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"■Follow the colors of the Nineteenth.'' — General Webb.
By Capt. JOHN G. B. ADAMS.
BOSTON : WRIGHT & POTTER
PRINTING COMPANY, i8 POST
OFFICE SQUARE, 1899
LIGRARY oi CONGRESS
Two Copies Received
UOV 25 1905
By John G. B. Adame
For thirty-four years I have waited patiently for some
one to write a history of the 19th Kegiment Massachusetts
Volunteers, but fearing that it may never be accomplished,
I have concluded to send out this story. I do not dignify
it by calling it a history. It is simply a soldier's story,
told by one of the "boys." Most of it is written from
memory. The account of prison life is taken from an
imperfect diary, kept by the writer while a prisoner of
I sincerely hope the publication of this volume will
inspire other comrades, and that from the memories thus
evoked some one may gather further material whereby the
deeds of the men who so bravely followed the flags of
the State and Nation for four long, weary years may be
JOHN G. B. ADAMS.
Nineteenth Massachusetts Regiment.
THE CALL TO ARMS.
At the breaking out of the war I was a resident of the
quiet but patriotic town of Groveland. Sumter had l)een
fired upon and all was excitement. I could not work, and
on the 18th of April, 1861, walked to Haverhill with my
elder brother and Mark Kimball. • We went to the armory
of the Hale Guards, who were making active preparations to
march, and I returned home that night resolved to go with
them if possible. The next day we walked to Haverhill
again, and I at once interviewed Captain Messer, but was
informed that the company was more than full, so I could
not go with it.
I had said nothing to my brother or Mark of my intention,
but as we were walking home I found that we all had the
same desire, — to enlist at once. "We talked the matter over
and concluded that as Company A of the 1st Battalion of
Eifles, an old militia company located in West Newbury, and
then under arms, would soon be ordered away, we would
join it. That night we walked to West Newbury (five
miles), found the company at the armory in the town hall
and enrolled our names. Company A was one of three
that composed the 1st Battalion of Rifles, commanded by
Maj. Ben. Perley Poore. They had been organized several
2 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
years and were known as "Poore's Savages." They were
armed with Winsor rifles and sabre bayonets, the rifle and
bayonet weighing about fifteen pounds. The uniform was
dark green, trimmed with light green, and as I donned it for
the first time it was hard to tell which was the greener, the
soldier or the uniform. We had a peculiar drill. Most of
it, as I can remember, consisted of running around the town
hall in single file, giving an Indian war-whoop and firing into
the corner of the hall as we ran.
I was a soldier now. I did not walk the streets as I had
done, but marched, always turning "a square corner."
People grasped me by the hand and congratulated me on
my courage. (I did not see where the courage came in.)
The Sons of TemperancQ, of which my brother Isaac and
myself were members, presented us at a public meeting with
two suits of underclothes and havelocks, housewives, testa-
ments, etc., so that before we received our army outfit we
had enough to load a mule.
We waited for orders to march, but none came, and from
being heroes we began to be looked upon with disgust, and
we were the most disgusted of all. As we would meet
friends on the street they would say, " Is it not a]:)out time
to have another public meeting to bid you fellows good- by ? "
or, "You will want some more shirts before you leave." So
mortified did we become that, instead of marcliing down
through the village to drill, we sneaked away through a back
The company began to get demoralized. Men were leav-
ing every day, going to other States or to regiments that had
been ordered to the front. At last we rebelled, and sent our
ofiiccrs to the Governor with a vote passed by the company,
PRIVATE "JOHNNIE" ADAMS.
THE CALL TO ARMS.
that unless we were ordered into camp at once we would
disband. After a few days we were furnished with a large
tent for the men, a wall tent for the officers and a supply of
rations. Our camp was located on the land of one of our
members, Private Sylvester, and was named " Camp Sylves-
ter." We were without arms except three guns for guard
duty, as our old Winsors had l)een turned in. Company A
was officered as follows : Captain, Moses P. Stan wood ; First
Lieutenant, J. Warren Brown ; Second Lieutenant, Ben-
jamin Wilson ; Third Lieutenant, Isaac H. Boyd ; Fourth
Lieutenant, Jones Frankle. The third and fourth lieuten-
ants were soon discharged, as army regulations only provided
for two. Lieutenant Boyd went into the ranks. Lieutenant
Frankle was made major of the 17th Massachusetts.
Our discipline in Camp Sylvester was not as strict as it
was later in the war. We mounted one guard. After we
had been once around we concluded that the lieutenants
ought to stand their share, so we put them on. One night
we caught a calf and after the officers were asleep we turned
him into their tent. We did many things that later would
have sent us to the guard-house.
About the second week in July we were ordered to Lynn-
field to join the 19th regiment. We were the second com-
pany in camp. Company C of Rowley arriving about two
hours before us. Our tents were a peculiar pattern, neither
wall nor A, but between the two, having accommodations
for ten men, and each tent had three windows or ventilators.
For a time we were under the command of Col. Lyman
Dyke, who also commanded the 17th regiment, located near us.
At Lynnfield I was promoted to sixth corporal, and my
troubles began. I was one day detailed for guard, the 17th
4 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
and 19th regiments doing guard duty together. When I
posted my relief I had one more man than posts, so I made
a new post. The officer of the day asked me what I did
with the supernumerary. I said that I put him on in rear
of the ice-house. He desired to know who gave me author-
ity to create new posts, and I replied that I supposed I was
to use up my men. As soon as the guards were posted
they began to call "Corporal of the Guard." When I went
to them they wanted a drink of water. I asked the officer
of the day if it was my duty to carry water to them. He
said it was. So I toted the water pail the two hours my
relief was on. At night the men went to their quarters. I
found where they slept, and made arrangements to call them.
I would put my head into a tent and call, " Third relief ! "
and instead of the men coming out, a boot with an oath came
at me. As I could not get enough for a relief I turned out
the drummer and had him beat the long roll. This brought
out the officer of the day l)ut very few of the men, as they
did not know what it meant any more than I did. Collect-
ing what I could we started to relieve the guard, but I soon
found that I had more than men enough, as at nearly every
post we found the musket stuck into the ground and the man
missing. When relieved in the morning I was disgusted
with being an officer, and longed for the freedom of a private.
Recruits were fast arriving. Company A went into camp
with about sixty men, and every day some new man was
voted in, as we had not given up the old militia method of
electing our members. Skeleton companies were arriving,
consisting of an officer and a few men, who were given
a letter and assigned a place in line. Among the first to
arrive was Captain Mahoney. His company was given the
THE CALL TO ARMS.
letter E. Captain Mahoney was an energetic officer and
anxious to drill his men. Long before dayljreak, with his
first sergeant, McNamara, he would turn out the recruits,
and as we lay in our tents we could hear him calling, " Left !
Left ! McNamara, tread on that man's heels ! "
It was not very long Ijefore we had the required number
of companies, the last to arrive being the Boston Tiger Fire
Zouaves, and my story from this point will include the regi-
ment as well as Company A.
One day in August we saw a military man looking over
the camp. We soon learned that it was Colonel Hincks,
who had just returned from three months' service with the
Sth Massachusetts. Li a few days he was assigned to the
command of the 19th and from that moment what had been a
uniformed mob became a regiment of soldiers. With him
came Lieutenant-Colonel Devereaux, who had l)een captain
of the Salem Zouaves, and soon after Maj. Henry J. How.
One of the Salem Zouaves was assigned to each company as
a drill-master, and we soon saw that our three months' drill-
ing had lieen worse than useless, as we had to l)egin over
again, and it "was hard to teach old dogs new tricks;" but
the Zouaves won our respect and every man was anxious to
do his best. Very soon a change took place in the line
officers, — a Zouave was commissioned in nearly every com-
pany. Company A retained Captain Stanwood, ])ut lost
both lieutenants, C. M. Merritt, who had been an officer in
the 8th, being made first lieutenant, and Isaac H. Boyd, who
had enlisted as a private, second lieutenant.
On August 27 we were ordered to strike tents and prepare
to march. That night, for the first time, we slept on the
ground, with only the blue sky for shelter. The next day
6 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BE9IMENT.
we took cars for Boston. Our knapsacks were slung for the
first time and loaded with everything that it was possible to
Being anxious that my " best girl " should see me in the
full garb of a warrior, I arrayed myself in heavy marching
order and went to an ambrotype saloon to have my picture
taken. I have seen that picture since the war. In an am-
brotype everything is reversed, so my musket is at my left
shoulder, haversack and canteen on the wrong side, — in fact,
I was wrong end to in every respect.
Our wagon train was larger than that of an army corps in
active service. Each company had a four-horse wagon, head-
quarters two, quartermaster four ; I think there were twenty
besides the ambulances. We arrived in Boston in the after-
noon. It was the second time I had been in the city, and as
we halted on the Common, and no friend came to bid me
good-by, the first feeling of homesickness came over me,
and I began to realize that at last we were real soldiers and
that the enjoyments of camp life at home were fast falling to
the rear. We went to New York by the Fall River line. I
had never been on a steamboat before and was very sick.
Landing in New York, we marched up Broadway. My
knapsack weighed a ton and I was so sick that I could not
hold up my head, yet dared not fall out for fear I should get
lost. We were marched to a barrack and given some tliin
soup and a testament. I had already two testaments in my
knapsack, but I took this, although I wished they had put a
little more money in the soup and passed the testament. I
do not remember what route we took from New York, Imt
we went part of the way by Ijoat and arrived in Philadelphia
the next morning.
OUR JOUBNEY SOUTH.
OUR JOURNEY SOUTH.
Upon our arrival in Philadelphia we heard a signal gun
and learned that it was to inform the people connected with
the cooper's shop that we were coming. We marched to
that place and found a nice breakfast served by the first ladies
of the city. This was the only home-like meal we had re-
ceived since leaving Massachusetts, and our hearts went out
to the loyal people, and our thanks were expressed in three
rousing cheers for them. But we hastened on, and soon
took the cars for Washington. At Baltimore we left the cars
and marched across the city. We passed through Pitt Street,
where the sixth Massachusetts, a few months before, had
marked the route with their blood. Every throat was
opened as we sang "John Brown," but our knees were a
little weak, for we expected a stone would strike us at any
moment. We found the roof of the depot on the Washing-
ton side of the city filled with bullet holes, the result of the
riot of April 19.
From Baltimore to Washington we passed soldiers doing
guard duty on the railroad, and for the first time saw men
being punished at the guard-house. We saw one man with
his head through a barrel, another carrying a heavy log of
wood. At night we arrived in Washington and were landed
at the Soldiers' Rest. A Pennsylvania regiment was ahead
of us, so we were obliged to wait until they had been to sup-
8 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
per. We marched into the Ijarracks before the tables were
reset. The waiters removed the tin dishes, then jumped
on to the tables and with dirty brooms began to sweep as
they walked along. Tliis was too much for Massachusetts.
On the tables not cleared were remnants of the meal left by
the Pennsylvanians. Soon the air was filled with bread,
pork and tin dippers. The waiters were unable to stand
the attack and retreated in good order. After quiet was
restored our men cleared the tables and the rations were
brought in, consisting of mouldy soft bread, boiled salt pork
and very poor coffee. Colonel Hincks being informed of
our treatment found the officer in charge and gave him relig-
ious instructions. We received nothing better that night,
but the next morning when the 19th marched in to breakfast
our colonel's " draft had been honored " and we had a square
The Pennsylvania regiment occupying the barracks, we
had to sleep on the ground. The night was warm, and being
very tired we were soon fast asleep. About four o'clock we
were awakened by something grunting around us, and found
that we were in the midst of a drove of hogs. We had never
seen hogs running at large at home, and believing some
one's swine had escaped from the pen, we concluded to do a
neighborly act and catch them. The race began, liut with
poor success for us, as they could run a mile in 2.40 or less.
After our sport we found an old pump, where we made
our morning toilet. We boys did not mind this new mode
of living much ; we sang, said " it was all in the three
years," and was nothing after you got used to it. Xot so
with the older men. I rememl)er one instance : returnino:
from the pump I saw one of the men leaning against the
OUB JOUBNET SOUTH. 9
barracks, the tears streaming down Ms cheeks. I said,
"What is the matter, Peter?" He replied, "I didn't think
I was coming out here to be rooted over hj d — d hogs."
"Oh," I said, "if we get nothing worse than this I won't
complain." "Well," said he, "if we do I won't stay." He
was discharged soon after.
After ])reakfast we slung knapsacks and marched down
Pennsylvania Avenue to our camp ground on Meridian Hill.
We had brought our tents from Massachusetts and all our
camp equipage, including bed sacks, but we could find
nothing to fill them with, so we spread them on the ground
empty. The ground was filled with gravel stones and was
not as " soft as downy pillows are," but so hard that I
believe the imprints of those stones are on me yet. At
Meridian Hill we l)eo;an active drillinof. The duties of the
field officers were divided. Colonel Hincks taking charge
of the battalion drills, Lieutenant-Colonel Devereaux the
manual, while Major How had the instruction of the guard.
We were encamped on the side of the hill, and marching
in Ijattalion drill was very hard, 3'et "from early morn
till dewy eve " we were executing company or battalion
Since our arrival in Washino^on all had a fear of beius;
poisoned ; we hesitated to buy camp pies of any but old
negro aunties, and a guard was constantlj' posted with loaded
musket over the spring which supplied us with water. One
night a nervous comrade was on duty, and thinking that, in
the darkness, he saw some one approacliing to poison the
spring, discharged his piece. Immediately the camp was
alarmed. Without waiting to fall in line the cry went up
" Row ! Row ! " and without muskets all rushed for the
10 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
spring. The officers cried " Halt ! Halt ! Fall in ! " but you
might as well have undertaken to stop a Dakota blizzard,
and not till the men had been to the spring and investigated
was order restored. The next day a square was formed and
a short but impressive address was delivered by Colonel
Hincks which had the desired effect.
On Sundays at this camp we were marched out by com-
panies, seated in the shade and the Articles of War were
read to us by our officers. As I remember them whatever
you did you were to be shot, " or such other punishment as
may be inflicted by courts-martial."
At Meridian Hill we had our first Sunday morning inspec-
tion ; the order was for all men to be in line. Tliis included
cooks, teamsters, clerks and all other detailed men. To the
regular members of the company it was a grand sight to see
these extra duty men in line. Fowler, the wagoner, had
not seen his musket since it was given him at Lynnfield and
knew nothing of the manual, neither did Uncle Burrill, who
was regimental mail carrier. Lieutenant-Colonel Devereaux
came down the line and the men threw up their guns for
inspection. Fowler had watched the men on his right, and
when his turn came threw his gun up in fair shape. The
colonel took it, looked at the musket, then at Fowler.
" What do you mean by bringing such a musket for inspec-
tion?" "It ought to be all right," said Fowler, "it is bran
new and I have never used it since it was given to me."
With a reprimand the colonel, passing on, soon came to
Uncle Burrill, who was not quite as sharp as Fowler, and
had not watched the men on his right. When the colonel
stood before him uncle remained quiet and modestly blushed.
The colonel surveyed him from head to foot. "Why don't
OUR JOURNEY SOUTH. 11
you bring up your musket ? " Uncle took it in his right
hand and pushed it towards him. "Don't you know any
better than that? " asked the lieutenant-colonel. "No," said
Uncle B. ; "I wish that I hadn't come out here, I was sure
that I should get into trouble if I did." With a smile the
lieutenant-colonel passed on, and after that, extra duty men
were excused from Sunday morning inspections.
12 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
BATTLES OF BALL's BLUFF AND EDWAED's FERRY. EXPE-
RIENCES AT DARNESTOWN AND ROCKVILLE.
In a few weeks we broke camp and took up our line of
march to the front. Our destination was the Potomac, near
Poolsville. It was our first march and to us "tender feets "
a hard one. The older men of the company laughed at us
boys, said we would never ])e alile to march that distance,
but before night we left those who had laughed l)y the road-
side. (I think our experience, that the boys fresh from
school or from indoor life were able to endure more than
men of mature years, was general.) Just before we arrived
at Rockville, Md., we received ten rounds of ball cartridges
and the command was given, "Load at will! Load!" I
shall never forget the sensation I experienced as my ramrod
forced home the first Ijall. We were told that at Rockville
a strong secession sentiment existed, and I expected to
kill a rebel or be a dead Yankee before night. We marched
through the town and found it as quiet as a New England
village. The second night of our march we arrived at
Poolsville. Here we met the 15th Massachusetts, and
Company A of the 19th was entertained l)y Company A
of the 15th. Next morning we marched to Camp Benton,
which was to be our home for several months.
We were brigaded with the 20th Massachusetts, 7th
Michigan, 42d New York (Tammany regiment), Captain
BALL'S BLUFF AND EDWABD'S FEBBY. 13
Saunders's company of sharpshooters and Captain Vaughn's
Rhode Island battery. Our brigade was commanded by
Gen. F. W. Lander; the headquarters of the division were
at Pools ville, called "corps of observation," commanded by
Gen. Chas. P. Stone. At Camp Benton the discipline was
brought to the regular army standard ; drills were almost
constant ; each afternoon we were drilled in battalion move-
ments, in heavy marching order, and in every possible way
fitted for active service. Dress coats with brass shoulder
scales and leather neck stocks were issued, and when not in
line or on guard our spare moments were spent in cleaning
brasses. If any men ever earned thirteen dollars a month
we did. Besides the camp guard we mounted what was
called grand guard, consisting of a detail from each regiment
in the brigade posted on the outskirts of the camp, the tour
of duty being twenty-four hours. Often the long roll would
beat after we had retired for the night ; we would turn out
and double quick to Edward's Ferry, march up the tow path
of the canal, lay on our arms the rest of the night, and the
next morning march back to camp. At first we expected the
rebels were crossing the river, but as we saw no movement
in that direction we looked upon these excursions as a part
of the drill, the days not being long enough to give us the
desired instructions. The enlisted men were not the only
ones who had to work, as the line officers came in for their
share. Well do I remember day after day marcliing to ex-
ecute the movement "To the rear by the right flank pass
the defile." At last Colonel Hincks became discouraged,
and throwing down his sword said, " Let every officer o-q to
his tent, take his tactics and study them, and to-morrow if
any one fails to understand this movement there will be a
14 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
vacancy in this regiment." We came out next day and in
fair shape executed the movement.
Many incidents occurred at Camp Benton that are pleasant
to recall. We were in a country where there were many
slaves, all anxious to serve our officers, and nearly every
day some citizen would come into camp hunting for his run-
away negro. One day a man came to the colonel and was
sure one of his negroes Avas in our camp. Colonel Hincks
sent for Sergeant McGinnis of Company K and ordered him
to assist in the search. By the look the colonel gave
McGinnis it was understood that the slave was not to be
found. McGinnis went into the woods with the man. As
soon as they were out of sight he halted and cut a switch.
"Look here!" said McGinnis, "do you suppose we left
Massachusetts and came out here to hunt negroes ? " and
to add force to his argument he touched the old fellow up
with the switch. The man was indignant and said he would
report McGinnis to the colonel. " Go ahead and I will go
with you." Both went to the colonel, and the citizen told
his story with tears in his eyes. Colonel Hincks turned to
McGinnis and said, "Sergeant McGinnis, is this true?"
" Colonel, do you think I would he seen doing such a thing ? "
was the reply. "No," said the colonel; "Sergeant McGin-
nis is a man of truth and I must take his word. You have
deceived me, sir; leave this camp and never enter it again."
The man, fearing McGinnis might get another chance at him,
left as quickly as possible.
Here is another instance of the ready wit of a soldier.
We had in Company A an Irishman, who was one day
detailed for headquarters guard. The night was dark and
rainy and the morning found Mike, pacing his beat in front
BALL'S BLUFF AND EDWABD'S FEBBY. 15
of the colonel's tent, wet to his skin. Colonel Hincks came
out and Mike said, " Colonel, will you allow me to speak
a word with you ? " " What is it ? " said the colonel.
"Well, colonel, I wish you believed as you did before the
war. Then you Ijelieved in putting none 1)ut Americans on
guard and here I am, an Irishman, wet to the skin, having
been on guard all nio-ht." The colonel lauo-hed and retired.
(Colonel Hincks had edited a Know-Nothing paper whose
motto was, "Put none but Americans on guard.")
Early in October we were ordered to the river and
picketed it from Edward's Ferry to a point above Harrison's
Island. By visits of general and field officers we could see
that a movement against the enemy was intended. On the
20th, ten of the best shots of the regiment were selected for
some important service. With our officers they crossed to
Harrison's Island to reconnoitre. Early the next morning
the regiments began to arrive. Two small scows were
brought to a jDoint opposite the island and Company A was
detailed to ferry the troops across. At first we pushed the
boats over with long poles, l)ut the current being very
strong they drifted down the river and it was hard to land.
After one or two trips a rope was obtained from a passing
canal l)oat and stretched across the river, making transporta-
tion much easier.
In a short time we heard musketry on the other side and
knew that the ])attle had begun. The 19th regiment was
the last to cross. As we landed on the island the sound of
the minie balls greeted us for the first time. We met four
men bearing a stretcher, on which was the lifeless form of
Colonel Baker of the 1st California. He was the first man
we had seen killed in battle. We were marched across the
16 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEC4IMENT.
island, meeting wounded and half-naked men who swam the
river. On arriving at the other side we found there was
work for us to do. The only transportation from the
island to the Virginia shore was one scow. By this a load
could be sent over, then marched up a steep bank called
Ball's Bluff. The rebels, being strongly intrenched at the
top, could kill or capture our men before another load could
land. At last a retreat was ordered as our men were stam-
peded. They rushed down the hill and into the boat. The
little craft being overloaded was soon swamped, men were
swimming the river to escape, and many a poor fellow, not
able to swim, went down before our eyes ; others were shot
by the rebels when almost within our lines. At night those
not required at the landing were deployed to the right and
left. A drenching rain set in and without overcoats or
blankets we remained shivering until morning. Lieutenant
Dodge and twelve men, under a flag of truce, were sent over
to bury the dead. Alex. Short was the volunteer from Com-
pany A, and he received injuries from which he never fully
recovered. While the flag of truce was out a rebel horse-
man was seen pursuing a Union soldier who was running to
the river. A man in Company H on the island fired and the
horseman fell. Immediately the rebels closed in on the burial
party and held them as prisoners. It required all the energy
and courage that Colonel Hincks possessed to have them re-
leased. The next day we picketed the island, cared for the
men we had rescued, and on the morning of the 23d recrossed
to the Maryland side, wet, cold and disheartened. A few
shots from our batteries told that Ball's Blufl' battle was over.
For the number of men engaged this was the most disas-
trous battle of the war. No man in his right mind would have
BALL'S BLUFF AND FBWABD'S FEBBY. 17
sent out such an expedition. There was no way to retreat
and no chance to send reinforcements, except a scow load at
a time. The movement was condemned by every one. It
was said that General Stone was a traitor, that signal lights
would be placed at a house on the Virginia side and that he
would go down to the river and meet men from the rebel
army. The truth we never knew, but General Stone was
relieved, and it was late in the war before he was given
While we were engaged at the 1)luff Company K crossed
at Edward's Ferry with General Lander. They had a sharp
skirmish with the rebels and our brave brigade commander
received the wound which resulted in his death soon after.
We returned to our old camp and were soon busy gettino-
ready for winter.
About this time we were called upon to bear our first loss,
not by death but by the resignation of Captain Stanwood,
Lieutenant Merritt was promoted to the vacant position.
Second Lieutenant Boyd to first lieutenant and Quarter-
master Sergeant O. F. Briggs to second lieutenant.
We were about to undergo our first winter in camp and
had not learned to stockade our tents ; we pinned them close
to the ground, dug a flue for a fireplace, building a chimney
outside topped with a barrel, and had plenty of smoke but
little fire. Neither had we yet learned the art of sleeping in
tents ; we would put on all our clothes, including overcoats,
bring the capes up over our heads, lie down and shiver.
Experience soon taught us that to undress and throw our
clothing over us was much the better way.
On Thanksgiving the ofiicers of the regiment gave a ball ;
men were detailed to build a ball-room, and quite a nice
18 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
building was the result of their labors. Ladies came from
Washington and Baltimore and a good time was enjoyed.
We enlisted men looked on from a distance and thought of
the pleasures we had surrendered for a chance to serve our
After getting snugly fixed for winter an order came to
move, and soon we were on the march for Muddy Branch,
to take the place of General Banks's division, which had
been ordered to Harper's Ferry. Here the regiment was
assigned various duties. A part of Company A was sent to
Kockville. First Sergeant Cook, myself as corporal, and
ten men were ordered to Darnestown. Our quarters at
Darnestown were in an old barn on the main street, and
at Rockville in buildings on the fair ground. Our duty
at Darnestown was to prevent men coming to town from
camp and to allow none to pass towards Washington, below
the rank of a brigadier-general, without proper papers. We
had three posts, each at a store. The citizens of the town
were in sympathy with the South, but as we behaved like
gentlemen they were very kind, often sending us biscuits
for breakfast and at Christmas furnishing a liberal supply of
egg-nog. We were welcomed at any house, and often when
off duty spent a pleasant hour by their firesides. Soon
after we began duty Sergeant Cook received a furlough of
thirty days and I was commander-in-chief of the Darnes-
I had no trouble with the enlisted men, but the officers
"kicked" when I asked them to show their leave of absence.
My duty was to inspect the coach when it arrived on its
way to Washington, and if any officer or soldier was on
board to ask him to show his pass. I will relate one
DARNESTOWN AND BOCKVILLE. 19
instance. I opened the coach door one morning and said,
"I will see your leave of absence, if you please," to an
officer who wore the strap of a major. He growled out,
" Call your officer ; I don't show my leave of absence to any
enlisted man." I replied, "I am the only officer here; I
have my orders in writing fi-om headquarters and know my
duty." He put his head out of the coach window and said,
"Driver, go on." I called to the sentry on duty, "If that
driver starts, shoot him off the box." The driver did not
start, and after swearing awhile the major gave in, but
declared he would report me, — and he did. In a few days
Major How rode up. I turned out the guard, and after pre-
senting arms stood at attention. " Corporal, dismiss your
guard, I want to see you a moment." Taking me one side
he said, "You have been reported to the headquarters of
the regiment." I explained the case to him. He patted me
on the shoulder and said, " Corporal, you are right ; you
are in command of this post, and if the Apostle Paul under-
takes to go through this town, unless he wears the uniform
of a brigadier-general, don't you let him go without showing
his pass, and if he refuses bring him to camp." No corporal
in the Union army felt better than I did that day, and I was
glad that the major had reported me.
In February we were relieved by another detail from the
regiment and ordered to Rockville. The night before we
left, Mrs. Hayes, of one of the first families of the town,
gave us an oyster supper, and her daughter, who was a
pleasant young lady but a red-hot "reb," presented me with a
rebel flag. Thirty-eight years have passed since those days,
but I shall never forget the kindness of those Darnestown
people, and trust that to-day they are prosperous and happy.
20 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS EEGIMENT.
After a time we reported to the company at Rockville and
found the three field officers examining the non-commis-
sioned officers. Althougli we had been acting as " non-coms "
since we left Massachusetts, none had received warrants ft'om
the colonel. First Sergeant Cook and I joined the proces-
sion. I was never more ft-ightened in my life, as I had never
spoken to the colonel or lieutenant-colonel, and the examina-
tion was unexpected. The marks were from one to five.
In a few days, at dress parade. Captain Merritt read the list.
He called First Sergeant Adams. I thought he meant my
brother Isaac, who had been examined as a sergeant, and I
was pleased with his good fortune, when the captain called
"First Sergeant J. G. B. Adams," and explained to the
company that I had passed the best examination and was
promoted to that position. I did not want the place. First
Sergeant Cook was a good man and was my friend. I went
to the captain, told him I would prefer to be second sergeant
and let First Sergeant Cook remain. This arrangement was
made and I was happy.
Our duty at Rockville was very light. The boys had
made the acquaintance of many agreeal)le people there ; I
was introduced, and the time passed pleasantly.
The colored people were holding revival meetings. As
we had never witnessed anything of the Idnd before we
all attended, without regard to religious convictions. The
singing was of that wild, melodious nature that only colored
people can render. The clapping of hands and stamping of
feet, all in time, cause a thrill of excitement to run through
the coldest veins. With the colored people the effect is
such that they are lost to all else but the emotions of the
hour. When striving with the spirit it is a strife in reality.
DABNESTOWN AND BOCKVILLE. 21
One night they held a meeting of unusual interest, and Com-
pany A was represented by a large delegation. Among the
number was Uncle Ben Falls. Ben had joined the company
just before we left Lynnfield. He had been a sailor and
his kind heart and ready wit made him a favorite Avith all.
That night Ben was deeply interested. He joined in the
hjonn, and although his voice might not accord with the
rest there was no doubt but what he sang with the same
spirit. Soon the excitement reached its height; sobs and
groans were heard in all parts of the room, shouts of
" Glory ! " went up from every heart. The spirit took pos-
session of a girl named Malinda, who was owned at the hotel
where our officers boarded, and was acquainted with our
boys. She shrieked and groaned and in her striving fell to
the floor. The people shouted, " Hold Malinda I Oh, Lord,
hold Malinda ! The spirit has got jNIalinda ! Oh, Lord,
hold her ! " but none went near her. This was too much for
Ben. He rushed to the front, sat on her and held her down.
This brought Malinda and the rest to their senses and the
meeting soon closed.
We enjoyed the pleasures of Rockville but a short time
after our detail joined the company, as we were ordered back
to camp. A new company, recruited in Salem and com-
manded by Capt. Chas. U. Devereaux, a brother of our
lieutenant-colonel, had joined the regiment. They were
given the letter H and nicknamed the " Lapstone Light
Infantry," old Company H being disbanded and the men
transferred to other companies.
March 1, by order of Colonel Hincks, I assumed the duties
of first sergeant, and of all the trying positions I have ever
filled this was the most so. If any one thinks that the life
22 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
of an orderly sergeant in active service is an amiable one let
him try it. When the men are not growling about you the
captain is growling at you, and you are constantly betAveen
two fires. About one-third of the men in Company A had
been members of the "Old Battalion," and the town meet-
ing tactics that prevailed in the militia had not quite died out.
I was a recruit, and my promotion was not hailed with joy
by the old men. It was said by them that they were detailed
for guard rainy days, and that in other ways I favored the
new men. They drew up a petition asking for a change,
and some twenty men signed it and, through a committee,
presented it to Captain Merritt. " What is this ? " said the
captain. "A petition for a change in first sergeant," was the
reply. " Petition ! This is mutiny. Go to your quarters,
and if I hear more of this I will have every man court-
marshalled and sent to ' Dry Tortugus ! ' " That settled the
youngsters, and I was ever after obeyed and respected.
OUB FIRST CA3IPAIGN. 23
OUR FIRST CAMPAIGN. BATTLE OF FAIR OAKS.
About the middle of March we broke camp and took up
our line of march for our first campaign. We bade good-by
to our tents, which had sheltered us since we left Massachu-
setts, and sent them to Washington with our extra personal
baggage, where I expect they are to-day, as we never received
them again. We marched to the river, then up the tow-
path of the canal to Harper's Ferry, forded the Potomac at
Point of Rocks, and for the first time our feet pressed the
sacred soil of Virginia. We saw here the devastations of
war, — the ruins of the old arsenal that had been burned by
the reliels, the dilapidated and vacant houses, — but most
interesting to us was the old engine-house, where John
Brown made his gallant fight. This we found filled with
rel)el prisoners. "Truly," we said, "his soul is marching
on." As soon as arms were stacked we rushed to the arsenal
ruins for relics. I found an old gun-lock and several other
parts of muskets. These I packed in my knapsack, — and
the next day threw them away. With other regiments
we marched up the valley to join Banks's division, and
liivouacked at Charlestown in the field where John Brown
The next morning Company A was ordered back to Har-
per's Ferry for provost duty. The rest of the regiment
24 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEOIMENT.
marched on, but in a few days returned and took position
on Bolivar Heights, occupying deserted houses. Captain
Merritt was appointed provost marshal at the ferry and
everything was soon in military order, the company quar-
tered in houses, the officers boarding in the town. One day
Captain Merritt, with a detail from the company, made a
seizure of several barrels of whiskey and a keg of gin, which
were taken to a vacant store and a guard placed over them.
Somehow the keg of gin disappeared ; where it had gone
no one knew. The next day was our last in town, having
been ordered to join the regiment quite early in the morning..
I noticed some of the men were very happy, but as we
had been called by the other companies '' Merritt's Sabbath
school children," I thought it possible they were rehearsing
for a Sabbath school concert. The increase of the spiritual
manifestations told me that the cause of the inspiration must
be the gin, and that it was not far away. After searching
awhile I found the missing keg in the cellar. Unlike many
of the men, it was nearly empty. In the midst of the seance
Captain Merritt arrived. He came to order me to have the
company in line ready to move at once. When he saw the
condition of some of the men I guess he thought we had
better move in ambulances. As we were going the rounds
of the rooms we met Ben Falls, perfectly sober, having just
been relieved from guard. Captain Merritt (referring to the
condition of the company) said, "Ben, I am astonished."
"Well," said Ben, "it is not my fault; I have been on
guard, but I will get just as full as the rest as soon as I
find the stuff." When the time came to march all were in
fair condition, and before we reached Bolivar Heights, as
good as ever. As it was the first ofience the men were let
OUB FIB ST CAMPAIGN. 25
off with a lecture from the captain, and as the opportunity
was never again presented, the offence was not repeated.
With Captain Devereaux, who joined us at Muddy Branch,
came more recruits, and the regiment was now full. Com-
pany A having had for a few days one hundred and two
enlisted men, several of the old men were discharged, bring-
ing us down to the required number. A fine band was
attached to the regiment, and ha\ang become very well
drilled in the manual, our dress parades were ahnost perfect,
and were witnessed by nearly all the soldiers and citizens in
March 24 we received marching orders. Crossing the
river we took cars at Point of Rocks for Washington, where
we arrived the next day. We remained in Washington two
days, then marched to the navy yard and took the old trans-
port "North America" for Fortress Monroe.
In no place is the life of a soldier so hard as on a trans-
port. Crowded between decks like cattle, unable to cook
or even make coflee, they must subsist on what rations are
issued and drink the water from the casks. The crews are
always liberally supplied with miserable whiskey, which
they sell at a high price to those who will buy, and a few
men are always found in every regiment who will get drunk
if they have a chance. On shore the guard-house can be
resorted to, but on board ship there is no relief from this
unbearable nuisance. I do not want it understood that
drunkenness was general in the army, for many men went
through the war without touching liquor, and in my four
years' experience I never saw an oflicer or enlisted man
intoxicated when going into battle. I believe that what was
true during the war has been true since, and that in no
26 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
organization — not temperance — can be found so many
total abstainers to the number of men as can be found in the
ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Our trip down the Potomac was pleasant, but soon after
leaving the river a sudden storm struck us ; our old craft
leaked badly and we feared we should })e swamped. The
captain dared not continue, and put back to Point Lookout.
Here we found a deserted hotel and several cottages. We
did not stop to register, but took possession of the rooms
and passed a comfortable night. Next morning we re-
embarked, and reached Fortress Monroe during the night.
The following day we landed and marched to Hampton,
where we found the Army of the Potomac awaiting the
arrival of our division. We encamped here about two
weeks, quartered in Sibley tents. We were not required
to drill often, and the time was pleasantly passed in visiting
the several Massachusetts regiments in the army.
Early in April the grand Army of the Potomac moved
towards Yorktown. It ivas a grand army, every regiment
having its full quota. The experience of the previous
months had made them reliable as soldiers. Incompetent
officers and disabled men had been discharged, and those
now on duty were filled with patriotic enthusiasm. They
only desired a chance to fight, clear up the war and go
home. Every man had confidence in General McClellan,
and almost l^elieved that he was sent l)y the Lord to lead us
to victory. Whenever he appeared every head was uncov-
ered and every voice raised in loud hurrahs.
We marched two days and encamped about two miles
from the enemy's works before Yorktown. We pitched our
shelter tents for the first time, and began army life in
OUB FIRST CAMPAIGN. 27
earnest. Our rations were served to us uncooked, and
company cooks ordered to the ranks. A company cook is
a peculiar being ; he generally knows less about cooking
than any man in the company. Not being able to learn the
drill, and too dirty to appear on inspection, he is sent to
the cook house to get him out of the ranks. We were not
sorry when the cook house was abolished.
The first day after our arrival the 19th and 20th Massa-
chusetts regiments, under command of General Dana, were
ordered to reconnoitre the enemy's works. We discovered
a fortification near Winn's Mill, and the 19th was ordered
to march through a piece of woods, then along the front,
and discern its extent. We did this under a sharp fire of
musketry. It was not our intention to attack, but as Com-
pany E, commanded by the brave but impulsive Captain
Mahoney, was fired upon, he ordered the men to charge the
works, and would have done so had not Colonel Hincks
recalled him. Like a true Irishman that he was, he did not
propose to be fired upon and not fight. The regiment
behaved splendidly under fire ; when the musketry was
the hottest the clear voice of Colonel Hincks was heard.
'' Change front, forward on first company ! " was the order,
and it was executed as correctly as on drill. We lost the
first man killed in this skirmish. Andrew Fountain of
Company D, Captain Wass, and several of Company K
We went into camp and began to erect fortifications ; for
nearly a month we were engaged in that work, besides
building corduroy roads and doing picket duty. While on
picket Wm. Morgan was badly wounded by a piece of shell.
He was the first man wounded in Company A.
28 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
Our camp was located in a swamp ; the rain was almost
constant, and the ground like a sponge. Sickness prevailed
to an alarming extent; it was not an uncommon thing to
march half of the company to sick call, but not all who went
were sick. Active service had tired some who, when we
were in camp in Maryland, were anxious to fight, and were
constantly grumbling because we were not ordered in.
Picket duty under fire had given these few the " shell
fever." Loss of voice was the trouble with many, caused
by severe colds. One day I marched my squad of invalids
to the hospital tent ; with them was one of the loudest
talking men in the company, but that morning he could
only whisper. After the doctor had examined them all he
gave me the list of excused, and my voiceless comrade was
not down. "Hasn't he excused me?" said B. "No," was
my reply, in a voice that could be heard a quarter of a mile.
"D — n him, I am the sickest man in the company," was his
indignant answer ; but he went on duty just the same, and
never again answered sick call until wounded. Such cases
were the exception, however, and every day the number
grew less, as our men were ordered back to general hospital.
The works we were erecting were of the strongest kind,
as it was intended to besiege Yorktown, and the heaviest
guns were mounted for that purpdse. Sunday morning,
May 4, found the regiment on picket duty. It had been a
lively night, as the shelling had been constant. Lieutenant
Hume, in charge of an outpost, believed that the rebels had
left the works in his front ; sending his opinion back to the
commanding officer, he started to cross the field. No gun
was fired and he continued on. The regiment was then
ordered forward double quick, as others had seen Lieutenant
OUR FIRST CAMPAIGN. 29
Hume and were anxious to be first in the works, ])ut the
19th could run either to the front or rear and our flags were
the first to float from the fortifications. We found the port-
holes filled with Quaker guns (logs of wood). Men of
straw were stationed as gunners. Every indication of a
hasty retreat was shown, as in the camps in the rear of the
works we found fires and breakfast smoking hot, which we
eagerly disposed of. We also found letters ready for mail-
ing, which went by northern mail instead of southern, as we
sent them home.
We marched back to our old camp, packed up, and Mon-
day morning, in a drenching rain, marched from Winn's
Mill to Yorktown. We were on the road all night and only
made three miles. The mud was knee deep ; we could not
go out of line as the ground was full of torpedoes, yet, in
all our misery. Company A started one of our old camp
songs, which was taken up by other companies in the regi-
ment, then by other regiments in the brigade, and soon the
entire army was singing. This continued nearly all night.
The next day we took steamers, and at night arrived at
West Point. We remained on Ijoard until morning, then
landed, and finding our forces engaged we were ordered
to support Captain Porter, 1st Massachusetts battery. At
West Point we saw a feature that we never saw before, or at
any other time during the war. It was a human telegraph.
A line of men was deployed some twenty feet apart, and
extended from the line of battle to headquarters. The men
at the front would start the message, and it would be
repeated by each turning the head to the rear as he spoke.
One message I remember, — " Send a man to take Daniel
Webster's place." We supposed Daniel had been shot, but
30 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
if a man was wanted to fill the place of our lamented Daniel
Webster, we did not think Company A could spare the man.
After a sharp fight the rebels fell back and we began the
march up the peninsula. The condition of the roads was
such that we halted more than we marched, but at last we
reached the banks of the Chickahominy River, and were
ordered on picket between Bottom and Grape Vine bridges.
Saturday, May 31, the battle of Fair Oaks began. We
were not relieved from picket until Sunday morning, when
we were ordered to the front ; here we were marched from
right to left and left to right, constantly under fire but not
really engaged. We were at times passing over portions of
the field that had been held by the rebels, and the ground
was strewn with the dead and wounded. When the battle
ended we were ordered on picket, where we remained ten
days, having a brush with the rebel pickets every day. We
were then given a few days' rest and ordered to the front,
where we threw up a line of works and remained there while
the army held the advance position.
On the 25th of June General Hooker asked for one regi-
ment from Sumner's corps to assist in the attack on the
rebel lines in our front. The 19th was selected. We
advanced in front of our intrenchments and were soon hotly
engaged. Led on by our gallant colonel, we soon had the
rebels in full retreat, and had the army advanced at that
time I am confident we could have marched into Richmond
in five hours, as we were only a few miles from the city.
Just as we were ready to make the final charge an aid came
to Colonel Hincks and said, " You are ordered to fall back."
"What for?" said the colonel. "Don't you see we have got
them on the run ? " But the order was peremptory and
BATTLE OF FAIB OAKS. 31
back we went. Our loss was very heavy for the short time
engaged. Lieutenant Warner of Company H and several
men were killed ; Lieut. J. H. Rice, Sergt. Samuel H.
Smith, William R. Meldon, Benjamin Jellison and others,
in all about sixty, badly wounded.
While we had been under fire nearly all the time since
arriving at Yorktown, this w^as the first square fight in
which we had been engaged. We had no chance for the use
of tactics as the woods were thick and we could see little of
the enemy ; but the oflScers and men behaved splendidly,
and our only regret was to lose so many and accomplish
nothing, an experience that the Army of the Potomac often
had in the battles that followed.
32 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
BATTLES AT PEACH ORCHARD, GLENDALE AND MALVERN
Company A had in its ranks men of every trade and pro-
fession, not excepting the clergy. Our minister might have
been a good soldier in the army of the Lord, but was not a
success in the Army of the Potomac. At the lirst fire he
scattered and could not be rallied. I said to him, "You
have been telling the Ijoys to get ready to die, but you
are not in good marching order for the other shore your-
self." " That is not it," replied Levi; "I should not have
enlisted ; it always made me nervous to hear a gun fired and
I don't believe I can get used to it." As will be shown later
he never did.
Returning to our works we were ordered to throw up
traverses between companies. At night cheering began on
our right. An aid rode down the line and gave orders to
Colonel Hincks to have the regiment cheer. "What for?"
said the colonel. "I do not know," was the reply; "it
is orders from General McClellan to General Dana." " Give
my compliments to General Dana and say that we did our
cheering in front of the line yesterday." Soon we were or-
dered to pack up and leave everything not absolutely nec-
essary to carry. We were ordered into line and remained
under arms all night. The next morning we found the
BATTLE AT PEACH OBCHABD. 33
retreat had begun, and, before we had recovered from our
surprise, were ordered in to support Tompkins's Rhode
Island battery, and the enemy was soon upon us.
At the headquarters of the commissary department all
was confusion. A pile of hard-tack as large as Faneuil
Hall was set on fire. Heads of commissary whiskey barrels
were knocked in and the whiskey ran in streams. This was
also set on fire and men were burned as they tried to drink
it. Blankets, clothing, stores of all kinds were destroyed,
and one would think as an army we were going out of busi-
ness, but such was not the case, as we had enough on our
hands to last us the next seven days.
We made a stand at Peach Orchard and found that our
corps was to cover the retreat of the army. We were
slowly driven back to Savage Station, where a battery went
into position and we lay in the rear as its support. One
who has never supported a battery can form no idea of this
duty, which is to lie just as snug to the ground as you can
and take those shells coming from the enemy that the battery
does not want. Our position at Savage was a dangerous
one. Shells were constantly bursting in our ranks and our
l)attery was being severely tested. It did not seem that
our lines could be held much longer, yet we knew that our
wagon train was crossing the bridge and we must stand our
ground until they were safely over. We heard a cheer, and
looking to the left saw Meagher's Irish brigade moving for-
ward on the run. The entire corps, forgetful of danger,
sprang to their feet and cheered them wildly. On they
went ; grape and cannister ploughed through their ranks,
but they closed up the gaps and moved on up to the mouth
of the rebel batteries, whose guns were captured, and the
34 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
firing that had been so disastrous ceased. The Irish brigade
held the line until night, when our army was withdrawn.
It was the hottest day of the year. As we changed front
many fell from sunstroke. Captain Wass was so badly
affected that he lost his reason and never fully recovered.
Lieutenant Hume was left by the roadside and was soon
captured by the enemy. At night we were stationed at the
bridge until the last regiment was over, when we crossed
and destroyed the bridge.
After we had rested a few hours we were ordered back,
and sunrise found us engaged with the enemy. In the after-
noon the terrible battle of Glendale was fought. This was
June 30. About two o'clock p.m. we were ordered to
charge the enemy, who were in a belt of woods. To do
this we must charge over an open field. Faces turned pale
as we looked over the ground. We grasped our muskets
firmer and waited for the order. We had kept our knap-
sacks until this time, — they had become priceless treasures,
filled as they were with little articles for our comfort made
by loving hands, and with letters from dear ones at home, —
but we threw them into a pile, and the voice of Colonel
Hincks was heard: "Forward, double-quick," and we
moved across the field and entered the woods. Here we
met a line clothed in Union ])lue, and thinking it was the
7th Michigan, of our brigade, — a regiment loved by every
ofiicer and man of the 19th, — we reserved our fire, and
cried, "Don't fire, boys, we are the 19th Massachusetts."
A galling fire in our faces drove us back, but we promptly
moved forward again, still thinking it was the 7th Michigan
and that they would see their mistake. Again we were
repulsed, and l)elieving we were mistaken, and that the line
BATTLE AT G LEND ALE. 35
was composed of rebels in our uniforms, we charged with a
will. As they rose to receive us we saw that this time we
were not mistaken, as they were rebels clothed in part in our
uniforms. We had a hand-to-hand tight for a few moments,
when we discovered that we were being flanked and with-
drew to the edo-e of the woods.
Under a terrible iire we changed front. Our brave Major
How fell, never to rise again ; Colonel Hincks was supposed
to be mortally wounded and was carried from the field ;
Lieut. David Lee was killed, and the ground was strewn
with our dead and wounded comrades. For a moment the
regiment was in confusion, but Captain Weymouth, assisted
by Sergeant-Major Newcomb and others, rallied the men on
the colors and the line was at once reformed and our posi-
tion held. Capt. Edmund Rice was in command of the
regiment. He was noted for his coolness and bravery, and
the men had confidence in him. As I looked down the line
of Company A many places were vacant. Ed. Hale, Volney
P. Chase, Charles Boynton and several others were killed,
while the list of wounded could not be ascertained at that
time. Company A had lost men by death, but this was the
first time any of our number had been killed in action.
Charles Boynton was one of my townsmen. He was an
eccentric man and had troubled Captain Merritt by his
peculiar ideas of drill, but he was as brave and patriotic
a man as ever shouldered a musket. He had no patience
with the slow movements of the army, and I have often
heard him say that he wanted to fight every day and close
up the job. When advancing in line he would constantly
rush ahead of the company, his only desire being to get a
shot at the rebels. I do not think it would be showinsj dis-
36 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
respect to his memory should I relate one or two of the little
dialogues between Captain Merritt and Boynton. Our regi-
ment had a peculiar drill in the manual. It was formulated
by Colonel Devereaux, and is nearly what is used by the
army to-day. After loading we stood with our little finger
on the head of the rammer until the order was given to
shoulder arms. One day on drill Captain Merritt looked
down the line and saw Boynton with his hand by his side.
"Put your little finger on the head of the rammer, Boyn-
ton," sang out Captain Merritt. "I won't do it," replied
Boynton. " Won't do it ! AVhy not? " " Because it is all
nonsense ; my gun is loaded, and do you suppose I would
stand up in battle like a darned fool with my little finger on
the head of my rammer? No, sir, I propose to drill just as
I intend to fight."
Another day the order was, "Eight shoulder, shift arms."
The proper way was to make three motions, but Boynton
did it in one. "Make three motions, Boynton," said Cap-
tain Merritt. "Didn't I get my gun on my shoulder as
quick as any man in the company ? " was the reply. Cap-
tain Merritt was discouraged and ordered me to punish
Boynton, but I explained his peculiarities, and assured the
captain that he would earn his thirteen dollars a month when
fighting began. He let the matter drop. Had the Union
army been composed entirely of men like Charles Boynton
the war would have ended long before it did.
We held our position until midnight. It was the saddest
night I ever spent. The dead and wounded of l)oth armies
lay between the lines. The wounded were constantly call-
ing on their comrades for water, and we could hear calls for
Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia, mingled with those for
BATTLE AT MALVERN HILL. 37
Michigan, New York and Massachusetts. Brave men from
our regiment crawled over the field, giving water to friend
and foe alike. About midnight the order was whispered
down the line to move. I had l)een from rio;ht to left of the
company keeping the men awake, as we expected the order.
As still as possible we crawled over the field. We had gone
but a short distance when, looking back, I saw one member
of the company had not started. Thinking he had fallen
asleep I returned, and shaking him said, " Come, come ! "
As I drew close to him my eyes rested on the face of Jona-
than Hudson, cold in death. He had been killed in the early
evening as we lay in line and his death was not known to
his comrades near him. It was the saddest sensation I ever
experienced. When we arrived at the road we found many
of our wounded. Colonel Hincks was on a stretcher, and
as the ambulances were full he was carried a long distance
before one could be found. Captain Devereaux was also
liadly wounded and had to ])e carried. We started with the
body of Major How in a blanket as we had no stretchers,
])ut being so very heavy we were forced to leave him.
Without any regimental formation we began our weary
march to Malvern Hill, where we arrived at daylight, were
at once ordered to support a battery, and witnessed one of
the most terril^le artillery l^attles of the war. In the after-
noon our })rigade was ordered to the woods and held the
right of the army. The next morning, in a drenching rain,
we started for Harrison's Landing. We marched in three
lines, but it was not an army, it was a mob. Artillery was
stuck in the mud, wagons were abandoned and ])urned by
the roadside. The only thought of every one was to get to
Harrison's Landing as soon as possible. Some did not stop
38 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
at the landing but took boats for Washington. Among
these was our minister, Levi. He had managed to keep out
of every battle, and now deserted, joining the advance
guard in Canada.
Harrison's Landing when dry was a sandy plain ; when
we arrived it was a sea of mud. Without shelter, overcoats
or blankets we dropped in the mud, and being so exhausted,
having been mthout sleep, except the little naps caught in
line of battle, for seven days, we soon forgot our misery.
It was two days before we could reorganize our companies.
Men were coming in who we expected were killed or
captured, but July 4 upon calling the roll, we found that
more than half of the men who had left Massachusetts with
us less than a year before had either been killed in battle,
died of disease or were sick or wounded in general hospital.
The death-rate at Harrison's Landing was fearful. Men
who had stood the retreat now broke down and soon died.
Every hour in the day we could hear the dead march, as
comrade after comrade was laid at rest. The subject for
discussion around the camp-fire was the disaster to the
Union army. Newspapers called it "an important change
of base." We knew that some one had been outgeneralled,
and although the men had confidence in General McClellan,
we believed that while we had been digging and dying before
Yorktown we should have been advancing and fighting.
Looking at the campaign in the most charitable light pos-
sible, the fact remained that on April 4 the finest army ever
mustered began the advance on Eichmond ; that we had
been within five miles of that city, and that July 4 found the
army on the banks of the James River, with less than half
of the number it had three months before. We were not
BATTLE AT MALVEBN HILL. 39
disheartened. Many had expected that 1862 would see the
end of the war, but it now looked as though those who were
spared would see the end of their three years' enlistment.
The losses in officers had been such that many promotions
were made. Four enlisted men were promoted second
lieutenants, and I was one of the number. I was assigned
to Company I, Capt. J. F. PlymjDton. By a misunder-
standing between Colonel Hincks and Lieutenant-Colonel
Devereaux, First Sergeant Driver and myself did not receive
our commissions until August, although we continued as
acting second lieutenants, the two commissioned by recom-
mendation of Colonel Hincks not being assigned to duty.
It was impossible to obtain officers' uniforms, so I bought
a pair of brass shoulder-straps, sewed them on my well-worn
blouse, borrowed a sword of Lieutenant Mumford and went
on duty, as verdant an officer as could be found in the army
of the Potomac.
About the middle of August I was ordered to report to
First Lieut. John P. Eeynolds for special duty. We were
to take charge of the oruard of the division wao;on train that
was ordered to Fortress Monroe. Our duty was an impor-
tant one. We knew we were liable to attack at any time
by guerillas, and constant vigilance was required. We
often met small parties of mounted citizens who rode past
our train. We believed they were "taking us in," but we
had not arrived at the time when men were arrested on sus-
picion, so we let them pass but kept our train well covered.
We arrived at Fortress Monroe in due time, turned over
the train and reported to the regiment at Newport News,
they having marched a few days after we were ordered
40 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
While our duty as the advance guard had been arduous,
we had not suffered as much as those who marched with the
regiment. They had marched rapidly over dusty roads,
under a broiling sun, and many had been sunstruck. Among
the number was Capt. William A. Hill. He was not able to
speak above a whisper for several days, and his condition was
serious ; but his courage was good and he remained on duty
with the regiment. The men having rested a day, and being
now veteran soldiers, had forgotten their hardships, and
when we arrived were nearly all in the James River hunting
On August 24, the Ijrigade embarked on the steamship
"Atlantic" for Washington, arriving at Alexandria the
28th, — just one year from the day we left Massachusetts.
BATTLE OF FAIRFAX COURT HOUSE. 41
BATTLES OF FAIRFAX COURT HOUSE, FLINT HILL AND
My position had changed during the past year from
corporal in Company A to second lieutenant in Company I,
and it took me some time to get accustomed to the new
office. Up to the time I left Company A no man had been
punished ; but the morning that I reported for duty in Com-
pany I Captain Plympton had one man on a barrel and
another on knapsack drill, and I thought I had made a mis-
take in not taking sparring lessons before being promoted.
I found the men of Company I as good-hearted a lot as
there was in the regiment, only a little wild. The leader
of the company was a young boy ; he was aljout seventeen
years old, and a private soldier, yet he was the one who
settled all disputes. He was well informed in regard to the
movements of the army, and had ideas respecting future
campaigns that he was ready to discuss with officers or men.
Soon after I joined the company he called on me and made
a little speech of welcome, saying that the l)oys were glad I
had been assigned to the company, and assured me they
would make it pleasant for me. Such a reception was very
gratifying. I was but twenty years of age and doubted my
ability to control these men, but I commanded the company
for nearly two years, and punished but one man during the
42 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
time. That boy has since become known and honored by
every comrade in Massachusetts. The friendship formed
that day for George H. Patch continued until his death, and
the memory of that light-hearted, true soldier will be pre-
cious to me while life shall last.
Leaving the transports at Alexandria, we first marched to
Chain Bridga, then to Tenallytown, Md. No one seemed
to know where they wanted us. We went into camp and
waited for orders, which, when received, were to march at
once for Centre ville, to reinforce General Pope. At day-
break, August 30, we crossed the bridge at Georgetown,
and reached Fairfax Court House the next morning, having
marched sixty- three miles in sixty-four successive hours.
It was the hardest march we had made, — twenty-four hours
of the time it rained in torrents. The shoes of the men
were in bad condition ; many marched bare-footed, and it
was impossible for them to keep in the ranks. We did
not have a hundred men in the ranks when we reached the
line of battle.
At Fairfax Court House we found everything in confu-
sion. Pope's army had been defeated at the second Bull
Run and were in full retreat. Without time to make coffee
we were ordered in, and deployed as skirmishers to the
right of the town, as it was expected the rebel cavalry would
attack the flank. We remained in this position until the
army had passed, when, with the 1st Minnesota, we were
selected to cover the retreat. The rebel cavalry came down
on us, and we had some sharp fighting as we fell back. At
Flint Hill we made a stand. Night had come on and we
did not care to be bothered with the rebels any longer.
The 1st Minnesota formed a V with two sections of Tomp-
BATTLE OF FLINT HILL. 43
kins's Rhode Island battery at this point, the 19th support-
ing the battery. On came the rebels, right into the trap we
had set. The Minnesota boys opened fire, followed by the
battery. The 19th charged with a yell ; the rout was com-
plete, as all not killed or wounded turned and fled. We
had no time to follow them, as we were quite a distance
from the main army. When we rejoined the column our
two regiments were mistaken for the enemy, and fired upon
by our own ranks. Assistant-Surgeon Hill was killed,
Captain Russell disabled by his horse being shot, and several
The next day we again crossed the Potomac to Maryland
soil. The prospects were not pleasant to contemplate. We
had done little but march in retreat the past six months. A
line officer has little chance to see what is going on outside
his regiment, and his opinion is of little importance, but I
believed then, and time has only strengthened my belief,
that the leading officers of the Army of the Potomac were
perfectly willing General Pope should be whipped. He had
taken command of the Army of Virginia with a swell order :
" Headquarters in the saddle, spades to the rear, muskets to
the front," and they were glad to see the conceit taken out
of him. There is a great deal of human nature shown in
the world, — even in army commanders.
We now took up our line of march through Maryland.
We were not the only ones who had crossed the Potomac,
as the rebels had already crossed and were marching north,
and we must head them off" if possible. It began to look as
though they would capture Washington before we captured
Richmond. We marched through Rockville, where we had
spent our winters so pleasantly, and met many old acquaint-
44 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
ances, but missed several of our gentlemen friends who, we
learned, had joined the rebel army.
Some of the ladies, who loved the stars and bars, joked
us on our " On to Richmond " movement, and were confi-
dent the war would soon end with the south victorious.
The events of the past few months had been such that we
had slio^ht s^round for an aro^ument : l)ut we assured them we
were satisfied, and all we wanted was to get General Lee on
this side of the river. Our march through Maryland was
delightful ; the farther we got into the interior the more
loyal the people l)ecame, and our welcome was cordial.
We arrived at South Mountain while the battle was lieing
fought, but took no part in it. The 16th of September we
reached Antietam, and formed in line of l^attle. On the
morning of the 17th, with our brigade in the centre, we
advanced in three lines of battle, over walls and fences,
through fields, under a terrible fire of artillery. The
regiment was growing nervous but did not break. Colonel
Hincks halted us, put us through the manual of arms, end-
ing with parade rest. Having become steady, we moved
forward to a strip of woods, and came upon the enemy
strongly posted. Grape and canister, shot and shell, vol-
leys of musketry greeted us, — and our men fell as grain
before the scythe.
One-half of our ofiicers and men were either killed or
wounded. Colonel Hincks was the first to fiill, again ter-
ribly wounded. Capt. George W. Batchelder was killed,
and the command of the regiment and companies changed
fast, as one after another officer went down. At the time
we were so hotly engaged in the front we began to receive
a fire from our left and rear, and discovered that we were
BATTLE OF ANTIETAM. 45
being flanked, and must change front to rear. This was
done by the 19th Massachusetts and 1st Minnesota. We
were now under command of Colonel Devereaux, and were
ordered to take a position near a stone wall. We fired as
we fell back, holding the enemy until we had reformed our
lines, when we again went in and continued fighting until
dark, when we were ordered to support a battery. . We
then had time to count the cost of the battle. Colonel
Hincks was reported dying, and we mourned the loss of our
brave leader. Captain Batchelder was dead. He had been
my tent-mate since I had been an oflicer, and had rendered
me valuable assistance. Every one loved him ; he was an
ideal volunteer soldier. Having graduated at Harvard, he
entered the army as an enlisted man in the Salem Zouaves
at the first call for men, and had worked hard to bring the
regiment to the state of efiiciency which it had reached.
I had not seen my brother since we had advanced in line.
He was left general guide of the regiment, and his place was
on the left. As soon as we halted I went to the company,
but he was not there. The following day I searched the
hospitals, but could not find him, and on the morning of the
lUth, the rebels having left our front, I went where their
lines had been and found him, with Jacob Hazen of Com-
pany C and George Carleton of Company B, near an old
haystack. He had been shot in the right side of the neck,
the ball passing out of the left shoulder ; it had cut the
spinal nerve, and he could not move hand or foot. I saw
at once that he could not live and had him placed in an
ambulance and carried to our field hospital. It was the
saddest duty of my life. We had left home together, and
had often talked of a happy reunion around the old fireside
46 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
when the war should end. Now I must wrfte to my old
mother that one of the three who had bade her good-by in
'61 would never return.
This was war, terril)le war ! As I was kneeling by his
side, hearing his last words, a woman's voice said, "Is he
your brother ? " I explained to her the fact that I was in
command of my company and could not stay with him, but
could not bear to have him die alone. With tears streaming-
down her motherly face she promised me she would not
leave him, but would see him buried and would send me
word w^here he w^as laid, — which promise she faithfully kept.
The name of this good w^oman was Mrs. Mary Lee of Phila-
delphia, Pa. She had a son in Baxter's Fire Zouaves, who
was with her that day. Several years ago, when Post 2,
G. A. E., of Philadelphia, was in Boston, I saw that one of
the old battle-flags Avas the Fire Zouaves, and was carried
by Sergeant Lee. He proved to be the son I had met that
sad day at Antietam ; a few months later I visited his
mother in Philadelphia, who was working just the same for
the soldiers as she had done during the w^ar.
While my brother lay wounded on the field inside the
rebel lines an officer of the 8th South Carolina came along,
and seeing 19 on his cap asked to what regiment he l^elonged.
Being informed that it was the 19th Massachusetts, he said
he had a brother in that regiment named Daniel W. Spof-
ford. My brother told him that his brother was wounded
in the battle, and might be on the field. He searched for
him but did not find him, as he was able to go to the rear
before we changed front. Eeturning, he had my brother
carried to the haystack wdiere I found him, and rendered
all the assistance possible. The name of the South Carolina
BATTLE OF ANTIETAM.
officer was Phineas Spoflbrd. Both brothers survived the
war. The Union soldier resides in Georgetown, Mass.,
the rebel in South Carolina, but he often visits his native
I also missed my boy Patch. He was last seen helping a
sergeant from the field. He turned up in Libljy Prison a
few days later. My old company had met with other losses
than death. Four men had deserted on the eve of battle.
They had taken the canteens of the company to go in search
of water. No doubt they are searching yet, as they did not
return. Two were non-commissioned officers, and all were
The regiment was now commanded by Capt. H. G. O.
Weymouth. Again we crossed the Potomac, and went to
camp on Boliver Heights, near Harper's Ferry. We did
not lose the battle of Antietam because we held the ground,
but made the mistake of remaining inactive while the rebels
withdrew to the other side of the river, so we gained
Soon after the battle we received a large numl)er of
recruits, — the best class of men that had joined the regi-
ment. Many of them had waited, hoping that the war
would be over, and their services would not be required,
but seeing the disasters that had come to the army, resolved
to come and help us. Several of them were discharged
as commissioned officers, and all rendered very valuable
We remained at Harper's Ferry until October 30, when
we received marching orders, and the army marched up
Loudon valley. The nights were cold, and we suffered
severely. While in l)ivouac near Paris or New Baltimore
48 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS EEGIMENT.
two feet of snow fell, covering us as we slept. Orders
against foraging were very strict. We were not allowed to
take hay from tlie stacks for bedding, or in any way molest
private property. The idea of General McClellan seemed
to be to carry on the war without hurting any one's feehngs,
but once in a while we broke over. One night Corjooral
Phelau and Jack Robinson discovered hens at a neighbor-
ing farm-house, and finding the house not guarded took
their muskets and went on duty. The people were much
pleased to be so well protected. While Phelan entertained
the family Jack went on duty outside to protect the hens.
Soon a squawking was heard, and Corporal Phelan grasped
his musket and rushed to reinforce Jack. They secured three
good hens, and forgot to go back to the house, but reported
to camp. When they arrived I discovered that they had
plunder, and called them before me. With downcast eyes
they told the story of their shame and begged for mercy.
As an oflScer I must do my duty, and they must be jiunished.
I ordered them to cook one of the three hens and deliver it
to me. With sad hearts they obeyed the order.
BATTLE OF FREDEBICKSBUBG. 49
BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBUKG AND MARYE's HEIGHTS.
We continued the march through the valley to Warrenton,
where General McClellan was relieved of the command of
the army and General Burnside succeeded him. Nearly all
the men were sad at the loss of McClellan. He was our first
love, and the men were loyal and devoted to him. I did
not share in this sorrow. My faith had become shaken
when we retreated from before Richmond, and when he
allowed Lee's army to get away from Antietam I was dis-
gusted, and glad to see a change. Sad as the army felt at
the loss of McClellan, they were loyal to the cause for wliich
they had enlisted, and followed their new commander as
faithfully as they had the old.
We arrived at Falmouth about the middle of November,
and went into camp two miles from the town ; here we
spent our second Thanksgiving. No dance for the oflicers
this year. We had a dinner of hard tack and salt pork, and
should have passed a miserable day had not the commissary
arrived with a supply of "Poland water," and the officers
were given a canteen each. The men had the pleasure of
hearing our sAveet voices in songs of praise from the " home
of the fallen," as our tent was called.
We remained undisturbed until the morning of December
1 1 , when we were ordered to the banks of the Rappahannock
River, opposite Fredericksburg. Here we found a pontoon
50 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
bridge partially laid, and the engineers doing their best to
complete it. Our batteries were posted on the hills in rear
of our line, and were vigorously shelling the city, but the
rebel sharpshooters were posted in cellars and rifle pits on the
other side, and would pick ofi" the engineers as fast as they
showed themselves at work. At last volunteers were called
for by Colonel Hall, commanding the brigade, and the 19th
Massachusetts and 7th Michigan volunteered. We took the
pontoon boats from the wagons, carried them to the river,
and as soon as they touched the water filled them with men.
Two or three boats started at the same time, and the sharp-
shooters opened a terrible fire. Men fell in the water and
in the boats. Lieutenant-Colonel Baxter of the 7th Mich-
igan was shot when half-way across. Henry E. Palmer of
Company C was shot in the foot as he was stepping into the
boat, yet we pressed on, and at last landed on the other
As soon as the boats touched the shore we formed l)y com-
panies, and, without waiting for regimental formation,
charged up the street. On reaching the main street we
found that the fire came from houses in front and rear.
Company B lost ten men out of thirty in less than five min-
utes. Other companies suffered nearly the same. We were
forced to fall back to the river, deploy as skirmishers, and
reached the main street through the yards and houses. As
we fell back we left one of our men wounded in the street ;
his name was Redding, of Company D, and when we again
reached the street we found him dead, — the rebels having
l)ayoneted him in seven places.
The regiment was commanded hj Capt. H. G. O. Wey-
mouth, Colonel Devereaux being very sick in camp. Captain
BATTLE OF FREDEBICKSBURG. 51
Weymouth went from right to left of the line, giving instruc-
tions and urging the men forward. My squad was com-
posed of men from companies I and A. We had reached a
gate, and were doing our best to cross the street. I had
lost three men when Captain Weymouth came up. " Can't
you go forward, Lieutenant Adams ? " he said. My reply
was, "It is mighty hot, captain." He said, " I guess you
can," and started to go through the gate, when as much as a
barrel of bullets came at him. He turned and said, " It is
quite warm, lieutenant; go up through the house." We
then entered the l^ack door and passed upstairs to the front.
Oilman Nichols of Company A was in advance. He found
the door locked and burst it open with the butt of his mus-
ket. The moment it opened he fell dead, shot from a house
on the other side of the street. Several others were
wounded, but we held the house until dark, firing at a head
whenever Ave saw one on the other side.
As night came on we advanced across the street and the
rebels retired. We posted our pickets and went into the
houses for rest and observation. The house my company
now owned was formerly occupied by a namesake of mine,
a music teacher. I left the men down stairs while I retired.
The room I selected was the chamber belonging to a young
lady. Her garments were in the press, and the little finery
she possessed was scattered about the room. Fearing she
might return I did not undress, but went to bed with my
boots on. I was soon lost in peaceful slumber, when a
sergeant came and said I was wanted l)elow. Going to the
Idtchen I found the boys had a banquet spread for me.
There was roast duck, biscuit, all kinds of preserves, spread
upon a table set with the best china. We were company,
52 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
and the best was none too good for us. After supper we
went up stairs, and the men were assigned, or assigned
themselves, to rooms.
In our investigation we had found a barrel filled with
molasses. Every one must fill his canteen, and as he filled
it from the faucet it ran over, and the house was molasses
from cellar to attic. I opened a trunk in my room and
found packages of paper. Thinking they might be bonds
or stock I put them in my haversack. The next day I found
they were unpaid bills of the music teacher. Going out on
the street we found it quite lively. One of the boys would
come along with a lady on his arm, but upon inspection it
proved to be another soldier with borrowed clothes.
Since we left Rockville I have not mentioned Ben Falls,
He had been on every march and in every battle, and had
his musket shot from his shoulder at Glendale, but picked
up another and went in again. While at Falmouth Captain
Boyd, who was now in command of Company A, made Ben
a cook, because, as he informed me, he wanted him to live
to go home. While we were in Fredericksburg Ben and
another man came over bringing two kettles of coffee on
poles. Halting before Captain Boyd he said, "Captain, if
you have no use for Ben Falls, send me home. How nice it
will look when I write to my wife in Lynn that the regi-
ment fought nobly, and I carried the kettles. I either want
a musket or a discharge, — and prefer the musket." Cap-
tain Boyd granted his request ; and it was the last of Ben as
The next day we remained in the city, awaiting orders.
We buried our dead, sent the wounded back to the hospital,
and made ready for the battle which we knew must come.
BATTLE OF MABYE'S HEIGHTS. 53
On the morning of the 13th we received orders to advance,
and marched up the street towards Marye's Heights by the
flank. Shot and shell ploughed through our ranks, but we
filed into a field and were ordered forward to storm the
heights. It was necessary to move up an embankment,
then charge over an open field. A rebel battery on our
right had a raking fire on us, but we must go forward. Led
by our gallant Captain Weymouth we moved up the bank.
The two color bearers. Sergeant Creasey and Sergeant
Rappell, were the first to fall, but the colors did not touch
the ground before they were up and going forward. Cap-
tain Weymouth fell, shot in the leg, which was afterwards
amputated. Captain Malioney took command of the regi-
ment, and he was also seen to fall, shot in the arm and
side. Down went the color bearers again. Lieutenant
Newcomb grasped one, a color corporal another. Newcomb
fell, shot through both legs, and as he went down he handed
the color to me. Next fell the color corporal, and the flag
he held was grasped by Sergeant Merrill, who was soon
wounded. Another seized the color, but he was shot
immediately, and as it fell from his hands the ofiicer who
already had one caught it.
By obliquing to the left, followed by the regiment, we
got out of the line of fire for a time, and lay down. I do
not mention this fact to show that I was braver than other
men, for every man of the old regiment on the field would
have done the same had opportunity oflfered, but my services
were recognized by promotion to first lieutenant, and I was
afterwards given a Medal of Honor by Congress for the act.
Looking back over the field we saw the ground covered
with our dead and wounded. Captain Plympton was now
54 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
in command of the regiment, and we waited for darkness to
bring in our wounded.
Late in the evening we withdrew to the city, where we
remained the next day. At night we were ordered to the
front. No man was allowed to speak. Dippers must not
rattle against bayonets, but all must be as still as the dead
who slept near us. We remained until nearly daylight,
found the army was being withdrawn to the other side of
the river, and as usual we were to cover the retreat. We
recrossed in safety, and waited on the other side until the
pontoons were withdrawn. About half of those who went
over never marched back. In the battle of the 13th, out of
less than three hundred men we lost, in killed and wounded,
one hundred and four. Of the eleven men who carried the
colors that day eight were killed. I do not believe we
killed five of the enemy, if we did one. We found them
strongly intrenched, charged upon them, and they mowed
us down. Here the rebels lost an opportunity. Had they
attacked us wliile we were recrossing the river they could
have captured a large part of the army ; but they did not
see the chance, and we escaped.
Sad and weary we marched back to our old camp. We
had become accustomed to defeat ; we knew that no braver
army stood upon the earth than the Army of the Potomac,
but fate had been against us from the start. We saw our
numbers growing less, and no real victory to reward us
for the sacrifice.
It only required a few days after returning to camp to
reorganize the regiment ; promotions were made to fill
the vacant places, and active drill was resumed. We took
up skirmish drill and bayonet exercise in earnest, and what
BATTLE OF MAETE'S HEIGHTS. 55
spare time we had stockaded our tents, expecting to remain
until spring ; but in army life there is no assurance that you
will find yourself in the morning where you lay down at
night, and in a few days the army was ordered to pack up.
As soon as the order was given it began to rain, and con-
tinued several days. We wallowed around in the mud,
trying to march, but it was impossible, and all were ordered
back to camp, after suffering untold misery for two days.
Our next move was to break camp, and locate nearer the
town. Here we stockaded our tents, and were comfortable.
Were it not for the sadness felt by reason of the vacant
places in our ranks, it would have been the happiest winter
I had ever passed. Every night the officers would gather
in the adjutant's tent, — which was a Sibley, stockaded some
six feet from the ground, — and there hold regular camp-
fires. Stories would be told, songs sung and recitations
given. We had our orators and our poets. I remember
one night, when seated around the camp-fire, the quarter-
master, Tom Winthrop, who had enlisted as a private with
me in old Company A, read the following tribute to the boys
who had gone on : —
OUE FALLEN BRAVES.
Not in the quiet churchyard, where their fathers' bones repose,
With loving hands to mark the spot with willow and with rose ;
Not in the quiet nooks and dells of the old homestead place,
'Mid scenes of boyhood days time never can efface ;
But in strange lands we laid them down, in roiigh dug soldiers'
And far from home and kindred ones they sleep, our fallen braves.
56 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
No mother's wail of sorrow o'er the new sod, fresh and green,
Where sleeps the boy she nursed and loved, and fondled when a
No blue-eyed maiden, golden haired, to drop the bitter tear.
Or mark the spot with loving hands, where sleeps the form so dear;
But comrades knew their honest worth, the sacrifice they made.
And they have marked with thoughtful care where sleep our fallen
We left our heroes at Fair Oakes, we dug their honored graves
Beside the Chickahominy, with its dull, dreary waves.
Not alone they fell in battle, not alone by steel and lead,
The fell malaria swept them oif, as fruits fall, ripe and red.
And where the southern laurels bloom, and oleanders wave,
In the swamp lands, drear and deadly, they sleep, our fallen braves.
And oh, it was a fearful lot we buried at Glendale.
Our ranks were thinned like standing corn before the sweeping gale.
And thick their honored graves were strewn, through cornfields, one
They mark the spot where Antietam was bravely fought and won.
And where the fight raged fiercest, by the Rappahannock's waves.
There is many a yellow mound to tell where sleep our fallen braves.
Oh, brave hearts that know no shrinking, oh, strong hands tried and
You paled to see your country's stars turn from their azured blue ;
And burned your hearts with patriot fire, nerved your arm to right,
Ye were foremost when the call came, ye were foremost in the fight.
And well ye fought and brave ye died, ye were no hireling slaves.
May earth its richest tribute bring to all our fallen braves.
BATTLE OF MAR YE 'S HEIGHTS. 57
What though no marble monument, no towering shaft of stone,
Is reared above the sacred soil where rest their honored bones ;
What though no graven tablet shall, through all the coming time,
Tell to the world heroic deeds of sacrifice sublime.
But we who know how willingly their noble lives they gave,
Will treasure in our hearts the worth of all our fallen braves.
I do not believe there was a regiment in either army
where the love was so strong between officers and men as in
the old 19th. "VVe had no little jealousies ; the men obeyed
the officers because they knew that no unreasonable orders
would be given All was peace and harmony. Officers and
men were given furloughs, and boxes were received from
home. Some of the boxes had been a long time on the
road, and when they arrived the contents were in an uncer-
tain condition. It was hard to tell the tobacco from the
mince pie. William A. Hill, adjutant of the regiment, had
expected a box for some time, and the officers knew that
when it came "Billy" would see that all had a share. At
last it arrived, and we gathered at headquarters to see it
opened. The cover was removed and the smell was not
quite equal to the arbutus, but we hoped it was only the top.
Another box was found inside containing what was once a
turkey, but was now a large lump of blue mould. Notliing
in the box was eatable. We held a council and concluded
that a turkey that had l)een dead so long should have a
decent burial. The next day the remains lay in state while
we prepared for the last sad services. We waked the
corpse until midnight, then the sad procession was formed.
First came the largest negro, selected from the many ser-
58 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
vants, as drum-major ; then the comb band ; next the
quartermaster, with the carbine reversed, as a firing party ;
then the corpse borne on a stretcher l)y four negroes, two
small and two large ; then the mourners (officers who had
expected to eat the turkey, and were left) ; all so disguised
that none could recognize them. We marched down the
main street of the camp, the comb band playing the dead
march. Men half dressed came out of their tents to see
what was the trouble, but we passed beyond the camp lines,
where a grave had l^een prepared. Here the body was
lowered, remarks were made by the chaplain (pro tem.), a
poem was read by the quartermaster, and we returned to
camp and mourned for the spirits that had departed.
Another jolly time I recall. One day a light snow had
fallen, and the men began to snow-ball. Soon companies
were engaged and then the rio^ht and left wind's of the re<:::i-
ment were pitted against each other. I was with the left
w^ing and we were holding our own when the drum corps
re-enforced the right. Up to this time headquarters had
been spectators, but they became excited, and joined the
right wing. With such re-enforcements, the battle would
soon be lost to us, but I remembered that some twenty of
our negro servants were in rear of the hospital tent, and I
went to them and offered bounty if they would enlist. They
hesitated, but I assured them that I would stand the blame
if they joined our forces. Having loaded every one with an
armful of snow balls, I charged over the hill and attacked
headquarters by the flank. If any one doubts the bravery
of colored troops he should have seen my army that day.
They rushed upon the foe, regardless of who it was. Their
ammunition exhaused, they started on the charge with heads
BATTLE OF MABYE'S HEIGHTS. 59
down, and butted all before them. Headquarters vanished.
The right wing gave way, and the left held the field. It
was the first battle won by colored troops in the war, and
proved that they could fight if well officered.
Many of the soldiers quartered near us, and some of our
own men, had an eye to business, and were going about
the camp selling pies, cookies and other articles of food.
The 19th Maine had many men engaged in this business.
One day a tall, honest-looking fellow w^as going through our
camp when he passed Sergeant McGinnis. "What do you
ask for your pies?" said McGinnis. "Twenty-five cents,"
replied the soldier. " I won't give it," said McGinnis.
"Your colonel was just through here selling them for twenty
While at this camp Colonel Devereaux was called home,
and we were without a field officer. Captain Mahoney hear-
ing of this felt it his duty to return. Although on leave of
absence fi'om the severe wound received at Fredericksburg
he reported for duty. As I have before said. Captain
Mahoney was a true son of Erin, brave and patriotic, yet a
little peculiar. He brought with him two dozen bottles of
ginger ale (?) and at night the officers in full uniform called
to pay their respects. We were royally received. Corks
were drawn and sociability began. We informed the captain
that the regiment was delighted to have him return, that we
had not had a battalion drill for several weeks, and were very
rusty. He asked what in our opinion we were the most
deficient in, and we said the charge. He said he had expected
as much, and that the next day we should have a drill. The
next day drill call was sounded, and we fell in . All the offi-
cers' horses were away except an old one that was called
60 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
"Palmer's wood-box." Mounted on this Captain Mahoney
took command, and we marched to the parade ground near
the town. As the drill was a new thing, the negro women
and children assembled to witness it. We started forward in
line; the order "Double-quick" was given, then "Charge."
On we went ; the old horse began to wheel and kick and the
centre of the regiment could not pass. Lieut. Eph. Hall
was in command of the left company and I the right. Cap-
tain Mahoney cried " Halt ! halt ! " but we did not hear him,
and kept on driving the negroes into the town. After we
had cleared the field we came marching back ; the captain
had dismounted and was walking up and down the line mad
way through. " Why didn't you halt, Lieutenant Adams ? "
"Didn't hear you, sir." "Why didn't you halt. Lieutenant
Hall? " " Didn't hear you, sir." " D — d lie ! consider your-
self in arrest. Adjutant, take Lieutenant Hall's sword."
Eph. was a lieutenant in Captain Mahoney's company, and
while I got off without a reprimand he must be punished.
We marched back to quarters and at night called on the cap-
tain with a petition for Lieutenant Hall's release. We were
well received. The ginger ale was opened, and after much
discussion it was thought best to send for Lieutenant Hall
and have matters explained. Captain Mahoney forgave him
although I am not quite sure Eph. asked him to do so, but
the noble old captain's heart was so large that he never treas-
ured up anything against us.
While in camp at Falmouth the base ball fever broke out.
It was the old-fashioned game, where a man running the bases
must be hit by the ball to be declared out. It started with
the men, then the officers began to play, and finally the 19th
challenged the 7th Michigan to play for sixty dollars a side.
BATTLE OF MABYE'S HEIGHTS. 61
Captain Hume and myself were the committee of our regiment
with two officers from the 7th Michigan, the four to select
two from some other regiment in the brio-ade. The Ecame
was played and witnessed by nearly all of our division, and
the 19th won. The one hundred and twenty dollars was
spent for a supper, both clubs being present with our com-
mittee as guests. It was a grand time, and all agreed that it
was nicer to play 6«.9e than minie ball.
What were the rebels doing all tliis time ? Just the same
as we were. While each army posted a picket along the
river they never fired a shot. We would sit on the bank
and watch their games, and the distance was so short we
could understand every movement and would applaud good
plays. Our men and theirs met in the river and exchanged
papers, tobacco and coffee and were on the best of terms.
As the spring months came they fished the river for shad,
and as they drew their seines Avould come so near our shore
that they could and often did throw fish to our boys. This
truce lasted from January to May, 1863, and to both armies
was one long, happy holiday.
In April I received ten days leave of absence, and visited
my old home. I had been promoted first lieutenant after the
battle of Fredericksburg, and wore my new uniform for the
first time. After two days spent on the road I arrived in
Groveland. As in the field, I found death had been busy.
My father had been called home, and many others had passed
away. The second night after my arrival a delegation of cit-
izens waited upon me and escorted me to the vestry used as
a town hall, where I was given a public reception. I do not
know what the feelings of General Grant were when he
landed at California and was given the grand recej^tion after
62 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
his trip around the world, Ijut if he felt better than I did he
must have been very happy. I remained at home six days,
and at the expiration of my leave reported back to the camp.
I was as pleased to meet the dear old ])oys as I had been to
meet friends at home.
How I love to linger, living over in memory those happy
days. I could fill pages with reminiscences of that winter ;
the horse show February 22, the grand inaug-uration of Lieu-
tenant Shackley when he received his commission, the black-
berry jam at the sutler's tent, the courts-martial in the Sibley
tent on the hill, and last but not least, the grand joke which
was enjoyed by all ; but it would be of interest only to the
comrades of the old 19th and I will pass on to the stern reali-
ties of war.
BATTLE OF CHANCELLOBSVILLE. 63
BATTLES OF CHANCELLORSVILLE, THOROUGHFARE GAP AND
GETTYSBURG. WOUNDED AT GETTYSBURG AND ORDERED
At midnight, May 2, we were ordered to fall iu, and
marched to the banks of the Rappahannock, where a pontoon
was again being thrown across. It looked like the 11th of
December over again. The officers were called together and
ordered to select twenty-five men from the regiment, who
would volunteer for whatever duty they might be called upon
to perform. One officer was to go with them, and before the
words had fully dropped from the lips of Colonel Devereaux
Lieut. Johnnie Ferris said, "Please let me be that officer,
colonel," and he was accepted. We found it hard to get
twenty-five men because all wanted to go, and while the call
was for volunteers we had to select them.
At daylight it was found that the enemy had left the city.
Our volunteers crossed, and were on the other side to wel-
come us when we came over. We were the first in the city,
l)ut soon met General Sedgwick's division marching in from
the left, having crossed below us. We found that Sedgwick
was to storm the heights and we were to support him. Gen-
eral Hooker, with the rest of the Army of the Potomac, had
marched up the river and engaged the enemy at Chancellors-
ville, and we were to hold this city. In column by regiments
General Sedgwick advanced up the hill. We saw the white
64 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
flag of Massachusetts as the 7th, 10th, and, I think, the 37th
advanced. A rebel battery opened upon them but the line
did not waver, and on, on, even to the cannon's mouth they
The battery was silenced, captured, and its support fled.
We followed close in the rear, and when some two miles from
the city were ordered back for provost duty. We expected
a "soft snap." Coats were brushed, brasses brightened, and
in every respect we " braced up." We turned in early for a
good night's rest, but at nine p.m. were turned out and double-
quicked to the left of the city, as our pickets at that point
had been fired upon. At daylight "Johnnie [reb] came
marching home again," and filled the earthworks on the left
and front of the city. Where they came from we could not
tell, but they were there, and had a battery which was used
to stir us up with good results.
From provost soldiers we changed to sappers and miners.
Dirt flew fast as we dug trenches for our own protection, and
to obstruct the passage of artillery. We had several men
slightly wounded but none killed.
On the morning of the 5th we fell back to our rifle pits in
the city, recrossed the river, remaining on duty until the
pontoons were taken up, and then marched back to our old
camp. We had not slept an hour since May 2, and were
completely tired out. I slept all night and awoke thinking
it was time for breakfast and found it was three p.m.
We moved our camp to a delightful spot on the top of the
hill, resumed our daily drills, and were once more under
strict discipline. It was very hard to get leave of absence,
but Lieutenant Shackley made application, giving as a reason
that he required an officer's uniform, having just been pro-
BATTLE OF THOROUGHFABE GAP. G5
moted, and it was granted. Mose was absent ten days, and
then returned, having purchased two pairs of stockings, a
linen duster and a Ijrush ])room, but he had enjoyed his vaca-
tion, and had two cents left of his two months' pay.
June 16, marching orders came ; we waited until all had
moved, then with two pieces of the 1st Rhode Island artillery
took our place in the rear. Two companies were ordered to
march half a mile in the rear of the column, and Major Rice
was placed in conmiand of this detachment. We marched
over ground which we had travelled before. The roads were
very dusty and the sun scorching. At times the woods on
each side were on fire, and our men suffered badly. June 20
we arrived at Thoroughfare Gap, where we remained three
days, to repel an advance through the gap. On the 26th we
reached Edward's Ferry, crossed the Potomac, and at noon
halted at old Camp Benton, where we had camped in 1861.
What changes had taken place since we were there before !
Then we were light-hearted, happy ))oys, expecting to be at
home in a year at least. Now those who remained were
bronzed and war-worn veterans marching back to meet the
enemy on northern soil.
Our old camp was a fine wheat field and nearly all traces
of our former occupancy were removed. We passed through
Frederick City to Uniontown, Md., where we arrived the
30th, and were ordered on provost duty. We expected to
remain here for some time, and on the morning of July 1
Captain Palmer and myself were ordered to dress in our best
and make the acquaintance of the families in town, so we
could understand where the officers would be the most wel-
come. We had just started on this pleasant duty when the
-assembly sounded. We returned and found we must march
66 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
at once, and ive did march thirty-five miles, not halting until
nine o'clock at night, when we bivouacked on the field of
Gettysburg, two miles from the battle-ground. All day we
had heard heavy firing and knew that a battle was being
fought. At daylight on the 2d we were ordered into line
of battle on the left of Cemetery Hill, where we remained
under a severe artillery fire until about five p.m.
We had seen the advance of the 3d corps and the warm
reception they met ; we saw them falling back and the enemy
advancing. Lieut. Sherman Robinson and I were lying side
by side watching the battle. " Some one must go and help
them, Jack," said Robinson. At that moment a staff* officer
rode up to Colonel Devereaux, and then we heard the familiar
command, " Attention, 19th !" " We are in for it," said Rob-
inson, and with the 42d New York, we double-quicked to a
point where the line had broken and the rebels were advanc-
ing on our flank. I was in command of the color company,
had just removed the covering from the colors when a regi-
ment on our left broke ; with other officers I rushed to rally
them, and was returning to my place in line when I went
down. I heard an officer say, " Jack is down," before I really
knew that I was shot. I could not rise, and Sergeant Smith
and Private Collopee came to me. "Put him on my back.
Smith," said the latter, and under a terrible fire he carried
me from the field. Our lines fell back as fast as we could
go, and I expected that Collopee would be obliged to drop
me, and I should fall into the hands of the rel;)els, but he
kept on and landed me in the field hospital of the 3d corps.
Everything indicated that we were again defeated, but when
our men arrived at the stone wall, by unanimous consent
they turned about, and with that wild hurrah that only Yankee
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 67
soldiers can give, drove the rebels beyond our former
I found myself surrounded by men wounded and dying.
An assistant surgeon was in charge and I asked him to look
at my wound. He did, and said that I could not live twenty-
four hours. I suggested that he stop the blood, as he might
be mistaken, but he had no time to waste on me and went
along. Upon examination I found that I was wounded in
three places, and all were bleeding badly, but I could not
tell where the bullets had entered or come out.
The battle was yet raging ; men were coming in thick and
fast, the last arrivals being mostly rebels. Collopee had
waited until the surgeon said that I should die, when he
rushed back to the regiment with the information. In a
short time Lieut. Mose Shackley appeared before me with
one of his company named Younger. "Jack, old boy,
they say you are going to die, and I thought you would
like a canteen of coffee before you passed up your check,"
said Mose. " What are you lying on ? " he asked, as it
was quite dark. I replied, " Only the ground ; " and going
to a rebel who was slightly wounded but was comfortable,
having a rubber blanket under and a woollen blanket over
him, he said, " There is a darned sight better man than you
are, with no blanket under or over him," and captured one
for me. Making me as comfortable as possible, urging me
to keep a stiff upper lip, he said he would like to remain
with me, but there was lots of fun at the front, and he must
I remained in this place until late at night, when a sur-
geon came with an ambulance, and said I must be moved to
the 2d corps hospital, as this was too near the line of battle.
68 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT
Having no stretchers they placed me on a board, and loaded
me in. This movement started my wounds bleeding again,
and I thought that the words of the assistant surgeon would
prove true, but they drove me a mile I should judge, and
dumped me by the road side with other wounded. I re-
mained here until the next noon. The day was fine, only
very warm. All was still except an occasional picket shot.
The silence was broken by one heavy gun, and the shell
went whistling over us, followed by another. Then opened
the heaviest cannonading ever heard on earth. Shells })urst
over me, and on all sides. Solid shot ploughed up the
ground and I expected my time had come. Many of the
wounded could crawl away, but I could not, and must
When the shelling opened nearly all of the non-comba-
tants were at the front, and they now made the best time
possible to get out of danger. I lay near a gate way, where
they passed. Down would come a pack mule loaded with
cooking utensils sufficient to start a stove and tin-ware store ;
then a lot of colored servants, or a runaway horse. I would
shout and kick ; was sure that I should be either killed by
shell or trampled to death. Would beg some skedaddler to
get another, and take me away. He would stop, look on
me with pity and say he would, but before he could capture
another, a shell would come along, and his place be vacant.
At last I saw a staff officer whom I knew riding to the front,
and called to him. He heard me, drew his sword, and drove
a couple of men to me, who, finding a stretcher, had me
carried to the rear of the barn, where an ambulance was
found and I was placed in it. My first sergeant, Damon,
had been lying near, and I urged that he ])e taken with me,
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 69
and my request was granted. Damon was wounded in the
leg, the bone was shattered, and it was necessary that the
leg should be amputated as soon as possible.
We started for the rear. The driver was anxious for our
safety, and it is possible he might have thought of himself;
at any rate he drove over a corn-field on the jump. Part of
the time I was in the top of the ambulance, part on the floor.
Damon and I would come together hard enough to drive the
breath out of each other ; but we were only passengers hav-
ing a free ride, so we could not complain. When at last we
reached our destination I expected we were both jelly, and
would have to be taken out in a spoon, but we had held
together, that is, I had, but Damon's leg was all broken up,
and was soon amputated.
They laid us on the ground on the side of the hill, near a
stream called Cub Run. This was the field hospital of the
2d corps, Dr. Dyer, my regimental surgeon, in charge. He
soon visited me, and found that one bullet had entered my
groin and had not come out, the other had passed through
my right hip. I asked him what he thought of it and he
said, "It is a bad wound, John, a very bad wound." Ofiicers
of the regiment began to come in, and soon there were seven
of us lying side by side. They told the story of the battle.
Lieutenants Robinson and Donath had been killed, also many
of our bravest and best men. My company the day before
had numbered fifteen, ofiicers and men. Only Lieutenant
Rice and five men remained. They also told me how well
our boys had fought ; that at last we had met the rebels
in an open field and had won a substantial victory. They
described to me Pickett's charge. How they had come across
the field in three lines of battle, expecting to sweep every-
70 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
thing before them, but when they arrived at our lines they
found our boys ready and waiting ; that the result was more
prisoners than we had men in our line, and our boys had
captured four rebel flags besides. It was glorious news ; it
revived me, and my wounds pained me less than before.
No matter how serious the battle, there is always a humor-
ous side to it which an old soldier never loses. So it was
at Gettysburg. When the fire was the hottest on the centre
the battery that the 19th was supporting lost nearly all its
men. The captain came to our regiment for volunteers to
man the guns. Captain Mahoney was the first to hear the
call. Going to Company E, he said, " Volunteers are wanted
to man the battery. Every man is to go of his own free will
and accord. Come out here, John Dougherty, McGiveran
and you Corrigan, and work those guns." Lieutenant
Shackley jumped to his feet and said, " Come on, boys, we
must keep her a-humming," and they stood by the guns until
the fight was over.
Ben Falls, who was now a sergeant, had captured a rebel
color. Coming in with it over his shoulder an officer said,
" You will have to turn that flag in, sergeant. We must send
it to the war department at Washington." "Well," said
Ben, "there are lots of them over behind the wall. Go and
get one ; I did." (I told this story several years ago at a
camp-fire. Since then I have heard it told by others, and it
is located and dressed up in other ways, but it is my story,
and true, at that. )
We lay side by side until the morning of July 4, when the
ambulance came to take us to the station. One after another
was loaded in. I said, "Save a good place for me," but was
informed that the orders of the surofeon were not to take me.
COLOR-SERGEANT BENJ. F. FALLS,
With flags of I9fh Massachusetts carried at battle of Gettysburg.
BATTLE OF GETTTSBUBG. 71
I sent for the surgeon, who came and said that I must not be
moved for two weeks. I saw the ambulance drive away,
then buried my face in the ground and cried like a baby.
Other wounded were brought to fill the vacant places.
Duncan Sherwood of Company A was one, so I had com-
pany. Mike Scannell had also remained, being wounded in
the arm, and rendered valuable service to Sherwood and
myself. Directly in front of us were two amputating tables
which were always busy. We saw several men whom we
knew placed on them and removed, minus a leg or an arm.
The groans of the wounded were constant, and the dead were
being carried past us nearly all the time. On my left lay a
young boy. He suffered much, but did not complain. One
night, when it was time to go to sleep, he wliispered, " Good
night, lieutenant, I think that I shall go up before morning."
I urged him to keep up his courage, but he said it was no use,
he should die. In the morning I looked and saw that the poor
boy had answered the last roll-call. He lay by my side until
afternoon, before they could find time to take him away. I
had forgotten to ask his name, and no one knew him. His
grave no doulrt bears the mark "unknown," and the records
of his regiment say, "missing in action."
I remained here six days, and my wounds received no
attention only such as my comrades gave. They kept my
canteen filled with water, which I used freely, to prevent
inflammation. Do not think that I blame the surgeons. No
nobler men ever lived than composed the medical staff" of
the Army of the Potomac ; but there were twenty thousand
wounded men. Union and rebel, on the field of Gettysburg,
and the cases requiring amputation must receive attention
72 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
One day I was made happy. Lieutenant Shackley and
Adjutant Hill came to see me. They had ridden back fif-
teen miles. Some of the boys had found a chicken, and
they had made a broth and brought it to me in an old coffee
pot. It was the first thing that had tasted good, and I shared
it with Sherwood. Some think soldiers are hard-hearted.
No hearts more tender can be found than in the breasts of
brave men. When those officers parted from me that day
not one of us could speak, and tears ran down our cheeks as
we pressed each other's hands.
My mind had been quite active, and I had come to the
conclusion that I would move my lodging as soon as possible.
One surgeon had said that I would not live twenty-four hours,
another that I must remain where I was two weeks. It
struck me that to die in twenty-four hours or stay where I
was two weeks would neither be pleasant for myself nor
those near me.
I talked the matter over with Sherwood. We counted our
cash and found we had five dollars each, and we formed a
syndicate. We made Mike Scannell our agent, with instruc-
tions to bring some kind of conveyance to take us off the
field. The next morning he reported with a citizen, a horse
and side-spring wagon. The whole lot was not worth ten
dollars, but we paid our money and were loaded and on our
way to Littletown, where we arrived in due time, and were
driven to a church which had been converted into a tempo-
rary hospital. We found it nearly full, but they made room
for us. I had a nice place on top of the pews in the broad
There was no organization of the hospital. Two of the
town doctors were doing all they could, being assisted by
BATTLE OF GETTYSBUBG. 73
the women. No doubt our Massachusetts women would do
the same kind of work should the emergency arise, but I can-
not speak in too high praise of the women of Littletown.
They would dress the shattered arm of some poor boy, wash
the blood from the wounds of another, thinking only of what
they could do to relieve suffering. It was like getting home.
My wounds were in a frightful condition. They had not
been dressed, and the maggots were crawlinej into them. As
soon as we were settled the ladies came to see what they
could do. They were anxious to dress our wounds, but it
required more hospital accommodations than the church
afforded, so they washed our hands and faces, and made us
as comfortable as possible. A real motherly woman asked
what I wanted to eat. I had eaten little except the chicken
Billy and Mose brought me, and when she said she had
chicken broth, I said, "Bring me two or three." As soon as
possible she came with a large pan full of broth, but the
trouble was I could not sit up to eat it. At my suggestion
she brought the prettiest girl in the room, who put her left
arm around me and let me lean my head on her shoulder,
while she fed me with the broth. Oh, it was nice ! Either
the broth or the young lady's presence revived me. My new
friend's name was Lucy. She said, "Don't take breakfast
until I come, because I will bring yours from home." Bright
and early Lucy was on hand with a pan of milk toast. She
had seen me eat the night before and had broui^ht enouo;h for
six. As she was called away for a few moments, I spoke to
the boys who were near, and they soon reduced the surplus.
We remained here two days. While I had the best care
they could give I was growing worse. I had a high fever,
and my wounds were getting inflamed. At times I would lie
74 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
in a stupor for hours. One day I rallied and found the
church deserted except Lucy and myself. Soon two men
came in. " Are you going?" they asked. Lucy said, "No.
Mother told me if any were not able to be moved to bring
them home, and we would care for them ; he is not able, and
must not go." The temptation was strong to stay, but a
moment's reflection told me that I required hospital treat-
ment, and I explained the danger to her. The men then
carried me to the train and placed me on the floor of a bag-
gage car. Lucy came with us, fixed my head all right, and,
as a good sister should, kissed me good-by, and we were off
for Baltimore. I was so weak that the i^ear name of Lucy
passed out of my mind, and I have never seen her since, but
have ever prayed that the blessings of Heaven be showered
upon her, for her constant care the last day in the old church
saved me from fever.
The ride to Baltimore was terrible. The air was bad.
Groans of the wounded were constant, and could be heard
above the rattle of the car. I did not believe it was possible
for me to live to reach the station, but I survived, although
many of our number did not.
We arrived in Baltimore about three o'clock in the morn-
ing, were placed in ambulances and driven over the rough
pavements to the Newton University Hospital. The next
day, for the first time, my wounds were dressed ; the sur-
geon placed a large syringe where the ball had entered and
forced water through the opening ; maggots, pieces of cloth-
ing and bone came out ; then they probed for the ball which
had entered the groin, found it had struck the bone and
glanced downward, lodging in the leg, where it yet remains.
We received the best possible care from the surgeons and
BATTLE OF GETTYSBUBG. 75
attendants. Ladies ^dsited the hospital every day loaded
with delicacies for our comfort.
I did a foolish thing while in the hospital which came near
ending my earthly experience. One day an officer, slightly
wounded, came in and said the paymaster was at the Custom
House and if we could get there we would receive two months'
pay. On the bed next mine lay Lieut. "Bob" Stewart of
the 7 2d Pennsylvania, wounded in the leg ; neither of us
had a dollar, and the thought of two months' pay in our
pockets was pleasant. We talked it over that night ; Bob
was sure he could stand it, l)ut thought I had better not try ;
still I was anxious to go, so we bribed the nurse, and the
next morning, after the surgeon made his rounds, we took a
carriage and with the nurse started for the Custom House.
I fainted before we had gone a block, but kept on and was
able to sign the roll which a clerk brought to the carriage,
and received the money. We returned to the hospital and I
suffered from fever all day, and when the surgeon made his
rounds the next morning he was alarmed at my condition.
I dared not tell him what we had done, for the nurse would
be discharged if I did. In front of me was a man who suf-
fered from a shell-wound in the back ; he was forced to lie
on his face and was very restless. I told the surgeon that
this man suffered so much that it made me nervous, and he
ordered him changed to another ward. It was several days
before I regained what I had lost by my foolishness.
I had been here a little more than a week when one day
Mr. Robinson, the Massachusetts agent stationed there, came
in and asked me if I had a brother named Asa Adams ; inform-
ing him that I had, he asked if I would like to see him. My
answer can be imagined, and in a short time he came in with
76 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
my brother, who had left home when the news reached him
that I was wounded. He had been to Gettysburg, searched
the field hospitals, found where I had been, but no one could
inform him where I was, as I did not leave my address ; he
was returning home and stopped in Baltimore, and calling on
the Massachusetts agent, found where I was located. As
soon as I saw him my mind was made up to go home ; the
surgeon said it was impossible, but I begged so hard that he
consented, and in due time I was placed on my stretcher and
carried to a hospital car. The cars were so arranged that
the wounded were hung up by the stretchers, being placed
on rubber springs. I was hung up in mine, but the motion
of the car was such that I could not bear it so was taken
down and placed on the floor. More dead than alive we
arrived at Jersey City. We found that the mob had posses-
sion of New York and we could not cross the ferry. After
being carried from place to place, we were placed on a steamer
and taken to Bedloe's Island, where we remained several days,
then to the Fall River boat. We found great excitement at
the boat ; several negroes were on board who had been driven
from the city. Others jumped from the wharf and swam out
to us after we were underway. They reported that the mob
intended to fire the city that night.
I received every attention on the boat, was placed in the
ladies' cabin, and the lady passengers were constant in attend-
ance, anxious to do something to relieve my sufferings.
Handkerchiefs were wet with cologne and given me, and
when the boat reached Fall River I had a large stock, marked
with nearly every letter in the alphabet. Every few moments
some good woman would bend over me and say, " Shall I
turn your pillow?" and wishing to please them I would say,
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 11
^'If you please," although it had been turned two minutes
We arrived at Fall River in the morning. I was placed
on my stretcher, carried to the train and taken to Brockton,
where I was loaded into an express wagon and driven to the
hotel. Here I was placed under the care of Dr. E. E. Dean,
and in the afternoon was driven to Sharon, the home of my
brother, where I remained three months, attended by Dr.
Dean and nursed by my dear mother and sister.
From Sharon I was taken home to Groveland, where I
remained until December, reporting to the department at
Washington and my regiment, by surgeon's certificate, every
twenty days. I enjoyed the convalescent period much.
Colonel Devereaux, Captain Boyd and Adjutant Hill, with
Mark Kimball and several others, had been ordered to Long
Island on recruiting service, and I visited them often. I also
sat on the platform, with my crutches, at war meetings and
was quite a hero. I found quite a change since 1861 ; then
men were very anxious to get to the front, now they were
just as anxious to keep away. We had all learned that war
was no picnic.
78 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
EEGIMENT ORDERED HOME. RECEPTIONS. MY FIRST CALL
UPON GOVERNOR ANDREW. RETURN TO THE FRONT.
In December I resolved to return to the regiment. My
wound was not healed and my surgeon protested, but I was
anxious to see the boys. Upon my arrival at Washington
what was my surprise to find that I had been discharged by
order of the War Department November 5, as being una-
ble to perform military duty. With Col. Gardiner Tufts, the
Massachusetts State agent, I visited the War Department
and was informed that I should receive my discharge through
my regimental headquarters. If ever a man had the blues I
had. My sickness had cost me several hundred dollars, I
was unable to perform any kind of labor, was out of money,
and could not settle with the government until my papers
were received ; but Colonel Tufts could always make the
path of a soldier smooth and he was able to secure me two
months' pay. From Washington I went to the regiment,
which was camped near Stevensburg, Va. I waited until
after January 1 for my discharge, but it did not come, and
my wound was so bad that the surgeon ordered me home.
Colonel Rice was in command of the regiment. Colonel Dev-
ereaux being in command of the Philadelphia brigade. I
called on Colonel Devereaux, who was very indignant to
learn that I had been discharged ; he said he would see about
it, and I knew that meant something.
BEGIMENT OBDERED ROME. 79
One clay the colonel sent for me and said, " Jack, I have
a letter from Governor Andrew asking that the regiment
re-enlist for three years more or until the end of the war ;
do you think they will do it?" My answer was, "I don't
know; there are not many left to re-enlist." He said, "I
wish you would go to your old company. A, and talk with
them," and I consented. The regiment was encamped on a
side hill in shelter tents, and the weather was cold and rainy.
I went to Company A ; the mud in the company street was
ankle deep and everything was as disagreeable as possible.
Giles Johnson was first sergeant. I talked with him and
asked him to "fall in" the men. Thirteen responded to the
call, — all who were on duty of the grand company which
had left Massachusetts in 1861. I repeated the story the
colonel had told me, then asked for a response from them;
for a moment all were silent, then Ben Falls said, " Well, if
new men won't finish this job, old men must, and as long as
Uncle Sam wants a man, here is Ben Falls." Then spoke
Mike Scannell : " It is three years, as you know, since I
have seen my wife and children. I had expected to go home
when my time was out and stay there, but we must never
give up this fight until we win, and I am with you to the
end." Others expressed themselves in the same way, and
when I said, "All who will re-enlist step one pace to the
front," every man in line advanced.
I then saw men of other companies. Ed. Fletcher of
Company C said, "They use a man here just the same as
they do a turkey at a shooting match, fire at it all day, and
if they don't kill it rafile it off in the evening ; so with us,
if they can't kill you in three years they want you for three
more, but I will stay." I next saw Michael O'Leary of
80 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
Company F and asked him if he would re-enlist. Mike threw
his cap on the ground, struck an attitude and said, " By the
gods above, by the worth of that cap, I never will re-enlist
until I can be with Mary Ann without the stars and stripes
waving over me." But I said, "Mike, they are all going to
do it." "They are? Then Michael O'Leary must stay."
A large majority signed the re-enlistment role, and Decem-
ber 20 they were mustered in for three years more, or until
the end of the war. In this instance, as in nearly every
other where the soldiers and the government were concerned,
the government did not do as they agreed. The conditions
of the re-enlistment were, that the soldier should at once
have thirty-five days' furlough and transportation to his
home. Our men did not receive theirs until Feb. 8, 1864,
nearly seven weeks after they had re-enlisted. The weather
was very severe, many were sick and all were unhappy.
To my mind the re-enlisting of the three years' men in the
field was the most patriotic event of the war. They knew
what war was, had seen their regiments and companies swept
away until only a little remnant remained. They did not
have the excitement of the war meetings to urge them on, but
with a full knowledge of the duties required and the prob-
ability that many would fall before their term expired, with
uncovered heads and uplifted hands they swore to stand by
the flao; until the last armed foe surrendered.
I could not wait until the regiment received orders to come
home, so came alone, took oft" my uniform, put on citizen's
clothes, and began to look for employment. About the 12th
of February I saw by the newspapers that the regiment had
arrived in Boston. I could not keep away, and went to
Beach Street Imrracks, where they were quartered. Almost
MY FIRST CALL UPON GOVERNOR ANDREW. 81
the first man I met was Colonel Devereaux, who said, "What
are you here for?" My answer was, "I wanted to see the
boys." Drawing a paper from his pocket he said, "Get a
uniform and equipments, and report for duty in half an hour."
"But my uniform and equipments are at home," I replied.
" Can't help it," said Colonel Devereaux, "I propose that you
command your company in the parade to-day." So I went
out, bought a cheap uniform, hired a set of equipments and
reported for duty. I found that the paper read : " So much
of General Order No. 492 as discharged First Lieut. John
G. B. Adams, 19th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, is
hereby revoked, and he is restored to duty without loss of pay,
provided the vacancy has not lieen filled, evidence of which
lie must furnish from the governor of his State." We were
given a reception and dinner in Faneuil Hall; Governor
Andrew, not being able to attend, was represented by our
old commander, General Hincks.
From Boston we went to Salem, where we were royally
entertained, and then broke ranks with orders to report at
Wenham in thirty-five days. While our receptions were
grand, and showed that our hard services were appreciated,
our joys were mingled with sadness. Everywhere Ave met
friends of the boys who did not march back with us, and our
eyes were often filled with tears as we clasped the hand of
father, mother, sister or wife of some brave boy who had
marched by our side, but now slept his last sleep in the rude
gTave where we had tenderly laid him.
The next day I went to the State House to see Governor
Andrew. I had never met a live governor before, and as my
feet reached the executive chamber my heart beat faster than
It did when advancing at Gettysburg. Meeting the messen-
82 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
ger at the door I was explaining my errand when the door
opened, and the governor seeing me said, "Come in." On
entering he said, "Well, my boy, what can I do for you?"
I began to tell my story, when he interrupted me with, " I
know all about it, and it is all right." Pointing to a roster
of our regiment my name was in the list of first lieutenants,
but it was at the bottom. "There, you see that is all right,"
said the governor. I replied, " Not quite ; I was the third
in rank when discharged, now I am the tenth." "Oh, we
will fix that," said he, and taking my name out moved them
down one and put me in my proper place. All the time
he was doing this he was talking and laughing, making me
feel perfectly at home. I was so pleased with the inter-
view that I would have signed an enlistment roll for thirty
years if he would have promised to be governor during the
The orders to the officers were to do all in our power to
obtain recruits while we were at home, but although we
worked hard we made little or no progress. Men were enlist-
ing for coast defence regiments quite fast, but the 19th had
no attractions, and I only recruited one man while at home.
The thirty days were like one long holiday ; the towns gave
receptions to the men, Company A being received by the
town of West Newbury. The time soon came when we must
march away, and at the end of thirty days every man reported
at Wenham. We mustered five more than we brought home,
— three deserters whom we had captured and two recruits.
Two boys, Kogers and Fee, who were not old enough, stole
away with us and were mustered in the field. I carried a new
sword, presented by the citizens of Groveland, and several
other officers were remembered in like manner.
RETUliN TO THE FEO^'T. 83
Great injustice was done to fighting regiments in allowing
them to return without being filled to the maximum. While
the State was filling its quota it was, as far as active service
went, nearly all on paper. Every old regiment had many
brave and well-qualified non-commissioned officers who could
not be promoted because only two officers were allowed each
company, and, besides, we were placed in line to do the duty
of a regiment, when we were no larger than a company of
heavy artillery. Yet our men did not complain ; with brave
hearts, but with eyes filled with tears, they again bade good-
by to loved ones, and marched away to face dangers that
three years' experience had demonstrated would make vacant
places in their thinned ranks.
Colonel Devereaux did not return with us, and the regi-
ment was in command of Lieutenant-Colonel Rice. We had
a nice passage to New York, spent St. Patrick's day and
Eph. Hall's birthday in Philadelphia, and in due time arrived
in Washington. I was detailed officer of the day. Lieutenant
Thompson officer of the guard. A little incident occurred
here which I think is not known to the officers, but it shows
the honor of the men of the 19th. After I was detailed
Colonel Eice sent for me and said, "We leave here at six
o'clock to-morrow morning. The officers vrill stay up in the
city. I want you to keep every man here to be ready to
move at the time stated." After the officers had gone I fell
in the men and informed them that we were to move at six
A.M. ; that as they were tired I should post no guard, and
as Lieutenant Thompson and myself had business in the city
we should not be able to stay with them, but would see them
all at half-past five the next morning. Thompson and I
returned about three o'clock, and when the colonel came at
84 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
six every man was in line ready to march. The next night
we spent at Alexandria. The officer of the day put on a
strong guard, and half the men got out in some way and
made things lively. Thompson and I were complimented
by the colonel for faithful performance of duty when we
should have been court-martialed.
In a few days we arrived at our old camp and began anew
our army life. The first night it snowed quite hard, and
we who had been sleeping in nice, warm ])eds enjoyed the
damp, cold ground, with snow for our covering. Active
drilling began, reviews were frequent, and it was apparent
we were soon to enter on an active campaign. Lieutenant-
General Grant took command of the army, and we all felt
that at last the boss had arrived. Unlike most of his pred-
ecessors, he came with no flourish of trumpets, but in a
quiet, business-like way. After a grand review by him we
were ordered to division headquarters with the 20th Massa-
chusetts for an exliibition drill. The 19tli drilled in the
manual of arms, the 20th in ])attalion movements. Both
regiments were highly complimented for their excellent
The discipline of the army at this time was very strict.
So many substitutes were l^eing received that the death
penalty for desertions was often executed. We were called
out to witness the first and, so far as I know, the only execu-
tion by hanging. Thomas R. Dawson had been a member
of Company A, 19th, 1)ut was transferred to the 20th Massa-
chusetts when our men re-enlisted. He had been a soldier
in the English army, and wore medals for l)ravery. One
night while on picket he left his post, and, l)eing under the
influence of liquor, went outside the lines and committed an
RETURN TO THE FRONT. 85
assault upon an old lady. Dawson protested his innocence
of the terrible crime, but acknowledged that he was drunk
and had left his post. The woman swore against him, and
the sentence of the court-martial was that he be hanared.
The officers and men of the 19th did all in their power to
save him ; we signed a petition to President Lincoln asking
for his reprieve, and sent it by a Catholic chaplain, Dawson
])eing a Catholic. The President would have been pleased
to grant our prayer, but he said the complaint from army
officers was that he was destrojdng the discipline of the army
by so often setting aside the findings and sentences of courts-
martial, and he dare not do it.
April 14 was the day assigned for the execution. The 2d
division of the 2d corps was formed in a hollow square, ranks
opened, facing inward. Dawson was placed in an open
wagon, seated on his coffin. With him rode the provost
marshal and his spiritual advisor. The band was in advance,
playing the dead march. Files of soldiers, with arms re-
versed, marched on each flank, and in front and rear. As
they passed our lines Dawson smiled and bowed to those he
recognized. When he arrived at the scaffold, which had
been erected in the centre of the square, he ran up the steps,
and before the black cap was pulled down said, " Good-by,
comrades, officers and men of the 19th. I thank you for
what you have done for me. May you live long and die a
happy death; I die an innocent man." The cap was then
drawn down, the drop cut, and poor Dawson was launched
into eternity, but not so soon as was intended ; the rope was
new and stretched so much that his feet touched the gi'ound,
and the provost marshal was obliged to take a turn in the
rope. It was a horrible sight, and set me forever against
86 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
execution by hanging. After he was pronounced dead by
the surgeon he was taken down, placed in liis coffin, and
lowered in a gi'ave that had been prepared. The troops
marched past and looked into the grave.
I presume that the impressions desired were produced
upon the minds of the men, ])ut the remarks were that it was
too bad to hang men when they were so hard to get, and if
they had let him alone a few weeks Johnnie Reb would have
saved them the trouble.
The monotony of camp life was relieved by details for
three days' picket duty. Our ranks were being increased
by the return of detailed men and the arrival of recruits.
Many were ordered to the ranks who had not carried a
musket since the day they enlisted. The transportation
beino- reduced to one wagon to a brigade, several who were
ordered back were drivers of the festive mule. Among this
number was Will Curtis of Company A. One day in pass-
ing the wagon train a mule set up one of those unearthly
snorts. Will looked at him, and said, "You need not laugh
at me ; you may be in the ranks yourself l^efore Grant
gets through with the army."
BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS. 87
BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS, TODD'S TAVERN AND LAUREL
HILL. ENGAGEMENT AT THE BLOODY ANGLE.
We had now quite a respectable regiment, numbering two
field, ten line officers, and about three hundred and fifty men.
We broke camp the 2d of May, were ordered to move, and
soon found ourselves crossing the river to engage in the Bat-
tle of the Wilderness, before W'C realized it being in line of
battle moving forward. Our first order was to deploy as skir-
mishers and let the line which was being hotly pressed pass
in rear to receive a fresh supply of ammunition, while we
held the line.
I had al)out twenty men in my command. We advanced
as ordered, but soon received a fire from our flank and rear,
and found that the reljels had broken our lines. I gave the
order "By the right flank, double quick," and we went
quicker than that. We dodged behind trees as we ran, and
the rebels were so near that in looking back I saw them cap-
ture Thompson of Company B ; with the exception of one
other, wounded, all escaped ; and the boys thought me a
safe man to follow. We rejoined the regiment, and were
ordered in again. We fought all day. Sometimes the reb-
els drove us, sometimes we drove them. The woods were so
thick it was hard to tell friend from foe. The dead and
wounded of both armies were strewn all through the woods,
which caught fire. It was a terril)le sight. We knew M^here
88 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
the poor fellows were, but could not reach them, and the air
was suffocating with the smell of burning human flesh.
None knew the result of the battle. We changed front the
next day, and continued the light. Night came on ; it was
so dark you could not see a rod before you, but we were
ordered to hold our position in the advanced line until
recalled. We remained until midnight, then as it grew a lit-
tle lighter, the moon having broken through the clouds,
Colonel Kice went to the right and found we were not con-
nected with any other regiment. At the left he found the
same. The officers held a consultation ; all agreed that we
should obey orders, but should we allow the regiment to be
captured because some one had made a mistake? We con-
cluded to fall back until we connected with something, and
after a while struck a German brigade. The Dutch com-
mander undertook to drive us back, but w^e knew our busi-
ness, and when Colonel Rice found our brigade commander,
he was informed that an aid had been sent to recall us sev-
eral hours before, and in the darkness must have passed our
regiment without seeino; us. The conversation was on the
result of the battle. Most of us thought it was another
Chancellorsville, and that the next day we should recross the
river ; but when the order came, " By the left flank, march ! "
we found that Grant was not made that way, and we must
continue the fight.
Our loss was not very heavy in the Wilderness. We had
several wounded and captured, but only three killed. Among
the wounded the first day was Color-Sergeant Ben Falls,
struck in the leg, and being in command of the color com-
pany I sent him to the rear. The following day he reported
back, and I asked why he did not stay. "Oh," he said.
BATTLES OF TODD'S TAVEBN AND LAUREL HILL. 8^
" some fool will get hold of the color and lose it. I guess I
had better stand by."
We marched to Williams's Tavern, where we went into
line of battle and threw up works. From this time on we
were engaged every day. The 8th, we had a lively brush
at Todd's Tavern, and drove the rebels a mile ; the 9th,
crossed Po River ; the 10th, recrossed and engaged the
enemy at Laurel Hill. We found them strongly intrenched
and a charge was ordered. The opinion of every officer and
man was that we could not dislodge them, as we must charge
a long distance over an open field. General Barlow was to
lead and the 19th was to be the directino; battalion. The
order to our division was, "Follow the colors of the 19th."
With cheers for General Barlow we advanced over the crest
of the hill, the rebels opening on us with a terrible fire.
Grape and cannister ploughed through our ranks. Both
color-bearers were shot down, and for a moment our line
melted away ; but other hands grasped the colors, and we
renewed the charge, only to be again repulsed. No army on
earth could capture the works with such odds against it, but
we charged once more, then gave it up.
Among the first to go down was Color-Sergeant Ben Falls.
He was in advance of me, and as he fell he said, "John, your
old uncle has got his quietus this time." I could not stop to
reply then, but in the lull of the battle went to him, and
found that he was shot through the body ; he was carried to
the rear, and died the next day. No man in the ranks of
the Union army rendered better service than Benj. F. Falls.
Always ready for duty, ever cheerful, his influence for good
extended through the regiment. Another to fall that day
was Sergt. William H. Ross. Until this campaign he had
90 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
been detailed at the headquarters of the division quartermas-
ter, and one would think he was making up for lost time.
From the day we entered the Wilderness until he gave up
his life he was conspicuous for his bravery. Corp. George
E. Breed of Company C, a brave little fellow, not much
larger than his knapsack, was serving his second enlistment,
and was not twenty years old when killed. Several others
were killed, besides many wounded.
We remained here until the night of the 11th, when men
were detailed to keep up the skirmish firing while the brigade
was withdrawn. It was a dark, dreary night, and we fell
over stumps and fallen trees as we moved to the left. At
four o'clock on the morning of the 12th we formed in line.
Our orders were to give commands in whispers, have dippers
so hung that they would not rattle against bayonets, and
move forward. We were soon in front of the rebel works,
which were protected by al)atis. We tore these aside and
passed on. One regiment, forgetting the orders, gave a
cheer, and the re])els were aroused, yet over the works we
went, and the fiercest hand-to-hand fight of the war ensued.
We captured Gen. Bushrod Johnson and his entire division,
including twenty-two pieces of artillery and seventeen stands
The woods were so thick that in advancing our lines
became broken. When we reached a clearing the only offi-
cers in sight were Colonel Rice, Lieutenant Thompson and
myself. "Where are the colors?" said Colonel Rice. We
could not answer the question. At that moment we saw sev-
eral hundred rebels running back to their lines. Colonel
Rice said, " I see a Massachusetts color and will go after it.
You and Lieutenant Thompson try to capture those rebels."
ENGAGEMENT AT THE BLOODY ANGLE. 91
Hastily gathering men from nearly every regiment in the
corps we threw forward a skirmish line and captured nearly
four hundred prisoners. After turning them over to the
provost guard we returned to the line, found the colors, but
the colonel was not there, and the rest of the day we fought
where we could get a chance. As I was standing behind the
works, waiting for something to do, Capt. Harry Hale, who
was serving on General Webb's staff, rode up and said, " We
want to get two guns that the rebels have abandoned, which
unless we bring them in, will be retaken. Can't you get
them ? " Calling to the mob (there was no organization of
regiments at that moment), " Come on, boys," we rushed out
and brought them in. Turning them on the rebels, we loaded
them with everything we could find, — ammunition that did
not fit, old musket barrels, etc., — ])ut not knowing how to
work the guns we were in about as much danger as the
While engaged here the rebels had recaptured a small part
of their works on our right, and we were ordered to move to
that point. Collecting as many men of the regiment as we
could find, we marched by the flank to what has since been
known as the " Bloody Angle ; " here we found hot work.
While we were firing the rebels ran up a white flag, and we
advanced to receive their surrender, but as soon as we were
over the brow of the little hill that had protected us, they
fired a volley, killing several of our men. From that time
until dark the cry was "No quarter." Part of the time we
were on one side of the works and they on the other, each
trying to fire over. I saw Ed. Fletcher of Company C shoot
a man who was trying to get a shot at one of our boys, and
was so near that Fletcher's musket was covered with l)lood.
92 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
We continued to iire until our ammunition was exhausted,
then were relieved by men of the 6th corps. Just as long as
we could see a man the firing continued. We slept on the
field, ready to renew the battle in the morning, and at day-
light waited for the rebels to open. Not a shot was fired and
we advanced. What a sight met our eyes as we went over
the works ! Rebels lay four and five deep in the trenches.
Many were alive but unable to move, as the dead were piled
on top of them. Our better natures were aroused. We laid
out the dead for burial, cared for the wounded, then with-
drew to the rear to reorganize our regiments.
While resting in the rear a man from the 6th corps came
to me and said, " Is this the 19th Massachusetts ? " I answered,
" Yes." "Have you a Lieutenant Adams in your regiment?"
I again made the same reply. " Well, he is dead. He lies
just over the little hill. Here is his revolver case that I took
from him." I then understood what he meant. A few days
before, finding that it was impossible to carry my revolver
on account of my wounds, I had given it to Lieut. Johnnie
Ferris, and he must have been the one whom the man had
found. We had been fighting so hard that we had no time
to think of each other, and I then remembered that I had not
seen Ferris since we charged on the morning of the previous
day. I went with the man and found Johnnie, shot through
the head, in front of the rebel Avorks. He had fallen over a
tree that the rebels had cut down, and must have been killed
as we rushed through the abatis. His death was a se^^ere loss
to the regiment. He had been promoted from the ranks for
good conduct ; was loved by the ofiicers and worshipped by
the men. With sad hearts Ave laid him to rest near where he
fell. We could not find Colonel Rice and feared he must be
ENGAGEMENT AT THE BLOODY ANGLE. 93
dead on the field, but after searching and not finding his
body, concluded he must have been captured with some of
our men when the rebels made the dash on our right flank.
This was true. Colonel Rice was captured, but escaped, and
rejoined the regiment in August.
One little incident occurring in the fight at the "Bloody
Angle," although not connected with the regiment, is worthy
of mention. When we were relieved by the 6tli corps the
6th Wisconsin was in our front. One of their men was an
Indian. He would crawl up near the rebel line, wait until
they fired, then fire and drag himself back. He could hardly
be seen above the ground. I became much interested in his
mode of fighting, and his face was impressed upon my mind.
One day in 1867, while working in a shoe factory at Lynn,
an Indian came into the place selling l)askets. The moment
I saw him I thought his countenance was familiar and won-
dered where I had seen him before. It came to me that he
was the Spottsylvania Indian. I asked if he was in the
army, and he replied, "Yes, 6th Wisconsin." Then I was
sure he was the man. We talked over the battle and became
good fi'iends. He was a very bright fellow, a member of
the Masonic brotherhood, but he said, " East no place for
Indian," and I assisted him to return west.
We were under fire nearly all the time, marching from
right to left, and on the 17th occupied the works taken on
the 12th. While here we learned that Lieut. Moses Shack-
ley, who was a first sergeant in the 59th Massachusetts,
had Ijeen killed the day Ijefore. The 18th we fought all
day, charged twice on the enemies" works, and lost several
men. On the 21st occurred one of the sad events of the
94 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEOIMENT.
John D. Starbird of Company K was one of the three
deserters who returned with the regiment. The charges
against him had been placed on file on condition that he
serve ftiithfully to the end of the war. While he had prom-
ised to do tliis, he did not intend to, and was only kept in
battle at the Wilderness by fear of death from the oflicers.
On the 18th he deserted while under fire, was captured the
19th, tried by drum-head court-martial the 20th, and ordered
to be shot at 7 a.m. on the 21st. Early in the morning of
that day Adjutant Curtis came to me and said, " Jack, you
are detailed to take charge of the shooting of Starbird." I
was not pleased with the order, and Captain Mumford, who
was ever ready to do a kind act for a friend, exchanged duty
with me, I going on picket for him. The detail consisted
of eight men from our regiment. Their muskets were loaded
by Captain Mumford, seven with ball cartridges, one with a
blank. Starbird was seated on his coffin, blindfolded. The
order was given to fire. Six shots struck him near the
heart ; the other musket hung fire, and the ball entered his
leg. He died at once.
Those who read this, and do not understand the situation
at the time, may think the killing of Starbird unjust and
cruel, but it was not. At that time there were in the ranks
of every regiment, men who had no interest in the cause.
They had enlisted for the bounty, and did not intend to
render any service. They not only shirked duty, but their
acts and conversation were demoralizing good men. The
shooting of Starbird changed all this. Men who had strag-
gled and kept out of battle now were in the ranks, and the
result to our corps alone was as good as if we had been
re-enforced by a full regiment.
BATTLE AT TOTOPOTOMOT CBEEK. 95
BATTLES AT TOTOPOTOMOY CREEK AND COLD HARBOE.
From the 21st to the 24th of May we were engaged in
skirmishing, picket fighting, with now and then a charge.
On the morning of the 24th we crossed the North Anna
River, and about noon advanced in line, our regiment being
on the left of Smith's division. Finding the rebels strongly
intrenched on the edge of the woods, we charged across an
open field and drove them out. It was one of the bravest
acts of the war, but it counted for nothing. As soon as we
captured the works we sent word back that we must be rein-
forced or we could not hold them ; but no one in the rear
seemed to be in a hurry. We could hear the rebels reorgan-
izing their men, and knew that we should be unable to resist
the charge, as we were only a skirmish line. I lay on the
works by the side of Captain Hincks. Both of us had mus-
kets, and resolved to make the best fight possible. The
rebels came in over the works at our left, at the same time
advancing in front. We waited until the skirmish line came
so near that we could get a good shot. Captain Hincks said,
"What is it. Jack; Richmond or legs?" I said, "Legs."
We covered our man, fired and fell back. The rebels came
on in force ; we retreated until we came to a brook, and
standing in the water used the bank for a breast-work, and
held them until re-enforcements came up. A more angry
set of men than we were never wore Union blue. We had
96 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
done a ])rilliant thing, had captured and held a line of works
for two hours against heavy odds, and could have been sup-
ported in fifteen minutes as well as not.
As we were falling back after our relief had advanced, and
were safe in the rear, a staff officer rode up and swinging his
sword said, "Go back, you cowards, go back." We requested
him to go where he would require the constant use of a fan,
— and kept on. We reorganized our companies and were
ordered on picket for the night. We were so disgusted that
we paid little attention to duty, but came to our senses the
next morning upon finding we were all there was between
our army and the rebels. About day-break I heard the
picket cry, " Halt ! who comes there ? " and going to his post
found he had a negro in waiting. The darkey had a letter
from the rebel commander ; it read : " Send Cora to Richey."
I did not understand it and sent it to headquarters.
The boy was very intelligent, l)ut he was a strange-look-
ing mortal ; had not as much clothing on as the prodigal son
wore home from his excursion, but he could sing and dance,
besides knowing all al)out the rebel army. Orders came to
send him to headquarters of the division, and I reluctantly
parted with G..AVashington, whom I had intended to keep
as a servant. I saw him several times in the next few
weeks, then he went out of my mind. One day soon after
the close of the war I was standing on the street in Lynn,
when a negro boy went past whistling. It struck me I had
heard that whistle before, and I called to him. I asked him
if he were from the South, and he said he was. "How came
you here? " was my next question. " Oh, I was captured by
Lieutenant Adams of the 19th on the North Anna, and came
home with Colonel Palmer of Salem." "What became of
BATTLE AT TOTOPOTOMOY CHEEK. 97
Lieutenant Adams?" I asked. "Guess he is dead. The
rebels done caught him, and we never heard from him
again." "Look up here," I said. "Did you ever see me
before?" "Golly, you are Lieutenant Adams," and he
rushed for me. George Washington remained in Lynn
several years. When the war ended he could not read or
write, but he passed through all grades to the high school,
and after two years there went South ; was a member of the
Virginia Legislature two terms ; and the last I heard of him,
he was with an Uncle Tom's Cabin Company whistling in
the plantation scene, being the best whistler in the country.
We were constantly moving by the left flank, marching
every night, fighting every day. On the 30th we were on
the Washington Jones plantation, near Totopotomoy Creek,
the rebels advancing at night, but being repulsed. Captain
Mumford and myself, with our companies G and I, were on
the outpost all night ; we were very near the rebel lines and
picket firing was constant. In the morning we advanced
and they returned to their works. Captain Hume, com-
manding Company K, was on our right, a swamp being
between us. Captain Mumford and I had muskets, as it
was poor fun being fired at with no chance to reply. We
made up our minds to charge the works, so arranged with
Captain Hume that he should go to the right around the
swamp and we would advance and connect with liim on the
other side. With a yell we started and the rebels retired
before us, some of them to an old church. When we
arrived at the crest of the hill we opened on them. Mum-
ford was behind a tree, and had just fired his piece when he
fell at my feet, shot through the head. All the fire of the
rebels was concentrated on this spot. No man could live a
98 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
moment unless he lay close to the ground. Assisted by one
of my sergeants I placed a rubber blanket under the captain
and dragged him to the rear. He was nearly gone. The
surgeon came but could do nothing, and in a short time he
passed away. As the firing ceased for a time, we made a
rude coffin and laid him to rest. We nailed a wooden slab
on the tree, enclosing the grave with a little fence. Then I
must perform the saddest duty of all, — write to his loved
ones at home.
Captain Mumford and I had been warm friends for more
than two years, had shared the same blanket on the march,
and while at home had been constantly together. He joined
the regiment at Lynnfield, a young boy just out of school ;
had been promoted from second lieutenant to captain, and
had shared every march and battle in which the regiment had
been engaged. Kind-hearted, generous and brave, I loved
him as a brother. In December, 1865, I went to the place
where we laid him and brought the body to Providence, R. I.,
where it now rests.
"By the left flank" we marched on, arriving at Cold
Harbor on the morning of June 2. We were deployed as
skirmishers and lay in line until three a.m. the 3d, then were
ordered to advance in three lines of battle, charging the
enemy, who were intrenched. We stood in line three
hours, waiting for the order to advance, and when it came
the rebels were ready and waiting for us, yet over the field
we went. Men were mowed down by hundreds. Major
Dunn, who now commanded the regiment, was struck by a
bullet and fell, but rallied again. The colors of the regi-
ment were shot down, but Mike Scannell picked them up
and carried them forward. Mike always had an eye to
BATTLE AT COLD HARBOB. 99
business. When we halted Major Dunn said, " Mike, keep
the colors." "Not as a corporal," said Mike; "too many
corporals have been killed already carrying colors." "I
make you a sergeant on the spot," said the major. "That is
business," replied Mike ; "I'll carry the colors."
We changed brigade conmianders several times that fore-
noon ; first one colonel would fall, then another, until at
last a lieutenant-colonel commanded. We reached a ravine
within a few yards of the rebel works and lay down. By
forming line to the rear, the men lying flat on the ground,
we were able during the night to get a few rails and before
morning had quite a good breastwork. Lieutenant Thomp-
son and many men were killed on the charge. After the
death of Captain Mumford I had slept with Lieutenant
Thompson ; only three days and another must share my
blanket. Like other officers we had lost, Thompson was
remarkable for his bravery, had been promoted from the
ranks for good conduct, and had distinguished himself in
every battle of the campaign.
We were in a peculiar position, — so near the rebel works
that we could throw a stone over, and no man on either side
could show his head without getting a shot. Eations could
not be brought to us until we dug a trench over the hill to
the rear, which we did the second night. The second day
we were in this place we saw a pile of dirt in our front, on a
little knoll, and once in a while a shot would be fired, fol-
lowed by a yell. Mark Kimball, Gus Bridges, Frank
Osborne and Milt Ellsworth dug out and found Alonzo W.
Bartlett of Andrews, Mass., sharpshooter. Bart, had come
out after the body of the colonel of the 8th New York, who
fell at the foot of the rebel works. He had managed to get
100 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
a rope around the body, but the rebels made it so hot that he
was forced to intrench, which he did with his dipper, and
was fighting the war on his own hook. His face was cut and
bleeding from gravel stones which had struck him, l)ut he
had held his own, and having a good rifle with plenty of
ammunition thought he could hold out as long as they.
For four days the little fort kept up a constant musketry
fire. Every man was a dead shot, and the result must have
been fearful. The rebels were also doing much damage to
our side. No man could stand erect without being shot, and
we lost several as they crossed to the spring for water.
Among the killed was the boy William Fee, who had followed
the regiment from Massachusetts. He was a brave little fel-
low and had done the full duty of a soldier.
On the 7th a truce was held. A white flag was raised on
the rel)el works and firing ceased on both sides. General
officers met between the lines, and it was agreed to suspend
fiofhtino; until the dead who had lain between the lines for the
past four days were l)uried. This was welcome news, as the
stench was terrible. The men of ])oth armies were soon over
the works and mingled together freely. Had they the power
to settle the war, not another shot would have been fired.
By mutual agreement not a shot was fired by either side for
the next two days. On the morning of the 9tli a rebel stood
upon the works and in a loud voice said, "Keep down,
Yanks, we uns are going away ; " and the firing was soon
resumed as before.
While bringing in the dead we found one man wounded
many times, but yet alive. He was first shot in the leg, and
being unable to move had taken shots from })oth sides ; had
been without food or water four days, yet he revived in a few
BATTLE AT COLD H ABB OR. 101
hours and was able to talk. He had lost all trace of time,
but said that he had suffered little, being unconscious most
of the time. During the day Bartlett took the body of the
colonel to the rear, and was returning to his old place when a
sharpshooter fired, hitting him over the eye, which placed him
on the retired list for a time.
From the 9th to the 12th the firing was constant day and
night; men were killed every hour in the day. Captain
Hincks was severely wounded while lying in rear of the
works. The duty was very hard. One-half the men must
be on guard during the night, and all in line at three a.m.
The officer in charge was obliged to go from right to left, as
the men would drop to sleep as soon as they were posted,
being exhausted from long hours of duty. The mental strain
While at Cold Harbor about one hundred recruits joined
the regiment. They were not brought to the front, but
placed in the rear line, with Lieutenant McGinnis in charge.
At nine p.m. on the 12th we quietly moved out of the works
and marched towards the Chickahominy. This was old
ground to us. We had been here with McClellan in 1862.
Lieutenant McGinnis had quite a time with his recruits ; not
half of them could speak or understand the English language,
and Bill tauaht them by the kinderofarten method. Stan dins:
in front he would say, "Look at me. Put on your bayonets,
put 'em on." He would go through the motions, they fol-
lowing. After a few days liis " army of all nations '' was
disbanded, the men being assigned to companies.
Arriving at the James River we crossed on a steamer and
halted for rations, but before they could be served were
ordered forward, and marched twenty-five miles without a
102 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
hard tack. We reached the first line of works before Peters-
burg, and relieved a division of colored troops commanded
by our old colonel, now General Hincks, who had been fight-
ing all day. This was a great day for some of us. It had
been said that the negro would not fight, but here we found
them dead on the field side by side with the rebels they had
killed. The stock of the negro as a soldier was high in the
market. With no time for rations we went into line and
waited until nearly morning, when the detail brought us oUr
hard tack and pork.
Hard fighting every day since the Battle of the Wilder-
ness had reduced our officers to major, adjutant and four
line officers, with the addition of First Sergeant Osborne of
Company B, who had been promoted on the march. Our
men had been reduced to one hundred and forty, including
the recruits who had joined us at Cold Harbor. The morn-
ing: of June 22 we were ordered to advance through a thicket
to the edge of an open field. We found the enemy in force,
several batteries being so posted that they could protect the
field, while the infantry was well cared for behind works.
We threw up slight works and both sides were active all
day. Our regiment was so small that we were in single
rank and the formation was tw^o companies instead of ten,
Captain Hume commanding the right and I the left wing.
At noon the officers withdrew a little to the rear for din-
ner, and in conversation Major Dunn said, "I fell asleep a
little while ago, and had a queer dream. We were lying
just as we are here, and the rebels came in our rear and cap-
tured the entire regiment." We laughed at his story, said
we guessed we should not go to Richmond that way, and
returned to our places in line. The firing in our front
BATTLE AT COLD HARBOR. 103
increased, the batteries doing good service for the rebels.
About four P.M. we heard loud talking and cheering on our
left and the firing ceased. The woods were so thick we
could not see through them, but knowing something was up,
I went to the right of the line and reported to Major Dunn.
Returning to my place, I met Billy Smith of Company F,
who said, " Come with me ; if you go farther you are sure to
be captured." While I was talking with Smith, Colonel
Hooper passed us, on the way to the rear. The colonel had
been there and escaped through the tunnel at Libby. He
did not propose to go again. I told Smith to go on, but I
must return to the company. I soon met two rebels who
ordered me to surrender, but I declined. I saw my men
standing up and the rebels as thick as mosquitoes. A major
of a Georgia regiment demanding my sword, I presented it
to him, omitting the presentation speech. With the rebels
I went to the right. Captain Hume was standing on the
works looking to the left. I called to him, '' They have us,
Hume." Quick as a flash he stamped his sword into the
dirt, broke the scabbard against a tree, saying, "There is
the second one the cusses haven't got." In less time than it
takes to tell the story we were driven to the rebel rear, and
my story for a time will be my experiences in rebel prisons.
104 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
EXPEEIENCES IN KEBEL PRISONS, LIBBY, MACON.
We were hurried to the rear, the rebels relieving us of
our hats, belts and other personal property as we went.
Captain Hume had been a prisoner before and thought he
understood the rules of civilized warfare. A rebel officer
demanded my belt. Captain Hume said, " Don't give it to
him, Jack. Private property is to be respected, and all he
has a right to claim is your sword." But the rebel was not
so far advanced as this in his study of the articles of war, and
turning on Hume, with his revolver and a volley of oaths,
made him give up his belt. I gave him mine without
more argument. Sergt. J. E. Hodgkins of Company K
had received a nice little ounce hat from home. A big
rebel standing near the battery on the hill saw it and, like a
hawk after its prey, sailed for it, snatching it from his head and
throwing him his old one, which would weigh five pounds.
This treatment was a surprise to us. Few regiments in the
Army of the Potomac had captured more prisoners than the
19th, yet I never saw private property of any kind taken
from a rebel or heard an ungentlemanly word spoken ; on the
contrary, had often seen the boys share their rations with
them and in every way make them comfortable.
When well beyond the lines we were halted and took
account of stock. We found that we numbered sixteen hun-
dred men and sixty-seven commissioned ofiicers.
EXPERIENCES IN REBEL PRISONS. 105
As we had placed our colors in the rear of the line, — hav-
ing dug a pit for Mike Scannell and the other sergeant, — we
trusted they were safe, but soon a rebel horseman rode by with
them, and trotting in his rear we saw Mike. " How came you
to lose the colors, Mike? " I asked. "I'll tell you," said he.
" We lay in the pit dug for us, and the first we knew the rebels
came rushing over and said, 'You damned Yankee, give me
that flag.' 'Well,' I said, 'it is twenty years since I came to
this country, and you are the first man who ever called me
a Yankee. You can take the flag for the compliment.' "
We could not understand how the rebels got in our rear,
but from the l)est information we could obtain, learned that
the 2d and 5th corps were ordered to advance their lines.
The 2d did as ordered. By some mistake the 5th did not,
and there was a large gap between the two corps. The reb-
els had seen this, and keeping us hotly engaged in the front,
had sent a division around our left flank, and the result was
we were "gobbled."
The officer who had charge of my squad was Lieut. Wm.
D. McDonald, Company C, 8th Alabama, Wilcox's old
brigade, Anderson's division, A. N. V. He was disposed to
be kind to us, as he had formerly resided in New York and
knew Yankees were human, but he was soon relieved and
ordered back to the front. The provost guard took charge,
and we were marched to a field just outside the city of Peters-
burg and camped for the night. We were visited by squads
of thieves, each reducing our baggage, which was none too
large at first. Some of our men had a few hard tack. The
officers had no rations.
The next morning we were ordered to a small island in the
Appomattox River. As we marched over a little bridge
106 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
guards were stationed to take our haversacks, canteens and
other property yet remaining, but we soon saw the game and
sent over a few empty lianded, who, coming down the shore,
took charge of the traps we threw to them. By this flank
movement we saved our property. We remained on the island
that day. No rations were issued and we began to realize
our position. We were among a new race of people and saw
the beauties of an inflated currency. On our side of the line
the '' New York Herald " (doul>le sheet) sold for five cents ;
on this side the "Richmond Examiner," a little, dirty paper,
was one dollar, — everything in the same proportion. Every
few minutes a large, lank, lantern-jawed rebel would come
up, look us over, and ask about the only question they had
on hand : " What did you uns come down here to fight we uns
for?" It mattered little what the answer was, he would pass
on if he did not find any plunder and ask the same question
of the next group. The captain of our guard was a spruce
little chap and wanted his boots shined ; but the so-called
Confederacy was out of boot-blacking, so he sent one of his
men to us for that article. After asking several and receiv-
ing various answers he called to his officer, "Captain, they
all don't tote it."
About three o'clock on the morning of the 24th we were
ordered to fall in and were marched through the city to the
depot, packed in the cars, and were "on to Richmond,"
where we arrived about noon. We were given a rousing
reception. Men, women and children thronged the streets
and were sure they had captured the entire Union army.
They said, "Right smart lot of you all this time, I reckon."
The men swore, the women spit at us, the children joined in
the general cry. Just before we turned down Carey Street
EXPEBIENCES IN BEBEL PBISONS. 107
to go to Libby we halted. I was standing a little aside from
the rest, thinking over the situation and whistling to keep
together what little courage I had left, when a rebel officer
rode up and said, " We will take that whistle out of you in a
little while. Corn bread is gitting pretty mouldy down in
Libby." I said I guessed not. It was my intention to
whistle as loud the last day as I did the first. " Oh, I have
heard lots of you fellows talk, but Dick Turner soon fixes
them," was his reply. This was the first promise of starvation.
We moved forward and soon stood in front of Libby prison.
I could almost read over the door, " He who enters here leaves
hope behind." We marched in and passed to the rear of the
room. As I looked out of the window I saw them carry out
four of our dead boys in blankets, all of them naked, having
been stripped of their clothing. We hardly knew what was
to come next but had not long to wait, for Dick Turner, who
had charge, ordered part of us to fall in. Lieutenant Chub-
buck had kept a small revolver in his pocket until this time,
but now threw it out of the window into the canal in rear of
the prison. We were ordered to stand in line, unbutton
our clothing, and, as Turner passed down, were made to
open our mouths that he might see if we had any greenbacks
in them. He said those who gave up their money should
have it again, but those who did not would lose it. I had
sixty-two dollars and had just time to put ten between the
soles of my shoe. The rest I gave to Turner. After he had
picked a squad he ordered them to the front of the room,
away from the rest.
The front door was guarded by a thing I supposed they
called a soldier, dressed in a black, swallow-tailed coat, his
head crowned with a stove-pipe hat and armed with a sport-
108 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
ing rifle. He was so thin that he could never be hit by a
bullet, as he could hide behind his ramrod in time of danger.
I called to the boys, " See what they call a soldier," but as
he brought up his musket to fire I found it was alive and I
retired in good order.
Lieut. Thomas J. Hastings of the 15th tore a piece oflF his
shelter tent to use as a towel and was made to mark time
while the rest were being searched. After our names, rank,
regiment, place and date of capture were recorded we were
marched to a room in the third story. The one next to ours
was filled with our men. A brick partition wall divided us,
but some of them made a hole through, and, as they had not
been searched, passed a few things to us. Mark Kimball
gave me ten dollars, Mike O'Leary a razor, another gave me
a spoon. The razor and spoon I carried all through my
prison life, and have them yet. The money I returned to
Mark some two weeks later. We were not allowed to rest
long, as I suppose they thought we required exercise, and
were marched to another room over the office. The rooms
were perfectly bare. We had no blankets or dishes, as
everything had been taken from us. We sat down on the
floor, about as blue a collection of humanity as was ever
In a short time Turner came in to look us over. I asked
him if it was not about time for dinner, as no rations had
l)een issued since we had been captured, two days before.
He did not like my question and swore at me for several
minutes, winding up by saying that no rations would be
issued until the next day, and I should be lucky if I got
any then. I replied that as I was not acquainted with the
other hotels in the city I guessed I would wait. He swore
EXPERIENCES IN REBEL PRISONS. 109
some more, said he reckoned I would, — and I did. At
night we lay down on the hard floor and tried to sleep, but
were so hungry we could not. Besides our hunger we had
many other things to contend with. When we entered the
room we thought it was vacant but were mistaken, for we
discovered that it was inhabited by "very many curious
things that crawl about and fly on wings."
Morning came at last. We got up, washed in an old tank
in one corner of the room, wiped our faces on our shirts,
and waited for breakfast. While waiting; I went to the win-
dow to look out. In a second I found myself on the floor
and heard the report of a musket. The guard in front had
iired at me, l)ut a comrade had seen him as he brought up his
piece and had pulled me down. Had he not done so some
other fellow would have written this stor3\
About ten o'clock rations came in and we eagerly fell in to
receive them. They consisted of a piece of corn bread as
large as a quarter of a brick and twice as hard, bean soup,
and a very small piece of rotten bacon. How to draw the
bean soup was the question, as we had nothing to draw it in.
Lieutenant McGinnis was in rear of me. He said he must
have some soup, and, taking a broken pane of glass, he fell
in and the line moved on. When it came my turn the negro
who issued the rations dipped in his gill dipper and I held
out my hands. He turned it in. The soup ran through my
fingers, but I secured a few beans. McGinnis held out his
pane of glass and drew four rations, one on each corner. We
did not touch the bacon. Hungry as we were the smell sat-
isfied us. We went upstairs and sat down to dinner. I ate
half my bread, and thinking it unwise to make a pig of myself
at my first banquet in Richmond, placed the rest on the win-
110 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
dow sill, sat down and looked at it, then ate a little more and
a little more, until all was gone, and I was as hungry as
The next day some negroes came in to swab the floor, and
among them we of the 19th recognized little Johnnie, Colonel
Devereaux's servant. We had left him at White House
Landing, sick with fever, when we started on the retreat
down the Peninsula in the spring of 1862, and supposed he
died in the hospital, but he must have been captured, as here
he was. I was near enough to whisper "Johnnie." He
recognized me and also saw Lieutenant McGinnis, but said
nothing. The next day when he came in he dropped some
soap near where I stood. He looked as though he was hav-
ing a hard time of it.
Our enlisted men were not confined in Libby but in an old
tobacco warehouse across the street. Three days later we
saw them march past on their way to Belle Isle. We watched
our chances and exchanged greetings with them. The lines
between officers and men in the 19th were not closely drawn.
Most of the officers had come from the ranks and the only
difference was in the pay. We would have been glad to
have remained with them, but the rebels ordered otherwise.
We remained in Libby about a week, receiving re-enforce-
ments nearly every day, until our squad of officers numbered
over a hundred. One morning we were ordered to fall in.
The same old blankets were given us, dirty and torn, but
better than none. We were told that we were going south.
A very small loaf of white bread was given each man, but
having no way to carry it and being very hungry, we ate it
before we left the prison. We filed out and marched past
Castle Thunder. This place was used for the confinement of
EXPERIENCES IN REBEL PRISONS. Ill
political prisoners. We saw several women and one of them
had a palm-leaf fan. On one side was the stars and stripes.
As we looked up she turned that side to us and some one
said, "Boys, see the old flag." Major Turner rode back and
said, "Break the head of the next man who says 'old flag,'"
so we did not cheer, but the sight gladdened our hearts.
We crossed the river to Manchester. A large crowd were
at the station. They told us that our men were dying fast
down south and that "you all will get your little piece of
land down in Georgia," a prophecy which proved true in very
The train backed into the depot and we were ordered to
"get aboard the coach." A passenger car was in front, and
we marched in, thinking that we were to be transported in
good shape ; but when every seat was taken, they continued
to come in, and our entire party, numbering more than a
hundred, packed into this one car.
We rode all day without food or water, and found our-
selves the next morning at Lynchburg. We were confined
in the cars until noon, and it is impossible to express in
words what we suffered. We could not walk about, the
car was so crowded ; we would get down on the floor, stand
up, look out of the window, but nothing could drive away
the terril^le hunger. Outside the cars were hucksters sellino-
bread, pies and fruit, and the sight made us wild. Men
opened the windows, took rings from their fingers, and sold
them for loaves of bread. I had no rings or anything val-
uable to sell. I had my ten dollar greenback in my sHoe,
but the orders were very strict in regard to the people tak-
ing greenbacks, and I dare not try to pass it for fear the
guard would see me and confiscate it.
112 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
At noon we were ordered out of the car, and after some
delay rations were issued, consisting of twenty small hard
tack and a small piece of bacon not properly cured and cov-
ered with maggots. This was to last us four days, as we
were to march from Lyncli])urg to Danville, our cavalry
having destroyed the railroad between the two places. As I
had eaten nothing for thirty-six hours I ate twelve of my
hard tack, leaving eight for the next three days. I did not
care much for the bacon, but tied it up in an old rag, and,
finding a stick, carried it over my shoulder.
They marched us five miles, and camped for the night.
The sun was so hot that most of my bacon melted and ran
down my back, but the maggots still lived. We were com-
manded by a major who had lost an arm in the service, and
had also l)een a prisoner. He was a first-class man and
understood how to march men ; would turn us out at day-
light, march until nine or ten o'clock, then rest until three.
He always selected our camp near a stream of good water,
and did everything possible for our comfort. I am sorry I
cannot recall his name, as he was about the only man I met
in the south who considered our comfort in any way.
Our enlisted men joined us here. We were not allowed
to visit them, but, passing them on the road, had a chance
to chat a little.
Our o'uard was not thought sufiicient to take care of us,
and it was constantly receiving reinforcements from the
cradle and the grave. At every cross-road we were joined
by old men on horseback and in carriages, and boys from
ten to sixteen years of age, armed with shot-guns and pistols.
We could get along very well with the men, l)ut the boys
were anxious to shoot a Yankee, and we had to keep our eyes
EXPERIEXCES IX REBEL PRISONS. 113
open. Lieutenant McGinnis was much interested in the
boys, and would ask them if their fathers allowed them to
play with a gun, and if they were not afraid to lie out doors
Our march was through a splendid country and the days
were fine. We had many good singers among the officers,
and as we marched through a village they would strike up
a song. It would pass down the line and be taken up by
the men. Passing through Pittsylvania they were singing
"Home Again." I saw several women who were watching
us wipe away tears. Whether the tears were of sympathy
for us, or because the scene recalled loved ones in the rebel
army, we did not know, but it was the only manifestation
of anything but hate I ever saw from a rebel woman.
Just before we went into camp one night a citizen walked
beside us for a short distance and I saw him exchange glances
with Captain Hume. After he passed on Captain Hume
said, " We will have something to eat to-night. That man
is a mason ; he says we are going into camp soon and he
will come down and bring me some food." We soon after
filed out of the road and into a field. The captain's brother-
mason came and walked around until he saw Hume, then
passed near and dropped a package containing bread and
meat. Although not a mason at that time I shared the
refreshments furnished by the craftsman.
We continued the march until July 4, when we arrived
at Danville. Here we were turned over to the provost
guard and placed in an old warehouse. Our humane com-
mander left us, and our best wishes followed him. We
were brought back to the realization that we were prisoners
by the brute in command. We were very hungiy, but that
114 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEOIMENT.
did not trouble them, and we waited until afternoon for
rations. At night we were taken out and marched to the
depot. Although it was the anniversary of our nation's birth
we saw no demonstrations of any kind, and I do not believe
that a citizen of the town knew it was a national holiday ;
but we remembered it, and while waiting for the train to be
made up sung " Star Spangled Banner " and other patriotic
songs. We collected quite a crowd, but they manifested no
interest, only stood and looked at us.
The train ready, we were ordered on l)oard and packed in
close box cars, — fifty-six in a car. Only one door was
allowed to be opened, and that was filled with rebel guards.
We had no room to lie down, ])ut were forced to stand or sit
cramped up on the floor. We lay our heads on each other's
shoulders and tried to sleep, but it was too hot. We had
no water, but one of the oflicers had an old two-quart pail,
and by coaxing, the guard filled it twice out of the tank of the
locomotive. I never passed a more uncomfortal)le night, and
when we arrived at Greensborough, N. C, in the morning,
and were allowed to get out of the cars, we were happy.
Here we were re-inforced by some of Wilson's cavalry ofli-
cers, captured on the raid. They had been shamefully
treated, — some were bleeding from wounds received from
the guard. When they loaded us again some were allowed
on top of the car, and I was one. Our guards were a lot of
home guards, and, like all such, were making a war record
by abusing us.
On our car was a loud-mouthed fellow who was constantly
insulting us. After a while he became quiet and was nearly
asleep. One of the oflicers near touched me, and motioning
to keep still, drew up his feet, straightened out, and the fel-
EXPEBIENCES IN BE BEL PBISONS. 115
low went flying off the top of the car. Turning to me he
said, "Jack, didn't something drop?" I said I thought so,
but guessed it wasn't best to stop the train to find out, and
we never learned whether he landed or not.
We arrived at Augusta, Ga. , on Sunday, and were marched
to the park. Here citizens visited us and we had a chance to
talk with them. The questions were about the same as at
Petersburg. "What do you uns come down to fight we uns
for?" etc. Talk about Yankees being anxious to trade!
There was not a man, woman or child but wanted to barter
with us. I sold a hat cord to a woman for twenty dollars,
bought a dozen Qgga for ten dollars, and invested the rest in
a blackberry pie. I shall never forget that pie. The crust
was ironclad, and I had to l)ombard it 1)efore I could get at
the berries. I ate the inside, but left the crust for the woman
to fill again.
We took the cars at night, and next morning arrived at
Macon, where we left the train, and our men went on to
116 NIKETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
MACON CONTINUED ; CHARLESTON. UNDER FIRE OF OUR
BATTERIES ON MORRIS ISLAND.
A stockade had been erected on the fair ground, and four-
teen hundred oflScers were confined there. This was the first
stockade we had seen, and while our names were being taken
and we were being searched I had a chance to examine it.
It was made of large trees driven in the ground, the inside
covered with boards, and was about fifteen feet high. A walk
was built around it for the guard, and at each corner was
placed a piece of artillery, which commanded the inside of
The door swung open and we were marched in. Had we
entered the lower regions we could not have been more hor-
rified. Nearly all the ofiicers had assembled at the gate, and
such a looking set, — half naked, unshaven and unshorn,
some dragging themselves along by the aid of sticks, others
lying down in the dirt. For the first time my courage failed
me, and my heart grew faint as I thought that I must pass
through what they had already seen of prison life. They did
not look like human beings, and appeared less so as every
mouth opened and the cry of " Fresh fish " was heard on all
It is an old saying that misery loves company, and since I
entered Macon stockade I have never doubted it. They
would crowd around us, and the gang would howl, "Give
EXPEBIENCES IN BE BEL PBISONS. 117
them air ! Don't steal his blanket. Oh ! don't put that louse
on them," etc. We made our way through them as best we
could, and as the place was crowded lay down in the dirt, the
first vacant spot we found. As soon as we were located, and
the excitement attending our reception had subsided, we
])egan to walk about. Our newness was apparent, and we
would soon be joined by some honest looking prisoners who
would begin to inquire how we were captured, would ask all
sorts of questions, and before we were aware of it we would
be drawing a line of battle in the dirt with a stick and explain-
ing that " we lay here ; the regiment on our left broke ; the
rel^els came in there," etc. A little group would gather
around us, all interest and asking questions. After we had
satisfied this party they would move on, and soon another
would come up and we would go over the same ground.
After we had gone through this performance four or five
times we began to "catch on," and would show when ques-
tioned that we were not so very fresh.
I thought our reception was a little unkind, and resolved
that I would never be engaged in anything of the kind, but
when the next batch of prisoners arrived I was in the front
rank, and howled " Fresh fish " as loudly as the best of them.
The oflicers of our regiment became divided here. Major
Dunn was in one part of the stockade, Captain Hume and
Adjutant Curtis with some of the 71st and 7 2d Pennsylvania
in another. Lieutenant Chubbuck found a friend from
Quincy, Mass., and went with him ; Lieutenant Osborne and
I joined Captain McHugh of the 69th Pennsylvania.
Inside the stockade were two old buildings, each filled
with prisoners. Many had dug holes under them, and were
sheltered in that way, but the last two or three hundred had
118 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
no shelter. Around the place was a low fence, twenty feet
from the stockade, called the dead line, and it meant all that
its name implies, for to touch or step over it brought a shot
from the guard, which was the only warning. Our rations
were corn-meal, issued uncooked, and as no extra cooking
utensils were provided for the additional men, we often had
to wait until midnight for a chance to cook our dinner. If
we could borrow a kettle we made mush, if a skillet, made
bread, and if neither, made a cake by making a dough and
throwing it into the hot ashes ; this was called an ash cake.
We drew very little salt, so I exchanged my ten dollar green-
back, receiving five for one. Confederate money, and paid two
dollars a pound for salt and fifteen for soda. The price of
everything was so high that my fifty dollars soon vanished.
The only time I heard music of any kind inside the rebel
lines was at Macon. Outside the stockade, where the guards
were quartered, were two negroes who played the fife and
drum. They could play but one tune, "Bonnie Blue Flag."
At reveille, guard mounting, dinner call, retreat and tattoo
the fifer shrieked and the drummer pounded out this same
old tune. I do not think that the southerners are a musical
people, for I never heard their soldiers sing around the
camp-fires, and believe they left this, like everything else,
to the negroes. There was a chaplain confined with us who
was a very earnest Christian. Every night he held services
on the steps of the main buildings, and, with a voice that
could be heard throughout the prison, would pray for our
country and flag, and for damnation and disaster to all rebels.
The commanding officer came in one day and ordered him
to stop, but he said they put Paul in prison, yet he prayed,
and while he had a voice he should pray to his God, and use
EXPERIENCES IN BEBEL FBI SONS. 119
language best suited to the occasion. Courage always tells,
and when they found that they could not frighten him they
let him pray unmolested.
We had been at Macon about a week when one of the
officers came to me and asked me if I would like to escape.
I answered "Yes." We talked awhile on various subjects,
and on leaving he said he would call for me that nisfht. At
midnight he came, and I went with him to one corner of the
stockade, where we were joined by three more. We formed
a circle with our hands on each other's shoulders, and I took
the most solemn obligation ever taken by man. I swore to
obey in every particular the orders of my superior officers,
to take life if necessary in order to escape, and to kill any
one who should betray us. Our organization was called the
Council of Ten, as it was governed by ten officers selected
by the captains of the companies. We were divided into
companies of thirty-two, each commanded by a captain, and
subdivided into squads of eight, commanded by a sergeant ;
the privates only knew the sergeants, the sergeant knew his
captain and the captain the Council of Ten. We had signs,
passwords, grips and signals, and a grand rallying cry. We
were ordered to provide ourselves with clubs if they could
be obtained, or in place of them have a stone located where
we could easily get it.
It was strange to me why this organization was required,
but I was informed that traitors were in the camp, that sev-
eral tunnels had been started, and when ready to open,
the rebels would come in, go directly to them, and driving
down a crowbar would find them the first trial. It was hard
to believe that any Union officer would betray his comrades,
and we concluded that the rebels must have some of their
120 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
men in with us, at any rate our leaders thought that a secret
organization was necessary for our protection.
A good part of the time was taken by the rebels in find-
ing out if any had escaped. Every day the commanding
officers with the guard would come in and drive us to one
side of the prison, then back in single file ])etween two
guards, counting us as we passed through. It was not often
that the first count was right, and we would be driven back
again. It usually took from one to three hours before they
were satisfied that "we all were thar."
The last of July it was rumored that six hundred were to
leave the prison to be exchanged. The "old fish" took little
stock in it. The order of the council was for all of our mem-
l)ers to go who could. The next day all was excitement.
The rel)el officer in charge came in, said that exchange had
been agreed upon and that all would soon go, but only six
hundred would go that day. They liegan to check out the
first five squads and Captain McHugh, Lieutenant Osborne
(who joined the council the night after I did) and myself
flanked out when other names were called. We believed
that "the last shall be first." As all who went out were not
members of our own order we were directed to tie a string
in our button-holes so that we could ])e recognized. "VVe
were marched to the station and placed in l)ox cars. Our
sergeant posted two men over each guard in the car, with
orders to seize and tie them when the signal was given.
This was to be a red light shown from the forward car. Our
leaders had maps of the country and had concluded to cap-
ture the train at Pocotaligo bridge, seven miles from the sea-
coast, take the muskets from the guard, put the guard in the
cars, set the train in motion, then make our way to the coast.
EXFERIENCES IN BE BEL FBI SONS. 121
signal our gun-boats, and be saved. Thus far everything had
worked well. The guards in our car had not a cartridge left
in their boxes, as we had taken them all out and had been
able to take some of the caps oif their muskets. We were
as determined a body of men as ever lived, and it would
have been liberty or death with most of us. Some in our car
had been over the road and knew where we were expected to
begin work. We waited for the signal, but it was not shown,
and we began to get uneasy as it was evident that we had passed
the point. Some jumped from the cars, but we were so near
Charleston they were recaptured and arrived in the city as
soon as we did. Some one had blundered or we were
betrayed. We never found out who was responsible, but
always thought we were betrayed by a regular army officer,
who was exchanged soon after we arrived in Charleston. I
do not think he entered the jail with us.
Disheartened, hungry and tired we arrived in Charleston.
We did not know why we had ])een sent there but in every
heart was a hope that it might be an exchange. They marched
us through the city down into the burned district. As we
halted on one of the streets a woman on the sidewalk said to
me, "I don't think they will put you way down under the
fire." This was the first intimation I had received of what
they intended to do with us, but it soon became known that
we were to be placed under the fire of our batteries on Mor-
ris Island. The noble qualities of the southern chivalry were
being shown to us every day, yet this was the most cowardly
act of all, — to place unarmed men under the fire of their own
We continued the march to the jail and were turned into
the yard. I was more wealthy than when we left Macon.
122 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
There were several naval officers in our squad and the rebels
had allowed them to retain their personal property. While
at Macon they had bought most of their food and saved their
meal. On the march to Charleston one was directly in front
of me. He had a heavy load to carry, and not being used to
marching had a hard time. Among his effects was a bag
containing about a peck of meal. He would change it from
one hand to another, and at last set it down, as he could
carry it no farther. I was in light marching order and as
soon as it touched the ground I picked it up and carried it
into our new prison. I also had a broken water pitcher that
the guard had allowed me to take out of the gutter, so I had
meal and a dish to mix it in.
We found the jail yard a filthy place. In the centre was
an old privy that had not been cleaned for a long time, and
near it was a garbage pile, where all the garbage of the jail
was deposited. A gallows occupied a place in the rear of
the yard. The wall surrounding the yard was twenty feet
high, so that no air could reach us and the hot sun came
down on our unprotected heads.
The only cooking utensils we had were those brought
fi'om Macon, and were not half enough to supply our wants.
The jail was filled with all classes of criminals, male and
female, and, with the exception of the women, all were
allowed in the yard during some portion of the day. There
were also several soldiers of the " Maryland line " who had
refused to do duty longer for the Confederacy, and several
negroes belonging to the 54th Massachusetts, captured at
the siege of Fort Wagner. The negroes were not held as
prisoners of war but rather as slaves. Their captors did not
know exactly what to do with them. They were brave fel-
EXPERIENCES IX REBEL PRISONS. 123-
lows, and at night we could hear them singing in their cells.
I remember a part of one song. It was a parody on " When
this cruel war is over," and ran as follows : —
" Weeping, sad and lonely,
O, how bad I feel,
Down in Charleston, South Carolina,
Praying for a good square meal "
We could hear our batteries on Morris Island, and often
shells would pass over us. The second night we were there
two rockets were sent up near the jail, and after that the
line of fire was changed. The rebels could not account for
the rockets and all concluded that they were discharged by
our spies, or Union men in the city.
Our home was under a window of the jail. Sometimes it
would rain all nio-ht and we would have to sit crouched
against the walls. Our rations were mostly rice, and we
had not half wood enough to cook it properly. Each day a
four-foot stick of wood was issued to twenty-five men ; we
would cut it up into twenty-five little piles, one man would
turn his back and another would call the names of the mess,
at the same time pointing to a pile of wood. If by a chance
he or one of his friends received a sliver more than another
some one would declare that there was an understanding
between the two.
We were visited by the rebel generals Johnson and
Thompson, who had returned from our lines, and after that
our rations were less than before. One day the rice was so
poor and so full of bugs that we refused to accept it and held
an indignation meeting. We drew up a petition to General
Jones, the rebel officer commanding the department, asking,
124 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REQIMENT.
if the rebels could not or would not issue rations enough to
keep us alive, that our government might l3e allowed to do so.
The next day they sent in the same rice, and as the petition
did not satisfy our hunger we ate it, bugs and all, to keep
from starving. Another day they issued nothing but lard.
What they thought we could do with that I never learned,
but I drew two spoonfuls on a chip and let it melt in the
We had no change of underclothing, no soap to wash
with and were covered with vermin. We hunted them three
times each day but could not get the best of them. They
are very prolific and great-grand-children would be born
in twenty-four hours after they struck us. We made the
acquaintance of a new kind here, — those that live in the
head. We had no comics, and before we knew it our heads
had more inha1)itants than a New York tenement-house.
After a hard scratch we obtained an old pair of shears and
cut each other's hair close to our heads.
We were growing weaker day by day ; were disposed to
lie down most of the time, but knew that would not do, so
resolved to walk as much as possible. We craved vege-
tables, and scurvy began to appear, sores breaking out on
our limbs. One day a naval ofiicer bought a watermelon.
As he devoured it I sat and watched him, the water running
out of my mouth ; when he had finished he threw the rind
on the garbage pile, and I was there. I ate it so snug that
there was not much left for the next.
Lieutenant Osborne and myself were the only officers of
the 19th in the jail yard ; the rest we left at Macon. One
day a detachment came into the workhouse, the next build-
ing to ours, and I received a note, which was thrown over
EXFEBIENCE8 IN REBEL PRISONS. 125
the wall, informing me tliat Captain Hume and Adjutant
Curtis were with them. Exchange stock was unsteady ;
several officers were exchanged by special order, some of
them through the assistance of friends south, others by the
influence of friends in Wasliington. Often the report would
come in that a general exchange had been arranged, and the
cry would go through the yard "Pack up, pack up, all
exchanged." While it was an old story, and some of our
comrades had heard it many times, the faintest hearts grew
stronger and visions of home would come, only to be swept
away by the fact that the morrow found them starving in
prison as before.
The life in the jail yard began to tell on us. At Macon
groups would get together, sing old army songs, and merry
laughter would be heard as some wit told his story, but now
we heard no songs ; the men walked about sullen and silent ;
it required little provocation to bring on a fight, as all were
nervous and irritable. Our quarters grew worse each day,
as nothing was done to change the sanitary condition of the
yard, and six hundred men, each doing his best, could not
keep it clean unless assisted from the outside.
About the middle of August we were told by the rebel
officer in charge that if we would give our parole not to
escape they would provide better quarters for us. At first
the feeling was general that we would not do it ; but after a
while they began to go out, those who had talked the loudest
being the first to go. Our little mess reasoned together;
we feared that we should die here, as we sufiered as much for
want of shelter as food ; we saw that the chances for escape
were very poor, and, as all the field officers had signed, con-
cluded we would. This parole was an agreement that they
126 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT .
should furnish us good quarters in the old United States
Marine Hospital and we should have the liberty of the house
and yard, in consideration of which we were not to escape.
We were the last squad to leave the yard and as we went
took an old " A " tent that the rebels had brought in a few
days before for some sick men. Although we had been in
prison but eight weeks we had learned the ropes and took
anything we could lift.
We found on arriving at the Marine that we had made a
mistake in not being first ; then we might have had a parlor,
now we must sleep on the upper balcony, but it was such a
nice place, dry and clean, that we would have been contented
to have slept on the roof. We arranged our captured tent
to sleep on and proposed to cut it up for clothing at some
future time. We slept soundly that night and were awak-
ened the next morning by a rebel officer and two guards,
who were searching for the tent. They took our names,
saying we had violated our parole and must go back to jail.
We did not spend a real happy day ; every hour we expected
the guard would come in and march us out, but night found
us unmolested and we never heard from it again.
From our balcony we could look out over a part of the
city. In our rear were only blackened ruins ; nearly every
house had been riddled with shot and shell and our own had
not escaped ; but in front the houses looked clean and each
was surrounded with flowering trees and shrubs. It must
have been a fine city before the ravages of war came. Our
rations were about the same as in the jail yard, but were
issued more regularly, and we had a better chance to cook.
When we entered the Marine Hospital I saw an old two-
gallon can and captured it. It had been used for spirits of
EXPEBIENCE8 IN REBEL PRISONS. 127
turpentine. I unsoldered the top, cleaned it by boiling
ashes, and made a bale out of an old piece of hoop. I now
had quite an outfit, — my kettle, pitcher, spoon and a rail-
road spike to split my wood. I was a bloated capitalist.
In a few days a change could be seen in the appearance of
the prisoners ; those who had ])een blue and careless of their
personal appearance began to brace up. We organized by
electing Captain Belger of the Ehode Island Artillery as
commander of the prison ; he appointed a good staif and
issued orders in regard to the cleanliness of the house and
yard. A daily detail was made for fatigue duty, and any
violation of the rules promptly reported. Glee clubs began
to be formed, and we had a fine quartet besides an orchestra
of four pieces. Lieutenant Rockwell was the owner of a
flute, and in some way two violins and a double bass were
procured, which proved of great assistance to all, as it helped
to keep us from thinking of our condition.
Lieut. Frank Osborne and I had passed a unanimous vote
that we would live through our confinement, and in order to
carry it out must take extra care of ourselves. In the yard
was a pump and every night we took a ])ath, one of us getting
under the nose while the other worked the handle.
The shelling of the city by our batteries was constant. At
night we could see the flash as the old " swamp angel " on
Morris Island was discharged, then by the light of the fuse
we could see the shells sailing through the air ; when over
the city they would explode and balls of fire would descend on
the houses. At times four or five houses would be in flames
at once, then our batteries would pass in the shells at the
rate of twenty an hour. We could hear the rebels rallyins^
their fire department, which was composed of negroes, and
128 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
the engines would go rushing past iho. prison. These events
were very pleasant to us and the more frequent the shells
came the louder we would cheer. At times they would
burst over us and pieces would fall in the yard. The guards
were nearly frightened to death, as they were "new issue"
and had never been under fire before ; we would have felt a
little easier if they had gone farther up town, but acted as
though we liked it.
While at the Marine I had a streak of good luck. "We
were American citizens and believed in the right of petitions.
One day those who had their money taken from them at Rich-
mond drew up a petition and forwarded it to the rebel com-
mander, setting forth the fact that the money had been taken,
and the promise that it should be returned, and praying him
to interest himself in our behalf. We expected that we
should never hear from it again, but in about a week fifteen
received their money and I was one of the number. The
rest they said would soon come, but it never did. I exchanged
twenty dollars, receiving seven and a half confederate for one.
My first purchase was a fine-tooth comb, — an article that
could be used to advantage, — which cost me ten dollars, a
quart of sweet potatoes for two dollars, and ten small onions
for fifty cents each. We tried hard to be prudent and not
forget that we had once been poor, but our wants were so
many that in three days the one hundred and fifty dollars
were all gone, and all we had to show was our comb and a
darning needle. But our health was improved ; we had eaten
some of the potatoes raw, and those with the onions had
helped our scurvy.
Prisoners were constantly coming into Charleston from
various places, and exchange stock was often high. One
EXPEBIENCES IN BEBEL FBI SONS. 129
day a squad of officers who had been in Savannah were
marched into the jail yard. From our quarters on the upper
balcony we could see them but were not allowed to talk. I
recognized Lieutenant McGinnis, also Capt. C. W. Hastings
of the 12th Massachusetts, Capt. G. W. Creasey of the 35th,
Lieutenants Cross, Moody and Shute of the 59th, besides
several others who had been comrades at Macon. They
remained a few days, then were sent to other prisons. I
wrote a note to McGinnis, tied it to a stone and threw it
over the wall. This was in violation of my parole, but I
could not help that.
One day about a thousand of our men came into the jail
yard from Anderson ville. It is impossible to describe their
condition ; they were nearly naked, their skins were as dark
as Indians and dried to their bones. Serof. Daniel Corrieian
of Company E was with them. It was a long time before I
could recognize him ; he had no shirt and I could see that
he was much emaciated, but he walked about, and I was sure
that if any one got a ration Corrigan would, as he was the
best forager in the regiment. I did not close my eyes to
sleep that night, the coughing of the men in the yard pre-
venting it. They remained but one day, then were taken to
the fair ground.
Negroes passed the prison nearly every day on the way to
Fort Sumter to restore the works which were being knocked
to pieces by our batteries and gun-boats. They were col-
lected from the plantations in the country and were a fright-
ened looking set. They knew that their chances for life were
small, and they sang mournful songs as they marched along.
The greatest trouble I had was cooking. I had no special
qualification for that work, and could not boil dish-water with-
130 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
out l)urning it on ; but according to our rule, I must cook for
our mess once in tliree days. My feet were bare, and the
rice or mush would boil over on them, and as I jumped ])ack
I was sure to land in some other fellow's fire. Frank was
one of the best friends a man ever had and would often take
my place, but McHugh was bound that I should learn the
October 1 the yellow fever broke out. Our guards were
the first taken down, the captain and some of his men dying ;
then it struck the officers in the prison, and it was not
thought safe to remain longer in Charleston, so Octo])er 5
we were ordered to pack up and informed that we were to
be removed to Columbia. Our squad did not go until the
6th, but they started us so early that we had no time to cook
our rice. As we left the prison I bought an apple dumpling
of an old colored woman, and am ashamed to say that in my
haste I forgot to return the spoon she loaned me to eat it
with. If she will send me her address I will send her a
dozen as good as the one she lost.
We were sorry to leave Charleston. While it was called
the "hot-bed of secession," we had received the best treat-
ment there of any place in the south. Our guards were
kind, and we were seldom taunted by the citizens. We
marched through the city, taking our baggage, and, as no
two were dressed alike, were a queer-looking procession.
There were many Germans in the city, and as we had sev-
eral officers in our party from that land, they were anxious
to do them favors. One had a bottle of whiskey and gave
it to one of his countrpnen when the guard was not looking.
Our comrade had on a rebel jacket, and as he indulged quite
freely in the whiskey soon got returns and was fairly full.
EXPEBIENCES IN BEBEL FBI SONS. 131
but the guard, thinking that he was a citizen, said, ''You get
out of the ranks," and he got. Assisted by his friends he
was soon passed through the lines, and we afterwards heard
from him with Sheridan in the Shenandoah valley.
Arriving at the depot, we were placed in box cars, and, as
usual on the southern railroads, the train ran off the track
in a half-hour after we started, which delayed us several
hours. The night was dark and rainy, and several escaped,
among them Lieutenant Parker of the 1st Vermont heavy
artillery. He was pursued by bloodhounds, and when we
arrived at Columbia was brought in so terribly torn and bit-
ten by them that he died before night.
132 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
COLUMBIA. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
We arrived at Columbia in a drenching rain, were taken
out of the cars, and remained in a field near the depot until
the next morning. We had no chance to make a fire, and
were wet, cold and hungry. Along the tracks were cars
filled with families who had fled from Charleston and Atlanta.
We saw several very beautiful ladies among them, dressed
well, and wearing jewelry, but they were silent and sullen.
We were guarded by the Columbia Cadets, a fine body of
young men from the military school. The command was
ffiven to fall in, and we were informed that we must march
about a mile to a camp ground, and should be made very
comfortable. On the way we passed the Confederate money
factory. As the girls employed there came to the windows
we called to them to throw us out a bushel or two, as they
could make plenty more. They laughed, threw kisses at us,
and for a moment we forgot that we were prisoners, and felt
that we were going out on a picnic. We marched about two
miles, and arrived at our camp ground. This consisted of
several acres, covered with a second growth of wood. A
guard line was made around it, and sentries were posted.
Twenty feet from the guard line was the dead line. This
time it was a furrow ploughed around the camp. Our cadet
guards were relieved by the militia, and we were turned in
like so many hogs.
These were the comfortable quarters promised. The wood
and water were outside the lines, and we had to wait our
turn to go out. No sinks were provided, and only twelve
men were allowed out at a time. It was terrible. Nearly
every man in prison suftered from diarrhoea. It was no
uncommon sight to see one hundred men standing in line ;
many were obliged to remain there nearly all the time.
We were in this condition for more than a week, then eight
axes and ten shovels were given the fifteen hundred prisoners,
and the guard line was extended an hour a day, to give us a
chance to cut wood and gather brush for shelter. Our little
mess located under a tree, and our rule was that one should
always be at home ; but for some cause one day all were
absent for a few moments, and when we returned could not
find where we lived, as our tree had been cut down.
We had heard much of the sunny south, and did not
expect cold weather, but the night of October 9 was so cold
that we could not sleep, and a white frost covered the ground
in the morning. Our rations were in keeping with the
place. A pint of corn-meal, bitter and half bran, a day,
and a pint of sorghum molasses for five days. We named
the prison Camp Sorghum. Many could not draw the
molasses, having nothing to put it in, but my old pitcher
worked in handy for that purpose.
As soon as possible we began to build huts. We increased
our mess to five, one having a blanket. We dug a hole in
the gTound two feet deep, covered it with poles set up on
ends, then with brush, and outside a coating of dirt. Tliis
was first rate when it did not rain, but as soon as the dirt
])ecame wet it would soak through the brush and drop on us
as we tried to sleep. At night four would lie down, then
134 NIKETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
the fifth would squeeze in, covering us with our only blanket.
When we wanted to turn over some one would say, " About."
The odd man would get up, all turn over, then he would jam
in again. So we lay, packed like sardines in a box, keeping
alive from the warmth we received from each other.
After a while sinks were dug, and the lines extended so
as to take in the brook that ran in the rear of the camp.
Nearly all the men were barefoot, and it was laughable to
see us wash. We stood in the water, which was very cold^
and danced while we washed our faces and hands.
Besides our other troubles Ave were in constant fear of
being shot by the guard. One evening, as we were gathered
in little groups around the fires, we heard a shot and saw
Lieutenant Young of the 4th Pennsylvania cavalry throw
up his hands and fall dead. Upon investigation we learned
that one of the guards had asked another if he supposed he
could hit a man at that distance. A doubt being expressed
he drew up his piece and fired, with the result as stated.
Another time an officer was waiting with his axe on his
shoulder to go out for wood. He was standing several feet
from the dead line when the guard fired, — killing him
instantly. We made every possible effort to have the rebel
officers take some action that would prevent our comrades-
from being murdered. The guard who did the shooting was
relieved one day, and the next appeared on duty on the front
line of the camp. As far as we could learn he was never
The presidential election was drawing near, and was the
subject for discussion in the prison. The rel)els were much
interested in it, and their papers were filled with compli-
mentary words for General McClellan, the Democratic nom-
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 135
inee. They were sure that his election would bring peace,
and that the south would gain its independence. They tried
to impress us with the idea that the election of McClellan
meant liberty for us, but as much as we desired release from
captivity, we had learned that what the rebels desired was
just what they ought not to have.
The election was held October 17. Why that day was
selected I do not remember, but it is possible because we
could not wait longer. We were to vote by States, the
senior officers of each having charge of the poll. It was an
exciting day. General McClellan had many warm friends,
who had followed him in l)attle and loved him as their first
commander, but it was evident by the debates that " honest
Abe Lincoln " was the favorite with the majority. The polls
opened at nine a.m. ; the ticket distributors were on hand as
at home. I think the polls closed at twelve m. Then all
rushed to the l)ulletin board, where the returns were posted,
to learn the result. Lincoln received one thousand twenty-
three, McClellan, one hundred forty-three, and two hundred
four did not take interest enough to vote. We Republicans
were delighted, and expressed our joy by giving three hearty
cheers. It told us that a large majority believed in the wise
administration of Abraham Lincoln, and although many of
them had been in prison sixteen months their faith had not
been shaken. The excitement did us all good. The vote
of Massachusetts was Lincoln, forty-three ; McClellan, five.
The only States that went for McClellan were Kentucky and
Tennessee. Kentucky gave McClellan fifteen, Lincoln, thir-
teen ; Tennessee, McClellan, thirty-one ; Lincoln, twenty-six.
We had another pleasant event. One day some boxes
came in, sent by our sanitary commission. They contained
136 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQ-IMENT.
drawers, shirts, handkerchiefs and a few dressing gowns.
There was enough for one article to each officer, and we
drew them by lots. McGinnis was lucky, as he drew a
dressing gown, and his clothing l)eing worn out he used it
for a full suit. He had l)een sick, and his hair had fallen
from his head ; he looked like the " priest all shaven and
shorn " as he walked about the prison. I was not so fortu-
nate, as I drew only a handkerchief.
The wardrobes of all required replenishing. I wore the
same shirt I had on when captured, and although it had not
been washed oftener than was necessary it was too thin for
comfort. My light blue pants were worn at the knees and
fringed at the bottoms, so I cut off the skirts of my dark
blue coat to repair them. My hat was open at the top and
the rim was nearly separated from the crown. I found an
old piece of tent and made a new crown, and with the thread
raveled out of the canvas sewed on the rim. My boots were
worn out, and my feet were bare.
No meat of any kind was issued to us at Columbia, but
we drew some one day quite unexpectedly. A wild boar
rushed out of the woods. It passed the guard and came into
camp. Every one was after it, and Captain Brown of a
Pennsylvania regiment threw liimself on the back of the hog
and with his knife cut its throat. Without waiting to dress
it, he began cutting off pieces and throwing them to the
crowd. The smell of fried pork soon pervaded the camp,
and in fifteen minutes after the boar passed the guard every
particle was devoured.
Once in a while an officer would trade for a little meat, and
while they did not entertain company frequently they some-
times gave banquets. Captains Hastings and Creasey and
PBESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 137
Lieutenants Cross, Moody and Chute messed together. One
day they obtained a shin bone with a little meat on it, and
were going to have a grand dinner. I was invited as their
special guest. They had some rice and made dumplings out
of their corn -meal ration. Captain Hastings was cook, but
we sat around to rake the fire and make suggestions. We
would taste of it as it boiled, and could hardl}^ wait for the
captain to pronounce it cooked. The kettle rested on two
sticks, and just as we were getting ready to take it from
the fire the ])ack stick burned in two and overwent the soup.
We looked at each other for five minutes without speaking,
then I arose, said I guessed I would not stop to dinner, and
went back to my quarters a hungry, broken-hearted man.
The officers were constantly escaping. Every night the
guard would fire, and while no one was wounded we knew
some one had passed out. The rebels called the roll or
counted us every day. This was done by driving all to the
dead line and counting from right to left. After the right
had been counted we would skip down through the camp
and fall in on the left. In that way we made our number
good, but so many were recaptured and l^rought l)ack that
they mistrusted what we were doing, and made us stand in
line until all were counted.
138 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
Frank and I had escape on the brain. We thought of
nothing else, and were constantly watching our chances.
One day I passed the guard and went out to the hospital,
but my feet were bare, and I was advised by a sick man
who had been out not to try it. I had kept my old boots,
although they were worn out, so Captain McHugh cut oft' the
tops, sewed them to the bottoms, making a kind of mocca-
sins, and I was ready for the road.
Our old mess of three were to go together. On the after-
noon of November 23 Frank and I were walking around the
camp. Directly in front of our hut we saw three prisoners,
with their guards, come to the guard line and throw over the
wood they had brought in. The sentinels on the beats had
been talking together, and, having finished, marched directly
from each other, leaving a space between them uncovered.
The prisoners with their guards started to return to the
woods. "Now is our chance, John," said Frank, and with-
out waiting for McHugh, with our hearts beating like trip
hammers, we passed over the dead line, and were outside
following the others before the sentries faced about. We
kept with the other prisoners until we reached the woods,
then pretending that we saw our party over a little hill
started to join them, and entering a place where the bushes
were thick, dropped and waited. There were several details
THE ESCAPE. 139
out for wood, and that was no doubt the reason why the
guard did not stop us when we went to join our imaginary
squad. They soon marched in and passed very near us, but
we were not noticed, and waited for darkness before we
We had a small map of the country and knew the route
we wanted to take, but how to strike it was the question, as
the night was dark and we did not have the stars to guide
us. We struck out at random and soon came to a road ;
this we followed until we arrived at a plantation. Frank
stood guard while I went forward to reconnoitre. I crept
up to the house and was looking around the corner when a
negro girl came out, and, in a way peculiar to the race, called,
" Joe ! Oh, Joe ! " I spoke to her ; she turned her head,
screamed, and started on the run, but I followed. For about
five minutes we had as pretty a " go as you please " race as
one could wish to see. She was soon reinforced by a man
with a club. I halted and he came to me. He said, " I know
you ; you are a Yankee, and have escaped from the camp."
I informed him that he was right, and that I wanted to be
directed to the main road. " All right," he said, " I will help
you, but the first thing you want is something to eat," and,
joining the girl, went into the house and brought out meat,
bread and a dish of butter-milk. Frank came up, and we
ate the first square meal we had seen for months. We then
formed in single file, the negro in the advance, and had gone
but a short distance when we heard voices, so we went into
the w^oods while he kept the road. It proved to be some of
our old guard. They asked the negro who went into the
woods. He answered, "Only some of the boys." They
called us to come out, but we did not come, so they came in
140 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
after us. We ran into the woods, but turned and came out
again into the road.
We had lost our guide before we had found our road, but
continued on until we came to a broad avenue, and taking
that walked as fast as possible for several hours, finally
coming to a steep bank at the end. We afterwards learned
that this was an abandoned railroad. We struck across the
country and near daylight came upon a plantation. The negro
quarters were some distance from the mansion, were about
twenty in number and located in a square. We flanked the
mansion and made our way cautiously to the negro quarters.
Seeing a light in one of the cabins we crawled up, and look-
ing through the cracks between the logs saw an old colored
woman cooking. We rapped on the door and called,
" Auntie ! " She started, asldng, " Who's thar ? " We answered
that we were Yankees escaped from the prison. She opened
the door, looked at us, then to the right and left, and said,
" Come in." Going back to the fire she gave a bundle of rags
that was lying before it a kick and out rolled a negro boy.
She ordered him to tell her brother that two Yankees were at
the house, and that he must come and take care of them. As
soon as the boy had gone she invited us to eat. A hot corn
dodger was on the hearth and she fried us a slice of bacon.
We were tired and hungry, and appreciated her kindness.
We must have walked thirty miles since leaving the prison,
but found we were only five miles away and in the wrong
Very soon the boy returned with the brother. He was
pleased to see us, shook hands and requested us to follow
liim. He took us to his house, which was outside the square
and better than the rest, but we remained at a safe distance
TEE ESCAPE. 141
until he went in and sent the children away, " because," said
he, " children got heap of mouths, and would tell that you
were here." We entered the house, and retired with our
clothes on, in the bed just vacated by the man and wife.
The plantation was owned by A. R. Taylor, and our good
friend was the driver. He was very intelligent, having
travelled all over the country with his master. He fully
understood the danger he was in, and that if we were found
in his house he would hang to the nearest tree, but he laughed
at it and said, "Negroes were cheap now, and one would not
be missed." We remained in bed all day, locked in our
room, the man and his wife going away to work. We had a
cold lunch, and before starting at night they made us a nice
We began our journey soon after sunset. The night was
clear, the moon shining brightly. Our friend went with us
to the Lexington turnpike, and giving us directions left us
with many good wishes for our success. We tramped along
without speaking, and made very good time. Our road lay
through the town of Lexington, and we intended to go
around it, but, like all other southern towns, it has no out-
skirts, and before we knew it we were in its centre. Lights
were burning in several houses, and we could hear talking,
but pushed on and were safely through. On the other side
we met a negro, who gave us valuable information. We
walked all night. The country was so open that when day-
light came we could find no place to hide, and as a last resort
went into a barn, and covering ourselves with hay, were soon
fast asleep ; but our slumbers were disturbed by an old man
who came in to feed the cattle, and for their fodder took our
covering. He had two dogs that jumped upon us.
142 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
It looked as though our march to freedom was ended, but
we drove away the dogs and Ijegan to talk with the old man.
One of the many resolutions we had made at the beginning
of our journey was that we would not ])e recaptured by any
one man. We had seen two persons brought back by one
man and did not think it appropriate. We had provided
ourselves with stout clubs, and it looked as though we should
have a chance to use them. Our friend said, " I can't hear a
word," and thinking that he meant he would hear no expla-
nation, we got in position to use our clubs.
Frank said, "I guess he is deaf." Then we asked him by
signs if he was; he answered, "Yes." We then told him
that we were conscripts going to join General Bragg's army
at Augusta, and had lost our way. Frank wore an old rebel
jacket, and it would have been hard to tell by our clothing
what we were. He appeared satisfied, however, and put us
on the road. We had gone but a short distance when we
heard the barking of dogs, and knowing if the bloodhounds
were on our track it was good-by liberty, we entered a brook
and travelled up stream several miles to throw them off the
scent, then came out and lay in the woods until night.
When it came time to resume our journey we could not
move, as we were exhausted with our long tramp of the night
before. We had eaten nothing since we left our colored
friend at Taylor's plantation. We crawled out of the woods,
and seeing a house, dragged ourselves to it. After waiting
a while a negro came out, and we attracted his attention.
He saw our helpless condition, and taking us to an old shed,
made a bed on some husks and brought a quilt fi'om his house
to cover us. He then went for our supper, l)ut returned in
haste with a piece of corn-])read and the information that
THE ESCAPE. 143
we must leave at once, as the rebel patrol was at the house
looking for us, having learned from the old man that we were
in the woods. Tired and sore, we returned to the woods
and remained until morning.
Our plan was not to travel by day, but hunger drove us.
We moved along cautiously, and suddenly came upon the
cabins of "white trash." Dogs of all shapes and sizes wel-
comed us, and a white woman came out with several children
clinging to her dress. It was hard to tell which was the most
afraid, the woman or we poor wanderers. We asked her if
she could direct us to Boatride's plantation, one of the places
Ben, the colored man whom we had met near Lexington, had
mentioned. She "reckoned not," but we reckoned that we
could find it and moved along.
This danger proved to us that it was not safe to be seen
by dajdight, and we returned to the shelter of the woods.
While there a negro boy came along a path, and when oppo-
site to us we spoke to him. At first he was frightened, but
as we stood up he came to us and said, "You are Yankees."
We asked him how he knew. He said, " I can tell hj the
blue pants ; " some rebel soldiers had told him that Yankees
wore blue clothes. We soon became well acquainted, and he
promised to bring us food. He kept his word, and said
at night he would come and take us to his mother's house.
Just after dark he came with another Ijoy, and we were
soon made welcome at his home. They were expecting
us, and the table was set. Roast pork, sweet potatoes, hot
biscuits, butter and plenty of new milk were on the bill of
fare. What a feast I To sit in a chair at a table, and eat
with a knife and fork like a human being ; we could hardly
believe it was real.
144 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
The family consisted of the mother, two daughters and this
boy, besides a baby. The daughters were delighted with us
and the mother named the baby for me, so (if he is alive)
there is to-day in South Carolina a young man thirty-five
years old bearing the name of John Gregory Bishop Adams,
besides several others belonging to the boy's family. They
also said we were the handsomest men they ever saw. Well,
we must have been. I had on the clothes described in a
previous chapter, was twenty-three years old, and, having
never shaved, my face was covered with white hairs an inch
long. Frank looked better, but did not wear his party
clothes on this occasion. The old lady said master told
them not to go out after dark because the Yankees would
catch them, but wondered what he would say to see them
now. They were owned by a Dr. Vose, and I should judge
he was a kind master. We were not anxious to leave our
good friends, but felt that we must be on our way, so we
bade them good-by, and, guided by the boy, began our
night's march. He went with us about two miles and gave
us in charge of a man who travelled with us until nearly
morning, then hid us in a barn on the plantation of a Mr.
The next day was Sunday, and we were on exhibition from
morning until night. We were stowed away in the loft,
and our first visitor was a man with our breakfast. After
that a constant line of white eyes could be seen in the dark-
ness as the procession filed past. The usual salutation was,
" Hello, boss ! how has you been ? " Then followed all sorts
of questions. One asked if we toted ambitions (meaning
arms) . We told him that we had some ambitions left. He
said that was good, because we might have to use it. They
THE ESCAPE. 145
asked if we belonged to Mr. Grant's or Mr. Sherman's com-
pany ; but while they were ignorant of many things, they
were all loyal and ready to do anything for us.
We left the barn at night and ate supper in the field. A
negro guided us several miles, then gave us in charge of two
others, who promised to remain with us until morning.
With the negroes as guides we seldom travelled in the road,
for they knew all the short cuts. Our new acquaintances
were not very sharp, as they had had a hard master, but
they rejoiced that the Yankees had killed him. The face of
one looked like a skimmer, for his master had fired a charo;e
of shot into it. They were very superstitious. Coming to
a fence, Frank and I were getting over in diflerent places,
when they pulled us down, and said all must get over in one
place, because there was luck in it. Here we saw a man
crossing a field with a lantern. Calling their attention to it
they said it was not a man, but a Jack-o-lantern going to the
graveyard. When we arrived at the main road our guides
left us, as they had never been so far from home before. We
were glad to part with them, yet they did the best they could.
Following the Pike road until daybreak, we came to a
plantation that answered the description Ben had given us of
Boatride's. He said that his brother Dick lived there and
would help us. We made our way to a cabin, called up a
colored man, and asked him if his name was Dick. He didn't
know, didn't know Ben, didn't know anything that he pro-
posed to tell, but at last light broke through the clouds. We
found he knew enough, only feared to trust us. He said that
colored people had to be very careful, as all kinds of ways
were used to trap them. He hid us in the barn. The col-
ored women came in, and although they did not speak to us,
146 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
left food in abundance where we could get it. The old mas-
ter came in twice, but not having been introduced we held
At night Dick came for us and took us to his house. He
had invited his friends, and the house was full. They sang to
us, and, besides giving us a nice supper, they packed a hav-
ersack with bread and meat for us to take. Beino; on the
main road, we thought it best not to take a guide, but found
travelling quite difficult, as the road was lined with refugees
fleeing from Augusta, and we often had to flank them, which
made our progress slow.
Morning found us about fifteen miles from Augusta. We
hunted up a negro, and using Dick's name for reference, he
put us into the second story of a barn. We climl)ed up on
a plank which he removed so no one could get at us, neither
could we get out. Through the cracks of the barn we could
see men, single and in companies, going to join General
Bragg's army at Augusta. The negro said that Sherman was
expected there, and our plan was to get as near as possible, .
wait until the city was taken, then enter. One night more
and we would be within a few miles of our destination.
When it became dark our man put up the plank and we
came down. We made about ten miles that night. The set-
tlements were growing thicker and the roads and woods were
full of refugees. We halted at a cabin where they were hav-
ing a first-class minstrel show. The negroes were seated in
a circle around the fireplace and the old banjo was a-ringing.
We walked into the room. The music ceased, and they
thought the d — 1 had come. We explained our position
and asked them to care for us. While they were anxious to
do so, they could not make up their minds where would be a
THE ESCAPE. 147
safe place. It was suggested that they hide us in the cabin.
This had two rooms, but the master had locked the door of
one and taken the key. The partitions did not run to the
roof. One of the boys climbed up and pulled up a board so
that we could drop down into the other room. Making a lad-
der out of stools and negroes, we ascended, then dropped.
We found a bed in the room, and a hole in the bottom of the
door, made for cats to pass in and out ; this was used as a
dinner hole, the negroes passing rations through it. We
awoke in the morning much refreshed, but when I looked at
Frank I was startled. He was as black as a negro, and he
broke out laughing when he saw me. In reaching our room
we had passed through several years' collection of soo't and
had taken some with us, and, not having a key to the bath-
room, were forced to keep darh all day.
The negro came at night and unlocked the door, having
obtained the key through the house servant. They said,
"We are going to take you to see a white man." We
answered, "Oh, no ! we take no stock in white men." But
they replied, "He is one of you'ns. We talked with him
to-day, asked him if he w^ould like to see a Yankee, and he
said he reckoned he would. Then we told him we had two
hid, and he asked us to bring you to his house." We had
the most perfect confidence in the negroes, and followed them
to a house where we found a true Union man. His name was
L. H. Packard, from Kent's Hill, Maine. He prepared sup-
per and made us feel at home. Mr. Packard had lived in
the south eight years, had been married, but his wife was
dead, leaving two little girls, one five, the other seven years
of age. His life had not been a happy one since the war, as
he was resolved not to enter the rebel army. He had worked
148 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
in a flour-mill and in several other industries, and was now
making shoes for the rebels. He gave me the address of his
sister in Maine, and I promised to write to her if I lived to
He could give us no information in regard to Sherman's
army. Like ourselves, he had expected they would come to
Augusta, but they had not, and he feared they had gone
toward the sea. We remained with him several hours, and
made his heart glad by the news we brought from God's
country. When we parted he gave us forty dollars in con-
federate money, and I gave him a little badge of the 2d corps.
He took us to the trundle-bed where his little girls were sleep-
ing. They awoke and kissed us good-by. The name of the
sister in Maine was Mrs. H. H. Bulen. As soon as I reached
home I wrote to her, sending my photograph.
In the month of October, 1889, two ladies called on me at
the State House ; one was Mrs. Bulen, the other her brother's
child, the younger of the two whom I saw twenty-five years
before in a trundle-bed in South Carolina. My good friend
Packard died a few years ago in this State, having returned
north soon after the war. His daughter remembered seeing
us that night, and also remembered the corps badge which
her sister, who resides in Philadelphia, had.
Our friend Packard sent one of the negroes with us as
guide, armed with an old-fashioned horse pistol. He was
apparently very brave, would march in advance of us, and
say, " I'd like to see anybody take you'ns now ; " but hearing
the least noise, would forget that he was our protector and
fall back in our rear. He was the only armed guide we had
on our journey, and our experience with him was such that
we did not care for more.
THE ESCAPE. 149
We were in doubt what to do, as Sherman, not coming to
Augusta, had forced us to change our plans, but conckided
we had better cross the Savannah River and try to strike
him in Georgia. Our guide turned us over to another, who
advised us to remain with him until the next night, which
After supper, in company with the negro, we started for
the river. He knew all the short cuts through the swamps,
also the location of creeks, and coming to one he would
cross on a log, but we, not knowing in the darkness where
to step next, would walk in. Then he would turn around
and say "Creek thar, boss," a fact we had already learned.
In the distance we heard a strange noise, which grew louder
as we walked along. We asked what it was, and were
informed that it was the shouters ; that they were having a
shouting meeting on the plantation where we were going.
Arriving at the plantation, we found it a singular village.
The houses were set on posts some eight feet from the
ground, as the river overflows in some seasons of the year.
No white people were there, as it was owned by the man
who owned and lived at the place where we found Mr.
Packard, and this swamp plantation was in charge of the
driver named Isaac. Our friend called him out, told him
who we were, and what we wanted ; he said, " Come right
in," and turning to the meeting, of which he was in charge,
said, "Meeting dismissed without prayer." All gathered
around us. We sat up until morning, talking of the north
and of freedom, — subjects they were anxious to hear about,
— and they asked many intelligent questions.
The past few days my feet had been bare, — my old boots
not being able to stand the rough service required of them.
150 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT. '
An old colored woman kept her eyes on my feet, and Ijegan
to untie her shoes ; taking them oft', she came to me and
said, "Honey, take these shoes." "Oh, no," I replied,
" you will not get another pair, and a cold winter is coming."
"No matter if I don't," she said, "ain't you suff*ering all this
for me, and hadn't I ought to go without shoes if they will
help you get home ? " and she forced me to take them. They
were rudely made, the uppers being untanned and sewed
with rawhide, while the bottoms were pegged on with home-
made pegs, but they did me good service, and I wore them
inside the Union lines three months later. Another gave me
a pair of socks, and, washing my bleeding feet, I was once
We could find no trace of Sherman's army, and remained
with Isaac two days. We slept in the barn, and were well
supplied with food ; we also had plenty of peanuts, as they
grew on this plantation, and were called "ground peas." At
night the negroes held another meeting, and at their request I
read the Bible to them. My scripture lesson was the third
chapter of John. They asked me to pray, but I excused
myself. I never attended a meeting where all were so ear-
nest. The singing was grand. They sang one song where
all shake hands, and the words were, "My brother, ain't you
mighty glad you're going to leave this sinful army," etc. They
kept time with their feet and hands, closed their eyes, and
swayed from side to side as they sang.
The next day we decided that it was ]:»est to cross the
river. The rebels had cut holes in all the boats, and sunk
them ; but the negroes were sharp, and had taken them up,
repaired them and sunk them again, so all they had to do was
turn the water out and they were as good as new.
THE ESCAPE. 151
"VYe enibarked just as night was closing in, a negro taking
the paddle. The entire inhabitants followed us to the shore
and knelt in prayer for our success ; no cheers were given,
]:)ut with hats, aprons and bandannas, they waved their fare-
wells. They remained until they saw us safely landed on the
Georgia shore, and we felt that we had parted with dear
friends. Our boatman secreted his boat and guided us to the
We travelled without interruption for al)out two hours.
The moon was very bright, and all was quiet save the sound
of our own footsteps. We had just crossed a bridge when
we heard horsemen approaching, so dropped by the roadside,
under the shadow of a tree. We did not dare breathe as the
five rebel cavalrymen rode past. Eenewing our journey, we
soon saw a fire by the roadside, and creeping up to it saw a
rebel picket on duty, his three comrades sleeping by the fire.
Thinking it dangerous to go on, we turned up a lane and
found a negro, who secreted us. From him we learned that
the roads were all picketed, and that the mounted patrols
were constantly riding up and down. Danger was on every
hand, but we still had faith. We remained with the neg-ro
through the day, and at night started again ; we could not
travel in the road, as the pickets were very thick, but made
our way slowly through the w^oods. Arriving at a planta-
tion, we found the negroes much excited. One of the girls
started for the mansion, saying she was going to tell master.
We caught her and told her she must take care of us, but she
would not talk, and turned back to the house, where all the
colored people were gathered. We followed and walked in.
I was the spokesman and told our story. They asked if we
came through the yard. We said we did ; they could not
152 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
see how we got through, as ten rebel cavahymen were sleep-
ing on the piazza. l\^ile we were talking a white woman
appeared. She was quite good-looking, had long, curly hair,
and her dress was clean and becoming. She said, "I will
take care of you ; " we thanked her, but said we didn't care
to trust a white woman. This pleased the negroes, as she
was a slave and a field-hand besides.
The story she told us the next day was a sad one. The
overseer of the plantation was a brute, but had charge of all
the slaves. She was employed in the house and he desired
to make her his mistress, but she repelled his advances and
was severely whipped ; again he urged her, with no better
results. He then drove her to the swamps to work, and she
was employed carrying heavy logs on her shoulders. This
was one of the damnable features of slavery. Her brother,
named Pat, was the driver. (I have several times used the
word driver^ and some may not understand its meaning. The
driver is an intelligent, faithful slave, selected by the over-
seer as foreman. He turns out the slaves in the morning by
blowing a horn, gives them their tasks, and has charge of
them in the field.) She took us to his house, which was
better than the rest, and we slept in the room with Pat and
We were awakened in the morning by the firing of cannon,
and the negroes came rushing in with the news that Sherman
was coming. The firing grew nearer and nearer, musketry
could be plainly heard, and through the cracks in the logs of
the house we could see smoke where barns were burning.
The negroes grew more and more excited and reported often.
" They are coming, boss, they are coming. Massa Sherman's
company will soon be here ! They done burn old Sam Jones's
THE ESCAPE. 153
barn, and they are fighting down l)y the creek ; fo' night you
will be with them."
Our hearts beat hard and fast. Wheeler's rebel cavalry
were forming, and after advancing, fell back. We were sure
that night would find us safe under the old flag. We con-
gratulated ourselves on our good judgment, talked of the
foolishness of those who had tried to escape through the
mountains, when our plan was so much easier, and concluded
that of all the men who had escaped we were a little the
Night came on. The negroes said they would not cross
the creek until after dark, and we waited. All night these
faithful negroes kept watch for us, and in the morning, with
long, sad faces, reported that "Massa Sherman had done
gone down the river." We could not follow by day, but
started quite early in the evening. We had gone but a short
distance when we struck a company of cavalry camped on
the roadside. We entered the swamp to flank them, but it
was so dark that we lost our way, and after travelling all
night, tearing our clothes and scratching our faces and hands,
we came out where we entered, and again passed the day at
Pat's house. We were rather discouraged, and the colored
people felt about as badly as we did, yet did all they could
to cheer us up. Our friend, the white slave, made us gin-
gerbread and biscuit to take with us, and said many com-
With a firm resolution to get through the lines we began
our journey. It was a dark, rainy night, and we had to
guess our route. We came to a place where the road
forked. Frank was sure he knew the road we ought to take,
and I was just as confident that he was wrong. We scolded
154 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
each other for an hour, not daring to speak above a whisper.
These cat-fights occurred nearly every night, and we made
up in the daytime. One not in our place might think it
strange that we should lose our temper, but we were strained
up to the highest point, and were nervous and irritable. It
was the same with nearly all who escajoed. I have known
two men who were fast friends who were never the same
after they were recaptured. Not so with Frank and I. He
was such a dear, good fellow that he gave in to me nearly
Finding we were on the wrong road we struck across the
country and came upon a nice cabin near a large house.
"We were listening under the window, and could hear the
hum of a spinning-wheel. As we stood there a woman
opened the shutter and, as the day was just breaking, she
saw us. We entered the house and found a yellow man in
bed. He said, "Go away from here." We told him who
we were, but he would do nothing for us. We had our
clubs, were in good fighting condition and holding them
over him made him swear that he would not tell he had seen
us. The woman was friendly and gave us directions how to
reach the creek, but we dare not take the road, fearing the
yellow fellow would forget his promise. This was the first
instance where a man with a drop of negro blood in his
veins had refused to help us. We turned into the woods,
but they were so thin that we were forced to cut down small
pine trees and stick them in the ground where we lay down.
It was so cold we could not sleep, and as we dare not travel
through this open country, we kept alive by rolling over and
over on the oround. Besides beino; cold we suflered for
food, as we had eaten nothing since the previous day. We
THE ESCAPE. 155
could endure it no longer, and late in the afternoon resumed
our tramp. Calling at a cabin, a negro baked the last morsel
of meal he had in the house for us, and after we had eaten it,
directed us to the creek. Here we found a new trouble.
Kilpatrick's cavalry had burned the bridge, and we had " one
wide river to cross."
We made a raft out of pieces of plank, and went over all
right. Frank was on the forward end of the raft ; as we
reached the opposite bank he caught a grape-vine and swung
himself on shore. He left the raft and so did I, the only
difference being that he was safe on land while I went into
the water and came up under the raft. He fished me out,
and with my clothes nearly frozen on me we continued our
journey. Arriving at an old mill we called up the miUer.
He let us in, but was afraid to keep us, as the rebel pickets
were very near, and liable to come there at any time, so we
must keep in the woods. I was too wet to lie down, so we
ran along in the edge of the woods. We saw places where
Sherman's army had camped only the day before, and the
fires were still smokino;.
As we were running along we saw a negro coming towards
us on horseback. Driven by hunger, we hailed him and
asked for food. He said he was going to mill, but would
return in aljout an hour and would take us to a place where
he could feed us.
We waited until he returned, when he told us to keep him
in sight and follow along in the woods ; we had gone only a
short distance when he ])egan to whoop and put his horse into
a gallop. What was up we could not make out until, look-
ing towards a shanty, we saw a rebel soldier walking towards
us on crutches. He came near and said, "Come out, boys.
156 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
and have a talk." We looked at each other, then at the
Johnnie Reb. There were two of us with two clubs, and, so
far as we could see, only one rebel, and he a cripple ; so we
came out. The negro came riding back, and we asked Mm
what it meant. He looked frightened, but said, " I know this
man ; his father raised me. He fought, but he never wanted
to fought." The rebel said it was not safe to stay there, but
designated a place where he could meet us ; he mounted the
horse behind the negro, and we went through the woods.
Arriving at the place designated, we saw our Johnnie
jumping and coming all sorts of gymnastic performances.
We demanded an explanation ; he said, " I am as sound a
man as there is in the Confederacy. I was slightly wounded
at Atlanta, and was sent to guard your boys at Anderson-
ville. I saw them starved to death and swore that if ever
I could help one get away I would. Now is my chance,
and I'll be dog-goned if I don't do it." He was a typical
rebel in every respect, a regular Georgia cracker ; hair long,
high cheek bones, tall and slim, but he talked well and
appeared earnest. After the negro had turned out the horse
he came to us and he and the rebel talked over the situation.
The trouble was what to do with us now we were with them.
Johnnie suggested taking us home ; the negro said it would
not do, as his wife's sister would betray us ; but Enos (his
name was Enos Sapp) said the Yankees had her husband a
prisoner and he reckoned she would be mighty glad if some
one would help him. They talked over all the chances of
the rebels finding us. We listened with much interest.
At last Enos said, " Gentlemen, I am going to take you to
my house ; it may make a row, but I am boss of my own
ranch." Being in his hands, we could do nothing but go
THE ESCAPE. I57
with liirn. The house was only a short distance off. Enos
walked on his crutches. He said if the war lasted thirtj^
years he should use them until the end. When we arrived
we found two log houses ; in one were two women and five
children ; the other was the servants' quarters. Poor as our
friend was he owned slaves ; one, the man we had seen in
the woods; the other, the man's mother, a poor broken-
down old woman. He introduced us to the women as two
friends of his. They sat in the corner of the fire-place smok-
ing corn-cob pipes, and said very little to us, not because
they were displeased \mi because it would require an effort
to talk. We made ourselves at home. One of the women
asked me if I would have a smoke. As I had little chance
to indulge in my favorite hal)it I gladly accepted her offer.
She took the pipe out of her mouth and handed it to me.
That broke the ice ; we talked upon various subjects, mostly
of war. Enos's \diQ said the Yanks used them better than
their own men, as the rebels took her best horse and the
Yanks left the old one. They didn't seem to know or care
what army we belonged to. Supper was announced and we
went outside to the other house. I suppose this was the
dining hall. The table was set, but there was not a whole
plate on it or two pieces alike. The old colored woman
waited on the table, poured the tea and passed the food.
Our host was a religious man and asked a blessing at the
table, but he had a hard time carving the pork and remarked
that it was tough as h— . After the vesper meal we returned
to the mansion. The pipes were the first thing, and as they
all wanted to smoke, they fixed up a new one for me. Enos
then told them who we were, and we saw indications of fear
on their faces. The sister, whose husband was in a Yankee
158 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
prison, asked if we knew Sam. We could not recall him,
but without doubt had met him, and assured her that wher-
ever Sam was, if in a Union prison he had enough to eat, a
good bed and all the comforts of life, more than he would
have at home. They questioned us about our Yankee
women. They said they had heard that they wore good
clothes and had jewelry ; we told them they had been rightly
informed, and they said, "Why, you all have no slaves ; where
do they get them ? " Our answer was that our women
worked. We told them of the mills in Lowell and Law-
rence, of the shoe shops in Lynn, and other places where
women were employed. "Well," they said, "we would like
nice dresses and jewelry, but we could not work ; no woman
could be a lady and work." So those poor deluded creatures
were happy in thinking they were ladies, while they wore
dirty homespun dresses, ate hog and corn-bread, and smoked
pipes in the chimney corner.
When it came Ijedtime Frank and I were puzzled what
to do. The rain came down in torrents and we had been so
wet and cold, besides being very tired, we thought it best
to remain over night, but there were only two beds in
the room and eight people for them ; where did we come
in? One of the women got up and from under one of
the beds brought out an old quilt and a blanket ; she said
we could make a " shake-down " before the fire. We were
glad of that, for we had had no chance to skirmish since
we started, and there 7vere too many of us for a bed. The
women went behind a curtain that was let down in front
of the beds, undressed the children, tucked two in one
bed and three in the other ; the man and ^vdfe slept with
two, the sister with three.
THE ESCAPE. 159
Both of us could not sleep at once, so we divided the watch ;
neither slept much. After they thought we were asleep the
wife said to Enos, "I don't like this ; I feels sort of jubus.
If my uncle knew these men were here they would hang you
before morning." "Don't care a d — n," said Enos ; "I said
that I would help them and I shall do it ; what did they all
do for you when I was fighting? Not a thing; I tell you
this is a rich man's war and a poor man's fight. I have got
my eyes open." After that we felt safe and went to sleep.
We turned out the next morning feeling much refreshed,
but the rain continued to fall and we could not travel,
although every hour was precious to us.
Frank made the women happy. They had some old shoes
that were ripped, and being a good cobbler, he repaired
them. We said if we had some stock we would make them
new ones, and they wanted us to wait until they got the
stock. It rained hard when night came, but we must l)e on
the road, and the negro was sent with us. We clasped the
hand of Enos, gave him our address, and told him if we could
ever be of service to him not to fail to call. I have never
heard from him since, but remember him kindly as one of
the few rebels who gave me a kind word and treated me like
a human being.
We travelled all night. Everything indicated that the
army had just passed over the ground, — fences were gone,
barns had been burned, there was no crowing of the cock in
the morning and the grunting hog was a thing of the past.
At daylight, wet to the skin, we halted at a negro cabin. He
welcomed us, but, like everything else, had been "cleaned
out." He was old and the only one left on the plantation,
all the rest having gone with "Massa Sherman." Our army
160 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
had passed the day before, and he was delighted with them ;
said they had bands just like the circuses and guns that they
loaded in the morning and fired all day.
After drying our clothes l^efore the fire and cooking an
ash-cake he took us to a Imrn across the road and covered us
with husks. Sherman was but ten miles away, and we felt
confident that this was our last day in the rebel lines. We
planned to leave the road and travel through the fields. If
the pickets halted us, we were to run and let them fire. We
believed that they could not hit us in the darkness, and that
the firing would alarm our pickets, who would protect us.
THE CAPTUBE AND BETURN TO COLUMBIA. 161
THE CAPTURE AND RETURN TO COLUMBIA.
About four in the afternoon we sat up in the husks, ate
the last of the cornbread the negro had given us, then cov-
ered ourselves over to wait for darkness. While we were
hidden from view we did not entirely cover our haversack.
In a short time we heard voices, and a man said, " There is a
haversack : I am going to get it." As he walked over the
husks he stepped on me, but I did not squeal. As he picked
up the haversack, he saw Frank's arm and cried, " The barn
is full of d — d Yankees." We heard the click as they
cocked their pieces, and thinking it about time to stop further
proceedings, we lifted up our heads. "Throw down your
arms," was the next order. We explained that we had per-
formed that sad duty several months before.
After much talk they let us come out. Our captors were
Texas rangers, the hardest looking set of men I ever met ;
dressed more like cowboys than soldiers, armed with sabres,
two revolvers each, carbines, besides a lariat hung to the
saddle. There were but three of them, and we resolved to
make an appeal for one more chance. In the most earnest
manner possible we told the story of our long service in the
field, our starvation in prison, our long tramp for liberty
and our near approach to our lines, and begged them to let
us go. I think we made an impression on them, but after
162 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
conferring they said, " You are loyal to your side and we
must be to ours, but we will use you well while we have you
The rest of the company came up while we were talking.
They had thirty-six prisoners, captured from Sherman's
army. These were known as "Sherman's bummers." My
experience with the Army of the Potomac had been such
that I looked with little fiivor on the bummers. Had they
been with their comrades they would not have been capt-
ured, but they were, like a large part of that army, scattered
over the country, not foraging for the army but for them-
selves, and the loyal negro was "cleaned out" the same as
the "reb." It was demoralizing, and had the re]jels been in
force on this flank or rear, disasters instead of success would
have overtaken that grand army before it reached the sea.
With the bummers we were turned into the corn and slept
in the husks that night.
Bright and early the next morning we were turned out
and were soon on our way back to Augusta. The old negro
came to see us oif ; as his eyes fell on Frank and me a look
of sadness came over his face. Our guards were well
mounted and they made us "hiper." We marched several
miles without a halt, when we came to a brook, where all
were given a chance to quench our thirst. As we had no
cups we lay down and drank. One l)y one the l)oys got up
and started on, I alone remaining. I was sure that the
guards were gone and was ready to run for the woods,
when, looking over my shoulder, I saw one with his revol-
ver pointed at my head. "Thought you had got away,
didn't you?" "Oh, no!" I replied. "I was very thirsty
and it took me a long time to drink." "Well, I am looking
THE CAPTUBE AND BETUBN TO COLUMBIA. 163
after you," and he made me "double quick" until I caught
up with the rest.
We halted at night in a grove near a large mansion. We
were hungry and footsore, having eaten nothing that day, and
having marched thirty miles. The lieutenant commanding
tlie guard went to the house and demanded supper for sev-
enty men. The old man said he had nothing, that Sher-
man's army had stripped liim of all he had. " Never mind
the story," said tlie guard, "bring out the grub." After
declaring over and over again that he had nothing, the officer
said, "we will see," and sent a sergeant and some men into
tlie house. The old man changed his tune a little, said he
would try to find something, and after a short time brought
out a bag of meal, some sweet potatoes and a side of bacon.
All shared alike, the prisoners receiving the same as the
guard. The night was as cold as any December night in the
north, and the guard drew on the old man for a good supply
of wood. Unlike our army, they did not go after it but
ordered it brought to them. They built several large fires,
and then posted guards for the night.
We were in a small space and there were only seven men
on posts. I believed there was a chance to make a break if
we could only make the men understand it. Frank and I
formed our plans and began to work them. I had lain down
by the side of two prisoners and got them interested, then
stood up, warmed myself, and was sauntering over to the
third, when one of the guards cocked his piece, and said,
" Yank, you get up on that stump ; I don't like to see you
moving about so much." I tried to explain that I was so
cold that I could not sleep and must move to keep warm, but
he replied, "I think I shall feel better to see you on that
164 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
stump." So I took the stump and held it until daylight.
Another draft was made upon the old man for breakfast, and
we continued the march.
The citizens along the route were very bitter, and at times
the guards had hard work to protect us. Women came out
with revolvers, looking for the Yanks who had broken open
their trunks. Although our guards were very kind to us
they did not take so kindly to Sherman's men. While in a
ravine they halted us, and proposed to strip us. Frank and
I protested. They said, " These men have robbed our people
and ought to be punished." We told them they would get
enough when they arrived at the prison, and that it was too
cheap business for gentlemen, as they had proved themselves
to be. This aroused their pride, and they let the boys
At Waynesboro the citizens were determined to kill us.
One old man struck a boy over the head with a hickory cane,
breaking the cane in two. It looked as though we should
have a hard time, but the guards stood by us, and declared
they would shoot the next one who struck us. The women
were worse than the men, and could hardly keep from
scratching our eyes out. All were going to die in the last
ditch, live in the mountains, walk to Europe, or do any tiling
except live in the same country with Yankees. We were
called every name that was bad. One woman said the
Yankees were so mean that when they went through the
town they stole a woman's false teeth. It was suggested that
if she had kept her mouth shut they would not have known
she had false teeth. The guards laughed, and the woman
jumped up and down, mad way through. She was about as
angry with the guards as with us.
THE CAPTURE AND RETURN TO COLUMBIA. 165
We took cars here for Augusta ; the Texans said Georgi-
ans were mighty mean people, and they reckoned we had
better 2:et to Augusta Ijefore we had trouble. We arrived
at Augusta late in the afternoon. The people expected us
and were in line on each side of the street to welcome us.
Old men called us " Yankee-doodles ; " boys called us " Blue
bellies;" the women yelled all sorts of vile words. We
marched up the main street into an old stock yard ; an officer,
dressed in the uniform of a captain of our army, stood at the
gate, and the first words we heard were, "Halt, d — n you,
halt ! Would you go to h — 11 in a moment ? " Our Texas
guards left us here ; they shook hands with Frank and me,
wished us good luck, but reckoned we would have a right
hard time with tliis fellow. The " imp of darkness " who
commanded the place was a Tennesseean, named Moore.
He was surrounded by a gang of cut-throats, mostly desert-
ers from our army, who, having jumped all the Ijounties pos-
sible, had joined his gang ; nearly all were dressed in uniforms
We were turned into a mule pen, and while resting there
a boy about seventeen years old, dressed in rebel gray, came
to me and said, " They are going to search you ; if you have
anything you want to save, give it to me." "But you are a
rebel," I said, "and I can't trust you." He answered that he
was not, only galvanized (had taken the oath) ; that he had
been a prisoner at Andersonville and had not courage to hold
out, so he had gone over to the other side, but assured me
that if I would trust him he would be time. While I hated
the sight of him for his treason, he was better than the rest.
All I had was my diary ; it was very imperfect and of no real
value ; but in it I had noted the places where we had stopped
16G NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
while out, and I felt if Moore got it the negroes who had
assisted us would suffer, so I gave it to him.
Soon after Moore came in. He swore at us collectively,
by detachments and individually. Looking at me he said,
"I swear you look like the breaking up of a hard winter."
He drew us into line and the picking began. Frank had
a corps badge that he had made while at Charleston ; it wa&
cut out of bone, and was the work of days, but it had to go.
As the Tennesseean came to me he said, "That cuss isn't
worth picking," and passed me by. From the men they took
everything ; pictures of friends at home, and when it was a
picture of a lady, coarse remarks would be made. After all
the articles had been taken from their pockets, the order
was given to take off pants, blouses and shoes, and when we
were turned back into the pen they were nearly naked.
The pen was very filthy ; the mules had recently vacated,
and it had not been cleaned. Moore said, " Make yourselves
as miserable as possible, and I hope to God not one of you
will be alive in the morning." Gangs of the roughs came
in and tried to trade. One of the boys came to me, saying,
" I have a watch that they did not find ; one of these men
says he will give four blankets for a watch, and I think I
had better let him have it, as we shall freeze to death here."
I assured him that he would lose his watch and get no
blankets, but he was so cold he could not resist the tempta-
tion, and gave the fellow the watch. When he came in again
he asked for the blankets. The wretch knocked him down
and kicked him ; that was all he received for the watch.
My galvanized friend turned up again and said they were
coming after my jacket, — that they wanted the buttons.
I took it off and laid it under another man. Soon they came
THE CAPTURE AND RETURN TO COLUMBIA. 167
in and asked for the officer with the jacket, a friend outside
wanted to talk with him. They shook me and asked where
he was. I repHed, "He lay down over the other side."
They carried pitch-pine torches and looked at every man,
but failed to find the jacket. We managed to live through
the night, and in the morning my boy returned the diary,
and Frank, two other officers who had been recaptured, and
myself were taken out to be sent to Columbia. As we
passed out I heard one of the gang say, " There is the cuss
with the jacket," but he did not take it, and we marched to
The rebels must have entertained an idea that Yankees
could live without food, for they issued no rations to us either
at night or in the morning, and we were hungry enough to
eat a raw dog. Our train was one of those southern tri-
weeklies which went from Augusta to Columbia one week
and tried to get back the next, and stopped at every cross-
road. At one place an old negro woman was selling sweet
potato pies. I had a Byam's match paper and bought one
with it. She asked, " Is it good, boss ? " I replied that it
was worth five dollars in Confederate, and she was satisfied.
I think she got the best of it, for the thing she sold me for
a pie was a worse imitation of that article than the match
paper was of Confederate money. At another place I bought
a two-quart pail two-thirds full of ham fat, paying for it with
one of the five dollar bills Packard gave us.
We spent the entire day on the road, arriving at Colum-
bia at seven o'clock in the evening, and were put in jail.
We were not confined in a cell, but in a small room with a
fireplace ; we found a fire burning on the hearth, and went
to work. As we had had no opportunity to examine our
168 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
clothes since we escaped, their condition can ])e imagined.
We took bricks out of the hearth and spent an hour reduc-
ing the inhabitants. It sounded like the discharge of mus-
ketry, and the list of Idlled was larger than in any battle of
In the morning we were ordered out and marched through
the city. We learned that Camp Sorghum had been broken
up and our officers moved to the lunatic asylum. The gate
of the new prison swung open, the crowd gathered, expect-
ing to see "fresh fish," but instead saw four ragged, dirty, old
tramps. We were received with a grand hurrah, and they
gathered around to hear our story. We had been out just
four weeks, and had travelled more than three hundred miles.
While we were much disappointed we were not discouraged.
Our trip had done us good ; we had gained in flesh, had
thrown oft' the stagnation of prison life and were ready to try
again. We found many changes inside. Major Dunn and
Captain Hume had received special exchange ; others had
escaped, and the squads were broken. We were assigned to
squad fifteen, composed of men who had escaped, and we
were a fine collection of innocents.
Before we escaped fror^ Camp Sorghum an order had been
issued by the rebel commander that if any more escaped they
would put us in a pen, and the removal to Asylum Prison
was the result.
There were about two acres enclosed. On three sides were
brick walks ; on the fourth a high board fence which sepa-
rated us from the insane. Sentry boxes were built around
the place and two pieces of artillery were pointed at us
through the fence. Inside was a wooden building used for a
hospital. The frames of alwut thirty small buildings were
THE CAPTURE AND RETURN TO COLUMBIA. 169
up and eleven were covered. The work had been done by
our officers, and the rebels promised to send in lumber to
cover the rest, but it never came. The eleven would accom-
modate about three hundred, the rest l^eing quartered in a few
old tents. Our squad had neither buildings nor tents, and
we huddled together on the bare ground. It was so cold that
we walked most of the night to keep from freezing.
I received eight letters upon my return. They had lieen
written at various times, but all came in one mail. My
friends had heard from me but once, and that was a letter
written and sent out hj an officer who was exchanged at
Charleston. I had written several letters, but suppose they
were never sent north.
Frank was taken sick and sent to the hospital. I visited
him every day. The only advantages he received from being
in the hospital were a roof to shelter him and his mush made
thinner, called gruel. He only remained a week, as he
chose to be with us.
Christmas day came and we were anxious to celebrate in
some way. I had held on to ten dollars that Packard gave
me, as I feared we should require it for salt, but concluded
to have a nice dinner, so I bought a squash and we feasted
on boiled squash and salt.
Soon after January 1 a chance was opened to get a little
money. A man named Potter, claiming to belong to Rhode
Island and to be a Union man, made arrangements with the
rebel officers to let us have six for one in gold or two for one
in greenbacks. At that time outside the walls gold was fifty
for one confederate, and greenbacks, twenty-five. We gave
this noble-hearted (?) man bills of exchange on friends at
home, and were obliged to endorse them as follows : '' This
170 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
money was loaned me while a prisoner of war, and I desire
The arrangements were made through a rebel officer and
done on the sly. We did not get the money, but an order
on the rebel sutlers, who put up a tent inside and did a
thriving business. The bills of exchange were sent north —
how, we never knew — and in nearly every instance paid by
our friends, who believed they were repaying a friend for
kindness to us. We were obliged to obtain the money to keep
from starving, and our necessities were such that we would
have given twice the amount charged, l)ut it was a grand
swindle nevertheless, and persons both north and south were
engaged in it. I managed to get into the ring and gave a
draft of fifty dollars, receiving three hundred dollars in Con-
federate money. One not acquainted with the prices and
value of the money would think that I was quite well off,
but in two weeks it was all gone, and yet we were as prudent
as possible. We first purchased some coarse cloth, paying
fifteen dollars per yard. Then bought some cotton and made
a quilt ; we paid at the rate of a dollar and a half per pound
for the thread to make it with. Pork was seven dollars per
pound, tea one hundred and twenty dollars per pound, shoes
one hundred dollars per pair, lead pencils three dollars each,
fools-cap paper two hundred and twenty-five dollars per ream,
envelopes twenty-five cents each, other things in the same
proportion ; but the money put new life into the prisoners,
and many a man came home who would have died without it.
I was always blessed with friends, and am indebted to many
old comrades for favors. Frank and I had slept (or tried to)
on the ground, without shelter, for two weeks. One day
Capt. Louis R. Fortescue of the signal corps said, " Jack, I
THE CAPTURE AND BETUBN TO COLUMBIA. 171
believe we can make room for you and Frank in our shebang.'
He was with a party of officers of the 18th Pennsylvania
cavalry, and they said by packing snugly we could come in.
It was snug quarters, but neither they nor we growled. My
ham fat was a fortune ; our new mess owned a piece of iron
— I think it was the side of an old stove — and it was used
to cook cornmeal cakes on. If any one outside the mess
wanted to cook on it they paid one cake in ten for the privi-
lege, but it was a hard job unless it was well greased, as the
cakes would stick. It was soon known that I had the fat,
because when we cooked we greased the griddle with a rag-
soaked in ham fat. Outsiders would say, "Jack, lend me
your grease," but I had an eye to business, and would ask,
" How many cakes will you give me ? " We fixed the tarifi*
at one cake in ten, so that when we had plenty of business
for the griddle and o-reaser our mess fared well.
We were very discontented and were bound to escape the
first possible chance ; many tunnels were planned and one
nearly completed when the rebels came in and, driving the
prisoners out of the tent where the shaft was sunk, with lit-
tle trouble discovered it. We were confident we had been
betrayed, and suspicion fell on a lieutenant who was quite
intimate with the rebel officers. A committee was appointed
to investigate. Before night a notice was posted on the bul-
letin board that " General Winder has ordered that unless
tunnelling is stopped all buildings, tents, lumber and shelter
of any kind will be removed from the yard, and that he will
use force for force if any attempt is made to punish prison-
ers who report tunnelling to these headquarters," signed by
Major Griswold, commanding prison. I will not give the
name of the lieutenant, because I may do him injustice, but,
172 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
while our committee could not obtain information enough to
try him, all l)elieved that he was the man, and we did not
see him after we left Columbia.
February 8 was a day of thanksgiving. News was received
that General Winder was dead. He was commander of all the
prisoners and largely responsible for our treatment. Before
the war he was a citizen of Baltimore, and was selected for
the position he held by Jeff. Davis because no suffering could
touch his heart.
The information was given us in this way. The i)rison
was calm and still, when the voice of Lieut. David Garbett
was heard : " Hell has received reinforcements ; Winder is
dead." A cheer went up from every man in the prison. If
the guards knew the cause of our joy they made no effort to
Feljruary 13 a meeting was held to organize the National
Legion. It was proposed to have it take the form that was
afterward adopted by the Grand Army of the Republic, and
I have always believed that the men who organized the Grand
Army were some of them members of our prison association,
for when I joined the order in 1867 the grip was the same as
our old Council of Ten.
Tunnelling ])egan in earnest, and several tunnels were well
under way. The plan of operation was to sink a shaft from
four to five feet deep, then dig from that. The digging was
done with a knife, spoon or half of a canteen. Our squad
began one from house No. 1. We were more fortunate than
some, for we had secured a shovel, cut it down with a rail-
road spike and sawed off" the handle. With this we could
lie on our bellies and work with both hands. The diffsrer
had a bag, — usually made out of an old coat sleeve — and
TEE CAPTURE AND BET URN TO COLUMBIA. 173
when he had filled it he pulled a string and it was withdrawn
by comrades at the opening. They would empty it into
their coat sleeves, and with their coats thrown over their
shoulders would walk about the prison, dropping the dirt
wherever they could. Usually when digging a tunnel we
made holes in various places during the day, so that new dirt
would not attract attention. The man inside had to be
relieved often, as the air was so bad one could not remain
over fifteen minutes.
We were obliged to dig fifty-six feet before Ave were out-
side of the wall. As work could only be done at night, our
progress was very slow. Fifty feet had been excavated, and it
began to look as though we should be free again, but on Feb-
ruary 14 the order came to move, and half the ofiicers were
taken out, marched to the depot, fooled around nearly all
night in a drenching rain, then marched back to prison again,
as they had no cars to take us out of the city. We renewed
our work in the tunnel, continuing all night and the next day,
but before we could get it beyond the wall they moved us.
We covered up three of the officers in the dirt at the mouth
of the tunnel, but when the rebels were making their last
round through the prison to see if all were out they were
174 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
THE EXCHANGE AND RETURN NORTH.
We left Columbia, but no one knew where we were going.
After a slow run of three hours the engine struck a cow ; as
the cow would not get otf the track the engine did, and we
were delayed several hours, but we did not mind that.
Having no destination, we might as well be in one place as
another. After being two days on the cars we arrived at
Charlotte, N. C.
It was quite evident that the rebels were near the last
ditch. Our South Carolina guard would not go into North
Carolina, and we had a new guard from the latter State. We
left the cars and marched to camp, where an order was read,
sio-ned by Adjutant-General Cooper, that a general exchange
of prisoners would begin at once. Many took no stock in
the order and escaped, but the guard did little or nothing to
prevent them, and the next day the officers commanding in
the city requested us to remain in camp, as they had a strong
police guard in the city and we might get into trouble.
We had had some fun mixed with our misery. Our band
had retained their instruments, and while they had not played
at Camp Sorghum for want of strings, with the money we
received they bought new ones, and our glee club was as
o-ood as ever. The citizens often came from the city to hear
CAPTAIN "JACK" ADAMS.
THE EXCHANGE AND BETUBN NOBTH. 175
One day we had a rich treat. The adjutant of an Ohio
regiment T\Tote a song called " Sherman's March to the Sea,"
Major Isitt and Lieutenant Rockwell arranged the music,
and one night the glee club sang it from the steps of the
hospital. The boys went wild over it, and even the rebels
could not fail to appreciate it. We also organized the I. O.
of M. E. (Independent Order of Mush Eaters), and met in
house No. 9. It was not a charitable organization, as we
had no charity for any one. Our meetings were opened by
the prisoners forming a circle, one man in the centre with a
stick. He must do something for the entertainment of the
brothers, then give the stick to another, who must do the
same, and so on, until all had done their part.
We brought out some fine talent, and were the liveliest
crowd in prison. Often we would go out and catch some
fellow, who was despondent and nearly dead with the blues,
bring him before the Grand Mogul and try him for some
offence by court-martial. While he would get mad, kick
and swear, it revived him, gave us lots of fun, and as we
elected him a Mush Eater, it gave him a chance to enjoy the
meetings. I rememl^er one lieutenant of an Illinois regi-
ment who had dug a hole in the ground and declared that he
would not come out, but would die there. One night he
came out, was tried and sentenced to be marched around the
eamp. The sentence was duly executed, the comb band
playing the "Rogue's March." He began to improve after
that, attended the meetings regularly, and, I believe, was
elected to the ofl3ce of Deputy High Grand M. E. We
undertook to capture a captain of a Tennessee regiment,
called "Puddinghead Hayes," but, as he could whip any two
of us, we let him alone.
176 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
One afternoon at three o'clock the order was given to "fall
in." It was an uncommon call at this hour, and "exchange"
thoughts came to all. Soon the adjutant introduced us to a
new commander, a Dutchman who had just come from the
north, having been captured at Gettysburg. Said he :
" Ghentlemens, I comes to take command of you. I have
been in Fort Delaware fifteen months. You peoples teach
me how to behave myself. I does for you all I can. You
treats me like ghentleman, I treats you like ghentlemen.
This place not fit for hogs. I sends in one hundred load of
straw, right away, quick. Break ranks, march ! " He went
through our quarters and swore worse than we could at our
treatment. He then went to the hospital, had a row with
the surgeon because he had done nothing to make us comfort-
able, and kicked up a row generally in our behalf. We felt
that "the morning light was breaking" for us, and that we
should now be made comfortable. The major came in the
next day with more suggestions, but in a day or two we saw
him no more. He was not the man the rebels wanted, as
they were not anxious for our comfort, and his ofiicial head
was removed as soon as he made requisition for the straw.
On the 20th, two hundred of us left to be exchanged.
We had quite a pleasant ride to Salisbury. Here I saw some
of my men, the first I had seen since we left them at Macon,
in July. I remember two, my first sergeant, James Smith,
and Private Jerry Kelly. I dare not undertake to describe
their condition ; they were nearly starved to death and could
only walk by the aid of sticks. They told me of the other
boys captured, — that Lubin, a young recruit, had died three
days after entering Andersonville ; that Sergt. Geo. E.
Morse and Levi Wooffindale of Company G, and many
THE EXCHANGE AND BE TURN NORTH. Ill
others, had died at Andersonville, Florence and other pris-
ons ; for, like us, they had been carted from one place to
another, but their faces brightened as they said, " Not one of
the boys went back on the old flag." I had been proud of the
19th regiment from the first day I joined it, but never did I
see the time when I loved and respected those boys more
than that day.
More than thirty thousand were crowded into the pen at
Andersonville. They had seen their comrades die at the rate
of two hundred a day ; they had been ofiered plenty of food
and clothing, and no fighting, if they would renounce their
allegiance to the old flag and join the southern Confederacy,
but they said, "JVof JSTof Death before dishonor!" and
waited to join their comrades beneath the starry flag if they
lived to be free, if not to join those who had been loyal and
true in the camp on the other shore.
We went from Charlotte to Goldsboro, where we arrived
the next morning. Here we saw the worst sight that the
eyes of mortal ever gazed upon. Two long trains of plat-
form cars, loaded with our men, came in. They had been
three days on the road, expecting to be exchanged at Wil-
mington, but as the city was being bombarded, were turned
back. As they were unloaded not one in fifty was able to
stand. Many were left dead on the cars, the guards rolling
them oft' as they would logs of wood ; most of them were
nearly naked, and their feet and hands were frozen ; they had
lost their reason ; could not tell the State they came from,
their regiment or company. We threw them what rations
we had, and they would fight for them like dogs, rolling
over each other in their eagerness to get the least morsel. I
remember one poor fellow who had lost his teeth by scurvy ;
178 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS EEGIMENT.
he would pick raw corn out of the dirt by the railroad track
and try to eat it. We gave them everything we had. I took
my only shirt from my back and threw it to them ; others
did the same. The rebels allowed us to mingle with them,
and with tears streaming down our cheeks we did what we
Lieutenant McGinnis and I were looking for our men,
when we found one named Thompson, of his company. He
was a noble fellow, one of the largest men in the regiment ;
the only clothing he had on was part of a shirt and that was
covered with vermin ; he had lost his sight and was almost
gone ; he died while we were with him. I took a little fel-
low in my arms and carried him across the street ; he could
not have been over sixteen years old, and did not weigh
more than fifty pounds ; he died just as I laid liim down.
The men were marched to a camp, and the route was strewn
with dead and dying. The citizens gathered around, but I
saw or heard no expressions of sympathy. One of our offi-
cers said, " My time is out, but all I ask is a chance to once
more take the field; I would try and get square." A rebel
officer heard him, and replied, "You are just the man I would
like to meet." Our officer stepped out and said, "Here I
am, I have been more than a year in prison, but I will whip
you or any other rebel you can furnish." The rebel sneaked
away, and said he would not disgrace himself by fighting a
Yankee except in battle. We wished he had given our man
We were again ordered on board the cars, and it was reported
that we were going to Richmond for exchange. We went as
far as Raleigh, where we halted, left the train and marched
to an old camp. There were a few houses standing, but not
THE EXCHANGE AND BETUBN NOBTH. 179
enough to hold one-fourth of our number. The rain came
down in torrents and we stood all night under the trees. I
never passed a more uncomfortable night, for besides being
wet and cold, I suffered with hunger.
On the 23d they loaded us on the cars again, and had just
started, when the engine ran off the track. This time the
cause was an open switch. We believed that the switch was
intentionally left open, but the train ran so slowly that we
were off the cars as soon as the engine left the track, and no
one was hurt. We were then taken to Camp Holmes, some
three miles out of the city, and paroles were made out and
signed. This settled the question of escape and we began
to feel happy. We remained here until the 26th, and began
to think that the parole was another trap to keep us with a
small guard. All were excited, and had they not moved
three hundred at noon I don't believe a man able to travel
would have remained in camp that night.
On the morning of the 27th we found ourselves in Golds-
boro again, and were marched to camp. Here we had to
sign another parole, as the first was not made out properly.
All these delays were terrible ; our nervous condition was
such that we could not sleep, and days were as long as weeks.
We received very little food, and here I sold the last thing
that would bring a dollar, — the buttons on my jacket. These
brought me eio:hteen dollars, — two dollars each. It would
buy just food enough to sustain life. At night the rebels
gave us some rations, but, hungry as we were, we sent all to
the enlisted men.
The 28th, at five p.m., we again went on board the train,
and at daylight, March 1, were at Rocky Point, three miles
from our lines. Here we left the cars, the rebel guard formed
180 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
in line and we were counted through. As soon as we passed
the rebel lines we ran down the road, cheering and singing.
About a quarter of a mile further on the guard stopped us
and formed us in some kind of order. Although we were
with the boys in blue we did not fully realize that we were
free, and clung to all our prison outfit. We marched about
a mile to the northeast bridge on the Cape Fear River, and on
the other side saw an arch covered with the stars and stripes.
In the centre of the arch, surrounded by a wreath of ever-
green, were the words, "Welcome, Brothers ! " I have no
idea what the joy will be when I pass through the pearly
gates and march up the golden streets of the New Jerusalem,
but if it is half as great as it was the morning of March 1,
1865, when for the first time for nearly nine months I saw
the old flag, I shall be satisfied.
One who did not understand the situation would have
thought that an insane asylum had been turned loose. We
hugged each other, laughed, cried, prayed, rolled over in the
dirt, and expressed our joy, each in his own way. Those
who had clung to their meal threw it high in air, and for
once meal was plenty.
The 6th Connecticut were encamped near, and their band
played national airs as we marched over the bridge. We
also found our true friend, the colored man, not as a slave,
but as a man and a comrade, clothed in loyal blue and fight-
ing for a flag that never, until President Lincoln signed the
Emancipation Proclamation, had protected him. As soon
as we were over the bridge they began to provide for our
wants. Hard-tack boxes were burst open, coff*ee and meat
were furnished in abundance ; but we had been starving so
Ions: that we did not think it would last, and I remember
THE EXCHANGE AND BETUBN NORTH. 181
that I packed my old jacket — now fastened together with
wooden pins — full, and as it settled down crowded in more.
We drank so much coffee that we were nearly intoxicated.
We cheered the boys who had provided so well for us,
and started for Wilmington. We did not march, but hob-
bled along as best we could, anxious to get as far as possible
from the rebels. We clung to our instruments, and carried
the big base viol by turns. It was my turn to carry it, and
McGinnis and I started down the railroad. We had gone
but a short distance when we met an officer, who asked me
where I got the big fiddle. I told him I had played it in
church before I enlisted ; that I carried it with me when I
left home and had it on picket ; was in the middle of a tune
when the rebels came on me, and as I could not stop playing
was captured. The man looked at me and said, " I believe
that's a d — d lie." "Well," I said, "you have a right to
think so," and we moved along. I do not remember what
became of the instrument.
Arriving at Wilmington, we were collected together and
rations were served. Here we were placed under guard to
prevent our eating too much, but we would capture the
rations each side of us and fill our pockets. As soon as we
had eaten all we could, we would pass out, and in half an
hour try to flank in again. The sanitary commission were
on hand with barrels of weak milk punch and gave us all we
wanted ; as we wanted everything to eat or drink that we
saw we destroyed large quantities of it. While standing
on the street an officer rode up whom I recognized as Col.
Henry A. Hale, formerly a captain in my regiment. He
was serving on the staff" of the general commanding the
department. He took me to a gunboat in the river and
182 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEQIMENT.
bought me a suit of sailor's clothes. After a good bath I
was transformed from a dirty prisoner into a respectable
Jack Tar. I threw my old clothes overboard, and they
floated down the stream freighted with a crew which had
clung to me closer than a brother for the past nine months,
and whose united voices I thought I heard singing " A life
on the ocean wave " as they passed out to sea.
I returned to the city and walked about, often meeting
some of the men of my regiment, among them Michael
O'Leary of Company F, who looked as though he had just
come off dress parade, having a new uniform and his shoes
nicely polished. He was delighted to see me, said that the
rebels had urged him to take the oath of allegiance, but he
had told them he could never look Mary Ann in the face if
he went back on the old flag. He told me of a number of
the men who had died, among them my old friend Mike
Scannell. That night I stood in front of the theatre, my
hands in my empty pockets, wondering if I should ever have
money enough to purchase a ticket.
March 3, Ave went on board the transport "General Sedg-
wick," bound for Annapolis. We pulled out near Fort
Fisher and lay over night. Some of us went on shore at
Smithfield and had a nice time. On the 4th we got under
way. It was the second inauguration of President Lincoln,
and all the ships were gaily decked with flags. We passed
out over the bar. The ship was crowded ; my berth was on
the floor between decks. I find the last entry in my diary
is, " Oh, how sick I am ! " I did not come on deck for four
days, and suffered more than I can tell. The sea broke over
the ship, and the water came down the hatchway. A west-
ern officer, suflering near, aroused me by exclaiming, " My
THE EXCHANGE AND RETURN NORTH. 183
God ! Jack, there is a board off somewhere ; don't you see
the water coming in ? " I didn't care if they were all off.
We arrived at Annapolis and quartered in the several
hotels. The following day we received two months' pay. I
bought a good uniform of a Jew for seventy-five dollars. It
was a nice blue when I first put it on, but before I arrived
home it was as brown as a butternut. We ate from six to ten
meals a day for a week, then received thirty days' furlough
and came home to friends who had almost given us up for
I never looked better than when I arrived home. I had
bloated so that I was the picture of health, and no matter
what account I gave of prison life my face contradicted it, so
I said little. After thirty days at home I did not feel able
to return, and received an extension. The war was nearly
over, Richmond had fallen, and I was miles away, a paroled
prisoner, not allowed to bear arms until exchanged.
While at home I had the pleasure of meeting my old com-
rade, Isaac H. Boyd. He had started as a private in Com-
pany A, and was now major of the regiment. I left him
one Saturday at the Providence depot in Boston, he return-
ing to the front. In two weeks I received his body at the
same depot. He was killed in the last battle of the war, the
day before Lee surrendered, — one of the bravest officers
who ever drew a sword.
Early in May I returned to Annapolis, and was pleasantly
quartered in the house of a Mr. Harper, the only man in the
city who voted for President Lincoln in 1860. While stand-
ing on the street one day a small squad of prisoners passed.
This was an unusual sight, as all had come through the lines
weeks before. I heard a voice say, " How are you, captain ? "
184 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS BEGIMENT.
and looking up saw a white head sticking out of a bundle of
rags, and recognized Sergt. Mike Scannell. I said, "Mike,
you are dead." " Not yet," was the reply ; " but I have been
mighty near it. I was sent out to die at Andersonville, from
there was taken to Blackshire, Fla., kept until the war was
over, then taken within several miles of our lines and turned
loose." With him was Mike O'Brien of my company, — hard
looking, but full of courage.
On the 15th of May I was discharged ])y general order,
went to Washington, received my full pay, with transportation
to West Newbury, Mass. I waited to see the grand review
of the armies before returning home. The first day the
Army of the Potomac passed. As the 2d corps drew near I
became anxious, and walked towards the Capitol. The white
trefoil came in sight, and at the head of the dear old regiment
rode Colonel Rice. He saw me and turned out of the line
to shake hands. Next came Captain Hume, — the only line
officer commissioned when we were captured. He stopped,
and the boys came from every company ; for a few moments
I held a reception. Colonel Rice urged me to come to the
regiment, saying he had found a place for me. I informed
him that I was discharged, and was going home, but he said,
"Come and see me day after to-morrow." In compliance
with his request I went out to Munson's Hill to visit the regi-
ment, and before night was mustered as captain, and assigned
to the command of Company B.
The duty was very pleasant. I was in command of the
regiment a few days during the absence of Colonel Rice and
Captain Hume, and was two weeks on courts-martial detail.
June 30 the regiment was mustered out of service, and left
for Massachusetts, arriving at Readville July 3. We were
THE EXCHANGE AND RETURN NORTH 185
invited to take part in the parade in Boston July 4, and
Colonel Rice was quite anxious that we should. After we
went to our quarters for dinner Colonel Rice was called to
Boston. Nearly all the officers had business there, and when
we boarded the train found the men taken the same way.
The colonel did not blame them, and said it was all right if
we would report at 9 a.m. the next day at the Providence
depot. All promised. I did not expect they would come
but went to the station at the hour named. I found Colonel
Rice and one private. We waited a while, but no more
reported, and as we three would not make much of a show,
concluded to give it up.
July 20 we assembled at Readville for final pay. The men
returned to their homes and took up the duties of citizens
which they had laid down to become soldiers, — and the 19th
Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers became a thing of the
The regiment had been frequently complimented by its
superior officers for soldierly conduct, and the following
General Orders will show the opinion in which we were
held : —
Headquarters 2d Army Corps, July 23, 1862.
General Order No. 21.
The general commanding would hereby announce to this corps d'armee
the fjne appearance on the review to-day of the 19th Massachusetts and
1st Minnesota regiments. The condition of these regiments is an honor
to their States, and reflects great credit upon their commanders.
By command of
Official. L, Kip, A. D. C. and A. A. O.
W. D. Sedgwick, A. A O.
186 NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT.
Headquarters 2d Division, 2d Corps,
Edward's Ferry, Va., June 26, 1863.
General Order No. 105.
The 15th and 19th Massachusetts Volunteers, for marching to-day in
the best and most compact order, and with the least straggling from
their ranks, are excused from all picket duty and outside details for four
By command of
Brigadier General Gibbons.
Of the thirty-seven commissioned officers who left Massa-
chusetts with the regiment in 1861 only one returned, —
Col. Edmund Rice, who went out as captain and came home
colonel commanding the regiment.
Fourteen officers and two hundred fifty men were either
killed or died of wounds received in action, and four hun-
dred forty-nine were discharged for disability, occasioned by
wounds or disease contracted in the service.
In no better way can I close my story than by quoting
from the 1865 report of Adjutant-General Schouler : —
" No regiment has had a more eventful history, or has fought more,
fought better, or performed its duties with more promptitude and alacrity.
During its existence the regiment has been engaged in forty-five battles
and skirmishes, in six of which it has lost from one-third to five-sixths
of its men. It has captured and turned over to the War Department
seven stands of colors (1st Texas, 14th, 19th, 53d, and 57th Virginia,
12th South Carolina and 47th North Carolina) and six pieces of artillery.
When it is said that the regiment has been characterized by the most
kindly and brotherly feeling, the best discipline and alacrious obedience
in all ranks, that it has been frequently commended and never censured
by its superior commanders — the story is done."
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