Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts Regiment
DURING THE CIVIL WAR.
By W. P. DERBY.
WRIGHT & POTTER PRINTING COMPANY,
18 Post Office Square.
Copyright, 1883, by W. P. Derby.
While our chief purpose has been to write a history of the Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts Regiment, yet, to give the work more general interest, we have thought best to include an account of co-operative movements, and the varied fortunes of the places which it was the lot of the regiment to capture or garrison. We gladly acknowledge our indebtedness to Congressman George D. Robinson for such official documents as were needed, as well as for a full set of thirty-two volumes of the “United States Roll of Honor,” by which much of the fullness and value of our roster became possible; to C. M. Lee of Springfield for a scrapbook of newspaper notices of the regiment during the war; to E. T. Witherby, Esq. (formerly a member of the Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts) of Selma, Ala., for information through Southern sources; to Capt. E. L. Peck for personal memoranda covering the entire term of the regiment; and no less to Surgeon D. B. N. Fish for the list of casualties, and to him, with Dr. George E. Fuller of Monson, for our valuable medical record. We have also to acknowledge the favor of hosts of correspondents and friends.
The work has received, in advance of publication, the criticism of many prominent officers and men of our regiment; and, while it is not claimed to be perfect, it is hoped it may escape exacting criticism.
As the History is issued under the authority of the regiment, by their unanimous consent, it is heartily dedicated to The Homes of Western Massachusetts by
|Major Gen'l Ambrose E. Burnside,||Frontispiece.|
|Major Gen'l John G. Foster,||Opposite page 29|
|Brevet Brig. Gen'l Horace C. Lee,||Opposite page 36|
|Map Dep't of North Carolina,||Opposite page 99|
|Map Bermuda Hundreds and vicinity,||Opposite page 252|
|Chart of New Berne and its fortifications,||Opposite page 117|
|Chart of Washington, N. C., and its fortifications,||Opposite page 168|
|Chart of Battlefield of Drewry's Bluff,||Opposite page 291|
|Chart of Gum Swamp and vicinity,||Opposite page 460|
LIST OF BATTLES AND ENGAGEMENTS.EXPEDITIONS.
|Roanoke Island, N. C.,||Feb. 7, 8, ’62.|
|New Berne, N. C.,||March 14, ’62.|
|Core Creek, N. C.,||June 17, ’62.|
|Dover × Roads, N. C.,||July 28, ’62.|
|Bachelor's Creek, N. C.,||Nov. 12, ’62.|
|Kinston, N. C.,||Dec. 14, ’62.|
|Whitehall, N. C.,||Dec. 16, ’62.|
|Goldsboro, N. C.,||Dec. 17, ’62.|
|Rocky Hoc Creek, N. C,||March 23, ’63.|
|Siege of Washington, N. C,||March 30 to April 16, ’63.|
|Gum Swamp, N. C.,||April 28, ’63.|
|Gum Swamp, N. C,||May 22, ’63.|
|Walthall Junction, Va.,||May 6, 7, ’64.|
|Arrowfield Church, Va.,||May 9, ’64.|
|Drewry's Bluff, Va,||May 13 to 16, ’64.|
|Bakehouse Creek, Va.,||May 23, ’64.|
|Cold Harbor, Va.,||June 2, ’64.|
|Cold Harbor, Va.,||June 3, ’64.|
|Cold Harbor, Va.,||June 1 to 12, ’64.|
|Petersburg, Va,||June 15, ’64.|
|Petersburg, Va.,||June 18, ’64.|
|Mine, Petersburg, Va.,||July 30, ’64.|
|Siege of Petersburg, Va.,||June 15 to Aug. 24, ’64.|
|Gardner's Bridge, N. C.,||Dec. 9, ’64.|
|Foster's Mills, N. C.,||Dec. 10, ’64.|
|Butler's Bridge, N. C.,||Dec. 12, ’64.|
|South-West Creek, N. C.,||March 8, ’65.|
|Trenton, N. C.,||July 25 to 27, ’62.|
|Tarboro, N. C.,||Nov 1 to Dec. 2, ’62.|
|Goldsboro, N. C.,||Dec. 11 to 20, ’62.|
|Kenansville and Warsaw, N. C,||July 4 to 8, ’63.|
|Rocky Mount, N. C,||July 17 to 20, ’63.|
|Magnolia Salt Sulphur Springs, Va.,||March 4 to 7, ’64.|
|Blackwater, Va.,||April 12 to 15, ’64.|
|Rainbow Bluff, N. C.,||Dec. 4, ’64, to Jan. 7, ’65.|
Page 150, line 17. Read Dec. 16th, not Dec. 17th.
Page 151, line 6. Read Dec. 17th, not Dec. 18th.
Page 333, line 6. For Co. C, read Co. D.
Page 353, line 7. For July 18th, read June 18th.
Introduction, . . . . . 1-6
Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. Col. Lee. Recruiting. Reporting at Camp. Field and Staff Officers. Testimonials of favor. Governor Andrew to Col. Lee. Line Officers. Ordered to the front. 7-18
Off for the War. Hudson River. Philadelphia. Annapolis. First service. General Burnside to command. Brigaded. General A. E. Burnside. General John G. Foster. General H. C. Lee. Our Brigade relations. First death. Orders to embark. . . . . . 19-42
The Burnside Expedition. Fleet and Armament. Ranger. Guerrilla Cape Hatteras. Terrible storm. Troubles at Hatteras. Crossing the Swash. Unpleasant discoveries. Sailing Orders. Defences of Roanoke Island. Bombardment. Landing of Troops. The Bivouac. First Battle. Flanking Ft. Defiance. The Enemy surrender. Casualties. Foraging. Re-embarking. Capt. Henry A. Hubbard's death. Prisoners exchanged. . . . . 43-76
New Berne. Fleet under way. Landing at Slocum's Creek. Battle of New Berne. Enemy's works. Position of the Union troops. Victorious charge. The Enemy retreat. Trent Bridge and Public Buildings burned. We capture the Seventh North Carolina Camp. Casualties. Lieut. J. W. Lawton. Incidents. Congratulatory order. . . . . 77-97
Life in Dixie. Camp Warner. Bachelor's Creek. Hospital. Reinforcements. Battle of Camden, N. C. Siege of Fort Macon. Fortifications of New Berne. Beyond the lines. Military Governor. Grand review. Premature rejoicings. Departure of Gen'l Burnside. Burnside's plan. Trenton Expedition. Capt. Sandford at Gum Swamp. Killed by lightning. Washington, N. C. attacked. Companies A, C, and I ordered to Washington; B, D, E, F and G to Newport Barracks. H and K at Bachelor's Creek. Department of North Carolina. Defences of Washington. Defences of Plymouth. Naval Combat on the Blackwater. Wingfield and Shiloh. . . . . 98-133
Tarboro Expedition. Nine months’ troops. Rhalls’ Mills skirmish. Advance to Rainbow Bluff. Detour to Tarboro. Council of war and return. Attack upon H and K at Bachelor's Creek. Lieut. Wood's strategy. . . . . 134-144
Kinston, Whitehall and Goldsboro. Our force engaged. Skirmishing by the way. Battle of Kinston. Battle of Whitehall. Field and battle of Goldsboro. Clingman assaults Lee's Brigade. Casualties Rebel force. Incidents. . . . . 145-158.
South Carolina Expedition. Regiment at Washington, N. C. Co's G and H go to Plymouth. Mail steamers and mails. Hyde County gaerrillas. Fort Anderson attacked. Siege of Washington, N. C. Demand for its surrender. Commodore Hull. Ceres runs the blockade. Aground under the guns of Rodman's Point. Spinola retreats. Nailing the flag to the staff. Cotton Battery and Hill's Point. Steamer Escort runs the blockade. General order. Gannett declines to assault. The Siege raised. Incidents. Engagement at Rocky Hoc Creek. . . . . 160-188
Gum Swamp. Engagement at Dover X Roads. Gen'l Palmer loses his temper. Gum Swamp under Col. Jones. A Night in the Swamp. A grand Success. Following Col. Pierson in a swamp. Lieut. Hunt and his men at Core Creek Bridge. Attack upon Bachelor's Creek. Col. Jones killed. What was it? . . . 189-201
Col. Lyman resigns. Life in New Berne. Attending a colored Church. Foster General Hospital. The Forty-Sixth Mass. Kenansville and Warsaw Expedition. Rocky Mount Expedition. Gen'l Foster commands the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. Gen'l Peck commands in North Carolina. Veteran Reserve Corps. Capt. Geo. Warner. Guard for Conscripts. Negro wedding. 202-217
Gen'l Foster calls for his old Brigade. At Newport News. Gen'l Foster relieves Gen'l Burnside at Knoxville, Tenn. Provost duty. Reenlistment. Review Review of 1863, . . . . . . 218-221
Veterans at home. Mayor Alexander's Address. Col. Bartholomew's reply. Census of Norfolk Contrabands. Our Drum Corps. Helping in colored schools. Julian's Creek. Organization of the Red Star Brigade. Death of Adj't E. D. Lee. . . . . 222-231
Department of North Carolina in danger. Attack upon New Berne. A terrible Revenge. Plymouth attacked. The ram Albemarle. Death of Lieut.-Com. Flusser. Plymouth surrendered. Capt. Sampson. Washington, N. C., evacuated. A fierce Naval Combat. Hoke attacks New Berne again. His hasty Retreat. . . 232-244
The Army of the James. General C A. Heckman's special Report, Bermuda Hundreds. Battle of Walthall Junction; losses. Walthall Junction, May 7th; losses. Gen'l Grant's Instruction to Gen'l Butler. Battle of Arrowfield Church. Mudsills vs. Chivalry; losses. Retire to Cobb's Hill. Lieut. Pliny Wood. Drewry's Bluff. Sharpshooting. New position. Company D on picket. Battle of Drewry's Bluff. Beauregard's Instructions; how executed. The Enemy repulsed. Attacked in the rear. Loss of Colors and Prisoners. What the Enemy say of the Battle. Casualties. Capt. C. D. Sandford. What Gen'l Butler has to say. Letters from Major-Gen'ls Smith and Weitzel. Letters from Gen'ls Heckman, Pickett and Lee. Reorganization of the Regiment. New Commanders. Ordered to the Army of the Potomac. . . . . . . 245-293
The Army of the Potomac. White-House Landing. March to new Castle and Cold Harbor. Promptly at work. Battle June 2; losses. Charge of June 3. Opinions of the Charge. Losses. Major W. A. Walker. Capt. E. K. Wilcox. Lieut. Samuel Morse. Lieut. F. C. Wright. Truce to bury the Dead. Means to recognize the Dead Sanitary and Christian Commissions. New movement. 294-327
Siege of Petersburg. Battle of the 15th; losses. Matter in dispute. Assault June 18; losses. Incidents. Gen'l Smith's Address. Gen'l Stannard's farewell. Chaplain Woodworth resigns. The Enemy's works. . . . . . 328-348
A Summer before Petersburg. Experiences at the front and at the rear. Casualities. Tri-monthly Report. Aggregate Strength of the Regiment during the Summer. Fleas, sandflies, etc. Extremes. Picket line. Gen'l Smith's farewell. The Mine fiasco. The Rebels mine our position. Interchange on the picket line. . . 349-366
Return of the Veterans. The Regiment ordered to North Carolina. Col. Lee interposes. Tri-monthly Report Sept. 9. The Veterans at Springfield. Mayor Alexander's Address. Ex-Mayor Bemis’ Address. Col. Lee's response. Col. Bartholomew's response. 367-377
Andersonville. Lack of Shelter, Fuel and Water. A wonderful Providence. Libby Prison. Arrival at Andersonville. Surgeon's call Burial of the Dead. A Fast of nearly four Days. Two sides of such life. Leaving Andersonville. Railroad Accident. Savannah. Millen. Blackshire. Andersonville again. Abandoned in Florida. What was endured. Personal Incidents. Forgiven but not forgotten. . . . . . 378-407
Officers in Prison. Useless requisitions. Specimens of Chivalry. Greetings at Camp Oglethorpe. Uuder fire at Charleston, S. C. Savannah, Ga. Line officers at Charleston, S. C. Camp Sorghum, Columbia, S. C. How Escapes were made. How Money and News were obtained. A stampede of officers. Escape of Capt. Nutting and others. Capt. Nutting gets solicitous. Not anxious for acquaintance. New Difficulties. Under the Stars and Stripes. Escape of O'Connell and others. Friendship of Negroes. Drifting out to our Fleet. . . . . 408-434
Return to North Carolina. Torpedo Explosion. Military Execution. Yellow fever. Volunteers for hazardous duty. Destruction of the Ram Albemarle. Recapture of Plymouth, N. C. Successful foraging. Marching orders. . . . . 435-445
Rainbow Bluff. Gardner's Bridge. Foster's Mills. Butler's Bridge. Fun all on one side. Col. Frankle's movements. Tri-monthly Report. Major Moore belligerent. Ordered to Beaufort. Ordered to New Berne. Expeditions against Fort Fisher. Red House and Rocky Run. . . . . 446-458
South-West Creek. Marching orders. Col. Bartholomew's little Speech. At South-West Creek. Being flanked. Battle of South West Creek. Hardly a fighting chance. Rallying around our Colors. Defeated; casualties. Col. W. G. Bartholomew. Incidents. Adjt. J. W. Holmes. Story of the prisoners. A speedy release. . 459-477
Close of Service. The Soldier's life. The Last Ditch found. Disbanding of the Army. Muster-out of the Regiment. The fearful Cost Personal Notices of Officers and Men. . . . . 478-495
Medical. Surgeon Otis. Surgeon Otis’ Letters. Hospital Department. On the way to Annapolis. New Berne Battlefield. Asst.-Surg.’s Camp and Hubon. Hospital funds. Effect of large Bounties. Dr. G. E Fuller. At Cold Harbor, Va. Around Petersburg. Return to North Carolina. Yellow fever. Hamilton Expedition. South-West Creek. Final service. Signal Corps. Our Men in that Corps. Its Advantage to the Army. . . . . 496-519
Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts Regimental Association. Its object. Discovery of the captured Colors. How recovered. A Jubilee of the Regiment at Springfield. How the Flags were received. Press reports. Flags deposited at the Springfield City Library. Letters of regret; longing to be with us. Fraternal Greetings. . 520-531
Roll of Honor, . . . . . 533
Roster, . . . . . 551
One of our most eminent statesmen has said, “All governments must pass through three ordeals before having a confessed standing in the family of nations; first, the knowledge of and declaration of independent rights; second, defending rights and territory from foreign aggression; and lastly, maintaining itself against insurrection and treason within its domain.” Two of these ordeals had been successfully passed by the United States, but in the last the nations of the world predicted its ruin. “We had no cohesiveness or power to enforce our laws, and at the first shock would fly to pieces like a torpedo from forces within. At best, a republic based on universal suffrage and intelligence but nourished the causes that would prove its ruin.” These predictions showed the bias of the nations, and their acts became so unfriendly at the outset of our contest, as to justify our noble President Lincoln in saying, in his annual message in 1862, “Every nation distracted by civil war must expect to be treated without consideration by foreign powers.” Count De Gasparin, a writer of acknowledged ability, said, “Suppose Europe not to exist, and America a duelling-ground in which no one can interfere, you cannot imagine a continuance of the struggle. Four months would suffice for the reduction of the South from the day it ceases to count on Europe.”
It is proper to recount a few of the leading causes of the war as an introduction to the services and sacrifices of those who battled for the integrity of our Union. Headley in his History of the civil war says, “It is easy to see that it will be vain for either North or South to attempt to prove itself entirely guiltless before impartial history;” a declaration which means that, although the North was right in its determined opposition to slavery, the South was in a measure justified in recourse to arms, from the methods by which their pet institution was antagonized. Such a statement may be soothing to a neutral mind, but lacks the vigor and honesty of the truism that right is always aggressive against evil, and must be in loyalty to itself.
The loyal North had endured banterings and insults until forbearance ceased to be a virtue. For the sake of peace, they had submitted to a long series of dominations, resulting in the admission of Texas as a slave State, and rendering effete the Wilmot Proviso, by the terms of which slavery could not be introduced into acquired territory. After a bitter struggle, slavery was legalized in Missouri under the Missouri Compromise, providing that henceforth slavery should be prohibited north of the thirty-sixth degree of latitude. To repeal this compromise, Squatter Sovereignty had been the rallying cry, and this declared it the right of those settling in a territory to decide its domestic institutions. To vitiate State sovereignty, as in Kansas, they appealed to border ruffianism, and invoked the military power of the government to crush out and destroy the opposing sentiment. Still dissatisfied, they obtained the famous Dred Scott decision from the Supreme Court, which
declared, “There is no difference between slaves and other kinds of property,” and that “All American citizens may settle everywhere (in our domain) with their property.” With the patronage of the government at their command, its marshals were employed in recovering fugitive slaves, and both houses of Congress passed stringent laws, ordering all the forces of the States, both public and private, to assist in capturing and returning the fugitives to bondage. Espionage was placed upon the mails, and all literature assailing slavery prohibited therefrom. Social ostracism against persons from the free States at the South, was exacting and intolerable, individual, opinion overawed, and any expression of opposing sentiment was followed by a notice to leave, or by personal violence. Prominent men in all departments of government were playing fast and loose with treason, and distrust was justified on every hand.
Although a Massachusetts senator had been stricken down at the National Capitol, and these changes been endured, there was no intention to interfere with the institution of slavery, otherwise than by legislation, though secession and nullification had been openly advocated at the South.
The election of Abraham Lincoln furnished an occasion rather than a cause for the South; and the weakness or duplicity of James Buchanan, the opportunity to unveil their treasonable plans. South Carolina passed an ordinance of secession Dec. 20, 1860, and seized all public property within her State, under the plea of eminent domain. This was repeated in all the cotton States, until, upon the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President, March 4, 1861, seven States had passed ordinances of secession.
Each in turn seized the public property, Florida and Louisiana ignoring their purchase by the government at a cost of about sixty millions of dollars, and Texas the fact that her place in our constellation had been secured by upwards of two hundred millions of dollars, and large numbers of valuable lives.
Friday, April 12, 1861, at half-past four in the morning, a shell from a mortar battery near Fort Johnson, Charleston, S.C., described a curve high in air, and fell within Fort Sumter, then occupied by Major Robert Anderson, with a garrison of one hundred and twenty-eight men. After a bombardment of thirty-six hours, by forces under General Beauregard, the fort was surrendered and evacuated April 14th. Thus was treason consummated, and a conflict inaugurated, which, in gigantic proportions, and far-reaching results, must ever stand as one of the boldest monuments in political history.
These acts narrated, resulted in a proclamation for convening Congress July 4, 1861, and a call for seventy-five thousand troops for three months. Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, now cast their lot with the South, while Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri refused their quota, and notified the government, — “Troops could not pass over their domain to coerce the sovereign States.”
By this accession, the seceded States embraced a population of five and a half million whites and three and one-half million blacks, with a territory of five hundred and sixty-four thousand square miles. Cotton had been king, yielding to these States upward of two hundred millions annually, in addition to immense revenues from other crops, and from
mines and forests of ship-timber. The conflict must be waged, if at all, along an inland line of upwards of twelve hundred miles well suited for defence, and twenty-four hundred miles of seaboard, containing the best harbors and strongest fortresses of the Union.
From the Potomac to the far West, all was chaos and lurking treason when Congress met. An insurgent army was gathered at Manassas, Va., threatening the national capital. Kentucky had decided to remain in the Union, but Buckner and Breckenridge, and other leading men were secretly plotting to lead it into the rebellion; Missouri was rent in twain by treason and contesting forces, and its governor and the rebel General Price, were actively at work to force it into the Confederacy. Privateers sailing under letters of marque were destroying our merchant marine upon the high seas, while the nations of the Old World pointed with scorn at one more failure of a republican government.
Even while Congress was debating the right or advisability of coercion, the battle of Bull Run was fought; and the retreating, demoralized Union army — of twenty-eight thousand five hundred and sixty-eight men, — as it fell back upon the national capital, awoke the two houses from sentimentality to a conception of duty. The needed appropriations were quickly made, and the call for five hundred thousand volunteers was authorized.
Before a step could be taken to retrieve our national honor, this army must be enlisted, equipped, and drilled. A great danger also threatened the nation in the expiration of the term of the three months troops; but, thanks to their
unwavering loyalty, these troops volunteered to remain until such time as new levies could replace them. Fortunately, the call for volunteers was met by an uprising and response without parallel, exceeding by two hundred and fourteen thousand one hundred and forty the number called for, a sight which startled the nations of the world, and awoke in our enemies a new conception of the conflict they had precipitated.
Suspecting that the national government would be forced to resort to arms — with eminent wisdom — Gov. John A. Andrew, of Massachusetts, had issued his General Order No. 4, Jan. 16, 1861, requiring the commanding officer of each militia organization, to perfect, recruit, and equip his command with men ready for service at a moment's notice; and to discharge such as were unfit and unwilling to enter active service.
By virtue of this forethought, Massachusetts was able to respond so promptly to the call for troops, that the unfading honor of the first response to the nation's call, belongs to her, and to the valiant Sixth Massachusetts Regiment. The morning following the call, the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment mustered on Boston Common, and the evening of the 17th was en route for Washington.
The President's first call was met with such an uprising that but a small proportion of the volunteers could be accepted; but after the battle of Bull Run, with a more vivid conception of the conflict before it, the government once more appealed to the States for help, and Governor Andrew issued his proclamation, “Your country calls you to the post, where the heroic soldiers of April hastened with generous alacrity and sublime devotion.”
CHAPTER I. TWENTY-SEVENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
August 28, 1861, Horace C. Lee, City Clerk of Springfield, a gentleman of large experience in the Massachusetts State Militia, received a telegram from Governor Andrew, offering him the lieutenant-colonelcy of the Twenty-First Massachusetts Regiment, then in camp at Worcester. He telegraphed his acceptance, and the next morning went to Boston for instructions, when he was informed that five additional regiments were to be raised, and that the governor had decided to authorize him to organize one of these in the western part of the State.
September 3d, he received written authority from Governor Andrew to organize a regiment, to be recruited in the four western counties. It was then supposed that the regiment would be called the Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts Regiment, and all its earlier orders were so given.
Colonel Lee at once communicated with fifteen gentlemen of former prominence in the militia, offering commands and positions as he considered them competent, in return for enlistments.
September 10th, recruiting offices were opened at Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield, Athol, Ludlow, Chicopee, Springfield, Westfield, North Adams and Pittsfield. So intense was the enthusiasm that on the 15th instant Northampton and Westfield reported full ranks; Ludlow, seventy-five men enlisted; and other places that they were meeting unexpected success.
September 17th, the companies at Amherst, Adams, Chicopee
and Ludlow, were ordered into camp on “Gunn's Lot,” situated upon the Wilbraham Road, about a mile east of the United States Armory, at Springfield, Mass. The camp was well situated upon high and level ground, far enough from the city to facilitate discipline, and yet easy of access for visitors and supplies. Luke Lyman, Esq., of Northampton, Register of Probate for Hampshire County, was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the regiment; and, as Golonel Lee's time was largely occupied in closing his business and facilitating recruiting, the command of the camp devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel Lyman until about the middle of October.
Dr. George A. Otis, of Springfield, was appointed surgeon, commenting on which, the “Springfield Republican” congratulated the regiment on “having secured one of the foremost, best educated, and most successful physicians in the county, and every way fitted for the post.” Walter G. Bartholomew, of Thompson's Express, formerly of the United States Sappers and Miners, was made commander of the North Adams company, and ordered to bring the same to camp.
In consequence of the drain upon the Quartermaster's Department at Boston, it was impossible to obtain camp equipage, so that for the lack of these when the Pittsfield and Amherst companies arrived at Springfield, the 19th inst., the City Guard offered them the use of their armory for the night. The morning of the 20th, a portion of the tents arrived, and our rendezvous was named Camp Reed, in honor of Gen'l John H. Reed, Quartermaster-General of Massachusetts. During the day, the Amherst, Westfield, and Pittsfield companies repaired to the ground and pitched their A tents, which furnished accommodations for six men each. Official notice was also received of the appointment of William H. Tyler, a former merchant of South Adams, as Quartermaster of the regiment. This for the time created
quite a ripple, as Colonel Lee in consideration of assurances from the governor had promised the same to J. B. Stebbins, Esq., a worthy citizen of Springfield, who had already begun to act in that capacity. The responsibility assumed by Colonel Lee in the matter of appointments was a delicate one, subjecting him to great pressure from all sides, in behalf of particular friends; and it is creditable to his judgment and the forbearance of his officers that he succeeded with so little friction. There was rivalry in the appointment of a chaplain between the friends of Rev. Miles Sandford, a Baptist minister of Adams and those of Rev. C. L. Woodworth, a Congregationalist of South Amherst. The former received the appointment, but the latter succeeded him a few months later.
September 21st the Northampton and Ludlow companies reported at camp, but the small supply of tents forced us to crowd twelve men into quarters intended for six. They lay at antipodes that night upon their pallets of straw. No wonder there were frequent complaints of crowding, kicking, and of feet being in some one's face. These trials were, however, soon submitted to, and the hilarity of camp gave place to quiet and sleep. Soon some straitened, aching limb, unconsciously raised for relief, strikes our supply of tin-ware hanging upon the tent-pole, and sends it like a score of cymbals over the sleepers. To add variety, a heavy rain fell about two o'clock in the morning, flooding the camp and leaving our embryo soldiers lying in puddles of water.
The Commissary Department was equally deficient in supplies, and some companies were provided with rations at the Eagle Hotel, now known as the “Rockingham House.”
It must be remembered that the response to the call for troops had been without parallel. The enthusiasm which fired the heart of New England had been encouraged by liberal pecuniary aid from patriotic and influential citizens. Hon. H. G. Knight of Easthampton paid one hundred dollars
to each married, and fifty dollars to each single man enlisting in our regiment from that town. Judge James D. Colt, Col. C. M. Whelden of Pittsfield and Sylvander Johnson, Esq., of North Adams were also specially prominent, while many others in a quiet but still efficient way, worked in their own localities.
We prospered, because the people had a mind to work, and hence it was not strange the regiment was ready for camp before its supplies and equipage could be obtained.
Sunday, the 22d, was novel in experience, strict enforcement of camp discipline not being required. The men were allowed to attend the various churches of the city, or roam the fields at pleasure. There was not enough of mutual acquaintance to suggest frivolity, but all were models of soberness and decorum. In the afternoon, Captain Fuller took the Pittsfield company — Whelden Guards — to the Eagle House, and furnished them one of its best dinners at his own expense.
Parts of the Springfield, Chicopee, Greenfield and North Adams companies arrived the 23d inst., and Amos Bond, of Springfield, was authorized to organize a band for the regiment. A full supply of tents was secured during the day, allowing one to each six men.
Orders were issued the 24th requiring flannel to be used as underwear, and a supply issued; but the uniforms, to be made by Merritt Clark & Co., of Northampton, were as yet undelivered. During the day six men of the Ludlow company were drummed from camp for insubordination because of dissatisfaction with rations. The Athol company arrived during the afternoon headed by the Athol Band, so that the ten companies were present, though as yet without full ranks.
The encampment had now its full proportions.
The parade ground was a scene of restless activity; the various detachments engaged in company movements, or
the manual of arms. A large tent in the rear of the camp answered for hospital purposes, and for the examining of recruits. On repairing to this place the men were ordered to strip and, one by one, were put around the tent at double quick. Defects, constitutional, accidental, or arising from habits, were carefully sought out, and the utmost soundness of lung and limb demanded. Dame Nature must have plumed herself over the perfection of her creation, for but few were found unsound. Such were the men New England was furnishing as a pledge of her loyalty. Like the sacrifice of the ancient Jews, their offering was without spot or blemish, and it was no poesy that they were “the flower of New England.”
Our regiment was made up of Massachusetts yeomen — the best element of the people. It stood for the best of which America can boast — men of independence, character, and honest toil. Most of them were what might reasonably be expected from New England's free-school system, — men of intelligence, “who knew their rights and knowing dare maintain.” The rank and file were the equal of those in command, and yet, for the public good, were willing to surrender individuality, and work through others the nation's redemption. The “Republican” in speaking of them said: “They are the hardy yeomen of western Massachusetts, and when fully organized, are likely to equal, if not surpass, the popular Tenth Regiment.”
September 27th, the morning reports gave the following men in camp: Westfield, one hundred and fifteen; North-ampton, one hundred and ten; Amherst and Athol, one hundred each; Ludlow, ninety; Pittsfield, eighty; North Adams, fifty-eight; Springfield, forty-nine; Chicopee, forty; Greenfield, thirty; and these, having passed the surgeon, were mustered into the United States service by Major Semple, U.S.A., for three years unless sonner discharged.
The same day the following list of field officers for the regiment was promulgated:—
Colonel, Horace C. Lee, of Springfield.
Lieutenant-Colonel, Luke Lyman, Northampton.
Major, William M. Brown, North Adams.
Surgeon, George A. Otis, Springfield.
Assistant Surgeon, Samuel Camp, Great Barrington.
Quartermaster, William H. Tyler, Adams.
Adjutant, George W. Bartlett, Greenfield.
Chaplain, H. Winslow,——.
Of the last person, the author can say nothing, the including of his name being doubtless a clerical error, as on Sunday, the 29th, Rev. C. L. Woodworth, of Amherst, conducted “divine service,” as a candidate for the office. A choir improvised by J. L. Skinner, of the Amherst company, aided the exercises. Thus early the standard of the cross was elevated, and a remnant was faithful to it through all the vicissitudes of service. The men marching out, formed a hollow square, and, seated upon the ground, by worship dedicated the dome of the sky as their religious temple.
The work of organization, equipment, and drill was pressed without intermission to prepare us for the field at the earliest moment. The Quartermaster and Commissary departments were now fully supplied, and the hearts of the people opened to furnish everything love and loyalty could suggest. Hardly a day passed but mementoes from loved ones came to gladden our hearts, in many cases the result of a sacrifice at home more patriotic than that which led us to the field.
The children's work opened on the afternoon of the 12th of October, when the Northamptom company marched into a hollow square formed by the other companies and were presented in behalf of the Sabbath schools of that town with testaments, towels, combs, and cushions. Appropriate remarks
were made by Rev. Mr. Capen, and patriotic songs sung by a chorus accompanying the delegation. On the 16th the Ludlow company was alike favored, and upon the 29th the following note, with the supplies alluded to in it, was received:—
Springfield, Oct. 29, 1861.
Col. H. C. Lee:
The scholars of State Street Grammar School cheerfully contribute the following articles to your hospital stores: Four blankets, three pairs slippers, twenty-one sheets, two boxes of bandages, eighteen pairs pillow-cases, one box lint, fifty towels, one roll linen, sixteen pairs wool socks, two boxes soap, ten handkerchiefs, one night shirt, and a collection of books; and we sincerely hope they may be the means of affording much comfort to the brave men of your regiment. Yours respectfully,
(Signed) J. A. Miller,
S. G. Felton, Teachers.
This was followed by gifts from the Union Street Grammar and High School of the city.
It is much easier to say that the ladies left nothing undone which love could suggest or ingenuity devise, than to enumerate their favors. On the 15th the North Adams and Pittsfield companies received towels, combs, and cushions, from Mrs. J. M. Thompson, of Springfield, while the former, and the Chicopee companies were remembered by a Mrs. —— Carney, by the same gifts, not to omit a liberal supply of “doughnuts,” sufficient for the Adams company. Those doughnuts touched the jealousies of the whole regiment, and longing eyes watched their disappearance, wondering at such partiality. If the donor had only enlarged her bounty to include us all, she would have been unanimously declared the mother of the regiment. The hospital was in daily receipt of supplies from the ladies, and upon the 23d the following was received:—
Northampton, Oct. 23, 1861.
Enclosed you will find one hundred dollars, contributed by the good people of Northampton, for the benefit of the sick of your regiment. Mr. Lyman assures me that if placed in your hands it will be judiciously used. It has afforded us great pleasure to contribute in our way to the comforts of your brave men. If they are willing to leave home to protect ours, the all we can do is but a poor return, yet it may say to them, we in a measure appreciate the sacrifice, and that our prayers and best wishes attend them. (Signed)
Maria T. Damon.
Friends were equally appreciative of our officers, and each day some new victim found himself called upon to respond to unexpected testimonials of good-will.
Captain Bartholomew again led off, and most suspiciously; “an out-of-town lady” presenting him with a handsome uniform, of which the “Republican” suggested “it was not surprising,” leaving the rest untold. Lieutenant-Colonel Lyman received a sword, sash, and belt from the Lyman Guard of Northampton; Captain Bartholomew and Lieutenant Bailey received like gifts from the Union Guard of Springfield; as also Lieutenant Hunt from John West, Esq.; Lieutenant Warner from Sheriff Bush, and Captain Cooley from the Masonic fraternity; Surgeon Otis received a horse and equipments from friends; and, upon the 21st inst., Colonel Lee received the same gift from his city friends. October 18th, the regiment formed in a square upon the parade grounds, and were presented by Major Andrews, Assistant Commissary General of Massachusetts, with a stand of State and United States colors. As he presented them to us Major Andrews said: “Though they be stained with human gore, riddled by weapons of destruction, hurled by an infuriated foe, or faded by the lapse of time, bring them back unblemished, — bring them back a crown of glory for your brow.” The colors were received at “present arms,” Colonel Lee
plighting our lives, if need be, to save them from dishonor.
It had been expected that this regiment would form a part of the Sherman expedition, at that time rendezvousing at “Hampstead Camp,” L. I., and as early as October 7th, orders were received to be ready to leave for that point the 14th inst. Colonel Lee responded that this was utterly impossible, as the regiment was without arms or uniforms, and imperfectly recruited and organized. The attempt to enlist so many regiments at once, had filled our towns with recruiting offices, both for our own and other States. Of this, complaint was made, and the following reply elicited:—
Boston, Oct. 11, 1861.
Col. H. C. Lee:
I understand that persons are recruiting in the four western counties under the supposed authority of Major-General Butler, thus delaying the recruiting of your regiment. This is wholly wrong, and in defiance of the order of this department, and of the authority to me imparted by the Secretary of War. No person can be commissioned in the volunteer service, otherwise than by the governor of the State, nor can regiments be recruited over his authority, unless he refuses to commission officers and raise troops when demanded by the United States government. I have authorized as many regiments as can be safely attempted at one time in the State, and as many as the Secretary of War has requested. The four western counties were designated as your recruiting ground, and I will not at present change the order in that respect.
(Signed) John A. Andrew, Governor.
Through the influence of Ansel Wright, Esq., at Northampton, thirty men were at once secured from that town for the Chicopee company. Colonel Lee left the command of the camp under the efficient care of Lieutenant-Colonel Lyman, and gave personal attention to the various recruiting offices, so that by October 20th the ranks were practically
full. Enfield rifles and uniforms were issued October 10th. The latter consisted of a navy-blue coat and “blouse,” light-blue pants and overcoat, with a black felt hat. The companies were assigned position in line and rank as below; the numerals signifying their order in rank, counting in order from right to left as on dress parade; the letters the future designation of the companies.
|Position in line from right.||Town from.||Order of rank.||Company letter.||Position in line from right.||Town from.||Order of rank.||Company letter.|
|* Color Company.|
The “warrant” or non-commissioned officers were announced, and everything hastened to complete the organization; but with all the despatch possible, it was unable to perfect the regiment in season for the Sherman Expedition, which left Fortress Monroe October 29, 1861. October 14th and 22d, the regiment paraded through the city, receiving hearty compliments from the citizens and press for appearance, evolutions and discipline.
Sunday, October 20th, Rev. Henry M. Parsons, pastor of the First Congregational Church, Springfield, preached upon the grounds an eloquent and stirring sermon from 1 Cor. 16: 13—“Quit yourselves like men; be strong.”
October 25th the following line officers received their commissions, and were mustered into service:—
|Co.||Captains.||First Lieutenants.||Second Lieutenants.|
|A||S. C. Vance, Indianapolis, Ind.||M. H. Spaulding, North-ampton.||E. C. Clark, Northamp-ton.|
|B||A. W. Caswell, Gardner.||P. W. McManus, Daven-port, Iowa.||L. H. Horton, Athol.|
|C||W. H. Walker, Green-field.||J. H. Nutting, Greenfield.||W. F. Barrett, Green-field.|
|D||T. W. Sioan, Amherst.||A. R. Dennison, Amherst.||J. H. Aitcherson, Chico-pee.|
|E||G. A. Fuller, Springfield.||J. W. Trafton, Spring-field.||L. J. Bradley, Lee.|
|F||L. F. Thayer, Westfield.||J. W. Moore, Tolland.||J. H. Fowler, Westfield.|
|G||R. R. Swift, Chicopee.||P. S. Bailey, Springfield.||F. C. Wright, Northamp-ton.|
|H||W G. Bartholomew, Springfield.||C. H. Sandford, Adams.||W. H. H. Briggs, Adams.|
|I||H. A. Hubbard, Ludlow.||E. K. Wilcox, Spring-field.||C. W. Goodale, Wilbra-ham.|
|K||H. K. Cooley, Springfield.||George Warner, Spring-field,||W. C. Hunt, Springfield.|
The afternoons were given to “battalion drill” and “dress parade,” drawing large crowds of spectators; and hours of leisure to wrestlings, dances, games and visits. The sutlers Langdon and Bidwell erected a shed just outside the guard. This establishment was complete of its kind; and its supplies, while those ordinarily on sale at such places, might be guaranteed to produce anything from a dyspeptic to a full-fledged corpse. One of the unexplained incicents connected with this institution, was the placing of a barrel in their keeping, and wonderful to tell, the morning following the body was found, but the spirit(s) had departed.
October 29th our entire equipment was at hand, including horses, baggage wagons, and ambulances; and the regiment received orders to start for the front Saturday, November 2d.
The morning of the 1st we were reviewed by Quarter-master General Reed, and in the afternoon by Gov. John A. Andrew and staff.
This closed our duty at Camp Reed, nothing having occurred to darken our experiences. All was bright and inspiriting, and — barring the little incursions which will be made by men promiscuously gathered — our stay was as pleasant to those living near the grounds as to ourselves.
CHAPTER II. OFF FOR THE WAR.
Saturday, November 2d, opened cool and clear; the rustling leaves and curling smoke being quickly driven to shelter before a strong north-west wind. Daily duties and preparations were soon over, and with our first three days’ rations, and with knapsacks slung, the Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts Regiment awaited orders. At nine o'clock the signal to “break camp” was given, and the field of tents disappeared as by magic. Hospital, camp equipage, and supplies, were soon en route to the railroad; and the frisky wind fanned the smouldering camp-fires into a flame, which speedily consumed the straw with which our tents had been bountifully provided.
At noon, with three rousing cheers for “our homes,” for “Camp Reed,” and for “our flag,” we stood in line as on dress parade, nine hundred and eighty strong. Though we could not fathom the experiences through which success would be reached, an intelligent soldierly bearing gave promise that the remnant would return with the laurels of victory, and of an honorable peace.
A waiting escort, our band favored the assembled multitude with national airs and “Home, Sweet Home,” in which last the regiment joined with a fervency and pathos inimitable. It was the soul offering its tribute of love at a shrine before which it was certain many would never again appear. It was a refrain receding to our hillside homes, assuring them, that, though duty now separated us, our hearts would watch for the dawning of the day permitting our return.
At half-past twelve Colonel Lee gave the order “Column!—Forward!—Guide left!—March!!” and with firm, reliant step, and colors to the breeze, the Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts Regiment of Infantry took up its march for the front. The feelings of such an hour the pen cannot portray. Thoughts were too deep for expression. The silent recesses of hearts with such an experience can only know the secret fullness of such moments.
Our line of march was through State and Main streets to the “Boston & Albany” depot, two miles and a half distant, our escort consisting of the Armory Band, Union Guard, Ocean Fire Company, and the Springfield Cadets.
Although much of the display attending the departure of earlier organizations was omitted, yet it was not a heartless multitude which gave homage on the way. The railroads centering at Springfield had made excursion rates; and the hillside homes of Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampshire, joined with Hampden and Western Worcester in doing honor to the occasion. Gray-haired sires and matrons, queenly women and blushing maidens, thronged the curbing with tearful eyes, showering blessings and adieus; while enough of ardor was evinced by waving of kerchiefs and national colors to show the enthusiasm the occasion inspired. Controlling their sorrows opportunely, the Spartan mothers and daughters of New England gave us new strength, by inspiring us with their own matchless fortitude and loyalty. In their veins coursed the blood of heroes, and they gave, and ever will give, the sterile, rocky soil of New England its chief excellency, a race of sons and daughters whose acts best enshrine the royalty of their ancestors.
- “The maid who binds her warrior's sash
- With smile which well her pain dissembles,
- The while beneath her drooping lash
- One starry tear-drop hangs and trembles;
- Though heaven alone records the tear,
- And fame should never hear the story,
- Her heart has shed a drop as dear
- As ever dewed the field of glory.
- “The wife who girds her husband's sword
- Mid little ones who weep or wonder,
- And bravely speaks the cheering word,
- What though her heart be rent asunder;
- Doomed nightly in her dreams to hear
- The bolts of war around her rattle,
- Has poured as sacred flood, as e'er
- Was poured upon the plain of battle.
- “The mother who conceals her grief,
- While to her breast her son she presses;
- Then breathes a few brave words, though brief,
- Kissing the patriot brow she blesses;
- With no one but her secret God
- To know the pain that weighs upon her,
- Sheds holy blood as ere the sod
- Received on freedom's field of honor.”
No wonder, then, that, commissioned by such hands, each comrade swore fealty to ancestral honor, and vowed that no act of his should cause that mother, or the maid whose plight was held, to spurn us as tainted ones on our return.
Arriving at the depot an hour later, we stacked arms and awaited transportation until four o'clock, when, with partings said, we turned our back on home and friends, and were “off for the war.” Our train consisted of twenty-one cars, drawn by two powerful engines, with which we sped our way over the Boston and Albany Railroad, the platform of each station, as we passed, crowded with anxious, expectant friends. These places had contributed to our ranks, and as the train rushed by, cheers were given in lieu of the blessings friends were not permitted to speak, and chubby babes were raised above the surging crowd, that their fathers might catch one more glimpse of the little ones.
At eleven o'clock we arrived at Hudson, N. Y., where, after considerable delay, we boarded the Steamer “Connecticut,” and, stretched upon the cabin floor, were soon asleep. While transferring our baggage, Corporals R. R. McGregor and Charles Hadley, of Company K, were pressed overboard, but were fortunately rescued unharmed.
At three o'clock, Sunday morning, we turned our prow towards New York City, and by light had reached the vicinity of Rhinebeck. Nature had reserved her richest charms, and the trip down the Hudson River will retain its place amongst the most vivid recollections of our army experience. Mountains, glens and villages were bathed in sunlight and rich autumnal colors, while hillsides here and there were dotted with camps, whose occupants cheered lustily as we passed. West Point and the “Narrows,” with their suggestive histories; the numerous cities, towns, and villas, with their rich surroundings; the long line of Palisades, with their cascades from dizzy heights; and the “Empire City,” with its far-reaching suburbs, steeples and turrets, steamers and masts, all conduced to awaken pleasure and enthusiasm.
At one P.M. we were received at the “Jersey City” depot by Col. Frank Howe, Massachusetts agent to provide for her troops en route. During the collation served, he reminded us that we “went forth with no spirit of vindictiveness, but to teach the South that the United States was bounded, on the north by British America, east by the Atlantic Ocean, south by the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico, and west by the Pacific Ocean.” Colonel Barnes and others followed, with fitting remarks, Colonel Lee responding in behalf of the regiment.
At five P.M. we left Jersey City, reaching Philadelphia at midnight, where a most sumptuous collation was furnished us at Cooper's Volunteer Refreshment Rooms, — a collation suited to an epicure, and more than appreciated by us.
The idea of these rooms, says Lossing, arose in this way.
The wife of a mechanic living near the foot of Washington Avenue, was so affected by the needs of our men passing to the front, that she went out one morning with a coffee-pot and cup, and distributed its contents among them. From this act, was suggested the “Cooper Refreshment Rooms,” through whose beneficence upward of a million and a quarter volunteers were bountifully fed. Later, a hospital was established as auxiliary to its work, and cared for over twenty thousand wounded and sick returning from the army. When information was received of a regiment en route to the city, a signal gun was fired, bringing a large number of ladies to the rooms, and whenever the troops arrived, the tables were loaded with smoking viands suited to the most delicate tastes.
No inquiry was made as to what State the regiment was from; it was enough to know they were soldiers of the Union.
Philadelphia, and the noble women who served us at midnight, “did themselves proud,” and their loving “God bless you, boys!” met a hearty return from the Twenty-Seventh. Monday morning, under darkness and a threatening sky, we moved across the city, and at six A.M. entered the cars, the transportation agent remarking that “no regiment in his experience had accomplished this with so much order and decorum. “Why,” said he, “I never knew the like; you have not a single tipsy man aboard!” If this virtue was a necessity, it is much to the credit of some one.
On reaching Perryville, at ten A.M., we found several regiments awaiting transportation. After some delay we were ordered aboard a train, and moved forward, much to the chagrin and vexation of those whom we had found there, who were disposed to treat it as anything but a joke. We are inclined to think there was a bit of diplomacy used, which we fortunately enjoyed, as we hastened to Baltimore, where we arrived at five P.M., and were served with refreshments
by the Union Committee. The ominous bullet-holes were everywhere present in the depot, and we were credited with being the first regiment passing through the city with unloaded arms since the unfortunate attack upon the Massachusetts Sixth, April 19, 1861. As soon as a freight train could be secured, we were forwarded to Annapolis, arriving there at three A.M., November 5th, where we were quartered in the Naval School buildings.
At noon of the same day we marched westerly to a plain a mile distant, and established “Camp Springfield.” The ground was rolling and well suited for its purpose as a rendezvous of troops, and camp of instruction. Here we found the Massachusetts Twenty-Fifth, Colonel Upton, and the Fifty-First New York, Colonel Ferrero, already in camp, and were soon after joined by the Twenty-Third and Twenty-Fourth Massachusetts, and Eighth and Tenth Connecticut regiments.
The change from Massachusetts to Maryland was like moving the seasons backward, and exchanging November for September. Hardly had the lines been established, with the men fairly at work pitching their tents, than the ubiquitous darkies, — uncles, aunties, shades, quadroons and octoroons, — bowing, scraping, and scratching, plied us with their hoecakes, fried and sweet-potato pies, banjos and clog-dances, until all work was well-nigh suspended, and in desperation they were ordered beyond the lines.
October 23d, Brig. Gen'l Ambrose E. Burnside had been ordered to organize an expedition, with headquarters at Annapolis, Md. It was first intended that this expedition should contend with the batteries on the Potomac River and other waters of Virginia, and hence it was composed of troops from the Atlantic States, as possessing greater nautical skill and fitness for the experience likely to fall to them. After the arrival of many of the troops at Annapolis, and upon further consultation with General McClellan and
the War Department, the original plan was given up by General Burnside, as will appear in this history.
Rumors prevailing of a contemplated raid by the rebels, on the Annapolis Branch Railroad, General McClellan ordered the patrol doubled to the Junction, some twenty miles distant; and Company A of the Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts reported to Colonel Morse of the Twenty-First Massachusetts Regiment for this duty.
The company was divided into three detachments; Lieutenant Spaulding with the first being left about seven miles; Lieutenant Clark with a second, five miles; and Captain Vance with the remainder at Anderson's Switch, two miles, — from Annapolis Junction. It is not given out that there were any raids or hair-breadth escapes, except for certain luckless “cullud indiwiduals” returning from “seein’ Dinah on de nex’ plantation.” These were several times halted with an exhibition of molar ivory suggestive of discomfiture. The company returned to camp the 13th, and prided themselves with the honors of the first active service of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment.
On the 17th of November, Brig. Gen'l Ambrose E. Burnside, who had been placed in command of the forces in the vicinity of Annapolis, made his first inspection, attended by Secretaries Seward and Cameron, with Gov. John A. Andrew of Massachusetts, and officers of high rank in the army. On the 27th of November sixteen regiments were present, and were brigaded as follows: —
Brig. Gen'l John G. Foster, Commanding.
Twenty-Third Massachusetts, Col. John Kurtz.
Twenty-Fourth Massachusetts, Col. Thomas G. Stevenson.
Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts, Col. Edwin Upton.
Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts, Col. Horace C. Lee.
Tenth Connecticut, Col. Charles L. Russell.
Brig Gen'l Jesse L. Reno, Commanding.
Twenty-First Massachusetts, Col. Augustus Morse.
Sixth New Hampshire, Col. Nelson Converse.
Fifty-First New York, Col. Edward Ferrero.
Ninth New Jersey, Col. Joseph W. Allen.
Fifty-First Pennsylvania, Col. J. F. Hartranft.
Brig. Gen'l John G. Parke, Commanding.
Fourth Rhode Island, Col. J. P. Rodman.
Fifth Rhode Island Battalion, Maj. Job Wright.
Eighth Connecticut, Col. Edward Harland.
Eleventh Connecticut, Col. T. H. C. Kingsbury.
Eighty-Ninth New York, Col. H. S. Fairchilds.
Fifty-Third New York, Col. Lionel J. De Epinueil.
Battery F, Capt. Charles Belger, Rhode Island Artillery, consisting of one hundred and fifty-six men, one hundred and twenty horses, four ten-pound Parrott guns, and two twelve-pound field howitzers, constituted a part of the division.
General Burnside's staff consisted of Capt. Lewis Richmond, Assistant Adjutant General; Capt. Herman Biggs, Division Quartermaster; Capt. T. C. Slaight, Assistant Division Quartermaster; Capt. Charles G. Loring, Assistant Division Quartermaster; Capt. E. R. Goodrich, Commissary of Subsistence; Capt. William Cutting, Assistant Commissary of Subsistence; Capt. J. J. De Wolf, Assistant Commissary of Subsistence; Lieut. D. H. Flagler, Ordinance Officer; Lieut. Duncan C. Pell, Lieut. George Fearing, Aides-de-Camp; Maj. W. H. Church, Division Surgeon.
General Foster's staff: Capt. S. Hoffman, Assistant Adjutant General; Capt. Daniel Messenger, Brigade Quartermaster;
Capt. E. E. Potter, Commissary of Subsistence; Capt. P. W. Hudson, Aide-de-Camp; Lieut. E. N. Strong, Lieut. G. N. Pendelton, Lieut. J. F. Anderson, Volunteer Aids.
As we were but indirectly connected with the Second and Third Brigades, the staffs of these are omitted.
Major-General Ambrose Everett Burnside, who commanded this force, was born May 23, 1824, the fifth child of Edgehill Burnside, Esq., an attorney of Liberty, Union County, Ind., who was in direct descent from Revolutionary heroes, and in early life had moved from South Carolina to the above place, where he was favored with many public offices and trusts. His son Ambrose received an appointment as a cadet at West Point in 1843, from which he graduated in Artillery July 1, 1847, with a commission as brevet second lieutenant of Artillery. He was promoted to second lieutenant of the Third United States Artillery Sept. 8, 1847, and joined the army in Mexico, but too late for active service in the field. On his return he was stationed at Fort Adams, Newport, R. I., and was subsequently ordered to New Mexico, where he was connected with Bragg's famous battery.
Leaving the army in 1853, General Burnside was for a time engaged in the manufacture of fire-arms, which proving unremunerative, he was found at the opening of the Rebellion in Chicago, as treasurer of the Illinois Central Railroad. Accepting the command of the First Rhode Island Infantry, he was present at the first battle of Bull Run, acting as brigadier-general in command of the First Brigade, Second Division, and rendered conspicuous service in saving the routed Union forces. The successful organization and exploits of the Burnside Expedition were worthy of the man whose name it bore, and the magnanimity with which he shared his success with others, was a trait rarely exhibited.
General Burnside was continuously in command of the Ninth Army Corps, from its organization until the close of hostilities, save the brief times in which he commanded the Army of the Potomac, and when temporarily surrendering it to Major-General Foster, at Knoxville, Tenn. His service was rendered on the fields of North Carolina and Tennessee, as well as on the stubbornly contested fields of Virginia and Maryland.
At the close of the war he was repeatedly chosen governor of Rhode Island, from which position he was advanced to the Senate of the United States, and was still holding this honorable position at his death, which occurred at Bristol, R. I., Sept. 13, 1881, at fifty-seven years of age. General Burnside died at the pinnacle of fame, not worn and laid aside by service and age, but in the vigorous use of all his powers.
- “Leaves have their time to fall,
- And flowers to wither at the north wind's breath,
- And stars to set, — but all,
- Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!”
His heroic patriotism, noble magnanimity, tender sympathy and self-sacrificing spirit, were traits endearing him alike to his command and his country. His life was clear and frank as an open book. No suspicion of jealousy of superiors, or wilful neglect of subordinates ever justly rested upon him. He was not of stolid mind, able to disregard the sacrifices and sufferings of the field, for his nature recoiled at carnage, and — we say it charitably — this led to a hesitancy in precipitating contests where it is possible a little more promptness might have resulted in greater economy of life and limb. No corps commander had a stronger hold on his command than General Burnside, and in the hour of exultation, when receiving the intoxicating applause of a grateful people, he nobly and magnanimously, as at Cincinnati, reminded them, “It is not to me, but to the grand army of
J.G.Foster Maj. Gen. John G. Foster
noble men in the ranks, and still at the front, you are indebted for the victories with which you accredit me.” This was not the ebullition of a moment, but the expression of a permanent conviction to puncture a bubble of hero worship, which ascribed to a commander all the achievements wrung from the field of contest by the valor and blood of subaltern and soldier. Consistent with this, no subordinate, however low or menial, ever sought redress for wrongs at his hand without a hearing, and such relief as the case demanded. His large-heartedness was only exceeded by his bravery and loyalty, and though our service under his immediate command was limited to some seven months, it was long enough to win a warm place in our hearts, which will ever be sacred to his memory.
Major-General John Gray Foster, son of Perley and Mary Gray Foster, was born at Whitefield, Coos County, New Hampshire, May 27, 1823. He was of loyal lineage, his father having served during the war of 1812, in command of the Nashua Artillery, and later as a major in the State militia. At the age of ten he removed to Nashua, attending its public schools, and advanced to the Baptist High School at Hancock, N. H. He subsequently prepared for West Point Military Academy at Crosby's High School, Nashua. By request of Hon. Franklin Pierce, senator, and Hon. Charles G. Atherton, member of Congress, he was appointed a cadet and entered West Point June, 1842. Among his classmates were Generals McClellan, Couch, Gordon, Oaks, Reno, Stoneman and Sturgis, of the Union army; and Stonewall Jackson and Wilcox of the rebel army.* He[note]
graduated July 1, 1846, fourth in standing, with a commission of brevet second lieutenant of engineers, United States Army. He was present in many of the engagements during the Mexican war, and was brevetted first lieutenant for gallant and meritorious conduct at Contreras and Cherubusco. At the storming of Molino del Rey, Sept. 8, 1847, he was one of the assaulting column, receiving a severe wound in the ankle, and for conspicuous service was brevetted captain.
From 1854 to 1857 he was assistant professor of engineering at West Point; and April 28, 1858, was assigned to the fortifications of North and South Carolina.
The opening of the war found Foster second in command at Fort Sumter, and for gallantry there, he was promoted to a brigadier-general of volunteers. On arriving north, General Foster was put in charge of the fortifications of New York Harbor, and was ordered Oct. 23, 1861, to report to General Burnside for duty. At Annapolis he was assigned to the command of the first brigade of the Burnside Expedition, the success of which was due in no small degree to his prudence and skill. After the capture of New Berne, N. C., he was appointed military governor of that State, and, upon the departure of General Burnside with most of his troops to aid General McClellan on the Peninsula, succeeded to the command of the Department of North Carolina, with the difficult task of holding our extended lines with a decimated force. The successful record of the Department of North Carolina, recorded in this work, is largely due to his prudence, bravery and foresight.
July 16, 1863, General Foster was assigned to the consolidated command known as the “Department of Virginia and North Carolina,” with headquarters at Fortress Monroe. In November following he was ordered to the command of the Department of Ohio, where, with a small body of men, he pressed through a hostile country to Cumberland Gap and Knoxville, Tenn., for the relief of General Burnside,
then under siege at the latter place by Longstreet's rebel forces. Arriving at Knoxville, Dec. 11, 1863, just after the hasty retreat of the enemy, General Burnside issued a farewell address to his army, expressing strong friendship for his successor, and the complete confidence with which he entrusted every interest to his consummate skill and care. An accident, here, caused General Foster's Mexican wound to re-open, necessitating a surgical operation, and by his own request he was relieved by General Schofield, Jan. 24, 1864. May 26, 1864, he was assigned to the Department of the South, which position he held until Feb. 15, 1865, co-operating with General Sherman in the capture of Savannah and Charleston, and having the pleasure of wresting from rebel hands the very fort (Sumter) from which he had been ruthlessly driven on the opening of hostilities. It was his fortune to hear the first gun that ushered in the civil war, and when at its close the news arrived in Florida of the surrender of Lee and Johnson, he was still pressing marauding bands infesting that State. Upon relief from duty at the South, he was assigned to the defences of Boston Harbor, where declining health forced him to apply for a “sick leave.”
After thirty-two years of continuous service he retired to his home at Nashua, where, suffering some six months as a consumptive (a disease which had carried off most of his family), he died Sept. 2, 1874, and was buried with military and civic honors due his rank and services.
The following indicate his successive promotions: —
Brevet First Lieutenant, Aug. 20, 1847; Brevet Captain, Sept. 8, 1847; Second Lieutenant, Feb. 28, 1848; First Lieutenant, Feb. 2, 1854; Captain, July 1, 1860; Brevet Major, Dec. 26, 1860; Brigadier-General Volunteers, Aug. 21, 1861; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel United States Army, Feb. 8, 1862; Brevet Colonel United States Army, March 14, 1862; Major-General of Volunteers, July 18, 1862;
Major United States Army, March 3, 1863; Brevet Brigadier-General United States Army, March 13, 1865; Brevet Major-General United States Army, March 13, 1865; Lieutenant-Colonel United States Army, March 7, 1867.
Major-General Foster was regarded as one of the most accomplished, brave and prudent officers in the army, and, during his long and varied service, never suffered a defeat on the field. He was endowed with wonderful foresight and fertility of resource, enabling him to provide for any emergency, so that his troops never were found in false or fatal positions. This was in part due to military training, and in part to a trait asserting itself in all his acts, that what was worth doing at all was worth doing well. As a result, whatever field he entered, he became conversant with all its features and detail. As engineer on the coast defences of North and South Carolina, previous to the war, he not only acquainted himself with the fortifications, but the topography of the surrounding country, which proved of inestimable benefit to himself and his country during the Rebellion. As commander at New Berne he built its fortifications so well, that though the enemy drove the garrison several times into the intrenchments, they never dared assault them. John G. Nicolay, private secretary to President Lincoln, commenting on the bombardment of Fort Sumter thirty-six hours without the loss of a single life, says, “Captain Foster, the accomplished engineer of the fort, by many expedients known to military science, had pushed its defences to a state of relative completeness, with the limited means within the fort. Most of the embrasures of the lower tier of casemates were closed, . . . and here the garrison were securely housed.”
He was in some respects the opposite of General Burnside, for while closely allied with, and prudent of his troops, his education, zeal and loyalty to his work, led him to ignore contingent results to accomplish his end. His
nature was more inclined to aggression than defence. By restless activity with a small force, he was able to inflict serious losses upon a larger one, and by surprises and reconnoissances, to hold them constantly on the defensive. He was a strict disciplinarian; but his genial nature cultivated a most cordial relation with subordinates. His wise, humane, and yet determined course, secured the fear and respect of both friend and foe. As our brigade or division commander in thirteen engagements and expeditions, General Foster proved his eminent ability and courage, and it is safe to say his command would have followed him (he always led) wherever he went. He was peculiarly the idol of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, and his frequent presence, attended by Mrs. Foster and his staff, at our dress parades, with frequent souvenirs — not forgetting the fawn from Mrs. Foster — evinced the high regard in which he held our organization; and, while disparaging none of our commanders, he will always hold the highest place in our esteem.
His remains now rest in the Nashua Cemetery. A plain marble shaft, bearing the following inscription, marks his last resting place:—
To my Husband.
John Gray Foster, Lieut. Col. U. S. Engineers, and Brevet Maj. Gen'l U. S. Army, Died at Nashua, Sept. 2, 1874, Aged 51.
Post No. 7, Grand Army of the Republic, Nashua, N.H., has the honor of bearing his name.
The first Mrs. Foster, so well known and esteemed by us, died just after the close of the war.
Of the officers of the organizations composing the Burnside Expedition, many rendered conspicuous service, and for gallantry were promoted to the command of brigades and divisions, among whom were Colonels Lee, Stevenson, Harland, Ferrero, Hartranft, and Lieut. Col. C. A. Heckman.
General Horace Clark Lee was born in Springfield, Mass., Jan. 31, 1822, and enjoyed the full educational advantages of that city with academic privileges at Greenfield, Mass., and East Hartford, Conn. At the age of twenty he assisted in the formation of, and enlisted as a private in the Springfield Light Guards, under the command of Captain, now Colonel J. M. Thompson. He received successive promotions in the Springfield Guards and at the time of the expiration of their charter was serving as a fourth lieutenant. Upon the formation of the present Springfield City Guard Company, Lieutenant Lee was elected captain, and continued as its commander for several years. In 1854 he was elected as colonel of the Third Regiment Massachusetts Artillery. Under the reorganization of the State Militia and change of arms, this regiment was designated the Twelfth Massachusetts Infantry. Colonel Lee served five years as the commander of the Twelfth Regiment, or as an acting brigadier-general of the Sixth Brigade, Third Division, of the Massachusetts Militia, when he resigned his commission. On a later reorganization, the Twelfth Regiment was called the Tenth Massachusetts Infantry; and the six companies constituting that organization were the nucleus of the Tenth Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, which was the first body of men leaving Western Massachusetts to aid in suppressing the rebellion. Colonel Lee was prominently mentioned as a commander for that regiment.
August 23, 1861, Gov. John A. Andrew offered him the position of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Twenty-First
Massachusetts Volunteers. Colonel Lee went to Boston intending to accept the offer, when the governor informed him of authority from Washington for raising five additional regiments in Massachusetts, and of his desire that one of them should be raised in Western Massachusetts. The command of such an organization was tendered to Colonel Lee, and Sept. 3, 1861, written authority was given him to raise the regiment. His commission as colonel of the Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts Regiment was dated Sept. 20, 1861. He was present with his command until July 4, 1862, participating in the battles of Roanoke Island and New Berne, N. C.
Upon the departure of General Burnside and the reorganization of the forces in North Carolina, Colonel Lee was appointed an acting brigadier-general, and as such commanded the Trenton Expedition, and participated in the Tarboro and Goldsboro expeditions. At Goldsboro, General Lee and his brigade received honorable mention for gallantry in repulsing General Clingman's brigade in its charge upon Belger's and Morrison's Batteries. He was recommended by Major-General Foster as a brigadier-general of volunteers, but failed of being confirmed because of the excess of such appointments already given Massachusetts officers. General Foster then appointed him as provost-marshal general of North Carolina and subsequently of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, which position he held until January, 1864. Colonel Lee served upon commissions and courts-martial until the following May, when he again took command of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, participating in the battles of Walthal Junction, Arrowfield Church, and Drewry's Bluff. At the last of these engagements he was captured by the enemy, with half of his regiment, and suffered imprisonment at Libby Prison, Richmond, Va., and Camp Oglethorpe, Macon, Ga. June 10th, Colonel Lee — with fifty of the highest Union field officers held by the Confederates
— was removed from Macon and placed in Charleston, S. C., under fire of the Union guns before that city. He was exchanged, Aug. 2, 1864, and after a thirty days’ furlough at the North, arrived at Fortress Monroe, Va., in time to intercept his regiment, then on its way to North Carolina. By energy and perseverance he secured an order detaching those whose enlistment was to expire in September, 1864, and also instructions for them to report at Springfield, Mass., for discharge. Colonel Lee was mustered out Sept. 27, 1864, and for meritorious service was brevetted a brigadier-general of volunteers.
In executive ability, General Lee was the peer of any of his associates; and it was the recognition of his capacity by his superior officer which kept him so continuously absent from his regiment. The varied duty to which he has been called speaks most effectively of his worth. He was formerly a dry-goods merchant, but for several years preceding the war had been assessor and collector or clerk and treasurer of his native city. Since the war he has been four years in the Custom House of Boston, Mass. He is now upon his third term as postmaster of Springfield.
Our relations with those with whom we were brigaded were harmonious; but particularly so with the Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts, Tenth Connecticut, and Ninth New Jersey regiments, and with Belger's Battery. These by service and valor immortalized their names, and were a source of pride to their States and strength to those with whom they were brigaded. The greatest fortitude and endurance were exemplified in them, and not a single act has tarnished their record.
In January, 1863, we were forced to part with the noble Tenth by their removal to South Carolina, but all their career was watched with increasing pride. They were of the first to enter the rebel capital upon its evacuation. The “Jersey
H.C. Lee. Thos. Chubbuck, Eng._Springfield, Mass.
boys,” though not always brigaded with us, were always in supporting distance. They were the only regiment from that State serving near us, and seemed fully imbued with the Scotchman's idea, “it was not in bulk but in quality;” and hence, though serving with three Massachusetts regiments, they undertook to make up disparity in numbers by superior valor.
This might have been easier of accomplishment, were it not for our brothers of the Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts Volunteers, who were the flower of Worcester County. This regiment was fortunate in the ability and character of both officers and men, in internal harmony and discipline, and their cordial relations with others. They were present in all our principal engagements, save the siege of “Little Washington,” till January, 1865, — active participants in all our conflicts, and entitled to a full share in the honors of our victories. There is no meed of praise we would withhold from these organizations mentioned, no exhibition of courage of which we would not consider them capable; and, while jealously guarding the laurels of our own regiment, we place these regiments as the equal of any, in services or character.
These expressions in no sense reflect upon other organizations with which we were at times connected, but with whom from various causes we were less intimate.
Thanksgiving Day was observed by freedom from military duty. Friends at home had remembered us liberally “by express,” so that we were enabled to enjoy a miniature feast. To Company D came a well-filled box containing among other things, a mammoth turkey, with this inspiring note attached: — “My patriotism can survive no longer. I willingly die for the good of my country, and when you have picked my bones, give three rousing cheers for the Union and Plainville.” The day closed with wrestling matches, and with dancing upon “company streets,” the fair sex
represented by comrades with handkerchiefs tied above the elbow.
Hardly had the men resigned themselves to sleep ere a scattering fire of musketry occurred, dispelling the dreams of home and “festive board.” The long roll roused the “slumbering men,” and the voice of officers arose above the din: — “Turn out, Twenty-Seventh! fall in!! fall in!!!” The night was pitchy dark, and from its sable mantle came the sound of bugle, hurried orders, and the marshalling to arms of other camps. Each formed in line on their “parade ground,” awaiting orders that were to direct them to the deadly fray; the darkness charitably hiding blanched cheeks and trembling knees from malicious eyes.
At length a courier arrives; “it is a ruse,” “a false alarm,” to see how readily the troops could be marshalled for action; and a sneering guffaw ran along the line as visions of heroic combat vanished into night. “Honors were easy.” The colonel's cook appeared, excitedly inquiring, “Which way are you going to retreat? Which way is Massachusetts?” While the story went the rounds of one or two attempting to find knot-holes in the canvas tents through which to escape. The men went to their quarters with a noise much resembling the angry hum of a disturbed hive.
The daily routine of camp was:—
|Reveille and roll-call,||6.30 A.M.|
|Guard mounting,||8 A.M.|
|Surgeon's call,||9 A.M.|
|Company or battalion drill,||10 A.M.|
|Battalion or brigade drill||2 P.M.|
|Dress parade,||4 P.M.|
December 19th, a grand review occurred before General Burnside, with General McClellan and several cabinet officers, which occupied the entire day.
The configuration of the ground was such as to present rising and disappearing lines of glistening bayonets, as the brigades marched in review, or were engaged in field movements, or the manual of arms. The scene was most animating, the appearance and evolutions of the troops eliciting unqualified praise from General McClellan.
We received our first pay Dec. 12, 1861, in gold, the same being in full to November 1st, of which several thousand dollars was sent North the next day by Colonel Lee, who went home on a short leave of absence.
William H. Sheridan of Company H, died of typhoid fever, November 18th, the first of our long list of deaths in the country's defence. The next morning, funeral services were conducted by Chaplain Sandford. The body, in its humble white-pine box, was placed in an ambulance, and the funeral cortege, with reversed arms and muffled drum, moved with slow and measured step before the camp.
- “He died at noon;
- In the morning came the small platoon,
- With muffled drum, to bear him to his rest,
- With sods upon his manly breast.
- Hark! ’Tis their fire, his only knell,
- More solemn than the passing-bell.
- ’Tis well, though not a single tear
- Laments his fall. The Volunteer!”
Unscathed as yet by the vices of camp, and uncalloused by the carnage of battle, all hearts were moved. The last sad rites of earth by military usage, are peculiarly simple and affecting. The measured, pensive step, the reversed arms, the squad of one's own comrades performing the last act of
friendship, the parting salute, all impress the truth with an unequalled force that,
- “Our hearts . . . . . .
- . . . . like muffled drums are beating
- Funeral marches to the grave.”
During November, the health of the regiment was excellent, but in December, measles became epidemic, and there were three hundred men upon the sick-list, with the following deaths:—
Private Franklin Holcomb, Southwick, Co. F, December 25.
Private Charles Reynold, New Salem, Co. B, December 27.
Private Dennis C. Carter, Gill, Co. C, December 27.
Private David Haley, Williamstown, Co. H, December 28.
Private Patrick McGowan, Greenwich, Co. B, December 28.
Private Rinaldo C. Thorp, South Hadley, Co. A, December 29.
Private Holcomb came to Annapolis at his own expense, and enlisted against the wishes of his wife. In just five weeks his lifeless body was sent to her at Westfield.
December 6th, Maj. William M. Brown resigned his commission, followed, Jan. 1, 1862, by Capt. Lucius F. Thayer of Company F, the latter resigning on account of the serious and continued illness of Mrs. Thayer.
The following promotions were accordingly announced:—
Capt. Walter G. Bartholomew, Major, vice Brown, resigned.
First Lieut. Charles D. Sanford, Capt., vice Bartholomew, promoted.
Second Lieut. W. H. H. Briggs, First Lieut., vice Sandford, promoted.
Sergt. Maj. H. C. Dwight, Second Lieut., vice Briggs, promoted.
First Lieut. John W. Moore, Capt., vice Thayer, resigned.
Second Lieut. James H. Fowler, First Lieut., vice Moore, promoted.
First Sergt. Pliny Wood, Second Lieut., vice Fowler, promoted.
Private Ira B. Sampson, Sergt. Major, vice Dwight, promoted.
The large increase of sick required additional accommodations, and St. John's College, Annapolis, was opened for that purpose. Surgeons Otis and Camp were assiduous in attention to the invalids, and the question, which for a time existed, as to our being able to accompany the expedition, was decided affirmatively by a large reduction from the sicklist at the opening of the new year.
The following comrades died previous to or just after our departure:
Private Alvin E. Stevens, Montague, Company C, Jan. 3, 1862.
Private Luman Andrus, Westfield, Company F, Jan 4, 1862.
Private Elliott P. Ferry, Granby, Company D, Jan. 5, 1862.
Private William K. Flagg, Westfield, Company K, Jan. 9, 1862.
Private Lester H. Quigley, Becket, Company H, Jan. 12, 1862.
Private Peter F. Baker, Leyden, Company C, Feb. 4, 1862.
Jan. 4, 1862, orders were received to cook three days’ rations, and to be prepared to embark upon Monday, the 6th. The weather was pinching cold, with snow which upon the 5th was increased to four inches in depth. The storm of the last date was one of those sticky, wet, uncomfortable snows so common at the South, and which makes one long for one of New England's “regular nor'easters” as a substitute.
On the morning of January 6th orders were given to pack knapsacks, strike tents, and be ready to move at half-past eleven; but owing to the crowded condition of the Navy Yard — at which point the troops were embarking — it was late in the day before the orders to move were received.
A little before noon the Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts marched by, halting long enough to fire three salutes before our camp. About four P.M., with three rousing cheers and a tiger, we bade adieu to Camp Springfield, our tramp through Annapolis being enlivened by “Lee's March,” an
original piece by our band, and so named in honor of our Colonel. At the Navy Yard we stacked arms, standing about in the freezing slush until ten P.M., when the right wing of the Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts went aboard the steamer “Ranger,” and the left wing were permitted to go within one of the naval buildings. There was no time in our military experience when we suffered so much from the inclemency of the weather, as during the snow-squalls which prevailed while standing in line upon Camp Springfield, or while waiting at the Navy Yard in the freezing slush and cutting winds of the evening.
At three o'clock, the morning of the 7th, the left wing of our regiment was aroused, and taken by tugs and row-boats to the barque “Guerrilla,” the latter being anchored some distance from the docks. While Capt. H. K. Cooley and Lieut. W. C. Hunt, with twenty-one members of our regiment, were being transported in a small boat to the “Guerrilla,” they were run down by the stern-wheel steamer “Union,” crushing their boat, and plunging all into the icy waters of the Chesapeake. The night was dark, but with prompt assistance, all were rescued except Private James M. Hamlin of Company E, Great Barrington, and Michael Cavanaugh, of Company F, Granville. Most of the rescued were insensible; Captain Cooley and two others remaining so more than two hours; but all were rallied without further serious results.
CHAPTER III. THE BURNSIDE EXPEDITION.
This expedition consisted of fifteen regiments of infantry, one battery, Howard's Marine Artillery or Naval Brigade, and a squadron of naval vessels. The fleet to transport the troops and supplies comprised eleven steamers, nine armed propellers, five barques, one brig, and twenty troop and supply schooners. The navy was composed of eighteen steamers and two sloops, a total in the expedition of sixty-six vessels. The naval armament under Commodore Goldsborough consisted of fifty-four guns, from an eight-inch Columbiad to a one hundred pound Parrott, rifled. Howard's Marine Artillery had fifty pieces suitable for field use, and, with Belger's Battery, gave fifty-six guns for land service. The strength of the expedition, then, was one hundred and ten guns, and about fifteen thousand infantry.
The troops were embarked as follows: —
Brig. Gen'l J. G. Foster, Commanding.
Flag-ship, “New Brunswick.”
Twenty-Seventh Mass. Vol. Regt., propeller “Ranger” and barque “Guerrilla.”
Twenty-Fifth Mass. Vol. Regt., steamer “New York,” propeller “Zouave.”
Twenty-Fourth Mass. Vol. Regt., steamer “Guide” and propeller “Vidette.”
Twenty-Third Mass. Vol. Regt., propeller “Hussar” and schooner “Highlander.”
Tenth Conn. Vol. Regt., steamer “New Brunswick” and schooner “Farrington.”
Brig. Gen'l Jesse L. Reno, Commanding.
Twenty-First Mass. Vol. Regt., steamer “Northerner.”
Fifty-First N. Y. Vol. Regt., propeller “Lancer” and propeller “Pioneer.”
Fifty-First Penn. Vol. Regt., steamer “Cossack” and schooner “Scout.”
Ninth N. J. Vol. Regt., ship “Ann E. Thompson” and brig “Dragoon.”
Sixth N. H. Vol. Regt., steamer “Louisiana.”
Brig. Gen'l John G. Parke, Commanding.
Flag-ship, “Eastern Queen.”
Fourth R I. Vol. Regt., steamer “Eastern Queen.”
Fifth R. I. Vol. Regt., ship “Kitty Simpson.”
Eighth Conn. Vol. Regt., propeller “Chasseur” and barque “H. D. Boardman.”
Eleventh Conn. Vol. Regt., propeller “Sentinel” and barque “Voltigeur.”
Fifty-Third N. Y. Vol. Regt., barque “John Trucks.”
Eighty-Ninth N. Y. Vol. Regt., ship “Aracan.”
The naval fleet consisted of the following vessels, commanded by Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough: —
Flag-ship “Southfield,” Capt. Behan, 3 guns.
“Delaware,” Commodore Rowan, Capt. S. P. Quackenbush, 5 guns.
“Stars and Stripes,” Lieut. commanding, Reed Werden, 7 guns.
“Louisiana,” Lieut. commanding, F. K. Murray, 5 guns.
“Hetzel,” Lieut. commanding, H. K. Davenport, 5 guns.
“Commodore Perry,” Lieut. commanding, Charles H. Flusser, 3 guns.
“Underwriter,” Lieut. commanding, W. N. Jeffers, 2 guns.
“Valley City,” Lieut. commanding, J. C. Chaplin, 5 guns.
“Commodore Barney,” Acting Lieut. R. D. Renshaw, 2 guns.
“Hunchback,” Acting Lieut. E. R. Calhoun, 4 guns.
“Ceres,” Acting Master S. A. McDermaid, 2 guns.
“Putnam,” Acting Master W. J. Hotchkiss, 2 guns.
“Morse,” Acting Master Peter Hayes, 2 guns.
“Lockwood, Acting Master G. L. Graves, 2 guns.
“Seymour,” Acting Master F. S. Wells, 2 guns.
“Brinker,” Acting Master John E. Giddings, 1 gun.
“Whitehead,” Acting Master Charles A. French, 1 gun.
“Shawsheen,” Acting Master T. G. Haywood, 2 guns.
Sloop “Granite,” Acting Master Ephraim Bomen, 1 gun.
“Jenny Lind,” —— ——, 1 gun.
The armament of the fleet was committed to Norman Wiard, Esq., inventor of the Wiard gun, and, with the exception of six long thirty-twos, was composed of rifled pieces, with a range of from one and a half to two and one-half miles.
The steamer “Ranger,” containing the right wing of the regiment, was a screw propeller, drawing seven feet of water, with three decks for the accommodation of troops. It had been used in coastwise trade, and, after purchase by the government, was armed with two thirty-pound Parrotts, rifled, four twelve-pound Wiards, and one twelve-pound howitzer. Like many others of its kind in the fleet it was totally unfit for the service intended, and should have been sent to sea with the guilty party who purchased it for the government.
The barque “Guerrilla” was formerly the slaver “Mary Jane Kimball,” and was captured after an exciting race of two days, with five hundred slaves aboard. It was a staunch
vessel, with two decks and a hold for the use of troops, and was a satisfactory exchange for our canvas tents. Both of these vessels were fitted with temporary berths, suitable for our accommodation, but were deficient in light and ventilation.
They were filled to their utmost capacity, the only chance for exercise being a stroll on deck; yet to these accommodations, we were destined to be limited nearly two months and a half, before effecting such a footing on the sacred soil, as to be able to dispense with them.
The 7th and 8th were occupied in completing the equipment and embarkation of the expedition. At 6.30, on the morning of the 9th, the signal for sailing broke on the morning air, from Gen'l Burnside's flag-ship, “Pickett,” and by seven o'clock, the first brigade was well under way, the “Guerrilla” in two by the “Ranger.” During the afternoon, David H. Steele, of Annapolis, who had enlisted in our band, in a fit of insanity threw himself overboard, but was rescued, the cooling waters inspiring him with a remarkable degree of gratitude for his preservation. Sundown found us off the mouth of the Potomac, with a heavy rain and fog upon the bay, causing the fleet to anchor about eleven P.M., near the mouth of the Rappahannock. By this we were delayed until three P.M., the 10th, when the fog lifted sufficiently to enable us to reach Fortress Monroe at nine o'clock that evening.
The scene the morning of the 11th was full of activity and inspiration. Upon the starboard lay the fortress with its frowning armament; eastward the frigates “Minnesota,” “Cumberland,” “Roanoke,” and “Congress;” south-ward the Rip-raps; and five miles beyond, Sewall's Point, where vauntingly floated the rebel flag. The waters adjacent were covered with a forest of masts, while “tugs” and “sails” were darting here and there, with orders to the fleet.
The ponderous “Union” gun, with its yawning mouth,
stood as a faithful guardian near us; while from Sewall's Point deep reverberations greeted the ear, as though challenging us to combat, or warning of the reception which awaited us beyond that forbidden line. Sealed orders were delivered, with instructions “Not to be opened until beyond Cape Henry.”
At 10 P.M. the signal to sail was given, and by midnight we were off the Cape. Our sealed orders read: “When off Cape Hatteras, throw overboard ballast, and run into the inlet.”
Sunday, the 12th, we followed the sand-hill coast of North Carolina, a chopping sea inducing considerable sea-sickness.
About eight o'clock the 13th, a dark murky line appeared along the northern horizon, causing a hurried reefing and securing of sails, and soon after we were struck by a gale which parted our “hawser” with the “Ranger.” “Hoisting the jib,” the “Guerrilla” was soon bounding over the billows, and in company with the “Ranger” rounded Cape Hatteras about two P.M. The sea, now lashed to intense fury, was breaking heavily over the decks, the roar of the breakers and howling of the tempest warning us of danger in either attempting to thread the fickle channel by which the inlet was reached, or of anchoring there until its fury had subsided. The “Ranger” was pitching and tumbling like a porpoise, and there was no choice for them; they must enter or be lost. The captain was thoroughly incompetent for his position, and more frightened than his crew. Lieut. Col. Lyman being in command of the steamer by virtue of his rank, secured the services of the engineer, who proved to be a man of experience and nerve, and through him a favoring Providence granted them a safe entrance to the inlet. A barge in two by the “Ranger” containing the camp equipage and hospital supplies of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment foundered and was lost.
The steamer “City of New York,” in attempting to enter
the inlet, ran upon a bar, and in twelve hours was a total wreck. The barque “Guerrilla,” with fourteen other vessels, undertook with double anchors and full chains to weather the gale; but many others put out to sea, and were unable to return until a week later.
The morning of the 14th found those outside still floundering, the fury of the storm increased, with a number of flags Union down, the signal of distress. The “Guerrilla” was one of them, being without water, and dragging anchor. Gen'l Burnside saw our signal of distress, but no one could venture out of the inlet in that storm. His steamer, too, was out of water, and nothing, even to whiskey, to quench thirst, the supply vessels having been driven to sea. As night was closing upon the scene, as far as the eye could reach the waves were rolling at dizzy height, and capped with spray and foam. Black, angry clouds swept by, dipping their edges in the surging waves, and the masts creaked and groaned as the vessels careened before the gale. Gen'l Burnside cast his eye over the wreck of his fleet, exclaiming, “This is terrible! when will it cease? what will my poor men do?” But with an invincible faith he rose above the discouraging surroundings, saying, “The sun is not gone out, though the sky is overcast! We are only so many atoms working out the will of the Almighty, and somehow good will come out of this calamity.”
For nearly two days, with closed and battened hatches, the left wing of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment upon the “Guerrilla,” had been confined in the close and stifling air below. The consequences can be better imagined than described; many asserting that nothing but the size of their army shoes prevented them from turning wrong side out. One of our officers expressed a strong desire for an interview with the author of “A life on the ocean wave,” and if under these circumstances the poet could not justify his muse, he would choke him for such an outrageous deception. The storm
ended during the night of the 14th in a grand chorus of thunder and rain, but it was late in the afternoon of the 15th before the waves subsided sufficiently to allow of relief. At that time the steamer “Phœnix” received one-half the troops from the barque, and the steamer “Pawtuxent” followed, towing the “Guerrilla” into the inlet, leaving the latter at anchor near Fort Hatteras.
The waters were strewed with wreck, and wild rumors were rife as to the extent of our disaster. After a week's delay it proved to be five vessels with supplies lost, and eight disabled. The 16th, while Colonel Allen and Surgeon Weller of the Ninth New Jersey were attempting to reach the wreck of the steamer “City of New York,” their boat was capsized and they were drowned.
To Gen'l Burnside's task of reorganizing his shattered fleet was added the peril of a water famine. Schooners were despatched from Fortress Monroe laden with water, and during rains the decks were covered with rubber blankets to catch the aqueous treasure. Even these expedients furnished but a small part of the quantity needed, and water became an article of barter and sale.
Lieut. M. H. Spaulding of Company A was placed in charge of this important matter, and to him and his crew is due our exemption from suffering experienced by others, though, with all his care, our men were reduced to the allowance of a pint and a half of water each per day.
The vessels of the navy were stationed as a cordon around the fleet at distances varying from two to five miles from our anchorage, and from their exposed service were obliged to keep up steam at all times. These gunboats were furnished with “condensers” which were run night and day, to which Lieut. Spaulding repaired each morning, and by an early call was able to collect as high as twenty-four barrels per trip. Rough or smooth, rainy or windy, the urgency of a supply of water was so imperative as to admit of no cessation
of effort; and Lieut. Spaulding with his crew are worthy of honorable mention for the inestimable service here rendered. We were in the anomalous position of constant danger from
- “Water, water, everywhere,
- But not a drop to drink.”
All was bustle and activity around the inlet. Officers bearing orders were darting in gigs among the flotilla. Steamers and tugs were hastening from point to point, aiding vessels stranded on the “swash,” or bearing troops to them at their anchorage within the sound. The navy occupied the day in practice, forming in line of battle, and discharging broadsides, or moving in column by division. The bands on the various vessels discoursed their choicest selections, which, wafted over the waters, came to us with a rich, subdued, and perfect harmony. Mails neither arrived nor departed, and scraps of newspaper were read with an avidity worthy the choicest authors. The inertia of confinement was relieved by games, with the simple purpose of “killing time.” Cards and checkers were the standard games, and any scruples as to the use of them disappeared under the mental famine existing.
Sunday, January 19th, the “left wing” removed to the schooner “Recruit,” the “Guerrilla” being unable to cross the “swash.” The “Recruit” had been used as a “hospital transport” for the fleet, and from this cause was unfit for the purpose assigned. The “swash” referred to, was a shifting bar of sand separating the inlet harbor from the navigable waters of the sound. It could be crossed at high tide only, and then by vessels of nine feet draught or under.
The 20th, the steamer “Pilot Boy,” — now Gen'l Foster's flag-ship — took the left wing of the Twenty-Seventh aboard, and crossed the “swash,” awaiting the schooner “Recruit” which, when lightened, was taken in two by the steamer “Pickett,” to be brought over. Unfortunately the schooner
grounded, and the left wing was forced to remain on board the “Pilot Boy,” without rations or protection, until the next day, when Lieut. Spaulding and his crew appeared with some raw pork and hard-tack, the former being devoured by the hungry men without a suspicion that it was uncooked. During the night there were sundry culinary supplies discovered aboard the “Pilot Boy,” but the next day, when the steward wanted them for Gen'l Foster's use, there was nothing to be found. The General good-naturedly retorted, if the Twenty-Seventh made as clean work of the enemy as of his supplies, it would be a sorry day for the Rebellion when they were let loose. The “Ranger,” with the right wing, passed the “swash” the 22d inst. without incident.
Our discomforts were enhanced by finding the vessel filled with vermin, in army vernacular known as “graybacks,” disreputably as “body lice.” Disregarding rank or station they invaded cabin and hold, and proved a most difficult foe to contend with, the most skilful skirmishing failing to dislodge them. When first discovered, entire uniforms were thrown overboard, only to find the new suit soon as lively as the old. During sunny hours, the decks were covered with men, a la Turk, en déshabille, with clothes turned wrong side out, and each one busily skirmishing with the marauders. Undress was substituted for “dress parade” and many a guffaw elicited by the spans and tandem teams improvised. Washing of clothes was out of question, as we had no changes, or water with which to wash.
Thus situated we were disgusted with our filthiness, and anxiously awaited deliverance.
While anchored at the inlet, a detail from the Twenty-Seventh Regiment was made under Capt. Moore, for laying pontons. As they were engaged in the work, the steamer “Union,” — familiarly known as the “Wheelbarrow,” from having a stern wheel, — was backing around in their vicinity, when it unfortunately wrecked Capt. Moore, his crew and
boat, by drawing them under. This steamer seemed to spite the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, it being the same one which swamped Capt. Cooley and his crew at Annapolis, Md. The tide was going out strong, and as the men had on their heavy coats it was no easy matter to get from under the flat bottomed hulk. Fortunately they were near the shore, and with prompt assistance all were rescued. While the captain was still submerged, Jones, a tall six-footer who happened to be on shore, exclaimed, “I declare, captain's watch will be spoilt in that salt water!” The captain was saved, but it was some time before Jones heard the last of the watch.
Everything now betokened an early movement, but Gen'l Burnside had as yet imperfect knowledge of the enemy's forces and position, till, fortunately, about the last of January, a schooner was seen bearing towards our fleet, which when overhauled by our navy, proved to be from Roanoke Island, laden with wood, and with three contrabands aboard. One of them proved an intelligent man, knowing the enemy's force and position, with the location and armaments of all their forts. From his information the plan of attack at Roanoke was arranged, and his services were secured as a guide for our forces in the movement.
February 3d, Gen'l Burnside issued the following order:—
Headquarters Department of North Carolina, Pamlico Sound, Feb. 3, 1862.
General Order, No. 5.
This expedition being about to land on the soil of North Carolina, the General commanding, desires his soldiers to remember that they are here to support the constitution and the laws, to put down rebellion, and to protect the persons and property of the loyal and peaceable citizens of the State. On the march of the army all unnecessary injury to houses, barns, fences, and other property will be carefully avoided, and in all cases the law of civilized warfare will be strictly observed.
Wounded soldiers will be treated with care and attention, and neither they nor prisoners must be annoyed by word or act.
With the fullest confidence in the valor and character of his troops, the General commanding looks forward to a speedy and successful termination of the campaign.
By command of Brigadier General, A. E. Burnside.
Lewis Richmond, Asst. Adj. Gen'l.
The next day the following order was promulgated:—
Headquarters Gen'l Foster's Brigade.
Steamer “Pilot Boy,”
Department of North Carolina, Feb. 4, 1862.
General Order, No. 4.
The vessels of this brigade will be prepared, with hawsers out to their tows, to start at eight o'clock, A.M., to-morrow, or chains hove short, etc., and will leave the anchorage for Roanoke Island at the following signal: — Union Jack at fore with the division flag underneath (or brigade flag underneath, in case of brigade signal), and American flag at the stern, and will sail in the following order:
No. 1, “Pilot Boy.”
No. 2, steamer “New York” towing schooners “Highlander,” “Skirmisher,” and “S. P. Bailey.”
No. 3, steamer “New Brunswick” towing schooners “Recruit” and “E. W. Farrington.”
No. 4, steamer “Guide,” towing schooners “Sea Bird” and “Emma.”
No. 5, propeller “Hussar.”
No. 6, propeller “Ranger.”
No. 7, “Vidette.”
After rounding the shoal and entering the sound, the vessels will form in two lines, the first line being steamers “New York,” “New Brunswick,” and “Guide,” with their tows, the second line being the propellers “Hussar,” “Ranger” and “Vidette.”
The signal for anchoring will be the American flag at the fore, vessels of each brigade close to each other. If in a fog, two whistles from the flag-ships, repeated at intervals of one minute. The signal will be repeated by the flag-ship of each brigade.
A guard of ten men, under command of a commissioned or non-commissioned
officer, to include convalescent, commission or extraduty men of all kinds, must be left on each vessel, with the following strict injunctions, viz.: —
Not to allow a vessel to be moved from its anchorage unless necessitated by stress of weather, danger of collision, or order of brigade commander; and to defend the ship against all attacks; and to preserve order and military discipline on board.
On landing on the beach, the regiments of this brigade will form according to their numbers, from right to left, in line of battle. One field officer — the colonel preferred — will land with the first detachment from his regiment. In case of stranding or distress, the signal will be the American flag, Union down. At the signal the whole fleet will slacken speed and look for the signal to anchor. The steamers “Pilot Boy,” “Phœnix,” and “Pawtuxent,” and all the tugs, will be sent at once to the assistance of the disabled vessel by the commander of each brigade.
Commanding officers will enjoin upon their commands, that under no circumstances are they to throw off, or away, any of their arms or equipments.
Light marching order will be understood to mean without blankets, and with overcoats, the latter to be slung, or worn at the option of the commanding officer.
Forty rounds of ball cartridges will be dealt out to each man when the fleet is fairly under way.
The guns, with cannoniers, ammunition, and all necessary appurtenances, will be landed with the first detachment from each vessel.
By order of Brig. Gen'l, J. G. Foster.
Southard Hoffman, Asst. Adj. Gen'l.
At the appointed hour, the 5th of February, with military precision, the vessels moved in the places assigned, and sighted the mainland about one o'clock P.M. The day was in delightful contrast with those of stormy Hatteras, for during our twenty-three days’ stay at that place, only one had proved sunny and pleasant. If ever our country in a paroxysm of wrath, should desire a penal colony for the punishment
of criminals, — some Siberia or Botany Bay, where the roar of waters from headlong heights howl and hiss in endless torture, — there is no place on the globe better fitted for it than Hatteras. Here the elements are at constant war, and the sun seldom shines. The wail of winds and ceaseless battle of waves against the strands, would be constant reminders of the nation's anathemas against crime. Let the bandits of treason and raving Guiteaus be banished to this strand; let them be restricted to a range of twenty miles north and south of this windy gorge, and there, for the rest of their lives, dig clams and fight mosquitoes; and injured justice would be amply satisfied.
Our fleet now in motion, and the inertia of idleness broken, we awaited the future with high anticipations. During the day we basked in the sun, or climbed the rigging to scan the shores now closing in upon either side. At eight o'clock we anchored for the night about fifteen miles from Roanoke Marsh Light. Under a threatening sky we resumed our voyage the morning of the 6th, but a heavy rain and fog again forced us to anchor. In the afternoon the troops upon the armed propellers were moved to other vessels, Company D of the Twenty-Seventh remaining on board the “Ranger” to man its guns. This company, while at Hatteras, had been drilled in the artillery service by Lieut. Dennison, the armament of the “Ranger” furnishing needed material and opportunity.
The dawn of the 7th revealed a clear sky, and after months of preparation and vexatious delay, we at last saw the day so anxiously looked for, a day which compensated for all the past by its glorious opportunities.
At nine o'clock the fleet was signalled under way, and each vessel speedily took its place in line. Quietly, grandly, it moved forward in double column, not a breath or sound stirring the morning air, while the majestic fleet of fifty-five vessels, in exactness of detail, was reproduced in the transparent
waters of the sound. The morn, the fleet, the men, seemed inspired with victory, and moved forward, with the battle half won by their fearless and invincible spirit. It was such a sight as had never before disturbed the tranquil waters of America.
Entering Croatan Sound by an inlet scarcely two hundred yards wide, and close to the mainland, which is here a boggy marsh, we sighted Roanoke Island about five miles distant. This island is about fifteen miles long, and some six miles wide, and is made up of chaparral swamps and forests, with a small amount of arable land at its northern end. It was settled by an English colony under Ralph Lane as early as 1586, but subsequently all trace of the colony was lost,—the only further record of them being a tradition of the Hatteras Indians about 1700, that “some of our tribe were formerly pale men, and could talk in a book as you do.” Near the north end and just in the rear of the place of our bivouac the night of February 8th, is the site of a small fort constructed by these colonists. Its outlines are yet quite distinct, though broken and trenched upon by trees of considerable size, and buried in the surrounding forest. The island contains a population of six hundred, and gave only two votes in favor of the ordinance of secession. It is separated from the mainland by a body of water three and a half miles wide, known as Croatan Sound; and from the sand-banks of Nag's Head, along the Atlantic, by Roanoke Sound, a body of water about two miles wide, but so shallow as to be unnavigable save for crafts of very light draught.
The strategic value of the position was its safety as a base of operations; its control of the Albemarle Sound and its immense water-courses; and the fact that from thence a small force could easily penetrate the State in many directions, necessitating a considerable force at each of the threatened points to insure safety.
Its defences consisted of Fort Bartow, below the blockade,
with eight thirty-two pounders (smooth), and one one- hundred pounder rifled gun; three guns were mounted en barbette, and the remainder in embrasures. This fort was garrisoned by a battalion of the Seventeenth North Carolina, under Maj. G. H. Hill. About half a mile above was a blockade of pile and sunken vessels, extending from the island across Croatan Sound to Redstone Point on the mainland, at which place was Robb's Fishing Battery, mounting six guns, thirty-twos, in embrasure.
To protect the blockade was Fort Blanchard, situated a mile and a half above on the island, and mounting four thirty-twos, en barbette. Half a mile further north, at Weir's Point, was Fort Huger, the main defence of Croatan Channel. The armament of this fort consisted of two one-hundred pounders, rifled, en barbette, and ten thirty-two pounders, smooth bore, in embrasure; and was by far the most formidable work on the island. In addition to these batteries in defence of the sound, were the rebel steamers “Sea Bird,” “Beaufort,” “Forrest,” “Curlew,” “Powhattan,” “Ellis,” “Emily” and “Fanny,” two guns each; and the “Raleigh” and “Cora,” one gun each; — a naval fleet of ten vessels, mounting eighteen guns, five of which were rifled. The island's interior defences consisted of Fort Defiance and an entrenched camp supported by the following organizations:—
Eighth Regiment North Carolina Inf'y, Col. H. M. Shaw.
Seventeenth Regiment North Carolina Inf'y, Maj. G. H. Hill.
Thirty-first Regiment North Carolina Inf'y, Col. L. V. Jordan.
Fifty-ninth Regiment Virginia Inf'y, alias “Wise Legion,” alias “Richmond Blues,” Col. Anderson.
The whole was under the command of Henry A. Wise, a former governor of Virginia, and the official executioner of John Brown.
Entering Croatan Sound, the water defences, as described, lay before us, with the rebel fleet moving along under cover
of their forts. As our navy advanced, Commodore Goldsborough hoisted from the “Southfield” the memorable words of Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, “Our country expects every man to do his duty” to-day! The steamer “Underwriter” had the advance, and at 11.45 A.M., a shot from her eighty-pounder rifled gun, followed by others from the “Southfield,” opened the sanguinary conflict. Ten minutes later our fleet had reached close range of Fort Bartow, and two guns from her armament responded to our attack.
The transports, laden with troops, anchored in the mainland channel in full view, but three miles distant from the conflict. As soon as the first gun announced the opening of the contest, there was a scramble for spars, riggings, bowsprits and masts, or any elevated place where a hold could be obtained; and every vessel, from deck to highest peak, was covered with soldiers, anxious for the most advantageous position from which to view the conflict. Those who could find no place above, crowded the starboard, until every vessel leaned heavily towards the island; and as our ponderous shot and shell sent columns of water and dirt above the vaunting rebel flag, cheers from the troops well-nigh drowned the sound of strife. At noon both forces had become fully engaged, our navy sailing back and forth before Fort Bartow, and giving the rebel fleet a shotted salute as they turned to repeat their compliments to the fort. The smoke of conflict rolled along the waters, hiding the contestants in sulphurous clouds, through the rifts of which our fleet delivered an effective fire on the enemy's fort, but presented an ever-shifting object for their guns. The sloop “Granite” literally “sailed in,” and with provoking coolness tacked back and forth close to the rebel forts, delivering compliments from her one-hundred pound rifled Parrott. Her gun was plainly distinguished above the furious contest, and seemed to fairly lift her from the water. At one o'clock a dense volume of smoke ascending from the barracks in Fort
Bartow, perceptibly slackened the enemy's fire, while our forces redoubled their energies. Again the contest deepened with an uninterrupted roar of artillery; and from the sulphurous cloud enveloping the fort, geysers, or shooting columns of water and dirt were constantly rising far above the tops of the highest trees.
At three o'clock the enemy's fire had notably slackened, and signals were given for the infantry to land.
The “Wheelbarrow” (steamer “Union”) steamed along side the “Recruit,” to receive the left wing of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, but Lieut. Spaulding and crew, who had been anxiously awaiting the signal, received a portion of our color company (K) into their launch, and with Major Bartholomew hastily struck for the island.
There was nothing to be thought of but duty, and a multitude of small boats were seen struggling furiously for the honor of first landing on the hostile soil. The gunboats “Delaware” and “Morse” were shelling the shore half a mile above Ashby's Harbor, at a place known as “Widow Baum Point,” towards which our boats were all centering for a landing. By keeping to the windward and clear of the struggling boats, Lieut. Spaulding and his muscular crew distanced their competitors, and first reached the “sacred swale.” Major Bartholomew jumped into the grassy marsh, followed by the boys of Company K, and waded to a slight elevation, on which stood the Hannon house, surrounded by arable ground sufficient for a bivouac for our forces. They were just far enough ahead to say “first,” for in a few moments three thousand men had struggled through the swale and were forming in line at their side. The enemy had hoped we would have landed further south, and had provided a two-gun masked battery for our reception; but this we declined, preferring to wade the jungle of our landing, to receiving their complimentary fire of shell and shrapnel. Those who landed from larger crafts were obliged to wade
some distance in water, as the vessels were stuck in the mud before reaching the marsh.
Soon after landing, the glare of bayonets moving along the edge of the woods skirting our position was discovered; but if the enemy had serious intentions, a few well-directed guns from the “Delaware” interfered with their plans, for they hastily disappeared. The only disturbance for the night was an occasional exchange of shots along the picket line.
During the evening a drizzling north-east rain having set in, the fires of our bivouac added little to our comfort. The smoke found only one avenue of escape, and that directly in our faces, no matter how often we changed position. The ground on which we bivouacked had been cultivated the previous season, and by rain and tread of feet soon became a sticky mud, and while impossible to lie down, it was almost as uncomfortable to stand. Any one of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. who served in North Carolina, will be willing to attest that under the most favorable circumstances, the soil of North Carolina, wherever we bivouacked, was several degrees softer than that of any other State in the Union, and that during rain storms it was simply indescribable. To crown the misfortune of the night, we were without rubber or woollen blankets, or shelter from the chilling rain. By midnight, all the force had been landed (except the Twenty-Fourth Mass., which was aground near Roanoke Marsh Light) and the field presented a mass of bivouac fires veiled in mist.
Light dawned tardily Feb. 8th, and it was seven and one-half o'clock before the column was ready to move. At that time Foster's Brigade moved into the pines, following a secluded cart-path. The Twenty-Fifth Mass. held the advance, followed in order by the Twenty-Third and Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts and Tenth Connecticut Regiments. The road was a muddy pulp, and to reach the enemy's position required the fording of a stream waist deep. On either
side of the way was a dense chaparral, filled with stagnant pools and thickets of sweet brier. The dripping trees,
“Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,”
wept woefully as we pressed onward toward the field of contest.
As the Twenty-Fifth Mass. entered an open field, they received a raking fire of canister and shell from a masked three-gun battery, which they gallantly engaged, and hearing which, the Twenty-Seventh moved at double quick to their support. Reaching the scene, we were ordered to follow the Twenty-Third Mass. to the right of the field, but were obliged to halt under the converging fire of the enemy's guns upon entering the field, until the former regiment could move out of the way. While here, Lieut. Col. Lyman's hat was knocked off by an exploding shell; First Sergt. Pliny Wood received a painful wound in the elbow and side, while Private Levi Clark, standing by Col. Lee, was mortally wounded in the abdomen. The mangled and dead of the Twenty-Fifth Mass. were borne along our line. One poor fellow, with a limb shattered by a solid shot, shouted, with a husky voice, as he was carried by, “Go in Twenty-Seventh! Give ’em h—l! They've laid me up, or I'd be with you!” It was an ordeal which tried the regiment more than mortal combat, and certainly was not calculated to inspire one with confidence in offering himself as a “short-stop” for balls of such a character.
The field was about two hundred yards wide and three hundred yards long, on the north of which was a masked curvette, known by the enemy as Fort Defiance. The fort was pierced for three guns, and was sufficient for the economical operations and protection of five hundred men. The armament consisted of a twenty-four pound Dahlgren howitzer, and one each of eighteen and twelve pound field-pieces. A battalion of the Fifty-Ninth Virginia
Regiment (Richmond Blues), and a part of the Thirty-First North Carolina Regiment, occupied the fort; the remainder of their force being under cover of a boscage of trees and briers to the left. The strength of the position was in the chaparral swamps and forests which covered its flanks, and the deep morass on its front; the only approach being by a corduroy road swept by the guns of the battery. These swamps were considered impervious, so much so that the enemy declared a rabbit had never penetrated them; while the Wilmington (N. C.) “Journal,” commenting on the position, said, “A hundred men could easily hold one thousand at bay.” The battle-field was a deep morass, save a small knoll at the rear and centre; and this position was occupied by six marine howitzers, under command of Midshipman B. F. Porter. It was here, after the gunners had all been slain, Chaplain Horace James, of the Twenty-Fifth Mass., earned his sobriquet, “The Fighting Chaplain,” by manning the guns and rendering effective service during the remainder of the engagement.
Moving across this field, we sank to our knees in mud, which, though uncomfortable, relieved us of a greater misfortune by allowing the enemy's shots to pass harmlessly over our heads. The contracted field not allowing our deploying in line of battle, we wheeled and fired by companies, which so annoyed the enemy as to lead them to concentrate their artillery upon us. We were directly opposed by the “Richmond Blues,” who, after capture, acknowledged the effectiveness of our fire. The battle was now at its height,—shell, shot and canister sweeping the ground and crashing through the forest in our rear; while the number of mangled and bleeding comrades taxed the utmost capacity of the ambulance and stretcher corps in removing them from the field. The Twenty-Fifth Mass., which had borne the brunt of battle for upwards of an hour, with a loss of six killed and forty-two wounded, with exhausted ammunition, were now
relieved by the Tenth Conn. These had held the position but a short time when their gallant commander, Col. Charles L. Russell, fell dead upon the field. The Ninth New York (Hawkins's Zouaves) formed at their right. Near them was Lieut. Col. Victor De Monteil, of the Fifty-Third New York (De Epinueil Zouaves), who had volunteered for this occasion, his own regiment having been returned to Fortress Monroe for insubordination. With musket in hand, near the right of the Ninth New York, he was cooly loading, firing, and watching the effect of each shot, when he was killed by a sharpshooter.
At ten o'clock orders were received for the Twenty-Seventh and Twenty-Third Mass. to flank the enemy's position to the right, while the Twenty-First Mass. and Fifty-First New York, which had taken positions on the opposite side of the field, were ordered to flank it on the left. For an hour the Twenty-Seventh was edging its way through briers and underbrush, the officers slashing with swords, the men breaking and treading upon the brush for a footing; sometimes clinging to clumps of brush to buoy them up, at others so deep in mire as to need assistance to extricate themselves. Reaching the edge of the woods at the left and rear of the enemy's works, a sheet of water fifty yards wide lay between us and the fort; but the order was, “Forward!” and, with muskets and cartridge-boxes raised above our heads, we plunged into the land-locked waters, finding them waist-deep at the centre. As we emerged from the woods we were discovered by the enemy, who at that time were busily engaged in an attempt to repulse the advance of our force on the opposite flank. This discovery spread consternation in their ranks, and they broke into a precipitate retreat.
A Richmond correspondent describing this battle, said: “Provision had been made, in case of defeat, to retreat back of Shallowbag Bay and cross to Nag's Head from that point; but a body of Yankees appeared on the left flank just before
retreat, cutting us off from all chance of escape.” This body of Yankees was the Twenty-Seventh and Twenty-Third Massachusetts Regiments.
The Twenty-First Mass. and Fifty-First New York, with less natural obstructions to contend with, were at close quarters with the fort as we cleared the woods, and as we reached the centre of the pond, mounted its parapets and planted their colors on the works; while the Twenty-Fifth Mass., followed by the Ninth New York, moved down the corduroy road and reached the fort about the same time as the Twenty-Seventh. So precipitate was the enemy's retreat that they left their dead and wounded in our hands, beside the armament of the fort, with caissons and munitions complete.
Gen'l Reno, with a part of his brigade, followed the retreating foe, while Foster's forces rested upon the field, gathering trophies, or relieving their clothes of their super-abundance of water and mud. Soon a courier arrived, and giving Gen'l Foster a small black horse, said, “The rebels are attempting to escape to Nag's Head, and Gen'l Reno desires assistance.” The Twenty-Seventh was immediately ordered to Gen'l Reno's aid, followed by the Fifty-First New York, and other regiments.
On arriving at the point indicated, we found the enemy's plan had been frustrated. O. Jennings Wise, of the Richmond Blues, a son of ex-Governor Wise, in attempting to escape by boat, had been mortally wounded, and was lying in a small house near by. Surgeon Otis, of the Twenty-Seventh Mass., during a residence at Richmond previous to the war, had become well acquainted with young Wise, and was now invited to see him, with the information, “He can't live but a few minutes!” Our Surgeon replied, “No! he would know me in a minute; as I can't help, I won't disturb him!”
Leaving Gen'l Reno at this point, Gen'l Foster, with his
brigade, pushed the main body of the enemy towards the north end of the island. The Twenty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, which had now arrived, was given the advance, and after a hard march we came upon the enemy a short distance to the rear of Fort Huger. As we were preparing for an assault, Lieut. Col. D. G. Fowl, of the Thirty-First North Carolina, appeared with a flag of truce, and was shown to Gen'l Foster, when this colloquy ensued:
“Col. F. I came, sir, to ask what terms of capitulation you will grant our army?”
“Gen'l F. None whatever, sir! Nothing but immediate and unconditional surrender!”
“Col. F. How much time will you grant for its consideration?”
“Gen'l F. Only sufficient for an immediate return with your commander's decision!”
After some delay, well-nigh resulting in an assault by us, Col. H. M. Shaw, of the Eighth North Carolina, appeared and surrendered Roanoke Island, with its forces and defences. Well, yes! I have heard of enthusiasm, cheers, and “tigers,” but they do not begin to express the joy that thrilled and echoed in the surrounding forests, and awoke sleepy, boggy old Roanoke to an inspiration it had never dreamed of before; have known of enthused life, but never saw sedate manhood given over to the exuberance of childhood, with as many standing on heads as feet; never saw a hug culminate in a wrestle, or a line of soldiers turned into a crowd of Cochins gone mad. It was all there, and even more; so much so that Col. Lee never gave the order, “Attention!” under more difficult circumstances. We had thought we felt tired, wet and stiff, but this must have been some vague aberration of the mind, for we now moved forward, “light as feathers,” and were soon in line on the north of Camp Georgia, at which point the enemy had concentrated. The other regiments of Foster's Brigade came
forward and completed the investment, when nineteen hundred and ninety-eight men surrendered themselves as “prisoners of war at this point.”
After the close of the battle, but before the result was known at Fort Huger, a schooner from Elizabeth City landed Col. J. Wharton Green and five hundred of the Second North Carolina Regiment on the upper side of Weir's Point. The schooner soon after obtained information of the defeat of the Confederates, and, considering discretion the better part of valor, decamped without consulting Col. Green. This reinforcement fell into our hands, without having had an opportunity to fire their guns; and though the Colonel was excusable for not enjoying it, he made as graceful a surrender as the circumstances would warrant.
The prisoners, as a whole were warmly clad, but in a variety of costumes, colors, and equipments, exceeding that of Falstaff's famous recruits. Their arms consisted of Enfield and sporting rifles, Springfield and Harper's Ferry muskets, double and single barrel hunting-pieces, cap and flint locks, with as varied accoutrements. After stacking arms on our front, and a formal surrender, they were (outrageously?) marched to their barracks, and the Twenty-Third Mass. Regt. duly installed as provost-guard over the camp. The Twenty-Seventh marched back to an adjoining plantation, where a few of our number secured shelter in the house or out-buildings, but most of the regiment lay down without blanket or shelter, with clothes still wet from the exposure and service of the day and night previous. With the consciousness of a faithful performance of duty, we accepted the hardship and exposure incident to our lot. The news of this victory was received at the North with devout gratitude, and it proved worthy of record with that of Fort McHenry, which occurred two days earlier, and that of Fort Donaldson, occurring four days later.
The results of the day had been the capture of twenty-five
hundred and twenty-seven prisoners, thirty-five hundred stand of arms, five forts, with an armament of thirty-two guns, beside an immense quantity of ammunition and quartermasters’ stores. The Twenty-Seventh captured two rebel flags, each three and one-half by six feet in dimension, with one white and two red bars. One contained twelve stars in a blue field, surrounding a sickly representation of an eagle, with the inscription, “Brown Mountain Boys, Stokes County, N. C.” The other was similar in design, except that it had only ten stars in the constellation. This was a recognition of the fact that Kentucky and Missouri were not to join them, or, perhaps, that on their finely-wrought “ship of state” decay had already taken place. While reckoning these results, a lurid glare lit the sky, followed by a terrible concussion, and the fort on the mainland opposite, with the disabled steamer “Curlew,” were hurled into the air, a shapeless mass.
The Confederate loss in this engagement, as reported by Lieut. Col. Fowl to the “Wilmington Journal,” was twenty-two killed and thirty-six wounded, but which we think is an understatement. It was reported at the time thirty killed and ninety-three wounded.
The Union loss was fifty killed and two hundred twenty-two wounded, including both army and navy.
The loss of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. was —
Private William Hill, Athol, Company B.
Corp. George M. Hale, Westfield, Company F.
Private Levi Clark, Sandisfield, Company F.
Private Henry C. Bardwell, Northampton, Company G. Total, 4.
Private Cordean Sweet, Hatfield, Company A. Arm and leg.
Private George H. Whitney, Dana, Company B. Right leg.
Sergt. Bartholomew O'Connell, Whately, Company C. Elbow.
Corp. Otto L. Stamm, Gt. Barrington, Company E. Hip; fatal.
Private George Duncan, New Marlborough, Company E. Fatal.
Private Hiram Sheffield, Lee, Company E. Fatal.
Private Cyrus Agans, Mt. Washington, Company E. Slight,
First Sergt. Pliny Wood, Westfield, Company F. Elbow and side.
Corp. Isaac Hunt, Belchertown, Company G. Fingers.
Private Charles L. Clark, Wilbraham, Company I. Throat; severe.
Private Martin Kelly, New York, Company K. Fingers. Total, 11.
Corporal George M. Hale was a native of Tolland, twenty-one years of age, and of unusual promise. The last lines in his diary, written evidently just previous to the battle, were:
- “We are born, we live, we love, we die.
- Why were we born to live, to love, to die?
- Who can answer the secret deep? Alas, not I.”
Levi Clark, the first man of the Twenty-Seventh to fall on the field of battle, was a native of Sandisfield, twenty-two years of age. He was a jovial, kind-hearted young man, faithful and reliable in the discharge of duty, and fell just as we entered the field of battle. Who can forget the heavy thud of that fatal shot? A widowed mother and a sister mourn his untimely death.
Comrade Clark of Company I, was wounded by a Mexican bullet passing through his neck, between the artery and wind-pipe. As this was considered fatal, the wound was dressed by simply filling it with lint, and his name was placed among the dead. His appearance to his company a week later, was a genuine surprise. He was granted an indefinite leave of absence, never rejoined his company or received a discharge, and still suffers disability from his wound. As Patrick Weal, of Company H, stood at the position of “prime,” a bullet pierced his gun-stock between the barrel and rammer, and at the battle of New Berne, following, another bullet struck the same place.
During our stay at Annapolis, a person was granted access
to the camp, selling lithographic company records. While we were resting at Fort Defiance, a body was found whose features answered his description, and were so recognized by different regiments. Was he a spy?
Early the morning of the 9th, a number of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. strayed to a ravine a short distance from their bivouac, and returned laden with trophies of rifles, double and single barrel guns, pistols, swords, and “Yankee stickers;” which proved to be a part of the effects of Col. Green's command. Finding themselves without means of escape, they had divested themselves of everything possible, and during the entire morning the Twenty-Seventh Regiment reaped a rich harvest of trophies, many of which were forwarded home by first steamer, reaching Springfield in season to add zest to the 22d of February,—that day having been set apart by the loyal North as a day of thanksgiving for our national victories.
About noon, the 9th, permission was given the entire force to forage for the remainder of the day. With rifles in hand the troops invaded the remotest parts of the island, the Minie balls chi-ie-ing from every direction, rendering life about as uncertain as in the contest of the previous day. Soon the tide turned, and they came marching back again with “Hurrah! Hurrah!” On poles supported from shoulder to shoulder, were carcases of beef, veal, pork, mutton, geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens, without regard to their age or condition. Sweet potatoes and other roots and vegetables were found buried in pits in the fields, for which sacks were constructed of overcoats, and these were slung across the backs of cows, often accompanied by a brace of squawking hens or flopping turkeys; some came staggering under loads that would do credit to an athlete, or tugging away at contrary hogs, many of which were so poor as to indicate the last stage of consumption. Where all these
supplies were found, or what many of them were good for, were questions easier asked than answered.
When night enforced a truce, the sight before us vied with Fulton or Faneuil Hall Market. Such quantities of all conceivable culinary supplies, it remained for this day, and the Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts as master hands, to collect. For two days the Twenty-Seventh settled down to business; the flaying by amateur butchers, and numberless fires of coals — upon which tin plates were serving as broiling irons — showing they had a taste for, and were still prosecuting “flank” movements. It was a scene for an epicure; the variety of dishes invented being sufficient to eclipse Delmonico or Miss Parloa, and, if mentioned, would excite a resonable credulity as to success. Suffice it to say, if the regiment lay down the night previous, tired, hungry and cold, they were now filled to surfeit, but without protection as before. During the night of the 10th, a white spread was laid over the exposed and sleeping soldiers, so lightly, many of them did not know it had snowed, until they awoke in the morning.
After the capture of the island, Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough, learning that the rebel fleet had retired to Elizabeth City, despatched Commander J. C. Rowan with thirteen of our naval vessels to that point, with so complete success, that we append the account as rendered by the latter: —
United States Steamer “Delaware,”
Off Elizabeth City, Feb. 10, 1862.
Sir: — I have the happiness to report that I met the enemy off this place this morning, at nine o'clock, and after a very sharp engagement, succeeded in destroying or capturing his entire naval force, and silencing and destroying his battery on Cobb's Point.
The only vessel saved from destruction is the “Ellis,” Captain J. M. Cook, who is wounded and a prisoner on board this ship. I have other prisoners.
I am happy to say our casualties are few, considering the warmth
of the enemy's fire, — say two or three killed and some wounded. I send the “Ellis” to you under command of Acting Master Chase of this ship, whom I hope you will confirm in command.
The conduct of the gallant men I have the honor to command, is worthy of all praise. I am happy to say none of our vessels are severely injured.
I shall leave here a small force, and visit the canals, and take a look into other places before I return.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. C. Rowan,
Commander United States Navy.
The deed of Acting Master Chase, for which he was promoted to the command of the “Ellis,” was, his sitting upon an open barrel of powder, at a time when the “Delaware” was on fire from the enemy's shot, and thus saving the vessel and its crew from destruction.
On account of our lack of camp equipage, — all of which was lost while entering Hatteras, — orders were received for the regiment to re-embark; and after a tedious march of seven miles through muddy roads, we reached Ashby's Harbor at noon of the 11th. Here we found twenty-seven graves of Union soldiers who had fallen the 8th; also a deserted two-gun battery, which the enemy had constructed to prevent landing at that point. By night we were in our quarters on the “Ranger” and “Recruit,” having been absent four nights without protection, of which three had proved rainy, and the other snowy.
The next morning Col. Lee issued the following congratulatory order to the regiment: —
Headquarters Twenty-Seventh Regt. Mass. Vols.,
Schooner “Recruit,” Off Roanoke Island, Feb. 12, 1862.
The commander of the regiment takes this first opportunity since the engagement of the 8th, to congratulate his command upon its successful termination. With feelings of pride, he looks upon the coolness, bravery and good conduct displayed by them while passing
the fiery ordeal of a first battle. We can go into the next action with a feeling of strength, which — let what will come — must give us the victory. While dropping a tear for the fallen brave, may we remember we are in the hands of an all-wise God, who watches over and protects us, as well on the field as in camp; and, putting our trust in Him, may we go forth with stout hearts and willing hands, prepared to do our duty wherever or whenever called upon.
Col. H. C. Lee,
Commanding Twenty-Seventh Regt. Mass. Vols.
Geo. W. Bartlett, Adjt.
Among those left sick upon the “Recruit” on debarking the 7th, was Capt. Hubbard of Company I, who had been prostrated some four weeks with sickness, but with no anticipation of immediate danger. On the morning of the 12th his disease resulted in death.
Captain Henry A. Hubbard was born at Ludlow, Mass., Aug. 25, 1836. His father was a citizen of official prominence in that town, while his mother was a Brainerd of Haddam, Conn., and near of kin to the missionary Rev. David Brainerd. The early life of Capt. Hubbard was passed upon a farm, in which time he not only studiously improved his opportunities at the public schools, but forced the hours when employed in manual labor to contribute to his store of knowledge. He fastened his book upon the plough and studied as he turned the soil, or left it at a convenient nook in the fence as he hoed the field, grasping some new advance upon each return. By teaching during the winter he secured means to prosecute his studies at Wilbraham Wesleyan Academy, and graduated therefrom with high honors. He continued his studies a year at Amherst College, and afterwards for a time at Union College,
Schenectady, N. Y., but, deciding upon the legal profession, left the latter and entered the office of Beach & Bond, Springfield, Mass. Poetry was his delight, Milton's “Lycidas” his favorite; and the hours after his daily toil were spent in close companionship with the choicest of American and English poets.
While engrossed with legal tomes, he united with the Union Guard of Springfield, and soon became adept in military tactics. Upon the opening of hostilities he rallied his Ludlow neighbors and friends and drilled them in the “School of Soldiers,” preparatory to the call he felt sure must come. When the raising of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment was authorized, Col. Lee commissioned him to recruit for that organization, and the filling of the ranks of the Ludlow company so promptly was due mainly to his zeal and magnetism. He was mustered as captain Oct. 16, 1861, and continued with his command until their arrival with the Burnside Expedition at Hatteras Inlet, N. C. Here he contracted a serious and prolonged illness, from exposure. He remained upon the schooner “Recruit,” and during the battle of Roanoke Island was on Croatan Sound just beyond reach of the enemy's guns. He heard our first cheer of victory, but died Feb. 12, 1862, just after the return of the regiment to the vessel. Though prevented from participating in battle, he died as really a martyr in his country's cause as if he had fallen amid the carnage of battle. His remains were buried with military honors at Ludlow, Mass., Feb. 24, 1862, under escort of his old comrades of the Union Guard. October 16th, two weeks previous to his departure for the seat of war, he was married to Annie, danghter of Deacon Booth of Ludlow. His widow still survives him.
Upon the death of Capt. Hubbard, First Lieut. E. K. Wilcox was promoted to be Captain of Company I, vice Hubbard deceased; Second Lieut. C. W. Goodale to First Lieutenant, vice Wilcox promoted, and First Sergt. J. W. Lawton to Second Lieutenant, vice Goodale promoted.
During the remainder of our stay in Croatan Sound little of interest occurred in the vicinity. On the 13th a native was shot, as accessory to the death of three of the Fifty-First New York, who were found in the swamp with their throats cut. On the 15th a detail from our regiment was sent to the island to encircle it with a telegraph, successfully accomplishing their mission and returning the 17th. The 18th Gen'l Burnside and Com. Goldsborough issued a joint proclamation as follows:—
Roanoke Island, N. C., Feb. 18, 1862.
To the Citizens of North Carolina:
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 your midst.
Influenced infinitely more by the worst passions of human nature, than by any show of elevated reason, they are still urging you astray to gratify their unholy purposes.
They impose upon your credulity by telling you of wicked, and even diabolical intentions on our part; of our desire to destroy your freedom, demolish your property, liberate your slaves, injure your women, and such like enormities; all of which, we assure you, is not only ridiculous, but utterly and wilfully false.
We are Christians as well as yourselves, and we profess to know full well, and to feel profoundly, the sacred obligations of the character. No apprehensions need be entertained that the demands of humanity or justice will be disregarded. We shall inflict no injury unless forced to do so by your own acts; and upon this you may confidently rely.
Those men are your worst enemies. They, in truth, have drawn you into your present condition, and are the real disturbers of your peace and the happiness of your firesides.
We invite you, in the name of the constitution, and in that of virtuous loyalty and civilization, to separate yourselves at once from these malign influences, to return to your allegiance and not compel us to resort further to the force under our control.
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, or your usages in any respect.
L. M. Goldsborough,
Flag Officer, Commanding N. C. Blockading Squadron.
A. E. Burnside,
Brig. Gen'l, Commanding Department of North Carolina.
February 14th, Gen'l Wool for the Union, and Howell Cobb for the rebels, agreed upon a cartel by which prisoners in the hands of either party were to be exchanged; any surplus, and such as should be captured in the future, to be released at once upon parole. February 18th, in compliance with this agreement, the prisoners captured by us were conveyed by the steamers “Cossack” and “New York” to Elizabeth City, where they were received by a body of Georgia troops with such scorn and neglect, as to necessitate the issuing of rations to them by our vessels, to save them from suffering until they could provide for themselves. Jefferson Davis finding that “pirates” captured on vessels sailing under “letters of marque” from him were not regarded as prisoners of war by us, abrogated the cartel, and ordered these prisoners to report at once for duty to their respective regiments. It was a duplicity characterizing all his dealings, destroying the little confidence entertained for his honor in this country, and ending in an obloquy as widespread as his name.
By long confinement on the vessels the health of the regiment was considerably impaired, typhoid fever and kindred diseases being quite prevalent; but as a movement was imminent, we were retained on board the vessels. Some companies went ashore from the “Ranger” for drill, from time to time, the remainder relieving the tediousness of confinement in writing, games and phrenological examinations, the latter of which became quite a profession. Amateur clubs of
chess and chequer players were organized, who acquired a proficiency that would have taxed the best of skill at home. Large numbers who had been left sick at Annapolis and Hatteras rejoined the regiment February 27th, increasing its effective strength to about eight hundred men.
Our brilliant success had produced a most depressing effect upon the enemy. To quote from their papers: “It has placed in the enemy's hands the ‘back-door key’ to Norfolk and Richmond; threatened the great through route from Richmond south at Welden; and opened the great State of North Carolina to the merciless grasp of maudlin invaders. It was criminal carelessness that left an entire army at Roanoke Island, to be slain and captured by Burnside's horde of outlaws; but it was doubly criminal to have left their firesides exposed to Yankee treachery.” Each menaced point was sure their position was next to be assailed, and North Carolina called vigorously upon the Confederate government to return its veteran troops for the defence of their own firesides. To add to their fears, harmless sallies were made by portions of our fleet in various directions in the Albermarle Sound, as though reconnoitring for a general advance; now threatening one port, now landing at another; until the confused enemy magnified our force to an army sufficient to occupy the entire State.
CHAPTER V. NEW BERNE.
Early in March, all the forces on Roanoke Island, save the Ninth and Eighty-Ninth New York, and Sixth New Hampshire Regiments, were re-embarked. Lieut. Spaulding of Company A, Twenty-Seventh Regiment, who, with his crew, had, at various times, received favorable notice from the commanding and brigade generals, now received orders from Gen'l Foster to organize such boats and launches as were connected with transports of the First Brigade, with a view to greater efficiency in landing troops, when needed. This act on the part of Gen'l Foster was in recognition of the lieutenant's precedence at the landing at Roanoke, and was fully justified by the results.
During the delay incident to replenishing our supplies, preparatory to another attack upon the enemy, Gen'l Burnside had sent spies to New Berne, and through one arriving at this time, received information of its garrison and defences to March 7th. The morning of the 11th, the entire fleet retraced its course to Hatteras, arriving there about dusk. Here our hearts were gladdened by the arrival of the steamer “Suwanee” with a large mail from the North.
The 12th was a faultless day, not a breeze disturbing the long, smooth swell of Pamlico, or chilling the sun's rays from a cloudless sky. Hatteras, for once, had declared a truce. At an early hour, the fleet was moving in column by brigade, the gurgling of water at the prow, or lapping of the extending arms of our wake, alone disturbing the stillness
of the hour. Half a mile in advance of the transports, with flanks extending far to the right and left, the navy moved in line of battle, covering the fleet of sixty vessels which, in double column by brigade, was ploughing the waters at the rear. The decks were covered by men basking in the sun, re-reading letters from home, or gathered in knots to hear “the latest from the front.” The First Brigade was again in advance, the “Recruit” in two of her faithful consort, “New Brunswick,” and the “Ranger” in the second column, just opposite. At 2 P.M., we entered the Neuse River, which, at its mouth, is an estuary twelve miles wide, with little diminution for upwards of twenty-five miles. Our approach and progress were signalled the enemy above, by means of fires along the northern bank, the black smoke rising upward like wierd fingers of fate.
As night set in, the sky was heavy with threatening storm, and the wake of our vessels became a sheen of phosphorescent light, fading far to the rear in pitchy darkness. At nine o'clock, we reached the mouth of Slocum's Creek, fifteen miles below New Berne, and anchored for the night. No signal-light threw its rays over the scene, but dark, grim and silent as the abode of death, the fleet rested on the waters. A gentle roll gave motion to our craft, sufficient to rock us to the deepest sleep, and the soldiers who were so soon to respond to the tocsin of war, rested peacefully and securely in their berths, while the noble, vigilant “tars,” in boats and launches, formed a cordon of videttes around the fleet to protect us from hostile intrusion. Night deepened into ebon darkness and storm, the only sound being the driving rain upon deck, or the half-hourly toll of the night watch on the armed vessels encircling us.
In spite of a drenching rain, the signal to land was hoisted at seven o'clock the 13th, and with three days’ rations, forty rounds, overcoats, and rubber-blankets, we awaited conveyance ashore. The navy shelled the southern banks to cover
our landing, while the steamers “Alice Price,” “Pilot Boy,” “Phenix,” “Pawtuxent,” and “Union,” with long lines of launches in tow, started for the mouth of Slocum's Creek. So eager were the men for the honor of first reaching the shore, that many leaped into water waist deep, and struggled to the banks; and so close were the competing crews that the question never has been, nor will be, settled, “Who first desecrated this sacred soil?” The Twenty-First Mass. Regt. (Reno's Brigade) were given the advance as skirmishers. The Twenty-Fourth Mass., under the eye of Gen'l Foster, moved up the turnpike in support of the skirmishers, followed by the rest of the brigade as landed; Company A, of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., bringing up the rear at the landing, about four P. M.
The head of the column had proceeded about six miles, and were near Otter Creek, when Capt. Williamson of the Topographical Engineers, reported heavy works upon our front, apparently deserted. These consisted of well-constructed breastworks from the river to the railroad, a mile distant, a fort guarding the river-flank, and four flanking bastions facing the railroad terminus; the whole protected by abatis and a deep, wide ditch along its front.
Resting here until three o'clock for the force in the rear to close up, Gen'l Burnside ordered Gen'l Foster, with his brigade, to advance by the turnpike, — Gen'l Reno by the railroad, — while Gen'l Parke was to follow Gen'l Foster, and support either commands as needed. The rain continued to fall the entire day, and the roads — at best but sloughs — were churned to a sticky pulp, of uncertain depth, so that progress was slow and difficult. At eight o'clock in the evening, the advance bivouacked in a pine forest about four miles from New Berne. Company A, of the Twenty-Seventh, was, at this time, far in the rear, tugging in the darkness with two twelve-pound howitzers, whose wheels sank to the hubs in the muddy road. Every man “pulled for all he was worth,”
slipping, plunging, and tugging, until, at nine o'clock, Lieuts. Spaulding and Clark — who had completed the debarking of troops, and hurried forward to overtake their company — arrived. Seeing the exhausted condition of their men, they assumed the responsibility of leaving the guns with a squad of troops guarding a cross-road. Plunging again into mud and darkness, this company advanced until about midnight, finding their regiment at the extreme front.
Camp-fires were burning in all directions, some of them running to the top of resinous trees, lighting the surrounding forest as by the glare of the setting sun. The men lay about on beds of brush, and were covered with rubber blankets for protection from the rain. About two o'clock a cloud seemed to burst over the bivouac, deluging it with a flood which awakened the sleepers, most of whom found themselves lying in pools of water.
At half-past five, the 14th of March, the reveille roused the troops for the stern duties of the day, the heavy fog rendering the dawning light almost imperceptible. An hour later the column was in motion, the Twenty-Fourth Mass. still in advance, followed in order by the Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts Regiments. After following the road some distance, the Twenty-Fourth Mass. deployed in line, with its left resting upon the road, the Twenty-Fifth Regiment forming upon their right. The Twenty-Seventh now moved in column to the front by the turnpike, and were somewhat in advance of the brigade, when suddenly a solid shot sped down the road, and would have entailed a heavy loss upon the regiment but for the ranks having opened to either side to avoid the mud at the centre.
Gen'l Foster, who was at the head of the regiment with Col. Lee, said to him, “Colonel, bring your regiment into line upon the left of the road! You need not deploy skirmishers, the enemy are just in front. Move forward in line and engage them at once!” Advancing in line about two
hundred yards, we came to the edge of the woods, in full sight of the enemy and their works. The chart explains the position of the forces, and also indicates the position of the companies of the Twenty-Seventh Mass., as in line of battle:
Line of battle of the companies of the Twenty-Seventh Mass.]
At the river, upon the extreme right, was a large fort, mounting thirteen thirty-two pounders, rifled — six of which were swivel-guns, commanding our position. From this a continuous line of breastworks extended to the railroad, some distance to the left. Behind these works were three field-batteries, and a thirty-two pound gun in a bastion across the road to guard its approach. Beyond the railroad was a series of thirteen curvettes and redans, extending a mile and quarter, with a two-gun fort at the extreme left. These fortifications extended a distance of two and a half miles from the river, and were defended by three batteries, seven regiments and four independent companies of infantry, a battalion of cavalry, and a company of the First Maryland (rebel) Regt. in reserve; the whole under the command of Gen'l Lawrence O. B. Branch, a graduate of Princeton College, and a former representative to Congress. Col. Campbell, of the Twenty-Seventh North Carolina Regiment, was in the immediate command of the forces, from the river to the railroad, and Col. Avery, of the Thirty-Third North Carolina, of those beyond.
We had but time to glance at these fortifications, with a rebel officer riding a white horse behind them, when Col. Lee gave the order, and the fire of the Twenty-Seventh rang out on the morning air. Unfortunately, we went into the engagement without testing our rifles, and many were so damp as not to discharge, while with others the balls fell harmless a few feet from the muzzle. There was a moment's lull, when, as by one impulse, the enemy's works were a sheet of flame and smoke. Twenty-six cannons and thousands of rifles belched their iron hail upon us, with a concussion that shook the earth. The air was filled with groanings, crashings, howlings, hums, and z-z-z-ps, while showers of splintered limbs of trees fell around us, doubling the risk of the field. As one writer described it: “The air was alive with all mysterious sounds, and death in every one of them. There were muffled howls that seemed in rage because their missiles missed you; the angry buzz of the familiar Minie; the spit of the common bullet; hisses, and the great whirring rushes of shell. And then came sounds which made the air instinct with warning, or quickened it with vivid alarms, — long wails that fatefully bemoaned the death they wrought; fluttering screams that filled the space with horror, and cries that ran the diapason of terror and despair.” To one unharmed, it was grand to stand on that shot-rent field, and view its terrible grandeur. The spell had been broken; the Twenty-Seventh had given and received the shock of battle, and, like their own rock-ribbed coasts and hills, stood unmoved amid the tempest. In antebellum days, we frequently saw pictures of battles and charges, in which the line was formed in two ranks, shoulder to shoulder, dressed by the right with perfect precision, as they received the shock, or charged upon the enemy's works. Such sketches draw more upon the artist's imagination than observation, and in practice would be an evidence of incompetency or foolhardiness. Actual war dissipates such notions of order and bravery, for however perfect the alignment at
the outset, when shell, grape, and Minies begin to pour into the ranks, such order is soon lost. When the column moves forward to the charge, there is about as much precision as with a swarm of bees upon the wing, so that when the objective point is reached, companies and regiments are often mixed in a way never contemplated by military tactics.
At the order, “Load and fire at will!” we broke ranks, adjusting ourselves to our position, as irregular as forest trees, and settled to the stern work of war. The horses and gunners of the rebel batteries received special attention to prevent the movement of the guns to threatened points.
The enemy, encouraged by our first fire, exposed themselves unguardedly, and our second volley was in consequence more fatal. Their sharpshooters in the trees back of their position, made fatal work along our line, until, satisfied of their position, we directed a volley into their coverts, when their harassing practice ceased.
The position of the Twenty-Seventh was in the open field, and some rods in advance of the remainder of the brigade, which had formed and opened fire within a serrated line of woods. After being engaged half an hour, we were ordered back to complete the alignment of the brigade.
The Twenty-Fifth Mass. occupied the extreme right before Fort Thompson, with the right of its line refused to guard its flank. The Twenty-Fourth Mass. formed next to the Twenty-Fifth, with its left resting upon the turnpike. The right of the Twenty-Seventh rested on the left of this road, supporting six howitzers under command of Capt. Dayton, of the schooner “Highlander,” and Lieut. McCook, of the “Stars and Stripes.” This part of the regiment remained in the open field, subjected to a sharp enfilading fire from the enemy's artillery in their attempt to silence our howitzers. The left of the regiment was in part protected by a copse or spur of the forest in which it rested. At their left was the Twenty-Third Mass., followed by the Tenth Connecticut Regiment
and Reno's Brigade, most of Gen'l Parke's Brigade being in reserve. The enemy's position was — strangely — lower than that occupied by us, and the rain of the previous night so softened the earth that each recoil of their artillery settled “the trail” of their guns sufficiently to keep most of their fire above us. As the battle progressed our howitzers were dismounted and silenced, and the contest was continued by us with rifles alone.
A heavy smoke settled upon the field, obscuring the enemy, so that we were forced to rely upon the elevation and range obtained early in the engagement. Our men were dropping fast, and it was evident we were before the most effective works of the enemy, but this only inspired the regiment with greater zeal. At nine o'clock our ammunition was exhausted, and with fixed bayonets we held our position, unable to return the fire which the enemy were now delivering with double fury. Half an hour later the Eleventh Connecticut relieved us, and we retired with a loss of seven killed and seventy-eight wounded.
While waiting for ammunition, the sound of a charge fell upon our ears and we returned at double quick to the support of our comrades, arriving in time to see them scale the works, and the enemy in full retreat. The yell of the charge gave place to cheers of victory, in which we joined as we dashed over the abatis and entered the entrenchments. The dead and wounded lay scattered along the breastworks, the incoherent expressions of many of the latter showing a beastly intoxication. The artillery horses lay dead or struggling in the traces, thus preventing the removal of a single gun. The Fourth Rhode Island and Eighth Conn., supported by the Fifty-First New York Regiment, had broken the enemy's line at the right of the railroad, but the remainder of Reno's Brigade, and a portion of Gen'l Parke's were still sharply engaged in the woods beyond. Gen'l Foster at once advanced upon the rear of their position
with the Twenty-Fifth Mass., capturing some two hundred of the enemy, and routing the remainder.
Ten days previous, when Gen'l Burnside's spy left this locality, there were no fortifications at this point, hence the General was unaware of the difficulties to be met at this part of the field.
The enemy attribute their misfortune to the Seventh North Carolina Militia, who were stationed at the north of the railroad. This regiment had been driven from the works by a portion of the Twenty-First Mass. Regt., when the latter were in turn driven out by the Thirty-Fifth North Carolina and the Seventh returned to their position. Later, the Fourth Rhode Island and Eighth Connecticut, supported by the Fifty-First New York, made a determined assault upon them, when the Seventh were again forced from their position and the day lost. Doubtless the point was not as tenaciously contested, or perhaps was not capable of the resistance of other parts of the line, but the assertion that “they ingloriously retreated without a contest” is not sustained by the losses of our three regiments engaged in the charge, or by the riddled forest on their front. Misfortune must have its scapegoat, and the Seventh North Carolina Regiment bears the odium of a defeat which was inevitable.
The main body of the enemy retreated across the Trent River above New Berne, but a portion of them, with re-inforcements arriving just as the battle closed, and a train loaded with the wounded and slain, escaped through the city, setting fire to the railroad bridge as they passed. This bridge, seven hundred feet long, had been prepared for destruction, and when our column, two miles below, first sighted it, the fire was fully under way. Smoke, black as midnight, rolled up from the bridge and from different parts of the city, a livid representation of Dante's Inferno, or a second Sodom or Gomorrah. Had the words Doom! Doom!! Doom!!! been suspended in huge letters over the city it
could hardly have intensified the scene, or the retributive justice upon an unrighteous cause. Arriving at the river the regularity of the strects of the city opposite, enabled us to see the enemy still at their work of incendiarism. Two pieces of artillery were placed upon the railroad and shells thrown over the city and through the streets to stop their nefarious work.
Commodore Rowan, with his usual promptness, had blown up the river blockade, and arriving before the city, offered to transport the forces across to New Berne. The Twenty-Fifth Mass. were landed at the foot of Craven Street, and immediately occupied the city as “Provost Guard,” while the Twenty-Seventh were carried to its western suburbs, and, landing at the upper dock on the Neuse River, marched out to the North Carolina Fair Grounds and occupied the camp of the Seventh North Carolina Regiment without opposition.
Thus closed the 14th of March, in which the yeomanry of the North had clothed the army with a new prestige and given the Union a victory which struck consternation to its enemies. Its results were the capture of eight batteries of heavy guns and three batteries of light artillery (in all sixty-four guns), two hundred prisoners, the entire camp equipage of the enemy, large quantities of ammunition and quartermasters’ stores, two steamers, a number of sailing vessels, and a large quantity of rosin, turpentine and cotton. Says Woodbury's “History of the Ninth Army Corps”: “It was a peculiar conflict, and it may be doubted if another such was fought during the war. A bold attack upon a strongly fortified position, heavily armed and abundantly manned, made by a force of infantry without siege guns, or anything but a few howitzers.” Our force engaged did not exceed sixty-five hundred, which was equalled by that of the enemy; yet after four hours of conflict
we succeeded in defeating them in their chosen position, and in putting them to utter rout.
Gen'l Burnside said in his official report: “I beg to say to the commanding general, I have a division under my command that can be relied upon in any emergency.”
Jefferson Davis says of Roanoke and New Berne: “These places were given up without resistance,” though their official report of this engagement places their loss at five hundred and fourteen killed, wounded and missing. Southern historic papers say: “The rapid fall of Roanoke and New Berne struck terror and dismay along the whole coast.” As to the accuracy of our fire, Major Whitford said to the writer a year later, when on a flag of truce, “Give the d—l their due, it was you —— Yankees with your rifles who captured New Berne. Your range was so perfect it was about sure death to raise a head above the works!”
This victory was purchased with the blood of New England's bravest sons, the loss by brigades and regiments being as follows: —
|Twenty-Third Mass. Regiment,||5||39||44|
|Twenty-Fourth Mass. Regiment,||8||41||49|
|Twenty-Fifth Mass. Regiment,||4||16||20|
|Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regiment,||7||78||85|
|Tenth Conn. Regiment,||5||16||21|
|Twenty-First Mass. Regiment,||17||40||57|
|Fifty-First N. Y. Regiment,||14||78||92|
|Ninth N. J. Regiment,||4||58||62|
|Fifty-First Penn. Regiment,||-||10||10|
|Eighth Conn. Regiment,||3||4||7|
|Eleventh Conn. Regiment,||6||21||27|
|Fourth R. I. Regiment,||10||22||32|
|Fifth R. I. Battalion||4||7||11|
A loss of eighty-seven killed, and four hundred and thirty wounded, or a total loss of five hundred and seventeen men.
The enemy's loss, as reported by the Governor of North Carolina to the North Carolina State “Journal,” was: —
|Seventh N. C. Regt., Lieut. Col. Haywood, commanding,||6||15||30|
|Twenty-Sixth N. C. Regt., Col. Zebulon C. Vance, commanding,||5||10||72|
|Twenty-Seventh N. C. Regt., Major Gilmer, commanding,||4||8||42|
|Twenty-Eighth N. C. Regt., Col. Lee, commanding,||-||-||6|
|Thirty-Third N. C. Regt., Col. Avery, commanding,||32||28||144|
|Thirty-Fifth N. C. Regt., Col. Sinclair, commanding,||5||11||9|
|Thirty-Seventh N. C. Regt., Lieut. Col. Barber, commanding,||1||3||8|
|Four Independent Companies Infantry,||5||63||68|
The following is the list of the killed and wounded of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt.: —
Lieut. Joseph W. Lawton, Ware, Company I.
Private Samuel A. Dunning, Worthington, Company A.
Private Joseph Drake, Warwick, Company B.
Private Edward A. Jackson, Lee, Company E.
Private Lyman M. Marshall, Tolland, Company F.
Private William C. Soule, Tolland, Company F.
Private Leander Woodruff, Agawam, Company F.
Wounded. — Company A.
Private Thomas Bolton, Easthampton. Leg; slight.
Private Frederick Klistner, Hatfield. Leg; slight.
Drummer Charles C. Loud, Northampton. Face; severe.
Private George Stevens, Williamsburg. Leg; slight.
Sergt. Otis Oliver, Athol. Right thigh.
Corp. Van Buren French, Athol. Arm.
Corp. William H. Pierce, New Salem.
Private George Britton, Erving. Hip.
Private Frank Oliver, Jr., Athol.
Private Adolphus Porter, New Salem.
Private Isaac Powers, Prescott. Breast.
Private George M. Williams, Wendell.
Serg. Reuben DeWolf, Leyden. Arm; severe.
Private John C. Delvey, Gill.
Private Martin L. Jones, Enfield.
Private Patrick Sweeney, Shelburne. Shoulder; fatal.
Lieut. John S. Aitcheson, Chicopee. Head; slight.
Corp. George A. Griffin, Pelham. Shoulder; slight.
Private Charles K. Baker, Amherst. Skull fractured.
Private Charles H. Barton, Amherst. Lost two fingers.
Private James Bowman, Amherst. Leg; slight.
Private John E. Cushman, Amherst. Left arm amputated.
Private Henry Dunakin, Hadley. Side; slight.
Private Otis B. Griffin, Pelham. Left knee.
Private James A. Preston, Amherst. Right side; slight.
Private Solomon H. Williams, Amherst. Gun burst in his hands.
Lieut. John W. Trafton, Springfield. Slight.
Sergt. Richard J. Bush, Great Barrington. Leg; slight.
Corp. Charles H. Bligh, Pittsfield. Arm.
Corp. Laville F. Hall, Pittsfield. Hand.
Private Marceline Barrett, Cheshire. Arm.
Private Alfred B. Champlin, Lee. Thigh.
Private Roswell D. Cobb, Monterey. Foot.
Private John McCavanaugh, New York. Hip
Private Martin C. Parish, Dummerston, Vt. Leg; slight.
Private Benjamin D. Washburn, Athol. Shoulder.
Corp. Daniel W. Bates, Southampton. Slight.
Corp. Edwin H. Coit, Huntington. Slight.
Corp. Calvin J. Treat, Granville. Slight.
Private Vernon D. Austin, Southampton. Arm and side.
Private Edward Burns, Westfield. Temple.
Private Leroy Bosworth, Westfield. Right arm.
Private William E. Clark, Springfield. Severe.
Private John Dorflin, Westfield. Slight.
Private John W. Madison, Westfield. Slight.
Private Asa P. Merritt, Huntington.
Private Addison Noble, Westfield. Cheek bone fractured.
Private Amos B. Pomeroy, Granville. Slight.
Private Charles H. Searle, Southampton. Slight.
Private Alfred Woodworth, Agawam. Slight.
Capt. Ripley R. Swift, Chicopee. Leg; severe.
Sergt. Edwin C. Hendricks, Chicopee.
Private Marcellus M. Adams, Chicopee.
Private Calvin Blackmer, Northampton.
Private Patrick Coffee, Northampton.
Private John Manix, Northampton.
Private Thomas Monlin, Chicopee. Face.
Private William D. Steele, Chicopee. Hand.
Private James Sullivan, Chicopee.
Private Thomas Taylor, Chicopee. Arm.
Sergt. William Campbell, Adams. Ankle.
Sergt. Nelson W. Bowen, Adams. Shoulder.
Private Jared Estes, Adams. Head.
Private Charles A. Fowler, Williamstown. Head.
Private John O'Brien, Adams. Slight.
Private James H. Perkins, Williamstown. Knee.
Private Royal H. Plumb, Adams. Leg.
Private James L. White, Stamford, Vt. Head.
Private Joel Wing, Ashfield. Thigh amputated; fatal.
Private Jacob P. Barton, Brimfield. Head; slight.
Private Thomas D. Pepper, Brimfield. Jaw.
Private Addison P. Wade, Ludlow. Knee.
Lieut. George Warner, Springfield. Right foot amputated.
Sergt. Frederick A. Ingersoll, Springfield. Leg.
Corp. Robert R. McGregor, Chicopee. Slight.
Private Patrick Hayes, Ware. Slight.
Private Michael McGrath, Ludlow. Leg shattered.
Private Anthony Wackle, Great Barrington. Head; fatal.
Comrade Wackle was included with the killed in the official report. He, however, lived unconscious until the 17th instant.
Lieut. Joseph Wallingford Lawton was born at Ware, Oct. 9, 1839, and upon the death of his mother, three months later, was entrusted to the care of his grandmother, under whose training and faithful counsels he remained until entering his country's service. He recruited sixteen men, with whom he joined the Ludlow Company (I), himself as first sergeant, where his energy and promptness secured for him, upon the death of Capt. Hubbard, promotion as a second lieutenant. He first appeared as such on the march to, and upon the battle-field of New Berne, where his new uniform became a prominent mark for the enemy's sharpshooters. He fell while in our first position, soon after entering the field, a ball piercing his forehead, killing him instantly. He was the first of the sons of Ware to fall upon the field, and his name is borne by Post No. 85, Grand Army of the Republic, of his native town.
Comrade Dunning of Company A, was a member of Lieut. Spaulding's boatcrew, and after a hard day's work in landing the troops, the 13th, was told he could remain with the fleet. He replied, “I shall not leave you, lieutenant. If there is to be a battle, I shall be there!” About ten minutes after the engagement opened, a ball pierced his forehead, and he fell without a struggle. He was a faithful, noble-hearted young man, of eighteen years, “the only son of his mother, and she a widow.”
Amongst those who fell in other organizations was Lieut. Col. Henry Merritt, of Salem, Twenty-Third Mass. Regt., and the brave and accomplished Frazar A. Stearns, Acting-Adjutant Twenty-First Mass. Regt. The latter was a son of Pres. W. A. Stearns, D. D., of Amherst College, and fell as a portion of his regiment made their first charge on the enemy's works. Gen'l Burnside presented one of the six-pound
brass guns captured of Brem's Battery, to this regiment, as a monument to his memory, and the same is now suitably inscribed, and preserved at Amhert College.
March 24, 1862, the legislature of Massachusetts passed the following resolution: —
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 Twenty-First, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth, Twenty-Fifth, and Twenty-Seventh Regiments of Massachusetts Volunteers, for their heroic deeds at the battle and victory of New Berne. In the hands of these men the honor of Massachusetts will always be safe.
Of the many incidents of interest, we present the following: Col. Jordan, of the Thirty-First North Carolina Regiment, whom we captured and paroled at Roanoke, was reported by citizens to have been at New Berne the day previous to the battle, and, in conversation with Gen'l Branch, to have said, “General, you have my best hopes and wishes, and were I not on parole, you would have my assistance; but, General, I will give you just twenty-four hours to hold your position. They would charge your batteries and intrenchments, if the obstacles were twice as great. All h—l won't keep them back. If they can't do better, they will swim the river” (it was two miles wide at this point) “and come in your rear! Have the place they will, and you can't hold it!” Evidently the Colonel remembered Roanoke Island.
“Joe,” a member of the band, was a favorite with our regiment, but had an aversion to the letting go of words. Awaiting a call for ambulance duty, he had sought refuge behind an old stump, when a solid shot buried itself in the ground just in front, covering him with a shower of dirt and mud. This was a trifle too much for Joe, and he hastily
moved to another part of the field, exclaiming, “Thi- thi- this is no place for the Fa- Fa- Fay family!”
W——, of Company —, Twenty-Seventh Regiment, a young man of strong religious principles, was absent on detached service at the battle of Roanoke Island, and when hearing its recital, assured his comrades if they would but trust in the Lord, they could enter such scenes without fear. Early in this engagement, a charge of canister killed and wounded several of his company, when W—— suddenly decamped, appearing at New Berne late in the evening. Unfortunately, many of Company — had been skeptical of his assertion, and now wickedly plied him with the inquiry, whether he trusted most that day on the Lord, or on his legs. W—— honestly replied, “I didn't realize how scarey it was to be shot at. I don't believe the Lord has much to do with such operations.”
Says the Wilmington “Journal” of that date, “John Mixon, of Company E, Twenty-Seventh North Carolina Regiment, was wounded through the shoulder and breast, the ball passing through him and lodging in his clothes. John has saved the ball, and says he shall kill a Yankee with it, if (?) he lives to get well.” Please report, John; ’tis some years since.
As we landed at the New Berne wharf, a darkey woman, whose white hair betokened great age, came dancing forward with exuberance of joy, and, grasping the author by both arms, exclaimed, “Bress de Lord, Massa! Ize ben prain fur uze dese forty years! I taut uze nebber comin tall! But uze come at las! Bress de Lord! Bress de Lord!!” Her features were suffused with joy during this effervescence, and the loose planks of the wharf kept time with her dance and gesticulations. It was a simple faith which recognized the providence of God in the fruition of a long-deferred hope. The belief of the negroes in such intervention was as strongly shown in an incident a few moments later. A man was evidently
making the best of the last opportunity to escape, and was well out beyond where our fortifications were afterwards placed, when a shell thrown over the city by our guns, buried itself in the ground, and exploded just behind him, covering him with dust and dirt. A darkey near us, who had been intently watching him, exclaimed, “Judy, se dar! Dars Massa runnin awa, an de wengence of de Lord is arter him!”
The New Berne “Progress,” a paper published at New Berne by —— “Pendleton,” previous to our occupation of the place, was placed under the care of George Mills Joy, a member of the Twenty-Third Mass. Regt., and formerly in the employ of the “Hampshire Gazette,” of Northampton. The following was in type: —
“The signals on the Neuse River, below our batteries, gave notice of the approach of the enemy yesterday afternoon about five o'clock. A boat was immediately despatched down the river, and, on its return, we were placed in positive information of the presence of ten steamers and one large transport (schooner) in the river, only twelve miles below New Berne, and in a few miles of the blockade. Everything was active, and preparations were busy here last night, and a battle is expected to-day, and the day will probably decide the fate of New Berne.”
To this, Editor Joy added:—
“Friday did it! We have taken New Berne. The enemy undertook to burn the town, but were unsuccessful.
The rebel editor retired to Goldsboro, and issued a card, saying, “He had lost all, but intended to reopen again, if Gen'l Burnside did not press too far into the bowels of the State.” In reply to Editor Joy's promise in his first issue, to furnish a better-looking sheet as soon as he could get some decent paper, he caustically replied, “It's hard enough
to rob a man of all his money, without cursing the style of his currency.”
The Wilmington “Journal,” in commenting on the misfortunes of North Carolina, said, “The day is dark, but we must face the music. . . . It is about as unprofitable commenting on such events as whistling to mile-stones.”
Upon the occupancy of the city, Gen'l Burnside appointed Gen'l Foster Military Governor of the State of North Carolina, with headquarters at New Berne; Gen'l Foster appointed Capt. Daniel Messenger provost-marshal of the place; and upon these officers devolved the execution of the laws and the protection of property, with plenary power in all breaches of civil or military law. Stringent regulations for trade in conquered parts of insurrectionary States had already been issued through the Secretary of the Treasury, and these depended upon the loyalty and vigilance of provost-marshals for execution. The persons and property of all, if not deserted, were respected, and, where needed, guards were placed for their protection. All civilians were obliged to prove identity before the provost-marshal, and no one allowed to move about the city without a pass, except officers in uniform and the colored people. This was too much for “poor shade,” who exclaimed, “Bress de Lord an Massa Lincoln! Hallelujer! dat dis yer ole nigger should lib to see dis happy time, when white folks mus hab a pass to go bout, and dis nigger wid the officer can go whar him pleas widout one! Bress de Lord! ha! ha!! ha!!! Juber!” There was not the least demonstration of loyalty or Union sentiment with the whites, but a sullen moroseness, indicative of intense disloyalty. Few whites, however, remained, and these, with only a few exceptions, were of the lower class, with little property and less intelligence.
March 15th, Gen'l Burnside issued the following congratulatory order: —
“The general commanding congratulates his troops on their gallant 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 howitzers through swamps, and a sleepless night passed in a drenching rain, they met the enemy in his chosen position, protected by strong earthworks mounting many and heavy guns; and although in an open field themselves, they conquered.
“With such soldiers, advance is victory. The commanding general directs, with peculiar pride, that, as a well-deserved tribute to valor, in this second victory of the expedition, each regiment shall inscribe on its banner the memorable name New Berne.”
Sunday, the 16th, was observed as a day of thanksgiving, all the churches being opened for public worship. The Twenty-Seventh Regiment, with arms and equipments, occupied the First Baptist Church, where Chaplain Sandford preached his farewell sermon, from 1 Sam. iv. 9: “Be strong, and quit yourselves like men.”
CHAPTER V. LIFE IN DIXIE.
New Berne is the third city of importance in the State, and is situated at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers. These form, at this point, a stream two miles wide, with a channel nine feet deep at low water, permitting direct communication with our largest ports. With Wilmington, it holds an almost absolute monopoly of the trade in tar, resin, and turpentine, which are its chief commodities. The surrounding country is a dead level, interspersed with dense, marshy forests, but, owing to the large number of turpentine distilleries, was deemed to be more than ordinarily healthy. The city is regularly laid out, boasts of five churches, a masonic hall, an academy, a theatre, two hotels, and a jail. It is the county seat of Craven County, and in time of peace, must have had a population of about seven thousand. The place was of special importance to the enemy for its manufacture of ordnance, as a shipping port, and as controlling the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad.
March 17th, Gen'l Foster issued the following congratulatory order to his brigade: —
Department of North Carolina,
Headquarters First Brigade.
New Berne, N. C., March 17, 1862.
General Order, No. 11.
Gen'l Foster again congratulates his brigade on the brilliant victory in which they participated, and by their steadiness and valor contributed so much to win; and renews, most sincerely, his
Dept. of North Carolina for the Twenty Seventh, Mass, Regt. History.
Dept. of North Carolina for the Twenty Seventh, Mass, Regt. History.
thanks for the endurance of hardship, steadiness, coolness under fire, and willing and prompt obedience, shown by all from the moment of landing.
The test was more severe than at Roanoke Island; and as Gen'l Foster judged by their conduct there what it would be here, it is the highest praise to say that the conduct of the brigade equalled or surpassed his expectations. He hopes and believes that each successive action will but add to the laurels already won by the brigade he is proud to command.
By command of Brig. Gen'l J. G. Foster.
The same day on which this order was issued, we renovated and remodelled our captured camp, after which it was known as “Camp Warner,” in honor of Lieut. George Warner, wounded the 14th inst. It was situated upon what was known as the “North Carolina Fair Grounds,” and was furnished with Sibley tents. The tents, when captured, were supplied with floors and bunks, and with bedding and comfortables, all of which were acceptable to us on account of our loss at Hatteras. Our camp had a border of juniper trees upon three sides, which afforded grateful shade, while it was sufficiently elevated to secure good drainage. It was near by the city and the Neuse River; and was not only the best camp in the department, but also the best we had during the war. The Seventh North Carolina Regt., its former occupants, had determined to defend their camp, and upon the day of the battle, had formed in front for its defence, but a shell from our guns caused a reconsideration and a hasty adjournment. A full set of band instruments captured in this camp were presented by Gen'l Burnside to the regiment.
March 20th, Companies D, F, H and K, under command of Major Bartholomew, advanced up the railroad nine miles
to Bachelor's Creek, driving the enemy's cavalry before them, and burning the railroad bridge. Here they remained, with foul weather and fowl living, until the 23d, when they were relieved by the Twenty-Third Mass. Regt., and returned to Camp Warner. Meantime, the Third Brigade under Gen'l Parke, marched down the railroad to Beaufort, thirty-six miles distant, investing that place and Fort Macon; while the Twenty-Fourth Mass. occupied Washington, N. C., without opposition.
March 25th, Col. Lee and Capt. Fuller went North on a “leave of absence,” attended by First Lieut. Mark H. Spaulding and Second Lieut. Edwin C. Clark of Company A, both of whom had resigned their commissions. The last two were men of large experience, mature judgment, undoubted courage, and exact in detail and discipline. The regiment could ill afford to spare such officers, and to the company the loss seemed irreparable. Most of the men enlisted by them, embraced the opportunity because of their confidence in them. There was no disposition to question the sufficiency of their reasons, yet it was felt the misfortune should have been averted. Lieut. Spaulding was one of the earliest adventurers in California, his experience amidst lynch law and vigilance committees developing a cool, calculating spirit, equal to any emergency, and furnishing him abundant resources to cope with more than ordinary difficulties. He returned to Northampton, crowned with success, and, at the outbreak of the rebellion, was junior partner of the firm of Stockwell & Spaulding. He was more like our noble Capt. Sanford, whose actions were a glorious legacy to our regiment. Lieut. Spaulding's services at Hatteras were of inestimable value to the expedition, and his presence on the field, conspicuous and inspiring.
Lieut. Clark had large executive ability, was strict in discipline, and watchful of every interest of his command.
He was, from mustering until his resignation, unremitting in duty and valorous upon the field. He sought no preferment, but acted from principle, without regard to reward or consequences. Later in the war, both of these officers served under higher commissions in the Fifty-Second Mass. Regt., and since their return, have been honored with the highest offices in the gift of their constituents.
Fortunately for Company A, there was one in the regiment, by birth and association allied with them, who was a natural leader, of courage and ability, and to him the command fell. Henry C. Dwight of Northampton, upon the organization of the regiment, consented to serve as sergeant-major, but December 7th, had been commissioned as a second lieutenant, and assigned to Company H. Waiving the conventionalities of promotion, Col. Lee, with undoubted wisdom and sagacity, appointed him as first lieutenant of Company A, while Orderly Sergt. John P. Blakeman, of the same company, was commissioned second lieutenant.
During the afternoon of Sunday, March 30th, communion services were held in the Presbyterian Church, presided over by Chaplains Horace James of the Twenty-Fifth, and Jonas Clark of the Twenty-Third Massachusetts Regiments. The sanctity of the hour, the place, the occasion, the causes for gratitude, for repentance, for consecration, were all subjects, which, under the inspired and ready tongue of Chaplain James, gave a solemnity rarely experienced.
A few days before, we stood upon the riven field, amidst the mad storm of battle, fearless and defiant; to-day, how changed the scene! The cheers of victory were hushed, and, oblivious of rank, the victors were bowing reverently before the “God of battles,” acknowledging the hand that had shielded and gotten them the victory. Although the church was full, none but men were there; but a united prayer ascended that the Saviour would reveal himself to the
dear ones at home in that hour, and that his comforting presence and support might be afforded those who mourned the loss of our fallen brave. To live consistently at home involved much, in the army immensely more; and Christian resources were often put to the severest tests. It should hardly be said that army experiences made bad men; it rather stripped the mask from those inclined to evil, while it strengthened and ennobled those acting from principle. Privacy in devotional exercises was out of the question, and these duties must be performed — if at all — amongst, and unscreened from, the eyes of heedless comrades, who, perhaps, at that moment were engaged in the pleasures and heated disputes of games. There were those among us who braved this; they maintained irreproachable lives, and by example were a constant restraint upon others. To the credit of our army be it said, difficulties in these matters arose from heedlessness rather than heartless opposition; for honest convictions were always respected.
Eligible hospital accommodations were secured in the suburbs of the city, consisting of a row of cottages with comfortable grounds and shade. This enabled our surgeons to classify and separate our sick and wounded, which arrangement materially enhanced the comfort and recovery of our invalids. During the warm season the grounds were profuse with flowers, filling the air with fragrance, and bountifully supplying the sick-rooms with bouquets. March 27th, Assistant Surgeon Samuel Camp resigned his commission on account of sickness. His thorough knowledge of medicine and intense application to the welfare of the men, had rendered him invaluable to the regiment. He was born at Norfolk, Conn., May 5, 1829, and graduated in medicine from the University of New York, in March, 1851. He followed his profession five years in New Marlborough, Mass., and three years in St. Joseph, Mich., being located at Great Barrington, Mass. at the opening of the war. Upon his resignation
he returned to the last named place, where he still resides, possessed of a large and lucrative practice.
Our hospital department consisted of one steward, with seven assistants, and was, in character, ability and success, a credit to the regiment, and the good sense which dictated the selection. It would be a sufficient encomium for any similar organization, to say it was its equal. There was not opportunity to bestow the care of home; but it was intelligent and faithful, and as constant as the multitude of the cases allowed.
The sanitary condition of the camp and men was carefully attended to by Col. Lyman and Surgeon Otis. The tents were frequently struck, to expose the ground to the defecating rays of the sun, while the regiment was as often marched to the river for a bath. Negro “pie pedlers” were forbidden entrance to the camp, and the use of such trash discountenanced. To counteract malaria, a gill per man of “quinine and whiskey” was issued each morning, and where principle intervened with some, others were sufficiently elastic (or generous?) to accommodate the additional ration.
If we had endured hardships, we now enjoyed comparative ease and comfort. A line of steamers connected us with the outside world, furnishing — irregularly — mails, and the “latest from the seat of war” by New York papers. Large numbers of speculators, under special permits from the Treasury Department, flocked to the place; and anything desired could be obtained. We were favored with visits from friends at home, amongst whom was Rev. Mark Trafton, father of Lieut. John W. Trafton, of Company E, who said he thanked God the “Mayflower” did not drift to Southern shores, for then the sterile, rock-bound shores of New England would have had no attractions, and we should have missed the stalwart, iron men, which their sterility has given us. An Alabamian told him, he could conquer a whole
regiment of Yankees by offering them a price for their guns; but they were now finding that, while we had an eye to business, there were two things we would not barter, home or principle.
About this time we were in receipt of large numbers of letters from friends in the Tenth Mass. Regt., — then stationed at Camp Brightwood near Alexandria, Va., — complaining of the favoritism by which a new regiment — raised months after they had gone to the front — were permitted to glean high honors on the field, while they were in enforced idleness. It was a little strange; but this source of discontent was soon after removed, and from the other extreme they were somewhat excusable for desiring a more satisfactory mean.
April 1st the regiment went up the railroad on picket, leaving Company B to guard the camp. Our lines were now extended seven miles from New Berne, and by active scouting the enemy were kept at a safe distance.
On the 6th, a body of rebel cavalry charged within a short distance of our camp at the outpost, but finding us on the qui vive disappeared with equal celerity. Our supplies were mostly obtained from the country. Coons, possums, calves, pigs, and fowl were plenty — (at first?) — though the last were always the special property of the “old woman.” The complaint of the owners at their disappearance received similar comfort to that afforded one later by an officer of one of the regiments. “Vat — all your shicken gone? You mays be tankful it was no mo! Shust you march so much, an fights so hard, an has no mo than my mens, — I tinks you takes a little shicken too!” There was no loyalty among citizens, except as artfully shown to defend some interest. They were in constant sympathy and collusion with the rebels. The enemy were reported twenty thousand strong at Kinston, intending to attack us at once; but if such an intention existed, the arrival of the Seventeenth
Massachusetts, One Hundred and Third New York, Forty-Eighth Pennsylvania, and Second Maryland, with the Third New York Artillery and Third New York Cavalry regiments, April 2d, must have seriously disturbed their plans.
April 7th, the Twenty-Seventh Regiment was relieved at Bachelor's Creek by the Seventeenth Mass., and returned to Camp Warner, the remainder of the month being occupied with camp duties and drills. Gen'l Reno, with the Twenty-First Massachusetts and Fifty-First Pennsylvania, sailed from New Berne the 17th inst., taking on detachments of the Sixth New Hampshire, and Ninth and Eighty-Ninth New York regiments at Roanoke Island, and, upon the 20th, surprised the enemy at Camden, N. C., in the midst of a heavy thunderstorm. The Ninth New York charged without orders, and were met by a severe fire, causing them to throw themselves upon the field to escape loss, when the Twenty-First Mass., and Fifty-First Penn. charged to their relief, routing the enemy and capturing two pieces of artillery with a few prisoners. Our loss was fourteen killed and ninety-six wounded, mostly of the Ninth New York. The position assailed was in the rear of Norfolk, Va., and only eighteen miles therefrom. Because of the danger of attack by a superior Confederate force, the place was evacuated during the night. The movement caused consternation at Norfolk, and hastened its evacuation by the Confederates, which was accomplished the 10th of May.
Meantime the investment of Fort Macon had progressed favorably under Gen'l Parke, who demanded its surrender the 24th inst. This being refused, our batteries opened upon it the 25th, and after a bombardment of ten hours, Col. Moses J. White, its commander, a nephew of Jefferson Davis, and three hundred and twenty men, surrendered themselves, and the fort, with sixty-five guns and its military stores. This fort was one of the most important and costly on the Atlantic coast, being second in importance to Fortress Monroe and
Fort Sumter. It was a large, low, pentagonal, casemated brick structure, covered with a heavy, sodded embankment of earth. The guns were en barbette, and consisted of sixty ten-inch guns, with one one-hundred-twenty-eight pounder Columbiad. Encircling the fort, and half its height, was a huge rampart of earth, with a broad, gentle slope towards the outside; and from its parapets guns frowned upon the adjacent fields. The whole stood on a hummock of sand upon Bogue Island, just at the entrance of Beaufort harbor; and commanded Old Topsail Inlet, about three-quarters of a mile wide.
At the time of its capture it was garrisoned by the Atlantic Artillery; Battery B, Tenth Artillery (“Woodpecks”); and three companies of rebel infantry. The Union force accredited with this victory was the Fourth and Fifth Rhode Island and Eighth Connecticut Regiments, with Ammon's Battery I, Third New York Artillery. By saps and approaches they succeeded in placing batteries within fourteen hundred yards of the fort, and after about three weeks’ preparation forced its surrender.
The threatening attitude and increase of the enemy's forces in North Carolina, as well as the plans of the commanding general, necessitated the making of New Berne as a base of supplies, secure against any contingency, and this work was assigned to the skill and care of Gen'l Foster. At the rear of New Berne the distance from the Neuse to the Trent River was about a mile, across which neck, during the month, Gen'l Foster constructed a cordon of fortifications, with Fort Rowan at the railroad and Fort Totten at the county road. These works, with the flanks well protected by gun-boats stationed in the river enfilading the field, rendered our position safe against attack in this direction. The same peculiarity existed south of the Trent, with Forts Amory and Gaston, so that the place was a citadel, the character and extent of its defences insuring it from attack; and, though at
different times the enemy drove our forces to the intrenchments, they always withdrew without assaulting them.
Fort Totten was the most formidable work. It was a pentagon, covering nearly seven acres, with parapets eight feet high and twelve feet thick. This massive embankment was revetted from the bottom of the slope in the ditch with sods, one on the other, to the depth of eighteen inches, and the embrasures with wicker baskets filled with sand. A huge parapet of earth and logs was constructed on the terra pleine of the fort, thirty-five feet high, twenty-eight feet thick and four hundred feet long, to shelter the garrison in case of bombardment. On the top of this huge parapet was a series of rifle-pits for the use and protection of sharpshooters. The ramparts were protected from enfilading fires by traverses, and complete control of the field secured by bastions at each angle. The armament of the fort consisted of twenty-eight guns, mostly naval thirty-two pounders and sixty-four pound Columbiads, the exceptions being two one hundred pound Parrotts, rifled.
On the 1st of May our new chaplain, Rev. C. L. Woodworth, of the South Amherst Congregational Church, received a hearty welcome to the regiment. It is not too much to say that he was all a chaplain could be, — genial, sympathetic, approachable; attached to his work and zealous for the welfare of the regiment. As an earnest, consecrated worker, a clear expositor and a pathetic pleader, he had no superior; while his knowledge of human nature and his good common sense well fitted him for his work. He was sure to present himself at the tent when least expected, with a hearty “Good morning! how are you, boys?” and made free use of the hospitalities extended him.
May 3d, we broke camp and marched to Bachelor's Creek, relieving the Twenty-Third Mass. from outpost duty. This post had suffered severely from a guerrilla warfare, resulting in frequent wounding or death to members of the Twenty-Third.
Expeditions were at once set in motion for Tuscarora and other points, and a system of scouting and reconnoissance adopted which soon created a respect and wholesome fear for the Twenty-Seventh. During our years of service, much of which was occupied in outpost duty, we never deserted a post or lost a man, killed, wounded or taken prisoner while on picket duty. Other parts of our lines were subjected to attack and loss, but wherever the Twenty-Seventh was, the pickets were unassailed. Our camp was situated south of the railroad and easterly of the creek, the latter running through a deep, wooded ravine. Grounds were cleared and graded, stumps removed, wells dug, cook-houses built; and when our new Sibley tents were received, the camp was inspected by Gen'l Foster and pronounced perfect in equipment, appearance and comfort. Seven miles of unbroken forest separated us from the fields of New Berne, and whichever way we turned it was marsh, thickets and woods, from whose depths came the delicious fragrance of the magnolia and the warble of the matchless mocking-birds. Daylight and darkness was redolent with perfume, and there was not an hour when the mocking-bird's song could not be heard in the forest.
Just beyond our outposts at Tuscarora was a family named Davis, who were always willing to furnish refreshments for a consideration. One day, when Lieut. Hunt was in charge of the outposts, he placed Sergt. Peck upon picket near this plantation. The sergeant was very considerate of the wants of the inner man, and when Lieut. Hunt returned to this part of the line, he found the former had been to Davis's house, and ordered what he termed “a stomach distender for two.” Sergt. Peck's appetite and liberality got the best of his scruples, and he invited the lieutenant to the feast; an invitation promptly accepted.
They had nearly finished their repast, when a sudden roar and rattle, as of heavy guns and musketry, was heard.
Grasping their arms and equipments, which had been laid aside for the occasion, they unceremoniously rushed out of doors, cleared the fences and fields, expecting each moment another volley or a demand to surrender. As they reached the post, with an appearance of anything but an orderly retreat, one of the pickets called out, “Hallo? What's your hurry? Why didn't you stay until after the shower?” Sure enough, while they had been engaged at the table, one of those famous thunder-clouds had overcast the sky, from which a crashing stroke had come, resulting in their discomfiture. It was some time before these two officers were allowed to forget this dinner, and the “old man Davis” often glibly referred to it as “the attack on the pickets.”
At one time, when guerrilla farmers were particularly annoying, a squad of one of our companies followed the trail of one of these scoundrels to his house. A horse was hitched conveniently near, but the owner, from a lack of time, was obliged to escape without it. After raiding the premises and securing all the bacon and poultry, one of the men discovered a large and well-filled bee-hive. There was a sudden rally of the command for consultation, during which, one of the men, with an eye to business, pushed the hive over on the ground. As a business venture it was a grand success, for the next moment the whole squad was rolling upon the ground, or engaged in a mad race for camp. They lashed themselves with grass, and plunged into thickets of brush, to rid themselves of the enemy, but the last hum was not heard until every marauder was fully half a mile from that house. The boys bragged considerably about saving the bacon and poultry, but a more discomfited set of men never entered the camp of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. Such eyes, and such monstrous noses and thick lips, were wonders to behold.
Our connection with New Berne was maintained by means of a “hand car,” which ran daily to the city with mail and
despatches, under the care of W. P. Derby, postmaster of the regiment.
It was not all trial and pain in the army. There were hours when, in the leisure of camp, games, wit and rollicking humor made the air ring with boisterous laughter, and the men rolled upon the ground in unsuppressed merriment. There was the story of the scout and the plunder of the foraging party to be discussed over smoking viands, which gave a relish (oh! go away dyspepsia!) that defied the thought of “surgeon's call.” There were new stories and new experiences for each day; new plans and new discoveries, new expeditions with new prisoners and new refugees. There was the hunting the possums and coons, the trapping of game and fishing of streams, besides ever-changing scenes and scenery. The enemy were an illusion and a delusion to us, “and were averse to cultivating an intimate acquaintance.” We could see them daily far up the track, but on our approach they hastily disappeared; so that we rarely were able to exchange shots. Few days passed in which black smoke was not ascending somewhere on our front, caused by the enemy burning mills, distilleries and other property. We were given to understand that we should not return to New Berne, but should advance into the country; hence we were much surprised by orders to return to the city the 29th inst.
Our campaign in North Carolina was so intimately connected with the movement in Virginia that vital changes in our operations were possible at any moment. Concentration at this time was necessary with us, for readiness to reinforce Gen'l McClellan upon the Peninsula in case of his defeat; for defence, should the enemy be defeated and driven back into North Carolina, as seemed probable; or to enable us to promptly co-operate with the army in Virginia by advancing into the interior of the State, should additional troops be furnished the department. Gen'l Burnside's plans contemplated
these emergencies, even to the extent of the evacuation of North Carolina and of attempting to hold the conquered part of the State by the navy alone. This last was disapproved of by the authorities at Washington, D. C. During the month large numbers of Union prisoners arrived at New Berne via Washington, N. C. These were mostly captured at Bull Run and Ball's Bluff in 1861. Their features and clothing corroborated their stories of privations and wrongs. Elegant specimens of carving in wood and bone showed how they had whiled the tedious hours of captivity; and were liberally purchased by us to relieve their necessities.
Intricate questions of a civil nature were constantly arising, embarrassing and burdensome to our commander, and at his request for a military governor, Hon. Edward Stanley, a former citizen of North Carolina, was appointed by President Lincoln. He had represented the State in Congress, but at the outbreak of the rebellion was living in California. His misconception of his duties and privileges, or a want of loyalty to them, led him into acts so antagonistic and culpable as to arouse most intense indignation in the department. His safeguards were in the hands of citizens, soldiers and guerrillas within and outside of our lines. Provost regulations limiting the kind and quantity of supplies purchasable by any party outside the lines, were prostituted so as to permit one individual to purchase for as many others as would send orders. A day or two later another citizen would appear with duplicate orders from the same parties, and in this way immense quantities of supplies were furnished the enemy. Colored schools were discontinued, and all slaves ordered to be held subject to the demand of their masters. So subversive was the power exercised by Governor Stanley, that, after eight months of trial he was removed by the President, and his actions annulled.
The month had been one of great activity in Virginia.
The Army of the Potomac had commenced its advance up the Peninsula, resulting in the evacuation of Yorktown; while Norfolk had been abandoned and the famous “Merrimac” had ingloriously suicided at Craney Island by lowering its flag, and committing itself to the flames. Had the “Merrimac” been invulnerable, and so anxious to renew the conflict which was so often declined by the “Monitor,” why did it not strike at its cowardly foe, and in the crucible of battle sustain its honor and the waning fortunes of its cause. Too much had been claimed; and there was no escape from confession but in suicide, and suicide was confession.
About midnight, June 3d, we received orders to be ready to move at an hour's notice, with three days’ rations; but these were countermanded by Gen'l Foster, and the Twenty-Fourth Mass. Volunteers substituted, in view of our constant service. This regiment proceeded by steamer to Washington, and, the 5th inst., marched seven miles to Trantor's Creek, where they found the enemy fifteen hundred strong, in command of Col. Singletary. The Union force consisted of the Twenty-Fourth Mass., Company I Third New York Cavalry, a detachment of Marine Artillery, and one company of the First North Carolina Union Volunteers. The engagement lasted three-quarters of an hour, when the enemy were routed, leaving their dead upon the field. Our loss was seven killed and eleven wounded, but would have been much greater but for the use of malleable iron balls by the enemy, which struck with a sharp sting and fell harmless to the ground. It was a rainy day and answered every requirement for a movement in our department. We were a Coast Division, selected for this service because of supposed familiarity with water, and, singularly, we never moved without a good supply from above and under foot.
June 17th, companies F and G, with a detachment of the Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts and Tenth Connecticut, under Major Bartholomew, went up to Core Creek to take the
dimensions of the railroad bridge and report on the condition of the road. With some skirmishing, they drove the enemy five miles; found the rails and ties removed as far as they could see; and, accomplishing their work, returned without loss in a heavy thunderstorm, followed at a safe distance by the enemy, who burnt the Tuscarora station before retiring.
June 20th was a gala day for the Department. All unnecessary duties were suspended, and a grand review was held upon the south of the Trent, before Gen'l Burnside and Adjt. Gen'l Mauran of Rhode Island; after the completion of which, an elegant sword was presented our commanding general in behalf of the State of Rhode Island.
The troops were brigaded, and moved in the following order: —
Brig. Gen'l John G. Foster commanding.
First Brigade, Acting Brig. Gen'l T. J. C. Amory. — Twenty-Fifth Mass., Twenty-Third Mass., Sixth N. H., Seventeenth Mass.
Second Brigade, Acting Brig. Gen'l Thomas G. Stevenson. — Twenty-Seventh Mass., Tenth Conn., Ninth N. J., Twenty-Fourth Mass.
Brig. Gen'l Jesse L. Reno commanding.
First Brigade, Second Division, Acting Brig. Gen'l —— Nagle. — Forty-Eighth Penn., Eighth Conn., One Hundred and Third N. Y., Second Md.
Second Brigade, Second Division, Acting Brig. Gen'l Edward Ferrero. — Twenty-First Mass., Fifty-First N. Y., Fifty-First Penn., Eleventh Conn.
Brig. Gen'l John G. Parke commanding.
First Brigade, Third Division, —— ——. Fourth R. I., Fifth R. I., Eighty-Ninth N. Y. (the rest of this division was absent).
Belger's Battery, Third N. Y. Artillery, Howard's Marine Artillery, and the Third N. Y. Cavalry.
The formation was in column by regiment, each regiment wheeling into line by companies as they changed direction for review. The field was admirable for display, and the polished arms and equipments gave an almost blinding glare, which enveloped the moving column. As the Twenty-Seventh neared the reviewing officers, Col. Lee gave the order, “Shoulder arms!” and the movement was executed with marvellous precision. Every cap-visor was at “front,” every elbow touched, every motion was steady, every step sure, as they passed before the stand and to the field beyond. If it was not perfection, it was not excelled, and no one blushed to say he belonged to the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regiment.
The review ended, the troops formed a hollow square around the position held by Gen'l Burnside, when Gen'l Mauran presented the sword, in a terse and patriotic speech, which was responded to by Gen'l Burnside, who assured him that his command would ever strive to merit the high encomiums bestowed by him. Singularly, while the sword was being presented, thunder clouds covered the skies, and a heavy shower fell upon the opposite side of the Trent, but passed us unharmed. As the sun burst through a rift in the cloud, a beautiful rainbow arched the field, and from the writer's position, Gen'l Burnside and staff occupied the centre of the arc, which was greeted as an omen of promise for our commander and his troops.
On the 26th, Col. Howard of the Marine Artillery, with Major Bartholomew and Adjt. Bartlett as “aids,” made a
reconnoissance up the Neuse River, finding no enemy until at Streeter's Landing.
All our information from the Army of the Potomac was reassuring, our forces being within sight of the steeples of Richmond. Orders were therefore issued to “be ready to move on short notice,” with a view of seizing Goldsboro, and intercepting the enemy in their search for that “last ditch,” over which they would contend until every male and female capable of bearing arms should have been sacrificed. The bustle of preparation was suddenly stayed July 1st, by a countermand for the First Division, and all confidence in our shrewdness dispelled, by seeing the Second and Third Divisions embark with the utmost haste and disappear down the Neuse. In the midst of our speculations, Gen'l Burnside suddenly reappeared, with news of the capture of Richmond, followed by the return of the fleet the morning of the 4th. The day was given to wild rejoicings, the different regiments parading the streets amidst ringing of bells and salvos of artillery. Mock battles were fought between the regiments, the Rebs always ingloriously defeated. The sun went down amid a deafening roar, and during the evening, bonfires of tar and resin made the whole surroundings light as day, “And all went merry as a marriage bell.”
But our joys were transient, for, while we were revelling, a steamer was hastening to urge forward Gen'l Burnside to the relief of our army upon its disastrous retreat to Harrison's Landing. Upon its arrival, consternation succeeded exultation, and looks inquired more forcibly than words, “What does this mean?”
Col. Rush F. Hawkins of the Ninth New York, commandant at Roanoke Island, had learned, the 2d inst., through rebel sources considered by him reliable, of the capture of Richmond, and had despatched the steamer “Alice Price” to inform Gen'l Burnside, meeting him on the steamer “Highland Light,” en route for Hatteras with his fleet.
The information being in accord with his expectation, Gen'l Burnside at once returned with his fleet to New Berne.
The Second and Third Divisions having remained on the steamer, the fleet retraced its course to Hatteras the 5th inst. Thus we bade adieu to Gen'l A. E. Burnside as our commanding general, though he did not issue his farewell to the army of the Department of North Carolina until considerably later as will appear by the following order: —
Headquarters Ninth Army Corps,
Fredericksburg, Va., Aug. 20, 1862.
General Order, No. 15.
The commanding general on retiring from the department of North Carolina, desires to express his deep regret at taking leave of the gallant soldiers who have been his comrades through so many trials. The requirements of the service prevented his bidding them farewell in person, when suddenly called to other scenes of duty, and he now desires to pay a high and well-deserved tribute to their discipline, their patience and their courage. In the trying scenes at Hatteras Inlet and on the battle-fields of North Carolina, these soldiers’ virtues were fully shown, and he now parts from them as from well-tried friends who have always proved true to their leaders and to their country, and on whom in any emergency he could always rely.
By Command of Major-General Burnside.
Lewis Richmond, Asst. Adjt-Gen'l.
It was his expectation, at the time of his departure, to return to North Carolina as soon as the military situation in Virginia should allow.
The Department of North Carolina never fulfilled the original plan as conceived by Gen'l Burnside. He urged that a sufficient force be thrown into this State so that an advance might be made on Richmond via Weldon, transferring the base to the James River as soon as practicable. Also that an effective army in North Carolina should intercept
Topographical Map of Newberne N.C. as Fortified in 1864. Drawn by Solon M. Allis. 27th Mass.
and hold the lines of railroad, and by cutting off their supplies, oblige the insurgents to abandon Virginia. The Bermuda Hundreds movement of 1864, made under Gen'l Grant's approval, was little more than the accomplishing of Burnside's original plan, which had been disapproved of by Gen'l McClellan. It was intended that North Carolina should be the scene of aggressive operations, but, from lack of sufficient force, it became simply a line of menace and observation. Even “the march to the sea” by Gen'l Sherman, was only a grander conception than that of Gen'l Burnside, who desired such forces accumulated at Knoxville, Tenn., under Gen'l Buell, and at New Berne, N. C., under himself, as would enable them to march conjointly on Raleigh, and, by intercepting all sources of supply to the enemy, transfer the contest to North Carolina. There can be no doubt, however, that it was better that the rebel army should be held to Virginia for its final overthrow, than that, with contingent results, our army should be drawn further from its base of supplies.
The departure of so large a force from North Carolina, necessitated the contracting of our lines, and reorganization of our forces, in accomplishment of which, the troops were brigaded the 6th, as follows: —
First Brigade, First Division, Acting Brig. Gen'l H. C. Lee, commanding.
Twenty-Fifth Mass., Twenty-Seventh Mass., Twenty-Third Mass., and Tenth Conn. Regiments.
Second Brigade First Division, Acting Brig. Gen'l Thomas G. Stevenson, commanding.
Twenty-Fourth Mass., Seventeenth Mass., Fifth R. I., and Ninth N. J. Regiments.
This well-merited acknowledgment of Col. Lee's ability and worth, left the regiment again in command of Lieut. Col. Luke Lyman.
The enemy's force in North Carolina at this time, consisted of about fifteen thousand men under Gen'l Holmes; but learning of the withdrawal of a large force from New Berne, they despatched about twelve thousand men to reinforce Gen'l Lee. The enemy had still three thousand men in the vicinity of Kinston, to watch an equal Union force, occupying a line of over three hundred miles, from Beaufort via New Berne to Washington, Roanoke, and Plymouth.
The heat was intense, with frequent and terrific storms of lightning and wind. On the night of July 26th, one of the tents of Company A was struck by lightning, killing Joseph A. Birge of Northampton, and severely shocking Francis A. Willard and Leonard F. Dunn, of the same town, and William B. Watts of Worthington. All of these men had been on guard that night, and were lying with their guns beside them, and bayonets sheathed. The course of the electric current was marked on their persons by serpentine lines of red, and upon the guns and bayonets, by a furrow of molten steel, while the powder of all the cartridges within their cartridge-boxes was flashed. The only trace of lightning upon the cartridges, was a hole the size of a pin in the metallic case, and through which the powder had flashed. In all the tents near this one, the bayonets were fixed, and the muskets stacked around the centre-pole of the Sibley tent. Under supposed rules governing electric currents, it would seem any of these should have been more likely to suffer from lightning than the tent upon which it fell. The shock resulted in no permanent disability to Comrades Dunn, Willard and Watts, all of them serving out their full term of enlistment.
A reconnoissance was made by troops under Col. Lee to Trenton, the force consisting of the Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Seventh Mass., Belger's Battery, and Companies D, E, H and L, Third New York Cavalry. The column left New Berne at four P.M., July 25th, but before reaching
Deep Gully, large numbers, including Capt. Wilcox and Lieut. Bailey, succumbed to the extreme heat. The next morning, we moved cautiously forward, the enemy's videttes retreating till we came upon their picket line, four miles from Trenton. About two miles from Trenton, Major Lewis of the cavalry charged upon the enemy, driving them without loss across the Trent River, where they made a stand, and fired the bridge. Our infantry at once charged, driving the enemy from their position, and by hard work extinguished the fire. They had learned of our intended movement, and evacuated the place the previous day, so that the object of the expedition at this point was frustrated. Trenton would hardly be called a village, though it contains a court-house and jail, and boasts of being the county seat of Jones County. It was occupied by the enemy as a cavalry station, and was favorably located for incursions upon our lines, upon either side of the Trent.
After a stay of five hours, we marched towards Pollocksville, camping at night on the famous Bill McDonald place. As we were leaving these premises in the morning, some one fired their mill and buildings; nothing but the stern commands and interference of Col. Lee preventing the destruction of the principal buildings. At Pollocksville, we joined another column which had come up on the south of the Trent under Lieut. Col. J. F. Fellows of the Seventeenth Mass., and together we returned to New Berne the 27th inst., with a loss to the expedition of two killed, and two wounded and prisoners. The march of fifty-three miles in fifty hours, and in midsummer heat, was a severe tax on our endurance. If the expedition failed in its object at Trenton, it, however, demonstrated that the enemy had not sufficient troops in North Carolina to menace our position.
The Twenty-Third Mass., serving on “provost duty” in New Berne, had four of its men wounded by being fired upon by inmates of houses in the city. At half-past nine
P.M., the 25th of July, another, Michael Galvin, of that regiment, was seriously wounded in the groin. The house was immediately surrounded by two companies of the Twenty-Third, and six men and one woman made prisoners. At nine A.M. the 26th, the Twenty-Third Mass. surrounded the place, and, removing a part of the underpinning, attached ropes to the house, (a large, square, two-story building) and pulled it over upon its side, the whole collapsing in a mass of debris, and a cloud of dust, while their band struck up the inspiring tune, “Bully for you! Bully for you!!” Not a remnant of the house or fence was left standing, or a brick of the foundation in place. The regiment had evidently read Peter Henderson's “Gardening for Profit,” particularly on “cutting back;” for no sooner were the buildings demolished, than the spacious grounds were swept of vegetables, vines, shrubs and trees, and a more desperate pruning never was witnessed. There were no further attempts to shoot guards in New Berne.
Companies D and H of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regiment, left Camp Warner for outpost duty at Bachelor's Creek, the 21st inst. At one o'clock A.M., the 28th of July, they left the creek under command of Capt. C. D. Sandford, accompanied by a detachment of cavalry, to surprise the enemy's “cavalry outpost” at “Gum Swamp.” One of the enemy's videttes was discovered about daylight, who, failing to discharge his carbine, hastily retreated to warn his camp, followed by Capt. Sandford's force at doublequick. The vidette had barely time to give the alarm, before our men were upon them, delivering a volley into them as they retreated towards Kinston. This volley frightened the horses which were tethered near by, so that many broke loose and escaped. They secured twenty horses, with the entire camp equipage, stores and arms, beside nine prisoners who were run down in the open field by our men. Beside these, the enemy lost two killed and two wounded, while our companies escaped without a casualty.
August 17th, Capt. Sandford, with fifty men from Companies D and H, was scouting some miles beyond the creek, when he discovered a small body of the enemy approaching. Secreting himself and men in the woods, he discovered it to be a “flag of truce,” and advanced to meet it with five of his men. The colonel in charge of the flag remarked, “Captain, this is very unfortunate; were it not for this flag, I should have made a splendid capture this morning!” “Would you?” replied Capt. Sandford; “let's see! Forward, Twenty-Seventh!” when his force suddenly emerged from the brush, with loaded arms and fixed bayonets. “Ah!” responded the colonel, “beg your pardon; this alters the circumstances!” “Yes!” retorted Capt. S., with a suppressed laugh, “and circumstances alter cases!” With the flag of truce were Misses Adelaide and Adeline Wetherby of Westminster, Mass., Baskie Kenfield of Hyde Park, Vt. and Annie O. Wheeler of Poughkeepsie, N. Y. Their joy seemed unbounded when safely in our care, and their fervent love for the old flag was expressed with touching pathos and tears. They could not have fallen into the hands of a more perfect soldier or gentleman, and through his efforts they reached their homes in the North.
August 14th, an expedition left New Berne for Swansborough to destroy the salt works five miles from that place. They returned the 20th inst., with a loss of one wounded. There was only twenty-five bushels of salt in the works; but for this the proprietor begged piteously, claiming that he “only made a little for his own use.” (!) He must have been “an old salt.” War was war, however, and it was all confiscated, and the proprietor's works destroyed.
A misfortune befel us, in common with the entire army, August 30th, in the loss of our band, by an order of the War Department, which allowed but one band for a brigade, — regiments being confined to martial music. The morale of our band had been unexceptional from the outset, and the
absence of the familiar strains of “Lee's March,” “Kate Kearney,” and “Widow Machree,” revealed how much their service had relieved the tedium of camp. The regiment also lost a valuable and graphic war correspondent, in Edwin W. Foster, a member of the band. Many of these men afterward enlisted in other regiments, and served with credit to themselves and the State.
The intense heat — often at one hundred and ten degrees in the shade — was very debilitating, and sentry-boxes were constructed along the guard line, to screen the sentries from the burning sun. All unnecessary duty was suspended in the heat of the day, mornings and evenings witnessing great activity in the camps and city. With the utmost care, the regiment suffered severely from the heat. To the disabling loss thus sustained, must be added that from reckless expenditure for pedler and sutler supplies, the injurious effects of which on all regiments can hardly be overestimated. This assails the good judgment, rather than the character of the troops, and the kind rather than quality of goods obtained. Consumers of such supplies were sure to be candidates for the hospital, and for an early discharge or premature grave. It would be most unjust to charge all invalids with such improvidence, but it was an aggravating cause of many difficulties, as army surgeons will testify. It is safe to say no officer could exercise closer surveillance in diet and sanitary matters, or by example inculcate the principle of temperance in all things, more fully than our commanding officer, Lieut. Col. Lyman.
August witnessed the gigantic blunder of Gen'l Halleck, ordering Gen'l McClellan to withdraw from the Peninsula, which being discovered by the keen watchfulness of the Confederate Gen'l Lee, determined him to fall upon Gen'l Pope's column at Cedar Mountain, and defeat our armies in detail before concentration was possible. As early as the 9th, Jackson appeared before Gen'l Pope, but not until the
25th was the defeated Union column joined by the Army of the Potomac. It was the old and inevitable story, “detachments assailed by the enemy in force,” the coolness and dash of Gen'l Jackson serving him well in our extremity. That more disastrous consequences did not result, was due more to the invincible spirit of our subordinate officers and their men, than to the skill with which the troops were handled. There was no doubt that Gen'l Jackson was Gen'l Lee's right arm, and that his place was never filled after his death. We are confident, however, he had reached the meridian of his glory, and in future contests with our arms, Jackson's fame, with that of his “foot cavalry,” would have waned like that of the once famous Stuart, and Wade Hampton, with their cavalry. The crucible of war educated for the Union, a group of officers with prudence, forethought, skill, and bravery, which theory alone had failed to inculcate.
September 6th, a force of the enemy, consisting of eight companies of infantry, two of cavalry, and one of artillery, made a desperate attack upon Washington, N. C, then garrisoned by Companies A and B of the Twenty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, A and B of the First North Carolina Regiment, with one company of cavalry, and Capt. Wall's Battery of the Third New York Artillery. The enemy entered the town without opposition, across the “Grice place,” evidently led by some one understanding our position, and immediately surrounded the quarters of the Twenty-Fourth Mass., while another force seized three pieces of artillery upon the “Hospital Green.”* Companies A and B of the First North Carolina Regiment, bravely cut their way to the quarters of the Twenty-Fourth Mass. Fortunately, an expedition under Lieut. Col. Mix,[note]
consisting of four companies of the Third New York Cavalry, and four guns of Riggs’ Third New York Battery, had landed at Washington during the night, unknown to the enemy. With Rainbow Bluff as an objective point, it had left the town about five o'clock A.M., but had gone but a short distance, before it was recalled by the sound of the attack. At full speed they charged back to the town, and cut their way to the Union barracks. The fight was of the most sanguinary character, from house to house, and tree to tree, the cavalry charging and re-charging through the town; while citizens joined in the fray against the Union troops, from windows and secreted spots. For two hours the battle fiercely raged, the enemy yielding from house to house, until about seven A.M., when they hastily withdrew, leaving forty-eight killed and sixty wounded and prisoners. Our loss upon land was fifteen killed, and forty-seven wounded and prisoners.
The cause of the attack, beyond the seizing of stores and supplies, was to capture the two companies of native Union volunteers, — called by them “buffaloes,” — and by visiting condign punishment upon them, prevent further enlistments in our cause. One of these men being wounded, attempted to reach his home, and was overtaken by a rebel cavalryman at his gate. The wounded man's wife threw herself between her husband and his pursuer, when the latter laid her head open with his sabre, and shot the father and a three-year-old girl standing in the door. To add to the casualties, as the gunboat “Pickett” was clearing for action, one of the hands went into the magazine, and by some carelessness, exploded the same, killing Capt. Nichols and nineteen men, wounding six others, and annihilating the steamer.
On the 8th of September, two hundred recruits joined the regiment at New Berne, most of them brothers and friends of the original men; and these soon proved themselves veterans in endurance and courage. The next day, in the midst of a pouring rain, a heavy gale prostrated most of our
camp. This caused considerable discomfort to the men, but with that wonderful elasticity of temperament peculiar to soldiers, it was made an occasion of frolic and good humor. While this excitement was at its height, Companies A, C and I were ordered to Washington, N. C., and left at five P. M. on the steamer “Ocean Wave,” to relieve a detachment of the Twenty-Fourth Mass., at that place. The 14th, Companies B, D, E, F and G of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regiment, were ordered to Newport Barracks, an outpost on the railroad, central between New Berne and Beaufort. The entire regiment was now on outpost duty, our positions being separated, by the ordinary means of communication, by upwards of one hundred and fifty miles.
Why the Twenty-Seventh should be assigned so largely to this duty, finds no explanation, except in Gen'l Foster's absolute confidence in their vigilance and courage. Washington, N. C., was a most exposed position, considering the smallness of its garrison, and its menace to the enemy. New Berne could not be attacked on its front, without first assailing our detachment at Bachelor's Creek, while no rear or flank movement on that city, or attempt to interfere with its communication with Beaufort, could be made without assailing us at Newport Barracks.
The detachment at Washington was under command of Lieut. Col. Lyman, that at Newport Barracks under Maj. W. G. Bartholomew, while Companies H and K still remained at Bachelor's Creek under Capt. H. K. Cooley. The detachment at Newport Barracks was quartered in “rude huts” plastered with mud, one of which they set apart as a chapel, and equipped with platform, desk and seats. The position was surrounded with forests and marshes filled with stagnant water, and was therefore peculiarly unhealthy. Haverlock Station, also included in its lines, was in the midst of chaparral swamps, so enervating and poisonous as to break down the strongest constitution in a few days.
We append an abstract from a consolidated morning report, at which time D company had been there but one week.
Abstract of Consolidated Morning Report, Five Companies 27th Regiment Mussachusetts Volunteers.
|Saturday, Oct. 25, 1862.||PRESENT.|
|Station.||Commanding Officer.||For Duty.||Sick.||In Arrest.|
|Newport Barracks,||Maj. W. G. Bartholomew.||Field Officers.||Staff.||Co. Officers.||Enlisted men.||Officers.||Enlisted men.||Officers.||Enlisted men.||Aggregate.|
Picket duty, scouting and foraging, fully occupied the time, the latter usually so exciting and remunerative, as to compensate for the labor and risk. Here, for the first time, our men remained “on picket” twenty-four hours without relief, the ever-present gnats, fleas, and mosquitoes poignantly assisting them in their vigils, while the only comfort afforded was the philosophical one,
- “Fleas have other fleas to bite ’em,
- And these again have other ones,
- And so ad infinitum.”
The fleas at this place grew to a wonderful size, and were plentiful in the extreme. One man musing over his discomfort said, “They carry a biting apparatus equal to a two-inch auger, and are sure to reach hard-pan every time. If some
of those chaps boring for oil in Pennsylvania, would only import a few of these ‘well-sinkers,’ he would be sure to get the oil if there was any between him and China. I tell you, boys, for artesian work, fleas can't be beat!”
September 30th, Capt. Sandford again paid his respects to the enemy's outpost at Core Creek, capturing their camp equipage, with nine horses and twenty carbines; the enemy escaping through the failure of a detachment of the Third New York Cavalry to occupy the place assigned them.
October 7th, by the courtesy of Major Folsom, Paymaster U. S. A., the writer was invited to accompany him on a trip through the department, in connection with his official duties, which opportunity we improve to give a clearer idea of its configuration, forces and defences.
The line of occupation, as held by the Union arms, was nearly due north and south; Winton and Plymouth on the north, with Beaufort on the south, being a little east of the longitude of Washington, D. C., while Washington and New Berne were but a little west of the same. The country occupied was traversed by not less than seven navigable streams, some penetrating far into the interior of the State. Numerous smaller streams entered the sounds at frequent intervals, whilst Albermarle and Pamlico Sounds (when entered) would furnish a safe harbor for the navies of the world. The larger part of the country was densely wooded and marshy, with numerous lakes and bodies of stagnant waters. Wherever the land emerges from the swamp, the soil at once assumes a light, sandy character, with forests of pine, oak, black walnut and ash.
The marshes are fathomless swales, where vegetable mould has accumulated for ages, until sufficient consistency has formed to crowd the bilious waters into meandering streams and intersecting and dividing pools of stagnant water. Into the slimy depths of mire, huge cone-shaped roots from the cypress plunge for sustenance and support, while monster
trees rise, with distended, paunch-like trunks, towering aloft as if attempting to escape from their repulsive surroundings. Huge vines embrace their trunks like serpents, crossing from tree to tree, and mingling in interminable snarls, while the “sweet briar,” which forms the undergrowth, forbids admission to, or exit from these confines. The river-banks are low, disappearing almost imperceptibly at the water line. Wherever the shores assume solidity, scattering fishermen's homes cling close to the river, the scant clearing around them showing they calculate little on the soil for sustenance. The lack of boldness and variety is painfully apparent in all the scenery adjacent to the coast and the water-courses of North Carolina.
Our sail down the Neuse and out on the restless Pamlico, under a full orbed moon, that October evening, furnished inspiration to extend the stories of camp and field till nearly midnight.
The next morning we landed at Washington, one hundred twenty-five miles from New Berne. The town is built on the northerly bank of the Pamlico River, and, excepting the Grice Mansion, presents few attractions or evidences of thrift. It is the shire-town of Beaufort County, was a slave-mart before the war, with a considerable trade in naval stores, and boasted of a church, an academy, a bank and a weekly newspaper. Appearances indicated a low ebb of social life and intelligence, whilst the decayed wharves, rickety buildings, and unkempt surroundings, attested the indolence of their owners and the lack of ordinary comforts. Few remained except the women, and these were sullen and bitterly hostile. During the later occupancy of this place, the Grice mansion, with its serpentine, arbored walks, flowers and evergreens, was appropriated for hospital purposes, because of the covert disloyalty of its owner.
The place was now garrisoned by Companies A, C and I, of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regiment, two companies of
the First North Carolina Union Volunteers, and one company each of the Third New York Artillery and Third New York Cavalry, all under command of Lieut. Col. Lyman, with Capt. William H. Walker of Company C, Twenty-Seventh Regiment, as Provost Marshal. This force was supplemented by three United States naval vessels, under command of Lieut. Commander R. D. Renshaw. The defences consisted of a line of fortifications encircling the town half a mile from its suburbs, with block-houses on the river, above and below the town, and on the roads entering the place. Fort Washington, at the centre of the line of works, and rear of the town, guarded the approaches not enfiladed by the navy. These defences, and the naval vessels, mounted twenty-seven guns, from a six-pound Wiard to a hundred-pound Parrott. Opposite the town, a bridge of some fifteen hundred feet spanned the river, affording direct land communications with New Berne, forty miles distant.
After enjoying the hospitalities of the three companies from the Twenty-Seventh for a day, and gladdening them with the regulation supply of greenbacks, we again turned our prow toward the sound. Dark threatening clouds mantled the sky, from which came livid flashes of lightning, which rendered the darkness more impressive. The wake of the vessel was a train of expanding phosphorescent light, sparkling brightly under the steamer's wheels, but fading as it receded until lost in the distance. At length the storm broke with a deluge of rain, which quelled the surging waves to a long, smooth swell, through which we sped our way to Plymouth. Taking the southern channel of the Roanoke, we passed a country loyal to the most dismal description given of North Carolina.
Plymouth is situated upon the southerly side of the Roanoke, about nine miles from its mouth, and a mile below the head of the islands, which here divide the river into three channels. Although only thirty-six miles from Washington,
and seventy-six from New Berne by land, yet the distance by steamer was two hundred miles from either place. The town is surrounded by death-breeding miasmatic swamps, and the sallow fever-and-ague tint was equally observable on citizens and soldiers. It was garrisoned by one company each of the Ninth New York and First North Carolina Union Volunteers, with a detachment of the Third New York Cavalry. Its defences consisted of a line of fortifications encircling the town from river to river, with several contiguous outlying forts, built under the personal supervision of Capt. Farquhar of the Engineer Corps. With the naval force which covered the town and guarded the river approaches, it was considered invulnerable to any attack likely to be made against it. At this time the town contained quite a number of ornamental residences and business marts, but later was nearly destroyed by the enemy.
While here, Capt. Calhoun of the steamer “Hunchback,” furnished the author the following account of an engagement up the Chowan River. An aid of Gen'l Dix at Fortress Monroe, communicated with our naval authorities, desiring the fleet to co-operate with them in an attack on the enemy along the Blackwater River. The “Commodore Perry,” Commander Flusser, and the “Hunchback,” Capt. Calhoun, were assigned the duty, and six A. M., September 27th, was fixed for the attack. This date proved too early for Gen'l Dix, but before his aid returned, the above-named vessels were anchored at Winton, a few miles below the scene of the morrow's conflict.
At six o'clock, the 6th, the vessels were promptly at the place assigned, fired the signal gun for action, and at the same time commenced cautiously ascending the Blackwater River, which was so narrow that a desperate foe might board them from either bank. Suddenly, a musketry fire raked the vessels from stem to stern, cutting down the “Perry's” flag. Everything was ready for close action, and for
four hours they kept up the unequal contest, with grape, shrapnel and half-second shell, hoping each moment to hear the sound of friendly arms to their relief. Twice during the engagement, Commander Flusser sent forward a man to raise the stars and stripes, each of whom fell lifeless at the foot of the flag-staff. Seeing this, Flusser rushed to the spot, raised his colors midst a storm of bullets, and returned unharmed, though his clothing was riddled by shot. He then went to a gunner, saying, “I'll show you how to cut a fuse,” stooping at the same time and cutting it close, when a ball passed over him, piercing the heart of his gunner, who fell upon him. Their ammunition being nearly exhausted, and failing to hear from Gen'l Dix, they reversed their engines to drop down the river. Fortunately the two vessels were armed ferry-boats, and could move with facility in either direction, as it was impossible for them to turn.
A new difficulty now beset them. During the engagement, a detachment of the enemy had felled trees from both banks into the river below, completely obstructing return. With a resource never failing them in an emergency, they fastened the two steamers stern to stern, and with a full head of steam ploughed their way through the obstructions. Their huge guns thundered forth storms of iron hail, with awful concussion, and terrible havoc, as they ran the gauntlet of the blockade. It was gallantly done; the enemy giving up the contest, if the vessels would only retire from their front. Capt. Calhoun modestly refused to speak of his deeds, which others averred were no less daring than those of Capt. Flusser, there being not less than one thousand scars from musket-balls upon his boat. It is needless to say to the Twenty-Seventh, that when he got at work, something got a “terrible Hunchback.” It is worthy of record of these commanders, that an order to rendezvous at, or attack a place, was construed to mean just what it said, and executed accordingly; and no disaster or disappointment befell
from dereliction of duty on their part. The results of battle in a majority of cases, turn on the simple matter of punctuality and literal obedience to orders; a lesson not laid to heart, until tens of thousands of our rank and file had shed their blood to compensate for the jealousy, tardiness, or duplicity of some “general officer.” It was a tower of strength to any threatened position to say, that the “Commodore Perry” or “Hunchback” was there; and, after this encounter, the enemy gave them a wide berth.
At noon of the 11th, we left for Wingfield, forty-five miles up the Chowan; and the most northerly point occupied by us in the State. The Chowan River, like the Neuse and Pamlico, is really, for many miles, a broad estuary from the sound, but unlike them, abounds in undulating shores with commanding bluffs, and compares more favorably with our northern rivers, for variety and beauty of scenery. The headquarters of the post was at the house of Dr. Dillards, whose discretion had led him to seek the company of more congenial spirits. The defences at this point were a block-house and a line of rifle-pits. As a last resort, in case of an overpowering attack, they could retreat to the river under cover of the Union fleet. The position was valuable only as a point of observation, and was garrisoned by a company of the First North Carolina, recruited in that vicinity by Lieut. James J. McLane, a former member of the Twenty-Fifth Mass. The men enlisted under condition that they should be allowed to guard their homes, and more valuable service than these loyal sons of North Carolina gave, could not be rendered. The government would gladly have removed them to a less exposed position, but they insisted that with their knowledge of the country, and their love for home and friends, they could render their most effective service here. We cannot lose the opportunity of recording our appreciation of the loyal sons of the Old North State, who, in every engagement, fought with a bravery born of
desperation, knowing the fate awaiting them if they fell into traitor hands.
On leaving Wingfield we visited the beautiful town of Edenton, so like many of our New England villages. This town, under the wise administration of Mayor James Norcum, a staunch Union man, was, as by mutual consent, neutral ground. The almost constant presence of our navy in the bay rendered the place untenable for the enemy. Our party went ashore unarmed, but, being advised by the mayor of a body of guerrillas lingering near the town, considered discretion the better part of valor, and withdrew to our steamer.
The next morning we arrived at Shiloh, a post on the Pasquetank River, garrisoned by another company of the First North Carolina Union Volunteers. The water at the landing being shallow, a negro with a mule and cart drove out some two hundred feet, and backed his cart to the steamer, leaving only the side raves above water. Some pieces of board were laid across the top, when the negro with a grim smile called out, “All aboard for de shoa!” We were not unexpected or unwelcome guests, for the right number of horses awaited to carry us to the camp, some three miles distant. Here we found a fine, intelligent body of men, with a discipline and a perfection of accoutrements rarely excelled. The camp was well situated, with high and dry surroundings, but like Wingfield, was valuable only as a point of observation. The next day we returned to Roanoke Island, — of which a description has already been given, — where we revisited the battle-field and the graves of our fallen comrades, reaching New Berne the afternoon of the 14th.
CHAPTER VI. TARBORO EXPEDITION.
Under the exigencies of service, the government had called for seventy-five thousand nine months’ troops; deciding to throw such a force into the Southern departments, as to insure them against successful assault during the truce of winter in Virginia, and if possible, to enable them to assume the offensive. Accordingly the following regiments were assigned to North Carolina, arriving as stated below.
Third Mass., Col. Silas G. Richmond, one thousand and twenty-four men, arrived October 27th.
Fifth Mass., Col. George H. Pierson, nine hundred and eighty-four men, arrived October 27th.
Eighth Mass., Col. Frederick J. Coffin, nine hundred and eighty-four men, arrived November 30th.
Forty-Third Mass., Col. Charles S. Holbrook, one thousand and seventy-six men, arrived November 15th.
Forty-Fourth Mass., Col. Francis L. Lee, one thousand and forty-seven men, arrived October 26th.
Forty-Fifth Mass., Col. Charles R. Codman, one thousand and twenty-five men, arrived November 15th.
Forty-Sixth Mass., Col. George Bowler, nine hundred and eighty men, arrived November 15th.
Fifty-First Mass., Col. A. B. R. Sprague, nine hundred and seventy-three men, arrived November 30th.
Total, eight thousand and ninety-three men.
By thoughtless remarks, a temporary spleen was engendered between some of the veteran and new regiments, but in active service this for the most part disappeared.
The Forty-Sixth Massachusetts Regiment and Company H, Capt. George R. Davis, of the Eighth Massachusetts Regiment, were kith and kin of the Twenty-Seventh, and were recruited from their homes. From the outset, the most amicable feeling existed toward these men, and, if “the Forty-Sixth felt inspired with the confidence and invincible spirit of veterans when standing shoulder to shoulder with us,” we also felt that the same blood coursed in their veins, and they could be relied upon for any duty assigned them. Among their rank and file, as well as officers, were men who stood high in civil life, morally, socially and politically; men who had been not only counsellors and executors of the law, but lawgivers; business men, under whose prudent care, vast enterprises had sprung up, giving prosperity to entire communities, and furnishing sustenance to those whom war had bereft of the strong arm of support. Soon after their arrival, Col. Bowler was obliged to return home, and was succeeded by Col. William S. Shurtleff, a gentleman of finished attainments, reliable and efficient as an officer; and of personal magnetism and fearlessness. He has long served the county of Hampden as its judge of probate, ably seconded by Samuel B. Spooner, his former major, as register.
The Third Regiment was raised in Plymouth County, the Fifth and Eighth in Essex County, the Forty-Third, Forty-Fourth and Forty-Fifth in the vicinity of Boston; while the Fifty-First was a Worcester regiment, and held the same relation to the Twenty-Fifth Mass. as the Forty-Sixth to the Twenty-Seventh.
During the evening of October 29th, Major Bartholomew, at Newport Barracks, had orders to be ready to move with his detachment, in three hours, or upon the return of the train from Beaufort. It was two o'clock the morning of the 30th, however, before the train arrived, and three o'clock when we reached New Berne. Here we remained until eight, A.M.,
when we boarded the steamer “Pawtuxent,” and arrived at Washington, N. C., the 31st inst. We were accompanied by other vessels, with the Fifth, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Mass., Fifth R. I., Tenth Conn., and Ninth New Jersey Regiments. On the afternoon of October 30th, Col. T. J. C. Amory, with the Seventeenth and Forty-Fourth Mass., Third N. Y. Artillery, and Third N. Y. Cavalry, left New Berne by the overland route, expecting to reach Washington by the night of the 31st. They reached Swift Creek at sundown, the 30th, and found the enemy had destroyed the bridge, but made no effort to repair the same until the following day. On this account, he failed to reach Washington until dark, November 1st, a full day behind time.
During the delay, Capt. James M. Pendleton, an aid to Gen'l Foster, in hurrying to deliver an order, jumped on a strange, high-spirited horse, and dashed down the street. On the way, the animal shied and threw him against a tree, breaking three ribs, one of which pierced his lungs, and, with other severe injuries, resulted in death. Thus suddenly was removed a man of more than usual promise, who had volunteered his services, paid his own expenses, and lived the rough life of a soldier, without other remuneration than the consciousness of his country's approval. He distinguished himself at Roanoke Island and New Berne, receiving complimentary notice therefor, and was always ready where duty called, whether on the march or the field of battle. He was about thirty years of age, and a native of New York City, whither his remains were forwarded.
The troops present were temporarily brigaded as follows: —
First Brigade, Col. T. J. C. Amory commanding: Twenty-Third Mass., five companies; Seventeenth Mass., six companies; Twenty-Fifth Mass., five companies; two sections Third N. Y. Artillery, four guns.
Second Brigade, Col. Thomas G. Stevenson, commanding: Twenty-Fourth Mass., five companies; Forty-Fourth Mass., ten companies; Fifth Rhode Island, five companies; Tenth Conn., eight companies; Belger's Battery, six guns.
Third Brigade, Col. H. C. Lee, commanding: Twenty-Seventh Mass., six companies; Ninth New Jersey, six companies; and Fifth Mass., ten companies; with Batteries B, H and K, Third N. Y. Artillery, sixteen guns; the whole force aggregating some five thousand men, and twenty-eight pieces of artillery.
The other companies of these regiments remained as camp guards or upon outpost duty.
The column moved the morning of November 2d, Stevenson's Brigade in advance, capturing some of the enemy's pickets at six miles, and their camp at nine miles, the latter having been deserted on our approach. The country was level, with light, sandy soil, and an almost unbroken forest of pine. At four P M. our advance came upon the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina Regiment, with a section of Moore's Battery, strongly posted at Old Ford, four miles from Williamston. The Twenty-Fourth and Forty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiments, with Belger's Battery, engaged them, charging across the creek and swamp, the enemy retreating precipitately to Rhall's Mills, from which position they were driven by the same force. Our loss in these two engagements was three killed and thirteen wounded; that of the enemy, ten killed and twenty-nine wounded. The movement was continued until two o'clock A M., the morning of the 3d, when we bivouacked in a cornfield in the midst of a heavy rain.
At eight o'clock the 3d, the march was resumed, the Twenty-Seventh Mass. in advance, supported by Lee's Brigade, the expectation being that the enemy would contest the occupation of Williamston. We found the place deserted by both troops and citizens, however, and the gunboats “Hetzel,” “Hunchback,” “Commodore Perry,” “Seymour,”
and “Valley City,” lying opposite the town. It would not do to attempt a description of the carnival of five thousand hungry men in a deserted town. Groceries, dry goods and “wet goods,” too, were at a large discount, and bolted doors as useless as curtains of gauze to keep out intruders. Coerceive excess was unknown, guards being placed over all tenanted premises; but deserted supplies were legitimate trophies of war. At three P.M. we moved about five miles, and encamped for the night in a cornfield. The morning of the 4th we advanced on Rainbow Bluff. Here the enemy had a fort pierced for five guns, with a line of breastwork extending half a mile into the woods, across the Hamilton Road. The works were evacuated upon our approach, and when our fleet came in sight, they found them fully manned, with the “flag of our Union” over them, and a garrison which welcomed them with deafening cheers. Rainbow Bluff was upon the southerly bank of the Roanoke River, fifty feet high, and was a point from which the enemy had several times repelled the attacks or further advance of our gunboats. Hamilton was deserted on our arrival, the roads being strewed with furniture and apparel dropped in the hasty stampede of the owners. The army bivouacked that night upon a large plantation three miles beyond Hamilton, finding a large supply of poultry, pork, corn and sweet potatoes. The whole encampment could be seen at a glance, and, with its hundreds of bivouac fires, was brilliantly grand.
Our movements thus far indicated Weldon as our objective point, towards which the enemy were hastening all their available forces; but on the morning of the 5th, we turned sharply to the south, finding no enemy until within seven miles of Tarboro. Leaving a brigade to occupy their attention, the main body made a considerable detour to within four miles of Tarboro, with a view of intercepting and capturing three regiments known to have had an
encampment near. The enemy's indisposition either to be amused, or fight, led them to fall back upon the town, and thus that which proved to be the real object of the expedition, failed of accomplishment. Throughout the night the moving of trains at Tarboro was heard, which our scouts, as well as prisoners captured during the night, reported to be the arrival of reinforcements to the enemy.
In view of the failure of the original plan of the expedition, Gen'l Foster deemed it wise to convene a “council of war” of his field officers, to consider the advisability of a further advance. At this council, the lateness of the season, and a threatening storm, with Coneeto Swamp in our rear, and evidence of a considerable reinforcement to the enemy, led the council, with but three dissenting voices, to vote to return, and it was so ordered. The reported reinforcements proved to be a myth, and the sound of the moving trains was but the noise of their hasty evacuation, as was proved by later scouts, and by the picking up on the road of the Tarboro post-office stamp. On the morning of the 6th, we retraced our course to Hamilton, through a rain which rendered the roads inconceivable to those unacquainted with the wretchedness of Southern thoroughfares in rainy weather. Much of the way, the road was a deep mortar-bed, of perfect boot-jack adhesiveness, through which horses and artillery ploughed and floundered, while drivers and dragoons cursed and lashed the helpless animals wallowing beneath them. “I say, Jack,” said one of Howard's Marine Artillery, “this is sort a retreat, ain't it?” “H—l! no,” was the reply, “this is a stragetic movement!”
After a night's rest, with an abundance of supplies furnished by foragers, we resumed our march in the midst of a storm of snow and sleet, which lasted the entire day. We arrived at Williamston late in the evening, and found comfortable quarters within its deserted houses. The storm continued during the 8th, and the jaded troops were allowed
to remain in shelter, while the sick and maimed were placed upon the gunboats. During the day our troops cut down the public “whipping-post,” and burned the jail. Previous to our approach, this jail had contained thirty Union men, who were manacled and tied to the baggage wagons of the retreating rebels. The darkies clustered around the burning building in an exuberance of joy, one exclaiming, “Bress de Lord! dis yere chile's prayer am herd! Bress de Lord for de Yankees an Massa Linkum!” It had been a “black hole of Calcutta,” a modern inquisition to those now rejoicing over its destruction.
On the morning of the 9th, as the troops were awaiting orders to move, Chaplain Woodworth rode along the line, saying, “Boys, this is the Sabbath, and as we cannot have other religious exercises, can't we all join in the Doxology!” Comrade Oliver A. Clark of Company A, to whom music and the sentiment were both inspiring, led off in a clear, strong voice. Like electricity it sped from line to line, and the rising sun witnessed five thousand warriors with uncovered heads, singing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” We marched to within four miles of Plymouth, during the day, and arrived at that place about noon the 10th. Here, the troops were embarked for New Berne, the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. remaining as guard over the artillery and baggage, until it could be removed.
The total loss of the expedition was three killed and thirteen wounded, the only engagement being at Rhall's Mills. In the absence of the usual order to place this engagement on our flags, the Forty-Fourth Mass. inscribed it on their pipes. The result of the expedition was the capture of two hundred horses and mules, a month's supplies for our forces, and the development of a considerable Union sentiment in that section of the State.
Brig. Gen'l Martin, in command of the Confederates at Kinston, supposing the baggage and artillery train would
retrace its course via land to New Berne, despatched a force to capture it. Upon the 12th, he also made a demonstration against our outposts at the Red House, and at the Harrison House near New Berne; and about nine P. M. had forced the pickets back to the fortifications. At midnight, the Thirty-First North Carolina Regiment appeared before Bachelor's Creek, with a view of capturing Companies H and K of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Reg't, which still held its position. Capt. Cooley opened fire upon them from the block-house, while Corp. Innman of Company K (an old artilleryman) secured a pair of cart-wheels, and by the aid of a few comrades, rushed them around, hurridly giving the various orders incident to the arrival and limbering for action of artillery. Whatever the effect of this ruse, the enemy suddenly withdrew for reinforcements. Before these could arrive, the enemy obtained information that the fleet from Plymouth was landing at New Berne, and beat a hasty retreat. Capts. Cooley and Sandford were highly complimented for their courage and efficiency in holding the position during the night. Gen'l Martin's force at Swift Creek, was equally disappointed, for the prize they coveted was safely at Plymouth, in the keeping of Major Bartholomew and the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt.
November 22d, Assistant Surgeon Franklin L. Hunt, with Mr. Tanner, our sutler's clerk, and a cavalry vidette, were riding on the Jamesville road, two miles from Washington, when Mr. Tanner heard a noise like the click of a gunlock, and wheeled his horse without warning his companions. In doing this he received a charge of buckshot, riddling his clothes and badly lacerating his horse, but was able to make good his escape. Surgeon Hunt and the vidette, who were slightly in advance, received the fire without warning, the former falling forward in his saddle, mortally wounded. His body fell to the ground as his horse wheeled to follow the vidette, who, though seriously wounded, galloped
back to town. A squad of cavalry was at once despatched, and recovered the body of Surgeon Hunt, though it was stripped of uniform, arms, and valuables. A post-mortem examination revealed the fact that his left thigh was badly shattered, and that sufficiently to have caused death, though nine other wounds were found on his person. The assassins were doubtless Walker's cavalry guerrillas, who had been frequenting the vicinity of Washington, N. C., for some months. The body was embalmed and forwarded to New Berne. It was awaiting transportation home, when his brother arrived as captain of Company I, Fifty-First Mass., and met a greeting from the icy hand of death, instead of the warm welcome he expected. Funeral obsequies were held at New Berne, December 7th, on the return of the regiment from Plymouth. Dr. Otis said of Surgeon Hunt: “He was a faithful and excellent physician, popular with the soldiers, and much respected and trusted by myself.” “Cyrus” of the “Hampshire Gazette” wrote, “It is sufficiently expressive of our estimation of him to say his memoir is written on a thousand hearts.” He was, at the time of his death, post surgeon of Washington, N. C., and though but three months with the regiment, he had secured its confidence. His love and enthusiasm for his profession had carried him through a season of unusual tax upon skill and endurance. He left a wife and two children at West Boylston, Mass.
November 24th, Lieut. Cushing, with the gunboat “Ellis,” steamed twenty-two miles up New Creek to Onslow, and securing all the stores possible, started back the following morning. Eight miles below, a masked battery opened upon him, which was silenced, as also several others en route, during the day. On reaching the mouth of the creek, they found it obstructed by sunken flats, with a battery of four guns covering them. They engaged this battery for twenty-four hours, when, finding themselves
aground, they blew up the “Ellis,” and started homeward in small boats. They reached Beaufort the 28th, with three schooners captured in Bogue Sound, one of which was loaded with cotton and naval stores.
The six companies remaining at Plymouth under Major Bartholomew were several times called to arms by attacks on the picket line. Learning the whereabouts of a portion of Walker's cavalry, Lieut Pliny Wood of Company F, received permission of Major Bartholomew to attempt its capture. With a detachment of three non-commissioned officers and twenty privates of the various companies, and a negro guide, he left Plymouth at night for “up country.” In spite of darkness, rain and snags, they toiled up the river through branches and creeks till three o'clock the morning of the 21st, a distance of twenty-five miles. After landing and finding the coast clear, they marched four and a half miles through woods and swamps to the main road to Williamston, a mile above, and in the rear of Shiloah Church where the cavalry were quartered. Finding the enemy quiet, Lieut. Wood divided his force into three squads; each under command of a non-commissioned officer, with explicit instructions.
It was now gray dawn, and, advancing by the double-quick, they divided so as to command the three doors, and when within a few rods (though undiscernible from the church), Lieut. Wood shouted, “First Division, Halt! Front! Ready!” which was responded to by the second and third divisions on different sides of the church, “Halt! Front! Ready!” The confused rebels, before they had time to collect their senses, found the lieutenant at the door, demanding immediate and unconditional surrender. The rebel sergeant, in obedience to the demand, marched out with sixteen men, and while some of our boys secured their arms and equipments, others seized their horses picketed near by. At length the rebel sergeant asked, “Where in h—l are you
uns men?” and when told to “see them,” angrily exclaimed, “Is that all? If we had known that, we would have given you uns a merry fight, by —— ! You uns did that right pert, but you aint got the pickets yet!” The countersign was extorted from a prisoner, and Sergt. ——, with Privates Hooper of A, and Madison of F, were detailed to relieve the pickets. This duty was successfully accomplished with four additional prisoners, and their horses. The party arrived at Plymouth about noon, with twenty prisoners, their arms and equipments, twenty-five horses, twelve mules, and forty contrabands; all without the firing of a gun. The regiment captured thirty-five other prisoners while upon scouts in the vicinity of Plymouth.
December 2d, orders were received for the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. to return to New Berne, where we arrived the 3d, having been away thirty-five days without overcoats, blankets or change of clothing. We had been absent from Plymouth just a week, when the garrison at that place was surprised at early morning, and driven to the cover of the gunboats. The enemy were in possession of the town nearly an hour, during which time they burned the larger part of the place, and, after having robbed her of several thousand dollars, murdered Mrs. John Phelps, an esteemed and defenceless Union woman.
CHAPTER VII. KINSTON, WHITEHALL AND GOLDSBORO.
The assigning of Gen'l Burnside to the command of the Army of the Potomac, upon the relief of Gen'l McClellan in November, awoke the Department of North Carolina to eager expectation, as the close relationship between the departments, and the value of our position as a menace to the enemy, led us to believe that any important movement by Gen'l Burnside would involve essential co-operation by us. In this we were correct; for the plan of assault upon Fredericksburg, December 13th, included a simultaneous attack by Gen'l Peck, upon Weldon, N. C., and also of Gen'l Foster upon Goldsboro; both being important positions on the enemy's seaboard line of communication, and favorable diversions for the more important movement on the Rappahannock. To guard against unfavorable contingencies, Wessel's Brigade at Suffolk, Va., was ordered to rendezvous upon the Chowan, and transportation was furnished them to New Berne, where they arrived December 9th. This brigade consisted of the Eighty-Fifth, Ninety-Second and Ninety-Sixth New York Regiments, Eighty-Fifth, One Hundred and First, and One Hundred and Third Pennsylvania Regiments, with an aggregate strength of twenty-one hundred men; and increased that of the department to about sixteen thousand infantry, beside cavalry and artillery. Detachments of the Third, Forty-Fifth and Forty-Sixth Massachusetts Regiments were despatched to the various posts and picket stations to relieve the veteran troops, and
the Eighth Massachusetts placed in charge of New Berne and its fortifications; leaving an offensive force of twelve thousand men and forty-six pieces of artillery for the duty assigned.
The army as now constituted, consisted of
Lee's Brigade. — Third, Fifth, Twenty-Fifth, Twenty-Seventh and Forty-Sixth Mass. Regiments.
Stevenson's Brigade. — Eighth, Twenty-Fourth, Forty-Fourth Mass., Fifth R. I., and Tenth Conn. Regiments.
Amory's Brigade. — Seventeenth, Twenty-Third, Forty-Third, Forty-Fifth and Fifty-First Mass. Regiments.
Wessell's Brigade. — Eighty-Fifth, Ninety-Second, Ninety-Sixth N. Y., Eighty-Fifth, One Hundred and First, One Hundred and Third Penn. Regiments.
Artillery Brigade, Maj. Kennedy. — First R. I. Battery, F, Capt. James Belger, four ten-pound Parrotts, and two howitzers.
Battery B, Capt. Morrison, six twelve-pound Napoleons; Battery E, Lieut. G. E. Ashby, two thirty-two-pound howitzers, two twenty-pound Parrotts; Battery F, Capt. Jenny, six ten-pound Wiards, rifled; Battery H, Capt. Riggs, six twelve-pound Napoleons; Battery K, Capt. Angel, six three-inch Rodmans, iron; and Battery I, Lieut. G. W. Thomas, four twenty-four-pound Parrotts; all of the Third N. Y. Artillery. One section Twenty-Third N. Y. Battery, Capt. Jay E. Lee, two twenty-four-pound Parrotts. One section Twenty-Fourth N. Y. Battery, Capt. Alfred Ransom, two twelve-pound Wiards, rifled. Battery C, First U. S. Artillery, four twenty-pound Parrotts.
The Ninth New Jersey and Third New York Cavalry regiments were an independent column to act as the advance. Three hundred negroes from the contraband camp at New Berne, joined the expedition as pioneers under the direction of Henry W. Wilson, a master carpenter.
At early morn, December 11th, in the midst of a fog so dense as to obscure objects ten feet distant, Gen'l Wessell's Brigade advanced by the “Trent road,” followed in order
by Stevenson's, Amory's, and Lee's Brigades. At a distance of fourteen miles, the roads were found so obstructed by felled trees that the force bivouacked for the night, while the pioneers cleared the obstructions. The next morning, with the Ninth New Jersey as skirmishers, the column advanced to Vine Swamp Road, where Capt. Hall, with three companies of cavalry, was ordered to advance up the direct road to Kinston; while the main body went up the Vine “Swamp Road,” flanking the enemy's works and obstructions. Capt. Hall, after a sharp skirmish, and the loss of two killed, drove the enemy from their position, capturing eighteen prisoners. The main column was delayed at “Beaver Creek,” to replace the bridge, which, when completed, the Fifty-First Mass. and the Twenty-Third N. Y. Battery were left to protect, as well as to hold the cross-road, and support Capt. Hall if necessary. The Twenty-Seventh Mass. bivouacked late at night in a cornfield eleven miles from Kinston, and, with the main body, soon made fuel of every length of fence in the surrounding fields. By some oversight, Quartermaster Tyler failed to provide the usual rations of meat, and hard-tack with tea proved hardly sufficient to satisfy the cravings of soldiers in active service. It goes for saying it, every deficiency was fully made up by our foragers.
On the morning of the 13th we again left the main road to the right, leaving the Forty-Sixth Mass., with one section of the Twenty-Fourth N. Y. Battery, to hold the position, and make a feint upon the direct road. About nine o'clock, Capt Cole's company of cavalry came upon the enemy at Southwest Creek, protected by earthworks and four guns. Finding it impossible to reach their position, the bridge being partly destroyed, Morrison's Battery was brought into position under cover of which the Ninth New Jersey crossed the creek and ravine above, and the Eighty-Fifth Penn., about half a mile below the bridge, supported by the Twenty-Third Mass., when the Ninth charged the enemy's position,
capturing a six-pound gun and caisson, with twenty-prisoners. After rebuilding the bridge, the column advanced by two roads upon Kinston. Major Gerrard, with three companies of cavalry and a section of artillery, made a reconnoissance ten miles upon the Whitehall road, but finding no enemy, rejoined the main column, then in bivouac four miles from Kinston. As a matter of precaution, lights or fires were not permitted, but the pine woods in a measure, protected the Twenty-Seventh from the inclemency of the night.
It was of this action, the Confederate commander sent the following despatch, which, contrasted with the facts narrated, is very suggestive.
Kinston, N. C., Dec. 14, 1862.
To Gen'l Cooper, Adjt. Gen'l, etc., Richmond, Va.
Gen'l Foster attacked Kinston, N. C., yesterday, with fifteen thousand men and nine gunboats. I fought them ten hours, and have driven them back to their gunboats. His army is still in my front.
N. G. Evans, Maj. Gen'l Com'g.
Sunday, the 14th, we advanced within a mile of Kinston, where the enemy were found strongly posted; secured on the right by a deep swamp, and their left by the river. The Ninth New Jersey, with Wessell's Brigade, attacked them, Batteries B, F and I, Third N. Y. Artillery, and Belger's Battery, being placed advantageously on the right of the road half a mile to the rear, supported by Lee's Brigade at double column of half distance. A fierce artillery fire was waged until one o'clock, under which a portion of Stevenson's and Amory's Brigades, with Belger's Battery were advanced, when the Tenth Connecticut, Lieut. Col. Leggit, gallantly charged across the swamp under a murderous fire and forced the enemy to a precipitate retreat. Col. Mullet of the Sixty-Eighth North Carolina Regiment with his entire battalion, was captured by the Tenth Conn. near
the bridge, with four pieces of artillery and five hundred stand of arms. The enemy retreated across the Neuse, and fired the bridge previously made ready for destruction, in saving which Col. Grey, of the Ninety-Sixth New York, was instantly killed by the discharge of a musket in the fire. A slight but ineffectual resistance was made by the enemy at the bridge, but Stevenson's, Wessell's and Amory's troops were crossed over to the town, and our artillery supported by Lee's Brigade brought into position. Batteries E and I, Third New York, with their Parrott guns, were ordered to open upon Gen'l Evans, who had taken a new position at Washington Hill, two miles above Kinston, but before our troops could be brought forward, he beat a hasty retreat. Capt. Cole, Company K, Third Cavalry, and a section of Battery F, Third Artillery, later in the day went down to the blockade, capturing a battery of seven guns, two of which were those captured from Washington, N. C., September 6th.
The Twenty-Seventh Mass. bivouacked just on the outskirts of Kinston, and it would be claiming too much to say that hens, turkeys, geese, bristled grunters, and sweet potatoes, not to mention quantities of apple-jack, and delicious scuppernong wine, did not furnish a temptation before which all scruples failed. Our losses for the day had been thirty-eight killed and one hundred and eighty-five wounded, of which number nearly one-half were from our brave comrades of the Tenth Conn. The loss of the enemy was two hundred killed and wounded, four hundred prisoners, five hundred stand of arms, and eleven cannon, besides ammunition, equipments and stores. The morning of the 15th, while Major Fitzsimmons, with three companies of the Third Cavalry, were making a feint above Kinston, the troops were withdrawn to the south of the Neuse, and upon the return of the cavalry, the place was evacuated, and its stores and the Neuse bridge destroyed. We advanced seventeen
miles without opposition during the day, and bivouacked. Major Gerrard, with a battalion of cavalry and a section of Jenny's Battery, reconnoitered four miles beyond to Whitehall; a rebel regiment and battery statoned there, retreating across and firing the bridge. Discovering an ironclad under construction upon the opposite bank of the Neuse, Major Gerrard called for volunteers to attempt its destruction, which was responded to by Henry Butler of Company C, Third N. Y. Cavalry, stripping and swimming the river. While attempting to secure a fire-brand at the burning bridge, he was discovered and chased by two of the enemy, but in spite of their fusilade upon him in the water, succeeded in reaching his company unharmed. (The rebel Gen'l Robertson notices this in his official report.) Our battery now opened upon the ram and battered it in pieces, when the battalion rejoined the main column.
December 16th, Major Gerrard, with three companies of the Third N. Y. Cavalry, and a section of Ransom's Battery, made a raid on the Mount Olive Station and Goshen Swamp trestle upon the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad; destroying several miles of track and trestle; burning the ties; twisting the rails and destroying the telegraph. Advancing to Whitehall, the main column found the Eleventh, Thirty-First and Fifty-Ninth North Carolina Regiments with Starr's Battery, strongly posted in the woods across the river. The Ninth New Jersey and Seventeenth Mass. were deployed along the banks as sharpshooters, while thirty pieces of artillery, supported by Lee's Brigade, were posted along the elevations which sloped steeply towards the river. A furious cannonade was now opened upon the enemy, their guns returning a rapid fire of shot and shell which ploughed the crest and dropped around us for two hours without casualty. Under cover of our batteries, a considerable force was advanced, and a feint made to rebuild the bridge, which not only deceived the enemy, but led quite a number of the
Tenth Conn. to attempt to swim the stream. While this was going on, Gen'l Foster quietly formed the remainder of his column, and resumed the march on Goldsboro, the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. bivouacking at night in an old cornfield eight miles from that place.
Early the 17th, Major Fitzsimmons, with two companies of the Third N. Y. Cavalry, made a raid on Dudley Station and Everettsville, destroying a train of cars, with stations, trestle and culverts, while Major Gerrard, with another battalion of cavalry, Angell's Battery, and the Forty-Third Mass., moved to “Thompson's Bridge.” The latter engaged the enemy, but, finding the bridge destroyed, rejoined the column at night. Lee's Brigade now held the advance, with the real work of the expedition before them. About noon, the Eighth, Fifty-First and Fifty-Second North Carolina Regiments, with a battery, were discovered in the woods skirting the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, and Riggs Battery was brought into position to disperse them. The Twenty-Seventh advanced down the road by an old house, through a wooded ravine and shallow stream, and formed in line on a knoll commanding a view of the railroad and bridge, the objective points of the expedition. The Ninth New Jersey and Seventeenth Mass. were now advanced to the right of the position held by the Twenty-Seventh, Twenty-Fifth, and Third Mass., while the Fifth and Forty-Sixth Mass. were moved to the left to protect that flank. This force advanced in line toward the railroad across the Daniel Everett farm, which was central between the railroad and turnpike bridges, each a quarter of a mile distant. After a sharp engagement, the enemy broke, and retreated across the bridge, Gen'l Clingman's attempt to rally them proving futile. “Arriving at the opposite side of the Neuse, Starr's Battery was placed on the road commanding the turnpike bridge, supported by the Eighth North Carolina, while the Fifty-First North Carolina, Col. Allen, was deployed on the
river-bank below, and the Fifty-Second North Carolina, Col. Marshall, above,” to oppose us. Robertson's, and a South Carolina brigade, held the position at the railroad bridge, and were reinforced, during the engagement, by Evans’ Brigade from Whitehall.
In advancing to the attack, our forces worked well to the right towards the railroad bridge, under a heavy fire from the enemy, driving Clingman's forces across the river as narrated. Upon reaching the railroad embankment, volunteers were called to fire the railroad bridge. Adjt. B. N. Mann of the Seventeenth Mass., and many others attempted the daring feat, but each in turn was wounded or killed. The enemy clung tenaciously to the opposite banks near the railroad bridge, and swept its approaches with a withering fire. All our batteries were now posted on surrounding elevations, and concentrated on the enemy at this point a rapid fire, under which Lieut. George H. Graham of Rockett's Twenty-Third New York Battery, and William C. Semmons of the Ninth New Jersey, succeeded in reaching and firing the bridge. The exasperated enemy poured a desperate fire of musketry and grape upon them, to escape from which they dropped through the bridge, and making their way down the river under cover of brush skirting its banks, succeeded in reaching our forces unharmed. As soon as the bridge was in flames, our artillery tripled its fire to prevent its rescue. Lee's Brigade stacked arms, and rushing up the embankment, wrenched the rails and ties from the road-bed, cut down the telegraph poles, and heating the rails on fires made from the poles and ties, wrenched and twisted them beyond reclaim. The enemy's batteries opened upon us, but beyond knocking down a few stacks of arms and pitching them twisted and bent in the air, no harm was done. The reserves cheered to the echo the thorough work of the brigade, and between roaring of artillery, rattling of musketry, cheering of men, flames of burning bridge,
and the long line of troops upon the railroad in their work of destruction, it presented a scene of devastation and din rarely equalled.
The object of the expedition being fully accomplished, orders were issued for the troops to withdraw; Lee's Brigade acting as rear guard. In the execution of this order, the Twenty-Seventh Regiment withdrew to an old house upon the opposite side of the ravine and stream, improving the time in making coffee, while awaiting the removal of our batteries; Morrison's Battery with the Third, Fifth and Forty-Sixth Massachusetts Regiments, still remaining on the field. The enemy, discovering our intention to withdraw, ordered Gen'ls Clingman and Evans to attack our rear, with a view of capturing Morrison's, Riggs’ and Belger's Batteries, which remained with the rear guard. For this purpose Gen'l Clingman moved the Fifty-First and Fifty-Second North Carolina Regiments across the river under cover of the woods and railroad to threaten our right, with instructions to make no reply if discovered by us, until, with the Eighth and Sixty-First North Carolina Regiments and two pieces of artillery, he could move up the turnpike, and, placing the Sixty-First against our centre, and the Eighth on our left flank and rear, he could assault our position, his attack to be the signal for a general assault.* Gen'l Evans’ brigade was in close column at the centre of the field with two batteries to support the movement. Gen'l Clingman claims that Gen'l Evans precipitated the contest before he was in position, by ordering the Fifty-First and Fifty-Second North Carolina to charge, and this seems verified by the facts.
While Lee's Brigade were awaiting the movement of our forces to the rear, they were suddenly startled by a rebel yell, followed by peals of artillery, which brought every cavalier to his saddle, every cannonier to his seat, and every soldier to his position in line. Hastily the cavalry with[note]
glittering sabres dashed down the cart-path, followed on the double-quick by the Twenty-Seventh and Twenty-Fifth Mass., across the ravine to the knoll overlooking the field, where we saw a surging line of rebels charging upon Morrison's Battery at the right of the field. The Fifth and Forty-Sixth Mass. had rushed to its support, and gallantly withstood the shock. The Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. took position upon the extreme left of the field, with its left refused to defend its flank, while Belger's Battery dashed in front, and poured an enfilading fire upon the enemy's line, as it swept around and up the foot of the hill. Onward they came as an invincible host, and the batteries at three hundred yards began firing double loads of canister, under which great swaths were mown in their line. Capt. Belger looked nervously to the rear as if to assure himself of his supports, and turning to his men exclaimed, “We are all right, men! Steady! Give ’em shrapnel! Make every shot tell!” At a hundred yards the enemy wavered, halted — and then broke into a confused and disastrous retreat. Fortunately for them, just at this juncture Gen'l Clingman with his battery and the Eighth and Sixty-Second North Carolina appeared in the woods upon our left, and opened fire upon the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt.
To prevent the disintergrating effect of moving by companies, Col. Lyman ordered a “left wheel by battalion” — a difficult but well-executed movement, — followed by the order “By file, commence firing.” Belger's and Riggs’ batteries opened upon the enemy, and after a short engagement the Twenty-Seventh advanced into the woods, driving the enemy from their position, and following them with several volleys of musketry. In this movement Lorenzo D. Gibson of Company F, was killed, his head being blown off by an exploding shell.
Col. Lee's judicious arrangement of his brigade had anticipated Clingman's entire plan, and he would gladly have followed
the retreating foe, but as his instructions were, “act entirely upon the defensive,” he ordered his force to withdraw. In repassing the ravine, we found the stream had been increased to a roaring torrent. One of our engineers, supposing our forces to have crossed, had opened a flood-gate above to intercept the enemy; hence we were obliged to ford the stream to our armpits in recrossing.
Of this attack on the part of the enemy Gen'l Foster says in his official report: “Owing to the efficiency of Lee's Brigade and Morrison's Battery, it was a miserable failure.” Gen'l G. L. Clingman, commanding the Confederate forces, says: “We had to move across an open space of one thousand yards, swept by heavy batteries, and which was supported by large masses of infantry. Our forces advanced courageously, but were cut down by a fire of grape and canister not possible to withstand. But for the loss thus sustained, we should have had the satisfaction of knowing that with a vastly inferior force, we had driven the enemy from a strong position, and obliged their whole army to retreat, almost without loss to us.” The enemy's loss in this charge must have been very heavy, as will appear from the official reports of two of these regiments.
Fifty-First North Carolina Regt., Col. Allen, six killed, forty-three wounded, eight missing. Fifty-Second North Carolina Regt., Col. Marshall, eleven killed, fifty-eight wounded, ten missing. The Eighth North Carolina, Col. Shaw, reports three killed and six wounded; and the Sixty-First North Carolina, Col. Devane, three killed, seventeen wounded, and twenty-three missing in their attack upon the Twenty-Seventh. No reports have been obtained of the losses of Evans’ Brigade and the batteries.
Considering the exposed condition of Lee's Brigade during the day, it is remarkable that they escaped with so few casualties. They were at the burning of the bridge; sharply shelled while destroying the railroad; and repelled unaided the rebel charge.
The loss of our brigade was as follows:—
|Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt.||1||2|
|Forty-Sixth Mass. Regt.||1||3|
|Twenty-Fifth Mass. Regt.||1||-|
|Fifth Mass. Regt.||1||7|
|Third Mass. Regt.||-||2|
The casualties of the Twenty-Seventh were
Lorenzo D. Gibson, Company F, of Westfield, killed by shell.
John Robinson, Company I, of Brimfield, wounded in neck by shell.
James B. Hill, Company K, of Springfield, wounded in thigh by shell, seriously.
Comrade Gibson was buried in the garden back of a house at the head of the lane, after which we resumed our march, the Twenty-Seventh at the rear of the column.
Darkness had closed upon us and the deserted embers of the bivouac had been fanned into vast forest fires skirting the road through which we were forced to pass. The scene was inexpressibly grand, while the suffocating smoke and intense heat endured was only an exchange from what we must otherwise have suffered from our drenched clothes and the inclement night. We continued our march until midnight, and bivouacked on the ground of the night previous, glad even for mother earth on which to rest our wearied and chafed limbs. Gen'l Foster complimented the bravery and endurance of Lee's Brigade on its arrival, adding by way of encouragement, “In a week we shall be in Wilmington.” Arriving at Kinston he learned of the defeat of Gen'l Burnside at Fredericksburg. Learning also that Gen'l Dix had not moved from Suffolk, he continued his march back to New Berne. The enemy followed the retiring column, dropping
shells around our rear guard, but without loss to us; and after eleven days’ absence, we reached New Berne, glad to enjoy the rest and comforts of our tented homes.
The full object of our expedition was accomplished, but its main advantages were neutralized by the failures at Fredericksburg and Suffolk. The results, besides the vast damage inflicted upon the enemy's supplies and communications, were the capture of four hundred and ninety-six prisoners and twelve pieces of artillery.
The following rebel regiments reported forty-one killed, two hundred ninety-eight wounded and two hundred sixteen prisoners, as resulting from the battles of Kinston, Whitehall and Goldsboro:—
Eighth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twenty-Sixth, Thirty-First, Forty-First, Forty-Fourth, Forty-Seventh, Fifty-First, Fifty-Second, Fifty-Ninth, Sixty-First, Sixty-Second, Sixty-Third, Sixty-Eighth North Carolina Regiments; Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third South Carolina Regiments, Holcombe's Legion and Starr's Battery. In addition to these, Daniels’ Brigade, consisting of the Thirty-Second, Forty-Third, Forty-Fifth and Fifty-Third North Carolina Regiments and Second North Carolina Battalion arrived from Richmond just about the time of Clingman's charge, and this brigade hung upon our rear as we returned to New Berne. We may therefore say that we were opposed by twenty-three regiments of infantry, three battalions, and at the least two batteries. We think it is reasonable to doubt the enemy's loss above given, since we have seen Clingman's Brigade reported at Goldsboro, twenty-three killed and one hundred twenty-four wounded; while Mullet of the Sixty-Eighth, with over four hundred men, was captured at Kinston. The entire Union loss was ninety killed and four hundred and seventy-eight wounded.
During the engagement at Goldsboro, it is reported one of Morrison's men was severely wounded, and when asked by a
chaplain if he was supported by Divine grace, replied “No! we were supported by the Ninth New Jersey.”
The fertility of resource of our foragers is well illustrated by T—— of Company —. Securing a mule, he rode to an adjacent plantation, and, accosting a negro girl near an old hen-house, demanded some eggs. Discovering a disposition to demur, he backed the mule toward her, and applied the spurs, when the animal let its feet fly at her face like a vicious tedder. T—— clung desperately to the animal, exclaiming “Get some eggs, or I'll kick your head off!” Dinah wilted and promised, but getting behind the bolted door of the hen-house, with some obstinacy began to parley, when T—— backed the mule to the shed and reapplied his spurs. This the donkey resented by a terrible battering with his hind feet against the door, leaving it shivered and prostrate within, and Dinah not only willing to furnish eggs but all the poultry the inordinate appetite of T—— demanded.
While engaged in repelling Clingman's assault, Major Bartholomew was sitting upon his horse under a tree — the left of the line being in the woods — when a shell cut the tree off about twenty feet above him. Casting his eye upwards the Major put spurs to his horse, and the next moment the top of the tree pierced the ground where he had been standing. Whirling his horse back upon the other side of the tree, he exclaimed “There, I'm safe now! They can't hit this tree again!”
Johnnie Dorflin of Company F, would at any time kill a pig for its pluck, and being suspected by the provost marshal, was charged with foraging against orders. Johnnie was placid and silent until the enraged marshal drew his sword to enforce his anthority, when our equally enraged comrade (Greek mit Greek) jumped for him with the exclamation, “You t——n Tutchman, you show fight, me show fight; you draw sword, I fix mine payonet!” The marshal
disappeared, but on his return to New Berne, called for the arrest of John Horflin, but the order was returned countersigned “No such man in the regiment.”
Upon the return of the expedition, Gen'l Foster at once repaired to Washington, D. C. for further instructions, returning December 27th with commissions as brigadier-generals for Cols. Hunt, Ninety-Sixth New York, Stevenson, Twenty-Fourth Mass., Heckman, Ninth New Jersey, Potter, First North Carolina, and Ledlie, Third N. Y. Artillery; the recommendation of Col. Lee being rejected on the ground that “it would not do to appoint more than one of these from each State,” the influence of Col. Stevenson's friends securing the Massachusetts appointment for him.
Thus closed the operations of 1862, every movement by the Union army in North Carolina having met unqualified success. Much of the advantage expected from them, however, had been vitiated by the failures in Virginia. The brave Army of the Potomac, after a campaign of unexampled hardship and loss, was still upon its old camping ground, with the problem of the destruction of Lee's army and the suppression of the rebellion more involved and doubtful than ever. At the West, Rosecrans had pressed Bragg and Breckenbridge, and closed the waning year with the hotly contested battle of Murfreesboro’. Stanley was still an incubus upon our department, his acts constructively loyal, but menacing to every military movement, and neutralizing every plan.
CHAPTER VIII. SOUTH CAROLINA EXPEDITION.
The year 1863 opened with promises of unusual activity in North Carolina, the following troops arriving from January 2d to January 5th:—
Spinola's Brigade: One Hundred and Thirty-Second, One Hundred and Fifty-Eighth New York; One Hundred and Fifty- Eighth, One Hundred and Sixty-First, One Hundred and Sixty-Eighth, One Hundred and Seventy-First, One Hundred and Seventy-Fifth, and One Hundred and Seventy-Sixth Pennsylvania Regiments.
Nagle's Brigade: Eleventh Maine; Fifty-Sixth, Eighty-First, Ninety-Seventh, One Hundredth New York; Fifty-Second and One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania Regiments.
Ferry's Brigade: Fifty-Eighth, One Hundred and Seventy-Fourth Pennsylvania; Sixty-Second, Sixty-Seventh Ohio; Thirteenth Indiana; Thirty-Ninth Illinois, and “Les Enfants Perdus,” the latter a regiment composed of all nationalities, known as “the lost infants.” This force aggregated some fifteen thousand men.
The monitors “Montauk” and “Passaic,” with the steam frigates “Colorado” and “Dakota,” had rendezvoused at Beaufort Harbor, the original “Monitor” having been sunk en route, January 1st, in a gale off Hatteras. The armament of the monitors consisted of one eleven and one fifteen inch gun, the latter of which carried a shell of four hundred and three, and solid shot of four hundred and sixty pounds, requiring a pulley and tackle for loading; and thirty-five to
seventy pounds of powder for discharging the same. In a visit to these ironclads the writer was welcomed and generously entertained by Commander John L. Worden, the hero of the original “Monitor” in its conflict with the “Merrimac.” One side of his face was still discolored by powder blown into it on that occasion.
A complete reorganization of our forces occurred during the month of January, each of the new brigadier-generals being furnished with commands; and on the 29th inst. Nagle's, Ferry's, Stevenson's and Heckman's Brigades, with Batteries A, C, D and E armed with rifles, and B, F, and I with full batteries, all of the Third New York Artillery, sailed for Beaufort, S. C. Soon after Gen'l Foster's arrival at that place, a misunderstanding arose between him and Gen'l Hunter, in which Gen'l Foster's troops naturally sided with their commander. Gen'l Stevenson and Col. Osborne of the Twenty-Fourth Mass., with Quartermaster Sleight and many other general officers, were placed under arrest. The War Department at Washington, D. C., failed to sustain Gen'l Foster, and he returned to North Carolina, regretting most of all the loss of his veteran troops under Gen'ls Heckman and Stevenson.
January 4th the detachments of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. broke camp at Newport Barracks and Bachelor's Creek, and joined the detachment at Washington, the regiment becoming once more a unit after six months of separation. This, however, proved of short duration, for on the 25th of the same month, Companies G and H under Major Bartholomew were detached for garrison duty at Plymouth.
About this time, Gen'l Foster's “Orderly Manning” obtained permission to go within the rebel lines and recover his brother's remains at Kinston. On arriving at the place of burial he found the bodies had all been exhumed, stripped, and meagrely covered in another trench. The rest is as well untold: the body was not recovered.
We had now, at various times, held most of the important positions within the Department of North Carolina, with the best of opportunity to witness such society as remained within the lines. There were few intelligent women. Most of the females remaining were so coarse and unfeminine in habits, as to degrade their sex. The leaden eye, sallow skin, swaggering gait and uncouth slang were too much for the Northern man, and made him devoutly thankful he descended from a nobler lineage. A lady's evening call (they never speak of afternoon) would be incomplete without snuff, and to omit to offer it to a caller was unpardonable. After the compliments of the day, and the seating of the guests, the hostess was expected to pass saucers, twigs, and a bladder of snuff, with which the visitors regaled themselves during the call. Some were so addicted to the habit of snuff-dipping, as to indulge in it upon the streets, regardless of their disgusting appearance. Snuff-dipping is practised by women alone, but clay-eating is common to both sexes. Both of these habits produce a moral and physical effect, clearly marking their victims. Over eight millions of dollars are consumed annually in snuff, within the South, at the present time.
Contrabands crowded the department, bewildered in their freedom. Freedom to many of them consisted of nothing to do. They failed to avail themselves of the little work to be found, and were so improvident as to buy their tallow dip only when darkness enforced it. Others valued their freedom with its opportunity. To impress the lesson of their lives, I take their own story and language.
“Well, Uncle,” said I, “how do you like the Yankees?”
“Right well, sar (my name's George Washington, sar), yuse mighty fine people, sar.”
“So you feel free now, do you?”
“Yes, sar! yes, sar!! an I tank deor L an Massa Linkum for dat. Dis ole man hab worked a heap of yeas, an de Lor
he send me de ole woman an a heap o'chilen. Massa he sell some afore de war, an tuck de ole woman an de rest fo de Yankees come. Now, de ole man am lone in de world; but de good Lor an Massa Linkum make me free (bracing up) an I shall die a free man! yes, sar! Bless de Lor! ole George will be all right at las, bless de Lor!”
President Lincoln had just issued his confirmatory Proclamation of Emancipation, and language was too weak to express their overflowing joy.
It would certainly be gross carelessness to omit mention of the steamers “Ellen S. Terry,” “Dudley Buck,” “Collins,” and “Augusta Dinsmore,” by which our communication with home was maintained. Before their three whistles were given as a signal of a “mail aboard,” the watchful eye of anxious ones would descry the vessel below the blockade, and the electric news would fly through streets and camps. Nothing so thrilled the department to its centre, or started such a hum of expectation, as the arrival of the irregular “mail steamers.” A jostling crowd would fill the wharf, and eagerly enquire before the steamer was near enough to cast the line, “How much mail, Capt. Chapin?”
The regulations at the post-office allowed no sleep after the arrival of a mail until it had been assorted and delivered. Some idea of the amount of letter-writing in this department may be obtained from the fact that two hundred and twenty-five thousand letters were sent North from New Berne post-office during the month of January, seventy-five thousand being sent on the “Dudley Buck,” January 18th. It occupied seven clerks twenty-four hours, in posting this mail. Nor were our friends at home negligent; sixty five-foot mail-bags were received January 27th and 28th, with an estimated mail of seventy-five thousand letters, and one hundred and fifty bushels of papers. These were extra occasions, however, but from statistics of the writer (at that
time military postmaster of the Department of North Carolina) it was shown, that during the months of December and January, each soldier averaged to write two and one-half letters each week, and to receive about the same, besides newspapers and other printed matter. More letters were written by the soldiers than were received. John Dibble, a former citizen of New Berne, and a staunch Union man, held the position of civil postmaster. He is now a valued citizen of Westfield, Mass.
At each arrival of steamers from New York, one thousand daily papers were received, the proportions being, seven hundred “Heralds,” two hundred and fifty “Times,” and fifty “Tribunes.” The “World” was classed with Richmond papers, and was only in demand among (loyal?) citizens. So great was the rush for papers that they were sold without folding, and delivered as fast as the ten-cent scrip could be collected.
Trade permits were issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, and every store in the city, beside many private houses and temporary buildings, were occupied by speculators in sutlers’ and naval stores. Sales within the department were ad libitum; those beyond the lines were restricted to sixty dollars, but this restriction was construed by Governor Stanley to allow any one to buy this amount for any number of persons, if only holding orders from them. It was not to be expected that those who obtained their appointments as division or regimental sutlers by a contract to divide usurious profits from the nation's defenders amongst certain officers, would scruple to use extreme license; and hence large quantities of supplies, by this means, reached the enemy.
February 13th a body of the enemy moving on Bachelor's Creek to try the mettle of the Fifty-Eighth Penn., was met by Col. Jones with a part of his regiment at Tuscarora, and relieved from further duty, by the killing of three, and capture
of forty-six prisoners, the entire force falling into our hands. At the same time Capt. Graham with his “Gray Horse Cavalry,” made a raid on Greenville from Washington, and after a short contest, captured ten prisoners, twenty horses, and the entire camp equipage of that outpost. The frequent raids of this officer and the Twenty-Seventh Mass. from Washington, so menaced the enemy, that in desperation, they blockaded the roads with felled trees for long distances in all directions.
March 1st, Captain Joy's company of the First North Carolina, with one company of the Third New York Cavalry, scouting in Hyde County, were ambuscaded by the enemy, seventeen out of forty of our men being killed or wounded at the first discharge. The cavalry charged the ambuscade, killing many and capturing the officer in command, with five men. All the prisoners held safeguards from Governor Stanley, but they were safely manacled and placed aboard the steamer “Escort.” The officer failed to arrive at New Berne; it is known he did not escape. On the arrival of the steamer at New Berne, Capt. Joy marched the prisoners through the street with a large placard on the back of each,
“Guerrillas captured with Governor Stanley's Safeguards,”
for which act Capt. Joy was placed under arrest, by order of the Governor. The captain's fearless course while editor of the “New Berne Progress,” had incurred the Governor's displeasure, nor did his unswerving loyalty fail him now. Governor Stanley soon found it convenient to order his release. The enraged cavalrymen vowed vengeance for the death of their comrades, and returned to Hyde County the 7th inst. with every available man, supported by the One Hundred and First and One Hundred and Third Pennsylvania Regiments. They failed to accomplish anything, however, as did another expedition in Jones County at the same time,
because every suspicious person was armed with a safeguard from Governor Stanley.
March 14th was the anniversary of the capture of New Berne, an event of such harrowing remembrance to the rebel heart, that it became chronic to attempt some “highly important and promising movement” towards its recovery, upon that day. Gen'l D. H. Hill had assumed command of the rebel forces in North Carolina Feb. 24th, 1863, and had accumulated a considerable army at Kinston, N. C., for offensive work. At two o'clock the afternoon of the 13th, Ransom's and Daniels’ Brigades, with cavalry, attacked our outposts at Bachelor's Creek and Deep Gully, occupied respectively by the Fifty-Eighth Pennsylvania and Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts Regiments. Col. Lee ordered the Fifth and Forty-Sixth Massachusetts Regiments to the support of the outposts, sharp skirmishing continuing during the evening and following day. At an early hour the 14th, Pettigrew's Brigade appeared before Fort Anderson, — north of the Neuse,— demanding of Lieut. Col. Anderson and the Ninety-Second New York Regiment an unconditional surrender. Information was at once signalled Gen'l Foster and the navy of the situation, and the answer returned “My orders are to hold this fort, and I shall never surrender it!” The enemy immediately opened with shell, grape and canister, which ploughed the parapets and exploded in the fort, or richochetted out upon the waters of the river. The fort was an unfinished work with no guns mounted as yet, and the garrison could only lie with fixed bayonets awaiting the charge.
The gunboats “Hetzel,” and “Hunchback,” were aground and could only use their long-range guns, but the “Seymour,” “Shawsheen,” “Whitehead,” revenue cutter, and a schooner — with one gun manned by negroes — succeeded in reaching the scene of contest. Four batteries were also posted on the river above the fortifications, and for three hours New Berne was treated to an incessant roar of artillery
and bursting shells, some of the enemy's shot reaching the field in front of the “Fair Grounds.” The enemy's fire suddenly ceased, and after a short delay, the Ninety-Second New York moved cautiously out, finding them in retreat, and their position strewn with three bursted cannon. The grounds were ploughed, and the trees torn as though destruction had run riot. Our loss was only two wounded.
Gen'l Pettigrew's colored cook was captured returning with a fish for the general's dinner, from whom the enemy's project and forces were ascertained, with the additional information that Gen'l Pryor with his brigade had gone to attack Washington. It was noticed the cook wore a Union dress-coat, and to inquiries he replied, “I took it from one of your dead on the peninsular campaign, and was allowed to wear it if I would turn the buttons with the eagles’ heads down,” and sure enough every eagle drooped.
Gen'l Foster being satisfied that an attack was imminent at Washington, ordered eight companies of the Forty-Fourth Mass. to that place, where they arrived the 16th inst. Scouts continued to report the enemy in considerable force with lines well advanced towards New Berne and Washington, until the 28th inst., when Gen'l Foster returned from Wingfield with prisoners from the Forty-Second North Carolina Regiment, from whom he learned farther of the enemy's plans. Sunday, March 29th, Gen'ls Foster and Potter quietly left New Berne on the steamer “John Faron,” ordering the “Phœnix,” with commissary stores, and the “Thomas Colyer” and other steamers, with Spinola's Brigade, to follow at once.
The “Faron” arrived at Washington the morning of the 30th, and Capt. Jocknick's cavalry, with Companies E and G of the Forty-Fourth Mass., were ordered to reconnoitre the Greenville road. After advancing a mile and a half, they met the enemy, before whom they retired with a loss to the Forty-Fourth Mass. of three wounded and prisoners. Capt. Richardson,
of Company E, Forty-Fourth Mass., was also wounded but escaped capture. Capt. Lyons and two companies of the First North Carolina Union Volunteers immediately crossed to Rodman's Point, but were driven to their boats at two o'clock the following morning by a superior body of the enemy. These two companies were saved from capture or death by the self-sacrifice of a gallant negro, who, seeing the boat was aground, and all must perish, or one for all, jumped overboard and pushed the flat into the river. The brave man fell lifeless into the water, but the launch floated away to a place of safety. The Union loss at this point was three killed and thirteen wounded, among the latter, Capt. Lyons.
At five P. M. it was evident the enemy were present in overwhelming numbers, and, in the midst of a drenching rain, the troops were ordered to the fortifications. The available Union force consisted of eight companies each of the Twenty-Seventh and Forty-Fourth Mass., two companies of the First North Carolina, Battery G, Capt. Wall's Third N. Y. Artillery, and Company I, Capt. Jocknick, Third N. Y. Cavalry. The consolidated morning report for March 30, 1863, gave the aggregate strength of this command as eleven hundred and thirty-nine men present for duty. Company B, Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., held Blockhouses Number One and Two, covering approach by the river and Greenville road west of the town, while Company F held Blockhouses Number Three and Four, guarding the Jamesville and Plymouth roads, with the river approach on the east. Companies C and D were now placed within Fort Washington, and the right to the river held by the remainder of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., and the left by the Forty-Fourth Mass., and First North Carolina Regiments. When these were marshalled behind the long line of fortifications, they at once revealed our weakness in numbers, to remedy which, every able-bodied negro was ordered to the works.
This was our first experience with armed negroes, and it was wonderful how quietly it was submitted to by many who had loudly declared, “they never would fight side of a nigger!” Whitworth shots, exploding shells, and bullet tz-z-zps, were wonderfully persuasive arguments on such a question, and settled it once for all with the garrison of Washington.
The land defences consisted of Blockhouse Number One, near the river above the town, commanded by Lieut. P. W. McManus; Number Two on the Greenville road, Lieut. Ira B. Sampson; Number Three between the Jamesville and Plymouth roads, Capt. J. W. Moore, and Number Four on the river below, Lieut. Pliny Wood. Each of these block-houses contained a six-pound gun, save Number Four, where a twelve-pounder was substituted. At the centre of the works, and rear of the town, was Fort Washington, a small but strong quadrangular, bastioned fort, surrounded by a ten-foot ditch and heavy abattis. Its armament consisted of four thirty-two pounders, two six-pound Wiard, and two twelve-pound Napoleon guns. On the Jamesville road was a thirty-two pound gun under command of Lieut. W. C. Hunt, of Company A, Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., and upon the Plymouth road, a six-pounder in charge of Corporal Steele of Company F, of the same regiment. A redoubt covered the river bridge containing one thirty-pound Parrott, one thirty-two-pound Rodman, and two twelve-pound Napoleon guns. The river-front was protected by the steamers “Louisiana,” six guns, and the “Commodore Hull” and the “Eagle,” four guns each. The available forces for defence, army and navy, were then about fourteen hundred men, and thirty-two guns.
The enemy were under command of Maj. Gen'l D. H. Hill, and consisted of the following brigades and regiments: —
Gannett's Brigade, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth
North Carolina, Eighth, Eighteenth and Fifty-Sixth Virginia Regiments.
Pettigrew's Brigade, Twenty-Sixth, Thirty-Second, Forty-Third, Forty-Fifth, Forty-Seventh, Fifty-Second North Carolina Regiments.
Daniel's Brigade, Fifty-Sixth North Carolina, Twentieth, Twenty-Eighth, Fifty-Ninth Virginia, and Sixty-Fourth Georgia Regiments.
Robertson's (cavalry) Brigade, Fifty-Ninth North Carolina, Second Georgia, and Seventh Confederate Cavalry Regiments, — in all, seventeen regiments of infantry, and three of cavalry, with forty pieces of artillery.
Gannett's Brigade, with Starr's Battery and the Fifty-Ninth Cavalry, occupied Clay Hill north and west of the town. Pettigrew and Daniel's Brigades, respectively, Rodman's Point and Hill's Point, while the artillery and cavalry were suitably posted for offence on the river, and defence against New Berne via land.
All the inceptive movements of the enemy were wonderfully favored and successful. For three days a high west wind drove the water from the river, leaving our gunboats before Washington, aground. This allowed the enemy to plant their batteries opposite and below the town without opposition, and prevented assistance from the navy below. By evening of the 30th, the enemy had occupied Rodman's and Hill's Points, the former one mile and the latter seven miles below, and on the other side of the river from the town. The channel of the river ran close to the shore occupied by their batteries, and any relief must come through the capture of them or the hardy experiment of running the gauntlet of seven miles of artillery and sharpshooters.
The investment being complete, on the morning of the 31st, an officer appeared on the Jamesville road under a flag of truce demanding surrender. Gen'l Foster returned answer, “If you want Washington, come and take it.” A
demand was then made that the women and children be removed from the town, but which our officers refused to entertain, returning the answer “Gen'l Foster declines to receive flags of truce, and will fire on any future one that appears.” The surprise and disappointment of the enemy is best set forth by this officer's exclamation, “My God! is Gen'l Foster here?” At noon, Virgil Gilbert with the schooner “Brooks,” ran the enemy's batteries with dispatches to the fleet below Hill's Point. The enemy concentrated every available gun upon the vessel, and lined the banks with sharpshooters, but its light draught enabled it to avoid the channel, and the high wind to defy the enemy's fire, and it reached the fleet below unharmed. The “Commodore Hull” was aground just above Rodman's Point, and the disabled boat was subjected to a destructive fire of solid shot which crashed through its sides, or raked its decks, dismounting its guns. Blockhouse Number Four had a short tilt with the enemy in its defence, but its gun was of too short range, while one of their Whitworth shots went through the blockhouse with apparent ease.
April 1st was ushered in by a terrific cannonade from Rodman's Point and a new battery at Laurel Hill. The morning was windy and clear, and the “Commodore Hull” with its brave crew still at the mercy of the enemy. Lieut. Saltonstall stood by his long thirty-two pound Parrott, though all his other guns were dismounted, and the “Hull” careened on its side, until he had given the enemy three hundred shots. Ninety-eight balls had pierced her sides, and three guns had been dismounted, yet her commander spurned the thought of deserting her, declaring, “As long as there is enough left to mount a gun upon, I propose to fire from the ‘Hull!’ ”
During the day Lieut. McManus at Number One, discovered the enemy placing a battery on the island above, and dispersed them so hurriedly that the attempt was not renewed.
Fort Washington engaged the enemy on Clay Hill, and with the aid of Numbers Two and Three and of Lieut. Hunt on the Jamesville road, succeeded in considerable interruption and damage to their works. William Fuller of Company K, West Springfield, received a severe wound in the leg from a Whitworth ball during this action. Col. Lyman's headquarters were at Blockhouse Number Three. His whole time was given to the easterly defences of the town and to the comforts of his men, while Mrs. Lyman, who had been spending the winter there, was under the protection of the hospital flag, rendering such aid therein as the situation afforded opportunity for.
At four P.M. Master's Mate McKeever of the “Louisiana,” with Acting Ensign De Camora and six men of the “Commodore Hull,” started in a sail-boat with dispatches to the fleet below. Hundreds were watching them as the sail caught the wind, and bore them through the waters seething with iron hail. With a charmed life they sped into and through the raking fires of Rodman and Hill's Points; defied the searching fires of sharpshooters; and though often hid in the splashing waters, at length drew safely up to the fleet below. A shout of victory and derision then rent the air, which the enemy resented by broadsides of shrapnel and canister, causing our exultant spectators to hug the ground with most tender emotion. It was a fashionable way of expressing one's feelings however, for at such times one can't well be too thin or humble. During the following night McKeever returned unmolested, but the schooner “Brooks,” loaded with ammunition, was considerably damaged, although it succeeded in reaching the town with its supplies unharmed. The wind went down early in the evening and the river assuming its usual depth, the “Commodore Hull” was docked and repaired. Over one thousand shot had been hurled upon it, one hundred and nine of which had taken effect, but by the free use of baled hay its machinery remained unharmed.
The morning of the 2d of April the “Commodore Hull” was again in its wonted place, with its guns remounted and ready for effective work. The enemy opened the contest from a new battery opposite the town, but this was soon silenced by the guns of the “Louisiana” and of Number One. A detachment of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. crossed the bridge to secure the deserted guns, but a deep morass, defended by a mass of infantry, rendered the attempt abortive. During the night a redoubt was built by us on the river in front of Number Four, and armed with one thirty-pound Parrott, one thirty-two-pound Rodman, and two twelve-pound Napoleon guns. This was commanded by and named after Lieut. Hamilton of Battery G, and manned by Company F of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Rodman's Point was annoyed by the sudden appearance and effective work of this battery, and opened a fierce fire upon it for three hours, when the discomfited enemy at the Point were thrown into confusion, and their battery silenced by the explosion of their Whitworth gun. Fort Hamilton continued its effective work on the Point, until, by a premature discharge of one of its guns, James Baker of Westfield, Seth Liswell of Agawam, and Alfred Holcomb of Southwick, all of Company F, were severely wounded. Baker was carried bodily over the breastworks, losing one eye, and severely burning his face. Edward Miner of Otis, Company K, was severely wounded in the face by a piece of a shell.
The enemy had now six batteries on Clay Hill, within eight hundred yards of our works in the rear of the town. The opposing pickets were near to each other, and being placed after dark, often trenched upon each other's lines, but when discovered, were peaceably withdrawn to their proper place. The picket line was comparatively safe, for, the enemy being disposed to a truce, we had every reason to sustain it. They felt sure of us. As one put it, “We are sure of you uns soon, and don't care to fight.” A
rebel officer with glass had been reconnoitring our position from the Jamesville road two mornings past, and being discovered by Gen'l Foster, he asked Lieut. Hunt to try his thirty-two upon him. The first shot threw dirt over the reb, and the second ploughed the ground close by him, the officer brushing off the dirt and continuing his work. Gen'l Foster now tried his hand, and the ball hugged the “Johnnie's” position so close that he moved to the right and renewed his work. “That will do,” said Foster, pleasantly; “he's a good soldier.”
At nine o'clock the morning of the 4th, the gunboat “Ceres,” Capt. McDermott, ran the blockade without opposition, and when opposite Rodman's Point, shelled the enemy's position without reply. The “Ceres” was loaded with ammunition, and its unopposed arrival was unaccountable to us. After removing the ammunition Companies C and I of the Twenty-Seventh boarded the “Ceres,” and moved cautiously toward Rodman's Point, but when opposite it, the enemy opened with shrapnel upon the boat. In attempting to withdraw from this, the “Ceres” broke her rudder-chain, and ran aground. Discovering her helplessness, the enemy opened fire with double energy upon the “Ceres,” the “Hull,” “Eagle” and Fort Hamilton joining in her defence. The most intense excitement existed among the garrison, as our men were huddled in masses on the deck of the “Ceres,” exposed to the enemy's missiles, and nothing seemed to draw their fire from the unfortunate vessel. After some delay the troops were removed by lighters to the shore, but the “Ceres” remained aground until eight P.M., when it was docked, with one man mortally wounded.
The casualties of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. were:—
Almus Bliss, Ware, Company I; wounded in thigh.
Elmer W. Carder, Springfield, Company I; wounded in thigh.
James Waters, Blandford, Company I, wounded left thigh.
A general artillery engagement ensued, for a time as exciting as any of the siege, during which a new battery was opened by the enemy from the Blount place, taking Fort Hamilton in reverse. Its position was masked by a hedge fence, but by a loan of two Wiard guns from the bridge redoubt, we unmasked and silenced the battery.
Sunday, the 5th, was a regal day, not a shot from either side disturbing the sacred hours. This led us to give the enemy undeserved credit for religious scruples. Each army was busy in repairing or constructing works, expecting the lull of the day would be followed by double activity on the morrow. In this we were disappointed, however, as the only occurrence of the 6th was three guns from the “Hull” to the Point, which received no reply. During the night, Acting Master Josselyn and eight men ran the enemy's blockade in a cutter to the fleet below Hill's Point. Our supply of ammunition was now so low that it became necessary to economize it, by paying more attention to accuracy, than to silencing the enemy by rapid firing. The rebels had eight batteries with ten rifled and six smooth-bore guns pouring a converging fire upon us from Clay Hill, ploughing the face of our works, besides those opposed to us across the river. Finding it impossible to run the blockade with the troops below, Gen'l Foster ordered Gen'l Spinola with his brigade to return to New Berne, and with the entire available force to attack the enemy via Swift Creek. Three days later, he did attack them at Blount's Bridge, but lacking the skill and judgment for such an undertaking, after a two hours’ contest, retired to New Berne. The gunboats below Hill's Point kept up an intermittent but useless fire, the question of relief to Washington being remanded to the valor and endurance of its garrison.
Our works were as perfect as the consummate skill of Gen'l Foster could devise. Parapets were turfed, port-holes constructed for riflemen, traverses and bomb-proofs conveniently
arranged, and every man assigned to a place and ready to defend it. The siege developed a folly or recklessness, which led the men to engage in base ball and kindred sports, and that in full view of the enemy and under fire of their guns. Suddnely the watch would cry, “Down,” and all would drop, or rush for their gopher-holes like frightened coyotes, when a shell would explode near, or a solid shot pass ricochetting towards town. During the most terrific artillery engagements the men were safely ensconced within their bomb-proofs, intent on games of cards and chess, apparently unconscious of the strife without, but, on the signal of alarm, instantly occupied their places at the works. An accident occurred to Isaac Powers of Prescott, Company B, which proved fatal the 8th, but was a result of disease rather than of the siege.
On the morning of the 7th a new battery opened a sharp cannonade upon the “Louisiana,” but its effect fell mostly upon the town. It is asserted that at this time a sympathizer was heard at his devotions praying, “Rain them down, O Lord! send the shot and shell thick and fast among the enemy,” when a shell suddenly burst in his chimney, and he fled exclaiming, “Not on me, O Lord! not on my house.” The explosive friendship of a shell was never reassuring. One woman described the sensation of such a siege in this way: “It seemed as if a score of spinning-wheels were running upon the roof of the house, and claps of thunder constantly bursting in my cars.” The citizens for the most part lived in holes dug from the cellars, and retired there on the least alarm, so that few casualties occurred among them. During the day information was obtained through a prisoner taken that an attack was to be made the following morning. Gen'l Foster inspected the entire works with orders that “The works must be defended to the last man.” His form and bearing infused courage and confidence, and it was no secret that our confidence was reciprocal.
At four o'clock the 8th, every man was in his place awaiting the expected assault; but the only affair of the day was a fruitless duel between Fort Hamilton and Rodman's Point. The enemy were largely engaged during the 9th in opposing Gen'l Spinola's attempted advance via New Berne, already noticed. There was no doubt that Spinola was fortunate in avoiding a general engagement. Rodman and Number Four had a sharp contest during the day, and twice during the night our forces were brought to the works by false alarms. The last alarm occurred the morning of the 10th, and was due to McKeever, Josselyn and De Camora again running the blockade, this time with two schooners loaded with ammunition and forage. These supplies were an imperative necessity, as there was not enough of ammunition to have withstood a desperate and persistent assault, while for three days our horses had had only sufficient food to maintain life. The desperate attempt to sink these vessels had failed to harm them materially. The enemy were more than ever exasperated at this successful defiance of their blockade, and kept up a continuous fire the entire day upon the garrison. The top of the flagstaff of Fort Washington was shot away, when one of our men gallantly climbed the staff, and nailed the flag to the shivered top. As he was about to descend, a shot struck the staff below him, felling him to the ground. One of the most foolhardy acts of the siege occurred during this contest, when one of the garrison mounted the parapet with a rocking-chair, and derisively rocked there during the hottest of the fire. It was a miracle that he escaped unharmed.
The strengthening investment of the place, and the certainty felt by citizens that Washington must fall, had developed intense and unconcealed disloyalty. Looks spoke a language more exultant, scornful and treasonable than words. Attempts were made to communicate with the enemy, but a close watch by provost guards rendered such efforts too
dangerous for ordinary shrewdness. The enemy's batteries were watched by the citizens with a lurking pride, but their shots often put them to a most indecorous haste. One woman was seen waving a cloth towards the enemy, but an hour later one of their shells exploded in her house, much to her peril and disgust. The colored people were loyal and helpful, and had the most implicit confidence in our arms, apparently thinking we could withstand the world. Whatever we did, was all right, and “like as we did it.” When McKeever arrived with the schooners, one old woman rushed to the wharf, and seeing what had been done, straightened up, exclaiming, “Ise a proud woman dis da!” As to their opinions of us, as compared with their former masters, one said: “Seems dat uze hab different heads from dese yer people.”
Early the 11th the enemy opened a rapid fire along the entire line, raining shells, Whitworths and canister in torrents within the works. Number Three, Lieut. Hunt and Fort Washington, replied with coolness and precision, dropping shells in the redoubts along Clay Hill, and dismounting one of their guns. Fort Hamilton, Number Four, and the “Hull,” engaged the Point, the latter being silenced about nine o'clock by the explosion of another of its Whitworth guns. The contest was continued with more or less vigor the entire day, the only casualty to us being the loss, by one of Lieut Hunt's gunners, of the seat of his pants, by a piece of a shell.
The remarkable exhibition of principle on Sunday, the 5th, inspired a delusive hope that the enemy's scruples would renew a truce the 12th, but a most desperate engagement occurred, the enemy firing upwards of two hundred rounds an hour into Fort Washington, and proportionally so along our works and the river. A new cotton battery opened fire upon Number One and the “Louisiana,” which was returned with five-second shell and hot shot, setting fire to the cotton and dismounting their guns. Discovering
a signal officer in a tree, the “Louisiana” trained its “long thirty-two” upon it, cutting the tree off and sending the officer headlong to the ground. At the same time our gunboats at Hill's Point made a desperate attack, the roar of the ponderous guns of the “Hunchback” mingling with the din of strife around us.
The enemy's works at Hill's Point were ingeniously constructed. They consisted of a serrated ditch without embankments, ports being cut through the river-bank for their guns, so that nothing appeared above the earth's surface.
Confederate positions at Hill's Point]
This construction, together with its elevation, rendered it impregnable against naval attack, while it permitted a plunging fire on the channel which ran close by.
The night was dark and stormy, and the “Louisiana,” like a watchman, tolled off the passing hours by occasional shots. With a groan, its shells would rise with comet trains, then like a parachute would hang in air, when a scintillating sheet of flame would shoot out with dazzling glare; the report of bursting shell would then return, and join with the peal of guns in the surrounding forests, like the breakers of two opposing seas, echoing and re-echoing until it died on the ears of our comrades at New Berne, telling them the enemy were still at bay. At such times there was a terrible grandeur in our surroundings which language fails to describe.
The 13th was a drizzly day, but by seven o'clock all our guns in the rear of the town were fully engaged, a new redoubt on the Greenville road, giving Lieut. Sampson, at Number Two, a more than usual prominence in the contest. At nine o'clock Rodman's Point and the Creek Battery opened
upon Number Four and Fort Hamilton, and at two P.M. the cotton battery and the guns on the road across the bridge, reopened on the “Louisiana,” and Lieut. McManus at Number One. All these efforts proved harmless to us, while the hostile guns at the cotton battery and bridge were speedily dismounted. The night settled dark, rainy and cheerless, and our men, smeared with mud in their bombproofs and wearied with constant watching, were placed on three-quarter rations of meat and bread. Orders had been issued during the day to collect and save the enemy's missiles for use by us in case of necessity. We were certainly verging on bitter extremities, but there was no diminution of purpose to resist to the last.
At ten o'clock an alarm was given bringing every man to his post, and through the darkness we strained our eyes for an explanation of the larum. Hill's Point and the river batteries were belching forth a sheet of flame, and, mingling with the peal and din, was the rattle of musketry and clash of arms below. Nearer and nearer the contest waged, until at eleven o'clock Rodman joined in the fray. The enemy on the hill seemed puzzled like ourselves, and opened with grape, canister and shell along the entire line, our guns replying with vigor and effect. All was intense excitement and suspense. The blaze of gun and shell, with glare of Parthian arrows, and peal on peal in quick succession, told of a desperate strife; but “What could it be?” By the flash of guns at Rodman's Point, our men at Number Four detect what seems to them a phantom steamer, ploughing its way up the river through a storm of fire and iron hail. Rubbing their eyes, already strained by constant watching, they pierce again the curtain of night, and, now assured, send cheering tidings along the line, “There's a steamer coming!” How we trembled with hope and fear as we saw it defying Rodman's murderous fire, and as it emerged from the gauntlet of death, we were in ecstacy of joy, the lapping of its
friendly wheel assuring us all was well. As it passed Number Four, the garrison gave cheer on cheer, which received a ringing response from those on board, and three steamer whistles so exultant and natural, that every man in the beleaguered town exclaimed, “That's the ‘Escort’! that's the ‘Escort’!!”
Gen'l Foster repaired to the wharf, and as the steamer drew near, Col. Sisson jumped ashore, and saluting him said, “General, I am here with the Fifth Rhode Island Regiment.” Rome immortalized her sons, but these immortalized their State, and how grand and herculean they looked as they marched ashore. And the grand old “Escort,” too; how she loomed in the darkness like a thing of life, proud in her unconsciousness, filled to the brim with aid and comfort, and yet with only a single scar to tell of the terrible ordeal through which she afforded this cheer. Such a miracle, or succession of miracles! Not a soul had been injured nor an ounce of supplies lost or damaged. Such cheers and wild delight as filled that besieged town is given only few to know, and we say now, as then, “God bless the Fifth Rhode Island, and that noble craft and crew of the ‘Escort’!” Lieut. Pliny Wood, who had gone to New Berne just previous to the siege, and Lieut. F. C. Wright, who had been upon a furlough, were on board and had been below the blockade several days, ready to embrance the first opportunity to join their companies.
If the night closed darkly, the morning of the 14th was joyous in the extreme, for no doubt could now exist as to the end. At seven o'clock the dogs of war were again let loose, and at eleven o'clock began the sharpest artillery engagement of the siege, an incessant rain of shrieking, bursting shells and howling Whitworths dropping within the lines. At two p. m. the batteries on Clay Hill engaged the blockhouses and fort. At six p.m. Rodman's Point and Fort Hamilton, with the “Commodore Hull,” had their usual tilt,
in which the latter cut down the enemy's flag. At six o'clock A.M. the 15th, the steamer “Escort,” with Gen'l Foster on board, again ran the enemy's blockade. One hundred guns in quick succession greeted it from Rodman's Point, but still, as with enchanted life, it sped its way through volleys of musketry, to Hill's Point, where sixty more shots were counted ere it passed beyond and drew up to the fleet below. Gen'l Foster remained in the pilot-house until entreated by Capt. Wall to go below, a shot tearing through just after he left. One cannon-shot passed through the general's room, over the foot of the berth; a shell passed through a boiler on the stove in the galley, also through a bale of hay, taking off a negro's arm, exploding in the engine-room. Another shell burst against the pilot-house, shattering it badly. Twenty-five other shots took effect in various parts of the steamer, but it was able to proceed to New Berne. Mr. Patrick, the pilot, a loyal North Carolinian, stood bravely at his post through the terrible fire, like the Roman soldiers at Pompeii, receiving a fatal shot in passing Hill's Point, but held the wheel until past danger, and fell expiring, saying, “I am willing to die if Foster is safe!”
In leaving Washington, Gen'l Foster issued the following order:—
Headquarters, Fort Washington, April 14th.
The commanding general announces to the garrison of this town that he is about to leave for a brief time the gallant soldiers and sailors of this garrison. Brig. Gen'l Potter will remain in command, and in him the commanding general has the most perfect confidence as a brave and able soldier. The commanding officer of the naval forces remains unchanged, therefore that arm of the service will be as effective as heretofore.
The commanding general leaves temporarily, and for the purpose of putting himself at the head of a relieving force; having raised
the siege, expects soon to return; but before leaving he must express to the naval forces here, and to the soldiers under his command, viz., the Twenty-Seventh Mass. and Forty-Fourth Mass., detachments of the Third N. Y. Artillery, Third N. Y. Cavalry, and the First North Carolina Volunteers, his thanks for and admiration of the untiring zeal, noble emulation and excellent courage which has distinguished them during the sixteen days of the enemy's attack on this fort, and feels confident that the display of those qualities under Gen'l Potter will hold the post until the siege is raised.
By command of Maj. Gen'l Foster.
S. Hoffman, A. A. G.
Gen'l Gannett, commanding the Confederate forces at Clay Hill, received peremptory orders during the night to storm our works at the earliest moment, but is said to have returned answer, “I should lose half my men in getting there, and the other half in getting back,” evidently understanding the spirit of the garrison, if overrating its abilities. The enemy seemed crazed at their failure to sink the “Escort,” and plied every gun bearing on us, until earth and air trembled in the terrible concussion. The artillery of the sky joined with that of man in the awful strife, until the flash of Parrotts, Whitworths and muskets, surrendered to the livid darts and crashing thunders of heaven. The air was rent, and forests shivered with the unearthly contest. Rivers of rain submerged the fields, driving us to our gopher holes, but these were soon filled by the floods, and the men driven to the open field. The storm settled into a drizzling rain lasting until the morning of the 16th. At daylight the eighteenth day of the siege, six deserters informed our pickets on the Jamesville road that the enemy were in full retreat. Capt. Dwight, with Company A, at once moved out to Clay Hill, planting our colors on the deserted redoubts. He discovered their rear guard four miles distant.
It is not possible to individualize the experiences or feelings of these days and nights of peril and anxious watchings; to explain how, through a siege of eighteen days, amidst accumulating dangers, our regiment escaped with only nine wounded; or how the puny garrison with its hundreds, by superior vigilance and courage foiled the strength of thousands. The siege from beginning to end was a surprise, and to satisfactorily explain it requires more information than is now in our possession. A correspondent of the “Wilmington Journal,” and one of the rebel force upon the south of the river, says, “If I could ask Gen'l Hill just one question, it would be, Why didn't you take Washington?” The loss of the entire garrison was only seven killed and twenty-three wounded. The “Commodore Hull” was struck one hundred and nine times, the “Ceres” seven, the “Eagle” five, and the “Louisiana” once during the siege. The enemy's missiles were as variable as imagination could conceive, from old scrap-iron to the most finished projectiles of their English sympathizers. It was laughable to see the cringing effect of flying shots. Gen'l Foster was standing near the fort as the guard ducked for a passing shell, when he good-humoredly exclaimed, “Don't duck, boys! don't duck!” A few moments later, a Whitworth came tumbling end over end with its peculiar howl, when the general ducked, too, saying, “You can't help dodging those fellows, can you?” and a negro near by fell flat, exclaiming, “Gorra mighty, how dem rebs do frow dat iron!”
The siege was an artillery duel from beginning to end, but he who has stood on the field of battle exposed to its dangers, unable to actively participate, only knows how much more trying the position. A Cincinnati paper commenting on the siege, said, “The boldness and courage evinced by the Twenty-Seventh Mass. has yet to be equalled; it finds no parallel in the rebellion. A handful of men besieged by more than ten times their number, cut off
from all communication with our forces, and yet would not receive the suggestion of a surrender. Any regiment in the service may copy the noble example of the Twenty-Seventh Mass., without danger of lowering its standard.”
Hill's and Rodman's Points were immediately occupied by our forces, and the opposing works on Clay Hill destroyed. Our troops arrived at Rodman's Point before the rebels had fully evacuated it, and after a short engagement, captured their works, finding one Whitworth and one twenty-pound Parrott gun exploded. The body of the brave negro who gave his life to save Capt. Lyon's company, was still unburied on the strand. On a tree near by was posted the following:—
We leave you, not because we can't take Washington, but because it is not worth taking. Besides, a man to live here must be amphibious. We leave you a few bursted guns, a few stray solid shot, and a man and brother rescued from the waves to which he was consigned in a fray with his equals.
We compliment the plucky little garrison of the town, and also salute the pilot of the “Escort.”
Company K, Thirty-Second N. C. S. T.
During the siege an artillery sergeant known as “Zip,” had been detailed to assist at managing the six-pound gun at Blockhouse Number Four. Zip had a weakness for eggs, and one afternoon secured permission to go into the town for a supply. While upon this errand, he also replenished his supply of whiskey, and as a matter of convenience, put the eggs in his pockets, but as a matter of taste, stored his whiskey internally. By the time he reached his quarters, the eggs were all broken and decidedly mixed, his pockets and appearance indicating a very eggs-acting experience.
So disloyal had been the acts of many citizens, that Gen'l Potter issued a general order the 17th, which was in terms similar to the following order from the provost marshal: —
Office of Provost Marshal,
Washington, N. C., April 18, 1863.
In pursuance of the foregoing “General Order,” all persons residing within our lines are requested to call forthwith at this office between the hours of nine o'clock A.M. and one o'clock P.M., to give satisfactory evidence of their loyalty to the United States government. All persons not conforming to this order must remove within five days beyond the federal lines.
Capt. W. A. Walker,
April 23d a part of Spinola's Brigade arrived at Washington, the intention being to occupy the position with a full brigade. The Twenty-Seventh Regiment received orders to return to New Berne, Companies A, B, D and F returning by the steamer “Phœnix,” and Companies C, E, I, and K by the “Thomas Colyer,” both steamers arriving at New Berne the 25th inst. Marching to the Fair Ground, we were furnished with “A” tents, and hoped for the rest which the constant watching and labors of the siege had fitted us so well to enjoy.
While the siege progressed the contest of arms was heard daily by Major Bartholomew at Plymouth. The most intense anxiety was felt, not only for our fate, but for themselves, knowing if the enemy were successful at Washington, the fate of Plymouth was sealed also. The force at Plymouth consisted of Companies G and H, Twenty-Seventh Mass., Company D, Fifth Mass., Company C, First North Carolina Regiments, and a squad of cavalry. The untiring activity of Major Bartholomew, commanding the post, assisted by such an officer as Capt. Sandford, gave the little garrison enough to do, and kept the enemy at a safe distance, unless when
present with superior numbers. March 20th, eight companies of the Twenty-Fifth Mass., under Lieut. Col. Moulton, and part of the Forty-Sixth Mass. Regt., arrived at Plymouth, Col. Moulton assuming command of the post as the ranking officer.
On the 23d, an expedition consisting of Companies F, I and K, Twenty-Fifth Mass., and Company H, Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regiments, started for Wingfield to assist Lieut. James J. McLane of the First North Carolina Union Regiment, who had been attacked by the Forty-Second North Carolina and a Virginia regiment. On their arrival at Wingfield they learned of the defeat of the enemy, and also that the gunboats had prevented a part of the rebels from crossing the river, and that these were now in the vicinity of Rocky Hoc Creek. Our force landed at Holly's Landing, five miles below Wingfield, at daylight the 24th. Capt. Sandford pressed rapidly forward, reaching Rocky Hoc Creek at eight o'clock. Capt. Denny of the Twenty-Fifth Mass., being in command, ordered Capt. Sandford to cross the creek, after doing which, our men advanced a short distance, and developed the enemy in a heavy thicket. Company H engaged them sharply, but was driven back to the gunboats, when the “Perry” and two guns on the “Faron” opened on the enemy. Reinforced by Capt. Foss's company of the Twenty-Fifth, Capt. Sandford recharged the enemy, capturing one officer, with one of their killed and eighteen of their wounded, all of the Forty-Second North Carolina.
Our loss was —
Charles A. Fowler, Company H, Williamstown, killed.
John W. Allen, Company H, Cheshire, wounded.
Curtis C. Gillett, Company H, Southwick, wounded.
David Monta, Company H, Williamstown, wounded.
Gillett's wound proved fatal May 12th, and Monta was discharged for disability June 12th following.
The enemy were pursued without result, our troops remaining at Edenton until the next day when they returned to Plymouth. Gen'l Foster's “Orderly Manning” left the expedition at Wingfield, making his way through thirty-five miles of the enemy's country to Suffolk, with despatches for Gen'l Peck.
April 30th Capt. Sandford, with volunteers from the Twenty-Seventh and Twenty-Fifth Mass. Regiments, under command of Capt. Flusser of the navy, went up the Roanoke to Hyman's Landing, to capture a post of the enemy. Mr. Hyman was brought out in his night dress, but was ignorant of any rebel post in that vicinity, until the probing of Capt. Flusser's sword reminded him that there was one near a small house three miles distant. Capt. Sandford at once marched to the point indicated, and captured twelve cavalrymen with horses and equipments.
CHAPTER IX. GUM SWAMP.
The eight companies from Washington had hardly settled at New Berne, ere they received orders to march with three days’ rations. The regiment was suffering considerably from scurvy and exhaustion, a sequence of the siege, but turned out as full as on dress parade, for which — and their appearance—they were highly complimented. At four P.M., April 27th, we boarded the cars for Bachelor's Creek, leaving there at nine o'clock, with “one hundred rounds” each. We marched twelve miles, in company with the Fifth Mass. and two companies of the Forty-Sixth Mass. Regiments, and reached Core Creek about midnight. The Fifty-Eighth Penn., Forty-Fifth Mass. and Third N. Y. Cavalry advanced by other routes, everything so arranged as to give an exaggerated appearance of force. A heavy rain set in at midnight, which lasted until one o'clock P M., the 28th, when companies D and E, Twenty-Seventh Mass., under Capt. Dennison, moved forward as skirmishers, supported by the Fifty-Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment.
After a hasty advance of thirteen miles to Wise Forks (otherwise “Dover × Roads”), they came upon an intrenchment along the railroad, held by three hundred of the enemy. The Forty-Fifth Mass. and Fifty-Eighth Penn. were at once advanced, but with an alignment which caused mistake as to their identity, and which resulted in some confusion and loss. Meantime Company D had advanced under cover of an old building to within close range, and had lain down to shield them from the enemy's
fire. Their position was critical, which being observed by E company, they “rallied as reserves,” and charged to them, when unitedly they rushed upon the enemy, putting them to rout. Lieut. J. L. Skinner with his men first scaled the works, and sweeping to the left, soon met the Forty-Fifth Mass., with whom they captured twenty-five prisoners. Sergt. Edmund Boltwood, Company D, Amherst, was severely wounded in the leg during the charge; the Forty-Fifth Mass. losing one killed and three wounded, and the Fifty-Eighth Penn. one killed. Of the charge of Companies D and E the “New York Herald” correspondent wrote: “The pluck of these companies deserves recognition. The act shows that the indomitable purpose of our troops finds no discouragement in superiority of numbers of choice of position.”
Our object being accomplished, the force was ordered back to Core Creek. The march of the morning had been very exhausting, some men being obliged to go back to the creek, but the return after dark was indescribable. The rain at times fell in torrents, and the swampy roads churned to a pulp by the morning march, now lay covered in long stretches by water six to twelve inches deep. “The men fell in great numbers from exhaustion, some like stones, unable to move, others in wild delirium, while some unconsciously continued the march, deliriously shouting and beating the air.” When every available conveyance was full, stretchers were improvised, while others were borne in blankets by sympathetic comrades.
Gen'l I. N. Palmer, the commander of the expedition, remained at Core Creek during the day, but learning the condition of the regiment upon its return to that place, petulantly called it “a set of white-livered cowards.” This odium applied to a body of men returning from a field on which they had been so victorious that the enemy dared not follow them, furnishes its own commentary. With neither
blankets nor overcoats to protect them from the falling rain, our men made such shelter as was possible, in doing which they unfortunately (?) stripped the side of a shed containing Gen'l Palmer's horse. Many men dropped upon the ground wherever they could find a place, some near the general's headquarters; all of which furnished new sources of irritation and cursory abuse. Two of the Third N. Y. Cavalry having been killed by guerrillas the 29th inst., Gen'l Palmer determined to capture them if possible, and ordered, “As the Twenty-Seventh could not march, they should be kept marching until they could.” On the morning of the 30th, our regiment left the bivouac, scouting alone eleven miles to the house of a Capt. Coners commanding a guerrilla band, but without discovering the enemy. Five men fell out on the return, Surgeon Fish securing an old cart and buggy to convey them back, and keeping one man alive on the way by artificial respiration. For this, the regiment was again censured, and Surgeon Fish threatened with arrest. On the morning of May 1st the regiment marched two miles to the railroad, and were returned to camp at New Berne. The effect of this expedition told severely upon the strength of the regiment for the month following, a daily average of two hundred and thirty men being within the hospitals or answering the surgeon's call.
May 7th, after a careful inspection of the barracks adjoining our camp by Lieut. Col. Lyman and Asst. Surgeon D. B. N. Fish, the regiment moved into them, finding them airy, roomy and comfortable. The next day we had the pleasure of greeting Major Bartholomew with Companies G and H from Plymouth, and, after ten months of separation, the regiment was once more together. The same day thirty families from New Berne were banished from our lines for disloyalty, by order of Gen'l Foster. They were taken on cars to Core Creek, but the enemy, who had been previously advised of their coming, refused to receive them, and
burned the bridge at the creek, forcing us to leave seven carloads of their effects upon the ground.
One can hardly forget the enthusiasm amongst the negroes at this time, placards being posted around the city, calling for four thousand men for “Wild's colored brigade.” Street processions of most motley characters were the order of the day. These would swell to multitudes as they passed from street to street, singing,
“We'll hang Jeff Davis to a sour-apple tree!”
The enthusiasm of the negro women knew no bounds. Following the “procession of recruits,” with glowing faces and distended mouths, they seized every able-bodied man of their race, shouting, “We's don't want nofin of you round yere, Bill Joe! you's looks a heap better in de crowd dar!” at the same time shoving him by force into the ranks. That brigade was soon filled!
May 13th Mrs. General Foster presented the regiment a handsome full-grown fawn as a testimonial of the high regard of herself and the general. The presentation was at “dress parade,” and the gift was received at “present arms” with hearty cheers for the general and his worthy lady. The fawn was a great pet with the regiment, following us in all our movements until at Julian's Creek, Va. There its frequent foraging expeditions incurred the displeasure of one of the citizens and it was shot. It had the utmost confidence in the regiment, and in times of danger would run to us for safety. Being chased near Suffolk, it dashed across the river, followed by the gaining hounds, and, reaching camp, rushed into a tent and leisurely laid down, as much as to say, “There! I know when I'm safe.” It is worthy of notice in this connection that it was a frequent occurrence for the general and staff, with Mrs. Foster, to be present at our evening parade, an honor highly appreciated by the regiment.
Frequent depredations along our front by the enemy, secured for Col. J. Ritcher Jones, of the Fifty-Eighth Penn. Regt., permission to attempt to dislodge them. Col. H. C. Lee, Acting Brigadier General, being North on a leave of absence, his brigade (consisting of the Fifth, Twenty-Fifth, Twenty-Seventh and Forty-Sixth Mass. Regiments) was assigned for this purpose, and with three guns of Riggs’ Battery, and a portion of the Twelfth N. Y. Cavalry, rendezvoused at Core Creek about sunset, May 21st. The Twenty-Seventh was ordered immediately to Col. Jones at Core Creek bridge two miles distant, while the remainder of the force, under Col. Pierson of the Fifth Mass., were to move by the Dover road at midnight, and divert the enemy until Col. Jones with his own and the Twenty-Seventh Regiment should arrive in the rear of the enemy.
At eight P. M., as the moon set, the Fifty-Eighth Penn., followed by the Twenty-Seventh Mass., left the railroad just above the bridge, striking into a chaparral swamp ten to twelve miles wide, unpierced by road or path, with foliage so thick and tangled as to shut out the least trace of light. After penetrating this swamp a mile, our course turned sharply to the east along an old ditch a mile and a half, then as sharply due west ten miles, through an everglade defying description. For miles the regiment marched in single file, through indescribable darkness, following their leaders by hand upon their belt, or the click or crackling of brush before them. Interminable snarls of briars, vines, and brush beset the way, the former clinging tenderly to, and torn obstinately from our persons, or, in unguarded moments, snatching our caps and hurling them into darkness and slime. Sometimes in flying from the comrade in advance the briars would show their attachment in a most feelign way across the neck and face, or, tangling the feet, pitch the luckless adventurer sprawling into the seething mire. The vines were so thick and low as to require much of the march to be
made in a stooping posture. Every step was attended with a slumpy, sucking sound, as we sank above our knees and then tugged to withdraw from the sticky depths. Not a word was audible, nothing disturbing the midnight stillness but the labored step, crackling bush, or screech of night-bird disturbed in its lair. As the column changed its course about midnight to the west, the rear of the line was temporarily lost, by one of the men catching a nap as he stood in the ranks, and allowing those in front to move off unobserved.
For thirteen hours, without other rest than while the guides consulted, the column slowly worked its way through this trackless wild, passing between two of the enemy's posts unnoticed, until, at nine o'clock A. M., the head of the column emerged from the swamp a short distance in the rear of the enemy's works. Companies B, C, G and K of the Twenty-Seventh, under Capt. Caswell, were ordered to the Dover road above, to intercept reinforcements or prevent escape; and Companies D, H and I, under Capt. Sandford, supported by Companies A, E and F, under Lieut. Col. Lyman, were ordered to charge the enemy. The configuration of the ground was such that only two companies of the Fifty-Eighth Penn., who formed on our right, could engage actively in the charge, the remainder acting as a reserve. As our column moved forward at double quick, Gen'l Ransom commanding the Confederates, was riding leisurely down the road toward the intrenchments, but discovering us, turned with spurs to his horse, shouting as he dashed towards Kinston, “The Yankees! the Yankees!!” Capt. Caswell's force, too late to intercept him, gave a volley as he dashed by. The charging column under Col. Lyman, rushed to the house used as his headquarters, turned sharply to the left and gave the now affrighted and demoralized foe a volley as they closed upon them. A six-pound gun loaded with shrapnel was turned upon us, but failing to discharge was seized by our advancing lines, while the enemy, scattering in
perfect rout, sought refuge in the swamps at the right, or escaped to the railroad by a path new and unknown to our men.
The fortifications consisted of two lines of works, one crossing the Dover road, and the other the railroad — each at right angle — one line being occupied by the Fifty-Sixth and the other by the Twenty-Fifth North Carolina Regiments. Col. Pierson had moved up with his column, meeting the enemy's pickets at daylight, and driving them into their defences. The troops then formed with the Twenty-Fifth Mass. on the right, the Forty-Sixth Mass. across the turnpike, and the Fifth Mass. on the left of the railroad. In this position they skirmished sharply four hours, until serious apprehensions existed for Col. Jones and his force.
Suddenly, like the slogan of the Highlander, our volley met their ear, when, writes the “New York Herald” correspondent, “There was a shout by Pierson's men, ‘That's the Twenty-Seventh! I know their lively guns,’ and the Twenty-Fifth, Forty-Sixth, and Fifth Mass. dashed forward only to find the enemy had skedaddled to the swamp.” Capt. Sandford hastily followed to the left down a bank to the railroad, where he found the main body of the rebels retreating up the track. Col. Lyman, with his men, intercepted the demoralized enemy in the swamp, when they surrendered without opposition. Levander French, drummer of Company A, and Wheaton Lovett of Company D, while scouring the swamp, came upon a lieutenant of the Fifty-Sixth North Carolina, with twenty-six of his men. The lieutenant was perfectly willing to surrender to an equal in rank, but objected decidedly to being led in by two men with a pair of “drumsticks,” as that would not comport with “southern chivalry,” even though there was no hope of escape. Accordingly help was summoned, and the lieutenant surrendered, “French” securing the officer's belt and revolver as evidence of his accomplishment. The result of
the movement thus far, was the capture of two hundred and two prisoners, three hundred muskets, one piece of artillery, fifty horses and mules, and a large quantity of supplies. The rebel loss, beside, was one killed and six wounded. Col. Jones, remembering the aspersion thrown upon the Twenty-Seventh on the last march to this place, remarked as the work was closed, “I don't want any better fighting regiment than the Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts!” Capt. Dwight, with two men of Company A, captured six of the enemy, while Lieut. Pliny Wood found two rebels hid behind a log, and forced them to surrender. While gathering the enemy's muskets, Dennis Sullivan of Company K (Springfield), was severely wounded by an accidental discharge.
Col. Jones now made a costly error, doubtless in consideration of the tiresome march of the night previous; but, however the act may now be criticised, there was none at the time disposed to find fault with his allowing the column to rest on the field. At five P.M., as the troops were preparing to return, our pickets were attacked, and shells came flying over a belt of woods along the front. Col. Jones’ column retired to Core Creek that night, the Twenty-Seventh Mass. arriving at McCoy's plantation at 11.30 P.M., closely followed by the enemy. The Twenty-Seventh Mass. and Fifty-Eighth Penn. Regiments had marched thirty-one miles, beside taking the prominent part in the engagement narrated, since leaving the Creek the night previous. Camp-fires were not allowed, and sharp skirmishing continued during the night. John R. Rowley of Company F (Suffield, Conn.), was killed, and Albert E. Champlin of Company E (Lee), severely wounded, just as the column was moving the morning of the 23d. The wagon train and prisoners were hastened to Bachelor's Creek, guarded by the Fifty-Eighth Penn. and the cavalry, while Col. Pierson was left in command of the remaining force.
Not deeming it prudent to attempt to reach the railroad by the turnpike, Col. Piers on ordered the column (the Fifth,
Twenty-Fifth, Twenty-Seventh and Forty-Sixth Mass. Regiments) to make a detour in the swamp, towards Tuscarora. He plainly heard the contest waged against Lieut. W. C. Hunt and his twenty men of the Twenty-Seventh at Core Creek bridge, but for some reason disregarded it. Soon after entering the swamp, he lost his direction. He soon found himself near the railroad, where he was met by a courier from Lieut. Hunt, with the “information that there was a regiment of the enemy opposed to him at the bridge, while two others had moved out towards the Dover road, but that he would hold them in check until the column could reach the railroad.” Col. Pierson claims to have understood that the enemy now held the road with three regiments, and hence ordered his line to move back into the swamp, where it wandered for hours, so near the railroad as to hear the locomotive which had been sent with a train to return them to New Berne. Lieut. Hunt with his little squad, bravely held their position, and kept the enemy in check, until ordered upon the train, when they moved cautiously down the road about four miles, meeting the head of the column just as it emerged from the swamp. As the Twenty-Seventh Mass. appeared upon the track, an officer on the train shouted, “What regiment is that?” and well he might; for, smeared with the black mud of the swamp on our faces and clothes, we looked most like “a negro brigade.” Said a correspondent, writing at the time: “We ran up about ten miles on the cars, and found the troops just emerging from Gum Swamp, and a more worn, tired and pitiable set of men I never saw, wet to their hips, and fairly covered with mud.”
We avail ourselves of an extract from Capt. Denny's able history of the Twenty-Fifth Mass. Regt., describing their experience on this march and their opinion of a North Carolina swamp:—
“It was four miles of mud and slush knee deep, — four miles of
thick underbrush, of tangled wild-wood, of brambles, of thorny copses, of water courses and stagnant pools alive with creeping things, and crawling things,—of snakes that hissed, and adders that forced their villanous tongues into sight, if not into legs. Through this terrible place we cut and slashed our way, slowly, tediously, grievously. The sun, as if to make our efforts more unendurable, poured down its burning rays and not a breath of air came through the thick foliage to our relief. Burning with the heat, exhausted with fatigue, men called for water, — ‘Give us water!’ Men scooped up the thick, muddy water in their tin dishes, water black with the poisonous roots and the slime of swampy pools, and covering the dish with a dirty towel, or a long-carried pocket handkerchief, — anything that could be utilized as a strainer, — sucked the black water into their stomach. Oh, the horrid taste, as if drinking pulverized snakes and lizards, and oh, how it griped, and served like an emetic or a purging powder upon those who imbibed of the noxious compound. In that fetid pocoson the mixture our soldiers imbibed had been seething for a century.”
It may have seemed to some of our friends that our descriptions of these swamps were overdrawn, hence we are glad to corroborate it with the above.
Our tired troops were soon on board the cars and whirling towards New Berne, grateful for the refreshing breeze of the rushing train. The force opposed to us consisted of the Twenty-Fifth and Fifty-Sixth North Carolina Regiments, and Cook's Brigade, the Fifteenth, Twenty-Seventh, Forty-Sixth, Forty-Eighth and Sixty-Second North Carolina Regiments, with eight pieces of artillery. Comrade Nelson A. Kingsley, of Company A, Twenty-Seventh Mass. (Westhampton), was asleep in the swamp when we left Wise Forks, but on awaking, discovered three regiments of the enemy near him. While musing what to do a negro approached, when Kingsley retreated further into the swamp, neglecting to take his rifle with him. The negro found the rifle and left without discovering its owner. Kingsley wandered in the swamp, dodging the enemy at various places,
and made his way to camp, reporting there two days later, much to the surprise of his comrades.
Just before emerging from the swamp in the rear of the enemy, Comrade King, of Company I, was trudging along more asleep than awake, when he marched butt up against a huge forest tree, sadly disfiguring his face. He suddenly opened his eyes and rubbed his disfigured phiz, exclaiming, “I wonder what in thunder that tree is doing here!”
The Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. had just reached camp, when notice was received that the enemy had attacked the outposts along Bachelor's Creek, with orders for us to be ready to move at a moment's warning. Companies A and I, Forty-Sixth Mass. Regt., were holding the Neuse and Washington road bridges over Bachelor's Creek at Maple Grove, Sergt. A. S. Bryant, of Company A, with seventeen men being stationed at the former. This force was attacked early in the afternoon by the enemy, but held the position until the arrival of Capt. Tifft with two companies and a section of Riggs’ Battery, which was en route from Gum Swamp for New Berne. A medal was awarded Sergt. Bryant for conspicuous gallantry on this occasion. By coolness and rapid firing, Capt. Tifft impressed the enemy with the presence of a large force, and held them in check until the arrival of Col. Jones with D and I companies of his regiment. The enemy with their artillery were stationed at a house eighty rods distant. Col. Jones ordered the bridge relaid, and right and left flanking columns thrown out, while he, with his companies, advanced up the road. He had been credibly informed, that the enemy were present in superior force, but he gave it no attention. With his orderly, Michael Webber, he advanced a few rods across the bridge, when a shot pierced his breast, breaking his spine and lodging in the back of his blouse. He fell into his orderly's arms, exclaiming, “Oh, Michael!” and expired. Our men then fell back into the intrenchments, while the
detachment of the Fifty-Eighth Penn. who could now hear their regiment heavily engaged at the Creek railroad station, hastily returned to that point, leaving the two companies of the Forty-Sixth alone. The enemy, however, made no farther determined attack upon them.
While deeming the act of Col. Jones imprudent, we cannot but put on record his sterling character. Although of rough exterior, he was a man of principle, and fearless in the discharge of duty. It is an encomium rarely deserved when we say of him, no swagger, bluster, cursing or rum ever defiled his lips. The Twenty-Seventh Mass. attended his funeral, but amongst the obsequies, there was no more eloquent sorrow than that of “poor Mike,” crying like a child as he led the colonel's horse in the procession. The enemy retired during the night, our loss in the expedition and during the attack at the Creek being only two killed and seven wounded.
We cannot close the record of this expedition without referring to a ludicrous experience of our comrades of the Twenty-Fifth and Forty-Sixth Mass. Regiments, as they were en route to Core Creck. We copy it verbatim et literatim, from Capt. Denny's history of the Twenty-Fifth Mass., page 202:—
What is it? — In marching to Bachelor's Creek, having proceeded about four miles, the column was halted for a short rest. It was far beyond the midnight hour, and, therefore, the wonted time had passed when church-yards are supposed to be haunted by all sorts of sprites, and the air is said to be filled with the harmonious music of the spheres. It is not to be supposed that the men forming the Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts Volunteers, educated as they were in the schools in New England, possessing all the general intelligence marking the New England character, had gone down to North Carolina to be frightened by owls, ghosts, or live rebels, or that they would be inclined to believe in stories about ghosts, fairies, witches and apparitions. We say this while we well remember
that so great a poet as Robert Burns. . . . said — “though no one can be more skeptical than I am in such matters, yet it often takes an effort of philosophy to shake off these idle terrors.” But if poor Betty Davidson had concentrated all her ghost stories upon the Twenty-Fifth Mass. Regt., as it was halted in the woods on that darkest of nights, the terror could not have exceeded that occasioned by the swift passage of the apparition, the phantom rider, the frightened deer, or whatever else it was, or might be supposed to be. Briefly, while the battalion stood halted in the road, something struck the flank just below Company K, which had the advance. It came like the rushing of a mighty wind, and, suddenly, the regiment opened to the right and left, and just as suddenly, the men were heaped up promiscuously in either ditch, without order and with no regard to rank — captains and lieutenants, sergeants and corporals, men of the front rank and men of the rear rank, number one men and number two men indiscriminately piled together like the pieing of a printer's form, while each man's hair upon his head stood erect like quills on the fretted porcupine.
Capt. Denny stops just here, leaving every one to draw his own conclusion. From our knowledge of these regiments we append our belief that they were not suffering from too much “Commissary,” or “Kentucky sustenance,” though we are well aware such results are very apt to follow the too free use of such comfort. The captain should have added, they were so disturbed by this apparition as to have sought a neighboring house, inquiring if they ever had commotions around there at night? Betsy replied “Law, yes! a heap of dem! When you uns fust come, we uns had a right peart time chucking de Yankee soldiers, but fust we knows, you uns cabalry came into de camp over dar and kills all our men. Since den, we can hear dem cabalry charge ebery night!” Many of the Forty-Sixth Mass. Regt. shared in this experience. What was it, Colonel?
CHAPTER X. RESIGNATION OF COL. LYMAN. — LIFE IN NEW BERNE.
For nearly a year, the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. had been under the command of Lieut. Col. Luke Lyman, whose wise supervision and thorough drill had brought the regiment to a high degree of efficiency. His knowledge of and proficiency in tactics had established for him the reputation of a field officer second to none in the department. Under his command the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. had been engaged in the Tarboro, Kinston, Whitehall, Goldsboro, Gum Swamp and Wise Forks expeditions, and the siege of Washington, in all of which they had received the congratulations of their commanding general. Col. Lyman enjoyed to a remarkable degree the confidence of both officers and men, and was accessible to the lowest private seeking redress for grievances. On the 28th of May we learned with deep regret of the acceptance of Col. Lyman's resignation, and received his adieu in a few chosen words upon dress parade that evening. The officers of our regiment presented him with a handsome silver set, properly inscribed, as a token of their esteem.
Through some informality the first information received by Gov. John A. Andrew of Col. Lyman's resignation, was through a letter of Major Walter G. Bartholomew of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, recommending certain promotions, which drew from the governor the following endorsement of Col. Lyman: —
Boston, June 5, 1863.
Major Walter G. Bartholomew:
No official information of the resignation of Lieut. Col. Lyman has reached this department, and while the within letter indicates that such resignation has been tendered, the Governor trusts that it may have been withdrawn, or not have been accepted, believing it would be a great loss to the regiment to lose so able and faithful an officer.
By order of His Excellency,
John A. Andrew.
A. G. Brown, Jr.,
Lieut. Col., Mil. Sec.
Lieut. Col. Lyman received from Congress the title of brevet brigadier-general, for conspicuous service during the war. Gen'l Luke Lyman was born at Northampton Nov. 1, 1824. At the age of nineteen he enlisted in the Northampton Artillery Company, and received successive promotions therein, until holding its command. This company, though by name in artillery, was really an infantry company, and at the time embraced most of the leading citizens of the town. He was a natural leader, and his ambition seemed best satisfied while drilling his company in the manual of arms, or while engaged in field evolutions. It is admitted that much of the reputation of the Northampton Artillery Company was due to Capt. Lyman's inspiriting presence and zeal. Upon the outbreak of hostilities, at the request of members of Amherst College, he became their military preceptor, and infused a most enthusiastic military spirit among the students. In retiring from service, Gen'l Lyman returned to his position as register of probate for Hampshire County, and has held that office continuously until the present time. He has been chairman of the selectmen and overseer of the poor in his native town since 1876. He is a man of large experience, practical knowledge and marked individuality, and well fitted for enlarged usefulness.
The command of the regiment now devolved upon Major Walter G. Bartholomew, an officer of great personal magnetism, restless activity and presence of mind. He was brave to a fault, and blind to all opposition. He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. May 29, 1863. Capt. William A. Walker of Company C, senior captain, was promoted to major; First Lieut. J. H. Nutting to captain; Second Lieut. J. L. Skinner to first lieutenant; and Orderly William McKay of Company H, to second lieutenant.
June 6th the Twenty-Seventh Regt. relieved the Forty-Fourth Mass. Regt. from provost duty in New Berne, and were conveniently quartered within the town. For four months they were subjected to the demoralizing influences inseparable from such service, but maintained their high standing and discipline. While relieved from the exposure and peril incident to outposts, the duty was no less exacting and important. The execution of the provost marshal's orders; the ordinary police duty of cities; the surveillance of questionable citizens; the demanding of passes from all enlisted men; and the prohibition of all travel within the city lines after nine o'clock at night, all devolved on them.
On entering the town Capt. Charles D. Sandford of Company H, was appointed provost marshal of New Berne, with Lieut. W. C. Hunt of Company A, as assistant. Captain George W. Bartlett of Company K was at the same time appointed provost marshal of Beaufort. All of these officers by their faithfulness added much to the safety and efficiency of the department. Only one unpleasant event marred the execution of this duty. A soldier connected with another regiment disregarded the authority of the guard, in executing which the refractory soldier was shot dead. The occasion furnished an opportunity for the expression of the good will existing between the Twenty-Fifth Mass. and the Tenth Conn. Volunteers, and the Twenty-Seventh Regiment. The
regiment of which the offender was a member made violent threats of retaliation, but received information from our comrades above that “if any trouble was to be made with the Twenty-Seventh, they must be counted in.” The affair was a very unfortunate one, and as deeply regretted by our regiment as by the unfortunate man's comrades. The guard was deeply moved by the result of his act, but was exonerated and sustained by the commanding general.
While on duty in the city we improved the opportunity of attending the colored church, and here relate what we saw and heard as descriptive of the religious type of the negro character. The day was a hot one, the thermometer registering one hundred and ten degrees in the shade, and the church in the suburbs, was crowded to its fullest capacity. A well-proportioned colored man occupied the pulpit, who, in a simple, fervent prayer, opened the services. This was followed by the singing by the congregation of
- “Roll, Jordan, roll.
- I wants to go to hebben when I dies,
- To see Jordan roll;”
which was sung with a melody and pathos peculiarly their own. The reading of the Scriptures was an indication of the preacher's good intention, though he walked darkly, with guesses and ventures vexatiously mirthful. The long prayer was long and exhaustive. First humble, then persuasive, pathetic, fervent, grandiloquent, uproarious, roof-lifting, until the congregation, moved from centre to circumference, were shouting, “Amen! Tank de Lord! Oh, yes! Come along, mourner!” Amid such excitement one person was carried out “filled wid de spirit” (in a swoon). This to them was the height of spiritual life, making the subject almost a saint, for this frenzied excitement was to them “de power of de spirit,” and as such encouraged.
After this prayer, and the singing of another soul-stirring melody, the preacher announced, “My tex is de fourth
chapter of de Reberlations,” from which he argued his call to the work, — “Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must come to pass hereafter,” — adding, “An I has come to tell dese yere sinners, what da are coming arter.” After launching out in a glowing talk on heaven, he closed with the peroration, “Bredderin, I feels as I was jus afore de golden gates, wid de shinin streets afore me, an I knows I shall soon be dar, wadin knee-deep in milk an honey.” During the sermon a rat ran across the platform in full view of the congregation. A good “brudder,” not relishing his presence, rushed at the intruder with his cane, much to the amusement and disturbance of the congregation, the preacher remarking at its close, “Bredderin, dar'll be no sturbances up dar!”
The contribution was an essential feature of the programme. The preacher stated the amount needed, and asked the deacons to come up to the front and receive and count the money, while the choir sang. Very few came forward upon this effort, when the preacher exclaimed, “We wants a better chune dan dat; Brudder Carter, you come heyar an lead de congregation!” Brudder Carter raised an old soul-stirring melody, which the dullest spiritual army could not resist, when they came forward filling both aisles with a stream of contributors. This through with, he added, “Now, while Brudder Carter is a doin de singin, let de choir an deacons come yere an gib dar money.” It was after all a religion of heart, if not of understanding, and, in spite of incongruities, we have always held in high veneration the simple, trusting faith of this down-trodden race.
The hospitals of New Berne were the pride of the department, and, grouped together, were named in honor of our commander, “The Foster General Hospital.” Their location was the finest in the city, upon a square between Craven and Middle streets, and with the residences thereon, and the barracks constructed in the spacious gardens, furnished
unequalled accommodations for all demands made upon it. It was amply supplied with every remedial agency and surgical appliance, and was under the care of men of recognized standing in their profession.
The medical department of North Carolina was in care of a medical director and a medical purveyor. Surgeon C. A. Cowgill was in charge of the Foster General Hospital, with an able corps of subordinates, detailed from the various regiments. Capable “nurses” were secured from the convalescents, whose constant experience soon made them skilful and invaluable. The hospital buildings were divided into “wards,” and these wards were placed in charge of nurses, responsible for the comfort and cleanliness of their department. Neat iron bedsteads, mattresses, and clean linen were abundantly supplied, with reading for the convalescent.
The culinary department received liberal donations from the Sanitary Commission under Dr. J. W. Page of Bath, Me., and contributions of delicacies from home, beside the ordinary commissary supplies. The spiritual interests of the Foster Hospital were in charge of Chaplain J. W. Rouse, an Episcopal clergyman from Rochdale, Mass., whose active sympathy and unselfishness made him peculiarly the man for the place. The adjoining grounds were laid out with perfect symmetry and taste, and richly supplied with beautiful and fragrant flowers. Those who were able were permitted to rest within the shaded bowers, or, if willing, to work amongst the flowers; while through the window the sufferers might feast their eyes on the floral beauties, or inhale their fragrance. This hospital was for the relief of the over-crowded “regimental hospitals,” but not removing their necessity. Additional accommodations were provided at Beaufort and Portsmouth, through which our invalids, during the hot season, were permitted to enjoy the invigorating breezes of the sea.
The term of enlistment of the nine months’ regiments having expired, they left the department as follows:—
June 6th, Forty-Fourth Mass. Regt.
June 11th, Third Mass. Regt.
June 22d, Fifth Mass. Regt.
June 24th, Eighth, Forty-Third, Forty-Fifth, Forty-Sixth, and Fifty-First Mass. Regiments.
The Third, Fifth, and Forty-Fourth Regiments, went directly home, but the other organizations were ordered to report to Gen'l Foster, then at Fortress Monroe. “Gen'l Lee,” with rebel hordes, was at this time invading Maryland and Pennsylvania, and these regiments (with the exception of the Forty-Third) offered their services to the government for the emergency. Their offer was accepted, and they were ordered to report to Gen'l Schenck at Baltimore.
We are sure a brief notice of the Forty-Sixth Mass. Regt. will be acceptable to the Twenty-Seventh Mass. and its friends. The regiment was recruited from Western Massachusetts, at Camp Banks, Springfield. Nov. 5, 1862, they left for Boston, where, after several days’ detention, seven companies went on board the steamer “Saxon,” the other three companies being upon the steamers “Mississippi,” and “Merrimack,” with the Forty-Third and Forty-Fifth Mass. Regiments. The Forty-Sixth arrived at New Berne, Nov. 24th, camping upon the “Fair Ground” (peculiarly “our camping ground”) and were at once assigned to our (Lee's) brigade, and armed with Windsor rifles. Companies A and K, under Capt. (afterwards Major) Spooner, immediately occupied Newport Barrack, made vacant by our hasty departure for the Tarboro expedition. The regiment took an active part in the Goldsboro expedition, and boldly met the desperate charge of the enemy at its close, in their attempt to capture Morrison's Battery. Until March 13th, it was
engaged in strengthening the fortifications, and during that and the following day maintained an advanced position on the Trent road, though closely pressed by the enemy in their attack upon New Berne. On account of the assault upon Fort Anderson (across the Neuse) they were ordered within the fortifications, but on its repulse, at once advanced to their former position. March 26th they reinforced Major Bartholomew at Plymouth, remaining there during the excitement attending the siege of Washington, listening with keen anxiety to the rumbling cannonade which told of our peril.
Upon the arrival of Gen'l Wessell's brigade at Plymouth, they returned with major Bartholomew to New Berne, May 8th, and renewed work upon the fortifications, joining with us on the Wise Forks expedition; not to omit the gallant defence of the bridge by Companies A and I upon our return. But while what they did was creditable, what they would not do, and what they offered to do, was notably so. Much feeling existed among the nine months’ troops, from an order by the War Department, requiring the muster of those regiments “to date from the muster of its last company,” by which several weeks additional service was exacted of each. Gen'l Foster ordered that “companies might be discharged from date of their muster if the application was approved by the commander of the regiment.” Although it added more than a month to the service of the Forty-Sixth, they magnanimously declined to avail themselves of the order. Col. Jones Frankle of the Second Mass. Heavy Artillery, secured upwards of one hundred of its members for his regiment. Of this number was Lieut. Fordyce A. Dyer of Plainfield, Mass., one of earth's noblemen, of scholarly attainments, courage, and self-sacrificing devotion. During the prevalence of yellow fever, as provost marshal of New Berne he refused to quit his post, and while laboring for others fell a victim to the scourge Oct. 26, 1864.
June 24th the regiment left New Berne with orders to report to Gen'l Foster, then at Fortress Monroe. Lee's army being at this time on its raid into Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Forty-Sixth volunteered its services to the general government during the emergency, and was ordered to report to Gen'l Schenck at Baltimore, and by him was assigned to Gen'l E. B. Tyler, commanding the outer defences of Baltimore. They remained here on provost and patrol duty until July 6th. After the battle of Gettysburg, they joined Brig. Gen'l H. S. Briggs’ brigade in the pursuit of Gen'l Lee. Proceeding the 7th by rail to Monocacy Junction and Sandy Hook, they were ordered to “occupy and hold Maryland Heights,” the enemy being in force at Harper's Ferry. Here they remained, picketing the Sharpsburg road, until nine P.M. the 11th, when, after a continuous and exhaustive march of twenty-four hours, they joined the First Corps, Army of the Potomac, at Funkstown. While the army was crossing the Potomac at Berlin, the regiment unexpectedly received orders to proceed by shortest route to Massachusetts, in obedience to which they reached Springfield July 21st. The Forty-Sixth Mass. was mustered from service July 29, 1863, on Hampden Park, by Capt. Gardner, United States mustering officer. The regiment lost sixty-four men from wounds or disease while in service.
The Third and Eighth Mass. Regiments were unfortunately armed with Austrian rifles, which, after a short and unsatisfactory experience, they suggestively named “rusty trifles” a parody upon the common “trusty rifles.” But for these arms, these regiments would have gone to Charleston, S. C., with the force in January.
Upon the resignation of Capt. Daniel Messenger as provost marshal, Col. H. C. Lee was appointed Provost Marshal General of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, holding final decision over all questions of appeal from the rulings of the provost marshals of the various posts. Of
this appointment the “New York Herald” correspondent wrote, “No better selection for this important and responsible position could have been made in the department. Col. Lee is known as a sagacious, vigilant and impartial officer. His integrity and zeal are beyond question, and his ability to fulfil the duties of the station will be proven whenever opportunity offers.”
July 4th, Gen'l Heckman, with the Seventeenth, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Seventh Mass., Ninth New Jersey, and One Hundred Fifty-Eighth New York Regiments, advanced thirty miles into the country in support of a raid of the Third New York Cavalry upon the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. The first night we bivouacked on a large plain five miles beyond Pollocksville, and resumed our march at four o'clock the morning of the 5th, halting about ten o'clock five miles beyond Trenton. From this point the expedition proceeded to Keenansville and Warsaw, destroying two trains of cars; manufactories of knapsacks, salt and saltpetre; besides an iron foundry. We succeeded in capturing a rebel mail, three hundred horses and mules from a deserted cavalry camp, and a large quantity of army stores. July 17th a raid was made upon Rocky Mount near Tarboro, a diversion in its favor being made by the Twenty-Seventh and left wing of the Twenty-Fifth Mass. Regiments. We crossed the Neuse River, and advanced to Swift Creek, where we remained until the 20th inst. The result of this expedition was the burning of the railroad bridge three hundred and fifty feet long, at Rocky Mount, with four hundred feet of trestle-work, a cotton mill, machine shop, an engine, a train of cars and eight hundred bales of cotton. The column then made a detour to Tarboro, and destroyed two steamers, a partially completed ironclad, and one hundred bales of cotton. Although harassed by the enemy, front and rear, upon their return, they reached camp with a loss of only twenty-five killed, wounded and missing.
July 11, 1863, Gen'l Dix was relieved from command at Fortress Monroe, that part of North Carolina and southern Virginia occupied by our forces being consolidated into one department. This was known as the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, and was placed under command of Maj. Gen'l John G. Foster, with headquarters at Fortress Monroe. On his departure from New Berne July 29, 1863, he issued
General Order, No. 105.
. . . . As the enlargement of his command will remove the major-general commanding from immediate association with the corps he has so long commanded, he desires to express to them the satisfaction he has always felt at the courage, discipline and invariable good conduct exhibited by them.
He hopes that on future fields under his command, they will sustain their high reputation and vie in honorable rivalry with their companions of the Seventh Army Corps, many of whom are old friends and comrades, and sharers of the glories and perils of the Burnside Expedition.
By command of Major General J. G. Foster.
(Signed) S. Hoffman,
A. A. Gen'l.
The Department of North Carolina was soon after placed under command of Maj. Gen'l John J. Peck, an officer of national reputation, gained by his conduct during McClellan's peninsular campaign, and his vigorous defence of Suffolk, Va., during its twenty-four days’ siege by Longstreet's rebel forces. The Department of North Carolina was by him subdivided into the following districts: First district, New Berne and vicinity; district of Pamlico, Washington and vicinity; district of Albemarle, all points held upon that sound or rivers entering the same, including Roanoke Island; and the district of Beaufort, the country contiguous to that place.
Under the exacting service to which the entire Union army had been subjected, it now contained a great many men
Map of Washington N.C. During the Seige of April 1863. Drawn by Solon.M.Allis.C.G.
unfit for active duty, but not sufficiently disabled to warrant their discharge. Many able-bodied men were being used to garrison forts, protect communications, and also as nurses within hospitals. From such causes the effectiveness of our army had been so crippled, that it was decided to organize the Invalid or Veteran Reserve Corps from the disabled class, and with them relieve able-bodied men for service in the field. By General Order, No. 229, from the War Department, rules for the transferral of disabled soldiers were promulgated, and Aug. 30, 1863, Lieut. George W. Warner and sixty-four men of our regiment were transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps.
The meritorious services of Lieut. Warner deserve more than a passing notice. At the outbreak of the war, he was “turnkey” at Hampden County Jail, Springfield, Mass. He enlisted Sept. 13, 1861, as a member of Company K, Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., and was mustered first lieutenant of the same Oct. 16, 1861. When the regiment left the State, November 2d, he remained to secure stragglers, but rejoined the regiment at Annapolis empty handed, reporting, “the Twenty-Seventh Mass. had no such men.” While standing with his company in the battle of New Berne, his right foot was shattered by a grape shot and was amputated on the field. He was of the first to share the hospitalities of the New England Rooms, New York City, and with the aid of crutches reached his home the May following. His four months’ leave of absence was extended to Jan. 1, 1863, when he rejoined his regiment at Little Washington, participating in the siege. Incapacitated for marching, he was appointed commissary of subsistence for the poor till Aug. 30, 1863, when by “General Order 229,” he was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps, and ordered to report to Col. Nugent, New York City. He was assigned to the command of the Twenty-Sixth Company, Second Battalion Veteran Reserve Corps at Fort Schuyler and Willis Point.
Feb. 9, 1864, after a rigid examination, he received a commission as first lieutenant United States Volunteers, signed by President Lincoln, and resigned his commission in the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regiment. He organized the One Hundred and Twenty-Ninth Company Veteran Reserve Corps, for duty at Finley Hospital, and soon after reported to Col. H. G. Thomas at Cincinnati, Ohio. Here he remained for eighteen months, at Leytle Barracks, receiving a commission as captain for meritorious service March 13, 1865. The onerous and responsible duties of commander of this post were met with honesty and efficiency until June 30, 1866, when he was discharged from service. Capt. Warner is now a merchant at Lynn, Mass.
September 12th, by the kindness of Col. Lee, the writer accompanied him on the “Ella May,” up the Neuse, upon a flag of truce. At Street's Landing, nine miles above the city, we met Major Whitford on his way to New Berne to give notice of a party of women and children at his camp, desiring to enter our lines. In consideration of the delicate health of a Miss Richardson whom we were conveying to their lines, we were permitted to ascend to Clarkson's Landing, near Whitford's camp. The major, with a captain and a lieutenant, were taken aboard the “Ella May,” and whiled away the time with jests over the encounters which they had had with our regiment. Major Whitford was dressed in a neat suit of gray, with a gilt star upon his collar and embroidered knots upon his arms indicating his rank. Of the battle of New Berne, Major Whitford remarked, “Give the devil his due; it was your —— Yankee rifles that took that place; you got the range complete, and it was sure death to rise above the works. You were thoroughly whipped, but were —— fools enough not to know it, and turned around and licked us!” During the transaction of official business, the writer conversed with the lieutenant
and found him an under-graduate of Yale College. He severely criticised the government for arming the slaves, asserting that it was an evidence of our extremity, and that it would unite the South as never before. He said if the war should be left to Massachusetts and South Carolina to settle, — or better still to Jefferson Davis and “Abe Lincoln,” — it would be a just retribution. (Davis was considered by them a dead shot.)
The rank and file at Street's Ferry were armed with various kinds of fire-arms, and clothed with every style of garments. They were ignorant in the extreme, morose and revengeful in appearance, evidently fair exponents of the poor whites and their squalid poverty. The only thing of interest to them was suggested by their remark, “You uns wear right peart clothes.” On the arrival of the women and children, one woman, formerly of Pennsylvania, as she came on board, looking up, pathetically exclaimed, “God bless that dear old flag! Oh, how beautiful it looks!” Altogether, the visit to Dixie was pleasant and enjoyable, developing a friendly intercourse, and drawing from the lieutenant the honest declaration, “If there could be more of such friendly converse it would hasten the close of the war.”
The draft was now in full operation, and the risk of desertion attending the transportation of conscripts and bounty-men to the field so great, an order was issued detailing certain numbers from the veteran regiments to guard them to “the front.” The Twenty-Seventh furnished ten men under Capt. J. W. Trafton and Lieut. Pliny Wood, for this service. They rendezvoused at New York or Boston, at various times, delivering detachments of men for the armies in the East and West. In the spring of 1864, upon their own request, Lieut. Wood and most of the men returned to the regiment. Capt. Trafton remained at Boston Harbor till the spring of 1865.
Thirty years previous, James Whitby had taken Emeline, a neighboring slave, as wife, and fifteen children had been born to them, eight of whom had been sold, enriching his master by six thousand dollars. “Jim” knew, however, that by the courts of his State it had been declared “there could be no legal marriage between slaves,” and now that he was free, requested to be “jined by de book, cordin to de law of liberty.” A son was also to be married, hence they decided to engage the Episcopal Church, “an be jined like white folks.” At the appointed time the church, brilliantly lighted with gas, was filled to its capacity, the double train crowding the chancel to repletion. “Jim” tried by vigorous pulls to cultivate a closer relation between his pants and shoes, for the pants were considerably shorter than warranted by fashion; and Emeline, in ordinary dress, by a free use of saliva was endeavoring to smooth her curly locks. The young affiant was in perfect bridal costume, with orange blossoms, veil, train, and page; her deep ebony features, broad smile, and full white set of teeth, presenting a strong contrast with the motley surroundings. Chaplain Rouse officiated, and to the question “You promise to take Emeline as your lawful and wedded wife?” Jim emphatically replied, “Yes, Massa; I'll do dat for shu!” To the suggestion to Emeline that she would love, honor and obey, she replied, “I'll try, Massa.” This was a little too much for Jim's ardent affection, and he heartily expostulated with her, declaring, “We's want dis ting right dis time, for shu!” so Emeline consented to the full text.
The younger couple were effusive, till stunned by the superfluous challenge of the marriage service, allowing any one to question their right to each other. No objection being raised, Judy dropped her head in coyish delight, while the groom rolled his eyes in supreme felicity. With much stumbling and instruction the services were concluded, and
two as happy couples left the altar as were ever “joined by de book.” A most elaborate reception was held at the old folks’ house, where we first heard the thrilling negro melody:—
- “Nicodemus the slave was of African birth,
- He was bought for a bagful of gold;
- He was counted as part of the salt of the earth,
- But he died years ago, very old.
- ’Twas his last request, so we laid him away
- In the trunk of a hollow tree,
- Wake me up, was his charge, at the first break of day;
- Wake me up for the great Jubilee.
- Chorus. There's a good time coming, it's almost here,
- ’Twas long, long, on the way.
- Now run tell Elijah to hurry up Pomp,
- To meet us at the gum-tree down by the swamp,
- To wake Nicodemus to-day.”
If Nicodemus would not wake under such fervency as moved the crowded cabin at that midnight hour, melody and volume will do little to accomplish it. Emancipation was to them a great jubilee, and in the realization of long-deferred hope, every power of body and mind was thrown into this melody which expressed their faith in God's deliverance.
CHAPTER XI. GEN'L FOSTER CALLS FOR HIS OLD BRIGADE.
October 4th, after four months of provost duty in the city of New Berne, our regiment was relieved by the Seventeenth Mass., and went into camp upon the south of the Trent River, near Fort Gaston. This was in preparation for a more important movement. Gen'l Foster's order on leaving New Berne, indicated he had farther use for his original brigade, and a natural pride and confidence in them led him to desire their presence in his immediate vicinity. October 10th, he issued a special order transferring them to Virginia, and the 13th, inst. it was promulgated through Maj. Gen'l Peck.
Headquarters Army and District of North Carolina, New Berne, N. C., Oct. 13, 1863.
Special Orders, No. 59.
The following-named regiments and batteries will at once proceed to Elizabeth City without camp and garrison equipage, to which point the quartermaster's department will furnish transportation. From Elizabeth City they will march to Norfolk, and upon their arrival, be reported to Maj. Gen'l Foster, at Fortress Monroe. The Ninth New Jersey, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Seventh Mass. Volunteer Infantry Regiments, Belger's Battery F. . . . . .
Camp and garrison equipage will follow by transports. . . . .
By command of
Maj. Gen'l Peck.
Benj. B. Foster, Asst. Adjt. Gen'l.
Headquarters Forces and Defences of New Berne, New Berne, N. C., Oct. 13, 1863.
J. A. Judson, Asst. Adjt. Gen'l.
This order was received with evident satisfaction by all these organizations, from their unbounded confidence and enthusiasm in Gen'l Foster. Until this time most of the permanent force in North Carolina had been those engaged in its capture, but by this order only the Fifth Rhode Island Regiment remained of the original force. Other troops were sent to the State to replace our brigade. Owing to difficulty in obtaining transportation through the sound, the order was changed so that the Twenty-Seventh Mass. embarked upon the steamer “John Rice,” at Beaufort, N. C., October 17th. It arrived at Newport News Sunday, the 18th, at six P.M., and bivouacked on the banks of the James River for the night. The rest of the brigade followed at intervals, the last of it (Twenty-Fifth Mass.) arriving October 29th. “A” tents, well banked, and sea-weed as a substitute for straw, enabled us to protect ourselves from the chilly winds and night air. Battalion and skirmish drills — by bugle — with inspection and reviews, comprised our daily duty.
October 28th, Maj. Gen'l B. F. Butler superseded Maj. Gen'l J. G. Foster, in command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, the latter being ordered to relieve Maj. Gen'l A. E. Burnside, in command of the Department of the Ohio. By this transfer we bade a final adieu to our gallant commander, but followed him with increasing pride in his hasty march through Cumberland Gap in relief of Gen'l Burnside's beleaguered force at Knoxville, and when relieved by Gen'l Schofield, in his vigorous operations in the Department of the South.
November 10th, by order of Maj. Gen'l Butler, the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. reported at Norfolk and Portsmouth for provost duty, relieving the Twenty-First Conn. Regt., seven companies being stationed at the former and three at the latter place. These cities were in bad repute from their bitter disloyalty and numerous places of low resort. To
control these evils, companies were quartered in convenient parts of the cities, and a daily detail of ten men made as a special patrol, beside the guards necessary for the protection of public and private property. A sharp watch was established over suspicious persons and resorts, while treasury and provost regulations controlling trade were carefully enforced. On account of the ease of access, and the accommodations afforded at Norfolk, many of the officers induced their wives to enjoy the winter with them, but their society was shunned by the êlite of the place. This, however, was a little matter, as the number of Northern ladies present, formed a large circle of itself. Prominent citizens of the North visited the place in the interest of their local regiments, among whom was C. M. Lee, Esq., brother of Col. Lee, and O. W. Wilcox, Esq., father of Capt. Wilcox, both of Springfield, Mass. The latter came at the request of his city with a view of ascertaining the feelings of the regiment as to re-enlisting.
By General Order 359 from the War Department, conditions were prescribed, under which troops enlisted under certain calls might re-enlist. Large bounties, a thirty days’ furlough, and a remitting of the remainder of the original enlistment, were the inducements offered. Under this order Capt. H. C. Dwight of Company A, was appointed recruiting officer for the regiment, and by March 1, 1864, three hundred and forty-three of our comrades had re-enlisted. The appointment of Capt. Dwight for this important work was a recognition, not only of his ability, but his high standing with the rank and file. He was regarded by them as a man of unusual probity and honor, and his remarkable success in re-enlisting was due to this confidence. He declined to sanction the petty threats, deceits and compulsions of which serious complaints were made in other regiments, depending upon the patriotism and conviction of each as to his duty. The re-enlisted men and recruits obtained at this
time were sufficient to continue the organization as a “Veteran Regiment,” at the close of its original term.
The year of 1863 had been far from satisfactory. The victories of Vicksburg, Port Hudson, Missionary Ridge and Knoxville had been offset by the mortifying raids of Lee into Pennsylvania, Morgan into Ohio, Quantrell into Kansas, and the murderous riot in New York, as well as the drawn battles of Chancellorsville and Bristow Station in the East, and Chattanooga in the West. The Army of the Potomac, with all its terrible sacrifices, remained before its original camps, without an acknowledged leader. The only material advance for the year was the opening of the Mississippi River. The desperate character of the struggle had forced drafting to supersede volunteering as a means of recruiting the army. Wise counsel prevailed in filling the ranks of depleted regiments at the front rather than forming new organizations, thus economizing the resources of the government, and rendering the army more effective in the field. President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had crystallized the negroes into an offensive force in the field, and an active ally within rebel lines, furnishing reliable information of the enemy's forces and movements, or aiding our unfortunate prisoners in attempts at escape. The “Confiscation Act” had weakened the hands of traitors by an effective embargo against secret support from the North. The country had gained a more thorough appreciation of the struggle, and by these two acts had severely crippled the enemy's resources and power. On every hand evidences accumulated, that the conflict would be renewed with double energy after the enforced truce of winter. Unusual activity had been manifested in recruiting during the fall, and early winter found many of the regiments filled, with winter before them in which to discipline and organize the force.
CHAPTER XII. VETERANS AT HOME.
January 15, 1864, Lieut. Col. Bartholomew, with two hundred and twenty re-enlisted men, left Norfolk on a thirty days’ furlough. They were enthusiastically received at Springfield, Mass., the 18th inst., by a salute from the Union Battery, and by a large concourse of friends. After a brief time for friendly embrace and congratulations, the regiment marched under escort of the Armory Band, Union Battery, and city officials, through Main and Elm streets to the City Hall. Every available place was filled with a surging, cheering crowd; and buildings were lavishly decorated with colors and welcomes. Noticeably among these were the “Springfield Republican” with its “Welcome, Twenty-Seventh”; Tilly Haynes, Esq.’s “Welcome to the Twenty-Seventh. We honor the brave,” followed by a list of our engagements; Tinkham & Co., Goldthwait & Co., and the Massasoit Insurance Company. A bountiful collation was spread at the City Hall, where we were royally received, the hall being filled to its utmost capacity.
Mayor Alexander then addressed us as follows:—
Veterans of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment!
One of the pleasantest duties which has devolved upon me officially, is this welcoming you back to your city, your homes and your friends. A little more than two years ago you left us, one thousand in number, but one in heart, to meet the enemies of your
country, and nobly have you redeemed your pledge which you gave in your firm purpose and martial bearing. We have followed you with our affection and sympathy, from your departure until your return. The captures of Roanoke and of New Berne, the victories of Kinston and Goldsboro, and more than all these, the sturdy and unyielding defence of Little Washington, which were among the achievements of your brave hearts and strong arms, have been our pride and our boast. The battles which Generals Burnside and Foster directed to be inscribed on your banners, have been written in our history, because you went from us, and are our brothers and sons. You have fought many battles, but have met with no defeats; the enemy might always see your faces, but never your backs. You have not lost an inch of ground that you have conquered, and the rebellious who yielded to your arms, and with whom you have lived, and who learned what manner of persons you were, have been among the first of our enemies to show evidence of returning allegiance. Soldiers can have no superiors who always win (and with equal ease) the victories of war and the victories of peace.
Sorrowfully, indeed, we miss some of your number. The cruel fates of war have been allotted them, but they died as brave soldiers should die, fighting in a good cause, and in the “fierce joy” of battle. Theirs is the reward of good men who have done their whole duty, and they will live always in the affectionate remembrance of those who knew and loved them in life, and in the history of their country which they died to save. We give to you a heartier welcome, because you have returned with an undaunted courage and an unyielding purpose. You have declared your intention of completing the work you have so gallantly commenced.
Once more you have pledged your faith and your lives to the country, until the last foe is vanquished, and the last rebel flag is lowered in submission. We receive this pledge as an assurance of victory and — before the snows of another winter shall cover our fields — the return of peace and happiness, of loyalty and freedom throughout our land. We welcome you then again, brave soldiers of the Twenty-Seventh, who have renewed your first vow to the country — “three years or for the war.”
Just how Col. Bartholomew was to dispose of his obligation in reply, no one could guess, as he had never indulged in oratory before his men, and hence they were wild with delight over his graceful reply.
I thank you, and through you the citizens of Springfield, for the friendly reception which has welcomed our return. In the severe trials of our campaigns, next to the consciousness of doing our duty, we were best sustained by the reflection that we had the sympathy and affection of our friends at home. In the cordial reception which we have this day received and which you have prepared for us, we forget all our past trials, and remember only the honors and awards which our fellow-citizens and our country bestow upon us. I conceal from no one my pride in the regiment with which I have the honor to be connected. Wherever duty, danger or patriotism called them, they have been the first to march and the last to leave. Massachusetts has sent forth no braver body of men, and there are no braver men than those whom Massachusetts sends.
Mr. Mayor, we have come home for a few days only. We are going on with the work we have commenced, and when we come back again, we shall bring in our right hand victory and peace. We can boast of one thing which no other regiment in the service can: for a year and a half that we have been on picket duty, we have not lost a man killed, wounded or taken prisoner; and it has been a well-known fact, that when there was a chance for a fight, the ranks were full to the last man. Our little colonel — unwillingly absent — wishes to be remembered to his Springfield friends. You will be glad to hear that he is in command of his old regiment again, beloved by all, and, though we say it, deserving promotion.
Mayor Alexander again called for “three cheers for the Twenty-Seventh Regiment,” and Col. Bartholomew “for the citizens of Springfield” and “our gallant colonel,” and then gave the command “Ready, Twenty-Seventh! — Charge!” and the refreshments loading the tables disappeared as
promptly as the enemy on a Core Creek raid. After dinner the men were dismissed until February 14th, and after a month's furlough, re-arrived at Norfolk, February 19th, 1864.
Under ante bellum régime, everything at Norfolk seemed to have gone to wreck and ruin. Wharves, streets, vehicles, and people looked as though renovation or repairs had never been dreamed of. The whites had a pinched, scrimped, hungry look, and among the few remaining, no young men were to be found, their work being performed by girls, even to the driving of mule carts about the city. The ubiquitous negro was “omniprevalent, omnifarious,” and the main reliance for labor. After enlistment nothing suited them better than a raid into the surrounding country, their return being marked by processions surpassing the wildest dreams of scarecrows or “hobgoblins.” This boasted land of “hominy and bacon” did not furnish a “rooter” whose appearance would not suggest the last stages of consumption. It redeemed itself on oysters, however, which were as far superior to Norwalks as the latter excel the ordinary “plants.”
- “Oysters, natives, fine and fat;
- Oysters roasted! think of that!
- Oysters cooked in every way;
- Oysters plenty every day.”
Such was the poetic effusion of one who for the first time revelled in their lusciousness.
During the winter a detail from the regiment was made for a census of the colored population of that vicinity. Negro families were huddled together in squalid poverty, without regard to convenience, comfort or decency, and were about as easy to enumerate as a lively ant-heap. The children were so numerous, that many were without names, and answered to the suggestive nicknames, Nigger-head, Black-brat, Woolly-pate, and the like. No amount of persuasion could induce the parents to attempt to furnish names,
but they warmly urged our census takers to aid them out of the difficulty. Whether as a desperate resort, or as a result of wilful maliciousness of those engaged in the work, we will not say, but as a fact, all the great men of the nation were furnished with namesakes, not omitting many officers and men of our own and other regiments. This use of power resulted in some annoyance and considerable amusement, over which its perpetrators gloated with intense satisfaction. It was not unusual, while on our daily rounds of the city, to be suddenly stopped by a stentorian voice from attic or cellar, calling our names, saying, “Come he-ar dis minnit, or I'll broke yer hed!” This was followed by a sudden scattering of black cherubs from the gutters, with hands full of cigar-stubs and other gutter rubbish.
After entering the city, Chief Musician L. C. Skinner of Amherst, organized and uniformed a drum corps of twenty members, and by persistent practice brought them to unusual perfection. This corps was a source of pardonable pride to the regiment, and of great enjoyment to the citizens. When its martial strains filled the air in parading the streets, business cares and treasonable reserve gave place to appreciation and delight. No band in the department enjoyed the high estimation of this “drum corps,” the credit of which is due to Comrade Skinner. Music was to him an inspiration, and most of his exercises were original with himself. Comrade Skinner died at Plainville, Conn., Feb. 14, 1867.
Much labor was bestowed in establishing religious and educational facilities. A portion of the time the religious services of the regiment were held in the theatre building. Later, Chaplain Woodworth, by choice of the church, and the appointment of Gen'l Butler, assumed charge of the First Presbyterian Church, its pastor, Rev. Dr. Armstrong, having been sentenced to hard labor at Fort Hatteras, N. C., for treasonable utterances. Under Rev. W. L. Coan, schools for freedmen were established, including eight graded
and four primary departments. These were attended by two thousand scholars, while the evening schools were crowded by motley throngs beyond possible accommodation. Language fails to describe the longings of these emancipated ones for a taste of knowledge. An old man said to the writer, “Ef dis ole man can only read from dis blessed book for hisself, of de lub ob Jesus, it's nough for me!” A primer and Testament constituted the course of study, and for the most part best satisfied their wants. March, 1864, Mr. Coan wrote: “For months the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. has been with us; they have been our defenders, have met us in our praying circle, and we have been strengthened by their prayers and exhortations. They have devoted much time to the instruction of the poor freedmen, and our night and Sabbath schools have been greatly aided by them. We deeply regret the necessity of parting with them.”
Upon the accession of Gen'l Butler to the command of this department, Col. H. C. Lee was relieved as provost marshal general by the discontinuance of the office, and rejoined the regiment at Norfolk. During January, February and March, he was on special service with Porter Sherman, Esq., of Norfolk, and George E. Carney, Esq., of Lowell, Mass., as “bank commissioners,” investigating charges made by colored persons, who claimed they had funds in the bank of Norfolk, demands for which had been dishonored. Later, Col. Lee sat as president of a court-martial, before which six charges and forty-two specifications were brought against Col. Donahue of the Tenth New Hampshire Regiment, by his lieutenant-colonel, on all of which the accused was acquitted.
The Twenty-Seventh Regiment was under the command or Lieut. Col. Bartholomew, and by faithful service, won from Col. Whelden, provost marshal of Norfolk, the declaration “The Twenty-Seventh was the best regiment for provost duty I ever knew, seventeen men and a sergeant keeping a
population of forty thousand as quiet as any New England city.” The evening of March 4th, the enemy was reported advancing in force from Suffolk. At eleven P.M. the regiment advanced three miles into the country, bivouacking for the night and following day in a driving storm. At eight P.M. the evening of the 5th, we advanced a little beyond Magnolia Salt Sulphur Springs, remaining there until the morning of the 6th, but finding no enemy, returned, reaching Norfolk the evening of the 7th.
Norfolk was thoroughly northernized by the introduction of large numbers of merchants from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, New Haven and Springfield; in fact they monopolized its entire business. The most questionable enterprise was the establishment of the “Norfolk Régime” under military auspices. It could hardly claim to be a newspaper, its contents being mainly the publication of courtsmartial, with charges, specifications and findings, verbatim et literatim. It was a frequent inquiry, under what stress of service this outlay was warranted, or from what appropriation paid?
March 21st the Twenty-Seventh Mass. was relieved from provost duty by the Fourth Rhode Island Regiment, but on account of a protest to Gen'l Butler from military authorities and the board of trade, the order was rescinded. This did not reach us, however, until the 22d, at which time we were well on the way to “Julian's Creek.” The regiment were averse to returning, and succeeded in holding good the original order so far as to secure the relief of most of the regiment; Company F, and fifty men from other companies, were, however, returned to the city as a special guard. Six inches of snow had fallen and the entire distance to Julian's Creek, was marched in a driving storm, which increased to almost a hurricane before we reached our destination. Fortunately for us — as we could neither bivouac nor pitch tents at such a time — the Tenth New Hampshire Regiment was
absent from camp, and, true to the generous impulses of the Old Granite State, we received from those remaining a cordial welcome for the night. The morning of the 23d, a foot of snow lay upon the ground, with drifts of considerable depth. Before night closed the Twenty-Seventh had cleared the snow, pitched and stockaded their tents on an adjoining field, and were quietly ensconced around their cheerful fires.
During the months of January, February and March, two hundred and thirteen recruits joined the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, bringing its aggregate strength to nine hundred and thirty-three men, of which less than five per cent. were “under surgeon's care.” Of those who joined us during these months it is but just to say, that while technically “recruits,” their acts soon proved any distinction between them and veterans to be invidious. If they emulated the courage, invincibility and enthusiasm of more experienced comrades, they succeeded because of natural affinity. The meritorious record of these men during the remainder of the war, warrants us in dismissing, once for all, the term “recruit.” While the service of the regiment had been hitherto unremittent and exacting, we were about to enter upon a series of conflicts with which former contests bore little comparison. Such tenacity, fierceness and carnage were new experiences, even to our veterans, for upon former fields, after a few hours’ strife, we charged the enemy's position with uniform success. No defeat had tarnished our record, and at no time had we been driven from the field, or forced to turn our backs to the enemy. We were now to meet crushing defeat from the errors of others, many were to languish and die in loathsome prisons, yet in these experiences the new men were constant in service, vigilant in danger, courageous on the field, and patient in suffering even unto death.
While stationed at Julian's Creek, Heckman's Red Star Brigade was organized, consisting of the Twenty-Third,
Twenty-Fifth, Twenty-Seventh Mass., and Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Regiments, all of which had been closely connected with us in service since the fall of 1861. It is not too much to say of these regiments, again united with us, that they were the peers of any troops in the field, and so far as courage and fortitude would sustain, were thoroughly reliable. Brig. Gen'l C. A. Heckman, the commanding general, had earned his promotion from lieutenant-colonel of the Ninth New Jersey, in active service in North Carolina, and was known by us to be a fearless and valiant commander. April 12th the Twenty-Seventh made a reconnoissance in force to the Blackwater River, but returned without discovering any traces of the enemy.
April 17th Adjutant E. D. Lee, a genial and popular officer, died, at thirty years of age.
Edward D. Lee, Eldest son of Hon. Artemas Lee of Templeton, Mass, was commissioned as second lieutenant March 15, 1862. He joined the regiment May 1st, and was promoted first lieutenant Nov. 16, 1862. He served most of his time with Company I, Capt. Wilcox, or as adjutant of his regiment, but at his death he was acting assistant adjutant-general on the staff of Col. H. C. Lee. The latter wrote of him: “As an assistant adjutant-general I never expect to replace him. He was, in office, prompt, systematic, untiring, and on the field, cool, brave and determined. His loss creates a gap which will be felt and noticed.” Maj. William A. Walker wrote: “In the performance of his duties he was prompt and efficient, devoting his time and abilities to the interests of the regiment, and adding no small share to the reputation it enjoyed for order and discipline.” He had been acting in his last position but a brief time, but had been frequently complimented by the department inspector for his order and accuracy. He was a thorough student of his
position, excelled by few in his knowledge of tactics and military discipline. In the midst of preparations for the summer's conflict, he was prostrated by an inflammation of the lungs, and removed to Balfour Hospital, Portsmouth, Va., where he died April 17, 1864. The body was brought to camp at Julian's Creek for funeral services, when it was escorted to the steamer at Norfolk by his company, and forwarded to Lee, Mass., for burial. At Lieut. Lee's death, a brother of his was in a precarious condition from wounds received in battle.
CHAPTER XIII. THE DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA IN DANGER.
The history of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. is so closely interwoven with the Department of North Carolina, a record of events occurring since the departure of the regiment will prove of interest. In October, 1863, the enemy extended the lines of their department to include the southern defences of the James River on the north, and Wilmington on the south, with headquarters at Petersburg, Va. This department was placed under command of Gen'l George E. Pickett, whose vigilance and courage gave promise on the part of the enemy of a determined effort to rid North Carolina of its invaders. Confidence in their ability to accomplish this was strengthened by their knowledge of the departure of Gen'l Foster with his veteran troops, and a material reduction of the Union army by the withdrawal of the nine months’ regiments. Maj. Gen'l John G. Peck, commander of the Union forces, was of conceded courage and engineering skill, and had distinguished himself at Fair Oaks and Suffolk, Va. He had not, however, the restless activity required to secure in advance a knowledge of the rebels’ plans and strength by expeditions against, and frequent reconnoissances along the enemy's lines. With the small force at his command, such activity was imperatively needed for safety.
At gray of dawn Feb. 17, 1864, the One Hundred and Thirty-Second N. Y. Regt., Col. P. J. Claassen, at Bachelor's Creek,
was attacked by Hoke's, Clingman's, and Corse's brigades under command of Gen'l Pickett. Gen'l Dearing's brigade moved on Fort Anderson across the Neuse, while Gen'l Barton, with Ransom's and Terry's brigades, advanced through Pollocksville, on the south of the Trent, intercepted communications with Beaufort, captured a company of the Fifth Rhode Island at Newport Barracks, and attempted to construct batteries along the river below the Trent. The One Hundred and Thirty-Second New York gallantly defended their position several hours, inflicting severe loss upon the enemy, including the death of Col. H. M. Shaw of Roanoke Island fame, until the arrival of Lieut. Col. Fellows with a detachment of the Seventeenth Mass. A company of the Second North Carolina Union Volunteers, occupying a block-house at Beech Grove, surrendered without contest, permitting the enemy to gain our rear. Col. Fellows had hardly reached supporting distance of Col. Claassen, when he found his flanks assailed by Hoke's brigade, before which he retired to the fortifications at New Berne with a considerable loss in prisoners. Col. Claassen's troops fell back by the railroad, contesting the enemy's advance at every opportunity, reaching the intrenchments at New Berne late in the afternoon.
The night closed upon New Berne with Gen'l Pickett's forces occupying the timber fronting our defences between the Neuse and Trent rivers, and Gen'l Barton investing the city on the south of the Trent. Our defences encircling the city were about four miles in length, including Forts Totten on the Trent road, Rowan on the railroad, and Stevenson outlying on the bank of the Neuse, as western defences, with Forts Gaston and Amory south of the Trent, and Fort Spinola outlying on the Neuse, easterly. Our available force did not exceed thirty-five hundred men, and could present only a feeble resistance along this extensive line. Able-bodied negroes were armed and scattered along the
fortifications. Lieut. W. C. Hunt (of Company A, Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt.), assistant provost marshal of New Berne, rallied a full company of sutlers and traders, under the euphonious title of “Letter B (let her be) Company,” in whose evolutions and courageous exhibitions he took unbounded delight. During the evening rebel bands regaled us with “Dixie,” “Lone Star,” and “Bonnie Blue Flag,” to which our band responded from Fort Totten with national airs, and “Oh, dear, what can the matter be?”
About midnight a volunteer force of one hundred and fifty marines from Richmond, under a Col. Wood, moved down the Neuse in “launches,” intending to surprise and capture our fleet. The gunboat “Underwriter” lay abreast Fort Stevenson, and was closely approached under cover of darkness. The enemy disregarded our challenge, when discovered, and before the crew could be rallied, were boarding the vessel. A fierce hand to hand conflict ensued, with only one possible result, until the commander of Fort Stevenson, comprehending the situation, on his own responsibility opened fire upon the unfortunate gunboat, exploding its magazine and frustrating the design of the enemy. This act met the unqualified approval of the commanding general. The enemy were in full possession of the “Underwriter,” our men having been driven into the water, so that when the explosion occurred it fell upon the foe with disastrous effect.
Strange as it may appear, at daylight the next morning, Gen'l Pickett with his entire army had withdrawn. Whether the field, covered by the frowning guns of our forts in front, and the transverse fire of our navy from either flank was too much for the sensitive nerves of Gen'l Pickett, or whether he was disgusted with the failure of his marines, the inactivity of Barton and the non-appearance of Gen'l Dearing, we are unable to say. We venture the suggestion that his sincere respect for the first lost him the prize. Either of his divisions might have forced the southern defences and captured the place, although they could not have held it.
A terrible fate awaited the unfortunate company of North Carolina Volunteers captured at Beech Grove, many of whom were deserters from the rebel army. They were betrayed by one of their own sergeants, and being found in arms, twenty were executed at Kinston. The orderly sergeant of the company, who voluntarily furnished the company roll by which evidence necessary to their conviction was secured, suffered a just retribution in being executed with them. The report of their execution caused a thrill of horror at New Berne, but an investigation failed to establish criminality beyond the usages of war. They were deserters from their army, and their terrible fate was justified by military law. The fault was with the government in enlisting such troops, or if enlisted, allowing them in such exposed positions. The natural tendency to revenge, rendered it easy to establish such charges against “Buffalo Yankees,” as they termed them.
Brig. Gen'l H. W. Wessell, with his brigade, had remained at Plymouth, since relieving Companies G and H of the Twenty-Seventh in May, 1863, with little to disturb the garrison. Frequent rumors of an ironclad at Rainbow Bluff, destined to assault the place, were received. His force consisted of the Sixteenth Conn., Eighty-Fifth N. Y., One Hundred and First and One Hundred and Third Penn. Volunteer Regiments; Companies “G,” Capt. Ira B. Sampson, and “H,” Capt. Joseph E. Fiske, Second Mass. Heavy Artillery; Twenty-Fourth N. Y. Battery two companies of the Third N. Y. Cavalry, and two companies of the First North Carolina Union Volunteers; with the gunboats “Miami,” “Southfield,” “Whitehead” and “Bomb-hell.” April 17th this force — excepting detachments at Roanoke Island — were all present at Plymouth. Sunday P.M., the 17th, while the troops were attending divine service, the pickets were simultaneously attacked at War Neck, Fort Grey and Lee's Mills roads, and early in the evening a desperate assault was made
by “Kemper's brigade” on Fort Grey. This assault was repulsed with great loss. An artillery duel ensued the 18th, the enemy being again repulsed in an attempt to break our lines adjoining “Lee's Mills road,” but about eleven P. M., after three successive charges, Hoke's brigade succeeded in carrying the Eighty-Fifth Redoubt, or Fort Wessell, and capturing its garrison.
At three A.M. the 19th, the gunboat “Whitehead” was “on picket” at the head of the islands, with instructions to give immediate notice of the approach of the ironclad ram “Albemarle.” In some way the “Whitehead” allowed itself to be surprised and cut off from the direct channel, so that the first warning of our fleet was the sight of the “Albemarle” bearing directly upon them. Commander Flusser immediately lashed the “Miami” and “Southfield” together, and stood by his forward gun (at the time loaded with a shell), and as his mailed antagonist closed upon him, drew the lanyard, against the protest of his crew, when a piece of the rebounding shell struck him in the side, inflicting a ghastly and fatal wound.
Lieut. Commander Flusser entered the navy in 1847, and for meritorious and gallant service, received successive promotions, his commission as lieutenant-commander being dated July 16, 1862. Being of Maryland birth, a scion of the family of Theodore Bland, and nephew of Commodore Mayo, U. S. N., strong influences were used to induce him to desert his country for the Confederacy. Just after the opening of hostilities, while attending his uncle's funeral, he heard some one say that his uncle had “lived long enough to attest his loyalty to the South.” Flusser indignantly rejoined, “In my opinion Commodore Mayo lived one week too long for his own honor or that of his family.” He was as fearless as loyal, as dashing as determined. It is reported of him when bearing down upon the “Sea Bird,” the rebel Lynch's flagship, at Elizabeth City, February 10th, he hailed
the vessel, saying, “Tell the commodore to get out his fenders, I'm coming aboard;” and the next moment his steamer struck the “Sea Bird,” crushing it beneath the waves.
Among those who pressed him to join the South was his comrade, Hollins, afterward an officer in the Confederate navy. His reply, so characteristic of the man, has been made public: —
Dear Cap, — I shall never do it. What! be one of the very first to fire on the Flag? Not I! I have no appetite for argument to-night; my heart is sick. Is it not enough to drive an honest man out of his senses, to find thieves making a great nation destroy itself? Where are your wits, man? How can this business end? In “peace” and slavery? The end may bring the death of both forever, and worse, inaugurate an era of blood, unparalleled. . . . Just look, then, at the prospect; blood, rapine, desolation, war, Hollins!
“Thou canst not shake thy gory locks at me, And say I did it.”
Yours in Union,
C. W. Flusser.
Let this be his monument; few men raise their own, or choose a nobler epitaph; and, though we buried him amid the lowly in the soldiers’ graveyard at New Berne, and his headstone now bears this simple inscription,
— — FLUSSER,
U. S. Navy,
yet a grateful people will hold him in memory, and teach their children to copy his example.
After the death of Commander Flusser, the uneven contest continued but a short time before the steamers “Southfield” and “Bombshell” were sunk, and our navy retired to
the sound. Reinforced by the “Albemarle,” the enemy hurled a galling fire of grape, shell and canister from all sides on the devoted garrison. Three successive demands for surrender were met with prompt refusals, to the last of which, Gen'l Hoke retorted, “I will fill your citadel with iron, and compel you to surrender, if it take the last man!” At 4.30 A.M., Wednesday, April 20th, Pegram's, Marshal's, Blount's, and Lee's batteries opened on the works along Columbia road and Coneby Creek, under cover of which, “Ransom's brigade” in “double column by division,” by a desperate charge, carried Coneby and Compher redoubts, and pressed into the town. The enemy's fire now swept every portion of our line, while the contest was waged from house to house and tree to tree, until at seven o'clock, all the defences but Fort Williams and Fort Grey at War Neck, had been captured. The former was under command of Capt. Ira B. Sampson, formerly of the Twenty-Seventh, who at this time was chief of artillery on Gen'l Wessell's staff. For five hours this force withstood the combined attack, the entire artillery of the enemy and the “Albemarle” concentrating a fierce fire of grape, shell and solid shot upon the fort until the unequal contest was ended by the surrender of Fort Williams. Fort Grey, finding all the other defences captured, capitulated. The enemy heartlessly massacred all negroes with arms, besides many of the North Carolina Volunteers. Our loss was fifteen killed, one hundred wounded, and sixteen hundred prisoners; that of the enemy ninety-five killed, and six hundred and thirty-five wounded. After the defeat of our naval forces by the “Albemarle,” Capt. Horace I. Hodges, assistant quartermaster, volunteered to carry dispatches to the fleet below, in doing which his boat was capsized and the captain drowned. Capt. Hodges was born at Savoy, June 12, 1818, a graduate of Williams College 1838, studied law with Bates & Huntington, Northampton, and with the exception of three years,
practised law or resided at that place. He was influential in politics, a trial justice, judge of insolvency, and commissioner for Hampshire County. He was commissioned captain and assistant quartermaster 1863, with assignment to this post, and died at the age of forty-six years, leaving a widow and two children.
Ira B. Sampson was born in Middlefield, April 22, 1840, and received a sergeant-major's warrant in the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., dated Dec. 7, 1861. He was commissioned a second lieutenant March 1, 1862, and at the time of his resignation, was under recommendation for promotion with us. He was present in the marches and battles of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment until the close of the siege of Washington, N. C., receiving honorable mention for a successful movement from Bachelor's Creek, against Whitford's guerrillas. He was promoted as captain of Company G, Second Mass. Heavy Artillery, and after several months of recruiting service at the North, returned to active duty. Large bounties had drawn a great number of bounty-jumpers to his command, and the moving of his battalion to the seat of war without the loss of a man was warmly commended by Gov. Andrew and Gen'l Pierce.
March 1, 1864, Gen'l H. W. Wessell appointed him chief of artillery, Department of Albemarle. His headquarters were at Fort Williams, the principal defence of Plymouth. Of the contest made by this fort during Hoke's attack, Gen'l Wessell said: “Capt. Sampson's guns, though of old and clumsy patterns, were handled with a coolness and skill worthy of all praise, inflicting severe loss upon the enemy.” Capt. Sampson capitulated Fort Williams five hours after the capture of the town of Plymouth, having himself received a wound from a shell just previous to the surrender. He suffered imprisonment ten mouths at Macon and Savannah, Ga., Charleston and Columbia, S. C. He escaped from Savannah, July 3, 1864, but was recaptured
three days later within three miles of our gunboats. On the approach of Gen'l Sherman to Columbia in February, 1865, he secreted himself between the ceiling and roof of a piazza to a hospital building, until the 15th, when he escaped to a barn near the city. Here be witnessed Wheeler's (rebel) cavalry fire the railroad depot and several warehouses, and says the fire was raging heavily when the Union forces entered Columbia. After serving on staff duty to Fayetteville, N. C., he descended the Cape Fear River on the first dispatch boat in charge of a howitzer. After a leave of absence he returned to duty as commander of Fort Macon, and resigned June 8, 1865, after the close of hostilities.
April 25, 1864, for reasons unknown, Maj. Gen'l Peck was removed from the command of the Department of North Carolina. He retired from service to his home at Syracuse, N. Y., where he died in 1878. Col. Harland, with the Twenty-First Conn. Regt., was at this time holding Washington, N. C., and learning of the capture of Plymouth, evacuated the place, destroying the fortifications and large quantities of military stores. All points on the rivers and sounds were expecting each in turn to fall victims to the “Albemarle.” Our fleet had been reinforced by a superior class of naval vessels, including the “Sassacus,” “Tacony,” “Wyalusing” and “Mattabesset,” each of which were armed with iron prows. Commodore Melancthon Smyth, an officer of large experience and energy, was also placed in command of the naval forces in the sound, and the hope of the department was, should the “Albemarle” venture into the open sound, the fleet might be able to run it down.
At four P.M., May 5th, the steamers “Mattabesset,” “Sassacus,” and “Wyalusing” were lying at anchor at Bluff Point near Edenton Bay, when they received warning from the “Miami” and “Whitehead,” on picket near the mouth of
the Roanoke River, that “the Ram was out,” attended by the “Bombshell” and “Cotton Plant.” The “Ram,” otherwise known as the “Albemarle,” was armed with two one-hundred pound Brooks guns, rifled, and these so arranged as to fire from front, sides and rear. It was decoyed by our fleet to just below Edenton Bay, when the conflict was opened by a gun from the “Miami.” The “Mattabesset” and “Sassacus” followed with broadsides, but their missiles bounded from their mailed antagonist like rubber balls. In turning for a broadside, the deck of the “Sassacus” was raked by the fire of sharpshooters upon the steamer “Bombshell,” causing the former to deliver its broadside upon the rebel craft, which resulted in the immediate surrender of the “Bombshell.” The “Mattabesset” and “Wyalusing” were now engaging the “Albemarle,” when Commander Roe of the “Sassacus,” determined to close upon the foe. With thirty pounds of steam, and throttle wide open, the “Sassacus” rushed for its antagonist, striking it amidship at a speed of ten knots an hour. Its prow pierced the iron monster, and with full steam the “Sassacus” continued to crowd its opponent heavily upon its side.
At the moment of collision a hundred-pound shot passed through the “Sassacus” from stem to stern, but without material damage. A black muzzle again protruded from the port of the foe. The crew of the “Sassacus” with haste trained their Parrott, and a ponderous shot shivered the muzzle of the “Albemarle's” gun before it could be fired. They were within ten feet of each other, the powder from each blackening the side of its antagonist. It was “broadside to broadside,” and “yard-arm locked to yard,” while the crew of the “Sassacus” threw shot, shell and hand-grenades into the ports of the “Albemarle.” Gun answered gun in quick succession, while the scattering fire of sharpshooters was working death on either side. Another gun protrudes from the ram, and another Parrott on the “Sassacus” is quickly
trained upon it, and both discharge together. But a sound strikes the crew of the “Sassacus,” more terrible than that of belching cannon or bursting shell. The enemy's shot has passed through her boiler, and quick as thought, the “Sassacus” is enveloped in a cloud of scalding steam. Scores are writing in the burning mist, but the brave gunners stick to their batteries, and ply their ponderous missiles upon the mailed sides of the foe.
It is a duel for life, and the divisions stand to their guns with a gallantry unequalled since the days of Decatur. At length one of our hundred-pound shots crumbles against the iron craft, part of the ball wedging itself into and sealing the port, and thus silencing the rebel guns. Still our batteries continue their incessant pounding, until the steam has exhausted from the boilers of the “Sassacus,” and its wheels fail to revolve, when it helplessly drifts away from its antagonist. When the steam cleared away, the crew of the “Sassacus” saw the foe making effort to escape. Nineteen had been severely burned and one killed by the scalding steam, and though the burns were deep and painful, they forgot their sufferings and cheered lustily over the victory. The fleet followed the ironclad to the Roanoke River, but the latter succeeded in making good its escape. It is hard to avoid the conviction that had the other vessels joined in the fray at close quarters, it would have been impossible for the “Albemarle” to have escaped.
While these events were transpiring a more portentous feature of the enemy's plan was developed by a force, estimated at fifteen thousand men under General Hoke, leaving Kinston for the purpose of capturing New Berne. The connection was too evident. This place was now under command of Brig. Gen'l I. N. Palmer, an officer who — whatever his accomplishments — failed to inspire confidence in his nerve and valor. The reliance of the District was rather on Capt. J. A. Judson, Assistant Adjutant-General
on his staff, an officer of unquestioned courage and ability and, as Capt. Denny well says, “of energy enough to run half a dozen headquarters, and, with his big goose-quill, able to turn off any amount of solid work.”
Nine o'clock, May 5th, the enemy were discovered in heavy force upon the south of the Trent, intercepting communication with Beaufort, and commenced the construction of batteries along the river, and opposing our works. The fire from our navy interfered little with their labor, but no demonstration was made by them against any part of our line. On the morning of the 6th, as the monitor car ran down to the creek bridge, it was met by a flag of truce with a formal demand from Gen'l Hoke, for “an unconditional surrender of New Berne and its forces, or the place would be stormed at four p.m., and the garrison held responsible for the useless loss of life.” We were assured the “Albemarle” was then in the river and no possible hope could exist for aid from any direction. Negroes were again forced to the front and Lieut. Hunt's valiant “Letter B Company” rallied for defence, for the available force outside of convalescents did not exceed three thousand men. Everything indicated that the enemy would assault the southern defences, as our weakest point, and these were strengthened by troops from Fort Totten.
At five p.m., there having been no assault, a reconnoissance was made by Capt. Graham of the First North Carolina Union Cavalry, who reported the enemy in full retreat. On capturing some of their rear guard at Pollocksville, he learned that “Gen'l Pickett had received a dispatch from Richmond saying a large force of Yankees had landed a few miles below that city and ordering him to hasten with the utmost dispatch to its relief.” Thus again was New Berne saved, and though hundreds of miles intervened, the movements of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., as it advanced on Richmond from Bermuda Hundreds, was the means of once
more saving New Berne and its garrison from the grasp of the enemy. It was a prize which might well have tempted the most ambitious. With it the entire control of North Carolina would have reverted to the enemy, while its enormous supplies would have aided their depleted stores. The prestige of such a victory would have strengthened their cause in the field and with the nations. The heroic deeds of our navy and the sudden advance of Heckman's brigade within sight of the rebel capital frustrated their deep-laid plans.
CHAPTER XIV. THE ARMY OF THE JAMES.
Our record left the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Vols. at Julian's Creek, Va., where, at eleven, A.M., April 26, 1864, it received marching orders, with instructions to forward unnecessary baggage north, and to store their camp equipage at Portsmouth, Va. At five o'clock in the afternoon the regiment embarked upon the steamer “Escort,” an old-time friend in North Carolina. We left Portsmouth at five o'clock the morning of the 27th, and arrived at Yorktown about noon. Here we received our first issue of sheltertents, in preparation for the summer campaign. After marching and countermarching to deceive the enemy, we embarked upon the steamer “Winona” at Yorktown, Va., with sealed orders. For the purport of these orders, and the manner of execution, we refer to the following special report for this work, from the commander of the Brigade.
Brig.-Gen'l C. A. Heckman's Report; or The Army of the James.
Its Mismanaged Movement on the James River, and How it Ended in Disaster.
On the morning of the 26th of April, 1864, the Army of the James, composed of the Tenth Corps, Gen'l Q. A. Gillmore, and the Eighteenth Corps, Gen'l W. F. Smith, under command of Gen'l B. F. Butler, commenced moving to co-operate in the reduction of Richmond, in accordance with orders from Gen'l Grant. The fleet sailed up the York River to Yorktown. The Star Brigade,
composed of the Ninth New Jersey and Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Seventh Mass. was sent up the peninsula near to Williamsburg, a large number of transports meanwhile sailing further up the river. This movement being designed only as a feint, the troops suddenly counter-marched and re-embarked, the whole fleet returning during the night of May 4th, to Fortress Monroe. On the morning of the 5th, the fleet sailed up the James River, the ironclads in advance, and in the evening the Star Brigade debarked at Bermuda Hundreds and marched inland one mile, to cover the landing of our army. Next morning took possession of Cobb's Hill without opposition. It is at the neck of the narrow strip of land known as Bermuda Hundreds, around which the river bends, so that our army rested both its wings on it, though they were many miles apart by water. A line of works across this neck, with its flanks covered by gunboats in the river, made it a most defensible position, and one also in which an aimless force could easily be rendered neutral by an inferior one. About 1 P.M., under orders from Gen'l Butler to “ascertain, if possible, the numbers and position of the enemy, but be sure to avoid bringing on a general engagement,” my brigade moved forward to Port Walthall Junction, on the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad. We found the enemy well posted behind the railroad embankment. Our skirmishers drove their pickets back upon their main line, and the order in which they retired proved them to be regular troops. To develop their strength, a section of three-inch rifled guns opened a brisk and most accurate fire upon them, dropping its shells in the midst of their infantry, en masse. After a couple of hours manœuvring, the enemy failing to respond with artillery to our annoying practice, I was assured the force on our front was a small one (two or three regiments), and from information obtained from deserters that it was the only body of regular troops in the neighborhood, and returned to camp and reported accordingly. “The brigade being (by its orders) restricted in its movements, I put in practice a manœuvre, on which I felt considerable anxiety; viz., how it would be effected in retiring from the enemy under fire. In double line of battle they marched steadily forward until within half-musket range, then charged on the double quick to the enemy's breastwork, when the recall sounding brought them right about.
They retired about one hundred yards, faced to the front, sent a volley into the Johnnies, again faced to the rear and steadily marching out of range, faced to the front, the rebs keeping up a steady fire, but not venturing from behind their breastwork. The movement was admirably executed, and drew expressions of admiration from the members of Gen'l Smith's staff that were present.” If an immediate advance on Petersburg by one of our corps, and simultaneous with that movement an attack on Drewry's Bluff by the other corps had been made, we would have carried both points with comparatively small loss. But the great opportunity for a decisive strike was thrown away. The landing on the south side of the James had been a complete surprise; but that night the “Cockade City” slept secure, with only one small South Carolina brigade, the Washington Artillery (unserviceable for want of horses), the militia (Bates’ battalion of boys, “for local defence,”) and a regiment of Clingman's brigade — a ridiculously inadequate force — to defend it, and Butler's army of thirty-five thousand veterans in sight of its church steeples. As it was afterward ascertained, Kautz's Cavalry, who had moved (via Suffolk) simultaneously with the Army of the James, had been partially successful in cutting “the Weldon road,” and the small force engaged at Port Walthall was all of Beauregard's troops, coming hurriedly up from South Carolina, that had been able to pass the break in the railroad. On the 7th a meaningless movement was made on Port Walthall, and a useless battle fought. Weitzel, it is true, destroyed several miles of railroad, but the enemy repaired it the following day, while our army remained supinely in camp. Wise, Hoke and Kemper now arrived, and formed line on Swift Creek. Beauregard arrived, and to him Gen'l Pickett turned over the command, which he had held for so many anxious days and nights. Monday, the 9th, our two corps made their first combined or even concerted movement, the operations of days before having been carried on by detached brigades and divisions. A small force of rebel infantry, with a section of Whitworth guns, was encountered at Swift Creek, three miles from Petersburg. The Star Brigade was deployed in two lines of battle on the right and left of the road. They fired a round over our heads, fell back to the next hill, and so continued to fire and fall back until we had arrived
within three hundred yards of Arrowfield Church. Here they appeared in strong force, and assumed a vigorous offensive. I was about to relieve my front line with the second, but, instead, closed up, instructing my colonels to fire at a given signal. The Confederates came on in splendid style with the peculiar “rebel yell” till within forty yards of our line, when our crushing volley swept them over the brow of the hill and across the creek into the arms of their comrades who were holding a redoubt which covered the ford. It was a gallant charge and a bloody repulse. Capt. Leroy Hammond, mortally wounded, and a prisoner in our hands, when told that the troops who were opposed to the Confederates were the “Star Brigade” composed of the Ninth New Jersey, and Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regts., remarked “that it was a striking coincidence that two regiments of the attacking force, the Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Seventh South Carolina, should have met two regiments of the same numbers from her most inveterate enemy — Massachusetts.” “The attack would not have been made,” he said, “but for the idea that our troops were ninety days’ emergency men, and certainly the timorous movements of our army since the landing gave some reason for such an opinion.” On no other hypothesis could the enemy account for our failure to advance. For the next four or five days, while our enemy was marching hither and thither in the open county, the time was improved by Beauregard in hurrying up troops and getting them well in hand. From Drewry's Bluff he suggested to Gen'l Bragg “that Gen'l Lee should fall back to the defensive line of the Chickahominy, or even to the immediate lines of Richmond, sending temporarily to this place fifteen thousand of his troops. Immediately on this accession to my present force I would take the offensive and attack Butler's army vigorously. Such a move would throw me directly upon Butler's communications, and, as he now stands, on his right flank, well towards the rear. Gen'l Whiting should also move simultaneously. Butler must then necessarily be crushed or captured, and the stores of that army would fall into our hands.” This was written on the 14th. Let us now see how well the plan was carried out. Our army at this time was facing north, and operating more immediately against Fort Darling, having, on the
very day that Beauregard's dispatch is dated, driven the enemy within his works. The enemy held a strong line of works, extending from Fort Darling on our right to the Appomattox on our left, and threatening us, instead of our threatening them — we being in an essentially false position. The Star Brigade held the extreme right of our line, “at the base of Drewry's Bluff and within half musket range of their outer earthwork,” with an unoccupied space of one and a quarter miles between it and the river. This was the most important part of our line, as it covered the shortest route to our base and supplies on the James. On the morning of the 15th there was a scattered musketry fire, with an occasional volley. In the afternoon it was perfectly calm. The unusual quietness of an enterprising enemy was suspicious, and having learned that he had been reinforced by Anderson's corps of Lee's army, it became apparent that Beauregard meant to attack us while our faulty position offered such an excellent opportunity for an effective stroke. With our glasses we saw President Davis, Beauregard and other general officers, reconnoitring our position, and from deserters we learned that a plan of attack was being made, the troops selected for the assault even being named. This state of affairs I in person reported at division and army headquarters, with a request for reinforcements to occupy the all-important space between my right and the river. “After reporting to Gen'l Weitzel, at his request I started, Capt. Belger accompanying me,” for Gen'l Smith's quarters, but being wrongly directed I rode into Gen'l Butler's, and, before I was able to beat a retreat, Maj. Kensel appeared at the door and said that Gen'l Butler wished to see me. With my verbal report, I gave to the General a rough diagram of the position of both forces in my end of the line. He seemed to be impressed with the importance of my request, and I expected the needed reinforcements. Just at this moment Gen'l Smith came in, and Gen'l Butler gave him the substance of my report. I was impressed with the thought that my irregular transmission of information had more effect upon him than the information itself. He, however, visited my line, and seemed to realize that there was solid ground for my apprehension. Later in the afternoon two sections of Columbiads and one section of twenty-inch rifled guns, under command of Capt. Belger, were sent to
cover the gap, and subsequently withdrawn, for safety. “They were captured the next day.” Afterward a squadron of the Eleventh Penn. Cavalry were sent to guard the space on my right that should have been occupied by a brigade of infantry with artillery. Being thus denied the reinforcements so sorely needed, and unable to procure wire for the protection of my front, “but with which the whole line to my left was amply supplied,” preparations were at once made to meet the attack we were assured would be made before the rising of another sun. A breastwork of such material as could be gathered was quietly and hastily thrown up, so that the position, so essential to the safety of our army, should be defended to the last. On my right and well thrown forward was posted a strong picket line, the men grouped in fours in gopher holes, with the right resting on a farm-house, fully one mile on our right front, under command of Capt. Lawrence of the Ninth New Jersey, who was instructed to give a vigorous resistance to any force coming against him. At midnight the rebs moved out from their works, massing strongly on our extreme right, and just before daylight, having obtained position, rushed with great impetuosity on our pickets, but after a desperate struggle were forced back by the gallant Capt. Lawrence, and day broke (thanks to the vigilance and gallantry of the Star Brigade) with our lines still unbroken. Shortly after dawn a dense fog suddenly enveloped us, completely concealing the enemy from our view. Five picked brigades in column debouched from the enemy's works, and, rapidly advancing, drove in our pickets, pressing up on a run to our main line. Hearing their approach, my brigade swept instantly into line, and steadily awaited their coming. When only five paces intervened between the rebel bayonets and our inflexible line a simultaneous scorching volley swept into the faces of the exultant foe, smiting hundreds to the earth and hurling the whole column back in confusion. Five times, encouraged and rallied by their officers, that magnificent rebel infantry advanced to the attack, but only to meet and be driven back by those relentless volleys of musketry. Finding it impossible to succeed by a direct attack they now changed front, and attempted to crush my right, held by the Ninth New Jersey, but here, too, the right wing having been reserved, they were met by a galling
fire, and again for a moment faltered. But soon they once more advanced in column by brigade, and the Star Brigade, being without artillery and withal vastly outnumbered, was, for the first time in its history, compelled to fall back and take up a new position. While this movement was being executed, — the Ninth already in position, — my staff being engaged in other parts of the field, I passed along to the left of the Ninth to a point I supposed to be occupied by the Twenty-Third, but found instead an approaching line of battle. Taking it to be reinforcements, I ordered them to wheel to the right and charge, and at the next moment discovered that they were “graybacks,” and at nine A. M. of the 16th, I was a guest at the Hotel de Libby. I never at any other time experienced such musketry fire as on that day. It was one incessant volley, and its terrible fatality may be judged from the fact that the enemy acknowledged a loss of four thousand five hundred on my front alone; and I lost nearly all my field and line officers, either killed or wounded. Many others joined me at Drewry's Bluff and accompanied me up the river to Richmond. The result of the campaign which culminated in this battle was a source of great congratulation to the enemy. Not only was the threatened danger to Petersburg and Richmond averted, but the pressure on their lines of communication was relieved; and Butler, besides suffering a terrible loss, was shut up and held inactive by a comparatively small force. Had Gen'l Whiting moved out of Petersburg with his ten thousand men as directed, the Army of the James could not have escaped destruction. The ultimate results: The spoiling of Grant's plan of campaign, the transfer of the Army of the Potomac to the south of Richmond; the siege of Petersburg; the bloody struggle for the Weldon road, all these, with their enormous losses of life and property, are the sadder to think of when it is remembered that it was all caused by the incompetent handling of the Army of the James, composed of two veteran corps, the equal of any in the United States armies. Gen'l Grant laid the onus of the failure on Gen'l Butler in a caustic paragraph of his official reports; the press and the histories of the war blame him, with the severest language, and even now the nation at large call him “bottled-up Butler.”
It would hardly be satisfactory to the Twenty-Seventh or
its friends to neglect to mention their part in these important movements narrated by Gen'l Heckman, even at the risk of repetition. After reaching Bermuda Hundreds, landing was effected without opposition, the Twenty-Seventh advancing a mile, and bivouacking in a wheat-field. At six A.M., Friday, May 6th, the regiment started for Cobb's Hill, seven miles distant. The morning was cloudless, and the winding, sandy road was soon strewn with blankets, coats and shoes, which the heat and toil of the way made unendurable. No enemy was discovered, and by noon we halted at Cobb's Hill, near a deserted signal-tower. Our forces at once commenced the construction of a line of fortifications from “Point of Rocks” to “Dutch Gap Bend,” four miles distant, leaving a large, irregular peninsula in our rear, capable of easy defence, and every way suitable as a basis for intended operations. The Army of the James consisted of the
Eighteenth Army Corps, Maj. Gen'l W. F. (Baldy) Smith commanding.
First Division, Maj. Gen'l —— Brooks.
Second Division, Maj. Gen'l Godfrey Weitzel.
Third Division, Brig. Gen'l Edward W. Hincks.
The Tenth Army Corps, Maj. Gen'l Q. A. Gillmore commanding, with three divisions under command of Gen'ls Ames, Terry, and Turner. The whole force numbered about thirty-four thousand men, under command of Maj. Gen'l B. F. Butler. The Twenty-Seventh was of the Second Division, Eighteenth Corps, and, as previously stated, under command of Brig. Gen'l C. A. Heckman.
At four P.M., Gen'l Heckman, under orders to develop the enemy's force and position, advanced his brigade, with Companies A and H of the Twenty-Seventh as skirmishers, supported by the regiment in close column. Passing through light timber-land, and over a ravine beyond an old mill,
Map of Bermuda Hundreds and Vicnity for the History of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt.
Map of Bermuda Hundreds and Vicnity for the History of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt.
they encountered and followed the enemy's pickets, emerging into an open field known as the “Mary Dunn Farm,” in full view of the junction of the Richmond and Petersburg, and Port Walthall branch railroads. The skirmish line advanced so rapidly the column had difficulty in keeping supporting distance, the Ninth New Jersey jocosely remarking, “The Twenty-Seventh skirmishers must be trying to connect with the “Richmond Express.” As the main column emerged from the woods, a train of cars arrived loaded with rebel troops, who, dismounting, advanced a line of skirmishers towards our position. The main body of the enemy attempted to show their coolness by going through the manual of arms upon the field. Seeing this, Capt. Sandford with Company H, pressed forward at double-quick, followed by Capt. Dwight with Company A as a “reserve for skirmishers.” Slowly and regularly the opposing skirmishers gave way to Capt. Sandford's impetuous advance, showing by their regular movements we were contending with veterans. After crossing a ravine, our skirmishers encountered a severe fire, the enemy using the banks and fences skirting the railroad as parapets. Capt. Dwight with Company A advanced to their relief, and by courage and coolness enabled the skirmishers to retire to the ravine without material loss.
The Twenty-Seventh advanced in line of battle across the field to the ravine in support of the skirmishers, where the regiment opened fire. The remainder of the brigade formed en echelon, the Twenty-Fifth Mass. supporting the Twenth-Seventh Regiment, with the Ninth New Jersey and Twenty-Third Mass. to the right and left. Howard's Fourth U. S. Battery opened with shell upon the enemy, but were replied to with musketry only, one ball taking off a part of Gen'l Heckman's little finger, and killing his horse. An “Aid” dismounted, offering the general his horse, with which he returned to his position, amid the cheers of his
brigade. For an hour a sheet of fire crowned the summit of the railroad and fence, sweeping our position, while the fire of the Twenty-Seventh covered the field with a dense cloud. The brigade moved forward, the Ninth New Jersey and Twenty-Third Mass. opening fire near the foot of the hill, while the gallant old Twenty-Fifth stood in reserve, receiving unanswered the galling fire. The sun had long been below the horizon, when Gen'l Heckman, satisfied that the enemy was present in small force and that without artillery, ordered the recall.
It was a keen disappointment to his veteran troops, and to retreat in order under such a fire, tested, as no other movement could, the courage and discipline of the brigade. Being farthest to the front, the Twenty-Seventh was now the rear guard, and facing to the rear, loaded as they retired with measured steps; then faced to the front and fired, repeating the movement until beyond range of the enemy. This was witnessed by members of Gen'l Smith's staff, and drew from them and the commanding general expressions of unqualified praise. The astonished enemy made no attempt to follow. Our force reached Cobb's Hill about ten o'clock P.M. The Union loss was eight killed and sixty wounded, and that of the Confederates, as reported by the rebel general, Hagood, two killed and thirty-one wounded. Gen'l Hagood also says this force consisted of the Twenty-First and Twenty-Fifth South Carolina Regiments under command of Col. Graham of the Twenty-First.
It is worthy of record that this engagement is immortalized in Confederate record as a victory, Jefferson Davis, in his “Rise and Fall of the Confederacy,” saying, “We compelled them to withdraw to the shelter of their gunboats,” while some Confederate poet has enshrined in verse the “Victory of Walthall.”
The loss of the Twenty-Seventh was:—
George Stevens, Company A, Williamsburg, killed.
Sergt. Alfred L. Mantor, Company B, Hawley, killed.
Maj. William A. Walker, right foot, slight.
Lafayette Smith, Company A, Enfield, right shoulder, fatal.
George A. Hill, Company A, Easthampton, leg, slight.
Corp. William B. Bliss, Company B, New Salem, right leg.
Alonzo J. Thomas, Company B, Shutesbury, left side.
George A. Draper, Company D, Amherst, abdomen, fatal.
Peter McGowan, Company D, Springfield, left thigh, slight.
Henry McCoomb, Company E, Pittsfield, both thigh and groin, severe.
Charles L. Nye, Company E, Lee, right shoulder.
A. Gilmore, Company F, Otis, right leg, severe.
Henry J. Pulsifer, Company G, Chicopee, right thigh, severe.
Leverett Clark, Company H, Newburyport, right arm, flesh.
John O. Erwin, Company H, Adams, groin, severe.
George McGue, Company H, Adams, left arm.
Corp. Newton Wallace, Company I, Holland, face, flesh wound.
Dorr R. Bruce, Company K, Longmeadow, abdomen, fatal.
Total: Two killed and sixteen wounded,
Comrade Stevens of Company A was on temporary service with the ordnance officer, and, in a moment of leisure, was permitted to take the officer's horse, to visit the front. He unfortunately ran into an ambush, and the horse returned a few moments later without a rider. His body was not recovered.
May 7th an advance was made by our forces to destroy the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad. Burnham's Brigade of Brooks's Division, occupied the centre, with Heckman's Brigade supporting its left by way of Walthall Junction, and two brigades of the Tenth Corps supporting its right flank by the Chesterfield turnpike. The Twenty-Seventh again
took the advance by the route of the night previous, reaching the Dunn farm about nine A.M. without opposition. The enemy were present with increased force, Hunton's, Barton's, and Gracie's rebel brigades, with artillery and cavalry, resisting our advance. Our artillery was placed in front of the “Mary Dunn house,” while the brigade rested in double column half distance at its rear. An artillery duel was maintained the entire day, with a loss to our brigade of nine wounded, of which five were from the Twenty-Seventh Mass. The following was our list of wounded:—
Capt. Charles D. Sandford, North Adams; thigh; slight.
John Richards, Company C, Hatfield; face and chest; slight.
Charles Walker, Company C, Easthampton; finger; slight.
Malachi Horner, Company F, Southwick; back; slight.
Elijah W. Knight, Company H, Springfield; back; slight.
The heat of the sun was intense, and, with the suffocating, sulphurous clouds, taxed our endurance to the utmost, fifty of our regiment suffering from sunstroke. At our right, Gen'l Brooks was heavily engaged, and succeeded in reaching and destroying a mile of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad during the day, after which the column retired once more to camp at Cobb's Hill.
It is hard to say why these repeated warnings were given the enemy, or why opportunity was afforded them for concentration and defence. A surprise could not have been more perfect, or promised more glorious results. The available forces of Richmond had been hastened to oppose the “Army of the Potomac” — which had crossed the Rapidan, May 4th; Gen'l Beauregard had delayed departure from Charleston, S. C., not knowing the destination of the Tenth Corps, while all of Gen'l Pickett's available force was two hundred miles distant, before the fortifications of New Berne, when the Army of the James first landed at Bermuda Hundreds. Not a man could be spared from
the conflict with Gen'l Grant; Gen'l Pickett's forces, leaving New Berne at noon, the 6th, could not have reached Petersburg before the night of the 8th, had sufficient transportation been at their command; and Gen'l Beauregard, with his distance and the devastating work of Gen'l Kautz, at Stony Creek, must have been considerable later. The movements of the 6th and 7th gave satisfactory evidence of the great weakness of the enemy still the Army of the James, with its thirty-four thousand men and able commanders, were ordered, for ten days, to dally with insignificant forces, till, gathering strength from distant fields, the enemy availed themselves of the delay, and “bottled up” our entire force within the prisons of Richmond, or the narrow confines of Bermuda Hundreds.
We append so much of Gen'l Grant's instructions as bear upon the movements of the Army of the James, for the information of our readers.
Fortress Monroe, Va., April 2, 1864.
General:— . . . You will collect all the forces from your command that can be spared from garrison duty — I should say not less than twenty thousand effective men — to operate on the south side of the James River, Richmond being your objective point. To the force you already have, will be added ten thousand men from South Carolina, under Maj. Gen'l Gillmore, who will command them in person. Maj. Gen'l W. F. Smith is ordered to report to you, to command the troops sent into the field from your own department.
Gen'l Gillmore will be ordered to report to you at Fortress Monroe, with all the troops on transports, by the 18th instant, or as soon thereafter as practicable. Should you not receive notice by that time to move, you will make such disposition of them and your other forces, as you may deem best calculated to deceive the enemy as to the real move to be made.
When you are notified to move, take City Point with as much force as possible. Fortify, or, rather, intrench, at once, and concentrate all your troops for the field as rapidly as you can. From
City Point directions cannot be given, at this time, for your further movements.
The fact that has already been stated — that is, that Richmond is to be your objective point, and that there is to be co-operation between your force and the “Army of the Potomac” — must be your guide. This indicates the necessity of your holding close to the south bank of the James River as you advance. Then should the enemy be forced into his intrenchments, in Richmond, the Army of the Potomac would follow, and, by means of transports, the two armies would become a unit.
All the minor details of your advance are left entirely to your direction. . . . .
U. S. Grant, Lieut. Gen'l.
Maj. Gen'l B. F. Butler.
Sunday, May 8th, the regiment rested in camp, funeral services being held for our slain, by Chaplain Woodworth. On the 9th a general movement was made, the Twenty-Seventh again in advance, with Companies E and I as skirmishers. On reaching the battle-field, Surgeon Fish discovered a member of the Forty-Eighth New York Regiment who had been wounded severely, the 7th inst., and who, being left by his comrades, had succeeded in hiding himself in the underbrush. Here he had remained two days without food or water, unable to move, surrounded by the enemy and by forest fires which had burned close to his hiding place. When once more in the hands of friends, the poor fellow's joy knew no bounds. It was a keen pleasure to relieve his wants and attend him to the ambulance.
Beauregard had now taken command of the rebel forces, consisting of six brigades from North Carolina, four brigades from Charleston, S. C., and the garrisons and reserves of the Richmond and Petersburg fortifications. The demands on Gen'l Beauregard required the division of his force for the protection of Richmond, on the north, and Petersburg, on the south; our position cutting his communication, and affording opportunity of defeating each army in detail. The turnpike
before us crossed the railroad and ran due south through a wooded, undulating country, and crossed Bakehouse, Swift and Oldtown Creeks, before reaching Petersburg, six miles distant.
After a short rest our skirmishers moved down this turnpike, cutting their way through tangled underwood, behind which the enemy, with skirmishers and artillery, contested our advance. The Twenty-Seventh moved forward in column by companies, till within a short distance of Arrowfield Church, when the stubborn resistance to our skirmishers necessitated the deploying of Company B for their assistance. Col. Lee now formed the Twenty-Seventh upon the right of the road, with orders to advance as rapidly as possible, in doing which, the enemy were developed in considerable force near Arrowfield Church, and a hard fight at once began. Gen. Heckman ordered the Twenty-Fifth Mass. to the left of the road, supported by the Twenty-Third Mass. and the Ninth New Jersey, to the support of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, when we again attempted to advance, but were met with a galling fire of canister and musketry. Howard's U. S. Battery was brought into position upon the turnpike and a second line of battle formed in our rear. An earthwork of the enemy across Swift Creek soon placed Howard's Battery hors de combat, and, as it rushed to the rear, caused the second line to waver, supposing Heckman's Brigade had been defeated. Volley upon volley came in quick succession from the front, and cheer upon cheer through the thickets of brush, as the contest waged nearer, each assuring them that Heckman's Brigade was invincible still.
We were face to face with Beauregard's veteran troops, with the inspiration of his presence, and the advantage of position, and (as we afterward found) with a liberal supply of liquor to incite them to combat. Strange that the enemy were so long in learning that men steeped in liquor
could not cope with courage inspired by a cool head and well-balanced mind. New Berne gave evidence of the same inordinate use of liquor previous to and during the engagement. It is stated on good authority that the enemy often mixed gunpowder with the liquor to increase the intoxication to frenzied madness.
For an hour the tide of battle swept the field, our force slowly closing upon the enemy's position. Our line stood somewhat like a V across the turnpike, the right of the Twenty-Seventh well advanced in a scattering growth of pine, while the left of the Twenty-Fifth was also advanced and mostly concealed in a thicket of bushes. Suddenly “a rebel yell” rose above the din of conflict, and from the east of the road, four columns deep, came Hagood's South Carolina Brigade, at double quick, charging directly upon us. It was a grand spectacle, that line of gray-clad soldiers in solid column charging against our merciless fire. Yelling like demons, onward they came with a courage worthy a nobler cause, and deserving a better fate. If Massachusetts has reason to cherish the memory of her victorious sons upon that field, no less has South Carolina to revere the self-sacrifice and daring of her defeated troops.
These moments, fraught with momentous consequences, found the Star Brigade firm and reliant. “Steady, men! Steady! Cease firing until ordered!” rang along our line; and as a grim and silent wall of adamant we awaited the shock. At twenty yards the order, “Fire!” was given, and a zigzag flame swept along the line upon the foe, and with the second volley, the charging column melted into a disorganized mass in precipitate retreat. The Ninth New Jersey in our rear cheered lustily over the enemy's defeat, and started to charge; which Lieut. Col. Bartholomew's willing spirit construed into a general order, and, with the left wing of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, charged upon the enemy, driving them from the field. The entire force
now advanced, and as Gen'l Heckman came up to Col. Bartholomew he good-naturedly exclaimed, “Colonel, what are you doing here?” During the battle, the firing of the Twenty-Seventh had been so rapid that Gen'l Heckman expressed a fear we were wasting ammunition, and Col. Bartholomew now replied, “General, what do you think now about the Twenty-Seventh wasting ammunition?” Gen'l Heckman replied — patting the colonel and a private on the shoulder — “You've done well! You've done well!”
The whole field was strewn with the dead and dying, forty-nine dead lying on a space sixty by one hundred and fifty feet, while one company of the Twenty-Seventh South Carolina Regiment left forty-two of its number upon the field. Hagood's Brigade consisted of the Seventh, Eleventh, Twenty-First, Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Seventh South Carolina regiments, and the last two were pitted against the same numbers from Massachusetts, in which the former were ingloriously defeated. Mudsills versus chivalry! Hunt's Battery D, Fourth U. S. Artillery, was brought into position, covering a redoubt across Swift Creek, from which the enemy were shelling the ambulances under Surgeon Fish. The duel lasted till sundown, when the enemy's battery was silenced, and our forces were left in victorious possession of the field. The sad work of ministering to the wounded and dead was continued far into the night, Arrowfield Church being used as a hospital. Capt. Leroy Hammond of the Twenty-Seventh South Carolina Regiment lay mortally wounded upon the field. Finding with whom he had contended, he exclaimed, “That's strange! South Carolina has met and been defeated by her most hated foe;” adding, “We were assured there was nothing but raw recruits from Massachusetts in front; had we known you were veteran troops, we should not have charged; it was like retribution.”
We shall not soon forget the surprise with which the
enemy received the comforts our scanty supplies afforded, even the cup of cold water to assuage the thirst of ebbing life. As Col. Lee stooped over a dying man, and bestowed such attention as was possible, the man, with an effort, said, “Our — officers — wouldn't — do — that; Colonels — don't — care — for their — men.” The night was cold and chill, the church and grounds resounding with the groans of the wounded and dying, while the sturdy men of Heckman's Brigade were busy gathering and relieving a foe, who but two days previous, on another field, had neglected our comrades and permitted their bodies to be mutilated by hogs. The loss of the Twenty-Seventh in this engagement was:
Company B. — Corp. Nathaniel B. Twitchell, Athol, shot through the head; Charles W. Wheeler, Jr., Greenfield, shot in the breast; Nelson G. Wood, Athol, shot in both lungs and abdomen.
Company G. — Corp. Richard Curry, Fall River, shot in the breast.
Company H. — Levi Holden, Haverhill.
Company A. — Frederick Klisner, Hatfield, back, slight; John M. North, Northampton, head, fatal.
Company B. — Sergt. Daniel W. Larned, Athol, foot, slight; Corp. Horatio W. McClellan, Athol, thigh, fatal; Joseph Briggs, Leverett, arm, flesh wound; George Britton, Erving, lost finger; Alvin King, Orange, hand.
Company C. — Corp. John Shoals, Amherst, groin; Aaron A. Terry, Orange, fatal.
Company D. — Sergt. Franklin Elwell, Hadley, right thigh, severe; Corp. George A. Griffin, Pelham, shoulder, flesh wound; Eugene P. Hervey, Amherst, face; William J. Hopkins, Amherst, a bullet in right eye, destroying the eye; Maxon G. Healey, Braintree.
Company E. — John G. Bickley, Lee, face and foot; Egbert Garfield, Monterey, abdomen.
Company F. — Lieut. Pliny Wood, Westfield, left thigh, fatal; Bennett Aldrich, Southwick, leg, flesh wound; Lester D. Hanchett, Westfield, thigh; Edwin D. Jones, Blandford, foot; Edwin Stevens, Southwick, thigh fractured.
Company G. — John W. Whitcomb, Blandford.
Company H. — Willard A. Thompson, Bernardston, Vt., groin.
Company I. — Seth Brown, Palmer, leg, slight; Solomon Rhodes, Belchertown, arm, slight.
Company K. — Sergt. John Lambert, Springfield, shoulder, slight; Corp. Charles Geckler, Springfield, chest, flesh wound; Maurice Bishop, Plainfield, knee and abdomen, fatal; Hervey H. Converse, Stockbridge, leg, flesh wound; James Dimpsey, Ware, left leg, flesh wound; William W. Loomis, Chester, shoulder; Jonathan D. Miller, Springfield, right lung, fatal.
Total loss five killed and thirty-two wounded.
At the close of the engagement Gen'l Heckman retired for instructions, leaving the brigade under command of Col. H. C. Lee. The night passed quietly along our front, but with a sharp engagement some distance to the right. At ten o'clock the 10th, orders were received to retire and we reached Cobb's Hill late in the afternoon without incident. A body of the enemy massed on the extreme left of the Tenth Corps, as they retired, resulting in a sharp engagement, lasting several hours. At the close of this engagement, Gen'l Bushrod Johnson appeared with a “flag of truce,” asking for permission “to bury their dead;” for an exchange of wounded; and for a general exchange of prisoners. To this Gen'l Butler replied: “We have buried your dead, and we willingly assent to an exchange of the wounded, but we cannot agree to exchange others, until you consent to acknowledge colored soldiers as prisoners of war.” To this the rebel emissary would not submit. Insolence and barbarity had been heaped upon the unfortunate black captured in Union uniform or with arms. Many had been reduced to slavery, or with “ball and chain” forced to work on the
enemy's fortifications, and punished with instant death if they refused. In a time of grave emergency, their fortunes and resources had been freely offered the United States government as active allies against or within the rebel lines, and anything short of this decision would have been the basest ingratitude. Hard as it bore upon white prisoners in rebel hands, and terrible as its consequences were to our own regiment, there was no other honorable course open to a humane government in behalf of those who wore its uniform.
Of those who fell at Arrowsfield Church there was one who deserved a passing notice.
Lieut. Pliny Wood.
Uncle Pliny, as he was best known, enlisted from Westfield as first sergeant of Company F. He was promoted to second lieutenant Jan. 2, 1862, and first lieutenant May 2, 1863. Upon the organization of the Tenth Mass. Regt. he was chosen as first lieutenant by the Westfield company, and went with them to camp. Governor Andrew, however, commissioned another, much to the disgust of the company, many of whom refused to muster for service. The town of Westfield justified her volunteers in this protest, and held an indignation meeting over the failure to commission Lieutenant Wood.
He was a man of courage, tact and good humor, and seemed best satisfied when engaged in active service. He was wounded severely at Roanoke Island, but returned to service, running the enemy's batteries that he might join his regiment then under siege at Washington, N. C. With twenty men he captured an equal number of rebel cavalry, with their horses, arms and equipment, above Plymouth, N. C., and measured strength with one of the enemy at Gun Swamp, bringing his foe from his hiding place a captive. At the time he received his fatal wound, he was with his
men in the thickest of the fray, and, as he fell, said calmly to Capt. Moore, “They've got me, Captain!” The ball pierced his left thigh, requiring a socket amputation, which proved fatal May 31st. “Uncle Pliny's” commission was no bar to intimacy and sympathy with his command, for he often stood between the shortcomings of his men and their just deserts. Many of their pranks were sworn secrets with him, and were in safe-keeping so long as the record of the guilty ones was otherwise unexceptionable. He holds a warm place in the memory of all his comrades.
May 11th the regiment remained in camp at Cobb's Hill and Gen'l Heckman improved the opportunity to issue the following congratulatory order:—
Headquarters 1st Brigade 2d Division 18th Army Corps.
In the Field, May 11, 1864.
General Order, No. 24.
The General commanding takes great pleasure in returning to the gallant officers and men of his command his thanks for the noble manner in which they have discharged their duties since the opening of the present campaign. The enviable reputation which they had attained has been sustained in a noble and creditable manner; and the commanding general would not only do great injustice to his feelings, but to the officers and men of his command, did he fail to notice it. The fatigue and privation suffered without a murmur are but characteristic of the brigade; and the punishment inflicted upon the rebels is one of the many lessons that will ever cause them to remember and fear the Star Brigade.
By command of
Brig. Gen'l C. A. Heckman.
W. H. Abels, A. A. G.
During the day Ezra Baker of Company D, Amherst, received a severe wound in the knee from the accidental discharge of a musket.
At sunrise the 12th, the entire army was placed in motion, this time on the direct line to Richmond. An hour after, the
rain began to fall in torrents, continuing almost unremittingly till the night of the 15th. The Twenty-Seventh Regiment advanced in line of battle, reaching the Richmond turnpike about nine o'clock, when the enemy opened upon our advance for half an hour. After halting until one o'clock, P.M., we marched some distance to the right, and, advancing a mile, skirmished sharply with the enemy until night, when they disappeared. Drenched to the skin, we bivouacked in the woods with such shelter from the rain as could be devised, our position commanding a view of the surrounding country. Before us was a marshy, densely-timbered region, through which flowed Proctor's and Kingsland's Creeks, and, high above the forests, was the rebel flag at Drewry's Bluff, three miles distant.
At two P.M., the 13th, the regiment moved to the left and advanced into the dripping forests, in a direct line for Drewry's Bluff. Our skirmishers sharply engaged the enemy, closely supported by the regiment in line of battle, through an undulating country, interspersed with fine plantations, swales, and thickets, until late in the evening, when in a bewildering darkness, Companies C and F, under Capt. Moore, were advanced as pickets. Early the 14th these companies, as sharpshooters, with sixty rounds of ammunition, advanced, driving the enemy through the woods into a field covered with abattis, to within three hundred yards of Fort Stevens, where, with such defences as the abattis afforded, they commenced the work of the next two days. The regiment moved to their support under a sharp artillery fire, taking position under cover of a low terrace or elevation, near the edge of the timber. As often as the sharpshooters exhausted their ammunition, they were relieved, bringing their wounded with them. The 14th and 15th were days of intense excitement and of ingenious devices to decoy the enemy's sharpshooters, who, like ourselves, were lying behind logs or stumps, watching for some luckless head
to peer from its hiding place. A shout as of a charge or order to advance is given, and the Johnnies’ heads come up to see the expected advance, when a scattering fire lays many of them low. So effectual was the work of our sharpshooters that the enemy at Fort Stevens found great difficulty in using their guns. Hats and coats were raised and mules driven upon the parapets to draw our fire, when the gunners would attempt to load their pieces, but, like the donkey, would generally perish in the venture.
Drewry's Bluff rises abruptly some two hundred feet from the James River, which here runs due east, but changes sharply to the south at Chapin's Bluff, two miles below. On the land side it slopes gradually to the south with a broken, undulating surface; the forest before it had been felled, forming an almost insurmountable abattis against approach, but allowing unobstructed range for defence. On the eastern extremity of the bluff was Fort Darling, a formidable earthwork, commanding the river and eastern approach, and supplied with the most approved munitions of war. Contiguous to this, and along the crest of the bluff, were two other strong works, guarded by a deep dry ditch, which was swept by converging guns. Between our position and Fort Darling, three lines of rifle-pits and redoubts skirted the bluff; and northerly from the fort, along the river, the woods remained standing, affording protection and secrecy for movements by the enemy. The whole formed a Gibraltar, against which the ponderous guns of our navy had vainly contended and which was destined to withstand any attack of the army.
Gen'l Butler established his headquarters at Charles Friend's house, some distance to the rear, but convenient of access to the army. After three days of skirmishing and sharpshooting, measured in part by the expending of eighty thousand cartridges by the Twenty-Seventh, and a loss to us of twenty-seven wounded, orders came, Sunday afternoon,
the 15th, relieving and ordering us to the extreme right of the Army of the James, ostensibly for rest. Exposure and constant service at the head of the column, had told severely on the effective strength of the regiment and brigade. It was therefore with no surprise we received this order, with the assurance that it was to a less exposed position, and to less arduous service. With lightened hearts we moved to the extreme right of the Army of the James, at half musket-range from the enemy's outworks, the right of the brigade resting across the Osborn Pike, which led directly up the bluff, and its left connecting with Wistar's Brigade of Weitzel's Division.
The Star Brigade was stationed in Gregory's Woods, with the Ninth New Jersey upon the right, followed in order by the Twenty-Third, Twenty-Seventh and Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts Regiments. The Twenty-Third Massachusetts, with a portion of the Twenty-Seventh, held position along a cartpath just in the edge of the woods; while, at the left of the Twenty-Seventh and the Twenty-Fifth, the road fell to the rear, and their line followed a slight ravine. Fort Darling, on our front, was a mile and a quarter distant, while an emptied ice-pond lay just before us, and an unoccupied space of a mile and a half between our brigade and the James River. As soon as our alignment had been formed, Gen'l Heckman realized the exposed position assigned to us, and, after a careful survey, reported his fears, and received the assurance that the space between us and the James should be properly occupied. Col. Drake, at Point of Rocks, received orders during the following night to occupy this position, and immediately started with the Ninth Maine and the One Hundred and Twelfth New York Regiments, but arrived too late to avert the impending disaster. Nor was our brigade commander alone in his apprehensions of danger; every man, to the lowest private, realized it, and, with cups, plates and bayonets for spades, commenced the construction
of defences. At the right of the Twenty-Third Regiment, and some five hundred yards in advance, and to the north of the road, was the “R. A. Willis House,” which Capt. Lawrence of the Ninth New Jersey Regiment captured, and occupied as a picket station.
Late in the evening, Capt. Bailey, with Company D, of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., reported to Lieut. Col. Stewart, of the Ninth New Jersey, in command of the picket line, and was ordered to take position on the right of the “Willis House,” and to extend his line to a given distance, pressing as near to the enemy as possible. In doing this three men were severely wounded by a previously established line of the Eighth Maine, at the rear. After some difficulty, Capt. Bailey reached the maine regiment, and explained who he was, and by whose orders there; but about midnight a volley from the rebels in front aroused their suspicions, leading the Maine boys to again fire upon our company. During the night, the felling of trees and movement of artillery along the James River, was plainly heard; but an incessant rattle of musketry prevented any intelligent knowledge of the enemy's movements.
The space from our right to the river, was picketed by the Eighth Maine and a squadron of Cole's negro cavalry, all of whom had been on duty forty-eight hours without relief. To entangle and delay the enemy in case of assault, Gen'l Smith suggested that wire from the telegraph lines along the turnpike be interlaced among the trees on his front. The supply of wire had been exhausted before the Star Brigade reached its new position, and hence they were without what proved to other parts of the line a valuable means of defence. Thus situated, the midnight hour ushered in our “dies iræ,” a day of gloom, disaster and death for many of our regiment.
We append so much of Beauregard's official report as to show his plan and the movements made against our position.
[Extract from P. T. Beauregard's Official Report.]
“Swift Creek, Va., June 10, 1864.
. . . “I determined . . . that our left wing, turning and hurled upon Butler's weak right, should, with crushing force, double it back upon its centre, thus interposing an easterly barrier between Butler and his base; that our right wing should simultaneously with its skirmishers, and afterward in force, as soon as the left became fully engaged, advance, and occupy the enemy, to prevent his reinforcing his right, and thus check him in front, without, however, prematurely seeking to force him far back, before our left could completely outflank him, and our Petersburg column close up on his rear; finally, that the Petersburg column, marching to the sound of heaviest firing, should impose a southern barrier to his retreat.
“Butler thus surrounded by three lines of fire, could have with his defeated troops no resource against capture or destruction except in an attempt at partial and hazardous escape westward, away from his base, his train and supplies.
“Two difficulties . . . . might impede, . . . . one was a stubborn and effective resistance, . . . . another . . . . the rapid handling of a fragmentary army. . . . . On the other hand, I reckoned on the advantage of being all in readiness at day-break, with short distances on which to operate; a long day before me in which to manœuvre; direct routes; and simplicity in the movements to be executed. . . . .
“Ransom moved at 4.45 A. M. . . . . His division consisted of the following brigades, in the order named, commencing from the left: Gracie's, Kemper's (commanded by Col. Terry), Barton's (under Col. Fry), and Col. Lewis (Hoke's old brigade). He was soon engaged . . . . capturing five stands of colors and some five hundred prisoners. The brigades most heavily engaged were Gracie's and Kemper's, opposed to the enemy's right, the former turning his flank. Gen'l Ransom then halted, to form, reported his loss heavy and troops scattered by the fog, his ammunition short, and asked for a brigade from the reserve, . . . . and re-formed his lines in the old position, near the lines he had stormed. Here his infantry rested the greater part of the day, Donorant's cavalry, dismounted, being thrown forward as skirmishers towards a small
ridge on the edge of George Gregory's woods, north of Proctor's Creek.” . . . .
The rain had ceased, and with the dawn came a dense fog, rendering objects a few feet distant undiscernible. Several times during the night, the Twenty-Seventh had been aroused by the sharp contests of our pickets in front. About half-past four, the morning of the 16th, while Lieut. Col. Bartholomew was inspecting the line, the air was suddenly rent with belching guns, and the field illuminated with a glare of flame, while shrieking, crashing messengers of death gave warning that our hour of trial had come.
Capt. Bailey, with Company D, retired before the enemy's attack, expecting, by falling to the rear of the brigade, to be able to join his regiment. His attention was attracted by hearing an unusual commotion as he neared the road, and, halting his men, he heard an order given in Confederate dialect. This revealed to him the character of the force before him; but, by making a detour towards the James River, and crossing Proctor's Creek some distance to the rear, he succeeded in eluding them and in saving his company, except Samuel A. Chapin, who was killed by a shell. From Proctor's Creek the company escorted a body of prisoners to Bermuda Hundreds, and reached camp at Cobb's Hill early in the evening.
Meantime, the enemy, in accordance with their plan, had massed Gracie's, Kemper's, Hokes and Barton's Brigades on our front, and had charged with impetuosity, but were driven back by the merciless fire of the Star Brigade. The fog materially interfered with our defence, and facilitated the enemy's movements, by permitting them to approach at close range unobserved. Three times the foe charged our position, but the fire from our lines drove them back to their intrenchments. The rebel yells, the thunderings of the artillery, the crashing of shells, and falling of limbs about us, filled the air with wildest confusion; but the answer of Heckman's
Brigade was an incessant roll of musketry. Not a man thus far had yielded an inch, but, firm and resolute, awaited the assault, without fear of defeat; for, not a regiment in that “iron brigade” had ever turned their backs to the enemy, but had wrested victory from every field of contest.
The turning of our right, by a part of Gracie's Brigade, necessitated the changing of front by the Ninth New Jersey Regiment; but the officer who was dispatched to inform us of the movement was unfortunately killed en route. Being ignorant of any disaster to our column, and having been the third regiment in line from the right, the Twenty-Seventh Mass. had little cause to fear a rear or flank attack, without timely warning. Just as we were giving our attention to another charge against our position from the front, we were startled by a volley from the rear, with the enemy close upon us, yelling: “Lay down your arms, lay down your arms, you Yankee devils!”
It was a moment of intense anxiety for men who had never suffered a defeat; but, with cold steel, and smoking rifles front and rear, there was little encouragement to resist. When our defeat became evident, it was impossible to control the rank and file. Some, in anger and chagrin, struck their rifles across trees and stumps, bending and otherwise rendering them unserviceable to the enemy. Col. Lee was beset by a burly foe, but refused to surrender, until persuaded by a revolver at his head, in the hand of a rebel adjutant. Lieut. Col. Bartholomew when last seen by our men who escaped, was firing his revolver at the line advancing from the rear. Lieut. F. C. Wright, of Northampton, barely escaped; a musket ball spraining his ankle and tearing the heel from his boot. Before our color guards were aware of special danger, the ruthless hands of rebels had grasped the standards. Colorbearer A. A. Gage, of Monson, sought to save the “Ladies’ Flag” by tearing it from the standard, when a rebel officer
put his revolver to his head, saying: “Tear another thread, and I'll blow your brains out.” Manning was decidedly belligerent over a demand for the State colors he held, while Sergt. Dickinson clung to the United States flag until it was wrested from him. At such a time there are thousands of acts of personal bravery of which we cannot speak; suffice it to say, many of our men were repeatedly captured in attempts at escape, while some turned the tables by leading their captors as captives into the Union lines. Humbling as defeats always are, there was nothing in this affecting our honor. The Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. were ordered to hold this position, and, in doing so, presented an unbroken, immovable front to the enemy, yielding nothing except as compelled by inexorable fate. Companies F, E and K were, in the order named, on the left flank of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment; and, seeing the enemy closing upon their rear, rushed to the left and gave the alarm to the Twenty-Fifth Mass. Capt. John W. Moore, the senior officer of our regiment present, assumed command of these companies, and, with Lieuts. Wright, Newell, and Harrington, rallied such other members as had escaped, and was engaged during the day, as flankers, skirmishers, and in support of our artillery. By uniting with the Twenty-Fifth Regiment, and making a determined fight, these companies aided in repelling the advance of the victorious foe, thus saving the Army of the James from a worse defeat. At five o'clock, after thirteen hours of contest, these companies were relieved, and wearily dragged their way to Cobb's Hill, where they arrived an hour before midnight. Col. Pickett, of the Twenty-Fifth Mass. Regt., assumed command of the Star Brigade after its discomfiture, and we append so much of his report as relates to our escaped companies:—
. . . “At this juncture, while marching my regiment through the woods to the rear, I was informed by Capt. W. H. Abels, Act'g Adjt. Gen'l of the brigade, that Gen'l Heckman and Col. Lee were
both reported missing. Being senior officer, I was ordered by Gen'l Weitzel to assume command, collect the remnants of the regiments, and form the brigade in line of battle, in the open field, in the rear of the woods. The brigade was then ordered by Gen'l Smith to an elevated piece of ground on the right, in order to check the further advance of the enemy on our right flank. Remaining there about an hour, the brigade was ordered by Lieut. Graves, of Gen'l Weitzel's Staff, to move at double-quick to a turnpike, a short distance in the rear of which we supported a battery. . . . About five o'clock P. M. orders were received to withdraw the brigade, reaching camp about nine o'clock P. M. . . . The total loss of the brigade in killed, wounded and missing, from the 12th to the 16th, is six hundred and ninety-three. . . .
“Col. Twenty-Fifth Mass. Vols., Commanding Brigade.
“Capt. W. H. Abels,
“A. A. G., Second Division, Eighteenth Army Corps.”
Of the nine hundred and eighty men captured that day, six hundred were from the Star Brigade, and two hundred and forty-nine from the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. In two ranks, with a heavy guard, and a stalwart rebel, bearing our three flags, leading the column, our captured men marched over fields strewn thick with dead. Over the clash of arms was heard the agonizing wail of the wounded and dying; and when the prisoners reached the bluff, the long rows of dead and wounded lying near the fort, made it clear that the victory over our slender column had been secured at a terrible cost. The captives were marched down the steep embankment of the bluff to a steamer, and by nine o'clock were in Richmond, the butt of jests, and a gazing-stock to the curious. They were immediately marched to Libby Prison, where the officers were confined in the third, and the men in the second story of that famous gaol.
With a single attenuated line, the Union forces had enveloped those of the enemy. The advantage of position, with short distances, and direct routes, were entirely in our enemy's
favor, while it is probable their effective strength was nearly equal to that of the Union forces present upon the field. Our line was not unlike that at Cemetery Ridge, at Gettysburg, with the armies reversed, of which Gen'l Doubleday says: “History furnishes few instances in which forces assailing such a position are not disastrously defeated unless supported by a large preponderating force.” The Star Brigade, with a prophetic knowledge of the enemy's plan, had warned the commanding general of the exposed condition of our right. To remedy this defect, two regiments were ordered to occupy a front which would have required a division to hold it, and these regiments failed to arrive until after the disaster had fallen upon our men.
The enemy's attack was made substantially as planned in Beauregard's report, but failed in realizing his sanguine expectation at a point where the execution of the plan would have proved his ruin. Ransom's forces were so demoralized by their attack upon our brigade as to have been useless for the rest of the day, as admitted by Beauregard's report. As to this contest, C. T. Locher, of the First Virginia (Kemper's Brigade) writes: “I do not think it was an easy victory. The fire of the Twenty-Seventh Mass., in response to the first call to surrender, killed eight of the First Virginia. Terry's (Kemper's) Brigade, next to Gracie's, lost three hundred and fourteen killed and wounded, out of one thousand men in the assault, and Barton's Brigade, next to Terry, lost nearly as many.”
The First and Seventh Virginia Regiments of Kemper's Brigade, had attacked us in the rear, while the Forty-Third and Fifty-Ninth Alabama Regiments of Gracie's Brigade, and the Twenty-Fourth and Eleventh Virginia Regiments of Kemper's Brigade, were assailing us in front. The colonel of the Forty-Third Alabama, and lieutenant-colonel of the Twenty-Fourth Virginia Regiments, were killed; and the colonel of the Twenty-Fourth Virginia, and colonel and adjutant
of the Fifty-Ninth Alabama Regiments, with the lieutenant-colonel colonel of the Sixtieth Alabama, were severely wounded. The Forty-Third and Fifty-Ninth Alabama Regiments were completely demoralized by the terrific fire, as were also the Eleventh and Twenty-Fourth Virginia Regiments. Terry's (Kemper's), Barton's and Lewis’ (Hoke's) Brigades, made up Pickett's Division when they made that famous charge at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863. Lieut. Col. Cabell, of the Thirty-Eighth Virginia, was the only field officer of that Division who walked off that fatal field, and he fell dead this morning, as Barton's Brigade moved upon the Union line. Mr. Locher, historian of Kemper's Brigade, gives their loss that morning as fifty-five killed and two hundred and fifty-nine wounded; and adds, that of Gracie's and Barton's Brigades, must have been equally great. As these facts are all obtained from Confederate sources, they may be considered reliable, and show most vividly the desperate fight made by our men to defend their position.
As to this conflict, we present the opinion of some of those present during the day. Brig. Gen'l Weitzel, Chief Engineer of the Army of the James, said, “I never knew a better officer, or a better fighter than Heckman, either in the regular or volunteer service.” The “New York Herald's” correspondent, under date of May 19, 1864, wrote, “The brigade maintained its splendid reputation, and for an hour resisted the enemy on all sides, and covered the field with dead and wounded rebels. The enemy charged upon them in over-powering numbers, and the iron men who had stood the brunt of battle for ten days, were driven from the field.” The “New York Tribune” correspondent, detailing the action, mentions the rumor of our capture, but adds, “We very much doubt the truthfulness of this rumor, as Heckman's fighting brigade has always proved itself more than a match for the enemy.” The correspondent of the Eighteenth Corps
wrote: “It was a great mistake to have put men jaded by constant service, in that position, and especially Heckman's Brigade, which has been in constant service, and always in the advance, from the very moment of landing, up to the time of the attack.” Capt. E. K. Wilcox of Company I, who was aide-de-camp on Gen'l Weitzel's staff, wrote: “The hardest fight I ever was in happened yesterday.” Two deserters from the Eighteenth Georgia Regiment, said, “We could walk on bodies from our works to your position after the wounded were removed.” Charles Weed, of Company E, Twenty-Seventh Mass., who was wounded and lay upon the field until noon, says: “When I was carried through the field to the rebel works, the wounded had been removed and laid in long winrows around the fort, while the field was covered with their dead.”
C. T. Locher, the historian of Kemper's (rebel) Brigade (composed of the First, Third, Seventh, Eleventh and Twenty-Fourth Virginia Regiments), writes, under date of Sept. 28, 1882:—
“The First Virginia carried your lines where the stage road enters. After passing about one hundred yards down this road, finding nothing in our front, and hearing the firing to our right and rear, we turned towards that direction, coming across where the coffee was temptingly boiling. We stopped awhile and took some. That it was good I can testify. It was a rare treat to us. After leaving the coffee-pots we struck a line of men marked A (see sketch of field of Drewry's Bluff), who, after some talk, dropped their guns without firing. Meanwhile, the left of our regiment drew the attention of those further in their front, and lower down, marked B, who called, What regiment is that? Our reply, The First Virginia! was answered by a shotted salute, killing eight and wounding scores of our men. J. B. Angle, one of our men, saw Gen'l Heckman surrender to Col. Flouree of the Seventh Virginia.”
This letter is corroborated by Col. Sandford and Lieut. Col. Troy of the Sixtieth Alabama, and Adjutant Hall of the
Fifty-Ninth Alabama, of Gracie's Brigade. Cols. Sandford and Troy say, “They came up with many misgivings because they thought there was a battery there,” as there was (Belger's) the night before. The firing at four o'clock, the 15th of May, was to feel out our lines, and they found out where they ended, then; but as our brigade moved farther towards the James during the night, where Beauregard counted on nothing, he found something.
Thus closed the day upon the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt., but its shattered ranks returned to camp, “Not like the quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon,” for they had done all that courage and manhood could do. Still, misfortune has its cruel thrusts, and the deserted quarters of our comrades were forcible reminders of the loss we had sustained. We report in detail the losses of the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. at Drewry's Bluff.
Capt. Charles D. Sandford, North Adams; shot through head.
Samuel A. Chapin, Company D, Granby; shell; head.
William M. Tymeson, Company E, Monterey.
Sergt. Joseph W. Roberts, Company F, Granville.
Joseph Doyle, Company F, Springfield.
Franklin M. Hibbert, Company F, Tolland.
Luther P. Vaille, Company F, Tolland.
Charles H. Searle, Company F, Southampton.
Robert H. Macauley, Company H, Becket.
Richard Campbell, Company K, Springfield; through breast.
Lieut. Frederick C. Wright, Northampton; heel.
Lieut. Sherman P. Cooley, Granville, left arm and side.
James Adams, Williamsburg; finger amputated. Hiram A. Beach, Huntington; thumb and ankle. Edward L. Lewis, Northampton; fingers.
Milton N. Jillson, Athol; neck and right shoulder. Aaron Oliver, Athol; bayonet wound, foot. Ebenezer Winslow, Wendell; right foot.
Sergt. Francis D. Avery, Charlemont; left arm and side. James J. P. Davis, Sandisfield; thigh, amputated. Orrin Jones, Deerfield; left foot. Jesse D. Comstock, Commington, right thigh. Henry H. Johnson, Northfield; left lung, fatal.
James W. Spear, Amherst; left thigh, amputated, fatal. Nathaniel F. Manley, Springfield; both legs, fatal. Charles B. Spaulding, Amherst; left arm. Lucius D. Smith, Hadley; right knee. Josiah Wood, New Bedford; arm, amputated. Charles R. Collins, Chicopee; slight.
Sergt. Charles H. Bligh, Pittsfield; right shoulder. Samuel S. Chapman, Lee; left knee, amputated. Daniel F. Andrews, Great Barrington; head. Joseph Dwyer, Hinsdale; hand. Benjamin W. F. Smith, Great Barrington; ear. Dennis O'Connor, Pittsfield; slight. Lewis Tatro, Douglas; knee amputated. Charles Weed, Pittsfield; both legs and groin. James Williams, Pittsfield; side, fatal. Jonas Scott, Great Barrington; fatal.
Sergt. Chauncey Holcomb, Westfield; fatal. Sergt. George W. Cone, Westfield; arm, slight. Corp. Nathan B. Pomeroy, Westfield; breast, left arm, amputated. Hiram H. Weiser, Westfield; face, left side. Howard E. Cornwell, Southwick; right arm. Walter R. Madison, Westfield; right arm. Reuben A. Richards, Springfield; right thumb. Vernon D. Austin, Southampton; right hand. Frank W. Chamberlin, Westfield; slight. George E. Clark, Springfield; left arm, contusion. Patrick Coughlin, Chester; thigh. John Dorflin, Westfield; fatal. William A. Moody, Westfield; leg. Henry W. Soule, Tolland; slight. Henry H. Underwood, Sandisfield; right side, contusion. Peter Wilson, Southwick; slight.
Sergt. Francis E. Weil; right lung, fatal. Corp. Horace A. Loomis; right foot. Charles A. Odell; finger. Charles W. Coon; left foot. Nelson A. Randall; finger. Casper J. Heisler; fatal.
Lucian J. Erwin, Brimfield.
Jerome E. Smith, Groton; left arm, flesh wound. John Woodward, Springfield; right thigh, slight.
Col. H. C. Lee.
Lieut. Col. W. G. Bartholemew.
Capt. R. Ripley Swift.
Lieuts. Joseph H. Nutting, P. W. McManus, J. Leander Skinner, John H. Judd, Justus Lyman, William G. Davis. Total, 9.
Sergts. Henry Dickinson, Abel C. Kenney.
Corpls. Alvin W. Clark, Edmund T. Drake, Sylvester S. Hooper, Nelson H. Kingsley, Frederick Frey.
Privates Lyman B. Abbott, Richard B. Abbott, Frank Alvord, Henry Anthony, William H. Bartlett, Thomas Bolton, Thomas C. Brady, Henry Braman, Edgar C. Brewster, John Buchanan, Oliver A. Clark, John Donovan, Calvin C. Hosford, Frederick Klisner, Ed. L. Lewis, John McCaffrey, Albert Meir, Patrick Murphy, Richard Raftis, Rufus C. Robinson, Francis G. Russell, Warren E. Russell, Andrew J. Shaw, Thomas F. Smith, Charles A. Spencer, Ezra O. Spooner, Morris Stark, Frederick P. Stone, James F. Thayer, Emerson W. Torrey, Caleb F. Tufts. Total, 38.
Sergts. Mark Rankin, Levi Bosworth, Henry H. Bush, Charles Gray.
Corpls. John Bolles, William P. Huntoon, William H. Pierce, John W. Brizzee.
Privates James H. Allen, David Blair, Hiram Blair, John T. Bliss, Joseph Bracewell, Jr., James L. Bragdon, Charles Davis, William N. Dexter, George S. Dresser, John M. Dodge, Theo. E. Galer, Grosvenor Hollenbeck, John W. Howe, Reuben Huntoon, Norris B. Meacham, James Miller, Sylvanus E. Oliver, James H. Richardson, Samuel Rich, Asa Tilden, Charles E. Wright, Wesley A. Woodward. Total, 30.
Sergts. Alfred D. Burdeck, Bartholomew O'Connell.
Corpls. Francis A. Loveland, John Manning, Levi Brizzee, Elijah Carter, Samuel Woffenden.
Privates Oscar C. Britt, Daniel E. Ball, George W. Bradburn, Joseph W. Blair, John Callighan, Lewis A. Drury, Chauncey L. Emmons, William R. Elder, John Fitzgerald, William Farrell, Charles W. Harvey, George Hunter, James C. Hitchcock, William Hazard, Charles T. Howard, Martin L. Jones, Frank W. Jones, Peter Le Clair, Oscar M. Loomis, Hart E. Mowry, Patrick Murphy, Mahlon M. Merritt, Joseph Nadeaux, James H. Pratt, Merrick A. Packard, Mayhew M. Phipps, Brigham S. Ripley, Joseph Richards, Isaac Spooner, Gilbert D. Streeter, John W. Woffenden, Andrew M. Witherell, Merritt E. Wright, George W. Taylor. Total, 41.
Corp. Josiah Wood *
Privates Charles R. Collins, Ezra Kelsey, Charles A. Smith. Total, 4.
Sergts. William H. Monnier, Otto L. Stamm.
Corp. Eldad E. Moore.
Privates Hugh Dolan, Dennis O'Connor,* Jonas Scott,* Lewis Tatro,* Charles Weed,* James Williams.* Total, 9.
Sergt. Chauncey Holcomb.*
Privates Martin Arrenz, Milo H. Cooley, Frank W. Chamberlin,* John Dorflin,* John W. Gibbs, Chauncey P. Howe, Seth Liswell, William A. Moody,* Charles W. Roberts. Total, 10.[note]
Sergts. William Q. Wight, Andrew J. Dunham.
Corp. Stanley Howard.
Privates George A. Boice, Michael Cavanaugh, Richard Curtis, Patrick Gleason, Edward G. Kellogg, Michael Lyons, Patrick Murray, William W. Patridge, Charles Pratt, Patrick Riley, Edwin Smith, Michael Splaine, Charles Williams, Eleazer Wilbur. Total, 17.
Sergts. Joseph Ainley, Alexander G. Harrington.
Corpls. Irving R. Clark, Thomas Hare, Christopher Reagan, Henry Remington, Jr.
Privates John W. Allen, Harvey E. Bassett, William P. Bracy, Edward P. Clark, Charles A. Como, Wardrop Davidson, James Donlan, Sidney T. Estes, Casper J. Heisler,* Sylvester Kent, Andrew Lacey, Charles A. Lyman, George McGue, Samuel L. Montague, Charles H. Morgan, Emory P. Morton, James Parker, Royal H. Plumb, Charles L. Spooner, Henry C. Terry, James M. Thompson, Albert Whiting. Total, 28.
Sergts. Charles J. Osborn, Abram Childs, George W. Hobart.
Corpls. Alvin A. Gage, William W. Halin, Austin Jennison, Henry H. Pepper, James E. Perry.
Privates Horace H. Acres, Hiram W. Aldrich, Perez Blackmer, Robert B. W. Bliss, Joseph E. Boynton, Henry Busha, Lucius Brown, Augustus L. Chapman, Stephen Clark, John Coash, Albert Collins, Charles S. Coleman, Caleb Crowningshield, James K. Crosby, James Crosby, William H. Davy, George H. Dimick, Thomas Finnerty, Lucian J. Erwin,* John J. Flaherty, John K. Fuller, C. J. Glover, Elmer Jewett, Almon Laide, Ebenezer Lyon, Michael McKinney, Richard McNary, Alex. B. Murdock, Lyman E. Needham, Stephen O'Halloran, John P. Pepper, Silas H. Phelps, Daniel Pratt, Flavius J. Putnam, Solomon Rhodes, John Sullivan, George H. Walls, William E. Washburn, John Whitney. Total, 47.
Sergts. John W. Bartlett, Parsons M. Ault, Edwin P. Grover.
Corpls. Erastus Innman, Frederick Kurtz.[note]
Privates Thomas C. Allis, Joseph Day, Elisha J. Griggs, Carl N. Lippman, John McDonough, Robert McDonald, John McGrath, Edward P. Meacham, William O'Brien, John Tucker. Total, 15.
Our casualties before Drewry's Bluff were ten killed, fifty-five wounded, and two hundred and forty-eight prisoners. Of the prisoners, twelve were wounded, and appear in that list also, so that our total loss was three hundred and one men. The companies held the following position in regimental line of battle, D being absent:—
[Right.] H, A, I, C, B, G, K, E, F. [Left.]
[Prisoners.] 28 38 47 41 30 17 15 9 10
This view of their position, in connection with the narrative, will show why certain companies lost so largely in prisoners. Our total casualties for ten days since landing at Bermuda Hundreds, was sixteen killed, one hundred and nine wounded, and two hundred and forty-eight prisoners, an aggregate loss of three hundred and sixty-one men. The effective strength of the regiment had been farther reduced since landing by detaching upwards of one hundred men, for pioneer, ambulance and other special duty; while large numbers had broken down under the severe strain, and were sick at camp or in the hospitals.
Were it possible, we would gladly record the courage and sacrifices of all who fell on that fatal morning, but we must intrust their memories to a grateful people.
There was one who fell whom we must mention, for not to do so would rob the Twenty-Seventh Mass. Regt. of the record of one of its bravest and most accomplished officers.
Capt. Charles D. Sandford.
Charles Durand Sandford, son of our first chaplain, Rev. Miles Sandford, was born in Pontiac, Mich., March 20, 1840, from which place he moved successively to Detroit, Chicago,