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Full text of "Civil War memories"

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CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

OF 
LEWIS A. STIMSON. M. D. 



SET DOWN BY HIM DURING THE SUMMER OF J914 



• ° » 



^be fjnicfterbocl^er press 

New York 

1918 



994H\ 




CIVIL WAR MEMORIES OF 
LEWIS A. STIMSON 

My children, with more affection than good 
judgment I fancy, are somewhat insistent that I 
should endeavor to recall the incidents of my life 
so far as they are concerned with the Civil War. 
The memory of most of them is, I fear, hopelessly 
lost, and that of those that remain for the most 
part shadowy and indistinct. How should it be 
otherwise — fifty years and more agone. It is, I 
think, a matter of common observation, that of 
the strenuous days of life, the days of great events 
or great emotions, the things sharply held and 
pictured by memory are only trivialities, the 
utterly unimportant incidents, the smell of a 
flower, the adjustment of a strap, the expression 
on a face, perhaps at a moment when life or death 
was hanging in the balance. Thus, one day in 
North Carolina, when I had been sent during an 
attempted advance of our line to report on the 
condition and possibilities of the region beyond 
our right flank, I walked along the edge of a 
swampy thicket and started across a little road 
which ran through it. All was quiet, but as I 

3 



4 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

stepped into the road I saw on my left, within a 
hundred yards, an earthwork lined with troops, 
and at the same moment came a volley from 
them directed at me. As I jimiped back behind 
the bushes, out of sight at least if not out of range, 
I saw, and memory holds very clearly the look of 
interest and perhaps anxious expectation on the 
face of a solitary picket, huddled in a hole he had 
dug in the sand, whom I had passed shortly before. 
Nothing else of that day remains in my mind. 
And on another very similar occasion, in front of 
Richmond, I was riding along the edge of a wood 
on our flank and crossed a road running into it. 
The appearance of the head of my horse apparently 
gave the signal for the discharge of a field piece 
stationed one hundred or two hundred yards dis- 
tant in the woods, so that the first warning I had 
was the roar of the discharge and the rush of the 
shell past me; and all I remember is the odd look 
of my horse's ears — her only blemish — as they 
waved about in her frightened plunge. They 
looked like a mule's, and that is probably why I 
remember it, for I thought much of her and was 
sensitive to criticism of her. 

And so it is. The weeks and months passed and 
left no memories but those of trivial incidents. 
It might perhaps be properly said that there was 
nothing but trivial, purely personal incidents. 
We subalterns knew nothing of the problems and 
the plans of those who controlled the movements. 
Our days and weeks and even months passed in 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 5 

the comparative idleness of camp routine, and 
even in marches and engagements we saw Httle 
but the changes and incidents of our immediate 
environment. Who sees more of a battle than his 
own little part in it? And big as that part may- 
seem to him, and big as it may be, indeed, in 
grave possibilities to him, its record is only a single 
little human docimient, one of hundreds or thou- 
sands like it. 

Well, to begin at the beginning, I was a Sopho- 
more at Yale College and I remember reading 
of the firing on Fort Sumter from a paper held in 
my mother's hands when I was at home during 
the spring vacation. Of the next three months, 
I remember nothing. I was back at college and 
much interested in my life there. Even of Bull 
Run, I remember very little: a vague recollection 
of unrest and humiliation, and only one thing 
stands out a little through the haze, a newspaper 
report that the "Black horse cavalry" had been 
annihilated in a charge, and a certain fierce joy 
thereat. Alas, there was no ''Black horse caval- 
ry" and no annihilation. 

I cannot remember that the war weighed at all 
heavily on my mind or that I had any thought 
of taking part in it. Doubtless I did, in a boyish, 
indecisive way. It could hardly have been other- 
wise. Some of my companions went, to one side 
or the other, even in those first days, and I can 
recall seeing a classmate riding with his troop 
along Chapel Street. At that time — or was it 



6 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

later? — we were grouped in squads and drilled, 
but it did not long hold its interest and soon 
lapsed. 

I remember nothing of the next year, nothing to 
throw any light on our feelings, our emotions, our 
mental attitude. Of course, the war was much 
in our thoughts; the papers were filled with it, 
some of our companions were engaged in it, and 
all of us had friends or relatives in the army. But 
it was the period of organization, of preparation, 
and there was but little fighting, and we were 
young and full of our local interest. I must have 
felt the call to some extent, for in a letter to my 
father in the spring of 1862, which by some 
chance has been preserved, I mentioned that a 
friend has promised to obtain a commission for me 
when he next goes to Washington. I have entirely 
forgotten the incident, and probably it was one of 
many half-hearted attempts to go. I was only 
seventeen years old then (although of course I 
thought I was a man and able to take a man's 
part in anything) and was keenly interested in my 
college life, and the call for troops had been met 
and volunteering was not actively pushed. Indeed 
it must have been during this period that volun- 
teering was stopped by orders from Washington 
on the ground that there were soldiers enough. 

And so too with the next year, 1 862-1 863, the 
country had in a way settled down to war and Hfe 
went on often regardless of it. The great events 
were rather infrequent, the gloom or the joy of one 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 7 

day would be offset by the joy or the gloom of the 
next. Of course, we all read the papers con- 
stantly and talked much about the incidents, 
but I cannot recall that it weighed on us or even 
counted for much in our daily lives. The early 
business depression had been followed by great 
prosperity, prices rose but I think we all found life 
easier and spent money more freely. We had our 
little difficulties for a time with the lack of cur- 
rency, even for many months using postage 
stamps and bronze tokens issued by business 
houses for change, but that passed with the issue 
of greenbacks, national bank notes, and fractional 
currency. We discussed, sometimes quite bitterly, 
with those of our democratic companions who 
opposed the government, and it must have been 
at this time that the term ''copperhead" arose 
and was even so far accepted by some that they 
wore small copper tacks in their lapels. We 
detested their sentiments but we lived on friendly 
terms with them, and I can account for that only 
on the supposition that other interests mainly 
occupied us and hot political discussion was rare. 
Yet one or two such discussions stand out in 
memory even now quite clearly, and occasionally 
come to mind when I meet those who took part 
on the other side. The main fact seems to be that 
the condition of war had been accepted as almost 
normal, something that did not demand anything 
from us individually at the time, that we could 
wait until we had finished with college. Such 



8 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

impulse as there was to join the army was rather 
the desire for adventure than the compulsion of 
the country's need. 

So the time passed. McClellan's and Pope's re- 
verses of the summer of 1862 were followed by the 
reassurance of Antietam, and the quiet of winter 
was broken only by the bloody repulse at Freder- 
icksburg, but with the return of the active season 
and the approaching end of my college course 
came again the desire to join. In the six weeks' 
interval of idleness and freedom from college 
work, which in those days lay between Presenta- 
tion Day and Commencement, I heard of a cavalry 
regiment to be raised in New Jersey and sought its 
prospective colonel with a request for a commis- 
sion in it. He was a large-framed, rough-looking 
man, a foreigner, I think, and evidently was not 
favorably impressed by my eighteen-year-old 
appearance. He asked roughly if I thought I 
could handle "a lot of rough troopers," paid no 
attention to the reply that it might be managed 
if they would come one at a time, and dismissed 
me with the statement that if I would go out and 
raise a company, he would consider the question 
of a commission. 

That did not suit me, for I was young, impatient, 
and cocky, but perhaps I might have engaged in 
it, had not my father (probably with the intention 
of side-tracking my martial ambition) offered me 
a trip to Europe. On the whole, it was just as 
well. The cavalry regiment did not materialize 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 9 

until nearly a year later and was gobbled up in 
its entirety out in Tennessee shortly thereafter. 
It would have been for me a tedious road to an 
undesirable end. 

There was much excitement at New Haven at 
that time over the drafts, and several incidents 
connected with it remain in my mind. As I said, 
we Seniors were free of all college duty, our course 
was ended, the disaster of Chancellor sville was 
only a month behind us, the need of men was 
visualized by the draft which was actually taking 
place before us, and I am sure that the question 
of joining the army must have presented itself to 
most of us. A considerable number of us went at 
that time, some of them as commissioned officers 
in the new colored regiments, and doubtless my 
application to the New Jersey Colonel of cavalry 
may be taken as an indication of a general impulse, 
more or less strong. 

The draft for New Haven was conducted in the 
basement of the Old State House, now gone. It 
was orderly and quiet, and I remember seeing the 
father of one of my classmates rise and go out, 
saying as he went, ''Well, as I have no more fish in 
that pot, I'll go home." He had just heard the 
names of his two sons called. 

But while the actual drafting was quiet, the 
attitude of the city toward it was not. And in 
connection with it I witnessed the only New Eng- 
land ''town meeting" that has ever come in my 
way. It was called — I do not know by what 



10 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

agency or authority ; but it was legal — to vote for an 
issue of $500,000 of municipal bonds to supply 
substitutes for drafted citizens. A vast crowd 
collected on the Green in front of the State House 
at noon, an impassioned orator addressed them 
from the steps and closed with a demand that 
those in favor of the motion should say "Aye." 
A great shout went up and he declared the motion 
carried. I was told, and I believe it, that that 
action committed the city to the outlay. 

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the crowd a 
little drama was enacting, under my eyes and in 
part with my assistance. A young man, who 
doubtless saw in the colored race the cause of all 
our woes, was impelled by his feelings to knock 
down and maltreat a member of that race who 
was standing quietly in the crowd and listening to 
the orator. A policeman chanced to be within 
sight and made for the aggressor; he fled, and the 
policeman and I after him, and he was brought to 
earth opposite the side entrance to the New Haven 
House. I was interested to see how quickly 
his struggles subsided when the policeman got the 
loop of a stout cord about his wrist and twisted it. 

The bloody, murderous draft riots in New York 
at this time were followed by a feeble imitation 
in New Haven. It did not amount to much but 
kept us excited and alert. A company of troops 
was brought from Newport and lodged two or 
three blocks south-east from the College. On the 
evening after their arrival a mob marched through 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES ii 

the intermediate streets and it looked as if some- 
thing might happen. Eager to see it, I went on a 
private scout and made my way through to the 
troops. As I neared the latter, I saw a man 
with a big saber dodging behind the trees. I 
dodged behind mine and we cautiously approached 
each other. He proved to be the owner of the 
house where the troops were stationed, out on his 
own scout to see what was likely to befall his 
property. We exchanged information and went 
back together to the house. There an excited 
young officer, with a trembling voice — from 
excitement, of course, not fear — warned me to look 
out for myself, for "when we fire, we shall know 
neither friend nor foe." On inquiring, he told 
me, with some reluctance, that he had joined only 
the day before. The mob wandered off and I 
came home. Two or three of us sat late on the 
steps of South College and challenged all passers; 
but when one who was stopped by us proved to be 
Professor Thacher and politely thanked us for the 
care we were taking of the college property but 
suggested that we had better go to bed, we con- 
cluded we were overestimating our responsibilities 
and retired. 

It must have been at this time that I saw in a 
shop window a huge pistol of unusual pattern, 
which I at once felt was absolutely essential to my 
equipment in those troublous times. Its price 
was $6.00, but I did not have the money. A 
classmate, to whom I applied for the loan, refused 



12 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

it on the ground that he had only enough money 
to take himself home, and added that even if 
he had it, he would not lend it to me for so fool- 
ish a purpose. The incident is trivial, but it 
throws a little light on my state of mind and 
development. 

When I got back from Europe in the fall, the 
winter quiet was settling on our armies and I cannot 
remember any attempt on my part to join. But 
when the spring came, the feeling returned. I 
wanted to go, but to go with a commission, and 
to go without the delay of recruiting-camps and 
organization. So I wrote to General Hancock and 
asked for a position as Volunteer Aide on his staff. 
I had no acquaintance with him, no acquaintance 
with anyone who knew him, and I presume I 
selected him because he was about the most 
shining mark of the time in the army of the Poto- 
mac. It was some gall. The application was 
evidently misinterpreted as an attempt to get his 
autograph, for that was all it brought me. I 
presume he was getting many requests for his 
signature. I then turned to an acquaintance 
who had served in the army of the Potomac and 
he promised to forward my request to a General 
whom he knew, Major-General Birney of Han- 
cock's corps. After long delays, for the army was 
fighting constantly and Birney must have had 
many other things on his mind, came from him 
the suggestion that I should seek a commission 
in a regiment which a former member of his staff 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 13 

was raising in Pennsylvania. I went to see the 
officer but I remember nothing about the meeting. 
Doubtless, there was the same uncertainty about 
the completion of the organization, the same need 
to engage in recruiting, in short, the same dis- 
agreeablenesses which I wished to avoid. I do 
not remember the details, but ultimately, August, 
I think, Birney's acceptance of me came and I 
was off. 

My first stop was at Wilmington, Delaware, to 
get a horse which I had bought from General 
Keyes and was there in the hands of a quarter- 
master. I got her, borrowed a saddle and bridle, 
and set off one hot afternoon for Delaware City, 
twelve or fifteen miles distant. The horse was 
fresh and eager after her long confinement, and 
after a futile struggle to subdue her impatience to 
a reasonable gait, I sat back and let her go. We 
reached Delaware City well ahead of time, but on 
dismounting I found that the upper part of the 
back of my trousers where it had rested against 
the cantle was adhering to me in an unpleasantly 
suggestive fashion. If an infantryman is onl}^ as 
good as his feet, a cavalryman is only as good as 
his seat, and it was clearly borne in upon me that 
I was not likely to be of much use as a cavalryman 
for some days. We got on a boat and spent 
the night going to Baltimore. The morning 
brought full realizations of my fears, and I rode 
up the streets of Baltimore cautiously and one- 
sidedly and did all my errands afoot. That even- 



14 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

ing we embarked on the steamer for Fortress 
Monroe and landed there the next morning. 

I do not recall the details, but the horse and I 
were landed at Bermuda Hundred from another 
boat after a day or two and set out across country 
to find General Birney. I remember viewing 
with some anxiety the possibility of a renewal of 
the mare's pernicious activity, when I had again 
to mount her. My tegumentary losses had been 
measurably repaired but they could easily be 
repeated. So I sought and found a wagon that 
was going to the corps, placed my valise, blankets, 
and myself within it, and with the bridle in my 
hand prepared to spare the mare the trouble of 
carrying me and to postpone the evil day. But 
she felt differently and refused to start when the 
wagon did, and after the bridle had broken in the 
effort to change her mind I was forced to mount 
her. All went well ; she was content to walk, and 
in due time we reached the headquarters of the 
loth Corps, and I presented myself to the General 
and was assigned to a tent and given a place in 
the mess. The General invited me to lunch with 
him and General Terry, who was calling at the 
time, and immediately thereafter started me out to 
visit Fort Harrison, an advanced work on the 
line, with two others of the staff, so that I might 
become acquainted with the region without delay. 

Fort Harrison was a strong closed earthwork on 
a hill near the left end of our corps line which had 
been captured two or three days before when our 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 15 

line had been advanced and extended to the north. 
From it ran lines of earthworks north and south, 
occupied by our troops, and another unoccupied 
line straight west to the Confederate works a 
quarter or a third of a mile distant. 

We three rode up into the fort and looked over 
the country. A few soldiers were sitting around 
in it, well covered by the parapet, but we, on horse- 
back, were in plain view of our friends the enemy, 
and in a few moments some bullets came whistling 
by. Some of the enemy were practising with us 
for a target. I could see, in what my companions 
did and said, no particular reason for our presence 
there; they moved about a little and looked 
casually at the view. An officer strolled up and 
remarked that a staff officer had been "winged" 
there that morning while sitting on his horse, but 
my companions seemed uninterested in it. I 
thought it would not do for me to show any more 
interest than they did, but I was heartily relieved 
when one of them said, "Well, I guess we may as 
well go," and they turned away. It was my 
"baptism of fire" and had come before the taste 
of my first meal was stale on my tongue. I was 
content not to have shown the anxiety I felt, and 
later experience made me think my companions 
were not quite so indifferent as they seemed. 

My tent companion was a very nice young 
man, one of the aides, but within a week or two 
his three-year enlistment ended and he left the 
army. I think it was immediately after his 



i6 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

departure that I became the tent-mate of the 
Assistant Adjutant-General, Lieutenant Shreve, 
and remained with him until shortly before our 
departure for Fort Fisher in December. 

The loth and i8th Corps constituted the bulk of 
the Army of the James under the command of 
General B. F. Butler, whose headquarters were at 
Bermuda Hundred. The i8th Corps, General 
Ord, occupied the portion of the line north of the 
James, next to the Bermuda Hundred line, and 
the loth, General D. B. Birney, the remainder to 
the north, extending across the Newmarket road 
nearly to the Darbytown road, and the cavalry 
under General Kautz occupied the region beyond 
to the Charles City road. Richmond was five 
or six miles distant. To the rear of our right we 
later constructed several strong detached forts as a 
guard against attacks around the flank. Our 
base was at Deep Bottom, across the James from 
Bermuda Hundred. 

General Birney came from Pennsylvania and 
was the son of a man very well known during the 
preceding decade or two as a pronounced and able 
abolitionist. He had a striking presence, intel- 
lectual, forceful, and rather austere. He had 
been brought shortly before from the command of a 
division in the 2nd (Hancock's) Corps and put in 
command of the loth. He had been a successful 
commander and was known as a hard and per- 
sistent fighter, and if he is to be judged by what 
I saw of his behavior in the first heavy engagement 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 17 

after I joined, he was actually indiJfferent to ex- 
posure of himself or others. It was on the 7th of 
October. Longstreet came out with two divisions, 
fell upon our cavalry and, in the language of 
Grant's report "drove it back with heavy loss in 
killed, wounded, and prisoners and the loss of all 
the artillery, nine pieces. This he followed up 
by an attack upon our intrenched infantry line 
but was repelled with severe slaughter." Grant 
is wrong about the "intrenched infantry line." 
The attack was made squarely against the flank 
and to its rear, and the men in the earthworks 
were not engaged. Birney had formed his line, 
infantry and artillery, straight back parallel to 
the Newmarket road from the end of our in- 
trenchment, and met and repulsed the attack in 
the open. 

The event came shortly after breakfast ; there was 
much hurrying and scurrying, as it seemed to me; 
we, the General and staff, rode to the line, watched 
the firing, and I remember dimly the wounded 
men lying about, and in particular one handsome 
horse that had lost a foreleg and stood looking, 
as it seemed to me, wistfully about as if wondering 
what had happened and why no one came to care 
for him. Then we moved back a little and the 
General with us in his train rode slowly back and 
forth across a broad open plain. Once or twice, at 
the turn near the earthworks he dismounted and 
lay down under a brush shelter, for he was just 
coming down with the fever that ended his life a 



i8 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

few weeks afterwards. The enemy's artillery was 
in plain sight on rising ground to the north and 
we were in plain sight to them. And we were 
rather a large body: the full staff and the cavalry 
escort of fifty or one hundred men. Some of their 
shot seemed to be aimed at us; some passed over 
us, directly or after a ricochet, and I remember 
laughing to see how the men seated in the works 
with their backs against them and looking toward 
the guns, would simultaneously duck their heads 
over a length of perhaps a hundred yards when a 
shot would pass over them or sometimes even 
strike the mound close above them. 

Why Birney should lead us up and down in this 
way no one seemed to know, and several mutter- 
ingly wondered why. But he paid not the slightest 
attention to the shots and continued the prome- 
nade for upward of an hour. And we lost several 
men during it. As the riding up and down con- 
tinued, I noticed that I was almost all the time 
on the windward side, so to speak, of the proces- 
sion. Thinking that was odd, for in turning I 
ought to come to leeward, I began to look for the 
reason. It was very plain. We were riding 
three or four abreast, and I found the man on the 
exposed flank would check his horse a little and 
then come up in line again but to leeward. And 
this was going on quite steadily. I inferred that 
there was still some anxiety in the breasts of the 
veterans that matched my own. 

Soon after this General Birney was taken home 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 19 

ill and General Terry, commanding the first 
division, took command of the corps. My recol- 
lections of the events of the next three months 
are vague. There were one or two renewals, 
less vigorous, of the assault on our flank, and 
several times we moved out to the right and 
attacked the enemy, but my recollection is that 
none of the attacks was a serious attempt to carry 
the works. We were sent out to "make a de- 
monstration," while the real attack was on the 
left flank of the line, thirty miles distant. Never- 
theless, the assault was pushed close up to the 
enemy's works and was accompanied by severe 
losses. In one of them Major Camp, of a Con- 
necticut regiment, whom I had known as a Senior 
at Yale when I was a Freshman, was killed. I well 
remember that the chaplain of his regiment, 
Trumbull, I think, came to headquarters in the 
evening and told us, with much emotion, of his 
death, and how Camp had told him as the line was 
preparing to move forward that he was sure he 
would be killed, and how he, Trumbull, moved 
forward with him for a few minutes talking ear- 
nestly on the subject. Camp's body was sent 
back to us, stripped naked, and without the heavy 
gold ring he wore, made from the coin he had won 
as a member of the Yale Varsity crew in the second 
day's racing against Harvard at Worcester in 1859 
or i860. It is interesting, as an indication of the 
almost fratricidal character of the war, that 
another member of the '59 crew, Robert Stiles, 



20 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

was at this time a major in Longstreet's corps 
which held the Hnes in front of us. And I re- 
member that once while taking a flag of truce out 
on the Newmarket road I met a young officer who 
knew two of my classmates who had left us in '6i 
to join the South and was able to give me news of 
them. It was on this occasion that an elderly 
lady, whom I was delivering across the Hne, burst 
into tears while I was talking to this young officer 
and cried out, "Oh, boys, boys, throw down your 
swords and go back to your books ! ' ' 

These flags of truce were always friendly and at 
times even cordial and frank. In one of them I sat 
for half an hour by the roadside while waiting for the 
answer to the communication I bore, talking with 
the Confederate officer who had met me. He was 
much older than I, and talked all the time, quietly 
and with no sign of any diminution of his deter- 
mination to see the thing through, of his family 
and their privation, and of his regret that the 
war had ever begun. The meetings were not 
infrequent and were generally due to the desire 
of some woman to be passed through to the 
South. They always took place on the New- 
market road. The opposing earthworks were not 
far apart, and the pickets were quite close to- 
gether, but never fired at each other. We would 
display a large white flag at the road and advance 
slowly down it until the Confederate picket or 
officer was met, and then sit down and await 
their pleasure. And, as I said, our interviews 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 21 

were always friendly and sometimes even jocose. 
Thus, one day, the Confederate officer suggested 
we should send over to them the field and staff 
of a certain regiment of ours, adding with a smile 
that they had already acquired by desertion 
almost all the rest of the regiment. It was a 
shrewd thrust, for the subject was a sore one with 
us for reasons which I may mention later. 

These assaults and attacks were of course most 
interesting to me, for everything was new and I 
was constantly gathering novel experiences and 
sensations. As I sit back and search my memory, 
long-forgotten little incidents come back to me 
and even some little recollection of thoughts and 
sensations. But they are all slight and trivial, 
not worth jotting down except as idle conversation 
and perhaps as giving some faint idea of the life. 
Some of the engagements were quite sharp and 
all were practically upon the same ground, that 
lying on both sides of the Darbytown road. It 
was largely open ground, with scattered woods, 
and bordered on the west by thick continuous 
woods, a short distance within which were the 
Confederate intrenchments. We would move 
out to the north, deploy in the open ground, drive 
in the pickets, and advance into the woods until 
stopped by the intrenchments. Only once or 
twice, so far as I recollect, was an effort made to 
carry the intrenched lines; ordinarily we would 
simply "demonstrate" before them, that is, 
stand up to be shot at, and come back home in the 



22 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

late afternoon. There was enough firing — shot, 
shell, and bullets — to keep us thoughtful and I 
noted with much relief that my companions were 
as thoughtful as I was. It was. quite noticeable, 
the hush that would come as we rode up into the 
zone of firing. I don't mean that anyone flinched, 
but they all grew quiet. And they had all been 
at it for three years, and many had been wounded. 
I remember one of them wore a jacket with six 
holes in it, where a bullet had passed through both 
his arms and his body; another, Captain Graves, 
the senior aide, had fallen at the end of the 
second day at Gettysburg in Sickles' s corps with a 
bullet through the thigh; a third, our signal 
officer, had been shot in the foot; he had been in 
the first battle of Bull Run and told me a curious 
incident. He was a private in the N. Y. High- 
lander Regiment and the regiment, which was 
supporting a battery, fled when the rout came. 
He said: "I was angry and ashamed to run, and 
I made up my mind to stay and be shot. One 
other man stayed with me. All was quiet for 
five or ten minutes. I could see the rebels creep- 
ing up across the field, and when they got up to a 
rail fence just in front of me, one of them, he was 
old enough to be my father, peered at me and 
then slowly took aim at me. I just stood up 
straight and faced him. His gun missed fire. Then 
something seemed to snap in me. I instantly fired 
at him, threw down my gun, and ran like a deer, 
and I don't know when or where I stopped." 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 23 

I remember too that on one of the first days 
when we were pressing up against the enemy's 
works beyond our flank and were close up by the 
line of battle, a bullet struck a horse near me and 
then my foot as I sat in the saddle. It did me no 
harm, but the sound it made or my movement to 
examine the foot led to a question by someone and 
to my explanation. To my surprise the item was 
passed along, and two or three of the staff whom 
I knew very slightly and who could have had no 
personal interest in me, came over to me and 
inquired about it. I think it was simply the fact 
that one of the party had been hit that interested 
them, that instead of me, the bullet might have 
found one of them. It is to be borne in mind that 
during much of these periods of exposure we were 
unoccupied, simply standing and waiting, and it is 
not strange that the mind under such circumstances 
should be occupied with the possibilities of the 
body's environment. On one of these days, I 
think it must have been the first and most severe 
one, October 13th, we had ridden close up to 
the line at General Hawley's brigade and were 
talking with him when violent musketry firing 
came from the enemy directly opposite. We w^ere 
dismounted at the time, the horses a little in the 
rear, and the word was passed to lie down. As it 
happened. General Terry lay down between my 
legs and I remember feeling keenly that in that 
arrangement rank was not properly regarded. He 
should have been in front. The bullets buzzed 



24 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

over us, and the twigs fell on us, and when the fire 
slackened we rose and went back to the horses. I 
had in mind a remark made by a major-general, a 
regular army officer, who had seen much fighting 
on the Plains as well as in the war, ''The man who 
won't take the shelter of a blade of grass when it is 
offered him is a — fool, " and I was looking for the 
blade of grass. I had decided that a horse was as 
good as the grass and skipping to get behind one 
when I caught sight of the face of a stolid, old 
orderly, who was holding three horses. His face 
was expressionless, but his eyes were following me, 
and I realized that, while the advice might be 
sound as to shelter offered, it was not to be extended 
to a search therefor, at least by one whose rank 
required him to set an example. And then, too, one 
gets to think it is not worth while, or has a super- 
stitious feeling that the effort to avoid increases 
the chance of harm. At that very time, when a 
moment later I stepped toward my horse to mount, 
a shell passed directly under her belly. If I had 
taken position behind her I should have been right 
in its track. 

One of my friends, who served through the war 
and was severely wounded and thrown from his 
horse while in command of his regiment at Chicka- 
mauga told me, in reply to my question why he 
was on horseback at such a time, that he always 
went mounted in action, for he was convinced that 
if he went on foot and once got behind a tree he 
would never leave the shelter. And yet he told me 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 25 

at another time, and others have said the same 
thing, that once engaged and actively busied 
with the handhng of his men, all thought of per- 
sonal danger passed from his mind. General 
Schofield in his memoirs says the same thing of 
himself in his first battle. I believe that almost 
every man when moving up into danger is more or 
less preoccupied by it. And indeed, I have not 
much confidence in the so-called constitutionally 
brave man, the man who does not think of danger. 
Let him once get scared and the chances are he will 
be scared through and through and without control 
of himself. The man who appreciates the danger 
and faces it is the one who can be trusted to keep 
going. There are of course the constitutionally 
cowardly, the men who are actually beside them- 
selves in the presence of danger, but they are 
few. I saw one of them on one of those Darby- 
town road days. He was a recruit, just down from 
the North, one of the men the Government was 
paying a bounty of $1000 or $1500 for, and who 
are drawing pensions still. We had spent the 
night in the field, and the next morning something 
was said at headquarters about a man who had 
behaved strangely the day before: he had fallen 
out of the ranks and had since been in the hands of 
the provost guard. He was sent for and came up 
pale and trembling. He said he had just come 
down from New York ; he had marched out in the 
morning and was all right until the order was given 
to load, and after that he remembered nothing. 



26 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

In the silence that followed his statement an 
officer spoke, "Oh, send him out to Colonel Curtis 
and have him shot. " The man gasped, threw up 
his hands, and fell straight back in a dead faint. 
He was kept thereafter in the provost marshal's 
gang of men under punishment and employed in 
chores about the camp, and I saw him occasionally 
during the next two or three months; once he 
passed by my tent when Colonel Curtis was sitting 
there with me, and Curtis spoke to him, not 
unkindly, cautioning him to do his work well; he 
replied tremblingly and turned so pale that I 
thought he would faint again. 

Theoretically one's anxiety ought to be lessened 
by an appreciation of the rarity of the hits com- 
pared with the number of projectiles discharged. 
It is an old saying, somewhat fanciful, that it 
takes a man's weight in lead to kill him, but, alas, 
the first bullet may do the trick and the tally of 
wasted lead be made up afterwards. But still one 
does see from time to time very striking evidence 
of the relative immunity. I once watched a skirm- 
ish line cross a great field. The men ran across at 
a trot without firing a shot, perhaps a third of a 
mile, toward a line of rifle-pits on the opposite 
side occupied by a thin line of the enemy, who were 
firing at them continuously until they were nearly 
up and then retired to another line a short distance 
beyond. Only one man fell. And while our men 
were settling themselves under cover of the pits, 
their commanding officer rode rapidly up and 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 27 

down the line, back and forth, zig-zagging about, 
and presumably giving his orders, while puffs of 
smoke all converging toward him were constantly 
coming from the enemy's rifle-pits along a length 
of, I should think, two hundred yards. Finally, 
he turned and galloped back unhurt. 

I think it was that same day that I had a very 
singular experience, unique so far as my inquiries 
have gone. I had gone, or had been sent, off to a 
little eminence and was standing on a bank border- 
ing a road, looking across a wide field toward woods 
occupied by the enemy. After I had been there a 
few moments, a battery of artillery galloped up 
behind me and stopped, preparing to unlimber. I 
glanced back at them and as I turned again toward 
the wood I heard the buzz of a bullet and saw what 
looked like a great bee coming straight at me. I 
instantly dropped in my tracks, and as I did so I 
heard the slap of the bullet and a man called out, 
"Come here, I am hit." It was an artilleryman, 
standing at the head of his horse about ten feet 
behind me. The bullet had struck a button on his 
coat and flattened on it. Shells are often easily 
visible, but I have yet to meet anyone who has 
seen a minie ball in flight. Of course its speed 
was largely lost. 

As the season advanced, hostilities on both sides 
diminished and ceased. There were few duties: 
an occasional ride along the picket line on the 
flank, examinations of the roads and approaches in 
the same quarter with selection of a site for an 



28 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

intrenchment to cover the crossing of a swamp, and 
the carrying of orders to the different commanders, 
when some explanation had to go with them. We 
were free to visit and gossip and exercise our horses. 
I had early acquired a second horse, a tough little 
strawberry roan that nothing could tire, and which 
was in some ways a far more satisfactory mount 
than my handsome ebullient mare. The latter, 
a dark brown Morgan, had much individuality 
and was conspicuously handsome, but better suited 
for the ballroom than the home circle. She was 
perfectly kind and gentle, and we became great 
friends, but she had only tw^o gaits, a swift walk 
and a run, to which after much persuasion she 
ultimately added a most hygienic trot. She would 
never stand with her head to the wind, she always 
wanted to lead the procession, and she had a pas- 
sion for bathing. All of these traits were embarrass- 
ing for a subaltern. If the staff gathered on some 
eminence while the General examined the prospect 
to windward or perhaps explained it to some visit- 
ing general, Fanny would quietly turn her back 
and mine upon them and face to the rear. If we 
were moving briskly across the country she kept 
me most of the time alongside of or a little ahead 
of the General. If we crossed a stream, I had to 
do it at full speed or she would lie down in it, 
and that led to many objurgations, for my com- 
panions did not like to be splashed. Once at 
Fort Fisher, when, riding across the sands, I started 
across what seemed to be a broad shallow pool of 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 29 

salt water, without the slightest warning she 
went straight down under me. Thinking we had 
got into a deep hole, I slipped the reins over my 
arm and started to swim ashore. The water was 
not knee-deep, and a new pair of mouse-colored 
corduroys, the pride of my heart, were irretrievably 
ruined. Another time, at the end of a day's 
march, my darky reported with much alarm that 
he had ''taken the mare down to water and she 
broke away and is swimming around in the 
branch. " And she continued to do so for a quar- 
ter of an hour, and then came quietly out ready for 
supper. She was heartbreaking at times, but she 
was a dear. 

One day I was sent to bring up a cavalry brigade. 
As I rode up to its commander and began to dehver 
my message, he fixed his eyes on Fanny and 
interrupted me with "Where did you get that mare? 
I didn't suppose General Keyes would ever part 
with her. " She had no great speed, but she would 
jump anything that came in her way and generally 
with success. She also had a very sensitive 
mouth, and if any weight was put on the bridle, 
she would throw her head in the air and make 
quite an exhibition of herself. But she was so 
kind and bidable that I could almost always con- 
trol her by my voice. She would follow me about 
and come to my call, and we spent a good deal of 
time together. 

The other horse was small, with beautiful head 
and legs but a most unmanageable mane. He had 



30 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

a swift easy trot and great endurance. I once 
rode him to an outpost ten miles distant and 
made the return trip without once breaking his 
trot. The orderly who accompanied me because 
guerillas occasionally appeared on the road was 
quite unable to keep up and at the last was left 
far behind. 

The use of our horses for business or pleasure 
was a chief occupation of the aides, and when not 
on horseback we were idling about headquarters. 
I hardly remember how the days were spent 
except that in the evenings we all gathered about 
the large campfire in the open, with sometimes a 
band to furnish entertainment. The smell of that 
fire is still in my nostrils, and even now I never 
smell burning wood in the open that it does not 
instantly turn my thoughts back to those days. 
Just as when in 1 898 I went to the camp at Mon- 
tauk and the sight of the army wagons and the 
mule teams and the orderlies rushing about on 
horseback made me feel for a moment as though I 
must mount and be part and parcel of it again. 

The duties were few and simple. Occasionally 
a ride to Deep Bottom to bring over a regiment or 
a brigade of new troops, a ride along the outposts 
to remind the men that they were under obser- 
vation, another to meet and ceremoniously con- 
duct some visiting general or a congressional 
committee, but most of the time it was a ride for 
the ride's sake or to visit some point of interest, 
like the canal that was digging at Dutch Gap. 



! 




1865 



pUci^i- 



;Y 



....•.•SWKS-- 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 31 

I recall an amusing incident connected with 
the visit of a committee headed by Senator Wil- 
son, Chairman of the Committee on the Conduct 
of the War. The committee lunched with General 
Terry and issued from his little house to mount 
horses that had been collected for them for a ride 
along the lines. One of the horses was a mare 
belonging to Major Terry, our adjutant-general, 
a remarkably fine-gaited horse but with a very 
tender mouth. Wilson, a stout little man, ap- 
peared with his trousers tied about his ankles 
with red tape and was hoisted up on the horse. 
He gathered up the reins and pulled sharply 
on them. The mare rose straight up on her hind 
legs and the Senator slid down over her tail to the 
ground. Much excitement, of course, and many 
apologies; the offending mare was led away and 
the much-ruffled Senator mounted on another 
horse. 

Dutch Gap was a perennial interest, for it lasted 
long in the making and much of the time there was 
firing from the enemy's large guns and mortars. 
The canal was so placed that the guns on the other 
side of the James could fire across its mouth and 
much of the time they would fire at the men as 
they brought out the clay in wheel-barrows and 
carts. The canal itself was completely sheltered 
from fire. It was cut through a neck of land about 
five hundred feet wide and forty feet high; it was 
of gray clay so stiff that the sides of the cut were 
almost vertical. The digging was begun at the 



32 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

south end, and the very precipitous bank at the 
north end was left untouched until the excavation 
had been entirely completed behind it, so as to 
escape direct shelling from the opposite bank. A 
visit to it had to be made with some circumspection 
so as not to draw special fire. We would leave our 
horses out of sight and slip in around the exposed 
points when things were relatively quiet. The 
clay was very firm and tough. I remember bring- 
ing away a piece and carving it into a model of the 
canal as it then was. Indeed, I think it is still 
somewhere about the house, together with a pipe 
I also made of the clay. 

As the season advanced, and it seemed probable 
we should remain where we were for the winter, we 
arranged more permanent quarters. Details of 
men from Maine regiments were set to build log 
huts, and they did it quickly and well. We 
scoured the country for bricks for the chimneys 
and occasionally found a serviceable window- 
sash, a great find, one to make its owner envied. 
I well remember the indignant murmurs with 
which the order was received to leave the sashes in 
place when, on the reconstruction of the corps, we 
had to leave our quarters and return to the ist 
Division. There was much rivalry over the chim- 
neys. And as mine did its work well, I was some- 
what in demand when others were to be built or 
remade. 

Some of the huts had floors, the planks coming 
from the abandoned houses that furnished the 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 33 

bricks ; I do not remember how we made the roofs, 
but I think we used the tent flies. 

There were plenty of men to chop and bring 
wood for the fires, and we thought we were excep- 
tionally well provided for. But for me the nights 
were a torment, for I have always slept cold. My 
companion slept in a buffalo-skin bag in a box and 
slept well. I lay on a canvas hospital stretcher 
and could never get blankets enough below and 
above to keep my hips and knees from aching 
like a tooth. 

Of furniture we had little or nothing; some- 
times an improvised table or bench or perhaps 
even a chair picked up somewhere. A post driven 
firmly in the ground outside held a tin washbasin, 
and we each must have possessed one or two towels. 
My washing was done, I presume, by my orderly ; 
at least I cannot remember doing it myself. We 
took our meals in a large mess-tent, the food being 
supplied by a sutler at a fixed price per week. 
We had no books, and there was but little card 
playing. Some of the staff were well educated and 
well bred, and all were friendly and easy to live 
with. Late in the season a former classmate, 
Horace Fowler, came with his regiment, a N. Y. 
Heavy Artillery one, which had been brought up 
from Yorktown and equipped as infantry, much to 
their disgust, and I was able to have him detailed 
to the staff as Judge Advocate on the strength of 
his having studied law for one season. His com- 
pany was of course a great pleasure. 



34 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

Fresh troops, raised by the large bounties, came 
to us in considerable numbers, but the material was 
poor. Desertions were constant and there were 
a few executions of those who were caught. I 
attended one, and only one. The victim was a 
flagrant offender. He had enlisted eight times 
and pocketed eight bounties. He was a stout 
young fellow and looked hke an ordinary city 
tough. He pretended to a good deal of unconcern 
and bravado during the two or three days of 
confinement, rode to the field with apparent 
indifference, seated according to the cruel fashion 
on his unpainted coffin, and stood at "attention" 
unblindfolded beside the ready grave, facing the 
firing squad. The latter did their work well, 
thanks to an energetic provost marshal, who stood 
behind them with a drawn pistol and the promise 
to shoot any man whose rifie deviated from the 
mark, and every bullet struck the man's chest. 
His body flew backward without a joint bending, 
and his cap striking the edge of the coffin flew 
high in the air. 

A brigade notorious for its numerous desertions 
had been ordered out to witness the execution in the 
hope it might teach the men a lesson. It did, but 
not the expected one. That night it went on 
picket and ninety of the men deserted. 

Such was some of our material, and I wish that 
those who pass our pension laws and to whom a 
deserter is only "a poor homesick lad" could 
appreciate it and could vote with an eye to their 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 35 

duty to the country rather than to the vote at the 
next election. 

About the first of December, the loth and i8th 
Corps were broken up and recombined as the 24th 
and 25th, the latter being composed largely, per- 
haps exclusively, of colored troops and under the 
command of General Weitzel. General Ord took 
command of the 24th, in which General Terry had 
the 1st Division, and General Ames the 2nd. 
General Terry very kindly offered to get me a place 
on General Ord's staff, but I preferred to go with 
him to the ist Division. If I had accepted I 
should probably have taken part in the breaking 
of the Hnes about Petersburg the next April, and 
the pursuit to Appomattox. 

Shortly after this reorganization, our 2nd Di- 
vision with, I think, the 3rd Division, General C. 
J. Paine, of the 25th (colored), was sent under 
Generals Butler and Weitzel to attack Fort Fisher 
at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, North 
CaroHna. They made the landing, thought the 
fort impregnable, and returned. General Grant 
at once ordered the same troops, with General 
Hawley's brigade of our division, to renew the 
attempt, this time under the command of General 
Terry. We started, I think, December 31st. 
Unfortunately I had been a Httle ailing and the 
doctor said I should not go. I pleaded hard with 
the general but he was firm and told me to go home 
for a fortnight and rejoin him when I got well. 
It was a bitter disappointment. The troops 



36 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

marched to City Point, we followed in the evening, 
and I took the boat to Fortress Monroe and home. 

After some delay due to a storm, the force cap- 
tured the fort, January 15th. Secretary Stanton 
came down to inspect (or to rejoice) immediately 
after the capture. He made our force into a corps 
and gave us the old number, loth, with General 
Terry of course in command, and gave him a 
brigadier-generalcy in the regular army and 
distributed various other promotions. I was 
promised a commission from the general govern- 
ment of captain and A.D.C. It came to me at the 
close of the war while I was ill, and I declined it. 

At the expiration of the fortnight I started back. 
At Fortress Monroe I found a transport carrying 
reinforcements and got passage on it. 

The staff was occupying a small frame house 
outside the fort and were enjoying a mess sup- 
plemented by supplies obtained from two block- 
ade runners which had just come in not knowing 
that the fort had been taken. The usual Hghts 
had been set and they ran in at night, anchored, 
and went to bed. 

Our horses had not yet come, and the staff duty 
for a little while was irksome, for the sand was 
heavy and the roads poor. But the weather was 
balmy and the horses soon came. We had an 
intrenched line three miles to the north, extending 
from the river to the sea, or rather to an inlet 
which paralleled the shore, and the enemy held a 
line just beyond us. Three or four monitors lay 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 37 

in the river and would occasionally throw a few 
shells at a fort farther up on the opposite side of 
the river. The land immediately in front of us 
was very swampy, practically impassable except 
along one or two small roads. We moved out once 
or twice and felt the enemy, and once sent quite a 
force by night up the coast, hoping to make a 
lodgment in their rear, but it could not get across 
the inlet. General Schofield's corps was brought 
from Nashville and about the middle of February- 
it advanced on Wilmington along the west bank of 
the river, while we worked up on our side. There 
was but little opposition, nothing but heavy skirm- 
ish lines on our part and only occasional checks. 
Still, we had to move along so few roads and with 
so narrow a front that we had quite a number of 
casualties. At one check I was standing beside 
the road while a company was passing by to sup- 
port the skirmish line ; suddenly there came a roar 
and a bang and the head of the little column 
dissolved. An unexploded three-inch shell had 
come through the thicket and struck it squarely, 
knee-high, and knocked out five men. And I 
recall another incident : an unexpected volley had 
brought down a number of men, the doctors were 
hurried up, improvised operating tables, and set 
about their work. It was, though I did not know 
it, the beginning of my surgical career, for I asked 
a doctor why he was going to amputate an arm 
from which the back of the elbow had been shot 
away. "Why do you not leave it as it is?" I 



38 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

asked, "The arm is still good and I should think 
he could get well of his smash as well as he could 
of an amputation. " He snorted with scorn, and off 
came the limb. Nowadays, we should certainly 
save it, and I still think it might have been done 
then. 

Surgery was rather elementary in those days 
and the difficulties of transport doubtless forced 
the surgeon's hand. But still there was much 
haste and scant study of the cases. One of our 
aides, Captain Graves, was shot at Gettysburg in 
the thigh at nightfall on the second day. He 
was taken to the field hospital, a surgeon came by, 
glanced at his wound, and said, "Amputate.'* 
While awaiting his turn, he saw a medical acquaint- 
ance passing and called to him, asking for at least 
an examination before condemnation. It proved 
to be simply a flesh wound and in a month he 
was back on duty. 

On February 226. we entered Wilmington, still 
skirmishing, and pushed on to a river about ten 
miles beyond. Once or twice in this part we had 
to deploy, but there was no serious resistance. 
The enemy was encumbered by large numbers of 
our prisoners who had been brought to Wilming- 
ton as Sherman advanced through Georgia and 
South Carolina, and a few of them who had man- 
aged to escape on the way came out to us from 
the bushes as we passed along. They looked 
very miserable but it was nothing to what we 
saw a little later. 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 39 

We established a strong outpost at the river 
and brought the main force back to Wilmington. 

Our entry into Wilmington had some amusing 
incidents. An old man, carrying a white flag, 
apparently a tablecloth, came out to meet us and 
formally surrendered the city, but the dignity and 
the impressiveness of his behavior was sadly 
marred by the excitement of the swarms of negroes 
who filled the road about him and welcomed us 
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving. I remember 
one stout young woman with her back against the 
fence jumping up and down, waving her arms and 
emitting shrill cries. 

With headquarters in the city, we were soon on 
poHte terms with the population, female as well as 
male. Technically we were enemies, but youth 
will not be denied. On the first or second evening 
an appeal came in to save a family from their 
colored servants. I was sent on the mission. 
I found a circle of seven or eight ladies of various 
ages seated solemnly in the parlor. I inquired 
about the trouble and found it existed only in their 
imaginations ; they feared it was coming, although 
there had been no indication of it. I asked that 
the potential disturbers of the peace should be 
summoned ; a very mild looking man and woman 
came rather tremulously into my august presence, 
received some solemn advice, and departed with 
relief. We then sat about and talked for a while, 
and I went home. A few days afterwards I met 
one of the younger ladies and she took me to task 



40 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

for having spoken to a still younger one in the 
street a day or two before. They had reproached 
the girl for having allowed me, an enemy, to do so, 
and she had defended herself on the score of proper 
courtesy. I had to explain that she had been 
imposed upon, that some other officer had imper- 
sonated me, or rather, had been mistaken by her 
for me. I fear she got another scolding. 

Our headquarters were in a public building and 
we slept on the floor. One morning early I was 
waked by the entrance into my room of two men in 
Confederate uniform and conspicuous revolvers. 
I sat up in some bewilderment and asked their 
errand. They were two of Sherman's scouts who 
had just got through to us and wished to deliver 
their message. After that had been attended to, 
one of them said he would like to consult a doctor 
as he had a buckshot in his thigh. He said that a 
day or two before starting to come to us he and 
two companions were out looking about and came 
upon a party of home guards. ' ' Jim took the left 
flank, and Joe the center, and I the right flank and 
we went at them with a yell. They ran like rab- 
bits, all but one old man near me. I called on 
him to surrender and he lowered his gun. I looked 
around to see if there were any others and as I 
turned back he was drawing on me. I threw my- 
self down on the horse and fired my revolver at 
him just as he fired, and one of his shot went right 
through my leg. And," reproachfully, "he was old 
enough to be my father." 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 41 

He told many other stories of reckless adventure 
and of daredeviltry of a similar kind. Of one I 
remember little more than a phrase. Clad in the 
uniform of a Confederate Major he met a body 
of Confederates, told them the enemy was near and 
approaching, took command of them, and hurriedly 
began preparations for defense. But he had not 
time enough. ''Oh," he said, ''if our men had 
only been a little later I'd have put up the prettiest 
little fight." 

The most impressive thing that happened during 
our three weeks' stay in Wilmington was the recep- 
tion of ten thousand of our prisoners turned over 
to us by General Hoke because he could no longer 
care for them. They had been gathered from 
various Southern prisons that lay within the line 
of Sherman's marches and had been herded along 
with the troops that were more or less closely 
opposing Sherman and us. They were brought 
by rail to the opposite bank of the river upon which 
we had our outpost, ten miles out from Wilmington, 
and we laid there a pontoon bridge for their cross- 
ing. We went out to meet them and it was one 
of the most trying scenes I ever witnessed. Many 
of them were so weak that we had to detail soldiers 
to help them up a little incline from the bank, and 
v/e had to camp them on the spot until conveyances 
could be gathered to take them to the town. As 
I was sitting on my horse watching them, a very 
ill-looking man came slowly toward me and said, 
" Can you tell me where I can find a doctor? I've 



42 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

got a friend over there and he isn't very well." 
Poor fellow, he looked desperately in need of a 
doctor himself. We shipped north all who could 
bear the journey and placed the others — hundreds 
of them — in improvised hospitals in the town. 
They were in such condition, many with gan- 
grenous limbs, that it was unpleasant to pass by 
the houses in which they lay. I remember seeing 
afterwards pictures in Harper s Weekly, I think, of 
some of their limbs, pictures hardly to be believed, 
feet fallen off and the bare bones of the leg sticking 
out beyond the flesh. And then too, of course, 
there was the inevitable typhoid. Our medical in- 
spector, a man of whom I was very fond, but whose 
name I have forgotten, — he came from New Hamp- 
shire, — was placed in charge of these hospitals and 
on the morning that we marched away I hurriedly 
rode to his house to bid him good-by. He quietly 
said, ''I am coming down with the fever, I feel it 
here, " drawing his hand across his forehead. When 
I came to myself after my own fever a few weeks 
later, one of the first letters I read was from the 
lady at whose house he had been living, telling of 
his death. 

We were anxiously awaiting news of Sherman, 
who was marching through the country west of us, 
and one Sunday morning I was called out of church 
and told that the General wanted me. He told me 
to go aboard a certain boat and proceed up the 
river and see if I could pick up any of Sherman's 
scouts who might be trying to work in to us. 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 43 

''How far shall I go?" ''As far as you think fit. " 
I went aboard and started on my independent 
command. The boat was a small paddle-wheel 
river craft with a captain, an old negro pilot, two 
deck-hands, and two or three in the engine room. 
All went well at first in the broad reaches, but when 
we reached the narrow and crooked part we had a 
hard time. The river was bank full and running 
fast; the turns were sharp and often double, so 
that before we could get the craft straightened 
out after one turn she would plunge her bow into 
the bank or the trees opposite. I worked at the 
wheel with the darky, but the problem was not to 
be solved by strength. We soon lost a good part 
of our paddle boxes and all the standing poles and 
railings about the bows, and the captain all the 
time was in a twitter lest a rifle shot should come 
from the banks. By nightfall we had advanced 
about forty miles, and having reached a place 
where the river had broadly overflowed a low 
wooded district, I told the captain to tie up to 
the trees for the night. After supper I posted 
the two deck-hands, each with a rifle, and told 
them where to look for a coming onslaught, and 
then went to bed. Doubtless they did Hkewise 
soon after. 

The night passed without alarms and we were 
soon on our way again. The river was straighter 
and the navigation was easier; and as we passed 
from time to time charred pieces of wood looking 
like the stringers of a bridge, I inferred that Sher- 



44 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

man's men had reached the river above us and 
determined to keep going until I found them. 
Twice a man on horseback rode to the river bank 
where it rose in a bluff above us, and scrutinized 
us with interest, but no shots followed and we 
kept on. The captain sought to impress upon 
me the ease with which a rifle ball would put our 
boilers out of commission or empty the pilot house, 
but I was eager to see the thing through. In the 
afternoon he found compensation in hauling 
aboard a floating bale of cotton. I daresay it 
yielded him two or three hundred dollars. When 
ten or fifteen miles short of Fayetteville, we passed 
a group of our cavalrymen on the river bank, and 
then I swung out a big flag at the stern, which 
I had prudently abstained from displaying before, 
and pushed on confidently. 

About four o'clock we reached Fayetteville and 
found a pontoon bridge over which our troops were 
passing. We tied up to the bank and I set out 
to find Sherman. The road was filled with march- 
ing troops who showed interest, some of it articu- 
late and personal, in my appearance and my corps 
badge which was new to them, and after walking 
about a mile I found the General in a dwelling 
house on the Arsenal grounds. He seemed con- 
tented and free from care and questioned me about 
our force at Wilmington, and apparently heard 
with pleasure that Schofield's corps had left us 
and had marched by the coast toward Newberne. 
He complained of the swarms of negroes, about 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 45 

thirty thousand he said, that were accompanying 
him, and told many stories of them, and finally 
directed one of his officers to take me to General 
Howard and tell him to send back with me as 
many as my boat would carry. We crossed the 
pontoon bridge and found Howard in a tent. 
After a few words with him I went back to the boat, 
got a gangplank out and took on board about two 
hundred men, women, and children, and shortly 
before midnight started down the river. Our 
progress, with the stream, was far more rapid and 
we reached Wilmington by noon. Early in the 
morning we had an accident which just missed 
being very serious. As we swung around a sharp 
turn, our starboard quarter struck a rebel gunboat 
(the Chickamauga, I think) which had been run up 
the river and sunk when we occupied Wilmington. 
It made a hole in us nearly a foot in diameter just 
above the water-line. 

Many other negroes were subsequently brought 
down and established in camp; under the care I 
suppose of the Freedmen's Bureau. 

About the second week of March our corps left 
Wilmington and marched north beside the railway, 
our destination being a junction with Sherman at 
Cox's bridge, just out of Goldsboro, about seventy- 
five or one hundred miles, I think. The weather 
was pleasant, the road good, and no enemy in our 
front. They had withdrawn to combine with 
others under Johnston in opposing Sherman. The 
country was sparsely settled and we found only 



46 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

women, children, and old or disabled men, men who 
had lost an arm or a leg in the war, and had 
returned to their homes. Extreme poverty was 
evident, and General Terry was very strict in 
preventing any looting. One day we were sitting 
on the porch of a little house during a halt ; some 
shouts were heard and we saw some soldiers 
chasing a pig in a field across the road. The 
General drew his sword, bounded down the steps 
and across the road, and went for the men. They 
ran one way, and the pig another. 

I think it was at the same place that a little 
girl who was standing near us suddenly threw up 
her arms and in a voice of the utmost despair 
cried, " Oh, they're in the smokehouse. " A couple 
of soldiers were looking in at the door of a little 
shack that stood a few yards away from the house. 
It was a piteous cry ; probably all the little food 
they had was in that shack. 

One afternoon we found an engine and two cars 
at a way-station and thought to vary the march 
by taking a ride in them. An engineer and fire- 
men were found, some soldiers loaded into one of 
the cars and we took places in the other, and away 
we went, sending our horses by the road. As we 
approached the next station we saw some armed 
men on horseback in front of it awaiting us. Our 
conductor could give no information. The last 
time he had been over the road, he said, the 
Confederates were there. We moved up slowly 
and stopped by them. They were an odd looking 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 47 

bunch. One of them had a quilt under his saddle 
which covered his horse from neck to tail, and all 
were hung about with pots and pans and other 
domestic utensils. The men sat with their 
rifles in their hands quietly watching us. They 
were a small body of Sherman's "bummers," far 
away from their force. They said they were just 
waiting to see who we were, and apparently were 
quite indifferent whether we should materialize as 
Federals or Confederates. Then they turned and 
went off and we proceeded. 

Sherman marched as a rule in four parallel 
columns five to fifteen miles apart, and stripped 
the intermediate and bordering country systemati- 
cally. The men who did the work were regularly 
detailed and under the command of officers, but 
evidently there was some, perhaps much, irregular 
foraging and looting. Theoretically all plunder 
was turned over for equitable distribution, but I 
fancy there was little or no effort to prevent in- 
dividual robbing or wanton destruction. When 
Schofield's corps came into Wilmington after their 
march up the west bank of the river I saw men 
in the ranks carrying the weirdest loads : one with 
an arm-chair, another with a mirror, etc. Of 
course, these things were dropped at the road- 
side in an hour or two. ''War is hell," but the 
belli shness is not simply the slaughter and the 
physical destruction, it is also the corruption of 
character, the loosening of moral bonds, the utter 
disregard of right and wrong. I know it, for I felt 



48 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

it in myself. It is the ready resort to violence, the 
arbitrament of force. 

One evening we stopped at Faison's station for 
the night. An elderly gentleman came to head- 
quarters and asked the General and his staff to take 
supper at his house, a little distance down the road, 
and to spend the night there, giving as his reason 
his desire to have our protection against the 
soldiers. We assured him he had nothing to fear, 
but he was urgent and we went. Two ladies were 
there, one, about thirty years old, whose husband 
was in the Confederate army, the other a girl of 
perhaps eighteen. They were quiet and courteous 
and the evening passed off pleasantly. The 
General and I stayed for the night, but the others 
were shy and went back to their blankets. The 
young girl and I spent the evening on the piazza 
like any other young couple. Of our conversation 
I recall only her story of a visit made to them 
the previous day by some of Sherman's men. They 
demanded her jewels, she said, and cursed her. "I 
don't mind swearing, but I don't like to be cursed. " 

In October, 191 3, I lunched in the same house 
at the same table, with descendants of the same 
family and with one of the ladies mentioned on a 
following page. 

A day or two later we reached Cox's bridge and 
united with Sherman. We heard the firing at 
Bentonville, Sherman's last battle, but took no 
part in it. There was much going and coming 
and some of Sherman's generals visited us, but I 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 49 

was ailing and took little part in it. Indeed, on 
the last marches I was so sick that whenever we 
stopped I got off my horse and lay on the ground 
until we started again. I had some quinine in 
powder which I used to try to bury in a bit of 
chewed bread so that I could swallow it without 
getting too much of the taste. That was my sole 
medical help. Then we were ordered back to Fai- 
sons to refit for the next campaign. I made the 
trip in the headquarters wagon with my darky 
leading my horses close behind, and when we 
reached the house selected for headquarters, I 
went directly upstairs and to bed, and stayed there 
until the corps started out again, a fortnight or 
so afterward. 

It was sickness under difficulty. We were four 
in the room, with one double bed. The next day 
I was delirious, and I think the others moved out 
and left me in quiet for a while. But as I grew 
better, the room came partly into use again as an 
office and I had a pretty hard time trying to 
get sleep. One evening after I had vainly sought 
sleep for an hour or more, I asked one of the staff 
who was reading at the table if he would not kindly 
take his book elsewhere. He refused and added 
that it was the most selfish request that had ever 
been made of him. We teach that the main treat- 
ment of typhoid is nursing and careful feeding. I 
got neither (my nurse was a private soldier and 
my food came from the staff table) and though I 
recovered my convalescence was prolonged for 



994«*^ 



50 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

months by a persistent enteritis. The doctors 
had said at first that I could not recover, and one of 
the staff had gone through my effects, found the 
family address, and written to them to send for my 
body. I well remember the pride with which one 
of the doctors, Doctor Craven, afterwards sat on 
the side of my bed, and told me that he alone had 
said that I would get well. Forty-eight and a half 
years afterwards I revisited the house and met 
there two elderly ladies, who had been young 
women there at the time and had pleasant recollec- 
tions of General Terry and the staff. I went up to 
the room and saw there the same four-post bed- 
stead. 

When the time came for the corps to move, I was 
driven in a buggy to the railway and put in a box 
car with the other sick and some ladies and slowly 
journeyed back to Wilmington. They told me I 
was the second sickest on the train. The sickest, 
Doctor Washburn, from a New England State, 
died before we had been more than an hour on the 
way. His wife and brother, seeking him, learned 
at Fortress Monroe of his death (which I had told 
of when I stopped there on my way home) and 
came to Paterson a day or two after I got home to 
ask the details. I stayed at Wilmington a few 
days, boarding in a private house, and then got on 
a little steamer bound for New York. That same 
afternoon my brother Henry reached Wilmington 
via Newberne and Goldsboro in search of me. 

My boat stopped at Fortress Monroe and I went 



CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 51 

ashore and met my optimistic Doctor Craven, 
who had just been stationed there and afterwards 
had charge of Jefferson Davis when he was con- 
fined there, and wrote a book about it. He 
introduced me to Captain Gadsden of the Arago, 
who had stopped there on his way back to New 
York with a party sent down to raise the flag 
again on Fort Sumter, and he kindly offered me 
passage on his boat, far more comfortable than 
the little freighter on which I had come from 
Wilmington. We sailed away in the afternoon 
and reached New York the next evening. I 
landed down on the west side at about Franklin 
or Worth Street, and for many years I used to 
recognize as I went up and down in the Sixth 
Avenue car the steps of a corner saloon on which I 
rested while waiting for a car to take me up to 
Fourteenth Street to the room where Keyes, then 
a medical student, was living. I passed the night 
on his sofa, and the next morning started for 
Paterson. It was a day of fasting and prayer. 
Lincoln's body had lain in state at the City Hall 
the day before, and all Broadway was draped in 
black. As I sat wearily in the ferryboat, my 
father came in. He had come to the city early 
to see if some boat might not have arrived from 
Wilmington (I must of course have written that I 
was on my way home) and noting in the paper the 
arrival of my freighter, had gone to it and learned 
that I had shifted to the Arago. 

I had to go to bed again and was pretty sick for 



52 CIVIL WAR MEMORIES 

some weeks. But by June or July I was about 
again and went to New Haven to visit General 
Terry, home on leave. After Johnston's surrender, 
he had been put in command of the district of 
Virginia with headquarters at Richmond, where I 
afterwards visited him again in October. 

While I was lying ill at home, my commission as 
captain and A.D.C., came from Washington, and 
General Terry had offered to recommend me for a 
brevet as major, and for a commission in the regular 
army. But the war was over, and I had no desire 
to remain in the army. I was not well enough to 
go back to duty with any comfort and so, rather 
heedlessly, I declined the commission instead of 
accepting it and then resigning. I regret it now, 
because acceptance would have put my name on 
the army list. A small matter perhaps. As it 
stands my name appears on the record as having 
declined a commission, and is mentioned twice in 
the Official Record of the Rebellion, once in a 
letter written by Sherman from Fayetteville, in 
which he tells of my call on him, and once in a 
general order issued by General Terry at Raleigh, 
or just as we started for it, in the list of his staff. 
And the record was accepted by the Loyal Legion. 



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