Skip to main content

Full text of "Stories of the civil war in prose and poem"

See other formats

in PROSE and POEM 


Class t^^^X 

Book ^^ 


N". B. SEEJLiK^^ 





LiBRA?^Y of OCf^S'^fcSSg 
Vv»o Copies Heceiv(*^} 

APR 25 3 905 

:.09i*rigiii tniry 

//3 /%^ 

To Ali. Who Love Their Country, 
Respect and Keep Its Laws, This 
Work Is Dedicated. ♦ ♦ ♦ 


During the last one hundred and thirty years some- 
body from each generation of my ancestry has given hon- 
orable service in the army of the United States, yet I 
ha^e never advocated war. I have always believed that 
all questions can peacefully he settled if both parties in- 
volved in a controversy will submit their grievances in a 
fair manner for investigation to an unprejudiced com- 

Hozvever, when I enlisted in the army of the United 
States the condition of the National Government seemed 
to require thott the number of able bodied men asked for 
by the War Department should quickly respond. I there- 
fore did not consider the act of enlisting a contradiction 
to my earlier predilection. 

In relation to my experience and observations during 
three years and five months, zvhich is the period of time 
I gave my country in fulfilment of my enlistment agree- 
ment, this little book I now present to my friends zvill 
briefly tell in part. 

But fnany interesting, exciting and perhaps thrilling 
incidents which in divers ways gave me much of my ex- 
perience in the Civil War are not mentioned in this zvrit- 
ing, because I have found myself wholly unable to recall 
them with a sufUcient degree of clearness to be able to 
write intelligently concerning them, now after an interim 
of forty years. 

The Author. 


Chapter I. 

During the months of February and March, Eight- 
een Hundred and Sixty-two, a number of men were en- 
listed at Suspension Bridge, New York, toi serv^e in the 
Union army. At this time I was an orphan hving with 
my grandparents, but as I was not bound by law to stay 
with them, I felt at liberty to engage myself to perform 
any serv^ice for whom I pleased, and, being at the bridge 
one day, I intentionally walked into the office of the man 
who was raising a company, and there met Captain 
Mitchell and also Colonel Fisk. After I had spoken and 
made known that I wanted to enlist. Captain Mitchell 
said : 

"Colonel, is this young man big enough for a sol- 

"Oh, yes," was the Colonel's prompt reply. 

At once the Captain wrote my name as one accepted 
for service in his company. I hastily returned to my 
home and shortly after that told my grandparents that I 
had enlisted in the army. 


Once upon a time I stood near serene old 

And listened to some history from tra- 
dition's page; 
Her voice had a quaver soft, and a sweet and 

♦ gentle sound 
While it revealed to me some olden truths 
^, in history found. 

S T O R I E S O F T H E C I V I I. \\' A R. 

It was my Grandma speaking — she whom I 

loved most dear — 
And when she was done telHng 't was the 

Indians she feared, 
I broke in upon her as I had oftimes 

done before, 
Saying, as I am enHsted, I must go 

off to war. 

I know the dangers of a war ; I've heard the 
whoop and yell, 
For in the Revolution War I was a 
little girl ; 
I've listened to my father's words when I 
heard him tell 
How he and brothers all were in the War of 
Eighteen Twelve. 

While Grandma talked I went into a time 

of reflection ; 
I thought, the cmcial time has come; I can't 

change nw election ; 
And rising to go, she said, how long will you 

have to stay ? 
Then I replied, three years or less, but I can't 

have my way. 

Then Grandma breathed a sigh, and wif)ed a tear 

It seemed that anguish filled her heart that 

very day. 
So alas ! the while she swooned, I refused 

to stay — 
Thus in the light of her sincere love ever 

since I've strayed. 


Stories of the Civil War. 

A few days later I reported myself at Camp Morgan, 
which was near Buffalo, New York. It was not long 
after that when the men I was associated with were or- 
dered to go tO' New York City. At the latter place the 
various companies of recruits w^ere organized into a regi- 
ment. Now the company I had enlisted in was desig- 
nated Company I, and the regiment it had been joined 
to was called the 78th New York Volunteer Infantry. 
The 78th Regiment was soon sent to Washington, D. C, 
and there drew accoutrements, also three days' rations 
for every man, and upon the next following day the regi- 
ment by way of railroad went to Harper's Ferry, Vir- 
ginia. Upon the arrival at the latter place the soldiers 
soon learned that the Union forces near Winchester, Vir- 
ginia, commanded by General N. P. Banks, had been de- 
feated in an engagement with a troop commanded by the 
Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, and that the 
Federal army was rapidly falling back on Harper's Ferry. 
The news coming just when the regiment was getting 
off the cars, caused some of the men to allow their nerves 
to rise to a high tension, so much, in fact, that they at 
once began a desultory firing across the Potomac river at 
various objects which they mistook for the enemy. They 
were reproved for such disorderly conduct, and imme- 
diately marched across the river and, passing a little dis- 
tance beyond, formed a line of battle. Night was ap- 
proaching, dark clouds were rising fast and high above 
the horizon, and we coiild already see flashes of light- 
ning, so it was obvious that the first day at the front 
might severely test the men in the regiment. 

At 8 o'clock p. m. the Sergeant came to me and said : 
"Seeley, get ready for picket. Report at once to the Ad- 
jutant for duty." When I received the above order I was 

Stories of the Givil War. 

quite ready for anything, because I was standing in a 
line of battle, erect with all my trappings on my person. 
Therefore, in less time than it takes to tell it, I had gone 
t)ack to the rear a few rods and reported myself to the 
proper officer, joining there with twenty other privates. 
A lieutenant marched us to the front a few rods on the 
Winchester road, then turning to the right, went on until 
we came to the Potomac river. Then sentinels were sta- 
tioned. Soon five were left on the bank of the river, 
where the descent tO' the water was twenty or thirty feet. 
I was one left here, and was the first to go on duty. My 
turn on guard lasted an hour. 

About the time I was relieved a furious wind, ac- 
companied with thunder and lightning, came. Soon all 
took shelter under a ledge of rock just down the bank a 
little distance, excepting the sentinel. The night was so 
dark we could see but little, and the constant roaring 
sound from water running everywhere made it necessary 
that we should be every moment on the watch. Suddenly 
we heard a voice say "Halt!" Then the lightning's flash 
enabled us tO' see a squad of rebels. They were on the 
top of the bank. At once we saw one man step out of 
ihe line and take a position as a picket. At almost the 
same moment our own guard came down to our covert 
place under the rock. We all understood the situation 
we were in. It was that we were cut off from our own 
forces in the vicinity of the ferry. The question was, 
what should we do? We could either kill or capture the 
rebel guard, but that would not be wise because, having 
arrived at the place after dark that night, we had no 
knowledge of its topography, and there was behind a 
steep descent covered with rocks and brush, and at the 
bottom a leaping, roaring current, the depth of which we 


Stories of thk Civil War. 

did not know. Before and on the top of the bank leading 
toward our forces was a rebel line, whose strength we 
did not know. We conversed with each other and 
reached no definite conclusion as to what course to take. 
Finally one of our party, whose name was Gillet, and 
whose Christian name I confess I've quite forgotten, and^ 
myself agreed to try to> go to our camp, so we left our 
comrades there and stealthily began to move up the bank, 
and when we had gone far enough to see another of their 
pickets, we threw ourselves prostrate on the ground and 
pushed and pulled ourselves inch by inch until we had 
succeeded in passing the rebel pickets undiscovered. Once 
more upon our feet we started in what seemed the right 
direction, but suddenly were challenged. Believing we 
were within the enemy's lines, we loth would give our- 
selves up to the challenger, so acting according to our 
own choice, crouching low down on the ground, again we 
moved back, but not in the way we had come, but in the 
direction we imagined the Harper's Ferry and Winches- 
ter road was in. After great annoyance and fatigue we 
reached our objective. Here the evil star that was lead- 
ing quickly banished and we saw our goal, for not only 
had we found the road we sought, but also found a dilap- 
idated building close by the public road. A peculiarity 
of this structure which my companion had noticed the 
evening before enabled us to reason out to our great sat- 
isfaction the right direction to our army lines. After 
trudging awhile we received another challenge, but feel- 
ing confident we were right this time, we gave ourselves 
up and were immediately taken to headquarters, where 
shortly we made a report to the Colonel of the regiment 
of our experience through the night. 

Stories of the Civii. War. 

Chapter II. 

In the early spring of Eighteen Hundred and Sixty- 
two the 78th regiment had no serious engagement with 
the enemy. Shortly after our skirmish at Harper's Ferry 
which is mentioned in the previous chapter, the enemy 
retreated and the troop advanced up the Shenandoah val- 
ley as far as Winchester, and after resting a few days 
marched on to a town called Little Washington. Here 
the brigade went intO' camp and remained until the first 
of August. 

During this time of hot summer weather and inac- 
tivity a considerable number of the men became ill. I 
was myself indisposed, but as I had neyer been seriously 
sick, I would give my physical condition as little atten- 
tion as possible. After about twoi weeks of feeling 
poorly, and when I had lost my natural strength to the 
extent that I could hardly walk without the aid of a staff, 
I heard the orderly sergeant shout : 

"Men, strike tents and get ready to march at a min- 
ute's notice." 

In an instant I realized my condition more than ever 
before. Of course, every member of Company I knew I 
could not go on the march. Several large tents had been 
pitched a few rods distant, and these were being used for 
hospital purposes. Already a number of sick from the 
regiment had been taken there for medical treatment. 
Soon the regimental surgeon recommended that I go to 
the hospital. I imagine I had hardly reached it before I 
saw the troops marching away. The nurse made room 
for me in a short time, and I was given a cot to lie upon. 
In a few days I began to feel better. Then we were 
moved into Little Washington, and quartered there in 


Stories o? the Civii. War. 

In about two weeks I commenced to feel some in- 
creasing strength, but yet was very weak from my recent 
fever. Now a man who had been occupying a cot next 
to mine for the next last several days suddenly jumped 
from his bed about 2 o'clock a. m., and walking across the 
room disappeared through the window. I, believing the 
act of the fellow an unnatural one, immediately called to 
the nurse. Presently he was brought back, and falling: 
upon his bed, he died in a minute or two. In a short 
time thereafter I did the impropriety to arise and go tO' 
the exit door tO' the front of the room, and standing there,. 
I saw a man sitting on the step leading up to the door. 
Presently addressing the individual, I said "Good morn- 
ing," and without waiting for a reply I added, ''Yood look 
like a reb." He smiled, and replying said, "Maybe I am."' 
I then asked him what regiment he belonged to. He an- 
swered the Fourth Texas Rangers. Although we had 
known some time before that the enemy might capture us 
any day, yet when I learned that I really had to- sumbit to 
being made a prisoner, I thought, since I was just begin- 
ning to convalesce from fever, how might it be with me 
in the rebel prison ? If it should prove these Texans were 
guerrillas, I thought perhaps they wouldn't honor my per- 
sonal property, so' I slowly withdrew into the room where 
my bed was, and there separated my money. I took from 
my pocketbook sixty dollars and placed them in the hol- 
low of my foot, then drew on my sock and shoe. When 
I did that I left a ten dollar bill of Confederate money 
and three dollars of federal money in my wallet, and as 
soon as I had made the foregoing arrangement I laid 
down again upon my bed and patiently aw^aited the al- 
ready approaching morning. 

At last the morning came, ushering in what prom- 


Stories of the Givii. War. 

ised to be a fair day and at about 7 a. m. the nurse told 
all the sick in our ward that the orders of our captors 
were that every man that could walk had to go out into 
the street. In response to this order I went into the street 
in front of our quarters and there met with about fifty 
confederates. Shortly two of them came to me and with- 
out any more preliminary asked if I had any knifes or 
pistols. I answered "I have not." Then they further 
asked whether I had any counterfeit money. I replied as 
before. One of them added : ''You fellows have been 
passing bad money on the people here and claiming all 
the time it was good. Now let me see what you have." 
In compliance with his request I forthwith handed him 
my pocketbook. He scrutinized its contents and gave it 
back, saying as he did, "that money is all right, but if that 
Confederate ten you have there was counterfeit, we'd 
hang you to the limb of one of these trees, but it's better 
than your greenbacks." I now felt some relieved, because 
if the man was in earnest or jesting I could not know. At 
any rate, I considered, judging from his manner of ad- 
dress, that it was fortunate that I was not found to have 
any spurious Confederate money in my possession. Then 
the officer in charge of the squad gave me a written per- 
mit to gO' to the Union military lines at the nearest place 
from there which, upon inquiry, I learned were twenty- 
five miles distant. 

The 78th Regiment at that time was with Major 
General Pope's army, near Cedar Mountain, Virginia, 
and was daily retreating a greater distance than I could 
possibly walk in my enfeebled condition. However, I 
had but little choice in the premises. The morning upon 
the following day I and four other comrades started to 
walk to the Union army lines but we were so weakened 


Stories of the Civii. War. 

by our recent illness that we could only go a few steps 
when we were compelled to rest and of course we were 
not restored to health enough to care but little for food. 
So we were not cumbered with rations; just a morsel to 
eat and some good water was all the refreshments we 
cared for. 

After we had trudged for three days, I, seeing some 
bramble bush in the corner of the fence nearby, called 
one of my comrade's attention to the object of my dis- 
covery, and at once we went to the roadside to eat some 
berries, but had scarcely gotten to the bush when we heard 
the clatter of horses' hoofs coming out of the woods upon 
the opposite side of the road. Turning my eyes in that 
direction I saw a rebel horseman. As quickly as he could 
he aimed his carbine at me and with a loud voice com- 
manded me tO' come to him. I had no other alternative 
than to gO' toward him and as soon as I had gotten up 
where he was he turned the head of his horse in the di- 
rection of the woods again and said : "Now, come with 
me;" but I remonstrated, saying, ''Stranger, you cer- 
tainly will have to explain what your intentions are be- 
fore I yield to your order." Then he continued, "Well, 
who are you ; are you a Yank, scout or spy ?" I answered, 
"Fm neither one;" adding, I said, "Fm a prisoner of war 
and I have a pass from one of your officers to go through 
the army lines at the nearest place." He rejoined, "Let 
me see your pass." I quickly showed him my pass and, 
reading it, he said, "That's all right; you may go on." 
In the meantime my associate had been for a sick man, 
beating a hasty retreat along the fence. Having my free- 
dom now, I followed after my friend and as the other 
comrades stopped to rest, we soon came up and rejoined 
them. All our experience tended to lessen what remain- 


Stories of the Civii. War. 

ing energy we had. There was nothing to encourage us. 
Our tramp in the enemy's country seemed a fruitless one, 
nevertheless we kept going slowly on. The following 
day after I had my remarkable experience with the rebel 
cavalryman, another Confederate horseman galloped up 
to us and, upon learning that we were sick men, requested 
us to go into a plantation house and wait while he went 
to a military headquarters and told about us. A little 
while later he returned and told us we would have to go 
to Richmond with a number of other prisoners. It was 
not long after that when there came about two hundred 
Union soldiers under quite a strong guard. Then we 
were ordered to fall in with them. I saw that they were 
going at the rate of about four miles an hour. I obeyed 
orders. Yes I fell in the line, of course, I had to do that, 
but I knew I could not keep up with those strong healthy 
men. There was no halt of the column. To keep up now 
would compel me to move at quick time. This I did for 
a few rods only, then fainted and fell to the ground. One 
of the guard dropped out and waited for me to recover. 
In a minute or two I recovered consciousness and also 
the captain in charge of the rebel guard came up. While 
approaching, doubtless he saw from my appearance that 
I was sick ; at any rate he called a small colored boy and 
told him to give me a seat behind him upon a mule that 
he was riding. Later the prisoners and their guard 
crossed the Rapidan river at a fording place. There the 
water leaped and rolled over rocks while passing at the 
rate of four to six miles an hour, and when the procession 
had gotten finally across there came the old mule with its 
burden. And as soon as the animal stepped into the dan- 
gerous place, I heard to my discomfort little children 
clapping hands and shouting, "Oh ma, ma ! wouldn't it be 


Stories of the CiviIv War. 

funny if the old mule, the little nig and Yank would fall 
down in the water ?" However, we safely crossed to the 
opposite side of the turbulent stream and were soon rest- 
ing at Gordonsville. The latter place was the terminus 
of the Confederate military railroad north from Rich- 

After giving us some coffee and crackers we were 
placed in box cars and taken to Richmond. There we 
staid over night in Libby prison, and the next day crossed 
the James river to Belle Island. There on the island 
we joined about five thousand Union soldiers who were 
prisoners of war. Some of these had been in southern 
prisons since the first engagements of the war. But as 
for myself I was not to remain long in captivity, for in 
about two months all prisoners on the island were paroled 
and immediately started for Aiken's Landing, which was 
about fifteen miles from Richmond. 

It was a sight long toi be remembered to see the 
procession of prisoners marching slowly toward the land- 
ing. I imagine if it had not been for the great desire 
joined with a hope to thus escape from captivity, many 
a poor comrade's strength would have failed him then. 

I shall never forget that while coming near where 
the United States transports lay anchored, which were 
intended for the prisoners tO' board, the road lead the 
head of the line over an eminence. This enabled the 
men marching to see the great ships as fast as each one 
arrived on the top of the hill. So when the first saw 
them and also the starry flag flying from the mast head, 
a cheer rose such as I never heard before. Once strong 
young men but now emaciated and physically weak, so 
they could not stand the nerve shock caused by such ex- 
cessive joy, reeled in their tracks and fell by the roadside. 


Stories of the Civiiy War. 

Indeed, so much was depending upon a safe deliverance 
of hundreds of these comrades from prison that I have 
never wondered at the frantic cheering which lasted until 
all were on board the boats and they had left the anchor- 


Beside my country's waving flag 

I peacefully stood, 
And while no foe disturbed us. 

It talked as it could. 
It told of conflicts more than scores. 

Of sick and dying men. 

And grief I never knew till then. 

I was young so had much to learn; 

Truth comes very slow. 
Oft I had thought in childlike way. 

That wicked acts and blows 
Are forbidden by all the law. 

But it told it is just so — 

That justice is sometimes kept low. 

It told me that with selfish will, 

Some clans much evil do; 
Tho* they be wrong, yet still they fight. 

And treat their friends ill, too — 
That all the wicked things they act, 

Greatest perverseness shows. 

Yet fast they strike their deadly blows. 

Sometimes men prove themselves quite weak, 

Because they will not deign ; 
They hazard all they have in life 

For very transient gain. 

^ i6 

Stories of the Civil War. 

Their fellow man they often slay, 
Tho' he be truly just, 
And thro' him they a dagger thrust. 

The ship I was aboard took on about fifteen hun- 
dred men and soon after a meal was served. If the ex- 
prisoners had had just cause to complain that they re- 
ceived insufficient food while prisoners they might have 
equal cause to say that now they received too much. It 
became apparent tO' all of us that the Government had 
provided amply for our needs upon this occasion; for 
every one of the ship's crew from master down to caterer 
gave cooked pork and beans plentifully and the men ate 
so freely that many a comrade shortly after the meal 
had to disgorge. When the boats came near to Fortress 
Monroe (at which place United States gunboats had do- 
minion) the United States flag was elevated to the top 
of the highest mast and then we knew we were beyond 
Confederate states civil and military authority. 

A few hours later we arrived at Annapolis, Mary- 
land, and entered camp parole. After staying there a 
few weeks, I felt fully restored to my former health. 
And now an order came that every one that could ren- 
der effective service in the army should return to his 
regiment. In compliance with the above order, I and 
a number of others immediately went from the camp by 
way of Alexandria, Virginia, tO' Harper's Ferry, arriving 
there about November, Eighteen Hundred and Sixty- 
two. I there rejoined my regiment and soon the 78th 
Regiment left the Feri-y, making a winter march of about 
eighty miles, and finally going intO' quarters near Fred- 
ericksburg, Virginia. 

About two months later, or in February. Eighteen 


Stories of the Civii. War. 

the vicinity of Fredericksburg, in which the 78th took 
no part for the reason that it was guarding the base of 
supplies on the Potomac river, about ten miles in rear 
Hundred and Sixty-three, a great battle was fought in 
of the army. In the month of April next following, the 
78th, together with a large portion of the army, crossed 
the Rappahannock river at Kelly's Ford and passing 
around in rear of Fredericksburg and the rebel army, 
gave battle to the enemy at Chancel lorsvi lie. On the 
first of May the Union line of battle was established 
across a plank road, and upon the right side as we faced 
t^ redericksburg, the Union line extended through a woods 
to an extensive glade and upon the edge of this a right 
angle was formed and here the 78th took up its position 
in the line of battle. About 7 o'clock on the morning of 
the third, the enemy appeared in plain view, being just 
across the field from us, and shortly they commenced an 
enfilade fire with shrapnel, which in a short time proved 
very destructive to our part of the line. 

A short time after firing began several men that 
held the regimental flag were either killed or wounded. 
Finally some one without orders took the flag to the 
rear. Lieutenant Carter of Company I, was killed by 
a fragment of a shell piercing his body, and soon Henry 
Smith's head was shot off. He was next to me on the 
left, and later David Bix lost a hand ; he was next to me 
on the right. After remaining about seven hours under 
the most furious fire from the enemy's guns, and not once 
being able to reach them with our small arms, save when 
they made an infantry assault, early in the morning I 
realized the situation was terrible and there was not a 
thing to encourage us to remain longer in the line. I 
then saw there were only two beside myself remaining 


Stories of the Civii^ War. 

in Company I. One of these had been a prisoner at the 
same time I was in the prison. His name was Fred Boy; 
the other's name was James C. Scott. Just at the same 
moment I heard the word of command, and looking di- 
rectly before me I saw three lines of rebel infantry ad- 
vancing. Seeing how futile it would be for the few 
that remained to longer stay, we started to retreat, but 
the enemy fired at us and before we could find cover in 
the brush close in our rear, my comrade. Boy, fell with 
a fatal wound. About the same time I stepped into a 
path. I saw in the path I had entered a few rods ahead 
of me, four men. They were apparently two Confeder-^ 
ates and two Union men. As the Confederates carried 
no guns and were between the Union men, I imagined 
they had been made prisoners in the fight further down 
the line. At any rate, they and I were going in the same 
direction, and although they were moving double quick, 
they were closed up well on the file leader and I was di- 
rectly behind them, about one hundred feet. Now a 
cannon shot, which evidently was either a solid or poorly 
fused shell, whizzed over my head and killed all four of 
the men. The sight was truly sickening, but I didn't 
look at it more than an instant. Seeing I could give no 
assistance to them, I turned enough to one side to pass 
their bodies and from that minute until I reached our 
reserve I lost no time gazing at curious objects on the 
way. After passing through a woods which seemed to 
have more brush than trees in it, I finally reached our 
reserve. Then followed a long search for the 78th Reg- 
iment. And upon finding it I soon discovered there were 
but sixty-three men left out of about three hundred, and 
these had no commissioned officer in command. While 
it is a fact there were a few men of the regiment who 


Stories of the Civii. War. 

had not rejoined it as soon as I had; and they later com- 
ing in increased the number something above that just 
mentioned, yet I shall state an additional fact here. That 
is that the 78th lost in this battle every one of its com- 
missioned officers save one captain. And as best I can 
recall, his name was Ransdell. 

The army fell back and soon began to form a new 
line of battle. As soon as it was made known where the 
new line would be established, myself and another man 
began to chop into the sides of a large tree with a view 
to fell it in the line. Just when the tree began to fall 
we looked in the direction it would strike the ground 
and to our surprise I saw two men there engaged in mak- 
ing a cup of coffee over a small fire. We loudly called, 
warning them of their danger, and in their great hurry 
to make escape one of them shot himself directly through 
the body. Within the next twenty- four hours the army 
recrossed the Rappahannock river and w^ent into regular 


About the tenth of June the army broke camp again 
and began marching towards Harper's Ferry. We con- 
tinued this march through Maryland and Pennsylvania to 
Gettysburg. While approaching the latter place on the 
afternoon of July second, we almost constantly heard the 
thunder of cannon, and soon we met a long ambulance 
train and nearly evei-y wagon was filled with men who had 
been wounded at the front. Soon we arrived on the road 
entering into the town, near Cemetery hill, and immedi- 
ately received orders to move to the right. After pass- 
ing upon a slight elevation for a distance of about one- 
half mile, the 78th Regiment formed an angle in the line. 
In a few^ minutes the rebels opened on us with two field 


Stories of the Civil War. 

pieces and for a short time it appeared like they would 
drive us away from there, but shortly a section of Cap- 
tain Knapp's Pennsylvania battery came to our assist- 
ance. At this time I was a regimental pioneer, so I car- 
ried an ax in addition to my gun. Thus having the tool 
to work with, I was one of twO' called on to fell a tree 
which obstructed the view of our gunners. While we 
were chopping into the tree a rebel shell went booming 
through the top of it. But without delay we felled the 
tree. Immediately after that our gunners opened on the 
rebel battery and silenced it. Instanter the word came 
that the enemy was advancing in our immediate front. 
Then the entire 78th was ordered tO' advance beyond the 
line and intercept the enemy. It couldn't be expected 
that two or three hundred men sent in this way could 
do more than check the enemy's advances and perhaps 
discover the extent of its forces. 

The 78th advanced among the trees and rocks down 
the side of the hill and soon came face to face with what 
shortly proved a formidable foe. After exchanging shots 
repeatedly our line gradually fell back into its former 
position. But this was effected only after the regiment 
had lost about eleven killed and many more wounded. 
Sergeant Church, of Company I, was killed in this en- 
gagement. The enemy continued to attack this part of 
the Union line, which was in the angle, and from the 
vertex to the extreme right with great bravery and force, 
to the end. But after they had failed to break through 
our line at any point, on the night of July third they 
withdrew their forces. So on the fourth we buried the 
dead without molestation. 

A few days later we followed the retreating Confed- 
erate army into Virginia and finally went into camp near 


Storiks of the CiviIv War. 

Warrenton Junction. Here it was that I received my 
only military office. On the first day of September^ 
Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-three, while preparing for 
dress parade, Captain Ellis appeared upon the camp street 
of Company I and, seeing me buckling on my accoutre^ 
ments, commenced to make jesting remarks, thus: "Why 
Seeley, I'm going to have you punished." Then quickly 
changing his manner of address, he continued, "Yes, 
I've been watching you ever since the regiment entered 
into field service and have often thought you merited 
some little favor. So the adjutant wdll read your pro- 
motion before the regiment in a few minutes." My pro- 
motion was soon announced and I became corporal in 
Company I, 78th Regiment New York Volunteer In- 


The Commanding Officers of the Seventy-eighth Regi- 
ment, New York State Volunteer Infantry. 
To All Who Shall See Tliese Presents, Greeting: 

Know ye, that reposing trust and confidence in the 
patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of N. B. Seeley, 
Private, I do hereby appoint him Corporal in Company I, 
of the 78th Regiment of New York State Volunteer 
Infantry, in the service of the United States, to rank as 
such from the first day of September, One Thousand 
Eight Hundred and Sixty-three. He is hereby carefully 
and diligently to discharge the duty of Corporal by doing 
and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging. 

And I do strictly charge and require all non-commis- 
sioned officers and soldiers under his command to be 
obedient to his orders as Corporal. And he is to observe 
and follow such orders and directions as from time to 


Stories of the Civii. War. 

time he shall receive from me or the future commanding 
officer of the regiment, or other superior officer or non- 
commissioned officers set over him according to the rules 
and discipline of war. This warrant to continue in force 
during the pleasure of the commanding officer of the 
regiment for the time being. 

Given under my hand at the headquarters of the 
regiment at Ellis Ford, Va., this first day of September, 
in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred 
and Sixty-three. 

By the commanding officer, 
L. Hammerstein, Commanding the Regiment, Lieu- 
tenant Colonel. 
William J. Hammond, Second Lieutenant, Acting Adju- 
tant of the Regiment. 


The soldier thinks not of the battle. 
While peaceful in the camp; 

Ofttimes he thinks about his home— 
And Cupid pays the tramp. 

He scans the letter and the picture 
And takes a social game. 

And joins in jollity and mirth — 
Thus the camp is never lame. 

The sergeant shouts an order now, 

He hastens to obey; 
The soldier knocks the tripod o'er — 

He wills to clear the way. 


Stories of the C i .v i l War. 

The captain is a jolly man, 

He gives and takes a joke; 
But he was taught by soldier lore 

How best to make a stroke. 

He lines his troop up in the street, 
And sees that they've all come; 

Then quick he shouts, "Now take your arms- 
The battle has begun." 


Some time in September the 78th Regiment went 
by way of railroad through the states of West Virginia, 
Ohio and Kentucky to Nashville, Tenness. Upon arriv- 
ing at the latter place it rejoined Brigadier General 
Green's brigade and then the command was placed in 
charge of a long wagon supply train and soon thereafter 
started with the train for Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

All went well until the brigade came in the vicinity 
of Lookout Mountain. Here the entire command, to- 
gether with its charge, went into camp about eleven miles 
from its destination. Here is situate Wauhatchie Valley. 
It is a narrow piece of ground lying between Lookout 
and Racoon mountains. The same becomes quite acute 
as it draws near to Chattanooga. It took until midnight 
for all the wagons and the last regiment to arrive in 
camp. This had no sooner transpired than the Confed- 
erate troop under the command of General Wade Hamp- 
ton came off the brow of Lookout Mountain and made 
a most furious attack on the Federal forces. This night 
fight lasted for about two hours with scarcely no cessa- 
tion, and finally when the enemy retreated it was dis- 

Stories of the Civil War. 

covered they had gained nothing. Upon the following 
morning we found about two hundred of their dead and 
mortally wounded upon the field. 


A few days after the battle of Wauhatchie the 78th 
Regiment went into camp not far from the scene of the 
late conflict and remained until November twenty-fourth 
when it was ordered to march to the base of Lookout 
Mountain. There it united with certain other portions 
of the army. In due time a general advance commenced 
up the mountain's side against the enemy. The fighting 
was severe and lasted nearly the whole of two days, at 
the end of which time the rebels were driven off the 
mountain and nearly twenty miles beyond and into the 
state of Georgia. After the enemy had been routed the 
78th went back into its former camp and soon thereafter 
the Government advanced a proposition through the com- 
manding officer to the members of the regiment that as 
many as had already served in the regiment for two years 
or longer might now reinlist for a period of three years 
in the United States military service. The proposition 
to reinlist carried with it certain conditions, the principal 
of which was, first, the Government agreeing to pay each 
soldier upon re-enlisting the sum of four hundred dollars ; 
second, the Government agreeing to give each soldier so 
enlisting a thirty days' furlough. Myself and nearly 
every one who could accepted the proposition to re- 
inlist. We all went to our homes and friends once more. 
After our sojourn in Ncav York, according to the time 
allowed, we returned to the South and went into camp at 
Stevenson, Alabama. At this place the 78th Regfiment 


Stories of the Ci.vii. War. 

was at once consolidated with the i02d Regiment, New 
York Volunteer Infantry. And here the 78th Regiment 
lost its identity and name, and this was something al- 
ways after much deplored by all its original members. 


Many a long and weary day 

The veterans strove and fought; 
Two years of service rendered they. 

And now to reinlist they've sought. 
So soon they bind themselves anew 

Three years more in strife to stay; 
Furloughed, all these gallant few 

Have joyful time — just thirty days. 

They see their northern homes once more — 

The leafless tree and frozen lake; 
Ne'er can these be an open door, 

Inviting them great pleasure take; 
Save living there some are adored, 

But man nor clime can change a fate ; 
And tho' the cup of joy is full, 

'Tis time, alone, that brings a date. 

Thus happy days they spend! And now 

Some celebrate their nuptial time. 
While others a plighted vow renew. 

Thus all true hearts run like a rhyme, 
And truth and candor use the time 

And set each heart a-tune and right; 
So all the stars that beam at night 

Prove strife is hid. Peace is in sight! 


Stories of the Civil War. 

But vowing at the end of time — 

The thirty days among their friends — 
That they again shall stand in line, 

So civil pleasures they must end. 
Soon with brave comrades they will join, 

And there contend in greatest strife 
For right, which is on them enjoined, 

So more than all their pledge is rife. 

Now fortitude gives strength to bear 

A last parting from truest friends. 
While earnest prayers rise toward heaven. 

That peace and gladness God will send. 
But lo ! they all go back to arms, 

'Tis the behest of the nation; 
Where each with other share alike, 

As soon as each resumes his station. 

About the fifteenth of February, Eighteen Hundred 
and Sixty-four, I was sent with nineteen other men to 
Nashville to procure and drive to Chattanooga six hun- 
dred mules. 

Now, the orders were that each man, after procur- 
ing a saddle and bridle, should select one animal from 
the herd and use that one for his mount whilst assisting 
in driving the whole drove. So I selected the smoothest 
one I could see and with the help of two other comrades 
I adjusted saddle and bridle to the animal and quickly 
effected a mount. At once my comrades gave me entire 
control of the beast and I urged it to go, but it refused, 
and the next minute it was capering. The animal reared 
fore and aft and finally it laid down and attempted to 


Stories of the Ci-vil War. 

roll over, and I really think it would had it not been for 
the presence of the saddle. 

The first of May the army made a general advance 
against the enemy and at a place called Resaca, in the 
state of Georgia, a battle was fought lasting two days. 
The I02d Regiment was not actively engaged in the fight 
until the afternoon of the second day. Then it was or- 
dered to advance through a woods, and while thus going 
forward it was constantly opposed by the enemy's skir- 
mishers, and by this means a large number were injured 
in the regiment. A rifle ball crashed into the leg of a 
comrade, who was marching in the same file with myself, 
I remember distinctly about the accident. First, the pe- 
culiar whiz or zip sound of the bullet passing in the air 
came into my ear and at the same instant the report of 
contact I heard. Then suddenly looking into the face of 
the man whose shoulder was touching my own, I saw 
he was as pale as death. But he uttered neither a word 
nor groan, but deliberately placing the butt of his gun 
on the ground he leaned heavily upon the weapon. Then 
with a vacant stare looked at his comrades, but in this 
case, as in all others of the kind, those who reinain un- 
hurt in action can give but little assistance to the wound- 
ed. This entire situation was so pitiable that I became 
deeply impressed with it. We were now slowly and 
cautiously approaching the enemy's fortified position. A 
large fort was in view, and we had orders to prepare 
for an assault, but the usual order to ''forward, charge!" 
was delayed for several minutes, and then the report was 
given out that the enemy had evacuated their position. 


Stories o^ the Civii. War. 

June first the Union army closed on the Confeder- 
ate, at a place called Dallas, and with lines of battle ex- 
tending several miles through the woods and so close 
to the enemy at certain places that the hostile forces 
could carry on a conversation if they wanted to, the fight 
was waged for several days, with no advantage to either 
party save it gave the Federal general time to shift a 
strong detachment of his army somewhat to the rear of 
the rebel army. The contending forces being so close 
to each other, it was almost impossible to keep out a 
picket, and I believe some regiments did not attempt to 
keep out advance guards. To forestall the enemy's un- 
expected attack there was a continual desultory firing 
from the main line. But the I02d Regiment through 
day and night sent a relief picket to the extreme front 
every two hours. The extreme front was only a few 
rods in front of the line of battle at most, but how to 
reach it notwithstanding and return without getting hit 
by a rebel bullet was the puzzling question, because our 
line was not only in plain view but in easy range of the 
rebel skirmishers. So in the day time, as soon as any 
man exposed himself, he became at once a target for from 
one to a dozen skilled rebel riflemen. Now, after con- 
sidering these facts one can imagine how I felt one fine 
afternoon at about 2 o'clock when the orderly sergeant 
ordered me to go immediately to the relief of a picket 
that had a position directly in our front. I'll not say I 
thought I would be shot, because it's a fact I did not 
believe I would. But as soon as I had fairly leaped over 
the breast works I made the dash, bending low as I could 
and at the same time keeping on a swift run. The rifle 


Stories of the Clvii. War. 

"balls flew thick and fast around me, but I reached the 
place uninjured. The man I relieved lingered with me 
for a long time and finally seemed to escape the vigi- 
lance of the foe while creeping back to the regiment as 
slyly and invisible as a worm. There was no protection 
for the picket that I could see except what those had 
used who preceded me on duty. That consisted of either 
small straight trees or a certain half-decayed log. The 
trees were unsafe to use since the rebel sharpshooters 
had gained the skill of cross firing from right to left of 
their line at ours until they had become quite proficient 
in picking off our men who stood behind them. So I 
prostrated myself on the ground behind the aforesaid 
log and began to do the best execution with my gun I 
could; but after a little while my time had come to be 
relieved and sure enough, looking to the rear for an in- 
stant I saw a stalwart comrade coming to take my place. 
He came on a fast run in the face of the same danger 
I had faced when I went out, but alas, the poor fellow 
w^s not so fortunate as I had been, for when he had 
gotten within only a fe^v feet from where I lay a rifle 
ball struck him squarely on the body. When he received 
the shot he groaned sufficiently loud to enable the enemy 
to hear him and this seemed to please the foe because 
they made a slight attempt to cheer and soon increased 
their fire in that direction. 


When the sound of the ball has ceased, 

The danger is passed ; 
But ah! another with force increased, 

Makes a wound that lasts. 


Stories of the Civii. War. 

Since the I02d was engaged at Dallas it slowly trav- 
ersed the country in pursuit of the retreating enemy. 
But on the 14th of June they made a stubborn resistance 
at a place called Lost Mountain. Their line of battle 
was found to be stretched across the hills for several 
miles. So the Union army was confronting the rebels 
and with lines formed up to theirs so close that it was 
very unsafe for one to expose himself in the least to the 
enemy's fire. After it was proven that it was quite im- 
possible to go to the rear after rations or water in the 
day time without being shot, and after our men had been 
annoyed by the rebel sharpshooters for a day or two, 
one of our intrepid comrades jumped upon the breast 
works and with vociferous voice dared his enemies to 
shoot. This act was foolhardy, because he received a 
ball in his body almost that same instant. 


On June 27th, 1864, the retreating enemy made a 
stand on a range of mountains and from one of these 
called Kenesaw, the Union forces tried to dislodge them. 
The result of this attempt was quite a severe engageinent. 
Early in the morning I went on the skirmish line. We 
had been out on duty only a short time, when a general 
advance was ordered. We soon charged upon the ene- 
my's picket and began to drive it back. We continued 
to press hard upon them, finally driving them out of the 
woods and across a field. But upon venturing into the 
clearing a little distance, we discovered that the}' were 


Stories of the Cjvil War. 

strongly entrenched upon the opposite side, and there 
being scarcely no protection for us within the glade, we 
fell back and took up a permanent stand in the edge of 
the woods. 

At this juncture the enemy began to play some can- 
non on us and forthwith a section of Captain Knapp's 
battery came into position where we were and we were 
commanded to advance. This meant that we had to go 
into the open space again lying between the opposing 

There were a few dead trees in the field, behind which 
a number of the skirmishers might take shelter, but not 
more than one-tenth could thus be accommodated. How- 
ever, there was one of these stumps directly in front of 
w^here I was standing, so I quickly made for it. At 
about the same time I arrived there another comrade 
took his position with me. Now from our position we 
quickly opened a brisk fire on the enemy. Presently 
the cannon just before mentioned opened on the rebel 
guns and soon silenced them. 

I shall say here that it has been reported ever since the 
war that these shells from Knapp's battery caused the 
death of Confederate Major General Polk. Owing to the 
fact that my comrade and myself were standing behind 
the same tree and firing at the same time, we were obliged 
to aim and fire one right and the other left hand. My 
companion, being on the left side, continued to place the 
butt of his gun to the right shoulder, consequently every 
time he discharged his piece his whole body was forced 
from behind the tree. I saw his peril and tried to have 
him change position with me as I could shoot either way, 
but he laughed and answered by saying he wasn't afraid. 
Later the rebel sharpshooter got such perfect view and 


Stories of the C i v i t^ War. 

range that he shot an ounce ball intO' him, the missile 
striking and penetrating the body just below the shoul- 
der. Just on the left of where I stood, a comrade, who 
on account of his shortness of stature was dubbed 
^'Shorty." He dug a hole in the ground sufficiently large 
tO' admit his body and from his position was actively 
firing at the enemy. He was so well concealed that his 
foeman couldn't see him by looking over the surface of 
level ground, so it became evident one of them climbed 
a tree. Then from his perch he sent a ball just past 
''Shorty's" chin, and it passing parallel with his body, 
did no more injury than make a little erubescent mark 
upon it. 


All through the day July 19th, 1864, the Union 
forces met with great opposition while attempting to 
drive back the Confederate army in the vicinity of At- 
lanta, Georgia. Therefore it was expected that a great 
battle would not be' delayed very long and probably it 
Avould occur on the following day. The morning of the 
20th of July was fair, and where the I02d Regiment 
lay, which was close along the side of Peach Tree Creek, 
the air was fragrant and everything in the surrounding 
field and woods seemed peaceful and happy. I was de- 
tailed again to gO' upon the skirmish line, and as soon as 
I had reported for duty a forward movement was made. 
We crossed the creek and entered a clearing, charged the 
enemy's picket and succeeded in driving them out of 
their position. Thus we pressed forward all day and 
after our final assault, at about 6 o'clock p. m., I could 


Stories of the-Civii. War. 

see them making good their escape a half mile distant 
across an extensive field. The sight was exhilarating 
because it brought to my mind thoughts of a cessation 
of further hostilities for the rest of the day, and also 
after a few minutes a relief from the arduous and dan- 
gerous duty of a skirmisher. 

We had been under almost constant rifle fire all day. 
We had dislodged the enemy about five times from be- 
hind trees and hastily constructed breast works; and 
lastly, we had forced them into the environment of At- 
lanta. The cost of the day's victory to the I02d Regi- 
ment and other parts of the Union army engaged I shall 
not undertake to state or mention, because I am not at- 
tempting to give estimates in this writing. Anyone who 
in any way becomes acquainted with the principal fea- 
tures of the battle, such as for example, the Union sol- 
diers while upon the repeated charge were always the 
aggressors and that they contended with a brave and 
undaunted foe, can, I think, easily guess about the cas- 
ualty of the Union forces. We were relieved from the 
skirmish line just before sunset and we had hardly gotten 
back to our regiment when a roll of musketry was heard 
coming from the very place we had left. We had had 
nO' midday meal save aii army cracker, and now we had 
no time to partake of so little as that for the evening 
meal. But no one complained. If one did he would not 
have the right kind of stuff in him to make a good sol- 
dier. In a few minutes more the enemy came upon the 
Union troops and with one continued onset lasting until 
late in the evening, nearly drove back a portion of the 
army to the creek we had crossed when I started on the 
skirmish line early in the morning. 

-- 34 

Stories of the Civii. War. 
peach tree creek. 

Down by its winding way I go, 
I am not fearful near the place, 

Tho' lofty trees bend very low, 
Here peace and love are interlaced. 

Here its sides are fringed with green, 
It's filled with a thousand rills; 

It runs, tho' swiftly yet serene, 

And curved and winding feels no ill. 

And now I pause, dear stream, by thee. 
To tell a tale on rousing theme; 
"Ah !" spoke a voice, "what can it be — 
Oh tell me sir what you have seen?'* 

I was glad it accosted me. 

And deigned so much liberty; 
"I yield," I said, "and may it be 
That no unfriendly eyes shall see 

Nor hear an unhallowed ear, 
For sacred is the place we're in; 

Here many thousands did appear 

And gave their precious lives to win." 

The gallant troops went cross this stream, 
And up its sides and thro' the woods; 

And were met till they felt it keen — 
But all that caused a braver mood. 


Stories of the Ci*viIv War. 

Beyond the creek and on the plain, 

Amidst war's dreadful strife, 
They stopped for naught tho' friends were slain, 

For thoughts of gain were more than life. 

So, thro' the wood and on the plain. 
The strife and fray grew grandly great; 

And neither side would combat yield, 
Nor either one could tell his fate. 

When the evening twilight came, 

All throbbing hearts since day begun. 

Soon give a gracious help to some — 
But many lives had had their run. 

Darkness soon enshrouds the scene, 

And the careening oak and pine 

Cast their sombrous shadows between. 

And there a peace the heroes find. 

Oh, Time, which endures forever 

And ever, by thy cycle reveals 
Thousands; and they going over 

That ride on the rim of thy wheel. 

Shall those without tenet or faith. 
Oh, chide not your querist, I ask — 

Shall those brave soldiers have fate, 
Tho dead shall quicken at last! 


Stories of the Civil War. 


The Confederates held Atlanta until the Autumn of 
1864, when they withdrew all their forces to operate 
against the Federal army in their rear. At this time 
the I02d Regiment had remained as a guard on the north 
side of the city, so when it was discovered that the en- 
emy had evacuated the regiment entered the city without 
firing a shot. A few weeks later nearly the entire Con- 
federate army in central Georgia at that time was de- 
tached to the north and only a part of the Federal forces 
there went in pursuit. About the first of November the 
remaining part of the Union army took up a line of 
march in a southern direction. The I02d Regiment was 
at this time attached to the part of the army moving 
south, hence was with Major General W. T. Sherman's 
command. After leaving Atlanta the army had nearly 
an uninterrupted march for a distance of more than one 
hundred miles. Then the enemy gathered some frag- 
mentary forces and shortly placed them in front of our 
invading arniy. Nevertheless, in a short time the army 
arrived in the vicinity of Savannah, Georgia. When 
the advancing army reached the Savannah river a num- 
ber of soldiers went out of the forest which is hard-by, 
and attempted to walk down upon the sandy shore. But 
they soon found that the enemy's picket was posted only 
a few rods below and that they had a plain view of the 
river front, and after several had had narrow escapes 
from getting hit by a rebel bullet, they took cover again 
in the wood. But at this juncture Major General John 
W. Geary came up and, dismounting from his horse, 
proceeded to go down the bank of the stream to examine 


Stories of the Civil War. 

the lay of the ground, probably. Myself and others did 
not want to call out to the general, but as we had just 
returned from taking observations at the water's edge 
and had discovered that such an undertaking carried with 
it imminent danger, some one addressed him neverthe- 
less, saying, "General, the enemy is watching just down 
the river. They fired at me several shots a minute ago 
when I was down there." The general smiled and hes- 
itated a moment and then, to our surprise, proceeded 
with his attempt. Now, I felt more comfortable behind 
a good sized tree just up the hill from the stream than , 
I did a brief minute before when I was down on the sand 
near the water's edge, and I imagined that General Geary 
would have my present experience in a minute or two 
more, providing he didn't get killed. He, however, de- 
termined that he had seen all he wanted to; at any rate 
he quickly retraced his steps and almost immediately I 
heard him give orders to the commanding officers of 
regiments to prepare for a charge. The peculiar sound 
of fixing bayonets could be heard the entire length of 
the I02d Regiment, and the next minute the stentorian 
voice of the general was heard commanding the troops 
to "forward, charge!" Simultaneously, several battalions 
emerged from the woods and with guns charged, bay- 
onets fixed, and adding quick time and a yell all along 
the line, the Federals scrambled over the rebel outer line 
of breast works. So little importance has been attached 
to this bayonet charge that I doubt whether any historian 
has ever mentioned it in his writing. But it will always 
remain a fact that by the capture of the west bank of 
the river within five miles of Savannah, General Sher- 
man was able to place some thirty-two pound rifle can- 


Stories of the Civil War. 

non, which had such range as to completely command 
the river at that point. 

As soon as the regiment had "entered the position 
taken from the enemy, we could see directly in our front 
a strong line of breast works, connecting a chain of 
strongly made forts. General Geary being present, com- 
manded his victorious forces to- hold the position just 
taken at all hazard, so the troops stayed there several 
weeks. But after awhile the pickets of the regiment dis- 
covered unusually large fires in the enemy's forts. This 
caused the officers to believe that the enemy was evac- 
uating their position. Therefore ten men from the I02d 
Regiment were selected to reconnoiter the situation. This 
reconnoitering party sallied forth and straightway cross- 
ing the ground lying between the contending armies, 
they entered one of the largest forts upon the bank of 
the river. Upon entering the fort they found only two 
or three men in it and they appeared to^ be burning every- 
thing combustible they could find. Some of those cap- 
tured told that the last of the Confederate army had been 
gone from there several hours. Very soon the I02d Reg- 
iment deployed as skirmishers and later while advancing 
upon the main road entering the city met with but little 
oppKDsition and continuing, shortly met an aged gentle- 
man whom the soldiers thought was the city's chief of- 
ficer. He was riding in a one-horse vehicle and carried 
a small white flag and waving it, doubtless to attract 
attention. He surrendered the place and at the same 
time begged the advance of our army to be merciful to 
the people of the city. He added, saying that all the 
Confederate amiy had crossed the river and were in the 
state of South Carolina. 


Stories of the CiviIv War. 

We hastily went forward, passing under a long rail- 
road trestle and finally coming within the city we found 
real chaos. Persons of all kinds were going about and 
busying themselves handling merchandise, and perhaps 
not one in a thousand ow^ned the goods they were car- 
rying. The whole regiment assumed the duty of a pro- 
vost guard and at once began to arrest every one upon 
the streets seen carrying most anything. By this means, 
almost perfect order was restored in a few hours after 
the Union army's occupation of the city. 


General Sherman's army is again upon the march. 
Now we were crossing the Savannah river somewhere 
between Savannah and Augusta, Georgia, and in a few 
days the army was in the midst of an almost impene- 
trable swamp in South Carolina. It seemed the enemy 
did not have sufficient military force to much hinder 
the progress of Sherman's army, so they apparently tried 
to harass the right and left of the Union army with the 
force they had and in the center cause all the trouble 
they could by opening floodgates in canals and ditches, 
and in this manner they successfully inundated the en- 
tire section the army had to pass over soon after it 
crossed the Savannah river. There were several consec- 
utive days when the army advanced five to seven miles 
daily and that short distance was covered with the great- 
est exertion by man and beast. But finally the lowland 
passed, the I02d Regiment marched about seventeen 
miles from Columbia, S. C, and without much further 
incident entered North Carolina and later, although the 
army engaged the enemy at Avergsborough and also at 


Storiks of thk Civil War. 

Benton vi lie in North Carolina, the regiment did not par- 
ticipate in either battle, and about the first of April the 
whole army arrived near Goldsborough, North Caro- 

About the first of April, General Sherman's army 
moved from the vicinity of Goldsborough toward Ral- 
eigh, North Carolina, and soon the news was heralded 
along the advancing lines to the effect that General Rob- 
ert E. Lee, commanding all the Confederate forces in 
Virginia, had surrendered to General U. S. Grant. It 
was good news, almost toO' good for the soldiers to be- 
lieve, but in a day or two more the army arrived at Ral- 
eigh. Then the report of the surrender was confirmed. 
At about the same time, General Johnson asked for a 
cessation of hostilities with a view to arranging terms 
for a surrender of his army to General Sherman. Events 
of vital imprtance to the nation were beginning to hap- 
pen. Thus they came in rapid succession, as follows, 
to-wit : General Lee, with his army, surrendered at Ap- 
pomattox Court House, Virginia, April 9th; April 13th 
Mobile, Alabama, surrendered to^ the combined attack of 
the army and navy of the United States; April 14th the 
flag lowered by Major Anderson at Fort Sumter was re- 
stored to its position; April 14th President Lincoln was 
assassinated at Washington. He was shot in the back 
of the head at Ford's Theater, and the same night the 
assassin made an attempt to kill the secretary of state, 
William H. Seward. April 26th Johnson surrendered 
to General Sherman. 


Storiks of the Civil War. 

Now, the two greatest Confederate armies have sur- 
rendered, and e\^ery one is sanguine of a sure and speedy 
termination of the war. The soldiers are awaiting or- 
ders, but they scarcely can expect they'll be bidden ta 
construct forts or dig trenches. Never again do they 
expect tO' hear the thunder of cannon or the rattle of 
small arms in deadly battle in the present war. Already 
the dawn of peace has sent a beam throughout the land^ 
and where\xr hearts are beating in friendly sympathy 
for the union, there is great rejoicing. 

The I02d Regiment is camped close to the city of 
Raleigh, but the men have but a short time there to stay. 
Soon the regiment receives orders to break camp; next 
comes the further order to form in line, then facing 
northward the command is "forward, march!" Tramp, 
tramp, tramp, the boys are marching again. But this 
time how much different it is from the tramp, tramp they 
have all become accustomed to by almost one continual 
march during forty-one months of very active ser^'ice in 
the army! How tame is the present movement of the 
troop with no advance guard to precede the army ! And 
there's a noticeable absence of the sentinel in the high- 
way where the roads cross. And nO' report is heard of 
the presence of an armed force in front or rear or upon 
either side. I could hear the soldier say, "This march 
is without incident. Pshaw ! This march is so unexciting 
and monotonous it's hardly interesting." After all I 
have never heard a veteran remark upon his regrets that 
the two great Confederate armies stopped fighting when 
they did. All belieA^e our present march will end at the 
National capital. And then what? Is this a dream? 


Stories of the Civil War. 

No, indeed, it's a reality. The war is virtually over and 
probably the Government will never ask the I02d Regi- 
ment to go upon another march. Joy without limit now 
wells up in e\^ery heart in the regiment. The thought 
that soon every man will return again to his home and 
friends once more. To homes ever blessed by the tri- 
umphs of sweet peace in their midst ; to dear friends who 
reluctantly loosed the hand of their soldier father, broth- 
er, or friend when he went off to- war. Those true and 
loving friends who many months before willingly gave 
their companion, their beloved, if need be, a sacrifice up- 
on their country's altar. And who ever hoped for the 
soldier's return; yet in after time while hearing and 
thinking, always the same old story, the same recounting 
of the soldier's horrible experience in battle, in prison, 
upon the long and tiresome march. And besides the 
almost daily reports of some friend who went to war 
from the adjoining farm or contiguous factory or store 
that was killed in the last engagement, or possibly worse 
still that w^as shot, bruised by ball or shell, and is lying, 
dying perhaps, in hospital — perhaps in southern prison. 
Oh, under such circumstances what a frail, flicker- 
ing hope must have lingered in their patriotic breasts! 
But on and forward the column moves ; it passes through 
Richmond and still going on, the I02d Raiment came 
close to the old battlefield named Chancellorsville. Now 
I break from the rank and running through the wood 
I quickly come to the very place I occupied in the line of 
battle on the 3rd day of May, 1863. There, upon the 
right and left of that hateful, horrible vertex, I stand 
alone in the perfect silence of the wooded place, save for 
the chirping of the chicadees that perched in branches 
over my head keep repeating their mournful note. 


Stories of the C.ivil War. 

What a solemn time I have. It seems Hke a spell. It 
truly seems I can here commune with the dead. I take 
a cursory view of the line of battle occupied by the regi- 
ment I belonged to two years before. The little breast- 
work is nearly tumbled down, and where the small trees 
had been removed to build it with there now appears a 
second growth, and this brush and bush so completely 
prevents my view that I content myself by walking slowly 
between them both until I came to a place I am able to 
recognize. Then gently pressing the foliage of a bush 
one side, I stoop and gaze at the bones of my once brave 
and faithful comrade. At once a ray of sunshine steals 
between the branch and lingers upon the skeleton before 
me. And I somehow feel assured that the precious blood 
of patriots that was shed upon that ground has made it 
forever consecrated. 

But I cannot tarry long in the solitude of the wilder- 
ness in the midst of which is the battlefield, so I hasten 
back to the highway upon which the troop is marching, 
and there by dint of hard effort rejoin the command. 

The month of June affords the most agreeable 
weather of any other month in the year in Virginia. 
There is not a threatening cloud above our heads, and 
there seems to be nothing present or seen or contemplated 
as liable to disturb the peace of mind of any one now or 
in the immediate future, yet the hearts of all are sad, and 
I shall declare it a mistaken idea that soldiers on account 
of daily practice in the art of war in the field become 
stoical, insensible and unmeditative upon humane and 
moral themes. I pronounce such a saying a slander upon 
our brave soldiery. 

If the soldier ex-member of the 78th New York 
regiment and now active member of the I02d regiment, 


Storiks of the Civil War. 

New York State troop, was not meditative in the least, 
then he would be now as happy as the ox which, after 
months of seeing his associates slaughtered and he him- 
self were goaded, bruised and starved, but is finally 
turned into green pastures, becomes so oblivious of its 
past experiences as not to breath a sigh. But well it is 
for the world that man is man and he is not a brute. 
Indeed, it may be said of him that he is possessed with 
a dual nature or as having two great parts in his makeup, 
and these may be named the higher and the lower. So it 
happens sometimes Avhen two parties are in a controversy 
and each one thinks he is right. Neither one will yield, 
and soon each procures murderous weapons. Then, dur- 
ing a time subsequent, they engage in what is called a 
war, both believing that they are right and each knowing 
that the civilized world is steadfastly looking on. And 
above all else God is just, and He is all-powerful, too. 
Both pray they shall not lose, but by and by become the 
conquerors of their foe. Only one of two parties can 
win, barring out a compromise. The other must go down 
to direful defeat, but all the time each side strives to over- 
come the other, and the while only the baser intelligence 
of man is seen. But now behold, one side is cognizant 
of a change in the afifairs of state. The very fates ap- 
pear to be operating in favor of the enemy. At once the 
moral nature of the party as a man comes into play and 
asks for a truce. Hostilities cease, peace is declared, and 
the war ends. 

Now things that tend to cause a war 

Are banished to the rear, 
And North and South and East and West 

Believe that peace is here. 


Stories of the C*ivii. War. 

But, dear reader, do you ask what makes the mem- 
bers of the regiment sad since victory has perched upon 
their colors, and every tangible, seen and unseen thing 
is lending a cheerful influence? The air the soldiers 
breathe is fragrant as if it comes from some nearby Eden, 
and the very sunlight seems dancing before them while 
they pursue their march in the direction of their coun- 
try's capital and their home. The soldier's mind has al- 
ready vmdergone a change. His coarser propensity is 
sleeping, and since the cause which is intended to arouse 
a hostile feeling has disappeared his mind evolves itself 
into a moral condition that is one of peace and love which 
I believe are quite the opposites of anger and revenge. 
So he takes a retrospective view of all the deadly conflicts 
he has participated in. Then such a stupendous aggrega- 
tion of human suffering and destruction of property, and 
adding to these the recent assassination of the Nation's 
chief executive appear. Thus he is convinced he has 
great cause to be sorrowful. I remember when the re- 
port of the assassination of President Lincoln was her- 
alded through the camp. My chum, Charley Almend- 
inger, was absent temporarily, and I alone in our little 
shelter tent was engaged reading a letter I had carried 
many a day in my knapsack. Suddenly he appeared, and 
throwing himself upon a blanket within the tent, he 
quickly burst into tears. Now I, believing he had lost 
a dear friend, asked him if he had. He answered "Yes," 
and continuing added, ''and so have you, and so has 
every other man." I asked him to explain. Then he 
further said, "Some inhuman wretch has killed our Presi- 
dent." The thought came quickly into my mind that if 
this man weeps, who is a German- American, by the sud- 
den taking-off of our beloved President, then it becomes 


Stories of the Civil War. 

me to join with him in his sorrow. Soon after that I 
learned that the same cause which brought grief to our 
hearts brought also sorrow and lamentation to the hearts 
of patriots everywhere. 

The I02d regiment arrived at Alexandria, Virginia, 
and immediately crossed the Potomac river and w^ent into 
camp on the north side of Washington, D. C, but for 
some unaccountable reason in a few days the command 
was marched back into Virginia, and there the regiment 
camped near Alexandria. Although the men were still 
soldiers, and therefore were under military discipline, yet 
they were loth to recognize the fact. They had been 
faithful soldiers for over forty months; they had taken 
part in seventeen sanguinary battles, and the number of 
picket duties they had done while their lives w^ere in dan- 
ger, not one could scarcely count. And now and finally 
after marching not less than twenty-five hundred miles, 
all are patiently w^aiting their honorable discharge from 
the service. 

The camp is only two miles from Alexandria and 
six from Washington. The time has come when the of- 
ficers exert but little influence over the soldiers. The sol- 
dier therefore enjoys much license and personal liberty. 
Almost as many as ask for passes get them, so a continual 
stream of soldiers are going by the camp guard every day 
to and from the city and camp. At last on account of the 
disorderly conduct a number of the men are arrested by 
the civil authorities in Washington and placed in jail. 
The day following a report of their incarceration came to 
the regimental headquarters. 

Almost at once a number of men were detailed from 
the regiment to go to the capital and procure their re- 
lease, but the next day report was circulated throughout 


Stories or the Civil War. 

the camp that they had disobeyed the orders and on ac- 
count of bad deportment upon the streets were themselves 
placed in jail. Then the Colonel requested the company 
commanders to select only temperance men to comprise 
the guard, whose duty shall be to go tO' the jail and pro- 
cure the freedom of the members of the regiment and 
return them to camp. So soon the orderly sergeant called 
to me, saying, ''Seeley, you're the man I w^ant to go from 
Company I on another detail to bring the boys to camp 
from prison. Get ready at once." In a few minutes I 
reported for duty, and forthwith our squad marched over 
the bridge spanning the Potomac river, and shortly the 
release from durance is effected of all those we desired. 
And after that we started for camp, and upon reaching it 
the charge we had was put through the camp guard line. 
But instead of our accompanying them further, the Lieu- 
tenant-Commander of the detail gave orders to the guard 
not to let the men return to the outside of camp that day. 
Then w^ith the understanding of the members of the de- 
tail, all came to a right-about-face, and marching soon 
came to a public place in Alexandria, and we stacked 
arms in the street and went within. And following there 
was such a jovial time at cups around the bar that any- 
one seeing might think we were veteran saloon loafers. 
But this was an outing day from camp, and the deter- 
mination was first to do our duty, and second to have a 
good time. 

Now not at all being disqualified from the perform- 
ance of any military duty in consequence of the spree, 
we took arms and hastened back to camp. Possibly it 
was a misfortune that shortly after passing the camp 
guard upon entering camp we had occasion to pass the 
regimental camp of a New Jersey regiment. Here upon 


Stories of the Civil War. 

making our approach we discovered the Jerseyans were 
having a jolHer time than we had even dreamed of. 

To our surprise we found them using tin cups for 
weapons, while they heroically made terrific and valiant 
assaults upon a barrel filled w^ith strong cider. Now if 
these Jerseyans had been a little more selfish w^e w^ould 
have fared better in the end, but when w^e came up to them 
they freely handed cups to us and cordially invited us 
to drink. All accepting now the proffered opportunity 
to mix liquids in our stomachs, w^e began to swallow 
apple juice, and there was an ample amount to go around. 
We thought there was no use to practice self-denial, but 
later, when we were at the Colonel's headquarters, mak- 
ing a report of our day's labor and recognized that we 
did not show off to the best advantage possible as a lot 
of temperance men. Although the Colonel dismissed us 
with a smile and expression of satisfaction, we were 
ashamed on account of our boisterous, babbling, swagger- 
ing manner. However, when the sober moments came 
later, we verily believed that a grain of allowance would 
be made for us because this, the last duty, was truly well 
done. And such men as we who had been always at the 
front, and had never failed to do a duty when it was 
asked and required of us, if now w^e brake the staid mili- 
tai-y rule, any one with a bit of patriotism and generosity 
would forgive and forget it all. 

On the 2ist day of July, 1865, we were discharged 
from sei-vice in the United States Army. 


Stories of the C'ivil War. 

my native land. 

I love my native country more 

While time goes swiftly by; 
I knoAv its excellent prospects, 

I see its azure sky; 
Its wood and glade and lofty hills 

That stand before my sight, 
All dressed in richest raiment, 

xA.wake in me delight. 

Although I go to distant lands 

Where things are seen quite rare. 
Where field and vale combine to give 

A fragrance to the air, 
I take from out my memory 

A superb picture I love, 
A scene of my own native land 

Spann'd by a bow above. 

I think of my country people, 

Their kind and noble deeds 
They're giving to other nations 

To satisfy their needs; 
And with devotion to their homes 

They favor their own cast, 
Yet in a common brotherhood 

Their faith is ever fast. 


Stories of the Civil War. 

Among the countries grand to see 

'Tis only fair to say 
My own, by placed oceans bound. 

Presents a fine array ; 
By fruitful field and crystal stream 

Inwrought with mountain range, 
It wears a crown upon its head 

Adapted to its grange. 

Its sons, the type of noble man, 

They seek for what is best; 
They lose not much by cruel fate, 

.Though heed they its behests. 
And daughters, too, none can compare 

In fairness and in form, 
Their manners, oh ! they charm the world 

And all their land adorn. 

Its men and ships can dominate 

If it so have them do; 
In peace or war it can excel 

The whole world round and through. 
It has the gold that e're can buy 

The commerce of the earth, 
And this is true, not idle talk, 

Such is my country's girth. 

[the end.]