THIS BOOK IS NO..
OF AN EDITION OF 25O COPIES
AND IS PRESENTED TO
BY THE WISTAR INSTITUT OF
ANATOMY AND BIOLOGY
University of California Berkeley
THE RECIPIENT OF THIS BOOK IS RE-
QUESTED TO REGARD ITS CONTENTS.
FOR THE PRESENT. AS CONFIDENTIAL.
ISAAC JONES WISTAR
IN TWO VOLUMES
THE WISTAR INSTITUTE OF ANATOMY AND BIOLOGY
BT THI WISTAR INSTITUTE or ANATOMY AND BIOLOGY
Volume II. 1858-1892
I A Western Trip. Outbreak of the War
II The Disastrous Battle of Ball's Bluff
Ill Skirmishes and The Battle of Antietam
IV Experiences of a Brigade Commander
V At West Point, Va., and Bermuda Hundred
VI The Return to Civil Life and Business
. . . . 115
VII Incidents and Reflections in Conclusion
... . 136
Appendix . .
Colonel Isaac J. Wistar, Age 35, 1863 Frontispiece
The Cemetery at Ball's Bluff where Colonel Baker was killed 37
General Wistar's Headquarters, West Point, Va. , July 4, 1863 78
The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology 160
A WESTERN TRIP. OUTBREAK OF THE WAR
As a trip to the new El Dorado seemed easily within the com-
pass of a summer's journey, for the exigencies of which I felt at no
loss to prepare, I resolved to go, and bearing in mind the early
wants in the mining region of the Pacific Coast, I could think of
nothing better to take with me than such simple machinery as
is the first needed under such circumstances. I therefore repaired
to Salem, Ohio, where I contracted for some simple-planned direct
action portable steam engines, and a sawmill or two, adapted
either for steam or water power.
When these were completed I shipped them to Chicago, and
thence to St. Joseph, Mo., via the Hannibal & St. Joseph R. R.,
just opened for traffic. At St. Joe and vicinity I purchased wagons
and ox teams, and after some delay and difficulty in getting the
freight delivered, inventoried and loaded, at last got away and
after crossing the river by ferry and doubling teams through the
wide and muddy Missouri bottoms, launched forth upon the
familiar plains. The prairie roads, though of course better marked
and more traveled, were very much as we had found them ten
years before, the wagon trail leading over a succession of undula-
tions very slippery and difficult when it rained, as it usually did
at that season, and nearly always separated by small runlets,
degenerated at the crossings into such unspeakable mud-holes as
must be seen to be appreciated. This time I had undertaken to
haul heavy freight, instead of mere food and traveler's baggage,
but on the other hand had known pretty well from former experi-
ence how to equip for it. Though 3000 to 4000 pounds was the
usual weight in the wagons, we had six to eight yoke of good cattle
in each team, well-selected teamsters and a portable forge, and
2 A WESTERN TRIP
mechanics always at hand to repair damages. There was now no
trouble from Indians, and besides the large emigrant trains, hun-
dreds of single wagons with 'Pike's Peak or bust,' or some similar
legend displayed on the covers, lined pretty much the entire 600
miles of road. From some point on the South Platte I rode ahead
alone in perfect security, turning in with some emigrant train
every night, and made my solitary bivouac on the flats of Cherry
Creek not far from where the fine cut stone Union Depot of
Denver now stands.
The more vigorous of the emigrants were scattering out into
the mountains with their teams; and the present site of the city, or
at least the lower part of it down on the flats, contained a residuum
of the unfortunate, the sick, idle and lazy, many of whom were
anxious to sell their cattle at any price to get money enough for a
return passage by the stage-line, recently established. I soon
saw that I had brought machinery to that population about a
year too soon. No doubt there would be demand enough in time,
but affairs absolutely required my presence in Philadelphia, the
coming winter and I concluded to sell for what I could get, no
matter at what loss, and use the proceeds as well as some bank
drafts which I had brought with me, to purchase emigrant cattle.
This happy thought repaid all my losses and ultimately yielded
large profit. I bought the cattle for from $10 to $15 a yoke,
choosing those least run down, as far as practicable, and retaining
one wagon, hired returning adventurers at low wages, and started
back driving very slowly and carefully, selecting each camping-
ground, frequently several days in advance. On this trip we saw
no buffalo, though passing over ground which ten years previously
had been darkened as far as the eye could reach, with their far-
spreading masses. Now, not even a single one came in sight of the
road. The deer and elk hunting in the Platte bluffs, was however
about as good as in 1849, and these animals with antelope, and
nearer the settlements, turkey and grouse, kept the camp pretty
well supplied with meat. On many days the cattle were not
moved more than a mile or two, and as much time was afforded
for hunting and fishing as though it was merely a sporting trip.
At the crossing of one of the Blues, we met a drove of brood
A SPIRITED HORSE FIGHT 3
mares and well-bred cows on their long road to California, and our
mutual surprise may be imagined when I recognized in the owner
one Graves, a client of mine in California, whose unfinished
affairs I had, with his consent, left in the hands of my friends Irving
and Pate. Leaving our several droves to go on their respective
ways, he and I at once bivouacked, and had a long and interesting
discussion respecting his law interests in California as well as on the
new state of affairs in which each had found the other.
Striking the river where the town of Atchison had not long
since been started, we turned up the Missouri, which was crossed
at St. Joe, and passing leisurely through the northern tier of Mis-
souri counties, entered Iowa not far from the middle of its southern
boundary-line and laid our course due east to strike the settle-
ments which then had their western limit at and near the village
of Bloomfield. In crossing one of the branches of Grand River, in
Missouri, coming in from a hunting-trip a day or two in rear of the
drove, I noticed a singular phenomenon. The stream was about
twenty yards wide, flowing through a finely timbered bottom, the
water very low and muddy, and large numbers of some predaceous
fish probably some kind of pike were darting in every direc-
tion, showing their large black dorsal fins above the surface.
Unfortunately I had no means with me of catching any, but the
question did not fail to occur, if pike existed in such great numbers,
how much vaster must be the multitudes on which they fed? I
have never been able to get any solution of the mystery.
In Iowa, some miles before arriving at the settlements, I was
witness of a curious and entertaining horse-fight. Among our
herding horses was a small but fiery and spirited stallion from the
Lipan Indians, much affected for my own riding. He was not
over 14 hands, but was fat and saucy and had spirit enough for a
herd. Having turned him out late one evening, he failed to find
our manada, which was driven in without him in the morning, and
I started out to hunt him. I had walked several miles, having
got on numerous wrong trails, through a fine undulating country,
when I heard some peculiar noises over the top of the next hill.
Creeping carefully up, I looked over the summit and saw perhaps
fifteen or twenty mares and geldings evidently belonging to the set-
A WESTERN TRIP
tlements now not very distant, standing in a circle facing outwards.
Within the circle, ranged about my Lipan pony in a terrible rage,
attacking first at one and then at another point, and occasionally
getting in his heels with a resounding thwack that might be
heard for a mile. Bites, kicks and squeals flew around at large,
but though surrounded by such superior force, the Lipan was too
quick for them, and made his heels count every tune, scarcely
getting a scratch in return. As my side was not suffering any
damage, I watched this unfair combat for a long time, enjoying the
little fellow's game and prowess but finally put in an appearance, at
which the strangers galloped off, while the pony, though usually
wild and hard to catch, came trotting up with triumphant neighs,
showing plainly enough notwithstanding his gallant and successful
defence, how glad he was to find an admiring and sympathizing
I spent the remainder of the summer and fall in the vicinity of
Bloomfield, east of which place the country was considerably
obstructed by settlers and fences. I had there a terrible attack
of ague from which I recovered in due time by the aid of such
quack medicines as could be obtained, there being no doctor nor
quinine to be had. When not enjoying a fever or a shake, I
occupied myself in selling fat cattle to the Chicago drovers who
heard of me at Burlington, and in scouring the settled districts
to purchase small bunches of cattle and single steers from the
fanners. This business required the handling of considerable sums
of money, which, as there were no banks, I was obliged to carry
on my person. I soon became known about the country, as well
as this habit of possessing cash, and this notoriety led to what I
have always thought a deliberate and well planned but badly
executed attempt at robbery. It was already dark one evening
when, after a forty-mile ride, I reached a cross-roads rejoicing in
the name of Pulaski, in the middle of a boundless prairie. It
boasted of only one house, a small log cabin with a loft over and a
small kitchen annexed, and a log stable adjacent, with door and
padlock. I locked up my horse, offered the key to the landlord,
but on his invitation retained it, and carrying with me a valuable
silver-mounted Mexican saddle, entered the house, where I found
AN ATTEMPT AT BOBBERY 5
two foot-travelers of not very prepossessing appearance, who were
apparently acquainted with the landlord and pretended to be
traveling in search of land, to locate. The cabin consisted of one
low room about twelve by eighteen feet, with a ladder in one
corner, by which the loft was entered through a small square hole
in one corner of the planked ceiling. In the other three corners of
the loft, which was about three feet high at the eaves and not
over seven at the ridge, were as many beds, made by nailing barrel
staves on poles suitably arranged. I placed my saddle and
blankets on the one nearest the trap-door, and proceeded to eat
supper and smoke a pipe, after which I went up the ladder to bed,
the other two corners being already occupied by the strangers,
while the landlord and his wife slept down stairs. My money
which was in large rolls of wildcat bank-bills of the country, being
mostly stored about my coat and trousers, I rolled up those gar-
ments and placed them under my head after spreading my blankets
and blowing out the light, carefully adjusting my belt with knife
and large Colt's revolver, ready at hand.
As the only opening in the loft besides the trap in the floor was
a small hole cut in the gable, not over sixteen inches square, the
place was so dark that literally one could not see one's hand or
any other object. Knowing there was no other house within many
miles, and not liking the looks of the strangers, nor knowing how
they were armed, I felt somewhat nervous respecting the unusually
large quantity of money which happened to be then in my posses-
sion, and slept with one eye open. It was not very long till I was
waked from a light doze by hearing one of the strangers rise and
fumble surreptitiously about his bed, as though cautiously put-
ting on some clothes. Cocking my pistol quietly under the blanket
I crowded silently as possible against the wall under the eaves, so
as to avoid being disabled by a single blow, and waited. Pres-
ently I could hear but not see, my friend walk cautiously over the
floor to my vicinity, whence after standing a few minutes, he
silently retired again to his own corner, perhaps discouraged by
my absolute silence while listening so intently. Wishing to bring
the adventure to an end of some sort, I therefore used all my
ingenuity to counterfeit heavy breathing, in fact almost a snore,
A WESTERN TRIP
and this, as I expected, soon encouraged my vis a vis to another
effort. After some low whispering, I again heard him approach
with great caution, and redoubled my efforts at plausible snoring,
for I had so arranged myself that his first blow would fall upon the
empty bed, when I intended to rush on him, and the instant I
could feel him with one hand, kill him with the other. Either my
counterfeit snoring was so bad, or his caution was so great, that
he remained for some minutes standing close to me in perfect
silence, and as I found it difficult to snore and listen simultane-
ously, I resolved to have an end of the affair. Keeping him covered
therefore, as nearly as I could judge in the darkness, I said, "I
have got you covered and if you budge you are a dead man. What
do you want?" "I want to go down stairs." "Well then, go,
right off. Don't stop a minute or I'll fire." When he had gone I
drove the other one out, piled both their beds over the trap, and
listened at the outside opening for any signs of an attack on my
horse. As none came, and both fellows had left the house, I
placed my bed also over the trap, fixed a tell-tale in the window
opening, and being very tired, proceeded to sleep the sleep of the
About daybreak the landlord called me, and complained he had
been robbed. Fully supposing he was in league with the others,
I gave him a short answer, and told him I was getting ready to
settle with him and wanted my breakfast right away. However
with the aid of his wife, he soon satisfied me that the two men were
entire strangers to him, though they had described and spoken
about me before my arrival, and he supposed we belonged together.
It seemed that after failing in their attempt, they had stolen the
poor woman's watch and a small sum that was on the shelf down
stairs, and cleared out. They had as appeared by their tracks
examined the stable and concluded not to break it, which was well
for them, as it was commanded from my window. A few yards
farther they had sat down and put on their boots and then turned
into the prairie, where they had very probably concealed their
horses, and where as soon as the sun rose high enough to dry the
dew, their track was lost among the hundreds of cattle-trails
parting the high grass in every direction. As after that it was
BELLING CATTLE IN CHICAGO 7
impossible to follow their trail, I was obliged to abandon my late
landlord to his own devices, promising, however, to make the facts
known, as I should reach other settlements in the course of my
travels, which I faithfully did, but never heard any more of the
As soon as the first severe frost of autumn struck and killed the
prairie grass, having got the cattle gathered well in hand, they
were rushed down about a hundred miles to Burlington, in four
parcels, fording the Des Moines River which was low, without
difficulty. At Burlington I was obliged to hire pasture on the
meadows of cultivated grasses which there abounded, and which
are not injured immediately by frost, like the natural grass of the
prairie. The cattle had to be railed from Burlington to Chicago
in lots, as cattle-cars could be procured and made up into trains,
the first lots being consigned to persons in Chicago whom I only
knew by name. As I dared not leave Burlington till they were all
at or fairly on the road to Chicago, the process of shipping, or
rather of getting cars, involved delay and exasperation which had
almost reached the limit of endurance, when at last I got away
with the last lot about midnight, one rainy and stormy night.
At Chicago I found all the cattle safe at the old stock-yards of
that period, which I have in more recent years vainly tried to
locate, even with the aid of some of the oldest residents. To the
best of my belief, they were not far from West Madison Street,
but a short distance west of the river, a place which is now the
heart of the city, and I today possess both stores and populous
flats of my own, at least two miles farther west, these localities
being at that tune open prairie. As the lot of cattle was large
and important for that day, all the brokers, dealers, packers and
loafers of the place had been busying themselves over it, the result
of which was, I had immediate offers with healthy competition,
and though general prices were low, and the cattle only grass fed,
including a number that had resisted all attempts to ameliorate
their condition and would require stall feeding, I closed out the
last of the lot within three days, at prices which much more than
doubled I am not sure but they trebled my investment, with
all attendant expenses. Had I driven the cattle to the lower part
8 A WESTERN TRIP
of Illinois, bought standing corn and fed them through the winter,
shipping to New York in the spring, I should have again doubled
the profits. The method of doing this at that time, was to pur-
chase a few hundred acres of standing corn which few in those
parts then thought of husking for market divide it by cross
fences into suitable enclosures and admit the cattle to them
successively, at the same time purchasing store hogs to fatten on
their waste and leavings.
Western money at that time consisted of the torn, disfigured
and greasy notes of an infinite number of 'Wildcat' banks, many
of them insolvent, and none negotiable at any distance from the
place of issue, which often appeared on no map. I therefore con-
sidered it prudent to buy exchange on New York, which to the best
of my recollection, cost five per cent. And yet the West contains
today a new generation of idiots who wish to abolish the existing
National Bank system which has, at no appreciable expense to the
public, supplied a perfectly safe currency that has invariably stood
at par from one ocean to the other! Of what is not ignorance and
folly capable in public affairs, of which according to our political
institutions and theories one man is as good a judge as another, or, as
the Irish enthusiast for equality remarked, ' a d d sight better.'
During the journey from Chicago to Philadelphia which then
occupied several days, the newspapers were filled with accounts of
the attack by the mischievous lunatic, John Brown, on the State
of Virginia to free her negroes forcibly from slavery. That fanat-
ical enthusiast had formed so adequate a conception of the magni-
tude of his enterprise, that he undertook it with a force of about
twenty men, of whom a third were negroes; his military stores con-
sisting of a lot of Connecticut-made pikes to arm the expected
negro recruits, of whom, however, not one came to his aid. This
futile attempt to inaugurate, with the instigation and backing of
many persons in New England otherwise intelligent, a servile
insurrection with its attendant horrors, while it may have served
to demonstrate the absurd ideas of southern social affairs enter-
tained hi remote northern communities, ended in nothing except
the execution of Brown, and as many of his followers as could be
caught by due process of Virginia law. Except so far as it tended
COLONEL BAKER ELECTED SENATOR 9
to impair the fraternal relations of the States, it did not perhaps
even hasten the impending civil war, though it has made Brown
like Herostratus notorious in biographical dictionaries, a punish-
ment by no means undeserved.
After a long and hotly contested canvass in Oregon, my old
friend and partner, Colonel Baker, was elected U. S. Senator from
that State, and took his seat in March, 1861. Notwithstanding
the divergence of our political views, I had gratified my personal
feelings by writing of him extensively in eastern journals, and he
came by no means as a stranger to the people of the Atlantic
States. He was not long in the Senate before one or two great
political orations placed him at the head of the speakers of that
body, and established throughout the country his fame as the lead-
ing orator of the new party, now successful for the first time in the
elections of 1860, and just entering on a long career of power.
He had been intimately acquainted in Illinois for many years with
Lincoln, the new President, both at the bar and in political life, a
circumstance not without its influence in his approach to the high
public position he was about to take in the councils of the dominant
party. But before he took his seat in the Senate, at his request I
spent some days with him in Washington, and mixing but little
with politicians myself, was not a little dismayed to learn the very
serious views he entertained of the situation. It was an ominous
fact that he, coming fresh from a popular canvass, already re-
garded civil war as certain, and was ready to advise me to abandon
the law and study military tactics and campaigns.
Long and intimately as I had known him, I now learned, or at
least realized, for the first time that this western lawyer who
despised municipal law as a mere breadwinner's science, but was
familiar with the biography and speeches of all the great orators of
his own tongue, and held stored in his memory entire volumes of
English classical poetry, was none the less versed in the marches,
campaigns and battles of the great historic soldiers of ancient
and modern times. I have no intention of entering here upon any
history of war, politics, or any other topic of public affairs beyond
the mere incidents inseparably interwoven with my own personal
recollections. The public events of the times have been narrated
10 A WESTERN TBIP
and discussed in a thousand volumes written on both sides,
and from every point of view. But to make intelligible the diver-
gence of our views, some brief explanation of our different stand-
points may deserve a place here. Baker believing or thinking
he believed in all the American theories of the infinite wisdom of
ignorant individuals however mercenary and degraded, provided,
only they are collected in noisy masses to vote, was a politician by
instinct and temperament, and on the death of the Whig party
had naturally drifted to the Republican, its pretended heir and
administrator. On the other hand I, while never much interested
in political affairs beyond the local squabbles of California, and
believing nothing of the mathematical absurdity of a thousand
fools when collected in a mob emitting all wisdom, learning
and judgment, had been led from the Whig to the Democratic
party, principally by the simplicity and attractiveness of a few
leading principles, among which may be briefly mentioned the
The original and unimpaired sovereignty of the States in all
matters not granted by them to the federal government of their
The limitation of federal powers to those enumerated in the
Constitution, the only law for its own construction.
Freedom of the individual in trade as in all things, as far as con-
sistent with public order and the necessity for public revenue.
A sound currency everywhere convertible at par into the one
recognized medium of the world.
These principles comprised most of my political creed then as
they do now, and I had given little attention to the noisy excite-
ment of the day, taking for granted the row would get itself peace-
fully settled in some way, as so many teapot tempests had done
before. Baker's acceptance of the certainty of war at or immedi-
ately after Lincoln's accession, was therefore not a little startling,
especially in view of his familiarity with political topics and his
intimacy with the coming Republican leaders. After the new
Administration took office on March 4th, being again in Washing-
ton about some business in the Supreme Court, I found Baker's
views had evidently gained ground, particularly among extremists
THE BOMBARDMENT OF FORT SUMPTER 11
on both sides who, wide as the poles asunder on other questions,
agreed in the expectation of, if not the avowed wish for, war.
Baker, though no extremist himself, had many Republican friends
who well deserved the title, and made no concealment of theirwish,
while personal friends of my own on the other side, seemed to my
provincial apprehension, equally belligerent. Dining with one of
these, I met Gov. Lane, the unsuccessful candidate for Vice Presi-
dent; L. Q. Washington, afterwards Assistant Secretary of State to
the Confederacy; Boyce and Bonham, South Carolina M. Cs. and
other southern Senators and Representatives, and though looked on
as southern, or at least friendly in sympathy, found myself prac-
tically alone in my aversion to war and to the speeches and acts of
hot-heads on both sides, which, if not repressed, could lead to no
In Philadelphia one naturally heard less of the violence of the
political ebulition, and immersed in my own increasing affairs, and
unable to realize the imminence of the stupendous reality of civil
war, I was still fatuously hoping the politicians might get their
differences adjusted, when suddenly upon me and other millions
of blind and infatuate optimists, burst like a shaking of the solid
earth beneath us, the portentous fact of the bombardment of
Fort Sumter. Though the event followed logically enough the
declarations and preparations openly made by both northern and
southern leaders, the general public were so accustomed to polit-
ical bluster that they were taken absolutely by surprise, quickly
followed by intense indignation, directed naturally enough at the
authors of the first overt act. The President, either not himself
at once perceiving the magnitude of the impending struggle, or
with the keen instincts of a practical politician, willing to let it
dawn gradually on popular apprehension, contented himself
at first with calling on the States for the insignificant force of
75,000 men, of which the quota of Pennsylvania was forthwith
ordered out by the Governor from the State Militia. On Major-
General George Cadwalader devolved the duty of reorganizing,
mustering and preparing for the field the Philadelphia Division,
and I at once received from him an invitation to assist in the capac-
ity of aide-de-camp on his personal staff.
12 OUTBBEAK OF THE WAR
Having till now failed adequately to realize the situation, I
was unprepared with a definite course for this sudden emergency,
and having but a single night to consider a reply which must prob-
ably govern my future acts, I passed the whole of it in close men-
tal struggle in the effort to reach a right conclusion. Of course
there are those who never having had any difficult or complicated
decision to make, expect all men to be forever cocked, primed and
ready for any mental emergency however sudden; and I have been
accused by newspaper patriots, blissfully ignorant of all sides
but their own, of being at first in doubt which side to espouse.
Whether, if true, that be an opprobrium or only a proof of thought-
ful and intelligent rectitude of purpose, I have always chosen and
still choose to leave for others to decide. My State was about to
take one side, and all my personal friends, or most of them, the
other. My oldest and best friends were southern men counting me
as one of themselves, and sure to be in service on that side. They
had so surely counted on their old associate that they had even pro-
vided me a place, and offered me rank in their army. The course
long pursued by roguish politicians, who to gratify ignorant fanat-
icism and class jealousies, or to win political capital for themselves,
had systematically insulted the South, trampled on its constitu-
tional rights, excluded its property from the common territory, and
nullified the constitutional compact respecting fugitive slaves, was
not a character to win one's mind from these considerations.
On the other hand, crimination and discussion were over and
useless; war was commenced, and my native State had called out
her strength for defence. I could not, and ought not to evade the
struggle. In the prime of youth and vigor, I surely owed a duty
somewhere. To whom? Not to the Federal Government whose
partisan usurpations and sectional mismanagement had goaded on
resistance. Still less to the South, where my only tie was sympa-
thy and friendship for individuals, which could not justify taking
up arms against my native State, in whose allegiance, like my
ancestors, I was born and reared. But this process of exclusion
left but one alternative. I must range myself on the side of
Pennsylvania against all her enemies, wherever her march should
lead. Though no opportunity then existed for comparing my
A EEGIMENT BECRUITED 13
conclusion with others, and I knew it not at the time, this convic-
tion of the primary allegiance due one's native State, was on the
identical line of thought that after long and painful hesitation
unsheathed the spotless sword of Robert E. Lee, and so many
other high-minded and patriotic men, who when through no fault
of their own, they found natural allegiance pitted against Federal
obligations, found themselves obliged to give preference to the first.
Early on the following morning, finding my mind at last clear, I
accepted the invitation and went to work with my chief upon his
arduous and by no means pleasing task of getting the neglected
militia into condition for the field. While engaged in this busi-
ness, procuring and inspecting equipment, filling up enlistments,
sifting the claims and merits of the ambitious, and performing
many other details pertaining more to the duties of the incompe-
tent regimental officers than to staff duty, I received a telegram
from Col. Baker urging me to come to Washington immediately on
important business. Aware of his impulsive methods, I tele-
graphed that I was much occupied, and begged to know the nature
of the business. To this I received a reply, dated from the train
en route to New York, of such pressing character, that I took a
night train and met him in that city next morning. The business
proved to be an order from the President, dated May 8th, 1861,
authorizing him to raise and equip an infantry regiment of sixteen
companies, to be called the California Regiment, to be mustered
into the U. S. service at New York, and to be organized and com-
manded by himself as colonel. ''Well," said I, "if you propose
to leave your seat in the Senate to be an infantry colonel, what do
you want of me?" "Can you raise this regiment?" "Not in
New York, I have no acquaintance there." "Can you raise it in
Philadelphia?" "I think I can, but am not sure." "Very well;
your private business is sure to be broken up and not worth fol-
lowing for a while at least. Abandon it. Go to work and raise
this regiment in Philadelphia, bringing the men over here to be
mustered. I cannot at this moment accept military rank without
jeopardizing my seat in the Senate, but you know my relations
with Lincoln, and if you will do that for me, I can assure you that
within six months I shall be a major-general, and you shall have a
14 OUTBREAK OF THE WAR
brigadier-general's commission and a satisfactory command under
me." The chance to plunge in medias res without loss of timewas
so tempting that my doubts and hesitations were swept aside, and
I agreed to undertake the work if my General would let me off.
As I possessed no staff commission, and General Cadwalader
could not immediately procure me one, he very kindly accepted
my resignation at once. Early next morning all my legal busi-
ness, of which I then had a considerable number of local cases on
my docket, was distributed among willing friends, books and papers
boxed up and stored, and the office front covered with placards;
some hired drums and fifes made life miserable for my unlucky
neighbors, and the California Regiment was well under way. In
war as in peace, rum seems connected in some mysterious way with
the public aff airs of a free people, and everyone knows that saloons
and grog-shops are the chosen abodes of patriotic fervor. It is
impossible to remember how many of these last I had to visit, or
how many drinks of bad whiskey I was obliged to consume and
bestow in the service of my country; but on the second night I
took 100 men to New York by the midnight emigrant train, at the
fare of a dollar a head, which was part of my pecuniary tribute to
the cause. It took sufficient measures to keep up the excitement
during my absence, and at least as often as two or three times a
week I took over a similar contingent, all being safely locked
up and kept at elementary drill in a large new building at 4th Street
and Broadway, secured for the purpose by Col. Baker. As the
commissariat, music and many other items had for a time to be
supplied by myself, I soon found my beloved country indebted to
me in the amount of several thousand dollars, most of which it con-
tinues to owe me to this day, since the special appropriation by
Congress of $20,000,000, for raising, arming and equipping volun-
teers, made subsequently, when I was far away in Virginia, was
absorbed by tardier but more observant patriots who enjoyed
a better or more timely opportunity to approach the public trough.
Space would fail to relate the innumerable funny incidents of
this business, in which I constantly had to interview the families
and friends of the aspirants, after exhausting my eloquence on
themselves. Many repented after signing their names and taking
DRILLING AT FORT SCHUYLER 15
the extra-legal and ex tempore devised oath administered by myself
on a borrowed Bible, or an old volume of state reports that bore
sufficient external resemblance to that venerable volume. Others
after a brief trial found they preferred some rival recruiting office,
or to go with some friend who had got himself entangled under
another banner; and, in short, for every hundred men, drunk and
sober, actually got by hook and crook safely on board the cars, at
least a hundred and fifty had to be enlisted, in consequence of the
ever-changing views of themselves and their anxious relatives.
Since notwithstanding all the assurance that could be assumed, I
really possessed no legal authority over them till they should be
actually mustered into service at the designated place, nothing
was safe till hustled bodily on the cars, and the most promising-
looking individuals hastily selected for non-commissioned officers
and assistants; and even after the trains were in motion, many
jumped off, with courage worthy of a better cause, and were left
scattered promiscuously in a wide swath across the State of New
At last ten companies of one hundred men each, having been
made up, carried to New York, and the perpetually recurring gaps
filled with new recruits passed by the doctor, the men were legally
mustered in by Capt. W. F. Smith, U. S. Engineers, who later
became distinguished as one of the most prominent and useful
generals of the war, and the regiment in pursuance of an order
obtained by Baker was transported to Fort Schuyler for organi-
zation and instruction. There for the first time it was possible to
introduce some order, discipline and obedience, to inure officers
and men to regimental duty and life in the field, and to communi-
cate such military instruction by day as could be extracted from
text books by night. The advantage gained for this raw but
excellent body of men by the short occupancy of the fort, was very
great, and after three weeks of guard and picket duty with almost
constant drilling, the regiment made a much better figure in
battalion marching and maneuvres than recruits of three months'
standing, whom I have since inspected at the Stirling Castle
Depot of the British Army, and infinitely superior to continental
recruits whom I have had opportunity to see after several months'
16 OUTBREAK OF THE WAR
It was in the early part, or perhaps towards the middle of June,
that the regiment was ordered to Fortress Monroe, marching
through the cities of New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore with
a steadiness and martial appearance that compared favorably with
any of the new volunteers. At Philadelphia it was encamped a
few days at Suffolk Park, where, pursuant to special authority, it
received six more full companies, and was reorganized in two bat-
talions of 800 men each, with myself as Lieut.-Col. Commanding
(Baker being usually absent at Washington), and R. A. Parrish
and Charles W. Smith as Majors. From Fortress Monroe the
command was marched a few miles beyond Hampton, where it
took position and picketed an extended front. Here it was visited
by Col. Baker, who camped with it for the first time, his duties in
the Senate having hitherto engrossed most of his time and atten-
tion. Constant drill, with marching, guard and picket duty, and
such other instruction of all ranks as is best found in actual field
work, occupied the entire time till recalled for the defense of Wash-
ington after the rout at Bull Run on the 21st of July. There,
the panic having subsided, and the disappointed politicians who
had expected to follow McDowell's improvised rabble safely and
expeditiously into Richmond, having recovered their breath, the
regiment went into camp a short distance from the city on some
property belonging to the bankers Corcoran and Riggs, or one of
For purposes of discipline and instruction this camp was regu-
lated as though in presence of an enemy, with guards, pickets,
escorts and patrols, though hard steady drill was never neglected.
The regiment was here temporarily brigaded with some Massa-
chusetts regiments, with whom, however, it never camped or
drilled. In September it crossed the Potomac at the Chain
Bridge and encamped a short distance beyond, where it was
employed in constructing the large earthwork known as Fort
Ethan Allen, and received another temporary brigade assignment
with the 69th and 72nd Pennsylvania regiments, to which the
106th was soon after added. It had previously been taken from its
anomalous condition under the direct control of the War Depart-
ment, and placed upon the roster of the State of Pennsylvania as
THE REGIMENT UNDER FIRE 17
the 71st of its line. The brigade association was satisfactory and
remained unchanged till the expiration of its term of service in
1864, but the high number on the State roster, though unavoidable
under the circumstances, was submitted to with much regret,
since the 71st had been really the first mustered in all the Pennsyl-
vania three-year regiments, and but for the absurd errors in the
original presidential order authorizing its formation, would have
received, as it was entitled to, the first number following the dis-
banded three-months' regiments of militia.
From the camp near Chain Bridge a trifling movement as
far as Lewinsville first brought the 71st under artillery fire.
Griffin's battery being deployed on a high ridge of ground and
smartly engaged, the 71st was assigned as its support, and was
massed in column close behind the ridge, where though it suffered
no loss, the enemy's shot and shell flying over the ridge and
striking ground in rear, furnished plenty of music. It was during
this affair that a small New York newsboy not over twelve years
of age, was brought in by the pickets with his bundle of northern
papers, which as he artlessly explained, he had, during many
days past, been alternately peddling through both armies without
molestation from either. Clearly the picket duty of some regi-
ment needed overhauling. During this artillery action the
battery became so crowded with infantry colonels and field officers
anxious to get under fire for the first tune, that they had to be
requested to move away. It is fair to our intelligence to add
that most of us soon became able to restrain such curiosity with
On the night of the 28th of September an unfortunate col-
lision occurred with friendly troops of Gen. Fitz-John Porter's
Division which though it cost some lives and much indignation
among the public, first brought the 71st under the test of a really
destructive fire. The enemy having occupied Munson's Hill,
at no great distance, their skirmishes and patrols began to ex-
hibit an annoying amount of enterprise, closely searching our
picket-line every night, hi one of which affairs Capt. Lingen-
felter of the 71st was killed. As our Gen. Wm. F. Smith was not
the man to stand that sort of thing long, a combined movement on
18 OUTBREAK OF THE WAR
Munson's Hill was arranged for the Divisions of Smith and Porter,
to take place on the night of the 28th. Our column marched at
midnight, the 71st in advance under my command, Col. Baker
being in Washington. On reaching a certain point, beyond which
I was informed by a staff officer that all troops found would be
hostile, in obedience to orders an advance guard was suitably dis-
posed, and a flank company deployed as skirmishers at right
angles with the column on either hand, the road being narrow and
bad, and lined with dense woods. Moving forward in this order,
being myself in person with the advance guard, presently the route
turned squarely to the right at a cross roads. At this point some
confusion was naturally caused among the flankers obliged to
wheel on such an extensive circle in thick woods, and the officers
enjoined to silence. This would soon have been rectified by the
energy and capacity of Markoe, the Captain of the left flanking
company, but for the unfortunate circumstance of a collision in
the woods with a skirmish line of Porter's division, which if our
column as directed by the Division Staff was moving correctly,
plainly had no business to be there.
Our skirmishers drove these men rapidly before them and
the fugitives falling back on their reserves, were formed with
inconceivable stupidity in line of battle in the woods, in advance
of our column and along the road by which it was coming up. It
is hard to imagine the muddled condition of the officer's mind who
thus ambushed his command against the head of a heavy column
coming from the direction of his own rear. Nevertheless, it was
so arranged, and the advance guard having passed by, on the
arrival of the head of the main column, a long line of fire burst
suddenly upon it from the woods on the left, at the distance of a
few yards. With the precautions taken, or with almost any
precaution whatever, it would have been impossible for the
column to be caught thus by an enemy, but it was not proof
against the stupidity of its friends. The company officers gen-
erally behaved well, seconding with energy the orders at once
given to halt, face to the left, and hold their fire. The woods
might have been cleared by a detachment, but that would have
led to an interminable fight in the dense darkness of the woods,
A BAD ERROR IN TACTICS 19
where explanation and adjustment would have been difficult
till daylight. It was therefore determined to stand fast where
we were, and endeavor to stop the firing, satisfied there could be
no troops there but ours. I galloped up and down the road be-
tween the two lines of excited individuals shouting and firing
on each other across a narrow road, in earnest efforts to stop the
firing, which was at length accomplished, though not till we had
lost four killed and fourteen wounded, and I had a valuable horse
shot under me. As a panicky condition prevailed among the
troops in rear, who of course supposed the leading battalion to
be engaged with an enemy whom they could not get at, both
battalions were suitably disposed to command the road in front,
while with G company deployed as skirmishers, I personally
raked the woods, from which however the assailants had
Of course the country was excited over this event, the news-
papers as usual denouncing everyone from the General-in-Chief
down, except only the real culprit who was never discovered.
Though the officer in charge of the strange skirmishers was un-
doubtedly next to an idiot, the person originally responsible was
probably some inexperienced staff officer; but the matter received
no public investigation. Melancholy as the affair proved to the
71st, I am by no means certain that it did not gain an equivalent
in the sharp lesson it afforded of the value of discipline and
obedience; since I do not remember any subsequent difficulty in
holding its fire reserved in subjection to orders, and it is for
this reason I have given so much space to such an insignificant
affair. No doubt for a body of men never yet in general action,
persistently fired upon in the darkness across the width of a
country road by troops of unknown character and force, it was a
supreme test of their brief experience of discipline to refrain
as well as they did from using the arms in their hands, for cer-
tainly not over one shot was fired for ten that they received, and
they were the first to yield to their officers' efforts.
Soon after this inglorious affair the 71st marched to Pooles-
ville, Md., on the upper Potomac, where was soon assembled,
under command of Gen. Charles P. Stone, the extreme right wing
20 OUTBREAK OF THE WAB
of the Army of the Potomac, nearly corresponding with the troops
soon after organized as Sedgwick's Division of the 2nd A. C. The
Philadelphia Brigade, as it became familiarly called, was here
definitely organized, consisting of the 69th, 71st, 72nd, and 106th
Pennsylvania regiments under Baker, who now regularly assumed
command of the brigade; the 71st, falling definitely to me as
Lieut.-Col. Commanding. The great armies destined to become
inseparably connected with American history, and now preparing
to spring upon each other, were at this time separated throughout
a distance of over forty miles by the river Potomac, averaging
more than a mile in width; and it was here on an extreme wing
that in spite of generals and plans, fate had arranged the first
serious occasion for testing each other's mettle.
THE DISASTROUS BATTLE OP BALL'S BLUFF
It was after midnight on the morning of the 21st of October
that I was awakened to receive and read by such light as was
afforded by the lantern of the sergeant of the guard, the fol-
lowing order, in its immediate results pregnant with fate to
many, but of infinitely more importance as the inauguration of
the long and desperate struggle by a useless and bloody prologue.
Hdqrs. Baker's Brigade,
1 A.M. 21st October, 1861.
The right wing Gala. Regt. (less camp guards) under command of Lieut.-
Col. Wistar will proceed to Conrad's Ferry, to arrive at sunrise and
await orders. The men will take blankets, overcoats and forty rounds in
their cartridge boxes, and will be folio wed by one day's rations in wagons.
By command of Col. Baker, Comdg.,
A. A. G.
The rest may as well be told by the insertion here of my official
report made directly to the General of Division in consequence
of the death of the Brigade General and all his staff, supple-
mented by a statement prepared a few years ago for the Regi-
mental Survivors' Association, at their request, and read at one
of their annual banquets.
Headquarters California Regiment:
Camp near Poolesville, Md., Nov. 7th, 1861.
BRIG.-GEN. CHARLES P. STONE, Commanding Division.
Being partially released by my physicians from their injunctions of
solitude and silence, I proceed to report to you the operations of a part of
my regiment on the 21st ult.
22 THE DISASTROUS BATTLE OF BALL'S BLUFF
At half-past two A.M. on that day, I received your order through our
late lamented Brigade Commander, to march with my first battalion,
so as to arrive below Conrad's Ferry by sunrise.
At sunrise I was there with the battalion, numbering five hundred and
seventy men, in eight companies, including officers. I immediately sent
an officer to report to you at Edward's Ferry, between four and five miles
below, who returned about half-past eight, with your direction "to wait
further orders, unless I should hear heavy firing over the river, in which
event to cross at once, and support Colonel Devins." Slight firing had
occurred there about an hour before, but after the reception of this order
there was no more whatever until afternoon. A short time after this
order reached me, General Baker and staff arrived. I communicated it
to him, when, after a brief conversation, he continued on down the river
in search of you. In an hour, an officer of his staff returned with the
order: "General Baker directs you to cross at once." I had scarcely
time to commence when General Baker himself returned and directed me
to proceed with all haste.
I had two scows, of the capacity of forty men each, on the Maryland
side of Harrison's Island, and one on the Virginia side, of the capacity of
fifty men. I had got four companies on the Island and one on the Vir-
ginia side (having been delayed at the second crossingiby other troops)
when General Baker arrived on the Island and crossed at once to the
After crossing six companies to the Virginia side, I left the Island and
passed over myself, leaving Captain Ritman to hurry on the transpor-
The Virginia side of the river was a bluff, eighty feet high, nearly per-
pendicular, and covered with rocks and a dense thicket. Stretching away
directly from the summit was an open field of oblong shape, extending
back from the river two hundred yards, by a width of seventy; this was
entirely surrounded by woods, except a triangular opening distant
about two-thirds of the length of the field from the river, extending into
the woods on the left, say one hundred yards.
When I reached the top of the bluff, General Baker immediately
explained his plan of battle, stating his whole force to be twelve hundred
men, at the same time reading to me your despatch, announcing the
approach of four thousand of the enemy from Leesburg, and expressing
his own serious doubts of the result. The detachment of the Fifteenth
Massachusetts was drawn up in the edge of the woods on the right, facing
up the river. The rest of our forces were arranged across the end of the
open field, at right angles with the former, their backs towards the river;
my battalion having the left, three companies being in reserve, and one
deployed as skirmishers to cover the left flank.
From the left of our position, at the edge of the woods, the ground fell
rapidly to the left, about thirty yards, to a gully, on the other side of
which it rose to a hill higher than the ground on which we stood, at short
COLONEL WISTAR'S OFFICIAL REPOBT 23
The enemy's first fire was scattering, some of it from tree-tops around
the field, where they had placed their marksmen our men lying down
for shelter, by command.
After comprehending the general condition, I requested permission to
make a change in the disposition of our skirmishers on the left, when
General Baker directed me to take command of the left flank, and make
any disposition I saw fit. In pursuance of this order I was about to
advance the skirmishers to the left when General Baker returned, and
after a brief consultation with Colonel Cogswell and myself, directed me
to throw out two companies as skirmishers to feel the woods in front for
the precise location of the enemy's right, getting as much cover for the
movement as possible from the woods on the left, with directions if
attacked in force, to contest the ground and fall back, fighting. 1
In the execution of this order, Captain John Markoe, with his company
(A), immediately moved out, company D following in support, under
Lieutenant Wade the latter company being short of officers and the
bulk of my command needing no immediate attention, I accompanied
the movement myself.
The two companies moved rapidly up under cover of the woods on the
left, until reaching the triangular open space before mentioned, when
they were met by a galling fire from the enemy's riflemen on their front
and left. Company A, left by Markoe and closely followed by D, rush-
ing quickly over the open ground entered the woods, when a whole regi-
ment of the enemy (8th Virginia) rose up from the ground at thirty paces
distance and charged with the bayonet. A severe contest ensued, but
our skirmishers somewhat checked the enemy's charge by taking trees
and throwing an effective fire into their crowded ranks, at close distance.
The right wing of our skirmishers was soon destroyed, but the left con-
tinued to hold ground for some time until Markoe was wounded and
taken prisoner, when the survivors slowly fell back, bringing with them
several prisoners, including an officer of the " Eighth Virginia," whom I
had the honor of sending to you the following morning.
These two companies suffered severely in this gallant effort, company
A having lost all three of its officers, and all its sergeants, except two, one
of whom is wounded.
The enemy, in force in front, hearing this sharp fir ing on their right,
immediately (half-past two P.M.) opened fire on our main body; and as
soon as our skirmishers had fallen back, made repeated and desperate
efforts, in constantly increasing force, to turn our left. Five times they
charged down the gully, and were as often foiled and driven back by the
steady conduct, and heavy fire of our men. Our firing in front was
probably not very effective, the enemy being well covered in the woods
but on the left it was very destructive, our men bravely enduring a contin-
uous fire from the front, and repelling with steadiness the enemy's
repeated charges from that direction. The twelve-pounder afforded
1 See Evening Telegraph, February 1st, 2d, and 4th, 1893, for comments on
General Markoe's record as a soldier.
24 THE DISASTBOUS BATTLE OF BALL'S BLUFF
valuable aid. All its artillerymen .having been killed or dispersed, it
was worked by Lieutenant Bramall, and two or three field officers of the
California and Tammany Regiments, with great effect.
At a quarter-past five the enemy succeeded, by dint of numbers, in
gaining a footing on our side of the gully, when our men refusing to give
ground, they became mixed up, and a desperate hand-to-hand contest
Our right and center was at the same time severely pressed and conse-
quently unable to afford assistance. At this moment I was
finally disabled by a third wound, and a moment afterwards, almost in
the same spot, the brave General Baker fell gloriously, at the head of
His death was instantly avenged and his body recovered by a few brave
men, led by Captain Harvey (Brigade Adjutant General), who, I regret
to say, was himself killed soon afterward.
A stern and bloody contest was now taking place ; fresh masses of the
enemy swarmed in on all sides, when an unauthorized order was given by
someone to the men of another regiment, "Retreat to the ferry." This
withdrew a portion of our numbers, and caused some confusion among
the men of the California and Tammany Regiments, who stood by each
other to the last, retiring, inch by inch, slowly and with considerable order
until pressed over the bluff by the closing masses of the enemy. Our
men maintained a sharp fire from the river bank, and made two or three
spirited charges, led by Colonel Cogswell, which held the enemy in
check at the top of the bluff, until those of our men who could swim had
divested themselves of arms and clothing and taken to the water.
Finding further resistance useless for any good purpose and with no
means whatever of crossing the river (the only scow on that side the
Island having sunk some time previously with all on board, owing to the
bottom having fallen out) the remainder surrendered at 1 1 P. M.
The two howitzers, and most of the small arms, were concealed in the
river. The 12-pound gun was thrown over the bluff with the same inten-
tion, but lodged among trees and rocks.
Color Sergeant R. C. Woods was shot through both legs early in the
action. The colors were taken by Private George Suttie, company G,
who bore them bravely through the remainder of the action, but in
attempting to swim the river with them, afterwards was obliged from
excessive cold and fatigue, let to them go in the middle of the stream.
The other Color Sergeant, Vansant, also displayed conspicuous gallan-
try, and after dark waded into the river, waistdeep, and buried his
colors under a pile of stones. They had been first shot to tatters, and
the staff cut in two, by the enemy's bullets.
Subsequent events were witnessed by yourself in person.
The bravery and steadiness of the officers and men throughout the
whole affair, under circumstances plainly hopeless from the first, was
beyond praise. Many of the men supplied themselves with cartridges
from the bodies of the dead, after their own had been expended.
Of the eighteen officers, of all ranks, present in action all are either
killed, wounded or missing, except two lieutenants.
LETTER TO THE SURVIVORS' ASSOCIATION 25
Of the five hundred and seventy officers and men taken into action,
the total loss, in killed, wounded and missing (many of the latter being
necessarily left dead or wounded on the field, or drowned in the river),
amounts to three hundred and five, according to a report heretofore
I have the honor to be, General,
Your obedient servant,
ISAAC J. WISTAB,
Lieut.-Col. Commanding California Regiment.
MR. JOHN W. FRAZER,
Secretary Survivors' Association,
In consequence of my inability to be present and respond personally
at the proposed banquet of the Survivors' Association of the 71st Regi-
ment Pennsylvania Volunteers to the toast " Colonel E. D. Baker our
first commander, a soldier, a statesman and sympathizing comrade," I
am obliged to avail myself of your alternative invitation in addressing by
letter these few remarks.
It is well for the survivors of the regiment which first introduced most
of us to the profession of arms, to hold fast to the memory of that illus-
trious man who, under the benign institutions of our country, rose from
an obscure place in life to such an important position in political and
military history, but who at the zenith of his fame did not forget the
interests of the humblest of those under his command.
I first met him in the hotly contested trial of a cause in San Francisco
in the year 1853 in which he and myself were opposing counsel. There
was scarcely any equality between us, for while his great reputation as an
advocate had already extended throughout the Pacific Coast, I had been
just admitted to the bar, and was almost without professional experience.
Nevertheless that lively encounter proved the beginning of a friendship
that accompanied us into far other and different fields of effort, and
ceased only with his life.
We became associated in the profession of the law, and so continued
from 1853 till his removal to Oregon in 1857, when the Legislature of that
State chose him to represent it in the Senate of the United States. During
the absorbing work of the large practice which fell to our lot during those
years of association there was little time wasted on irrelevant matters,
and I have always regretted that I did not then use more effort to over-
come his uncommunicativeness respecting his early history. So far as
my memory of his conversation now serves, he was born in England
about the year 1811, of poor but worthy and respectable parents, belong-
ing to the Society of Friends, who emigrated to Philadelphia when he
was about nine years old. He was placed at work in a factory in this
city, which he thought was in the southwestern part of the city, but
could not precisely locate. His parents soon removed with their family
to Illinois, where at an early age he became connected with the religious
sect of "Campbellites," and before he reached the age of twenty-one was
26 THE DISASTROUS BATTLE OF BALL'S BLUFF
one of their most eloquent and renowned preachers. But that quiet
and peaceful profession soon failed to satisfy the restless activity and
ambition of his youth. He became a lawyer and politician, was elected
to Congress, and in 1847 took command as colonel of the 4th Regiment
of Illinois Volunteers in the war with Mexico. He was severely wounded
by a shot through the throat while quelling a mutiny in a southern regi-
ment on board a transport at Mobile, but recovered and served in the
field till the conclusion of the war, winning great renown at Cerro Gordo,
where, when General Shields was wounded, Baker took command of his
brigade as senior colonel, and led it successfully against the Mexican
He was re-elected to Congress after the war, where he became distin-
guished in debate, and after the death of the President, General Taylor,
delivered his celebrated eulogy of that great soldier, which immediately
took rank as one of the most classic and elegant orations ever delivered
in the American capital. In 1850 he went to California, but suffered an
attack of fever on the Isthmus, from which he narrowly escaped with his
life, and by which he was prematurely aged and his constitution perma-
nently impaired. At the California bar, at that time an exceptionally
able one, adorned with remarkable men from nearly every state in the
Union, he speedily took a leading place, and as a jury advocate, had no
superior. While our joint practice was confined to the civil branch, he
was sought for and accepted retainers as associate counsel in most of the
leading criminal cases of the day, some of which remain landmarks in the
jurisprudence of the Pacific Coast. I regret I have not space even to
glance at the most famous or remarkable of these, or to dwell upon the
close discussion of facts, and the extraordinary bursts of eloquence which
rendered his jury arguments so powerful and successful. Your asso-
ciation, the members of which knew and loved him during service with
him in the great civil war, will naturally prefer to hear more of him in
During the winter of 1860-61 he was in the Senate of the United
States, and being myself in attendance on the Supreme Court, I saw
much of him in Washington, where opinions were naturally excited.
Though firm in his views, he was by no means a bitter partisan, many of
his warmest personal friends belonging to the defeated party. He gave
full credit to the sincerity of southern statesmen, and with his positive
and ardent nature scorned the talk of peaceful adjustment. He main-
tained from the first that the differences were unadjustable except by
war and that a great war was certain, upon the inauguration of the new
President, and earnestly advised me to drop the law and study tactics.
Though he knew I was not without some militia experience, he insisted
I should join a military company to acquire practical details, and study
some of the principal historical campaigns for theory. He especially
delighted in those of the most famous of the ancient Greek captains, as
well as the modern ones of Frederick, Marlborough and Napoleon, all of
which he had carefully studied, and with whose historic marches and
battles he was critically familiar.
THE SEVENTY-FIBST REGIMENT VOLUNTEERS 27
When at length the sword was drawn he immediately obtained from
the President, with whom he had been for many years on terms of inti-
macy, a commission to raise and command a three-years' regiment in
the service of the United States.
That regiment, as you all know, was promptly raised in Philadelphia
and served for several months by virtue of that commission before it was
taken upon the roster of Pennsylvania, and it was owing to that circum-
stance that, although the first of the three-years' regiments to complete
its organization and muster, it became the seventy-first (71st) of the
Pennsylvania line, having lost numbers of its men in action before
many of the prior numbered regiments were in service at all. The
reasonable limits of this letter compel me to pass over most of the regi-
mental history prior to the action of Ball's Bluff, and proceed to recall
your recollections to that disastrous event which nearly destroyed the
first battalion of your regiment and closed at once the career and life
At 1 o'clock A.M., October 21st, 1861, a division order reached Baker,
then encamped with and commanding the Philadelphia Brigade near
Poolesville, Md., to dispatch the first battalion of the 71st, under com-
mand of its Lieutenant-Colonel, for Conrad's Ferry on the Potomac so as
to arrive there by sunrise. Neither Baker nor myself had any idea
then of the reason or object of that order, nor of the crossing at Edward's
Ferry effected on the previous day by General Stone, the Division Com-
mander, with other troops of his Division. Your first battalion marched
at 3 A.M., arriving at Conrad's Ferry punctually at sunrise and reported
by a mounted officer (the chaplain) to General Stone, who was at Edward's
Ferry, five miles below, in the meantime resting in ranks on the canal
towpath. In due time a verbal order arrived from General Stone, who
was an able, generous and loyal officer, to "remain where you are till
further orders unless heavy firing takes place on the Virginia side, indi-
cating heavy pressure on the scouting party of the 15th Massachusetts,
which had been across all night, in which event cross a sufficient strength
to assist and extricate them, but with great caution."
Soon after the reception of this order Colonel Baker arrived in person,
having ordered the rest of his brigade to follow him, on his own respon-
sibility. He asked for and heard the orders, and started at a rapid gait
down the towpath for Division Headquarters. When he returned he
rode up to the head of the regiment, and ordered me to cross my entire
command as rapidly as possible, stating that General Stone had given
him discretion to that extent.
The crossing was commenced at once with the only three large boats
obtainable, two of them conveying the troops to Harrison's Island, and
the third, aided by a rowboat, from thence across the narrower channel
between the Island and the Virginia shore. Down to this time no firing
had occurred, except an occasional shot. Baker crossed on one of the
first boats, having ordered me to the Island, and another officer on the
Maryland side to expedite the passage. As Baker received the small
bodies of arriving troops and hurried them into position, the scouting
company was driven in and the lines of battle became engaged. Near the
28 THE DISASTROUS BATTLE OF BALL'S BLUFF
top of a high and timbered bluff, across the end of a large open field
surrounded by forest, the line had been formed, including besides your
own battalion parts of the 15th and 20th Massachusetts, and part of one
company of the 42nd New York, in all about 1400 men. The left rested
on a dry gully leading down to the river, but was otherwise exposed. The
right extended into the woods, and an unlimbered howitzer of a Rhode
Island battery (Bramhall's), without men, horses or caisson, was posted
in the center. As the hostile regiments arrived in position the weight
and effect of their fire increased, and the action soon became close and
severe. The enemy's superior numbers enabled them to detach con-
stantly against our exposed left without slackening their overpowering
fire in front.
While much occupied with the difficult situation of our left, Baker
came up with a despatch just received from General Stone to the effect
that "four regiments have been seen by our scouts crossing an open place
and marching towards you."
As the despatch had travelled five miles and twice crossed the river it
was considered that those regiments must already be in our front and we
were feeling their maximum effect. With our left enfiladed and in close
contact with the enemy and an overpowering front fire, it was dangerous
either to manoeuvre or withdraw, even had means existed to recross the
river. But the command, though pinned fast, was firm, and it was
thought that if the gun could be got into action and the enemy shaken in
front, our people might be able to clear away the enemy's flanking force
and get forward through the woods to the left. Captain Stewart (Lord
Londonderry) of the Division Staff, and Captain Harvey, of Baker's Staff,
both English officers of experience, at once voluntered, and with two
infantry colonels proceeded to work the gun till the scanty ammunition
in the limber was exhausted, by which time the piece was disabled by
having the spokes shot out of the wheels. Baker constantly traversed
the line, watching for an opportunity of movement. Twice wounded
myself, he was about the first at my side on both occasions. He was not
touched, himself, though a small bush was cut off between us as we talked.
The rest of that disastrous affair you know. The enemy's fire increased
as their reinforcements continued to arrive. For us there could be no
reinforcements, and it was almost certain death to bring up ammunition.
Company A made a gallant charge on the left, pushing back the enemy's
flankers upon the main body, but was there enveloped by an entire regi-
ment (8th Virginia) and its men mostly killed or captured. When I
was at last personally disabled, it was Baker himself who picked me up
and had me conveyed to the boats. It was their last trip. Immediately
afterwards, Baker, sword in hand and face to the foe, fell dead, and after
a successful counter-charge to bring off his body, our troops were forced
over the bluff and though for long afterwards a desperate resistance was
made as skirmishers, their cohesion as a manageable line was lost.
Respecting the object and results of that movement I venture neither
statement nor opinion, preferring to confine myself to the undisputed
facts connected with Baker's untimely death. No superior officer
THE DEATH OF COLONEL BAKER 29
admitted any responsibility for the crossing in force, nor did Baker ever
distinctly assert it. Knowing his ardent zeal and impatience of delay,
we can only infer that some fatal misunderstanding occurred on the
occasion of that one hasty interview between the Division and Brigade
Commanders, of which there is now no survivor.
But in looking back to those stirring events, whatever we may think
of the plan or object of that enterprise, none ever doubted Baker's signal
coolness and gallantry on the field of battle. His courage kindled, as he
saw the end approach and knew it must be disastrous. Several incidents
during the heat of the action showed that he fully understood the situation.
One of his remarks was, "The officer who dies with his men will never be
After it seemed to both of us that ruin was certain, in response to a
remark that a quick and easy death was now the best thing left us, he
quickly replied : "The bullets are seeking for you, but avoid me." That
generous and noble heart, sympathetic with all around him and resolved
on duty to the last, had abandoned hope and calmly waited for the stroke
which alone should separate him from his men. It was after the hostile
fire had enveloped three sides of your position and no manoeuvre was
possible. Fresh ammunition could no longer be brought up, and except
surrender, of which no one thought, nothing remained but the exaction of
all and more than it was worth for the position no longer tenable. But
I believe that you who are the survivors of that and many another bloody
field will agree that even if Baker had lived till the last man, such was the
affection and confidence he had inspired, he would have continued to hold
your line firmly while there remained a soldier to mark it and a cartridge
How his heart would have swelled and his eye kindled could he in his
last moments have forseen the future career of the regiment he loved so
well that it was destined to stand the peer of any in the glorious Second
Corps; to cover the retreat of Pope's routed columns from Manassas,
charge Jackson's veterans rt Antietam; receive on its steady bayonets
the shock of Pickett at Gettsyburg, and that, after blazoning on its stand-
ard the historic names of th< Peninsula, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville,
Spottsylvania and innumc ible minor fights, it should, after the ac-
knowledged expiration of is term and before reenlistment, volunteer
at the call of its corps comrv-mder to assault the works at Cold Harbor,
where you lost 100 men actually ordered home for discharge; and finally,
that of the 2200 soldiers who from first to last fought under your flag, 1 19
was the remnant for the last muster out. That look into the future was
denied him. But who shall say that during those after years his memory,
precept and example were not mustered under your flag when it led the
advance and cheered the last moments of dying comrades who fell out
of your ranks forever, in the shock of battle?
In the sacredness of our common memories, I remain your friend and
I. J. WISTAK.
Philadelphia, April 12th, 1887.
30 THE DISASTROUS BATTLE OF BALL'S BLUFF
The second battalion, under Parish, being on picket duty
at a distance, it was only the first battalion of eight companies
and 570 men of all ranks that participated in this affair. Of
the 305 returned as killed, wounded and missing being fifty-
four per cent of the number engaged it is fair to add there
was no 'straggling/ the 'missing' being all killed, drowned
or captured, many of the last being wounded.
The higher military authorities seemed to regard this small
but disastrous affair as merely incidental to the first employ-
ment on a large scale of raw troops and inexperienced officers,
and have observed respecting it, as far as possible, a discreet
silence. But the public heart was deeply stirred, and the news-
paper press and minor writers have poured forth volumes of
criticism, generally rather political or personal, than military.
Baker's gallant death having tended as he foresaw on the
field of battle to exempt his memory, much industry and
ingenuity has been exerted to fasten the responsibility upon
Stone, but in my judgment with little success. Much ma-
terial has been collected and discussed with feeling by Mr.
John D. Baltz, a gallant young soldier of the 71st present at
the action, in a volume entitled "Col. E. D. Baker's defense
in the battle of Ball's Bluff, with biographical sketches of Baker,
Wistar and Stone," published at Lancaster, Pa., 1888. Mr.
Baltz, sensible like others of a grave and disastrous error some-
where, has displayed much industry in collecting everything
to be said on that side. The kind manner in which he has spoken
of myself, renders criticism of his earnestly written work so
disagreeable to me that I content myself with saying that I
cannot agree with his conclusions.
The absence of all co-operation in other quarters, and of any
preparation for a general advance at that time, is conclusive
evidence that no such purpose was in the mind of any high or
controlling authority. There is no occasion for and can be no
success in searching for any concealed or other object than
that plainly indicated by all the orders received or issued by
Stone. It was simply for the purpose of extricating the small
scouting-party sent across the previous evening since no other
SOMEONE HAD BLUNDERED 31
is conceivable that Stone ordered down a single battalion
and a few guns, and the details were naturally left to the Brig-
adier commanding on the spot. An obvious way to perform
the duty would have been to place a small infantry force on the
island, which being two miles long, offered positions from
whence a moderate musketry fire could easily keep clear the
top of the bluff from which alone the enemy's fire could reach
our troops retiring across the river; while a few guns placed
in position on the Maryland side would not only aid the opera-
tion, but effectually protect the return of the covering force
from the island. For such a small and simple operation the
available boat capacity was sufficient, and no considerable
loss could possibly have occurred. But to cross a force of
several hundred men with boat capacity inadequate for ad-
vance and absurdly insufficient for retreat, upon a permissive
and discretionary order wrung with difficulty from a superior,
five miles distant, indicates that Baker thought he saw an op-
portunity to strike a blow of sufficient importance to justify
the excessive risk incurred. In that, he was terribly mistaken,
as was discovered too late when in presence of a largely superior
force already in position. From that moment, though a dif-
ferent disposition of the troops engaged might have prolonged
a useless conflict, nothing under existing circumstances could
have extricated them but an advance by Stone with a large
force from Edward's Ferry. But such advance by Stone on the
right bank separated from assistance or retreat by an impassable
river a mile wide, was opposed to every sound principle, wholly
beyond the tenor of his orders, and even if it should not in-
volve further and more important loss, could at best result only
in a series of detached, disorderly and piecemeal fights much
more likely to bring disaster than success, and even if successful,
must have forced most injuriously the hand of the General-in-
Chief, who did not expect, and was unprepared for anything more
important than the mere reconnoissance he had authorized.
Baker himself would have been the last man to excuse
by seeking to cast upon another the original error of cross-
ing in force without proper means provided and an explicit
32 THE DISASTROUS BATTLK OF BALL'S BLUFF
understanding with his superior; nor is any necessity laid upon
his friends to do so, since the error if his was at least of an
heroic character, and as he 'died with his men,' all parties have
dealt kindly with his memory.
General Stone was an educated officer of high standing in
the army, from which he had formerly resigned, like Sherman, to
operate a bank in San Francisco where I had known him well
but returned to the service at the first outbreak of war. A cir-
cumstance of a personal nature which had occurred not long before
this affair, may serve to shed a ray of light on the otherwise in-
explicable mystery of the persecutions which befell him. The
Senator (Charles Sumner) of Massachusetts had denounced and
even accused him of treason on the floor of the Senate, for refusing
in obedience to the laws and orders then prevailing, to encourage
the flight into his lines of fugitive slaves, who in fact tended
to demoralize the new troops nearly as much as to disorganize the
susceptibilities of the Washington politicians. Contrary to the
advice of his friends, Stone felt it necessary to resent the out-
rage in the only way open to him, by a challenge, and as Sumner
was deemed slippery in such matters, having notoriously evaded
several, at the expense of a caning or two, the General chose for
his second Lord Ernest Vane Tempest, a younger son of the
Marquis of Londonderry, and a captain in the British Army, who,
having obtained leave of absence for the purpose, entered our serv-
ice in the Adjutant-General's Department, and was then serving
on Stone's staff under his family name of Stewart. This wild
Irishman cared nothing for his American commission and readily
undertook to carry the message and get a definite reply. For this
purpose he forced his way into Sumner's apartment, not without
some violence to the latter's well-trained servant, and delivered
the note personally with an intimation of its purport. The Sena-
tor, pleading other occupation, tried to put him off with promises
to reply by letter at a more convenient time, but Stewart was not
to be deceived or cajoled, and insisted on receiving an immediate
reply or taking the difficulty on himself. A wordy squabble en-
sued in which Stewart obtained a written answer under threats of
personal castigation, but the Hon. gentleman thus summarily
QENEKAL STONE UNJUSTLY ACCUSED 33
brought to book, nursed his wrath, and seized upon the occasion
offered by the Ball's Bluff catastrophe to direct political and
newspaper obloquy upon Stone, who, fully occupied in front of the
enemy, possessed no adequate means of influencing opinion in his
own favor. As soon after the fight as public indignation had
been sufficiently worked up, he was arrested without charges, and
thrown into prison, where for months he was refused any com-
munication with counsel, family or friends, and after being released
as mysteriously and without explanation as he had been confined,
he spent years in vainly endeavoring to obtain the name of his
accuser or any definite charge against himself. All explanation or
employment was denied him till near the close of the war, when he
was at last assigned as bear leader to the military mountebank
who for his country's sins conducted its disastrous campaign
on Red River. After the war he became chief of staff to the
Khedive of Egypt, whom he served with distinction for many
years until the English conquest of that country, when he returned
to America and soon after died.
Stewart reached the battlefield with despatches from Stone,
in the hottest part of the action and foreseeing the inevitable
catastrophe, chose to remain there. He rendered much useful
aid, and remained till after dark, when he swam the river and
escaped without a scratch.
Capt. Frederick Harvey, A. A. G. on Baker's staff, was
another British officer who had entered our service under leave
of absence from his own. He was an accomplished and gallant
officer, and with Stewart and Col. Cogswell of the 42d New York,
who was present as a volunteer with one company of his regiment,
gave valuable aid in serving the twelve-pound gun, whose proper
crew had been killed or dispersed, till it was disabled by having
the spokes shot from the wheels by the enemy's musketry fire.
Notwithstanding the concentrated fire drawn upon this gun,
not one of us was touched by bullets, though we were all more
or less scratched and hurt by splinters shot from its carriage.
Harvey, after leading several small but resolute charges after dark
to keep possession of the bluff and landing-place, was killed late
at night and his body left in possession of the enemy for want
34 THE DISASTROUS BATTLE OF BALL'S BLUFF
of means to bring it off. Only a few days before his death, while
riding together on a long and weary night-march, he had re-
peated with patriotic feeling those fine lines which always
recall him to my memory:
Vain all those ships of iron framed,
Vain all those shattering guns,
Unless proud England keep untamed
The strong hearts of her sons.
Two of the most promising officers of the 71st, killed on this
occasion, were Capt. Otter and Lieut. Williams, both energetic
and capable young men, whose gallantry attracted my attention
and who would almost certainly have risen to distinction.
My personal experience was not fortunate except in so far
as I escaped worse. Early in the action I was struck in the
jaw by a bullet or a small stone dashed up by one. Though the
injury did not eventually amount to much, it caused severe pain
and loss of blood which became matted in the beard, and dripping
down in front, rendered me a ferocious and unpleasant object
to behold, as I have since been assured. Later a bullet passed
through my thigh within a short distance of the old arrow wound,
suffered years before in the upper Klamath country. This though
but a flesh wound, filled my boot with blood so that I was
obliged to cut a hole to let it out. Just before dark, while
endeavoring to change front with the two left companies to repel
a charge on that flank, I was struck hi the right elbow by a
ball that shattered all three of the bones meeting at that point,
causing a momentary mental confusion and even suspension of
sight. Though I could not see my sword, I stooped to recover it
from the place where I knew it had fallen, and having gathered it
up along with a handful of bloody grass, had just regained the
perpendicular, when I was seized by Baker with a hand on each
shoulder. "What, Wistar, hit again?" "Yes, I am afraid badly
this time." Then sheathing for me the sword at my request, he
called a soldier: "Here, my man, catch hold of Col. Wistar and
get him to the boat somehow, if you have to carry him." The
words were his last. I hastily communicated the importance of
what I had been engaged in and he sprang forward to complete the
BURIED BY THE SHORES OF THE FAR PACIFIC 35
work. About the same time, the enemy's charging column, which
I had seen leave their main line for the usual circuit through the
woods, appeared over the rising ground on the left, fired a
volley and rushed in. Baker fell to that volley, being struck
by several bullets, one of which pierced his brain. The charge
was repelled for a moment, and a counter-charge led by Harvey
recovered the body, but the gallant soldier, the generous friend,
the matchless orator, was lost to us and his country forever.
Though for such a short time in the great national arena
at Washington, his celebrated Union oration in New York,
in April, followed by two eloquent speeches in the Senate, had
fairly introduced him to the country, and his heroic death on a
field lost but not dishonored, thrilled the entire North, not
yet accustomed to such spectacles. Not long before, the rest of
the world had laughed, and our own people were mortified if not
disheartened, by the disorderly rout of Bull Run, and held their
breath in dread anticipation of the next encounter. But here
had been no disorder, no panic, no flight, no Bull Run affair.
Our soldiers' fighting qualities, at least, were now assured. A
small body gallantly led had been by someone's error surrounded
by superior force, in fact ambushed in an untenable position, and
though ultimately cut to pieces and destroyed, had long defended
itself with perfect order and unflinching courage, inflicting
damage little inferior to its own, till it had suffered a loss of
fifty-four per cent of its number, including nearly all the officers,
and their gallant leader. While, therefore, the friends of the
slain received universal sympathy, to the general public the
disaster was tempered with a certain proud repose of feeling
hitherto unknown since the intense mortification of July.
The body of the dead hero so gallantly snatched from the
enemy by his slain chief of staff, was carried from city to city,
lying everywhere in state, and visited by vast crowds at each,
as it passed slowly across the continent heralded and accompanied
by continuous strains of funeral music to the last resting-place,
where it still reposes, by the shores of the far Pacific.
36 THE DISASTROUS BATTLE OP BALL'S BLUFF
To his friend in peace and right arm in battle
this tribute is presented by his brother,
A. C. BAKEB, M.D.
Surgeon 71et Regt. Pa. Vols.
'Twas a calm October morning,
Long before the East was gray,
That our Chief received the order
Straight to marshall the array.
Lightly from his narrow war-couch
Gaily up the Hero sprung,
Cheerful as if called to banquet,
Or to join the festive throng.
Promptly was each order given,
And before the morn was light,
His beloved and own battalion
Proudly marched to find the fight.
As he started, I addressed him,
"Brother, brother, mind today
You but do a General's duty,
Do not seek the thickest fray.
"Think how much the country needs you,
Think your life is not your own,
Do not seek the hottest battle,
Do not venture forth alone!"
"If the day goes lightly with us,
If I deem the field our own,
I'll but do a General's duty,
Wistar leads the column on.
"But if overborne by numbers,
We are like to lose the day,
If my own battalion falters
In the fury of the fray;
"Should I lose my valiant right arm,
If by rebel steel or ball
'Mid the smoke and shock of battle
Gallant Wistar chance to fall;
VEHSES BY A. C. BAKER
"Then my own, the Senate's honor,
Western lands and Keystone State
Tell to me a General's duty
Is to dare a soldier's fate!
"They are trained to move like veterans
And like veterans they shall fight,
Never while I live to lead them,
Shall they turn their backs in flight!
"With the cold and silent bayonet
I will lead our freemen on;
Others then will tell the story
How the day is lost or won."
Vaulting on his tall bay charger
With a smile serene and bright,
Thus my gifted, gallant brother
Rode to that unequal fight.
My brother, Oh, my brother!
Brother that I loved so well,
Other pens must trace the story
How you fought and how you fell!
National Cemetery at Ball's Bluff, Virginia.
The stake marks the spot where General Baker fell.
Drawn by Frank H. Taylor.
SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OP ANTIETAM
Since these pages claim no higher purpose than a personal
narrative, some further particulars of my individual casualties
in the late affair may be allowable. My soldier stuck faith-
fully to me and with such aid as he could summon, led and
carried me down the bluff and did not leave me till he had waded
waist-deep into the river and deposited me sore, blood-soaked and
fainting on the extreme end of the row-boat, now the only craft
plying to Harrison's Island, the scow having already sunk. Here
with feet dragging in the water, I was held in place by an Irish-
man wounded in the legs, who kept me hugged close in both arms
exclaiming, "No fear for ye, Kornel; I'll hold ye fast or we'll
both go over together, jist." At the island I was deposited in a
farm-yard filled with wounded and dying men, ranged around the
enclosure with heads to the fence, where our excellent Surgeon
Dwinelle soon made my condition easier by administering stimu-
lants and tying up my arm in some skillful way, so as to avoid the
unspeakable agony of the grating ends of the fractured bones.
While engaged at this work, a rifle bullet flying clear of our men on
the bluff and just missing the Surgeon, struck a fence-rail within
a foot of my head, filling my eyes with rotten wood. As this was
more than the Surgeon had enlisted for, I begged him to leave me
and retire to a safer place, to which he gallantly replied, "No,
I have always obeyed you, before but you are under my orders
now and I am not going to leave you till you are in safe condition
to send off to camp." The fact was that this field-hospital had
been under similar fire all day, and some of the wounded had
actually been killed in the Doctor's hands, but neither Surgeon nor
assistant had flinched, remaining hard at work till far into the
RECOVERING FROM THREE WOUNDS 39
night, sending off their patients as fast as they could be tem-
porarily recovered enough for the purpose; and most of the
supposed wounded remaining, had already departed for a land
where no surgeon is needed. In due tune I was carried across the
Maryland branch of the river, placed on a stretcher and carried
two miles by men of our second battalion, who declined assistance
from the large force now assembled, and deposited me in a small
house near the regimental camp. Here I lay nine weeks, during
most of which time it was not practicable even to change the
sheets. The flesh wounds soon closed, and even the elbow mostly
healed over but afterwards had to be laid open by a severe and
painful operation for the purpose of extracting pieces of bone
and lead inadvertently missed at the first dressings. It was
after this operation, as I understood, that the more serious feature
of the case appeared. First my life, and later the arm, was
claimed by such medical wisdom as could be assembled in judg-
ment, but they were ultimately induced to relent and leave me in
possession of both. Maggots appeared in the wound, and though
occasionally removed in considerable quantity, derived more en-
joyment than they afforded me, pasturing and disporting them-
selves up and down the feeding ground so providentially supplied
them. Finally, as it became evident that I was to suffer anchy-
losis of the principal joints, the arm was fixed in the position
and at the angle it has ever since retained, and one of my faithful
surgeons aided by a small detail, carried me home to Phila-
delphia, where I was placed in my father's house just in time for
the Christmas festivities.
I soon learned to write with the left hand and continued
to do so until the left arm was injured and partly paralyzed
by a wound received later at Antietam, when I perforce returned
to the use of the right hand. Though the fingers are perma-
nently fixed in a position but slightly bent and cannot be closed,
this remains on the whole the most useful hand, and by using
a thick-handled pen, and keeping extended all the fingers except
the index, answers reasonably well for writing. Though the
practical loss of the right arm by anchylosis of all joints below
the shoulder, including fingers, is, as I can from long experi-
40 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
ence aver, an irreparable one, often entailing privations at
times and places least looked for, yet apart from constant petty
inconveniences, one of the most regretful to me has been the
deprivation of riding, always before one of my chiefest pleasures.
It is hard for one fond of a high-spirited horse to come down
to a plain animal adapted to the necessities of an infirm rider,
and yet if anyone will try the experiment of putting the right
hand in his pocket, and binding the left elbow to the body, he
will soon be convinced that the free use of at least one arm is
required to ride with pleasure, comfort, or even safety. I have
been twice run away with while reviewing strange troops, who no
doubt attributed the exhibition to another cause; have repeatedly
had to accept the aid of staff officers and orderlies, and suffered
so many minor accidents and mortifications, that after the war I
was constrained to abandon riding entirely.
While lying ill near Poolesville, before my physical condi-
tion was at the worst, I was reminded of the prisoners sent
to the rear by Markoe's company. These were a Lieut. Berry and
two or three men of his regiment, the 8th Virginia. A day or
two after the action, I therefore sent for the officer, who in
the prevailing gloom and disorganization, had been thus far
detained in the regimental guard quarters, and about dark he came
into my bedroom in a state of just indignation at having had his
amis secured by a slight ligature at the elbows. In reply to my
indignant looks, the young officer of the guard explained that he
could not endure the risk of our only prisoner getting away while
in his charge, and as it was necessary to bring him a considerable
distance through thick and dark woods with but one assistant, he
had ventured to resort to this precaution though the prisoner had
been scrupulously well treated in other respects as indeed he
admitted. No doubt I should have ordered the bonds removed
unconditionally and immediately, but since the indignity was an
accomplished fact, I hastily and improperly offered to have the
bonds off if he would give his parole not to attempt escape till
delivered at Division Headquarters. This was done and I thought
no more of the circumstance for some days, when Gen. Stone paid
me a visit and remarked that he had received a flag of truce from
SERVING UNDER GENERAL JOHN SEDGWICK 41
the Confederate Gen. Beauregard, sent partly for the courteous
purpose of conveying some papers found in Gen. Baker's over-
coat left on the field of battle, and partly to complain of me for the
above violation of the rights of a prisoner of war. It seemed
that Berry had been sent to Washington and confined in the Old
Capital prison, from which he had escaped by letting himself
down one stormy night from an upper story by strips of blanket,
successfully evaded the sentinels, swam the Potomac, and re-
turned to his command. I was of course properly mortified and
self-rebuked at the just construction thus placed on the condition
I had thoughtlessly imposed, but Stone said he had already ex-
plained the circumstances and offered sufficient verbal reparation
on my behalf.
About the end of October, Brig.-Gen. Wm. W. Burns of the
regular army, an agreeable gentleman, and one of the most able
and judicious brigade commanders of the army, was assigned to the
command of our brigade, and from that auspicious event dated the
scientific perfection of discipline, drill and esprit which was
soon to render it a model of efficiency, and give it distinction
even among the veterans of the far-famed Second Corps, which
notwithstanding its innumerable fights, victories and defeats,
proudly boasted that it had 'never lost a color or a gun' till
the bloody, and to it, well-nigh fatal campaign of 1864. In
January I rejoined the regiment with a number of Philadelphia
recruits, and soon after, the 71st was reorganized into an ordinary
ten-company regiment, for which the recent destruction of offi-
cers furnished the opportunity. General John Sedgwick suc-
ceeded Stone as Division Commander, and General E. V. Sumner
took command of the Second Corps; both officers whose well-won
reputations now and henceforth belong to the general history of
On the 28th of February, Sedgwick's Division left its can-
tonment near Poolesville and marched in support of Bank's
Corps then moving up the Shenandoah Valley against Jackson.
The route was by Sandy Hook to Harper's Ferry, where the Poto-
mac was crossed on pontoons, and thence by Bolivar Heights and
Charleston to Berryville. Jackson having declined battle and
42 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
retired from Winchester before Bank's advance, the Division
returned to Harper's Ferry, where it took cars for Washington
and marched thence without delay to Alexandria to take trans-
ports for the Peninsula. March 28th, Burns' Brigade embarked
for Fortress Monroe, the 71st and part of the 69th being crowded
into a steamer which also towed behind it some large barges con-
veying the men, horses and guns of a battery of artillery. On the
second day a heavy gale of wind with thick snow rendered in-
visible everything outside the vessel, and as the captain could
only feel his way slowly by compass and lead, there was much
danger of collision with the barges in tow, or with some of the
numerous fleet of transports, which must have occasioned a
large loss of life. Under the circumstances, I ordered the steamer
and her tow into the nearest harbor accessible, where we lay
one night at anchor, the whole voyage thus occupying four days.
The 4th and 5th of April were consumed by the march of
the army in two columns to Yorktown, where it was confronted by
the enemy under Magruder, whose fortified lines extended across
the peninsula, reinforced by a number of closed works of strength
and importance. During the famous siege that followed, the rain
fell daily, almost without exception, the roads were impassable,
and while part of the army was employed in developing the
enemy's works and batteries by strong reconnoissances, a still
larger part was necessarily occupied in constructing corduroy
roadways along our line, to render possible the prompt inter-
change of guns and troops. The 71st had its share in both kinds
of work, and I had the honor to command one of the reconnois-
sances, which was the first occasion that I found myself entrusted
with two regiments. The movement was to escort an engineer
officer, and cover his observations of the hostile works and posi-
tions. As it rained all day, the engineer sat on his horse so well-
enveloped in a large cloak that little was generally to be seen
of him but his spectacles. We blundered twice under the enemy's
infantry fire and lost a man or two, which I was not allowed
to reciprocate, but on the contrary backed out so quickly under
the Major's directions, that in my ignorance I formed a private
opinion by no means favorable to his enterprise. The ludicrous
SENT HOME ILL PBOM YORKTOWN 43
dimensions of that error will be best understood when it is added
that the officer was Major A. A. Humphreys, than whom no soldier
ever knew better when to accept and when to decline to fight.
When he later assumed command of troops, he at once took and
maintained the character of one of the most prompt and daring
officers of the whole army, without in the least sacrificing the
careful and orderly methods which equally distinguished him
when conducting a petty reconnoissance at Yorktown, or direct-
ing as chief of staff, the general movements of the Army of the
Though difficulties of communications and scarcity of sup-
plies were well known to all the armies in the civil war, no
other campaign was attended with more privation, sickness and
death than prevailed in the muddy trenches at Yorktown. A
thousand pounds or less was a good load for a six-mule team, and
the necessary ammunition and other military stores could only be
distributed at the front by a corresponding neglect of other
pressing necessities of the soldier. It was frequently necessary
to march a regiment several miles to the landing to carry back a
few days' rations on their own backs. The result of hard work,
constant exposure by night as well as by day, with inadequate food
was wholesale sickness; which kept the actual strength and mobil-
ity of the army reduced to a low figure. Bilious and malarial
fevers, with diarrhea and typhoid were the prevailing forms of
disease, and during the month of April caused a greater loss to the
Army of the Potomac than many a famous and hard-fought battle
of later date. The 71st lost several promising young officers and
many men, and toward the end of the siege I was myself attacked
with the usual typhoidal symptoms, and after vainly trying to
resist for a few days, on the day before the troops entered the
place, was carried in an unconscious condition to a hospital-steamer
lying in York River, a few miles below.
I have never had the least recollection of the journey or arrival,
and my first intelligent memory of what transpired on the steamer,
is my capture one night by two Sisters of Charity, as, after escaping
from my cot, I was wandering aimlessly about the cabin. They
conducted me back to bed, and it was owing mainly to their
44 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
unremitting and charitable care that I at last reached a condition
of recovery that permitted my conveyance home in a small detail of
convalescents, where I was a second time safely deposited in bed
at my father's house. Here a relapse occurred, as is not unusual
in such cases; all knowledge of military events was forbidden me,
and it was only after a long and severe struggle that youth, tem-
perate habits and an unsurpassed constitution carried me safely
through, though with the loss of one-third my weight.
As soon as I could get out of the house, I embraced the oppor-
tunity of carrying into effect a certain previous engagement, and
was married on the 9th of July, 1862, by the Rev. Henry J. Mor-
ton, at the old St. James Church at Seventh and St. James
Street, to Sarah Toland, second daughter of Robert and Rebecca
Toland, both previously deceased; a union which, I may be per-
mitted to add, has been crowned with every happiness that can be
reasonably expected from that happy relation. 2
It was not till the army had fought its way through the Seven
Days' Battles, and encamped at Harrison's Landing on the James,
that I was able to report for duty. During that series of battles
the 71st, besides minor affairs, had been twice severely engaged,
first at Savage Station, where the brigade by a decisive repulse of
the enemy in superior force, had successfully covered the crossing
at "White Oak swamp, and next at Nelson's farm, or Glendale,
on an occasion of historical importance to the army and the
country. The two corps of Longstreet and A. P. Hill, debouching
by two roads against the flank of our army at that central point,
had already struck and demolished McCalPs Division, capturing
its artillery and many prisoners, including that General himself,
when it encountered Burns' Brigade hastily put in place and
strengthened by the 19th Massachusetts. Burns himself has
publicly declared that with this force of five regiments he checked
and held the 30,000 men of those victorious columns for nearly an
hour, and until troops freshly brought up rendered that vital
point secure. Had the Army of the Potomac then in motion
to a new base and presenting its flank to the enemy on a line twenty
1 Mrs. Wistar died, without issue, at Philadelphia, January 11, 1895.
NOTABLE ENGAGEMENTS OF THE SEVENTY-FIRST 45
miles long, with its rear engaged and held by Jackson at White
Oak Swamp been cut in two at Glendale without connection
either with its old or new base, the defeat must have been of such a
ruinous character as to destroy it for all aggressive purposes at
This was the first of two celebrated occasions when it fell to the
lot of this brigade to defend successfully the center of the same
army against similar efforts to cut it in two, and defeat it in detail.
The other was at Gettysburg where the celebrated charge of
Pickett first fell upon, and was repulsed by, two of its regiments
the 69th and 71st. The losses of the 71st in the Seven Days'
Battles were necessarily heavy, but owing to the loss of its books
and baggage on the abandonment of Savage Station, have never
been separately reported. After a short rest at Harrison's Land-
ing, the Army of the Potomac, contrary to the plans and wish
of its commander, was hastily recalled to Alexandria by the
Government, in consequence of the disasters threatening Gen.
Pope on the Rapidan. On the 29th of August, Sedgwick's Divi-
sion marched twenty miles to Chain Bridge, on false information,
and, after two hours' halt, was again put in motion toward the
heavy firing then in progress near the old field of Bull Run. At
noon on the 31st, after a march of forty miles, only interrupted by
two hours' sleep, it reached Centreville, and took position to cover
the disastrous defeat and flight of Pope, whose disorganized regi-
ments and frightened rabble, was passed through its lines. Sep-
tember 1st, Burns' Brigade, now commanded by Gen. O. O.
Howard, in consequence of Burns' absence from a severe face-
wound received at Glendale, made a reconnoissance some miles
to the right, where the 71st struck and engaged the flanking regi-
ments of Lee's army, then in march for the Potomac. Here
occurred a trifling incident not without interest as showing the
value of a facetious word at the right moment. The skirmish line
being sharply engaged with the enemy partly sheltered behind a
row of hay-stacks, the reserve, held ready in line, came under a
hot fire which it had to stand and endure without returning; a
condition irksome and unsteadying to any troops. Having left
my horse in a safe place I had already lost three, and was getting
46 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
economical of horse-flesh I was standing with the reserve, waiting
for the proper moment to use it, when a stout young recruit
suddenly dropped his musket, and pulled up his foot with both
hands as if wounded. A glance showed that a ball had torn open
his trousers below the knee without hurting him, and as several
men were already laid out, and the reserve was evidently not
enjoying its position, it seemed a good time for converting the
solemn into the facetious, which was done by a single remark:
"Young fellow, a bullet never hits twice in the same place; if you
will take off those trousers I will give you ten dollars for them."
The row of long and solemn faces relaxed into a giggle, and the
reserve recovered its cheerfulness. Its firmness had never been in
At night, Sedgwick's Division having been assigned as rear-
guard to cover the retreat of the routed column retiring by the
left-hand road that next the enemy moved off after dark in
the discharge of what, judging by that night's experience, is the
most arduous of all military duty. The 71st, with Sully's 1st
Minnesota, had the honor to be detached by Sedgwick as extreme
Division rearguard, with instructions to Sully and myself to
co-operate, and make the best fight we could in case of pressure,
without reference to the General, since communication with him
was sure to be difficult or impossible. The road was a narrow cart
way through a dense and dark pine, or cedar forest, crowded by
thousands of disorganized troops and fragments of commands;
disorderly wagon trains; guns without officers; caissons without
guns; and in short, a hopeless and irredeemable mob. It was
necessary for the Division to be held compact, and ready for action
to sustain its own rearguard if necessary, while it fell to the latter
to keep order by any means however summary; shove on the
trains; push forward the mob; drive up the stragglers; and protect
1 This thorough and timely reconnoissance by two regiments of the Philadelphia
Brigade the 71st and 72d disclosed Lee's solid columns in motion by their left
to the rear of the Union Army, and led to the all-important check they received at
Chantilly, on the same afternoon. Colonel Allan in his excellent work on the
Army of Northern Virginia, states that it was ordered by Pope, but erroneously
declares on the authority of Gen. J. E. B. Stuart that "it was not made." (Army
of Northern Virginia, By Col. William Allan, pp. 314).
PERFORMING REARGUARD DUTY 47
the whole by showing firm face to the pursuit, defeating it if
possible, but, at all hazards, holding it in check till aid should be
summoned from the mass of the Division in front.
These dispositions proved successful against a pursuit both
able and aggressive, partly because of the cheerful courage and
ability of Sully, and partly because of the unbounded confidence
we both had in Sedgwick, whom, as he had predicted, we had no
further opportunity of seeing through the night, but who we well
knew, would not abandon us. The plan arranged between Sully
and myself was simple enough and of no very difficult execution,
provided we could keep ahead and clear of us, the rabble, whom we
dare not allow to mingle with or hang about our troops. For
this essential purpose, a small provost guard, under carefully
picked officers, was extemporized, with such imperative and severe
orders respecting teamsters and stragglers, as might not have
found favor with theoretical patriots at home. In case of attack
from the rear, one regiment would take position and deploy for
resistance, while the other would gain distance and repeat the
process, to cover the retreat of the first through and beyond it.
The two Colonels always to remain on or near the road for confer-
ence, if required. The two regiments, slowly driving the rout
before them, had not advanced far when some light guns opened
on them from the rear, the shells passing over us, and bursting
among the rabble in front, causing among them a panic, restrained
with the greatest difficulty. Since this showed it necessary to
keep the enemy at a greater distance, even at the risk of prolong-
ing to a dangerous extent our exposed flanks, the 71st was deployed
to the rear, on both sides of the road, in two battalions aligned at
an obtuse angle with each other, while the column moved on.
After remaining here long enough, as was supposed, to give the
column a sufficient advance, the enemy's shot striking ground in
our rear without much damage, I was about getting the regiment
into the road to resume the march, when I caught sound of the
tread of horses, who under cover of the thick woods and impene-
trable darkness, had approached within a few yards. Not being
certain the cavalry was hostile, I challenged in person: "Halt,
advance one with the countersign, quick, or you will get the fire of
48 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
a brigade." "Fire and be d d," came through the darkness, as
the order rang out, and the cavalry of the enemy's advanced
guard gallantly made its charge. I had barely time to gallop to
the rear of a battalion and give the order: "Fire by battalion;
right battalion ready, aim, fire, load. ' ' ' ' Left battalion ready, aim,
fire, load." The two volleys crossing each other at such short
distance, quickly disposed of the small cavalry force, leaving the
road full of dead and struggling horses, with not a few of the
riders; and, after pushing a slight reconnoissance to the rear where
the enemy was found in force, a small regimental rearguard was
suitably disposed and the march resumed.
We had not gone far before we met Sully and his Adjutant
galloping back to learn the extent of the collision, from whom the
satisfactory information was received that the 1st Minnesota was
already in line of battle in a fine position half a mile ahead. The
71st marched through it, receiving vociferous cheers for its success,
and obtained a similar position in its turn, and this system was
continued through the night with sundry variations, but entire
success; the enemy's guns pressing close behind, occasionally
reaching the column with a few shell thrown over the heads of the
rearguard, or from some flank position, but on the whole doing
little damage. Of course, as a military operation by rearguard,
all this would have been simple enough, but for the immense mass
of worthless and panic-stricken stragglers crowded between us
and the rest of the Division, which made it practically inaccessi-
ble, and rendered quick support from it impossible. Many
hundred perhaps thousands of Germans from the routed Divi-
sion of Siegel, had abandoned their colors, thrown away their
arms, and deliberately gone to sleep around fires kindled in the
woods, a spectacle most exasperating to our men, since these
stragglers could have no other design than to be taken prisoners
after the passage of the rearguard. The soldiers in ranks begged
to be let loose on these 'coffee-boilers,' promising there should be
none left for the enemy; but the integrity of the rearguard was of
too much importance to permit risking it, even for that just ven-
geance. Nevertheless, such stragglers did not all go unwhipt of
justice. Unfortunately, the Adjutant's horse being killed and no
STOBY OF A WEST POINT LIEUTENANT 49
Major present, the only mounted regimental officers were Lieut.-
Col. Jones and myself, who, when otherwise unoccupied, busied
ourselves with charging into these sleeping squads of loafers, to
the intense delight of the gallant fellows of the hard-worked rear-
guard. Lieut.-Col. Jones was a well-qualified young West Pointer,
recently appointed to the regiment at my request. He was not
long with the regiment before he received the appointment of
Colonel of the 34th Ohio, and was killed at its head as it mounted
the earthworks at Chickamauga. An amusing adventure occurred
to another young West Pointer, on that night. A small and
remarkably worthless regiment of volunteer cavalry had been
sent early in the night to co-operate with the rearguard, but was
so badly commanded that its only tendency was to disorder the
infantry by clinging to its flanks, and dashing suddenly in upon it
from time to time. Sully and I soon concluded we could do better
without it, and in order to get rid of it, ordered it forward to report
to Sedgwick, with the request to the General for even a single
troop of good cavalry if possible to spare it. In due time a young
West Point Lieutenant with about twenty regular cavalry reported
from the General, and was promptly set to work.
The Lieutenant, whom I now only remember as 'Johnny,'
was a brave and capable young fellow, crossing swords with the
enemy's scouting parties on our flanks whenever they gave him
the opportunity, and retreating upon the infantry in perfect order,
when pressed. But having been with his troops in the saddle for
several days, both men and horses were fairly exhausted, and to-
ward morning suddenly disappeared entirely. Nothing was heard
of him for some days, when he suddenly rejoined the army on a
'private exchange' (of prisoners) with the following mournful
story. Finding himself, near daybreak, on an elevated piece of
cleared ground, with the pursuit slackening, and no enemy at hand
he thought it a good opportunity to give men and horses a few
minutes' rest. The horses were therefore unbitted, and the men
lay down without sentinels, Johnny intending to keep awake, or
get awake within ten mintues and go on with his business like a
giant refreshed. He knew, or thought he knew the position of the
column in the road by the irregular and intermittent pounding of
50 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
the pursuing guns, and thought that for such a very few minutes
he might avoid sacrificing the rest of even one sentinel. But the
Confederate Cavalry of General Fitz-Hugh Lee, just then carefully
exploring our flank to find where he could best strike, came sud-
denly upon and surrounded the whole squad, capturing it entire.
In fact the men were so dead-beat they had to be stirred up with
difficulty, one by one, to receive the polite invitation to surrender.
Johnny having given his personal parole for the purpose of keeping
out of the Confederate Provost Marshal's hands as long as possible,
was sent to the rear and invited to make himself at home in Lee's
tent. There he devoted himself for a day or two to solid sleep,
when his host returned and informed him that this parole must
expire next day, when he would be under the disagreeable neces-
sity of ' turning him in.' Nevertheless, he should first meet a lot
of his old West Point acquaintances at dinner, for which purpose a
number of Confederate West Pointers were assembled and John-
ny's misfortune freely discussed over whiskey and roast potatoes,
the captive's heart being made sore by the sound, but now super-
fluous advice, never to do it again without affording himself ' at
least one sentinel.' But Johnny continued so low-spirited over
this ignominious check to his budding career, that a private
exchange was at last procured for him general ones not being
then permitted and he returned to us with resolutions concerning
sentinels as firm and uncompromising as were ever formed in a
About daylight, the pursuit having ceased, Sedgwick's hard-
worked Division halted and went into camp at Langley, near the
Potomac, and after a day's rest the whole Second Corps marched
to Tenallytown, Md. As it was supposed some time would be
devoted here to restoring and refitting the army of the Potomac, I
took the opportunity to telegraph for my wife, who immediately
came down in charge of her brother, who returned by the next
train. He had not been gone an hour when intelligence was
received of the reappointment of McClellan to the command of the
Army, together with his orders for an immediate march against
Lee, who had crossed the Potomac into Maryland. There was no
means of getting an escort to Washington for Mrs. Wistar, and
the best I could do was to place her and Mrs. Rizer, wife of the
INFANTRY CHARGE CAVALRY SUCCESSFULLY 51
Surgeon of the 72nd, in an ambulance belonging to a hospital
train under command of a lieutenant of our brigade.
The Second and Twelfth Corps, both under command of
Sumner, marched at noon, September 4th, by way of Rockville
and Clarksburg to Hyattstown. Burns being still disabled by his
wound, Howard continued in command of our brigade. The
quiet Maryland village of Hyattstown lay at the bottom of a wide
and deep gorge of the Monocacy, where the main road of our
advance was intersected by a cross-road following the line of the
river. When the head of the column arrived at the brink of the
ravine whence it looked down on the town and cross-roads, it was
halted by Sumner, who by way of a delicate compliment to the
71st for its recent service, sent it forward to explore and clear the
ravine of the enemy's rearguard before involving the mass of the
column. After descending the hill and fording the river, half the
regiment was left at the cross-roads with orders to send out a
company to right and left to clear and hold the two roads, while the
remaining five companies were deployed, covered well with a
skirmish-line and pushed on up the hill driving the enemy's few
skirmishers before them. Not a citizen was to be seen in the town,
the houses being closed and the inhabitants in the cellars, as our
batteries had commenced throwing shell over it and us, at the
enemy near the top of the hill, not yet visible to us. The enemy's
retiring skirmishers of dismounted cavalrymen being reinforced,
were able to retard our progress somewhat, and, as we approached
the hill-top our batteries ceased firing over us, indicating that the
enemy not yet visible to us, had either retired beyond their range,
or that we were getting close to their position. Sending back an
order for the reserve to advance half its force in support,the leading
companies pushed on through a field of tall corn, emerging directly
upon a cavalry column just arrived and commencing a hasty and
disorderly deployment. There were two things that might be
done, and not much time to choose between them; viz., to form
square and wait then 1 attack, or taking advantage of their condi-
tion, go right for them. As all the field-glasses in the Second Corps
Staff were no doubt levelled at us from the high ground across the
river, the last was adopted, and a headlong charge of infantry on
cavalry was executed without wasting a minute.
52 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
I do not know of any other such charge against mounted
cavalry, and am aware it is nowhere recommended in the text-
books, but under the circumstances this one proved eminently
successful, the enemy falling at once into a disorder which he
found impossible to remedy under pressure, and was forced to
make a rapid retreat to restore his line. The reserve companies
coming up, a long thin line was formed with wide intervals and
refused wings. The wounded prisoners reporting Baker's brigade
of Confederate cavalry in front of us, with infantry at no great
distance, the information was sent back to Sumner, and as it was
now dark, we proceeded to bivouac on the ground gained, feeling
extensively in front and on both flanks with patrols. Late in the
evening Col. Sully arrived with his regiment and two light guns
without caissons, with orders to hold the ground, but make no
such aggressive movement as might bring on an engagement too
big for us to manage. Now as we knew of a whole cavalry brigade
in front, and were aware that the rear of Longstreet's Corps could
not be far off, and we were at least three miles from any possible
reinforcements, with two roads intersecting our only practicable
connection with them, a remarkably fine chance was presented for
an enterprising enemy to surround and capture our two isolated
regiments. As I did not crave for the honor either of defeat or
surrender, I proposed to Sully to take command, on his rank as an
officer of the regular army. He however insisted that I possessed
the oldest commission, which I could not deny, and after some
friendly sparring we agreed to share the command between us,
and he undertook to post guards and pickets in the woods on the
left, while I attended to the open country on the right. After
that was done it came on to rain, and S. and I passed a miserable
night sitting on the ground under a dripping tree, holding our
wretched horses and kept constantly on the alert by the numerous
collisions of pickets. The men had a day's rations in haversacks,
but the officers had nothing, and S. and I, with our respective
Adjutants, were reduced to sup on a bottle of whiskey which he
fortunately had in his holsters.
Just before daylight a negro body-servant of the Confederate
Col. Baker, who had got entangled inside our lines in looking for a
CONTROVERSY WITH GENERAL HOWARD 53
lost horse, was captured in an effort to get away. Feeling his way
along our picket-line he dropped into the road beyond the guard
but was picked up by a single sentinel concealed a hundred yards
beyond, and brought in. The darkey refused to tell anything, but
his captors being hungry and wet, and not in a mood to trifle, he
was placed on a horse with a noose round his neck, the other end
of which was run over a low limb and fastened. When all was
ready, and a single blow from the flat of a sabre would have started
the horse and launched the darkey into space, he weakened and
promised to tell all he knew. The cheeks and throat of the negro
at this critical moment entirely changed color, strange as it may
seem, presenting a dirty greenish-white appearance. This sur-
prising physical phenomenon which was noticed by all, is my only
reason for noting such a trifling circumstance.
At daybreak we could see the head of Sumner's column in
motion winding down the hill beyond the river, and knew that we
were no longer in danger of a Confederate prison. Two days later
when approaching the town of Frederick Lee evacuating the
country before us General Howard, the new brigade comman-
der, had the impudence to place me in arrest for refusing to obey
his order to consolidate my battered drum crops, with the spick and
span new corps of another regiment that had never seen an enemy
till after the 71st had lost nearly 400 men in action.
On my refusal, twice repeated to his A. D. C., possibly with
more emphasis than was absolutely necessary, General Howard
ordered me into arrest but declined to receive my sword; I retired
as in duty bound to the rear of the regiment, surrendering com-
mand to the senior captain, no field officer being present. Howard
preferred charges for Disobedience of Orders, of which he sent me
a copy, when the following correspondence occurred. I copy from
the old papers now lying before me, nearly illegible from being
soaked in my blood in the following battle of Antietam.
Hdqrs. Burns Brigade, Frederick, Sept. 13, 1862.
COLONEL: Gen. Howard directs me to say that the above charges
and specifications will not be forwarded until ample time has been given
for written explanations. Very Respectfully Your Obed. Servant,
To COL. I. J. WISTAR. E. WHITTLESEY, A. A. G.
54 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
CAPTAIN : I have no explanation to offer, either written or verbal. If
I or my regiment deserved censure which has never been the opinion of
more experienced Brigade Commanders a better mode of administering
it might have been selected than the insidious insult of breaking it up into
detachments to swell the pageant of another. I have the honor to be,
Sir,, with respect
ISAAC J. WISTAB,
Sept. 13th, 1862. Col. Gala. Regiment, (in arrest).
P. S. I have no stationery but this old envelope.
On receipt of the last, General Howard sent for me, and I went
late at night to the tent-fly under which he was sitting, surrounded
by his staff, assembled I presume to be taught a lesson in the nice-
ties of personal and official dignity. As I entered, H. rose and
ordered some of them to get me a cracker-box as a seat, to which
I replied that I preferred standing. Then, with swelling dignity:
"Sir, I consider your communication insulting, and manifestly
intended to be so." No answer. "When you receive an official
order, it should be at once obeyed and explanations asked after-
wards." No answer. "Will you obey the order now?" "No
sir, never." "What is your objection?" "I decline to converse
about it. You have preferred charges. I will defend myself
only before the Court or your superiors." "Well, I must inform
you that Gen. Sedgwick discourages the charges, thinking you must
be under some misapprehension." "No misapprehension what-
ever, sir." "Well, but the order was Gen. Sedgwick's and merely
transmitted through me." "Then, sir, why did you not so specify
as usual with a transmitted order, and it would have been in-
stantly obeyed." "Do you mean to say that you regard Gen.
S.'s orders as more obligatory than mine?" "No sir, not his
military orders. But this is not a military order; it refers simply
to regimental pageantry. Gen. Sedgwick knows me and my
regiment well, and we know him, and would obey without ques-
tion any order whatever from him, knowing he had some good
This, though it could hardly have soothed the General's ruffled
dignity, ended the discussion and he released me from arrest and
abandoned the charges. On inquiring about it later from General
Sedgwick, he informed me the order was neither his nor Howard's
A PART OF GENERAL HOWARD'S HISTORY 55
but came from Sumner, the Corps Commander, and was general in
terms, being simply intended to consolidate the drum corps of each
two regiments for better effect on the doubtful loyalty of the large
town of Frederick; Howard having through inadvertence or other-
wise, chosen to give it a definite application by effacing the music
of his oldest regiment in favor of the youngest, instead of the con-
verse, as decency required. Being ostentatiously and aggressively
pious, his dislike of me was I suppose purely theological, since I
had stiffly declined to encourage or take part in the public wrest-
lings in prayer with which he bedeviled his staff, and edified the
admiring young newspaper reporters. By outliving his contem-
poraries, and cultivating an obsequious loyalty to the ruling party
and its demagogues, he has, without winning a single professional
success in his whole career, attained high parchment rank since the
war. The shameful surprise and flight of his Corps at Chancellors-
ville, which came near wrecking the army; his disastrous failure at
Gettysburg followed by his humiliating excuse to Gen. Meade,
and his futile and ludicrous chase across the continent after Joseph,
the civilized Nez Perces chief who though a peaceful husbandman,
untrained to war, and burdened with a numerous body of starved
and half-naked non-combatants, eluded for months the professed
soldier backed by twenty tunes his force are prominent and illus-
trative facts of his military career; while his record in civil life
must always remain tarnished by the unexplained evaporation of
the "Freedmen's" earnings by the ruin of their bank at Washing-
ton, of which he was President. 4
4 Editorial from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Friday, March 27, 1896.
THE OLD SOLDIERS SHOULD PROTEST
The Boston Herald says that Senator Hale and Congressman Dingley, both
of the State of Maine, have in charge a bill to confer upon General Howard, also
of the State of Maine, who is on the retired list of the regular army, the rank of
lieutenant-general. Should General Miles be made lieutenant-general, New
England, whose soldiers and military historians regret that she did not produce a
capable army commander during the Civil war, will have two lieutenant-generals
thirty-one years after the war is over.
Accompanying the Howard bill now before Congress is a statement dated Wash-
ington and signed by E. Moody Boynton formulating General Howard's claims
to the distinction proposed to be conferred upon that officer. This statement
56 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OP ANTIETAM
On the 14th, the Second Corps made a forced march to the sound
of the guns at South Mountain, arriving after the pass at Turner's
Gap had been forced by our troops, and camped on the field of
battle. The troops engaged having made sufficient details for
bringing in the wounded and burying the dead, Sumner passed
is remarkable for its ignorance of history, for its malicious, audacious and
false attacks upon much greater soldiers than General Howard, and it is further
remarkable for its silence as to what that officer actually did, its avoidance of all
reference to what he failed to do upon the field of battle and the unblushing effront-
ery with which it attributes to General Howard acts of valor and military skill
performed by Generals Buford, Reynolds, Warren, Hancock and Meade at the
battle of Gettysburg. Here are some of the false assertions and false claims
made in the statement in General Howard's behalf:
"He saved his army and his country and secured the unwilling adoption of
his position and line by Major-General Meade with the entire army of the Potomac.
The plan of Meade was to have retreated to Pipe Clay Creek. . . . The
battle (of the first day) was over by 4.30 o'clock, when Hancock arrived. He
repeatedly on the second day sent messages to General Meade asking the occu-
pation of Little Round Top."
We are also told that Howard urged Meade to attack after the defeat of Pick-
ett's charge, and again at Williamsport and are assured that either attack would
have resulted in the annihilation of Lee's army. The claim is made that it was
Howard's artillery that swept Pickett's division from the face of the earth and
enabled the Nineteenth Massachusetts to capture what was left of it.
Such a statement would be unworthy of serious attention if it were not pro-
posed to spread it upon the records of Congress and to issue it in the form of a
public document. The representatives in Congress from other States than
Maine, especially the Senators and Representatives from Pennsylvania, the
soldiers upon the Military Committees of the Senate and House should see to it
that the government is not made ridiculous by indorsing assertions so ignorant,
false and unjust to great military heroes who, being dead, cannot defend them-
selves, but some of whom in their life time fully exposed Howard's military pre-
tensions. At one time he struggled to take from General Hancock the credit
of restoring order after the rout of Howard's corps on the first day. Now he
claims that the danger was over when Hancock arrived and that the responsibility
The monuments erected on the line of Howard's corps at Gettysburg are endur-
ing memorials of Howard's incapacity as a general. They show him to posterity
in the act of advancing to a range of hills beyond the roads upon which the enemy
were coming towards Gettysburg. Had he gained the hills the Confederates
would have come in behind him. His incompetency at Gettysburg was but a
repetition of his conduct at Chancellors ville. At Pittsburg he was lately warned
by veterans of the Army of the Potomac not to repeat some of the insinuations
which are expressed in the statement of the man Boynton. The surviving soldiers
of that army should send their protests to Congress against making General
Howard a paper lieutenant-general upon grounds that have no existence.
A SHELL IN CAMP 57
through the Gap on the 15th, and marching through Boonsboro,
took position before dark, near Keedysville, on the centre of the
line now forming on Antietam Creek.
During the march to this place the advance had constantly
pressed Lee's rearguard, under Longstreet, and as an engagement
of any dimensions might occur from hour to hour, it had been pos-
sible for me to leave my command long enough to go to the rear to
see my wife only on two occasions. As the ambulance division fol-
lowed the troops at no great distance, I was naturally filled with
solicitude in moving through the bloody scenes of the battlefield of
South Mountain, at the reflection of the unwonted spectacles that
must there meet the ladies' eyes. But even these were exceeded
when, after passing though the contested Gap, we came upon the
Confederate field-hospitals in rear of their lost position. The
worst of these was a blacksmith-shop directly on the road, in
which an operating table had been rudely constructed, and the
amputated limbs thrown through the window, where they still lay
in a blue festering heap that would have filled two or three army
wagons. Piles of bloody and mutilated bodies of those who had
arrived too late, or had died under the surgeon's hands, encum-
bered the ground and roadside in front. All I could do was to
send a man to the rear with a note to the ambulance lieutenant,
begging him to arrange in some way that the ladies might escape
this sight; but I afterwards learned that he had not found that
practicable, and their sensibilities had been spared nothing.
The 16th was passed by McClellan in completing his concen-
tration, forming his line, and feeling by single batteries for the
enemy's artillery positions. One of our batteries had thought-
lessly opened from a slight ridge, behind which was bivouacked
Sedgwick's entire Division closed in mass, forming a compact rect-
angular body crowded as close as the men could lie behind their
stacks. I was sitting with Gen. Sedgwick on a wagon-tongue
opposite, and not far from the flank of this mass, when the enemy
opened with one of their batteries in reply. The first shots as
usual flew high, but as they approximated the range, their shells
began to strike in our battery, or missing it and the ridge, to fly
low over the infantry division in rear. Someone remarked on the
58 SKIBMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
stupidity of uselessly drawing an artillery fire on a crowded mass
of infantry, and Sedgwick sent an aide to the battery to inquire for
what reason, or by whose orders they were posted at that partic-
ular spot. The officer had scarcely galloped off with the mes-
sage, when a shell skimming lightly over the ridge, whizzed low
over the men, causing thousands of heads to duck, and struck
fairly in the middle of my own regiment. From the stacked
muskets the men had stretched shelter tents for shade, and were
lying in all attitudes of rest, apparently covering every inch of
ground. Muskets, blankets, knapsacks and shelter- tents flew into
the air, and any spectator must have been shocked at what seemed
terrible havoc of a single shot. But on running over to ascertain
the damage, it turned out that with the exception of one man
struck square in the neck, not another one was even hurt; the
shell entering the ground without bursting. By comparing this
singular immunity with the effect of another shell which on a
subsequent occasion I saw strike and explode a limber chest, killing
or wounding thirteen men on the spot, one may form an idea of the
uncertain and chance results of this, the most striking and impos-
ing of all ordinary arms of offense.
The night of the 16th was showery, and Howard and I slept
under a few rails propped up, and partially covered with corn-
stalks. It being then known at headquarters that Hooker had
been severely checked in getting into position on the right, an
order came at 2 A.M. to inspect cartridge boxes; followed an hour
later by another to distribute forty additional rounds for the
trousers pockets. At four, the men were roused for coffee, and
soon after dawned with a brilliant but short-lived and delusive
sunshine, what all now knew was to be the day of battle. Knap-
sacks were piled, and every preparation made for instant move-
ment. Heavy firing of all arms advanced and retired on the right
(Hooker and Mansfield) but it was not till eight o'clock that an
aide came galloping down to Division Quarters waving in his hand
the order that we waited for. Though it would be superfluous to
give in this place any more ambitious description of the much-
discussed battle of Antietam, than such few items as concern the
JUST BEFORE THE BATTLE 59
personal fortunes of the narrator, yet to render even those inteli-
gible, some brief explanation is required.
After the restoration of McClellan to command, the Confed-
erate General, finding himself closely pressed by a hand stronger
than Pope's, gave up his plan of invasion and commenced a hasty
concentration of his scattered columns preparatory to a with-
drawal to his own side of the Potomac. His several detachments
had therefore been called in upon Sharpsburg, in front of which a
defensive line had been formed, intended, but not quite strong
enough, to extend from river to river across a deep westward bend
of the upper Potomac, there ordinarily fordable. But, notwith-
standing the defence of the South Mountain passes on the 14th
to gain time, on the 16th Jackson, delayed by the siege and sur-
render of Harper's Ferry, was not yet up ; and Longstreet and D. H.
Hill, having been roughly handled on the 14th, had barely pre-
ceded the Federal Army to the position assigned them. It is
therefore probable that but for the attack by our right on the
evening of the 16th certain to be vigorously prosecuted with the
return of daylight, Lee would have crossed the river early on the
17th and retired upon Jackson, some of whose divisions were in
march to his support during the entire night of the 16th. But
that attack made it necessary for Lee to stand at bay, and at any
cost inflict sufficient check on his enemy to get time for crossing
the river with his guns and baggage.
McClellan, having thus by rapid marching and severe fighting,
forced his antagonist to accept battle, proposed to attack him
simultaneously on both flanks, and, having driven either or both
back upon their line of retreat, to push forward a powerful center
to complete the victory. But the execution of this plan was
defeated by the extraordinary supineness of Burnside, who with
express orders to attack on the left at daylight, and with 20,000
men already in position for the purpose, delayed his movement till
one o'clock, and then required nearly or quite two hours more to
get his whole force engaged. But at half-past three A. P. Hill
having delayed to receive the surrender at Harper's Ferry, and then
marched twenty miles after the hour at which Burnside was or-
60 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
dered to attack, arrived on the field and at once attacked and drove
Burnside back across the creek, ending that General's tardy activ-
ity for the day. It was this disobedience and failure of Burnside
that enabled Lee to strengthen his left by detaching continually
from his right, till much the larger part of his army was available
to meet the attacks on his left made successively by the Corps of
Hooker, Mansfield and Sumner.
Hooker, resuming his attack at daybreak, was badly defeated,
himself wounded, and his Corps dispersed. Mansfield, in support
of Hooker, took up the fighting against troops constantly rein-
forced by Lee from his unemployed right, and shared the same fate,
being himself killed. It was now eight o'clock, and though the
roar of battle resounded on the right, all remained silent on our
left, where no guns of Burnside announced his expected attack
on Lee's weakened right wing. Officer after officer of the staff
had been sent off in the vain effort to hurry the tardy commander
of the Ninth Corps, and it now became necessary to follow
up the defeated attacks of Hooker and Mansfield by troops de-
tached from the center where they had been reserved for quite
another purpose. This was the emergency that had brought us
the order to move off to the right, and take up the attack in that
quarter already twice defeated. The rest of the story may as well
be told by the insertion here of a statement prepared by me in
1882, at the request of the Brigade Survivors' Association, to
repel certain insinuations of Col. Palfrey, a New England officer,
who, with a certain selfish shrewdness not absolutely unknown
among his compatriots, attempted to cover up the defeat of his
own regiment by falsely attributing the cause to others. This
statement was carefully made over my signature and generally
reprinted by the Pennsylvania press, and has never been contro-
verted nor attacked; even Palfrey himself preserving a discreet
silence since its publication.
A recent Massachusetts writter, belonging to a regiment whose distin-
guished gallantry required no superfluous misrepresentation of others, has
stated that on the failure of the attack by the Second (Sedgwick's)
Division of the Second (Sumner's) Corps at Antietam, the Philadelphia
Brigade was ' the first to go.' That Brigade or what is left of it is of a
AN ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE 61
different opinion, and there must still live some of its survivors who
will recognize the substantial accuracy of the following statement of the
During the night of the 16th and 17th of September, 1862, Sedgwick's
Division was bivouacked with its Corps in close column, near Keedysville,
in the center of the general position of the army. Hooker's Corps, fol-
lowed by Mansfield's in support had crossed the Antietam Creek on the
evening of the 16th to take position for attack on our extreme right.
During the night the divisions of the Second Corps were twice aroused
for distribution of additional cartridges, and again, before daylight, for
coffee. Hooker's second attack, made at or before daylight on the 17th
failed. His Corps, after some sharp fighting, was defeated and himself
wounded. Mansfield's small corps, following quickly in support, had a
severe tussle and shared the same fate, its commander being killed. Then
soon after daylight came the orders to Sumner, in obedience to which
Sedgwick's Division of that General's corps, with whose movements only
we are now concerned, moved out by the right flank by brigades, forded
the Antietam, which took the men above the middle and faced to the
left. This brought the division into an attacking column of three bri-
gades, following each other, each deployed in line and facing west. Gor-
man's brigade led; Dana's followed; and Burns' composed the third line.
In consequence of General Burn's absence, by reason of wounds suffered
in the Peninsula, his brigade was on that day commanded by General
Howard. It consisted of the following Pennsylvania regiments, raised
in Philadelphia: viz, The Sixty-ninth, Colonel Owens; the Seventy-first,
Colonel Wistar; the Seventy-second, Colonel Baxter, and the One-hun-
dred-and-sixth, Colonel Moorhead; the Seventy-first being that day on
The dripping soldiers shook off the water, the lines were dressed.
Sumner, who in person accompanied his favorite division, waved his
sword, and the division, under its beloved Sedgwick, moved to the front
from which hardly more than half of it was ever to return. Not a voice,
and scarcely a shot at first disturbed the silent advance of this veteran
body of about five thousand men. The men were veterans and knew
their business. The three lines, in perfect order and alignment moved for-
ward at the quick step, with arms at right shoulder shift. Soon a single
shell flew over all three lines and exploded harmlessly in the rear. Then
another, better elevated, fell with effect in the middle of the column, and
the range being found, the enemy's batteries, a mile in front, opened thick
and fast, and a sharp and sustained fire from about a dozen guns of Stuart
and S. D. Lee, mostly taking effect in the rear line, warmed up the column
for the work before it. Soon the dead and wounded of the two defeated
corps were encountered, and as the column held its steady way forward
through the historic cornfield, death and mutilation in shocking forms
covered the ground on every side. The dead were awaiting for a soldier's
grave, and the fast glazing eyes of the wounded turned silently to the
charging column marching over them with steady and determined tread.
62 SKIRMISHES AND THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
The piece of woods and the Hagerstown pike were reached and passed.
The leading line (no skirmishers) had entered, passed and were emerging
from the second woods just as the third line had reached to about its
center. The second and third lines were still parallel, but the first had
made a slight change of direction to the left, so that at the moment
when it passed the fence at the far side of the woods, its alignment formed
a slight angle with that of the following line, the apex of which was on
the left flank. The enemy, relieved on his right by the prolonged and
unaccountable inactivity of Burnside, had been able to detach heavy
reinforcements to his menaced flank, and these hastily coming into posi-
tion with left refused, now offered a line of battle more nearly conforming
to Sedgwick's line of march than to the alignment of his front. This
condition though of transcendent importance, was unknown to both
sides. The woods concealed each from the other, and both were in effect
moving forward on the sides of an acute angle toward the point of the
angle , which the Confederates reached first. Thus, under cover of rocks
and woods, the hostile Divisions of McLaws and Walker had come-
certainly more by accident than design to occupy a position which at
the moment of collision not only gave them both front and flanking fire
against the Union column, but was more capable of rapid change to meet
the attack, as suddenly developed. Hence it was the left forward corner
of the attacking column that first struck the enemy's line, from which it
was instantly saluted by a destructive fire, delivered at short range in
its flank and front.
The first line became instantly and roughly engaged under tremendous
disadvantage. The second halted in line and attempted to change front,
and the attention of the present writer becoming absorbed by his own
concern with the rear line, these observations will hereafter be confined to
it, or rather to a part of it, for the thin woods in which the actual collision
occurred was obstructed by protruding strata of limestone rock standing
on end nearly vertical, and the right regiment (Seventy-first) had, by
these and other inequalities, become separated from the other three of its
brigade. At the moment of the shock the colonel of this regiment had
ordered it down on its face to avoid unnecessary casualties till its service
in action might be required. But by the ardor of the Commanding
General the three lines of battle had been hurried up to intervals not
exceeding thirty paces, and the engaged and reserve lines were simul-
taneously and equally under fire. In a very few minutes Gorman's
Brigade, in the effort to change front under this enfilading and destroying
fire, lost its cohesion, and, in fact, broke. The second line being partly
faced by the rear rank for the same purpose, was not in shape to with-
stand the rush of fugitives, and was almost instantly run over by the
first, when both came back with a tumultuous rush upon the rear brigade.
The latter at the order, delivered by the sword, for no word was audible,
came at once to its feet with bayonets at the charge. Upon the integ-
rity of this last line, which the writer aforesaid complains was ' the first
to go,' now depended the entire right of the army, and a stern resistance
was maintained by it, both to the fugitives and the enemy.
THE RECORD OF THE SEVENTY-FIRST 63
In such an action covering several miles of front, few officers of regi-
mental rank can take personal cognizance of a long line of battle, but it
can be positively asserted of at least the right regiment, that it held its
position and forced the route around its flanks till its fire was unmasked,
when the enemy's advance was sharply checked. But the general Union
line had become defective on the left, where Richardson was killed, and
his division roughly handled, and the superior force which the Confeder-
ates were now able, although from inferior resources, to bring upon this
vital point soon enveloped the left and threatened the rear of the right
regiment, the enemy's fire on it being now effective on its rear, left, and
At the same time a few of Stuart's guns had got an advanced position
on the right, and though some Union guns were coming into battery on
the right rear to attend to them, it was nevertheless evident that for this
isolated regiment, capture or retreat had become a question of minutes.
It had indeed been important to cover the retreat of the Division to the
last possible moment, but that had already been reasonably well done,
and could not be promoted by an entire sacrifice of the regiment, so the
Seventy-first was reluctantly ordered to retire. Its retreat was not
effected without sharp fighting and severe loss. Every field and staff offi-
cer, including the Colonel was left upon the ground. But one Captain
and three Lieutenants remained for duty, and the loss in men as nearly
as can now be recollected with no official papers at hand reached some-
thing over fifty per cent of its force engaged. Under its surviving Cap-
tain (Lewis) , what was left of it marched to the rear, served fresh car-
tridges, called its roll and reported to General Meade ready for any duty,
and was put into action by that gallant General within half an hour.
The writer viewing these events from the limited standpoint of a regi-
mental officer, is unable to speak from personal observation of the other
regiments of the Philadelphia Brigade after separation from them by the
roughness of the ground. But they were substantially of the same qual-
ity, and their conduct was reported and is believed to have been equally
soldierly. Then and always they received the warm appreciation of
corps and division commanders, and it is believed that no unfavorable
criticism of them, or any of them, has ever before been publicly made.
Neither is there any occasion or desire to underrate the quality or serv-
ices of the gallant regiments of Gorman's or Dana's Brigades. On the
contrary they were good troops, ably officered and required no one's
indorsement, for their gallant conduct on numerous fields before and after
the misfortune in question abundantly attests their quality. It is to be
regretted that they should have possessed a single officer willing to give
currency to unfounded statements to the prejudice of other troops of
equal merit, who on the same fields and in the same corps and division,
loyally and cheerfully shed their blood in the same cause.
EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
Returning from great historical events to the small personal
adventures which are the humble subject of this narrative, it may
be said that while my own individual fortunes at Antietam were
better than those of the thousands who there fell to rise no more,
they were by no means so good as those of the other thousands who
escaped unhurt. First of all I lost a valuable and favorite horse,
struck in the knee by a piece of shell, near the crossing of the
Hagerstown pike, after which casualty I was on foot. ' Empire'
was a high-spirited, three-quarter-bred horse who had learned to
fear none of war's alarms and was only cheerfully stimulated by the
heaviest firing and most unexpected events happening around him.
He was the pet of the regiment, the men having a way of inducing
him to lie down at night in a good place where, on occasion, they
piled in around him for warmth, a familiarity with which he was
not the party least contented. He would accept any reasonable
kind of food and rarely went hungry, for many of his friends were
always ready to risk their lives in creeping though the artillery
sentinels to steal oats and forage for him when those luxuries were
not to be had elsewhere on any terms. When he was first struck,
his faithful groom, Dougherty, came running from the ranks and
received him from me, but upon seeing D. resume his place shortly
afterwards, I learned from him the sad news that he had scarcely
got the horse a hundred yards to the rear when he was killed on
the spot by another shot through the neck.
When Sedgwick's charging column struck the enemy and re-
ceived a stunning fire on flank and front, the 71st had become sepa-
rated from the other regiments of its line by certain vertical strata
of limestone projecting in some cases as much as twelve or fifteen
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AT ANTIETAM 65
feet above the surface. The regiment being crowded close up to
the two front lines, and therefore fully exposed to the fire without
the opportunity to return a shot, was ordered down on its face to
minimize casualties as much as possible till it should be needed.
When the front line broke and ran over the second, and both came
back on the third with an irrestrainable rush of fugitives, the 71st
having with all the rest of the rear line been thus crowded up too
close by the impetuosity of Sumner, must certainly have been
demolished had its discipline wavered. But at the order it rose
in place like one man with muskets at the charge and firmly
repelled the tumultuous crowd, till it had passed round its flanks
when its fire was delivered with immense effect on the pursuing
enemy, themselves disordered by their rapid advance and noisy
exultation. But their reserves coming up, the enemy rapidly
recovered themselves, and were exchanging with us a steady and
destructive fire at short distance, when observing an increasing fire
coming from the left rear, I climbed a reef of rock for a more
extended view, and at once became conscious of an appalling state
of facts. On our left as far away as the eye could reach all our
troops had given way, and the enemy's pursuing lines were already
many hundred yards in rear of us with nothing in sight to stop
Almost at the same time Stuart's guns, their first position hav-
ing become masked by the advance of their own infantry, had
obtained a position on our right front, and now opened at short
range with canister, which partly enfiladed our fast-diminishing
line. There were no signs elsewhere of a rally or reinforcements,
and though the isolated regiment was yet firm, it must soon be
destroyed by sheer weight of fire in front and on both flanks, and
in any case must be surrounded in a few minutes. It had already
given a few priceless minutes of cover to the retreat of the eight
regiments of first and second lines, and the time had now come
to save its gallant remnant. It was therefore got quickly into
column of companies with the intention of forcing a way to the
rear till some other solid troops could be found to rally upon. As
the head of column was wheeling to the left about myself as pivot,
its killed and wounded falling at every step, I was myself knocked
66 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
over by a bullet through the left shoulder. Rogers, the left
flank sergeant of G Company was instantly at my side, and as
the blood was spouting from under the sleeve at the wrist, hastily
clapped on a tourniquet constructed of my pocket handkerchief
and his bayonet. He offered to remain with me, and was inclined
to insist, till I appealed to him to save my sword. Recognizing
that obligation, he quickly took it from me, and rushed after the
retiring column, and was scarcely gone till the enemy's line
marched over me.
But about this time General Meade, whose own division had
been used up in the two attacks of Hooker, had got together a
small force composed of the remnants of various regiments coming
out in good order, and was leading it forward when he met and
seized on the 71st, compact and in perfect order, though reduced to
three officers and scarcely 250 rank and file. This force continuing
to increase soon met and drove back the disordered Confederates
who again retired over me leaving me lying between two fires.
Twice again the enemy advanced over me, and were as often re-
pulsed and driven back, finally making a firm stand at or near their
original position. The last of these movements was by a heavy
line of battle composed of the fresh troops of 'Stonewall' Jackson
that is, if troops can be called fresh who had marched all night
and were now put into action without any rest or intermission. As
this splendid line moved over me, a young lieutenant seized the
occasion to leave his place to demand my sword. When he learned
that it was beyond his reach, he wanted my parole, which I refused
to give. The little dispute was suddenly terminated by the arrival
of several General Officers whom I took to be McLaws, Walker and
Stuart. These with their staffs were following and closely watch-
ing their line now heavily engaged with our troops, whose balls
were striking all around us. Having lost much blood notwith-
standing the tourniquet, suffering intense pain and barely able to
whisper, I nevertheless managed to attract the attention of one of
their couriers, who dismounted, ascertained and reported the
subject of discussion to Stuart, who inquired of the lieutenant his
name and regiment. "Hill, of the 12th Georgia." "Join it
immediately sir." The courier then rearranged the tourniquet,
BETWEEN THE LINES SEVERELY WOUNDED 67
which though hitherto but partially effective, had become exces-
sively painful, handed me a drink from one of the Tlst's wounded
near-by, who kindly offered his canteen, and leaving me in a much
more comfortable condition, rode away after his General.
It was not till several years after the war that a mutual friend 5
accidentally hearing the celebrated Confederate guerilla, John
S. Mosby, relate the same circumstance in connection with my
name, which he still remembered brought us together, when I
learned for the first time that the friendly courier had been no
other than the renowned Mosby, at that time not even a commis-
sioned officer. During the afternoon the infantry-fighting in our
vicinity was mostly suspended, but the thin woods where we lay
was severely shelled by the artillery of both sides, tearing to pieces
the trees, splintering the rocks and producing terrible results on
the helpless wounded of both armies, few of whom in my vicinity
survived it. After dark all regular firing ceased, and some gentle
showers gratefully refreshed such as were still alive and able to
appreciate them. Two soldiers of the 71st less badly hurt than
myself, insisted they could get me off, if I was able to stand, which
with their aid I managed to do, but as the ground in our rear was
obstructed not only by the multitude of dead and wounded of
both armies who here lay thick, but by branches of trees and other
results of the heavy artillery-fire so long concentrated on the place,
the only available route for three cripples must at first be nearly
parallel with the enemy's new infantry line, not fifty yards distant,
and with no pickets out. In response to our explanation and
request not to fire, they called to us to "go ahead," which precau-
tionary process had to be repeated several times as we passed in
front of fresh parts of their line. At last we came to a small farm
lane absolutely piled with Confederate dead who had been there
mowed down in heaps in repeated but vain efforts to take a Fed-
eral battery which had been posted at the head of the lane. It
was difficult in our condition to crawl over and through the two
fences and these tangled corpses lying between them in every atti-
tude of death, but at last it was by mutual aid accomplished, and
6 Bingham, of Lockhaven, Pa.
68 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
we came into a comparatively open field whence the hospital men,
fully exposed to the enemy if they chose to fire, were cautiously
removing the wounded. These men got us upon stretchers, and
by an odd coincidence, struck first upon our own regimental field-
hospital, set up in a small two-roomed negro cabin. Amputations
and operations were proceeding inside and outside, and the floor
was slippery with blood, but place was made for me on the only
bed, already occupied by three wounded officers of the 71st, where
temporary relief was administered. Before long an ambulance
was brought up and the surgeons decided to send Lieut. Wilson
and myself in to the general hospitals at Keedysville. The vehicle
jolted horribly over the rough fields, and poor Wilson soon became
delirious and died in the ambulance, but I was deposited at a
house where Mrs. Wistar had taken up her quarters, to her great
relief, as I had been reported dead, since early morning.
The churches of this unhappy village had first been appro-
priated for the wounded, then successively the houses, shops,
yards, and at last the streets, leaving a single track in the middle
for the ever-arriving ambulances. On both sides, over 25,000 men
had fallen, equal to about twenty per cent of the whole forces
engaged. The loss of the Second Corps was twenty-seven
per cent of its force engaged; Sedgwick's Division alone, which
numbered about 5000 men, losing 2210 or 44| per cent. The
"present for duty" of the Second Corps was reduced from 16,013
on July 31, to 9594 on September 30th, of which loss much the
largest proportion had fallen upon our Division. I cannot now
lay my hands on the official figures of the 71st, but my recollec-
tion is that it lost in this single battle between fifty and sixty
per cent of its force engaged, including all its commissioned
officers but three.
Early on the day of battle, the Keedysville shopkeeper in whose
house I found asylum, had crossed the road and entered the
opposite field, where he was killed by a stray cannon-shot in the
presence of my wife and his own, while trying to see something of
the distant battle whose swelling roar already filled the air for
many miles around. The house was filled with wounded officers
of the 71st, even to the cellar, where lay the adjutant and a
RECEIVED RANK OF BRIGADIER-GENERAL 69
captain. After lying here three weeks, my injured artery was
pronounced safe for travel, and I was carried in an ambulance to
Hagerstown, from whence in a box-car filled with similar convales-
cents, Mrs. Wistar and I made our slow way via Harrisburg to
Philadelphia. Notwithstanding the degrading consciousness of
the large space in our lives and memories appropriated by mere
physical pleasures, I can never forget the gratification afforded me
while lying in the ambulance at Hagerstown, by Lieutenant Kirby,
1st U. S. Art., who had the patient kindness to hold a cigar for me
to smoke, being my first returning dissipation of the kind, as I
was still unable to raise either hand to my face. Poor fellow,
I never saw him afterwards as he was not long after killed at
Chancellorsville, his excellent battery subsequently becoming
famous at Gettysburg under his successor, Gushing.
After lying ill a long time in Philadelphia, suffering much dis-
couragement from my crippled condition, the right arm being
already useless and the left now paralyzed, with a very uncertain
sound respecting its future coming from the doctors, I began to
despair of my capacity for future active service, and forwarded my
resignation, which was in due course accepted by General Sumner,
in General Headquarter Orders of the Second Corps. This order
was legally final under ordinary circumstances, but was sequestered
or annulled by Mr. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, who wrote
me to that effect as soon as it came to his notice, advising me to
devote my whole attention to recovery and do nothing till I should
hear further from him. As this unusual course had given me fair
reason to expect, I received notice in due time that my appoint-
ment had been sent by the President to the Senate for confirma-
tion as Brigadier-General, to rank from November 29th, 1862, for
services prior to and at Antietam. But objection to confirmation
having been made by Senator Sumner of Massachusetts, an ex-
treme partisan, who held sound political opinions i.e., his own
to be the most important military or any other qualification, the
case went over to the extra session called for the 4th of March,
where by some adroit management of my faithful friend, Senator
McDougal of California, I was at length confirmed, but with eight
dissenting votes in a Senate that contained but nine Democrats.
70 EXPERIENCES OP A BRIGADE COMMANDER
The nervous power and sensation, both of which had at first
been destroyed in the arm last wounded, by extensive nerve
injury, gradually returned up to a certain point, where the improve-
ment stopped and its condition has ever since remained nearly
stationary. Though able to use it for many purposes, it remains
much impaired, particularly in the fingers, which are still so devoid
of sensation as to prevent or limit their use except as guided by the
sight. As soon as I could manage to feed myself, and long before
I could fasten my dress or trust myself on a horse, I reported for
duty by letter and at the request of General John J. Peck, was
assigned to command a brigade in his division, then engaged in
defending Suffolk, Va., against the siege of Longstreet. In pass-
ing through Washington on the way to my new duties, I met
General Sedgwick, just recovering like myself from his Antietam
wound, who said he had been promised command of the Sixth
Corps, and had written me at Philadelphia desiring me to take one
of his brigades. Unfortunately it was too late, and I never saw
that gallant soldier again. He was killed during an interval of
that great battle, by the chance shot of a sharp-shooter, at Spott-
sylvania in 1864.
My new command had been recently organized as the 'Reserve
Brigade,' and was composed of the 9th Vermont, 19th Wisconsin,
99th and 118th New York regiments, all good and veteran ones,
though somewhat neglected in drill and unaccustomed to brigade
organization. I found it holding an exposed position a long way in
front of, and on a lower elevation than its camps, where it was par-
tially protected by some slight earthworks, too much exposed
to admit of more work being done on them at present. The
pickets were sheltered in a line of shallow excavations still lower
down the hill where they could only be relieved at night. The
ground in rear of our line of battle being higher on the hillside,
was so swept by the fire of the enemy's pickets, concealed in
rifle-pits on the other side of the ravine, that it was a lively place
for the officers who had frequently to traverse it. The position
which was infinitely the most exposed part of the entire line of
defense, could not be rectified at this point without giving up the
ravine and so much ground as to expose important points, and we
A HUMOROUS FLAG OF TRUCE INCIDENT 71
had therefore to make the best of it. The abominable condition
was at length relieved by our assault and capture of Hill's Point, a
vital part of Longstreet's line, which reduced the enemy to the
alternative of retaking it, which was only possible with a greatly
increased force and heavy loss, or raising the siege. They pre-
ferred the last and retreated, closely followed by us, to a defensive
position on the line of the Blackwater, where we soon again con-
fronted them. While in occupation of our new line an amusing
incident occurred, unworthy of history but not perhaps out of
place in this narrative.
A. E. S., a Virginian with whom I had formerly been on quite
intimate terms in San Francisco, while on his way home prior to
actual hostilities, had been arrested on the Isthmus by some over-
zealous naval officer and sent prisoner to Washington on suspicion
of being about to join the Confederate army. S. plead that he
was unlawfully seized on his peaceful way from the loyal State of
California, via the equally loyal State of New York to his lawful
home in Virginia on private business, had committed no act of
hostility to the U. S., and in the absence of proof to the contrary,
was presumably a loyal citizen. As not a shadow of proof was
forthcoming against these facts and presumptions, the legal posi-
tion was unassailable, and after some months' detention he was
released and sent through the various military channels and at
length came to me, with orders to deliver him across the lines under
flag of truce. Capt. F., a gallant young A. D. C. of mine, to whom
was assigned this duty, with instructions not to make use of my
name unnecessarily, placed the prisoner in a closed carriage and
with an escort of a few troopers started on his errand.
The Blackwater is a deep sluggish stream flowing between a
low closely-timbered bottom on the enemy's side, and a compara-
tively high bank on our side, clear of woods to the top of the hill
a mile distant, where our pickets were disposed. When the small
procession emerged into this open ground not long before dark on
its way to the river, the enemy's pickets not immediately recog-
nizing the white flag, opened fire, which increased in weight as
their scattered pickets assembled. Desiring to avoid unnecessary
waste of life, F. proposed to the prisoner, that since he, S., must in
72 EXPERIENCES OF A BKIGADE COMMANDER
any case risk the enemy's fire for a short time, he should take the
carriage forward alone, giving his parole to return it. The charac-
ter of these two men both generous and brave was inclined to
punctilious exactness. S. moreover possessed a hot, aggressive
temper not just then in its sweetest condition, while F., valuable
and gallant as he was, had on occasions, certain ceremonious tend-
encies facetiously designated by his staff associates as 'the
heavy military.' These were sure to crop out stiffly at formal
military functions, such as parades, reviews, courts-martial, exe-
cutions and the like. On receiving the above proposition which
was sensible enough, since it would relieve the innocent escort of
useless danger, while it involved not a particle of additional risk to
the prisoner, S. rather airily replied "Are not your orders to deliver
me within the Confederate lines." "Yes, sir, certainly." "Well,
sir, if you will say you are afraid to do that, I will accept your prop-
osition." "Not at all sir; if you put it on that ground, I will see
you delivered into the enemy's lines with every particle of cere-
mony you are entitled to." The firing soon ceased, after killing a
trooper's horse and splintering the carriage once or twice, and on
reaching the river, a scow was sent over by the Confederates for the
carriage. But before embarking F. dismounted a couple of troopers
and placed them inside the vehicle with these orders given in pres-
ence and hearing of the prisoner. "Draw and cock your pistols.
Your instructions are to prevent the prisoner from leaving the
carriage or communicating with anyone outside it on any pretext
whatever, till further orders from me. Should he attempt either,
you will immediately kill him without any discussion, and report.
Do you understand the order?" "Yes, sir." "Repeat it."
The flag was received by a Captain of pickets, who was all agog
to learn the significance of a proceeding attended with such
ceremony and precaution, but F. demanded audience of the
Commanding Brigadier General, maintaining that he carried a
B. G.'s flag, and would transact his business with no officer of less
rank. In vain a sleepy Colonel was hunted up, who explained
that his commanding officer, General Jenkins, was many miles
distant, beyond a muddy cypress swamp almost impassable for
PRESENTED WITH A SWORD BY PHILADELPHIA^ 73
wheels. F. was on his mettle, and was not to be budged by all the
Colonels in the Confederacy. "Sir, you must either accept or
decline my flag. If the latter, I will retire as I came. If the
former, I will only communicate with the Commanding General
in person." As the position, however wire-drawn, was correct
enough to be defensible, the Colonel was by no means ready to
refuse a message which bore such marks of importance, and a
small cavalry escort was at last paraded, under whose charge F.'s
carriage and party spent most of the night in ploughing through a
fearful cypress swamp hitherto deemed impracticable for wheels,
and toward morning were passed by the quarter-guard and
reached Jenkins' quarters. That astonished officer hastily came
out in his drawers to receive a dispatch duly heralded by wire,
and surrounded with such precaution that it might be a proposi-
tion for peace, or any other fundamental subject. Who could tell?
On delivering his message, F. of course removed the embargo on
the captive, who bounced out in breathless rage, furiously de-
nouncing his unheard-of treatment. Then F., with erect dig-
nity and solemn gravity, proceeded to tell his side of the story,
which, as Jenkins happened to be blessed with a fine sense of
humor, nearly threw that officer into fits, leaving him scarcely
breath enough to tell S. that as far as he could see, he only got the
rigors of war he had himself required. But notwithstanding S.'s
difficult temper and exacting disposition, he was a noble and
gallant man, and at once entered the Confederate service, but was
killed within a month in almost his first encounter.
Before I had been very long on duty at Suffolk I received from
a number of distinguished citizens of Philadelphia a valuable
token of their esteem and regard, which, coming from persons
generally entertaining political opinions differing from my own and
possessing their full share of the partisan excitement that raged
much more fiercely at home than in the army, was not only grace-
ful and liberal on their part, but was peculiarly grateful to one who
had been so recently assailed on exclusively political and party
grounds in the partisan press, and even in the Senate of the United
States. This was a handsome and valuable General Officer's
sword, flatteringly inscribed, and was accompanied by the follow-
ing letter, to which appropriate reply was made.
74 EXPERIENCES OF A BBIGADE COMMANDER
Philadelphia, May 14, 1863.
As the organs of your loyal fellow-citizens, who acknowledge, to use
their own language, "the just claims to their gratitude of the brave men
who hazard their lives to sustain the cause of the Union against the
unholy rebellion by which it is assailed," and who recognize in you one
of its most gallant defenders, we discharge with pride the duty assigned
to us, of presenting to you on their behalf, the sword' ; which accompanies
this letter "as a token of their respect and admiration."
Knowing as we do, that in assuming your place in the army of the
Republic, you did so, meaning in the true spirit of a patriot soldier, to
perform with alacrity whatever duties were required of you by the
orders of those who alone are constitutionally invested with authority
to direct our military operations for the preservation of the unity of our
country, we have observed with much satisfaction that your courage
and good conduct, rendering you so eminently worthy of promotion,
have not been unrequited.
In this connection, it would be unjust to pass over without especial
commendation, the California Regiment (71st Pennsylvania) with
which your name has been from the first identified : whose brave men were
always ready to follow in the path of danger where you led, and who, in
enabling their commander to attain his present enviable distinction,
have gained for themselves enduring renown.
Elevated as you have been to a higher command, we feel sure that
however freely your blood has been shed on the memorable fields of Ball's
Bluff and Antietam, there is still enough left in your veins to enable you
to wield usefully in the righteous cause the weapon which, with earnest
prayers for your honor and safety, we now place in your hands.
With the highest consideration and regard,
Your friends and fellow-citizens,
WM. D. LEWIS
A. E. BORIE
SAMUEL L. SHOBER
O. W. D-vvis
C. P. BAYARD
To GENERAL ISAAC J. WISTAR,
Commanding the Reserve Brigade,
Camp Suffolk, Va.
6 This sword, with appurtenances, is deposited with The Wistar Institute of
IN COMMAND OF A BRIGADE AT YORKTOWN 75
Upon the evacuation of Suffolk some time during the summer,
my Brigade acting as rear guard, I took up the rails from many
miles of railroad track and shipped them to the Quartermaster at
Norfolk, pursuant to written orders. But having mislaid the
order, it is doubtful with what success I could even now defend
against a personal suit for that spoliation, since the statute of
limitations does not run in favor of one outside the jurisdiction,
and I was therefore for many years cautious of getting within the
territorial power of Virginia Courts, but presume the facts have
long since been forgotten or forgiven by the present generation.
Major-General Dix having during the same season assumed
command of the Department of Eastern Virginia and North
Carolina, soon after ordered my Brigade to Yorktown, the Head-
quarters of the military District of Eastern Virginia. It was
quite time that some reforming and energetic hand should be laid
upon that District, than which none could certainly be in much
worse condition. I transported my Brigade of four regiments
and a battery, on four steamers, and on calling to report arrival
to the Brigadier-General in command, lately a western newspaper
editor, I found him lying incapacitated in his quarters under the
pious care of a pretty hard-looking staff, who called the affliction
'malaria, ' a disease which seems to have much to answer for in
morals, politics and war. The general condition of affairs was
the most disgusting I have ever seen in a military post. The fort-
ifications enclosed perhaps a couple of hundred acres, inside of
which, besides the dirty, idle and neglected troops, were gathered
over 12,000 refugee negroes supported in idleness on Government
rations, and lying about without order under any ragged shelter
they could get, in every stage of filth, poverty, disease and death.
The roadways, parade ground, gun platforms, and even the
ditches and epaulements were encumbered by these poor wretches;
the soldiery was ragged, filthy and idle, and unless all military
signs were at fault, a raid by a handful of resolute and well-led
men could have captured the place, with all its stores and its
3000 so-called troops, in a few minutes. The corruption under-
neath proved as bad as the more patent features of the all-pervad-
ing neglect and demoralization. The place was crowded with
76 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
petty dealers calling themselves sutlers, whose trade across the
lines received no pretense of supervision. Permits to take
oysters from the private beds within our jurisdiction were sold to
negroes for cash, of which there was no public or known account-
ing whatever. The thrifty Yankee serving as Post Quarter-
master maintained 400 negroes on his pay roll, for whom he
drew wages at the rate of eight dollars per month each, to handle
supplies for a force not hitherto exceeding 3000 men besides the
idle contrabands. With strength enough to raid to the gates of
Richmond and compel heavy detachments from the enemy's
active armies to defend its back door, our troops were shut up in
the two closed works of Fort Magruder and Yorktown, watched
by a petty force, under a Captain, that they should have eaten
up in a week.
Though nominally and legally placed under command of the
creature who was responsible for all this, I sternly insisted on
keeping my hard-worked Brigade clear of the mess; and taking
post some miles in front of the place, allowed no interference,
and permitted no person within its camp without my own pass,
keeping my troops hard at work, picketing, patrolling and drill-
ing. Finally, I made formal request through regular channels,
for transfer with my Brigade to the Army of the Potomac, in
place of which I was promptly ordered to assume command of
the Military District, my predecessor being ordered to Washing-
ton, where he was soon lost sight of amid the crowd of politico-
military patriots who sought to rearrange their disheveled plumage
in that seat of Republican patriotism and purity. It was hard
to know where to commence upon the Augean stables of the Dis-
trict of Eastern Virginia. As the whole mischief was not revealed
at once, the first step was to clear out the fortified places and
making them tenable by a minimum force, obtain the use of a
small movable column for aggressive purposes. For this purpose
a large area of abandoned fields, a few miles in the rear, was
surveyed and laid out in two- and four-acre lots, with street and
building lines; and all the able-bodied negroes set to work build-
ing log cabins of prescribed form and dimensions. To the gov-
ernment of this place, dubbed by the soldiers 'Slabtown, ' was
BRINGING ORDER OUT OF CONFUSION 77
assigned a sergeant with a small force, under the supervision of
an A. D. C. Oystering permits were sold by the Provost Mar-
shal to these people; seeds and implements were obtained with
the fund thus raised, and 'Slabtown' was soon in condition to con-
tain all the refugees in the District.
The local troops, who had originally belonged to the 4th Corps,
were reorganized and employed, with a portion of the contra-
bands, in policing and clearing up the fort and town, and when
not thus usefully employed, were kept constantly at drill. De-
tails of infantry were instructed in the working of the heavy guns,
and troops so disposed and instructed that in a few minutes after
an alarm from Headquarters every man was in his place on the
ramparts or in the reserve. The Post Quartermaster's roll of
400 laborers was cut down to ten men, who, with details of troops
on emergencies, were found amply sufficient for all purposes,
notwithstanding the addition of my Brigade to the force supplied.
Outlying posts were established, and an efficient system of infantry
and cavalry patrols organized and constantly pushed farther
towards the enemy's post at Bottom's Bridge, covering Rich-
mond. Tho rogups whn, unHw t.hp nn.rne of BlltlflWj wo** driving
a profitable trade across the lines in all sorts of articles contra-
band of war, were mostly sent out of the District, and an efficient
Provost Guard was organized under Captain Brooks, a competent
officer of zeal, force and integrity.
Though these and many other reformatory and military
measures were necessarily carried on together, with some appar-
ent, but no real confusion, in a very short time our lines at Wil-
liamsburg were not only defensible against a much superior force,
but the enemy's raiders were captured or driven out of the Dis-
trict, and either by occupation, patrols or expeditions in force,
we held or substantially controlled the line of the Chickahominy
from its mouth to Bottom's Bridge, within eight miles of Rich-
mond, and were able to take an active offensive on both banks
of York River.
Prior to, and in preparation for, General Dix's march on Rich-
mond to relieve the pressure at Gettysburg, I was ordered to
capture and hold the fortified post at West Point, the junction of
78 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
the Pamunkey and Matapony, where these rivers unite to form
the York. A sufficient number of steamers having been col-
lected, the embarkation was so timed as to reach the place at one
A.M. The wharves having been burned by the enemy, a picked
force was landed in boats which drove back the enemy and
deployed, to cover the landing. Houses were torn down for
material and in a few hours a new wharf had arisen on the ruins
of the old one, over which cavalry and artillery were successfully
landed. A defensive line having been taken up across the point,
a mile or two in front of the town, troops and impressed contra-
bands were set at work and within two days I was able to report
it defensible by a small part of my force, leaving the remainder
available for more active purposes. I therefore received orders
to leave a sufficient force of infantry and guns to hold the place
securely, and march to reinforce Dix, whose retreat on the south
bank of the York to Yorktown was covered by this force, after
which the garrison was withdrawn from West Point, and affairs
resumed for awhile their former status.
Of course so much resolute clearing away of rubbish could not
go OU lOIlg wilHoiit revising onomloo and. rooietancc, wluull tliough
more or less annoying, I was quite prepared for. All the scamps
collected in this snug harbor, both military and civil, with a wise
discretion and enlightened regard for their own skins, confined
their charges and imputations to the troublesome theme of my
'loyalty,' it being an axiom with the plundering scoundrels of
that day that any coolness or deficiency in partisan Republican
profession in itself constituted the most formidable kind of 'dis-
loyalty.' To their minds the most 'truly loyal' man was he
who asked fewest embarrassing questions, and their ideal patriot
would be something like the late lamented Col. Yell of Arkansas,
President of the Yellville bank of Yellville, of whom his sorrowing
eulogist declared that, "our deceased friend though unable to
account satisfactorily for the funds of that institution, yet showed
by his remarks upon the 'busting' of the same, that his heart beat
warmly for his native land."
I seldom took public notice of the weak expedients of the
thieves and incapables who abused me after getting safely out
* ! a
METHODS OP CURING INCOMPETENCE 79
of my District, beyond grilling one occasionally, but it must be
confessed that while in actual contact with the enemy in front, I
had little patience with revenue-hunting rogues in the rear, and
sometimes did hold myself justified in the use of extra-legal methods
in extraordinary cases both military and civil. One of the former
kind, which came near bringing me in collision with the legis-
lative patriots at Washington, resulted from an effort to reform
and improve the military service by applying to one of the incor-
rigibles, certain drastic remedies not specially provided for in the
Articles of War. The rogue was turned in by his Colonel, who
charged him with evading every duty, breaking all rules, being
useless to the Government and a perpetual obstacle to discipline
and good order, all of which was soon ascertained to be abundantly
true. Now the Provost Guard was carefully organized of picked
officers and men who had learned to know 'coffee boilers' and
'beats' at a glance, and possessed certain remedies which in
the last resort sometimes cured, even after colonels and courts
martial had abandoned the patient as worthless and incurable.
To it therefore the delinquent was sent, with an intimation of
his character, the ineffectual efforts which had hitherto failed to
make him useful to his country, and the hint that some improve-
ment might be effected by a good private talking to from a couple
of reliable corporals of the guard. I noticed from the Provost
Guard returns next morning that the delinquent was 'in hos-
pital; cause, a sore back,' and as hospital cases of all sorts were
plenty, supposed the disease would receive due attention and
thought no more of the matter.
But the patient was forwarded in due course to the general
hospitals, first at Fortress Monroe, and afterward to Washington,
where some surgeon, who had probably not served enough in the
field to know the valuable hygienic and moral effects sometimes
following a 'sore back,' discharged him from the service. Not
long after I received a cypher message from the Department Com-
mander that the man, together with his father, his M. C. and a
couple of busybodies of the Sanitary Commission, had reached
Fortress Monroe with passes from the Secretary of War and
orders for me to arrest and forward such soldiers as they should
80 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
identify in connection with a certain gross personal outrage com-
mitted on their suffering client. Of course a reply was telegraphed
requesting they should be sent up at once in order that every
practicable facility should be extended them. The Provost
Marshal was at the same time directed to select two experienced
soldiers of his guard for the special service of hunting down and
arresting a certain troublesome guerilla operating in the vicinity
of our external lines, the men to start at once by night and if not
successful by the expiration of ten days, to report then in cypher
through the Colonel Commanding at Williamsburg, and there
await further orders.
The Washington gentlemen duly arrived, and were of course
assisted by an A. D. C. to search for the delinquents among all
accessible troops, but unaccountably failed to identify the male-
factors. They were then advised of the existence of sundry
posts, guards and patrols in the vicinity of, and outside the
military lines, for whose investigation authority would be
furnished, on receiving a written acknowledgment that such
dangerous quest was prosecuted by their own urgent desire
against the opinions, warning and advice of the Commander of
the District. But at this point the avengers with great intelli-
gence weakened, and concluded to confine their researches to
the safer territory inside the lines, which though it led to nothing,
at least showed a commendable prudence, since though there was
no means of knowing what might have been the course pursued
by the two delinquents if arrested by civilians on the enemy's
territory, there was reason to apprehend much from their energy,
courage and manner of employment.
The District of Eastern Virginia had of course been nearly
denuded of white males of suitable age for the Confederate army,
nevertheless there remained a considerable population, including
several hundred lunatics in the State Asylum at Williamsburg,
among whom it was necessary to maintain order, and during the
suspension of their ordinary resources, to preserve from absolute
want. Such duties involved questions of municipal government
and general policy, as well as the expenditure of government prop-
erty for purposes authorized only by implication or not at all,
UNWELCOME NEWSPAPER NOTORIETY 81
where it was not difficult to fall into legal and other errors.
Whether such an error was committed by me, or by the President
of the United States in the following case, each reader may decide
A lady whose husband and sons were absent in the Confederacy
and her pecuniary resources cut off, applied to the Commanding
Officer at Williamsburg for leave to cross the lines into the Con-
federacy, taking her family and household effects "and a negro
child six years old." The application came down endorsed,
"Approved except as respects the negro child." Not wishing to
decide the negro question myself, I forwarded it to Department
Headquarters with the additional endorsement, "Approved, in-
cluding the negro, since such a child, if left behind and separated
from its natural protectors, would require dry nursing, for which
I possess no soldiers properly fitted." The application was dis-
approved at Department Headquarters, and there the official
part of the matter ended, but the negro question being at that
time attended with much political excitement, some reporter at
Fortress Monroe got hold of the correspondence, and I was soon in
receipt from friends at home, of copies of a certain hyper-loyal
eastern newspaper which, after printing the endorsements with
a liberal addition of capitals, italics and exclamation points, de-
voted a column or two to violent abuse of myself as a traitor, a
slave-hunter, kidnapper, and inhuman tyrant, who abused the
power entrusted to him to hunt down, catch, and return, loyal
and patriotic negroes to then: cruel, bloodthirsty and disloyal
owners. Of course I threw the papers in the fire, but when soon
after, the notorious Gen. B. F. Butler arrived at Fortress Monroe
to succeed Foster in command of the Department, he also for-
warded me a copy with an unofficial letter stating his pain at
seeing the publication and that if I had a reply to offer, he would
see it should receive proper publicity.
This proposition from a superior officer came much nearer to
upsetting my temper than the libel itself, and I wrote an indig-
nant reply, to the effect that while holding myself at all times
ready to meet charges or explanations required by official
superiors, I owed no duty to lying and irresponsible penny-a-
82 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
liners, forced by their trade to invent such lies as might bring
them the most pennies, and scorned to notice or reply to them,
except by cutting off the rascal's ears if I could get hold of him.
Butler who knew me very well, explained that I had misunderstood
him; that he, Butler, wanted no explanation, but was only anxious
on my account to give opportunity for public denial or explana-
tion. Knowing his love of applause and notoriety I believed as
much as I chose of this explanation, but nevertheless accepted
the apology, and after giving some reasons which will readily
occur to a humane person, added the following strictly legal one:
viz, the President had by proclamation announced the abolition
of slavery throughout the State of Virginia, expressly excepting
the territory held therein by our military forces. Hence to send
the negro from within the military lines where slavery had been
recognized by the highest civil and military authority, to a point
outside these lines where having been abolished, it no longer had
a legal existence; was, in effect, sending the slave from slave
territory to free territory, i.e., from slavery to freedom, unless
indeed in the opinion of those disloyal persons who scoffed at the
President's proclamation as equivalent to the pope's fulmination
against the comet. -This ended the discussion, though Butler
afterwards told me in conversation that should my argument be-
come public, he feared that prejudiced persons might regard my
law as stronger than my 'loyalty.'
The district of country under my command having been set in
order and being well-administered by active young subalterns
detailed for the purpose, our troops were soon in position to beat
up the enemy on his own ground, and some or all available troops
were kept engaged in this work by expeditions of all arms, some of
small consequence, and others taxing all the resources at my dis-
posal. In October (1863) such an expedition was made in force,
for the purpose of breaking up a body known as the Confederate
Coast Guard, to destroy the extensive illicit trade and blockade-
running of some of the maritime counties, and generally to annoy
the enemy, and draw away detachments from his main armies.
With these objects, a force of infantry and artillery was marched
from Gloucester northward, to and across the Piankatank near
CLEARING UP THE DISTRICT ABOUT WEST POINT 83
its head, advancing its patrols to the Rappahannock. At the
same time two regiments of cavalry, under Col. Spear, raked the
Mathews County peninsula in its rear, while three gunboats
assigned me by Admiral Lee prevented escape by water. Pretty
much the whole of the Coast Guard besides a small regiment of
cavalry and other prisoners were captured, many small vessels
brought off or destroyed, and a considerable number of arms,
cattle and horses taken and brought in. The success was so com-
plete that it received honorable mention in the Annual Report of
the General-in-Chief of the Army, and was transmitted to Con-
gress by the Secretary of War. 7
A small incident occurred on this expedition possessing some
bearing on the value of negro testimony. At some small town
an old fellow who kept a country store was brought up by some
cavalry soldiers, on the charge of having in his shop a barrel of
whiskey poisoned for the benefit of our soldiers. All the negroes
in the place, male and female, crowded in to swear to the charge,
but on cross-examination, seemed to have had the information
only from each other. The man himself indignantly denied the
charge, declared there was no poison in the town or neighborhood
and the story was a baseless yarn got up by the negroes to make
themselves agreeable and important to us, and finally offered to
drink a tumbler-full himself, provided a guard should be assigned
to protect him till he should recover his sobriety. This reason-
able condition was soon arranged, and the whiskey consumed by
the delinquent in the presence of his smiling family, after which
the convinced cavalrymen did not require more than about ten
minutes to empty the barrel.
During the winter of 1863-64 my force consisted of eight regi-
ments of infantry, two of cavalry, and four batteries of artillery,
which, though widely scattered, could generally be quickly con-
centrated for any movement which should serve at the same time
to cover the positions at Williamsburg and Yorktown. The force
had been hardly worked and a wide extent of country hitherto
7 Message of the President of the United States and accompanying documents,
to the two Houses of Congress at the commencement of the first session of the 38th
Congress. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1863, pp. 22-3.
84 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
contributing men, horses and supplies to the Confederacy was
more or less controlled by combined movements of cavalry and
infantry so arranged that the latter, while moving over less
actual distances than the cavalry, was always ready to afford it
prompt and secure support. By way of extending these methods,
it seemed to me that if a quick and secret concentration could be
effected on the Williamsburg peninsula, a surprise of Richmond
itself, by a sudden cavalry attack, might be possible. That city
lay about sixty miles beyond our military line, from the most
salient point of which a single road, midway between the York
and the James, led to New Kent Court House, where it branched
into several forks of which one led N.W. twenty-five miles, to
Hanover C. H., and another fifteen miles to Bottom's Bridge on
the Chickahominy, from which Richmond was less than ten miles
That city, though capable of quick reinforcements and usually
full of detached soldiers and convalescents, was held by a small
regular force. It was protected by redoubts, strong but slen-
derly-manned; the citizens and government employees, organized
into infantry battalions, being principally relied on for ordinary
defense. A small force, rarely exceeding 1500 men, held Bottom's
Bridge, to which they were pretty closely confined by our patrols,
but a strong Confederate Division of the Army of Northern
Virginia then lay in the vicinity of Hanover C. H. Thus in case
of disaster or delay to an attacking force at Bottom's Bridge, or
between that point and Richmond, the enemy had upon the
flank of such force, and could readily place on its only practicable
line of retreat at New Kent, a larger force moved from Hanover,
over a line much better, and but little longer than that from
Bottom's Bridge to the same point. In view of these facts, the
plan submitted to Department Headquarters was as follows:
While obscuring the movement by a display of vigor on the
Gloucester peninsula, to effect a rapid concentration of a small
column of all arms in rear of the Williamsburg line. The infantry
(two brigades), preceded by a small cavalry advance for surpris-
ing and capturing pickets, to march at 10 P.M., February 5th,
followed at daylight on the 6th by the entire force of cavalry
THK PLAN FOR A DASH ON RICHMOND 85
reinforced to six regiments, or about 1500 men. One infantry
brigade with most of the guns, to take position at New Kent,
throwing out strong posts on all northern roads; the other brigade
marching directly on Bottom's Bridge The cavalry, after pass-
ing the infantry on the 6th and parking its reserve supplies in
their charge at New Kent, to arrive at Bottom's Bridge, fifty
miles distant from Williamsburg, at or before daybreak on the
7th, seize and repair the bridge, and leaving a small force to hold
it till the infantry could come up, make a dash on Richmond,
surprise its defences and enter the town. A minute schedule of
detachments and duty for the two hours of possible occupation
was carefully prepared, and numerous minor plans arranged for
destroying public property and communications, cutting wires,
etc. Each detachment after performing its allotted task would
take care if itself the best it could, retreating by any route upon
the infantry by that time arrived at Bottom's Bridge, and covered
by it to New Kent, which would be firmly held long enough to
cover an orderly retirement of the whole force on Williamsburg.
This plan with other minor features too numerous to relate
here, was approved by General Butler and adopted by the War
Department by whom it was also agreed that the Army of the
Potomac under Meade, on the Rapidan, should make a simul-
taneous demonstration in its front. The concentration in rear of
Williamsburg was pushed forward under cover of strong and enter-
prising patrols on both sides the York, but as the cavalry rein-
forcements and supplies necessarily arrived by water, it was
impossible to conceal entirely the preparations going on within
the lines, where some event of corresponding importance began
to be eagerly looked for and discussed.
John Boyle, a soldier of a New York cavalry regiment, was at
that time confined near Williamsburg under sentence of death
for murder and was to be executed on February 7. Some of the
numerous camp rumors doubtless reached him, and on the night
of the 2nd he escaped by the fault or connivance of a sentinel,
who was promptly tried, convicted and shot; but Boyle remained
at large and unaccounted for.
86 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
The movement took place as arranged, on the night of the 5th,
the advance guard being sufficiently extended to surround the
several outposts of the enemy posted between Williamsburg and
New Kent, most of whose men were killed, captured or driven
off on foot into the woods, all their horses being killed or secured.
But the prisoners captured at different points and separately
examined, all concurred in stating that Boyle, nearly exhausted
by a close pursuit, had surrendered to them on the night of the
third, and had made such important statements that he had been
expressed to Richmond by relays of horses. Had this important
intelligence been sooner received it would have deferred the
movement, since the mere knowledge by the enemy of an unusual
concentration of troops at Williamsburg would naturally prompt
them to hold with sufficient force either New Kent or Bottom's
Bridge, and must have defeated the enterprise, whose single
chance of success lay in surprising the only practicable crossing
of the Chickahominy. In view however of the complicated ar-
rangements made to cut wires, and especially of the auxiliary
movement on the Rapidan to take place on the 6th, with which
there was no possibility of immediate communication, it was
decided to proceed.
At four A.M. on February 7th, the cavalry, composed of the 1st
New York Mounted Rifles, the 5th and llth Pennsylvania, the
1st District Cavalry and two other small regiments especially
loaned me for the enterprise, after a march of fifty miles over
winter roads, bivouacked near Bottom's Bridge to wait for day-
light. Its pickets immediately encountered those of the enemy,
prisoners from whom reported that the earthworks and redoubts
on the Richmond side had been occupied by a large force the day
before; that the bridge planks had been removed, trees felled into
the stream and wired together, covering the whole front of the
position. The only crossing was by a long causeway of approach
constructed through a swamp, then impracticable, with a bridge
over the stream at the center; the whole commanded by infantry
and artillery in entrenched works on the further side; the Confed-
erate General Hunton in command. These facts were verified
by a reconnoissance at dawn, a simultaneous demonstration
AN INFORMER PKKVENTS SUCCESS 87
against the bridge serving to develop the enemy's artillery and
reveal a large body of infantry in position. A passage could
doubtless have been forced at some point above and the position
turned, but instead of a ten-mile gallop to Richmond, the crossing
and fighting, however successful, must have consumed most of
the day, long before the expiration of which the Richmond re-
doubts would have been fully manned, the town safe from a coup
de main and the Hanover division moving on our rear.
There remained no object to be gained commensurate with the
loss and jeopardy to be incurred by delay, and my orders were
explicit that if the surprise failed, the command was not to be
risked for any new object. About 10 A.M., therefore, the neces-
sary dispositions were made for a retreat on the infantry reserve
at New Kent.
The enemy promptly crossed the river in pursuit, pressing the
rear and flanks so closely that at Baltimore Cross Roads, a favor-
able position offering, it was determined to administer a check.
The 118th New York, 9th Vermont and llth Connecticut regi-
ments of infantry, with two guns, after moving across the large
open prairie at that place, were therefore halted and deployed to
the rear in the woods. The rearguard a detachment of the
llth Pennsylvania Cavalry was here ably handled by Colonel
Spear, securing ample tune for these dispositions and then skill-
fully withdrawn. The enemy was effectively checked, pushed
back with vigor, and cut off from his flanking detachments on
both flanks. These, which had got well around to the Union
rear, with whose flankers they were hotly engaged, were then
attacked with superior force, broken, pursued and dispersed with
loss. The command, suffering no further considerable moles-
tation, was concentrated at New Kent the same evening, which
place was held till all the wounded and prisoners had ben for-
warded and the cavalry despatched to Williamsburg, the neigh-
boring country, mostly forest, affording no subsistence for man or
beast. On the 8th the outposts were drawn in, and the infantry
retired by easy marches to Williamsburg.
The demonstration of the Army of the Potomac was made by
part of the Second Army Corps in which my old regiment was
88 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
included on the 6th. It was embarrassed by difficult streams
and bottomless mud, but contributed to retard the detachments
of Confederate troops to New Kent, which might have made our
retreat difficult and even disastrous.
Boyle escaped the hemp he so richly deserved and disappeared
for many years, but was at last recognized and identified in the
dead body of one of the victims of a great mine explosion in Colo-
rado, January 24, 1884.
Thus failed an enterprise prepared with care in all its details,
which had engaged the liveliest interest and expectations of those
to whom it was confided, and which but for a minute accident
which none could have forseen, might have accomplished memor-
able results. Undoubtedly it was chargeable with a violation of
standard principles, never to be lightly incurred, since it is but
prudent to assume that an adversary will ordinarily meet one's
unwarrantable risks and errors with the most appropriate meas-
ures. The Confederate division at Hanover Court House, either
in consequence of our destruction of their telegraph line, or of the
demonstrative movement of the Army of the Potomac, was not
used in time to accomplish anything; but leaving that body
entirely out of view, it is evident that had the Confederates thrown
directly upon New Kent Court House by any of the upper roads
the same Richmond force with which they reinforced Bottom's
Bridge contenting themselves with a small defensive force in
the earthworks at the latter place they had a good opportunity
to cripple or crush the single brigade left in reserve at New Kent,
and after thus occupying our only line of retreat at a vital point,
might have driven our exhausted Bottom's Bridge detachment
back on that place and destroyed or captured it. But though
the defects of the plan which rendered such a catastrophe possible,
were understood and foreseen, they were nevertheless accepted as
a necessary feature, in view of certain considerations among which
the following were prominent. First: The wires between Meadow
Station and Richmond were cut by our spies on the night of the
6th. Second: Our reserve was only required to hold New Kent
for twelve hours, that is, till night of the 7th. Third: The Con-
federates were nearly certain to neglect all speculative chances,
OFFICIAL REPORT OF A RAID ENDORSED 89
in favor of a direct defence with their whole force, of a place on
the shortest road to, and so dangerously near their Capital as
Bottom's Bridge. Finally: The occupation of the Confederate
Capital for even two hours, profitably and systematically used,
would have been a fair equivalent for the loss of our entire expe-
The Department Commander did me the honor to indorse my
official report as follows: (The report itself was printed by the
Government in the Rebellion Record, series I, vol. xxxiii, pp.
Hdqrs. Dept. Va. and N. Carolina.
Fort Monroe, February 12, 1864.
Report approved. The operation was skillfully and brilliantly done.
It gives the commanding general renewed confidence in General Wistar
as commander of a division.
BENJN. F. BUTLER,
On the same date he wrote the following letter transmitting my
report to the General-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States.
Hdqurs. 18th Army Corps,
Fort Monroe, February 12, 1864.
I have the honor to forward to you, with commendation, the report
(dated February 9th) of Brigadier-General Wistar of his brilliantly and
ably-executed movement upon Richmond, which failed only from one
of those fortuitous circumstances against which no foresight can provide
and no execution can overcome.
By the corruption and faithlessness of a sentinel, who is now being
tried for the offense, a man condemned to death, but reprieved by the
President, was allowed to escape within the enemy's lines, and there gave
them such information as enabled them to meet our advance. This
fact is acknowledged in two of the Richmond papers, the Examiner and
the Sentinel, published the day after the attack, and is fully confirmed by
the testimony before the Court-Martial, before which is being tried the
man who permitted the escape. I beg leave to call your attention to the
suggestion of General Wistar in his report, that the effect of the raid will
be to hereafter keep at least as many Confederate troops around
Richmond for its defense from any future movement of the Army of the
Potomac as we have in this neighborhood.
I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
Commanding the Army.
90 EXPERIENCES OF A BRIGADE COMMANDER
The suggestion in my report alluded to by General Butler was
The whole result of the expedition, in addition to the prisoners captured
and a few refugees, escaped Union prisoners, and negroes picked up and
brought in, is the obvious demonstration that a small force in this vicin-
ity, actively handled, can and should hold a much superior force of the
enemy in the immediate vicinity of Richmond inactive, except for its
AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
Many less ambitious attempts made during the same winter,
directed upon almost every point worth striking within a radius
of a hundred miles or more, met with better results, among which
not the least difficult and successful was an expedition directed
upon Charles City C. H., for the purpose of capturing or dispers-
ing a Confederate cavalry regiment posted at that place. This
regiment was constantly raiding upon our pickets and patrols,
generally advancing by way of Bottom's Bridge, and quickly
retiring behind the Chickahominy when overmatched. The Court
House was eight miles beyond, and nearly south of the crossing
known as Jones', or the Forge Bridge. The bridge had been de-
stroyed, but, in chasing their detachments over the river, our
cavalry found near-by a ford often used by them and practicable
for cavalry at ordinary stages of water. About 1200 cavalry
moved out of our lines after dark, and marching by Slatersville,
reached the Forge crossing at daylight and made a dash on the
Court House, a small infantry column being placed at Slaters-
ville by a rapid march, to cover and support. The cavalry
having surprised and captured or dispersed the pickets at the
Forge, crossed the river and after a rapid gallop reached and
surrounded the Court House before seven A.M., securing every
man in the enemy's camp who had not been killed, except three
privates a measure of success not often attained either on a
large or small scale.
During this winter a military commission having been organ-
ized to sit at Norfolk to try a Fortress Monroe port captain for
cheating the Government, the disagreeable duty of presiding over
it fell to my lot, by direct assignment of the Secretary of War.
92 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
Fortunately I had first had time to get my District so well-or-
ganized, and to get together such a capable and reliable staff, that
it did not suffer much during my necessary absence. The Com-
mission sat over two weeks, without regard to hours, using every
effort of its own and allowing every reasonable latitude to the
Judge Advocate, in the hope of finding just occasion for making
an example that might check this all-pervading vice. Sitting all
day and much of the night on this business, a volume of testi-
mony was accumulated quite sufficient to hang many of the noisiest
loyalists in several of the great cities, but none of any great con-
sequence against the particular rogue on trial. The only mal-
feasance positively fastened on him was a probable partnership
with a sutler in North Carolina and the forwarding to him of mer-
chandise on Government supply vessels, free of charge. Not-
withstanding this failure of testimony, as there was little doubt of
his general venality and corruption, we took advantage of the
single act proved, to impose a fine of $5000, and a year's impris-
onment. But in framing our report, which was unanimously
signed, I took occasion to refer specifically to certain pages of the
testimony transmitted, with a recommendation that several per-
sons there implicated should be arrested and sent to us for trial.
One of these, I remember, was a prominent and ultra-loyal mem-
ber of the Union League Club of Philadelphia (over seven-eighths
of whose members were said at one time to be contractors with
the Government), who had chartered to the Government at the
rate of $100 per day, an old, worn-out and leaky canal-boat for a
The testimony showed that she would not have brought over
$75 at a sale absolute; that she could not hold over twenty pris-
oners, with the necessary guards and attendants; that on the first
night of her arrival in Hampton Roads she sank at her moorings;
and that the owner drew $100 per day for a period of eight
months, during the whole of which she lay at the bottom of the
bay. We earnestly recommended that a chance should be given
us at that particular patriot, and also at the Quartermaster who
made the bargain and approved the payments, but their political
opinions and bawling 'loyalty' were probably too correct and
TWO INTERVIEWS WITH PRESIDENT LINCOLN 93
sound to permit the risking of their necks to the summary
methods of military justice, as we never heard anything more of
our report and its suggestions.
It is probable there was never a great war conducted by any
civilized nation at once so extravagantly, inefficiently and cor-
ruptly, as ours. In each of those respects the volunteer system
itself, as put to use by us, is the worst and most wasteful that
any ordinary ingenuity could devise. After extensive oppor-
tunities of observation, I believe it is speaking within bounds
to say that a large proportion of the officers thus obtained
are morally or physically worthless and must be sloughed off at
the cost of great delay and expense to give ordinary efficiency to
the remainder. The system of commissioning the promoters
of enlistments in proportion to the numbers they obtain, or
in accordance with the votes of those under their command,
was not only fatal to all discipline, even with individuals other-
wise fairly qualified, but brought into responsible positions a
lot of rascals whose worthlessness paralyzed the army till
means could be devised for weeding them out and filling
their places with others more in accord with the views
and necessities of the general officers responsible for their
Not long after Baker's death, President Lincoln, having heard
of some acts or observations of mine on the weakness of our
volunteer troops in regimental officers, invited me to a private
audience, and on two occasions gave a considerable portion of
his time and capacity to a discussion of the best means of remedy-
ing a difficulty which he had before heard of and which lay deep,
because inherent in the original methods of organization. Great
generals of course are nascitur non fit, but line officers, important
as they are, can to a certain extent be improvised at will, and
their excellence and value will much depend on the methods
employed for selecting them from the mass of population about
to essay its fighting qualities. Many of our regiments were
doomed to inferiority before they left their native States, by the
mode of enlisting men and electing officers, and when they
approached the theatre of war and would have been of priceless
94 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
value for instant use, their responsible places being already filled
with incapables, precious time had to be wasted while some quick
and ready method could be contrived for undoing what had been
so badly done. When the State-raised regiments came suddenly
under control of the General Government and were found to a
great extent unfit for immediate use, there existed only two legal
methods for correcting these inherent mischiefs of organization,
both of which presented insuperable difficulties. Courts-martial
could be assembled to try officers on specific charges, but besides
the impolicy of discouraging volunteering by subjecting a large
number of officers to trial on such indefinite charges as mere
unfitness or incapacity, this plan, by taking useful officers away
from their daily duties to constitute such tribunals, would for a
time at least, aggravate the difficulty.
To use the President's power of arbitrary removal in such a
vast number of cases, where judgment could only be based on the
reports of others transmitted through many hands, themselves un-
known, would be to invite intrigue, combinations and injustice,
to discourage and discredit the volunteer system, to which,
whether good or bad, the country was for the time committed,
and to subject conscientious and self-respecting officers to such
intolerable uncertainty of tenure and reputation as to drive out
the good who were indispensable, rather than the bad whom it was
desired to reach. Ultimately, and not a day too soon, the plan was
devised by General McClellan and enacted into law, of appointing
special commissions, before whom officers might be sent by their
superiors for examination. Thus, while ostensibly examining on
technical points, scope was given for the final decision to include
those points of fitness and capacity for exercising authority,
which though by no means the least essential qualities, are
among the most difficult to deal with on formal charges and
Until this timely remedy was contrived and adopted, regimental
commanders were put to all sorts of shifts to get rid of a certain
kind of official rascals whose mere presence with their men was
injurious and intolerable. I have myself had to drive such fel-
lows away without a shadow of legal warrant, by simply putting
OBSERVATIONS ON INEFFICIENT METHODS 95
them out of the camp, threatening personal vengeance if they
returned, and dropping them quietly (but illegally) from the
Of course nothing, not even waste of time or infirmity of pur-
pose, can be more dangerous or more expensive to a non-military
people required suddenly to exert its strength in war, than any
kind of artificial or preventable inferiority of its troops; but next
to such defects in the fighting ranks themselves, must be classed
the injudicious methods and political appointments resorted to
without any real necessity, for suddenly increasing to the enor-
mous dimensions required, the general staff departments for arm-
ing, feeding, clothing and transporting the troops. I think no
intelligent person who has had full opportunity of inside observa-
tion can avoid the conclusion of course much more obvious
after, than before that a large part of the inefficiency, extrava-
gance, waste, and even corruption in those Departments, which
nearly ruined the North, and quite destroyed the South, might
have been avoided; the mobility and power of the army doubled,
and perhaps quite half the enormous and wholly unique cost of
the war escaped, had there been an orderly, legal method, leisurely
prepared in time of peace, for expanding these several business
Departments on a sudden emergency, by a system of competitive
test of persons, always ready for instant application. Of course
in war, as in politics, the world is full of noisy humbugs who, if
they can get themselves trusted with the public sledge-hammer,
are capable of using it without immediately and visibly breaking
their own heads, but something more than that ought to be ex-
pected and required from responsible statesmen, legislators, and
executives, whose self-assumed business it is to organize the
country's strength, administer its resources, and launch both
against its enemies under trustworthy and competent super-
During the last weeks of the winter of 1863-4, the enemy had
been hunted up and pushed so often and so far, that there was
little of suitable dimensions now left to strike at, within reason-
able distance. It was generally understood that large movements
and plenty of work would be undertaken when the weather and
96 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
roads should become settled, and in the meantime without
remitting the constant drilling and instruction of the troops, I
applied myself to complete the various arrangements heretofore
put in train for the orderly civil government of the District.
Slabtown if not exactly metropolitan had become large and
populous, and was clean, quiet, and to a considerable extent,
self-supporting. It was well-policed by a small force of selected
negroes, chosen by the Provost Marshal, and the most capable
residents were from time to time placed on abandoned and un-
occupied farming-lands outside the town. These were supplied
with implements and seeds procured by aid of the 'Provost
fund,' and also with such captured and inferior animals as were
no longer capable of road work or useful for military purposes,
under written agreements to deliver one-half their crops to the
Government or its agents at the nearest place of shipment.
The Provost fund, consisting of the proceeds of licenses and
taxation, collected by the Provost Marshal and accounted for
monthly to Department Headquarters, now yielded several
thousand dollars a month, largely derived from the sale of licenses
for fishing, oystering, trading and so forth. The orderly condition
of the place and the prosperity of much of its large negro popu-
lation had attracted from the enterprising people of New England,
numerous cranks or self-styled missionaries of both sexes, who
infested Slabtown in ever-increasing numbers, and as a rule, were
by no means averse to extracting a pecuniary profit from their pious
labors. Though some of these were unmitigated scamps, others
no doubt really believed in the equality or superiority of the negro
race, and that all that was necessary for the demonstration of
that new-found fact, was to teach the darkey to sing hymns and
read the newspapers, while supported at public expense, i.e., by
the white laborer and taxpayer. As the delusion at first seemed
harmless, and at all events, was none of my business, the mis-
sionaries were received and sent as fast as they arrived, to live
among their chosen clients at Slabtown, and little attention was
given them, till one day an investigating A. D. C. reported that a
certain missionary named C. had got nineteen negroes of both
CORRUPT MISSIONARIES IN A NEGRO SETTLEMENT 97
sexes and all ages tied up to trees, for refusing to let him re-marry
them for a fee of twenty-five cents a pair.
Though the price did not seem unreasonable for a good article
of connubial felicity, backed by a solid New England guarantee,
it was but fair to the negroes to ascertain what sort of title they
were getting; and when the reverend rogue was brought to book,
it appeared he had convinced the poor darkeys that the principal
thing required to make them equal to whites, was to be re-married
by him for a cash consideration. Commencing with a five-dollar
fee, he had for a tune done a brisk and thriving business, but the
price had gradually fallen with the increasing reluctance of the
old black grandfathers and grandmothers to shell out their hard-
earned cash, till even at the present modest rate, the demand had
so declined that some forcible stimulation had become necessary.
This thrifty moralist was of course expelled from the District and
the negroes a second time emancipated, but his prayers must have
exerted more influence with the Washington statesmen than in the
quarter where they were more properly due, since he came back in
a short time with an appointment as "Superintendent of Negro
Affairs," and authority to disport himself among the negroes and
their savings, at his will. As active military preparations for
large operations had already commenced, there was then little
time to devote to such predaceous insects and in the pressure of
other business he was allowed to resume his residence at Slabtown
on the promise not to meddle with black men's pockets as long
as I remained responsible as commander of the Military Dis-
trict. It was not till long after the vicinity had been evacuated
by the advancing troops, that I learned through my successor,
General Ord, that this reverend gentlemen's pecuniary enter-
prises, thus deprived of salutary supervision, at last reached a
stage which after exhausting the humble resources of the negroes,
successfully attacked the coffers of the Government itself, by
appropriating its share of the crops of its negro wards, or a large
part of them.
In April, 1864, numerous regiments and batteries gathered
from all parts of the Department, were sent me to be organized and
98 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
Brigaded into the 18th Army Corps, which it was understood
was to be commanded by the able and well-known General Wil-
liam F. Smith, then wearing his freshly-won Chattanooga laurels,
at which place by rescuing the communications of the Western
Army he had saved the army itself and thus rendered possible
its subsequent success. Many of the regiments were old ones
recently filled up with drafted or kidnapped men by certain in-
iquitous practices first made known to me by the following
circumstance which, in the interests of humanity, one may hope
could scarcely happen outside of a free (?) Republic. A New
Hampshire regiment one night reported its arrival and was
posted by one of the staff a couple of miles from the fort, to be
inspected and provisionally brigaded next day. But early in
the morning the Colonel personally reported that eighty of his
men had deserted during the night! In reply to some sharp
strictures on the quality and discipline of a regiment in which
such things could happen, he explained that his command was
an old and good one of long service, but having been reduced by
various casualties to barely 150 men, had just been filled up with
600 drafted men. These were foreigners, mostly speaking foreign
languages, who had been drugged and kidnapped in New York,
there purchased by the ' quota agents' of his State, their muster
papers regularly made out, then heavily ironed, confined in box
cars, and shipped like cattle, to his regiment.
All this proved on inquiry to be true. One could not but sym-
pathize with the poor wretches thus maltreated on their arrival in
a land whither many of them had probably fled to escape a much
milder military service at home; nevertheless their chains had been
forged by experienced hands and were without a flaw. They
came to me with all regular forms complete, as duly enlisted, sworn
and mustered soldiers of their regiment, and I was bound by every
consideration of oath and duty to treat them as such until dis-
charged, regardless of their individual misfortunes. The deserters
were of course trying to get to the enemy, but must all be retaken
sooner or later by our pickets or patrols. Should their escapade
be allowed to pass without special attention, as might have been
possible under almost any other circumstances, the offense would
THREE DESERTERS SHOT AT SUNRISE 99
be repeated indefinitely by them, as well as by the hundreds of
similar unfortunates drafted like them into other regiments, and
must at last be stopped at any cost, even by wholesale executions,
It was therefore not merely in the interest of the Government,
but of humanity as well, that I felt that such an example must be
made of a few of those first caught as might serve to cut short the
contagious and dangerous defection. The opportunity was not
long delayed. Three poor devils were brought in that evening,
immediately tried by special court martial, found guilty, con-
demned to death, and sentenced to be shot at sunrise next morn-
ing, in presence of their regiment. I approved the conviction and
sentence, as plainly authorized to do by the Sixty-fifth Article of
War; but to avoid all question of authority, telegraphed the facts
and my intention to execute the sentence to the Department-
Commander at Fortress Monroe. General Butler wished the
execution deferred till he could receive and examine the record,
but feeling very clear both as respected my authority and duty, I
declined to so do on the ground that the efficacy of the punishment
as a deterring influence, lay mainly in its immediate infliction, and
plainly stated that if restrained in this exercise of judgment, I
should decline further responsibility for the troops in this condi-
tion, and would ask the favor of an immediate assignment to the
Army of the Potomac. Butler then contented himself with requir-
ing the record of conviction to be telegraphed him, which process
went on through the remainder of the night and was still being
conducted long after the culprits had ceased to exist.
One reason for such unamiable firmness in the matter, was the
prevailing feeling that among so many newly-drafted reinforce-
ments, the prisoners could not be publicly executed without in-
subordination and perhaps mutiny. Even so good an officer as
the colonel of their regiment, while concurring in other respects,
begged that the execution might be private, or at least not in
presence of his regiment, which he feared might not be controllable.
But his reason for privacy was mine for publicity, since the very
existence of such doubts rendered it all the more imperative that
the entire command should know by exhaustive public test,
100 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
whether the Government with its officers, order and authority,
was or was not stronger than the mutinous conscripts and
drafted men, of whom the army was likely to become more and
The place of execution was selected near the center of a level
plain south of the fortifications, extending from the high banks of
the York estuary to a woods half a mile distant. Prior to the
appointed hour, all troops having been first paraded in their respec-
tive camps, and the streets commanded by reliable artillery, the
deserters' regiment was drawn up in line a few paces from the spot
occupied by the prisoners, and a firing-party from their own regi-
ment, closely watched by a picked detail of the provost guard.
Opposite the flank of this regiment and at right angles with it,
were posted two reliable regiments of my old brigade, one deployed
in line of battle with a section of artillery in its center, the other in
two columns each doubled on the center, in rear of the respective
wings. A few squadrons of cavalry were drawn up at the edge of
the woods, a quarter of a mile distant, a field battery, harnessed
and mounted, was placed in position in the nearest bastion of the
fort, and another was harnessed and standing ready on the road
inside the nearest gate. It did not require a very experienced
military eye to perceive that in case of any mutinous demonstra-
tion by the offending regiment, it could be mowed down by the
enfilading fire of the regiment and guns on its flank, and if it
broke, could be annihilated by the charge of the two infantry
columns, and every straggler cut down or captured -by the cavalry
in rear. The disposition being effectually, and therefore mer-
cifully made, the ceremony was conducted deliberately and
with perfect regularity. The men fell dead at the first dis-
charge, and were buried where they fell, not another sound
being audible from first to last, but the necessary officers' orders,
till quick time beaten by the drum corps announced the cere-
The results justified the painful harshness of this measure. All
the other deserters were captured and brought in within a few days
and received less severe punishment, and not another desertion
occurred except on a single occasion some weeks afterwards, when
A PERSONAL LETTER TO GENERAL DIX PUBLISHED 101
thirty-four of the same class of men deserted from a Connecticut
regiment while in action at Drury's Bluff, but were mostly killed
by our fire while running for the enemy's line. To say nothing of
the necessities of the service and the interest of the Government
and country, I believe that many lives were saved by this
timely severity, and have always felt fully justified in it, even
regarded as a measure of humanity alone. But it was none the
less an infamous outrage not only on the poor ignorant victims, but
on commanding officers constrained to such painful measures,
that these should be rendered necessary by the base acts of those
quota-hunting villains in northern cities, who, if justice could have
been done, would have first felt the halter. Smarting under this
feeling I wrote an indignant but unofficial letter to Major-General
Dix, then commanding at New York, setting forth the violence
and fraud by which emigrants and other friendless persons
were dragged against their will into the service, by outrages
committed in New York, worse than any acts of the old British
naval press-gangs, and the responsibilities thus imposed on
commanding officers charged with the duty of receiving such
This letter was published by the press of New York presumably
with the consent of General Dix, and found its way into the
English and Continental papers. Worse still, the Earl of Peter-
borough read it from his place in the House of Lords, as a state-
ment by an "American officer somewhat less cruel and brutal
than his fellows," of the modes by which the Americans forced
innocent foreigners into their internecine quarrels, with a cruelty
and disregard of human life and rights more infamous than any
European despot had dared to practise during modern times, &c.,
&c. As all this came back in due course to the American papers,
I expected to get a wooling from the War Department, but as I
never heard from it on the subject, presume their attentions
were bestowed on General Dix, through whose indiscretion or
humanity my letter could alone have reached the printer.
Though the mixture of civil and military duties on the Virginia
Peninsula had separated me for eight months from my comrades
and friends in the Army of the Potomac, they were not otherwise
* *- ** t / , \* i- v 1 * ' *- *
X-:,^"-;= t - '^
102 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
disagreeable, except for the effect of that malarial region on my
health. During this period I had suffered pretty much every
variety of fever and diarrhea and pulled through them all with
more or less residuum of damage. During a few months, chiefly
in the previous autumn, three acres had been filled with the graves
of soldiers of my command which had scarcely at any time
exceeded 6000 men notwithstanding most of the regiments had
been frequently interchanged with those from the more salubrious
regions of the North Carolina Coast. Quinine was daily served at
reveille, at first in whiskey and afterwards more surely and bene-
ficially in coffee. Troops and quarters were constantly inspected
and absolute cleanliness of camp, clothing and person rigidly
enforced. The frosty weather of winter much improved the
general health, but with the return of spring the old symptoms
reappeared, and the organization of the 18th Army Corps was
hailed by all ranks as evidence of approaching movement and
change of scene.
I was myself relieved from command of the District by General
Order of April 19th, 1864, and on the 21st was reassigned to the
command of the Second Division 18th A. C. composed of my old
brigade, now consisting of the 2nd and 12th New Hampshire,
llth Conn, and 148th New York regiments under Col. Stedman
as Brigade Commander, and General Heckman's Brigade of the
9th New Jersey, 23rd, 25th and 27th Mass. On May 4th, the
Division with the remainder of the Corps under command of
Gen. W. F. Smith, sailed in transport steamers for the James
River, where they were joined by the 10th Corps under General
Gilmore, the whole constituting the newly organized Army of the
James, commanded by Gen. B. F. Butler. During the night of
the 5th, a landing was effected at Bermuda Hundred and the
position at once entrenched. On the 6th, I was ordered by
General Butler to make a reconnoissance with two regiments and
if possible destroy the railroad between Petersburg and Rich-
mond. This movement failed with loss, notwithstanding my
best efforts, in consequence of the smallness of the force, which
might just as well have been a Division, since the other troops
were at the time unemployed, except in entrenching. Next day
A SUDDEN AND IMPRESSIVE DEATH 103
I was ordered to repeat the effort with a brigade, and after some
sharp fighting about two miles of road was destroyed by throwing
that much of the track, ties, rails and all, over an embankment;
but being hard pressed by the enemy in nearly or quite equal
force, no opportunity was afforded for burning ties and bending
rails effectually without suffering greater loss than the occasion
It was in this fight that I happened to notice personally the par-
ticulars of a remarkably sudden and impressive death. I was
myself riding with the skirmish line some distance in advance of
the line of battle, endeavoring to get some knowledge of the topog-
raphy in front. The line of skirmishers had just emerged from a
thick wood into a small road running parallel with it. The other
side of the road was bounded by a high Virginia rail-fence, beyond
which were some open fields with the railroad embankment on the
far side. The embankment was at the moment rather weakly held
by the enemy's infantry, but a battery at some distance to the right
front, immediately opened a partially enfilading and rather destruc-
tive fire with shell, down the road. I called a soldier to throw off
some rails that I might cross the fence, which stood on a high bank
and was impracticable for a horse to jump from the road. The
soldier had scarcely seized a rail for this purpose, when there was
a sudden crash and blaze of fire, and I found myself covered with a
shower of splinters and half-rotten wood. Right at my horse's
feet lay the soldier, still enveloped in his blue overcoat and appa-
rently uninjured, but a second glance showed that his head had
vanished altogether, and in its place projected the long white
bone of the neck hot and smoking! A shell had struck and
knocked to pieces the fence, and either the missile or some part of
the fence had entirely carried away the soldier's head, the shell
itself bursting on the opposite side of the road among the
skirmishers, but without doing further mischief. No death
could be more sudden or impressive to the bystander. The
ominous and warning shriek or whistle of the shell was lost in
the volume of infantry-fire about the place, and the victim
could not have suffered a thrill of pain, or even a single instant
104 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
The same evening of this little success in breaking the railroad,
General Butler found it expedient to divulge to me a small scheme
of his own affecting myself and others, which had no doubt long
been a favorite with him, since it must have required at least a
month of secret preparation. It eventually appeared that his
main object was to get back under his command General Weitzel,
a former and favorite instrument of his at New Orleans; and part
of the original plan consisted in inducing me to give up my Divi-
sion to that officer and accept command of the Third Division.
This latter, however, though much stronger in numbers, was com-
posed of negroes, dressed up like soldiers and euphemistically
styled 'Colored Troops.' In numbers it was the strongest in the
corps, never having suffered any considerable casualties; but
having formerly had the assistance of one of its brigades in action,
where it suddenly ran away before the charge of two small Con-
federate regiments, nearly causing my personal capture, I shared
the opinion of most of the white soldiers, that while good at
marching, and just then an interesting popular and Government
pet and plaything, the ' Colored Troops' were not good to tie to
in battle. After the above practical demonstration of their value,
and sometime before the movement across the James, I had per-
emptorily declined Butler's proposal to take command of this
colored Division, and when somewhat pressed, had by way of
emphasis, declared my preference for a white brigade rather than
a negro division, if necessary.
It had been I suppose, at the instance of the Corps Commander
General Smith, that I had been reassigned to command the
Second Division after its reinforcement and reorganization, and
my rank as fixed by date of commission, seemed to justify my
regarding it as permanent, since a command at least equal, must
have fallen to me in either of the larger armies. But Butler's
little scheme, though rebuffed at the start, had been readjusted to
meet all obstacles, and after a long period of secret nursing, had
now reached a stage when it must necessarily be communicated
both to General Smith and myself. After my refusal of the Col-
ored Division, it had been given to one Hinks, and Weitzel had
been ordered to the 18th Corps from New Orleans, where he
DEPRIVED OF A DIVISION COMMAND 1U5
had been hitherto distinguished for political and civil, rather than
military achievements. Butler now imparted this information,
with the fact that Weitzel had reached Washington and was on
his way thence and daily expected to arrive, when the only com-
mand suitable for his superior rank would be my Division, and
the only thing left for me would be my old Brigade.
It was clearly too late for remonstrance here, but on the other
hand, all the armies were now freshly reorganized and in active
motion. It would require considerable time to get myself assigned
to the Potomac, or any other army, and should I venture to leave
the Army of the James now in actual contact with the enemy, I
might have to sulk in Washington for a month or two during the
most active part of the campaign, before the casualties of war
should make room for my reassignment. Such a contingency was
not to be entertained a moment, as the astute Butler had doubtless
foreseen, and I therefore submitted with as good grace as I could
assume, for the present.
General Weit/el arrived not long afterwards, and the change
was effected while the army was actually engaged in front of
Petersburg, as will presently appear. I retired from the Division
which either directly or as District Commander I had com-
manded for several months, and had handled not discreditably on
marches and in action, to the humbler responsibilities of my old
Brigade. It is useless to deny that this injustice, skillfully and
secretly committed by a wily politician, then at odds with almost
every military man of repute in the army, and soon to make his
military antics a laughing-stock to the country, galled consid-
erably at the time. I think I may fairly remark that Butler, at
least, could not and did not make any pretext of deficiency on
my part; for on that point he is fully committed by his official
reports, over and over again, both before and after this event, some
of which have been already quoted. Nevertheless, through these
secret machinations, one of the best Divisions in the service, upon
which I had labored assiduously for many months in anticipation
of the campaign now opening, thus fell unearned to a follower of
Butler's fortunes, of my own rank but antedating me slightly,
whose best-known recommendation was his obedient usefulness
106 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
to him in his persecution and, as many have charged plunder,
of the non-combatant citizens and property-owners of New
Orleans. The same considerations that forbade my withdrawal
from the Army of the James at that juncture, rendered it equally
or even more inexpedient to retire altogether from the service; and
yet it was due more to the friendly sympathy and advice of my
friends especially General Smith, and Colonel Stedman than
to the strength of my own philosophy, that I was able to refrain
from that ill-advised step. Stedman, in fact, suffered as much as
myself, pro tanto, since my falling back to the Brigade, sent him
back to his old regiment, at the head of which he soon after glori-
ously fell, sword in hand, in the act of leading it over the enemy's
earthworks at Cold Harbor. He lived not to see that particular
wrong righted, or even the final triumph of his cause, but long
enough to be well-known and properly valued as an accomplished
gentleman, a faithful friend, and one of the most gallant officers in
the service of his country.
On the 8th of May, Butler having learned of the successful
crossing of the James by the cavalry division under Kautz, left
his colored division, about 5000 strong, in the Bermuda Hundred
entrenchments, and marched on Petersburg with all the rest of the
two Corps, then numbering in the ranks present for duty, about
22,000 men. No enemy was at first encountered, and the six miles
railroad was effectually destroyed, but the entire army was brought
to a stand at the defensive line of Swift Creek, two miles in front
of Petersburg, by the obstinate and skillful defense there made by
a few Confederate regiments under Beauregard. At this place
occurred an incident too obscure in magnitude and barren of
results, to find any place in history, which, nevertheless cost the
lives of some hundreds of brave men who marched gallantly to
death in obedience to orders, the reason or object of which they
could scarcely have understood themselves, certainly we did not.
My Division, already deployed and standing in line, was suddenly
assailed by a small column of five companies of South Carolina
infantry, which suddenly charged from the woods but was, of
course, almost to a man, destroyed. Not immediately perceiving
any plan or object in such a desperate and hopeless movement, I
GENERAL BUTLER'S ERROR AND THE RESULT 107
rode out to the place, where these men fell, which, as our fire had
been reserved for close quarters, was scarcely fifty yards from our
line, but could find no officer unwounded or in condition to talk.
The Lieutenant-Colonel in command having been killed coming up,
the ranking officer present was Capt. Le Roy Hammond, who had
himself received four bullets and was in a dying condition; all the
other officers not killed on the spot, being in similar or worse
condition. Officers and men alike, the former mostly sons of
wealthy and historic South Carolina families, carried in their haver-
sacks as their only rations, a scanty supply of raw corn just as
shelled from the cob !
In the absence of more plausible explanation, it was inferred
that the destruction of this small column had been risked in the
desperate hope of striking my Division in the act of deployment,
thus creating a confusion which might have justified Beauregard
in sallying from the Swift Creek entrenchments with the whole of
his small force. But the division having advanced in line, was
already deployed, and whether or not the apparently desperate
circumstances of the Confederates justified the attempt, it proved
a failure that resulted in the entire destruction of the small
assaulting column whose superb gallantry, though obscured and
forgotten in the fame of larger and more prominent operations,
well deserved a better fate.
Instead of throwing his vastly superior force instantly on the
trifling opposition which the Confederate general was here able to
offer, Butler at this critical moment permitted himself to be
detained by a desultory combat, mostly confined to skirmish lines,
which on my front was varied by a sharp fight in and around the
Salem Church, the whole continuing till 4 A.M. on the 10th, when
Weitzel arrived and replaced me in command of the Second Divi-
sion. I was soon after directed to withdraw my Brigade from
the line of battle by regiments, as relieved by Ames' Division of the
10th Corps, serve cartridges, form in marching order on the turn-
pike and await orders. These soon came, being to march up the
road toward Richmond and reinforceTerry's Division of Gilmore's
Corps, then covering our rear above Bermuda Hundred against an
attack from Richmond, and said to be hard pressed by troops from
108 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
that place. By this tune the sun had become hot, the turnpike
was white and glowing, the men had been in ranks, with more or
less fighting, for twenty-four hours, and as I was enjoined to
spare no time, it became a problem how to get the command
moved over the eight miles that separated us from Terry, in the
shortest time. I could think of no better plan than a modification
of that adopted for crossing the Humboldt Desert in 1849, viz., to
march half an hour and halt ten minutes till the ground could be
covered. Scores of exhausted men dropped out from weakness or
sunstroke, but as I was continually urged on by galloping staff
officers from Terry, the march was remorselessly pushed, only to
find that Terry was having no fight at all not even as much as
the skirmishing we had left but was 'expecting' one.
It did not come to any great extent. One of his batteries was
overrun and momentarily captured by the charge of a single Con-
federate regiment, but was immediately retaken by the voluntary
charge of one of our regiments, I think the 13th Indiana. The
same night Butler's troops all again camped within the Bermuda
Hundred lines. On the 12th the same force again moved out,
taking this time the contrary direction toward Richmond. By the
evening of the 14th an advance of six or seven miles, mostly through
dense woods, had been effected, every inch of ground having been
hotly disputed by the enemy's skirmishers, sometimes only dis-
lodged by vigorous attacks from our line of battle. The Army of
the James here brought up in front, and within a few hundred yards,
of a formidable line of earthworks, extending from Drury's Bluff on
James River a distance of several miles into the country, covering
the several roads and railroads leading to Richmond, and now
defended by an adequate force under Beauregard, constantly
augmented by arrivals from Petersburg and more southern points,
which our colored garrison at Bermuda Hundred directly on the
flank and within two miles of their line of march from Petersburg,
made no effort to prevent.
The Corps commanders advised an immediate assault, which
was not approved by Butler, who had not yet arrived and at no
time did arrive at the front. The troops having been placed in
position on the general line of a small swampy rivulet at the edge
HECKMAN'S BRIGADE SURROUNDED AND CAPTURED 109
of the slashed timber covering the glacis, to which it formed a
strong abattis, protected themselves with a small breastwork of
logs and earth, and during the night, by General Smith's orders,
stretched telegraph wire from stump to stump through the tangled
slashing in front of the position. For the easier handling of artil-
lery, a corduroy road was constructed to firm ground in the rear,
and with the exception of perpetual picket skirmishing and some
artillery fire from the fort, the troops lay idle till early on the
morning of the 16th, when the enemy made a sortie with his entire
infantry force of three Divisions.
The extreme right of our line of battle was held by Heckman's
brigade of Wistar's now Weitzel's Division, having my brigade
next on its left, and on its right, some negro cavalry intended to
cover its exposed flank by prolonging the general line across the
meadows to James River, a distance of about two miles. During
this night Heckman's pickets had lost touch with mine, and what
proved of still more importance, with those of the two regiments of
negro cavalry on his right. I was occupied with all my staff and
orderlies the entire night, in trying to get the first gap rectified,
but without success. In the first place, it was the duty of the
Division General and not mine, to see to the continuity of his line,
but though the defect was constantly reported to him through the
night, it received no other attention from him, so far as I ever
heard. In the next place, the business of rectifying this interval
was difficult and exceedingly dangerous. The ground was densely
covered with a 'slashing' of heavy white-oak timber, i.e., trees
cut down two years before and left lying as they fell. This,
though nearly impassable to marching troops, was filled with
the enemy's sharpshooters, who concealed themselves readily
among it, in rear as well as in front of our pickets, and made
it hot, especially for the officers exploring for the purpose of
rectifying the line.
About an hour before daylight on the 16th, the low swampy
woods being filled with a dense fog, Ransom's Confederate Divi-
sion advanced quickly and silently from the fort to turn Heck-
man's right, quickly dispersed the negro cavalry which offered little
or no resistance, and struck and enveloped his uncovered flank.
110 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
The brigade was a good one and made a desperate though disor-
derly resistance, but under the unfavorable condition of the circum-
stances, receiving neither warning nor support from the cavalry
on its right, soon yielded to a well-prepared attack that reached
its flank and rear almost simultaneously, and was entirely
destroyed as a cohesive body, its general with all his staff and the
greater part of the brigade being quickly surrounded and captured,
after a heavy loss in killed and wounded. The swampy thicket
being impracticable for horses, my staff officers, like myself, were
on foot, and before I could get any accurate knowledge of the fight
on my right, a long and heavy line of battle came charging down
against my front. Owing to the darkness and fog, the distance be-
tween the fighting lines was reduced to a few yards and the firing
was very destructive on both sides, but with the effective aid of the
wire obstructions in our front, the attack was at length success-
fully repulsed. In consequence of the defeat of Heckman, it now
became necessary as a condition of holding any part of our main
line, to crochet to the right rear, first one, and then two, of my
regiments, leaving but two on the original line.
The disposition had scarcely been made, both refused regiments
being already heavily engaged on their new front, when a second
front attack was vigorously made, but again repulsed with heavy
loss and the capture by us of several hundred prisoners, who find-
ing it impossible to get away, came in and surrendered and were
sent to the rear. The firing on the right had now passed entirely
around our extemporized right flank, and soon after, the recapture
by the enemy in our rear of nearly all our hard-won prisoners, was
reported to me at the same tune that Lieut. Fairgrieve, A. D. C.,
came up to report his own personal capture and escape from the
enemy, whose scattered and disordered masses already filled the
woods in rear. Being apparently cut off from Headquarters, I had
again stripped myself of staff officers to obtain information of the
real condition of affairs on the right and rear, when a third dashing
charge came upon our front, the enemy, under cover of smoke and
fog, charging in close upon our retiring skirmishers, and getting up
within a few feet of our line of battle. After hard fighting and
severe loss on both sides, this attempt, like the others, was deci-
RETIRING UNDER GREAT DIFFICULTIES 111
sively repulsed, and was not repeated; their line retiring to cover
of the slashed timber, from whence though a heavy fire was
maintained, no further effort was made to close, nor any attempt
to carry off their wounded from their distressing position between
It was about this tune that an Aide of General Smith got through
with an order for me to retire to a new position in rear and to the
right of the wood, where a new line was being formed by him in
open ground. But with every available man engaged, my right
uncovered and crumbling away, and the enemy between myself
and the designated point of retreat, this was not an easy thing to
accomplish with success. The only way was to retire regiment
by regiment, replacing each by a skirmish line, and trusting to
events to get finally off the line without sacrificing the last. This
was the method adopted, and as in such a dense, swampy thicket,
it was impossible to retain control of anything when once out of
sight, each Colonel was instructed to move off promptly .as the
order reached him, get quickly into column in condition to face to
any front and fight his independent way to the rear, reporting
directly to the Corps commander with whom only I was in any
communication at all; having seen or heard nothing of Weitzel
since the action commenced. Two of my four regiments had
thus moved off, their places being so inadequately occupied by
a skirmish line as to invite another attack in front, when a second
order got through, directing me to disregard the first, and hold
on, as Brooks of the 10th Corps, was about making an effort to
reoccupy the place on my left, from which his Division had been
But in addition to former difficulties, the enemy about this time
had turned on us a heavy battery of twenty-pound Parrotts,
captured from Brooks on the turnpike on our left, which mathemati-
cally enfiladed my line of battle, and would have been ruinously
destructive if the guns had been better served. Whatever Brooks
might ultimately accomplish, it was nevertheless plain that these
two regiments of mine were at present the only ones remaining on
any part of the line, with the enemy strong in front, both flanks
entirely exposed, and even the woods in rear occupied more or less
112 AT WEST POINT VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
by a hostile force of unknown strength and position. I could not
get back my two despatched regiments and it was no longer possi-
ble to recover the position vacated under the first order, and the
second was therefore now impossible to execute. It was conse-
quently determined to continue the evacuation first ordered, and
the aide was sent back to announce the fact. The third regiment
having been extricated and on its way to the rear, it was deter-
mined to charge and retake the captured battery, not so much
to recover the guns, which probably could not be carried off,
as to check the enemy and gain time and confidence for getting
away with the last regiment. This was spendidly executed by
Stedmen with the llth Connecticut, while the skirmish line was
being drawn in from the right. The guns were retaken, and several
of them spiked with horseshoe nails found in the limber-boxes, after
which, as there was no means of moving them, they were aban-
doned. General Smith was found about a mile to the right rear,
with the new line skillfully formed in open ground and a strong
Thus ended for the time, one of the hardest fought combats of the
war, in which two of Beauregard's three Divisions were thrown suc-
cessively on Weitzel's single Division with the design of crushing
our right, nearly all the fighting occurring after the destruction of
Heckman's Brigade had reduced the Division to one Brigade.
That brigade had been fought from first to last without any com-
munication whatever with Weitzel, whose personal position and
occupation during the action remain unknown to me even at the
present day, and yet the principal writers on the war, ser-
vilely following Humphreys who was not present have scarcely
troubled themselves by even mentioning my name; probably
because I was not a West Point officer! I have always flattered
myself, and still believe, that if Weitzel had arrived to take my
Division a month later than he did, Heckman's Brigade which I
knew well would not have been surprised. It would have been
effectually covered by a continuous picket line and by the time
that line yielded, would have been quite ready to stand to its
work. Long before the attack reached the left brigade there
would have been ample time for any prompt and capable Division
AN ADVANCE TO RECOVER THE WOUNDED 113
General to detach from it to Heckman's flank and rear, and check
or beat Ransom, only a small portion of whose troops at first
enveloped Heckman's right and reached his rear. Had the right
brigade maintained its line for even twenty minutes, which under
such different circumstances should have presented no difficulty,
the few Confederate regiments which had passed round its
flank could have been easily checked by an alert Division Com-
mander with another unengaged brigade to draw from; when
an advance by Heckman en echelon from his right would have
been perfectly safe, and must have cut Ransom's disordered
Division in two and driven it back on its entrenchments with
heavy loss of prisoners.
Though this view is my own, it has been concurred in by much
more experienced judges, and be it as it may, the incontestable
fact remains that the brigade scarcely mentioned by Humphreys
and those who have slavishly followed him, was the last of both
Corps to cling to the line of battle, from which it had repulsed
three attacks, and whence it at last retired at leisure, in order, and
under obedience to instructions.
General Smith had formed the new line with his accustomed
skill, in a strong position with woods in rear and open ground in
front, and artillery massed on higher ground in rear of his right.
The losses of both sides having been heavy, no further hostile
movement by either occurred till afternoon, when orders came
from Butler, who remained at the Half-Way House, three miles in
the rear, to send the best-conditioned brigade straight to the front
to see what could be done toward bringing off the wounded, but
with strict injunctions against bringing on another general action.
This demonstration fell to my lot, and the brigade at once moved
forward in order of battle, Smith's guns shelling the opposite woods
over our heads. As our strong skirmish line entered the woods, it
soon came into collision with the enemy, pushing him steadily
back for near a mile, when his skirmishers, being strengthened,
made a firm stand. Ours being in turn reinforced, drove them
again, till the two lines both alternately and repeatedly reinforced,
began to assume the dimensions and appearance of lines of battle.
At length a considerable bunch of houses, barns, out-houses, and
114 AT WEST POINT, VA., AND BERMUDA HUNDRED
negro cabins, constituting an old-fashioned Virginia farm and
affording a good point of defense, was occupied and obstinately
held by the enemy, who even brought up guns to cover it. I also
sent back for a couple of guns to open the way for assault, and the
affair was in a fair way to swell to the dimensions of battle, when I
was recalled and found that under cover of the forward movement,
a general retreat had already commenced, to which my battle-
worn brigade was assigned as rear-guard. There was no pursuit of
any consequence, the enemy's loss in killed and wounded being
quite equal to ours, and soon after dark the whole Army of the
James was again assembled within the entrenchments of Bermuda
Hundred, where as General Grant contemptuously stigmatized
it, Butler proceeded to get himself and the remainder of his 30,000
men securely and permanently 'bottled up.' 8
8 General Wm. F. Smith, in his book entitled "From Chatanooga to Petersburg
under Grant and Butler," 1893, has printed in Appendix No. 8, a letter from me
dated January 23rd, 1893, which gives a more specific statement of some features
of the action of Drury's Bluff
THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
After the considerable success at first attained by the Confed-
erates in the severe and bloody action at Drury's Bluff, their
failure to follow it up with real vigor during the several hours of
almost entire suspension of arms that intervened between our
retirement from the original line and the advance of my brigade in
the afternoon, seemed not sufficiently accounted for by their
mere losses in action, heavy as those undoubtedly were. It was
known to us, both from prisoners and the Richmond papers, that
President Davis was personally present at the affair, a fact scarcely
tending to abate the well-known ardor and energy of the Confed-
erate general, and the circumstances long remained unexplained.
But soon after the termination of the war, my old California
friend, Major William Addison, of the Confederate Army, fur-
nished an intelligible and rather startling elucidation, since mainly
confirmed by Confederate official reports.
Though belonging to the staff of Gen. A. P. Hill, he was that
day, by special detail, serving on the staff of Confederate General
Whiting. His statement was that early in the morning, im-
mediately after their first success, fully half of Beauregard's
troops were despatched under General W. to occupy a position in
the woods on our left and rear, from which at the proper time, to
cut off our retreat to Bermuda Hundred. When the attack was
made by my brigade in the afternoon, the fighting was for a time
severe, and the Confederate general probably taking the motive
as more serious than intended, no doubt deemed his opportunity
arrived, and sent orders to W. to launch his entire force upon our
line of retreat and attack in rear while he should press us in front.
But when this momentous order reached its destination, W.,
though brave, capable and effective under ordinary circumstances,
116 THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
was not in physical condition to execute any movement; and his
staff, after vainly trying to effect even a temporary restoration,
were unwilling themselves to assume the direction of such an
important operation. Thus at this critical juncture a long delay
ensued, during which Butler, blissfully ignorant of the well-set
trap yawning for his reception, retired unopposed to his entrench-
ments. Even Beauregard's own pressure on our front now
become the rear was pushed with inexplicable moderation, the
reason for which, thus explained, is now simple enough. He was
momentarily expecting to hear the sounds of W.'s attack from the
direction of Bermuda Hundred, which should give him the long-
desired signal to rush in for all he was worth and reap the results
of his skillfully devised plans.
General W. was, when in condition for work, a brave experi-
enced and able officer of the old army, and severe as was the trial
to Beauregard's philosophy, it is probable it would have been over-
looked, but W. soon after fell in action at his unsuccessful defense
of Fort Fisher, and the circumstance has received little public
Personally, I had entered on this campaign against the remon-
strances of my friends and the medical officers, and was in about
as bad a state of health as was consistent with active work at all.
Furthermore, as luck would have it, I had been subjected from the
very first to almost constant exposure at all hours, with little
opportunity for the indispensable necessities of food and rest,
and had only been kept in the saddle by stimulating drugs of
whose ultimate consequences, my brigade surgeon, Dr. Otis, had
not left me ignorant. During the movement against Petersburg,
I had my clothes off one night only, and in that against Drury's
Bluff, not at all. The penalty justly to be expected, now appeared.
The excitement of active field work was no sooner suspended,
than the same alarming symptoms of fever and diarrhea which had
kept our regimental and post hospitals overflowing on the Penin-
sula, seized upon me with overwhelming and ominous severity.
In field hospital, notwithstanding such kind attentions as my staff
and other friends were able to render, the condition grew steadily
worse and I was informed that, whatever the issue, I must not
RECUPERATING IN CLAYMONT, DELAWARE 117
think of going into the field again for at least some months. All
the doctors either instigated or backed Butler, who desired me to
accept a long leave of absence, and even offered to, and did, pur-
chase some of my horses. Thus at last, almost without knowl-
edge or volition of my own, I found myself, in company with a
steamer-load of wounded and sick of all ranks, on the way to
General Hospital at Fortress Monroe, from which place I was in
turn forwarded by the Medical Director to one of the great Gen-
eral Hospitals in Philadelphia.
But arrived in that city, whence at that season all my family
and many of my intimate friends were absent, I was saved from
the military hospitals, then in an overflowing condition, by the
kindness of Thomas Kimber,an old Haverford College mate, whom
I had scarcely seen since leaving there. Kimber was at this time
president of several railroads, in the full tide of commercial suc-
cess and might have reached almost any eminence in that line;
but some years later deliberately abandoned all selfish personal
interests in obedience to religious conviction, and became an able
and distinguished preacher and writer in the Society of Friends.
He was at this time residing on a fine estate that he had acquired in
Delaware, and had recently added to his possessions a small prop-
erty in the same vicinity, situated on the river of the same name,
and containing the small but ancient manor-house of the alienated,
much-divided, and long forgotten manor of Stockdale, reserved
from sale for their own use by Penn and Carpenter, at the earliest
settlement of the country. Into this house I was carried on a
stretcher, and on the premises first known under such discouraging
circumstances, I am now writing, having since lived there, more
or less, during every summer season when not absent from the
country. At a later period when I had learned from Kimber the
history of the house, whose original builder, Carpenter, was a
lineal ancestor of my mother, and saw the curious old Indian
grants, signed with their 'totems,' or tribal or family symbols,
I purchased the property, and have since from time to time
enlarged and improved it, scrupulously preserving the integrity of
the old manor-house, now surrounded by and embedded among
118 THE BETUBN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
At this place, not far from the station known as Claymont, 19
miles from the city, I lay ill several months, during which I also
suffered a return of pain and trouble from the elbow wound
received nearly three years previously, at Ball's Bluff. This was
for several years the occasion of such excessive and almost con-
tinuous pain, that I should certainly have dispensed with the
remains of the arm, but for the opinion of my father and his pro-
fessional friends, Doctors J. Rhea Barton and George W. Norris,
who agreed with him that the pain would in time be alleviated by
natural process, as the lacerated nerves readjusted themselves;
and that even in case of amputation, the stump would remain
nearly or quite as sensitive. These views have proved to a certain
extent just since after several years of almost constant suffering,
only rendered tolerable by the frequent use of hypodermic injec-
tions, the pain gradually became more and more intermittent, and
for many years past has been comparatively moderate, with long
intervals of immunity.
But in 1864, the prospect of health and prolonged life seemed
remote, and, at all events, further exposure in the field was for the
present out of the question, and near the close of that year I
resigned my commission, and cast about for the means of livelihood
at home. Since my last essay in civil life, my domestic responsi-
bilities had of course been increased, while my means had been
materially reduced by the legislative experiments of the Govern-
ment itself. When I first embraced the military service I had
invested what assets could be most quickly realized, in city mort-
gages, which, if moderate in returns, required little personal atten-
tion and seemed reasonably free from many of the ordinary vicissi-
tudes of property. But under the inflation that followed the
celebrated 'Legal Tender Act,' metallic and convertible currency
was driven entirely from circulation, and the Government's
paper money fell to a point marked by a gold premium at one
time reaching nearly 300 per cent. A large majority of solvent
debtors of course hastened to pay off their liabilities in the dis-
credited medium, and my mortgages had thus, during my absence,
become converted into paper currency worth about a third of the
value originally invested hi them. It was the Government itself,
ELECTED PRESIDENT OP A CANAL COMPANY 119
that I had worked and suffered for, that by ignorant and incom-
petent statesmanship rather than with any predatory intention,
had done this wrong to me and others.
In 1865, strange as it may appear to some who may read this,
canals still prominently contested with railroads the function of
supplying public transportation, and looking about for occupation,
and rejecting my old profession of the law as hardly worth recom-
mencing for a third tune, I observed that the old Union Canal
Company which had claimed so much attention in its day, and in
which most fortunes of old date even then continued to be inter-
ested, seemed even more discredited than was fairly consistent
with its real capacity and resources. Its declining business, and
the low price of its securities, seemed to my superficial view rather
due to reparable causes, than to the slow but resistless progress in
methods which we can now see had even then commenced in favor
of railroads. The line of the work, connecting the fine basins of
the Susquehanna and the Schuylkill, was unquestionably good, and
its territory and connections, valuable, but it had never been able
to surmount certain radical errors of design and construction.
Its summit level which supplied water to the others in both direc-
tions, had been placed at so high an elevation that it commanded
little natural drainage, and that little had been entirely neglected,
its original designers preferring to pump the required water to a
vertical height of ninety-five feet, from the Swatara River. Even
the water thus expensively obtained was badly utilized, since the
level, passing through a cavernous limestone country, was very
leaky, and wasted as much water as it conveyed for useful
After looking carefully over the ground, I felt satisfied these
faults were still remediable, and in order to acquire control and
opportunity, I at length effected an arrangement with four other
persons, to purchase together a large amount of the Canal Com-
pany's securities, calculating with that interest as a basis, to
be able to influence a practical majority. The plan succeeded,
and in due time I was elected President of the Company with
a Board of Directors of my own selection, and went to work as
earnestly as my crippled condition and unpaired health permitted.
120 THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
Two distinct problems were presented; first, to utilize all water-
supply that could be got by gravity from higher territory; and
second, by stopping the leakage, to make the entire quantity
available. Lying north of Lebanon is a limited district of country
locally known as the 'Gravel Ridge,' of uneven contour, but
mostly of greater altitude than the limestone district on which the
town is situated. After a minute preliminary examination of
this tract in which I received the able and gratuitous assistance
of Thomas T. Wierman and James F. Smith, chief engineers,
respectively, of the Canal Department of the Pennsylvania R. R.
Company, and of the old Schuylkill Navigation Company lines
and levels were run upon it, and three reservoirs located to receive,
store and distribute the natural precipitation, about three miles
of conduit being required to connect them with each other and the
summit level. But the estimates of cost exceeded two hundred
thousand dollars, in addition to which, funds were urgently required
to repair and restore the general canal-line, eighty-two miles long,
and embracing, if I recollect right, seventy-two lift-locks, besides
other expensive structures.
The Company had long been in pecuniary default; was without
money, credit or security, and unable to borrow a dollar, without
individual endorsement. But it still possessed the right of way
formerly occupied by a branch canal twenty-two miles long, extend-
ing through the upper Swatara Valley from the western end of the
summit level to Pinegrove, from which the canal works had been
obliterated by the great freshet of 1862. The Reading R.R. Com-
pany had long entertained the idea of connecting their Lebanon
Valley Road with the Schuylkill County part of their system by a
short road passing through the same gap in the Blue Ridge, and
had repeatedly introduced into the Legislature, bills for that pur-
pose which had thus far been foiled or defeated by amendments
prohibiting the proposed road from approaching the canal branch
within some small specified distance. That apparently reasonable
and innocent proviso, and the effect of moving back the line of the
proposed road to the top of the Blue Ridge, at the narrow passage
known as the Swatara Gap, and therefore rendered it impracti-
cable. In the earnest search for ways and means, it now occurred
INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD 121
to me that a sale of this old canal branch as a right of way, might
be effected either to the Pennsylvania Company, which might
thus connect its main line through a back door, as it were, with the
anthracite district of Schuylkill County, or to the Reading Com-
pany, for making the connection they had formerly desired and
closing a door of competition to its rivals.
With this view, I introduced myself to Mr. J. Edgar Thomson,
President of the Pennsylvania, and submitted a proposal, but
without success he stating that while it seemed to offer them an
appreciable advantage, he would prefer not to violate a certain
tacit understanding existing between the two great roads, that
neither should wantonly invade the other's proper territory.
But with Mr. Charles E. Smith, President of the Reading, I had
better success, and after tedious negotiation, effected with him a
verbal sale to his Company for $250,000, one-fifth in cash, the
remainder in four equal semi-annual payments with interest, and
the stipulation that a traffic connection between rail and canal at
Jonestown should be made by their construction of the necessary
schutes and appurtenances, and the perpetual maintenance of
' through' rates on all coal transferred at that point. But when
this had been reduced to writing, I was obliged to omit, first the
stipulation for interest on deferred payments, and then the agree-
ment for interchange of traffic at Jonestown. When constrained
by my increasing necessities to yield those points, Mr. St. George
T. Campbell, counsel for the Reading Company, was still fertile in
objections to the form of the paper, and conceiving myself treated
by him on one occasion with personal insolence, I abruptly left his
office and declined further interviews with him. At length
through the interposition of Mr. Smith's assistant, John Tucker
whom I had formerly known as Assistant Secretary of War, Mr.
F. B. Gowen, the Reading Company's counsel at Pottsville, was
sent for, and with him I had no difficulty in reaching a prompt
agreement respecting the form of the contract. Never-
theless, weeks still passed by without Mr. Smith being able to
bring himself to the point of signing the paper, which he him-
self had agreed to, his Directors authorized, and his own counsel
122 THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
Meanwhile, on faith of the expected funds, the constructions on
the canal had been commenced and were in full progress, and my
own personal means and credit were by this time strained to the
utmost to provide the monthly payments required. As if the
pressure was not already enough, two of the five co-purchasers of
the canal securities became so alarmed, that to prevent their hold-
ings from going in a body on the market, I was obliged to take or
become responsible for them. I must have broken down entirely
under these unexpected loads, but for an unusually easy money
market, and a partial revival of confidence in Union Canal securi-
ties which enabled them to be borrowed upon, and even slowly and
cautiously marketed. At length, when financial matters with me
and the Company were approaching a crisis, occurred a certain
famous falling-out between the two great corporations, respecting
the movement upon the Pennsylvania lines of the Reading's
Catawissa cars, several miles of which were refused transportation,
and accumulated near Milton. Feeling by this time convinced
that Smith was rather amusing himself with me to keep away other
purchasers, than from any earnest desire to complete the transac-
tion, I felt quite justified in devising some means of expediting his
movements, and as the measure adopted not only relieved an em-
barrassment that was becoming intolerable, but indirectly brought
about other results of considerable personal importance, they may
be worth relating.
As soon as the railroad feud became pronounced and public, I
called again on Mr. Thomson, and referring to that subject,
inquired if, under the changed conditions, he now felt inclined to
purchase. On receiving a negative reply, I informed him fully of
the halting condition of my negotiation with Smith, and asked if
for the purpose of aiding me, he would be willing to address me a
note of two lines which should in no manner commit himself.
"What is the note?" "Sir: If you are not yet positively com-
mitted respecting the sale of the Union Canal branch line, I would
like to see you at your earliest convenience." With a faint and
almost imperceptible smile, he at once acceded and handed me the
note without another word, the commodity of speech being one
which he never wasted. The same day I took pains to obtain a
SELLING THE CANAL PROPERTY 123
casual street meeting with one of the Reading directors who was
personally intimate with Smith, and after some preliminary con-
versation, showed him the note in confidence, and asked if, under
the circumstances, he considered me so far bound to Smith as to
be under obligation to decline other overtures? I pointed out
that such a note could not be absolutely neglected, and considering
Smith's delay and indifference about signing, I was unable to say
that I was positively committed with him, and would by no means
be justified in declining to entertain other negotiations, &c., &c.
But he was inclined to differ with me, and finally exacted a promise
that I would at least see Mr. Smith and give him an opportunity
to close, before responding to Thomson's note a promise given
with a sufficient amount of coyness, but considerable real alacrity.
After allowing a few hours for this confidential interview to find
its way to Mr. Smith, I called to see him and immediately per-
ceived a surprising change of tone and manner. In place of treat-
ing me like a scheming adventurer with a nostrum to sell, he even
inquired tenderly after my precious health, and went to the length
of asking me to take a seat.
Neither Thomson's letter or even his name was once men-
tioned, and finding my interlocutor now ready and anxious to close,
I ventured on receding in exact proportion as he advanced, and did
not quit him till both the interest payments and the traffic contract
were restored to their original place in the transaction, which was
re-drawn and signed the same day, and in due time fully executed.
I hope and believe that few persons despise duplicity in general
more than myself. It is usually the resource of a rogue or a
coward, and those who habitually resort to it expose themselves
to the suspicion of being ready to avail themselves of lying to pro-
mote it. In this case there was no lying, but it can not be denied
there was a certain silent deception, only justifiable as a counter
against the same weapon, which I was not the first to use, and
which was likely to result in serious disaster to many others beside
myself. I have always felt somewhat inclined to be ashamed of it,
and have only related it to introduce and explain my subsequent
intimate relations with Mr. Thomson.
124 THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
The Union Canal storage reservoirs and conduits were com-
pleted and paid for, and proved as far as they went, an effectual and
indispensable source of supply. The leaks in the summit level
were discovered by strewing bran over the surface of the water
admitted to quarter depth, and then effectually stopped with clay
puddled by enclosing mules upon it and keeping them in lively
motion. By means of regular and reliable movement, with low
rates, a much larger traffic was obtained on the canal than it had
ever before possessed, and the Lebanon Valley branch of the
Reading R. R. felt the new competition so keenly that when I gave
up the management of the property not long afterwards, a nego-
tiation was already pending with them for its purchase, which was
soon after completed and the canal abandoned as a line of trans-
portation. Its securities had in the meantime considerably risen
in value, and as I had purchased for control rather than profit, I
succeeded in unloading those which I had voluntarily bought as
well as those forced upon me; the entire transaction, large and
onerous as it had been, netting a slight profit over the principal
and interest involved, on a final settlement.
It was either just before or after I entered on that undertaking
that I received a letter from Gen. Butler, then, I think, a member
of Congress from Massachusetts, unfolding the scheme designed
for the establishment of Soldiers' Homes, stating that he was or
would be President of the Board of Governors; that the first Home
would be immediately established somewhere in Ohio, as a central
point, and inviting me to accept the position of Governor. Polit-
ical positions and candidacies of various kinds had already been
proposed to me from different quarters, and declined. Whatever
attraction might exist in a noisy competition for the favor of an
ignorant populace, must be much impaired by a sense of the incom-
petence, disorder, corruption and waste which seems everywhere to
degrade the administration of public affairs under such a system.
The intervention of an appointing power, itself selected and sup-
ported in the same manner, cannot much improve the result; and,
moreover, one holding such heterodox views on the subject at
present dear above all others to the rabble, could scarcely conceal
his thoughts and receive their support with honesty. Besides,
OFFERED A POSITION BY BEN BUTLER 125
I preferred independence of opinion and action, and such occupa-
tion as tended to associations with educated and intelligent per-
sons, rather than such miscellaneous scramble for the favor of the
masses as is inseparable from a vulgar contest for votes.
I had, therefore, resolved to decline all temptations to a public
life, and refused Butler's invitation on the simple plea that my
attention had been directed to other and different objects. To
this, Butler replied that I could have little idea of what I was
refusing. That I would practically have charge of the selection of
the grounds, and the construction of extensive buildings, and
would be but little interfered with in the inauguration of system-
atic government and discipline. Since Butler and I had scarcely
ever got along together a single week without friction, I have never
been able to understand why he sought to shower his favor on me
on this occasion. Was it a scheme to get me under his control and
shut my mouth on his financial adventures among the bankers,
insurance companies, gas-works and other fiscal institutions of
Norfolk? Or a conscientious effort to atone for his treatment at
Petersburg, now that his own military exploits had become a
laughing-stock? Or an honest appreciation of my fitness for the
special purpose in view? I do not know, and probably shall
never know, but with a certain amount of good nature, which
others might call vanity, am willing to allow him credit for the last.
At the present time and for some years past, one of the least
agreeable social features of our country is the want of regular train-
ing in some definite trade or industry which is the hard lot of a
large proportion of native-born youth. No doubt so many causes
conduce to this, that it would be mere empiricism to select one or
two to bear the entire burden, though certainly a few seem to
stand out pre-eminently. Semicollegiate education at the public
expense, which tends to degrade manual labor, while substituting
nothing better than scheming adventure; trades-unionism, which
forbids or limits apprenticeship and competition; an ostentatious
style of living, by the uncultivated prosperous; the influx of a
bestial class of emigrants, with whom close association is distaste-
ful to our own youth all these contribute to the difficulty, but in
addition to them, during the period succeeding the war, a large
126 THE KETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
number of young men owed their want of industrial training to
their absence from civil life and its instructions during the critical
years of adolescence. In the volunteer army they had not only
been unaccustomed to regular industry, but had been prematurely
entrusted with minor titles, responsibilities and authority, and so
indiscriminately bepraised by orators, press and politicians, that
it was naturally hard for them to subside into insignificant drudg-
ery on the collapse of the war. The successful politicians who,
though rarely commanding much confidence in private life, are
collectively and euphemistically termed 'the Government/ with
their usual sagacity, increased and prolonged the difficulty by
conferring so-called 'brevet' titles on all their political friends who
took the trouble to ask for them, and fairly plastered the country
with high-sounding and ridiculous titles, indicative of nothing real
in the past, and therefore in themselves deceptive and demoraliz-
ing. The land has accordingly been ever since infested with
'Generals' who never commanded so much as a wagon train;
'Colonels' who had fought and bled only in the newspapers!
and acres of Majors, Captains and so forth, who had been only
useful in the telegraph or transportation service, or officious about
'Sanitary Commissions,' or in utilizing the 'soldier vote.'
It was not unnatural that men inexperienced in affairs and misled
into false ideas of their own importance, should shrink from a
return to common labor. Socialists and magazinists may rave of
the beauty and dignity of labor, but they all take care to keep
away from it themselves, and all men whatever it suits them to
profess testify by their acts, a ready willingness to abandon its
attractiveness to others, when they can. It remains a well-nigh
universal fact that the successful men are not those who labor, but
those who by intelligent combination and organization, control the
labor of the masses. A cobbler who cobbles, is still a cobbler,
whatever title he may hang up in his shop, and a hungry tailor gets
no more for his coats, for being dubbed 'Colonel.' The hard
truths underlying these considerations though of course vigor-
ously denied by all true patriots did nevertheless at that period
turn many disappointed persons to the possibilities of that easy,
overpaid and specious pursuit, known in America as 'politics.'
THE VALUE OF MILITARY TITLES 127
In a free country, anyone out of jail is good enough to serve the
public. Neither training, talents nor character are essential for
collecting the fees of office; and with the multitude, he who natters
and bawls the loudest is usually the fittest for their choice. In
this trade, a pseudo-military title was at once a convenient dis-
tinction, and a badge of 'loyalty,' and hence for many years, and
indeed to this day, the mob might select from an imposing array
of rum-selling 'Generals' and pilfering 'Colonels' its favorite
for any public function, from cleaning the gutters, to spouting
patriotism in the Senate.
To avoid too much curiosity respecting such titles, and the
peaceful and not too creditable exploits by which they were often
won, quasi-military societies were formed for mutual assurance,
admiration and support, such as Grand Armies, Loyal Legions,
Sons of Veterans, and so forth, and at least the forms of grandilo-
quence kept alive by 'Camp fires,' Lodges, Grand Commanderies,
and similar playthings. So far from real inquiry into titles and
records, it has been a point of civility to give a true patriot a peg
higher rank than he claimed, and the donkey whose incompetence,
or worse, had injured the service and degraded his office, or the
cheat who never was in real military service at all, readily got his
own record endorsed by lying generously about those of his com-
rades. I have personally known the President of Councils in a
neighboring city, who was dismissed from the service for stealing a
horse; a high official of the G. A. R., who required much tough
swearing to get the mark of 'Deserted' expunged from his official
record; and a gay pensioner, whose only wound was a sabre-cut
laid on by myself for mutiny before his first and final month in the
service had expired.
In view of such circumstances, which cannot be justly called
exaggerated, though with our easy-going American optimism we
generally do not speak so plainly in public, the game of politics
offered little attraction to anyone of sound information and inde-
pendent thought. Whether as a vehicle of ambition or a means
of support, it was mean and uncertain, beset with concealments
and duplicity, surrounded with associations revolting to a person
of taste, and entirely irreconcilable with any independence of
128 THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
thought or action. Any promptings of that sort of ambition that
I may have ever entertained, readily gave way to such convictions,
and though many well-meant efforts were from time to time
applied to make use of any attractions I might offer to the public as
a candidate, they were put aside, like General Butler's proposition,
without difficulty, and I have never felt an hour of regret.
For a considerable time after the war, the disposition of the
successful politicians being severe and sanguinary toward the van-
quished, it was supposed the regular army must be kept up to a
much larger force than previously probably to fifty regiments at
least and an appointment was proposed to me that I was for a
time tempted to accept, notwithstanding my objections to the
public service and the different course on which I had already
embarked. But though arms as a profession would at that time
have been familiar and congenial, the cold judgment which is not
the least valuable heritage of our Anglo-Saxon race, whispered
two serious objections. First, that no branch of regular Govern-
ment service could long be compatible with personal independence,
and second, that my crippled physical condition must painfully
impair the activity required for the infantry or cavalry command,
which alone I had a right to expect, in the absence of technical
military education. Had access to employment in civil life been
at this time absolutely barred, I am by no means sure how far
these sober views would have controlled my course, especially
when first smarting under the serious pecuniary losses entailed by
the 'Legal Tender Act.' But fortunately such was not the case,
and I escaped the rock of public life upon which so many fair
careers have been wrecked.
After the most pressing fiscal and physical difficulties of the
Union Canal Company had been got into a fair way of adjustment,
and the business so carefully organized that it was capable of super-
vision and general direction at the expense of a small portion of
my time, I accepted the presidency of a Zinc Mining and Manufac-
turing Company, and after devoting some time to its effective
organization, still found myself with surplus time and energies
available for other purposes. About this time I was offered by my
friend, Theodore F. Randolph, then president of the Morris and
CARRYING ON STOCK OPERATIONS 129
Essex Railroad Company, the general superintendency of that
road, with a salary larger than both those I was already drawing.
But as its acceptance would have required a residence either at New
York, or at some point on the line, and necessarily broken up my
connection with Philadelphia, domestic considerations constrained
me to decline it. Randolph afterwards became Governor of New
Jersey, and later a United States Senator from the same State.
He was a well-educated and accomplished gentleman, an able man
of affairs, and one of the most delightful companions I have ever
known. At various times I travelled extensively with him in
various parts of the United States, and our friendship and intimacy
was maintained by frequent mutual visits till his death at his home
in Morristown, N. J., in 1883. Mrs. Randolph was a granddaugh-
ter of Chief Justice Marshall, and quite as interesting in her own
way as her excellent and distinguished husband.
As my connection with Randolph and his railroad carried me
frequently to New York, I made the acquaintance there of a
number of the large stock operators of that city, and at one time
yielded much more than was wise to the fascination of their
exciting but dangerous game. After some considerable experi-
ence in it, I record my deliberate opinion that nothing that is at
all tolerated by the business world, is more demoralizing and
dangerous, or more certain to lead ultimately to grief. It is
demoralizing because it absorbs one's attention from all forms of
steady industry; dangerous, because the amounts at risk are sure
to exceed one's real capital and proper credit, and that, if persisted
in long, it is a certain road to ruin, is matter of common observa-
tion. I am glad to say my eyes did not remain long closed to its
specious deceptions, and I therefore escaped disaster, but on the
contrary, after being several times involved far beyond my means
of payment, at last seized a moment when I was far ahead of the
game to withdraw from it forever, and I have never since been
tempted beyond actual means of payment. At the present time
most of the large stock gambling is carried on at New York or
Chicago. But at the tune spoken of there were still some large
and bold operators in Philadelphia, among whom was engineered,
about the year 1867, one of the completest 'corners' that ever
130 THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
mystified and alarmed the 'street,' but which was nevertheless
entirely frittered away and lost by want of bold measures at the
I was at the time myself operating for a rise in the stock of the
Philadelphia and Erie Railroad Company, and held a consider-
able quantity in possession or subject to call, when I was waited
on by a large operator whom I will call K., who after displaying
much curiosity respecting the amount of my holding, at last
stated that he was one of a party who held 'calls' for more stock
than there was in existence and available. After deducting the
non-saleable stock then belonging to the Pennsylvania Railroad
Company and to the cities of Philadelphia and Erie, it was shown
that short sales had been made to the combination in excess of
the entire available remainder, for which contracts or 'calls'
were held upon responsible persons and firms. Nevertheless, as
I had purchased on my own judgment and without knowledge of
those facts, I declined to place my holdings in the pool, subject
to their management, as desired, merely agreeing upon a general
co-operation as long as the 'corner' should be managed to meet
my views. But the event showed that those parties had fallen
by accident on a larger and better thing than they were capable
The facts becoming partially known and the stock scarce and
panicky, I urged them to stop talking, go to New York and bor-
row sufficient funds to make a simultaneous and general call of
every share they were entitled to, which being impossible to
supply, must have brought the matter to a crisis and produced
an immediate settlement on the buyers' terms. This they re-
peatedly promised, but as constantly neglected, contenting them-
selves with local borrowings on the stock itself, and a series of
small calls which were met by the 'shorts' borrowing from the
lenders and each other. Becoming disgusted at this peddling
method, by which they were in danger of frittering away the real
advantages they possessed, I remonstrated in vain, but could not
bring them to the decisive point. At last I called on the assem-
bled party for precise information of their real plans, but was
refused such information, on the ground that as I declined to
THE FAILURE OP A CORNER IN STOCKS 131
deposit my stock in the pool I was not entitled to further knowl-
edge of their position and designs. So far from being forced into
the pool by this reticence, as intended, no course of theirs could
have suited me better, since whatever implied obligation might
have been previously claimed against me, was now incontestably
dissolved by such concealment. I therefore retired before they
had time to change their minds, went directly to my brokers,
and ordered every share of my stock sold the same day to what-
ever depths the price might fall. The market of course yielded
rapidly under such bona fide sales and actual deliveries, but I
closed out every share, at a profit of many thousand dollars, be-
fore night, and so advised everyone, including the pool. Next
day one of the party sold out heavily on his companions, the
stock became plenty, and in a day or two the price had fallen
from near par to about one-third of that amount, or perhaps less.
The 'corner' which they had at one time really possessed, and
needed only a fair degree of boldness to manage, was frittered
away and lost, and the entire party, instead of reaping a fortune
at one time actually within their reach, were ruined.
The New York and Erie stock was at that time a famous foot-
ball in New York Daniel Drew, first, and afterwards Fisk and
Gould being in perpetual contention over it with the elder Vander-
bilt and each other, and the numerous minor operators of Wall
Street. Though considerably involved in it from time to time
with little or no real knowledge, and sometimes placed in situa-
tions where, if compelled to realize, I must have lost everything,
I ultimately gained great success in this stock, the identity and
value of which, as in the case of many of the favorites of that day,
has long since been swept away by financial reorganizations.
While emerging from one of these struggles, on the summit of
the wave I called seriously to mind the sharp lesson endured in
Panama in 1850, and then and there resolved to quit forever this
specious form of gambling. While such operations may be con-
ducted without any moral wrong, since they assuredly possess
certain broad distinctions from mere vulgar card gambling, yet
they are over-exciting to the mind, tending to divert it from the
regular pursuits of reputable industry, and brilliant as they seem,
132 THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
invariably end, sooner or later, in disaster and generally in per-
sonal discredit. Prudential reasons, alone, are therefore quite
sufficient to warrant anyone in letting them severely alone, when
once convinced that permanent, assured and respectable success
in life can not be successfully based on any form of gambling.
In June, 1867, I was desired by Mr. John Edgar Thomson to
meet a number of persons at his office. On this occasion there
were present, among others, Thomas A. Scott, Simon Cameron,
Ex-Gov. William F. Packer, Allison White, A. K. Gumming,
John A. Gamble and others. Mr. Thomson desired to know what
information I possessed respecting the West Branch and Susque-
hanna Canal, extending from Clark's Ferry on the Susquehanna,
to Farrandsville on the West Branch, a distance of about 120
miles. I replied that I was well acquainted with its traffic con-
nections and tonnage resources, but knew little of its physical
condition. It was then asked how much time would be required
to make a confidential examination of the facts and a reasonably
full report on its physical and financial condition, commercial
resources and value. To this, after some reflection, it was an-
swered that such a report could be submitted within five days,
provided the Pennsylvania R. R. Company's telegraph line, and
its ticket agent at Middletown should be placed at my disposal.
This was done, and I telegraphed to Mr. H., my chief engineer
at Lebanon, to take the first train to Middletown, prepared for a
week's absence, and enquire of the ticket agent for specific tele-
graphic instructions. By this method all publicity was avoided,
and it was only among entire strangers, both to him and to me, at
Middletown, that the actual mission could be disclosed, if dis-
closed at all. He was directed to go by train to Clark's Ferry
thence walk in one day, by the tow-path, to Northumberland,
and from that place mail his report of the first day's examination.
The following day to repeat the examination and report from
Williamsport, and on the third evening from Farrandsville or
Lock Haven. Although, in view of the distances, such examina-
tion could be but superficial, it nevertheless supplied H. with
three pretty good days' work, notwithstanding he was an expert
canal engineer, already possessed much knowledge respecting the
MERGING OF CANAL COMPANIES 133
line, and knew how most quickly to acquire more. As these
daily reports came in, they were collated and connected, com-
plete commercial, financial and tonnage statements were added,
and at the time promised, Mr. Thomson received the most com-
prehensive report the time admitted of, and possessed the ele-
ments of a better knowledge of the property than had probably
ever been in the hands of its own managers.
Two or three weeks passed without anything more on the sub-
ject, and I myself was so ignorant of Mr. Thomson's real object,
that I was simply speculating on the probable dimensions of the
check he would send me for the service, when I was again sent
for and informed by Mr. Thomson that his Company had pur-
chased a majority of the Canal Company's stock, to be paid for
in bonds of the Pennsylvania Canal Company, the latter being a
new corporation recently chartered to purchase from the Penn-
sylvania Railroad Company the main line of canal, extending
from Columbia to Hollidaysburg, formerly acquired by the Rail-
road by purchase from the State, and connecting with the line
now acquired at Clark's Ferry.
Both companies were to be reorganized with a combined mile-
age of over 300 miles, and I was invited to assume the Presidency.
Of all conjectures on the subject, this owing to various circum-
stances too numerous to relate here had been the last to occur to
me, and I was somewhat taken by surprise. My reply was that
if the line thus constituted was to be used merely as a pack-horse
for the Railroad, there could be little use for anything more than
a simple engineer organization to restore and preserve its physical
condition, but if the management was to enjoy real commercial
independence with reference only to its own capacity for business
and profit, I thought there was in it a fair career for anyone, and
I would be glad to undertake it.
The matter was thus arranged and in the course of a year or
two, the two Canals, pursuant to appropriate legislation and
financial adjustment, were merged into a single corporation.
Subsequently, in order to consolidate and acquire a firm hold of
the anthracite coal trade from the Wyoming and Lykens dis-
tricts, the Wyoming Valley Canal Co., and the Wiconisco Canal
134 THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE AND BUSINESS
Co., were merged in the same corporation under the common
corporate name of the Pennsylvania Canal Company, of which
I have ever since continued to be President, though not with-
out earnest efforts during later years, to be relieved, without
injuring the interests or the partial prejudices of my friends.
Prior to the year 1869, 1 had urged upon Mr. Thomson the policy
of procuring legislation prohibiting or limiting the ownership of
coal-producing lands by transporting corporations, but by that
time the acquisition of such property by the several railroads
leading to New York, threatened to absorb and permanently
control all the production of the Wyoming District, and the
proposed restrictive legislation having been neglected, it became
plain to me that unless we should also acquire control of such
lands, the entire coal tonnage of the canal line would be irre-
trievably lost and the value of the line destroyed.
I therefore felt constrained, under these new circumstances, to
reverse my former counsel and recommend similar purchases on
behalf of our own transportation interests. With the approval
of Mr. Thomson, to whom only the project was confided, refusals
of numerous parcels of land in the lower part of the Wyoming
coal field contiguous to the canal, amounting in the aggregate to
over 6000 acres were obtained; the parcels being in such strategic
locations with relation to each other as to dominate the inter-
mediate tracts and deter other large corporate purchasers. These
lands were purchased with more or less opposition from other
directors, suppressed under the skillful advice of Thomson and
the enterprise organized into a corporation since known as the
Susquehanna Coal Company. Possessing but trifling cash capital,
such use was made of its stock, bonds and credit, together with
those of the Canal Company and some guarantees of the Penn-
sylvania Railroad Company, that the lands were obtained and
held, more than two millions of dollars invested in the construc-
tion of productive improvements, and an annual productive
capacity of two million tons gradually acquired. For some
years, I frequently stood, personally, upon the Company's paper
for much larger amounts than I was worth, and was obliged to
use the entire capital and credit of its sales agents at New York,
A VERY SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME 135
Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, and minor points, and
it would be difficult to convey to others an adequate idea of
the financial struggles incident to this heavy burden, between
the years of 1869 and 1875. Mr. Thomson was my only real
confidant, others being for a long period so timid and doubtful
that a part only of the difficulties could be imparted to them, but
from him of course there were no reticences, and to this day I look
back with ever-increasing admiration at the imperturbable
courage and equability of his character never betraying the
slightest excitement himself, and always skillful to moderate the
ill-advised elation of others when things went well, and to hold
up one's sinking spirits when all seemed lost.
The ultimate success of this Company has been wonderful, if
not unique. It may be said to have started on credit and really
earned its own capital, or most of it; gradually paid off from
earnings, the whole of its floating and much of its funded debt;
acquired a large amount of other valuable property, and now
possesses in its treasury, cash, or investments immediately con-
vertible, equal to its entire capital stock, after yielding for many
years annual dividends, mostly of ten per cent. I have in late
years purchased for its sinking fund, at 120 per cent, large
amounts of its bonds originally placed, with difficulty, at 65, and
would gladly buy them all in if they could be had, but unfortu-
nately at the time of their issue in 1871, the prevailing object
was to defer their maturity as long as possible, and they do not
mature till A. D. 1911. In addition to the above pecuniary suc-
cess of this Company itself, and what is of far greater importance,
it has for many years past supplied to the Pennsylvania Rail-
road and Canal Lines an annual tonnage ranging from one and a
half to two million tons for transportation to nearly all parts of
the United States, and for exportation.
INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
John Edgar Thomson, without whose tranquil courage, calm
resolution and transcendent skill in administration such results
as those briefly and inadequately sketched in the last chapter
could never have been attained, was one of the most remarkable
and useful men that this country, so fertile in practical talent,
has ever produced. It is easy enough for those in whom judgment
has not been warped by prejudice or fear to see and appreciate
successful results, but only to a minute fraction can ever be known
the laborious and painful character of the long and weary
processes by which alone they can be designed, prepared and
finally achieved. There is a certain cheap reputation for pru-
dence and conservatism always easy to obtain by criticising the
active spirits of the day, and shaking one's head at projects too
large for immediate general comprehension. An impulsive
temperament, impatient of artificial and unnecessary obstacles,
is often prone to resent them by arguments and measures which,
though just, may be ill-timed or inexpedient. Thomson's expe-
rience and knowledge of men, no less than his calm mental
processes and changeless imperturbability of temperament, not
only kept him free from such errors, but could not fail to moderate
the faults of his associates less endowed by nature with those
The life and work of this great man would be a complete
history of modern transportation in America. The period of
his life February 10, 1808, to May 27, 1874 covered the transi-
tion from pack-horses and Conestoga wagons, through the
intermediate expedients of turnpikes and canals, to the complete
and perfect work of railway lines thousands of miles long, and
THE GROWTH OF TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES 137
utilizing such vast aggregations of labor, capital and credit as
were previously unknown in the private affairs of men. Shallow
politicians and village demagogues may fret their brief hour on
the stage, in railing at those great fruits of corporate association,
but every well-informed and thoughtful person knows that by
diffusing population and bringing new comforts to every hearth,
they have beneficially influenced private and family life far be-
yond the most optimistic conceptions of our predecessors of even
one or two generations. They have absolutely created modern
travel and transportation, the two greatest factors in existing
life, and have thus immeasurably improved domestic resources
and comfort. They have scattered over an entire continent the
scanty population previously confined to its shores and navigable
water-ways, and revolutionized the values of all commodities,
including the fixed surface of the earth itself. By augmenting
the capacity of the country to sustain population, they have
practically made two blades of grass grow where one grew before.
Politically, they have without impairing the content which the
world's experience proves can only reside in local government
welded together a mass of isolated states of no great separate
importance, into the mightiest confederacy the world has ever
known, and seem to suggest possibilities of terminating the
strife of nations by combining in friendly federal relations, all the
warring peoples of the earth.
Mr. Thomson was descended from an ancient Quaker family
well known in Delaware County since the first settlement of the
country. Bred to the profession of surveying and engineering,
whose precise drafts and unyielding figures tend rather to narrow
and restrict the mental horizon, his generous talents readily
soared above such limitations, and while retaining the professional
judgment and exact methods to which he had been trained, his
mind quickly embraced all the defects and possibilities of the
great and complex subject of transportation.
What the development of this science so eminently important
to our wide American domain has accomplished during a single
lifetime, for the diffusion, comfort and multiplication of man-
kind, can best be realized by such as reflect, that it now costs less
138 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
time and money to move a given quantity of merchandise from
ocean to ocean, than it cost sixty years ago to carry it from
Harrisburg to Philadelphia; and that thousands of persons are
now constantly traversing, in a few days and at trifling expense,
the same vast distance, where at a still more recent period,
months and even years were required for the purpose, where
failure and death lurked at every step, and where none even
ventured but the young, the vigorous and the brave.
Thomson lost his parents at an early age, and his first profes-
sional successes were achieved without patronage or assistance.
He was, successively, engineer on the State Railroad, the Cam-
den and Amboy, the Georgia Central and was finally elected, in
1847, chief engineer of the Pennsylvania, and in 1852, its pres-
ident, which position he retained till his death. As its engineer
he solved the hitherto impracticable problem of carrying it
across the Alleghenies, and as president he was the author and
steady promoter of the construction and acquisition of the
thousands of miles of ultra-montane connections which have
made it the greatest line in the world, given wealth to its propri-
etors and patrons, and built up to imperial dimensions the great
Commonwealth in which it possesses its seat and capital. Since
his day, no doubt Paul may have planted and Apollos watered
with skill and success, but it was his eye of faith that first dis-
cerned the measureless potencies lying hid in the misty future,
and his courage, energy, foresight and unceasing labors that
secured them for his state and city.
Strong, resolute and fixed in purpose, he was peculiarly simple,
unostentatious, and reserved in manner. His judgments were
deliberate and his words few, but he was an attentive and able
listener and neglected no argument worthy of notice on either
side. So slowly were his conclusions formed as sometimes to try
the patience of more ardent spirits; but once fixed, they remained
unchangeable and were but consolidated and strengthened under
opposition and hostility. He was slow to give his confidence to
individuals, but once given, he was a rock of refuge to his friends,
abounding with trust, confidence and support that never wavered,
and impregnable to the influence of open or secret animosities.
AN APPRECIATION OF JOHN EDGAR THOMSON 139
He rarely made mistakes himself, but was full of charity for
others, and never reproached his friends for errors of judgment.
Unlike many others with somewhat similar opportunities, he was
careless of his private fortune, which was left very much to the
care of his secretary and personal assistants. All his time, labor
and thought were given to his great work, his sole amusement
or relaxation being found in his domestic relations. Exerting
during many years a potential voice in public affairs, it was never
used for his personal advantage. While making others Senators
and Governors, he persistently refused official preferment for
himself, and usually gave similar advice to his personal friends.
Personally, I owe to him more than any other, my steadiness
of purpose in avoiding public or political life, which of course
abounded with temptations and opportunities for such as had
attained any prominence in the war.
Though numerous short biographical sketches of this great
man have been published, and no history of the public works
and material prosperity of Pennsylvania, or even of the United
States, can ever be complete or intelligible without a record of
his influence, his complete life should be written by some com-
petent biographer, for Pennsylvania has given birth to few men
whose career has exerted such beneficial and enduring results
upon her fortunes, or whose private character would better
repay assiduous study and preservation. Neither can we forget
that his priceless services were rendered to his country at the
nick of time, for the more we regard them the more fixed must be
our conclusion that had he come upon the stage of action before
the railroad system was invented, or after its main channels were
established, the loss to this Commonwealth and its inhabitants
would have been far greater than if a large percentage of all her
modern politicians and legislators had perished at their birth.
These remarks have been purposely confined to Thomson's
work and public career, because if one who so loved and revered
him should trust himself to attempt a description of his personal
qualities, he would be in danger of falling into what others might
regard as indiscriminate eulogy. No words could convey to those
who knew him not, an adequate idea of the respect and affection
140 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
which he inspired in those who possessed his confidence and
friendship. To them his death, at the untimely age of sixty-six,
was a memorable loss, leaving a void reparable by no lapse of
time or subsequent event.
The Pennsylvania Railroad Company had at various times
and in several localities acquired other anthracite property for
the protection of its tonnage, held in nearly every variety of
tenure by direct ownership in fee or for years, by control of cap-
ital stock, by pecuniary advances and through the medium of
allied corporations. The great competitive struggle for concen-
tration and cheapness which has been everywhere such a dis-
tinctive feature of the last half of the present century, has been
nowhere more conspicuous than with the railroads and the
numerous subsidiary interests which naturally become grouped
about them. It is the same tendency which displaying itself in
every productive process of modern times, has in a single genera-
tion multiplied many times the dimensions of factories, the appli-
cation of artificial power, and the capacity of transporting
agencies; and in the older communities, at least, has directed
almost the entire increase of population into cities and towns.
By such natural process the various coal-carrying canals and
coal-mining interests of the Pennsylvania Company, variously
acquired, and hitherto heterogeneously organized and managed,
were by or before the year 1879, brought together under a single
management, thus rendering it practicable, while greatly reduc-
ing the aggregate expenditure, to command the best technical
and expert capacity for the increase of production and corre-
sponding cheapening of cost. Though the unyielding character
of laws and charters still required separate corporate structures,
rights, and powers, yet by assimilating all that was not merely
formal, and extending to many corporate entities the same
personnel of officials and directors, the main economic purpose
was effected; and notwithstanding the unavoidable sacrifice of
small private interests and the jealous suspicions of the ignorant
portion of the populace, there can be no doubt that the general
public interests have in that manner been efficiently promoted.
These particular coal enterprises, though in many corporate
VISITING MEXICO AND CUBA 141
forms, with property distributed through numerous counties,
and inseparably connected with subordinate bridge, land, water,
timber and other companies, thus came to fall under my direc-
tion, requiring of course careful and systematic organization to
avoid an intolerable overtaxing of individual time and capacity.
But both before and since that consummation, I have found
time to do something toward maintaining and increasing ac-
quaintance with my own and adjacent countries by occasional
travel. It was I think in the winter season of 1869-70, that my
wife and I sailed from New York to Havana, and after some
interesting travel in that Island took passage thence via Yucatan
for Vera Cruz, on the British S. S. Corsica which ill-fated vessel
on her return voyage to Southampton via Havana and St.
Thomas, foundered at sea, losing her captain and most of her
crew. From Vera Cruz we proceeded by the newly-completed
English railway then the only one in Mexico to the capital
where a brief study of the still-prevailing feudal manners and
institutions of the country proved extremely interesting. These
had then been little changed by the influx of foreign ideas and
persons so common since the construction of the American rail-
way connections. As my wife and myself could together manage
the French and German, besides some Spanish, it was not a mat-
ter of much moment to us that English was then little known or
used, though some other strange social features were of no mean
importance to strangers. The brigand system for instance-
was then in its most flourishing condition. Two car-loads of
infantry were attached to each railway train from Vera Cruz, and
a squadron of cavalry was in line at each station on the arrival of
the train. There was difficulty in getting police permission to
take a carriage even as far from the capital as Chapultepec and
Tacubaya without an expensive military guard. The usual
escort of a gentleman taking an afternoon ride in the vicinity of
the city, was a half-dozen or more armed retainers, and the only
American we saw in the city was a young man just arrived from
Acapulco, who in that moderate distance had been robbed four
times and arrived coatless and bootless, though the brigands had
refrained from stealing the animals which were the property of
142 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
the arriero; their policy being to stand well with the native peas-
antry. We returned by the same route via Pueblo and Vera
Cruz, to New Orleans.
Later in the same year, in company with T. F. Randolph, then
Governor of New Jersey, and two other gentlemen, I made an
extensive tour through our own Southern States to acquire per-
sonal knowledge of their political condition, and the progress of
the so-called 'reconstruction.' Carpet-bagging and negro dom-
ination were then in full career, and presented phenomena
which will scarcely be credited in a more sober future age. In
South Carolina both houses of the legislature were almost entirely
negro, manipulated and led by a few rascally New England
whites for purposes exclusively of plunder. Pending the pas-
sage of a bill, these rogues with rolls of money openly dis-
played, circulated among the black 'statesmen,' driving their
bargains with little attempt at concealment, after the completion
of which process, the Speaker considerately rang his little bell,
the house came to order and the vote thus openly purchased was
taken and recorded! The system would have been ludicrous,
if it had been less destructive. Under it nearly all property
was destroyed or stolen, and State debts incurred for ridiculous
purposes, and to absurd amounts; the State of North Carolina,
under pretense of supporting a negro militia, adding thirteen
millions to its debt in one year, an amount probably much
exceeding the value of all taxable property in the State, at the
The Supreme Court of South Carolina, which did us the honor
of adjourning to receive a visit from us, was composed of a Jew,
a negro, and a Yankee the last of whom has since served a term
in the Massachusetts penitentiary for introducing his methods
too rashly among the property holders of that Commonwealth,
which by no means accepts for itself the good things it had pro-
vided for South Carolina. Before that learned and august tri-
bunal, we heard Mr. Memminger, Judge Campbell and other
great lawyers of national reputation, arguing a case involving
the law of contingent remainder, affecting the estates of a family
celebrated in the history of the country. The negro who im-
RECONSTRUCTION PERIOD IN THE SOUTH 143
pressed one as the most honest of the lot admitted in conversa-
tion that he knew no law and understood nothing of the cases he
was called on to decide, and would like to resign, if permitted by
his party managers. In Atlanta, our visit to my old comrade,
General Terry, Commander of the Military District, was rudely
interrupted by the carpet-bag Governor, one Bullock, who, with
a half dozen negro 'Senators' at his heels, made no scruple of
riding rough-shod over the General, whose official position obliged
him to receive, and to a certain extent obey these creatures, with
the respect due the titles they had assumed, and which they could
not have maintained an hour but for the Federal troops corruptly
used to keep up the farce. This ludicrous but vicious system was
maintained by the corrupt Grant administration during the eight
years of his term, by the end of which, little stealable property
remained available. The State debts fastened upon the people
by unlimited issues of bonds, often sold at auction by the carpet-
bag State officials for any price they would bring, could be in-
creased no farther; and on the disappearance of Grant from public
life, the system perished, mainly for want of any more plunder to
General history false and misleading as it notoriously is
will no doubt ultimately shed some real light on the character of
Grant's administration, but a single incident of it, which per-
sonally concerned myself, may be related here. Prior to the
public exposure and retirement of Belknap, the pilfering Secre-
tary of War and his fellows, a certain subservient and unscrupu-
lous politician occupied the position of Secretary of the Treasury,
and had ordered the imposition of lighthouse, hospital, and other
marine taxes on canal boats. I was at the time managing both
the Pennsylvania and the Delaware and Raritan Canals, whose
boats were seized in large numbers, in pursuance of this new legal
construction. In vain we bonded the boats and contested the
question in the courts of the despoiling power itself, where we
invariably recovered judgments in our favor, every one of which
remained and still remain in force, unappealed. The persecu-
tion continued until some three hundred of our boats, besides
those of other navigation companies, were under bond at one
144 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
time, our boatmen alarmed and demoralized, and the business
likely to be ruined. When I showed the Secretary that our con-
tention was supported not only by the uniform decisions of the
U. S. Admiralty Courts, but by an unbroken series of legal con-
structions by the Treasury Department of every former Federal
administration, he had the impudence to reply that his Depart-
ment had rules of its own and paid little attention to the Courts.
As nothing could be expected from an official who ranked himself
above the laws and judiciary of the government that employed
him, I therefore determined to appeal to the President himself, as
the sworn defender and executor of Federal laws.
General Grant was at this time residing at Long Branch, in a
cottage not long before presented to him by certain Philadelphia
satellites and office-seekers, and owned another one close by
which had been given him by other emulous New York persons
of the same class. Arrived at Long Branch, I met with Senator
Frelinghuysen of N. J., who though a Republican and a friend of
Grant, was a gentleman and an eminent lawyer, and who at my
request agreed to accompany me and assist if required at the
discussion. Grant, who had not forgotten me, received us in the
drawing-room, politely introduced us to the members of his family
who were present, and soon handed us cigars and invited us to
adjourn to the piazza outside. Here a full statement was made,
and having amply explained the subject and asked for an appro-
priate executive order upon the Secretary, I awaited the decision.
A short silence ensued, which was at length broken by Grant,
substantially in these words: "General Wistar, have you any
friends in Philadelphia who would buy that cottage across the
road? I have no use for it myself, and am very anxious to dis-
pose of it." Of course I was extremely shocked at the construc-
tion naturally inferable from this frank proposition, and did not
fail to take leave at once and express my feelings to my com-
panion. But the Senator insisted that the remark was due to
nothing worse than artless simplicity; that not understanding or
feeling interested in the legal question presented, the great man's
mind had wandered to the subject most interesting to himself at
the moment, and had betrayed his thoughts in a manner as artless
JOURNEYING THROUGH COLORADO 145
as it was natural. It may have been so; I do not presume to
make any comments, but surely do no one any wrong in simply
giving the facts exactly as they occurred. Nothing more was
ever heard from Grant on the boat subject, and I was ultimately
obliged, with the aid of the several interests affected, to get an Act
of Congress passed, declaratory of the century of uniform interpre-
tation of law on the subject, in order to protect the canal boats,
and the boatmen their persecuted lessees, in the legal rights
solemnly pronounced in their favor by every known authority
during three generations.
In the year 1875, the city of Denver having become an impor-
tant place, I felt desirous of seeing it once more and comparing its
condition with the untrodden wilderness I had known in 1849,
and the wagon camp of 1859. With two young friends I there-
fore visited it, by way of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, in Sep-
tember, and spent a month in travelling to the various points of
interest in what had now become the State of Colorado. Denver
had already grown to be a large city, with every sign of perma-
nence and prosperity. We visited Pueblo, Colorado Springs,
where the Fontaine qui bouille bursts forth from the mountains,
and many other prominent places in southern Colorado; and
afterwards the Parks, Georgetown, and other points in the north.
At Georgetown I met by accident in the street, a captain (Craw-
ford) of my old regiment, now a prosperous civil and mechanical
engineer, who kindly devoted himself to our amusement, and
accompanied us to various points of interest. From the summit
of the range back of Idaho Springs, some considerable distance
above the timber-line, I took a small pine seedling from an eleva-
tion said to be 12,000 feet above the sea, planted it carefully in a
cigar box, and carried it home to my summer residence at Clay-
mont on the banks of the Delaware, a few feet above tide level.
This seedling lived but failed to grow for a period of about ten
years, when, recovering from the shock of such a violent removal,
it commenced a fairly vigorous growth, and is now ten feet high
and in healthy condition. It has been identified by my distin-
guished botanical friend, Josiah Hoopes, as Pinus Ponderosa
Scopularia, and I strongly suspect is the only tree in America
146 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
that has successfully changed its altitude in the neighborhood of
12,000 feet, i.e., from an arctic to a temperate climate. 9
In the year 1877, occurred the disastrous labor riots, which
threatened property in many localities but especially in Penn-
sylvania, where the ignorant prejudices of the rabble became
especially excited against the railroads, whose property was
destroyed to the extent of several million dollars, particularly at
Pittsburg where the mob defeated the militia, and for some days
virtually held possession of the city. Governor Hartranft came
to Philadelphia and called on me to inquire if I would raise an
effective force in the cause of order. I expressed a confident
opinion that it would be quite practicable within a day or two to
raise all the force required, officer it with experienced officers, and
suppress the riot in twenty-four hours after arrival at Pitts-
burg, and proposed to undertake the responsibility myself, if he
would first perform his own part of the duty. "My duty?
What do you mean? I am ready to do anything in reason."
"Well, Governor, I have worked hard all my life, and have ac-
cumulated a little property, not much, but of some importance
to myself. If I go to Pittsburg, I don't propose to put down
the riot by coaxing, but by force; and as matters now stand, the
relations of every loafer who gets himself killed would be bringing
suits against me for the rest of my natural life. Do your own
share. Declare martial law, so as to protect your military
agents, and I will take a sufficient force to Pittsburg, prohibit all
street assemblages, require the surrender of all fire-arms, fire on
every unlawfully assembled squad, and after a reasonable time,
hang on the spot, every man taken with prohibited arms in his
possession. Give me lawful authority and a safe legal status,
and I will guarantee you such order in Pittsburg that, in twenty-
four hours after my arrival, no prayer-meeting could be more
orderly and law-abiding. But you must accept the fact that at
the stage where things have arrived, order will cost blood, and
blood must be shed."
9 This tree died without visible cause, in 1896, having attained a height of
twelve feet and produced seed.
A THIP TO ENGLAND AND THE CONTINENT 147
The Governor had been a soldier himself and knew the truth
and sense of all this, as well as anyone, but he had since fallen
into the ways of politicians, and preferred a politician's method.
He shrank from and declined the responsibility of declaring
martial law, which of course would suspend the civil laws and
vest plenary power in the military commander, and I declined to
undertake the job with my hands tied. I obtained a company
of U. S. regulars under a smart young captain and had it located
at the mining properties in my charge, where there had been signs
of disorder, but where all now remained serene, and concluded I
could stand the riot as long as the State authorities could. Ulti-
mately the thing wore itself out after considerable desultory and
useless loss of life and the destruction of a vast amount of property,
a large part of which was due to the feebleness, and political
cowardice of the persons selected by popular vote to maintain
public order and protect private rights.
In 1878, accompanied only by my wife and a courier, I travelled
extensively in Europe, and not then knowing whether another
opportunity would present, moved rapidly on a carefully prepared
schedule so as to get at least a superficial view of most of the
principal countries and capitals. We traversed Great Britain
from Cornwall to Inverness, gave some time to Ireland, and
visited France, Holland, Prussia, Baden, Saxony, Bavaria,
Austria, Switzerland and northern Italy, devoting five months
to travelling, and getting a fine confusion of ideas. Neverthe-
less, I believe it is not on the whole a bad plan for a busy person
to run hastily over a great deal of ground the first time, and then
return on later occasions for a more detailed examination. Of
course, however, such rapid visits would be useless for any prac-
tical purpose, unless preceded as in our case by carefully
arranged prior studies of the places visited, and their distin-
It was, I think, about 1879-80, that I was tempted for the
first, and I hope the last time, to attempt some practical benefit
by political means for the community in which I lived. As
already intimated, I had hitherto constantly declined not merely
the several offices and candidacies proposed to me, but all active
148 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
participation in controversial politics, beyond some occasional
writing for the better portion of the periodical press; and, enter-
taining certain unfavorable prepossessions respecting the favorite
American panacea of universal or 'manhood' suffrage, could
scarcely have asked with honesty for any 'gift of the people' or
other personal advantage based on the stupid foundation of mis-
cellaneous voting. I have perhaps already sufficiently expressed
my contempt for the fallacies of general suffrage in municipal
affairs, i.e., the judgment of the ignorant and non-taxpaying
classes respecting the proper expenditure of other people's money,
and concerning the qualifications of the publicists, judges, engi-
neers, and other professional experts required for the proper
transaction of the public business. But at the tune referred to,
both public and private interests seemed so seriously menaced
by the character of the municipal nominations on both sides, that
I was induced to join in the call for, and attendance at a public
Democratic meeting, outside of and hostile to the regular party
organization. Of course the Republicans, who possessed a large
and reliable majority in the city, might abuse their control of the
machine by demanding the party vote for anyone agreeable or
serviceable to the wire pullers, without regard to character or
qualifications. But it was intolerable that the opposition
should desert its function of tempting thoughtful voters from the
majority by well-chosen nominations, and for corrupt consid-
erations, put up persons so obnoxious as to compel even the most
liberal of the majority to adhere to their own bad ticket.
At this assembly of the disaffected, I had some indignant re-
marks to make, which were well received and supported, and the
meeting directed the formation of a standing executive committee
of one member from each ward, which soon became locally famous
as the 'Committee of Thirty-One,' of which I became permanent
Chairman. Samuel G. King, a man of no great force or capacity,
but personally honest, and the best Democrat that seemed avail-
able at the moment, was nominated by us as Democratic and
People's candidate for Mayor, and after a hot canvass was
actually elected by a large majority, a considerable proportion of
the entire Republican vote of the city having either voted for
VIEWS ON AND FACTS OF POLITICS 149
him, or, in his interest, refrained from voting. Most of the
money contributed for this canvass, and much of the laborious
part of the work, came from persons like myself, of no very rigid
party connections, and free from personal or political designs of
their own. A large amount was raised and deposited in a Trust
Company, all disbursements were made by check, a minute
statement of account was rendered, being the first in the history
of Pennsylvania politics so far as I know, and a considerable un-
used balance was ultimately paid over to the Republican 'Com-
mittee of One Hundred,' organized on their side, for a somewhat
Some optimist who still retains a modicum of confidence in
popular methods might perhaps ask, "Since a few public-spirited
persons accomplished a substantial benefit for the community on
this occasion, why cannot such always be done, by proper asso-
ciation of the young, active and patriotic?" Alas! the answer
must be, that success on this occasion was only rendered possible
by the most barefaced and unusual impudence of the party in
power, the almost universal remonstrance of the press, and the
consequent fostering of a public excitement which, though
ephemeral, as such spurts always are, was for the moment strong
enough to overcome that form of political stupidity known as
party 'consistency' or 'fidelity!' Such revolts, being con-
ducted by persons whose time and capacity are otherwise occu-
pied, are necessarily spasmodic and therefore unreliable and but
partially effective, and even then can only accomplish beneficial
results when a worse than ordinary blunder has been committed
by the vulgar rogues who habitually get control of the machine,
and under republican forms and nomenclature, wield a despotic,
corrupt and selfish power for themselves.
In a mere business career pursued for private advantage, there
can be little worthy of commemoration, and perhaps even less to
interest others. In our country all are obliged to watch and
labor for the protection of what they possess, or the support and
comfort of themselves and families, and presumably all do their
best under the common pressure of individual interests and family
affection. I may therefore be excused from going further into
150 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
such matters, or referring to the numerous affairs of others,
which, much against my own wishes, have from time to time
fallen under my management, but as railroad construction and
financial readjustment have influenced many private fortunes
and concerned the public interest in many localities, I am in-
duced to give a brief account of one of these, in which circum-
stances compelled me to take a principal part.
The Texas and Pacific Railroad Company, composed of sev-
eral short lines formerly consolidated by Thomas A. Scott, and
of extensions and connections constructed by him, was in 1884,
controlled by the celebrated New York millionaire, Jay Gould,
who not long prior to Scott's death had purchased his interest,
including a controlling majority of the stock. It embraced 1500
miles of road, extending from New Orleans, through Shreeves-
port, Marshall, Dallas and Fort Worth to El Paso, on the Rio
Grande, together with intermediate lines and branches covering
the largest and best parts of central and eastern Texas. It was
separately mortgaged in three divisions of nearly similar mileage,
but very unequal value, which may be called for brevity the
Eastern, Middle and Western. Of these, the Western failed
to earn current expenses, the Eastern barely earned them, and
the Middle earned its expenses and a small surplus in excess of
the annual charges on its own mortgages. In the year named
the road defaulted on all its mortgages, and offered proposals to
its creditors which were very distasteful to those best secured.
These were, of course, the holders of bonds secured on the Middle
Division, mostly residents of Philadelphia, who were invited to
submit to nearly the same sacrifices as the holders of securities
of the non-earning divisions. Of the approximate total of about
thirty-four million dollars of mortgage bonds, about fourteen
millions were secured on the Middle Division, and mostly held in
Philadelphia. By many of these holders, I was solicited to call
a meeting of the Philadelphia bond creditors to adopt measures
for a defensive organization to protect their interests. This was
done, and after an explanatory speech, a Managing Committee
was chosen, of which I was elected Chairman. Amended pro-
posals for reorganization were made by us, and resisted by the
MANIPULATIONS OF RAILWAY SECURITIES 151
New York holders, also represented by their respective Com-
mittee. Negotiation proving unsuccessful, our Committee called
for the deposit with it of all the securities of its constituents and
supporters, and soon controlled by actual possession nearly all
the bonds secured on the Middle Division. The several oppo-
sition committees representing the bond-holders of the land
grant, and of the two less valuable divisions respectively, in addi-
tion to a fifth committee of stock-holders, finding their several
schemes of readjustment at the expense of the Middle Division
creditors, thus effectively blocked, then proceeded to organize a
strong bankers' syndicate, to buy out the latter, or a majority of
them, and thus remove or overcome their opposition. Though
our Committee which throughout the contest became generally
known as the 'Wistar Committee' held possession of these
bonds, as before stated, it had, for the purpose of facilitating
transfers of ownership, issued negotiable certificates to the sev-
eral depositors; and its opponents, once possessed of these, might
with reason urge upon the Court, that though the Wistar Com-
mittee held the bonds, they as purchasers of the beneficial in-
terest represented by the certificates, possessed the real rights of
the depositors, including the very important right to name the
Judicial Receiver, and thus control future proceedings, both
legal and financial. In order to protect the large body of our
certificate holders who had not sold and did not wish to sell, it
therefore became necessary for us either to contest the possession
of the certificates by rival purchases of our own, or to be crowded
out altogether and submit to having our Middle Division al-
most the only real security administered and perhaps plundered
for the benefit of the other claimants.
A large money-lending firm of Philadelphia and New York,
operating in both cities and professing to influence through their
customers a large number of the Middle Division bonds, had
been minutely consulted and kept informed by us from the be-
ginning, with the clear understanding of receiving their assistance
and support. But as they had demanded the enormous fee of
$100,000 to act as our depositary, we had obtained competitive
bids and contracted the same service for $12,000, to the Farmers'
152 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
Loan and Trust Company of New York, the lowest bidder.
This disappointment, though so plainly in the interest of our
depositors alienated the firm referred to, of which the first inti-
mation that reached us, was their earnest and ill-concealed effort
to purchase against us, on behalf of the hostile New York Com-
mittees. Had they candidly announced to us their resentment
and proposed defection, it is quite possible that in view of the
value of their adherence, our Committee might have felt con-
strained to yield much, perhaps even to the extent of admitting
them to the coveted agency on some terms limiting their charges
and protecting the depositors from any excessive voracity. But
this selfish and secret desertion to the enemy left to us only the
alternative of open war, with the weapons chosen by themselves,
or ignominious surrender of the interests confided to us. Gen-
eral John Markoe (the same whose charge with A and D Com-
panies of the 71st, broke and captured prisoners from the 8th
Virginia at Ball's Bluff), William D. Winsor, and John N.
Hutchinson, constituting with myself a majority of our Com-
mittee, promptly chose the first; and with this view, I immediately
repaired to New York where I first sought the aid of Mr. Gould, a
large holder of bonds as well as stock, who had already assented
to our plan of readjustment. But, unfortunately, that able and
experienced financier was absent on his yacht, beyond reach of
telegraph. Arrangements were therefore quickly made with
several prominent New York Trust Companies to borrow large
amounts of money, on the deposit of the bonds as fast as they
might be purchased, reinforced with what private collateral
security I could muster. Half a million were purchased the first
day, over a million on the second, and nearly two millions, on
the third day, the market rates rapidly advancing, when our
treacherous opponents deserted their new allies and resold their
own purchases to our brokers, having thus accomplished the
nimble feat of betraying both their old and new associates twice,
in the compass of a single week! Among the predatory private
'bankers' that infest our large money markets I am told that
sort of thing is considered a smart stroke of business, though even
the famous Dalgetty would probably have found a more appro-
priate name for it.
A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO JAY GOULD 153
Mr. Gould, at length learning of the conflict through the news-
papers, hurried home about this time and gave us his powerful
and unwavering support; and in view of the denunciation often
lavished upon him, it is but fair to add that through the weary
years of contest and litigation that ensued, he proved invariably
staunch and true, requiring from first to last nothing from us but
a fair adherence to the obligations we had publicly assumed. In
the secure possession of substantially all the bonds secured on
the profitable portion of the property, our Committee was not
long in obtaining the general adherence of all parties to its plan
of readjustment, after which we were enabled to resell all our
purchases at a moderate loss which, by terms of the agreement,
was assessed upon, and paid by those whose eccentricities had
occasioned it. A long though formal litigation and receivership
ensued, the mortgages were all foreclosed, and the property sold
to our Committee. But as all parties ultimately came to our
terms and surrendered their securities to us, we never obtained a
confirmation of the sale, being in due time able to cancel all liens
by means of new mortgages; raise a cash amount of several mil-
lion dollars, chiefly by contributions from the stockholders;
restore the road and equipment to a better condition than it had
ever before known, and hand over the property sound and solvent
to its stockholders, who, notwithstanding their vigorous, if not
bitter original opposition, have ever since done me the honor
much against my preferences of retaining me in the Board of
As by these rather irregular efforts of memory, I recall so many
circumstances from the obscure and half-forgotten past, I must
not omit some things not yet entirely passed, and especially the
pleasure and improvement I have for many years derived from my
dearly-prized connection with the Biological Club. This was
and I am glad to say, still is a social organization of limited num-
ber, meeting at a fortnightly dinner for purely social intercourse
and conversation, under the widest conditions of mutual confi-
dence and freedom. Entire unanimity has always been required
for every affirmative act, and a deliberate and judicious care
been invariably exerted to maintain the membership, without
154 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
regard to wealth or display, from persons unanimously judged
eminent in some intellectual pursuit, mainly those connected
with Natural History or Physical Science. Professor Joseph
Leidy, universally beloved for his personal qualities, and famous
among the learned of all lands for the unsurpassed value of his
researches, was the President for over thirty years, till his death
in 1891. The other members have comprised men distinguished
in nearly every branch of knowledge, and few scientific ques-
tions could be propounded in the Club without finding at least
one expert of authority, capable of giving the best elucidation as
yet reached by modern learning. It was not long after the war
that I was admitted to this Association, and I have never ceased
to derive from it a solid enjoyment surpassed by no other connec-
tion of the kind. A list of the members, past and present,
would include many of those most eminent in their day in all the
learned institutions of the city, and some whose distinction has
extended far beyond the boundaries of their native land.
I passed a part of the winter of 1883-84 in the Bermuda
Islands, which was not unprofitably occupied in observing the
physical and geological, and even the political peculiarities of
that interesting group, respecting each of which topics I had
afterwards something to remark in the periodical press. I had
even commenced the preparation of a geological section and
physical history of the Islands to read before the Academy, but
finding the thoughts and studies of Professor Heilprin bent on
the same interesting subjects, yielded the matter to him, on his
undertaking to visit, investigate, and write, himself. That prom-
ise he has handsomely fulfilled by his excellent work entitled "The
Bermuda Islands: A Contribution to the Physical History and
Zoology of the Somer's Archipelago, with an Examination of the
Structure of Coral Reefs." Philadelphia, 1889. That excellent
performance nevertheless still leaves for a future student the
interesting subject of the political organization, public revenue, and
municipal administration of the colony under a suffrage, limited
only by a moderate property qualification. The peculiar interest
of this lies in the fact that although sixty per cent of the total
population of 14,650 are colored, the number of legal voters is
TRIPS TO EUROPE AND ALASKA 155
reduced by a sixty-pound freehold qualification, to 864, or less
than six per cent of the whole, thus ensuring in fact, as might have
been antecedently inferred, honest, intelligent and cheap adminis-
tration, coupled with the entire content of the governed. How to
extend to larger populations some such system, combining the
assured liberty of the individual and his unchecked freedom to
accumulate and rise if he can, with the intelligence and integrity
thus far only to be found in a small portion of the mass, is the
great future problem for Anglo-Saxon statesmen on both sides the
In company with my wife and some younger members of the
family, I spent part of the year 1888 in European travelling, which
afforded an opportunity of obtaining information on several
interesting subjects. Among these was the most approved form
and arrangement of modern Zoological Gardens and Museums of
Natural History, in both of which I had become particularly
interested as a Director in the Philadelphia Zoological Society,
and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Building Fund of
the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, of which Insti-
tution I have at this writing just been elected President. Another
subject of examination was the organization and appliances for
municipal engineering and administration; and a third was the
organization, discipline, instruction, mobilization and supply of
great modern armies, especially those of England, Germany and
France. A large part of the time not thus occupied, was devoted
to travel in the Alpine regions of Austria, Switzerland and Italy,
for which purpose a four-horse vehicle was obtained and suitably
provided, in which we crossed most of the great passes that I had
not previously visited, including the Stelvio, Maloja, Julier, Furka,
Spliigen and St. Gothard. These, with those visited in 1878, give
one a fairly extensive knowledge of the scenery, character and his-
tory of the principal Alpine passes.
During the summer of 1890 we visited, in a large party, with all
the comfortable appliances of modern travel, the famous glaciers
of Alaska, touching at several points ground traversed by me
forty years before, in what had then been far in the heart of an
unknown and primeval wilderness. Our journey was by the
156 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
Canadian Pacific to Vancouver, thence by steamer to Victoria and
the various posts in Alaska, back to Seattle and Tacoma, thence
to Portland and home through the Yellowstone Park, by the
Northern Pacific Railway. The contrast between then and now,
between the exhilarating and noble freedom of the primitive wil-
derness, and the rather vulgar triumphs of recent civilization, were
intensely interesting to me; but it is hopeless to attempt to convey
the feeling to another. One's recollections of the persons and
conditions of the strange and distant past, tinged with a melan-
choly realism by the inevitable reflection, that the first are gone
forever and the last changed beyond recognition, can hardly be
realized or even understood by another mind, however sympa-
thetic. As our noisy train rushed headlong through the echoing
chasms of the mountains, the rocky pinnacles and snow-clad sum-
mits still stood piercing the sky, the same as for ages past and per-
haps for cycles yet to come, but far away behind them and beyond
ken of the holiday tourist, how faithfully I remembered the steep
and narrow canons with their foaming torrents and roaring cas-
cades, up which the lonely trapper once led his pack-horses, sur-
rounded by privation and danger and separated by a year's travel
or more, from the then distant invasion of the settler. Rolling
over and down the wild pass of the Wapta once the home of the
bloody Surcees and Blackfeet following down the one almost con-
tinuous cataract of that rushing stream, passing by the sunny
Shuswaps, and down the fertile and now well-settled bottoms of
the Thompson, I strove in vain to identify the once lonely spot,
where in the shadows of the great range, and in mortal fear of its
inhabitants, we had swum that noble river, pushing before us the
frail and hastily-made raft which, carrying all our worldly effects
and dragging us with it far down the swirling current, was at last
safely landed several miles below the starting-point.
The long and awful canon of the lower Frazer, then for the
most part only accessible to the solitary eagle, now carried clinging
to its mountain walls, a wagon-road on one side and a railroad on
the other. The primitive H. B. stockade of Victoria, with the
Indian canoes hauled up on its rocky beach, now had become a
great city, full of splendid buildings, crowded by fashionable
REVISITING THE WESTERN RANGES 157
residents, infested with millionaires, and girt with long lines of tall
ships and stately steamers. The half-dozen trading cabins strung
along between the falls of the Willamette and the H. B. farm and
stockade at Multnomah Island, had grown to a town of 40,000
people, with electric lights and railways, cable roads and miles of
tall and solid wharves and buildings. On Puget Sound, the lonely
fishing village, where the kindly old Seattle strove to shelter
his tribe from the fierce Hydahs and Queen Charlotte Islanders,
and win the friendship of the white man, had totally disappeared;
and on its metamorphosed site, extending far back upon the hills,
had risen a city as modern-looking as New York, its long wharves
lined with ships and steamers, and its steep streets crowded with
gaunt and sharp-eyed Yankees, perpetually haggling even in the
sight and presence of the glorious summit of Rainier over the
mean insignificance of their corner lots.
Strange as it all was, the mighty transformation was anything
but exhilarating to the spirits. Not one inhabitant could I find
that had even seen the place, till twenty years or more after I had
left it. In vain I inquired for some stray survivor of the friendly
natives with whom I might have mustered enough of their once
well-known language, to have learned the fate of the individuals
I remembered. All, all were gone, mostly exterminated by the
white man's contact, and the wretched remnant herded up on
some distant inland reservation, to be robbed and starved at
leisure by the statesmen and politicians of our great and glorious
(?) Republic. Fort Vancouver had become a great United States
military post, where my old army friend, General Gibbon was in
command. Fort Steilacome had long been abandoned by its
former owners; the great Multnomah grain farm was inhabited
by miscellaneous American settlers, and even at the British town
of Victoria, when I inquired for the H. B. representatives, in
hopes of finding some well-remembered old mountain chief, I was
introduced to a lot of sleek and dapper young London clerks, sell-
ing their haberdashery over counters like any other shopkeepers!
Far, far toward the Arctic, must one now go who seeks yet to find
the H. B. in its glory, and its bold chiefs and hardy servants
engaged as in the days of yore. As for finding those grim relics of
158 INCIDENTS AND REFLECTIONS IN CONCLUSION
mountain chivalry in our sleek and prosperous modern towns as
well look for an old man-of-war's man in a canal boat; a dashing
cavalry leader in the village police; a Highland chieftain in the
slums of Glasgow.
But though one may at times be tempted to indulge in sober
reflections, in coming thus upon unforeseen transformations and
suddenly realizing the complete disappearance of old customs and
old friends, it is but folly for any of us deliberately to regret the
past. Man still advances, still multiplies, still increases his knowl-
edge and extends his dominion over Nature. Spite of all his
follies, ignorance and prejudices obstinately perpetuated through
the ages by the most venerable and powerful institutions he has
at any period been able to construct the race does constantly,
notwithstanding perpetual jolts and interruptions, move forward
to a broader knowledge and a wiser life. It is not by the memories
of any individual, or the misleading comparison of year with year,
but by that of generation with generation or century with century,
that we are to comprehend this positive and as yet unchanging
When if ever such progress shall be visibly and permanently
checked; when all lands shall be filled with a hungry and hopeless
population; when the fuel and minerals and fertility accumulated
for us through innumerable ages shall be at last exhausted; when
the sun's fructifying heat shall wane, and the conditions of Nature
on which we now implicitly rely, shall have been modified or
impaired, then, and not till then, may our remote successors begin
to fear a stationary or retrograde condition, and may with reason
look back with regret to the better days that will have passed for
But surely such regret would be folly for us who daily behold
our ever-widening control over the riches of Nature, bringing
results which tend to increase the happiness of our lot and to aug-
ment the multitudes destined to enjoy it. No! there is nothing
even in our declining years and waning powers that should tempt us
to prefer the past. Our remote future as individuals may not yet
have been satisfactorily revealed to us, but the earthly destiny of
our race as a whole, is most assuredly marked out by its constant
A LONG LOOK AHEAD 159
and marvelous progress in the past. As I now lay down the pen,
probably not to be resumed, I feel more than ever confident, that
while much still remains to be gained in respect of the social and
political welfare of our kind, it is sure to come as other knowledge
and improvement have come; and our distant posterity will one
day enjoy conditions as superior to ours, as these surpass the lot
of our savage progenitors of the remote geologic eras of the past.
The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology
Woodland Avenue and 36th Street, Philadelphia
THE WISTAR INSTITUTE OF ANATOMY AND BIOLOGY 1
MILTON J. GREENMAN
The name of Isaac J. Wistar will ever be associated with the progress
of American science, not only by reason of his princely gift to anatomy,
but also on account of his personal interest in the various scientific
organizations with which, during the later years of his life, he was
connected. His autobiography touches some of the details of his varied
activities and inadvertently develops some of the personal qualities
which were so admirable. The autobiography, however, does not deal
with his interest in the institution to which he gave so liberally of his
time and fortune.
Those who enjoyed the privilege of knowing General Wistar inti-
mately loved him for his force, his independence, his deep human
sympathies and the qualities which are combined in the true friend.
Isaac Jones Wistar was born at 726 Arch Street, Philadelphia, No-
vember 14, 1827.
In 1839 he was sent to the Friends' Boarding School at Westtown,
in 1841 he was at the Friends' Select School in Philadelphia and in
1842 at Haverford School, now Haverford College.
In 1844 he was employed in a dry goods store and in 1845-1846 worked
on a farm in Montgomery County and on a canal in Pennsylvania.
In 1847 he worked for his father on a farm and in 1848 for a map
publisher in Philadelphia.
In 1849 he started for California and after a varied career in the far
West as hunter, miner and sailor began the study of law in San Francisco
In 1854 he began the practice of law in San Francisco.
He left for the East in 1857.
In 1858 he opened a law office in Philadelphia and was admitted to
the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania the same year.
In 1860 he was admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States.
1 This sketch of the Wistar Institute was prepared as an Appendix to the
Autobiography of General Wistar at the request of the Publication Committee.
He joined the Union army and at the request of Colonel Baker
raised the 71st (California) regiment in 1861.
He married Sarah Toland in 1862.
He resigned from the army in 1864 and was elected President of the
Union Canal Company in 1865 and later President of the Pennsylvania
Canal Company in 1867. He resigned as President of this Company
He was a director of the Philadelphia Zoological Society from 1891
to 1894. President of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia,
1891 to 1895. President of the American Philosophical Society 1901
He died at Claymont, Del, September 3, 1905.
During the last twelve years of his life he was interested in and more
or less actively engaged in placing upon a firm financial basis the insti-
tution bearing his family name: The Wistar Institute of Anatomy
This Institute owes its origin in 1808 to Dr. Caspar Wistar (1761-
1818), great uncle of Gen. Isaac J. Wistar who, eighty-five years later,
gave to anatomical science this most generous endowment to perpetuate
the memory of one of America's first and most distinguished anatomists.
Dr. Caspar Wistar, a Philadelphian by birth, was a graduate of the
University of Pennsylvania and took his degree of Doctor of Medicine
in Edinburgh in 1786, where he had been closely associated with Doctor
Cullen and Dr. Charles Stewart. While in Edinburgh, he was honored
by election to the Presidency of the Royal Medical Society of Edin-
burgh for two successive years, and in consequence of his broad inter-
est in comparative anatomy he was elected to the Presidency of the
Edinburgh "Society for the Further Investigation of Natural History."
During Doctor Wistar's four years' study abroad, he came under
the influence of the celebrated teachers of anatomy in both Edinburgh
and London. Here he became familiar with those methods of impart-
ing anatomical knowledge which were employed by the Hunters and
Monroes, and on his return began his teaching in 1792 as Adjunct
Professor of Anatomy with Dr. William Shippen at the University
Doctor Wistar was actively engaged in the practice of medicine;
his attractive personality together with his skill brought him a large
practice. His hospitality, his sympathy, the modest firmness with
which he held to his own conclusions and the scrupulous integrity
with which he performed his duty won for him many friends. We
have left to us still in Philadelphia the "Wistar Party," an organiza-
tion for the diffusion of "true and elegant, yet simple and unambitious
hospitality," a derivation of Doctor Wistar's Sunday evening parties.
In 1808, following the death of Doctor Shippen, Wistar was elected
to the Professorship of Anatomy in the medical school of the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania. His work as a student in the Edinburgh and
London schools and his desire to perfect his anatomical demonstrations
while Adjunct Professor, had led him to a keen appreciation of John
Hunter's methods and gradually, during the years which followed, he
accumulated an extensive series of dissections and preparations useful
in the teaching of Anatomy.
Doctor Wistar's benevolence and charity and his active interest in
the promotion of his science brought him into numerous positions of
In 1787 he was appointed physician to the Philadelphia Dispensary.
In 1789 he was elected Professor of Chemistry in the College of Phila-
delphia, a rival institution of the University of Pennsylvania. He
accepted this position largely to bring about the union of the two
institutions, an act which was finally consummated. In 1793 he was
elected physician to the Pennsylvania Hospital, a position which he
resigned in 1810 much to the regret of the managers of the hospital.
In 1794 he was appointed censor of the College of Physicians, a posi-
tion which he held until his death. He was President of the American
Philosophical Society at the time of his death in 1818.
Doctor Wistar was a man of classical learning and well versed in
the science of botany, of mineralogy and of chemistry, but his active
interests were in anatomy. His work as a teacher and as an investi-
gator did much to bring the science of anatomy to the high standard
which it enjoyed in the early days of Pennsylvania's Medical School.
He wrote the first American system of Human Anatomy, an excellent
work which passed through several editions. His name is inseparably
connected with the spheno-turbinal bones, the development of which
was more completely described by him (Trans. Amer. Phil. Soc. 1818).
The original drawings of these bones, made for publication, are now
preserved at the Wistar Institute, as are many of his dissections and
other objects relating to his work.
Doctor Wistar's stimulating influence in his chosen field of science
brought large classes to his lectures and demonstrations.
The anatomical preparations which Doctor Wistar accumulated dur-
ing his active career in the University of Pennsylvania as Adjunct
Professor of Anatomy from 1792 till 1808 and as Professor of Anatomy
from 1808 till 1818, were used by him in his lectures and demonstrations.
Following his death, in 1818, this collection was presented by his
widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Mifflin Wistar, to the University of Pennsylvania
where through the activities and generosity of succeeding incumbents
of the Chair of Anatomy, Physick, Horner and Leidy, the collection
was increased in extent and value. In 1892 the so-called Wistar or
Wistar and Horner Museum was incorporated under a new name as
The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology. A new building and
endowment for maintenance were provided by General Isaac J. Wistar.
The immediate stimulus for such a step came from the fact that the
Wistar Museum, then used chiefly by Prof. Joseph Leidy in his lec-
tures on anatomy, was without that continuous financial support which
was needed to increase the collection and to replace and maintain the
specimens it contained.
Dr. James Tyson, Dean of the Medical School of the University of
Pennsylvania at the time, interested a number of men in the support
of this Museum, among them was General Wistar, who took more than
ordinary interest in the Museum with the result that a trust fund of
about $20,000 was created on July 20, 1891, by General Wistar for the
support of the Museum.
General Wistar had always been interested in natural history. This
inclination had led him to take active part in the affairs of the Acad-
emy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia of which he was at this time
Having vested $20,000 in a trust fund for the care of the Wistar
Museum, his interest in this museum, through the influence of Dr.
William Pepper, no doubt, and from the fact that Caspar Wistar was
his great uncle, became more intense and he decided to do something
further. Accordingly, in less than a year from the date of the founda-
tion of the original trust, The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology
was incorporated, April, 1892.
The Board of Managers for the first year was composed of the fol-
WILLIAM PEPPER HENRY C. McCooK
ISAAC J. WISTAR WILLIAM SELLERS
S. WEIR MITCHELL ARTHUR V. MEIGS
SAMUEL DICKSON JOHN MARKOE
CHARLES C. HARRISON
The University of Pennsylvania presented a plot of ground on 36th
Street between Woodland Avenue and Spruce Street and General Wistar
erected thereon a fireproof museum building at a cost of $125,000.
The University of Pennsylvania then presented the original Wistar
Museum and on May 21, 1894, the new Institute was formally opened.
While inseparably connected with the University of Pennsylvania,
the Institute was organized as an independent institution under a
charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its organization
requires that the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania shall
annually elect its board of nine managers, that one of these managers
shall be the eldest and nearest male lineal heir of Caspar Wistar (1801-
1867), father of the donor, Gen. Isaac J. Wistar, and that two of the
said board shall be representatives from the Academy of Natural
Sciences of Philadelphia.
The purposes of the Institute are stated in the Trust Deed of October
1, 1898 as follows:
The main and principal object of the Institute shall be the safe
preservation, intelligent arrangement, and free exhibition of the Ana-
tomical Museum originally commenced by Prof. Caspar Wistar and
now in possession of the said Wistar Institute, and its increase and
extension to a complete collection of all objects and preparations use-
ful in the higher and advanced study of Biology, of Human, Compara-
tive and Pathological Anatomy, and of the historical development of
the present organs and structure of Man, and it shall not be used to
replace, modify or interfere with such elementary instruction on those
or any other subjects as is or may be given at the University of Penn-
sylvania or other schools and colleges, but in order further to promote
such advanced researches and studies, the Board of Managers may,
when consistent with the financial resources of the Institute, establish
systems of lectures on the above-named subjects for the instruction
of postgraduate and advanced students only, especially as illustrated
by Museum preparations, to be delivered on its premises by its Direc-
tor, Fellows and others, and may also, when deemed by them expedient,
institute and conduct a publication, periodical or otherwise, of its
lectures, catalogues, scientific proceedings and contributions, and may
originate any other work for the research in, or increase of original
scientific knowledge of the said several subjects and those kindred to
them, at the same time devising and enforcing a competent and strict
censorship of the material of such publications, and the scope and
scientific value of such work. But since owing to the ample facilities
already supplied from various sources for the publication by scientific
men of their observations and discoveries, such publications are apt
to be considerably in advance of proved facts and well established
knowledge, therefore all work and expenditure of the Institute for
publishing purposes shall always be secondary and entirely subordinate
to the principal object which is and shall always continue to be to
accumulate the most complete and perfectly displayed Anatomical
Museum that can be devised, keeping the same always fully up to the
latest and best methods of preparation and exhibition. While the
Museum shall, under suitable regulations, be free for the inspection of
the public, and especially of all teachers and students, the object of
the laboratories and workrooms and of any lectures or instructions
to be given at the Institute shall be for the improvement and research
of postgraduate or advanced students and of searchers after new and
original knowledge, and neither the Institute, its premises or property
shall be used to replace or supersede such elementary instruction of
undergraduate students as now does, or hereafter may fairly pertain
to the ordinary or necessary curriculum of the University.
The rapid increase in the number of medical schools in this country
from the time of Dr. Caspar Wistar to that of Dr. Joseph Leidy, estab-
lished as many were for pecuniary profits, tended to a lowering of the
standards of admission. Anatomy during this period remained sub-
servient to surgery, being frequently utilized as the stepping stone to
the Chair of Surgery. Its preservation and advancement as a science
was accomplished chiefly by men active in comparative anatomy rather
than by the professors of anatomy in medical schools.
At the time of the opening of the Wistar Institute, men like Harri-
son Allen, Cope, Leidy, Marsh and Ryder were actively working in
the broader field of comparative anatomy and were rapidly regaining
for anatomy a position as an independent discipline.
The influence of these men, all personal friends of General Wistar,
is strongly reflected in the statement of the purposes of the Institute.
General Wistar appreciated the value of comparative morphology
in the development of anatomy, the necessity of abundance of material,
ample laboratory facilities and above all, the stimulus for capable
young men to enter upon this field of science.
Dr. Harrison Allen, for many years had advocated the introduction
of comparative anatomy and comparative pathology into the medical
curriculum. He was Professor of Medical Zoology and Comparative
Anatomy in the University of Pennsylvania from 1865 to 1879 and
did much to advance the knowledge of the subject. It was largely
through his influence that General Wistar fixed the purposes of the
Wistar Institute upon that broad scientific basis and limited its activ-
ities to advanced work in anatomy and allied subjects.
The formal opening of the Wistar Institute occurred on May 21,
1894. The principal addresses were made by Dr. William Pepper,
Provost of the University of Pennsylvania; Dr. William Osier, Professor
of Medicine in the Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Harrison Allen,
the first Director of the Institute.
It is worthy of note that the Wistar Museum was the first anatomical
musum and the Wistar Institute is the first anatomical research insti-
tution to be established in this country.
Provost Pepper, with characteristic enthusiasm in his opening address
predicted a great work for this unique Institute and called attention
to the advantage of concentration and liberal cooperation of scientific
institutes even when financial and organic integrity are scrupulously
maintained. Undoubtedly Pepper, with his generous breadth of view
had scented the development which was about to take place in American
anatomy and felt that an institute, whose resources were to aid in this
development, would very soon settle into its proper field of usefulness,
do credit to its founders and form one of the units in his ideal university
which should be an aggregation of institutes and agencies more or less
independently governed, for the promotion of research and the acquisi-
tion and diffusion of knowledge.
Dr. Harrison Allen, the first Director of the Institute was in active
medical practice, but notwithstanding this fact, Doctor Allen for many
years had been an enthusiastic investigator in comparative anatomy,
the cultivation of which science he considered inseparably connected
with that of medicine. He was of the opinion that the study of anatomy
in relation to its ancient mistress medicine, should be identical with
its study in relation to a scheme of evolution of organic forms.
Doctor Allen had for years maintained most advanced views as to
the importance of scientific anatomy as compared with so-called prac-
tical anatomy and although he resigned as Director of the Wistar
Institute on July 2, of the same year (1894), he nevertheless left his
impression upon the future development of the institute which today
is following his suggestions almost as closely as if he were still its
Nor could an ideal institute be developed without a very substantial
and considerable material foundation.
After General Wistar had erected a fireproof museum and laboratory
building at a cost of $125,000 on ground presented by the University of
Pennsylvania, on September 1, 1893, he created a trust fund of about
$130,000 for the support of the Institute. This fund was increased
from time to time by General Wistar and at the last inventory, Decem-
ber, 1913, was valued at $236,708.
On October 1, 1898, General Wistar established a second trust fund
with securities amounting to $340,000 which in the December,1913,
inventory was valued at $405,903.21.
A third fund, known as the Contingent Fund, was established by
General Wistar on January 2, 1902, the Income from the second trust
being used for a time to build up this fund. By the conditions of the
trust deed, pertaining to the Contingent Fund, the entire amount of
the fund or any portion of it may be used at one time for any purpose
of the Institute, but the fund must be at once accumulated to its pre-
scribed limit of $200,000 whenever it has been depleted. In the Decem-
ber, 1913, inventory, this fund was valued at $226,998.80.
Profiting by the experiences of other endowed institutions, General
Wistar inserted as one of the conditions of his trust deed the require-
ment that at least 10 per cent and more, if needed, of the net income
from each trust fund should be added to the principal in order that the
principal should not only be maintained, but also be increased.
In addition to these funds, General Wistar presented to the Institute
improved real estate in Chicago valued at $300,000.
On December 6, 1901, the Wistar Institute purchased from the city
of Philadelphia, the remaining portion of the triangular lot bounded
by Woodland Avenue, Spruce and 36th Streets. General Wistar fur-
nished the money for this purchase.
In his Will, General Wistar made the Wistar Institute residuary
legatee to his estate, so that after certain small annuities are extin-
guished the Wistar Institute will receive for its support the income on
an additional estate of considerable value.
In 1897, General Wistar added a new wing to the museum building
at a cost of $45,000 affording additional museum and laboratory space
and a complete heating and lighting equipment.
Through the liberality of General Wistar, the Institute now has
ground for expansion and an increasing endowment which permits it
to maintain, a museum and research staff of sufficient proportions to
accomplish much in its special field.
During the early days following the incorporation of the Institute,
General Wistar took a most active interest in every detail. It was
his custom to make weekly visits to the Institute, usually on Sunday
mornings, when he reviewed the work of the week or discussed with
the Assistant Director, the needs of the Institute. It was on these
Sunday morning visits that the future of the Institute was most fre-
quently discussed and gradually General Wistar became aware of the
necessity of greater income so that with a larger staff the Institute
might make an impression upon the progress of American anatomy.
Dr. Horace Jayne succeeded Dr. Harrison Allen as Director of the
Wistar Institute in 1894.
Doctor Jayne's work in biology had brought him into prominence
as an investigator. His activities in organizing the first biological
department of the University of Pennsylvania and his generosity in
providing a building for this department indicates the type of work
which he enjoyed and in which he was so successful. As Director of
the Wistar Institute, he took active interest in the building up of the
museum and through his generosity and influence with others con-
tinued to add to the collection much valuable material for the study of
The library needed attention and with characteristic generosity
Doctor Jayne presented his complete anatomical library to the Insti-
tute. This made a most attractive beginning especially in sets of
During the ten years of Doctor Jayne's administration, the museum
received the chief attention. The casing of materials, their orderly
and accessible arrangement were serious problems. Only foreign mu-
seums had thus far enjoyed the advantages of modern museum equip-
ment. The disadvantages of the wooden case were overcome by adopt-
ing the steel and glass cases for all forms of exhibition. This type of
museum case was not to be purchased in the American markets. There-
fore, new cases were devised, various forms of storage, exhibition jars
and laboratory equipment were invented. A machine shop was in-
stalled for the production of such cases and other museum and labo-
ratory devices as could not be purchased, and thus the Wistar Insti-
tute was the first museum in America to produce a satisfactory metal-
glass museum case.
During this period of museum growth, while the amount of material
had quadrupled, the laboratories had received some attention and a
number of investigators had found it advantageous to pursue their
researches at the Wistar Institute.
In December, 1904, Dr. Horace Jayne resigned as Director of the
Institute and in January, 1905, Dr. Milton J. Greenman, who had
acted as Assistant Director from the time of the opening of the Insti-
tute, was elected Director.
During the early period of the Institute's existence marked changes
had taken place in the methods of biological research. Experimental
work with living forms came to be an interesting and fruitful field of
research; cytology developed as an important and extensive special
field in zoology; heredity received greater attention, the chemistry of
organic substances came into much greater importance in the inter-
pretation of vital phenomena; biological investigation was advancing
from the qualitative to the quantitative type.
About this time the necessity for greater cooperation in anatomical
work was recognized by Professor His in Germany in his suggestion
of a central anatomical institute for embryology and by Professor
Flechsig in his outline of a central anatomical institute for neurology.
Through the efforts of the International Association of Academies,
the Brain Commission was organized, its object being to stimulate
cooperative work on the structure and function of the brain. In
America, through the influence of the American Association of Anato-
mists, the Society of American Zoologists and various other organi-
zations, new life had been instilled into biological science and American
anatomy had not only regained its place of a century previous, but
was also making rapid advances.
It seemed now that the Institute should take a more active part
in the productive scientific work of the country. With its physical
equipment, its modest yet increasing income, its organization, suffi-
ciently independent to do national cooperative work, yet with an
advantageous University connection, and a keen progressive Board
of Managers headed by Mr. Charles C. Harrison who had succeeded
Dr. William Pepper as President in 1898, it seemed well worth while
to call together a number of representative anatomists and zoologists
to discuss the scientific policy of the Institute and determine what
type of work and along what lines the Institute could most advanta-
geously expend its energies.
In a letter addressed to the Director, General Wistar said: "I fully
agree, viz.: (1) that the Wistar Institute Museum should be designed
for the use of investigators, rather than a mere gaping public. In
doing so, you would incidentally and necessarily supply all that is
necessary for undergraduate students, outside of the regular Chair of
Anatomy. (2) I think that after the preparation you have already
made, by conferring with leading anatomists, an expenditure of a few
hundred dollars to assemble and entertain a meeting of such men in
April, would be of advantage to the Institute; its objects and public
value. (3) I think the President has authority to order such expendi-
tures and to invite, or authorize you to invite the anatomists you have
named, and I will strongly recommend him to do so."
Consequently, on April 11 to 13, 1905, a Conference of American
Anatomists was held at the Institute and as a result a permanent
Advisory Board was organized and arrangements made for holding
yearly meetings in Philadelphia. This board was at that time and
still is composed of the following men:
PROF. L. F. BARKER DR. G. CARL HUBER
DR. E. G. CONKLIN Dr. F. P. MALL
DR. H. H. DONALDSON DR. C. S. MiNOT 2
PROF. S. H. GAGE DR. G. A. PIERSOL
DR. G. S. HTJNTINGTON DR. J. P. McMuRRicH
Dr. M. J. Greenman was elected to this board in 1911.
Committees were appointed to establish relations with other scien-
tific bodies with the object of promoting cooperative work and estab-
lishing the Wistar Institute as a central anatomical institute.
A definite scientific policy was outlined and neurology, comparative
anatomy and embryology were designated as the research fields in
which the Institute should take active part.
While such a procedure was at that time without precedent, its
results rendered it one of the most important events in the history of
the Institute. The impetus which it has given to the scientific work
of the Institute cannot well be estimated.
Owing to the modest sum available at that time for current expenses,
the Institute's energies were at first expended in developing the work
in Neurology by appointing Dr. Henry H. Donaldson as Professor
of Neurology and a small staff of trained assistants.
In 1906, the Wistar Institute was designated by the Brain Commis-
sion, a Commission appointed by the International Association of
Academies, as the American Central Institute for Brain Investigation,
the object of this Commission being to encourage and direct cooper-
ative work in the study of the brain.
Since 1906, some 250 human brains have been collected for this work;
of these fifteen or more are from distinguished individuals who have
left their brains to science.
The next step in the development of the Institute was to establish
a publication. It was apparent that the usefulness and strength of
a central anatomical Institute lay in its connections and cooperation
* Dr. Minot died November 19, 1914.
with other institutions. It was proposed, therefore, to continue the
publication of the Journal of Morphology as a periodical of the Wistar
This Journal, founded in 1887 by Prof. Charles 0. Whitman, had
established for itself an enviable reputation for the excellence of its
contributions, but had suspended publication in 1902 for lack of funds.
After a conference with Professor Whitman and others interested in
this journal and the Institute, this Journal was assigned to the Wistar
Institute and the publication was re-established in February, 1908,
when Vol. 19, No. 1, appeared under the Wistar Institute imprint.
The re-establishment of the Journal of Morphology led to the con-
sideration of the advisability of publishing The Journal of Comparative
Neurology, The American Journal of Anatomy and The Anatomical
Record, the latter two journals being closely allied with the American
Association of Anatomists, and finally The Journal of Experimental
Zoology, all well established independent journals financed and edited
by scientific men.
The guarantee of permanency which the Institute's imprint would
give to these journals, the financial advantages of management in one
central office, instead of five, and the relief of busy scientific men from
many routine editorial duties were arguments in favor of combining
the five journals under the Wistar Institute's control.
The five journals were acquired by the Institute on a somewhat
tentative plan lest the experiment should prove a failure and it might
be desirable to inaugurate some other form of control and management.
The editorial board of each journal was accepted as it had formerly
been constituted, only a few changes being made by the editors them-
selves. These journals had in each case a paid subscription list, but
not one was entirely self-supporting.
At that time the Institute was permitted to expend only a little more
than one-half of its income, the remaining half being required to build
up the Contingent Fund. It was, therefore, necessary to secure finan-
cial aid to carry on the journal enterprise. To meet this exigency,
Dr. Horace Jayne, formerly Director of the Institute, generously assisted
in the editorial manaegment and paid the deficit incurred for two
In 1909 with greater available income, the Institute assumed the
entire financial responsibility of the journals.
The results of this combination of publications under one manage-
ment were first, to increase the distribution of the publications to
libraries and institutions, incidentally increasing the financial support
of the journals and second, to reduce the cost of manufacture, the
reduction accomplished in manufacturing costs, by the scheme of cen-
tral management, being more than sufficient to pay the entire cost
of the staff required to conduct the publications. In addition, there
has been improvement in typography, in paper, in the promptness of
issue and an increase in the amount of material published.
For the Institute, these publications furnish an outlet for the work
of its laboratories and bring it into relations with a large group of
investigators scattered throughout the country, while the scientific
work of the Institute is carried into practically every research ana-
tomical laboratory of the world. Furthermore, the Institute is pro-
moting anatomical science in a most substantial manner.
From 1905 to the present time, the Institute has maintained an active
staff of investigators composed of Professors, Instructors and Fellows.
The Professors and Instructors are persons of similar qualifications to
those of men in corresponding university positions. Fellows vary in
grade so that the title does not indicate any fixed degree of achieve-
ment. The Fellowships of the Institute are provided for in the Deeds
of Trust, while the Professorships and the Instructorships have been
created by action of the Board of Managers. Fellows are usually men
who come to the Institute for limited periods, devoting their time to
research and to the work of the museum and eventually receiving
teaching or research appointments elsewhere.
The chief energies and resources of the Institute since 1905, have
been expended in establishing the research work while the museum
has become the depository of materials having scientific interest.
This has necessitated a considerable equipment in the laboratories,
including microscopes, microtomes, ovens, refrigerator and many special
devices. The Institute is now well equipped for its work.
That the research has been successfully established is best shown
by the papers, too technical to mention here, which have emanated
from the Institute's laboratories.
It has been asserted that institute work differs from the work of a
university laboratory in one essential respect, namely, that a research
institute staff is more or less permanent from year to year while the
majority of a university staff composed of the Professor and a group
of graduate students is changing every year. The Institute, there-
fore, is able to undertake an investigation requiring several years to
complete without the disadvantage of having to train a new group of
assistants at frequent periods. Then, too, a research institute may
direct all its force for a time into one or two fields of research requiring
intensive work and extensive funds, while rarely can a university labo-
ratory divert any great amount of energy and funds to one problem.
It is here that not only the Wistar Institute, but every research insti-
tute may hope to prove its usefulness.
It has been stated further, that the existence of the research insti-
tute in America today is due chiefly to the inability of universities to
promote research in their laboratories as a training and culture as well
as for its practical good. The research institute is in a sense on trial
as an independent organization. The present tendency seems to be
for the establishment of institutes for limited fields of work.
There is a group of men who regard the position of a teaching pro-
fessor as the most desirable for the production of good scientific work.
They tell us that contact with students is a stimulus to better work
and that the investigator in a research institute becomes self-centered,
extravagant of tune and funds and loses much which comes of contact
with the untrained student. It seems to the writer that there is much
force in all these statements, but that the real question is a question
of individuality. Many men do excellent research in a teaching posi-
tion, while another group is better fitted for the research institute and
need no student stimulus to produce good work.
At the Wistar Institute it is quite certain that the work of Pro-
fessor Donaldson on the growth of the nervous system is unique in
its conception and in its results. Probably no American anatomist
has so deliberately planned and so persistently followed a single sub-
ject, with its closely allied branches, as Professor Donaldson has fol-
lowed the problem of growth of the nervous system. Continuous,
connected and correlated work of this type means progress in antomy.
His results have added much luster to the reputation of the Wistar
Institute and his example of scientific exactness has influenced the entire
staff. Closely associated with Professor Donaldson has been Dr. S.
Hatai whose assistance in the neurological work has been invaluable.
The experimental study of living animals has been actively pursued
in much of the work done by the Institute's staff. For this purpose
a large colony of albino rats is now maintained at the Institute to supply
research materials. As a result of the intensive character of investi-
gations by the Institute staff there now exists more data bearing upon
the life history of this mammal than upon that of any other form,
man not excepted. This fact together with certain characteristics of
the species render the albino rat a most useful laboratory animal. It
is easy to handle, readily kept and is omnivorous. It is almost unique
in that it represents a domesticated variety, the wild ancestor of which
may be easily obtained the world over. Its span of life is about three
years. It breeds at three months and during all seasons; has a gesta-
tion period of 21-22 days and casts seven young in a litter which
are very immature a most useful character.
Reared under uniform conditions, the albino rat becomes a standard
form suitable for the most accurate experimental purposes. Age, body
length, weight of body, of brain and other organs, number of fibers in
peripheral nerves all bear a certain relation, so that any modification
of food, environment or any treatment the animal receives may show
a deviation from normal in one or more of these factors. For accurate
experiments on living animals, it is sometimes necessary and always
advisable to use a portion of one litter for experiment and the other
half of the litter as controls for the experimented half. In this manner
the slightest deviation from normal may be detected.
The Institute now maintains probably one of the largest and un-
doubtedly one of the most successful animal colonies in the country.
It requires a great deal of care and constant vigilance to maintain a
healthy breeding colony of small mammals. To Dr. J. M. Stotsenburg,
whose methods and skill have produced this unique colony, the Insti-
tute is indebted for its best research material.
The animal colony now occupies a building about thirty feet by
ninety feet, three stories in height, well equipped with sanitary cages
and the requisite devices for the production of healthy animals under
uniform conditions of food and environment.
In addition to its own laboratories, the Institute furnishes a large
number of animals to cooperating laboratories throughout the country
with the object of encouraging research upon a single form so that
results from the various laboratories may be correlated with greater
During the past ten years, from 1905 to 1914, inclusive, the work-
ing force of the Institute has doubled. The laboratories are now pro-
ducing on an average, one scientific publication per month throughout
the year. A number of advanced workers hi anatomy have found
it advantageous to conduct their researches in the laboratories, which
are always open to men who are prepared to utilize the facilities, and
several graduate students from other institutions are usually found in the
Institute's laboratories each doing research work for his doctor's degree.
During the decade just passed, the working library of the Institute
has grown with the work in the laboratories and under the careful
management of Miss Clara N. Ferine now contains 2466 bound vol-
umes and 3015 pamphlets carefully catalogued according to the latest
scientific methods, and an author-subject index to the literature on
microscopy, anatomy and physiology of 140,000 cards.
In addition to this purely anatomical library, the Institute received
by General Wistar's Will his private library which contains about 4000
bound volumes also catalogued, and in addition many letters and docu-
ments relating to the early history of this country.
The museum during the same period has accumulated considerable
material for future study and at the close of 1914 the work here has
been resumed with the purpose of continuing in an active manner
the development of a synthetic museum of comparative anatomy. The
number of preparations has increased from 3000 at the opening of the
Institute to 15,300 at the end of 1914.
A large number of the finest preparations in the original museum
were never transferred to the Institute, but were loaned to the Medical
School of the University of Pennsylvania for teaching purposes. Many
of the older dissections have passed their usefulness and are gradually
being replaced by better and more permanent preparations. Some of
these are interesting historically, having been prepared by Dr. Caspar
Wistar himself while another class of material, pathological in character,
is interesting because it indicates the advent of modern surgery in over-
coming the conditions which these specimens exhibit.
During the existence of the present Institute, many interesting human
skulls and skeletons, representing race types, have been collected and
a large series of skeletons of other mammals have been accumulated.
Several hundred human brains, many of the highest type have been
secured. The museum also possesses a large series of birds, reptiles
and mammlals from Borneo and its neighboring islands.
The future development of the museum will depend upon the research
conducted in the laboratories.
Materials having research interest and value will be added and the
museum will present nature's original record of the investigator's pub-
In human anatomy an elaborate series of educational exhibits has
been prepared on the structure of the skull. This series is in use almost
continuously by medical and dental students who visit the museum.
The teratological collection is the most extensive in the country. The
embryological collection of sectioned and mounted embryos ready for
study is growing rapidly. This collection will form one stage in the
synthetic museum of comparative anatomy.
The close of 1914 will see the Annex completed and facilities added
for photography, plaster casting and model making. There will be
additional laboratory space, just now very much needed. The Annex
will also provide a seminar room, committee rooms, storage rooms and
a number of minor facilities for the work of the Institute.
The Wistar Institute, the first of its kind to be established in this
country, takes its rank with institutions of similar character like the
Senckenbergische Institut in Frankfurt A/M, the Naples Zoological
Station, the Institute Solvay in Brussels and with the later institutions
like the Pasteur Institute, the Rockefeller Institute and the Carnegie
Institution of Washington.
November 20, 1914.
Adams Express Company, 310.
Baker & Wistar, 313.
Crockett & Page, 299, 302.
H. Hentz & Co., 323.
Hudson Bay Company, 47, 83, 84, 93, 99,
206, 208, 211, 221, 229, 230, 235, 236, 241, 258,
Lucas, Turner & Co., 323.
Page, Bacon & Co., 310.
Peyton & Foote, 332.
Pioche Bayerque & Co., 323.
Provident Life and Trust Co., 135.
Wright & Co., 323.
Zachrisson Nelson Company, 157.
Grouse, 96, 97.
Marten, (see Sable).
Moose, 206, 211, 222, 272.
Mountain lion, (see panther).
Panther (mountain lion), 63, 103, 109, 183, 211.
Sable (marten), 206, 208, 209, 212, 213, 217, 272.
Salmon, 263, 280.
Turkey, 40, 50, 66.
Trout, 34, 91, 92, 101, 125.
Wolf, 34, 73, 77, 108, 109, 136, 183, 211, 231,
Wolverine (carcajou), 209, 210, 211.
Antelope, 64, 73, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 85, 88, 89, Indians
Bear, 78, 115, 125, 127, 129, 136, 183, 184, 186, American River, 126.
187, 211, 262, 263, 271, 272. Arapahoe, 81, 83.
Beaver, 263. Assinaboine, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221.
Bighorn, 90, 92, 109, 113, 222, 272. Blackfeet, 72, 206, 217, 218, 219, 220.
Black bass, 40. Bloods, 218.
Buffalo, 66, 78, 79, 81, 82, 87, 88, 207, 211, 221, Cheyenne, 81, 83.
222, 272. Coquilles, 241.
Caribou, 207, 211, 215, 272. Delaware, 72.
Catfish, 57. Digger, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 110.
Coyote, 133, 136. Huron, 197.
Deer, 34, 35, 40, 50, 77, 78, 109, 113, 114, 122, Hydahs, 274.
125, 133, 136, 197, 211, 215, 222, 263, 271, 285. Indian village, 80.
Dogfish, 279. Klamath, 199.
Duck, 101, 134, 271, 292. Modoc, 245, 265.
Eel, lamprey, 264. Pawnees, 50, 63, 65, 67, 72, 74, 81.
Elk, 78, 133, 191, 192, 193, 196, 197, 222, 272. Pintes, 105.
Flounder, 292. Pitt River, 174.
Fox, 136, 211, 263. Pottawatomies, 50, 57, 58, 60.
Geese, 113, 114, 202, 271. Rogue River, 241, 243.
Goat, 222. Shoshonee, 98, 102.
Sioux, 80, 81.
Snake (Shoshonee), 97, 98, 101.
Surcees, 218, 219.
American Philosophical Society, 24.
College of Philadelphia, 23.
College of Physicians, 23.
Committee of Safety 1793, 22.
Friends Boarding School, Westown, 25.
Friends' Select School, 26.
Haverford School, now Haverford College, 26.
National Academy of Sciences, 42, 76.
Pennsylvania Hospital, 23.
Philadelphia Dispensary, 23.
Royal Medical Society, Edinburgh, 23.
San Quintin Penitentiary, 319, 330.
University of Pennsylvania, 24.
Vigilance Committee, 314, 320, 325, 329, 330,
Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, 24.
Wistar Parties, 24.
Alsop, Samuel, 26.
Ashe, Dr., 172, 174.
Baker, Col. Edward D., 302, 303, 305, 306,
308, 312, 319, 323, 332, 335, 336, 337.
Bauer family, 7.
Benham, Calhoun, 328.
Bisell, Francois, 187, 197, 198, 206, 214, 215,
216, 232, 234, 235, 241, 243.
Blair, Montgomery P., 300.
Boone, Captain, 75, 76.
Brown, Mary Wistar, 16.
'Captain Jack' (Indian chief), 243, 344, 245.
Clinton, Sir Henry, 18.
Cooper, Isaac, 6.
Cope, Sarah N., 38.
Count of Habsburg, 9.
Coxe, Brinton, 13.
Crocker, E. B., 302.
Crockett, Joseph B., 299, 301.
'Cuteye Foster,' 145.
Donner party, 110, 111.
Elliot, Jr., John, 135.
Essling, Nicholas, 169.
Foote, Gov. Henry S., 330.
Gambel, Dr. William, 42, 48, 58, 60, 75, 76.
Garrison, Cornelius K., 300, 301.
Gookin, Warren D., 41.
Governor Gordon, 7.
Greenlief, Catherine W., 18.
Hagler, Mrs., 166.
Haines, Margaret W., 18.
Heenan, John C., 330.
Heister family, 7.
Irving, Henry P., 332, 333.
James, Jesse, 44.
Jefferson, Thomas, 24.
Johnson, Katherine, 17.
Johnson, William Neely, 328.
Jones, Hannah Firth, 6.
Jones, Samuel T., 338.
Keppele family, 7.
McKean, Gov. Thomas, 22.
McCall, Prof., 340.
Marshall, Isabella, 23.
Meiggs, Henry, 321, 322.
Mifflin, Elizabeth, 24.
Mifflin, General Thomas, 24.
Miller, Prof., 340.
Morris, Dr. Caspar Wistar, 22.
Morris, Rebecca W., 18.
Norton, Judge, 335, 336.
'Oregon Jim,' 257.
Page, Hon. Gwyn, 299, 306.
Pate, B. T., 333.
Ralston, Colonel, 44, 49.
Riley, General, 137, 138.
Rudolphs, Habsburg princes, 9.
Sayers, Tom, 330.
Sharswood, Prof., 340.
Sherman, William T., 323, 324, 325, 329, 330,
Shipley, Samuel R., 135.
Shipley, Thomas, 135.
Smith, Daniel B., 26.
Smith, 'Peg-leg', 46.
Terry, David E., 172, 174.
Terry, William, 172, 174.
Thompson, Judge R. A., 332.
Turner, Vicissimus, 300, 301.
Wain, Mary, 21.
Ward, Samuel, 338.
Whitcomb, A. C., 333.
Wistar, Caspar, anatomist, 23.
Wistar, Dr. Caspar, 6.
Wistar, Caspar, 24, 266, 267, 268, 269.
Wistars in Canada, 14.
Wistar, Lydia Jones, 6.
Wistar, Dr. Mifflin, 39.
Wistar, Richard, 18.
Wistar, Sarah, 18.
Wistar, Thomas, 21.
W'ister, Ann Barbara, 7.
Wister, Catharine, 7.
Wister, Caspar, ancestor of all American
Wisters in Austria, 12.
Wister in Scottish records, 13.
Wisters in Silesia, 11.
Wister is Teutonic Silesian, 13.
Wister, Johannes Caspar, 7.
Wister, John, ancestor of all the American
Wister of Austrian origin, 10.
Wool, Gen., 329, 330.
Wyath, Sarah, 18.
Bald Hills, 180, 188, 190, 191, 193, 196.
Belief onte, Pa., 31.
Big Horn Mountains, 119, 216.
Bear River Mountains, 96.
Blackburn's post, 189, 190, 191, 193.
Black Hills, 83, 85, 86, 87.
Boiling Springs, 106, 107.
Butte of Shasta, 265.
Calapooya range, 288.
Calapooya pass, 288.
Caledonia, Pa., 34.
Callao, 147, 149, 268, 269.
Cape Flattery, 273, 276, 277.
Cape Mendocino, 80.
Cascades, see Coast Range.
'Castle Bluff' (on Platte), 82.
Cero Gordo, 304.
Charleston, S. C., 39, 40.
Charlotte's Island, 274.
'Chimney Rock' (on Platte), 82, 83.
Coast Range (Cascade), 141, 175, 181, 223,
Continental divide, 93.
Contra Costa, 270, 296.
'Devil's Gate,' 90.
Duwamish Bay, 273, 276.
Elk Camp, 180, 182, 188, 199.
Enterprise, Fla., 40, 41.
Erie, Pa., 34.
Fort Assinaboine, 218.
Fort Hall, 85, 93, 98, 99.
Fort Laramie, 83.
Fort Liard, 229.
Fort O'Kanagan, 230.
Fort St. Vrain, 216.
Fort Saskatchewan, 218.
Fort Steilacoom, 273.
Fort Vancouver, 285.
Fort Victoria, 273.
Fort Umpqua, 285.
Foster's Bar, 143, 145.
Goodyear's Bar, 143, 144, 145.
Great Desert, 106.
Great Salt Lake, 97, 98.
Golden Gate, 276, 279.
Grand Island, River Platte, 74.
Grass Valley, 139.
Gulf of California, 166.
Hopkinsville, Ky., 299.
Hudson's Hope, 229.
Humbolt Bay, 186, 199.
Humbolt County, 301.
Humbolt Mountains, 100.
Humbolt River Desert, 76, 96.
'Independence Rock,' 90.
Independence, Mo., 42, 43, 44, 45, 46.
Indian Territory, 50.
Jersey Shore, 34.
Klamath Lake, 203.
Laramie Range, 85.
Laramie's Peak, 83, 84, 86.
Marietta, Pa., 31.
Marquesas Islands, 266, 268.
Marysville, Cal., 142.
Mississippi Valley, 87, 99, 119.
Mokelumne Mines, 167.
Monte Diablo, 270.
Monterey, 137, 170, 173.
Mount Rainier, 274.
Nanticoke dam, 36.
National Park, 119.
Navigator Islands, 268, 269.
Nevada City, 139.
North Point, 146.
Nye's Ranch, 142.
Oakland, 270, 297.
Oregon Valley, 206.
Orleans Bar, 188.
Palatka, Fla., 40.
Panama, 151, 155, 157, 160, 163, 165, 300, 337.
Para, 41, 42.
Pike's Peak, 341.
Point Reyes, 278, 280.
Puget Sound, 272, 276.
Pyramid Lake, 108.
Queen Island, 274.
Redding's Springs (see Shasta City).
Rincon Point, 173.
Rocky Mountains, 91, 115, 185, 206, 223, 272,
Sacramento, 119, 130, 132, 134, 139, 142, 143,
265, 266, 297.
Sacramento Valley, 112, 126, 128, 130.
St. Augustine, Fla., 40, 41.
St. John, 229.
St. Louis, 43.
Salmon River Mountains, 246.
San Diego, 187.
San Francisco, 124, 146, 148, 152, 155, 161, 164,
167, 174, 245, 266, 269, 271, 280, 295, 297, 300,
307, 309, 321, 323, 325, 329, 333, 339, 340.
San Jose", 163, 297.
San Juan de Fuca, 273.
San Luis Obispo, 173.
Sandwich Islands, 146.
Savannah, 40, 41.
Scottsburg, 284, 288, 289.
Scott's Valley, 245, 246, 250, 255, 262, 265.
Seattle, 274, 275.
Selin's Grove, Pa., 32.
Shasta City (Redding's Springs), 187, 246,
Shasta-Scott Divide, 263.
Shasta Valley, 262, 263.
Shuswap Lakes, 206.
Sierra Nevada Mountains, 105, 107, 119, 223.
Sink of the Humbolt, 105, 106.
Siskiyon County, 253.
Skookum Chuck Cascade, 273.
Society Islands, 268.
Soda Springs, 99.
'South Pass', 91.
Steamboat Springs, 99.
Suiter's Fort, 117, 119, 124, 126, 130, 138.
Tete, Jaune Pass, 185.
Terry's Point, 276.
Trinidad, 172, 175, 176, 186, 190, 196, 197, 201,
Trinidad Head, 168, 174.
Trinity Mountains, 246.
'Truckee Pass,' 112.
Upoln Island, 268, 269.
Virginia Springs, 341.
Wahsatch Mountains, 97, 119.
Wald Hilsbach, Duchy of Baden, 8.
Wheeling, W. Va., 43.
Willamette Valley, 288.
Wind River Range, 91, 92, 97.
Yellowstone National Park, 216.
American, 128, 130, 132, 133.
Athabasca, 185, 206, 217, 219, 223.
Bear, 97, 118, 125, 131, 133, 134.
Big Blue, 51, 52, 66.
Big Sandys, 93, 94.
Big Smoky, 223.
Big Vermillion, 62.
Calapooyas, 206, 241.
Colorado, 93, 94, 95.
Columbia, 99, 187, 206, 223, 229, 230, 236, 280,
Deer Creek, 125, 126.
Duwamish, 273, 274.
Feather, 76, 118, 133, 139, 142, 143, 175.
Frazer, 205, 223, 230, 235, 236.
Green, 93, 94, 95.
'Greenhorn', 117, 118, 130.
Gold Run Creek, 126.
Goose Creek, 100.
Humboldt, 100, 106.
Kan. or Kansas, 56.
Klamath, 168, 180, 188, 189, 191, 193, 203,
243, 245, 246, 265.
Laramie's Fork, 83, 84, 85.
Lewis Fork, 99.
Liard, 223, 229, 235, 285.
Little Blue, 63, 64, 65, 70, 72, 75.
Little Sandys, 93, 94.
Little Smoky, 223.
Little Vermillion, 60.
Okanagan, 206, 230, 231, 235.
Pacific Spring, 93.
Peace, 206, 213, 219, 223, 229, ?35, 285.
Platte, 72, 73, 74, 78, 79, 81, 85, 87, 88, 89.
Sacramento, 113, 117, 118, 119, 130, 133, 139,
187, 246, 265.
Salmon, 168, 178, 188, 189, 203, 246, 256, 263,
Salmon Trout, 105, 109, 110.
Saskatchewan, 206, 217, 223.
Shasta (Scott's) 168, 205, 247, 250, 265.
Smoky Fork, 206.
Snake, 85, 93, 100.
Sweetwater, 89, 90, 93.
Thompson, 206, 223, 230, 235, 236.
Trinity, 168, 189.
Umpqua, 206, 289.
Wakarusa, 55, 56.
Willamette, 241, 257.
Yuba, 114, 118, 143, 144.
Central America, 334, 338.
Change, 147, 150, 152, 154, 159.
Columbus, 164, 266.
Eudora, 168, 174.
Flying Cloud, 311.
General Wool, 269.
Josephine, 176, 177.
Julius Pringle, 152.
Kate Heath, 281.
La Favorita, 163.
Mary Helen, 268.
Monumental City, 269.
New World, 272.
Sea Queen, 155.
Wakulla, 176, 177.
White Squall, 311.
Alcaldes, Mexican, 138.
Armorial bearings, 11.
California bank panic, 311.
California trail, 245, 281, 285.
Cholera, 43, 52, 56, 64, 73.
Glass Works, First in America, 15.
Kamas root, 184, 241.
Mountain fever, 146.
Mormons, 96, 98.
Oregon trail, 54, 245, 281, 285.
Pennsylvania Canal, 33.
Philadelphia evacuated, 18.
Rattlesnake, 77, 264.
Santa F6 trail, 45, 54.
Smallpox, 49, 52.
State Canals, 32.
Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo, 137.
Washing for gold, 123.
Wister crest, 11.
Yellow fever in 1793, 22.
Civil, 300, 320.
Blenheim (Battle of), 10.
Mexican, 302, 204, 238.
Antietam, 58, 64, 69, 70, 74.
Ball's Bluff, 30, 33, 74, 118, 150.
Bull Run, 16, 35.
Drury's Bluff, 101, 114, 115.
Corporations and Firms
Camden and Amboy R. R., 138.
Corcoran & Riggs, bankers, 16.
Delaware and Raritan Canal, 143.
Farmers Loan and Trust Co. N. Y., 152.
Freedman's Bank, 55.
Hanibal & St. Joseph R. R., 1.
Hudson Bay Company, 157.
Irving & Pate, 3.
Kansas Pacific R. R., 145.
Lebanon Valley Road, 120.
Morris and Essex R. R. Co., 129.
New York and Erie R. R., 131.
New York Trust Co., 150.
Pennsylvania Coal Co., 133, 134, 135, 143.
Pennsylvania R. R. Co., Canal Dept., 120.
Pennsylvania R. R. Co., 121, 122, 130, 132,
133, 135, 140.
Philadelphia and Erie R. R. Co., 130.
Reading R. R. Company, 120, 121, 122, 123,
Schuylkill Navigation Co., 120.
Texas and Pacific R. R. Co., 150.
Union Canal Company, 119, 122, 124, 128.
West Branch and Susquehanna Canal, 132,
Wiconisco Canal Co., 133, 134.
Wyoming Valley Canal Co., 133.
Zinc Mining and Manufacturing Co., 128.
Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia,
Biological Club, 153.
Brigade Survivors' Asso., 58.
Committee of One Hundred, 149.
Grand Commanderies, 127.
Grand Armies, 127.
Haverford College, 117.
Loyal Legions, 127.
Museums of Natural History, 155.
Regimental Survivors' Asso., 21, 25.
Sanitary Commission, 79, 126.
Society of Friends, 25, 117.
Soldiers' Homes, 124.
Sons of Veterans, 127.
Union League Club (Philadelphia), 92.
Wistar Institute of Anatomy, 74.
Zoological Gardens, 155.
Article of War, 65, 79, 99.
Brevet titles, 126.
"Coffee-boilers," 48, 79.
Colored Troops, 104, 106.
Court Martial, 89, 94, 99.
Disobedience of orders, 53.
Drafted men, 98, 100.
Field hospitals, Confederate, 57.
Infantry charge on cavalry, 52.
Judge Advocate, 92.
Martial law, 147.
Mexican War, 26.
Military Commission, 91, 92.
Military Committees, Senate and House, 56.
Military Matters Continued
Military District, 97.
Provost fund, 96.
Provost Marshal, 60, 80, 96.
Quota agenls, State, 98.
Regiments, State raised, 94.
Secretary of War, 91.
Volunteer System, 93.
Volunteer troops, 93.
Army, Confederate, 71.
Army, Federal, 59.
Army of Northern Virginia, 46.
Army of the James, 102, 105, 106, 108, 114.
Army of the Potomac, 20, 43, 44, 45, 56, 85,
87, 88, 89, 99, 101, 105.
Army, Western, 98.
Artillery, First U. S., 69.
Battalion, Parish's, 30.
Battery, Bramhall's Rhode Island, 28.
Battery, Griffith's, 7.
Brigade, Baker's, 21.
Brigade, Burns', 42, 45, 53, 61.
Brigade, Dana's, 61, 63.
Brigade, Gorman's, 61, 63.
Brigade, Heckman's, 102, 109, 112, 113.
Brigade, "Reserve," 70, 74.
Brigade, The Philadelphia, 20, 27.
Brigade, Wistar's, 70.
British Army, 15.
Cavalry, First District, 86.
Cavalry, Gen. Fitz-Hugh Lee's, 50.
Cavalry, llth Pennsylvania, 87.
Coast Guard, Confederate, 82.
Corps, Bank's, 41.
Corps, 10th, Gilmore's, 102, 107.
Corps, Gen. H. P. Hill's, 44.
Corps, Longstreet's, 44, 52.
Corps, 2nd, 29, 41, 50, 51, 56, 57.
Corps, 10th, 111.
Corps, 12th, 51.
Corps, 18th Army, 98, 102.
Corps, 18th Army, second division, 102.
Division, McCall's, 44.
Division, McLaw's, 62.
Division, Philadelphia, 11.
Division, Porter's, 18.
Division, Ransom's Confederate, 109.
Division, Richardson's, 63.
Division, Sedgwick's, 20, 41, 45, 46, 50, 57,
61, 62, 68.
Division, Siegel's, 48.
Division, Smith's, 18.
Division, Terry's, 107.
Division, Third, 104.
Division, Walkers, 62.
Division, Weitzel's 109.
Germans in Siegel's Division, 48.
Lee's Army, 45.
Mounted Rifles, 1st N. Y., 86.
Mounted Rifles, 5th Penna., 86.
Mounted Rifles, llth Penna., 86.
Provost Guard, 77, 79.
Regiment, California (see 71st Pennsylvania).
Regiment, llth Connecticut, 87, 102.
Regiment, 4th Illinois Volunteers, 26.
Regiment, 13th Indiana, 108.
Regiment, 15th Massachusetts, 21.
Regiment, 19th Massachusetts, 46, 56.
Regiment, 23rd Massachusetts, 102.
Regiment, 25th Massachusetts, 102.
Regiment, 27th Massachusetts, 102.
Regiment, 1st Minnesota, 46, 48.
Regiment, 2nd New Hampshire, 102.
Regiment, New Hampshire, 12th, 102.
Regiment, 9th New Jersey, 102.
Regiment, 42nd New York, 33.
Regiment, 99th New York, 70.
Regiment, 118th New York, 70, 89.
Regiment, 148th New York, 102.
Regiment, 34th Ohio, 49.
Regiment, 69th Pennsylvania, 16, 20.
71st Pennsylvania, 13, 15, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25,
27, 34, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 53, 54, 61,
65, 66, 67, 68, 74, 150.
Regiment, 72nd Pennsylvania, 16, 20, 51.
Regiment, 106th Pennsylvania, 20, 61.
Regiment, Tammany, 24.
Regiment, 9th Vermont, 70, 87.
Regiment, 8th Virginia, 28, 40, 150.
Regiment, 19th Wisconsin, 70.
State Militia, 11.
War Department, 85.
West Point Academy, 49, 50, 112.
Boston Herald, 55.
Evening Telegraph, 23.
Philadelphia Inquirer, 55.
Richmond Examiner, 89.
Rebellion Record, 89.
Richmond Sentinel, 89.
Addison, Maj. William, 115.
Allen, Col. William, 46.
Baker, A. C., M.D., 36.
Baker, Confederate Col., 53.
Baker, Gen., 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20,
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 41.
Bank, Gen., 42.
Barton, Dr. J. Rhea, 118.
Baxter, Col., 6.
Bayard, C. P., 74.
Beauregard, Gen., 41, 106, 107, 108, 111, 115.
Belknap, Secretary of War, 143.
Berry, Lieut., 40, 41.
Bonham, Congressman, 11.
Boyce, Congressman, 11.
Boyle, John, 85, 86, 88.
Boynton, E. Moody, 55, 56.
Borie, A. E., 74.
Bramall, Lieut., 24.
Brooks, Capt., 77.
Brooks, Gen., 111.
Brown, John, 8.
Buford, Gen., 56.
Burns, Gen. Wm. W., 41, 51.
Burnside, Gen., 59, 62.
Butler, Gen., 99, 102, 104, 105, 108, 113, 117,
124, 125, 128.
Butler, Gen. B. F., 81, 82, 85, 89, 90.
Cadwalader, Gen. Geo., 11, 14.
Cameron, Simon, 132.
Campbell, St. George, 121.
Campbell, Judge, 142.
Cogswell, Col., 23, 24, 33.
Crawford, Captain, 145.
Cumming, A. K., 132.
Gushing, Lieut., 69.
Davis, O. W., 74.
Davis, President, 115.
Devins, Col., 21.
Dingley, Congressman, 55.
Dix, Gen., 75, 77, 101.
Drew, Daniel, 131.
Dwindle, Surgeon, 38.
Earl of Peterborough, 101.
Fairgrieve, Lieut., 110.
Frazer, John W., 25.
Fisk, James, 131.
Frelinghuyser, Senator, 144.
Gamble, John A., 132.
Gibbon, Gen., 157.
Gould, Jay, 131, 150, 152, 153.
Grant, President, 144, 145.
Graves, Mr., 3.
Hale, Senator, 55.
Halleck, Gen., 89.
Hammond, Capt. LeRoy, 107.
Hancock, Gen., 56.
Hartranft, Gov., 146.
Harvey, Brig, Agj. Gen., 24.
Harvey, Capt. Frederick, 28, 33, 35.
Heckman, Gen., 102, 109, 11.
Heilprin, Professor, 154.
Hill, Gen. A. P., 59, 115.
Hill, Gen. D. H., 59.
Hooker, Gen., 58, 60, 61, 66.
Hoopes, Josiah, 145.
Howard, Gen. O. O., 45, 51, 53, 54, 55,56,58,61.
Humphreys, Maj. A. A., 43.
Hunton, Gen., 86.
Hutchinson, John N., 150.
Jackson, Gen. 'Stonewall,' 29, 41, 45, 59, 66.
Jenkins, Gen., 72, 73.
Jones, Lieut. Col., 49.
Joseph, Nez Perces chief, 55.
Kautz, Gen., 106.
Kimber, Thomas, 117.
Kirby, Lieut., 69.
Lane, Governor, 11.
Lee, Admiral, 83.
Lee, Gen. Fitz-Hugh, 50.
Lee, Gen. Robert E., 13, 45, 60, 65.
Lee, Gen. S. D., 61.
Leidy, Prof. Joseph, 154.
Lewis, Captain, 63.
Lewis, Wm. D., 74.
Lincoln, President, 9, 10, 13, 93, 94.
Lingenfelter, Capt., 17.
Longstreet, Gen., 52, 57, 59, 71.
Lord, Ernest Vane Tempest, 32 (Stewart), 33.
McClellan, Gen., 50, 57, 59, 94.
McDougal, Senator, 69.
McDowell, Gen., 16.
MeLaws, Gen., 66.
Macalester, C., 74.
Magruder, Gen., 42.
Mansfield, Gen., 58, 60, 61.
Markoe, Capt. John, 18, 23, 40, 152.
Meade, Gen., 55, 56, 63, 66, 85.
Memminger, Mr., 142.
Miles, Gen., 55.
Morehead, Col., 61.
Morton, Rev. Henry J., 441.
Mosby, John S. Gen., 67.
Norris, Dr. Geo. W., 118.
Ord, Gen., 97.
Otis, Dr., 116.
Otter, Col., 34.
Owens, Colonel, 61.
Packer, William F., 132.
Palfrey, Col., 60.
Parrish, R. A., Maj., 16.
Peck, Gen., John J., 70.
Penn, William, 117.
Pickett, 29, 45.
Pope, Gen., 29, 45, 46, 59.
Porter, Gen. Fitz-John, 17, 18.
Randolph, Mrs., 129.
Randolph, T. F., 142.
Randolph, Theodore F., 128, 129.
Ransom, Gen., 113.
Reynolds, Gen., 56.
Richardson, Gen., 63.
Ritman, Capt., 22.
Rizer, Mrs., 51.
Scott, Thomas A., 132, 150.
Sedgwick, Gen. John, 41, 56, 57, 70.
Sherman, Gen., 32.
Shields, Gen., 26.
Shober, Samuel L., 74.
Siegel, Gen., 48.
Smith, Capt. W. F., 15.
Smith, Charles E., 121, 123.
Smith, Charles W., Maj., 16.
Smith, Gen., 18.
Smith, Gen. Wm. F., 98, 102, 104, 106, 109, 111,
Smith, James F., 120.
Spear, Col., 83, 87.
Stanton, Sec. of War, E. M., 69.
Stedman, Col., 102, 106, 112.
Stewart, Capt. (Lord Londonderry), 28.
Stone, Gen. Chas. P., 18, 21, 27, 30, 31, 32, 40,
Stuart, Gen. J. E. B., 46, 61, 65, 66.
Sully, Col., 46, 47, 48, 52.
Sumuer, Gen. E. V., 41, 51, 52, 53, 56, 60, 61,
Sumner, Senator Charles, 32, 69.
Suttie, George, 24.
Taylor, President, 26.
Terry, Gen., 107, 108, 143.
Thompson, J. Edgar, 121, 122, 123, 132, 133,
134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139.
Toland, Rebecca, 44.
Toland, Robert, 44.
Toland, Sarah (Mrs. Wistar), 44.
Tucker, John, 121.
Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 131.
Vansant, Color Serg., 24.
Wade, Lieut., 23.
Walker, Gen., 66.
Warren, Gen., 56.
Washington, L. Q., Vice-Pres., 11.
Weitzel, Gen., 104, 105, 109.
White, Allison, 132.
Whiting, Gen., 115.
Whittlesey, E., 53.
Wierman, Thomas, T., 120.
Williams, Lieut., 34.
Wilson, Lieut., 68.
Winsor, Wm. D., 150.
Wistar, Mrs. I. J., 44, 50, 51, 68, 69.
Woods, Color Serg., R. C., 24.
Alaska, 155, 156.
Alexandria, 42, 45.
Austria, 147, 156.
Baltimore Cross Roads, 87.
Bermuda Hundred, 102, 106, 107, 108, 114, 115,
Bermuda Islands, 154.
Berry ville, 41.
Bloomfield, 3, 4.
Blue Ridge, 120.
Bolivar Heights, 41.
Bottom's Bridge, 77, 85, 86, 88, 89, 91.
Bull Run, 45.
Burlington, 4, 7.
Cerro Gordo, 24.
Main Bridge, 16, 17, 45.
Chancellorsville, 55, 56, 69.
Charles City Court House, 91.
Chattanooga, 98, 114.
Chicago, 4, 7, 8.
Clark's Ferry, 132, 133.
Claymont, 118, 145.
Cold Harbor, 29, 106.
Colorado Springs, 145.
Conrad's Ferry, 21, 22, 27.
Denver, 2, 145.
Edward's Ferry, 22, 27, 31.
El Paso, 150.
Forge Bridge, 91.
Fort Ethan Allen, 16.
Fort Fisher, 116.
Fort Magruder, 76.
Fortress Monroe, 16, 42, 79, 81, 89, 99, 117.
Fort Schuyler, 15.
Fort Steilacome, 157.
Fort Sumpter, 11.
Fort Vancouver, 157.
Fort Worth, 150.
France, 147, 155.
Gettysburg, 29, 45, 55, 56, 69, 77.
Glendale, 44, 45.
Gowen, F. B., 121.
Great Britain, 147.
Hagerstown, 62, 64, 69.
Half-way House, 113.
Hampton Roads, 92.
Hanover Court House, 84, 88.
Harper's Ferry, 41, 42, 59.
Harrison's Island, 21, 27.
Harrison's Landing, 44, 45.
Hill's Point, 71.
Idaho Springs, 145.
Italy, 147, 155.
Keedysville, 57, 61, 69.
Little Round Top, 56.
Lock Haven, 132.
Hockhaven, Pa., 67.
Long Branch, 144.
Meadow Station, 88.
Morristown, N. J., 129.
Mount Rainier, 157.
Multnomah Island, 157.
Munson's Hill, 17, 18.
New Kent Court House, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88.
New Orleans, 104, 142, 151.
New York, 16, 141.
Norfolk, 75, 91.
Old Capital Prison, 41.
Peninsula, 42, 116.
Petersburg, 102, 105, 106, 108, 114, 116.
Pike's Peak, 2.
Pipe Clay Creek, 56.
Pittsburgh, 56, 146.
Poolesville, Md., 19, 27, 40, 41.
Portland, Ore., 156.
Potts ville, 121.
Pueblo, 142, 145.
Puget Sound, 157.
Richmond, 16, 84, 185, 86, 87, 88. 89, 90, 103,
107, 108, 115.
St. Gothard, 155.
St. Joseph, Mo., 1, 3.
St. Thomas, 141.
Salem, O., 1.
Sandy Hook, 41.
San Francisco, 25, 32, 71.
Savage Station, 44, 45.
Shenandoah Valley, 41.
Slabtown, 77, 96, 97.
South Mountain, 56, 57, 59.
Stirling Castle Depot, 15.
Suffolk, Va., 70, 73, 74, 75.
Suffolk Park, 16.
Switzerland, 147, 155.
Tenallytown, Md., 50.
Turner's Gap, 56, 57.
Vera Cruz, 141, 142.
Victoria, 156, 157.
Wall Street, 131.
Washington, 9, 11, 13, 16, 26, 41, 42, 50, 55, 70,
71, 79, 97, 105.
West Point, Va., 77, 78.
White Oak Swamp, 44, 45.
Williamsburg, 77, 81, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87.
Yellowstone Park, 156.
Yorktown, 42, 43, 75, 76, 78, 83.
Antietam Creek, 51.
Cherry Creek, 2.
Chickahominy, 77, 85, 87, 91.
Des Moines, 7.
James, 44, 85, 102, 104, 106, 109.
Potomac, 16, 19, 20, 27, 41, 45, 50, 59.
Rapidan, 45, 85, 87.
Rio Grande, 150.
South Platte, 2.
Susquehanna, 119, 132.
Swatara, 119, 120.
Swift Creek, 106, 107.
York, 43, 77, 78, 85.
Anchylosis, arm joints, 39.
Anthacite coal trade, 133.
Bilious fever, 43.
Carpet-bag domination, 142, 143.
'Corners,' 129, 130, 131.
Corruption, inefficiency, 75, 195.
Ships, Corsica, Steam Ship, 141.
Democratic Party, 10.
Fear, effect on negro, 53.
Federal Government, 12.
Fever, every variety, 102, 106.
Grant Administration, 143.
Horse fight, 3.
House of Lords, England, 101.
Indian grants, 117.
Inefficiency, corruption, 95.
Legal Tender Act, 118, 128.
Lipau Indians, 3.
Malarial fever, 43, 102.
National Bank System, 8.
Peace, A possible World's, 137.
Personal independence, 128.
Republican Party, 10.
Riots, Labor, 146.
Senate, 9, 26, 35.
Sisters of Charity, 43.
Soldiers' vote, 126.
Stock gambling, 129.
Stock operators, 129.
Superintendent of Negro Affairs, 97.
Sword, General officer's, 73.
Typhoid fever, 43.
Wedding of Gen. Wistar, 44.
Whig Party, 10.
'Wildcat' Banks, 8.
Wistar Committee, 151.
CAIT^ORNM ' ' Y
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARf