Skip to main content
STORIES of the CIVIL WAR.
in PROSE and POEM
BY N. B. SEELEY
N". B. SEEJLiK^^
STORIES OF THE CIVIL
WAR IN PROSE
BY N. B. SEELEY.
LiBRA?^Y of OCf^S'^fcSSg
Vv»o Copies Heceiv(*^}
APR 25 3 905
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.
STORIES OF THE CIVIL WAR
IN PROSE AND POEM
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
"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-
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
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
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
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.
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
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-
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
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-
THE TALKING FI.AG.
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.
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-
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
BATTI.E OF GETTYSBURG.
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
By the commanding officer,
L. Hammerstein, Commanding the Regiment, Lieu-
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."
BATTLE OF WAUHATCHIE.
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.
BATTLE OF LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, NOV. 24.
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-
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.
BATTLE OF DALLAS.
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.
BATTLE OF LOST MOUNTAIN, JUNE 14, 1864,
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.
BATTLE OF KENESAW MOUNTAIN, JUNE 27,
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
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
BATTLE OF PEACH TREE CREEK, JULY 20.
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.
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.
MARCH TO SAVANNAH AND A BAYONET
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.
CAMPAIGN OF THE CAROUNAS, EEB. 15, 1865.
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
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 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
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.