerner,” whose duty it would be to scour the country around us after we were on hostile ground: every man of the sixty was a good shot, fearless and strong, and Tidd was the strongest and bravest of them all. Shortly before we landed he was prostrated with inflammation of the bowels (enteritis), but could not reconcile himself to being left behind without a chance to fire a shot under the flag (perhaps at Governor Wise himself, commander of the rebel forces on the island), to avenge the death of his old leader and his own sufferings from hunger and cold during the terrible month when hunted like a wolf he painfully worked his way along the mountains of Maryland and Pennsylvania

north from Harper's Ferry. Forced to remain in bed when the regiment entered the boats, every cannon shot excited and inflamed his mind beyond his shattered powers of physical endurance, and he died just after we had landed, more from the fearful strain of his deep and bitter disappointment than from his disease. His eyes were closed by his true and loving friend, Miss Carrie E. Cutter, the Florence Nightingale of the 21st, the delicate and accomplished daughter of our surgeon, who followed her father and the regiment to nurse our sick, until she, alas, so soon! shared the grave of her noble and admired friend.

Mr. Woodbury (not an eye-witness), in his interesting book, “Burnside and the 9th Army Corps,” p. 43, has been misled into giving the following rather fancy picture of the charge of the 9th New York upon the battery: “Generals Foster and Parke, observing from their position in front that the enemy was somewhat embarrassed by General Reno's appearance upon his right flank, ordered the 9th New York to charge. Then, almost at the same time the enemy was taken upon his front and flank, the Zouaves rushed forward with their peculiar cry of ‘Zou! Zou!’ their red caps filling the road,—an exciting scene. They mounted the parapet, and scattered the garrison. The two victorious columns met in the centre of the work, and congratulated each other on the happy result.” As we were hidden by at least half a mile of thick wood and underbrush from their view, Generals Foster and Parke could not have seen us, or known that we had appeared on the enemy's flank, or what we were doing, until we were within a few yards of the battery, so as to bring us in line with the narrow cleared vista along the road from the front. The rebel fire on us as we charged was musketry, as we were then too much on their flank for them to bring their artillery to bear on us, leaving those powerful and well-served guns free to sweep their front. The “embarrassment” which the generals of the 1st and 3d brigades noticed was seeing the rebels run out of the battery as we ran in. Men moving on the battery from the front up that narrow

corduroy road through an impassible morass had necessarily to move by the flank; the Zouaves had a quarter of a mile to travel, and if such a charge as related had been made on a live battery, the bloody result would have stamped the order to do it as one of the wildest and wickedest of the war. The 9th New York were subsequently the heroes of terribly bloody charges at Camden and Antietam, and would have responded nobly if ordered to pile the narrow road at Roanoke Island with their dead; but luckily for them the battery was in friendly hands when they made their charge. The reported loss of the Zouaves was one man killed in the whole engagement.

The following extract from the narrative published at the time in the New York “Commercial Advertiser,” written by their correspondent with the army, certainly does full justice to the gallant 9th New York. After describing the flight of the rebels, and the entry of the 21st and 51st into the battery, the writer says: “Hawkins’ Zouaves next came dashing over the ditch and up the side to find the work in possession of their friends. It was but a question of distance who should arrive first, for undoubtedly the Zouaves would have stormed the battery at the point of the bayonet had the work not been evacuated.”

The following extracts from the official report of Colonel Ferrero, commanding the 51st New York, are interesting as showing what was going on in our rear at the time we charged the battery: “. . . Finding it impossible to engage the enemy on account of the 21st Massachusetts regiment being in front, I ordered the men to lie down in order to avoid the shower of bullets from our own troops as well as those from the enemy. The enemy, finding that they were outflanked, commenced to retreat, when the order was given by General Reno to charge. The right wing charged under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Potter, while I led the left wing.1 Having advanced a few paces in front of the 9th New Jersey


and the 9th New York (Hawkins’ Zouaves), I found their fire was directed into our ranks. I halted my men, and ordered the signal for cease firing to be sounded by my bugler, which was understood by all the troops in the vicinity. . . . I led the left wing down the main road, followed by the 9th New York, crossed the moat, and halted inside the fort.”


Roanoke Island
Feb. 8 1862


General Reno, in his official report, says of our attack and charge: “. . . I proceeded at the head of the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers toward the enemy's right. We were soon hotly engaged, but, without stopping, I kept moving my flank towards the left, but, owing to the depth of water and dense underbrush, we could make only slow progress. Finally, after the lapse of about two hours, we succeeded in turning their right. I then ordered a charge, which was most gallantly executed by the 21st Massachusetts, 51st New York, and 9th New Jersey. . . . During the engagement, which lasted about four hours, General Foster's brigade most gallantly attacked them in the front, and General Parke was in the act of turning their left, when my brigade charged and carried the battery. . . . Lieutenant-Colonel Maggi's regiment

(21st Massachusetts) captured the flag of the fort, and raised the first colors.”

One of the best pieces of contemporary evidence as to who captured the battery is, I think, contained in a plan of the battle in the “Rebellion Record” (vol. iv., Docs., p. 103), published in New York, of which I here give a substantial copy, the only change of consequence which I have made in it being to put the three companies of the 51st New York on our left, instead of on our right, as represented in the plan.

I have, perhaps, been more particular in my account of this battle than its importance justifies, not only because it was our first fight, but also because some of our gallant brother regiments, fearing that the war would end before there was legitimate glory enough to go round, made claim to some of our honors.

General Burnside's official report of the battle gives no particulars of what was done by the different regiments. The following extract contains all of special interest:—

Headquarters Department of North Carolina.

Roanoke Island,February 10, 1862.

To Major-General George B. McClellan, Commanding United States Army, Washington.

General: I have the honor to report that a combined attack upon this island was commenced on the morning of the seventh by the naval and military forces of this expedition, which has resulted in the capture of six forts, forty guns, over two thousand prisoners, and upward of three thousand small arms. Among the prisoners are Colonel Shaw, commander of the island, and O. Jennings Wise, commander of the Wise Legion. The latter was mortally wounded, and has since died. The whole work was finished on the afternoon of the 8th instant, after a hard day's fighting, by a brilliant charge in the centre of the island, and a rapid pursuit of the enemy to the north end of the island, resulting in the capture of the prisoners mentioned above. We have had no time to count them, but the number is estimated at near three thousand. Our men fought bravely, and have endured most manfully the hardships incident to fighting through swamps and dense thickets.

A high tribute paid to the gallantry of the regiment in the action, by Lieutenant Frank Reno (aide to his brother the General), and honors to Captain Foster by his brother officers, appear in the following letter:—

Headquarters 21st Regt. Mass. Vols., Camp Burnside, Dept. N. C.

Roanoke Island,February 10, 1862.

To Captain Theodore S. Foster.

Dear Captain: The day before the battle of the 8th instant, the aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Frank Reno, told me that he would present a flag to the company of the Second Brigade who would fight most bravely. The day after the battle in which our regiment comported itself so gallantly he gave the flag to me, saying, “Give it to the company which has fought the best in your regiment.”

But at a meeting of the officers of the 21st regiment, presided over by me, it was decided that the flag be given to you alone, as a small token of the great coolness, bravery, and intelligence which you displayed on the 8th instant.

You may inscribe on the flag these words: “The Officers of the 21st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers to the brave Captain T. S. Foster, of Company D.” I am your sincere friend, A. C. Maggi, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding.

Captain Foster presented the flag to the town of Fitchburg, sending the following letter with it:—

Camp Burnside, Roanoke Island,March 4, 1862.

To the Chairman of the Fitchburg Library Committee: Enclosed I send a flag together with a letter accompanying it, which has been presented to me by the officers of the 21st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers. As it has been my honest endeavor to faithfully serve my country and its flag, I have tried to win, not glory for myself, but for the town which I have the honor to represent. Therefore I feel it my duty to present the flag to the town of Fitchburg, to be preserved in the Public Library, as a memento of the gallant services of Company D, 21st Regiment, February 8, 1862.

Very truly yours, Theodore S. Foster, Captain Company D, 21st Regiment Mass. Vols.

The Regimental Official Report of the battle of Roanoke Island was as follows:—

Headquarters 21st Regiment Mass. Vols.

Roanoke Island, N. C.,February 9, 1862.

To Brigadier-General Reno.

General: On Friday the 7th inst., at 5 P. M., my regiment disembarked. I formed the line rapidly and in good order. Then General Parke came, in your name, and asked from my regiment a company of skirmishers in order to go in advance to explore the road, which from the place of disembarkation was crossing the woods towards our right side. I gave him Company D, ninety men strong, commanded by Captain T. S. Foster. Afterwards you came and gave me orders to go to the cross-road and take possession of all that ground, placing my pickets for the night in order to cover the main body. I did so, placing a section of artillery at the cross-road, supported by Company C, and throwing right and left from water to water two other companies in small pickets covered by sentries at a distance of fifteen paces each, and placing the rest of the regiment at the entrance of the woods as support. I had already detailed two sections as a scouting party, who would have relieved each other during the night, in order to explore the ground in front of the pickets, and advance as far as possible without giving the alarm, in order to discover the position of the enemy. But at that time you, General, and General Foster came, and gave me the order to change the position, concentrating them on the road, and call them to the front. I did so; six companies were in front with two pieces of artillery with a prolongation of pickets in the two roads which open through the woods at an angle of about sixty degrees. The other four companies with the other three pieces of artillery were to the rear, precisely at the other cross-road, which lay four hundred yards behind the first. Those companies had pickets right and left, but with orders to do no firing to the front, and in case of an attack to act as support. We stood all night without fires; it rained all the time; none of the men slept, and every half hour I made the companies fall in in the greatest silence. All officers and men of the regiment without exception comported themselves with remarkable patience and endurance during twelve hours of darkness and rain. Not a word of grumbling, not an expression of weariness. At half-past six a small scouting party, which I sent out a little beyond my pickets, returned. I then permitted my men to light fires in order to dry themselves as much as possible. At seven o'clock A. M. an aide of General Foster came and ordered me to allow the 1st brigade to pass through my line of

pickets. The brigade came half an hour later, headed by the general himself, in the following order: 25th, 27th, and 23d Massachusetts; 5th battalion Rhode Island, and 10th Connecticut; and immediately upon your arrival we followed them, obeying your order to defile through swamps and water to the rear and to the left of the 25th; and then, halting, I took the two flank companies, D and G, armed with Harper's Ferry rifles and sabre bayonets, and after having assured myself of the position of the battery of the enemy, and by the different shots of their guns of the extension of the ground which they could sweep on our left (their right), I ordered the two companies to jump into a deep swamp and commanded them to open fire by file, marching slowly front and left. I forbid those two companies to waste any ammunition and fire only when perfectly sure of their aim. We had soon in front the infantry of the enemy which supported the right flank of the battery. It was then that the fire began to be really hot, and I had many men put hors de combat; among them, I regret to say Captain T. S. Foster was shot by a bullet through the left leg, but we steadily kept firing for more than two hours, advancing towards the front and left at the same time. At this time the 25th having changed their position, two of my companies joined my line, and in a few minutes all the rest of the battalion came up by my order, guided by Major Clark. At the edge of the swamp, and in front of me, was an exposed ground of one hundred yards. The regiment was in line. I charged that distance, and commanded the men to lie down and load covered by a small natural elevation. During that march we suffered for four or five minutes a very thick fire, and lost fifteen men. The battery was already flanked. You came and said to me, “Charge and take it;” we arose and did so. At our left flank were three companies of the 51st New York. Our State color was the first on the battery; afterwards the flag of the 51st; then immediately after our regimental flag. One of our men found on the battery a rebel flag with the motto “Aut vincere aut mori.” After a few minutes of joy, I put again in line the regiment in the road behind the battery, and led by you we proceeded towards Camp Jordan. Company E of my regiment, which was in front, found the enemy retreating; they turned and fired, but were soon repulsed with the loss of three dead and some wounded. They sent a flag of truce and surrendered.

I am glad to say that I never saw any better behavior by any soldiers, young or veterans. I do not believe it was possible on such

a ground (if a continued swamp and ponds of water can be so called) that any can surpass the brilliant and gallant conduct of all my command. If I should mention the names of those officers who have distinguished themselves, I should be obliged to send you all from the major to the last second lieutenant, as every one of them deserve it. I shall name two, Captain T. S. Foster, and Lieutenant F. A. Stearns, acting adjutant, not because they fought more bravely, but because they had by force of circumstances been obliged to stand a longer time in the most dangerous position than any others: the last named, during all the fight cool and brave, was at my side from the beginning to the end. Both have been wounded, the first as I have said by one bullet in the left leg, the second slightly in the right temple and in the neck. And also, I would call your attention to the faithful services of Surgeons Cutter and Warren, and of the Chaplain, who bravely followed the troops through the fight to bear back the dead and wounded. All our wounded were conveyed to the hospital and our dead were immediately buried. I send you annexed a list of the killed and wounded. I have the honor to be, your obedient subordinate, A. C. Maggi, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding 21st Mass. Vols.

The following proclamation of thanks was issued by the President, in which the glory of our charge was recognized and held up for emulation,—Washington,February 15, 1862.

The President, commander in chief of the army and navy, returns thanks to Brigadier-General Burnside and Flag Officer Goldsborough, and to General Grant and Flag Officer Foote, and the land and naval forces under their respective commands, for their gallant achievements in the capture of Fort Henry and at Roanoke Island. While it will be no ordinary pleasure for him to acknowledge and reward in a becoming manner the valor of the living, he also recognizes his duty to pay fitting honor to the memory of the gallant dead. The charge at Roanoke Island, like the bayonet charge at Mill Spring, proves that the close grapple and sharp steel of loyal and patriotic soldiers must always put rebels and traitors to flight. The late achievements of the navy show that the flag of the Union, once borne in proud glory around the world by our naval vessels, will soon again float over every rebel city and stronghold, and that

it shall forever be honored and respected as the emblem of liberty and union, in every land and upon every sea.

By order of the President, Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. Gideon Welles, Secretary of Navy.

On request of the legislature, national salutes were fired in Massachusetts, under the following order of the governor:—Headquarters, Boston,February 17, 1862.

General Order No. 2.

In honor of the successes recently won by the Union arms at Roanoke Island, at Fort Henry, and at Fort Donelson; in recognition of the skillful generalship, the coolness, devotedness, and valor of the officers and men by whom those fields were won; in commemoration of the heroic dead to whom the country owes all that a grateful people can repay to the brave who have fallen in their country's cause; and in celebration of events which, in giving hope and confidence to our future, have given opportunity to five regiments of Massachusetts to illustrate the sturdy valor of her sons, and also planted the white colors of the Commonwealth by the side of the American flag, on the conquered fortification at Roanoke Island;—it is ordered that a national salute be fired, at Boston, Bunker Hill, Concord, and Lexington, on Wednesday, February 19th instant, at twelve o'clock M.

By order of His Excellency, John A. Andrew, Governor and Commander in. Chief.

Wm. Schouler, Adjutant-General.

On the 18th of February all the bells in Boston were rung, and a salute of one hundred guns was fired on the Common by order of the mayor, in honor of the victories.

Several rebel flags fell into the hands of our troops in the surrender at Roanoke Island, but the 21st make the undisputed claim of being the only regiment that captured a flag in fight.

Colonel Maggi was allowed to send the flag to Massachusetts; and forwarded it to Governor Andrew with a copy of his official report and the following letter of transmittal:—

To his Excellency Governor Andrew:

I have the honor to submit a copy of my official report of the battle of the 8th instant, and will only add that General Reno has rewarded the long, steady fire, and gallant charge of my command, by permitting me to send you the only secession flag yet taken on the island, and the one which we took when we stormed the battery.

Your obedient servant, A. C. Maggi.

On the receipt of the flag, the governor issued the following order:— Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Headquarters, Boston,March 1, 1862.

General Order No. 3.

The commander in chief of the militia of the Commonwealth has received from the 21st Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Albert C. Maggi commanding, a flag of the “Confederate States,” captured by that regiment on the redoubt in the gallant and victorious charge led by Colonel Maggi, at Roanoke Island, on the eighth day of February.

He has also received from the 24th Regiment, Colonel Thomas G. Stevenson commanding, the regimental colors of the 8th Regiment of North Carolina “State troops,” surrendered, as one of the results of the victory, to Colonel Stevenson's regiment, which bore a gallant part in the fortunes and trials of the day.

He has also received from the 23d Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel John Kurtz commanding, the regimental colors of another rebel regiment, secured by the 23d on the same field. These worthy sons and heroic soldiers of Massachusetts, in the hour of their triumph, dearly bought, offer to her these trophies. They shall be preserved in honor of their fortitude, their fidelity, and their achievements. And if, as they behold them, the eyes of their countrymen shall moisten with tears, remembering the hardships, the sufferings, and the losses by which they were won, their hearts shall be strengthened also by the precious memories of that heroism and valor which so proudly illustrated, in the very van of battle, the perpetuity of the Republic.

The commander in chief in congratulating and thanking, in the name of the people of Massachusetts, the 21st, 23d, and the 24th Volunteers, joins with these regiments, in equal honor, the 25th, commanded by Colonel Edwin Upton, and the 27th, commanded by Colonel Horace C. Lee.

Sharing alike the hardships and the fortunes of the engagement, all of these noble regiments participated in the honors of the victory, and by constant endurance, prompt obedience, and unflinching fortitude, under the fire of the enemy, exhibited the best qualities of citizen soldiers.

These flags (with the consent of the Honorable House of Representatives) will be conspicuously displayed in the hall of the House, and will there remain in the care of the quartermaster-general, until further orders. The adjutant-general will cause a copy of this order to be transmitted to the commanders of each of the regiments and batteries of artillery now at the seat of war from this Commonwealth.

By order of His Excellency, John A. Andrew, Governor and Commander in Chief.

William Schouler, Adjutant-General.

Thereupon it was unanimously resolved by the House of Representatives, that the rebel flags “be displayed during the present session in the hall of the House, as memorials of the heroic valor and energy of the men of the Massachusetts 21st, 23d, 24th, 25th, and 27th regiments.”

Hon. A. H. Bullock, Speaker of the House, in advocating the passage of the resolution, said of the 21st, that “led in their impetuous charge by a soldier of Garibaldi, they had plucked one of these trophies of victory from the very crest of battle.”

The following letter, written in lead pencil, was found in the rebel fort which was bombarded on the 7th (Fort Bartow):—

Roanoke Island,February 7, 1862.

Dear Sir: The enemy are in sight of our battery, and have already twenty-three steamers and twenty-six transports moored this side of the marshes. We are all ready for them, and expect to give them a good thrashing, and send them home to their work. The engagement will certainly be a long and desperate one, but our cause is good. God being, as I firmly believe, on our side, will give us the victory. With much respect, your obedient servant,

Sergeant W. E. Vaughn, Commander Gun No. 5, Pig Point Battery.

To John R. Hathaway.

Colonel Shaw, commander of the rebel land forces, made no report that I have been able to find; Commodore Lynch, commanding their fleet, made the following official report:—


Flag-ship Sea Bird, off Roanoke Island,February 7, 1862.

Sir: I have the honor to report that the enemy, at ten A. M. today, with twenty-two heavy steamers and one tug, made an attack upon this squadron and the battery at Pork Point. As his numerical force was overwhelming, we commenced the action at long range, but as our shells fell short, while his burst over and around us (owing, I think, to the superior quality of his powder), we were eventually compelled to shorten the distance. The fight lasted continuously from ten A. M. to half-past five P. M., throughout which the soldiers in the battery sustained their position with a gallantry which won our warmest approbation. The fire was terrific; and at times the battery would be enveloped in the sand and dust thrown up by shot and shell. And yet their casualties were only one man killed and three wounded. The earth-work, however, was very much cut up. I mention the battery, because in all probability this communication will reach you before intelligence will be received from the appropriate official source. The enemy approached in ten divisions, the rear one having the schooner transports in tow. The advance, which was the attacking division, again subdivided, and one portion assailed us and the other the battery. Repeatedly in the course of the day, I feared that our little squadron of seven vessels would be utterly demolished, but a gracious Providence preserved us. Master-commanding Hoall, of the “Forrest,” received a wound in the head which is pronounced serious, if not mortal. I yet trust that this promising young officer, who so bravely fought his ship, will be spared to the service. Midshipmen Camm of the “Ellis,” and—of the “Curlew,” each lost an arm, which with three others slightly wounded, constitute the sum of our personal casualties.1 I am sorry to say that the “Curlew,” our largest steamer, was sunk, and the “Forrest,” one of the propellers, disabled. We have received other injuries from shot and shell, but comparatively of light character, and could, with the exception of the “Forrest,” renew the action to-morrow, if we only had ammunition.


I have not a pound of powder nor a loaded shell remaining, and few of the other vessels are better off. During the latter part of the engagement, when our ammunition was nearly exhausted, I sent to the upper battery for a supply, but ten charges were all that could be spared, and those were expended at dark, as the enemy were withdrawing from the contest. In all probability the contest will be renewed to-morrow, for the enemy, having landed a force below the battery, will doubtless endeavor to divert its fire. I have decided, after receiving the guns from the wreck of the “Curlew,” to proceed direct with the squadron to Elizabeth City, and send express to Norfolk for ammunition. Should it arrive in time, we will return to aid in the defense; if not, will there make a final stand and blow up the vessels rather than that they shall fall into the hands of the enemy. [Then follows complimentary mention of all his commanding officers.]

I am very respectfully, your obedient W. F. Lynch, Flag-Officer.1

The “Richmond Examiner” published the following bitter comment on the part taken in the fight by the battalion of six companies of the 46th Virginia:—

The Roanoke affair is perfectly incomprehensible. The newspapers are filled with extravagant laudations of our valor; the annals of Greece and Rome offer no parallel. Whole regiments were defeated by companies, and we yielded only to death. Our men finally surrendered “with no blood on their bayonets;” and what is the loss? Richmond Blues, two killed and five wounded; McCulloch Rangers, one killed and two wounded; the other four companies lost in all two killed and eleven wounded. Comment is needless. The whole army had better surrender at once, for it will eventually come to it.

I am sir, etc., An Officer.

We passed nearly a month on the island very pleasantly. The rebels were soon out of our way, being carried to Elizabeth City, and released after signing a parole not to take up arms against the United States, nor give any information respecting our forces until regularly exchanged. Though the water was quite cold, we swam in the Sound and enjoyed it


very much; the guard duty was not severe, drills were sharp and lively, and rations plenty; besides, there was a neverfailing occupation in reading rebel letters, of which we found immense quantities, some full of fierce malignity, and some telling sad tales of the helpless and suffering ones at home.

February 24th. We received the welcome news of the capture of Forts Donnelson and Henry in the West; and Fort Reno (the late rebel Fort Bartow) fired a national salute in honor of our victories. The subordination and discipline of the regiment was put to a pretty severe test about the middle of the month. As a large rebel force were supposed to be gathering on the main land, near by us, we were under orders to be ready to move at an hour's notice. Colonel Maggi, determined to be always ready, required the companies to parade at reveille roll-call with blankets rolled and knapsacks packed, ready for inspection. It was too much like breaking camp every day, to be agreeable to the men, and the time allowed was very short to get ready for one of Colonel Maggi's rigid inspections. After the order had been in force a few days, the gallant but hot-blooded captain of one of the companies, refusing to submit longer to such “Italian tyranny,” on the ground that the order was not issued by authority of the general commanding, turned out his company without knapsacks; the disobedience being promptly reported by the officer of the day, the captain was at once put under arrest; but the company, standing by their late commander, now refused to obey the order of his successor to parade as directed. Maggi made short work with them: the other nine companies were instantly ordered into line, and the adjutant carried the colonel's compliments to the stubborn company with the message that the regiment would fire on them as mutineers unless they paraded as directed within ten minutes. It came hard for the boys to back down; but the battalion indignant at the mutiny looked stern and ready for business; and the company, much to the delight of their comrades, were in line as ordered within the prescribed limit. The incident was a revelation to the regiment of their own subordination, and

made them feel more than ever before that their discipline and strength were self sustaining.

Colonel Maggi remained with the regiment only long enough to see the offending captain dismissed by sentence of court-martial, resigning his commission February 27th. Major Clark at once took command of the regiment, and was promoted to the lieutenant-colonelcy.

We saw Colonel Maggi leave with regret. We admired him for his coolness and wisdom in handling the regiment under fire. He had always been watchful for the health and comfort of his command; and the rigid discipline on duty which he had established had in effect fulfilled his prediction when he took command, that he would “make the 21st a regiment of regulars.”

General Reno, in forwarding his resignation, sent him the following letter:—

Headquarters Second Brigade, Camp Burnside,February 28, 1862.

Lieutenant-Colonel A. G. Maggi.

Colonel: I regret exceedingly that circumstances should have compelled you to resign your position as commander of the 21st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers. Having myself been a witness of your gallant conduct in the recent battle of Roanoke, I was much surprised that you should wish to relinquish the command of such a gallant regiment, one too that you had devoted so much time and labor in instructing and disciplining. Although I do not agree with you in your conviction “that you can no longer be of any service to the regiment,” still I cannot deny your earnest request, and, however reluctant, I will recommend the general commanding to accept your resignation. With many thanks for your past valuable services, and my warmest wishes for your future success and happiness, I have the honor to remain your sincere friend and well-wisher.

Yours truly, J. L. Reno, Brigadier-General Commanding 2d Brigade.

The commanders of the Union fleet and army issued a joint proclamation to the people of North Carolina, on the 18th of February, which is of interest only as showing the national view of the war at that time. Enough of it is given to show

its spirit: “The mission of our joint expedition is not to invade any of your rights, but to assert the authority of the United States, and to close with you the desolating war brought upon your State by comparatively a few bad men in the midst of you.... We invite you in the name of the Constitution, and in that of virtuous loyalty and civilization, to separate yourselves at once from their malign influence, to return to your allegiance, and not compel us to resort further to the force under our control.... No apprehension need be entertained that the demands of humanity or justice will be disregarded. The Government asks only that its authority may be recognized, and, we repeat, in no manner or way does it desire to interfere with your laws constitutionally established, your institutions of any kind whatever, your property of any sort, your usages in any respect.”

Although it is not probable that the Union proclamation was circulated to any great extent outside our lines, Henry T. Clark, the rebel governor of the State, on the 22d of February issued a war-cry to his people, the spirit of which is shown by the following extracts:—

North Carolinians! Our country needs your aid for its protection and defense against an invading foe ... now threatening by an advance to deprive us of liberty, property, and all that we hold dear as a self-governing and free people. We must resist him at all hazards and by every means in our power. He wages a war for our subjugation,—a war forced upon us in wrong and prosecuted without right, and in a spirit of vengeful wickedness without a parallel in the history of warfare among civilized nations.... I call upon the brave and patriotic men of our State to volunteer from the mountains to the sea.

And so, thank God, the good work was destined to go on until we were ready to interfere with their laws and institutions!

CHAPTER IV. February—April, 1862.


On the 26th of February, 1862, orders were issued to put fifteen days’ rations on the transports and hold ourselves in readiness to reëmbark; and on the 4th of March the regiment returned to the “Northerner” again. The old craft was gayly decorated with flags and streamers for the occasion. A banner, hung across her upper saloon, bore the words, “Welcome to the brave 21st;” and we received a very warm welcome from all hands on board her. We remained until March 11th, lying at anchor just off the island, and then ran down Pamlico Sound, coming to anchor off Hatteras Inlet after dark. Moving on at seven o'clock on the morning of the 12th, the imposing fleet, of which the “Northerner” now formed a part, steamed across Pamlico Sound and into the mouth of the Neuse River. Soon after we got under way, a general order was read, announcing that we were making an important movement which would tend to demoralize the enemy and aid in the operations against Richmond, and as we entered the Neuse we were officially informed that Newbern was our destination.

Our fleet was composed of nearly all the transports and gun-boats which had left Hatteras Inlet for Roanoke Island five weeks before, and pushed up the broad and glassy river, with the transports in two parallel lines, and the gun-boats on the flanks and in the advance. It was a majestic spectacle, never to be forgotten. The weather was pleasant, and the

troops crowding the decks of the transports were full of life and enthusiasm as they passed on to their fate in that mighty fleet which extended its well-ordered lines as far as the eye could reach. After running some forty-five miles up the river we came to anchor at dark off the mouth of Slocum's Creek, sixteen miles below the city of Newbern. Some of our gun-boats in advance were now firing heavily, but we had met with no opposition and seen no signs of life along the wooded banks of the great river.

As the vessels took position for the night they became gay with brilliant signal lanterns. The gun-boats threw a few shells into the woods near us, apparently for the fun of the thing. Bright rebel signal-fires shone inland, and the music of the bands added to the beauty and inspiration of the scene. We turned in early, and, after a refreshing sleep, awoke on a cheerless, rainy morning, which was to bring forth no man knew what. Nobody, however, seemed to be in a very solemn state of mind as we landed in small boats and leisurely waded through the mud to the shore. As there was no show of opposition, little enthusiasm was displayed in the landing, although some of the first regiments which landed made an attempt at a dash as they floundered through the deep mud and planted their flags on the land. Their cheers, however, fell rather flat, and they soon stacked arms and sat down to await the disembarkation of the rest of the troops. It was nearly noon when the army took up the line of march for Newbern, with three days’ rations of hard bread and salt beef in haversacks, and sixty rounds of ammunition in cartridge boxes and pockets.

The beautiful old city of Newbern, on which we were moving (a place of about six thousand inhabitants), is situated at the confluence of the rivers Neuse and Trent. Great importance was attached to its occupation as being an excellent base for a movement into the interior of the State to cut the enemy's communications between Virginia and the Gulf States. The main line of intrenchments erected for its defense against a land attack was situated about four miles

below the city, was well placed, and of the most formidable character, consisting of heavy earth-works about two miles in length, mounting forty-six pieces of artillery; the right resting on a deep morass, and the left terminating on the west bank of the river Neuse in a powerful fort (Fort Thompson), mounting thirteen very heavy guns. There were also several batteries along the river, which was further obstructed by piles, sunken vessels, and torpedoes. The rebel works were held by eight thousand men, under the command of General L. O'B. Branch.

The Union army moving to attack, commanded by General Burnside, consisted of thirteen regiments of infantry and a battery of six boat-howitzers, numbering in all not over nine thousand men. The Union brigades and regiments were as follows:—

First brigade, commanded by General Foster: 23d, 24th, 25th, and 27th Massachusetts, and 10th Connecticut regiments.

Second brigade, commanded by General Reno: 21st Massachusetts, 51st New York, 51st Pennsylvania, and 9th New Jersey regiments.

Third brigade, commanded by General Parke: 4th and 5th Rhode Island, and 8th and 11th Connecticut regiments.


As Colonel Clark's official report gives in such full detail the incidents of our march to the battle-field and the part taken by the regiment in the battle, I give it entire, as being of more general interest than an account of my own experiences.

Headquarters 21st Regt. Mass. Vols. Camp Reno, near Newbern, N. C., March 16, 1862.

Capt. Edward M. Neal, Ass't Adj't-Gen. 2d Brigade.

Captain: About nine o'clock on the morning of the 13th inst., the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers, seven hundred and forty-three strong, landed at the mouth of Slocum's Creek, and by order of General Reno advanced about two miles through the pine woods along the south bank of the river Neuse toward Newbern. Coming out

upon a large open field, the regiment stacked arms to await the arrival of the general with the rest of the brigade. Company G, under Lieutenant Taylor, formed the advance guard, and discovered a short distance into the woods, beyond the cleared space, a large number of wooden barracks which had been vacated about two hours before by rebel cavalry whose equanimity had been disturbed by shells from the gun-boats. An advance of some four miles brought the regiment to Croatan, where we found a very extensive earth-work running at right angles to the highway. One thousand rebel infantry had just deserted it. The colors of the 21st were placed without opposition upon the parapet and heartily cheered by officers and men. Near this work a halt of an hour was made for dinner, during which the pioneers tore up the track of the railroad connecting Newbern with Beaufort. From this point the regiment was ordered to move forward upon the railroad track, and Company D, under Lieutenant Barker, was sent forward as advance guard. About a mile of advance brought the regiment to a place where the highway crosses the railroad, and a half a mile to the right of the latter, on the river Neuse, a deserted earth-work was discovered by Lieutenant Reno, aide-de-camp to the general. Company H, under Captain Frazer, with the colors, was detached from the regiment, and under charge of General Reno, visited the work, and, waving the Star-Spangled banner bearing the honorable inscription, “Roanoke, February 8th, 1862,” and the spotless white colors of Massachusetts with the noble motto “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem,” gave three hearty cheers and hastily rejoined the advancing regiment. Proceeding along the railroad about a mile farther, the advance guard came upon a building containing several tents, a complete set of artillery harnesses, and a few boxes of ammunition for six and twelve-pounder guns. Lieutenant Barker with Adjutant Stearns then made a reconnoisance to the right of the railroad and found an extensive encampment, also recently evacuated by rebel cavalry. Here were large quantities of clothing, commissary and hospital stores, over which a guard was placed. One mile farther on the regiment bivouacked for the night, throwing out a picket guard of two companies on the front and left, the right being guarded by the 24th Massachusetts Volunteers, and the rear by the 51st New York Volunteers. The rain, which commenced to fall about ten o'clock of the 13th instant, continued in showers through the night, and on the morning of the 14th mist and fog enveloped everything. Notwithstanding every precaution

on the part of both officers and men, very many of the rifles were rendered quite unserviceable by the moisture. In some the powder was too wet to ignite, and in many of the Enfield rifled muskets the rammers were almost immovable from the swelling of the stock. It is a great defect in this weapon that the friction of the wood along the whole length of the rammer is relied upon to keep it in place, since it is quite impossible that the rammer should be well secured when the musket is dry and sufficiently loose for service when wet. It is a noteworthy evidence of discipline and courage on the part of the men, that more than fifty of them went into the battle with only their bayonets to work with, and it was very hard to hear them in the thickest of the fight, while standing helpless in their places, beg their officers to give them serviceable muskets, and to see them eagerly seize the weapons of their comrades as fast as they fell beneath the leaden storm from the enemy's earth-works. Private Sheehan of Company E left his company, to secure the musket of a man whom he saw killed in Company K, and when asked by Major Rice why he did not take the gun of one who had been shot in his own company, replied that it was, like his own, good for nothing.

About seven o'clock A. M. General Reno ordered his brigade forward, the 21st Massachusetts in the van. The advance guard consisted of Company G, and was led by Corporal Stratton,1 who deserves much credit for his coolness and intrepidity in pushing on through swamps and thickets, and along the track of the railroad, both on the 13th and 14th instants, every moment exposed to be fired upon by a concealed foe. Adjutant Stearns directed the movement of the first two squads of the advance guard in the most admirable manner during the entire march from the place of landing to the battle-field. As it was known that the defenses of the enemy were thrown across the highway to the right of the railroad, the regiment proceeded cautiously through the woods on the left of the railroad and parallel with it. After advancing about half a mile, a locomotive was seen coming down the road, and General Reno at once ordered us to file to the left and advance into the forest, which was no longer a level, open, pine wood, but the ground was broken into hills separated by deep ravines, and the timber was of oak, whitewood, and other deciduous trees, and of the largest description. The 1st brigade, under General Foster, having advanced upon the highway, came first upon the enemy, and the battle was now raging fiercely upon our right and along


the whole line of earth-works from the river to the railroad. The smoke from the rapid firing of more than thirty cannon and several thousand muskets was driven down upon us by the wind, and, mingling with the dense fog, so completely shut out the light of day (never more anxiously longed for), that it was impossible to derive any information respecting the position of the rebels, except where it was indicated by the noise of battle. Our skirmishers now reported that we were opposite the right flank of a battery resting at this point on a deep cut in the railroad, and upon several buildings and brick walls in Woods’ brick-yard, which was across the road from our position, a few hundred yards distant. The regiment was at once ordered to form line of battle facing the railroad, and Company C, under Captain J. M. Richardson, was sent forward to reconnoitre. As rapidly as the difficult nature of the ground would allow, the other companies formed on the right by file into line, and as soon as the remaining companies of the right wing were ready, I moved forward with the colors to the support of Company C, who were already engaging the rebel riflemen in the trenches upon the opposite side of the deep cut in the railroad. At the moment of their arrival at the cut, the enemy were busily engaged in mounting two thirty-two-pounder pivot guns to command the railroad, and in receiving ammunition from the cars which had just arrived from Newbern with reinforcements. At the first volley from Company C, the enemy in great astonishment fled from the road and the trench to a ravine in the rear of the brickyard. General Reno now ordered the color-bearer, Sergeant Bates, to plant the flag upon the roof of a building within the enemy's intrenchments. He immediately rushed forward several rods in advance of his company, and amid a perfect shower of minie balls clambered to the roof and waved the Star-Spangled banner presented to the regiment by the ladies of Worcester. At this moment the noblest of us all, my brave, efficient, faithful adjutant, First Lieutenant F. A. Stearns, of Company I, fell mortally wounded, the first among the twenty-five patriotic volunteers of the 21st who laid down their lives for their country at the battle of Newbern. As he was cheering on the men to charge upon the enemy across the railroad, he was struck by a ball from an English rifle fired from a redan at the right and rear of the central breastwork on which we were advancing. The fatal missile entered his left side, and passing through his lungs, went out just below the collar-bone in the right breast. Corporal Welch, of Company C, noticing his fall, returned and remained with him

during the battle. He lived about two hours and a half, though nearly unconscious from the loss of blood, and died without a struggle a little before noon. General Reno with companies C, A, B, and H, of the right wing, dashed across the railroad, up the steep bank, and over the rifle trench on the top into the brick-yard. Here we were subjected to a most destructive cross-fire from the enemy on both sides of the railroad, and lost twenty-one men in a very few minutes.1 The general, supposing we had completely flanked the enemy's works, returned across the road to bring up the rest of the brigade; but just at this time a tremendous fire of musketry and artillery was opened from the redans hitherto unseen, and which were thirteen in number, extending from the railroad more than a mile into the forest. The general, being now obliged to devote his attention to the enemy in front of his brigade, ordered the left wing of the 21st, under the command of Major Rice, not to cross the railroad, but to continue firing upon the rebel infantry in the first two redans with whom they were already engaged. These consisted of the 36th and 16th North Carolina regiments, and were the best armed and fought the most gallantly of any of the enemy's forces. Their position was almost impregnable so long as their left flank, resting on the railroad, was defended, and they kept up an incessant fire for three hours, until their ammunition was exhausted and the remainder of the rebel forces had retreated from that portion of their works lying between the river and the railroad. Having been ordered into the brick-yard and left there with my colors and the four companies above named, and finding it impossible to remain there without being cut to pieces, I was compelled either to charge upon Captain Brem's battery of flying artillery, or to retreat without having accomplished anything to compensate for the terrible loss sustained in reaching this point. Accordingly I formed my handful of men, about two hundred in number, in line, the right resting on the breastworks of the enemy, and commenced firing upon the men and horses of the first piece. Three men and two horses having fallen, and the other gunners showing signs of uneasiness, I gave the command “charge bayonets,” and went into the first gun. Reaching it, I had the pleasure of mounting


upon the first of the Newbern guns surrendered to the Yankees. It was a six-pounder brass field-piece, manufactured at Chicopee, Mass., brought from Fort Macon, and marked “U. S.” I am happy to add that General Burnside has presented it to the regiment, and that the officers have unanimously resolved to present it to the Trustees of Amherst College, to be kept as an enduring and appropriate monument to Adjutant Stearns and the other members of the 21st who were slain at Newbern. Leaving this in the hands of Captain Walcott and Private John Dunn, of Company B, who cut away the horses and attempted to load and turn it upon the enemy,1 I proceeded to the second gun, some three hundred paces from the brickyard. By this time the three regiments of rebel infantry, who had retreated from the breastworks to a ravine in the rear, when we entered the brick-yard, seeing that we were so few and received no support, rallied and advanced upon us. The 35th and 37th North Carolina regiments, supported by the 7th North Carolina, came up from the ravine in splendid style, with their guns on their right shoulders, and halted. Most fortunately, or rather providentially for us, they remained undecided for a minute or two, and then resolved on a movement which saved us from destruction. Instead of giving us a volley at once, they first hesitated, and then charged upon us without firing. I instantly commanded my men to spring over the parapet and ditch in front, which was ten feet wide and five feet deep and half full of water, and retreat to the railroad, keeping as close as possible to the ditch. As the enemy could not fire upon us to any advantage until they reached the parapet, nearly all of those who obeyed my orders escaped unharmed, though thousands of bullets whistled over us. Four only of my men were shot in the charge, and fifteen in the retreat, the entire loss in the four companies during the fight being forty-one, or one sixth of the number engaged. On the railroad I found Colonel Rodman of the 4th Rhode Island, waiting for orders, and informed him of the situation of things in the intrenchments of the enemy, and urged him to advance at once and charge upon their flank as I had done. Soon after Colonel Harland, with the 8th Connecticut, came up, and then the two regiments advanced along the railroad to the brick-yard and charged by wing. As soon as the enemy


saw them within their lines, they instantly retreated again to the ravine without firing a gun. It is some satisfaction to those who were obliged to retreat from the battery, after once driving the enemy from it, that no one of the five brass pieces stationed in this part of their works was ever fired by them after our charge. Among the incidents of the day, perhaps the following may not be out of place here. Captain J. D. Frazer, of Company H, was wounded in the right arm just before charging, and dropped his sword. He, however, instantly picked it up with his left hand and led his men with the colors. At the time of the retreat from the battery, he was unable to clear the ditch and fell into the water. As soon as the rebels discovered him they ordered him to get up, took him back over the parapet, and removing his sword, placed a guard of three men over him. When his captors in their turn again retreated, he was unable or unwilling to move as rapidly as they, and when he had detained his guard sufficiently long to permit him to attempt it, he drew his revolver and declared that he would shoot the first one who stirred. They surrendered to him, and were delivered over to the 4th Rhode Island as prisoners of war. The lieutenant to whom Captain Frazer gave his sword was also captured, and the sword returned to its rightful owner. Captain Frazer, before the close of the fight, was again in command of his company. Private J. A. Miller, of Company A, in clambering over the parapet in the retreat, dropped his rifle into the ditch, and rather than leave his pet remained searching for it until captured. He was ordered to the rear of the enemy with a guard, and as the bullets were rather numerous in the air, he laid himself down between two logs and forgot to get up when his captors retreated. Sergeant A. J. Weatherby, of Company B, was ordered by me to take care of a prisoner captured in the charge, and when obliged to retreat he did not forsake the rebel, but dragged him by the collar over the parapet and through the ditch, compelled him to double-quick with the Yankees, and after the battle delivered him over to me in good condition. As soon as my men could be collected and the charges drawn from the rifles which had been wet in the ditch, I retreated along the railroad to rejoin the left wing of my regiment, which, after fighting with great steadiness and effect for three hours in front of the first two redans, was just rushing over the fallen timber of the almost impassable swamp intervening between them and the retreating enemy. The conduct of my entire command, so far as I can learn, during both the march and the engagement, was worthy of great commendation, and has received it in

the assurance of our brigadier that he is satisfied with us. Having been ordered to occupy the captured works of the enemy, my regiment has been diligently engaged in collecting the arms, ammunition, equipments, clothing, tents, and commissary stores abandoned by them in their precipitate retreat. The prisoners taken by the different regiments have been placed on board the propeller “Albany,” under charge of Company E, Captain Bradford. There are about two hundred and sixty of the well prisoners, including twelve officers, and about forty wounded rebels, who are being cared for by their own surgeons and nurses. The dead have been carefully collected and buried under the direction of Acting Brigade-Quartermaster Hall. The killed and mortally wounded of my regiment number twenty-one, and the other casualties thirty-five,1 besides many cases of slight injuries and narrow escapes. The corrected list is herewith inclosed. During the engagement the killed and wounded were rapidly carried to the rear by the members of the band, under the direction of Acting Brigade-Surgeon Cutter. The men deserve great credit for their attention to duty while their comrades were falling around them: no one attempted to leave the ranks to assist the wounded. This order they obeyed the more cheerfully, because they were certain that Surgeon Cutter, with his hospital corps, was attending to this duty in their very midst. Acting Surgeon Warren and Hospital Steward Davis have labored with untiring zeal to render the wounded comfortable since the battle, and their kind care and skillful treatment will never be forgotten by the regiment.

Hoping that this report of the part performed by the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers at the memorable battle of Newbern may be satisfactory, I am, captain, Very respectfully, your obedient servant.

W. S. Clark, Lt.-Col. Comd'g 21st Mass. Vols.

The total number of casualties in our army (of 13 regiments and 1 battery), were 88 killed, and 352 wounded.2 The history of the corps, published under General Burnside's


eye, says of our casualties: “The 21st Massachusetts, from its exposed position and the daring of its officers and men, suffered the greatest loss.”1

Making no mention of several slight wounds, the 21st lost 1 officer and 18 enlisted men killed on the spot, and 2 officers and 37 enlisted men wounded (4 of them mortally, who soon died of their wounds), a total of 58; as follows:—


Killed: First Lieutenant and Adjutant Frazar A. Stearns. Wounded: Captain John D. Frazer, commanding Company H, in the elbow by a musket ball; Second Lieutenant Harrison Aldrich, of Company K, in the shoulder by a musket ball.

Captain Frazer, who was subsequently killed at Chantilly, was one of our most spirited and gallant officers; the circumstances of his wound and subsequent exploits are stated in Colonel Clark's official report (ante, p. 67).

Adjutant Stearns was the ideal soldier of the regiment; handsome in face and person, of fine intellect and culture, true in his friendship, and enthusiastic in his devoted courage, he was loved and admired by all, and was a constant inspiration to his associates. General Reno, in his official report of the battle, refers to him as “one of the most accomplished and gallant officers in the army.” Among the many honors done to his memory, the most interesting was the following order from General Burnside:—

Headquarters Department of North Carolina.

Newbern,March 16, 1862.

Special Order No. 52.

The commanding general directs that the six-pounder brass gun, taken in the battery where Adjutant Stearns, of the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers, met his death while gallantly fighting at the battle of Newbern, be presented to his regiment as a monument to the memory of a brave man.

By command of Brigadier-General A. E. Burnside.

Lewis Richmond, Assistant Adjutant-General.


The regiment voted to present the gun to Amherst College for safe keeping, as Adjutant Stearns was the son of the president of that institution; and the gun, appropriately inscribed, was soon after delivered to the college, with ceremonies hereafter detailed.


Company A. Killed: Privates William Flint, William H. Johnson, and James C. Parker. Wounded: Sergeant (and Acting First Sergeant) William B. Hill, across the abdomen; Corporal George Carter, thigh, badly; Corporal E. Wyman Stone, right ankle, foot amputated; privates Jonathan B. Cummings, chest, severe; Sidney S. Heywood, arm; Ansell Orcutt, head; Erastus Weeks, head; Charles S. Wilder, head.

Flint was shot through the head and instantly killed; both Johnson and Parker were shot through the bowels, and died on the field. Parker was one of our many men who went into the fight with an unserviceable gun, but stood courageously in his place, though unable to fire a shot. He and Johnson died in the field hospital on the 15th of March.

Corporal Stone, a man of high character and standing and much beloved, was a severe loss to his company and the regiment. Another very sad event occurred in connection with his casualty, in the death of his brother, Leonard Stone, a prominent and influential citizen, and selectman of Templeton, who came to Newbern to care for his wounded brother and accompanied him home, but died himself soon after his return, from typhoid fever, contracted at Newbern.

The ball which wounded Sergeant Hill first passed through a Testament which he carried in the pocket of his blouse. He was subsequently killed at Chantilly.

Company B. Killed, and died of wounds: Color Corporal William H. Brackett; privates Patrick Cushing and John N. Smith. Wounded: Corporal Charles Miller, in the abdomen; privates Bernard Conley, arm (arm amputated); Patrick J. Dixon, face; James McEwen, musket ball through the lungs; Samuel E. Goodnow, thigh, very badly; James Ward, hand.

Cushing, a man of splendid physical proportions and great strength, was shot through the heart, when the four right companies were driven from the battery. When struck, he was standing at my side on top of the parapet, and gave one great leap across the ditch and several feet beyond, falling dead as a stone.

Corporal Brackett was struck in the ankle by a musket ball; his foot was amputated, but he died in the hospital at Newbern, May 16th.

Smith lost an arm, and died at home, on the 13th of April. McEwen was shot directly through the left lung, and recovered after hanging for some time on the verge of death.

Goodnow, a lad of only eighteen years of age, was a stiring example of the well proved general fearlessness of boys in battle. I mention him particularly, because I have a moral consciousness of not having always recognized his spirit. While we were at Annapolis, he came to me one evening in a battered condition, and complained that one of the men, a stocky, fighting Irishman, had been beating him; but finding that on some difference between them, the challenge: “Will you stand before me?” had been accepted by Goodnow, I reprimanded him in pretty strong language for accepting the challenge, and not quietly abiding the event. He was quiet, well-behaved, and faithful, but I did not regard him as one of my fighting men. I trust that I shall never forget the lesson which he taught me: that a spirited boy, who breaks down under unexpected humiliation before his fellows, may act the true hero on a proper theatre for proving the stuff that he is made of. At the battle of Roanoke Island, as he leveled his gun to fire his first shot at the enemy, it was disabled by a bullet, which knocked off the hammer. Throwing down the useless weapon, he turned to me and demanded another gun. I told him that he would have to wait till somebody was shot, and then I would supply him. Enraged to feel that he was powerless to harm the enemy, he chafed like a muzzled tiger as he waited, and when he got a gun, used it with his whole heart in his work.

At Newbern, when our four companies pierced the rebel centre, as we stood in the brick-yard just before our charge along their line, we were much annoyed by fire from some rifle-pits close on our left. Goodnow dashed out of the ranks and ran a dozen yards nearer the rebel riflemen to get a better shot; though the target for twenty guns, he fired his own before he fell, with his thigh bone shattered by a minie ball.

Company C. Killed: Privates Thomas Hurst, Louis Dana, and William H. Williston. Wounded: Corporal Albert Patterson, arm; privates Hubert Claffey, shoulder; Ferdinand S. Rogers, chest; Arthur H. Smith, thigh; Jeffrey Vail, both legs, very badly.

Hurst had previously been wounded in the hand in the battle of Roanoke Island.

Company D. Wounded: Private Prescott E. Osborne, in the neck.

Company E. Killed: Private Charles H. Sinclair, shot through the head. Wounded: Private Justin Brown, in thigh, very badly.

Company F. Killed: Corporal Mitchell W. Paul. Wounded: Privates Richard Barry and Benjamin L. Fairbanks, through the neck.

Company H. Killed, and died of wounds: Privates Timothy Collins and Henry Shepard; Austin Barton, died of his wounds three days after; Acting Sergeant Lucius C. Hale, shot in the abdomen, and died of the wound, April 14th. Wounded: Privates Fred. S. Fairbanks, forehead; John Goodhue, through the body; Samuel G. Irish, ear; Augustus M. Jones, elbow; John P. Jones, leg; Marcus Watkins, shoulder, very badly.

Collins, who was killed by a shot through the abdomen, had served fifteen years in the regular army, and was noted in the regiment for his excellent drill. Hale, a noble fellow, was shot, on the retreat of the four companies from the rebel works, while stopping to help a wounded comrade. A. M. and J. P. Jones, were brothers; Augustus was killed at Cold Harbor; John was wounded in the other leg at Fredericksburg.

Fairbanks was slightly wounded in the fight of June 17th, in front of Petersburg, and killed in the battle of the Mine.

Company I. Killed: Color Corporal George E. Sayles; Corporal Charles L. Woodworth; private Edward A. Lacore. Wounded: Sergeant Robert B. Chamberlain, head; Corporal Phineas F. Knight, arm; private George Wheelock, hand.

Company K. Killed: Privates James O. Fessenden, Patrick Martin, Joseph E. Stone, and James H. Sullivan. Wounded: Sergeant William H. Sawyer, in the leg.

Fessenden, Martin, and Stone, were shot in the head and instantly killed. Sullivan, a lad of sixteen years, was shot in the neck, and died in a few minutes. Sergeant Gethings took him at once to Surgeon Cutter, who, as he examined the wound said, “He can't live five minutes.” “Can't I,” said the fearless boy, looking up with a smile. “Then write to my mother and father that I tried to do my duty,” and bidding good-by to those around him he passed peacefully away.

On the second day after the battle we buried nineteen of our heroes side by side, with military honors, on the field where they fell.

No official report appears to have been made of the rebel losses in the action; but we captured more than two hundred unwounded prisoners, and the rebel newspapers admitted a loss of about three hundred in killed and wounded: in addition, we captured all their artillery, commissary and quarter-masters’ stores, and camp equipage.

The rebel forces in the battle were under the command of General L. O'B. Branch; and, besides the garrisons of the forts on the river, and three batteries of flying artillery, the following regiments were posted in defense of the truly formidable line of intrenchments carried by our troops: 7th, 16th, 19th, 25th, 33d, 35th, 36th, and 37th North Carolina regiments of infantry, and two regiments of cavalry. The central breastwork, down which we charged after entering their works, mounted twenty-one pieces of field artillery, in addition to four sixty-four pounders in the great river battery

(Fort Thompson), mounted to enfilade its front. And yet this strong continuous line of works, mounting all the artillery that could be used with advantage, and manned by a force numerically equal to the attacking troops, was easily carried by assault, and its defenders utterly routed, in an engagement lasting in all but about three hours. An inglorious and shameful day for the rebels! Probably the history of the war does not furnish a parallel. General Branch, the rebel commander, subsequently commanded a brigade of North Carolina troops in A. P. Hill's division of Stonewall Jackson's Corps, in Pope's retreat and Lee's campaign in Maryland. He was killed at the battle of Antietam. Nearly all the rebel regiments which we encountered at Newbern were in Jackson's Corps in these campaigns, and fought with remarkable bravery.

Colonel Estvàn, an officer of large European military experience, was at this time serving in the southern army, and by orders of the rebel Secretary of War made an inspection of the defenses of Newbern a few days before it fell into our hands. I give his account entire as published in his book.1

From Goldsborough I proceeded to Newbern, at the railway station of which place I was met by the commanding officers of the cavalry force quartered there, and I then proceeded to pay my respects to General Branch, the chief officer in command. On the following day I accompanied the general and his aide-de-camp on a visit of inspection to the forts which defended Newbern. Colonel Spreil, the aide-de-camp, belonged to the 2d cavalry regiment, and led the way at a rattling pace over the fine railway bridge which here spans the river Neuse, and we reached the forts just as the men were going through their drill. Fort Thompson, which, according to the general's idea, was a masterpiece as a defensive work, mounted fifteen sixty-four pounders, two of which were rifled. The officer in command of the battery was not up to his work, but felt convinced that if the enemy's fleet should make its appearance, its commander would very soon manage to establish his headquarters at Newbern. Fort Ellis was not completed, but nevertheless it mounted nine guns,


also sixty-four pounders. The works were carried on here just as if no danger was apprehended. The commander of the place was an easy-going sort of man, smoking his pipe by his fire-side, and apparently caring as little about his general and staff as he did about Burnside and his fleet. This man's coolness and unconcern were quite astounding. “If my comrades,” said he, “should really attempt to defend the place, I will stand by them; should they run away, I am not far from the bridge, so I may as well smoke my pipe quietly, and not bother myself by anticipating the course of events.”

We then proceeded to Fort Thompson, where we found the commandant practicing his men at the guns. My astonishment, I must own, was aroused at the precision the artillerymen consistently displayed in not hitting their mark; and I came to the conclusion that if General Burnside had only the slightest notion of how matters stood, he would at once make sail for Newbern, and take the place without risking the loss of a man.

Exhausted by our long ride, I requested General Branch to accompany me to the cavalry encampment, where I had been invited to dine. General Branch offered his arm to the colonel's wife, and the other officers followed. As long as dinner lasted, which, by the by, was a very good one, all went on smoothly; but as soon as the champagne went round every man present was eager to make a speech. Americans, I have observed, are all fond of displaying their oratorical powers on festive occasions. After a speech of some half an hour's duration, General Branch proposed a toast in honor of the Confederacy, which was responded to in a speech scarcely inferior in length, by the colonel of the 2d regiment of cavalry, in the course of which he dilated in glowing terms on the matchless gallantry of his troops, their prowess being such as to throw the deeds of the Greeks and Romans into the shade; according to him the whole corps was ready to die, if needful, to the last man. I need not add that this speech was received with tumultuous applause. “Gentlemen,” concluded the gallant colonel, rising from his seat, “let us make Newbern a second Sebastopol, before the walls of which the enemy must perish!” Cheers resounded on all sides. “Yes, Newbern shall be a second Sebastopol!” General Branch then rose and made another speech, and stated that his guest, Colonel Estvàn, had with ten thousand men defended Sebastopol against all the combined forces of England and France! The noise increased. Colonel Spreil was again on his legs, and said that with ten thousand of his own brave fellows he

would have taken Sebastopol in fourteen days, and not have left one stone upon another. I was now called upon to make a speech in reply. “My friends,” said I, “how would you go to work if General Branch, with ten thousand of his best men, undertook the defense of Sebastopol, and Colonel Spreil, with ten thousand of his cavalry, attacked it? What would be the result?” They stared with astonishment at these words, and I sat down curious to see how they would solve their own problem. Another subject was then broached, but I soon perceived that I had lost their favor. At last the general rose to depart, and we returned to Newbern with our small staff.

On the following day I visited the cavalry encampment to inspect the two regiments there. I found them a fine body of men, but as regarded their weapons, there was much room for improvement; a great portion of the troopers were armed with heavy carbines with bayonets, in addition to a sword and revolver. When on horseback, fully accoutred, one of these men had the appearance of a movable arsenal; probably the colonel did not deem himself safe unless his men were thus armed to the teeth. The horses, too, were in a very bad condition; while the manœuvring was indifferent, and the men seemed to have no idea of sword exercise, each man using his weapon as best suited his own notions. So I returned to Raleigh, anything but satisfied with the result of my inspection.

As Colonel Estvàn witnessed the rebel flight, I will add another extract from his book (page 257):—

On my return to Richmond I delivered my despatches, but was soon summoned back to Raleigh. On my arrival there, I was informed that General Burnside had already collected his fleet, with the apparent intention of attacking Newbern. I started accordingly at once for General Branch's camp to see what steps he had taken for the defense of the place. At Goldsborough the most extraordinary rumors were in circulation. Thus General Burnside was said to have attacked Beaufort, and, as had been reported after the surrender of Roanoke Island, had put the garrison to the sword, after a valiant defense. As I proceeded on my way, I found the excitement had increased. At Kingston I left the railway, and procured horses, and rode on as fast as I could, accompanied only by an aide-de-camp.

As I approached Newbern, the distant roar of cannon became more and more distinct. Suddenly a number of horsemen galloped past me in full flight, and amongst them I fancied I could discern the gallant

colonel with whom I had dined not long ago. He gave me a hurried nod and passed on. . . . Newbern I found looking bad enough. General Branch had secured a railway carriage for himself, and started off inland. Troops without their officers passed me in confusion, and throwing away their arms, rushed across the bridge. They all told wonderful stories of the feats performed by their respective regiments. According to their account they had all fought like so many devils, but the force of the enemy not being less than one hundred thousand men, they had no chance against them. The fact is General Branch had run away and all discipline was at an end. . . . Inside (in Newbern) all was confusion. The inhabitants endeavored to save themselves and their chattels, and every kind of vehicle serviceable for such a purpose was eagerly laid hold of. In vain did we endeavor to persuade the scared citizens that General Burnside was an honorable enemy, a man of humane disposition, and that there was no reason for this precipitate flight; — it was all in vain.

As soon as we had carried the line of intrenchments the enemy fled from the batteries along the river, and the gun-boats and the 1st brigade started in pursuit; but the rebels cleared the four miles to the city with light heels, and when our men reached the bridge across the Trent they found it a sheet of flame, and saw the black smoke rolling up in several places from the fine old city of Newbern itself, where the rebels had been crazy enough to fire it. Some of our troops were soon ferried over by the aid of the gun-boats, the fires were put out, and the houses, emptied of their white inhabitants, were protected from the roving bands of happy plundering negroes who filled the streets.

The 21st were left in charge of the battle-field, and collected the dead, field artillery, and war material captured in the fight. The field presented a revolting picture of the horrid work of war: inside the rebel works the dead bodies of men were lying amongst the dead and wounded artillery horses, many of which had been struck by the fire of our four companies when we first entered the works, and before we charged along the line. I pitied the horses more than the dead rebels, because the poor beasts were not willing participants in the fight: next to

the long lines of our mangled uncomplaining men who lay in the field hospitals made out of the buildings in the brickyard, I think the saddest sight I saw was some rebel officer's splendid gray charger, both of whose fore-legs had been carried away at the knees by a cannon ball, standing immovable and silent upon the stumps, — a sickening monument to man's barbarity.

General Burnside issued the following congratulatory address to the troops: —

Headquarters Department of North Carolina. Newbern,March 15, 1862.

General Orders No. 17.

The general commanding congratulates his troops on their brilliant and hard-won victory of the 14th. Their courage, their patience, their endurance of fatigue, exposure, and toil, cannot be too highly praised. After a tedious march, dragging their howitzers by hand through swamps and thickets, after a sleepless night passed in a drenching rain, they met the enemy in his chosen position, found him protected by strong earth-works, mounting many and heavy guns, and in an open field themselves, THEY CONQUERED.

With such soldiers advance is victory. The general commanding directs with peculiar pride, as a well deserved tribute to valor in this second victory of the expedition, that each regiment engaged shall inscribe on its banner the memorable name, “Newbern.”

By command of Brigadier-General A. E. Burnside. Lewis Richmond, Adjutant-General.

The Secretary of War sent to General Burnside the following recognition of the honors won in the battle, — quoted in General Order No. 23: —

The report of the late brilliant successes of the United States forces under your command at Newbern has afforded the highest satisfaction to the President, to this Department, and to the whole nation, and thanks for distinguished services are again tendered to you, and the officers and soldiers under your command.

General Burnside was promoted to Major-General of Volunteers, a day or two after the battle; and General Reno and the other brigadiers were also promoted to the same grade shortly afterwards.

On the receipt of the news of the victory of Newbern, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted by the Legislature of Massachusetts: —

Resolved, That the thanks of the people of Massachusetts are due, and through the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, are gratefully tendered to the officers and soldiers of the 21st, 23d, 24th, 25th, and 27th regiments of Massachusetts Volunteers for their heroic deeds at the battle and victory of Newbern. In the hands of these men the honor of Massachusetts will always be safe.

Resolved, That we deplore the irreparable loss of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Merritt and Adjutant Stearns, and the gallant men, their companions in arms, who on the field of that victory laid down their lives to save the life of the nation. The people of Massachusetts will imitate their virtues. In all our hearts their memories will ever be cherished.

These resolutions were originally offered in the Senate by the Hon. John C. Dodge, of Middlesex, who said in support of them that he could speak from personal acquaintance of only one of the noble men commemorated by the resolutions, Frazar A. Stearns. He then spoke of the self-sacrificing spirit with which Adjutant Stearns entered the army, and of his exalted courage in the bayonet charges of Roanoke and Newbern, concluding his eulogy as follows: “He was a man of singular nobility of character. Noble in daily life, in purpose, in aspiration. He has fallen in the morning of life with all life's brightest hopes opening before him. Loving hearts were waiting for him at his home, but the doors of that home were to open for him again only to receive his lifeless remains. Now, as we are speaking, the last offices of affection are being performed. Kindred and friends with hearts well-nigh broken are following him to the grave. May God console them in their great sorrow, for no earthly consolation is adequate!”

Many eloquent speeches were delivered in the Senate and House, while these resolutions were pending. I will give that of Mr. Goddard, of Barre, delivered in the House, who said, after some preliminary remarks: —

Those who have preceded me have spoken of the officers whose names appear in these Resolves. I would speak of the men. I regret that I had not the honor of a personal acquaintance with the brave and lamented Merritt and Stearns; but, sir, I did know many of the gallant men of the 25th and 21st regiments, many of whom, though numbered among the “undistinguished dead,” now fill the soldier's honored grave, having met the foe bravely, quailed not in the hour of battle, but nobly yielded up their lives upon the altar of their country's good. In that gallant 21st regiment, which, at the memorable battle of Roanoke (as you, sir, on a former occasion, so beautifully expressed it), “plucked one of these trophies of victory (the rebel flags hanging in the Hall) from the very crest of battle,” and which, at the later, no less brilliant engagement at Newbern, literally covered itself with glory, in that regiment is one company from the town where I reside (Company K), and which I, to-day, have the honor to represent on this floor; and of that company, four brave fellows met their death in the impetuous charge upon the enemy in the face of his deadly fire (privates James O. Fessenden, Patrick Martin, Joseph E. Stone, and James H. Sullivan).

Who, sir, would not covet the honor with which the memory of even the “undistinguished dead” of Roanoke and Newbern will be handed down to the latest posterity? Why, sir, when we who fill these seats to-day shall have passed from the stage of action, no matter to what heights of civil honor we may have been elevated by our fellow-citizens, — I say when we are forgotten, our children will delight to revere the memories of those who thus nobly fell in their country's defense, and praise them for the enjoyment of the blessings of free government which they, by the sacrifice of their lives, did so much to perpetuate and transmit.


The brass rebel cannon, belonging to the battery captured by the regiment, and presented to it by General Burnside as a monument to the memory of Adjutant Stearns,1 was sent in charge of our gallant wounded comrade, Captain John D. Frazer, to the Chicopee Foundry, where it was beautifully polished, and the following inscription, which tells its own story, engraved upon it:—


Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

This gun belonged to a battery of flying artillery which was silenced by a bayonet charge of the 21st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, under Lieutenant-Colonel W. S. Clark, at the battle of Newbern, North Carolina, March 14, 1862. It is the piece first surrendered on that day, and was presented to the regiment by Major-General A. E. Burnside, who so successfully directed the attack on this stronghold of the rebels. The officers of the 21st, with the approval of their gallant brigadier-general, J. L. Reno, have unanimously resolved to place it in the keeping of the Trustees of Amherst College, many of whose members were on the bloody field, as an enduring monument to the memory of their lamented brothers, who fell while bravely fighting for liberty and union.


First Lieutenant Frazar A. Stearns, Acting-Adjutant. He was an honest man, a true Christian, and a model soldier, — faithful, active, intelligent, and brave among the bravest. His comrades in arms will never forget his many virtues nor cease to mourn his loss.

Color Corporal George E. Sayles, Corporal Charles L. Woodworth, Corporal Mitchell W. Paul.

Privates Austin Barton, Patrick Cushing, James A. Fessenden, Thomas Hurst, Edward Lacore, James C. Parker, William H. Williston, Timothy Collins, Louis Dana, William Flint, William H. Johnson, Patrick Martin, Charles H. Sinclair, Joseph E. Stone, James H. Sullivan, Henry Shepard, John N. Smith, Lucius C. Hale.1

The formal presentation of the gun to the college took place on the 14th of April, in the college grounds, before a great concourse of students and citizens, — Captain Frazer delivering the gun in behalf of the regiment, with the following soldierly words of presentation: “In behalf of the 21st regiment I now present this cannon, with its inscription upon it, as a lasting monument to the memory of those whose names it bears, hoping that you will ever preserve it in commemoration of the virtues and patriotism of the dead.”


Rev. Dr. Vaile made the address in behalf of the trustees of the college, in response to Captain Frazer. His eloquent address contained the following passages: “Bear to your comrades in arms our most heartfelt acknowledgments for this loud-speaking trophy of victory now intrusted to our care, and assure them that it shall be preserved to be transmitted to all coming generations of the sons of Amherst College, as a monument of the heroism of those who have gone before them, and of the precious blood that has been spilled in suppressing this mad rebellion. . . . It will be sacredly preserved among the archives of this college as a monument to the heroism of the 21st Massachusetts.”

Sergeant Chauncey B. Irish, of Company F, while on a visit to Newbern with two or three comrades, the day after the battle, was taken aside by a negro whom he met in the street and told by him that the Bank of Newbern, in the hasty flight from the city, had hidden a large quantity of gold coin in an old tomb. The negro said that he was the only witness to the act, and wanted some soldiers to help get possession of the treasure. Sergeant Irish and his guide went to the tomb, and found the gold, — apparently many thousand dollars in amount, — but, to the terrible disappointment and disgust of the poor negro, the sergeant posted his comrades on guard over the gold, while he notified the provost-marshal of the city, who at once took possession of the money.

On the 19th of March the regiment was moved from the battle-field to a filthy rebel camp, which had been left with the tents standing in a sandy plain about a mile from Newbern. The camp had formerly been occupied by the 19th North Carolina regiment, and was named Camp Burgwyn, after their colonel. We gave it a better name, “Camp Andrew,” and cleaned it up; but it was an unhealthy place, and, in a few weeks, we lost more men from typhoid fever than we had so far lost by the bullets of the enemy.

March 24th. Miss Carrie E. Cutter, the Florence Nightingale of the 21st, died of spotted fever on board the steamer “Northerner,” in Newbern harbor, aged nineteen years and

eight months. Miss Cutter, an intellectual, refined, and delicate woman, the daughter of our surgeon, had embarked on the “Northerner” with us at Annapolis, and had accompanied the regiment since that time. A blessing to the regiment, she had bravely and patiently endured the discomforts of the crowded steamer, — a thousand times greater to her, the only woman on board, than to any of us, and with constant, unremitting devotion had added her gentle, womanly care to her father's wise and faithful energy in helping and nursing our sick and wounded men.

Her body was carried to Roanoke Island and buried by the side of that of her admired friend, Sergeant Charles Plummer Tidd, the heroic companion of John Brown, whose eyes she had closed so sadly during the battle of Roanoke Island.

March 31st. Second Lieutenant Charles Coolidge, of Company E, a good officer and estimable man, died of typhoid fever, after a short sickness.

April 3d. The War Department, infatuated by the recent showy victories in the East and West (Fort Henry, Roanoke Island, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, and Newbern), committed the terrible blunder of discontinuing the entire volunteer recruiting service, by General Orders No. 33, issued on this day; and for more than two months, while the Union armies were melting like wax before the fire, there was no restoring process in operation.

April 9th. A private in the 11th Connecticut regiment, so drunk that he could hardly walk, even with the aid of a negro who accompanied him, carrying an ancient copper coffin, was arrested by our guard as he passed our camp. The coffin bore the name of Richard D. Spaight, a distinguished Revolutionary patriot, and governor of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795. Its contents, fortunately, had not been disturbed, and it was at once restored to the dilapidated family tomb of the Spaights, from which it had just been taken, close by our camp. Frightened by the indignation of our men at his sacrilegious act, and apparently becoming himself aware of its indecency, as the coffin was taken roughly from him and he

thrust into our guard-house, the drunken soldier wept bitterly as he told us, in explanation of his conduct, that his captain had just died, and the company wanted to send his body home, and that having been told by the negro where he could find a splendid copper coffin, he thought he had a right to take it to send the captain home in good style.

Rumors have been flying about that the expedition is to be increased to a force of 40,000 men, and that we are going to strike into the interior of the country to cut the railroads connecting Virginia with the States south of us. As if in confirmation of these reports, we were reinforced in April by several new regiments, among them the 17th Massachusetts and 2d Maryland, infantry, and 3d New York cavalry.

CHAPTER V. April 15-22, 1862.


It was whispered about camp on the 15th of April, that the 21st were going on an important secret expedition. We were glad of something to break the monotonous routine of camp duty, and the regiment went on board the old “Northerner” again, with light hearts, late in the afternoon of the 17th. When embarked, we were informed that we were going to stir up the rebels in the rear of Norfolk. The expedition was under the command of General Reno; and the troops from Newbern engaging in it were the 21st Massachusetts and 51st Pennsylvania regiments, accompanied by two boat-howitzers, organized as a brigade, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Bell of the 51st Pennsylvania; to be joined by a brigade of troops from the garrison of Roanoke Island, consisting of the 9th and 89th New York, and 6th New Hampshire regiments, under command of Colonel Hawkins of the 9th New York. The brigade from Roanoke Island also had two howitzers with them. We dropped down the Neuse, and, passing the familiar regions of Hatteras and Roanoke Island, ran up Albemarle Sound and the Pasquotank River, to the vicinity of Elizabeth City, where we landed on the morning of the 19th. Colonel Hawkins's brigade had arrived between two and three o'clock in the morning, and General Reno had at once started them off on the march towards Norfolk, while he remained to follow with the 21st and 51st, who had been delayed for several hours by the grounding of

their transports. At seven o'clock, however, the two regiments had landed, and entered upon one of the most wearisome marches ever made by troops. Each man carried two days’ rations and sixty rounds of ammunition. The day was oppressively hot, and the men suffered severely from the heat and dust, but struggled manfully and rapidly on for nearly twenty miles, when they engaged and utterly routed a brigade of the enemy, supporting fourteen pieces of light artillery,1 posted in a position well chosen for defense, near South Mills, beyond Camden. Then, after a few hours of rest upon the battle-field, the expedition made the weary return march, reaching the river and reëmbarking on the transports about daylight on the 20th; making a march of over thirty-five miles and fighting a sharp and spirited battle, within twenty-four hours.

The interesting story of the expedition is given quite fully in the official reports of General Reno and Lieutenant-Colonel Clark.

General Reno's report was as follows:—


Headquarters Second Division. Newbern, N. C., April 22, 1862.

Captain Lewis Richmond, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Captain: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to the order of Major-General Burnside, I proceeded from Newbern, with the 21st Massachusetts and 51st Pennsylvania regiments, to Roanoke, and was there joined by part of the 9th and 89th New York and 6th New Hampshire.

We proceeded directly to Elizabeth City, and commenced disembarking on the 19th inst., at midnight, at a point about three miles below, on the east side. By three A. M. Colonel Hawkins's brigade, consisting of the 9th and 89th New York and 6th New Hampshire, were landed and ready to move. I ordered Colonel Hawkins to proceed


at once with his brigade towards South Mills, for the purpose of making a demonstration on Norfolk. I remained to bring up the other two regiments, they having been delayed by their vessels getting aground at the mouth of the river. They came up at daylight, and were landed by seven A. M. I proceeded directly toward South Mills, and about twelve miles out met Colonel Hawkins's brigade, who, it seems, lost his way, either by the treachery or incompetency of his guide, he having marched some ten miles out of his way. As his men were very much jaded by their long march, I ordered them to follow the second brigade. Proceeding about four miles further, to within a mile and a half of South Mills, the rebels opened upon us with artillery before my advance guard discovered them. I immediately reconnoitred their position, and found that they were advantageously posted in line, perpendicular to the road; their infantry in ditches, and their artillery commanding all the direct approaches; their rear protected by a dense forest. I ordered the 51st Pennsylvania immediately to file to the right, and pass over to the edge of the woods, to turn their left. I also ordered the 21st Massachusetts to pursue the same course; and when Colonel Hawkins came up with his brigade, I sent him with the 9th and 89th New York to their support. The 6th New Hampshire were formed in line to the left of the road, and ordered to support our four pieces of artillery. Owing to the excessive fatigue of the men, they could not reach their positions for some time. In the mean time, the enemy kept up a brisk artillery fire, which was gallantly responded to by our small pieces, under charge of Colonel Howard of the Coast Guard, who, during the entire engagement, displayed most conspicuous gallantry, and rendered very efficient service, both during the action and in bringing up the rear on the return. As soon as the 51st Pennsylvania and 21st Massachusetts had succeeded in turning their left, they opened a brisk musketry fire, and about the same time the 9th New York also coming in range, and being too eager to engage, unfortunately charged upon the enemy's artillery. It was a most gallant charge, but they were exposed to a very deadly fire of grape and musketry, and were forced to retire, but rallied immediately upon the 89th New York coming up. I then ordered both regiments to form a junction with the 21st Massachusetts.

In the mean time, the 51st Pennsylvania and 21st Massachusetts kept up an incessant fire upon the rebels, who now had withdrawn their artillery and had commenced to retreat in good order. The

6th New Hampshire had steadily advanced in line to the left of the road, and, when within about two hundred yards, poured in a most deadly volley, which completely demoralized the enemy, and ended the battle. Our men were so completely fagged out by the intense heat and their long march, that we could not pursue them. The men rested under arms, in line of battle, until about ten o'clock P. M., when I ordered a return to our boats, having accomplished the principal object of the expedition, conveying the idea that the entire “Burnside Expedition” was marching upon Norfolk. Owing to want of transportation, I was compelled to leave some sixteen of our most severely wounded men. Assistant Surgeon Warren (of 21st Mass.) was left with them. I sent a flag of truce the next day to ask that they might be returned to us, Commander Rowan kindly volunteering to attend to it.

We took only a few prisoners (some ten or fifteen), most of whom belonged to the 3d Georgia regiment.

The 9th New York suffered most severely, owing to their premature charge. Our total loss in killed and wounded being about ninety, some sixty belonging to that regiment.1

The officers and men of the several regiments all behaved with their usual gallantry, and many are worthy of particular mention, and I presume the brigade and regimental commanders will do justice to their respective commands. I will forward their reports as soon as received.

The return march was made in perfect order, and few if any stragglers were left behind. Considering that during the advance the weather was intensely hot, and that on the return a severe rain rendered the roads very muddy, and that a portion of the command had to march forty-five miles, and the others thirty-five, and fight a battle in the mean time, and that all this was accomplished in less than twenty-four hours, I think that the commanding general has every reason to be satisfied with his command.

I desire to return my thanks to Commander Rowan and the officers and men under him for their untiring energy in disembarking and reëmbarking my command; and also to Lieutenant Flusser for the gallant manner in which he assisted us by proceeding up the river and driving the enemy out of the woods along the banks.


Colonel Hawkins, commanding the 1st brigade, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bell, commanding the 2d, both displayed a conspicuous courage, as did also the regimental commanders. Lieutenant-Colonel Clark commanded the 21st Massachusetts, Major Schall the 51st Pennsylvania, Lieutenant-Colonel Kimball the 9th New York, and Lieutenant-Colonel Griffin the 6th New Hampshire. Captain Fearing, the aide-de-camp of General Burnside, accompanied me as a volunteer aide, and rendered efficient and gallant service; also Captain Ritchie, A. C. S., and Lieutenants Gordon and Breed, of the Signal Corps. My own aides, Lieutenants Reno and Morris, behaved with their usual gallantry.

As soon as the brigade and regimental reports are furnished I will forward them, together with a complete list of killed and wounded.

The enemy's loss was considerable, but they succeeded in carrying off most of their wounded. Several, however, were left on the field, one of whom was a captain of the 3d Georgia regiment. The colorbearer of the 3d Georgia was shot down by the 21st Massachusetts, while definatly waving his traitorous flag. The enemy had from six to ten pieces of artillery,1 and from eighteen hundred to two thousand men. We approached to within thirty miles of Norfolk, and undoubtedly the defeat of one of their best regiments, the 3d Georgia, produced considerable panic at Norfolk. I have the honor to be, respectfully, J. L. Reno, Brigadier-General Commanding 2d Division.

Colonel Clark's official report was as follows: —

Headquarters 21st Mass. Vols., Steamer “Northerner.”

Pamlico Sound,April 21, 1862.

Captain Edward M. Neal, A. A. G.

Captain: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with orders from Acting Major-General Reno, the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers embarked upon the transport steamer “Northerner” at five o'clock P. M. on the 17th instant, and proceeded to the mouth of the Pasquotank River in Albemarle Sound, where we arrived about sunrise on the 19th. The regiment was here transferred to the light-draught steamers “Ocean Wave” and “Massasoit,” and afterwards to small row-boats and launches, which were run in as near the shore as possible at a point on the north bank of the river, about three miles below


Elizabeth City. Officers and men now cheerfully sprang into the water and waded to the land, where the line was immediately formed and muskets loaded. We numbered five hundred picked men, and were furnished with two days’ rations and sixty rounds of ammunition. Three regiments, the 9th and 89th New York Volunteers, and the 6th New Hampshire Volunteers, had been landed about two o'clock A. M., and sent forward under command of Colonel Hawkins, to take possession of a bridge near South Mills, where are extensive stone locks on the Dismal Swamp Canal. A little before seven o'clock General Reno followed with the 51st Pennsylvania Volunteers and the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers, which regiments had been delayed about four hours by the want of suitable pilots to bring up their transports. The column advanced rapidly along an excellent road, through a level and fertile district, halting a few moments occasionally for water and rest. About ten o'clock, as we were lying by the road-side, we were astonished to see a large body of troops coming down upon our right flank. “Attention” was immediately sounded by the buglers, and the general rode out to reconnoitre. He was not a little chagrined to find that Colonel Hawkins, with his command, having been misled by his guide, had marched ten miles further than was necessary to reach this point, and, instead of having surprised the enemy by an early arrival at the bridge, had merely exhausted his men by a wearisome march.

The weather was now very oppressive, and the men began to suffer greatly from the heat and the want of water, as their canteens were emptied early in the day, and there had been no opportunity for refilling them. As no halt had been made for breakfast, and hard bread and salt beef could not well be eaten without water, they were also faint from want of food. Before noon large numbers had fallen out from all the regiments, utterly unable to proceed; and General Reno, who was now in advance with the 51st Pennsylvania and 21st Massachusetts, was just about to order a halt for dinner, when most unexpectedly a brisk fire of round shot and canister was opened upon us. The battery of the rebels was skillfully masked by the smoke from a dwelling-house and out-buildings on the highway, which had been set on fire for this purpose, and our advance guard was close upon it when the cannonade commenced. General Reno at once ordered the 51st Pennsylvania to take shelter in the woods, on the left of the enemy's position, and sent back for the remaining regiments and the four howitzers, which were under command of

Colonel Howard of the Marine Artillery. In consequence of the extreme exhaustion of the men, considerable time elapsed before they could be brought into position for the attack, and the artillery of the rebels continued firing for more than an hour without interruption from us, and without doing us much damage, as they had few shells, and the range was too great for canister. Many trees and a few men were injured by their round shot, which were thrown with considerable accuracy. The rebels had one light battery of six guns stationed on the main road behind the burning buildings, and another one about fifty yards to the right of the first, upon a road running in that direction. The batteries were supported by two regiments of infantry, numbering about eighteen hundred men, and a squadron of two hundred cavalry. The 3d Georgia Volunteers was formed in line of battle in a grove of young pines, some three hundred yards behind and to the left of the burning buildings, and their skirmishers were thrown far out into the swampy forest on their left to prevent us from getting in their rear. By command of General Reno, I advanced with my regiment as rapidly as the green-brier and tangled underbrush would permit, marching by the flank, toward the line of the 3d Georgia, until fired upon by their skirmishers. Two companies were then ordered into line and to fire several volleys into the swamp from which the bullets came, when the rebels retired. My regiment was now entirely in the rear of the batteries and very near the 3d Georgia, whose traitorous flag was distinctly seen among the pines. Company K, under Captain Davis, was sent forward into the swamp to follow up the rebel skirmishers and prevent any attack upon our rear. Company G, commanded by Lieutenant Wheeler, was then ordered to advance to the fence between the woods and the cleared field and open fire upon the Georgians. This difficult task was performed in the most admirable manner amid a perfect storm of bullets, and the company gallantly formed along the fence and drove out the skirmishers of the enemy, some of whom fired upon them from a distance of not more than twenty yards.

The entire regiment was now ordered to form in line behind the fence, and commence firing as rapidly as possible, and the battle was fairly opened. The position of my regiment was all that could be desired, as we were well protected by the fence and bushes, were in the rear of the batteries, and immediately upon the left of the Georgians, our line being at right angles to theirs, so that our fire was constantly right oblique. Upon our left was the 51st Pennsylvania,

then the 9th New York, then the 89th New York. About half an hour after the firing commenced, the 9th New York (Hawkins's Zouaves) charged across the open field towards the enemy, but were repulsed by a destructive volley from the 3d Georgia Volunteers. The 21st Massachusetts being thus temporarily relieved from their fire, immediately sprang over the fence into the open field, and killed the color-sergeant, who was defiantly waving the rebel flag several yards in front of the regiment. Our entire line now advanced from the woods, and charged with shouts and cheers across the cleared ground, while the 6th New Hampshire, which had supported our howitzers in front of the enemy's position, poured in a tremendous volley by command of General Reno, who happened to be with them at the moment. The rebels fled precipitately to the woods, and were seen no more. As it was now nearly night, and our forces were quite exhausted, and as we had no cavalry, it was quite impossible to pursue them. The 21st was at once formed in line, and, having stacked arms, sat down upon the battle-ground to rest. Squads from each company were now sent out to pick up the killed and wounded and their weapons. Our hospital was established in a house near by, and the regiment prepared to bivouac on the very spot in the forest which they had occupied during the fight, — the fence which had served so well as a protection by day furnishing excellent fuel for the camp-fires at night. Orders were issued to build large fires around the battle-field, and to provide transportation for such of the wounded as were able to be moved. About thirty of them were unavoidably left behind, in charge of Dr. O. Warren, acting surgeon of the 21st, who cheerfully remained, subject to the tender mercies of the rebels. The choice of surgeon for this duty was made by lot. Chaplain Ball labored, as usual, most assiduously to promote the comfort of the wounded both on the field, at the hospital, and especially on the return to the transports and on the voyage to Newbern, when, in the absence of any surgeon, he kindly dressed their wounds and administered such remedies as the circumstances allowed. At nine o'clock Lieutenant Reno, aide-de-camp, started with the 9th New York Volunteers to take possession of a drawbridge near Camden Court House, and prevent its destruction in case the enemy should attempt it. The other regiments silently left their places in the woods, and moved along the road past the hospitals, the wagons with the wounded took their position in the centre of the column, and the general followed with the 21st

Massachusetts as rear-guard. Company D, under Lieutenant Barker, performed in the most efficient manner the very arduous and unpleasant duty of rear-guard to the regiment. Not only were they obliged to be constantly on the look-out for the enemy, but they were compelled to labor incessantly to urge and assist forward the numerous stragglers who fell out from the various regiments. Between Company D and the rest of the 21st Colonel Howard was placed with two howitzers. A more wearisome march has been seldom made by any troops. The night was dark; the soft, clayey mud, from three to twelve inches in depth; and the men worn out by the march previously made that day, besides having passed through the excitement and fatigue of the battle. Nevertheless, the greater part of them bore up manfully, and, though terribly exhausted, moved steadily onward to the landing, where the head of the column arrived about five o'clock in the morning. I am happy to report that while the 21st were enabled to do much damage to the enemy, they suffered comparatively but a slight loss. Not a man was injured by artillery, and but fifteen by infantry, owing to our excellent position. Only two others failed to come up with the regiment, although the 21st constituted the rear-guard on the return march, and these both fell out before the battle. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the march, every rifle taken from camp was returned to it in good condition, including those of the killed and wounded, except one thrown away by an exhausted man, and the two in the hands of the missing men. On the whole, I think I may safely say that nearly every officer, non-commissioned officer, and private did his duty to the extent of his ability. The members of the 21st will remember with pcculiar pleasure that on the 19th of April, 1862, just one year after the blood of Massachusetts men was first shed by rebels at Baltimore, we conquered them at the battle of Camden, and we shall be no less proud of this name inscribed upon our war-worn banner than of Roanoke and Newbern. I am, Captain, very respectfully, Your obedient servant, W. S. Clark, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding 21st Mass. Vols.

Our wounded, left on the field in charge of Surgeon Warren, were well treated by the rebels, and were paroled and sent within our lines, together with our beloved and gallant surgeon, as soon as they could bear transportation.

The rebel artillery and the brave 3d Georgia regiment

bore the brunt of the battle on the rebel side. The other rebel troops, consisting of North Carolina militia and two or three hundred Virginia cavalry, took little or no part in the fight, and made no attempt to stem the tide of retreat.

The enemy were even more badly beaten than General Reno supposed. They abandoned a formidable earth-work a few miles beyond the place of the engagement, and did not halt in their retreat until they had reached the immediate vicinity of the defenses of Norfolk. The relative Union and rebel losses are compared in the following despatch from General Burnside to the War Department:—

Headquarters Department of North Carolina. Newbern,April 29, 1862.

To Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose General Reno's report of the movements made by him, in accordance with my order, for the purpose of accomplishing certain objects already indicated in a former despatch, the main order of which was most successfully accomplished. General Reno's report gives a detailed account of the movement, and I need only add that I feel an increased confidence in the brave officers and soldiers who accomplished so much in so short a time. Our loss in the engagement was fourteen killed and ninety-six wounded, and two taken prisoners. The enemy's loss must have been much greater, as the chaplain of the New York—1, left in charge of the wounded, reports having seen on the field thirty killed, besides several wounded, the main body of the wounded having been taken from the field when they retreated. Our force drove the enemy from the field in the most gallant style, buried our dead, bivouacked on the field seven hours, transported all the wounded, except fourteen so severely wounded that they could not be moved, but who were comfortably provided for, and left in charge of a surgeon and chaplain. General Reno then, in obedience to orders, returned to


his fleet and embarked his men. He felt less reluctance in leaving behind these fourteen wounded with the surgeon and chaplain from the fact that I had but a few days before released some eighty wounded with the surgeons, who were left by the enemy in Newbern, and the commanding officer in that neighborhood would be less than human were he to refuse to release these wounded as soon as they can be transported safely. I beg to inclose my congratulatory order, with the report of General Reno. . . .

I have the honor to be your obedient servant, A. E. Burnside, Major-General Commanding.

General Burnside's congratulatory order, inclosed with the foregoing despatch:—

Headquarters Department of North Carolina,April 26, 1862.

General Orders No. 30.

The general commanding desires to express his high appreciation of the excellent conduct of the forces under command of Brigadier-General Reno, in the late demonstration upon Norfolk. He congratulates them as well upon the manly fortitude with which they endured excessive heat and extraordinary fatigue, on a forced march of forty miles in twenty-four hours, as upon the indomitable courage with which, notwithstanding their exhaustion, they attacked a large body of the enemy's best artillery, infantry, and cavalry, in their own chosen position, achieving a complete victory. It is therefore ordered, as a deserved tribute to the perseverance, discipline, and bravery exhibited by the officers and soldiers of the 21st Massachusetts, 51st Pennsylvania, 9th New York, 89th New York, and 6th New Hampshire regiments, on the 19th of April, a day already memorable in the history of our country, that the above regiments inscribe upon their respective colors the name “Camden, April 19.” The general commanding desires especially to express his approbation of General Reno's strict observance of his orders when the temptation to follow the retreating enemy was so great.

By command of Major-General Burnside.

Lewis Richmond, Assistant Adjutant-General.

The casualties suffered by the regiment in the battle of

Camden, were killed and mortally wounded, four; otherwise wounded, eleven; prisoner (not wounded), one: as follows):

Company A. Wounded and missing: Privates Charles A. Blackmer, in neck; John E. Rand, in right arm; Eleaser S. Whitney, reported missing, was prostrated by exhaustion before the fight, and his whereabouts unknown on the return march of the regiment. He subsequently was taken prisoner by the rebels, and sometime afterwards was paroled and exchanged and rejoined his company.

Company B. Died of wounds: Private John Dunn. Wounded: Sergeant Charles O. Frizzell, in arm.

Dunn was shot through the bowels, and died of the wound on the 1st of May. He was a deserter from the English army, and bore the scars of several wounds received in the East Indies and Crimea. He had been desperately sick with a malarial fever for some weeks, and had not returned to duty when the regiment started on the expedition; a fighter all through, he insisted on going with his company, in spite of the advice of captain and surgeon to remain in camp at Newbern. The distressing forced march was more than he could endure, and after ten miles in the broiling sun and choking dust, he fell utterly exhausted, and was left in charge of a comrade in the shade by the roadside, with his eyes closed and apparently dying; his comrade, however, confiscated a donkey and cart, and John, having somewhat recovered, was tumbled into the cart and resumed the march. Coming up to the regiment when the battle was well in progress, he walked forward leaning on his musket till he reached the skirmish line of the 21st. Not happening to see a satisfactory chance for a shot he continued on until he was twenty yards in advance of the line; then, seeing a rebel skirmisher behind a bush close by, he raised his gun, but before he fired was shot by his antagonist. When the regiment left the field that night, John was still living and cheerful; always found of whiskey, he asked his company commander, when he came to bid him good-by, for a drink; the officer, turning to the surgeon, asked if a drink would hurt him; “Nothing can help or hurt him;

he can't live till morning,” answered the surgeon. “I've seen worse wounded men get well,” said John as he embraced the canteen; “but I thank you, doctor, for your opinion as long as it gives me the whiskey.” Thanks to his constitution and courage, he lived to pass out of rebel hands, and died in Hygia Hospital, at Fort Monroe. Poor John Dunn, there was a time when I little thought that I should regret his loss or wish to eulogize him. When we were ordered from Annapolis, he was lying in the post guard-house awaiting transportation to the Dry Tortugas, under sentence of court-martial to long imprisonment for having attempted to kill a citizen and bayonet his second lieutenant. Colonel Maggi, on being released from arrest, and assuming command of the regiment, celebrated the event by a general jail delivery, releasing John Dunn with the other prisoners. When John reported for duty, I told him that the colonel could not have known that he was under sentence of general court-martial, and promptly returned him to limbo; but he complained to the colonel, and in spite of my protest was released again. I then told him that, although as he knew very well the colonel had no more authority to release him than I had, as long as he was allowed temporarily to escape punishment, I would treat him the same as the other men, and if he behaved well would do what I could to get him pardoned. To which John made answer: “Captain W—, I am no hypocrite; I know my duty, and want no fair words; you've done your best to let me rot in prison, and I give you fair warning that I will take your life in the first fight, or the first good chance I get.” I laughed at his threat, but being satisfied that he meant business gave him a file-closer, who would see fair play; but there was no need of precaution. John and his vicious intent had passed entirely out of my mind, when they were recalled to me at the battle of Roanoke Island, as I happened to pass him within reach, and felt a strong hand laid upon my shoulder, and heard the words, “God bless you, captain,” in John's voice. Thereafter he never failed in respect and affection. There never was a better man in active fighting service than he;

and I not only felt with all the company that in him we had lost a pillar of strength, but personally sincerely mourned his death.

Company C. Died of wounds: Privates William W. Dane and Edward E. Parker. Wounded: Corporal Henry Cain, thigh; private George H. Cotton, elbow.

Parker was shot in the shoulder, and died of the wound on the 6th of June, in Hygia Hospital, Fort Monroe; Dane, a lad only sixteen years of age, was shot in the forehead, and soon died of the wound.

Company G. Killed: Private Juba F. Pickering. Wounded: Corporal Harrison C. Cheney, left arm; privates Joseph B. Brown, thigh badly crippled; George L. Cheney, foot; Thomas Gilmartin, left ankle; George G. Hadley, thigh badly crippled. Private Orrison Parkhurst, reported missing, fell out from exhaustion before the fight, and getting on board one of the last transports to leave Elizabeth City, rejoined us in a short time at Newbern.

Pickering was a good man, and an excellent and faithful soldier; he was a resident of Blackstone, and left a widow and two children. He was struck in the forehead by a bullet and instantly killed. When struck he was in the act of biting his cartridge to load, and was found after the battle with the end of the cartridge still between his lips.

Company H. Wounded: Private Charles Phelps, face.

The battle of Camden showed the rebels that their hold upon Norfolk was simply at General Burnside's pleasure, and undoubtedly was the principal reason why they abandoned it as a military position early in May, and allowed it to pass into the hands of the Union forces.

The “Norfolk Day Book” of April 21st (two days after the fight) gives the following account of the battle. —

On Saturday afternoon, about two o'clock, eight companies of the 3d Georgia regiment, under command of Colonel Wright, attacked the enemy in an open field about two miles below South Mills. The enemy's force was estimated at from 3,500 to 4,000 men; but notwithstanding the great odds in point of numbers against us, we succeeded

in keeping the enemy at bay for a number of hours. Finally, owing to the fact that our ammunition had been exhausted, we were compelled to fall back to South Mills, and from South Mills to the Halfway House, where we are now awaiting reinforcements. Our informant could not tell us the exact number of killed and wounded, but says it was at first estimated to be about one hundred. Since then, the number has very much decreased, and, from last accounts, our loss, it is thought, will not exceed fifty. The enemy's loss is represented as being very heavy, and is put down at from 800 to 900. The account of the great havoc made among the Unionists by our artillery pieces is confirmed by our informant.


The only rebel official report of any of our North Carolina battles that I have been able to find is a report of the battle of Camden (or South Mills, as called by the rebels), made by Major-General Huger, commanding the Department of Norfolk. It is published in “Confederate Official Reports of Battles,” 1862, p. 415. I give the following extracts from it, which are of interest, as showing the rebel force engaged in the action, and their admitted defeat.

Headquarters Department of Norfolk. Norfolk, Va.,April 28, 1862.

General R. E. Lee, Commanding, etc.

General: I have received, through Brigadier-General Blanchard, commanding 3d brigade, the reports of Colonel A. R. Wright, Colonel Ferebee commanding the drafted North Carolina militia, and Lieutenant D. A. French, who succeeded to the command of the battery after the death of its gallant captain, McComas. I would forward these reports to you at once, but there are some discrepancies and omissions in them which I desire first to have corrected, and will therefore try to make a brief statement from these reports, to give you and the War Department information concerning this severe and well-fought action. . . . All the forces under the command of Colonel Wright were the 3d Regiment Georgia Volunteers (numbering about 600 muskets for duty); some drafted militia, under Colonel Ferebee, of North Carolina (Colonel Ferebee omits to state in his report how many he had on duty); McComas's battery of artillery, — eleven rifled pieces, and three bronze six-pounders; and one

company of cavalry,—Captain Gillette's Southampton Company. On Friday, the 18th, I had ordered forward the 32d North Carolina regiment (Colonel Brabbles) and the 1st Louisiana regiment (Colonel Vincent's), but they did not arrive until after the battle.

After an uninteresting detailed description of the movements and posting of the rebel forces, prior to the appearance of General Reno's column, General Huger describes the action as follows:—

The smoke from the burning buildings and fences was rolled towards the enemy, thus masking the position. At fifteen minutes before twelve o'clock, the front of a heavy column of the enemy was seen passing through the smoke, and Captain McComas opened a destructive fire on them, which checked their advance for half an hour, when they again approached, under the fire of a twelve-pounder, but soon retired entirely out of sight, in considerable confusion. Up to three o'clock, thrice had the heavy columns of the enemy been beaten back by the heavy fire of Captain McComas's artillery, and our only casualties one man wounded and one wheel injured.1 At fifteen minutes after three P. M. the enemy again advanced, and deployed two regiments to their right, — our left. Three regiments, after advancing towards us, were driven back by the well-directed fire of Captain McComas's artillery, and Captains Nesbitt's and Musgrove's companies. Captain McWhirter's fire also caused the Zouaves on our right to retire; and this attack ceased by twenty-five minutes before four.2 Our loss up to this time was very slight, while that of the enemy was very severe, as we could plainly see them fall, and they had raised the hospital flag on a building in rear of their line. They soon advanced again, two regiments3 skirting the woods on our left, and approached near enough to engage the skirmishers. One company from the right was moved over, and Colonel Read ordered to send one company from the reserve. The enemy deployed in the open field, and bore down rapidly, but the heavy fire of musketry caused them to waver, and they fled back to the fence. Three regiments


and a field-piece were in the centre, and the 9th New York regiment on the right. The fire was now brisk from one end of the line to the other, and the enemy were held in check, when, just at this moment, Captain McComas was killed by a minie ball, and his men, who, for four hours had fought with most indomitable courage, became panic-stricken, and left the field, taking their pieces with them.

Colonel Wright succeeded in rallying them and getting two pieces and a few men in position, and the enemy had advanced so close that canister was fired on them with effect, and they again fell back. The ammunition in the limber boxes was exhausted, and during the temporary absence of Colonel Wright the artillery left the field. The enemy made a charge upon our line, but the steady fire at close distauce (Colonel Wright estimates it at fifty yards) caused them to break in confusion, and they fell back. Taking advantage of their confusion, Colonel Wright now fell back in good order to intrenchments on Joy's Creek, about two miles in his rear, and called in Lieutenant-Colonel Read's and Major Lee's commands, and there awaited the enemy, who, it appears, were so badly injured that they made no advance, but, at about eight P. M. began to retreat to their boats. At this time I am informed that several companies of the 32d North Carolina regiment joined Colonel Wright, who, during the night, retired from this position to the N. W. Lock.

The loss of the 3d Georgia regiment is given as 6 killed, 19 wounded, and 3 prisoners. No statement is made of the loss suffered by the artillery and other troops, except incidental mention of the death of Captain McComas, commanding the artillery. General Huger's report concludes as follows:—

All the command engaged behaved in the most gallant manner, standing firmly against overwhelming odds, until ordered to fall back to our intrenchments. They maintained their position over five hours, and killed and disabled more of the enemy than we had in action.1 . . . Very respectfully, your obedient servant, Ben. Huger, Major-General Commanding.

Soon after noon of April 22d the 21st was back in its camp near Newbern, and had now fought its last fight in North Carolina, although its service there was by no means ended.


CHAPTER VI. April 24 — July 5, 1862.


On the evening of April 24, we heard the growling of the heavy guns which had opened on Fort Macon, in Beaufort harbor, forty miles off to the southward, and which had been besieged by General Parke's (our old 3d) brigade for about a month. The fort surrendered on the 26th of April. Fort Macon, one of the old government forts, was a strong casemated work, mounting sixty-seven guns, and by its capture the control of Beaufort harbor, which had been frequented by blockade runners, passed into Union hands. General Burnside was reported to have said, on receiving the news of the surrender of the fort, “The original plan of operations in North Carolina is now completed.”

The Burnside Expedition had indeed done all that its orders called for; but much more had been hoped for from it, in the possibility that, if the North Carolina people had proved to be less rebellious, our force might have been found to be sufficient to penetrate far into the interior, and, cutting the great lines of rebel communication, aid in the capture of Richmond and destruction of the grand army of the rebels.

On the 25th of April the commands of our brigadiers were expanded into divisions. Our brigade now became the 2d brigade of Reno's Division, and consisted of the 21st Massachusetts, 51st New York, 51st Pennsylvania, and 11th Connecticut regiments, under the command of Colonel Edward Ferrero of the 51st New York.

The rebels had concentrated a force supposed to consist of about 15,000 men at a safe distance in front of Newbern, and our daily routine of drilling, swimming, killing snakes, and listening to the song of the mocking-birds was enlivened now and then by the news of a skirmish between detachments of the splendid 3d New York cavalry (which was constantly scouring the country in our front), and the rebel cavalry, always resulting in favor of our troops, and also by an occasional scout of our own.

On the 7th of May the regiment received twenty-three recruits from Massachusetts, the last that we got for a long time.


On the 14th of May the 2d Maryland regiment, belonging to our 1st brigade, passed through our camp going towards Pollocksville, in a drenching rain, as part of an expedition consisting of four regiments of infantry and a part of the 3d New York cavalry. The object of the expedition was said to be to cut off some sixteen hundred rebel cavalry who were quartered about twenty miles away in the direction of Trenton. The Marylanders were making a detour to gain the rebel rear, while the other troops advanced to the front. The rebels, however, became aware of the movement, and made a sharp but unsuccessful attack upon the advanced cavalry of the main body, which thereupon, finding that they were not going to catch the rebels napping, returned at once to Newbern, leaving the 2d Maryland to their fate. This very gallant regiment, belonging to General Reno's 1st brigade, had been borrowed for the expedition by the general commanding the 1st division, during General Reno's temporary absence, and the first news that he had of the predicament they were in was brought by the brave Captain Morris, of his staff, who had accompanied the regiment, and who, eluding the rebels by a detour of fifty miles on the night of the 16th and 17th, brought in word that the 2d were across a branch of the river Trent, in a region destitute of food, with

the whole rebel force between them and Newbern, and must soon be starved into surrender. General Reno got the news about three o'clock A. M., and indignant at the shameful abandonment of the regiment, without losing a moment came to our camp and ordered out the 21st as a relieving force. Waiting for nothing, the 21st, accompanied by General Reno, took up the march at four o'clock, followed by a wagon full of bread, beef, and coffee. About daylight a detachment of the superb 3d New York cavalry joined us and took the advance. It was raining heavily, and a rapid march of eleven miles through the deep sticky mud had well-nigh exhausted the breakfastless 21st, when the welcome news was brought back to us that the rebel force was in retreat and the Marylanders marching towards us. The 21st at once set to work to cook food and prepare coffee, and by the time the wearied, half-famished Marylanders made their appearance, had a bountiful hot breakfast ready for them, to which they did ample justice.

The 2d Maryland never forgot the promptness with which the 21st had marched to their relief, and the good breakfast we gave them. Their commander voiced the gratitude of his men in the following order:—

Headquarters 2d Maryland Regiment, Opposite Newbern, N. C., May 18, 1862.

We, the officers and men of the 2d Maryland regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel J. Eugene Duryée, do tender our most sincere thanks for the most kind and well-timed hospitality displayed by our comrades in arms, the officers and men of the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William S. Clark, in supplying us on the 17th day of May, 1862, with an abundance of rations and hot coffee, when we were weary, foot-sore, and almost exhausted by a wet and tedious march of over fifty miles. We beg to assure them that such kindness displayed at such a time will be ever remembered by us with the most unceasing gratitude, and should it happen that we can ever repay it it will be the most happy event in our lives.

Henceforth let the 21st Massachusetts and the 2d Maryland regiments be brothers.

J. Eugene Duryée, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding, In behalf of the regiment.


May 24th. The sutler succeeded in bringing the vengeance of the boys upon his head by inducing the paymaster to collect the debts due or claimed by him to be due from the men by retaining the amounts from their pay, without having first given either the men or company commanders any information as to his purpose. The innovation was very distasteful to the men, and many of them refused to receive their pay. In the evening the boys, having rigged up some “flying artillery” of logs mounted on wheels, galloped suddenly into position around the sutler's tent, and opened a heavy fire upon it with brick-bats. The officers were not very quick to interfere, and the sutler, after heavy loss, surrendered his point.

One of the most interesting events which occurred in May was the arrival of three hundred Union prisoners of war at Newbern, on the 25th, in exchange for rebels captured at Roanoke Island. It was very pleasant to see some of the fruits of our victory. The prisoners had bone rings to sell, but our boys soon flooded the market with a forged article.

May 27th. We received the very gratifying news that our Colonel Morse had been discharged from the army by order of the Secretary of War.

Little of special interest occurred during the remainder of our stay in North Carolina.

On the 20th of June there was a grand review of all the troops in Newbern and vicinity on the occasion of the presentation of a magnificent sword which had been voted to General Burnside by the Legislature of Rhode Island.

Our army had been preparing for some time for a march into the interior of North Carolina to cut the railroad communications between the rebels in Virginia and the Gulf

States, and intercept their retreat when driven from Richmond, and thus our movements were largely dependent on the success of General McClellan's operations in Virginia. About the end of June reports began to arrive of great victories for the Union arms in front of Richmond, and every one looked for an early termination of the war. On the 30th of June orders were issued for our immediate movement by land into the interior of the State. On the 1st of July we received orders to move on the following day; but as we were ordered to put our baggage at once on a schooner, it was evident that things had taken a new turn. The only thing that we knew of our destination was that it was somewhere by water. Most of us thought that we were going to attack the formidable rebel forts at Wilmington, but dark hints were thrown out that we might be needed to reinforce the army in front of Richmond. As we had occupied the same camp for over three months, we had accumulated a great many camp comforts, such as mattresses, tables, chairs, Dutch ovens, etc., and wagon load after wagon load left our camp without making any apparent impression. The schooner assigned to the 21st's baggage began to fill up, when General Ferrero, on his attention being attracted to our proceedings, ordered a close inspection and vigorous throwing overboard of everything but strictly military baggage, — and chairs, mattresses, tables, and Dutch ovens went into the river. Both sides were right. It was our duty to look out for our own comfort as far as possible, and the general's duty not to allow the movement to be embarrassed by transporting unnecessary articles. On the 2d of July we left the camp, which had become almost a home to us, for an unknown destination, and, as we formed line for the march, crowds of negroes pounced upon the household goods which we had been enjoying. Moving to the river, eight of our companies went on board the schooner “Scout” and two upon the schooner “Farrington.” We were towed down the river a few miles, and anchored at dark. It was now understood that we were going to Virginia to take a hand in the grand battles that were

raging near Richmond; and though we were proud that the 21st was the only Massachusetts regiment among the 7,000 men who were going to those fields of fame, we could not part from North Carolina without regret, and had hoped to see something of the interior of the country. Our service there had been romantic and honorable, and sixty of our comrades slept in her soil. Although Generals Burnside and Reno were going with us, take it all together we felt rather homesick in our crowded quarters that night. On the 3d we were towed down the river by the steamer “Farren,” and arrived on the old ground at Hatteras about five P. M. Soon after anchoring we were informed that a message had been sent from Fortress Monroe, via the Dismal Swamp Canal and Roanoke Island, that Richmond had fallen, and we were not needed there. McClellan had allowed the rebels to turn his right, and swinging his left into Richmond had captured the city and routed the rebel army. We were, therefore, to return to Newbern, and strike at once with our whole force into the interior to cut the lines of rebel retreat. We had a happy and lively night. Our anchors were raised, and we were taken in tow early the next morning, and when, after some little doubt as to what direction we were heading for, we finally reëntered the Neuse, we cheered again and again for the good news which had lasted over night. We arrived off Newbern just at sunset, while the forts and gun-boats were firing a Fourth of July national salute. Here we received the sad news that instead of a victory McClellan had suffered a crushing defeat, and been driven away from Richmond. This last information came through rebel sources, and was not fully credited, but the definite good news of the evening before had been shown to be entirely unfounded. The whole matter being shrouded in mystery and doubt, our destination was equally uncertain, and we were kept on board the schooner that night. The next morning we left the transports about ten o'clock and returned to the place of our old camp, — finding it bare and stripped. As it did not seem probable that we should remain there long enough to make it

worth while to fit it up again, we made no effort to restore its former comforts. In the afternoon we received orders to reëmbark on the schooners in the morning and proceed to Virginia.

Reliable information had now been received of the result of the fighting in Virginia, and we learned with sorrow that the gallant and sturdy Army of the Potomac had been forced to withdraw from the immediate siege of Richmond, and now occupied a new position at Harrison's Landing on the James River, eighteen miles below the city.1

This really last night in North Carolina was an unsettled one in the bivouacs of the dozen regiments who had been embarked and disembarked and were about to reëmbark. There was very little sleeping done; great camp-fires were burning in the noisy camps, and the men of the different regiments were fraternizing around them, singing songs, and talking over North Carolina reminiscences and Virginia chances and expectations.

By the kindness of Lieutenant Richardson (our regimental poet), I am enabled to close my narrative of our campaign in North Carolina with this poem, which is inserted (nearly entire) on the request of several of our comrades.




(Last of the 33d Massachusetts Volunteers, but until the Summer of 1862 a member of the 21st,) delivered at our Reunion at Worcester, February 8, 1867.

  • The sun of August bright was shining, gayly waved the banners high,
  • Martial music's cadence swelling echoed to the cloudless sky,
  • As marched forth from old Camp Lincoln, nestled in the Bay State's heart,
  • One more legion she had summoned, of a nation's strength a part.
  • Borne aloft those silken banners told of Nation, told of State,
  • And a new one waved among them, woman's gift, their fitting mate.
  • Cheer on cheer reëchoed loudly, tear on tear coursed down each cheek;
  • Woman's eye with moistened sweetness told the thoughts tongue dared not speak!
  • And ’mid prayers and farewells spoken, just as sunset closed the day,
  • Southward, where our strength was needed, steamed the iron-horse his way.
  • While each grassy bank was crowded, and each breeze came wafted on
  • With the echoes and the cheering of a smiling waving throng:
  • Till the twinkling stars shone brightly, and the pale moon's silver ray
  • Rested where the bones of Uncas watch the Thames’ ocean bay.
  • Then across the girded waters, past Long Island's billowy strand,
  • Safely through the Hell-gate maelstrom, on New Jersey's shore we stand.
  • Tired and worn, yet anxious ever, onward o'er historic soil,
  • Onward, onward pushed the legion, headed for the distant goal.
  • Lingering ’neath the smile of beauty, Burlington, whose daughters fair
  • Wreathed our weary ones with comforts, and with peaches ripe and rare,
  • Till our thankful hearts reëchoed with one grateful glad acclaim,
  • And each one with memory's pencil wrote down Burlington's fair name.

  • Night closed ’round, yet blessings never stayed their hand nor closed the door;
  • Philadelphia, open-hearted, proved their brothers’ love once more:
  • Tables crowded down with treasures, such as hungry men would crave,
  • These unstinted without measure to our Union soldiers gave.
  • Why on Massachusetts soldiers are these loving bounties piled?
  • There I asked these words of woman, and her generous tongue replied:
  • Bunker Hill is not forgotten, nor is Plymouth's pilgrim shore,
  • And one other word she whispered, and in tears said, Baltimore.
  • Blessings rest on Philadelphia, open hand and open door,
  • And her bounty without measure we'll remember evermore.
  • Onward to a sister city, yet a sister but in name;
  • Bay State blood had stained her pavements, and had wreathed around her shame.
  • Yet, with “Yankee Doodle” sounding, and our nation's banner high,
  • Firm and proud we trod those pavements where was heard the martyr's cry.
  • On her grassy hill o'erlooking Ches'peake's broad and noble bay,
  • While beneath us clung the city, and before McHenry lay.
  • Gazing on its ancient ramparts memory joined with history's lore,
  • And, on fancy's wings returning, we could see the time once more
  • When the gallant Key, a prisoner, stretched his patriot eyes to view
  • If the starry banner floated o'er McHenry's dauntless crew;
  • And that hoped-for sight inspiring from his pen this treasure drew:
  • “’T is the Star-Spangled Banner; oh, long may it wave
  • O'er the land of the free: and the home of the brave.”
  • Soon the orders came for marching, and we left the grassy park;
  • No one knew our destination, all could guess, yet all was dark.
  • Who'll forget that night of travel, tedious, crowded, dark, and cool,
  • Switching part off at the Junction, and the rest at Naval School.
  • How fond memory paints the picture which that naval school recalls,
  • Months of ease and festive pleasure in those well-remembered halls:
  • And the walls did not restrain us; bliss beyond for us did wait;
  • Boarding at the widow Walch's, or smiling at Brace Brewer's gate.
  • Up and down on picket duty, where the Elkridge Railroad ran,
  • Nightly passing o'er each cross-road, daily overhauling man;
  • From that lower water station to the switch at Savington,

  • Passing by the jolly miller's, getting milk of Anderson,
  • Till we reached the noted Junction, where our Maggi had command;
  • All these scenes can't be forgotten, mementoes of My Maryland.
  • Days and weeks and months were passing; still rebellion held its sway,
  • Still we were inactive, languid; Morse still triumphed in his way,
  • For he'd got in limbo Maggi, and he thought to keep him there;
  • Hicks's lambs were still to fatten on our Thompson's Q. M. fare.
  • Fletcher still must also sit on many a rich court-martial case,
  • And our colonel's son, his Harry, he must still retain his place:
  • ’T was his duty, as our colonel, still to keep his pet lambs there;
  • Yet if duty called (he told us), his brave heart our toils should share.
  • Soon within our camp, commanding, came on one of lordly mien;
  • Martial was that chieftain's bearing, where that bandit hat was seen.
  • Victory long had been denied us, and our flag was drooped with shame,
  • Till each voice once more reëchoed, and with hope twined Burnside's name.
  • He unbound the hands of Maggi, he foreclosed the claim of Dix:
  • With our banner southward tending, we bade farewell to “Loyal Hicks.”
  • At our head, each inch a soldier, Maggi in command once more,
  • With a tongue as sharp and cutting as the sabre which he wore.
  • With him Clark, of classic Amherst, leading as our second chief,
  • Springing forth at Sumter's summons to a threatened land's relief.
  • Cutter, with his gray hair streaming, stood as surgeon on the line;
  • Warren, as his chief adviser, bore the lancet and quinine.
  • By their side marched our brave chaplain, eager, earnest for us all,
  • Watching with the dying soldier, or blessing rebs with musket ball.
  • First came A, with Hawkes as captain, backed by Brooks and Davis too;
  • Followed close by B with Walcott, with Wells Willard, a true blue.
  • Then came on the tallest captain, Richardson commanding C,
  • Harlow and the little Kelton, every inch a soldier he!
  • Foster led on D, whose rifles were our flank protecting guns;
  • Honest Barker, too, with Heyward, led on Fitchburg's noble sons.

  • Then came E with Pelham Bradford, Whittemore and Hovey there;
  • F, with Rogers and La Forest; G was under Taylor's care.
  • Rice with H, and Frazer with him; I in Richardson's command;
  • Stearns his second, while friend Shumway had the signal duty larned.
  • Last to name of brave commanders, moving on the unknown way,
  • Washburn, Parkhurst, Williams also, close the list with gallant K.
  • Who shall paint our embarkation as we left the naval post,
  • And on board the waiting steamer headed for the Southern coast?
  • Some confused and some confusion, as the “Northerner” we gain,
  • Some, unchecked by patriot spirit, gave another spirit rein.
  • Onward sped the fleet, and onward, till it passed those granite walls,
  • Where Monroe's grim iron shadow o'er the rebel landmark falls.
  • Southward still our course was passing, by the headlands of that State,
  • Last to leave our glorious Union, last to pass the traitor's gate.
  • Here we plunged through angry billows, howling winds, and mountain waves,
  • Sad with ocean's desolation and the fear of watery graves,
  • Till beneath the cliff at anchor, where the breakers chilled our sight,
  • Who'll forget the dreary picture of that dark tempestuous night?

  • All night the ocean wave was lashed
  • By stormy Neptune's foaming flail;
  • All night the threatening storm-king rode
  • Triumphant on the whistling gale.
  • Each heart at moments Northward turned,
  • And thought of loved ones far behind;
  • While slowly dragged the tedious hours
  • And fiercer howled the raging wind.
  • At length along the waking East
  • We caught day's red'ning welcome streak,
  • And saw our banner floating still
  • In triumph from our topmast peak.
  • Another hour, and we had passed
  • Through danger's dark and yawning den,
  • And loud and long repeated cheers
  • Burst from the hearts of thankful men.

  • Weeks here passed, weeks of discomfort, shipwrecks, storms, and dismal wails,
  • For the storm-king rode triumphant on the fury of the gales.
  • Death here spread with icy finger his dark pall around our braves:
  • Here Le Barnes and Sweet were buried ’neath the Inlet's dismal waves;
  • Here, too, Houghton died, forbidden e'en to taste of victory's smile,
  • And in lone repose there sleeping, guards the beach of that lone isle.
  • Yet, though nature seemed to darken, and the elements conspire,
  • In the dauntless breast of Burnside glowed undimmed the patriot fire.
  • Glad the morning lent her splendor, beaming hope's inspiring star,
  • When mid Hail Columbia's measures we passed the Swash's sandy bar.
  • Northward, onward on our mission, headed for the rebel isle,
  • Steamed the gallant fleet of Burnside, led by his inspiring smile.
  • At length we saw the rebel banner, saw the flouting flag of sin,
  • And the booming guns of Goldsborough shook the ocean with their din.
  • The signal from the flag-ship streaming told to each impatient one
  • That the moment now was dawning, the eventful hour had come.

  • With deaf'ning cheers the boats push off,
  • All eager for the fight;
  • The Twenty-first are promised now
  • A chance to strike for right.
  • The shell are bursting in the air,
  • The booming cannon roar,
  • And Goldsborough's proclamations fly
  • From every ten-inch bore.
  • The colonel, major, privates, all
  • Crowd in the waiting barge;
  • There are the captains with their men,
  • And colonel's little George.
  • The surgeons with their litters go,
  • And instruments strung o'er;

  • Pray God they'll have no use for them
  • Upon the bristling shore.
  • They land upon the hostile beach,
  • Beneath the “Picket's” guns;
  • Ten thousand Massachusetts hearts
  • Pray for their valiant sons.
  • A night of cold and drizzling rain,—
  • Up to their knees in mire;
  • Yet nature's obstacles do but
  • Those noble men inspire.
  • With morning's dawn they onward move,
  • In battle's firm array;
  • Each heart a moment Northward turns,
  • And silently they pray.
  • Perchance for home, perchance for friends,
  • Perchance for loved ones dear;
  • Perchance adown the flushing cheek
  • There steals a brave man's tear.
  • The combat opens,—“Steady, men,
  • Strike for your homes and right!”
  • These Northern mudsills, long despised,
  • Shall teach you they can fight.
  • Our brave men fall: “Close up the ranks!”
  • The order is obeyed,
  • The wounded men are carried off,—
  • The rest are not dismayed.
  • Down goes brave Foster in the fight,
  • ’Mid mud and watery fen;
  • “Fear not!” we hear our colonel call;
  • “I will command your men!”
  • Before us stands a yawning hell,
  • That belches iron hail;

  • Shall Massachusetts Twenty-first,
  • Before that monster quail?
  • “No!” comes the answer from each heart;
  • Each rifle shot says no.
  • They onward spring, each anxious for
  • A grapple with the foe.
  • “Prepare to charge!” ’T is Reno's voice;
  • Each bayonet is hung;
  • “And let a thousand steel breastpins
  • On yonder fort be flung!”
  • Up come the gallant men of D,
  • Now fiercer, one and all;
  • Each lip compressed would seem to say,
  • Avenge our captain's fall!
  • Another falls, and Hodgman's name
  • Is numbered with the slain;
  • Now Battles falls, yet on they move,
  • And charge the fort again.
  • Onward comes C, and Henry falls,
  • And Sargent by his side;
  • Their names belong to history now,
  • In Freedom's cause they died.
  • Brave Hannan falls, and Irish blood
  • Baptizes Roanoke's sands,
  • His comrades launch a deadly fire
  • With their death-dealing hands.
  • They fall at right, they fall at left,
  • Yet onward press our men,
  • ’T is fearful odds they struggle with
  • In this deep miry fen.
  • They run! Oh, hear the shouts ascend
  • As B and G rush in;

  • See Maggi seize the floating sheet,
  • The blazon flag of sin!
  • They cheer, yet onward run the foe,
  • And onward chase our bands,
  • Until a flag of truce is placed
  • In Captain Bradford's hands.1
  • One word we hear our general speak,
  • ’T is “Unconditional!” that word,
  • And Wise's legions stack their guns
  • Before “Abe Lincoln's horde.”
  • Once more the Stars and Stripes float o'er
  • Each point of Roanoke's lands,
  • The stolen guns once more are in
  • Their rightful owners’ hands.
  • Then shout, and let your echoes ring
  • Along Atlantic's shore,
  • Till rebels and their flags pollute
  • Columbia's land no more.
  • Then cheer till Massachusetts wakes
  • With victory on her brow;
  • She little dreams the Twenty-first,
  • That's been unknown till now,
  • Has struck a chord whose echoing ring
  • Shall thrill the Union's heart;
  • Then honest Andrew's voice shall say,
  • “I knew them from the start.
  • “They came from where the Fifteenth came,
  • They fought where glory led,
  • Besides, I knew a fighting man
  • Was fighting at their head.”


  • Then let each voice again repeat,
  • Each voice another cheer,
  • But let each eye for those who fell
  • Drop one remembering tear.
  • As proud a title to their names
  • As tongue of man e'er spoke
  • Will ever cling to our true men
  • Who fell at Roanoke.

. . . . . . . . . .

  • Here upon this sandy island changes many did we share;
  • He who should have stayed our leader parted with his comrades there.
  • Sad the hour when Maggi left us, — yet ’t was sadder far for him:
  • Trained by him this valiant legion tasted glory's goblet's brim;
  • And they yet would drink in deeper, they would drain the nectar down;
  • While they trod the path he taught them, Maggi spurned a glorious crown.
  • Here, too, Parson Parkhurst vanished, ne'er was seen by us again,
  • While beside him Williams traveled; Rogers flanked the parting twain.
  • Here, too, Washburn smiled and parted; he, while passion seized on him,
  • Stained a cause he loved to honor by a moment's thoughtless whim;
  • Yet it made of Hovey captain, and gave Davis one more bar,
  • Giving them a rank commanding in the coming strife of war.
  • Frazer, too, since Rice was major, wore another glittering one:
  • First lieutenants made from seconds basked in promotion's noonday sun.
  • Sergeants here were made lieutenants; Sanderson and Bemis tried,
  • Beckwith, Clark, and Wheeler sported a long rapier by their side;
  • Charley Coolidge, too, and Aldrich wore the ensign of command,
  • As a proof that merit here led promotion hand in hand.
  • From the battle-field were gathered, from the spot they fell and died,
  • The bodies of our fallen comrades, and they sleep now side by side.

  • Death our ranks was daily thinning, our wounded fast were passing o'er
  • From their beds of pain and anguish to another happier shore.
  • Here with brave Monteuil buried Manning sleeps in deathless fame,
  • From an hero race descending, worthy of their race and name.
  • Here, too, Norcross, here, too, Mathews, here, too, Leonard suffered, died, —
  • In our regimental garden sleep those lost ones side by side.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

  • In peace sleep on ye martyrs slain,
  • In freedom's noble cause ye fell;
  • There is a land where angels dwell,
  • Where friendships join brave hearts again.

  • A month here passed upon the island when the summons came once more,
  • And our fleet steamed down the water, headed for the Neuse's shore.
  • The morning dawns along the Neuse's shore,
  • In arms it finds the Twenty-first once more;
  • Its ranks now lessened by its numbers slain,
  • In Union's cause it sought the field again.
  • No sun in splendor lent its welcome ray,
  • A misty vapor hid the god of day;
  • Its curtain lifted not in air again
  • Till victory's banner lit the gory plain.
  • In solid phalanx through the woody glen
  • We seek to find those North Carolina men,
  • Who, hid in brick-yards, pits, and muddy banks,
  • Hurled hissing iron on our steady ranks;
  • Along our line their deadly missiles fall;
  • A sheet of fire springs from a living wall.
  • The cannon's thunder and the rifle's crack
  • In vain assail the freemen's onward track.
  • From yonder fort which flanks the traitors’ line,
  • Westward for miles the glittering muskets shine.
  • Yet in the face of all, by Reno led,

  • Step after step advanced with measured tread,
  • Step after step we nearer gain the foe;
  • Our brave men fall, yet on our numbers go.
  • Across the railroad track by Reno led,
  • We nailed our banner to the brick-yard shed,
  • And proudly formed, inside the rebel den,
  • Rushed down their works, — two hundred noble men.
  • Before our charge the foe in terror runs,
  • Till Clark in triumph straddles one’ their guns:
  • When, lo! from yonder wood the mists arise,
  • And thrice a thousand rebels greet our eyes.
  • Appalling sight, — no succor comes to aid;
  • Their muskets glitter in the forest's shade;
  • In vain John Dunn and Walcott seek to throw
  • The cannon Clark had straddled, on the foe.
  • Too late, too late, ’t is death to longer stay;
  • As they rushed in, so must they rush away;
  • And o'er the parapet, through ditch and fen,
  • They change position, those two hundred men!
  • Yet short the triumph that the rebels won;
  • Leftward the balance of our men come on,
  • And backward fly they to their waiting shade,
  • Appalled at sight of so much Yankee blade;
  • While Frazer, with a soldier's noble vim,
  • Brings in as prisoners those who captured him.
  • The field is won, but as our shouts arise,
  • One weltering form attracts our saddened eyes;
  • Each comrade weeping as his eye discerns
  • The senseless corpse of our loved Frazar Stearns.
  • Not more to him than all who nobly fell,
  • Heroic hearts who served their country well;
  • To each a nation's willing hands shall raise
  • A shaft, to tell their noble sacrifice;
  • And their proud State in times not distant far
  • Shall send her garnerers to the field of war,
  • And bear those ashes home she loved to trust,
  • To blend for aye with her historic dust.

  • The battle o'er, we view those scenes anew,
  • And wondering, gaze on what brave men can do;
  • For had the rebels in the conflict fought
  • As freemen fighting for their country ought,
  • Sad were the hour we met them in the fight,
  • And sadder still the morning's gory sight.
  • The fight was o'er, and on our banner shone
  • A second name, to tell of victory won.
  • My task is o'er with your first victory won.
  • The Isle of Roanoke heard your signal gun;
  • But ere the bloody strife was o'er,
  • Upon its folds thy banner bore
  • A list of names of bright renown
  • Were fit to deck a conqueror's crown.
  • Attest it, Newbern; in thy woody deep
  • New England's heroes, crowned with laurel, sleep.
  • On Camden's field, — that long and dreary night, —
  • The march, the rain, the bivouac, the fight,
  • And all those fields now rich with sacred dust
  • Have felt the footsteps of the Twenty-first.
  • Bull Run reëchoed with thy battle call;
  • And dread Chantilly saw thy brave men fall;
  • Antietam's bloody field recalls that strife
  • When dark South Mountain drank brave Reno's life.
  • The heights of Fredericksburg recall that scene
  • Of death and carnage o'er her hills so green,
  • Till in the West Kentucky needed thee
  • To check the waning of her loyalty:
  • And round our banner firm and free,
  • Clung the true men of Tennessee.
  • They welcomed on the Bay State banner there,
  • With glad acclaim, that thrilled their mountain air,
  • Till Knoxville's siege evinced the Burnside sway,
  • And Longstreet stole discomfited away.
  • Once more the East recalled thee to her ways,
  • To join the comrades of thine earlier days;
  • Once more with them on war's sad path to go,
  • To end the strife with one tremendous blow.

  • Our leader armed and plumed with fate's decree,
  • To wrest the sceptre from the traitor Lee.
  • He stood as freedom's noble, grand bequest,
  • Victorious Grant, the Conqueror of the West.
  • “Then shook the hills with thunder riven,
  • Then rushed the steeds to battle driven,”
  • As through that wilderness of strife
  • Contending armies fought for life.
  • It was their last great effort made,
  • ’T was hope's forlorn defeated raid.
  • Lessening their numbers day by day,
  • Closer our armies pressed that way;
  • North, East, and West, with threatening show
  • Our forces closing round the foe,
  • While on each Southern breeze would come
  • The distant roll of Sherman's drum.
  • Though baffled oft, yet not dismayed with doubt,
  • Upon that line our general fought it out,
  • Till Richmond felt the genius of his power,
  • And foul rebellion's bloody reign was o'er.
  • Thy work was done; — thy last grand march was home;
  • Thy banners rest beneath the State's proud dome;
  • And all assembled here to-night
  • Recall the past, — the march, the fight,
  • Our missing loved ones: memory aye will dwell
  • On those our comrades who in battle fell;
  • Our brothers lost; we miss them here; accounted for each one,
  • They sleep the sleep that wakes no more; their work on earth is done.
  • Oh keep the cause for which they died, — your country, freedom right;
  • Embalm their memories year by year as thus you do to-night;
  • For ’t is their monument we build on this our festive day;
  • ’T is our reunion with the lost, ’t is our memorial lay.
  • As brothers we must man those walls to storm whose breach they died.
  • Our flag is on the ramparts now; see it victorious ride.
  • Let each one pledge himself anew, and say this task is mine,
  • Till in yon land we form once more our regimental line.

CHAPTER VII. July 6 — August 16, 1862.


We left our last camp in North Carolina at sunrise on the 6th of July, 1862, and reëmbarked on the schooners “Scout” and “Farrington:” dropping down the Neuse, we anchored near Hatteras at midnight. On the 7th we found that our old enemy, the Swash, was still there, and worse than ever, for even our schooners made several vain attempts to get over it; finally, the men were all taken off them, going on board General Reno's boat, the “Highland Light,” and they were got over at two o'clock P. M.; at half-past three we passed through the Inlet, and were towed out to sea.

After a pleasant trip in beautiful weather, we came to anchor off Fortress Monroe, at two o'clock in the afternoon of the 8th, among a crowd of vessels loaded with troops.

We remained at anchor off the fortress until late in the afternoon of the 9th, when we ran up to Newport News, and landed. As we approached the pier where we landed, we passed close to the sunken wreck of the sloop of war “Cumberland,” lying in water fifty feet deep, with her masts standing out, as she had sunk on the 9th of March, the coffin of two hundred of her men, with her flag at the gaff, fighting until her guns were under water in her ever glorious conflict with the iron-clad “Merrimac.” It was just six months before to a day that we had first seen the majestic war-ship at Fortress Monroe, on our arrival from Annapolis. Then she was simply mighty and grand; now her shattered wreck was a sublime

monument to the most desperate and devoted heroism of the war.

The glory of that fight should not be left to written and oral tradition only; a massive and imperishable monument should tower high above the water where she sank, in commemoration of the noble sacrifice there offered up for country and liberty, and to teach future generations the difference in honor between a weak and puny defense like that of Fort Sumter, by Major Anderson, and the never-surrender defiant heroism of Lieutenant Morris, the commander of the “Cumberland.”

  • “Ho! brave hearts that went down in the seas,
  • Ye are at rest in the troubled stream.
  • Ho! brave land! with hearts like these,
  • Thy flag, that is rent in twain,
  • Shall be one again,
  • And without a seam.”

H. W. Longfellow.

Passing the first night in Newport News in some dirty barracks, on the 10th of July we pitched our tents with the rest of the army from North Carolina, on a broad plateau with a heavy wood in the rear, admirably adapted for camping purposes; and remained there throughout the month, without anything occurring of special interest. As we fell in with other officers and troops in our visits to Fort Monroe and elsewhere, we were much pleased to find in what high regard General Burnside's men were held by their brother soldiers in Virginia.

During the month, our force grew into an army of thirteen thousand hardy well-drilled veterans, by the arrival of General Parke's troops from North Carolina, and General Stevens and his gallant men from South Carolina; and we felt that we had become a power in the centre of grand operations.

On the 22d of July we were organized as the 9th Army Corps, in three divisions, under the command respectively of Generals Reno, Parke, and Stevens, the whole under command of General Burnside. Our duties at Newport News

consisted only of drilling and target shooting, with many a splendid swim in the sparkling water of Chesapeake Bay, in off-duty hours; and we were well fed, healthy, and happy.

So far, the troops under General Burnside's command had known nothing of the accursed jealousy towards brother soldiers which was rampant in Virginia; like a happy family, a spirit of mutual confidence and concord had prevailed among them, and generally a gratifying cordiality, and even affection existed between officers and men; all owing to the magnanimous and open-hearted spirit with which our general had administered his command. We were soon to see, and to feel some of the bitter fruits of nearness to Washington and army jealousy; of hot heads, fitted for action only in subordinate positions, taken into confidential counsel in high places; ending in bombastical orders, and bombastical commanders, and support in time of need grudgingly given to fellow-soldiers in the same great cause, or traitorously withheld. In it all, the old 9th Corps never forgot its early patriotic unity, never hesitated a moment to give their brother soldiers a wholehearted strong support, and never failed to stand by the commander of the army, whoever he might be.

On the 1st of August, we received orders to cook three days’ rations, and be ready to move in the morning.

August 2d. The corps went on board ship, the 21st embarking on the steamers “Nantasket” and “Highland Light,” in the middle of the afternoon. We remained close by the pier until nightfall, when we ran down to Fort Monroe. While lying off Newport News, a drunken private in my company, named George Warriner, created some excitement by repeatedly jumping overboard and trying to swim ashore; as he enjoyed it, and the other men also enjoyed the fun of rescuing him, he was allowed to serve as a school of instruction in the art of handling a drowning man to his heart's content: his rescue was perhaps unfortunate, as he afterwards deserted in the face of the enemy.

We left Fort Monroe before daylight on the morning of the 3d of August, and running up the Potomac River, anchored

off Mathias Point at dark. During the evening the men were full of fun, and an occasional song or psalm was sung after taps: Tim. D— of Company B, who was providentially gifted in the use of language tending to make a row, tried in vain to disturb the equanimity of Company A, who were the champion psalm-singers that evening, by calling out, so that all on board could hear him: “Company A can sing their psalms, but by — I never saw more than eight of them on the battle-field.” Tim. was disappointed in the effect of his remark, for Company A, as they could well afford to do, merely laughed with the rest of us at the barefaced and grotesque malignity with which he had libeled the fair name and fame of that gallant company.

Leaving our anchorage at daylight on the 4th, we reached the dock at Acquia Creek at half-past ten A. M., and at once going on board the cars, ran up to within about a mile of the city of Fredericksburg by rail and went into camp, where we remained until the 12th of August, the 9th Corps relieving General King's Division of McDowell's Corps that had previously been stationed near Fredericksburg. On the 5th of August we were paid for May and June. This day we were also gratified by seeing in the newspapers the President's call for three hundred thousand more volunteers.

The city of Fredericksburg was at this time under a strict embargo upon intercourse with the outside world. The citizens had abused the privilege of free ingress and egress, and of bringing in clothing and provisions, which had been at first accorded them, by carrying information and supplies within the rebel lines. The Union general commanding, determined to break their rebellious spirit if possible, thereupon gave notice that after a certain day no man or thing should be allowed to go into or out of the city until the citizens elected a city government, the members of which would take an oath of allegiance to the United States. The citizens remained defiant, and the embargo went on; it had been on for several days when, on the 6th of August, I with some difficulty obtained a pass to go to the Adams’ express office in the city to look for

a missing express package from home. Once inside the beautiful and aristocratic old city, finding that my express package had been confiscated because it contained a bottle of brandy (for which barbarous outrage on the part of the provost marshal I never forgave him), I spent the afternoon walking about the streets, and ended up with a supper of pork and hard bread at the principal hotel. Milk and fresh meat had become only memories; but the bitter spirits of the citizens were supported by assurances of speedy rebel relief, and they remained firm in their disloyalty; only very old men, and sad scowling women dressed in black, were to be seen in the gloomy, silent city, and it was a relief to return to the life and vigor of our camp. As I personally admired the obstinacy with which the old men and women were standing by sons, brothers, and husbands in the rebel army, I was pleased afterwards to hear that this somewhat barbarous attempt to force the profession of a sham loyalty was an utter failure.

August 12. General Reno's (second) Division of the 9th Corps, consisting of the 21st Massachusetts, 51st New York, 51st Pennsylvania, 48th Pennsylvania, 2d Maryland, and 6th New Hampshire regiments of infantry, and two batteries, left the vicinity of Fredericksburg to report to General Pope on the Rapidan; to be speedily followed by our first division under General Stevens, consisting of six regiments of infantry (79th and 46th New York, 28th Massachusetts, 8th Michigan, 50th, and 100th Pennsylvania), and Benjamin's battery (E, Second Artillery).1 We made our start, happy and enthusiastic, at seven o'clock P. M., with knapsacks lightly packed, and without tents or other baggage. There was a glorious full moon; we had more confidence in General Reno as a fighting man than in any other officer in the whole army; and knowing nothing about General Pope except what we saw in the newspapers of his exploits in the West, we were even glad that we were going to make a campaign under him. We


needed all our life and enthusiasm to carry us through that night. Soon after starting the road became narrow and full of holes, and blocked by wagons; and still we stood waiting in the road, or stumbled sleepily and wearily on at a snail's pace till daylight came again. At last, at four o'clock A. M. of the 13th, a long halt was ordered, and this ridiculous march, in which we had elbowed a wagon train all night and made an advance of less than eight miles in nine hours, was over. We resumed our march at eight o'clock and marched till noon, when we rested till half-past two; then, resuming our march, we traversed a beautiful country, coming in sight of the Blue Ridge late in the afternoon, and at seven o'clock bivouacked for the night in a dry open field fragrant with mint and pennyroyal. At the end of our twenty-four hours we found that we had made the respectable day's march of twenty-five miles, and were then about five miles from Bealton, a station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.

August 14th. After a breakfast on little or nothing, we moved on to Bealton, arriving there at half-past nine; here rations were issued, and we rested till two o'clock, when we took the cars and arrived at Culpeper Court House at four o'clock that afternoon. At Bealton we had first heard of and rejoiced over General Banks's “splendid victory” over Jackson at Cedar (or Slaughter) Mountain on the 9th instant; but we came to the conclusion that it was a dreadful kind of victory, when on our arrival at Culpeper we found the houses full of wounded Union troops, and heard the unreserved admissions of the troops engaged that General Banks's gallant corps, unaided in the desperate battle, had been driven back with frightful loss. We marched through the village with our fine band in full play, all glorying in our splendid drill and yet unbroken strength, and went into bivouac two or three miles to the south of Culpeper Court House, and about the same distance to the eastward of the late battle-field, which Jackson had now abandoned before the powerful army under General Pope's immediate command which had gathered in his front. Being without tents, we did not fail to notice a heavy rain which poured upon us during the night.

August 15th. We moved forward at three o'clock in the afternoon, and crossing Cedar Run, after a march of about six miles, went into bivouac near the Rapidan, in front of Clark's Mountain, and some two miles from Raccoon Ford, — a place famous in our Revolutionary history as the ford by which the French army under the Marquis de Lafayette, retreating before the forces of Lord Cornwallis, crossed the Rapidan and effected a junction with reinforcements under General Wayne. We now considered ourselves as part of General Pope's army, — the “Army of Virginia,” — and as government rations were short, and General Pope's order instructing the men to live off the enemy's country was construed by his troops generally as legalizing private pillage, our men were no exception to the rule, and probably had their full share of chickens, sheep, and green corn; for example, out of a flock of sheep captured by the brigade, my company had thirteen for their share. Those few days of legalized rapine did more to demoralize and weaken the army than an average unsuccessful campaign. Bombastic orders from headquarters, full of self-glorification and military blasphemy, as Jomini calls that sort of stuff, were read at our dress parades; and with Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Longstreet in our front, we soon began to wish that we had somebody besides General Pope at our head. General Reno, indignant at the plundering which was ruining the discipline of the army, finally gave notice that the first man in his command who stole even an ear of green corn should be shot; but by that time the surrounding country had been pretty thoroughly cleaned out and plenty of rations had come up.

On the night of the 16th the rebels were busy with their signal-lights on almost every hill in sight across the Rapidan. They seemed to be only aping our signal corps, but subsequent events tended to show that they were attending to business of their own.

General Pope, on his assumption of command in Virginia, issued the following address to his army, the braggart tone of which is in sad contrast with the results of the short and murderous campaign on which he was about to enter: —

Washington, Monday,July 14, 1862.

To the Officers and Soldiers of the Army of Virginia.

By special assignment of the President of the United States, I have assumed command of this army. I have spent two weeks in learning your whereabouts, your condition, and your wants; in preparing you for active operations, and in placing you in positions from which you can act promptly and to the purpose.

I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies — from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary, and to beat him when found, whose policy has been attack and not defense.

In but one instance has the enemy been able to place our western armies in a defensive attitude. I presume that I have been called here to pursue the same system, and to lead you against the enemy. It is my purpose to do so, and that speedily.

I am sure you long for an opportunity to win the distinction you are capable of achieving; that opportunity I shall endeavor to give you.

Meantime, I desire you to dismiss from your minds certain phrases which I am sorry to find much in vogue amongst you.

I hear constantly of taking strong positions and holding them; of lines of retreat, and of bases of supplies. Let us discard such ideas.

The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy.

Let us study the probably lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before us and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance. Disaster and shame lurk in the rear.

Let us act on this understanding, and it is safe to predict that your banners shall be inscribed with many a glorious deed, and that your names will be dear to your countrymen forever.

John Pope, Major-General Commanding.

Our general was, however, destined soon to have to look behind him for a line of retreat; and fortunate it was for us and the country that he was not taken unawares, and that, in spite of his bluster, he was willing when the time came, to turn the backs of his men on the mighty force which was gathering in our front. A strong cavalry expedition sent

across the Rapidan on the 16th of August, which captured an important despatch from General Lee to General Stuart, and a gallant reconnoisance by our 2d Maryland regiment, on the night of the 17th, disclosed not only General Lee's determination to make short and decisive work with General Pope and his army, but also that a rebel force amply sufficient to crush us, masked by the hills across the river, was rapidly moving into position for an advance.

CHAPTER VIII. August 18 — September 1, 1862.


August 18th. On the Rapidan. All the early part of the day was spent by General Pope's army in a muster, ordered by the Secretary of War, to ascertain exactly how many men were required to fill all the regiments to the maximum. Our splendid band, which had delighted us so often, was mustered out, and immediately started for home.

About noon, it was evident that something was in the wind; long trains of wagons, which had just brought up immense supplies of rations and ammunition, were moving rapidly to the rear; and, as the afternoon wore away, we saw great piles of rations burning. Up to that time, we had interpreted everything into meaning an advance, for we had not entertained an idea that our braggart commander, with an army of at least a hundred thousand men (as we supposed), was on the point of a retreat.

As soon as it grew dark, our troops began to move towards the rear; and about nine o'clock it was officially announced to us that General Pope's army was falling back about twenty miles, to get behind the line of the Rappahannock, for strategical reasons; that General Reno's command would act as rear-guard to the army in the movement; and that our brigade were to have the honor of serving as the infantry rear guard. As it was considered certain that we should be engaged by the enemy's cavalry as soon as it became light enough to disclose the movement which our army was making,

the officers were cautioned as to the proper formation of the men in such an event. To show us the need of the greatest caution in our movements, we were further informed that two divisions of the enemy were massed at Raccoon Ford, a couple of miles on our left, and within half a mile of which we had to pass; but, whether the rebels were there with the



intention of crossing to attack us, or simply as a precaution against a possible advance by our army, was of course all conjecture. As we lay on the ground that long night, watching the rebel signal-lights and anxiously waiting for the order to move, we wondered whether it was possible that our vaunted advance was to end before it had begun, in a disgraceful retreat, or whether we were really making a strategical movement.

We talked over our chances on the march, and imagined its possibilities. General Pope had acted in the style advised by our old commander, Colonel Maggi, that in going through an enemy's country it was the best policy “to leave nothing but the crying eyes;” the rebels regarded him as a barbarian, and we knew that, as being his troops, we would receive no favors in the event of getting into a tight place.1 We were also sorry to see, by the fires along the line of retreat, that the Union stragglers were burning buildings. At half-past one o'clock on the morning of the 19th, we commenced to move, carrying on the person five days’ rations and one hundred rounds of ammunition. The moon, which rose about midnight, was obscured by thick clouds, and, soon getting on the wrong road, we were obliged to return, and take a fresh start, actually getting away a little after three o'clock. It was just beginning to grow light when we came upon a strong picket of Union cavalry, standing silent as statues, among the trees, and learned that we were passing the dangerous point near Raccoon Ford; but the rebels there were happily unconscious of their opportunity, and we passed unmolested. We marched slowly on, without any incident of interest until noon, when we reached Mountain Creek, a tributary of the Rappahannock, and took our first rest, after a march of nineteen miles without a straggler; it was a splendid two hours’ rest under fine shade trees, with a chance to get a bath in the beautiful shaded stream. Moving on, we waded the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford at four o'clock in the afternoon, having made a march of twenty-three miles, in perfect order and without much fatigue. A detail from the regiment was at once set at work throwing up a breastwork


to protect some artillery, which was posted to command the passage of the river, and we bivouacked for the night close by the ford, every man sleeping with his gun by his side. Our entire army was now in position behind the Rappahannock, covering a front of some seven miles, with its left at Kelly's Ford and its right extending some three miles above Rappahannock Station.


So far General Pope had made a real strategic movement behind the line of the Rappahannock, and General Lee, who had been proceeding a little too leisurely in putting his plans for the destruction of our army into execution, had been fairly deceived. The rebel army, from whose clutch our army of forty thousand men had just escaped, numbered about sixty-five thousand men of all arms, commanded by General Lee in person. Its grand divisions were led by Generals T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson and Longstreet; the dashing Stuart rode at the head of its then unrivaled cavalry, and it was accompanied by exceedingly powerful trains of field artillery. It was probably the best led, best equipped, fiercest army that the rebels ever put in the field, red hot to utterly overwhelm and destroy our outlawed commander and the “Army of Virginia.” Longstreet's Corps of thirty thousand men was preparing to cross the river at Raccoon Ford, well on our left flank. Stonewall Jackson, commanding the rebel left wing with his own corps of twenty thousand men, Anderson's Division of seven thousand men, and Colonel S. D. Lee's battalion of light artillery, were to cross at Summerville's Ford, about two miles above Longstreet's place of crossing; and Stuart with all the cavalry was to gain our rear, passing the river at Morton's Ford, three miles below Raccoon Ford (on Longstreet's right). The cloud of batteries which accompanied the rebel infantry, manned by four thousand men, included the famous Washington Artillery battalion, with which we were destined to become somewhat familiar. The rebel attack was

appointed for the 18th of August, and on the morning of that day Longstreet's batteries were standing with horses harnessed and his troops in momentary expectation of orders to advance; but fortunately for us the rebel cavalry did not get into position until the night of the 18th, and owing to exhaustion of their horses by a long forced march, were not in condition for a movement on the 19th. Lee, in strange ignorance of the meaning of the movements of our army on the 18th, says in an order issued to General Stuart early in the morning of the 19th: “The last reports from the signal stations yesterday evening were that the enemy was breaking up his principal encampments and moving in the direction of Culpeper Court House;” and published a general order to his army, directing the attack to commence on the 20th at dawn of day. He did not realize that our army, instead of manœuvring in his front, was eluding his grasp, until late in the afternoon of the 19th, when in another order to Stuart he says: “The enemy, as far as I can discover, is retreating on the road to Fredericksburg. I propose to start the troops at the rising of the moon (about one o'clock A. M.). It is so late now that they could not get off before. If you can get information of the route of the enemy you will endeavor to cut him off; otherwise, make for Kelly's Ford over the Rappahannock.”1

This was the first and the last time that General Pope made a point on General Lee.

We will now return to our army which we left on the night of the 19th of August safe for the time behind the line of the Rappahannock.

Kelly's Ford, August 20th. The rebel cavalry made their appearance at daylight, but the day passed quietly in our front until nearly sunset, when they drove in our pickets across the river, but retired in turn on receiving a couple of shots from our artillery.

August 21st. A detachment of rebel cavalry drove in our


pickets again just before daylight, shot one of our men at the ford, and escaped unharmed, carrying with them considerable forage from some large stacks of grain only a few hundred yards from the river. Lying beneath us across the ford was a field about a mile wide, open except for scattered bunches of bushes, with thick woods on the farther side. Our cavalry and some rebel infantry kept up a steady slow skirmish fight in the field nearly all the morning; it was a very interesting spectacle, though rather a hellish game of hide-and-seek, to see our cavalry (who behaved very handsomely) hunting up the concealed rebels and driving them from bush to bush, and finally, though now and then catching a Tartar, forcing them back to the line of the woods. About noon, our General Stevens, with a brigade of infantry and a considerable body of cavalry, crossed the ford to make a reconnoissance in force. General Stevens's men attacked the enemy in the woods with great spirit, and drove them for some two miles, returning without having suffered serious loss, although the firing was at times quite sharp. During the day we have heard heavy artillery firing on our right a few miles up the river, and it seems evident that we are on the eve of a great battle, as an immense rebel force is reported all along the Union front. We were soaked by a heavy rain during the night.

August 22d. Leaving Kelly's Ford at six o'clock A. M., we marched up the river toward the sound of artillery firing, which ceased after about an hour; continuing on, we reached Rappahannock Station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, six miles above Kelly's Ford, at eight o'clock. We found that to be the point of the artillery fire of that morning and the day before, between Union and rebel batteries separated by the river. We saw a good many dead horses lying about; and found that several casualties had been suffered by our men, as we took a position in support of our artillery, anticipating an attack by the rebels. It was reported that the rebels were crossing the river on our right, and at five o'clock in the afternoon our corps marched a mile and a half to our right in one of the most deluging rain storms that I ever saw,

expecting to engage the forces of the enemy that had crossed the river, but found nobody to fight, and bivouacked, soaked to the skin.

August 23d. At daybreak the rebels shelled out Rappahannock Station, and our forces there burned a large amount of commissary stores and moved up the river; it is considered certain that we shall fight to-day, as it is reported that a large force of the enemy crossed the river last night at Sulphur Springs, about ten miles in a direct line above us. It rained at intervals until nine o'clock, when the sun came out, and the weather became oppressively hot; we fired, cleaned, and reloaded our guns, and the whole army, except Sigel's Corps, which was somewhere on the right, moved cautiously forward, our brigade in advance. We halted at noon, after moving about three miles, and resumed our march at three o'clock, moving slowly and well in hand. It was now currently reported that the rebels who had crossed the river were hemmed in between Sigel's Corps and our part of the army, and that it was uncertain whether they were retreating before us towards Sigel, or before Sigel towards us. We got another heavy thunder-storm, with plenty of lightning, at four o'clock, during which the brigade halted alongside an ammunition train. The negro driver of an ammunition wagon in close proximity to the 21st was killed, and two of his mules knocked down, by a stroke of lightning. As the unfortunate man was very thoroughly killed, he was buried in about ten minutes after he was struck. We heard some desultory firing on our right towards the close of the afternoon, but nobody seemed to care anything about it, and we halted, as we supposed for the night, at six o'clock, and were trying to make ourselves comfortable, when we were roused up and moved on over a wretched, muddy road, blocked with wagons. No rations had been issued to the men since the 18th, and many of them were actually suffering from hunger. We had been told that we were only going a couple of miles to get plenty of hard bread; but it was too good news to be true, and we halted again at eight o'clock as hungry as ever. At half-past ten we were roused

again, and stumbled in the pitchy darkness for two miles across the rough country fields; just before midnight we were halted, and the welcome order to send a detail for hard bread was given to the captains. Ten boxes were supposed to have been issued to the regiment, — one for each company; but either there were only eight boxes, or some of the companies looked out for No. 1 so well as to get a double share, and two companies got none; however, they were too hungry to let pride stand in the way, and by begging from their more fortunate companions soon had an equal share with the rest. We remained here for the rest of the night.

Sunday, August 24th. Taking up the line of march at six o'clock in the morning, we moved on about three miles up the river, and halted. Cattle were killed, and a liberal ration of fresh meat issued; there was plenty of green corn in the fields about us, and we had a regular feast. Towards noon, heavy artillery firing opened in our front, apparently two or three miles off; and we at once moved slowly forward. Everything warned us to expect a fight, as there was a lively musketry and artillery fire going on to our left and in front; shells were bursting a mile or two ahead of us, and now and then we passed a squad of rebel prisoners, or the sad spectacle of a dripping ambulance. About four o'clock we came upon our batteries, near Sulphur Springs, shelling the woods across the river, and the 21st were ordered to relieve one of the regiments in support. As we moved forward, half a dozen rebel shells came over in quick succession, and the regiment to be relieved, who were on the point of slinging their knapsacks, “changed position” so rapidly that they left most of their knapsacks for us. We were badly off for clothing and tobacco, and those well-filled knapsacks were like a godsend to the 21st. The scene was novel and exciting: a few hundred yards on our right, the bridge by which the rebels had crossed the river was burning; our sharpshooters along the river, and the guns we were supporting, were firing rapidly at the rebel artillery, which, posted in an unsheltered position just across the river, was soon silenced, and several handsome brass guns

left entirely deserted. The river, swollen by the heavy rains, was a sufficient protection, and the deserted rebel guns remained available for General Lee's future operations. Everything had now become quiet and peaceful, and we thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful afternoon; besides, we were delighted to hear that Sigel had captured fifteen hundred rebels, whom our division had driven into his hands.1 About sunset we moved on, mixed in with an artillery train, and made very slow progress; at eleven o'clock we went into and eventually through, a vile bog full of flitting “Will’-o’-the-wisps” and touchwood; and then were rewarded by coming upon a broad hill-side covered with bivouac fires, and our corps wagon-train, the 21st wagon among the rest. We soon had some glorious fires going, and before we turned in enjoyed our first coffee since leaving Kelly's Ford.

Monday, August 25th. The day was beautiful, and a charming landscape was spread before us, but what interested us most was the cloud of dust three or four miles away across the little river, steadily moving towards our right. We marched in a northerly direction at eight o'clock, and arrived at the town of Warrenton, after a march of some seven miles, about the middle of the forenoon. On the way, we came on a dead negro lying in the road, said to have just been shot by a rebel scouting party; and some of our men buried him. We halted in a pine grove near the town, and, on the promise of fresh beef, immediately set to work gathering fuel to cook our dinner, but no sooner had the men scattered than the line was re-formed, and we were moved a mile or so towards the river, and remained under arms, as part of a long line of battle, till the close of the afternoon, in apparent expectation of an attack.

Jackson was said to have crossed the river with thirty thousand


men, about five miles above us, and to be marching across our right flank. General Pope evidently supposed that Jackson meant an attack, and was waiting in position, while the great rebel leader, bound on a terrible expedition for us, was putting four miles an hour between his force and ours. At half-past five P. M. we turned our backs on the swiftly-moving rebels, and started for Warrenton Junction, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. The road in several places was very bad, and the night dark; and when we halted at midnight, after a march of eighteen miles, our poor, weary men threw themselves upon the ground, scarcely moving from the places where they had stood in line.

August 26th. At seven A. M. we moved on about a mile beyond Warrenton Junction, and went into bivouac. A large force was massed in the vicinity of the Junction, but nothing seemed to be going on.

August 27th. At six A. M. we started on a rapid march towards Warrenton again, but after moving about three miles our orders were countermanded, and we returned to the Junction; something was evidently wrong, batteries were going off on the full run, and General Pope rode by us looking warm and excited. The rebels that we had seen moving north were at work; and soon we all learned that Jackson's Corps was in our rear, that during the night he had broken up the railroad and bridges to within five miles of Warrenton Junction, to retard pursuit, and was moving on Manassas Junction, with its immense reserve supplies of ammunition, rations, and clothing. With very little respect for the strategy of our commander, we moved on slowly, and after a day's march of twenty miles, halted at sunset in the village of Greenwich.

Late in the afternoon we had heard rapid firing a few miles off on our right; and the pleasing news was circulated through our camps that night, that Jackson was caught at last, our whole force being now between his corps and Lee's main army.1


August 28th. We made an early start and moved toward Manassas; the rebels had fallen back during the night, and the word was now going round that Jackson was surely bagged, and unless he surrendered would be cut to pieces within twenty-four hours. We approached Manassas Junction, scorched by the noonday sun and almost stifled by dust, which lay ankle deep in the road. On our arrival a sad scene of destruction met our eyes: vast quantities of army supplies and miles of railroad cars were smouldering in ruin; the only redeeming feature noticeable was half a dozen dead rebels lying around the ruins of a car which had been loaded with ammunition. We passed on, and halted soon after noon, sick at heart of General Pope and his strategy, which he had so bombastically told us was going to turn the tide of war in Virginia. About five P. M. we moved on towards Bull Run, and just before sunset, as we marched along high ground on which were several old earth-works, saw clouds of dust a few miles away to the westward, slowly approaching each other, and then, as it began to grow dark, the flashes of sharp artillery firing on both sides. This panorama is said to prove that Sigel has headed Jackson off from his retreat; we earnestly hope that such is the case, and wonder if we shall be in at the death.1 We went into bivouac in the dark, and received half rations of meat.

Friday, August 29th. We started at daylight, and, crossing Bull Run Creek, marched through Centreville, towards the sound of firing. As we struggled on towards the battle-field,


over a dusty road, in the broiling sun, several hundred paroled Union prisoners passed by us to the rear, encouraging us with “Go in, boys, and get your heads knocked off;” “We're going home;” “We've got a furlough from Jeff. Davis;” “You'll be well treated if you surrender,” and much more of the same sort. These fellows gave Jackson an opportunity to show a sharp point in strategy: they had been captured a day or two before in some of the fighting near Manassas Junction, had been well fed, and in every way kindly treated, and just as our army was beginning its attack were paroled and turned loose to demoralize our men by accounts of their kind treatment by the rebels, and also to relieve Jackson from being hampered by several hundred prisoners. Just before we reached the field it was announced that Jackson had escaped. This bad news was soon contradicted by the report that he and his thirty thousand1 men had been headed off, and were again bagged. A little after noon we unslung our knapsacks, piled them in a long line in a thick wood, and leaving a guard over them climbed a steep hill, and soon found ourselves in an advanced position in about the centre of our army, on a ridge commanding a wide view of the battle-field. On our left was a plain about a mile wide, and then hills and woods. In our front was an open rolling country for a couple of miles. On our right, at the base of the ridge on which we were in position, was a field of a few hundred yards in width, and then came thick woods. As we came up a rapid fire of musketry was rattling in the woods on our right, and a thin line of light blue smoke was floating just over the tree-tops; the firing soon ceased, and scattered Union troops came out


of the woods; now we began to realize that Jackson had not been bagged. For about an hour nothing more was attempted; then our brigade took position in support of twenty pieces of artillery on the ridge close by, and our first brigade (48th Pennsylvania, 2d Maryland, and 6th New Hampshire regiments) was taken to enter the shades of the woods in our front, now quiet as death. General Pope's staff officers were encouraging the men, with “Porter is in their rear, you'll hear his guns in a minute!” “Fight sharp, boys, and you've got'em sure!” The brigade soon disappeared in the woods, under the immediate command of General Reno, to assault in connection with some of General Hooker's men. Long minutes of anxious expectation followed, then a few scattered shots, and then a long rolling volley in which every man seemed to have taken his own time to aim after the order to fire was given; we knew by the sound that it came from the heavily charged rebel smooth-bores; then our rifles came in, and confused shouts, yells, and musketry followed. Our noble boys are coming back broken and shattered; and good God, how few of them are left! Another hour passes, and then General Kearney's Division, and our first (General Stevens) Division renew the assault. There is the same talk about Porter as before; the death silence is broken as before, and alas, as before, twenty thousand men are victorious over six thousand, and our brother soldiers retreat from the woods.

Close upon them came the rebels, their three lines mingled in the confusion of rapid pursuit. Now was our turn, and our twenty pieces of artillery poured upon the rebels an unexpected volley of shell and canister; their officers try in vain to form them for a charge upon the guns which hurl a continuous shower of death upon them, and the helpless reeling mass, in their turn shattered and beaten, disappear in the woods.

Our artillery continued to keep up a slow fire upon the woods, but otherwise the fighting in our immediate front had ceased. About half an hour before sunset we are ordered into the woods; it does not seem possible, but our little brigade alone are moving towards the woods; the same false

stories about Porter which had beguiled our brothers are repeated to us, but we feel that they are false, and mechanically, without enthusiasm, we move forward. We were within fifty yards of the edge of the slaughter-place, when General Reno ordered a halt, and dictated a hurried message for one of his staff to carry to General Pope, protesting against this reckless sacrifice of an unsupported brigade; but before the officer had gone a dozen steps recalled him and went himself. The sun was just going down as he returned and withdrew the brigade: the protest of the true little soldier had changed the hopeless plan of the reckless braggart who commanded the army, and we thanked God that General Reno stood between us and General Pope.

We withdrew about one hundred yards, to rest on our arms for the night. It had got to be quite dark, when we saw a sad but instructive panorama. Some little distance to our left, a battery of six pieces had been left in position on rising ground, quite close to the woods, with a regiment of infantry in support of it; the flashes of a few guns on the edge of the woods showed that the rebels had attacked the Union pickets; the flashes grew thicker, our pickets were driven in, and the artillery opened: the rebel force kept crawling up in the grass, firing rapidly, as shown by the long streaks of fire from their guns, the artillery meanwhile belching forth its canister several yards too high. The artillerymen were soon killed or driven from their guns; and the regiment in support moved forward, poured in a splendid volley, and advancing rapidly drove the rebels back to the woods. We were rejoicing at the success of our troops, when we saw a hundred flashes upon their left flank, and the edge of the woods was again lined with fire: for a few moments, everything was in confusion; then the firing ceased, and an unmistakable rebel yell showed that the battery was lost. Our men now had had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours, except a half ration of meat issued the night before: fortunately for us, close by was camped General Sigel's miscellaneous train, composed of all sorts of wagons, many of which were drawn by oxen. Sigel had more

wagons than all the rest of the army together; he picked up everything he saw on wheels as he marched, and was a constant nuisance and injury to the efficiency of our army by obstructing or entirely blocking the road with his countless vehicles. His wagons, however, had enabled him to bring along a supply of rations, and his commissary was now the only one who had anything to eat on hand. Sigel could not be got at to give consent, and General Reno, determined that his men should not suffer further for want of food, took the grave responsibility of taking a ration for our brigade from the train, in spite of the wild wrath of the commissary and his threats of Sigel's vengeance.

Our men had incautiously built some small fires on the front line, and were cooking the first coffee which they had had for several days, when a small rebel scouting party crept from the woods round our left flank, and sent their bullets buzzing like bees around our fires; the men sprang for their guns and fell into line without confusion, but the rebels, favored by the darkness, had escaped. We got along without fires at the front for the rest of the night. Poor maimed fellows crawled out of the woods, and told us that the rebels were retreating, and several of our men went in amongst almost those unmentionable horrors, and brought out many a poor sufferer to the temporary hospitals, or placing them tenderly by the generous fires in the rear gave them new life by a draught of coffee.1

Saturday, August 30th. The morning opened calm and still, and we had high hopes for the fortunes of the coming day, for we were generally under the delusion that the rebels were retreating, and that Sumner's and Franklin's corps from the Army of the Potomac were within supporting distance. As it grew light our first glances were turned to the hill-side where the battery had been lost; the guns were gone, and fifty bodies in blue uniforms were lying round the spot. About


eight o'clock a column of twelve regiments went into the woods in our front, and found no enemy; a single regiment (the 14th New York — “Brooklyn Zouaves”), which made a reconnoissance at ten o'clock, a mile on our left, were not so fortunate: conspicuous by their red pantaloons, they entered the woods in line of battle and disappeared; in a few minutes we heard the same long rebel volley with which yesterday's experience had made us familiar, and the fragments of the 14th came out of the woods. Our troops were now moving in a continuous stream to the left, and about noon our brigade found themselves the only infantry to be seen on the right. A heavy artillery fire was now opened upon the front of our position by a mass of rebel artillery posted along Stony Ridge about a mile and a half distant; and for an hour most of us hugged mother earth, while shot and shell hurtled over us. The firing ceased, and the rebels tried an unsuccessful ruse: two regiments with Union colors and blue uniforms1 strolled leisurely out of the woods toward the steep hill on which Captain Durell's battery was in position, a few yards in our front. General Reno, having a moral certainty that they were rebels, ordered the captain to let them have a shot; and Captain Durell, with some repugnance against firing on blue uniforms and the Stars and Stripes, burst a case shot amongst them. The rascals started for the battery with a wild yell, and the rebel artillery again opened fiercely. Durell's men sprang to their work, and, firing without sponging their pieces, in a few minutes shattered and routed their treacherous assailants, though a few of them came up to the very base of the hill.

The afternoon was well advanced when the battle opened again with great fierceness on the Union left. Streams of stragglers were soon going from the front, and mixed with spectators from Washington blackened the hills in our rear. The rebel infantry began to threaten us again, though they


were probably making a mere feint in aid of the grand movement on the Union left. Finding that they were enveloping our right, General Reno retired our brigade to a commanding position a few hundred yards in the rear. Encouraged by his presence, as he sat fearless and calm upon his horse, the men coolly faced about under a really terrible fire of artillery, and marched in perfect order to their new position. A disastrous conflict was now raging on the left; we saw the rebel flags advancing as rapidly as if there was no enemy resisting their progress; their masses were swarming over our batteries and turning the guns on our troops, and their shells were pouring into the regiments lying in reserve on the plain between us and the left. The word now passed round that Lee's main army had come up, and that we must be overpowered. We still hoped, for it would soon be night, and the lagging reinforcements must come up before morning; but our hearts sank as the regiments in reserve abandoned the field without a show of resistance, not even having deployed from mass into line. It was now sadly evident that the rebels were carrying everything before them, and that almost nothing was left to face them. The enemy had disappeared from our immediate front, and we were beginning to wonder whether we were destined to leave this frightful field without joining in the last death struggle, when just before sunset General Reno suddenly ordered the brigade to move to the left at the double-quick. I can conscientiously say that the regiment and brigade responded to the order with hearty enthusiasm and a stern determination to show the Army of Virginia how they had learned to fight in North Carolina. As we hurried across the field by the flank, shot, shell, and pieces of railroad iron rained around us from badly served rebel artillery, but we were soon covered by the hill on which we were to take our revenge; the 21st losing in the passage of about half a mile only four men, — Privates Daniel Buckley, Jeremiah Harrington, Albert Knight, and John K. Parker, of Company F, who were all struck by the same piece of railroad iron. As we came to the hill, General McDowell, known to us all by

his peculiar white hat, came up to General Reno and shook hands; the last Union troops withdrew from our front, and we moved into position on the crest of the hill, drowning the rebel yells with cheers for ten thousand men. The whitehaired General Milroy, who stood alone on the crest as we came up, was frantic with joy as he welcomed us; and, as we dressed our lines, rode along our front, shouting like a crazy



man. The rebels waited to re-form their disordered lines before essaying an attack, which gave General Reno time to get up a battery, and us an opportunity to observe the situation. We covered the crossing of the Centreville Pike over Young's Branch, and held a magnificent position for defense: the brigade was formed on a curved ridge,1 refusing the flanks a little; on the left was the 51st New York, with their left resting


near a small stream,1 the banks of which were fringed with thick bushes; the 21st Massachusetts was in the centre, and the 51st Pennsylvania on the right. General Reno posted his battery of smooth-bores, double shotted with canister, on a line with the infantry, and in the short intervals between the regiments. In our front was an open space of a few hundred yards of gently sloping ground ending in a grove. Behind us a struggling mass of artillery and wagons were trying to cross the bridge over Young's Branch, blocking the road as far as we could see, and not a soldier that we saw or knew of besides ourselves stood in line of battle, or in reserve. Close in our rear, under the shelter of the hill, a temporary hospital had been established, and all around us the ground was thickly covered with wounded men. The mere fact that that thin unsupported line of fifteen hundred men waited there so steady and fearless for the assault of the rebel masses which were forming in their front, was an act of heroism seldom paralleled in war. General Reno, having first informed the irrepressible General Milroy that he must not interfere further in the management of the brigade, walked along the line, ordering the men to lie down and keep perfect silence, and then took position in the centre. We had not long to wait: the sun had set, and it was beginning to grow dark, when we heard a confused hum, and the rush of many feet in our front; stand up was the order, and every man was on his feet; the open space in our front was now alive with the rebel masses, and General Reno gave the welcome order, “Give them about ten rounds, boys. Fire!” A simultaneous volley rolled from infantry and artillery, and then it was every man for himself, and they made quick work: our cartridges were of such small calibre that no ramming was required, and the men had hardly got well warmed up before the firing was stopped. Nothing was standing on the field in front of us, and a chorus of groans and curses, and the lying cries, “You're firing on your own men,” filled the air. Captain W. M. Graham, the officer in command of our battery (of the 1st United States Artillery),


who had entreated General Reno to post his guns in rear of the infantry, for he would rather die than lose them, and he knew that the brigade would not stand a moment, had had a revelation on the fighting capacity of volunteers, and delighted at our and his success, was not merely willing, but anxious, to see the thing out on line with the rest of us. For half an hour we were unmolested, and the quiet was unbroken except by the cries of the poor mutilated fellows who lay along our front, when a force of the enemy, who, concealed by the thick brush, had crawled along the banks of the creek on our left, struck the 51st New York on the flank with startling suddenness, and rolled them up with the loss of eighty-five men in a few seconds. The 21st made a rapid change of front to face the enemy in his new position, and added their fire to that of the indomitable 51st, who were now fighting most gallantly. Two pieces of the artillery were brought to the left, and the enemy was as fatally repulsed as before, and our line reëstablished. Except feeling us in a harmless way with artillery, and reconnoitring us with a skirmish line, whom we gave good reason to remember that we were still there, the rebel attack was over. About nine o'clock General Reno passed along the line, and told us that we were to abandon our position, and that our lives depended upon the secrecy of the movement. The artillery was run off by hand, piece by piece; and, leaving our surgeons behind to care for the wounded, the regiments followed in succession from the right, file by file, re-forming across Young's Branch. The poor wounded fellows who covered the ground behind us had borne their sufferings without complaint; but when the artillery and the 51st Pennsylvania had gone, and they knew that they were to be left to their fate, they besought us not to abandon them, or cursed us for doing so. With sad hearts that we were powerless to aid them, we left the horrid, hopeless field.

As soon as the brigade had crossed the bridge and re-formed, we took up the march for Centreville, along a road obstructed by overturned and abandoned wagons. Our withdrawal had

not been noticed by the enemy, and we were not molested on our march.

Our brigade had fought its first pitched battle in Virginia, and had hurled back the rebels with a stinging blow, when in the fierce enthusiasm of their last great charge they were about to seize the fruits of their victory; but for Reno and his men fifty pieces of artillery and the rear of a defeated army were at their mercy.

Our first reception by Union troops, however, seemed anything but honor to the brave. Some two miles from the battle-field we came upon General Franklin's Corps of the Army of the Potomac, numbering about 8,000 men, resting along the road. They were the nearest to the field of the reinforcements we had so earnestly longed for during the frightful slaughter of the last two days. Our reception by them was a bitter reminder of the arrogance, jealousy, and hatred which then was the curse of the Union armies in Virginia. Mocking laughter, ridicule in various forms, and sneering questions about the new road to Richmond, greeted us continuously as we passed them; and some of the more frank among them in plain English expressed their delight at the defeat of Pope and his army. To these men (and there were plenty more of the same sort) the 15,000 Union victims of the second Manassas were but as dust in their joy at the downfall of the braggart rival of the great soldier of the Peninsula. Disgusted and sick at heart, we continued our slow march along the five miles of obstructed road to Centreville, where we arrived in a drizzling rain about midnight; and our hungry and wearied men, after they had looted an army wagon loaded with sugar, laid down to rest upon the ground without blankets.

Sunday, August 31, was a wretched, rainy day. We found nothing to eat when we arose from our cheerless bivouac, and no wood for fires. A great many carriages arrived at Centreville during the morning, filled with disappointed visitors, who had driven out from Washington on the report that a great victory had been won by our troops. Instead of rebel

prisoners they saw long trains of ambulances loaded with those of our wounded who had been so fortunate as to be brought from the field, — brave men indignant at what they believed to have been the wanton sacrifice of their comrades by the jealousy of rival commanders, — and thousands of cowardly stragglers searching for their regiments.

About noon we got some rations, and had a good meal. In the afternoon large piles of unclaimed knapsacks, belonging to some of the victims of the last few days, were taken from their place of storage at Centreville, and abandoned to the first takers. The 21st, always prompt in helping themselves, got a full supply of clothes and knapsacks to replace those which they had piled on the right of the late battlefield, and had no opportunity to get when double-quicked to the left.

The casualties in the 21st in the late battle had been very few. The chance of hitting a line of men lying down with artillery a mile or more distant is very small; and in the closing fight the rebels relied very little on musketry fire, but attempted to rush over us by the weight of furious charges. In addition to those already named, Corporal John Quinn of Company B was wounded in the arm; in Company C, Corporal Ferdinand S. Rogers, who had been wounded in the chest in the battle of Newbern, received a bad wound in the leg; and in Company K Private Patrick Sheridan was wounded in the hand. The great loss we mourned was Surgeon Cutter, who as acting division surgeon had gone into the woods with General Reno and our first brigade on the 29th. As one of the regiments broke, Dr. Cutter, in trying to rally it, had been seen to fall, and was left upon the field. A real fighting abolitionist of the John Brown type, loving the regiment to which his daughter had given her life, honest, outspoken, somewhat rough now and then in his way of expressing what we thought extreme opinions, yet always true to his duty as surgeon and soldier, we felt that we had lost our distinctive Massachusetts man. How happy we all were to see him walk into our camp at Alexandria a few days afterwards

as well as ever, and hear his story. He was struck on the plate of his waist-belt by a musket ball, and fell senseless, as might be expected from such a blow in the pit of the stomach. When he tried to rise, a rebel made for him with his bayonet. The doctor said, “Don't touch me; I am a surgeon.” “D—n you, you've got a sword in your hand now,” said the rebel. An officer coming up, the doctor pointed to his green sash, and was adjudged a non-combatant, and left free to do as he pleased within the rebel lines. He talked the strongest kind of abolitionism nearly all night at General Hill's headquarters, where he was a favored guest. The rebels felt strong enough to laugh at his philippics, or enjoyed the argument as something new. On Saturday night the doctor saw the rebels mass their men to charge our brigade, and made them acknowledge afterwards that we gave them more than they could stand. No prisoners from our brigade had come in, and the doctor, feeling sure that we did the work, delivered encomiums upon Reno's old brigade, until the rebels got ill-natured over it and would allow him to say no more.

Our sturdy assistant surgeon, Dr. James Oliver, who in his service with us endeared himself to every true soldier in the regiment, was left on the field in charge of the wounded under the hill on which we made our stand. Charles E. Simmons, of Company F, then a hospital nurse, and Edwin R. Reed of Company A, trusted themselves to the mercy of rebel stragglers, in the same noble work. When they returned to us they gave an interesting account of their long sleepless night among the wounded, — not a rebel showing himself until next morning. Eight hundred of their dead and wounded, who fell by our fire, lay upon the slope of the hill, and their companions were not inclined to increase the number; so, waiting till daylight, they pounded it with artillery, and then, after raking it thoroughly with musketry, moved a skirmish line over it, and took possession.

No official reports were made in our division as part of the

Army of Virginia,1 probably because our connection with it was regarded by General Reno as rather that of temporary service with it than as constituting a part of the organization. Besides, our true and modest hero, with no thought but that of aiding the Union cause, had, with instant obedience to orders and all the fiery determination of his nature, led his loved troops to be slaughtered in detail under the miserable method adopted by the commander of the army at Manassas,2 but had no heart to mingle in the blatant rant, bluster, lying claims, and bitter personal recriminations, in the cloud of which the short-lived Army of Virginia passed into history.

With a total force of 7,0003 men in the two divisions constituting his corps, when we left the line of the Rapidan on the night of August 18th, without including the cruel losses in our brigade, of which no official report whatever seems to have been made, Reno's command lost 3,031 officers and men in this disastrous campaign.4 The number of unwounded prisoners included in this list of casualties cannot be ascertained; but as Reno's men never lost their cohesion, pride, or discipline, and no organized part of the corps was captured, the number of unwounded prisoners must have been far less than the number of the killed and wounded not included in the above enumeration.5


General Pope in his official report says of General Reno and the services of the corps:—

I cannot express myself too highly of the zealous, gallant, and cheerful manner in which General Reno deported himself from the beginning to the end of the operations. . . . Reno's Corps1 was also withdrawn from its position on our right centre late in the afternoon (of the 30th), and thrown into action on our left, where it behaved with conspicuous gallantry. . . . About eight o'clock at night, therefore, I sent written instructions to the commanders of corps to withdraw leisurely towards Centreville, and stated to them what route each should pursue, and where they should take post. General Reno was instructed with his whole corps1 to cover the movement of the army towards Centreville; the withdrawal was made slowly, quietly, and in good order, no pursuit whatever having been attempted by the enemy.

The written instructions referred to by General Pope as sent at eight o'clock, and a copy of which he annexes to his official report, are interesting as showing the only troops that had not left the field at dark. This final order, given in full, is as follows:—

August 30, 1862, 8 P. M. [To be opened and read by Generals Kearney and Hooker.]

General: Retire to Centreville to-night with your command. If possible go by the way of Sudley's Ford.2 General Reno commands the rear guard on the turnpike by which the balance of the army will fall back. Upon your arrival at Centreville, you will assemble


your command on the north side of that town. Early in the morning proper positions will be assigned you.

By command of Major-General Pope.

Geo. D. Ruggles, Colonel and Chief of Staff.

General Heintzelman.

General Philip Kearney, commanding the 1st Division of the 3d (Heintzelman's) Corps, in his official report made at Centreville on the 31st of August, alludes to our fight on the left in connection with the services rendered by Graham's battery, which belonged to his division, as follows, — the first paragraph seeming to show that Captain Graham was justified from recent experience in asking to be posted in rear of infantry:—

Captain Graham, First United States Artillery, put at General Sigel's disposition (on the 29th of August), as repeatedly drove the enemy back into the woods as the giving way of that infantry left the front unobstructed. His practice was beautifully correct, and proved irresistible. On the 30th Captain Graham, not being required on the right, was sent to the extreme left, and rendered important service with General Reno, firing until late in the night.

General R. H. Milroy, commanding Independent Brigade, 1st Army Corps (Sigel's), in his official report to General Sigel, dated September 12, 1862, after a description of the gallant but unsuccessful fighting of the troops who were last engaged before the final battle made by our brigade, says:—

But one of General Burnside's veteran brigades coming up soon after dark with a battery again dashed back the tide of armed treason, and sent such a tempest of shot, shell, and leaden death into the dark forest after the rebels that they did not again renew the attack. . . . I left the field in possession of our gallant boys about eight o'clock P. M., and in company with Lieutenants Este and Niles started back in the darkness, and was greatly surprised upon coming to the place where I expected to find my brigade with thousands of other troops, to find none. I kept on nearly half a mile farther in painful, bewildering doubt and uncertainty. I found you, general, and first learned

from you with agonizing surprise, that our whole army had been ordered to retreat back across Bull Run to Centreville.1

Woodbury's “History” (page 112) describes this fight as follows:—

General Reno and the Ninth Corps were again conspicuous for their gallantry, and fought with determined valor. Colonel Ferrero's brigade, composed of the 51st Pennsylvania, the 21st Massachusetts, and the 51st New York regiments, did especially good service in saving the left wing of the army from utter defeat. It was posted on a hill to the rear of the left of our line, and with the aid of Graham's battery, succeeded in checking the triumphant advance of the enemy. The enemy made three successive charges upon this position, and was very handsomely repulsed, till becoming convinced that further attempts would be ineffectual, he drew off in disorder.

In the following extract from General Lee's official report of the battle, describing the rebel advance against the Union centre and left, the concluding portion, which I have put in italics, evidently refers to our fight:—

. . . General Longstreet, anticipating the order for a general advance, now threw his whole command against the Federal centre and left. Hood's two brigades, followed by Evans, led the attack. R. H. Anderson's Division came gallantly to the support of Hood, while the three brigades under Wilcox moved forward on his left, and those of Kemper on his right. D. R. Jones advanced on the extreme right, and the whole line swept steadily on, driving the enemy with great carnage from each successive position until ten P. M., when darkness put an end to the battle and the pursuit. During the latter part of the engagement, General Wilcox with his own brigade was ordered to the right, where the resistance of the enemy was most obstinate, and rendered efficient assistance to the troops engaged on that part of the line.2

As General Wilcox is a better witness than General Lee on the question as to how much we were driven in this last fight, I will give that portion of his official report which relates to


it. It will be noticed that the general makes no claim of having defeated us.

It was now late — sundown. My men crossed the little stream near which the fight was then still raging, passed through the woods skirting it, and then changed direction to the left, so as to occupy the same line that our troops were then occupying. They were then thrown into the woods, and cautioned to be careful not to fire upon our own men, who were then engaged. My men entered where Wright's brigade had been engaged, and near where General Toombs had been engaged. This was the first time that my men had been engaged in close musketry fight on the right of the turnpike. The fighting here was soon over, but the musketry fire was of the heaviest kind while it lasted. The firing continued till after dark for more than a half hour, and then gradually ceased. The artillery continued to fire after the musketry had ceased, but by half-past eight o'clock it had all ceased. My brigade bivouacked at this point of the field, which was the most advanced point reached by our infantry, and near the hill where Bee and Bartow fell (the Henry House Hill) on the 21st of July, 1861, — the first battle of Manassas.1

To return to the position of our army at Centreville.

On the morning of Monday, September 1st, the army of Virginia, under General Pope, still remained at Centreville, and having been reinforced by the army corps of General Franklin and the corps of General Sumner, was still a mighty army of sixty-three thousand men, four thousand of whom, however, had been sent to Fairfax Station, some eight miles distant.2 Our commanding general's opinion of the efficiency of his army may be judged by his report3 to General Halleck, dated Centreville, September 1st, 8.50 A. M., of which I give the concluding portion: —


You have hardly an idea of the demoralization among officers of high rank in the Potomac army, arising in all instances from personal feeling in relation to changes of commander in chief and others. These men are mere tools or parasites, but their example is producing, and must necessarily produce, very disastrous results. You should know these things, as you alone can stop it. Its source is beyond my reach, though its effects are very perceptible, and very dangerous. I am endeavoring to do all I can, and will most assuredly put them where they shall fight or run away. My advice to you (I give with freedom as I know you will not misunderstand it) is, that in view of any satisfactory results, you draw back this army to the intrenchments in front of Washington, and set to work in that secure place to reorganize and rearrange it. You may avoid great disaster by doing so. I do not consider the matter except in a purely military light, and it is bad enough and great enough to make some action very necessary. Where there is no heart in their leaders, and every disposition to hang back, much cannot be expected from the men. Please bring forward cavalry horses to me under strong escort. I need them badly, worse than I can tell you.

John Pope, Major-General.

The army under General Lee, close along our front, numbered about sixty-five thousand men, without deducting their casualties at Manassas; but their losses in action had been more than made good by the arrival from the South of the powerful divsions of R. H. Anderson and D. H. Hill, the latter of which, however, although within supporting distance on the first, did not actually form a junction with Lee until the second of September at Chantilly.1 Notwithstanding the equality of numbers of the two armies, General Pope, greatly to his credit as a soldier, as was also his retreat from the Rapidan, in spite of his blatant bluster, had no thought of


risking another general engagement between the united and fiercely enthusiastic army under General Lee and the sullen and angry troops, over a large part of which he evidently felt that his command was merely nominal. A bloody page of history, however, was still to be written before our retreat to the capital was secured.

CHAPTER IX. September 1, 2, 1862.


As soon as General Lee ascertained, on the morning of the 31st of August, that our army had retreated to Centreville, he advanced a brigade of infantry across Bull Run to occupy some high land in his front, and ordered Jackson to turn our right flank and interpose his corps between us and the defenses of Washington. Jackson at once set about the work. Preceded by Stuart's cavalry, he crossed Bull Run at Sudley Ford on our right, five miles from Centreville, and taking a circuitous route by country roads, struck the Little River turnpike, a road which joins the Centreville turnpike near Fairfax Court House about eight miles east of Centreville, halting his corps at night well on our right flank. During the afternoon of the 31st, the rest of Lee's army was moved to Sudley Ford, ready to follow Jackson next day. Of this grand movement on our rear, General Pope knew nothing until noon of September 1st, being without sufficient cavalry to cover the country on our flanks.

On Monday morning, September 1st, the 21st, with the brigade, moved about a mile to what we supposed was to be a permanent camp, in a pleasant spot, and every one busied himself to make his quarters comfortable. How little did we think that before night the rebels would wreak a bloody vengeance on us for that evening's work at Manassas! About noon we were notified of our detail for grand guard or outpost

duty, which order in a few minutes was followed by another to pack up and be ready to move at a moment's notice; and about two o'clock the brigade marched towards Fairfax Court House and Alexandria, following our 1st (General Stevens's) division. After marching a couple of miles we heard firing at some distance on the left of the road, but did not attach much importance to it as having anything to do with us, until we were soon turned off from the turnpike, and taking an old cart path to the left, approached closer and closer to the firing; then the men began to look over their guns and calculate the chances for another fight. About half-past four we were halted on rising open ground, near a large farm-house, and saw men skirmishing along the edge of some woods half a mile in our front, into which two twenty-pounder Parrotts in position near us were firing slowly. About five o'clock the 51st New York moved forward and entered the woods in line of battle, quarter of a mile to the right of where the skirmishers were at work. A few minutes after the 51st had disappeared from sight we were ordered up. Coming to the edge of the woods we entered them in line of battle at about the same point as the 51st. Just what orders the two regiments were under is uncertain. General Reno, though upon the ground, was sick and off duty, and in our brigade, at least, indecision and uncertainty seemed to rule the hour. The orders given to the 51st were claimed by their commanding officer to have been to march a short distance into the woods and wait for further orders. The orders given to the 21st were to the effect that the 51st had gone in to find the enemy, and that we were to follow them as a support. As we entered the woods heavy thunder-clouds obscured the sky and it became very dark; as the 51st were in front of us, we were particularly cautioned against firing if we came upon troops, and for the same reason we deployed no skirmishers in our front. We either entered the woods to the left of the line of the 51st, or obliqued so much to the left on our march as soon to be entirely uncovered by them and to pass by without noticing them. As we moved forward through the dense dark wood,

a tremendous thunder-storm burst upon us, and our line was badly broken up by fallen trees and other obstacles, but we still moved on. Passing a shelter of rails we saw a dozen men crouching under them to get out of the rain; they were rebels, but we took it for granted that it was all right, for the 51st were ahead, and passed them by. In a few minutes we came in sight of a body of troops in front of us, in dark uniform, and approached until portions of the regiment were within twenty yards of them, when we halted and began to dress our line, which was badly broken, some companies having been detached by long intervals from the rest by the obstacles met on the march.

The heavy rain and darkness made it impossible for us to feel sure about these men in our front, and half a mile into the woods and entirely alone and unsupported we felt nervous and anxious. More than one man said, “Those are rebels,” but from what we knew of the situation the chance seemed to be otherwise. A few scattered shots came in on our right, to which our answer was, “Cease firing; we're friends.” Then, while most of our poor fellows were standing with their guns at the shoulder, one of the deadliest volleys ever fired rolled upon us from our right and front. In the sudden anguish and despair of the moment the whole regiment seemed to be lying bleeding on the ground, indeed, almost every man who had stood in the more open spaces of the wood did fall: yet there still was a 21st, and a 21st that could fight: some standing still in line, some from behind the trees, we opened fire on our brutal enemy; but in the drenching rain it being almost impossible to load a gun without wetting the powder, the guns on both sides soon became unserviceable, and, except a shot now and then, the firing ceased. Colonel Clark now ordered the regiment to retire, and they moved slowly from the woods, the enemy not pursuing. Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, and First Lieutenant Bemis lay dead upon the ground, and First Lieutenant Clark with them, his hip shattered by a bullet. Captain Frazer, mortally wounded,

was carried out with us. Nearly a hundred of our men, dead and wounded, lay there with their officers.1

Meanwhile a bloody battle had been fought on the Union left. The heroic General Stevens, commanding our first division, had been killed while leading a desperate charge upon A. P. Hill's rebel division, falling with the colors of his old regiment (the 79th New York) in his hand; and his gallant troops, after routing Branch's brigade, been withdrawn, out of ammunition, to the vicinity of the farm-house near which we had first halted. The only other Union troops now on the field were Birney's brigade of Kearney's Division, who had just come up, accompanied by General Kearney himself, and Randolph's battery. Birney's men were firing sharply in an advanced position on the left of Stevens's Division on the further side of a large corn-field, and about a quarter of a mile from the place where we came out of the woods, their line in the twilight being indicated only by the flashes of their muskets. General Kearney, in command of the field, in fierce haste was looking for our brigade to throw it in upon Birney's right; and, unfortunately for us, riding upon the shattered 21st just as it emerged from the woods, gave us a peremptory order to move into that position.

We tried to steal a few minutes to get the wet charges out of our guns, but the general, in hot and angry impatience, would brook no delay, and under his sneers, threats, and curses, we again moved forward. The rain had now ceased, but the sky was still heavily overcast, and it was so dark that at a few yards’ distance it was impossible to tell friend from foe, especially now that many of the rebels were wearing Union


uniforms. We moved to the edge of the corn-field, with our right still close to the woods, and halted to advance a line of skirmishers, not proposing to be caught again, as we had been half an hour before, if we could help it. Our company G had just been deployed to our right and front, when an officer galloped up from the rear, and ordered a rapid advance to the indicated point, saying that General Kearney would turn a battery on us if we hesitated longer. We moved slowly forward, and almost immediately a dropping fire was opened upon us from the corn in our front, and our skirmishers coming in from the right reported that a body of the enemy was advancing from the woods upon our right flank. We came to a halt, and threw back our right company to cover that flank, at the same time opening a skirmishing fire to the front. General Kearney now rode up again in person, and, in if possible a more emphatic manner than before, stated that he did not believe that there were any rebels near us, and ordered us forward. We had the proof in two prisoners (an officer and private of the 49th Georgia regiment1). Lieutenant Walcott, of our brigade staff,2 took these men to the general, saying: “If you don't believe there are rebels in the corn, here are two prisoners from the 49th Georgia, just taken in our front.” Fiercely crying out, “—you and your prisoners,” the general, entirely alone, spurred his horse through the sticky mud of the corn-field, past the left of the regiment. I watched him moving in the murky twilight, and when ten or twelve yards from our line saw his horse suddenly rear and turn, and half a dozen muskets flash around him. So died the intrepid and dashing soldier, General Philip Kearney.

Kearney's death was quickly followed by a rush of rebels against our front and flank. For a few moments there was


no firing, and the brave enemies, standing face to face, demanded the surrender of each other in language rather forcible than polite. Very much of the credit for the coolness now shown by most of our line—at least, on the left where I was stationed—is due to the steadfast and intelligent bravery of Captain Ira J. Kelton, and the men under his command (our noble Company D). The rebels stood within a dozen feet of our men; the guns on both sides came down to a level, and Kelton in a prompt ringing voice gave the order to fire; the response from his men was instantaneous and effective, and every gun that would go off along our line joined in.1 Though the enemy surged back a little as they received the deadly volley, it was but for a moment, and then came their return fire, and Kelton and many a brave comrade fell never to fight again. Then, as the rebels charged through our line in over-powering mass, men snatched the guns from each other's hands, and for the first, and so far as I know the last, time in our experience wounds in fight were given with the bayonet. All was now confusion, and it seemed as if the fight must go on till ended by death or surrender, with mortal enemies mingled together; but, strange to say, the fighting now ceased almost entirely; it was so dark that one could not tell whether the man next him was a friend or foe, and nobody was willing to say who or what he was; soon both parties, scarcely knowing how it happened, found themselves drawing apart again, and falling back towards their original position, leaving the corn-field neutral ground. As we reached the fence at our edge of the corn-field we were delighted to find our colors with their plucky guard; and what there was left of the 21st was soon formed upon them.

We found that large reinforcements of Union troops had now come up, but neither side cared to force any more night fighting, and the battle of Chantilly was over. Hard as the fortune of the 21st had been in it, the battle was a decided


victory for the Union arms: the rebels had entirely failed in their attempt upon the Union right, and the safety of the troops, artillery, and supplies at Centreville, was assured. We rested on our arms, in a cold, dreary bivouac, and many of our men searched for our wounded in the corn-field, now deserted by the enemy, and aided the surgeons. Soon after midnight, the baggage and artillery having passed, the troops at Chantilly followed them. The 21st left the most destructive field of their experience at two o'clock on the morning of the 2d; and after a march of six miles to Fairfax Court House, where we rested for an hour or two, moved on ten or twelve miles further to the vicinity of Alexandria, and went into bivouac in the afternoon. The night following was quite cold; and being without tents, and many of the men without blankets, the 21st, weary, sullen, cold, and unhappy, passed an uncomfortable night.

Our wounded at Chantilly were left in a temporary hospital on the field, in charge of our kind and skillful Assistant Surgeon Joseph W. Hastings, and fell into the hands of the enemy. Although a smaller number than usual of the wounded died of their injuries, the men were so much run down by the hardships of Pope's retreat, that scarcely any of those who had amputations performed had sufficient strength to rally from the effects of the operation. Besides, sad to say, except a mere trifle in our hospital knapsack, there was no chloroform, and the amputations had to be performed without it. Our chaplain, Rev. George S. Ball, remained with Dr. Hastings, and rendered invaluable assistance to our wounded by his patient, self-denying care, and his successful efforts for their speedy removal to Union hospitals: one of the best of chaplains and men, he has his reward in the gratitude of our living and dead.

In this short but savage battle, the regiment suffered the heaviest loss which it ever experienced in action; losing in commissioned officers, killed and died of wounds 6, otherwise wounded 1, prisoners (not wounded) 3; and in enlisted men, killed and died of wounds 32, otherwise wounded

75, prisoners (not wounded) 23. Total killed, wounded, and prisoners, 140.1 As follows:—


Field and Staff. Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph P. Rice, killed; Major George P. Hawkes, prisoner.

Line Officers. Killed and died of wounds: Captain John D. Frazer, commanding Company H; Captain Ira J. Kelton, commanding Company D; 1st Lieutenant Henry A. Beckwith; 1st Lieutenant Fred. A. Bemis; 2d Lieutenant William B. Hill.

Wounded: 1st Lieutenant William H. Clark, in thigh, severely, and prisoner. Prisoners (not wounded): 1st Lieutenant and Acting Adjutant Wells Willard, and 2d Lieutenant George C. Parker.

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph P. Rice, of Ashburnham, was shot through the body by a musket ball and died at once. He was shot in the woods when in the act of advancing from our line towards the enemy to satisfy himself beyond question whether they were friends or foes. He was forty-one years of age at the time of his death. When the war broke out, he was colonel of the 9th regiment of militia, and was very much disappointed that he was unable to get his regiment accepted for service; but when he found that he could not serve as colonel, willingly accepted a captain's commission in the 21st, and was assigned to Company H; he was commissioned major of the regiment, February 28th, and lieutenant-colonel, May 16, 1862. As a drill-master he had few superiors in the service. Of inflexible determination and iron will, no man ever saw him show a sign of fear; he never was guilty of an unjust, mean, or unkind act to superior or inferior; and by his death the regiment lost a tower of strength and manliness.

Major Hawkes, and acting Adjutant Willard, were taken


prisoners, while reconnoitring the position of the enemy in the corn-field; they were well treated by the rebels, and very soon released on parole, although not exchanged for several months.

Captain John D. Frazer, a veteran of the Mexican War, was wounded in the leg by an explosive musket ball, when the enemy opened fire upon us in the woods. The leg was fearfully shattered, and amputation was performed next day; he died on the 24th of September, being too weak from the loss of blood to rally from the operation. He was a Virginian by birth, but had resided in Holyoke, Mass., for about three years before the war. Although he loved his native State, his sympathies were entirely with the government, and he entered the service with eagerness as first lieutenant of Company H, and became captain of the company on the promotion of Captain Rice. He was a man of wonderfully calm, collected courage, as his well-known exploit at the battle of Newbern attests, where, fainting from a sharp wound in the elbow, he was taken prisoner when our four companies were driven from the battery, and placed under a guard of three men; but when the battle turned against the enemy, by the aid of his revolver, — which being worn under his overcoat had escaped the notice of his captors, — not only effected his own escape, but made all three of his guards prisoners. He was selected by the officers of the regiment to present to Amherst College in our behalf the cannon given to us as a monument to the memory of Adjutant Stearns after the battle of Newbern, and was indeed a worthy representative of the regiment on that occasion.

Captain Ira J. Kelton, of Holden, received his mortal wound on his twenty-fifth birthday; he was struck in the thigh by a musket ball, in the fight in the corn-field; amputation was performed, but he died on the 19th of September. His body was brought home to Holden and honored by a public funeral. Captain Kelton was a man of considerable intellectual culture; of quiet and reserved temperament, he made no show or professions, but was universally honored and respected in the regiment as a just and perfect disciplinarian, and a man of neverfailing,

calm, determined courage. He showed himself exactly in the last military act of his life; the guns of an enemy in overpowering force almost touched his breast; he must have known that his order to fire would serve as a signal to foe as well as friend, and probably be his own death-warrant. It was a hard test to put a man to; but if we who knew him best had been asked in advance what Captain Kelton would do under such circumstances, we should all have answered without hesitation that he would do exactly as he did.

First Lieutenant Henry A. Beckwith (of Company D), of Fitchburg, was shot through the liver at the same time that his captain (Kelton) fell, and died the next day in the hands of the rebels. He was an excellent officer, cordial, manly, brave, and true. He entered the service as an enlisted man, became second lieutenant March 3d, and first lieutenant June 19, 1862. He had expected to be commissioned as a lieutenant in Company D on the organization of the regiment, and was bitterly disappointed at not receiving the position. On muster into the service he was appointed first sergeant of the company, and by energetic, manly efficiency obtained his much-desired promotion as a right and not as a favor. First Sergeant (acting lieutenant) Stephen McCabe, who was lying close by him in the field hospital where he died, tells me that Beckwith had not supposed his wound to be a mortal one, but received the information from the surgeon that he could not live with cheerful composure, and died utterly without fear. His body was carried home to Fitchburg and honored by a public funeral.

First Lieutenant Fred. A. Bemis (of Company C), of Spencer, was killed by the unexpected volley in the woods. He was a brave, determined officer, and of an open, genial disposition. When the company was formed he had confidently expected to be commissioned as second lieutenant; failing to receive the commission, he entered the service willingly and cheerfully as an enlisted man, was at once appointed first sergeant of the company, and doing his duty simply for duty's sake, was commissioned second lieutenant February 28th, and first lieutenant July 28, 1862.

Second Lieutenant William B. Hill (of Company K), of Gardner, was killed in the fight in the corn-field. He entered the service as an enlisted man in Company A, and as Sergeant Hill of that company was probably better known throughout the regiment as a thoroughly devout Christian and man of perfect fidelity and integrity than any other enlisted man. He was wounded across the abdomen by a musket ball at the battle of Newbern; was promoted to second lieutenant and assigned to Company K, July 22, 1862. Pure in his manhood, and a fearless patriot soldier, he gave his life willingly to his country, leaving a large circle of relatives and friends to mourn his loss.

First Lieutenant William H. Clark (of Company I), of Pittsfield, was very severely, and as was long supposed mortally wounded in the lower part of the body in the fight in the woods, and fell into the hands of the rebels; he never fully recovered from his wound, but was promoted to captain in the regiment October 30th, and returned to duty December following; he was subsequently mortally wounded in the battle of the Mine, July 30, 1864.

Second Lieutenant George C. Parker (of Company D) was taken prisoner in the corn-field, while staying by his mortally wounded captain (Kelton). Lieutenant Parker was Captain Kelton's constant protector and nurse on the field and in the hospital; he was exchanged and returned to duty some months afterwards.


Company A. Killed and died of wounds: Sergeant Augustus Upton, and Privates George W. Bradish and Edward Gerrish, — three of Templeton's best soldiers. Wounded: Private Edson N. Ray, arm.

Prisoners: Private Chas. W. Cobleigh; Drummer Herbert Leland. Sergeant Upton was shot through the bowels, and died on the 8th of September. Bradish and Gerrish were killed on the spot.

Company B. Killed: Privates James Bell and Carlos H.

Goodrich. Wounded: First Sergeant (acting second lieutenant) Stephen McCabe, badly in the legs; Corporals George N. Fletcher, thigh, and Maurice Farrell; Privates William Cohen; Patrick Finton, arm; Patrick Maloney, leg; Patrick Meehan; Henry M. Smith, arm.

Prisoners (not wounded): Privates James Cane and Maurice J. O'Connor.

James Bell, a warm-hearted, chivalrous Irishman, and a man of superb physical development, was struck by a musket ball in the head, in the fight in the woods, and on our retreat was left as dead. Lieutenant Clark, who lay near him, subsequently told me that just as the rebels occupied the ground on our retirement, Bell recovered his consciousness, and seeing himself surrounded by his enemies dashed amongst them with his bayonet, fighting till he died. He left a widow and children in Leicester, Mass.

Goodrich was a delicate, consumptive lad, but true as steel in struggling to keep on duty. Sickness had prevented him from engaging in any battle up to this time: unable to keep with us through the hardships of Pope's retreat, he had rejoined his company the very morning of September 1st, and when we moved for the fatal field his most earnest desire was that his strength might last until we reached the enemy, and then, having been in one fight, he would be willing to be discharged for his physical disability. He was killed in the fight in the woods.

Acting Lieutenant McCabe was badly wounded in both legs in the fight in the corn-field. Just as the two lines were mingling together, I heard him call my name; he was but a few yards distant and I hastened to him. I found him swaying to and fro, supporting his immense frame by his long sword, which he had stuck into the ground. He had been shot through one leg near the thigh, and finding that his strength was going fast, from the rapid loss of blood, supposed that he was dying. I said: “Mac, you shall be carried off the field.” “No,” said he, “I'm a dead man any how, and want to die where I am; I only called you to bid you goodby,

and give you back your sword.”1 As he spoke, a random shot struck him in the other leg, and he fell in a heap. He was very near dying from loss of blood, but was carried to the surgeon in time to save his life.

The circumstances under which O'Connor was taken prisoner are, perhaps, worthy of mention. As we were slowly moving through the deep mud of the corn-field towards the place from which we had advanced, a gun flashed in my face, and O'Connor fell, crying out, “O God, I'm a dead man.” We were almost touching each other at the time, and turning towards the quarter from which the gun was fired, I saw a man behind a hill of corn in the act of loading his piece; my pistol was cocked in my band, and I fired at him with a feeling of intense satisfaction in being able to avenge O'Connor's death. But my satisfaction was materially diminished, when I ascertained soon afterwards that O'Connor was entirely unhurt, and boasted of the device by which he had escaped further fighting: made prisoner by the enemy, he was released on parole and deserted.

Company C. Killed and died of wounds: First Sergeant Lemuel A. Colburn and Privates Francis Bullard, Patrick Dougherty, and Job S. Booth. Wounded: Corporals Stephen L. Robbins, in legs; Henry S. Edgerton, shoulder; Patrick W. Fox, foot; Privates Silas C. Bullard, leg; William H. H. Carter, shoulder; George H. Cotton, hand and side; Joseph Fitzgerald, leg; Dennis Fogerty, legs; William McGrath, forehead; Martin D. Leach, legs; Albert Saunders, abdomen; Thomas Spence, leg; Asa J. Warren, legs; John H. Wheeler. Prisoners (not wounded): Corporal Albert Patterson and Private Barney McNulty.

Sergeant Colburn was wounded in the thigh, arm, and neck, and did not die until November 11th. Dougherty was killed on the spot. Bullard died of his wound September 4th. Booth, a recruit for the 17th Massachusetts regiment, had been sent to the wrong station, and was serving as a volunteer in the 21st; he died of his wound September 16th. Cotton received


bayonet wounds in the hand and side, and though taken prisoner, fought himself away. Dennis Fogerty's Irish readiness saved his life: as he lay on the ground wounded and helpless, a rebel drew back his bayonet to thrust, saying: “Take that, you—Yankee.” “I'm not a Yankee, but an Irishman,” said Fogerty. The rebel thereupon vented his passion in curses, and passed on.

Company D. Killed: Corporal Charles M. Whitney, and Privates Calvin E. Tolman, Alvarando Bigelow, Harry March, John D. Newell, and George Willis. Wounded: Corporal Frank W. Weeks, severely; Privates Edward Donahue, leg; William R. Graves, severely; Elias Kempton, hand; Harrington W. Saunders, abdomen. Prisoners (not wounded): First Sergeant Ira B. Goodrich, Sergeant Israel Cummings, and Privates John Delaney, Edward A. Howe, Ansel H. Lamb, and Jonathan Williams.

In addition to this loss, Company D lost all their commissioned officers: Captain Kelton and First Lieutenant Beckwith being mortally wounded, and Second Lieutenant George C. Parker taken prisoner.

This frightful loss of officers and men was suffered in the hand-to-hand death-struggle in the corn-field, in which the noble fellows met their overwhelming enemy breast to breast, and fell in line of battle.

Company E. Killed and died of wounds: Privates James E. Burke, Edward Goodwin, and Charles A. Hosmer. Wounded: Sergeant William L. Fox, arm; Corporal Lemuel M. Wheeler, face; Privates: Willard A. Bowers, leg; Rufus Converse, body; Lyman Downes, abdomen; Mortimer T. Hale, leg; Louis Moultie, thigh; Edward Sheehy, Edward Tyrrell, knee. Prisoners (not wounded): Privates James A. Cooper, William H. Stewart, and Ira Thompson.

Burke was killed on the spot. Goodwin and Hosmer soon died of their wounds.

Sergeant Plunkett, afterwards the armless hero of Fredericksburg, had a pair of strong arms at Chantilly. After we were out of the woods he went back to bring out his wounded

friend Moultie, going in without his musket; as he moved cautiously along, he surprised a rebel picket standing behind a tree, wrenched his gun away, and brought him out, but could not get at Moultie.

Hale was discharged for disability caused by his wound, and died at home of disease.

Company F. Killed and mortally wounded: Corporal Patrick Sullivan; Privates Fred. Lewis and Marcus Lovering. Wounded: Privates Jeremiah Clifford, Andrew McCue, leg amputated; Horatio McGinnis, arm amputated; John McRobie, arm amputated.

Prisoners (not wounded): Privates Charles W. Mellney and Henry Scott.

Lewis and Lovering were killed on the spot; Sullivan died of his wounds in a few days.

Company G. Killed: Private George F. Robbins. Wounded: Privates Salmon P. Blanchard, leg; Orange S. Cook, leg; George L. Cheney, thigh; Charles R. Crafts; James Hare, elbow; George W. Lawrence, leg; Henry C. Perkins, leg; John H. Witherell, leg.

Prisoners (not wounded): Privates Alonzo Littlefield, Theo. A. Holden, and Frank B. Whitmore. Whitmore was made prisoner by remaining on the field to take care of his wounded friend, Cook. Robbins was killed facing the rebel charge in the corn-field, just after crying out to the men near him: “Boys, for God's sake, stand firm!”

Company H. Killed and died of wounds: Corporal Fred. S. Russell and Private George W. Scott. Wounded: Corporal Charles H. Murdock, hip and bowels; Privates Henry F. Douglass, Fred. S. Fairbanks, finger; Charles H. Greenleaf, knee; Thomas Shea, arm; William H. Simpson, thigh; Zenas W. Tolman, side; Alvin White, body and arms.

Prisoners (not wounded): Privates Philo N. Denio, Patrick Fitzgerald, William H. White.

Scott was killed on the spot. Corporal Russell, a man much beloved in the company, was shot in the neck and died of the wound October 4th. Alvin White received five separate wounds.

Company I. Killed and died of wounds: Sergeants Justin S. Cressey and Evelyn A. Garlick; Corporals Phineas F. Knight and John H. Lake; Privates John R. Claflin, Henry H. McIntosh, and John Wells. Wounded: Corporal Samuel G. Donavan, and Privates Richard Bissett, Patrick Brabston, John B. Cortour, Hiram Crocker, Allan W. Hale, George Lemley, and Samuel P. Whipple.

Cressey, Knight, Claflin, McIntosh, and Wells, were killed on the spot. Sergeant Garlick died of his wounds September 5th, and Corporal Lake October 4th. This sad list of casualties in Company I was principally suffered in the woods.

Company K. Died of wounds: Private Elbridge G. Clifford, died October 10th. Wounded: Sergeant George F. Lawrence, hip and finger; Corporal Erastus B. Richardson, Musician Emory G. Wetherbee, and Privates Harrison D. Bliss, James Clancey; William A. Henry, shoulder; William Jerome, arm; Horace D. Lindsay, hand; John R. Tooley, and Harding Witt, arm.

There are no official reports of the battle on the Union side by any officer who was prominently engaged in it, except by General Birney, of the part taken by his troops at the end of the fight.

It is interesting to know that the comparatively harmless movement of the 51st New York into the woods, followed by the disastrous advance of the 21st, made a panic in Jackson's Stonewall Division, and seems to have paralyzed the entire rebel left wing in the fight. General Starke, commanding the division, seems to have made no report; but Brigadier-General Early, who then commanded a brigade in Ewell's Division, but subsequently came into command of the division, and made the official report of its operations, says of Chantilly,1—

. . . After we had been in position for some time, General Starke, who was commanding Jackson's Division, came to me, and represented that the enemy were approaching on his left, in considerable force, and that there was an interval on his left, between his left flank and the


turnpike, his line being in the form of an arc of a circle, and he requested me to move my brigade so as to occupy this interval, in the direction of which he represented the enemy to be moving. As General Starke was very urgent, representing his condition to be critical, which it in fact was, if the information he received was true, I determined to move my brigade to his left, which was but a short distance, owing to the form of the line; and gave the order accordingly to move by the flank, putting myself upon the leading flank. During this movement I heard a very considerable musketry fire; but as the woods were very thick, and it was raining very hard at the time, I could see but a very short distance, and took it for granted that the firing proceeded from the troops in front of me. On reaching the position that General Starke wished me to occupy, I found that three of my regiments, the 13th, 25th, and 31st Virginia regiments, had not followed the rest of the brigade, and I immediately sent my aide, Lieutenant Early, to see what was the cause of it. He found those regiments engaged with the enemy in their front, Hays's brigade, under Colonel Strong, of the 6th Louisiana regiment, having fallen back in confusion, and passed through these regiments, followed by the enemy, just as my orders were being carried out. This affair could not be seen by me from the flank on which I was, and the regiments engaged in it were very properly detained by the commanding officers. I immediately marched back the rest of the brigade, and found that the enemy had been successfully repulsed by my three regiments. It is due to Hays's brigade to state that the confusion into which it was thrown was caused by an attempt of the officer in command, Colonel Strong, to change its position when the enemy were advancing, and that his want of sufficient skill in the command of a brigade caused him to get it confused, so that it could present no front, and it had, therefore, to fall back. The 8th Louisiana regiment, commanded by Major Lewis, fell back in better order than the rest of the brigade, and formed in line immediately in rear of my regiments. The rest of the brigade was soon rallied and brought back, and having been placed under my command by General Lawton, it was placed in line on the left of my brigade, General Jackson's Division, under General Starke, having been withdrawn a short time after the above-named affair, and moved to the rear. Hays's brigade and my own thus covered the same front that had been covered by Jackson's Division and that brigade, with, however, a contracted line.

Stonewall Jackson's report of the operations of his command in this campaign contains the following account of the battle of Chantilly,1 or as he calls it at Ox Hill, making no mention of the exploits of his old division in the fight:—

It being ascertained next morning (August 31st) that the Federal army had retreated in the direction of Centreville, I was ordered by the commanding general to turn that position. Crossing Bull Run at Sudley Ford, thence pursuing a country road until we reached the Little River turnpike, which we followed in the direction of Fairfax Court House until the troops halted for the night. Early next morning, September 1st, we moved forward, and late in the evening, after reaching Ox Hill, came in contact with the enemy, who were in position on our right and front covering his line of retreat from Centreville to Fairfax Court House. Our line of battle was formed: General Hill's Division on the right; Ewell's Division, General Lawton commanding, in the centre, and Jackson's Division, General Starke commanding, on the left,—all on the right of the turnpike road. Artillery was posted on an eminence to the left of the road. The brigades of Branch and Field, Colonel Brockenbrough commanding the latter, were sent forward to feel and engage the enemy. A cold and drenching thunder-shower swept over the field at this time, striking directly into the faces of our troops. These two brigades gallantly engaged the enemy, but so severe was the fire in front and flank of Branch's brigade as to produce in it some disorder and falling back. The brigades of Gregg, Thomas, and Pender were then thrown into the fight. Soon a portion of Ewell's Division became engaged. The conflict now raged with great fury, the enemy obstinately and desperately contesting the ground until their generals, Kearney and Stevens, fell in front of Thomas's brigade, after which they retired from the field. By the following morning the Federal army had entirely disappeared from our view, and it soon appeared by a report from General Stuart, that it had passed Fairfax Court House, and had moved in the direction of Washington city.

This grim puritanical soldier concludes his report of this campaign, so glorious to him and his accursed cause, with the


following paragraph, which might have been taken from one of Oliver Cromwell's reports to the Parliament:—

For these great and signal victories our sincere and humble thanks are due unto Almighty God. We should in all things acknowledge the hand of Him who reigns in heaven and rules among the armies of men. In view of the arduous labors and great privations the troops were called to endure, and the isolated and perilous position which the command occupied, while engaged with greatly superior numbers of the enemy, we can but express the grateful conviction of our mind, that God was with us, and gave to us the victory, and unto his holy name be the praise!

The following piece of rebel poetry, entitled “Stonewall Jackson's Way,” founded more or less on incidents in this campaign, seems to me worthy of publication in this connection:—

  • Come, stack arms, men! pile on the rails,
  • Stir up the camp-fire bright;
  • No matter if the canteen fails,
  • We'll make a roaring night.
  • Here Shenandoah brawls along,
  • There burly Blue Ridge echoes strong,
  • To swell the brigade's rousing song
  • Of “Stonewall Jackson's way.”
  • We see him now,—the old slouched hat
  • Cocked o'er his eye askew;
  • The shrewd, dry smile, the speech so pat,
  • So calm, so blunt, so true.
  • The “Blue-Light Elder” knows ’em well:
  • Says he, “that's Banks, he's fond of shell;
  • Lord save his soul! we'll give him—;” well,
  • That's “Stonewall Jackson's way.”
  • Silence! ground arms! kneel all! caps off!
  • Old Blue Light's going to pray.
  • Strangle the fool that dare's to scoff!
  • Attention! it's his way.

  • Appealing from his native sod
  • In forma pauperis to God:
  • “Lay bare thine arm; stretch forth thy rod!
  • Amen.” That's “Stonewall's way.”
  • He's in the saddle now. Fall in!
  • Steady! the whole brigade!
  • Hill's at the ford, cut off; we'll win
  • His way out, ball and blade!
  • What matter if our shoes are worn?
  • What matter if our feet are torn?
  • “Quickstep! we're with him before dawn,”
  • That's “Stonewall Jackson's way.”
  • The sun's bright lances rout the mists
  • Of morning, and by George!
  • Here's Longstreet struggling in the lists,
  • Hemmed in an ugly gorge.
  • Pope and his Yankees, whipped before;
  • “Bay'nets and grape!” hear Stonewall roar;
  • “Charge, Stuart! pay off Ashby's score!”
  • Is “Stonewall Jackson's way.”
  • Ah! maiden, wait and watch and yearn
  • For news of Stonewall's band!”
  • Ah! widow, read with eyes that burn
  • That ring upon thy hand.
  • Ah! wife, sew on, pray on, hope on,
  • Thy life shall not be all forlorn.
  • The foe had better ne'er been born
  • That gets in Stonewall's way.

The frightful losses sustained in General Pope's campaign by no means rest upon his head alone; he had been held on the Rappahannock by General Halleck, commander in chief, to await reinforcements, while the rebels were moving to our right, and been led to believe that McClellan's men were moving from Washington in sufficient force to make his rear safe

from any great disaster.1 Besides, his army generally had little confidence in his generalship, or in that of his most trusted lieutenants, and had no real cohesion as an army; and, what was worse, half-hearted obedience, wounded pride, jealousy, and hatred, deprived him and the fighting men with him of efficient aid and support. Above all, General Lee and his splendid army were determined to teach the North by a bloody and effective lesson that General Pope's way of campaigning would be a failure, and taking full advantage of general inertness and discord on the Union side, “went for him” with unparalleled vigor and ferocity.

The following stirring piece of poetry, calling for a leader, taken from one of our newspapers at the time, expresses the feeling of army and nation (at least so far as General Pope is concerned), disappointed and angry at the disgraceful and bloody failures of the campaign:—




  • Back from the trebly crimson'd field
  • Terrible words are thunder-tost;
  • Full of the wrath that will not yield,
  • Full of revenge for battles lost!
  • Hark to their echo as it crost
  • The Capitol, making faces wan:
  • “End this murderous holocaust:
  • Abraham Lincoln, give us a man!
  • “Give us a man of God's own mold
  • Born to marshal his fellow-men;
  • One whose fame is not bought and sold
  • At the stroke of a politician's pen;


  • Give us the man of thousands ten,
  • Fit to do as well as to plan;
  • Give us a rallying cry, and then,
  • Abraham Lincoln, give us a man!
  • “No leader to shirk the boasting foe,
  • And to march and countermarch our brave,
  • Till they fade like ghosts in the marshes low,
  • And swamp grass covers each nameless grave;
  • Nor another, whose fatal banners wave,
  • Aye, in disaster's shameful van;
  • Nor another, to bluster, and lie, and rave; —
  • Abraham Lincoln, give us a man!
  • “Hearts are mourning in the North,
  • While the sister rivers seek the main,
  • Red with our life-blood flowing forth, —
  • Who shall gather it up again?
  • Though we march to the battle plain
  • Firmly as when the strife began,
  • Shall all our offering be in vain?
  • Abraham Lincoln, give us a man!
  • “Is there never one in all the land,
  • One on whose might the Cause may lean?
  • Are all the common men so grand,
  • And all the titled ones so mean?
  • What if your failure may have been
  • In trying to make good bread from bran, —
  • From worthless metal a weapon keen?
  • Abraham Lincoln, find us a man!
  • “Oh, we will follow him to the death,
  • Where the foeman's fiercest columns are!
  • Oh, we will use our latest breath,
  • Cheering for every sacred star!
  • His to marshal us nigh and far,
  • Ours to battle, as patriots can
  • When a hero leads the holy war!
  • Abraham Lincoln, give us a man!”

The army came under the command of General McClellan as it passed within the outer intrenchments in front of Washington; and General Pope was relieved from duty in Virginia and assigned to the command of the Department of the Northwest, September 7th.

CHAPTER X. September 7-22, 1862.

  • The flag of our country is floating on high;
  • We'll stand by that flag till we conquer or die:
  • McClellan's our leader, he's gallant and strong,
  • We'll gird on our armor and be marching along.

Marching Along.


The main body of the rebel army did not advance beyond Chantilly, although their cavalry and horse artillery followed our retreating troops up to the immediate vicinity of the fortifications of Alexandria. On the 3d of September, General Lee turned his back upon Alexandria, and put his army in motion up the Potomac for Leesburg. By the 7th of September, the rebel army had been thrown across the Potomac into Maryland, by a ford near Leesburg, and was threatening Washington and Baltimore from the North and West. Meanwhile the Army of Virginia, had been merged in the Army of the Potomac, and the whole was being rapidly reorganized, and put into condition to renew offensive operations under General McClellan.

The President, on July 1st, had called for three hundred thousand more volunteers; and recruits and new regiments were added to the battered veteran organizations. Some of the new regiments were laboring under the delusion that there were enough old troops to do the fighting, and that the new levies had been recruited for garrison duty, but most of them found before long that there was fighting enough to go

round. The reorganized Ninth Corps was put under command of General Reno, and consisted of four divisions, commanded respectively by Generals Willcox, Sturgis, Rodman, and Cox, our division (the 2d) being commanded by General Samuel D. Sturgis; the 4th Division, commanded by General Jacob D. Cox, had formed a part of the West Virginia army, and was generally known as the “Kanawha Division.”1




Our brigade (the 2d) was strengthened by the addition of a new Massachusetts regiment (the gallant 35th); and the 21st received forty-five excellent new recruits, the first since the twenty-three men who had arrived May 7th at Newbern, and the last for an indefinite period. In the new movement against the invading rebels the 1st and 9th Corps formed a grand division under General Burnside.

September 4th. At seven o'clock P. M. the 21st left their camp outside of Alexandria, and marching through that city, and across the Potomac over Long Bridge, passed through the city of Washington, about daylight of the 5th, and went into bivouac in a pleasant grove at the north end of the city, after a march of fifteen miles. A wagon full of letters was soon unloaded in our camp which were read with more than ordinary eagerness, as it was the first mail which we had received for a round month. On the 7th of September we received orders to move into Maryland; and, starting about the middle of the forenoon, marched about ten miles over a fine road, and halted early in the afternoon, in the pleasant town of Leesboro’. There was a good deal of straggling on the march, and plundering of orchards and chickens by some of our corps, the “Kanawha Division” setting a very bad example in that direction.

September 8th. We remained at Leesboro’, and made out muster and pay rolls. All sorts of rumors of the rebel invasion were flying about; but the army was stronger in numbers than ever before, more united in feeling, and contented with McClellan's leadership seemed to feel entirely confident that we could easily drive the enemy across the Potomac.

September 9th. We started at six A. M., and marching about twelve miles reached Brookville at noon, and went into bivouac.

September 10th. We remained in our pleasant quarters at Brookville. The rebel advance was said to be retiring before us, and the new men were interested in hearing that the enemy was getting himself into a trap; but “bagging” and “trapping” were not popular expressions among the veterans.

September 11th. We started at seven A. M., and after a day's march of eighteen miles, through a rich and fertile country, halted in a lovely spot near Newmarket at five o'clock. Heavy showers fell at intervals during the day, but it was the first rain for several days and was not unwelcome.

September 12th. Starting at seven A. M., we crossed the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and after a slow march crossed the high stone bridge over the beautiful little river Monocacy, and went into bivouac in sight of Frederick City, about sundown. We had heard artillery firing ahead during the afternoon, and were stirred by the news that our advance had had a sharp skirmish with the rebel cavalry in the streets of Frederick, and had driven them from the city. We were now in the most beautiful region in Maryland; and, cheered by the warm welcome which we received from many of the inhabitants (in spite of the shameful pillaging by our campfollowers and stragglers), felt for the first time like a delivering army. I shall always remember a dear old lady, who came out of a house that we passed that day, and waving a flag over her head promised us victory in the impending conflict.

September 13th. Stories about the large force of rebels holding the line of South Mountain, some twelve or fifteen miles in our front, were floating around the camps in the morning. Soon after noon we received marching orders, and passed through the main street of the beautiful old town of Frederick: the warmth of our reception by the Union people of the town exceeded anything in our previous experience; the street and houses were filled with women waving flags and handkerchiefs, and their earnestly uttered blessings upon our arms were made doubly effective by the mingled sound of the distant artillery. On our passage through the town, we witnessed General McClellan's enthusiastic reception: as he appeared, the people gave themselves up to the wildest demonstrations of joy; and a dense crowd, mainly composed of women, breaking through all restraint blocked the street around him, laughing and crying in hysterical excitement as

they tried to get closer and closer to the delivering leader. Our gallant brigadier couldn't let us part without at least a salute in honor of our reception; so the brigade was halted in the street, and the regiments faced to the front; but, before arms were presented, General Reno, displeased at the block of the marching column, gave him an emphatic order to right face his men, and attend to business. After a march of about ten miles we went into bivouac near Middleton, close under the South Mountain range. During this short march we saw a terrible example of the discipline then enforced in the rebel army: two corpses in ragged gray uniforms were hanging on a tree beside the road, and we were told by citizens that they were two of Jackson's men, whom he had ordered to be hung for stealing. Although the rebel army (ragged and half-fed) had just passed over the road by which we were moving, the ripe apples were left hanging untouched on the trees that lined the road; but, in sad contrast with rebel discipline, the straggling plunderers from our well provided delivering army left few apples, chickens, or young pigs behind them on the march.


September 14th. About nine o'clock artillery firing opened, three or four miles away on the mountain; and at noon General McClellan, with a brilliant staff, rode past us to the front. At two o'clock we were ordered up the mountain to take a hand in the fight, which was said to be fiercely contested; and at once moved forward. Soon leaving the turnpike, as we began to ascend the thousand feet of elevation that we had to climb, we diverged to the left and continued our march up the mountain by the “Old Sharpsburg Road,” running through Fox's Gap. General Hooker's Corps were now engaged a mile or two away on our right, and troops of the 9th Corps were fighting sharply in our front. It was past the middle of the afternoon as our brigade approached the summit, and were halted in the road close upon the fighting

lines, for the rebels were still making a desperate resistance. A little drummer boy of the 17th Michigan, with a shattered leg, as he was carried past us down the road, caring nothing for his wounds, called out: “The 17th is doing bully!” The 17th, a new regiment but three weeks from home, were indeed doing bully in an assault upon the intrenched rebel right flank; and, in a grand charge, soon carried the summit and annihilated the last rebel fighting line in their front.1 After the glorious charge of the Michiganders, a few harmless shots were fired at us from a rebel battery in position on an eminence a mile to our right, but the infantry fighting in our front had entirely ceased. Our brigade was now moved out of the line of the rebel artillery fire, and massed, just off the road in an open space below the summit, where we remained until the close of the afternoon, the rest of the division being posted within supporting distance. There was a cleared place a few rods wide, on the summit of the pass, bordered by thick woods. Just at sunset, the 35th Massachusetts were ordered to feel the woods in front,2 while the three old regiments of the brigade were formed in the cleared space, the two 51sts on the right flank and front, and the 21st in a second line.

As we moved up the road, we passed over the thick-lying bodies of the rebels, who had been so unfortunate as to sting the muscular heroes of the 17th Michigan into madness for revenge. These rebels (covering the rebel right flank) had been posted in the road, which was sunk several feet below the surface of the adjoining ground; an excellent cover, but finally a death-trap, when the stalwart Westerners leaped down amongst them.


The 35th went a little way into the woods, were not disturbed, and coming out, reported that there was no enemy in our front. It was now fast growing dark, and General Reno went to the front to establish outposts for the night — when, with the most startling suddenness, a line of flashes ran along the edge of the woods from which the 35th had just emerged, and the rebel bullets hissed through our ranks. Longstreet's men had come to retake the summit!1 The veterans of the brigade behaved with wonderful coolness, and throwing themselves upon the ground, remained in their positions; and now came a succession of fierce rebel charges, but they all met a bloody repulse at the hands of the two 51sts. The 21st being in the second line, could not fire, and simply hugged the ground, while the rebel bullets hissed over us, except now and then when some poor fellow stopped one with his body. After their final repulse, the rebels kept up a slow fire till ten o'clock, when fighting ceased, and pickets were posted by the hostile forces in the most amicable manner.


At the commencement of the attack, our true and loved commander, General Jesse L. Reno, the soldier without spot or blemish, fell mortally wounded by a musket shot in the breast, and died in about an hour. We were the right flank regiment of his old brigade, and there was not a man in the 21st who did not love him; he had always stood with his men in battle, in a position to know the varying chances of the fight, and every man felt sure that his life would not be unnecessarily sacrificed when Reno was in command. The long, hard month on the “Northerner” had established confidential relations between General Reno and the regiment, such as have rarely existed between a general and his men; he had daily shown his interest in the promotion of our comfort, and an eagerness to add to our military education and efficiency,


and when we first met the enemy under him showed that be relied on us as we did on him. General Reno was born in Virginia, but early in life removed to Pennsylvania; graduating from West Point in 1846, he at once took part in the Mexican War as a second lieutenant in a battery: breveted first lieutenant and captain for gallantry at Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec, on his return home he was engaged in honorable and important army service until the rebellion broke out. July 1, 1860, he was commissioned captain in the regular army; brigadier-general of volunteers, November 12, 1861, and major-general, April 26, 1862. He was thirty-seven years of age at the time of his death. Woodbury, in his history of the corps (p. 131), gives the following true description of his person and character:—

In person, General Reno was of middle stature, stout, well-knit, and compact in frame. His forehead was high and broad, his face wore a genial expression, his eye beamed upon his friends with rare and quick intelligence, or, kindled in the excitement of conflict, flashed out in brave defiance of the foe. He had a magnetic kind of enthusiasm, and, when leading on his men, he seemed to inspire his followers, and make them irresistible in action. A dauntless soldier, whose like we rarely see.

The loss of the 21st in the battle of South Mountain, was slight, being but five enlisted men wounded, as follows: Corporal Arthur H. Smith, of Company C; Privates Hugh Gallagher and William Julian, of Company E; Private William Ellis, of Company K; and a Private of Company F, whose name I have not preserved. Smith and Ellis were discharged in consequence of the disability resulting from their wounds.

We passed the rest of the night lying on our arms, on the crest of the mountain, with no firing between the pickets; the night was very chilly, and our limbs were quite stiff before morning. I had an interesting conversation with a wounded rebel officer during the night. About midnight I heard a call for help, and going to the spot saw some one moving rapidly away from a man lying on the ground. The prostrate man told me that he was Lieutenant-Colonel James, of the

15th South Carolina, that he was shot through the body when our men made the last assault, and had pretended to be dead, hoping that he should feel able to try to escape before morning, but found himself growing weaker, and knew that he should die. He said that he had called for help, because a prowling rascal had turned him over and taken his watch. As he was getting very cold, I covered him with a blanket, and gave him a drink of whiskey. As I sat by him he told me that when his regiment was ordered to cross the Potomac, the colonel had refused to go, saying that the regiment had enlisted to defend the South and not to invade the North, but that he had sprung to the front, and telling the colonel that he was a coward, had called on the men to follow him, but had led them to their death, as he believed himself to be the only surviving officer of the regiment. The brave fellow died before morning.1 When day dawned, it was found that the rebel pickets had been withdrawn, and that their army had retreated. We found an interestingly horrible battle-field around us, on which the rebel dead were lying more thickly, though in narrow spaces, than we had ever seen before, and


the woods were full of their wounded. In an outbuilding of a little house belonging to a man named Wise (the only house on the summit), was a savage spectacle, in the bodies of two men, a Union and rebel soldier, who seemed to have killed each other in a hand-to-hand fight. Just after daylight, a few rebels came in and gave themselves up; and one of their scouting parties, not aware of the rebel retreat, came close upon our regiment (which was now posted in the front line on the right of the road) before they noticed our uniforms, when they turned and ran. Sergeant Lewis, of Company F, who had a small picket on the road, ordered them to halt. As they only ran the faster at the challenge, Lewis took a flying shot at fifty yards distance, and brought down the non-commissioned officer in charge of the party; before the poor fellow's body touched the ground, the half dozen survivors threw down their muskets and held up their hands. This was an interesting squad to our boys, as they had on their backs knapsacks with “21st Mass.” painted on them, being some of those which we had left piled at Manassas. These men were South Carolinians; and were bound not to give their cause away. When asked how their army was off for food, their spokesman answered promptly: “We have plenty of regular rations;” but when stout Sergeant Lewis, exercising a victor's privilege, opened their haversacks, one after the other, and found their entire contents to consist of less than a dozen dirty little balls of corn meal, covered with the ashes in which they had been baked, the rebels hung their heads at the exposure of their scanty fare. I was interested at overhearing one of these men say, in answer to the question, why they were in rebellion against the Union: “We always liked your people well enough, but hated your government.” I thought that the remark, which evidently came from the man's heart, was a good illustration of the foundation of lies on which the rebellion rested, for the southern leaders had always said that the South liked the government well enough, but hated their alliance with the northern people.

About the middle of the forenoon, troops began to pass by

us to the front, and we were gratified and surprised to see the regulars going between us and the enemy.1 As a regular regiment was passing, one of the 21st thought out in a pretty loud voice: “I don't see any difference in looks between regulars and volunteers.” Whereupon an important looking regular sergeant held up his burnished musket to show its perfect cleanness, and said: “Here's where the difference comes in!” “Yes,” said the 21st man; “we use ours to fight with.” This was considered the best hit on South Mountain, by our boys, particularly when we took position between the regulars and rebels again as usual, before the next fighting occurred. The burial of a portion of the rebel dead was peculiar enough to call for special mention. Some Ohio troops had been detailed to bury them, but not relishing the task, and finding the ground hard to dig, soon removed the covering of a deep well connected with Wise's house on the summit, and lightened their toil by throwing a few bodies into the well. Mr. Wise soon discovered what they were about, and had it stopped; and then the Ohioans went away, leaving their work unfinished. Poor Mr. Wise, anxious to get rid of the bodies, finally made an agreement with General Burnside to bury them for a dollar apiece. As long as his well had been already spoiled, he concluded to realize on the rest of its capacity, and put in fifty-eight more rebel bodies, which filled it to the surface of the ground.2

September 15th. At noon we moved down the mountain, and marching some five miles towards Sharpsburg, went into bivouac in a beautiful spot, about a mile from Antietam Creek; a little artillery fire was going on, and a shell now and then flew over us, but did us no harm. Captain Hovey


had gone back from South Mountain to Frederick City, with two of our companies as a guard to rebel prisoners, and the battered 21st was now left with only one hundred and fifty officers and men for duty. We were pained and disgusted to learn this evening that the garrison at Harper's Ferry, numbering over eleven thousand men, had surrendered to the great rebel general, Stonewall Jackson, although we did not get the particulars of its imbecile defense and dastardly surrender until some days afterwards.

General Lee, fearful of risking a general engagement with the garrison at Harper's Ferry in his rear, had on the 10th of September started Jackson and his corps from Frederick City to cross the Potomac and cut off the retreat of the garrison at Harper's Ferry towards the south, and immediately afterwards sent the divisions of McLaws, Anderson, and Walker, to assault the defenses of the place and hold relieving forces at bay. Longstreet's Corps, meanwhile, moved across the South Mountain range to Boonsboro, within supporting distance of D. H. Hill's Division and Stuart's cavalry, who were left to hold the passes through the mountain between Frederick City and Boonsboro, which we attacked and carried in the fight. Unfortunately, Jackson's task proved to be an easy one for him to accomplish. The town of Harper's Ferry was indefensible, being commanded by surrounding heights. Maryland Heights, on the Pleasant Valley side (northeast of the town), were the key to the position. The defense of Maryland Heights — a position admirably adapted for defense — was intrusted to Colonel Thomas H. Ford (32d Ohio Volunteers), an inefficient and cowardly (or traitorous) officer, with four thousand men, while the remainder of the garrison, some ten thousand men, was in and about the town of Harper's Ferry, under the command of the incapable Colonel D. S. Miles. Saturday, the 13th, Jackson's Corps and Walker's Division invested the town closely on the south and west, and the divisions of McLaws and Anderson took possession of Maryland Heights, meeting with no resistance worthy of the name. The garrison of fourteen thousand men was now substantially

on an equality of position with their thirty-odd thousand beleaguering foes; but Jackson must make quick work, for the Army of the Potomac was pressing forward, and our 6th Corps, under General Franklin, supported by Couch's Division, were close to Crampton's Pass (ten miles south of the passes carried by General Burnside's command), leading into Pleasant Valley near Harper's Ferry. On Sunday, the 14th, General Franklin carried Crampton's Pass, — beating back a portion of McLaws's and Anderson's divisions, — and on the night of the 14th was in Pleasant Valley, within three and a half miles of the abandoned Maryland Heights, and within six miles of Harper's Ferry. Jackson's and Walker's troops, on the same day, had attacked Harper's Ferry, and been repulsed by troops under the command of the gallant General Julius White, who unfortunately was subordinate to Colonel Miles. McLaws and Anderson now had General Franklin to look out for; and on the night of the 14th, two thousand Union cavalry at Harper's Ferry, under the brave Colonel Davis of the 12th Illinois Cavalry, rode out without any difficulty and reached Greencastle, Pa., the next morning, capturing an ammunition train of General Longstreet's, consisting of over fifty wagons, on the way. On the 15th, at eight o'clock in the morning, while General Franklin was moving to attack the enemy, the garrison at Harper's Ferry surrendered. Franklin was brought to a stand. Jackson, thanks to incompetency and cowardice in the Union ranks, had carried out Lee's orders to the letter, — saving the rebel army from being crushed in detail, and enabling its great commander to fight the bloody battle of Antietam on northern soil before he repassed the Potomac.1 Leaving General A. P. Hill's Division to receive the surrender of the Union troops at Harper's Ferry, and secure the captured arms and stores, Jackson reached the vicinity of Sharpsburg with the two other divisions of his corps on the morning of the 16th, joining Longstreet's Corps and D. H. Hill's Division, posted behind Antietam Creek.


McLaws's, Anderson's, and Walker's divisions rejoined Lee on the morning of the 17th. General A. P. Hill's Division arrived on the battle-field of Antietam at halfpast two P. M. on the 17th, as Burnside's men had good reason to know. General Franklin's Corps, remaining too long near Crampton's Gap, did not reach the battle-field until afternoon of the 17th, and took a comparatively unimportant part in the engagement. To return to the doings of the 21st, whom we left in bivouac near Antietam Creek on the evening of September 15th.

September 16th. The morning was lovely; but we were kept nervous and anxious by the enemy's round shot, which now and then skipped and rolled over the field where we were. At times the artillery fire was quite heavy between the opposing guns, but by noon everything was quiet again. In the afternoon we were moved some two miles to the left and front, to the immediate vicinity of the stone bridge over Antietam Creek, on the Rohrersville and Sharpsburg road, which General Burnside was ordered to hold himself in readiness to carry by assault, and which General McClellan says, in his report of the campaign, “was strongly covered by riflemen protected by rifle-pits, stone fences, etc., and enfiladed by artillery.” As we halted for the night, a rebel battery posted on the heights across Antietam Creek, in our front, was in plain sight, but did not molest us. We slept on our arms, and were heavily rained on during the night.


At daybreak on the 17th of September our army, covering a front of about four miles, was in position as follows:—

The 9th Corps (of 13,819 men) was posted on the left, on the east side of Antietam Creek; the 1st Corps (of 14,856 men) and 12th Corps (of 10,126 men), on the Union right, occupied an advanced position across the Antietam, supported by the 2d Corps (of 18,813 men) on our side of the creek; the 5th Corps (of 12,930 men), with a mass of reserve artillery, occupied a somewhat retired position on our side of the

creek, in the Union centre; the 6th Corps (General Franklin's) had not then come up; it numbered 12,300 men, and when it arrived on the field (soon after noon) reinforced the right of the army. The Union cavalry (between four and five thousand strong) was in reserve, and played an unimportant part in the coming battle.

General Summer commanded the Union right wing, General Burnside the left wing, and General Porter the reserves in the centre.

General Lee's army was in a well-chosen position, covering the Shepherdstown ford of the Potomac River. Its left, under Jackson, rested near the river; D. H. Hill's Division held the centre, and Longstreet's Corps the right. General Stuart, with the cavalry and horse artillery, guarded the rebel left. McLaws's, Anderson's, and Walker's divisions arrived on the field from Harper's Ferry soon after fighting commenced, and reinforced the rebel left and centre. A. P. Hill's Division, arriving during the afternoon, reinforced the rebel right. It is difficult to ascertain the strength of the rebel army which took part in the battle. Lee, in his official report, says that owing to the enormous number of men unfit for duty, stragglers and skulkers, in his army, “this great battle was fought by less than forty thousand men on our side.” This statement can hardly be true, as it is certain that the numerical strength of his entire army was about the same as that of the Army of the Potomac, and it is in the highest degree improbable that it was reduced as largely as he states from the causes named. The strength of his army on the field in the battle is given in Pollard's (rebel) “History of the War,” vol. 2, page 137, as having been forty-five thousand men during the first half of the day, and for the remainder of the battle seventy thousand men, which is probably nearly correct.

September 17th. A cloudy morning. Soon after daylight the battle commenced with great fury on our right, but there was no firing of consequence on our front until about eight o'clock, when the batteries began to fire. About nine o'clock, just as we had received a large mail from home, the regiment

was ordered to support Durell's battery, posted on a neighboring hill to aid in covering an assault about to be made upon the bridge by Crook's brigade of our 4th Division, and at once took position in rear of the battery, and about half way up the hill on which it was posted. A good many shot and shell came over us during the following two hours, but we were so well sheltered as to be able to read our home letters, without much danger of getting our heads knocked off. We suffered no loss in this position, but there was one escape which seems worthy of mention. The color-guard were grouped close together while one of them was reading aloud from a newspaper, when a shell descended into their midst as if from the sky, buried itself in the ground and exploded, blowing colors and guard in all directions: we supposed that none of the guard had escaped without injury, but to our great delight they picked themselves up one after the other, entirely unhurt. About noon our brigade was moved forward and put in position in advance of our artillery, and close to the bridge: we waited here in a corn field on the crest of a small hill for about half an hour, during which time we were subjected to a vigorous shelling by the enemy, and lost two or three men. Then, the veteran regiments of the brigade (21st Massachusetts, 51st New York, and 51st Pennsylvania) moved down on the bridge to carry it by assault. After the repeated failures which had occurred the enterprise was regarded as a desperate one. The first attack by Crook's brigade had been repulsed with heavy loss; and, subsequently, a succession of gallant assaults had been made, in vain, by the 2d Maryland and 6th New Hampshire.

The bridge was very narrow, being only wide enough for four men to pass abreast, and the creek was supposed to be unfordable.1 On our side of the creek, at the foot of the higher land from which we descended for the assault, open,


undulating fields stretched on both sides of the road: the other bank presented a steep hill-side, rising precipitously from the water on the left of the road (as we faced), and on the right cut into by a wooded ravine: the rebel bank to the left of the road was also covered with thick woods near the water. On the hill-side, a few yards above the bridge, there was a heavy stone wall running parallel with the stream, and in the woods and at the turns of the road as it wound up the hill were rifle-pits, and breastworks of rails and stones, all making an excellent cover for the rebel riflemen defending the passage.1 Take it altogether, it was an exceedingly difficult place to carry by assault, and the five hundred poor fellows, dead or cruelly wounded, who lay in front of it served as powerful remonstrants against the practicability of the attempt. The artillery opened with canister to cover our advance, as the three regiments moved down upon the bridge with steady ranks, and, taking position close along the stream, commenced a rapid fire by file upon the rebel cover. The first position taken by the 21st was to the left of the road, and on the left of the 51st Pennsylvania, who were directly in front of the bridge with the 51st New York on their right. The bank opposite the 21st was covered from the water's edge with a thicket of brush and trees, presenting a mass of foliage impenetrable to the eye: after firing from twenty to thirty rounds into the wall of shining leaves, into which six pieces of artillery were at the same time pouring canister over our heads, doubtless helping to keep the enemy quiet, but seriously wounding two of our men, the 21st were moved across the road to the right of the 51st New York, who were at the same time drawn in a little closer to the 51st Pennsylvania. This passage, of not more than five hundred yards, was made by the flank on the double-quick through a withering fire from the rebel sharp-shooters, secure in their entrenchments,


which dotted the field around us with little puffs of dust as the hissing bullets entered the ground; and the pierced bodies of more than twenty of our little band marked the path by which we had made it. On reaching our new position, we joined in with the two 51sts in a desultory sharp-shooting fire as the rebels showed their heads, for ten or fifteen minutes, keeping the enemy comparatively quiet. Then came the order to charge; the response was worthy Reno's old brigade; the color-bearers started on the run for the bridge (the colors of the 51sts side by side, and a hundred yards nearer the bridge than ours), and the three regiments with a fierce shout crowded towards the narrow passage; but before the colors of the two 51sts had touched the long disputed bridge the panic stricken rebels left their cover and fled, all but the devoted leader of their nearest regiment, who ran down to the edge of the bank, and with a cry of defiance shook his sword in the faces of our men for a moment, and then fell pierced by a dozen bullets.1 The bridge was won at last, and the veterans of Reno's old brigade are entitled unquestioned to the honor of its capture. The two 51sts immediately passed over the bridge without further opposition, while the 21st, who had nearly exhausted their ammunition in the heavy fusilade upon the peaceful foliage opposite our first position, were halted for a few minutes to allow the men to collect cartridges from the boxes of our dead and wounded; then we passed over the bridge which several thousand of our corps (infantry and artillery) were now hurrying to cross. When over the bridge the brigade, now joined by the 35th Massachusetts,2 took position in a ravine on the right of the road, which the rebels soon began to enfilade with artillery


posted on high land on our right: a fragment of the first shell that I noticed pass down the ravine struck in the head and instantly killed the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Bell of the 51st Pennsylvania, a worthy companion in arms and command to its loved and distinguished commander Colonel Hartranft.

The enemy, still firm and defiant in our front, maintained a strong line of battle behind the crest of the hill near the bridge, and but a few hundred yards away; and by their sharp fire succeeded in preventing our artillery from getting into effective position on the rebel side of the creek, and most of it soon returned across the bridge. For a couple of hours after the capture of the bridge, no movement of importance occurred upon our front, except that our troops were being formed for an advance, and A. P. Hill's Division were coming up from Harper's Ferry upon our left. Severe fighting had now ceased upon the right of our army, and the shattered regiments of the 1st, 2d, and 12th corps, after a loss of nearly ten thousand men, were resting on their arms in about the same position from which they had advanced in the morning. It was three o'clock when all the infantry of the 9th Corps were arrayed upon the rebel side of the Antietam, and began a further advance upon the enemy. Then the 1st Division (under General Willcox), supported by Crook's brigade of the 4th Division, pressed forward on the Sharpsburg road and gained the outskirts of the town, while the 3d Division (under General Rodman) handsomely carried the heights to the left of the town; but their triumphant advance at last ended in a check, and bloody repulse. The Union pressure upon the rebel left had now ceased, and Lee was free to hurry down strong reinforcements to restore the battle on his right, and the fresh troops of A. P. Hill's Division of Jackson's Corps, appearing on Rodman's left, began a fierce attack. As our comrades were driven back by the rebel masses, towards the close of the afternoon, our division (the 2d), which, since the passage of the bridge, had been held in reserve, was ordered forward, and held the enemy at arms length from the precious,

blood-bought bridge. Our brigade moved forward with alacrity and enthusiasm, although with the exception of the 35th Massachusetts, who had not been engaged in the assault upon the bridge, and still had full boxes, we were very short of ammunition, — and gallantly took position on the heights to the left of Sharpsburg, about a thousand yards in front of the bridge, facing A. P. Hill's advancing veterans. The brigade was posted behind a Virginia rail-fence, with the 35th on the right, then the 21st, and the two 51sts on the left. A rebel battery of six guns on our right, played upon us with a miscellaneous collection of missiles, varying between canister, shell, pieces of railroad iron, and scraps of all kinds, while Hill's infantry, halting in their advance behind a rail-fence similar to ours, on the edge of a large corn-field about two hundred yards in our front, opened a hot fire of musketry. The 35th, on our right, with their full ranks, suffered terribly, but gallantly maintained their position. It was now nearly dark, and the rebels felt that they must make quick work if they would retake the bridge that night; their officers seized the battle-flags and jumped over the fence, urging their men to follow, but in vain; the fire from our front was too deadly for them to be willing to face it in a more exposed position. Fortunately for us, they knew nothing of our short supply of ammunition; and, without any further efforts to charge, contented themselves with keeping up a heavy fire upon us. What with the infantry in our front and the artillery on our flank, shot and shell were plenty around us; but the 21st, with their thin line, lying down in single rank (though our noble and true Lieutenant Holbrook died there with some of our best enlisted men), suffered small loss compared with a new regiment, whose officers and men were not so well skilled in taking all the care of themselves which the proper performance of their duty would permit.

Soon after sunset, although the men had husbanded their ammunition with great care, the regiment ceased firing, as man after man came down to his last round, which he retained in his gun. The troops on our left had retired when their

ammunition was expended, and been replaced by a fresh regiment; but our brigade commander, on being notified that we had only the charge in our guns, had sent back orders for us to hold our ground till after dark, with cartridges or without, and the men with courageous patience awaited the result. It had begun to grow dark, when the fresh regiment which had come up on our left, having used up their ammunition, retired to the rear. We now received orders to remain where we were until actually assaulted, and then to fall back to the vicinity of the bridge. The men lay still as death, expecting that the enemy would advance every moment, and meaning at any rate to give him one handsome volley at close range, before retiring. The time passed slowly away as the darkness gathered; and the enemy became as quiet as ourselves. It was now too dark to see whether any of our troops still remained on our right, but we felt sure that none were there, as we had heard nothing from them for over half an hour; but any doubt that might have existed on this point was suddenly and violently dispelled by the flashes of fifty muskets, whose rebel proprietors had crawled unnoticed close upon our right flank. We then knew that the 21st were the last troops left on that advanced line, and, without returning the fire, protected by the darkness, made good time to the high land just above the bridge, the enemy making no pursuit. There we were furnished with an unlimited supply of ammunition, which the men received with almost as much pleasure as they did the cooked rations and drink of whiskey which we also found waiting for us. We had lost about twenty men in our last position, making our loss in killed and wounded for the day, forty-five; a full third of the number which we had taken into the battle. We passed a cold night, as we dozed and slept in line of battle, entirely uninterrupted by the enemy, and without any other excitement than was occasioned by the burning of a few houses in Sharpsburg (half a mile away on our right) about midnight, and a report towards morning that the rebels had retreated across the Potomac, and that our pontons had gone to the front. At daylight, as with stiff

backs and limbs we reformed our line, we were disappointed to find the enemy still clinging closely to our front, and to hear the picket firing run along the lines of the opposing armies. In constant expectation of an order to renew the attack, the time wore slowly away until nine o'clock, when the regiment was ordered to the extreme left, as an outpost “not to be driven in.” It seemed to us as if the 21st were indeed to be fought to the death, as we moved into our position some forty rods in advance of our nearest troops. Our line, mainly in the woods, extended from Antietam Creek to the crest of the first hill, and was about three hundred yards in length. The ground was covered with stones, out of which the men soon made a breastwork. Each man had a pile of cartridges lying close to his hand, and though that well-tried line of heroes numbered but an hundred men, they would most assuredly have given a good account of themselves if attacked. From the right of our position we had a good view of the corn-field occupied by the rebels in the fight of the evening before, and saw them carry several of their dead and wounded to the rear. In uncertain waiting the day passed away without anything of importance transpiring. The rebel line, which, with the exception of a battery here and there, had seemed almost deserted during the morning, in the afternoon showed more activity, and we saw several regiments moving about. Probably neither side was unwilling to have night draw near without a renewal of the battle. Just before dark we were relieved by some regulars and sent back to the other side of the Antietam, where we bivouacked in an orchard, and after a good supper on meat, brought up by our quartermaster, already cooked, and a liberal ration of whiskey, had a long, refreshing sleep.

September 19th. We formed line soon after daylight, and then rested on our arms, waiting for orders. It was soon reported that the rebels had retreated, but we were incredulous. About seven o'clock we crossed the bridge again, and moved up in line of battle over the hill, where our 3d Division had charged and been driven back two days before; the ground

was thickly strewn with the bodies of the Union dead, which had already begun to decompose; among them the bodies of the 9th New York (Hawkins's Zouaves), in their bright uniforms, were sadly conspicuous.1 Lee's army had indeed escaped, having crossed the river during the night, with all its serviceable artillery, wagons, and supplies. Our division now moved towards the Antietam ford of the Potomac, the 21st serving as advance guard. We found the few houses along our route filled with the rebel wounded, and after marching between three and four miles, came to the junction of Antietam Creek with the Potomac, and saw the enemy's outposts on the high bank of the river opposite. We fired a few shots at them and they disappeared. As soon as the division came up, we went into bivouac.

The 21st had lost forty-five officers and men in killed and wounded in the battle of Antietam; a heavy loss, considering the fact that it took less than one hundred and fifty officers and men into the action.


Killed, and died of their wounds. Commissioned officers, 1 killed; enlisted men, 9 (of whom 7 died on the field). Otherwise wounded: Commissioned officers, 3; enlisted men, 32; as follows: —


Killed: 2d Lieutenant Henry C. Holbrook. Wounded: 1st Lieutenant Charles H. Parker, in both legs; 2d Lieutenants George W. Gibson, leg; and Charles Goss, thigh.

Lieutenant Holbrook, of Barre, was instantly killed by a piece of shell on the hill above the bridge. Kind and gentle, but firm in the performance of his duty, he was one of the


purest minded and best of men. Entering the service as a private, he was at once put on duty as a clerk and helper in the commissary department, and subsequently was promoted to commissary sergeant. He was commissioned 2d lieutenant, and went on duty as such in the dangerous and trying times of Pope's retreat. One of his feet had been injured in his youth, so that walking was painful to him, but he never complained of it or lagged behind on that account. Although he stepped upon the battle-field from a position of comparative safety, he was of stuff that did not require a veteran's experience to give him coolness in battle: courageous as he was faithful, he fought and died without a thought of fear.

Lieutenant Parker, of Ashburnham, was wounded by a musket ball, in the attack upon the bridge. He was in command of his company in the battle, and after he was wounded and unable to stand, sat down behind his men and still retained his command until too faint from the loss of blood.


Company A. Wounded: Sergeant Jonas R. Davis, breast, contusion; Privates Seth F. Hale, foot; J. Albert Osgood, face; George R. Severance, arm.

Company B. Wounded: Color Corporal Thomas Stephens, arm.

(Companies B and F went back to Frederick City, as a guard to rebel prisoners taken at South Mountain and were not in the battle of Antietam, but Stephens being in the color guard remained with the regiment.)

Company C. Wounded: Privates William H. Earle, foot; Thomas Farrell, leg; Frank H. Southwick, leg.

Company D. Killed: Privates William S. Boynton and Amos S. Eastman. Wounded: Privates Dennis Delaney, leg; Samuel W. Flint; William M. Stewart, head; and Preston Warren, head.

Company E. Killed: Corporal Henry K. Buss and Private George T. Bigelow. Wounded: Color Corporal Franklin Sargent, abdomen; Corporal Charles E. Maquillan; and

Privates Horatio N. Barrows, both arms; Albert L. Brock, hand; Patrick Burke, leg; Daniel Coombs; Waterman Pennery, arm; James A. Wilson, leg.

Wilson returned to duty and was killed in our next battle, Fredericksburg.

Company F. Wounded: Private Charles R. Renner, head.

Company G. Killed: Corporal James S. Stratton and Private Daniel Daley. Wounded: Sergeant (Acting 2d Lieutenant) George M. Munroe, knee and arm: Privates Charles R. Crafts; William Pratt, foot; Eugene A. Puffer, leg; Luther E. Stewart, face.

Corporal Stratton was mentioned in Colonel Clark's official report of the battle of Newbern for his intrepidity as an advance guard. Sergeant Munroe took command of the company when Lieutenant Parker was disabled. Lieutenant Parker was first wounded in the arm, but refused to leave the field, and was soon wounded again severely in the knee.

Company H. Wounded: Sergeant John Kelt, knee; Private James H. Willard.

Company I. Killed: Private Charles Leonard. Wounded: Sergeant Edwin R. Wood, head.

Company K. Died of wounds, 1st Sergeant George W. Davis, wounded in both legs, died September 26th; Private Charles S. Brigham, died of his wounds September 27th. Wounded: Privates William Harrington, shoulder; George H. Holman, side; Edward A. Jackson, hand.

Holman and Jackson were discharged for disability resulting from their wounds: they and Brigham had joined the regiment since September 1st. Harrington was subsequently killed at the battle of the “Mine.” One of the saddest deaths that I ever saw in battle was that of Lieutenant Andrew L. Fowler, the gallant and beloved adjutant of the 51st New York. When the 21st were going into position on the right of the 51st, in the assault upon the bridge, Colonel Potter of the 51st, familiar with the new ground which we were to occupy, and from which his regiment had just been drawn in more in front of the bridge, sent Adjutant Fowler to our regiment

to suggest the best position for us to take. He delivered his message, and on returning to his regiment was shot in the throat and fell apparently dead; but after the rebels had fled I found that he was still alive and conscious; suffering terribly, he tried with pitiable earnestness to give me some last message, but died without being able to make himself understood.


General McClellan's official report gives the casualties in our army at the battle of South Mountain as 443 killed, 1,806 wounded (no missing or prisoners); and at Antietam as 2,010 killed, 9,416 wounded, and 1,043 missing. Total Union loss in the two battles 14,794.

The rebel official table of General Lee's losses in the Maryland fights, which makes no separation of the losses suffered in these two battles, gives their killed as 1,567, wounded 8,724. Total rebel losses in Maryland fights by their reports 10,291 killed and wounded, with no report of prisoners and missing. The rebel loss in prisoners was at the lowest estimate 5,000 men; and many of their missing men must have been killed, as besides burying about 500 of their dead at Antietam, they left unburied on that field alone about 3,000 of their dead who were buried by our troops. See Official Reports “Rebellion Record,” vol. v. p. 465, and vol. ix. p. 583.

September 20th. The regiment remained in bivouac near the mouth of the Antietam. The great event of the day was the ceremony of wetting down General Ferrero's star: his appointment as brigadier-general had been announced to us on the battle-field of Antietam; and to-day he furnished the brigade with a handsome ration of very good whiskey in which to drink his health.

September 21st. The following orders, from corps and division headquarters, lamenting General Reno's death, and congratulating us on carrying the bridge, were read at dress-parade.

Headquarters 9th Army Corps. Mouth of Antietam,September 20, 1862.

General Order No. 17.

The commanding general announces to the corps the loss of their late leader, Major-General Jesse L. Reno. By the death of this distinguished officer the country loses one of its most devoted patriots, and the army one of its most thorough soldiers. On the long list of battles in which General Reno has fought for his country's service, his name always appears with the brightest lustre; and he has now met a soldier's death while gallantly leading his men at the battle of South Mountain.

For his high character and the kindly qualities of his heart in private life, as well as for his military genius and personal daring as a soldier, his loss will be deplored by all who knew him, and the commanding general desires to add the tribute of a friend to the public mourning for the death of one of the country's best defenders.

By command of Maj-Gen. Burnside, Lewis Richmond, Lt-Colonel and A. A. G.

Headquarters 2d Division 9th Army Corps. Antietam,September 20, 1862.

General Order No. 11.

The general commanding the division avails himself of this lull in the roar of battle to return his thanks to the officers and troops for their handsome behavior in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam Bridge, and to say to them that he has been assured by General Burnside that General McClellan considers the carrying of the bridge as having saved the day. While therefore we have reason to be proud of our successes, we should remember that they were achieved through the loss of many of our brave comrades, among whom was the gallant and distinguished Major-General Jesse L. Reno, who led this division so often to victory. He was a classmate and bosom friend of the general commanding, a man of the highest integrity, and one who loved his country beyond all earthly things, and shrank from no danger in defending it. His last words were, “I can be no longer with my men; let them know that I will still be with them in spirit.” His spirit was with them indeed, and led them across Antietam Bridge, thus serving the army, even after death.

By order of Brigadier-General Sturgis, Wm. C. Rowolle, Captain and Chief of Artillery.

We did not receive our just share of credit in the official reports of our brigade and corps commanders, for our participation in the successful assault upon the bridge.1 General Ferrero, the brigade commander, with strange ignorance of the movements of the different regiments of his brigade, in his report dilutes our glory by adding the 35th Massachusetts to the assaulting regiments; while General Cox, the corps commander, robs us of our dearly-bought fame by naming only the two 51sts as having done the glorious deed.2 As I for the first time saw these reports in the “Rebellion Record” ten years after the war, my blood boiled with indignation and disgust at the ignorant indifference of these officers to the preservation in history of the blood-bought honors won equally by these three regiments (the two 51sts and the 21st), and by them alone, in this famous passage at arms. It was some slight consolation to find that the war correspondent of the Boston “Journal,” a close eye-witness of the battle of Antietam, in his report published in that newspaper at the time, gives the whole glory of the deed to the three regiments; and the “Journal” in an editorial shortly afterwards, in combating the somewhat prevalent idea that the Union troops did not attack with the reckless bravery often shown by the rebels, says that the heroism of the assault upon the bridge by the three regiments was unsurpassed, either on the rebel or Union side, in the annals of the war.

A very interesting fact associated with the battle of Antietam is its connection with the proclamation of emancipation to the slaves, issued by the President September 22, 1862. In President Lincoln's own words, as given in Carpenter's “Six Months in the White House,”—

It had got to be mid-summer, 1862. Things had gone on from bad to worse until I felt that we had reached the end of our rope on the plan of operations we were pursuing; that we had about played


our last card, and must change our tactics or lose the game. I now determined upon the emancipation policy; and, without consulting with or the knowledge of the cabinet, prepared the original draft of the proclamation, and, after much anxious thought, called a cabinet meeting on the subject. This was the last of July or the first part of the month of August. This cabinet meeting took place, I think, upon a Saturday. Nothing was offered that I had not already fully anticipated and settled in my mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. He said in substance: “Mr. President, I approve of the proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses, is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government — a cry for help; the government stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government.” His idea was that it would be considered our last shriek on the retreat. The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me with great force. I put the draft of the proclamation aside, waiting for a victory. Well, the next news we had was of Pope's disaster at Bull Run. Things looked darker than ever. Finally came the week of the battle of Antietam. I determined to wait no longer. I made a solemn vow before God, that it General Lee was driven back from Maryland, I would crown the result by the Declaration of Freedom to the Slaves.

CHAPTER XI. September 23 — November 8, 1862.


We remained in camp near the mouth of Antietam Creek until about the first of October, during which period we drilled a little, and performed easy picket duty along the Potomac; then we marched some six miles into Pleasant Valley, and went into camp about five miles from Harper's Ferry, a real camp with tents, and slept under shelter for the first time since leaving Fredericksburg, on the 12th of August, to take part in the campaign which resulted in Pope's disastrous retreat.

One of the great incidents of our stay in Pleasant Valley was the review of the army by President Lincoln, on the 3d of October, when most of us saw the good President for the first time.

Soon after the battle of Antietam, numbers of town committees visited the army, bringing plenty of kind messages and delicacies in the way of food. There was one thing about them which we were much dissatisfied with, namely, that they invariably came to the new regiments. We could get along very well without the goodies, but we could not see the justice of the favoritism. Our true friend, Miss Clara Barton, however, a 21st woman to the backbone, was now permanently associated with the regiment, and, with two four-mule covered wagons, which by her untiring efforts she kept well

supplied with delicacies in the way of food and articles of clothing, was a ministering angel to our sick. General Sturgis kindly ordered a detail from the regiment of drivers and assistants about her wagons. And this true, noble woman, never sparing herself or failing in her devotion to our suffering men, always maintained her womanly dignity, and won the lasting respect and love of our officers and men.

Quite a little flutter was occasioned in the army, in Pleasant Valley, by a daring raid made by the dashing rebel General Stuart, with 2,000 cavalry, entirely around us, between dawn of October 10th and the forenoon of the 12th, when he escaped across the Potomac again, with insignificant loss. Beyond the destruction of a large quantity of arms, ammunition, clothing, and some railroad buildings at Chambersburg, and securing a quantity of horses, no great harm was done. The exploit, however, demonstrated the necessity of immediately remedying the weakness of the Union cavalry, which had made the raid possible.

Towards the close of October, having got back several of our detailed men, sick and wounded, the 21st had begun to look a little like its old self again, with some three hundred men for duty, when it suffered a loss of fifty-nine muscular and spirited men, who, tired of “hoofing it” as infantry, under an order of the War Department allowing the transfer, enlisted in the regular cavalry and artillery. They were generally men of the dare-devil stripe, and, though they were a grand addition to the regular army, were a sad loss to the 21st. We spent a round month in Pleasant Valley; and, what with constant drills, inspections, and reviews, the strict enforcement of order and discipline, and a full supply of clothing and necessary outfits, under the grand organizing genius of McClellan, the new Army of the Potomac was welded into a proud and homogeneous force of gallant fighting men, ready and fit to face in battle the case-hardened veterans under General Lee.


About noon of October 27, 1862, — a beautiful day, — we1 left our camp in Pleasant Valley, and crossing the Potomac on a ponton bridge at Berlin, moved into Virginia, as part of an army 125,000 strong, to seek the enemy, the bulk of whose forces was then lying some thirty miles away, near Winchester, in the Shenandoah Valley. Marching a mile or two on the Virginia side of the Potomac, we bivouacked near Lovettsville. The night was so cold as to freeze the water in the canteens, but though without tents we had good fires, and were not uncomfortable.

October 28th. We remained where we were, while the rest of the army were moving into position. The tents came up, and we pitched a regular camp.

October 29th. The regiment formed line at three P. M., and marching due south about five miles, went into bivouac without tents.

October 30th. We formed line at day-break, and marched with the division four or five miles, to the vicinity of Vestal's Gap through the Blue Ridge, and went into camp. Unusual care was taken in posting pickets and advanced guards, and it was evident that General McClellan was either throwing us into the Shenandoah Valley, or guarding against a passage of the rebels through the gap. Our army showed a glorious strength in the open country near us; seemed to be perfectly in hand, and was in admirable discipline and spirits; and we awaited the result with confidence in our great leader and the army, such as we had never felt in Virginia before.

October 31st. We remained in camp near the gap; and the regiment was mustered for pay. We were turned out by


a night alarm, and ordered to be in readiness to support the pickets in case of attack, but nothing came of it.

November 1st. We remained quietly in camp near Vestal's Gap.

November 2d. We left camp at ten A. M. and marched with the division twelve miles, to the vicinity of Snicker's Gap, in the Blue Ridge, which was said to have been strongly fortified by the enemy, and which, it was rumored, we would be ordered to assault on the next day. Our tents not being up, we went into bivouac for the night without them. A fierce November gale came on about midnight, and blew through and through us, causing us to pass a very cold and uncomfortable night.

November 3d. Instead of moving on the gap as we had expected, we started south about noon, and after a very slow march of only seven miles, halted at seven o'clock and went into bivouac without tents.

November 4th. Rumors were floating round that the rebel army was coming through Ashby's Gap, some six miles to the south of us, to fight. We moved at nine o'clock, and arrived off the gap about noon. We found General McClellan in person on the ground, and the army in position in imposing strength, but no signs of the enemy.

November 5th. We moved towards Manassas Gap early in the forenoon. It was a splendid day, and the whole face of the country seemed to be covered by the dark, moving masses of our immense army, lighted up by their gleaming muskets. After a march of about ten miles, we arrived off Manassas Gap early in the afternoon; artillery fire was going on in the gap, for our men were occupying one end of it and the rebels the other. Ammunition was inspected, and the regimental field officers were given to understand that Lee's army was placed in a position where it must fight us on our own chosen ground, and that General McClellan wished our men to realize that they were about to fight the great battle of the war.

November 6th. Leaving Manassas Gap we marched ten miles, to near the town of Orleans, and went into bivouac.

The first snow of the season came on about night-fall, and enough fell to cause us to pass a very uncomfortable night, particularly as we were without tents.

November 7th. The day was cold and uncomfortable. At half-past one in the afternoon we moved on through the little deserted town of Orleans; and our brigade, taking the wrong road, some time after night-fall found itself stopped by the North Fork of the Rapahannock River, without a bridge. The weather was very cold, and the men, many of whom were without gloves or mittens, suffered great discomfort. After standing a cold and weary half hour, we retraced our steps, and about midnight went into bivouac in a heavy wood, where, with splendid camp-fires, the remainder of the night was passed as comfortably as the first part of it had been full of discomforts.

November 8th. An event of vast importance to the army and country had occurred during the night, in the receipt of the following order brought by a special messenger from Washington: —

Washington,November 5, 1862.

By direction of the President of the United States, it is ordered that Major-General McClellan be relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac, and that Major-General Burnside take the command of that army. By order of the Secretary of War, E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General.

The removal of General McClellan was made at an unfortunate time, and under circumstances which boded no good to the country; it was the work of General Halleck, General in Chief, McClellan's bitter and malignant enemy, in whose hands, at that time, the President was apparently but as clay in the hands of the potter. McClellan had done a gigantic work in building up an irresistible army out of the disjointed veterans and raw levies, with which he had driven the rebels out of Maryland. He had realized that it was an imperative duty that he owed to his country and his army to muster an overpowering force, with sufficient organization, cohesion and drill to fight battle after battle, without becoming so disjointed

and broken as to make a fresh start necessary after every engagement, before he pitted his men again against those led by his great antagonist. At that stage of the war there was no sense or decency in running desperate risks with the army and nation: the proper way for loyal citizen soldiers to meet powerful and arrogant rebels is to do it with a well organized force sufficiently large to crush, and rejecting no element essential to health, efficiency, and comfort. Neither had the time then come, when (apart from any question as to the generalship or brutality of that style of warfare) the waning resources of the rebels made it comparatively safe for the great and wealthy North to roll its hosts (even though as mighty as those mustered in 1864) blindly against strong positions held by rebel veterans, regarding the chance of killing one rebel as a full equivalent for the loss of five of our own men. These later complaints against McClellan for his slowness and overcaution were much of a piece with the dissatisfaction in the same quarters at his unwillingness in the spring of 1862, to carry the rebel earth-works at Yorktown by the expensive process of assault. The government, infatuated by a few victories of comparatively trifling importance, stopped recruiting on the 3d of April, by General Orders No. 33, thereby justifying McClellan's belief that the North had raised its last man, and that he must husband his army with unceasing care for the bloody and mighty task before it.

The men of the Army of the Potomac trusted and loved McClellan, as they always will, because in spite of the constant worrying suggestions, and sometimes almost fatal interference with his plans by the President, and the daily sneers of General Halleck at his overcaution, he was a soldier too great and true to be driven into movements which as commander of the principal army of the nation he did not approve; and we felt assured, when he did launch us against the enemy, that all the controllable chances of war were in our favor. General Halleck and the President, by this removal, not only brought a great military movement to naught, but trifled with dangerous materials. Take it all together,

and claiming to know only my own feelings on the subject, I believe that the general sentiment of the army would have sustained McClellan with enthusiasm and to the death, if he, as a patriot, and for his country's good, had refused to recognize the order for his removal until after the probably impending battle had been fought. At the time of McClellan's removal, he had the army well in hand, in excellent condition to fight a great battle, and in actual contact with the enemy on the front and right flank: Longstreet with the rebel right wing was immediately in our front, with the bulk of his forces near Culpeper some twenty miles away from our centre; while Jackson had most of the rebel left wing still west of the Blue Ridge, and at a much greater distance from their right wing than we were. McClellan himself believed the prospect favorable for a brilliant victory for our army; and (not to quote McClellan's friends) Major-General Pleasanton, in command of our cavalry, then in the advance, with his pickets but six miles from Culpeper Court House, though personally not friendly to McClellan, says in his report to the Committee on Conduct of the War:1 —


Another opportunity for success was offered when the army was at Warrenton, in the fall of 1862. The rebel force was then divided: Longstreet and A. P. Hill, with their corps, being at Culpeper, while Stonewall Jackson and D. H. Hill were in the Shenandoah Valley, at Front Royal. By crushing Longstreet at Culpeper, the army would cripple that of the rebels, and would cut it off from Richmond. Culpeper should have been occupied. It was at this time that General Burnside assumed command of the army, and unfortunately decided to march on Fredericksburg.

The “On to Richmond” civilian strategists, and a few army officers, too hot headed to trust with the control of the nation's life, or malignant enemies to McClellan, attempted to justify his removal by alleging a cowardly hesitation on his part to push and destroy the enemy after the battle of Antietam,


or suggested that “at least,” in the President's words, he ought to “try to beat him (General Lee) to Richmond, on the inside track.”1 As most of these people knew nothing of the demoralized condition of our army when McClellan took it, or the disjointing that Lee gave it at Antietam, or its need of cavalry, clothing, and military equipment, and considered that a new regiment after a few days drill under inexperienced officers was fit to put into battle against veterans, perhaps it is not worth while to consider this matter further; but I cannot resist making a comparison of McClellan's movements after Antietam, with those of General Meade after Gettysburg, which was certainly a more destructive battle to the enemy than Antietam was.2 The battle of Antietam was fought September 17th. Lee, resting on the Potomac, crossed it secretly on the night of the 18th; and on the 7th of November our army, fitted by McClellan's untiring efforts to fight any troops in the world, after having for some days offered the enemy battle, was, it would seem, in a good position, and in sufficient strength to cripple or crush him.

The last fighting at Gettysburg was on July 3d, 1863; the enemy was allowed to escape across the Potomac, under circumstances far more favorable to his destruction than after Antietam, as after Gettysburg he marched fifty miles to reach the river through a hostile country, and did not cross the river until July 14th. General Meade's army reached Culpeper about the middle of September; Lee's army being then south of the Rapidan: in October an abortive campaign was commenced, the result of which was that Lee forced our army back to Centreville, without any fighting of consequence. Next came the fiasco at Mine Run, about the first of December, when, after our army came in front of the strong rebel position, it was deemed wise to go to the right about without attacking: and no other general movement was made by our


army in Virginia until the campaign which opened in the Wilderness in May, 1864. All this inaction occurred, although it was known that Longstreet's Corps (about 20,000 strong) was detached from Lee's army to fight in Tennessee from the first of September, 1863, until the spring of 1864, and although the terms of enlistment of many of the veteran Union troops expired early in the summer of 1864. The fatal interference from Washington had ceased; and the country had at last begun to realize that “On to Richmond” involved nothing less than the destruction of that wonderful army of Americans, with no new regiments in it, which, half-fed and half-clothed, with patient endurance and unquestioning reliance upon its adored leader, fighting as it believed for all that made life worth living, stood firmly at bay in almost impregnable positions, and seized every opportunity offered to crush unguarded centre, flank, or rear by fierce and overpowering attack.

The Union army was probably the only army in modern civilized warfare, which, as a rule, was recruited by the addition of new regiments, instead of filling up the old organizations. Promotion to the higher grades (the life of the service) ceased in the old regiments, as they became reduced to skeletons, and consequently the esprit du corps in the regiment was weakened rather than increased by every engagement, and the invaluable blood-bought experience of gallant officers was thrown away, with all the generous rivalries and glorious memories which clustered around the old flags. Massachusetts was fully as bad as any other State in this respect, in spite of the most energetic efforts of Governor Andrew to prevent it. The writer, acting for a short time as the governor's military secretary, will never forget the pleasure with which he heard Governor Andrew, in 1864, pitch into a selectman, who offered a company from his town for a new regiment if the governor would commission officers for it whom the men insisted on, but who were without military experience. The selectman, not attempting to answer the governor's vigorous arguments, simply brought them all to naught

by the assurance that not a man could be raised in his town for an old regiment. New regiments were better than none at all, and quotas must be filled, and the governor finally had to yield, ending the conversation with the following bitter commentary, warmly uttered: “Julius Cæsar himself couldn't raise a company for an old regiment in Massachusetts, as long as there is a shoemaker left to make a captain of.” Late in the war, some of the old regiments were attempted to be filled with bounty-jumpers, and Germans who could not speak English, but the good of the service was by no means promoted thereby. The glorious old 2d Massachusetts Infantry was one of the victims to this last-named style of recruiting; and while on this subject, I can't forbear quoting the following extract from their regimental record, in Mass. Adjt.-Gen.’s Report for 1864, p. 217:—

During the year, about 875 men (if some of them can be called men) have been recruited in Boston, Mass., for this regiment. Out of this number, 340 have joined for duty, the remainder having deserted en route. Out of this number of 340, 112 have deserted from the regiment. These men never intended to go as far as they did, but probably found no opportunity to desert until they reached the regiment; and when men will desert from the picket-line to the enemy, as many of them have done, no discipline or restriction of camp will hold them. It needs no suggestion as to the propriety or practicability of filling a quota with such men; it is fortunate for the regiment that such men did not join us, or did not remain with us, for such men will not, do not, intend to fight or do their duty, and the sooner they are separated from those that intend to remain and become soldiers, the better. These desertions have been confined entirely to recruits, a majority of them Dutchmen, though many of them were Americans and New York city ruffians.



CHAPTER XII. November and December, 1862.

  • “The Cabinet thought little Mac was too slow,
  • In his onward to Richmond pursuit of the foe,
  • So in little Mac's shoes they put Burnside, to show
  • How like seven-league boots he would speedily go.”

Doggerel of the Time.


Our loved and magnanimous General Burnside had not sought but had shunned the vast responsibility imposed upon him as commander of the Army of the Potomac. He had accepted the position only when ordered to do so, and because he felt that it would have been disloyal and unfriendly to the government to have refused to obey the order. The great body of the army, warmly and enthusiastically devoted to General McClellan, was disgusted and shocked at the injustice and absurdity of his removal at the time it was made, and many of the most prominent officers in it never could bring themselves to render hearty obedience to or cheerfully coöperate with his successor in command. After our short respite the army was to be torn and cursed again by internal feuds and jealousies, and by interference from Washington.

General Burnside, with good reason, felt that he was placed in command to study out and follow the wishes and suggestions of the President in the selection of the route to Richmond.1


All the advantages of position gained by McClellan against our true objective point (Lee's army) were thrown away; and, after a week's delay near Warrenton, the fatal movement on Fredericksburg was commenced, in substantial accordance with a plan of campaign mapped out by the President and General Halleck, the commander in chief.

General McClellan's farewell to the army was expressed in the following order:—

Headquarters Army of the Potomac. Camp near Rectortown, Va.,November 7, 1862.

Officers and Soldiers of the Army of the Potomac: An order of the President devolves upon Major-General Burnside the command of this army. In parting with you I cannot express the love and gratitude I bear to you. As an army, you have grown up under my care. In you I have never found doubt or coldness. The battles you have fought under my command will proudly live in our nation's history. The glory you have achieved—our mutual perils and fatigues—the graves of our comrades, fallen in battle and by disease—the broken forms of those whom wounds and sickness have disabled—the strongest associations which can exist among men—unite us still by an indissoluble tie. We shall ever be comrades in supporting the Constitution of our country and the nationality of its people.

George B. McClellan, Major-General U. S. Army.

General Burnside, on his assumption of command, issued the following manly order:—

Headquarters Army of the Potomac. Warrenton, Va.,November 9, 1862.

General Order No. 1.

In accordance with General Order No. 182, issued by the President of the United States, I hereby assume command of the Army of the Potomac.

Patriotism and the exercise of my every energy in the direction of this army, aided by the full and hearty coöperation of its officers and men, will, I hope, under the blessing of God, insure its success.

Having been a sharer of the privations and a witness of the bravery of the old Army of the Potomac in the Maryland campaign, and fully identified in their feelings of respect and esteem for General McClellan,

entertained through a long and most friendly association with him, I feel that it is not as a stranger that I assume this command.

To the Ninth Corps, so long and intimately associated with me, I need say nothing; our histories are identical.

With diffidence for myself, but with a proud confidence in the unswerving loyalty and determination of the gallant army now intrusted to my care, I accept its control with the steadfast assurance that the just cause must prevail.

A. E. Burnside, Major-General Commanding.

To return to the 21st, whom we left with the brigade in the woods near Orleans.

November 8th. We left our comfortable bivouac at half-past ten in the morning, crossed the north ford of the Rappahannock, and marched some six or eight miles to the town of Jefferson, where our brigade went into camp in the village, in company with a battery.

November 9th. We remained in camp, doing nothing except to advance a strong line of pickets towards the south.

November 10th. About the middle of the forenoon we received sudden orders to fall in, to the music of our artillery as it opened upon a reconnoitring party of the enemy's infantry which had come to within a mile of our front, and which promptly retired as we took position near the artillery. Some of our cavalry, who had been reconnoitring towards Culpeper (twelve miles away), soon came up with a few prisoners from Longstreet's command.

November 11th. Just before noon the rebels appeared in apparent force in the same place in our front as yesterday: this time they brought a battery with them. Our brigade of five regiments made a fine show as it took position in echelon; and after the interchange of a few harmless shots by the batteries, the main force of the rebels withdrew from sight, but posted a strong line of pickets in our immediate front. Our brigade was now regarded by our commander as in a very perilous position, being separated by some four miles from the rest of our army, which was now behind the Rappahannock, and it was evident that we had attracted Longstreet's attention.

It was reported, I don't know with what truth, that in the change of commanders and hurried movements of troops, the position of our brigade had not been thought of, and that the artillery firing on two successive days was all that called attention to our isolated position. It is certain that a staff-officer from general headquarters came out to us in the afternoon of the 11th, and said that he had come out to see who was firing, and that until our guns were heard nobody had remembered that any of our troops were at Jefferson. We were passing rather a nervous night, when at midnight we received the welcome order to put our baggage on the wagons and prepare to move in perfect silence; our pickets were cautiously drawn in, and at half-past three in the morning we moved away; and, fording the Rappahannock near the Warrenton Sulphur Springs at daylight on the 12th, went into camp within a few rods of the place of our bivouac on the night of August 24th during Pope's retreat. We passed the rest of the day lolling about, and somewhat saddened and dispirited by the noticeable sullen and discontented feeling of the army around us over McClellan's removal.

November 13th. Early in the afternoon the rebels drove in our advance pickets across the river on the Jefferson road, bagging two mounted officers of the 35th Massachusetts, who happened to be taking dinner in a house near the picket line: a battery on the hill near us threw a few shells at them, and the rebels retired, carrying their prisoners with them.

November 14th. We remained quietly in camp, with nothing of interest transpiring.

November 15th. About eight o'clock A. M. we moved down the river. Although the enemy's pickets were in plain sight across the river, the division was moved very carelessly, leaving the wagon train behind near the ford. The rebel cavalry made a dash for the train, but were unable to cross the ford under the fire of two companies of Rhode Island troops who had just come in from picket duty. The enemy then opened a rapid fire of artillery upon the wagons, and created quite a panic among the mules and wagoners. Some of our artillery

was sent back, and the 21st with some other troops were double-quicked to the scene of action. A lively artillery duel occurred between the rebel guns and ours, lasting about half an hour, the infantry remaining in a sheltered position near our artillery and escaping without loss. As soon as the wagons were out of danger we resumed our march, and after making some ten or twelve miles went into bivouac early in the afternoon.

The following letter, which tells its own story, was sent to Mrs. Reno, widow of our beloved general, accompanying a superb sword which had been ordered several months before by the regiment as a present from them to him:—

Headquarters 21st Massachusetts Volunteers. Rappahannock, Va.,November 15, 1862.

Mrs. Mary C. Reno.

Dear Madam: On last May Day the officers of the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers assembled in my headquarters in Camp Andrew, near Newbern, N. C., to deliberate upon the most suitable manner of manifesting their affection and esteem for General J. L. Reno. The intimate connection which had existed between him and the 21st since New Year's had just been dissolved by his well-deserved promotion to the command of a division. He had been our first brigadier, and we an honored portion of his first brigade. Guided by his intelligence and inspired by his courage and energy, we had fought and won at Roanoke Island, Newbern, and Camden. We had known no defeat. At his command we had boldly penetrated almost impassable swamps in search of the enemy, had undergone incredible fatigue and privation, and charged successfully upon fortifications bristling with bayonets and cannon. We had also seen him expose himself cheerfully to danger and hardship. We had experienced his paternal care in the enjoyment of every possible comfort in seasons of repose, and we had felt his tender and sympathizing love as he walked among the sick and wounded in the hospitals, gladdening every heart with his smiling face, and his few well-chosen words, and especially as with tearful eyes he conversed with us of our brave comrades who had fallen in battle.

It was unanimously resolved to raise the sum of five hundred dollars for the purchase of a sword, to be the testimonial of our feelings

towards our gallant leader, and to grant to every person belonging to the regiment the privilege of contributing to the fund. Before the completion of the sword by the celebrated Massachusetts manufacturers, the Ames Company of Chicopee, General Burnside's forces were ordered to Virginia, and thence to Maryland, so that no opportunity occurred for the presentation. At South Mountain General Reno commanded the 9th Army Corps with distinguished ability and success; but alas! at the very moment of victory, as he rode triumphantly to the summit, for the possession of which he had striven so desperately during the entire day, he received his mortal wound. The death of such an officer at any time would be a source of incalculable grief to his personal friends, and of deep regret to the army and the country; but never could his loss have been more distressing than in the gloomy period through which we are now passing. His hopeful, resolute, indomitable spirit; his promptness of decision and action; his perfect faithfulness and reliability; his disinterestedness and devoted patriotism, combined with his superior military education and varied experience, rendered his services of inestimable value, not only to General Burnside, who loved him as a brother, but to the government, which he so valiantly labored to sustain. And now, Madam, in behalf of every officer and soldier of the 21st, permit me to tender to yourself and family our most sincere and cordial sympathy on this occasion of terrible bereavement and overwhelming sorrow. May the infinite Father ever have you in his holy keeping. Accept the accompanying sword as an enduring and appropriate souvenir of the worth of your lamented husband; and may your noble sons, Lewis, Conrad, and Jesse, as often as they look upon it, be reminded of the manly virtues and heroic conduct of their father, and proudly resolve to emulate his glorious example. With great consideration I have the honor to be, Madam,

Your obedient servant, W. S. Clark, Colonel 21st Mass. Vols.

November 16th. We moved on at nine o'clock in the morning, and after a march of ten miles went into camp early in the afternoon, at a point on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, about three miles from Warrenton Junction. The rebels had captured a couple of supply trains for our army just before we left the vicinity of Warrenton, and we had been for several days on short rations of hard bread, and now

the supply had substantially given out altogether. The men had got into the very bad habit of calling out, “hard tack!” whenever a general officer came in sight, and whenever it would be difficult to identify the one that made the outery. On this particular night there was a good deal of such calling out in the camps, the 21st men doing their full share. It had got to be a serious nuisance; and I still vividly remember the pleasure with which I detected a man for whom I had been lying in wait for half an hour, as he stuck his head out of his tent after taps and yelled hard tack; and, best of all, on examining his haversack, found that he was the one man in the tent who had plenty of bread. The breaker of tired men's sleep had to stand on a barrel for the remainder of the night; and all occasion for “blarting” hard tack was removed by the arrival of a timely supply on the next day.

November 17th. We did not leave camp until one o'clock P. M., when we resumed our march, and taking a route across the country made from eight to ten miles before we halted for the night in a rain. It was a raw night, the tents had not come up, and there was no fuel handy except fences, on which the men raided heavily in spite of some resistance offered by the provost guard. The officers considered the raid on the fences reasonable under the circumstances, and made no effort to prevent it, although it was the first instance of the destruction of any private property except growing trees that I had noticed since the army left Pleasant Valley.

November 18th. Forming line in the dark about six o'clock A. M., we moved on at seven, and making a march of thirteen miles halted at one o'clock on the very spot (seven miles from Falmouth) where we stopped to rest on the morning of August 13th, when on the march to join General Pope.

November 19th. We left camp at seven A. M., and moving slowly along in a drizzling rain passed through Falmouth about noon, and went into camp in support of a battery, about two o'clock, close to the river opposite Fredericksburg. Our entire grand division (the 2d and 9th corps), under General Sumner, numbering about twenty-five thousand men, with

sixty pieces of artillery, were now opposite the city, which was then occupied by a small force of the enemy. The 21st remained in camp on the river bank opposite the lower part of the city; one or two other regiments remained in sight on our right and left, but the principal part of the corps went into camp from one to two miles in our rear. Before sunset hundreds of the rebels and our men lined the banks of the river in our front, and indulged in spicy repartee and generally good-natured defiance across the narrow river which divided us (about two hundred yards wide).

The favorite battles in the rebel allusions were the two Bull Runs. When our men asked them how they liked South Mountain and Antietam, the reply was, “Too many Yankees in Maryland to the acre.” The men good-naturedly matched the different regiments to fight each other in the supposed approaching battle; some 21st man in behalf of the regiment, describing it, however, as the 201st Rhode Island, promptly accepting a challenge from the 14th Georgia. An Irishman on the rebel bank inquired whether there was an Irishman among the Yankees; a Company B man promptly answering in the affirmative, the rebel said that he had never thought to see an Irishman fighting against liberty. After the two had indulged rather indiscriminately in strong expressions of hostility, the rebel Irishman said a few words in native Irish, and then wound up by holding up his canteen, and saying in English: “Jeff Davis gives me my whiskey, but Abe Lincoln gives you nothing but water.” Our Irishman said that when the other struck into Irish, he told him that there were only a few troops in the town, and that he was going to desert.

The head of Sumner's Division had reached Falmouth on the afternoon of the 17th; and a battery had at once opened on it from the heights on the rebel side, but was silenced in a few minutes by one of Sumner's batteries. Sumner was anxious to cross at once, and occupy the town and adjoining heights on the rebel side, but was prevented by orders from General Burnside, who did not think it advisable to occupy Fredericksburg until his communications were established.

The object of abandoning our advantageous position against Lee's army, and marching on Fredericksburg to fight them a month later under circumstances of position about as unfavorable for us and favorable for them as can well be imagined, is a mystery which for the purposes of this history there is no occasion for considering further; and I shall have nothing further to say about it, except that the reasons commonly given for making the movement, and when it was made for not occupying the fatal heights behind the town before the rebels arrived in force, have never seemed to me at all satisfactory.1

November 20th. A rainy day: a few rebel soldiers were to be seen about the town, but the men on both sides were kept away from the river's bank, and there was no more chaffing. During the day a battery of twenty-pounder Parrott guns on some high land on our left fired at railroad trains attempting to come into the city from the south; and ingress or egress by rail from the city in the daytime was stopped.

November 21st. A stormy, unpleasant day; the deeply rutted roads are rapidly becoming impassable for wagons and artillery, and everybody is beginning to ask, — What next?

Although substantially our entire army had now got into position in front of Fredericksburg, unfortunately Lee's army were also in full occupation of the heights behind the town, and were beginning to throw up earth-works. General Patrick, provost-marshal of our army, was sent across the river this morning under a flag of truce, bearing the following demand for the surrender of the city:—


Headquarters, Army of Potomac,November 21, 1862.

To the Mayor and Common Council of Fredericksburg.

Gentlemen: Under cover of the houses of your city, shots have been fired upon the troops of my command; your mills and manufacturers are furnishing provisions and the material for clothing for armed bodies in rebellion against the Government of the United States, and your railroads and other means of transportation are moving supplies to the depots of such troops.

This condition of things must terminate, and, by direction of General Burnside, I accordingly demand the surrender of the city into my hands, as the representative of the United States, at or before five o'clock this afternoon. Failing an affirmative reply to this demand by the hour indicated, sixteen hours will be permitted to elapse for removal from the city of women and children, the sick, wounded, and aged, etc., which period having expired I shall proceed to shell the town.

Upon obtaining possession of the city every necessary means will be taken to preserve order and secure the protective operation of the laws and policy of the United States Government.

Your obedient servant, E. V. Sumner, Brevet Major-Gen. U. S. A., Commanding Right Grand Division.

The rebels put General Patrick into the guard-house, and kept him there for several hours on the pretense that a long time was required to get at the officer commanding the army, as the civil authorities could have but little discretion in the premises. Finally, at night-fall, a reply was returned, complaining of the short time allowed for the removal of noncombatants, and stating that the military authorities would resist the occupation of the town by the Union forces.

November 22d. A pleasant day; the rebels have made considerable additions to their field-works during the night, and the smoke of their camp-fires indicates a large force on the wooded heights behind the town. It is generally supposed that our guns will open on the city to-morrow.

November 23d. Not only was there no truth in the report that our guns were to open on the city to-day, but the rebels

without interference from our artillery, were allowed to work on their forts like beavers, in broad daylight, although within range of our guns.

November 24th. A pleasant day. A good deal of bantering took place between our men and the rebels across the river. Their men are still at work fortifying the heights. It is reported that the 9th Corps will be thrown over the river to-morrow, and although it is said that one hundred and sixty guns will cover our crossing, we dread the attack upon the rebel earth-works which have grown up under our eyes and guns.

November 25th. We felt much relieved at nothing being done in the way of crossing; and are now firmly convinced that our general has no idea of attacking in front, but when he moves will flank the rebel position.

November 26th. The rebels now have seventy-one guns in their earth-works opposite our position, and although we have an uneasy feeling as to our future movements we cannot believe that we are going to be thrown against them.

November 27th. Thanksgiving Day at home, but in name only to us. Our newspapers show that the “loyal North” is crying out for no more dilly-dallying with the rebels, and I, for one, feel pretty sure that we shall be jammed in at a disadvantage.

November 28th. We receive notice that we are to be relieved and moved to the rear in the morning, which suits me, at least, much better than a move in the other direction.

November 29th. Having been relieved by the 2d Michigan, we left the river at daylight, and marching about a mile and a half to the rear, went into camp with the rest of the brigade. As soon as our tents were pitched, the officers of the 21st received an invitation to an entertainment by the officers of the 51st New York, in honor of our return to the brigade; and many of us went over to their camp, where we found a spread set out in a large hospital tent. After a little while, one of their officers said they regretted exceedingly that the supply of spiritus frumenti was very short in their camp, but

their chaplain had brought a little liquor purporting to be whiskey from Washington the day before, and it must be finished in our honor. The box of a dozen bottles was brought in, and, on the claim that we had been cut off from the good things of this world during our ten days at the river, our hospitable hosts insisted with great warmth, that the 21st officers should drink the whole of it, as it was every drop they had, and there was not enough for all. We did not, however, concur in that view, particularly as there were one or two total abstainers among us. The stuff was a mixture of apple-jack and whiskey, which our friends had mixed for the express purpose of laying us out, but as we did not suspect the trick at first we joined them in drinking the peculiar tasting liquor. When that was finished, it suddenly occurred to another 51st officer that he had forgotten to mention that he had another box, which was promptly produced. The intention of the gallant 51st now becoming manifest, the 21st, in spite of the remonstrances and reproaches of our comrades, began to withdraw; and, failing to stop the secession, an indignant and stalwart officer of the 51st wrenched the front pole from position, and the great tent fell upon those that remained. This festive meeting occurred at high noon, and the noise made on the occasion had drawn a good many enlisted men about the tent, so that the affair was quite a public scandal; and the next day all the participating officers were summoned to brigade headquarters for reprimand. As it was evident that the 51st had played us a shabby trick, and that their chaplain was the prime mover in the game, the general (formerly colonel of the 51st) reprimanded him severely, in that he, “a man of God, had degraded his cloth and disgraced his calling,” and threatened him with a court-martial. Somewhat overcome at first by the severity of the attack upon him, the chaplain humbly admitted the justice of the rebuke, but ended with the following panegyric on his regiment, which secured him a full pardon: “General, I know it wasn't just right, but the 51st laid them out!”1


Out of sight out of mind, was true of the rebels and their forts as of many other things, and in the drills, inspections, and other details of camp life, we soon ceased to concern ourselves much about the probable future movements of the army.

December 1st. We were paid to November 1st.

December 4th. Our beloved chaplain, Rev. George S. Ball, having resigned his commission, left for home. In the thirteen months that he had been with us he had shared with the regiment every peril and hardship which it had been called on to face and endure, and had won the lasting respect and love of every man in it, of whatever creed.

Never losing sight of his duty as a Christian clergyman, he had been far more than a mere chaplain to us. Ardently patriotic, always hopeful, manly, and courageous, he exerted a strong and lasting influence in keeping up the tone of the regiment in its soldierly as well as its moral duties. As our postmaster, no matter at what inconvenience to himself, the mail was never left to take care of itself when by his energy it could be forced to come or go. To our sick and wounded he had been, with unfailing devotion, a brave, tender, and skillful nurse. An honor and grace to his calling and the service, it was a sad day in the regiment when he left us.

December 5th. A severe snow-storm occurred, and cleared up with very cold weather, which occasioned much discomfort to the men, as their shoes were generally in very unserviceable condition.

It continued exceedingly cold through the 6th and 7th; and the bad condition of the shoes in the brigade was shown by the refusal of several men detailed for guard duty in the

51st New York to go on guard in the crusted snow on account of their want of suitable shoes. Their colonel sent them up to the brigade guard-house in irons for their disobedience; but their shoes were so shamefully bad that I, as officer of the day, considering their refusal justifiable, at once released them.

December 9th. The snow has melted and the roads seem almost impassable on account of the deep, sticky mud. Sixty rounds of ball cartridges a man were issued to-day.

December 10th. A careful inspection of arms and ammunition was made to-day; a movement was evidently taking place throughout the army towards the river bank, below and in fron of the town; and we knew that the great battle which had hung over us for a month would open on the morrow, when at evening, about a hundred men were detailed from the 21st to help throw a ponton bridge over the river and build a corduroy road below the town. Now that we were evidently in for it, we gave little or no thought as to where or how we were going to meet the enemy, but hoped and believed that their position was to be turned, and that they were not to have the fun of shooting at us from their intrenchments.

December 11th. We were all wakened at half-past five in the morning by the reports of two very heavy guns, fired about a minute apart, on the rebel side of the river.1 It was cold and cheerless enough as we turned out of our tents into the raw air and darkness solidified by a heavy chilling fog.

Nothing else attracted our attention especially until half-past six o'clock, when fire from 147 of our guns, which had been put in position on the heights along the river, was opened upon the city and rebel works, with an unintermitted thundering bellow entirely novel in our experience, which, although occasionally swelling or decreasing a little, continued without ceasing until noon, and, with short intervals, till nearly sunset.

We left camp with the brigade at half-past eight o'clock


(the 21st, in the absence of our working detail, numbering for duty, all told, 183 officers and men), and marching past the Phillips House (General Burnside's headquarters for the battle), were halted on the broad plateau between it and the river, across which some New York volunteer engineers were vainly endeavoring to throw a ponton bridge in the face of a deadly musketry fire from rebel sharp-shooters in cellars, riflepits, and log-houses along the opposite bank, whom our artillery with all its fury could not dislodge. The day was now pleasant and clear; the infernal bellow of the artillery drowned all other sounds; and knowing little of what was going on in front of us, except as an officer from the front passed by now and then, we made the best of the irksome delay. About ten o'clock occurred a more determined effort to lay the bridge in our front than had been made since daylight, but it failed like the others, though covered by the terrific roar (for the shot seemed to do no harm) of the enormous mass of beleaguering guns. About noon, officers of the brigade staff who went to the river bank (about half a mile in our front), on their return reported that the bridge-builders had entirely stopped operations, as the rebels lining the other bank firing through loop-holed walls were so well covered that they could not be quieted by musketry, and our artillery could not be sufficiently depressed to pound their cover to pieces. While we were waiting there, lying on the ground, an officer (Captain Augustus Morse), formerly our colonel, rode up to the 21st. Since his dismissal from the service as colonel, by General Dix's favor he had been made a captain and commissary of subsistence. Coming up to the regiment he inquired for one officer after another, but found none of them very cordial in their greeting; finally, after a good look at the rebel works, he richly earned a second dismissal by saying to the men, just before he rode away, “You're going over the river to fight those forts, and I guess you'll get whipped.” The miserable old fellow touched a tender spot, for there was not a little smothered, and even open indignation among officers and men that we were (as many of us believed) unnecessarily to be thrown against those formidable intrenchments.

Towards the close of the afternoon, General Burnside decided to force a crossing by charging in the ponton boats.1 General Ferrero (our brigadier), who had gone to the river bank a short time previously, came back with his horse on the dead run, and, in breathless haste, explaining that on his request our brigade had the honor of furnishing the men for the work, called for the 51st New York and 21st Massachusetts. Quick as words could fly came the orders, “Attention 21st! Attention 51st!” and the two regiments started on the double-quick for the river. But we had half a mile to travel, and before we reached the spot the work had been done. The colonel of the 7th Michigan, claiming the right to the honor of the charge for the troops at the river bank, had called on his regiment, who enthusiastically followed him into the boats, and gallantly supported by the 19th and 20th Massachusetts, had crossed the river under a deadly fire, and when we arrived on the scene were in full possession of the opposite bank. We now looked down upon the half-finished bridge, which remained as it was before daylight that morning; and half a dozen dead men still lying along it presented a pitiful spectacle. At five o'clock we were ordered back to our camp for the night, and hastened home, glad to have the uncertainties of the night intervene between us and the intrenched rebels. As soon, however, as we had reached camp, we received an order to cross into Fredericksburg, and at once moved about half a mile in the dark towards the river, when the order was countermanded and we returned to our tents. The progress in the day had not been favorable; the only possible chance of a successful assault upon the rebel position in our front was by making it a surprise, and the long delay in laying the bridges opposite the city had given General Lee full opportunity to call in his detached forces and prepare for attack at the threatened points; and forty hours were yet to elapse before we were to be dashed against his works. General Franklin


had laid three bridges about a mile below the town (on our left) without serious resistance, and had them ready for his grand division (of forty-seven thousand men) to cross by eleven o'clock in the forenoon, but had been ordered not to move his troops until our bridges were also ready. Within an hour after the other bank was carried our three bridges were completed, but it was then too late in the day to do anything more than throw over enough troops to make the bridges safe.

The two immense armies now about to meet were probably the largest that had joined battle in Virginia since the war commenced. Lee's army, under his immediate command, with Jackson in charge of the right wing and Longstreet of the left, posted in a position of his own selection, long prepared and of great natural strength, numbered ninety thousand men. Of our army, 125,000 strong, 110,000 effective men, organized in three grand divisions, were about to attack the intrenched rebels. The left grand division, under General Franklin (46,892 officers and men for duty), was posted about a mile below the town, and consisted of the 1st and 6th corps. The centre division, under General Hooker (39,984 strong), was composed of the 3d and 5th corps; and the right division, under General Sumner (22,736 strong), posted directly opposite the city, was composed of the 2d and 9th corps.

December 12th. The night had passed without any incident of interest; and, after a good sleep and breakfast, the brigade left camp at eight o'clock, in a fog (the 21st numbering 190 muskets for duty), and, marching down to the river over the hill by the Lacy House, crossed the Rappahannock by the same bridge which had been laid in our front the day before, without interference from the enemy's artillery, as our movement was concealed by the fog. Once over, we spent the entire day in line along the river bank, while the remainder of the attacking force was crossing the bridges.

The fog cleared away about ten o'clock, and our guns on the Stafford Heights occasionally opened sharply upon the rebel works on Marye's Hill, as the rebel artillery shelled our

troops moving towards the bridges, or felt for the bridges themselves, which fortunately were concealed from their view by the houses of the city.

While we were waiting here under the river bank, a little affair occurred which, by contrast, was very creditable to our cavalry. A brigade of infantry came marching gayly over the hill by the Lacy House, with a full band playing “Bully for You,” when a rebel battery on the high land opposite Fal-mouth dropped a percussion shell into the midst of the band, and promptly followed it up with two or three more which took effect among the troops. The defiant music instantly ceased, and band and infantry broke ranks and ran for shelter amidst cries of derision from our men. The ground was hardly clear of the infantry, when a squadron or two of regular cavalry were seen coming over the hill at a slow trot. Three shells were instantly dropped into their ranks; but, instead of increasing their pace, the command came down to a walk, and moved on towards the bridge in perfect order, although shell after shell exploded amongst them. The contrast was a magnificent one for the cavalry; and we were soon proud to learn that several of our 21st men who had enlisted in the cavalry were serving in those absolutely steady ranks.

We slept along the river bank near the bridge, without fires, and had a cold night of it, with no occurrence of interest.

December 13th. Another foggy morning, but it cleared away as before, about ten o'clock, at which time our brigade was ordered to support a line of skirmishers thrown out in rear of the city and hold our ground. We moved at once to the extreme westerly part of the city, and took position in a street running parallel to the rebel position. The 21st, unfortunate in their miserable gray overcoats, were compelled to take them off and store them in one of the houses, for fear of being mistaken for rebels by our artillery men, as it was reported that the 20th Massachusetts, owing to their gray overcoats, had been fired into as being rebels on the afternoon of the crossing.

Some troops belonging to the 2d Corps, immediately on our right, soon advanced from the town over the open plain

against the impregnable rebel position on Marye's Hill, some fifteen hundred to two thousand yards to our front, under a terrific fire from the sixteen well-served guns of the Washington Artillery. The brave fellows pushed on till lost to our view, leaving behind them a sickening trail of gallant, handsome men, reduced to mere bundles of rags and mutilated flesh, or with mangled bodies writhing in agony upon the ground.

Their assault was desperate, but in vain, and they soon came streaming back, followed by some of the rebel infantry. It was now about noon, and the 21st, together with the rest of the brigade, were drawn outside the town to charge the yelling rebels and those fatal heights. As we took position for the charge the rebel infantry fell back on their works, and their artillery opened on us; before we had dressed our line the head of tall Warren Webster, of Company I, flew from his shoulders, and while the horrid red fountain was still spouting from the neck, our well-ordered line was sweeping forward on the double-quick, under the best directed artillery fire that we had ever suffered or seen, and soon came within range of canister and the deadly fire of well-covered infantry. But our blood was up, and the men, looking only to the front, went pluckily on through that hell of countless projectiles which shrieked, burst, and hissed through the air, or tore the ground around us. Our colors fell again and again, but never halted on that charge. Plunkett1 sprang to raise the Stars and Stripes as they fell with the mortally stricken Collins;2 while Wheeler3 was loosening the dying grasp of Barr4 from the staff of the white flag of Massachusetts; and Olney5 soon seized the national banner, now wet with the blood of the mangled and armless Plunkett. I wonder, even now, how we could have escaped with the loss of only one third of the number that we took into the fight.

Coming to a halt within two hundred yards of the rebel infantry,


our line opened fire, — for up to this time we had not fired a shot; — and making no further attempt to advance, we passed the rest of the afternoon lying flat upon the ground, firing slowly, whenever a covered rebel showed his head: we had good reason to husband our sixty rounds of ammunition, for our single weak line audaciously confronted the strong rebel left, with half a mile of open plain between us and the city, which furnished no cover for a supporting force. We were so close under the hill that it was only by luck that the guns in the rebel works on its crest (from fifty to one hundred feet above us), could be now and then depressed sufficiently to hit us; but the sharp-shooters with the guns were always firing, and could command us perfectly. Right in our front, at the foot of the hill, was an intrenched line of infantry,1 and half-way up the hill were rifle-pits curiously made of gabions fastened to its steep face, filled with sharp-shooters. After our boys had got to feel entirely at home, they realized fully that their only hope was in unceasing vigilance, and, watching like cats, held their fire for rebel heads. The rebels also were not long in finding out that they fared better not to show a mark, and their fire, though much heavier than ours, was more at random. Our nearness to the enemy was our safety. The 21st were also fortunate in being somewhat sheltered by a little roll in the land.2

After we had been in position for an hour or two, three reinforcing regiments appeared coming from the city to the


front; the regiment coming up immediately behind us (the 163d New York), a new regiment, were badly broken by the fire of the rebel artillery, and, while we in aid and pity were wasting many a precious cartridge in a random fire to keep the enemy from taking time to aim, halted a few hundred yards in our rear, and, to our horror and disgust, opened a crazy fire at the rebels through us. Under the frantic curses of our men, a gallant officer of the 163d brought about a hundred of them up to our line, and the rest soon ceased to trouble us by going back the way they had come. Fortunately, we were not further reinforced on our part of the line during the afternoon, although unsuccessful assaults were made by other troops, both on our right and left. About the middle of the afternoon our long and patient watching was rewarded by an opportunity to nearly exhaust our supply of cartridges, in taking advantage of the only fair chance which we had at the enemy during the day. It was when a rebel brigade came down the hill to relieve their troops in the intrenchments and rifle-pits. We had a beautiful chance at them, and improved it with a will, breaking up and scattering them for a time; but the plucky fellows finally got to their desired cover.

About sunset, General Hooker's troops made an attack on our right, but were speedily driven back, with the loss of 1,700 men. As soon as it was dark enough to allow the movement of the artillery to be made without being noticed by the rebels, a full battery was brought up and posted just on the right of the 21st, and managed to fire one volley of canister by battery, into the rebels on Marye's Hill; but the enemy concentrated a perfectly hellish fire of musketry upon it, and the guns were promptly abandoned. Captain Phillips's 5th Massachusetts Battery had now taken position about a thousand yards in our rear, and was pitching shells at intervals of about two minutes into the rebel position in our front. As the swift, circling lines of fire, made by the burning fuses, curved close over our heads, we at first would have preferred to have him turn his guns some other way, but the fuses were

beautifully timed, no accident occurred, and as we were out of ammunition, we were soon glad to have somebody stirring the rebels up. After dark some other troops came up and relieved us, and we went back to the city, got our overcoats, and returning to the position near the bridge which we had left in the morning, had a liberal ration of whiskey and our supper, and passed an undisturbed night.1 We found the streets of the city blocked up by artillery and ammunition wagons, and many of the troops, who were supposed to be held in readiness to support the advanced line, scattered about in the houses pillaging, and evidently not to be relied on for united work. It has always seemed to me that General Lee's caution, and belief that we would renew the attack, saved our army from a disaster that night, appalling to think of. Just before we left the front, on the rumor that the rebels were charging our right flank, the men began to double in from the right in an alarming way, and some to start for the rear; before any general panic, however, had taken place, the alarm was found to be groundless. There was no general officer in actual tangible command of the front line, and no such feeling


of unity among the different organizations as to make concerted action possible. Yet, when we saw the mixed up state of things in the city, it was plain that the main reliance to resist a sudden assault was the front line. Stonewall Jackson, who was always inclined to be bloody, is said to have proposed to General Lee to bombard the city that evening with every gun that could be brought to bear upon it, to break up and demoralize the troops there, and then allow him (Jackson), with his corps, the men stripped naked to the waist, to avoid the danger of mistaking friend for foe, using only the bayonet, to make bloody work with our advanced line and the troops in the city. Although there is no use in imagining evils from which we were spared, I, for one, shall always feel grateful that General Lee, in the belief that we would renew the attack, refused to permit Jackson to grapple, that night, with our mighty, but discouraged, mixed up, and disjointed army.1

December 14th. Before daylight on the morning of the 14th, it was reported that the 9th Corps, to be led by General Burnside in person, were going to assault Marye's Hill in a column of regiments, that day, “to show the rest of the army how to fight,” and that our division would have the “honor of the advance.”

I heard of the plan from such a source that I could not doubt that the movement was contemplated, and was pleased indeed to see the day wear on and the sun set, without our making the attack. How near an escape we really had is shown by the following extract from General Burnside's evidence before the Congressional Committee on Conduct of the War, who visited the army immediately after the battle, and who made the report from which I have taken this extract, on the 23d of December, 1862:—


That night (of December 13th and 14th) I went all over the field on our right; in fact, I was with the officers and men until daylight. I found the feeling to be rather against an attack; in fact, it was decidedly against it.

I returned to my headquarters, and after conversation with General Sumner, told him that I wanted him to order the 9th Army Corps, which I originally commanded, to form the next morning a column of attack by regiments (it consisted of some eighteen old regiments and some new ones), and desired the column to make a direct attack upon the enemy's works. I thought by these regiments arriving quickly up after each other, they would be able to carry the stone wall and the batteries in front, forcing the enemy into their next line, and by going in with them, they would not be able to fire upon us to any great extent. I left General Sumner with that understanding, and directed him to give the order. The order was given, and the column of attack was formed.

The next morning, just before the column was to have started, General Sumner came to me and said: “General, I hope you will desist from this attack; I do not know of a general officer who approves of it, and I think it will prove disastrous to the army.” Advice of that kind from General Sumner, who has always been in favor of an advance whenever it was possible, caused me to hesitate.

I kept the column of attack formed, and sent over for the division and corps commanders, and consulted with them. They unanimously voted against the attack. I then went over to see the other officers of the command on the other side, and found that the same opinion prevailed among them. I sent for General Franklin, who was then on the left, and he was exactly of the same opinion. This caused me to decide that I ought not to make the attack I had contemplated; and besides, inasmuch as the President of the United States had told me not to be in a hurry in making this attack, that he would give me all the support he could, but he did not want the Army of the Potomac destroyed, I felt that I could not take the responsibility of ordering the attack, notwithstanding my own belief at the time that the works of the enemy could be carried. . . .

During the day of the 14th no fighting occurred on our front except a slow constant fire between the enemy and our advanced line of battle, still lying on the ground without cover, in the position which we had occupied the previous day.

About eight o'clock in the evening, we, with the brigade, were ordered back to relieve the advanced line, with instructions to hold our ground at all hazards. We hunted about for spades to make a breastwork, but could find none; the 51st Pennsylvania were more fortunate, and got two or three. As we reached the western edge of the city, we met the troops whom we had been sent out to relieve (regulars), returning, without having waited for the arrival of the relief, — a most unsoldierly proceeding; but the poor fellows had suffered a heavy loss, as they had lain flat on their faces all day in the open field, to be picked off like pigeons by the rebel sharp-shooters, and their soldierly ambition was evidently at a very low ebb.

The night was exceedingly dark, and it was a difficult and dangerous matter to reëstablish the line. The brigade moved on by the flank, guided by rebel camp-fires, until we seemed right upon them; then, in line of battle, with skirmishers deployed to the front, we stumbled over the bodies of the dead for a few rods, and came to a halt as our skirmishers were challenged by the rebel pickets; a few harmless shots were exchanged between our skirmishers and the pickets, as we settled into position and found ourselves on almost the exact line gained by the brigade on the previous day, though the positions of the regiments were changed, the 21st then being on the extreme left, and now being the last regiment but one on the right. We had scarcely taken position before the rebels felt our line, but immediately fell back to their works as we opened fire. After this, the cold night dragged wearily away without any more firing. Our anticipations for the coming day were anything but agreeable, whether we were to have “the honor” of leading a desperate column of attack, or simply to furnish a helpless mark for the rebel sharp-shooters to practice at. The rebels were busily at work throwing up additional rifle-pits; and we, finding that the 51st Pennsylvania would hardly be able to finish the elaborate parapet which they were constructing, so as to give us a second chance at their spades, before daylight, set to work upon a ghastly rampart,

made of bodies of the dead, ammunition boxes, and the various debris of the battle-field which we could find in the dark, and dug earth with bayonets and dippers, to give the outside a solid and respectable appearance. Just before daylight we got a spade from the 51st, which did good service as it was passed rapidly along the companies. It had grown quite light, and we saw the famous, massive stone wall under Marye's Hill, a hundred yards in our front, before the left of the 21st got a chance at the spade; but as the rebels were still at work upon their rifle-pits, they allowed us to work on till it was almost broad daylight, when a single shot was fired from their lines, apparently as a signal for us to stop, and we lay down snugly behind our cover and ate our hard-tack in comparative safety. Our little parapet, although it did not average more than fifteen inches in height, and was very thin in spots, served to conceal us if we lay flat enough, and turned out to be a fair protection against musketry. And so, throughout that long day we lay hugging the ground, wondering how long it would be before we were like the horrid relics of humanity which lay thickly strewn around us, among which numerous pigs were rooting, to get the bread in the haversacks. Our orders were not to return the fire of the enemy, but to save our ammunition to resist a charge, and we had nothing to do but to wait patiently for whatever might turn up. There was some fun and joking along the line, but everything tending to provoke the enemy was discouraged, for all we wanted was to be let alone; and when now and then some one of our dare-devils would jump to his feet and drop suddenly, to avoid the rebel fire, he was called a fool for his bravado; and even the somewhat innocent amusement of putting caps on ramrods and moving them about on the edge of the parapet, which was resorted to early in the day, was soon stopped.

The artillery on Marye's Hill fired a good many shells at us during the day, but did not succeed in cutting their fuses short enough to do us any harm, except in case of one shell, a piece of which inflicted a severe wound on the arm of Private

Harrington W. Saunders, of Company D. Early in the afternoon the rebels opened a very heavy musketry and artillery fire upon us, hoping apparently that we would be fools enough to scamper back towards the town, and give them a fair shot at us, as some pickets on our right two hundred yards nearer the town had done a little while before. Some very heavy guns across the river on our extreme right now opened on the enemy, and appeared to enfilade the stone wall and lower line of earth-works, and certainly exercised a very quieting influence. When it at last grew dark we threw our pickets forward, but soon had them in again with the news that the enemy were close upon us crawling up to our line on their hands and knees; the sheet of flame that ran along the front of the brigade, however, seemed to satisfy them that we meant to stay, and they promptly retired. About midnight we were ordered to move silently to the rear. With limbs stiffened by the cramping posture in which we had lain so long, and chilled through by the rough cold wind of that stormy night, we marched back into the town, and at two o'clock on the morning of December 16th recrossed the ponton bridge, and returned to our camp.

The hopeless battle of Fredericksburg was over, and the victorious rebels were again in undisputed possession of its blood-soaked plain and the shattered town, but the 21st, now veterans of eight general engagements during the year, had stood true and firm through those four days of doubt, danger, pillage, and death; and pride in the heroism of the regiment is the only pleasant memory of its survivors connected with our last battle in 1862.

The following extract from the regimental official report (made by Colonel Clark, on the 16th of December) describes our charge, and the gallantry of our color-bearers:—

The 2d brigade was now ordered to the front, and, formed in double line of battle, most gallantly and steadily moved across the plain, swept by the destructive fire of the enemy. When about sixty rods from the city, the Color-Sergeant Collins, of Company A, was shot and fell to the ground; Sergeant Plunkett, of Company E,

instantly seized the colors, and carried them proudly forward to the farthest point reached by our troops during the battle. When the regiment had commenced the delivery of its fire about forty rods from the position of the rebel infantry, a shell was thrown with fatal accuracy at the colors, which were again brought to the ground wet with the life-blood of the brave Plunkett, both of whose arms were carried away.1 Color Corporal Olney, of Company H, immediately raised the glorious flag, and defiantly bore it through the remainder of the day. Color Corporal Barr, of Company C, who carried the State Colors, was also shot, and his post of honor and danger quickly taken by Color Corporal Wheeler, of Company I; Color Corporal Miller was also wounded.

The casualties suffered by the 21st in the battle of Fredericksburg (in addition to five missing men who afterwards turned up all right) were sixty-six; of whom thirteen were killed, or soon died of their wounds, fifty-two were otherwise wounded, and one was taken prisoner; as follows:—

Company A. Died of wounds: Color-Sergeant Joseph H. Collins, wounded in the knee, and died of the wound January 3, 1863. Wounded: Color Corporal James A. Miller, leg; Corporal John A. Merritt, shoulder; Privates Madison Colby, leg; James A. Carruth, face; Roswell L. Doane, groin; Uriah Merritt; De Witt C. Ray; John Thiebault, hand; Lemuel Whitney.

Sergeant Collins carried our United States regimental colors, and was the first of our color-bearers to fall. Doane's life was probably saved by his watch, which was struck and shattered by a bullet which glanced from it into his groin.

Company B. Killed, and died of wounds: Sergeant Peter Bryan, killed by a shell; Privates Lorenzo L. Hawkins, killed by a musket ball, and William B. Patterson, killed by a shell; Private Patrick Finton, shot through the body by a musket ball, and died a few days afterwards. The only injuries not mortal in Company B were contusions by pieces of shell, suffered by Color Corporal Thomas Stevens and Corporal Harvey Bellamy. Patrick Finton had just recovered from a wound in the arm received at the battle of Chantilly.


Company C. Killed: Color Corporal Elbridge C. Barr. Wounded: Corporal L. H. Sammis, neck; Privates Charles H. Sperry, thigh and head; George L. Brackett, and Giles W. Young, shoulder.

Corporal Barr carried our Massachusetts flag, and fell at about the same time that Sergeant Collins, who carried our United States flag, was mortally wounded.

Company D. Wounded: Sergeant (acting 1st Sergeant) Azro B. Jaquith, leg; Sergeant Simon May, hand; Privates Charles F. Montjoy, knee; William J. Ricketts, hip; Gilbert Roth, hip; Harrington W. Saunders, arm; Henry A. Warren, leg.

Sergeant May was killed in the fight on the Weldon Railroad, August 19, 1864.

Company E. Killed, and died of wounds: Private Eben. W. Richards, killed; Corporal James A. Wilson, wounded in the abdomen, and died of the wound December 15th. Wounded: Sergeant Thomas Plunkett, lost both arms, and wounded in the chest; Corporal Henry White, shoulder; Privates Thomas E. Barker, arm; Horace Converse, arm; Joseph Daly, arm; Hugh Gallagher, hand; George A. Grover, hand and ankle; James Kennedy, arm; Luther W. Thomas, hand; John W. Warren, arm.

Sergeant Thomas Plunkett lost both arms, and received a severe wound in the breast by the explosion of a shell, while bearing the United States regimental flag. His recovery was a great surprise and joy to his comrades, for it was at first taken for granted that his wounds were mortal. Corporal Henry White was wounded in the shoulder, and supposed that the wound was caused by a piece of shell which he picked up; but a month afterwards the surgeon of the hospital found and cut out a musket ball in his side, a foot below the point where it had entered his shoulder.

Company F. Wounded: Sergeant Charles H. Frye, leg; Privates George H. Childs, foot; Michael T. Conner, hand; Edward Mountain, shoulder; Nathan P. Rice, face.

Company G. Killed: Private George E. Page. Wounded:

Corporal Jonas W. Dwinnell, lost right arm; Privates Peter Archambeau, face; Jona. H. Sanders, severely.

Page, a noble, brave fellow, was killed by a shot from the 163d New York.

Company H. Died of wounds: Private Frederick Carey, wounded in the leg, and died of the wound December 18th. Wounded: 1st Sergeant George H. Bean, hip; Corporal Michael Thornton, lungs; Privates Lewis R. Haskell, legs; John P. Jones, leg. Prisoner: Corporal Daniel E. Barker.

Carey was shot in the leg by a musket ball at the point of our furthest advance; his friend Sergeant Koster helped him to his feet; Carey then insisted on being taken to the colonel to inform him why he was obliged to leave the field, before he would allow his comrades to take him to the rear.

Corporal Barker, becoming separated from the regiment, went to sleep in a house, and did not wake up until the town had been abandoned to the enemy.

Company I. Killed: Privates Proten Henrie and Warren Webster. Wounded: Sergeant Albert H. Northrup, head; Privates Andrew J. Atwood, arm; Charles S. Babcock, leg; Ransom Burr, hand; George E. Gorman, groin; Thomas Sexton, hand.

Henrie was shot in the breast by a musket ball at the point of furthest advance; he waved his hand to those around him (myself among the number) as a farewell, saying in his imperfect English: “I die. Good-by.” Webster was the first of our men to be killed: he was struck in the head by a shell as we were moving out of the town to form for the charge, and instantly killed.

Company K. Killed: Private Patrick Fryer. Wounded: Sergeant George L. Caldwell; Private Michael Flynn, shoulder.

The most prominent officer in our corps who fell in the battle of the 13th was the heroic and accomplished Sidney Willard, major commanding the 35th Massachusetts. The 35th started in the charge on our left; and, as the line moved forward, my eye fell with admiration on Major Willard's grand

figure, in front of his colors, leading his men, with his long glittering sword raised high in the air. As I looked he fell, pierced through the groin with a mortal wound. A noble man indeed, and a glorious and inspiring actor in the bloody drama of that day!

The entire loss in our army in the battle was 12,321 in killed, wounded, missing, and prisoners; of whom 1,339 were killed on the spot, 9,060 wounded, and 1,922 missing and prisoners. A large proportion of the missing were mere stragglers and skulkers.

The rebel loss, as given in their official reports, was 5,309 in killed, wounded, and missing. The official reports show that considerably more than two thirds of the entire rebel loss was suffered in repulsing the attack made by Franklin's men on their right, as on that part of the field most of the fighting was done outside their intrenchments; while on the Union side more than two thirds of the entire loss was suffered by the troops who assaulted the fortifications of the rebel left (on Marye's hill and vicinity).

December 17th. A large detail from the regiments of our brigade was sent over the river under a flag of truce, to bury our dead, who, stripped of their clothing by our brutal foe, now whitened the front of the rebel intrenchments.1 Our burial party were well treated by the enemy, and even a little assisted by their rebel guard, in the sad and weary task.

As our poor fellows had been paid off so recently, many of them had large sums of money upon their persons when killed, and the 21st men on the detail found plenty of rebels flush with greenbacks, anxious to buy their gray overcoats. It was bad enough for the Massachusetts regiments to carry white flags, but far worse to clothe the earlier ones in rebel colored overcoats; and several of our men were wise enough to give “aid and comfort” to the enemy by selling them old gray


overcoats for more than enough to buy new regulation blue ones.

December 18th. A dozen or twenty of our prisoners at Chantilly returned, and reported for duty.

On the 19th of December, General Ferrero issued the following congratulatory address to the brigade:—

Headquarters 2d Brigade, 2d Division, 9th Army Corps. Near Falmouth, Va.,December 19, 1862.

To the soldiers of the second brigade, the general commanding extends his congratulations and thanks for their gallant conduct and faithful services while under his command.

The patience, steadiness, and courage displayed in desperate battles and wearisome marches, exhibit a spirit that never can fail, a determination that will in the end triumph over all foes. The hardships endured, the difficulties overcome, the perils faced by this our valiant brigade, will live in history. Long after you, the heroes, shall have gone down to the grave, your career will be pointed to by those who follow you, with admiration and praise, and a grateful country will bless ancestors that could endure such toils, that could perform such noble deeds, and so cheerfully sacrifice all that is dear on earth for the sake of their country and their sacred cause. To the new troops who fought so nobly on the 13th, on their first battle-field, thanks are especially due; they have every way proved themselves worthy to stand side by side with the veterans of the second brigade. That in the coming campaign of 1863, we may all stand by each other as faithfully as heretofore, that we may fight as bravely and successfully for our loved country, and that God's blessing may always rest on you and your exertions, is the earnest prayer of your General,

E. Ferrero, Brig. Genl. Comd. 2d Brig. 2d Div. 9th A. C.

The following piece of poetry, published in one of the New York papers at the time, seems to me a fitting conclusion to my narrative of this bloody and disastrous battle, — both as being a pretty good account of the battle, and as showing the common feeling at the time.


BY W. F. W.

DECEMBER 17, 1862.

  • Eighteen hundred and sixty-two,
  • That is the number of wounded men
  • Who, if the telegraph's tale be true,
  • Reached Washington city but yester e'en.
  • And it is but a handful, the telegrams add,
  • To those who are coming by boats and by cars;
  • Weary and wounded, dying and sad,
  • Covered — but only in front — with scars.
  • Some are wounded by minie shot,
  • Others are torn by the hissing shell
  • As it burst upon them, as fierce and as hot
  • As a demon spawned in a traitor's hell.
  • Some are pierced by the sharp bayonet,
  • Others are crushed by the horse's hoof;
  • Or fell ’neath the shower of iron which met
  • Them as hail beats down on an open roof.
  • Shall I tell what they did to meet this fate?
  • Why was this living death their doom?
  • Why did they fall to this piteous state
  • ’Neath the rifle's crack and the cannon's boom?
  • Orders arrived, and the river they crossed;
  • Built the bridge in the enemy's face;
  • No matter how many were shot and lost,
  • And floated — sad corpses — away from the place.
  • Orders they heard, and they scaled the height,
  • Climbing right “into the jaws of death;”
  • Each man grasping his rifle-piece tight,
  • Scarcely pausing to draw his breath.

  • Sudden flashed on them a sheet of flame
  • From hidden fence and from ambuscade;
  • A moment more — (they say this is fame)
  • A thousand dead men on the grass were laid.
  • Fifteen thousand in wounded and killed,
  • At least, is “our loss,” the newspapers say.
  • This loss to our army must surely be filled
  • Against another great battle day.
  • “Our loss!” Whose loss? Let demagogues say
  • That the Cabinet, President, all are in wrong:
  • What do the widows and orphans pray?
  • What is the burden of their sad song?
  • ’Tis their loss! But the tears in their weeping eyes
  • Hide Cabinet, President, Generals, — all;
  • And they only can see a cold form that lies
  • On the hill-side slope, by that fatal wall.
  • They cannot discriminate men or means, —
  • They only demand that this blundering cease.
  • In their frenzied grief they would end such scenes,
  • Though that end be — even with traitors — peace.
  • Is thy face from thy people turned, O God?
  • Is thy arm for the Nation no longer strong?
  • We cry from our homes — the dead cry from the sod —
  • How long, O our righteous God! how long?

CHAPTER XIII. December 22, 1862 — August 13, 1863.


December 22, 1862. The 21st were detailed for twenty-four hours’ picket duty along the river, and had a cold, uncomfortable time. There was no firing, and officers and men on each side showed themselves freely along the banks.

December 23d. General Sumner reviewed the corps; and the tired 21st, just off picket, had to turn out with the rest, but their military enthusiasm on that occasion was at rather a low ebb.

December 24th. The 21st had another cold twenty-four hours’ tour of picket duty along the river. One interesting feature of it was in hearing and seeing the merry revelry with which the rebels celebrated the advent of Christmas; there was a great firing of guns among them, and lots of glorious camp-fires. Quite a number of Union troops, on invitation of the rebels, crossed the river on Christmas Eve, by the rocky ford just above Falmouth, and helped them celebrate. A few evenings afterwards some fifty rebels returned the visit, coming over at the same place, and were made prisoners by order of the Officer of the Day, who on making his rounds came upon them, smoking and joking around the fires with our pickets. However, as soon as it was known at headquarters

that the rebels were returning a visit by invitation, they were sent back to their side of the river, and stringent orders against having any talk or intercourse between the men of the two armies were issued and enforced.1 The regiment returned to camp from picket at ten o'clock A. M. of the 25th, and at noon were ordered out to escort Sergeant Plunkett and several others of our wounded from the field hospitals to the railroad station, en route for Acquia Creek and Washington. There was no grumbling at this duty, tired or not tired, and standing at present arms, as the gallant sufferers were carried along our front to the cars, there was many a warm good-by and uttered prayer for their recovery.

December 29th. Rumors of another grand move are flying about; and during the day orders were received at regimental headquarters to issue sixty rounds of ammunition to the men, and be ready to march at seven A. M. next day, with three days’ cooked rations in haversacks. Late in the evening the order was countermanded.2

December 31st. The regimental official report of casualties suffered during the year gives one hundred and thirty-one deaths from all causes in the 21st, during the year 1862.

1863. January 6th. The 9th Army Corps was reviewed by General Burnside. The day was cold and wet, and the review was rather a tame affair.

January 7th. The 21st took another turn at picket along the river.

January 16th. We received orders to be ready to move early to-morrow morning, with three days’ rations in haversacks, and sixty rounds of ammunition on the person.

January 17th. The day passed without any incident of interest, and no movement of troops.

January 18th. No movement yet, but an order from headquarters


of the army is read on dress-parade, announcing that “we are about to meet the enemy once more.” It is said that General Burnside is bound to give or take a tremendous thrashing this time, and the army is very uneasy.

January 19th. Nothing done.


January 20th. General Franklin's and General Hooker's troops are passing up the river. It is fully understood that they are to be thrown over the river at Banks's Ford, five miles above Fredericksburg, to turn the rebel left, and that we are to be sent over at the same place as before to attack the enemy in front. During the day we received general orders to be ready to move to-morrow, and at ten o'clock P. M. were notified that reveille would be at three o'clock, and that we must be in line at four. A fierce winter storm had now set in, and the rain streamed down unceasingly through the night. A division of General Hooker's men, who were bivouacking in the mud close by us, had a very uncomfortable night, as they were without shelter. Assuming that General Burnside had favored the 9th Corps by leaving them in their tents, they commented with great freedom on that assumed fact, and also proposed and gave “three more groans for General A. E. Burnside,” at frequent intervals during the night. We would gladly have changed places with them, as we were destined to storm the terrible works on Marye's Hill, while it was expected that they would get a chance at Lee's men on a fair field, and considered that we would have to pay dearly for a comparatively comfortable night.

January 21st. The bugle sounded reveille at three o'clock A. M., but the order to move was immediately countermanded. At eight A. M. the regiment was ordered on picket along the river, and at once moved down in the rain to the river near the Lacy House. As we were allowed to make the Lacy House headquarters, both for officers and men not on post, we had an agreeable day; but the sixty or seventy thousand men who were bivouacking along the river without tents or shelter

were having a very hard time of it; the sticky soil of the clayey roads and fields, where it had been traveled over, had become a bed of mud knee deep; horses could do nothing, and men by the hundred during the day were vainly trying to drag pontons and guns to the place for crossing.

January 22d. The weather still continued to be cold and rainy. The rebels across the river were fully aware of what was going on, and called out to us that the sooner our people came over the better it would suit them.

The rebel pickets in our front set up on the other bank of the river a large placard made of boards, bearing the inscription, “Burnside is stuck in the mud!” and called across the river that they would build bridges for us anywhere we liked, if we would agree to cross over them when built. At ten A. M. we were relieved by the 2d Maryland, and marched back to camp. The grand movement had evidently failed past redemption; many wagons and pieces of artillery were standing stuck in the tenacious mud, and the great question evidently was no longer how to get men and guns forward, but how to get them back. During the day orders were issued for the troops to return to their camps; and the men, muddy, tired, and pale, for the next twenty-four hours were slowly plodding back to their old quarters, many of them in a frame of mind which satisfied me that it was well for the honor of our army that they had not met the enemy.

Immediately after taps on the 23d, some hundreds of gallant but unruly fellows belonging to the three old regiments of the brigade, charged the sutler at division headquarters, tore down his tent and destroyed his establishment, — the guard at headquarters not appearing on the scene until the mischief had been done. The sutler (an ex-cavalry officer) made a very gallant fight with his revolver in defense of his property, inflicting severe wounds on four of the mob, one of whom was a 21st man. The firing made the men bloodthirsty, and they certainly would have killed the sutler on the spot if he had not concealed himself, aided by the darkness of the night. The reason for this apparently entirely groundless outrage was

rather peculiar. Half a dozen enlisted men were playing cards in one of the tents that afternoon, when one of them, a member of the 51st New York, made a bet that he could get a canteen of whiskey at this sutler's; the bet was taken, as it was strictly against orders to sell whiskey to enlisted men. The man took his canteen and started, but as soon as he was out of sight pinned a pair of officer's shoulder-straps upon his blouse, and got the whiskey. Taking off the straps, he returned with his whiskey. The thirsty patriots in the tent thought that the millennium had come, when an enlisted man could get all the liquor that he wanted; and, having promptly emptied the canteen, sent a couple of their number for a fresh supply. These men were not only roughly refused the demanded liquor, but given the lie and ignominiously ejected from the sutler's tent. Number one kept quiet as to his device, and the festive party in the tent at once set to work to organize a force to punish the sutler for his favoritism in selling to one enlisted man that which he refused with contumely to sell to another.

Soon after the last abortive movement of the army, in which Virginia mud had asserted its high prerogative, General Burnside, impressed with the feeling that the course of many of the highest officers in the army of the Potomac was insubordinate and destructive to its discipline and unity, tried a heroic remedy. He issued, subject to the approval of the President, General Order No. 8, dismissing one grand division commander from the service, relieving another from duty with the army, and dismissing or relieving seven other prominent officers; and then demanded either that the order be approved, or that his own resignation be accepted. The President refused to approve the order, and also refused to accept General Burnside's resignation, but relieved him from duty with the Army of the Potomac, and appointed General Hooker to the command in his stead.

On the 26th of January General Hooker assumed command of the army, and General Burnside bade us good-by in the following parting order: —

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, Camp near Falmouth,January 26, 1863.

General Order No. 9.

By direction of the President of the United States, the commanding general this day transfers the command of the army to Major-General Joseph Hooker. The short time that he has directed your movements has not been fruitful of victory, nor of any considerable advancement of our line; but it has again demonstrated an amount of courage, patience, and energy, that under more favorable circumstances would have accomplished great results. Continue to exercise these virtues, be true in your devotion to your country and to the principles you have sworn to maintain. Give to the brave and skillful general who has long been identified with your organization, and who is now to command you, your full and cordial support and coöperation, and you will succeed. Your general, in taking an affectionate leave of the army, from which he separates with so much regret, may be pardoned if he bids an especial farewell to his long and tried associates of the 9th Corps. His prayers are that God may be with you and grant you continual success until the rebellion is crushed.

By command of Major-General Burnside. Lewis Richmond, Assistant Adjutant-General.

January 28th. The 21st were again on picket along the river. It snowed all day, and the rebels seemed to be having a good time in rolling large snow-balls and in snow-ball fights.

January 29th. There is a foot of snow on the ground, and wood for fuel has become so scarce as to occasion serious discomfort. The supply has been very short for some weeks, and the men have dug up every stump near the camp.

February 6th. Orders were issued to be and remain ready to move, with three days’ rations in haversacks.

February 9th. Reveille at four A. M., and soon after daylight, leaving the army of the Potomac with light hearts, we took the cars for Acquia Creek, and arriving there about noon went on board the steamboat “Louisiana.”

February 10th. We started at five o'clock A. M., and after a splendid trip reached Fortress Monroe early on the morning of February 11th. From there we immediately went on to Newport News, and went into camp at eleven A. M., in a hard

rain, the 9th Corps now being under the command of Major-General William F. (Baldy) Smith. We were camped near the old place, which we had enjoyed so much during our stay in the previous summer; and although we had a great deal of rain and snow during the six weeks that we remained there, it was still a beautiful place for a camp, and our line of new tents, a mile and a half long, made a very impressive show.

February 25th. Everything having got thoroughly to rights, we were reviewed to-day by General Dix and our corps commander. The corps seemed to have entered on a new life since it left the jealousies and chilling influences of the Army of the Potomac, and we had a splendid and enthusiastic review.

March 14th. Anniversary of the battle of Newbern. In memory of the anniversary a generous ration of whiskey was issued to the men, and the officers of the brigade gave a grand ball on board a roomy steamboat lying at the pier, elegantly decorated for the occasion, at which all the noted military and naval officers in the vicinity were present. As a ball, it was not a success, as there were only eighteen ladies to two hundred gentlemen; but the supper was very good, and wine and punch were plenty. The pleasure of the occasion was somewhat interfered with by noisy, long-winded speeches, made by a clique of officers (not of the 21st), in which, with fulsome, mutual admiration, they lauded each other to the skies. A certain major-general in the corps, more distinguished by his drunkenness on this occasion than by his military merit, made a good deal of a poor kind of sport for his subordinates, by making a maudlin apology for having made some disloyal remarks in relation to the action of the government in arming negroes. A second lieutenant in the 11th New Hampshire forced the apology out of him. The general twisted and turned and browbeat, in vain, for his antagonist was unrelenting, and would accept nothing short of a full retraction and apology. The general concluded his speech of apology with the following sentiment, to which he had already given utterance several times during the evening: “And, gentlemen,

I also believe that a man has a right to get drunk just when he pleases; so let's take a good, square drink, and let her rip by—!”

March 19th. Our 1st Division are going on board ship in a heavy snow-storm. Rumors are floating round that we are going west.

March 20th. The weather is still stormy, and the 1st Division still leaving for somewhere.1

March 21st. Major-General John G. Parke assumed command of the 9th Corps. The 2d and 3d divisions received orders to hold themselves in readiness to go on board transports.

March 25th. We received orders to embark to-morrow morning.

March 26th. We went on board the steamer “Kennebeck” at eleven o'clock A. M., and at two P. M. started for Baltimore, touching at Fort Monroe. At Fort Monroe the men greeted the fancy garrison soldiers, who came to the pier to stare at us, with such derisive remarks upon their pretty appearance and military service (the only engagement in which was ignominious “Big Bethel”), that they soon disappeared.

March 27th. After a very pleasant run we arrived in Baltimore at two P. M., and remained at the wharf and about the streets until half-past three o'clock in the morning of the 28th, when we took cars on the Northern Central Railroad for the West.

The 2d Maryland, fast friends of the 21st, had preceded us through the city; and, in memory of the Pollocksville breakfast on the previous 17th of May, had left orders with the keepers of several refreshment saloons to be on the watch for the 21st, and inform them that the contents of their saloons were at their disposal, with all bills paid. The restaurant keepers were on hand on our arrival; and, as it was a


special occasion for the 21st, the commanding officer allowed our men to accept the proffered hospitality to a very liberal extent; and thereby that long, cold, disagreeable night, during which our headquarters were in the street near the depot, as we waited for our train, was rendered much more comfortable to our men than it otherwise would have been.

The “Baltimore American” of the 28th contained the following pleasant mention of the 21st:—

The passage of a portion of the 9th Corps through the city last night gave occasion to a compliment to the “American,” which it would be affectation not to say was very highly prized.

The 21st Massachusetts regiment was halted in front of our office, and at the call of its officers gave three hearty cheers for the loyal press of Baltimore. Praise from the old 21st is praise indeed. We place the incident among our happiest remembrances.

March 28th. The old brigade (21st and two 51sts) left Baltimore in one train, at half-past three A. M., and moving slowly along, reached York, in Pennsylvania, about noon, where we were furnished with an ample supply of coffee by the inhabitants. Continuing on, we passed through Harrisburg and Mifflin, and arrived at Altoona, where supper was given us about midnight. We passed over the Alleghanies, brilliant with moonlit snow, before morning, and got to Pittsburg at half-past ten A. M. of the 29th. At Pittsburg we were given a reception in a public hall, had speeches made to us, and were furnished with an excellent collation about noon; after which we lay around the depot until nine o'clock P. M., waiting for transportation. At nine o'clock, having been furnished by kind citizens with plenty of hot coffee before starting, we left Pittsburg on the Steubenville, Ohio, and Indiana Railroad.

March 30th. We stopped for breakfast at Coshocton, Ohio, and were received with the greatest kindness by the people, being waited upon at breakfast by buxom black-eyed young ladies; keeping on, we reached Columbus, the capital of the State, at half-past two in the afternoon.


At Columbus we were kindly received by the people, and furnished with bread and coffee; but a most unfortunate, or rather murderous, affair soon occurred. Our men had been allowed a good deal of liberty in the towns through which we had passed, and everybody had seemed glad to see them in the streets. Several of them strolled away from the railroad station to see the capitol buildings and other sights, when a provost-guard on duty in the city, detailed from the 115th Ohio, a new regiment, without any notice having been given to the officers of the brigade that our men must be kept in the station, with arrogant and unnecessary force set to work to drive them back with the bayonet. Being met with good-natured bantering, the cowardly recruits opened fire with bullets and buckshot upon our unarmed men, killing private Samuel Wright of Company I, and a private in the 51st Pennsylvania, besides wounding several others. This inhuman outrage might have provoked a fearful revenge, if the officers of the brigade had not exerted themselves to the utmost to calm the excitement of the men, and keeping them from their guns forced them on board the cars and hurried them out of town; for many of the men of those three veteran regiments besought their officers with prayers and tears to let them have at least one shot at their mean and cowardly assailants. In my own military experience, I do not recall an occasion when I felt so much regret that our imperative duty as Union soldiers forbade us to show our Western comrades at Columbus that we held them in the hollow of our hands. So far as I know, no official notice was ever taken of this sad and disgusting outrage.

March 31st. We reached Cincinnati at two o'clock A. M., and remained in the cars until daylight, when we marched to the market-house and had a good breakfast and a warm-hearted welcome from the people; and, best of all, gave to, and received a hearty welcome from, General Burnside, who

now commanded the Department of the Ohio, with headquarters at Cincinnati. At noon we crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky; and taking cars on the Kentucky Central Railroad at seven o'clock P. M., reached the attractive town of Paris (seventy miles south of Cincinnati) before daylight of the 1st of April. Early in the morning we marched through the town to the Fair Grounds, and went into camp. Rather to our surprise, there seemed to be not only no feeling of hostility towards us on the part of the people, but the majority of the inhabitants were evidently very glad to see us. In the afternoon the brigade received orders to be ready to move at a moment's notice, but remained at Paris until the 3d of April, when, starting at eight A. M., we made a splendid march of twenty-two miles through a lovely country to Mount Sterling, reaching our destination before dark. Going into bivouac close to the town, a few of our men, who were detailed for picket duty, had a speedy opportunity to show the inhabitants of the good little Union place that they could be depended upon. Soon after dark the cavalry videttes came in on the run with an unknown number of the enemy in pursuit, but the pickets stood firm and repulsed the guerrillas without difficulty. The next morning the brigade went into camp in a pleasant grove about a mile to the south of the town. It was the same place where some Union cavalry had been camped when captured by the rebel Clarke a week before, for the town had been subject to frequent raids; but Mount Sterling had changed hands for the last time, and soon settled down into a justifiable confidence in the courage and ability of its defenders.

The days passed pleasantly away, without any occurrence out of the usual course, except that now and then we had rumors of guerrillas in the vicinity, until the night of the 13th and 14th of April, when the 21st and 51st New York, leaving camp at midnight, made a flying march of sixteen miles to the little town of Sharpsburg, in the hope of capturing a force of guerrillas who had taken possession of the place. We surrounded the place before daylight, but when we came

to beat the bush found that our game had flown. The commanding officer of the expedition, a Frenchman by birth (not an officer of the 21st), conducted himself with great arrogance and want of common sense towards the people: ordering the seizure of horses and other property without proper inquiry into the antecedents of their owners, allowing the men to raid upon suspected rebel sympathizers, and forcing several Union men and women as well as rebels to take an iron-clad oath of allegiance and loyalty. I felt heartily ashamed of being connected with the affair, particularly with the disregard of the humane principle that allegiance and protection go together. We left the town towards the close of the afternoon, accompanied by several of the citizens whom we had rendered homeless by forcing them to make public declaration of their unionism, and had thereby made them a mark for the vengeance of the guerrillas, to whose mercy we were abandoning them. We got back to our camp at Mount Sterling at nine o'clock, making the march of thirty-two miles in about twenty hours.

April 17th. Up to this date the whole brigade had been encamped in the vicinity of Mount Sterling, but to-day all the troops, except the 21st and a detachment of Kentucky cavalry were withdrawn; and the 21st with regret moved from the beautiful open grove where they had been encamped, with its trees in full foliage and its thick turf of bright luxuriant grass, to the court-house in the centre of the town, — a large brick building standing in an open elevated position. The regiment was treated very kindly by the inhabitants; and a strong mutual feeling of respect and affection grew up between our men and the citizens. It has been well said that the 21st gained one of its greatest victories during those three pleasant inactive months at Mount Sterling; for they taught a people, many of whom had been born into a bitter prejudice against “Yankees,” to regard Massachusetts troops with confidence, respect, and love.1 Twice, when it had been ordered away, it was retained on petitions to the commanding general


signed by the inhabitants unanimously. Few incidents of importance occurred during the stay of the regiment in Kentucky. About the end of April several of the officers who found themselves with merely nominal commands, and, with no prospect of the regiment's being filled up, debarred from all chance of promotion, were discharged on their resignation.1 The “Boston Journal” of May, 1863, contained the following notice of their retirement, which I give in full, although mentioned personally in it, because it seems to me to contain so excellent a comment on the wasteful folly of reinforcing the army by the addition of new regiments instead of keeping up the old ones: —


We learn with regret that on account of the avowal of the War Department, in recent orders, of the intention of the government not to fill up regiments so far reduced in numbers as the 21st Massachusetts, several of the best officers of that veteran regiment have tendered their resignations, and are now on their way home. Among them are Colonel W. S. Clark of Amherst, and Captains C. F. Walcott of Boston, and W. T. Harlow of Spencer, gentlemen who have been officers from the commencement, and to whose fortitude and gallantry, on half a score of the most famous battle-fields of the war, the Commonwealth is, in so large a measure, indebted for the glorious record of the 21st.

We should be glad to think that the government no longer needs the services of such officers. The retirement of an officer, with a merely nominal command, from the pay and emoluments of an honorable position, after the government has announced its determination not to fill up the depleted ranks of his regiment, cannot be attributed to any improper motive, nor is it to be wondered at. In France, England, and even in the rebel States, old regiments are not allowed to die out in this manner. We have not learned the art of war if we do not keep the ranks of the veteran regiments full. Experienced


officers should have something more than a nominal command. The men who have the fall of leaders and comrades to avenge should have their arms strong for the work. Let us have volunteers, or conscripts, and let the first use that is made of them be to fill up the old regiments; in no other way can the steady bravery of our army be maintained. We hope to see these officers soon in the service again, in positions worthy of their merits.

On the 28th and 29th of April, the guerrilla leader, Peter Everett, threatened Mount Sterling with several hundred men, but came no nearer than Owensville, some twenty miles away to the eastward. On the 13th of June, about fifty of our cavalry, reconnoitring towards Owensville, were ambuscaded by some of Everett's guerrillas, and fled back to the town. They came into Mount Sterling on the run, with “a thousand guerrillas” close behind them, advancing on the town, and “If you don't surrender they'll take no prisoners.” The people were fearfully excited; as they had been under Union care so long, they dreaded the rebel raiders more than ever before, and their prayers and blessings went with the sturdy 21st as they marched out to cover the town. The guerrillas, however, had no idea of having a real fight, and, as the regiment moved forward, their advance, which had shown itself on the hills about a mile east of the town, disappeared. During the following night the 8th and 9th Michigan cavalry arrived with a battery, and, under command of Colonel De Courcy, went in pursuit of the rebels. After a chase of fifty miles, Colonel De Courcy's command came up with the enemy and scattered them, killing and wounding a number, and taking a good many prisoners.

In the early part of July, the rebel General John H. Morgan started from Tennessee on his famous raid through Kentucky into Indiana and Ohio. July 6th the 21st, with real regret, bade good-by to their kind friends in Mount Sterling, and made a forced march of thirty-three miles to the beautiful city of Lexington, which was threatened by the enemy. The day was oppressively hot, and the men, heavily loaded and out of tune for marching, were much exhausted by the march.

Reaching Lexington at midnight, the regiment went into camp near Fort Clay. The frightened farmers poured into the city from the surrounding country with their stock and negroes, but the rebel raiders passed by without giving further trouble to the place.

On the 16th of July the regiment changed their camp to a beautiful grove adjoining the Lexington cemetery, where nearly a month passed pleasantly away, without any occurrence of an exciting nature, except that on the 28th of July they slept on their arms near Fort Clay, on the rumor of an expected rebel attack, and on the 30th of July were hastily ordered by rail to Paris, on the report that the rebels had attacked the place, but after getting on board the cars the report was found to be false, and the order countermanded.

August 12th. The 21st, leaving Lexington by rail at five o'clock P. M., after a run in the cars to Nicholasville, twenty miles to the south, marched about five miles, and went into bivouac at ten o'clock, near Camp Nelson, a noted Union depot of supplies, on the Kentucky River.

August 13th. The regiment marched into Camp Nelson, and encamped in an oak grove. General Burnside and staff came to see their dress-parade in the evening. The men never drilled better, and welcomed their beloved general with hearty cheers. The regiment remained in this beautiful and healthy place, doing fatigue, picket, and general guard duty, until September 12th, when they took up the line of march for East Tennessee, as part of the 1st brigade, 2d Division, 9th Army Corps, composed of the 21st Massachusetts, 48th Pennsylvania, and 2d Maryland regiments, commanded by Colonel J. K. Sigfried of the 48th.

CHAPTER XIV. September 12 — December 27, 1863.


In the early part of June, 1863, General Burnside had been on the point of moving, to expel the enemy from the sorely oppressed region of East Tennessee, but just as his army was about to march, orders were received from Washington to reinforce General Grant's army (then engaged in the siege of Vicksburg) with eight thousand men. The whole 9th Corps (with the exception of the 21st and two other regiments) were at once forwarded to his support, and did memorable service in holding General Johnson's relieving army at bay, and in pursuing it, after the surrender of the place. Early in August the 9th Corps was returned to General Burnside, badly used up by the hardships of their campaign in Mississippi.

Meanwhile, General Burnside had been gathering an army for the deliverance of East Tennessee, and to cut and occupy the main line of communication between the rebel armies of the east and west. The 23d Army Corps, together with new troops raised in Kentucky, and gallant East Tennessee refugees, faithful unto death, were moving for the great work, when the 9th Corps returned to Kentucky, and joined the delivering army, who were “bearing the old flag back to Tennessee.”

General Burnside's entire army was composed of about eighteen thousand men, and on the 16th of August entered actively upon the prosecution of the campaign.

As before stated, the 21st left Camp Nelson for East Tennessee on September 12th. Starting at ten o'clock in the morning, the first day's march was only about eight miles, to Camp Dick Robinson. Just as the regiment was going into


SKETCH MAP OF SURROUNDINGS OF KNOXVILLE (reduced from the official maps of the War Department).

bivouac, they were drenched by a terrific thunder-storm, accompanied by hail as large as peach stones.1

Sunday, September 13th. Moved on at six A. M., and marching through Lancaster, reached the vicinity of Crab Orchard, and went into bivouac, — a day's march of eighteen miles.

September 14th. Started at six o'clock A. M., passed through the town of Crab Orchard, and camped in the woods with the 2d brigade, — a day's march of only four miles.

September 15th. Remained in camp; the regiments were paraded and a rigid inspection was made.

September 16th. Moved on at eight o'clock A. M., over a very bad, hilly road, along which were strewn the wrecks of many broken wagons, and went into bivouac at five o'clock, after a day's march of only eleven miles.

September 17th. Started at six o'clock A. M., and soon met two thousand rebel prisoners, who had been captured at Cumberland Gap, going north; and tired, lean, and dirty looking fellows they were, compared with the fresh, healthy, and happy 21st. A hard day's march of eighteen miles was made through a wild, rugged, and desolate region, including an exhausting climb over Wildcat Mountain.

September 18th. Taking the road again at six A. M., the regiment climbed a long, steep hill, and then marching by a comparatively level road, halted for the day at eleven o'clock A. M., after a march of only ten miles.

September 19th. Started at six o'clock A. M., and marching over a good road, passed through the town of London, and went into camp at three o'clock, — a day's march of fifteen miles.

September 20th. The march was resumed at six o'clock A. M.; the regiment passed through the village of Barboursville, and marching to the Cumberland River, went into bivouac, after a day's march of about fifteen miles.


September 21st. Starting at seven o'clock A. M., the regiment marched along the Cumberland River for fourteen miles, forded it at Cumberland Ford, and went into bivouac at four o'clock, on a beautiful level plain surrounded by lofty mountains.

September 22d. The regiment started at seven o'clock A. M., marched over a very rough, steep, and dusty road, through Cumberland Gap, and went into bivouac at sunset in a charming spot, after a day's march of fifteen miles, during which they had for the first time entered the State of Tennessee.

September 23d. Moving on over a hilly road, the regiment went into bivouac in the town of Tazewell,—a day's march of thirteen miles.

September 24th. Starting at the customary hour of seven o'clock, the regiment marched ten miles to the Clinch River, forded it, and at noon went into bivouac on the farther side; the afternoon was well spent in swimming and washing clothes.

September 25th. The regiment started at six o'clock A. M., and marched rapidly to the foot of the Clinch Mountain range; then came a hard climb to the summit, and on the other side an easy descent for the men, but an almost impossible task to get the wagons down the steep rocky slope; however, the men prevented them from tipping over, and held them back, by means of ropes, and after much severe labor got them safely to the bottom. At sunset the regiment forded the broad Holston River, and went into bivouac, having made a day's march of about a dozen miles.

September 26th. Starting at seven o'clock A. M., the regiment passed through Morristown, and resting for dinner at the noble Panther Spring, went into bivouac at Mossy Creek, after a day's march of twenty miles.

September 27th. The march was resumed at six o'clock A. M., and passing through the town of Newmarket, the regiment halted for the night near Strawberry Plains, making a day's march of seventeen miles.

September 28th. The regiment moved on at six o'clock

A. M., and after a march of twelve miles went into camp half a mile from the city of Knoxville, glad that their hard march of over two hundred miles was finished; although the tough, contented 21st had stood it nobly and enjoyed its strange and romantic scenery. They had been marched in the most judicious manner, and scarcely a man had applied to the surgeon for a seat in an ambulance.

The regiment remained quietly in camp near Knoxville until Sunday, October 4th, when they were ordered to take part in an attack upon a large force of rebels from Virginia, who were threatening the left flank of General Burnside's army and its communications with Cumberland Gap. Receiving marching orders at nine o'clock A. M., the regiment marched at once to the station of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad,1 which was now in running order as far as Bull's Gap, some fifty miles easterly from Knoxville, and started by rail. Reaching Morristown at dark, they found the place crowded with refugees who had been driven from their homes by the rebel marauders. The same evening they ran on to Bull's Gap and went into bivouac.

October 5th. The regiment moved forward with the division at eight o'clock A. M., and after a march of about four miles went into bivouac at Blue Lick Creek, to wait for the rest of the army to come up.

October 7th. As the tents had been left at Knoxville, the men were soaked by a cold heavy rain which lasted nearly all day.


The troops (9th Corps, Willcox's Division, Hoskins's brigade, and Shackleford's cavalry) were not ready to move until the morning of October 10th, when General Burnside advanced against the enemy with the entire command, the cavalry taking the lead. After a march of about five miles the enemy's advance was encountered at the little village of Blue Springs,


and a brisk skirmish commenced, the rebels retiring slowly to a strip of woods across the road, where they maintained a firm front. No attempt was made to force the enemy until past the middle of the afternoon, in order to give time for Colonel Foster, who had been sent around by a circuitous route with a brigade of cavalry, to gain their rear and cut off their retreat. Meanwhile our skirmishers occupied the attention of the enemy, the 21st being posted in support of the 2d Maryland battery, which was in position on an eminence commanding the woods in which the rebels lay. It being supposed that Colonel Foster's cavalry had got in the rebel rear, at five o'clock General Ferrero's (first) Division charged the enemy with great spirit, and driving them from their cover, forced them back upon some field-works which they had erected during the day; but it had now become too dark for further operations, and fighting ceased for the day. The loss on the Union side had been about ninety in killed and wounded; the rebels probably suffered less, as they had been covered by the woods during most of the engagement. As soon as day broke it was discovered that the enemy had retreated during the night, and our army at once started in pursuit, with the cavalry under General Shackleford in advance. Abandoned wagons and dead horses scattered along the road, and now and then wounded rebels, left in the houses by the wayside for want of transportation, showed that the enemy was making a hasty flight. Our men pressed forward with great rapidity, so as to be within striking distance when the rebels came upon Colonel Foster's command, and nothing less was looked for than the capture of the entire rebel force; but after hanging on the rebel rear during a very severe forced march of over twenty miles to Rheatown, it was discovered that Foster's men had not been able to reach their assigned position, and our infantry abandoned the pursuit. General Shackleford, however, chased the enemy back into Virginia, with his cavalry. One hundred and fifty of the enemy were made prisoners in this hot pursuit, and about the same number of them killed and wounded. The 21st suffered no loss during these operations.

Resting on October 12th, the regiment on the 13th marched seventeen miles towards Knoxville, and on the 14th made a further march of twenty miles in the same direction.

October 15th. A march of nine miles brought the regiment back to Morristown, where they took the cars to Knoxville, arriving at their former camp at five o'clock P. M.

The regiment remained quietly in camp at Knoxville until October 22d, when at two o'clock P. M. orders were received to be ready to move in an hour and a half. A fearful danger was now threatening East Tennessee. General Longstreet with twenty thousand men, the flower of the Army of Northern Virginia, was approaching Knoxville, determined to drive out the Union forces and crush past resurrection the loyalty of its impoverished and long-suffering people.

The 21st left camp at eight o'clock P. M. of October 22d, and went by rail to Loudon, on the Tennessee River, thirty miles southwest from Knoxville, where they arrived at midnight, and lay down on the ground to sleep, but were soon awaked by a heavy rain which set in soon after midnight and continued all that day and the following night, causing much discomfort, as the men were without tents or shelter of any kind.

Stirring events were evidently at hand, as a large force of the enemy had attacked our troops at Philadelphia (eight miles south of Loudon) on the 20th, and driven them back to Loudon, with the loss of six pieces of artillery, several wagons, and some hundreds of prisoners.

October 24th. The day was clear and cold. The tents arrived from Knoxville on the wagons, and the regiment went into camp in the woods on the north side of the river, opposite Loudon, where they remained until the 28th with no occurrence of interest.

On the 28th of October the 21st, with the brigade, broke camp at six A. M., and marched to the ponton bridge laid across the Tennessee River at Loudon. The Union troops were crossing to the northerly side, and as soon as they were over the bridge, it was cut away at the southerly end and allowed

to swing down the river. The 21st and the other regiments of the brigade were detailed to the duty of taking up the planks and ponton boats, and loading them upon the cars for Knoxville;1 it was a severe task, as everything had to be carried a quarter of a mile to the railroad. At night the regiment moved back a mile from the river and bivouacked. One interesting incident occurred before our troops left the south bank of the Tennessee. A locomotive and train of cars, loaded with ammunition, which had been captured from the rebels, were run into the river. The train leaped from the abutment of the broken railroad bridge at full speed, and taking a plunge of fifty feet, hissed into the water like lightning, in a cloud of smoke and steam, and wholly disappeared.

On the morning of October 29th, the brigade marched some five miles to the vicinity of Lenoir's Station, twenty-three miles from Knoxville, and were gratified to find General Burnside there in person. The 1st Division of the 9th Corps were encamped close by; and under the impression that the troops were going into winter-quarters, all hands set busily to work making comfortable log-houses; but General Longstreet was yet to be heard from. The regiment remained at this point (near Lenoir's) until November 14th, with few incidents of interest; much of the weather was rainy, cold, and blustering; the first snow of the season fell on the 9th of November. Distant Camp Nelson, in Kentucky, was the base of supplies for the army, and although rations were not yet particularly short, the quartermaster's department was very poorly supplied, and a round twenty of the 21st, without shoes, had to cover their feet with pieces of raw hide.

November 11th. The regiment crossed the Holston to cover the laying of a ponton bridge, returning to camp in the evening. On the night of the 12th, our pickets across the river were fired on by the enemy.


At four o'clock on the morning of November 14th, orders were received to be ready to move at a moment's notice; and at noon the regiment broke camp, and moving out with the division half a mile on the Loudon road, halted in line of battle. Longstreet was coming at last, and had thrown his advance across the Tennessee six miles west of Loudon. Our gallant General Sanders, with the cavalry, was south of the Holston fighting the rebel cavalry; while General Julius White, with a division of the 23d Corps, supported by the 1st Division of the 9th Corps, stood face to face with Longstreet's veterans. The 1st Division of the 9th Corps was commanded by General Ferrero; the 2d Division (to which the 21st belonged) was commanded by Colonel Hartranft. The 21st remained in line of battle with the division until three o'clock on the morning of the 15th, when, in the blackest possible darkness, and through the stickiest possible mud, they struggled with the division towards Loudon, to be within closer supporting distance of the 1st Division in the approaching fight. At daylight the division halted on the north bank of the Tennessee, opposite Loudon, and the exhausted 21st were deployed as skirmishers, relieving the skirmishers of the 1st Division, who were interchanging a spiteful but harmless fire at long range with the rebels. The 1st Division now fell back towards Lenoir's, the 2d Division remaining opposite Loudon. An occasional shot from the enemy came over as the day passed slowly away, but no casualties were suffered in the 21st. Meanwhile, Longstreet's infantry was pushing past our right, to get between the Union army and Knoxville; and as the day wore on our wagons and artillery started on their desperate struggle through the mud towards Knoxville, and about four o'clock in the afternoon the 21st moved slowly to Lenoir's.


At Lenoir's, two days’ rations of bread were issued to the men, and the march towards Knoxville was resumed at seven o'clock in the evening. Halting now and then to let the artillery

keep ahead, the regiment spent that long, dark night floundering wearily through the mud, as they worked their way slowly towards Knoxville. At daylight on the 16th they reached Campbell's Station, thirteen miles from Knoxville, formed line and stacked arms. After a halt just long enough to enable the most expeditious of the men to warm themselves with a hasty cup of coffee, Colonel Hartranft moved the division out on the Kingston road and deployed them across it, with a small force of cavalry in advance. Colonel Hartranft was just in time: Longstreet's infantry were hastening up the road, in the vain hope that they would reach the Loudon road in time to cut Burnside's line of retreat to Knoxville. As the head of the rebel column appeared, it was attacked and checked by the cavalry, and broken and thrown back by the sharp fire of our infantry. A skirmishing fight now set in, during which Colonel Hartranft held the enemy in check until the rest of our army, artillery and wagons, had passed the threatened point, and then retired his troops, regiment by regiment, in perfect order, to a low ridge about half a mile in the rear, where General Burnside had posted the artillery, and decided to receive the rebel onset. The Union troops upon the field numbered scarcely six thousand men, and were outnumbered by the enemy more than two to one. Ferrero's Division was on the right, White's (of the 23d Corps) in the centre, and Hartranft's on the left.

The rebels promptly accepted the gage of battle, and at noon opened their attack by a furious charge upon the Union right. The Union infantry received them steadily, but soon fell back, step by step, to the shelter of the batteries; then the well-served guns of Benjamin, Roemer, Buckley, Gettings, and Henshaw, belched forth a withering fire upon them, and they retreated to the cover of the timber, from which they had advanced. So far the rebels had fought without the assistance of artillery. Now putting three batteries into position, they opened with them on the Union line, and manœuvred to turn our left. Meanwhile the trains had got a good start on the road to Knoxville; and, not to hazard too much

on the chances of a second attack upon that line, General Burnside retired his little army, which moved with beautiful steadiness under a heavy fire from the rebel batteries, to a commanding position, a thousand yards to the rear. The enemy recognizing the fact that our centre was too strongly posted to be forced, was now massing his troops to crush the Union left, held by Hartranft's Division. This movement was fortunately anticipated by General Burnside, and our light artillery massed on the left to meet it. Between four and five o'clock P. M. a fierce rebel assault was made upon our left, as anticipated and provided against. The result, after a grand and bloody struggle, was the same as that of the assault upon our right at noon; and the attacking force, compelled to charge over open ground as before, staggered, recoiled, and retreated, under a fire of musketry and artillery, too hot for flesh and blood to endure.

Longstreet had now had enough, and, admitting the futility of further attempts that day to break the Union line, about five o'clock withdrew his troops beyond the range of our guns, and left General Burnside free to resume his retreat to the fortifications of Knoxville. Apart from the admirable manœuvring of the infantry, the battle on the Union side had been principally waged by the artillery in beating the rushing rebel assaults with grape and canister, and the Union loss was very small. The 21st, though on the line of battle all day, and under both infantry and artillery fire, had the rare good fortune to escape with the loss of but two men slightly wounded. The entire Union loss was but twenty-six killed, one hundred and sixty-six wounded, and fifty-seven missing. I have been able to find no official report of the rebel losses; but they must have been very severe, as their well-led veterans, whose feet had seldom gone back, were repeatedly repulsed by a withering, concentrated fire from masses of artillery at short range. An estimate, which seems moderate under all the circumstances, in the “Rebellion Record,” vol. viii., Doc. 13, gives the rebel loss as about one thousand in killed and wounded.

The battle of Campbell's Station is rated in Woodbury's History as the decisive battle of the campaign, in that its successful result saved the line of retreat of General Burnside's army, and gave the few precious hours, absolutely necessary to insure the occupancy and further fortification of Knoxville. It was also a wonderful battle for the precision and beauty with which the troops on both sides were handled, and the many different movements executed. As stated in the “Rebellion Record” (Doc. 13, of vol. viii., before referred to):—

. . . A consideration of the whole movement will show with what admirable precision each regiment and brigade came into line of battle. Indeed, the evolutions on the field at Campbell's Station have seldom been excelled in beauty and skill. In coming into position, as well as in the succeeding manœuvres, the commands on both sides, Union as well as rebel, exhibited a degree of discipline which at once betrayed the veterans of many a battle-field. Our troops here found an enemy not unworthy of their steel, in the army of Longstreet. Insignificant as the present fight may appear in comparison with others of this war, it certainly will rank among those in which real generalship was displayed. Every motion, every evolution, was made with the precision and regularity of the pieces on a chess-board.

As soon as it grew dark, the Union army resumed its retreat to Knoxville, unmolested by the enemy. It was the third successive night's march for the 21st, and, although the distance to march was only about thirteen miles, so great was the exhaustion of the men, the night so dark, and the road so muddy, that it was not until daylight of the 17th that the regiment reached Knoxville.

Captain O. M. Poe, Chief Engineer of the Army of the Ohio, had been sent forward from Campbell's Station to select lines of defense around Knoxville, and to have everything in readiness to put the troops in position as they should arrive; and the points to be occupied by the different organizations were designated without delay as they came up. Although there was a lack of intrenching tools, the men at once set to work with a will to throw up redoubts and rifle-pits,

and by the morning of the 18th, although much still remained to be done, the city was strongly fortified. In the mean time, our forage trains were bringing in corn and hay from the south side of the Holston River, and supplies had been accumulated which would suffice for two or three weeks’ economical consumption. On the night of the 17th, as described in The Siege of Knoxville, Doc. 19, “Rebellion Record,” vol. viii., “the immense basin formed by the surrounding hills is alive with animal life. Our vast trains, cattle, herds, hogs, and horses, cover the valleys and hill-sides in inconceivable numbers.” With gallant men in good spirits, posted in strong and well fortified positions (with plenty of artillery and a reasonable supply of provisions), to be beaten before Knoxville could fall into rebel hands, on the morning of the 18th Longstreet had a desperate task before him.1

The city of Knoxville, a place of about five thousand inhabitants, lies on the north bank of the Holston River, and is mostly built on a table-land, nearly a mile square and about one hundred and fifty feet above the river. To the south, the heights across the river were strongly fortified, but the town was not invested on that side by the enemy. On the north-east the town is bounded by a small creek, known as First Creek. East of this creek are elevations known as Temperance Hill and Mayberry's Hill. On the northwest the table-land descends into a broad valley. On the southwest the town is bounded by a creek known as Second Creek, and beyond this creek is College Hill, and farther to the southwest is a high ridge, on which was the bastion work, afterwards called Fort Sanders. To strong fortifications on all these hills and other elevations occupied by veteran artillery was added a continuous line of rifle-pits.

Ferrero's (1st) Division of the 9th Corps, resting its left on the Holston River, extended to the point where the East Tennessee


and Georgia Railroad crossed Second Creek. Hartranft's (2d) Division of the 9th Corps (to which the 21st belonged), connecting with Ferrero's right, extended from Second to First Creek, holding the entire northerly front of the city. White's and Haskell's divisions of the 23d Corps occupied the ground between Hartranft's right and the Holston River, on the northeast side of the city. The artillery on the heights south of the river was supported by a brigade of the 23d Corps. The cavalry generally remained on the east and south sides of the town during the siege, but from time to time did service as infantry, in support of threatened points in the line.1

The precious time required for strengthening the defenses of Knoxville had been largely gained by the brave resistance which the rapidly advancing rebels had met from General Sanders's cavalry, and the sacrifice of the life of that gallant and brilliant young officer.

On the 17th of November, having withdrawn his command during the previous night from its position south of the Holston, General Sanders had thrown his men some distance down the Clinton and Loudon roads west of the town, and soon became sharply engaged with the enemy, and checked their advance through the day, but during the following night fell back to within a mile of the defenses of the city. Early on the morning of the 18th, McLaws's rebel Division made a furious attack upon Sanders's men, and by weight of numbers forced back the Union left to the cover of General Ferrero's guns, the Union centre and right, however, still holding their ground. Towards evening the rebels renewed the attack in overwhelming force, and drove our troops within the defenses, but not until the brave Union commander had fallen in the midst of the hottest fighting, close in front of the earth-work, afterwards named Fort Sanders in honor of his memory.


General William P. Sanders was a native of Kentucky, and was but twenty-eight years of age at the time of his death.

General Burnside subsequently issued the following order in recognition of his worth:—

Headquarters Army of the Ohio. In the Field,November 24, 1863.

General Field Orders No. 31.

The commanding general has the sad duty of announcing to this army the death of one of the bravest of their number,—Brigadier-General W. P. Sanders.

A life rendered illustrious by a long record of gallantry and devotion to his country has closed while in the heroic and unflinching performance of duty.

Distinguished always for his self-possession and daring in the field, and in his private life eminent for his genial and unselfish nature and the sterling qualities of his character, he has left, both as a man and a soldier, an untarnished name.

In memory of the honored dead, the fort, in front of which he received his fatal wound will be known hereafter as Fort Sanders.

By command of Major-General Burnside. Lewis Richmond, Assistant Adjutant-General.

The siege of Knoxville is graphically described in the soldierly diary of Lieutenant-Colonel George P. Hawkes, commander of the 21st during the siege,—and I here give it verbatim:—


First day of Siege, Tuesday, November 17th. Arrived at Knoxville at daylight. Took position on hill on the west side of the town with battery. The regiment went to work at eight P. M. on two rifle-pits; worked nearly all night. Mail arrived; no letters from home. General Longstreet's force appeared in front.

Second day of Siege, Wednesday, November 18th. Very foggy in the morning. Fighting on our left. The enemy advanced nearly in front of us, about sun-down. Heavy skirmish firing. Very pleasant in the afternoon.

Third day of Siege, Thursday, November 19th. Ordered to be in rifle-pits with the regiment. Division “Officer of the Day”: visited all the pickets of our division. Heavy firing in the afternoon by the

artillery. Went out with the new detail of pickets at eight P. M. Excitement.

Fourth day of Siege, Friday, November 20th. Went out with pickets at four A. M. Remained on picket line till eight A. M. Picket firing all day. Had turkey for dinner. Got shelled in the evening. Houses burned in North Knoxville.

Fifth day of Siege, Saturday, November 21st. Rainy day; nothing doing. Our batteries fired a few guns. All communication cut off. Captain Clark officer of picket guard to-day.

Sixth day of Siege, Sunday, November 22d. Very pleasant. Lieutenant Goss on picket to-day. No firing in the morning; firing in the evening. No excitement.

Seventh day of Siege, Monday, November 23d. Very pleasant Court-martial at nine A. M., of which I am president, for the trial of Lieutenant —, 2d Regiment Maryland Volunteers. No firing during the day. Lieutenant Howe on picket. Our pickets were driven in this evening by the rebels, who have taken our line of rifle-pits; so that their sharp-shooters would be able by daylight to pick off our men in the city. Quite an exciting time.

Eighth day of Siege, Tuesday, November 24th. Lieutenant Hitchcock, of our brigade staff, came to my quarters about four A. M., with orders for me to report at brigade headquarters immediately, hinting that there was work for me to do. I went and received orders to take the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers, Major Richardson commanding, and the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Gillmore commanding, at daylight, and charge on the enemy, and retake the ground taken from us last evening. I told the colonel commanding brigade that I would do as well as I could. I took my little brigade, and marched by flank to the left of the enemy. Everything was ready at daylight. The order was given “Forward,” and the two regiments went through. The fire was quite hot, but the boys did not falter. We retook the rifle-pits, driving out the Palmetto Sharp-shooters, a gallant regiment from South Carolina, taking some prisoners. The 21st lost ten men; the 48th lost more. The colonel commanding the 2d brigade said to me that the work was well done.

Ninth day of Siege, Wednesday, November 25th. Very pleasant. No disturbance last night. Court-martial met at nine A. M., for the trial of Lieutenant —, of the 2d Maryland Volunteers. Ordered into rifle-pits at three P. M.; an attack expected. Had everything ready to give the “Johnnies” a warm reception. Dwight Ripley,

of Company K, killed in front of my headquarters by a sharp-shooter. No attack.

Tenth day of Siege, Thursday, November 26th. Thanksgiving at home. Court-martial in morning and afternoon. Quiet during the day and night.

Eleventh day of Siege, Friday, November 27th. Frosty morning; very pleasant. Court-martial ordered for the trial of Major —, of the 2d Maryland Volunteers, for cowardice at the battle of Campbell's Station. No excitement to-day. Ordered into the trenches at night; everything looks like busy work before many hours.

Twelfth day of Siege, Saturday, November 28th. Court-martial at nine A. M.; trial of Major — adjourned till twelve to-morrow. Men all ordered into the trenches at two P. M. Everything looks like an attack. Everybody awake at eleven P. M.

Thirteenth day of Siege, Sunday, November 29th. Had a sleepless night. The attack expected for several days was made this morning, at daylight, on Fort Sanders, on our left, under command of Brigadier General Ed. Ferrero. It was made in earnest, by the famous “Barksdale Brigade,” composed of Mississippi troops; they made a furious charge in several lines, but they got something not in their programme, — a severe and awful defeat. We were all ready to receive them; we had old telegraph wire stretched all around in front of the fort, from tree to tree, about six or eight inches from the ground, in order to trip and throw down their men, and in so doing, break up their lines. It worked according to our wishes, and, while their men were tumbling over the wires, our grape and canister were thrown among them, making sad havoc. But they kept on, even to the ditch around the fort, filled the ditch, climbed up the parapet, and planted three rebel flags on the top; but no sooner were they in that position, before they were pulled down, and 200 of the men sent to the rear as prisoners. While in the ditch, our guns could not reach them, and the commander of the battery (Lieutenant Benjamin) took the shells in his hand, cut the fuse to two seconds, and, lighting them with his cigar, rolled them by hand down the bank; they would explode at the bottom, doing terrible execution. The enemy, seeing the operation of their charge on the Yankees, gave up and called themselves whipped. We lost eight killed and five wounded in the fort, besides thirty men captured outside of the fort. We took

300 prisoners unhurt, and killed and wounded 1,100 more, — making it a costly job for the rebels.1

I went to the field this forenoon, and I never saw so many dead rebels on the same space. General Burnside sent a flag of truce to General Longstreet, offering to give up the bodies of the killed, which General Longstreet accepted, and hostilities ceased until five P. M.; during this time the hostile armies met each other on friendly terms; my 21st Massachusetts boys met some of the ‘Palmetto Sharp-shooters,’ when they caught a pig together, and killed and divided equally.

As soon as the signal-gun was fired at five P. M. for hostilities to recommence, the pickets commenced firing, and we were again watching each other's movements closely. So goes a soldier's life. Courtmartial in the afternoon for the trial of Major — of the Second Maryland Volunteers.2


Fourteenth day of Siege, Monday, November 30th. Very pleasant; cold; all quiet through last night; nothing going on. Court-martial; trial of Major S—, Second Maryland Volunteers. An attack expected to-night; men all ordered into the rifle-pits. News from General Grant at Chattanooga.

Fifteenth day of Siege, Tuesday, December 1st. Very pleasant. Court-martial; verdict rendered in Major S— case. Lieutenant Goss appointed acting quartermaster. Begin to feel the effects of the siege, as we have nothing for rations but meal (cobs and all), and a small quantity of fresh pork.

Sixteenth day of Siege, Wednesday, December 2d. No attack last night. Final session of the court-martial in the case of Major S—. An attack expected to-morrow morning. All the men to be awake and in the trenches all night. Hear that General Sherman is on the way from Chattanooga for our relief.

Seventeenth day of Siege, Thursday, December 3d. Very pleasant; no attack. The rebels were preparing to leave instead of risking another attack. Went to the fort on Temperance Hill, and with a field-glass saw a column of rebels leaving for the northeast; our batteries kept firing on them.

Eighteenth day of Siege, Friday, December 4th. Very pleasant. The rebels still leaving. General Sherman reported at Loudon. Siege raised, after having been shut up in Knoxville for eighteen days, during which period we had received at no time more than half, and sometimes only quarter, rations.

Longstreet's army was now in full retreat, and on the 5th of December General Burnside received the following message

from General Sherman, who had been marching to relieve the garrison of Knoxville, sent from Marysville, fifteen miles south of Knoxville: “I am here, and can bring twenty-five thousand men into Knoxville to-morrow; but Longstreet having retreated I feel disposed to stop, for a stern chase is a long one. But I will do all that is possible. Without you specify that you want troops, I will let mine rest to-morrow and ride in to see you. Send my aide, Captain Audenried, out with your letters to-night. We are all hearty but tired. Accept my congratulations at your successful defense and your patient endurance.”

The casualties in the 21st during the siege of Knoxville, as furnished me by our surgeon, Dr. Cutter, were as follows, most of them having been suffered on the 24th of November, in the recapture of the rifle-pits:—

Killed and died of wounds, four. Sergeant Israel Cummings, Company D, shot through the thigh November 29th, and died of the wound December 2d. Private Richard R. Fiske, Company E, wounded November 24th, died November 27th. Private Ai O. Dyer, Company G, wounded November 24th, arm amputated, died December 6th. Private Dwight Ripley, Company K, shot through the head and instantly killed November 25th.

Wounded, eleven. First Lieutenant and Adjutant Edwin R. Lewis, wrist, slight.

Company B. Serjeant Alonzo J. Wetherby, shoulder.

Company C. Corporal Henry Cain, hand, slight.

Company E. Corporal Francis Burpee, leg, slight; Private Edward Tyrrell, wrist and side, severe.

Company F. Privates James S. W. Gee, thigh, severe; Wm. Phipps, hand, slight.

Company H. Corporal Alvin e. Humiston, shoulder, severe; Private Fred. S. Fairbanks, hand, slight.

Company I. Privates: Ransom Bailey, arm, contusion, slight; Jerry Kelly, ankle, contusion, slight.

On the 5th of December, General Burnside issued the following congratulatory order to his army:—

Headquarters Army of the Ohio.

In the Field,December 5, 1863.

The commanding general congratulates the troops on the raising of the siege.

With unsurpassed fortitude and patient watchfulness they have sustained the wearing duties of the defense, and with unyielding courage they have repulsed the most desperate assaults.

The Army of the Ohio has nobly guarded the loyal region it redeemed from its oppressors, and rendered the heroic defense of Knoxville memorable in the annals of the war.

Strengthened by the experiences and the successes of the past, they now, with the powerful support of the gallant army which has come to their relief, and with undoubting faith in the divine protection, enter with the brightest prospects upon the closing scenes of a most brilliant campaign.

By command of Major-General Burnside.

Lewis Richmond, A. A. G.

On the 7th of December, President Lincoln issued the following proclamation, in recognition of the great importance which was attached to the defeat of Longstreet and deliverance of East Tennessee:—

“Reliable information having been received that the insurgent force is retreating from East Tennessee, under circumstances rendering it probable that the Union forces cannot hereafter be dislodged from that important position, and esteeming this to be of high national consequence, I recommend that all loyal people do, on receipt of this information, assemble at their places of worship, and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause.”

The Congress of the United States passed, and the President, on the 28th day of January, 1864, approved, a resolution, “That the thanks of Congress be, and they hereby are, presented to Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside, and through him to the officers and men who have fought under his command, for their gallantry, good conduct and soldierly endurance.”

At the reception in Boston, in January, 1864, given to the reënlisted men of the 2d Massachusetts infantry, General Burnside, who was present as an honored guest, in a speech which he made on that occasion, told the following anecdote of Fort Sanders, which I cut from the “Boston Journal” at the time:—

It may not be amiss for me to relate an anecdote that occurred at Knoxville four or five days after the attack on Fort Sanders. A Massachusetts soldier of the 21st regiment brought to my quarters about daylight in the morning a rebel soldier whom he had captured from the picket force directly opposite him. He reported to me personally, stating that he had brought in a specimen of a rebel soldier. I soon discovered that the specimen brought in was a very bright one. His intelligence was far beyond what I had ever seen before in the ranks of the southern army. I became interested in his narrative of the condition of affairs at the front, and I felt that I would get an intelligent answer to a question that I proposed to ask him on a subject that puzzled me very much,—why General Longstreet did not make a second attack after the first assault on Fort Sanders. It seemed to me that it was necessary to make the attack, and that speedily, because he must have known at the time that reinforcements were then approaching us. I asked this young rebel why their general had not made another attack. “Well,” said he, “General, I will tell you: Our men just swear that they are never going into that slaughter-pen again, and when they won't go the ball won't roll.”

General Longstreet retreated slowly up the north bank of the Holston River towards Virginia; evidently hoping that a rash pursuit might be made. General Sherman, leaving the 4th Army Corps under General Granger to reinforce the garrison of Knoxville, returned with the rest of his forces to the army under the immediate command of General Grant; and a portion of the forces at Knoxville (including the 21st) followed the enemy as far out as Rutledge (thirty miles northeast of Knoxville), but found him so strongly posted and in such large force that it was not thought advisable to attack him. The only other casualty suffered by the 21st during the campaign was in the loss of Ransom Bailey, of Company I,

who was taken prisoner by the enemy at Blain's Cross-roads on the 23d of December; and died in Andersonville Prison August 23, 1864. Longstreet did not withdraw from East Tennessee until the following spring; and caused considerable annoyance to our troops at Knoxville and other points in East Tennessee during the winter, by constantly threatening to make inroads upon our lines, and cutting off our supplies, but did no further material injury.

To close the record of the 21st for the year 1863, from December 4th, when we left them at Knoxville, I will give verbatim, the entries in the interesting and accurate diary of Sergeant Henry White, of Boylston, Mass., a gallant member of Company E, from whom I have received much valuable assistance in the preparation of this history:—


Saturday, December 5th. A cloudy day. The rebels drew in their pickets last night, and this morning they are gone. At eight A. M. the brigade started out on a reconnoissance, and was gone all day; marched ten miles, saw about fifty prisoners coming in. A good many brought in to-day. At night went on picket; found it very different duty from what it had been.

Sunday, December 6th. On picket; instead of watching for a rebel to shoot at and being shot at, I could lie in the sun and enjoy the warmth in safety. I took a stroll over the rebel works; they had got up some strong intrenchments; broken and burnt guns were strewed around the ground. I noticed hides of cattle cut up to make shoes, and saw one pair of shoes made up; they must be hard up for shoes. Relieved at sundown.

Monday, December 7th. Weather pleasant. At six A. M. were ordered to be ready to march at seven, with blankets and tents. At eight the whole 9th Corps took the road to Morristown; turned into the Tazewell road, and marched thirteen miles after the flying rebels, and camped. A freezing cold night.

Tuesday, December 8th. A cloudy, cold morning. At eleven A. M. were on the road; marched six miles, and camped just as it began to rain; passed rebel camps continually.

Wednesday, December 9th. A pleasant day; not cold enough to

freeze, last night. At eight A. M. were on the road; at two P. M. stopped for dinner; the men straggled a good deal to-day, and we are all tired out,—only half rations of bread and severe marching. After dinner went across the road and camped in sight of Rutledge, the county seat. I have to-day seen soldiers scrambling after corn in the ear, as though it was the greatest of luxuries. We parch it; officers eat it as well as the privates. Well, it's all for the Union, and we are driving the rebels to the wall, thank God. The brag that they made, that they had got Mr. Burnside and his pet corps in a bag, is now out of the other corner of the mouth. To-night we had eight ounces of flour per man, served out. I made some bread, and when it was baked was forced to the conclusion that it was pudding. No frost to-night to notice.

Thursday, December 10th. A cloudy morning, and sharp appetites. No orders to move, so I went out and helped kill a sheep. Foraging has been going on extensively to-day. A pleasant night.

Friday, December 11th. A cloudy day; no move at noon. I expect we are trying to get a force ahead of the rebels, who are reported nine miles from us, forty thousand in number. Ground some corn and wheat to lengthen our rations, in a coffee-mill. Full stomachs to-day.

Saturday, December 12th. A pleasant day; wrote a letter ready to send home the first chance.

Sunday, December 13th. Weather cloudy, with some rain. One year ago to-day I was wounded at Fredericksburg, but I have been able to plague the rebels some since.

Monday, December 14th. A cold, cloudy day, with some rain. A glorious time to-day. We at last have got a mail; I got five letters and three papers. . . .

Tuesday, December 15th. Weather pleasant. At eleven A. M. struck tents and formed in line of battle across the valley in which we are encamped. The rebels reported coming back reinforced, with Lee at their head. Cavalry men say their advance is seven miles ahead; our men fighting them; so it seems this game of chess is not played out yet. At eight in the evening, just as I had fixed up a nice bed of weeds, and tucked up for the night, fall in was the order; packed up and began a retrograde march, were on the road till one o'clock, and made only six miles. Bivouacked in a corn-field; woke up before day, with feet aching with the cold.

Wednesday, December 16th. A cold, raw day; I had an ear of

parched corn for breakfast; cooked my eight ounces of flour for the rest of the day. Retreated six miles and got dinner; formed line again in rear of the cavalry. Lay here all night, which proved rainy. To-night had full rations of bread dealt out, which makes me think a fight is expected to-morrow.

Thursday, December 17th. A cloudy morning. We have made a breastwork of rail fence; the cavalry still in advance, something I have never before seen; they are Wolford's men, of high reputation in these parts. At noon the cavalry had all retired to the rear of our line, leaving us in the front. Lay in line of battle all night, which was very windy and cold; got no sleep; rail fence disappeared with rapidity. The expected midnight attack did not come off.

Friday, December 18th. So cold to-day that the ground kept freezing all day. At noon went out skirmishing; found the enemy two miles in front, but should judge not in much force. Had a skirmishing run with them for two hours, nobody hurt on our side. At dark went back and camped in the woods, where we were sheltered from the cold wind; another cold night. Burnside has been relieved by General Foster; we are all sorry at the change. A report is going the rounds that the 9th Corps is ordered to Washington; may it prove true, is the wish of all of us.

Saturday, December 19th. A clear, cold day; fixing up camp in a nice warm place in the woods.

Sunday, December 20th. Weather cloudy and cold. Regimental inspection. Things quiet on our front. This is the first Sunday we have been at rest for six weeks, and half the regiment is on picket now. Another one of our company has succumbed to the rigors of the campaign, and gone helpless to the hospital, Newton Wellman of West Boylston; he got up of a cold morning and had lost the use of his legs.

Monday, December 21st. A pleasant day; washed all my clothes. Perhaps the reader of this will say: that's a great item to write down; but if you had no change for three weeks, and lay around as much in the mud as I did, you would have thought it quite an event. Letters from home, one from wife, and one from brother John.

Tuesday, December 22d. Weather pleasant; wrote to brother George.

Wednesday, December 23d. A cold, rough morning; looks like snow. At eight A. M. were in line; the brigade advanced five miles, but found no enemy. Two deserters came in, and one negro; he had

an officer's horse and equipments, in good order; they report the rebels gone to Morristown; started last night. Got back to camp at dark. There is quite an excitement in camp about reënlisting.

Thursday, December 24th. A keen, cold morning, but pleasant. The order concerning reënlisting was read to the regiment to-day, and with the sound of rebel cannon booming in our ears on our right, forty men held up hands to reënlist. I wish the whole regiment would go in.

Friday, December 25th. A cloudy day, but warm; reënlisting is all the talk, and gains in popularity. Captain Valentine was appointed recruiting officer, and after dark hung up the Stars and Stripes on a pine-tree branch, and before ten o'clock eighty men had their names down. I wrote mine, and went to bed feeling happy.


Saturday, December 26th. Rainy, men reënlisting fast; no bread; had two ears of corn issued to each man as day's rations. Division supply train captured by guerrillas, with all our coffee, hard bread, and sugar.

Sunday, December 27th. Two ears of corn a man, issued as rations to-day; the men ground it in coffee-mills. Notice was forwarded from regimental headquarters, that two thirds of the 21st had reënlisted for three years more, the first regiment in the 9th Corps that has done so!


Meanwhile General Foster had been assigned to the command of the Department of the Ohio; and, on the 11th of December, General Burnside formally transferred the command to his successor. General Burnside's farewell order, dated at Knoxville, December 11th, was as follows:—

In obedience to orders from the War Department, the commanding general this day resigns to Major-General John G. Foster the command of the Army of the Ohio. On severing the tie which has united him to this gallant army, he cannot express his deep personal feeling at parting from men brought near to him by their mutual experiences in the eventful scenes of the past campaign, and who have always, regardless of every privation and every danger, cheerfully

and faithfully performed their duty. Associated with many of their number from the earliest days of the war, he takes leave of this army, not only as soldiers to whose heroism many a victorious battle-field bears witness, but as well-tried friends, who in the darkest hours have never failed him. With the sincerest regret he leaves the Department without the opportunity of personally bidding them farewell. To the citizen soldiers of East Tennessee, who proved their loyalty in the trenches of Knoxville, he tenders his warmest thanks. With the highest confidence in the patriotism and skill of the distinguished officer who succeeds him, with whom he has been long and intimately connected in the field, and who will be welcomed as their leader by those who served with him in the memorable campaign in North Carolina, and by all, as one identified with some of the most brilliant events of the war, he transfers to him the command, assured that under his guidance the bright record of the Army of the Ohio will never grow dim.

CHAPTER XV. January 6 — February 1, 1864.

  • We have heard the rebel yell,
  • We have heard the Union shout,
  • We have weighed the matter very well,
  • And mean to fight it out;
  • In the flush of perfect triumph,
  • And the gloom of utter rout,
  • We have sworn on many a bloody field, —
  • We mean to fight it out!

C. G. Halpin.


On the 6th of January, 1864, the reënlisted veterans of the 21st received orders from General Foster, commanding the Department of the Ohio, to march to Camp Nelson, Kentucky; and, on the completion there, or at Cincinnati, of the necessary muster-rolls, to report in Massachusetts for the thirty days reënlistment furlough.1

On the 7th of January the 251 reënlisted men of the 21st started at two o'clock P. M. from Blain's Cross Roads (twenty miles northeast from Knoxville), having in charge about two hundred rebel prisoners to be left at Camp Nelson. The non-reënlisted men (only thirty-six in number) were temporarily transferred to the 35th Massachusetts.

Many of the men were without shoes worthy of the name, and their clothing generally was in very poor condition, but


they moved with light hearts over the rough frozen road towards the north and home.

At half-past four, after a march of six miles, the regiment went into bivouac for the night. A light sleet was falling, which changed to a snow-storm during the night, and the supply of rations was very short, but rail fence was plenty, and happy men talked the night away around their camp fires.

January 8th. Started at seven A. M. The day was so cold that the frost did not leave the men's hair and whiske